Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kitchen Tips: Check out your thrift store for treasures!

When was the last time you went to the thrift store? I love going. It is like a hunt for treasures. Yes, there is a lot of junk to be weeded through, and no, you can't always find exactly what you were looking for, but you may be surprised with the cool, affordable stuff that you do find.

I am setting up my new office and am loving the space. While I do have quite the epic collection of kitchen utensils and toys, there were a few things I was missing. I needed some smaller mixing bowls, a pancake flipper, a heavy ice-cream scoop (useful for getting the seeds out of winter squash) and some glass canisters for storage.

I found some excellent heavy metal mixing bowls in three small sizes, exactly what I needed for six dollars total. I found two great glass storage canisters for 1.69 total.

I struck out on the pancake flipper and the ice-cream scoop.

I did, however, find the cutest little juice glasses. They are the appropriate serving size. And for my 100% juice they're 100% adorable. The cost for all three? 99 cents. 

The point is, we're pretty quick to run to a big box store for stuff. These days they can be pretty crappy quality or really expensive to get the good stuff. At the thrift store, you just may find the good stuff for an awesome price. It may be some hunting, but you just may find something great!

I did go to the grocery store and bought the pancake flipper. I'm still hunting for the perfect ice-cream scoop :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Kitchen Basics: How to cube an avocado

There is no substitute for some basic knife skills and a good knife. And is saves you buying silly gimmicks like a banana slicer. Really? A monkey and a butter knife can get things gone.

Same goes for an avocado: no need for those gadgets that slice them. You can do it!
  • Find a ripe avocado. They change color from light green to darker brownish-black as they ripen. They should be slightly soft to the touch, but not mushy.
  • Hold your sharp chefs knife in your dominate hand and the avocado in the other. Use the knife to slice around the pit. Put the knife down and twist the two halves apart. 
  • Hold the half with the pit in your hand and aim for the pit with your knife; this will lodge the knife in your pit (and not your fingers). Twist the knife and the pit should pop right out.
  • Use a smaller knife to cut the avocado flesh into slices or cubes right in the skin. 
  • Use a soup spoon to scoop out your perfect cubes or slices and you're ready to top your lovely salad or sandwich or to whip up a batch of award winning guacamole!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Guest Posting: Award winning Irish Guacamole

Guest Posting: Award winning Irish Guacamole by Kelly Dumke. Kelly and I lived together in DC one summer and enjoyed lots of cooking and eating together! Kelly makes awesome guacamole and so I was super pleased that she was willing to share her recipe with the blog. Check out Kelly's blog at Off the Wall.

Don’t Judge the Guac by its Maker: A Classic Guacamole Recipe
Don’t Judge the Guac by its Maker: A Classic Guacamole Recipe

Ever hear the phrase, “That Mexican restaurant serves the best tamales!” Or, “That Indian market makes the best curry!” Or, “That Chinese take-out delivers the best egg rolls!” Or, “That Irish girl makes the best guac!” Whoa…wait, say that last one again…

That’s right, I bake scones and I bake Irish soda bread, but I am known for my guacamole.  From Los Angeles, to Boston, to DC, to Belgium, to the UK, and back, my guac recipe has not changed no matter where I have lived. 

Guacamole’s creamy avocado base, tangy hint of lime, and pop of sweet tomato make this simple condiment a flavor-packed nutrition powerhouse.  Guacamole offers a perfect nutrition model with its dose of unsaturated “healthy” fat from avocado and a flavorful punch from herbs, spices, and citrus rather than excessive added salt.  Serve it on grilled fish or chicken, dollop on top of a salad, slather it onto a sandwich, or simply scoop it with a crisp tortilla chip.

Give this simple recipe a try, and remember, as the age-old adage goes, don’t judge a book by its cover, and definitely don’t judge the guac by its maker.


  • 3 ripe avocados, coarsely chopped
  • ½ medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Zest of 1 large lime
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • ½ cup cilantro, finely chopped

  1. Combine avocados, onion, garlic, and lime juice and zest and lightly toss so the mixture remains chunky (unless you prefer your guac a bit more creamy).  
  2.  Stir in cumin, salt, and pepper.  Finally, fold in the cherry tomatoes and cilantro.   
  3. Check for seasoning (most often I add a bit more lime juice, salt, and/or cumin at this point) and devour!
Note: I didn't have a zester in my kitchen so I used the juice of two large limes instead of juice + zest from one lime. I also added a minced jalapeno because I like a bit of kick!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Good grains: Grilled corn salad

This is a dish that celebrates summer in a bowl. There is just nothing quite like corn and tomatoes fresh from the garden. I did a minimal amount of ingredients and seasonings to that the sweet flavor of the fresh corn really shines through. I think you'll love it!

FYI, corn is a grain. Folks often tell me about how they're eating their veggies and then list corn among them. Corn is a whole grain, not a veggie. Nutritionally, it is the same as a slice of bread of some brown rice. Lots of good stuff in there, but a lot more calories than broccoli or carrots. Look for your plate to have a protein food, something whole grain and then fill your plate with veggies.

Grilled Corn Salad
  • 4 ears fresh corn
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • Juice from one lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Shuck your corn and brush with olive oil. Grill (I used a grill pan) for 8-10 minutes or until charred a bit on all sides.Bring inside and let cool.
  2. When cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife to cut kernels from the cobs. Toss corn with the remaining ingredients and serve.
Reader Poll: what is your favorite way to eat fresh corn?
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