hmp – guacamole

While guacamole isn’t a meal in and of itself, it could be with the right chips to dip into it.  Because of that, I’m including it in the Homemade Meal Project.  Plus it’s one of those foods that’s easy to just buy off the shelf but not much harder to make at home.  The result of a homemade guacamole recipe are always delicious.

Guacamole

1 large ripe avocado (ripe avocado give when you lightly squeeze them)

1/4 cup of salsa

2 teaspoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

dash ground chipotle

dash salt

Cut avocado in half, lengthwise and twist to separate halves.  Using a spoon separate the avocado’s fruit from the peel discarding the pit.  Place in medium bowl.  Add lime juice, garlic powder, chipotle and salt.  Mash the ingredients together using a fork or spoon, mixing well.

Enjoy!

To store, cover guacamole with plastic wrap making sure that the plastic makes contact with the guacamole in order to prevent browning.

Now wasn’t that easy?

My guacamole took on a brownish tinge right away because of the salsa.  To avoid this try adding fresh tomato, onion and jalapeño instead of salsa.

Now, I mentioned that guacamole isn’t a meal all by its lonesome but don’t worry, we didn’t eat this on its own.  Stay tuned for the very first guest post on Pomelo Sunshine to hear what we had for dinner tonight.

Do you buy your guacamole or make it at home?

What do you like to top with guac?

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sprouting basil

I’ve been in the market for a new water bottle for awhile now.  I recently threw away my old Nalgenes.  Loved them but the BPA thing freaked me out, especially since I had heard it was related to exposure to heat and each of those bottles had spent their fair share of time in my car, cooking in the sun.

Also, for Christmas I bought Vapur water pouches for my siblings, Todd and myself.  I loved the idea of them, they flatten and roll up for easy storage.  Unfortunately, I found the pouches hard to drink out of especially in the middle of a sweaty, fast-paced yoga session.

Since retiring my Vapur I’ve just been refiling Dasani bottles.  A few months ago I saw the Sipp water bottle on Peanut Butter and Jenny.  Jenny loved it and it’s been in the back of my mind since then.

While Todd and I were at Target buying our life-saving air conditioner, I decided that it was time to pull the trigger and buy this bad boy.  I tried it out at the office and was happy with it but the true test came at yoga last night.  I wanted to see how it would work when I just needed to sop and keep moving.  Let me tell you, it was a good choice.  On top of the cool design it has some great features:

1) The bottle flips open at the press of a button – no unscrewing your cap with this water bottle.

2) The cap stays open.  It doesn’t flop around and you don’t have to hold it back, it stays all by itself.  I truly appreciated it while I was sweating through my warriors, cobras, dancers and chaturungas.  No more caps hitting my in the face, woo hoo!

So, if you need a water bottle, check this one out, I really like it so far.  As far as I know they’re only available at Target but they also have a stainless steal version that’s available more widely.

In other news, I went out to check on my little garden and I noticed something amazing – my basil has sprouted!

We had rain overnight and it seems it was just the thing to get my basil growing.  I also have parsley and mint planted but they take a few weeks to bud.  This basil was planted just 6 days ago.  I am so excited to have fresh herbs.  I plan to make lots of Italian dishes and mojitos this summer with fresh grown herbs, sounds lovely, no?

And one final bit of excited news – our wedding pictures are ready!  Todd went to pick them up this afternoon and I am dying to get home and see them.  Seriously, our photographer is awesome, we only had to wait a month to get them back.  I’m sure I’ll be starting a wedding series soon, stay tuned!

Do you have a water bottle you love?

Have you ever cooked with homegrown herbs? What are your favorites to grow?

thoughts on popcorn and yoga

Well, we survived the hot, hot night.  Actually, the air conditioner helped a lot – go figure!  I woke up and had blankets on, a sure sign that the temperature was at a bearable level.  Of course, leaving the air on all day doesn’t make a ton of sense so when I got home from work the apartment had hit 97 – still hot but better than 99, right?  I’m doing my best to ignore the heat knowing that tonight, I’ll be able to sleep comfortably.

All this talk about the heat is making me sweat.  Let’s talk about food instead.

When I got home from work I was hungry (as usual) but since I have yoga class later on I didn’t want to eat too much.  My favorite solution to this problem is to pop some popcorn.

I really love popcorn and about a year ago, give or take, I bought a box of Orville Redenbacher’s Natural Lime and Salt popcorn.  I’ve been hooked ever since.  I dare say that it’s taken the place of movie theater butter popcorn as my favorite type of popcorn.  The best part is that it comes in mini bags so I can always make the perfect amount for a little snack.  The lime is subtle, as if you had squeezed a fresh lime over top of the bag, not overwhelmingly fruity.  Seriously, I always have this in the house. If you haven’t tried it, go buy a box, you won’t be sorry!

Also, speaking of yoga class, isn’t it kind of funny that my hot yoga class at 95° will be cooler than our apartment, kind of?

After almost a week off due to not being able to breathe at all (thanks for that, allergies), I went back to yoga yesterday morning at 6:00 am.  I’m always proud of myself for getting up and actually going and I feel better all day long.  Morning workouts are the ticket, I think.  I’m excited for tonight’s Shake Your Asana class, I haven’t been to one in ages.  They play music the whole time so there’s a different, fun and playful vibe to the class.  It’s a good time.

Well, time to go sweat my butt off!  I hope you’re having a great Wednesday!

What’s your favorite pre-workout snack?

If you practice yoga, do you do so quietly or do you turn up the jams from time to time?

tengo hot

At the risk of sounding elderly, today  was a scorcher!

Temperatures hovered around 90° all day and while I was after work, Todd sent me this text:

100° inside?  This was getting ridiculous.  You see, we don’t have air conditioning at all.  Our thermostat tricked us, it has a “COOL” option but if you flip it to “COOL” nothing happens.  So far we’ve been getting by with fans but 100°, now that’s hot.

Thankfully we had plans to go out on a little date and have dinner and ice cream so we left as soon as I got home from work. At dinner I ordered the salmon, a big step for me since I’m just starting to eat fish.  When I saw that it came served on a “goat cheese pool”, I was in.

After dinner we walked over to one of our favorite ice cream shops and indulged in cones of Chocolate Monster and Chocolate Chip Extreme.  That ice cream was half melted before we walked out of the shop but man, it was delicious.

When we got home our apartment was so stinking hot.  I looked at the thermometer and it read 99° – not a big improvement since we left.

I decided the only thing to do was go to bed.  Somehow, about 15 seconds after I had changed into sleep clothes, we decided that this was ridiculous and that we had to go get an air conditioner.  A minute after that we were in the car, heading to Target.

We picked out the cheapest air conditioner we could find and brought it home.  We immediately realized that it wouldn’t fit in either of our bedroom windows, too big for one, too small for the other.  Todd decided that 99* was a good reason to try it anyways.

In the end, he was right – it fit in our 20″ window even though it’s 3″ smaller than the minimum width.  We both took turns standing in front of it, soaking up the cool air.

I’m guessing that our bedroom is still about 85° but that is a heck of a lot cooler than it was.

Something tells me that our bedroom will be our new favorite room in the house, forget the living room!

Do you have air conditioning?  If not, how do you keep cool in the summer?

dinner party blondies

I’m happy to report that our very first dinner party at our new apartment was a success!  I use the word “party” loosely since it was just Todd and I and his parents but, dinner party sounds much more fun than just plain dinner.

I snapped this picture while I was preparing dinner.  I love the colors all together, so pretty!

I made Lemon Fresh Summer Pasta  with grilled chicken and served it will watermelon and bread.  Nothing too fancy but it was just right for a casual meal outside on the deck.

The night was perfect for eating outside, that magical temperature where you don’t feel warm or cool.

For dessert we had the Pink Lemonade Cookies that I baked yesterday plus a second treat that I made last night, White Chocolate Chip Blondies.

I find a lot of recipes online but when I decided to make blondies, I did something crazy: I consulted a cookbook.

The Joy of Cooking was my book of choice and the recipe was great.  Easy peasy and it turned out deliciously.

Blondies from the Joy of Cooking

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Grease an 8×8 pan.  Whisk together thoroughly:

          1 cup all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour again, 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons)

          1/4 teaspoon baking powder

          1/4 teaspoon baking soda

          1/8 teaspoon salt

In a large heavy saucepan, melt, then boil, stirring constantly, until light golden brown, about 4 minutes:

          1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

Remove from heat and stir in until well-blended:

          2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

          1/4 cup sugar

Let cool until barely warm.  Stir in until well-combined:

          1 large egg

          1 large egg yolk

          1 tablespoon light corn syrup

          1  1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Stir in flour mixture and, if desired (I desired!):

1 cup chopped, toasted pecans, chocolate chips or 2/3 cup shredded coconut (I went with 1 cup of white chocolate chips but you could add in anything: Heath, chocolate chunks, butterscotch chips, peanut butter cups, anything you’d like!)

Scrape into pan.  Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.

These blondies are so delicious, even Todd was scarfing them down!  I can’t wait to try them with different mix-ins.

Do you normally get your recipes online or from a cookbook or family recipe?

pink lemonade cookies a la kelly

Tonight we will host our first dinner guests since moving into the apartment, Todd’s parents!  In preparation, I spent a bit of time in the kitchen yesterday baking up some treats for dessert.  First on the docket, Kelly’s Pink Lemonade Cookies.  When I read her post a few weeks ago I knew that these summery cookies would be perfect for this dinner.

This recipe was easy to follow and only uses 6 ingredients – now that’s my kind of cookie!  If you’d like to try these yummy cookies, the recipe can be found on Laughter, Strength, and Food.

I followed Kelly’s recipe exactly except that I substituted in whole wheat flour because that’s all we have right now.  By the way, if you’re going to substitute in whole wheat for all-purpose flour, you can’t do a cup to cup equivalent.  The easiest conversion I’ve found is this: if the recipe calls for 1 cup of all-purpose you should use 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour.  Make sense?  I’ve used this conversion 3 or 4 times and it’s worked great.

Now back to the cookies.  They came out of the oven like this:

And after dressing them up a bit, they looked like this:

I happened to have some pink sugar sprinkles left from a Valentine’s long, long ago and they were the perfect thing to top the cookies with.  Don’t they remind you of candy buttons?

Even those these cookies are for dinner tonight I tried a few with a big glass of pink lemonade and they were so good and refreshing, the perfect summer cookie.

I was going to post about my other baking adventure but this post is getting lengthy so it will have to wait until later on.

Do you have any favorite summertime baked goods?

Did you bake anything tasty this weekend?

festival 2011 – alexis steals the show

So what is Festival?  Officially known at the Festival of the Arts, Festival is an annual celebration held each June in Grand Rapids since 1970.  It all started when Alexander Calder installed “Le Grande Vitesse“, known as The Calder around here,  in Grand Rapids in 1969.  The next year, in celebration, Festival began in honor of the artwork that has become the symbol of our fair city.

Since I can remember, Festival has been a part of life each summer, happening the first weekend in June, marking the end of the school year and beginning of summer.  In high school we’d walk downtown to see a few (free) shows, hang out with friends and eat food from the booths run by community organizations.  My favorites growing up were the ice cream and elephant ear stands but in high school, friends opened me up to the world of Greek, Vietnamese and Bosnian foods.  Always, always a good time was had by all.

This year, Todd and I walked down to meet up with some friends who were coming to see a local band, Alexis.  Before we met them we got dinner.  Lines were long for the Bosnian food and a Vietnamese co-worker had already brought amazingly delicious spring rolls from one of the Vietnamese booths into work on Friday so we settled for BBQ Chicken sandwiches and fries.  These weren’t just any fries those. They were bacon dusted fries.  I don’t have to tell you that they were delicious.  Yes, I’m a fatty, haha.

Now that we have my gluttony out of the way, back to Alexis.  I had never seen them before and goodness, gracious, I had no idea what I was missing.  Alexis is a local electro-pop duo.  Normally they wouldn’t be on my musical radar but man, these guys are so entertaining.  The lead singer, Matt, – postman by day, rockstar by night – lights up the stage and Dan, the keyboardist, provides equally entertaining backup.  On top of it, I am still singing their super catchy tunes a day later.

I’m positive that words cannot describe the Alexis experience.  I’ve never seen shorts that tight or dance moves so flamboyant and enthusiastic.  I can honestly say that I can’t wait to see them in concert again.  There’s something entirely infectious about seeing performers who so clearly love what they do.

After Festival we headed to a new local bar, Pyramid Scheme for a few drinks.  We ended up staying for a few hours and probably two hours into it the guys were busy playing pinball and us girls were chatting near the window and guess who walked up?  Alexis.  We went crazy like teenage girls at a BSB concert.  They were gracious and, I think, flattered.  We were still talking about it half an hour later.  I must say, being a groupie could be a fun gig.  I’m so glad Alexis played Festival, I’m officially a fan.

Are there any local bands that you love?

Does your town have any annual festivals or events you look forward to?