Category Archives: Recipes

Guacamole: Julie’s Famous Recipe

Julies Famous Guacamole
Before my youngest daughter could speak in more than one word sentences, she’d
formed an intense love affair with guacamole. Ate it with a spoon. And when she’d
licked her bowl clean, screamed for more. No matter how spicy I made it, she
would wolf it down, tears streaming down her plump little apple cheeks. I’m not
sure exactly when the tradition started, but since my girls were small, Guacamole
Friday has been a long-standing ritual in the Ford home. In fact, if family and/or
friends invite us for supper on a Friday, we respectfully decline. My daughters,
now teenagers, still schedule their busy social calendars around this particular
meal. Then, a few years ago, we bought a quesadilla maker, and Guacamole Fridays
morphed into Quesadilla Fridays.

Julie’s Famous Guacamole:

Avocados.
(Four-five makes a medium sized bowl. The avocados are the most important
ingratiate so choose wisely. Too hard will be tasteless and also kill your hand
when smashing. Too soft will be rotten when you slice them open. Ew! When
choosing avocados, squeeze, pressing firmly with your thumb. The meat right
under the skin should be soft but grow firm the deeper you press.)
Roma Tomatoes, diced.
(One less than the amount of avocados you’re using. Roma tomatoes are the
best choice because they are less juicy than other varieties.)
Finley chopped Yellow Onion to taste.
(About two tablespoons for a medium bowl.)
Chopped, fresh Cilantro.
(Don’t skip the cilantro. If you don’t like cilantro then don’t eat guacamole.
Sorry, I have unreasonably strong opinions about this and very little patience
for people who say they don’t like cilantro. It’s the best herb ever!)
Jalapeno to taste.
(I use dried, but pickled work too. Fresh is harder to control the intensity of
the heat. Two or three seeds from a fresh jalapeno will likely pack a sufficient
punch.)
Garlic Powder to taste.
(I usually just shake some over the top, mix and taste. Tasting is the best part.
Sometimes I taste a few extra times just to make sure. It never hurts to be
thorough J)
Lime juice.
(Squeeze half a lime over the top.)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and then stir with a fork, smashing down on the
firmer chunks of avocado, until combined.

Quesadillas:

Flour tortillas.
(For obvious reasons, you’ll need two for each quesadilla.)

Pico de Gallo.
(Finely diced Roma tomatoes, yellow onion, cilantro mixed together.)
Shredded Cheese.
(We use a mixture of cheddar and pepper jack. For those of you who are
lactose intolerant, I’ve found that the veggie shreds, cheddar/pepper jack
mix, work well as an alternative.)
Cubed, Seasoned, Sautéed or Grilled, Chicken or Beef.

Layer bottom tortilla with chicken or beef, Pico and then cheese. Don’t over due it
with the cheese. It’ll just melt, run out from between the tortillas and make a mess.

Grill. Lightly brushing the top of the tortilla with oil will make it brown and crispy.

Unless you possess an aptitude for flipping hot, floppy tortillas stuffed with chicken,
Pico and cheese without the contents spilling out, you’ll need a quesadilla maker. I
bought mine at Target—the most magical place on earth.

Cut into wedges with a pizza cutter. Top with Julie’s Famous Guacamole.

And, do you what goes really well with quesadillas and guacamole?

A book. More specifically, my newest novel, Replacing Gentry.

A modern, Southern twist on the classic Gothic romance novels of Rebecca and Jane
Eyre, Replacing Gentry follows a woman’s precarious journey as she learns the truth
about the man she married.

Enjoy!

Replacing Gentry

When Marlie agrees to attend a cadaver ball at Vanderbilt Medical School, she did not expect to actually see any cadavers. Or, that a strange apparition would issue her a chilling message.

Despite the cadaver’s warning, Marlie is married a year later to Tennessee State Senator, Daniel Cannon, and living in a plantation-style mansion with two step sons. Add to the mix her growing suspicion that something is amiss with the death of Daniel’s first wife, Gentry; and newlywed Marlie is definitely in over her pretty Yankee head.

What begins as an innocent inquiry into her new husband’s clouded past, ends with Marlie in the midst of a dangerous conspiracy.

A modern twist on the classic Gothic romance novels of Rebecca and Jane Eyre, Replacing Gentry follows Marlie’s precarious journey as she learns the truth about the man she married.

Price: Check on Amazon

Julie Ford: Author

Julie N. Ford graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in Political Science and a minor in English Literature. In addition, she has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Alabama. Professionally, she has worked in teaching and as a Marriage & Family Counselor. She is the author of two women’s fiction novels, The Woman He Married and No Holly for Christmas, published in 2011. In addition, she wrote a romance/chick-lit novel, Count Down to Love, also published in 2011. Count Down to Love was a 2011 Whitney Award finalist. Her next novel, Replacing Gentry, is due for release April 9th, 2013.

Currently, she lives in Nashville, TN with her husband, two daughters and one hedgehog.

 

Originally posted 2013-04-10 22:15:00.

Understanding Beef Cuts

Hey everyone. I thought it would be good this week to demystify the various cuts of beef.  So…  here goes….

Chuck:
Ground beef dishes, stew, pot roast, short ribs
Rib:
Rib roast, rolled roast, rib steak, and back ribs
Short Loin:
Steak (tenderloin, porterhouse, T-bone), tenderloin roast
Sirloin:
Steak (sirloin, filet mignon), carpaccio, ground beef dishes
Brisket and Shank:
Ground beef, stew, corned beef, soup
Short Plate:
Stew, ground beef, short ribs
Flank:
Steak (flank, skirt) ground beef
Round:
Ground beef, round steak, kebabs, pot roast

Some additional tips:

  • Don’t buy packaged meat swimming in liquid. It has either been stored too long or has been frozen and thawed.
  • To keep bacteria down, don’t thaw at room temp. Thaw in microwave, under cold running water, or in the refrigerator.
  • Freeze in air tight containers or freezer wrap.  It can be frozen up to 3 months.
  • Cook tender cuts of meat using dry heat methods like broiling, frying, and roasting.
  • Tendering tougher cuts by cooking with moist heat methods such as braising and stewing.
  • Remove a roast from the oven a few minutes before desired temp is reached. It will continue to cook after its removed and the internal temp usually rises about 5 degrees.

Originally posted 2012-07-26 05:00:00.

Expiration Guidelines

Hey Everyone!  Thought I’d start a new ‘thing’ for Thursdays!

Thankless Tips and Tricks Thursdays!!!

We all know being a wife and mom has it’s rewards, but we also know so much we do goes unnoticed.  These are tips and tricks that keep the magic going.  Hey, I appreciate you!  Thanks for visiting the Zoo!
 
I’ll focus on tips and tricks of all sorts, let me know if there is anything in particular you are looking for and I’ll be happy to research it!  As for today, I have a list of expiration guidelines for ya.  For that stuff that doesn’t really ‘expire’ but you KNOW has to go bad eventually!!!  Hope this is helpful!!!

Acne Treatments – 1 year
Anti-aging Body Lotion – 1 year
Bath Oil – 1 year
Shampoo/Conditioner – 3 years
Hair Gel – 2-3 years
Lipstick – 2 years
Mouthwash – 3 years
Perfume – 2 years
Shaving Cream – 2 years
Foundation – 2 years
Lip Balm – 1-5 years!!!
Mascara – 3-4 months
Nail Polish – 1 year
Toothbrush – 3 months

What would you like to see in Thankless Tips and Tricks???

Originally posted 2012-07-05 05:00:00.

Baked Taquitos

Quick, simple recipe.  Right up my alley
I made them the other night thanks to Chief Zoo Keeper’s request!  The turned out way better than I thought (as taquitos are normally deep fried!)  Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!!!

INGREDIENTS:
flour tortillas
ground meat
taco seasoning
1 can green chilis
non-stick cookie spray
minced garlic
chopped onion (opt.)
chopped bell pepper (opt)



1.  Brown 1-2 lbs of ground beef or ground turkey with onion, bell peppers, and or garlic if desired.  We used turkey.  As for the amount, just use however much you normally would!  Remember that these will freeze really well to have for future meals, also Monkey took one to school and ate it cold for lunch.  She really enjoyed it!

2.  Once you’ve browned the meat, drain grease and add taco seasoning.  If you used ground turkey, I suggest using low sodium beef broth to simmer it in, but it’s up to you!  The broth adds a lot of great flavor!  We typically use broth.  Let it simmer until seasoning has soaked into the meat.

3.  Next, mix in a can of green chilis.  Stir well.  Once the juice has simmered into the meat you have options.
             A. Mix in shredded cheese, stir, then proceed
             B.  Proceed, then add cheese
             C.  Skip the cheese altogether

 4.  Spray a cake pan or cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Set aside.

5.  Roll a small amount of meat mixture up into the tortilla shell.    Lay into baking sheet and spray the tops.  of the taquitos.

6.  Bake for about 6-10 minutes, flip over and repeat until lightly  browned to your taste at 350!  Enjoy!

My Suggestions to go with them:
Mexican or Spanish Rice
Refried Beans
Salad
Tamarindo

I always hate trying to come up with side dishes!  For some reason or another, it stresses me out!  What else do you suggest to serve with it???  I’ll take all the tips I can get!!!

Originally posted 2011-12-21 13:58:00.

Pumpkin Bread

What better treat on a cold night than pumpkin bread???  I made some for our church and our guests at Thanksgiving, and a loaf to fill our bellies later!  😀  I was initially scared to try it, but it was amazingly easy!  Also, very inexpensive!  Here goes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter, soften
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 16 oz can of pure pumpkin
1. Preheat oven to 350º and spray three medium loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.  (I got the tin ones at Dollar Tree so that I could freeze some)  Or, you can do multiple (I forgot to count!) small loaves to give as gifts!  Don’t fill more than 2/3 full!  😀

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, spices, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and set aside.

 3. In the bowl, mix cream the butter and the sugar until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition. Add the pumpkin and combine well.
4. Add the dry ingredients stirring until just combined. Coat the cinnamon chips with 2 T. flour and stir into batter.
5. Spoon batter into prepared pans. Bake side-by-side for about one hour or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (Bake mini pumpkins 25- 30 and 35-40 minutes for the mini loaves.)

Note: Substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves for 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.

I used my Gypsy Wanderings to make the tags, then wrote on them.  😀  I also had a loaf to eat on for dessert!  They turned out really well and everyone was pleased to take some home!  As a side note, remember when I said I ran out of brown material????  This is a basket covered with a skirt!  No one thought twice about it!!!

Thanks for visiting the Zoo!!!  Stick around and check it out!  Don’t forget to go and sign up for my Giveaway, tomorrow is the last day to sign up before our winner is drawn!!!  There is also a few giveaways here!

Here are some great gifts you can check out:

Great Kid’s Book
DIY Jewelry Hanger

 

Originally posted 2011-11-30 03:24:00.

Dutch Oven Herb Pork Loin

Dutch Oven Herb Pork Loin: Healthy, Paleo, Auto-Immune, All-around Yummy!I love cooking things that are delicious and simple.  The Dutch Oven Herb Pork Loin was quick and easy which certainly fits the bill of both!!!  It wasn’t much work to get it together and we all enjoyed it so much there were no leftovers!  The best part is that it was so great no one added ketchup or anything else!  LOL.  Chief ZooKeeper always insists on modifying things, this one he complimented repeatedly!  It would be incredibly easy to prepare the ingredients, brown, and then start after work or school.  A one pot meal with little clean up so you can get to what’s important: your life!

For our health, we chose to go to a very paleo like diet.  That’s when I realized just how much junk was truly in my ‘healthy’ diet.  I only call it junk because since I’ve switched, I’ve learned that my body was not happy with many of my food choices.  I  feel better and am healthier, that’s totally worth the sacrifice.

Dutch Oven Herb Pork Loin

Ingredients:

  • 4 pound boneless top loin roast
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • Horseradish Sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced (leave out for auto immune and paleo diet!)
  • carrots, bell peppers, etc as desired. sliced small

Directions:

  1. Rub pork with thyme.
  2. Heat the dutch oven on high then brown loin on all sides.
  3. When pork has been browned, brush all sides with horse radish sauce.
  4. Add the water to the pot.  Place the lid on and turn heat to low.
  5. Cook until meat reaches 140 degrees.  
  6. At 140 degrees, remove pork and place in a warming area (I use the oven typically and keep it covered, you don’t want the oven on or it will cook the meat too much)
  7. Add vegetables to oven and saute.  Cook until done. 

Need some fabulous desserts?  We have lots, check out this yummy Raspberry Almond Delight!

 

Italian Beef Cabbage Stew: Simple & Delicious!

Italian Beef Cabbage Stew is an amazingly good soup! Your whole family is sure to love it! 

Italian Beef Cabbage Stew

Italian Beef Cabbage Stew is so easy and so delicious!  Healthy AND it doesn’t break the bank!  It’s a winner all around!  You can add in kidney beans and corn also. It’s great all on it’s own but it also goes well on macaroni noodles or rice!

If you are doing paleo, you can easily modify this one to fit your diet.  Either way, it’s full of healthy vitamins and such!  It didn’t last long around the Zoo, even though Monkey “hates cabbage!”  haha

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Brown ground meat and drain.  Can I just say, this picture just did not turn out well!  LOL.  Oh well, don’t give up on me now!

  2. Place meat in a stew pot, add in onion, celery, carrots, garlic, tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth and herbs.  If you want to add in the carrots or kidney beans, now is the time.  

  3. Boil for 30 minutes then turn down to a simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

  4. Add in cabbage and green beans. Simmer an additional 30 minutes and enjoy!

    We have a lot of other fantastic soups and stews for you to enjoy!  You can find them here!

Baked Taquitos

Ingredients

10 large flour tortillas
1 lb Ground beef or ground turkey
taco seasoning
1 can green chiles
1 tbsp garlic minced
1 Onion chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped, optional

Servings:
Instructions

Brown 1-2 lbs of ground beef or ground turkey with onion, bell peppers, and or garlic if desired. We used turkey. As for the amount, just use however much you normally would! Remember that these will freeze really well to have for future meals, also Monkey took one to school and ate it cold for lunch. She really enjoyed it!
Once you’ve browned the meat, drain grease and add taco seasoning. If you used ground turkey, I suggest using low sodium beef broth to simmer it in, but it’s up to you! The broth adds a lot of great flavor! We typically use broth. Let it simmer until seasoning has soaked into the meat.
Next, mix in a can of green chilis. Stir well. Once the juice has simmered into the meat you have options. A. Mix in shredded cheese, stir, then proceed B. Proceed, then add cheese C. Skip the cheese altogether
Spray a cake pan or cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Roll a small amount of meat mixture up into the tortilla shell. Lay into baking sheet and spray the tops. of the taquitos.
Bake for about 6-10 minutes, flip over and repeat until lightly browned to your taste at 350! Enjoy!
My Suggestions to go with them: Mexican or Spanish Rice, Refried Beans, and/or Salad. For a real authentic treat make some Tamarindo to go with it. You can find the recipe with the drinks. Check out more at www.MyCraftyZoo.com