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Would you like some super-easy guacamole to put on top of your cheap homemade burritos?  Here's a recipe you can make with your eyes closed!

Don't skip using the citrus juice or vinegar; the acidity prevents the avocado from turning brown (oxidation).

Simplest Guacamole

1 avocado
1 Tbsp. lime or lemon juice, 
       OR 1 Tbsp. vinegar and 1 drop lime or lemon essential oil
Salt to taste
chili powder to taste (optional)

Mash the avocado with the juice.  Sprinkle with salt.

You can jazz this up many ways: other flavor options are to stir in chopped or pureed tomato or onion, a little salsa, mixed in diced jalapenos, chopped cilantro, or some sour cream. 

This can also be made into an easy salad dressing: increase juice to 2 Tbsp and stir in 3 Tbsp. olive oil.  To make it even creamier- and lighter-, puree this along with a medium-sized cucumber. A big handful of cilantro added before blending provides a nice flavor boost.  If the dressing is too thick, add more lime/lemon juice and oil.

 
 
No, this one doesn't have any wine in it; it's not THAT kind of cooler.   It just... makes you cooler.  Both ways.  (Right?)

This is great for using overripe fruit, which is what I happened to have sitting on my countertop.  The pear needed a couple bruises cut off, then it was ready to become part of a cold, refreshing, lightly sweet drink with a hint of mint.

1 pear
1 banana, the darker the better
one 4" sprig of fresh mint
1 tray of ice cubes
2 cups water
1-2 Tbsp. honey, optional

Put all in a blender, run on high until smooth.  Makes about 4 cups.
 
 
This recipe makes a big batch, about 11-12 cups (5 pounds) of refried beans.  The point is to have enough to freeze for later.  Since I buy beans in 25-lb bags for about $17, the beans for this cost just $1.40, a big onion was $ .30.  Not counting the spices – which are a small amount- this adds up to just under $ .08 for each half-cup serving of refried beans!  I used them to make some burritos to freeze for my husband’s lunches.

You can make these fat-free, but I prefer to use at least some fat, for a few reasons.  One is that it helps in digestion- fiber is easier on your system when there’s some fat there to help it along.  Another is that it helps make certain vitamins available- vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, which means if you don’t eat fat along with those vitamins in your food, your body is not able to absorb them.  Besides all that, fat helps you stay full longer, plus helps the beans taste more moist and delicious!

According to CalorieCount, a half-cup of these -before the cheese- have 3.7g fat, 15g fiber, 21g protein, 27% of your RDA for iron, plus are high in magnesium, potassium, and thiamin.  How’s that for cheap, filling nutrition?

5 cups dry beans (about 2 lbs) – I used black beans but pinto are also good
1-2 onions, coarsely chopped
9 cups water

Sort through the beans and remove any dirt or rocks.  Rinse them, then put the beans, onion, and water in a pressure cooker.  Put the lid on and bring up to pressure.  Cook on high pressure for 45 minutes.   Let the pressure drop completely before opening up.  

If you don't have a pressure cooker, put the beans and onion in a big pot, cover with about 3 quarts of water (12 cups), bring to a boil, and simmer for about 4 hours.  Check occasionally to make sure there's still enough water to barely cover the beans, adding more if needed.

You’ll have about 12 cups of cooked beans.  Drain them but keep the liquid.  Stir in:
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. liquid smoke
¼  c. coconut oil – OR use bacon drippings and omit the liquid smoke

Puree or mash them - I put 3 cups at a time in my blender.  Add a little cooking liquid if they’re too thick.  They WILL thicken some as they cool.  Taste them and add more of any seasoning you think they still need.  This version is lightly flavored.

To make bean and cheese burritos, stir in 4-8 oz. mild or medium cheese, shredded on the biggest shredding holes.

If you’re making 6-oz burritos, you’ll need about 24 flour tortillas (size about 8” across). If you want 4-oz burritos, you’ll need about 40-48 tortillas.
 
 
My 12-year-old science nut convinced me to buy a red cabbage-  why?   

While walking through the produce section together, I had told him that the vegetable could be used to make a pH indicator.  He was excited.   You can see how to do this in the one-minute video, below.
Meanwhile, you don't need the whole head of cabbage for such a project, so it got chopped up into a creamy, flavorful, no-mayonnaise coleslaw.  The recipe is below this cabbage video. 
Isn't that simple?  If you don't have a coffee filter, any other absorbent paper will work, including (white) construction paper or paper towels.  My favorite is the construction paper.  You can read more about why this works here

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Coleslaw with Bacon and Buttermilk (or Kefir) Dressing
adapted from America's Test Kitchen

If you are going to eat this coleslaw RIGHT AWAY, you can skip the salting step, which keeps the cabbage from releasing water and diluting the dressing as it sits.  However, if you’re not a fan of raw onion, cook it along with the bacon; salting the onion also mellows it.

½ medium head of red or green cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot or apple, grated
½ medium onion, sliced thin
Salt
6 slices bacon, chopped, cooked and drained
½ c. buttermilk or kefir
2 Tbsp. oil (I used coconut oil)
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
½ Tbsp. caraway seeds
¼ tsp. mustard (dry or prepared)
2 tsp. sugar or honey
Black pepper to taste

Combine the cabbage, carrot/apple, and onion in a colander; sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt. Let stand over a bowl until the veggies wilt, 1-4 hours.  Rinse, drain, and pat dry.  Add in the bacon (and onion if you cooked them together.)  Stir together the buttermilk/kefir, oil, vinegar, caraway, mustard, and sugar.  Pour over the salad, and toss to coat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

 
 
One of the things that makes me happiest is seeing people be creative and resourceful- what can they make or do with what they already have?  This group, below, has taken that a new direction-  and it's a blast!

(Now I'm REALLY wanting to get a baby grand...  it doesn't quite work the same on an upright piano!)
 
 
I recently answered a question about how someone could make a Bisquick recipe when he didn't actually have any of the baking mix.  You can make your own mix to have on hand, but that's not necessary either.  Here's one way you can do it. 

Find your favorite Bisquick recipe (one is below), but make your own substitute.  Bisquick is simply a mixture of flour, leavening, shortening/fat, and salt.

The following recipe calls for 2 cups of Bisquick.  To get 2 cups of substitute, do this:

Pull out a one-cup measuring cup. Put in the bottom of it: 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 cup shortening, coconut oil, or softened butter. Fill the cup the rest of the way with flour, and level off.  Dump this into your mixing bowl and mash with a fork until the butter/shortening is mixed in. Add one more cup of flour. This is your "Bisquick".  Proceed with the rest of the recipe.   You can find a ton of recipes at the Bisquick site.


7-Up Biscuits (especially tender and light)

◦3 Tbsp butter, cut in 3-4 pieces
◦2 cups Bisquick
◦1/2 cup sour cream
◦1/2 cup 7-Up or other lemon lime soda

Preheat the oven to 450 F.   Put the butter in a 9x9 pan and put it in the oven to melt.  Meanwhile, put the Bisquick (or your substitute ! ) in a bowl and stir the sour cream into it.  Stir in the 7-Up.  This dough is soft.   Pull the melted butter out of the oven.   Sprinkle some flour on the counter, dump the dough out on top of it, and sprinkle the dough with a little bit of flour.  Pat it about 1/2" thick.  Cut with a biscuit cutter, a canning jar ring, or the mouth of a drinking glass.  (You can pat it into a square, and cut 9 even squares out of it, instead.)  Put the biscuits in the pan, on top of the melted butter, and baked about 10 minutes, until golden brown.

This recipe came earlier from 
http://realmomkitchen.com/8665/7-up-bisc…
 
 
With a name like “Tres Leches” (“Three Milks”), you’re not going to get a truly authentic recipe without using dairy, but this one has the creamy moistness of the real deal.  If you can have dairy products, use the ‘tres leches’ mixture from my other, traditional, Tres Leches Cake.


Make the ‘tres leches’ mixture:
1 14-oz can coconut cream (NOT cream of coconut), divided
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil, or dairy-free margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
1 14-oz can coconut milk

Combine 2/3 c. of the coconut cream, sugar, and oil/margarine.  Boil until thickened and darker; it took about 8 minutes in my microwave.  Add the vanilla and remainder of the coconut cream.  Set aside to cool.

Make the Vanilla Cake from Living Without magazine.  I made it without eggs, as well (more allergies); instructions for doing that are included below the recipe.  (However, I didn’t have egg replacer, so I replaced the 4 eggs with 1/2 c. applesauce, 2 tsp. baking powder, and 3 Tbsp. water.)

When the cake is done baking, let it cool for ten minutes, then poke holes with a skewer, every inch all over the top.  Pour the coconut cream mixture over the top. Refrigerate at least 3 hours; overnight is better.

Whipped (coconut) cream topping
1 14-oz can coconut cream, well chilled
3 Tbsp. sugar, honey, or corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
Whip all together until fluffy, then spread on top of cake.   Using the honey or corn syrup will help stabilize the cream so it doesn’t go flat as quickly.
To get REALLY stable whipped cream, soften 1 tsp. unflavored gelatin in 1 Tbsp. water, then dissolve (12 seconds in microwave works).  Let cool slightly before pouring slowly into partially-whipped cream.
 
 
Or Lime Silk Pie.  Just put all the filling in an 8" pie crust.  The recipe is also gluten-free.  If you change the fruit to orange, and add cocoa powder, you get Chocolate Truffle Pie.

A friend recently sent me a very strange-sounding chocolate pie recipe, using avocados and coconut oil in the filling for some healthy fat.  It was so unusual I just had to try it!

It was shockingly good.  So good it deserved some variations. 

This one doesn't use cocoa at all, and takes advantage of the natural green color from the avocados.   

Are you intrigued yet?

Toasty Coconut Crust: (or use your favorite crust)
2 Tbsp. honey
½ c. coconut oil
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 c. toasted fine-flake coconut

Pull out an 8” pie pan, OR for tartlets, line 30 mini-muffin tins with paper liners (optional, for easier removal).  Stir together the honey, coconut oil, and salt.  Add coconut and mix until smooth.  Press into the pie pan or muffin tins.  For the latter, use 1 Tbsp. per mini muffin tin and press.    Put in the freezer for 10 minutes, while you make the filling.  For easiest removal, take the mini crusts out of the pan (still in the liners) when firm, before adding the filling.

Filling:
2 avocados, about 4-5 oz. apiece
½ c. coconut oil
½ c. honey
½ c. fresh lime juice (or use the juice of 3 limes and make up the difference with water)
1 Tbsp. lime zest, or 6-8 drops lime essential oil
2 Tbsp. coconut cream concentrate (optional but softens the sharpness a little)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt

Put all the filling ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Puree until smooth.  Pour into your prepared crust.  Chill at least four hours, until firm.  (To speed it up, try 30 minutes in the freezer.)  Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes if you want the filling a little softer.

Garnish with a dollop of coconut yogurt (or sour cream if dairy’s OK for you) and a bit of lime zest.    Makes one 8” pie or about 30 tartlets.


One website dedicated to avocado recipes - including both unique and stand-by recipes- is TheAmazingAvocado.com   

I'd love to hear back from you once you try this lime pie!

What else do you  do with avocados? 


 
 
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Do you need a quick pizza crust?  This one doesn't require any rising time, which means you could have a fresh-baked pizza in less time than it takes to order out!

You may like this even if you don't have to avoid wheat or gluten.  If you don't these flours and gluten's OK for you,  the recipe can be modified back to a wheat-based crust; just use a total of 2 cups flour.

Gluten-free pizza crust

1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch (or adjust these 3 ingredients to total 2 cups)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 to 1 cup water or milk, just off boiling (very hot!)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, grease a pizza pan or baking sheet.
Stir together flours/starches, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Stir in the hot water or milk and stir until it forms a dough. Pat about 1/4" thick onto the pan you're using.  Bake until just set, about 10-15 minutes, depending on thickness. Add your sauce and toppings and return the pizza to the oven until cheese is melted. (I like to put it under the broiler for 2 minutes instead, to get browned & bubbling bits on the cheese.)
 
 
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There are some shade-loving, spiny-leather-leaved shrubs known as "Oregon Grape" (Mahonia).  At least one variety is native to the Rocky Mountain area, but nurseries sell different, -bigger- ones for use in landscaping. 

The berries ("grapes") are very tart but make delicious jelly.  They're free, too!

Pick the berries when they're completely blue.  They'll have a greyish-blue coating on them that will rub off, this is normal.  You don't have to rub it off.  For this size batch of jelly, I had about four cups of berries.

Rinse them, then put them in a pan.  Mash them, then add water, 1" deeper than the berries.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 20-30 minutes, until they're very soft.  Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, a few layers of cheesecloth, or a single layer of cotton fabric.  Let it drip for ten minutes or so.  You can press down on it with a spoon to get more juice, but this will squeeze more solids into the juice, yielding cloudy jelly.

Follow the directions for grape jelly from your brand of pectin, or use these quantities:

Combine 5 cups juice with 7 cups sugar, bring to a full boil for two minutes.  Stir in one box of pectin (THIS WILL FOAM UP!- use a bigger pan than you think you'll need.) and return to a full boil. Let it boil 2 minutes more, then pour into your sterilized jars.  Top with new lids (warmed in water), screw on the bands.  Process for 10 minutes.  This makes 7 tp 8 half-pints of jelly.   If you used a big enough pan, you can scrub it out, put 1" of water in the bottom, bring it to a boil, put the jars full of hot jelly into this pan, cover with a lid, and let it steam (simmer) for the ten minutes of processing time.  Lift out carefully and put them on a dry dishtowel on the counter.  Cool completely.

When the jelly is completely cool (usually the next day), wash the jars and remove the rings.  Dry the tops, label with the year and what's in the jar.

For more detailed instructions, see a post at one of my favorite websites, http://www.pickyourown.org/grapejelly.htm