Velvety Loaded Cauliflower Soup

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Yes, I am bringing you yet another recipe featuring cauliflower. Catching on yet that I love cauliflower? Please, forgive me.

So, this morning the hubby requested soup for dinner. Wish granted! Usually, he is the soup maker (and weekend breakfast chef), but he is a bit bitter about the fact we can’t have lentils on the keto diet, and that’s his favorite soup. So, I took the reigns today. Since we always have cauliflower on hand, (and had scallions and bacon ready to be crisped up), I thought a creamy cauliflower soup would be warming and perfect!

One of our favorite veggie side dishes is roasted cauliflower (weird, right?). So that is the base we’ll be working with here. Roasting it first allows the flavors to really develop and deepen as they caramelize and brown up. Simply boiling and softening the cauliflower in stock won’t amount to a very flavorful soup, trust me! This step is very crucial, and while slightly more time consuming, I promise it is worth it. Once the cauliflower is done roasting, add to bone broth on the stove to allow it to basically soften to mush, then it’s ready for pureeing!

On Sundays, I like to take my time on dinner. Weeknight dinners can be rushed, and not always made with the intention and love I like to season my food with. After coming home at 5pm, sneaking in a quick workout, a healthy dinner still has to be prepared for hubby and I. By the time I actually get to sit down, it’s usually around 7-7:30. Rinse and repeat four more times each week. Every spoonful of this decadent masterpiece was appreciated!

Part 1: Roasting the cauliflower

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and line a cookie sheet with foil
  • Break up a full medium head of cauliflower into small florets, coat with olive oil
  • Top with 1/2 a medium white onion, sliced thinly
  • Season with 2t of onion powder and garlic powder, 1t of pepper, a healthy amount of salt, and a light sprinkle of crushed red pepper (I must admit, I did not officially measure but these are my best guesses. Once everything is blended and you taste it, you can always add more seasoning at that point)
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, for 25-30 minutes
  • In the final 5 minutes of cooking, I added 1T of minced garlic

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Part 2: The broth

  • Combine 4 cups of chicken bone broth with 1 cup water and 1 cup almond milk
  • Add in the roasted cauliflower
  • Bring to a boil then reduce to a medium simmer
  • Stir periodically until the cauliflower is softened to mush, approximately 30 minutes

You can’t overcook it here! But you can under cook it, which will hinder the texture when blended. It will have a slight grit if not cooked down enough. I used my immersion blender to puree to its velvety finish, and added 2T of softened cream cheese at this juncture as well. Can also use a regular blender as well or food processor, but the handheld is way easier and less messy! I did find I wanted a little extra salt to marry the flavors a bit more, and added it here after an initial taste test.

Also to note, while the broth was cooking, I prepared another tray of roasted cauliflower that I added to the soup after blending, for additional texture (and cauliflowery goodness!).

Top with your favorite accouterments such as shredded cheese, crispy bacon, and scallions! Sour cream or thinly sliced radishes would also be great compliments.

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Now you’re ready to dive in to this bowl of heaven! In a world with crazy fast-paced lives, slow down and take your time creating this one. Every bite is worth the patience, you won’t regret it.

If I can clarify anything, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would love to ensure it is perfect for you! Cheers!

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Savory Mushroom Cauliflower Fauxsotto

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What’s been cooking in the Shaymeless kitchen, you ask? Well, currently, my husband and I are full Keto! So I am deep in devising delicious, savory, fulfilling, and comforting meals for us!

It’s very early in our process, so I will not weigh in on anything about the diet itself yet. Honestly, I am just happy to be back to some structure post-holiday, such a gluttonous time of year. As you know, the concept of Shaymeless Cooking is to create guiltless and inspired comfort food, without all the calories! So cooking Keto is just a tangential derivation for me; I can work with restrictions, simple!

As a launching point to start you all off this new year, I offer you this creamy mushroom fauxsotto! I love¬†cauliflower, in all the amazing and creative ways it can be used. (I also love a good play on words, if you hadn’t noticed). I had not attempted a risotto-style dish before, but was inspired when searching for new creations. Who doesn’t love a perfect risotto? So, I offer you my low carb and Keto version!

Savory Mushroom Cauliflower Fauxsotto

  • 4oz/1.5c diced mushrooms
  • 3.5c riced cauliflower (about half a head of large cauliflower)
  • 4T butter
  • ~1T minced garlic (LOVE garlic!)
  • 1t salt, pepper to taste
  • 1/4c dry white wine
  • 1/4c bone broth
  • 3/4c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1c freshly grated Locatelli cheese (or any Romano style cheese)
  • optional: fresh thyme sprigs

Sautee the mushrooms on high in butter until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add in garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low and add in riced cauliflower, followed by the wine, salt and pepper. Stir to coat, then add the broth, and 1/4c of the milk. Cover for 5 minutes then add the remaining 1/2c milk. Return lid, and allow cauliflower to soften and absorb the excess liquid. I like a little bite to my risotto, thus I cooked my cauliflower to that consistency, about 20 minutes. Feel free to add more liquid (broth/milk combo) if you prefer a softer rice-like style! Finally, stir in the grated cheese and you will have yourselves a creamy, cheesy, risotto-style cauliflower dish!

I hope you enjoy Рor use this as your launching pad! It would be amazing with some crispy pancetta, spinach, and gruyere cheese instead *hold please while I run to the store for these ingredients and try this*! Of course this would occur to me now. Stay tuned for an update as this will be my next installment of fauxsotto! 20190109174612_img_0884-02

 

Cinco de Mayo: Tacos and Tequila

My New Year’s Resolution has failed: keeping my loyal readers up to date with fresh and yummy things I am cooking up is not going well.

With that being said, this one will be my much overdo apology and I will include three different recipes! Do you forgive me??

With Cinco de Mayo around the corner, it is only appropriate I take on the cuisine of our neighbors to the south. This is definitely my favorite type of food, and I enjoy it in all its forms! And of course there is my love of guacamole, that can almost go without being said at this point, and if you didn’t know, well consider yourself informed. I. Love. Guacamole. Furthermore, if you have not had my guacamole, here ya go.¬†Guacamole: It‚Äôs All About the Avocado

I honestly cannot say when I first realized I loved spicy, Mexican food. My mom never made anything of the like growing up, and certainly my frequent visits to Denny’s and Chili’s in high school didn’t exactly broaden my palate’s horizons. If I had to guess, it would be from watching countless seasons of Top Chef. It has been like my own version of cooking school, really, as I have a wealth of knowledge about foods, cooking techniques, and cuisines I never had before. The show and its talent have really been an inspiration for me to just start playing around with food in the kitchen! It helps I’m not a picky eater,¬† so there really are very few restrictions when it comes to what I will attempt to cook.

So you’re saying at this point, ‘Alright, enough already, give us some food!’ Okay, okay, message received!

First up: Pork Carnitas. We bought a whole pig this year, so our freezer is STOCKED with different cuts, and I’ve been trying to get creative. Admittedly, I am not a pulled pork fan. However, the prospect of some Carnitas definitely piqued my interest. So, I found myself on Pinterest, scouring for a recipe. Generally, I like to create my own recipes or just use someone else’s as a launching point. This time, though, I did not want to take the chance of ruining a five pound pork shoulder by not following someone else’s directions. I will include the link to the recipe I used – and honestly, I would not change a thing! So. Damn. Delicious. It’s a crockpot recipe I prepped the night before, so when I left for work in the morning, I just popped on low and let ‘er go all day!

http://carlsbadcravings.com/slow-cooker-pork-carnitas-recipe/

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We had the Carnitas in tacos one night, over rice the next, then I made a taco salad with the last bit. I topped my salad with charred corn, black beans, Greek yogurt, guacamole, tomatoes, and salsa verde. If heaven had a taste, this would definitely be it!

The next two recipes are my own, and super simple. Who doesn’t love a 10 minute taco recipe?? Or less, really.

Next on the menu: Cajun Tilapia Tacos topped with charred jalapeno, fresh mango and finished with an avocado crema:

 

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3 corn tortillas

Cajun seasoning

Pan searing flour

2-3 tilapia fillets (I use frozen fillets)

1 jalapeno

Mango slices (1/4 of a mango)

Half an avocado

1/4 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt

1t each emon juice, lime juice

4T olive oil, divided

2T water

Dash of chili powder

In a food processor, puree avocado, sour cream or Greek yogurt, lemon and lime juices, water, and remaining olive oil. Blend until smooth, add extra water or olive oil to thin to desired consistency, I prefer mine thicker.

With the broiler on high, place jalapeno slices on a piece of foil and char for 5 minutes.

Generously season both sides of the tilapia with the cajun seasoning, then dust both sides with a light coating of pan searing flour. Swirl half the olive oil in a heated pan. On high heat, cook fillets about 3 minutes per side, they will get a nice blackened crisp on them. Set aside.

 

In the pan used to cook the fish, turn heat to medium-high. Spray the tortillas with cooking spray and dash with chili powder on both sides. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side, until warmed and browning.

Then construct! Layer fish on the bottom of each tortilla, breaking into smaller pieces, top with mango, jalapenos, and finally the crema. This time I used two fillets for the three tacos, because they were massive!

Last but not least, I have a vegetarian option: Smashed Black Bean Tacos topped with guacamole (weird), Greek yogurt, grapefruit, sriracha mayo, and fresh parsley.

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3 corn tortillas

3/4 cup black beans

3 slices grapefruit

1/2 cup guacamole

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

Drizzle sriracha sauce, or sriracha mayo

Dash chili powder

Warm the black beans in the microwave until soft, then smash. Top with guacamole, grapefruit, Greek yogurt, and sriracha (or sriracha mayo). Use the same preparation for the tortillas as the previous recipe. And done! Seriously, this took maybe 5 minutes? I got home from the gym one day and wanted something SUPER fast, and this definitely got the job done and was a great post-workout meal.

Phew! You all are now fully prepared for the upcoming holiday of Cinco de Mayo, you are welcome! My Mango Strawberry Salsa would also be delish on any taco as well..gah! So many ideas flying around in my head! Guess I better get back to my workshop, aka kitchen. I have work to do.

Please let me know if you enjoyed everything. Cheers, friends, and don’t forget the tequila!

Honeymoon Black Bean Soup

There is nothing I love more on a chilly, winter evening than a warm bowl of soup. Would anyone care to argue? Okay okay, some may say cracklings logs in the fireplace, a glass of toasty red wine, or a loyal pup at your feet might beat out the soup thing. But to me, it definitely makes the list of winter comforts.

Last year, my husband and I went to the gorgeous West Indies island of Antigua for our eleven day honeymoon.

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Shirley Heights Lookout, Antigua

We loved everything about our trip and resort, and I did my due diligence of taking mental notes about the delicious cuisine we ate. Surprisingly, despite the 90 degree weather and about a million percent humidity, I found myself ordering soup most nights for my appetizer. One notable in particular was their Black Bean. I have always been a fan of this soup, already, but I never tried my hand at making it before! What was funny, err interesting, rather, was all their soups were served pureed. And while I have a knack for soup making (remind me to get my Greens & Beans recipe up here), I have never made an entirely smooth soup before. But here I was, tasting this rich, mirror-like, creamy concoction, with a multitude of flavors bombarding me in this little bowl of pure (pureed!) goodness! Needless to say, that soup moved to the top of my list of dishes I needed to recreate at home.

As most of you may well know, one of my goals of this blog is to make accessible dishes with simple and practical ingredients. Sometimes, you might not even have to go to the store! Honestly, everything in this soup I keep on hand regularly, my life is made immensely easier. And? It’s inexpensive to make, filling, vegetarian, high yield of servings, and freezes well. You are welcome.

Black Bean Soup

3 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)

3-4 cups chicken stock

1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes (I use Hunt’s Garlic variety)

1 small onion, diced

3/4 cup carrots, diced (it was exactly 10 baby carrots)

1 jalapeno (I don’t fully de-seed mine)

1 T minced garlic

1/2 T chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp cayenne

1/2 T lime juice

*up to 1 cup almond milk to finish

1/4 avocado, diced (for garnish)

1 T greek yogurt (for garnish)

Bring all ingredients, except the almond milk, to a boil in a large pot (mine is 6 quarts I think?), then cover and reduce to a simmer. The objective is to soften everything, the carrots always taking the longest. I periodically stirred and checked the tenderness of the carrots, and after about a half hour they were to my liking. Longer wouldn’t hurt either, you may need to add more stock/liquid.

 

Then I removed from heat, and grabbed one of my favorite kitchen tools, my immersion blender. If you don’t have one, do yourself a favor and get one. While I use my food processor almost daily, when it comes to pureeing soups, I promise you that transferring in batches to a blender or food processor to puree would be, at the very least, a tragic hassle. No batches, no different pot, just plop the immersion blender right in there and power up! This is where I slowly added in my almond milk, for a touch of creaminess (you could also use heavy cream instead). This recipe has no added salt because to me it just doesn’t need it, the warmth from the spices speak volumes alone. I garnish with some fresh avocado and a dollop of greek yogurt, which cools it and I love a swirl in each bite. Hubby likes to add shredded cheddar on top as well, and by all means, cheese it up – has it ever ruined anything? Ever?

All I can say is, it’s another Shaymeless recipe that is husband approved! Oh, and I would like to go back to Antigua for another bowl, because that’s how good it is. But my kitchen version will have to suffice for now!

*It is spicy and warming, so if you have a sensitivity to spicy food I would recommend omitting the jalapeno and the cayenne. Instead sub in a bell pepper and some onion powder. It really can be adapted in many ways, but this is a simple guideline for you to figure out your own Honeymoon Soup!

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Honeymoon Black Bean Soup

Resolutions and Salsa

New Year’s resolutions. We all make them. Go to the gym. Run more. Drink less. Get back to meal planning. Spend less. The classics, really, and these have all made my list. While I do appreciate getting back to structure and being more disciplined, I also would like to improve and focus my attention on an area that is a bit more light.

I’m going to adapt a practice we use at work, which is called the ‘fun to-do list’. Let me explain. My business partner and I work together, side by side, for just about 40 hours, 4-5 days a week. During our workdays, we verbally put things on our to-do lists for when we get home, and say ‘remind me to ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†‘ to the other: ‘remind me to call the DMV’, ‘remind me to email so-and-so back’, ‘remind me to take out the chicken for dinner’, anything really, from the little to important things. It honestly is very helpful. But all of those things are necessary and chore-like, not exactly fun. So we also have a ‘fun to-do list’. Recently I had: change my ringtone, send out three important Christmas cards, and look into Airbnb options for a later trip. Nothing super pressing, but are much lighter than the forced adult-like daily to-do’s. So, why not have a fun resolutions list, too?

It would be an easy scapegoat to blame the holiday season for my absence, but that would be a bit unfair. I fully admit that I have not put forth enough effort into this food blog. But, the number one spot on my fun New Year’s resolutions list: designate a specific time to work on cooking, photographing, and sharing with you all the goodies I’m feasting on! Sincerely something I can look forward to working on, and it definitely helps that Santa brought me a really fancy camera to help capture my mouth-watering noshes.

With that being said, and if I still have your attention, I bring you a new blog post! On the first day of the new year!

My in-laws recently stayed with us over the holiday for 6 days (it was wonderful, I love my mother-in-law). During that time, we threw our annual Christmas party for our families and friends, expecting upwards of forty people. Luckily, I had an extra set of hands to put to work prepping and plating this year (yay!). I am kind of a control freak about my food-stuff, so delegating is not my strongest trait (especially when my husband is terrible at following simple directions:¬†tear¬†the bread, as I specifically wrote out, to which he replies ‘I thought cutting it would be easier!’ But did I ask you to cut it…I digress.) Despite my hesitancy, I had to find tasks for my rebel, rule following¬†breaking husband, and my very obliging MIL.

One dish I gave my MIL to make is my mango salsa. It’s usually on my summer party menu, but when I saw mangoes were 4 for $5, I couldn’t pass up the ripened beauties! It is slightly labor intensive, mostly because mangoes are a pain in the behind to dice (sorry mom!), but it is such a simple dish, requiring only 4 ingredients. This is also impossible to mess up – add more strawberries if you would like, dice something smaller, or larger. Have at it!

Mango Strawberry Salsa

5 ripened mangoes

8-10 oz fresh strawberries

1 large jalapeno

1/2 of a large red onion

Dash of salt

Yield: approximately 6 cups (ish)

(An addendum to my resolution about blogging more is that I also need to start measuring things. When I cook it is all done by taste and visuals..put that on my regular resolutions list, actually. That’s not fun.)

Peel and cube the mangoes into 1/2″ pieces. Dice the strawberries, and add to the mangoes. Finely dice the red onion and the jalapeno, removing most of the seeds (but it really gives a great heat when you leave some), and add to the fruit. That’s it! Stir it up, add a dash of salt, and let the flavors marinade for a bit. It’s better the next day, and the day after that. The mangoes get softer and mushier (who¬†actually¬†wants something to be mushy?!) and it’s amazing. A few days later we topped our cajun pork chops with the salsa. It was epic.

One of my well-fed partygoers, pointing to the mango salsa, ‘This was the biggest surprise! Wow, incredible!’. So there, I will leave you with that. Cheers!

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Looks like summertime

 

Feelin’ Saucy

There’s something about the lingering fall-time breeze: crisp leaves mixed with fresh apples and a smoldering nighttime fire. I begin to crave some of my favorite comfort foods I’ve shelved for the spring and summer months: a slow cooked Chili, rich red sauce, and a hearty Chicken Soup. Personally, I think some meals are just more special when you ‘save’ them for their respective season. Of course, they’re always¬†delicious, but with the familiar chill in the air settling in, a hot bowl of chili feels as cozy and familiar as your favorite well-worn, oversized sweatshirt.

As summer comes to a close, so, too, does our vegetable garden. Fortunately, we have had an abundance of sweet, Cherry tomatoes the greater part of the last two months. The Roma tomatoes have followed suit very recently, to the point we are left with more tomatoes than we know what to do with – I can’t give them away fast enough! Pining for Eggplant Parmesan, I thought making homemade sauce would complement that perfectly. Just, I had never made sauce before, from scratch anyway. Nevertheless, with a few serendipitous hours of solitude over the weekend, I got to work in the kitchen.

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My beautiful Roma tomatoes

After sending my husband to forage for the last of the ripened Romas, I diced and seasoned (and remembered to photograph: that’s definitely been the hardest part!). I ended up with two trays full of quartered Romas (25 medium tomatoes used in the making of this batch – do not ask me how many pounds that is!). I drizzled olive oil, and topped with salt, pepper, and torn basil leaves (from our very fruitful porch basil plants). About halfway through their cooking, I rotated the trays and added a pinch of sugar atop the sizzling tomatoes. Rotated the trays once more, this time topping with parsley springs and half of a diced white onion. (Sadly, I thought I had fresh garlic on hand, only to discover I, in fact, did not..otherwise I would have been roasting the garlic all the while also). Cooking time was just a little over two hours, but I would say a three hour process total. Again, I had no real idea what I was doing, but that is somewhat how I cook – my track record is that it generally ends in success! This time was no exception!

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Nicely blistered coming out of the oven

I let them cool slightly before they went into the food processor. The trays scraped quite cleanly, giving the flavor of the sauce a really complex, slightly charred flavor.

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Ready to get saucy..

The end result exceeded my expectations, so much so, that I am ready to share it with you – after just one go! It can easily be modified to take into account your specific preferences, but this is a great basic recipe to launch your creative style. But I seriously cannot wait to smother my Eggplant Parm in this sauce, it will be divine!

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Ingredients:

25 medium Roma tomatoes

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

handful fresh basil leaves

1/2 tsp white sugar

1/2 medium white onion

1T fresh parsley sprigs

2T Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Wash and quarter the tomatoes, and place on two cookie sheets. Drizzle with olive oil, and top with salt, pepper, and the torn basil leaves. Roast in the oven for an hour. Rotate trays, and top with sugar. Return to oven for another 45 minutes. Again rotate the trays, this time topping with the diced onion and parsley sprigs. Up the oven temperature to 400 degrees for the final half hour of roasting. Total cook time 2 hours and 15 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly before scraping the trays and adding everything to the food processor, including the Parmesan cheese. I found the consistency to be a thick and smooth – if you prefer a thinner sauce, thin slowly with water.

This filled one full 12oz jelly jar and half of a second – plenty of sauce for topping my Eggplant Parmesan!

Update: The following night I used the extra sauce to top some Zucchini Ricotta ‘meatballs’ – recipe coming soon!

 

Guacamole: It’s All About the Avocado

Ah, my favorite summertime staple. (Obviously delicious year round, though!) Cinco de Mayo anyone??

It is one of my most raved about things I make – and it’s such a quick and healthy appetizer, suitable for any party. I assure you, it¬†will¬†be fawned over!

Truly, it is so simple to make. However, you need to pay attention to what I think is most important: the ripeness of the avocado. I have used avocados that are not quite ripe enough, noted, when they are tough to mash with a fork. This absolutely changes the taste of the final outcome. Make sure to use avocados that are nice and soft! Also, if you’re ripening avocados in the fridge for a few days versus the counter (which is fine, I have just noticed they ripen slower in the fridge), allow them to reach room temperature before preparation. Guacamole just tastes better if it’s served at room temp, so if you do prepare it ahead of time, try to let it sit out at least a half hour before indulging. I swear these little things matter!

4 ripe (soft to the touch when gently squeezed) avocados

1 jalapeno, finely diced (some seeds are fine if you like the heat – I do!)

1 small yellow onion, diced (red onion is fine also, I just always have a bag of yellow onions on hand)

1t lime juice

1t lemon juice

2T (heaping) of minced garlic

3 dashes cayenne pepper

1/2t onion powder

1T salt

1/2T lime salt*

*I attest this is the secret. I discovered this while living in Humboldt Park, a primarily Puerto Rican neighborhood in Chicago (let me tell you, my Spanish had never been better!). Unfortunately I have been unable to find it in a few brief searches in local stores, but Amazon does carry it (of course they do…).

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Hello, gorgeous

Spoon out avocado meat from their skin, remove pits. Mash them to desired consistency – a fork always works best for me, and keeps it a little chunky. Add diced onion and jalapeno. Add two healthy tablespoons of minced garlic, teaspoon each of lemon juice and lime juice. Mix well. Add a half teaspoon of onion powder, three dashes of cayenne pepper for a warming heat, and finally the lime salt and salt.

That’s it! There really isn’t a wrong way to prepare this. A little tip: if you want this for a party, but don’t want to be dicing and mashing in crunch time, but also don’t want to prep too early because then you’re in a panic about the guacamole turning brown from sitting too long (oy!), do this: prep all ingredients, add everything to your serving dish except¬†the avocados. Right before serving is when I will spoon out the avocados and mash them right on top of the rest of the ingredients. Boom! You’re welcome.

Now go make this for all your friends and loved ones, they will want the recipe! I have been crafting this recipe for years and while it is continually under slight revisions, this is the most up to date! I know guacamole typically has cilantro in it, but I’m just not a fan. Feel free to add, but I have never had someone comment about its absence.

I always welcome comments and questions! Enjoy!

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