Grilled Eggplant with Caramelized Onions and Tomatoes

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This is such a simple recipe and I’ve made versions of it three times now in the last week. Eggplant grows very well here and they are in the height of their season right now. Grilling the eggplant in a healthy amount of olive oil does something just magical to them. Switch out the tomatoes for all sorts of other compliments – pesto, cooked figs, bacon. NOM.

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Grilled Eggplant with Caramelized Onions and Tomatoes

Ingredients:
2 eggplant, stems removed, sliced width-wise in 3/4″ slices
1/2 cup + 1 Tbs olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 large sweet onion

Instructions:

Instructions:
In a heavy skillet over medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and the onions. Cook and stir frequently until caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. If the onions start to brown too quickly, turn down the heat and salt them a little.

While the onions are cooking, heat a BBQ grill to medium. Aim for about 350-400 degrees. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the slices in a single layer on the hot grill, working in batches if needed. Grill for 4-5 minutes a side and remove.

Arrange the grilled eggplant on a serving platter and top with the soft onions once they’re perfectly done. Scatter the tomatoes over the top and drizzle with balsamic. Eat at any temperature.

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Hungarian Paprika – Beef Goulash

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This is such wonderful comfort food. Hearty, deep, savory, and yet, bright, delicate, and nuanced at the same time. It’s not a traditional or labor intensive version of the dish, but all the best reasons why it’s a classic remain. Easy weekday fare. I am definitely a meat and potatoes kind of girl.

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Hungarian Paprika – Beef Goulash
Adapted from Williams Sonoma

Ingredients:
2-3 lb. beef chuck roast
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs Hungarian paprika
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 cup beef or chicken broth
28 oz can diced tomatoes
8 red potatoes, about 2 pounds total, cut into 1″ cubes

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Instructions:
Place the onion and garlic into a large slow cooker. Season the beef generously with the salt, pepper, and paprika, and place on top of the onions in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove the meat from the slow cooker away from all the juices and soft onions and set aside. Back to the slow cooker of, add in the caraway, oregano, liquid smoke, tomato paste, broth, tomatoes, and potatoes. Cook on high for 2 hours.

Once the roast has cooled a bit, trim any big pieces of fat, the bone, if there is one, and then shred the meat roughly. Add the meat back to the slow cooker, where the potatoes should be soft and the sauce thickened up a bit. Stir to combine and serve! Better the second and third day, as all stews are.

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Roasted Cauliflower with Figs and Mint

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This is the most wonderful side dish. The flavors are familiar, but surprising together. Buttery, well roasted cauliflower with soft figs, sharp balsamic, and bright mint. Do it.

Roasted Cauliflower with Figs and Mint
Wildly adapted from Food Network Magazine

Ingredients:
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 8 cups)
1/4 cup + 1 tsp olive oil, divided
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
6 dried figs, coarsely chopped
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
2 Tbs aged balsamic vinegar

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Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Put the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet, drizzle over the 1/4 cup olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss a bit to coat and evenly spread the cauliflower on the baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and roast, stirring once with a spatula, until golden brown at the edges, about 20 minutes.

Into a skillet, add the teaspoon of olive oil with the garlic and figs and cook until they’re softened, about 3 minutes.

Transfer the hot cauliflower to a serving bowl and add the fig and garlic mixture, the mint, and balsamic vinegar. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary and serve warm or at room temperature.

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Summer Catch

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Darlings, it’s summer already! I am two months into a new (big, wow, hard) job and I’ve found my free time sponged up by the gym and dates with Aurelia.

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I’m in training for the Smuttynose Rockfest marathon, thanks to my bestest best Betsy and her powers of persuasion. Part of my training includes a half marathon next weekend and a 30 k Payette Lake Run in McCall September 1st. Thrilling! I am not an extraordinary runner, but pace is really relative and part of what makes running so awesome is that your competition is really only yourself and the hardest part isn’t in your legs, but in your mind. I am loving the solace I find through a great run, even on the treadmill. I added a Daily Mile widget to the right side bar with a link to my profile where I track my mileage. I enjoy the design of the site and recommend it if you want an easy way to keep track of your workouts (running, cycling, swimming, mostly). I’m still going to CrossFit 3-4 times a week and love it more than ever, but I don’t track those WODS.

I don’t have any new wonderful recipes to share because I’ve been eating very routine, calorie-and-macro-tracked, portable meals. I’m skipping breakfast 2x a week to train fasted with BCAA’s and eat eggs and meat or bulletproof coffee the other days. I pack a big lunch of starchy veg and/or greens + meat + cut veggies + fresh or dried fruit to work every day. My primadonna tummy has been annoyingly particular for a couple months, so I eliminated all added sugar, grains, legumes, and (most) dairy in June and besides 2 cheat meals, I stuck to it and noticed …. no difference. I’m trying to slowly whittle off 2-4% body fat without losing lean muscle so I can run easier/faster/lighter and even while cutting out my much missed oatmeal, chocolate, and fro yo, my weight has still maintained the same +/- 5 pounds. My point is that my food is very predictable and a little bit boring these days. We all go through phases of creativity and experimentation countered with phases of survival and maintenance.

I bought two sets of the pyrex snap ware dishes from Costco and fill 6-10 up twice a week for all my lunches and more dinners than I should admit. Aurelia doesn’t seem to mind and it’s actually pretty easy feeding a toddler with so many pre-cut/cooked/portioned meals. She noshes on cucumber, salmon, chicken, hard boiled eggs, and sweet potatoes. And I have sausages, popcorn, whole grain bread, cheese, gallons of raw milk, and dried fruit just for her and it’s convenient enough. It’s so impossibly hot right now (108F today) that it’s been a relief to pull a protein packed meal out of the fridge and not have to heat up the oven or stove each night.

Here’s a few pictures from a recent multiple meal prep:

Sweet potatoes and parsnips tossed with sea salt, herbes de provence, pepper, and coconut oil. Ready to be tossed and put on a baking sheet to be roasted at 400F for 30-40 minutes, stirring a few times.

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Before grilling chicken breasts, put them one by one into a large ziplock and pound with a rolling pin until the thickest part of the breast is about 1/2 – 3/4″, about the same as the thinner part of the breast. This will ensure even cooking time. No one likes dry chicken. Marinate for 2-24 hours in salt and spices, then cook on a grill that’s been preheated to 375-400F. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side and use a meat thermometer to check each breast. Done when the internal temperature reaches 165F. Rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

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Mid prep – pumpkin puree, spinach for salads, cut veg and strawberries, cooked chicken, cauliflower read to be riced.

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Assembly – chicken cut and paired with pumpkin, greens alone for canned tuna, cauliflower riced and paired next to remaining cut chicken, bowls of roasted sweet potato and parsnips. Not pictured: sausage spiced ground turkey for the roasted veg.

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Not really dinner party worthy, but practical and healthy enough. I’m going to be adding in some rice, quinoa, and oats over the next few weeks to help fuel my longer runs and see how I digest them with some encouraging thoughts.

I’m rambling. It’s definitely time to wrap the catch up, but I promised my wonderful friend M that I would share my best running mix. It’s full of fast, positive, workout-specific music that has kept me going the last two months. I have 3 more months to go, so send me your suggestions for other songs I should add!

In alphabetical order:

  • Anything Could Happen – Ellie Goulding
  • Between Two Lungs – Florence + The Machine
  • Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke
  • California Gurls – Katy Perry
  • Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • Collide (Afrojack Remix) – Leona Lewis/Avicii
  • Cosmic Love – Florence + The Machine
  • Dead Sea – The Lumineers
  • Dog Days Are Over – Florence + The Machine
  • Drumming Song – Florence + The Machine
  • Easy (Extended Remix) – Mat Zo & Porter Robinson
  • The Edge of Glory – Lady GaGa
  • Everybody Talks – Neon Trees
  • Feel Again – OneRepublic
  • Feel So Close (Radio Edit) – Calvin Harris
  • Feel The Love – Rudimental & John Newman
  • Firework – Katy Perry
  • Flowers in Your Hair – The Lumineers
  • Forever My Friend – Ray LaMontagne
  • Free My Mind – Katie Herzig
  • Girl With One Eye – Florence + The Machine
  • Gone, Gone, Gone – Phillip Phillips
  • Heads Carolina, Tails California – Jo Dee Messina
  • Ho Hey – The Lumineers
  • Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
  • Howl – Florence + The Machine
  • I Love It – Icona Pop
  • I’m Not Calling You a Liar – Florence + The Machine
  • It’s Time (Kat Krazy Remix) – Imagine Dragons
  • Last Friday Night – Katy Perry
  • Lights (Fear of Tigers Remix) – Ellie Goulding
  • Little Lovin’ – Lissie
  • A Little Party Never Killed Nobody – Fergie, Q-Tip & GoonRock
  • Live It Up – Jennifer Lopez & Pitbull
  • Next to Me – Emeli Sande
  • The Other Side – Jason Derulo
  • People Like Us – Kelly Clarkson
  • Play Hard (Albert Neve Remix) – David Guetta
  • Pursuit of Happiness – Lissie
  • Put the Gun Down – ZZ Ward
  • Rabbit Heart – Florence + The Machine
  • Radioactive – Kings of Leon
  • Safe and Sound – Capital Cities
  • Shake It Out – Florence + The Machine
  • Storm Warning – Hunter Hayes
  • Submarines – The Lumineers
  • Teenage Dream – Katy Perry
  • Tonight I’m Getting Over You (Remix) – Carly Rae Jepsen
  • Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker
  • We Found Love – Rihanna & Calvin Harris
  • Wonder – Emeli Sande & Naughty Boy
  • You Are the Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne
  • You’ve Got the Love – Florence + The Machine

Unless I have a secret audience interested in “Train Low, Race High” methodology, 30/30/40 macro splitting, crossfit and endurance, and how to carb load like a lion without sugar, I’ll probably say hello again in August!

Be well, buttercups.

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Rogan Josh on Cauliflower Rice

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This is exactly the sort of food I love to make and eat. I picked up a pound of lamb meat at the Capital City Farmers Market from a local rancher and am so glad I prepared it this way.

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The spice blend is complex, but once you have it mixed up, you can keep it on hand for a year. If you can help it, make Rogan Josh, let it cool a bit, cover it and put it in the fridge until the next day. Reheat it then over the stove with a bit of extra water if needed and then serve. The extra time brings the flavors together gorgeously and allows you to plan ahead when you have a long weekend like this one for meals in busier times. Enjoy!

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Rogan Josh on Cauliflower Rice
Adapted from Melissa Joulwan at The Clothes Make The Girl

Ingredients:

for lamb:
1 tsp coconut oil or olive oil
1 lb. lamb or beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coconut milk (or full fat plain yogurt)
1/2 cup water
salt & pepper
3 Tbs homemade Rogan Josh seasoning (see below)

for cauliflower:
1 tsp coconut oil
1 head cauliflower, stem removed and cut into florets
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp lemon juice

for seasoning:
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cloves
3/4 tsp ginger powder
4 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs + 1 tsp chili powder
1 Tbs + 1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs + 2 tsp cumin
2 Tbs + 2 tsp coriander
1 Tbs + 1 tsp salt
cayenne: 1 tsp for very mild, 2 tsp for medium, 1 Tbs for hot-ish

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Instructions:
for the seasoning: First things first. Mix up the spice blend, take out just 3 Tbs and set aside. The rest can be stored in a glass jar with a lid for the next time you make Rogan Josh. Also just a wonderful spice blend to have on hand for a big impact on beef, chicken, spinach, carrots, etc.

for the lamb: Sprinkle meat generously with salt & pepper. Toss to coat. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat and brown well on all sides. (Here’s a tip from Melissa: respect the contact. Put the meat in there and let it be for at least 5 minutes so it gets a nice brown crust – resist the temptation to stir it around. Give it some private time and it will reward you for your generosity.)

When the meat is brown, add the chopped onion and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the rogan josh seasoning to the pan and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the coconut milk and water to the skillet. Mix well, turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Let the meat braise in the coconut milk for 1-2 hours. When time’s up, remove the lid and let the sauce thicken a bit… maybe 2 minutes or so.

for the cauliflower rice: About 15 minutes before the lamb is done, prepare the cauliflower. Heat the tsp of oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. In a food processor, put half the cauliflower florets. Use the pulse button to chop up the cauliflower to rice sized pieces. This should be about 15 pulses. Don’t over do it or you’ll get mush. Dump the cauliflower into the heated pan and repeat the steps with the second half of the cauliflower florets. Once it’s all in the pan, add the salt, and stir frequently until the cauliflower is soft and has given off some liquid, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and lemon juice. Toss well and serve with the prepared lamb on top!

This is so much better the next day and the day after that. Make sure you have leftovers!

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Bulletproof Coffee

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This is quite a trend lately among the Paleo, Ketosis, High Fat/Low Carb, Intermittent Fasting crowd. The Bulletproof Executive started the whole thing and it has continued to rise in popularity in the last two and half years. I’m not one to jump on trends too easily, but more than two years and dozens of accounts on blogs I love convinced me to give it a try. I mean, I drink coffee every morning with a generous splash of raw milk, so obviously I’m not too purist about caffeine or dairy. Butter in coffee may seem odd, but just think of it as glorified cream. I’ve tried it with just coconut oil and it’s not my favorite. The butter makes it. The combination of fats between the two bring a cup to 210 calories and 25 grams of fat. So listen, this is breakfast. It’s a form of Intermittent Fasting. I like the way one PaleoHacker commenter summed it up: “the basic theory behind it is that consuming fat only does not take you out of  the fat burning/ketogenic state, however carbs or protein would. MCT oil can  also increase ketosis, and coffee also helps.  Whether this is technically  “breaking the fast” is an irrelevant argument about terminology, not results. True, some of the fat that you are burning comes from the drink, but there aren’t THAT many calories in it, so some of that burned fat still comes from  your ass. If drinking it helps you with mental focus and keeps you from feeling  hunger during your fast then it has done its job.  That might be a worthwhile  tradeoff for a couple hundred calories of burned fat, assuming you’d burn the same amount with or without the drink.” (The Bulletproof Exec recipe uses special “upgraded” coffee and adds MCT oil. I use Starbucks coffee and use coconut oil instead of MCT.)

Honestly, I’m not that interested in fasting or getting my body into ketosis. I love the way this tastes, I believe this kind of fat is good for you, it’s truly satiating, and I love to workout after having it. My workouts are stronger, I look leaner, and it keeps me full until about 2 p.m. So, if I’m running out of time in the morning and am hungry, I’ll buzz a mug of coffee with a tablespoon of cold pressed coconut oil and a tablespoon of grass-fed butter in the blender for 10 seconds. I buzz soap and water in the blender after I’ve poured my coffee into my cup, rinse the blender, and I’ve done breakfast in about 30 seconds. Plus, it’s delicious. Just try it once and see how it goes. Every once in a while, the bandwagon is worth it.

If you’re not used to consuming 25 grams of fat at a time, start with half the fat and work up. It felt like a lot my first time drinking it, so I scaled down and worked up quickly with no problem. I don’t talk much about it, but I am managing some long term gut issues better when I take probiotics, bitters, and Betaine HCI. Sugar and grain still creates a lot of trouble for me, so having options like this, full of qualitiy fats and energy, is a lifesaver for days I’d otherwise be tempted to grab a muffin at the coffee shop. If you have digestion problems, low stomach acid and bacterial imbalance may be a cause. The Bulletproof Executive recommends taking Betaine HCI before the Bulletproof Coffee if you need help with digestion. Probiotics are helpful to nearly everyone. But that’s a topic for another time.

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Bulletproof Coffee
Adapted from The Bulletproof Executive

Ingredients:
16 oz fresh brewed coffee
1 Tbs grass fed UNSALTED butter
1 Tbs cold pressed unrefined coconut oil

Instructions:
Use a blender, hand blender, or magic bullet to mix all the ingredients together. Blend for 10-15 seconds, pour into a mug, and enjoy!

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Chicken Coconut Curry

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I wasn’t sure if I should share this recipe because I already have a Coconut Curry, Chicken Curry, Curry Meatballs, Curry Chicken with Sweet Potatoes, and Chicken Curry on Cauliflower Rice in the archives. Each are excellent and this is as different as the rest. Still curry, still chicken, still coconut, but independently magnificent. I suppose I just like curry. I’m not trying to be authentic because I generally turn to this sort of dish when I want a big healthy meal without a lot of fuss or time. There are tons of different curry blends out there, so test a few to find your favorite. I love the Lemon (Yellow) Curry from Frontier. It has turmeric, coriander, cumin, lemon peel, black pepper, freeze-dried whole lemon, cardamom, cinnamon, dehydrated garlic and cayenne. Yum!

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Chicken Coconut Curry
Adapted from The Clothes Make The Girl

Ingredients:
Sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 large onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup coconut milk
Chicken
1 lb. chicken thighs
3 Tbs coconut oil
Topping
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

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Instructions:
Combine spices in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium high, melt the coconut oil. Season the chicken with a bit of salt and pepper and saute until it’s nicely browned and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes per side.

Take the meat out of the pan, turn the heat down to medium, and throw in the onion, garlic, and green peppers with a pinch of salt. Stir fry until the onions are tender, brown and starting to carmelize, about 10-15 minutes.

Add the spices to the veg and add the coconut milk. Simmer until the sauce thickens a bit.

In a small dry skillet over medium low heat, cook the flaked coconut until it just starts to brown, stirring well. This will only take a couple minutes.

To serve, pile the chicken over steamed veggies, squash, cauliflower rice, or brown rice. Or just a glorious pile of chicken in a bowl! Top with a scoop of sauce and sprinkle the coconut on top. Lime wedges on the side for bonus points.

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Asparagus Dijon Crustless Quiche

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I make these crustless quiches rather often as a delicious way to use up whatever leftover meat and veg are still in the fridge on a slow weekend morning. This one is a little special because it didn’t have anything to do with leftovers and really highlighted the asparagus in season. It’s such a short, blissful season when we can get local asparagus, and nothing says spring and gratitude for green better than the tender stalks.

I hate calling these crustless quiches, because I promise you won’t be thinking of the lack of crust when you eat a big slice. This is a healthier and simpler recipe than making a traditional pie crust cheese filled quiche to what is supposed to be a quick prep breakfast. Though, I hesitate to call it a frittata, because in my mind, a frittata is made specifically by starting to cook the whole thing on the stove and then finishing under the broiler in the oven. Perhaps one of these days I’ll make it that way just so I can stop calling it a crustless quiche.

But if you’ll pardon the name, the method of cooking couldn’t be simpler. Sure, it has to cook for a while, but that’s the perfect time to make a pot of tea and ease into the morning with a book or the paper. Just my sort of weekend.

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Asparagus Dijon Crustless Quiche

Ingredients:
6 oz canned boneless, skinless salmon, drained
1 Tbs butter
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1-2 Tbs grainy dijon mustard
1/2 cup whole milk
8 eggs
salt and pepper to taste

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Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter, onions, asparagus, and big pinches of salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the asparagus and onions are soft. Remove from the heat and use a spoon to spread out the mixture evenly on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add dijon mustard, eggs, milk, and more pinches of salt and pepper. Whisk together until well combined.

Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus mixture in the cast iron. Bake until the eggs are set, about 35-45 minutes. Remove from the oven, cut into wedges and serve.

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Best Meat Sauce

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“Replace your grains with greens” is the single most powerful dietary changes I’ve made in the last year, but I’ll admit, sometimes I really miss the bun, a heap of rice, a thick slice of sandwich bread, or starchy noodles. Usually these cravings come just when I’ve been indulging them already. Argh. (Three cakes and a batch of muffins have left my kitchen in the last week.)

I make this sauce regularly and instead of my usual spinach or kale, I cooked up a box of brown rice pasta, according to the package directions.

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I hated the noodles. What a disappointment. They weren’t bad, but talk about boring. The next day I roasted a head of cauliflower florets, tossed with olive oil, fennel, sage, and salt. I have now reheated the sauce and eaten it on roasted cauliflower twice. It’s heaven. So, I’m sharing the sauce recipe because it’s a keeper. Serve it on anything you like.

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Best Meat Sauce

Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound ground sausage
1/2 pound ground beef
1 – 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 – 6 oz can tomato paste
1 pint tomato sauce (I use a homemade marinara. Any favorite bottled sauce will do.)
2 Tbs dried parsley (or 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more!)
salt and pepper to taste

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Instructions:
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef and sausage and cook until brown, breaking up with fork, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer meat to a bowl. Discard all but 2 Tbs of the grease and return to the stove. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in herbs, salt, and pepper and continue cooking for a minute. Return beef and sausage to skillet; add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until sauce is thick, about 30 minutes. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing.)

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Basil and Sun-dried Tomato Guacamole

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This is delicious, different, and easy. Start with a bowl of greens and in less than a couple minutes, you’ll have the most incredible salad, a meal in itself, full of everything your body will say thank you, thank you, thank you for.

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Basil and Sun-dried Tomato Guacamole

Ingredients:
2 avocados
1/2 bunch basil leaves, chopped
6 sun-dried tomato halves
2 cloves garlic
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

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Instructions:
In a food processor, blend the garlic and dried tomatoes until finely minced. Add the flesh of the avocados and pulse to blend until creamy. Add in the chopped basil and pulse a couple times, just until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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