Mild Guacamole and a Southwest Babe Bowl

img_1757Cook’s notes: Sometimes guacamole with a lot of garlic and jalapeno is tough to digest. Lime juice is more authentic, but we only had lemon juice, and it still turned out well. This perfectly mild version is delicious and easy.

Serves 8

  • 4 ripe Hass avocados, halved and pitted
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1.5 teaspoons dried cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Scoop the avocados and place in a medium bowl. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the avocado halves. Toss to coat with lemon juice. Sprinkle the dried cilantro and salt over the avocados. Using a fork, mash until a smooth consistency is achieved. Taste the guacamole “(over and over)” and adjust seasoning if necessary. Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator. Stir before serving.

The next day, you can use the guacamole as part of an “Ultimate Babe Bowl” (balanced macro bowl) from Megan Kober, who is a registered dietician. “The whole purpose of a Babe Bowl is being able to pack loads of vegetables, fiber-packed starchy vegetables or grains, healthy fats and lots of protein into one meal,” Kober says.

Southwest Babe Bowl

Place the ingredients in a bowl, mix, and eat.

  • Protein | 4 oz. rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed and meat cut into chunks
  • Healthy Fats | 1/4 cup mild guacamole
  • Vegetables | 2 cups baby spinach
  • Starchy Carbohydrates | 1/2 cup black beans (rinsed and drained) and 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • Bonus Bites | 1 to 2 Tablespoons homemade salad dressing, such as Small Batch Italian Dressing

Adapted from Chipotle — The Not-So-Secret Guac Recipe and The Nutrition Addiction


Chicken Casserole with Tortilla Chips

Cook’s notes: My sweetheart made a huge batch of Mexican-style slow cooker stew with chicken, black beans, corn, red pepper, and cilantro. We had a 4-quart cooking pot full of delicious stew, but there are only two of us in the house. I turned the leftovers into a casserole for a potluck dinner with friends.

Heat oven to 350°F. Coat a 13×9-inch baking dish evenly with cooking spray, then scatter 1.5 cups of crushed tortilla chips evenly on the bottom.

Cook 1 bag frozen brown rice, and spread cooked rice over the tortilla chip pieces.

Spoon leftover chicken and sweet potato stew in a thick layer over the rice.

Sprinkle about 3/4 cup (6 oz.) shredded Mexican cheese over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Adapted from My Favorite Mexican Casserole recipe |

Simple Corn and Black Bean Salad

Cook’s notes: This is a riff on an older recipe, the Best Recipe: Black Bean and Corn Salad. We needed a smaller amount of the corn salad to use as a topping on turkey taco salad.

2.6 oz. olive oil
2 oz. lemon juice
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon dried cilantro

Corn Salad:
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
15 ounce can whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained
Mixed salad greens

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients (olive oil to black pepper). Stir in the corn and black beans. Serve on a bed of mixed greens.

Best Recipe: Turkey Taco Salad


An amazing flavor combination, but not too spicy

Cook’s notes: This recipe is adapted from Alaska from Scratch, and it’s just terrific. The turkey mixture is enough for 6 servings. Leftovers are great for lunch. Note that the raw garlic in the dressing gets more pungent overnight. This salad has an excellent combination of flavors and textures, and the recipe is quite flexible.

Make the turkey mixture and the dressing, then assemble salads. You can also top them with a spoonful of guacamole.


Turkey mixture:
1 lb. (16 oz.) package ground turkey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Arizona Dreaming chili spice blend (from Penzeys)
1 can (14.5 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15.25 oz.) organic corn kernels, drained

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Season the turkey with salt and taco seasoning and brown the meat, breaking it up with a spatula as you go. When cooked through, add the black beans and corn, heating through. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or taco seasoning, as needed, to taste.

Cilantro Ranch Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice [half a lime]
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Process all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Assemble the salads (per person):

  • 3 oz. mixed greens
  • 1 oz. slightly crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 cup turkey, bean, and corn mixture
  • 1/2 tomato, diced
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons shredded cheddar
  • 1/4 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 scallion, chopped
  • Cilantro Ranch dressing to taste
  • Salsa, if desired

Review: Pumpkin Chicken Enchiladas


Perfectly pumpkin enchiladas

Cook’s notes: This excellent recipes uses a full can (15 oz) of plain pumpkin puree. The enchiladas are hearty, and leftovers freeze well.

I omitted the jalapeno and red pepper flakes. We like our Mexican-style food on the mild side, and the 2 Tablespoons of chili powder provided enough heat.

We did not need all 16 corn tortillas, but we used at least 12 of them.

For pumpkin sour cream sauce:

  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup good quality tomato sauce
  • 1 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • salt and pepper to taste

For filling:

  • 2-3 cups shredded chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (15 oz) cans of black beans
  • 2 cups good quality tomato sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 16-20 corn tortillas
  • 2-3 cups reduced-fat Mexican or Colby Jack cheese
Instructions: See the Ambitious Kitchen site

Review: Turkey Taco Casserole

Turkey Taco Casserole

Turkey Taco Casserole

Cook’s notes: I made this for a friend’s birthday party, and it turned out quite well. The author, Lauren Keating, notes that ground chicken has a “delicate flavor [that] allows the salsa and beans to take center-stage.” I used mild salsa instead of hot and plain olive oil (not chili oil) and added lots of black olives.

To save time, I doubled the recipe for the filling (1 onion, 4 cloves garlic, 2 lbs. ground chicken, 4 Tablespoons taco seasonings, 2 cans beans, and 2 cups salsa) and cooked the mixture in a Dutch oven on the stovetop. For the casserole, I used the same amount of chips originally called for but added extra filling to fill the pan to the top. About 3/4 of this mixture went into the pan. The leftover filling was delicious not baked but eaten in a bowl like chili.

Penzeys makes taco seasoning just for chicken tacos. Highly recommended.

I would definitely make this again, and topping the casserole with guacamole is a great idea.

Source: Adapted from the Healthy. Delicious. blog

Turkey Enchilada Sauce

A bowl of goodness

A bowl of goodness

This recipe is a variation on my beloved Sweet Potato Enchilada Pie. The combination of sweet potato, mushroom, beans, and cheese makes me want to sing with joy. However, I wanted to make a version of this dish that didn’t have tortillas in it and lightened up the cheese. Depending on the enchilada sauce you use, this could be a gluten-free dish (I used Hatch brand). I added yogurt to bring the heat down, since we used medium-heat sauce. No extra spices are needed, because the sauce has good flavor on its own. We served it over sweet potatoes that were steamed in the microwave. You may also like this sauce over pasta.

Makes 8 servings (1/2 cup each)

To make this vegetarian, omit the turkey and add more mushrooms.

2 large sweet potatoes

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz. box sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 pound (16 oz.) ground turkey breast, 99% fat free
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, no salt added, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz.) red enchilada sauce, medium or mild
1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded Mexican-blend cheese
1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

Microwave the sweet potatoes on the Potato setting until done. Cut in half and let cool. Peel and diced the cooked sweet potato; discard the potato peelings.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook turkey and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the beans, enchilada sauce, oregano, cumin and sweet potato; heat through.