Butternut Squash and Hominy Stew with Avocado Salsa Topping


Let me tell you about one of my favorite meals. Never mind that while it’s officially fall, it hasn’t been really cool enough here to make it. The calendars says fall, so I went ahead anyway. But seriously. I think my sweatiest run all summer was last Monday (which was probably also influenced by the fact that is was my longest run in quite some time).

This is a vegetarian soup recipe that combines a little bit of spicy in the stew portion with  cool and creamy flavors from the Greek yogurt and avocado. It might be a little spicy for little ones, but you can certainly adjust that by the amount of dried peppers you add to the butternut squash layer.


I will note, as written, I find that the butternut squash portion is often a little dry. I usually add a little bit of vegetable broth while cooking it. Just enough to cover it, but not so much that it converts from a stew to a soup. Maybe ~1/2 cup or so. You want the bottom layer to stay thick.

So, please make this at some point this season. Even if you have to wait for the weather to cool off a bit. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Butternut Squash and Hominy Stew with Avocado Salsa Topping
Adapted from Cooking Light

Butternut Squash Stew:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 dried New Mexican or guajillo chile, stemmed, seeded, and roughly crumbled
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 (15.5 oz) can yellow hominy, undrained
1 (15.5 oz) can white hominy, undrained
1/2-3/4 cup vegetable broth, as needed

Avocado Salsa:
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, minced
1jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (remove seeds)
1 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 tsp. lime zest
1-1/2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt

Heat a 3 quart saucepan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the butternut squash, onion, oregano, and the dried, crushed chile. Cook 10 minutes or until the onion and squash begin to brown, stirring frequently.

Add paprika, salt, crushed red pepper, and undrained hominy. Add broth as needed, just to add enough liquid to bring the pot to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes or until the pieces of butternut squash begin to look very soft.

To prepare the salsa, combine avocado, cilantro, jalapeño, and 1 teaspoon of oil in a small bowl. Toss to combine. Stir in lime zest and juice.

To serve, add the squash mixture to a bowl. Top with Greek yogurt, avocado salsa, and Monterey Jack cheese. Serve immediately. If you have any leftovers, we package up the stew and toppings (salsa, yogurt, and cheese) in two separate containers (1 with stew, 1 with all the toppings combined) so the soup can be reheated later.

Flank Steak-Topped Oven Fries


If there’s one self-admitted food weakness that the hubs has, it’s fries. There’s a restaurant here in town that serves a humoungous bowl of Honey Truffle Fries, and when we’re talking about going out for supper, there are a lot of nights where we don’t get past the discussion of those fries. At least they don’t know our names there… yet 🙂

I saw this Buzzfeed recipe on my Facebook feed, and I knew it was something that we needed to make soon.  It worked out as a great weekend dinner for us (particularly after our 12 mile hike this weekend!), but I could easily see this adapting into something that appears in our house more often once football starts back up!


The potatoes are cut, mixed with spices and oil, and then baked. With the oven temperature as hot as it was, I didn’t find that I needed to use a wire rack to elevate the fries. Laying them directly on the pan worked great, although I did line my pan with foil. I actually didn’t even turn the fries during the bake time. They did ‘stick’ a little to the pan, so it might be a good idea to turn them with a spatula halfway through.

The flank steak that we picked up was a thicker cut than I’ve used with flank steak in the past, and I definitely needed longer cooking times to cook it to our desired doneness. As written in the Buzzfeed article, it was definitely rare. If you prefer, I think the steak would be great grilled!



(Printable Recipe)

Flank Steak-Topped Oven Fries
Adapted from Buzzfeed

For the fries:
2 russet potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. paprika

For the steak:
1/2-lb flank steak
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 to 1 Tbsp. olive oil for cooking the steak

1/2 to 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
Plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
2 roma tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
Cojita cheese (Can sub queso blanco or feta)
1 avocado (mashed with pepper, garlic salt, cumin, and lime juice) or prepared guacamole

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking pan with aluminum foil.

Place the flank steak and ingredients from the salt through the lime juice into a ziplock bag. Marinate for 20 minutes.

Rinse the potatoes and dry them well. Slice lengthwise into 4-5 slices, and then cut into fries that are 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Place the potatoes into a large bowl. Add the olive oil and spices and mix until the potatoes are evenly coated. Line the potatoes, in two rows, onto the baking pan so that no pieces are overlapping. Bake for 30-35 minutes until crispy and golden brown. You may want to flip the pieces halfway through the bake time. After the fries are complete, switch the oven to low broil.

Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and cook the steak until desired doneness in the skillet. Alternatively, you can also grill the steak. Once done, remove from the pan and set aside and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Cube the pieces of steak. Pile the fries back into the skillet and top with the shredded cheese and then the steak pieces. Broil 3-4 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Top with Greek yogurt, guacamole, diced tomatoes, cilantro, and Cojita cheese.

Chicken and Avocado Enichiladas

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving weekend. I missed the Friday Favorites last week due to my parents being in town, but I’ll be back on schedule this week. I worked Thanksgiving Day, so we just had a smaller meal consisting of soup, homemade bread, and definitely desserts! It was kind of nice to have Thanksgiving on a smaller scale, but I am missing those turkey leftovers. I think the leftovers may be my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal!

If you are lucky enough to have leftovers, I’m sure you could swap the chicken in these for some of that leftover turkey. In fact, if you have turkey, I would be more than willing to take some of it so I can make these again! Avocado, cilantro, peppers, and Monterey Jack cheese. That list should speak for itself. These are good. Definitely in the running for favorite enchilada dish around here!

The recipe for these comes from Gimmie Some Oven, and I made them largely as written. My only swaps were small – plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream and whole wheat tortillas. My other addition was to add a little shredded cheese on top of the dish. If you do this, be careful with the foil. In fact, you may want to spray the bottom of it with nonstick spray or much of your melty cheese may stick to the foil. Not that I would know… 🙂

Chicken or turkey. Greek yogurt or sour cream. You won’t regret making these. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Chicken Avocado Enchiladas
Adapted slightly from Gimme Some Oven

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
2 poblano peppers, seeded and stemmed, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and stemmed, diced
8-10 (I had a little filling left) whole wheat tortillas
4 cups shredded cooked chicken (or turkey)
2-3 cups Shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided

Avocado Cream Sauce:
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or stock)
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 avocados, peeled and pitted
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
juice of 1 lime

For the avocado cream sauce, melt the butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add flour, whisking until golden brown and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly whisk the broth into the flour mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the Greek yogurt, cumin, salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Whisk as necessary to remove any lumps. Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to a heat-safe bowl. Add avocado, cilantro, and lime juice. Blend using an immersion blender until smooth. Alternately, you can let the mixture cool slightly and then blend in a traditional blender.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9×13 inch pan. In another skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, poblano, and jalapeno, and saute for 5-6 minutes until the onions become translucent. Remove from heat. Mix in the shredded chicken. 

Spread a little avocado sauce over the bottom of the prepared pan. To assemble the enchiladas, place a tortilla on a flat surface. Spread some avocado sauce on the top 1/3 of the tortilla. Top with the chicken mixture and shredded cheese. Repeat until the pan is full or you have used all the filling. Spread the remaining avocado sauce over the top of the enchiladas. Top with remaining shredded cheese. Spray a piece of foil with nonstick spray and cover the pan with the spray-side down. Bake for 20 minutes or until the dish is heated through and the tortillas being to harden. Serve and enjoy.

Tijuana Torta

tijuana torta
May 1st. May Day. My husband and I were asking around here, and no one in Arizona knows what a May Day Basket is. They are basically a container (usually cups) filled with popcorn and other goodies that you leave for friends on their doorstep. The aspect of running away so that you do not get kissed was a real threat as a child!  Please tell me we weren’t the only ones to grow up with this tradition?
With it being May 1st, the other thing that must mean is Mexican food. I know you’ve heard the commercials already. They’re definitely on the TV and radio around here… tacos, margarita specials. Yes, Cinco de Mayo is quickly approaching! As if I actually needed a reason to crave Mexican food 🙂
If you don’t feel like fighting the crowds at your local Mexican joint, it is certainly possible to conquer a Cinco de Mayo themed meal at home. Start the meal with this guacamole. In the next couple days, I’ll provide a couple meal options and finish up with an easy but impressive dessert. Throw in some chips, salsa, and a little tequila, and you’ll have quite the fiesta.
tijuana tortas before baking
The term torta has many meanings, but in Mexico torta is often a sandwich. This is my quick “Mexican” meal and just goes to show that it is possible to have a delicious meal when  you are short on time. It also goes to show that you can make a Mexican-themed meal vegetarian without relying totally on cheese. The original recipe for these is from Eating Well. When we made these, I  made them exactly as written, however in the future, I would swap lettuce for the cabbage. I typically like small doses of cabbage in my  tacos for the crunch, but on the top of these sandwiches, it was just too much. When I made these, I used a loaf of homemade French bread that I had made (simply because it needed to be used), however I am sure these would be great with purchased bread as well. We made them open-faced, but you can always add the top piece of bread if you’d prefer. Enjoy!
Tijuana Torta
Adapted from Eating Well
1 (15oz) can black beans 
3 Tbsp. prepared salsa 
1 Tbsp. chopped pickled jalapenos
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 ripe avocado
2 Tbsp. minced onions
1 Tbsp. lime juice
salt, to taste
1 whole grain (8-10-inch long) baguette 
1/2 cup shredded jack cheese 
1-1/2 cups shredded lettuce
Preheat the oven to broil (low if possible). Mash beans, salsa, jalapeno, and cumin in a small bowl. Mash avocado, onion, and lime juice in another small bowl. Add salt to taste.Slice baguette in half the long way so that you have a top and bottom piece of bread. Cut in half to make 4 equal sized pieces. Hollow out some of the bread from the middle of each piece, set aside for another purpose. Divide the bean paste and avocado mixture between the pieces. Sprinkle with cheese. Broil for a few minutes until the cheese has melted. Divide the lettuce between the sandwiches and enjoy!

Guacamole and White Bean Dip

white bean and avocado dip with chip

One of our favorite restaurants makes this appetizer called Guac-a-toni. The restaurant is a pizza joint, and the Guac-a-toni is an Italianfied take on guacamole. They serve it with a cracker-thin pizza crust baked a thin layer of crispy cheese. I can tell you (unashamedly) that I would be completely satisfied with only this as my meal!

I tell you that to tell you this. Cinco de Mayo is quickly approaching, and basil (the Italian side) seemingly makes a huge addition to a typical Mexican guacamole!  

This recipe comes from Sarah at 20something Cupcakes. She first posted it back around the Superbowl, but trust me, you do not need a special occasion to make this dish. It has the standard line up for guacamole – avocado, lemon/lime juice, salt, cilantro, and shallots/garlic with an extra kick from basil and cannellini beans.Yum!

white bean and avocado dip

Someone send me a bag of chips, and I’ll be set. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Guacamole and White Bean Dip 
Adapted from 20something Cupcakes

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic
2 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans (white beans)/, drained and rinsed
4 avocados
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2-3 shallots, finely minced
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive-oil in a pan over medium-low heat. You will use the garlic to make a garlic-infused oil. Crush the garlic cloves with the side of a chef’s knife, remove the dried wrapping, and add them to the oil. Cook bringing to a gentle sizzle, turning the heat down if necessary to keep the garlic from burning. Continue to sizzle for about 10 minutes or until the garlic is golden. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and throw it out. 

Add the beans to the oil while on low heat. Cook until the beans absorb the oil and start to become crispy on the outside. Mash with a spoon and allow them to cook for about 5-10 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and cool.

Add the peeled, pitted avocado to a large bowl. Drizzle with the lime juice. Add the shallots, herbs, and beans. Mash together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Creamy Avocado and White Bean Wrap

creamy avocado and white bean wrap cut

Is there anyone else that cannot believe that it’s already Lent?!? This year is just flying!

When we lived in Omaha, one of the things we were able to experience was a true fish fry. During Lent, several of the Catholic churches put on these huge fish fries every Friday evening. With adult beverages available for purchase, fried foods of all types, and lines that are several hours long, these fish fries turn out to be quite the gathering. The only bad part is you go home smelling of fried fish. We are not Catholic and I don’t even eat fish, but I will admit that I have trudged through the snow to stand in line for one of these!

In reviewing the recipes that I have saved up to post, I realized that many of these are meatless. Perfect. I’ll do a Lenten meatless dinner series. Some of these recipes will be quick and easy, others will take a bit more time, but all will be meat and seafood free. If there are others out there that despise eating things that swim as much as I do, hopefully I can save you from subsisting on fried hush-puppies and sides of macaroni and cheese as I did at these fish fries!

Disclaimer: Many of these are tex-mex or southwestern in flavor (but not all!), so if you also are adverse to Mexican foods, I may not be of much help 🙂

creamy avocado and white bean wrap cabbage

First up, creamy avocado and white bean wraps. This recipe comes from Eating Well, and I will admit that it made my menu due to the ease of the recipe. If you can chop up some cabbage and mash some beans, you can make these wraps. In the past, I have had mixed feelings about using cabbage in tacos and Mexican dishes, but in these wraps, it works. For one, it holds up much better than lettuce would in delivering the flavor from the chipotle peppers, but most importantly, it gives these wraps some crunch!

Would this recipe wow in a 5-star restaurant? Probably not. Will it provide a good, quick, and healthy meal for your family? Absolutely. Note, it only makes 4 wraps, so if you have a bigger family, you may need to double the recipe. For us, dinner plus lunch. By the next day, the avocado mixture had turned a little brown, but nothing that greatly affected the taste.  Overall, I can tell you that we were actually really impressed with this recipe despite its simplicity. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipes)

Creamy Avocado and White Bean Wraps
From Eating Well July/Aug 2009

2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. canola oil
2 tsp. finely chopped and seeded chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (keep the extras!)
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 medium carrot, shredded
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 (15oz) can white beans
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. red onion, minced
4, 8- or 10-inch whole wheat tortillas (we like La Tortilla Factory’s tortillas)

Whisk vinegar, oil, chipotle chiles, and salt in a medium bowl. Add cabbage, cilantro, and carrot. Set aside. If possible, let marinate for 20-30 minutes. If not, it can be used right away.

Mash beans and avocado in a separate medium bowl. Add shredded cheese and onion; mix well. 

To make the wraps, spread about 1/2 cup of the bean mixture down the center of a tortilla. Top with about 2/3 cup of the cabbage mixture. Fold in the ends of the tortilla and roll-up burrito style. Repeat to make remaining wraps. Can cut the wraps in half to serve, if desired.

Chicken Avocado Pizza

I was glancing through my stash of recipes yet to be blogged tonight, and I have a confession… I actually have more main dish recipes than desserts that are hanging around waiting to be posted. I am hoping this is because I make more dinners than desserts in a typical week, but I fear the real reason is that my turn-around time on desserts is much quicker. What can I say, I definitely have a sweet tooth, but everything in moderation right? 

Since I’ve started my residency, my husband has been home more often than I have. He has decided that when he’s up to cook, he gets to pick the recipe — translation, we’ve made quite a bit of pizza in the last few weeks as that is one of his favorite things to make 🙂 I am not arguing too much though. He does a really great job and has picked out some really good, unique pizza recipes! I have 4 or 5 pizza-themed recipes saved up in the aforementioned stash, so in his honor, I am planning to do a series of pizza posts.

The first in my series is this chicken avocado pizza adapted from allrecipes.com. Since embracing avocados, we have been finding lots of new ways to use them. This recipe basically makes a simple guacamole and then uses it as a “pizza sauce.” Genius. Add chicken, tomatoes and some cheese, and you have a really great pizza. The recipe calls for 2 avocados, and I felt like the amount of avocado-mixture that resulted was too much for our pizza dough. This may depend on the size of your avocados, but if you are planning on making a smaller pizza (12-14 inch), you may want to half the amount of mock-guac that you make. The hubs liked it as is was with more “sauce,” so it’s your call. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Chicken Avocado Pizza
Adapted from allrecipes.com

1 pkg. or homemade pizza dough for a 12-14-inch pizza
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, or to taste
salt to taste
1 clove garlic, peeled NOT minced
1 cup shredded chicken breast 
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 pinch cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven while the oven warms up.

Cut a piece of parchment paper large enough for a 12-14-inch pizza. Lightly flour the paper. Roll out or stretch out (using your hands) the pizza dough to your desired size. If it seems to shrink back after you stretch it, let it sit for a few minutes and try again. Slice the garlic clove in half and rub the cut side onto the top of the crust. Set the crust aside.

In a food processor, combine the avocado pieces and cilantro. Puree while adding lime juice and salt to taste. Spread the avocado mixture over the crust. Arrange the chicken and tomatoes over the avocado mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and season lightly with cayenne pepper. Transfer the pizza and the parchment paper to the hot pizza stone or other pizza pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the crust begins to brown and the cheese is melted.

California Chicken

I feel like we have really embraced avocados this year. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like we didn’t enjoy them before, but I never really cooked with them. In fact, I have a funny story regarding my husband and peeling an avocado, but I will spare him the details on here. Now that we are using them, I feel like we are buying them all the time. It has definitely been quite awhile since I have gone to the store without buying at least 1 or 2!

This recipe is the result of an idea that I took from allrecipes.com. The bones of the recipe were good, but it needed a little tweaking to work in our household. This includes the unwritten rule that if it is warm enough to grill, meat will be grilled not baked. I did end up using the broiler to melt the cheese but a couple minutes that it takes cheese to melt under the broiler does not count. The resulting chicken was great! It picked up quite a bit of flavor from the marinade and just gets better when topped with melted cheese and avocado slices. Pair it with a side salad for a great summer meal. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipes)

California Chicken
Original idea from allrecipes.com

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. honey
1-1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 small avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1 small tomato, thinly sliced
2-3 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into slices

Pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness and place in a ziploc bag. Combine the marinade ingredients starting with the lime juice and ending with the pepper and place into the ziploc bag with the chicken. Place the refrigerator and allow to marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. You don’t want to leave it too long or the acid in the lime juice will start to cook the chicken!

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Grill the chicken until cooked through. When the chicken is almost done, preheat the oven to broil. After the chicken has been cooked through, place in an oven-safe pan coated on the bottom with non-stick spray. Top each breast with slices of tomato, then slices of cheese. Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted and just starts to look brown. Remove from the broiler and top with avocado slices. Serve and enjoy!

Tangy Cucumber and Avocado Salad

I know it is ridiculously hot just about everywhere right now, but I still have a love affair with summer. What other time of year is it okay to pile your plate with fresh, in-season produce and call it a meal? I know as the temperature goes up it certainly has me actually craving things like large salads or vegetable combos to get my fill at meal time! 

This is a salad that I adapted from allrecipes.com to use some of the produce that we were getting from our garden. The cucumbers and tomatoes in this are all ours! Sadly, our cucumber plants have since burned-out in the heat, but my yellow bell tomato plant is still producing those little guys like they are going out of style! The salad makes a great side to just about any main dish you are serving – think grilled chicken, steak, burgers, brats, heck even a Mexican-themed meal would go here, or you could mix in a grain and call it a meal. Love it! Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Tangy Cucumber and Avocado Salad
Adapted from Allrecipes.com

2 medium cucumbers, cubed (can peel them or leave it on, your choice)
2 slightly firm avocados, cubed
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp. red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced 
1/4 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste (freshly ground if you have it)
1/4 lemon, juiced (or about 1 Tbsp.)
1 lime, juiced

In a large bowl, combine cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro. Stir in garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Squeeze lemon and lime juice over the top and gently stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.