Monday, May 13, 2013

Sweet and SavoRi Recipes: Easy Guacamole and Homemade Taco Seasoning!

It's Taco Night over at my house, and what's better than homemade tacos? NOTHING, that's what!!! Well, I mean, besides teriyaki chicken, ice cream, cereal, cake, sushi, spaghetti, pizza- Oh yeah, definitely pizza.
 I love pizza.
 But we're getting off topic here.
 So... yeah, there are a lot of foods I have a deeper love for than tacos, but the tacos we make at home are some of the best I've ever tasted! So, let me rephrase: There are no tacos better than the tacos made by Ri. Why? I don't buy taco seasoning- I make it from scratch! And the unbelievably good guacamole I serve on the side adds to the whole "Ri's Family Taco Experience." So here I am to give you guys a taste, with two super-easy recipes you can make straight from home!

No store-bought guacamole can ever compare to the taste of homemade guac'. When I was a kid, I grew up on Mama's guacamole, so I was pretty spoiled. Supermarket guacamoles could never do me in. I always thought something was missing in pre-made guacamole. The texture of the stuff in supermarkets is so liquidy, and the taste is so mild. More like bland.  Anyway, if you're going to eat guac', eat the good kind (aka. the homemade kind)! I make my own every time its Taco Night and we have avocados on hand. Here's the recipe, handed down from Mama to me (except for one little secret ingredient). It just can't be beat!!!

For ingredients, you'll need:
  • 5 ripe avocados
  • 1 medium Roma tomato
  • 1/2 of a large onion
  • Lemon juice
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp. of juice from a jar of hot jalapenos (Trust me!)
For kitchen supplies, you'll need:
  • One large bowl
  • One sharp knife
  • One potato masher
  • One cutting board
All good? If you're ready, say "Ole!"
  1. Cut the large onion with your knife. Dicing or cubing the onion works best, but you can chop it up any way you want. It really doesn't matter. (I just cut it into irregular pieces, as long as they're all small enough).
  2. Dice the Roma tomato.
  3. Cut your avocados across the middle horizontally. Remove the pits and squeeze the rest of the avocado insides into the large bowl. Just make sure no pieces of the skin fall in! (Ew.)
  4. Take your potato masher and mash up the avocados until no large pieces remain.
  5. Mash in the chopped onion and tomato, making sure they are equally spread around the guacamole.
  6. Squirt a good amount of lemon juice into the bowl.
  7. Add to the mixture several shakes of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper, and just a dash of chili powder. Stir.
  8. Alright, so this may sound strange, but it's the secret ingredient that gives the guacamole that extra something-something: Take 1 tbsp. of the juice from a jar of hot jalapenos and stir that into the guacamole. Add more salt and pepper if desired.
And that's all you need to do for fast-n-easy, delicious, homemade guacamole! Remember to share, because you might just gobble down the whole bowl! Well, probably not (it is an awful lot of guac'), but remember to stick to a sensible serving. Don't overdo it. While avocados are known as "superfoods," they're high in fat and calories when compared to most other fruits and vegetables (One avocado is about 300 calories). But a small amount of it will provide you with vitamins and minerals, so you don't despair! You won't have to give up guacamole forever if you're trying to eat light.

Next up, time for some homemade taco seasoning! Yes, you can buy mix from the store, but why do that when you have all the ingredients right at home? Plus, homemade seasoning is much more healthier! Some taco seasoning mixes I've seen have had rather scary ingredients added: Maltodextrin, Silicon Dioxide, Ethoxyquin... PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL?!?! No, no, no, no, no! You don't need that stuff! Baaaaad, El Paso! Make this mix in a matter of minutes at home, and save yourself from those strange add-ins...

For ingredients, you'll need:
  • A meat of your choice
  • 1/2 cup of water, or more if needed
  • Lemon Juice
  • Chili Powder
  • Paprika
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oregano
  • Cumin
  • 2 packets of Sweet N' Low
And all you'll need to bring these all together is a large nonstick pan and a spatula! Wow, so simple!!! Okay, here's what you do:
Isn't my spatula handle cute?
  1. Place your nonstick pan over medium-high heat and add your desired meat. Cook until browned (But if you're using chicken (like me), you probably shouldn't wait until it's literally BROWN).
  2. Drain any excess juice from the pan, and return it to the burner on medium-low heat.
  3. Add your 1/2 cup of water, a good, long spray of lemon juice, and several shakes of the parika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin. But go easy on the chili powder if you aren't a fan of el picante.
  4. Add the 2 packets of Sweet N' Low and stir. (If you like your seasoning less sweet, use only one packet).
  5. Let the seasoned meat simmer in the pan until ready to serve! Add more water if the original 1/2 cup dries up overtime.
Alright- Look's good!

I love tacos, and there are plenty ways to keep them from breaking the caloric bank. You should start with a healthy tortilla base. I love using La Tortilla Factory's Low Carb High Fiber Tortillas. The Large Sizes are only 80 calories apiece, and they are indeed large. They also contain 12g of fiber and 8g of protein! Geez, how do they do it? Why can't all tortillas be that healthy and nutritious? These tortillas are also soft and taste great! I have yet to find a tortilla that can beat these ones out.

"And what are the do's and don't's for taco toppings, Ri?"
Well, I'll tell ya'. Obviously, fresh vegetables are great-tasting, low-calorie options: Chopped tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, spinach, lettuce... All good stuff! Jarred jalapenos are high in sodium but low in calories, with only about 5 calories an ounce. That's super low! Most salsa brands, no matter what degree of heat, are about 10 calories per two tbsp. I love salsa, and it's nice to know I can really slather it on my tortilla without worry. Hot sauces, like Tabasco or Tapatio, are "zero-calorie" options.

Some toppings to watch out for are shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole/avocados, queso, and olives. Shredded cheese, while soooo tasty, is high in fat and calories, with about 110 calories per ounce. Thankfully, more and more companies now sell fat-free cheeses. You should be able to find at least one brand of fat-free cheese in your local supermarkets nowadays. I like using Kraft Shredded Fat Free Cheese. The Cheddar flavor has 9g of protein and only 45 calories per ounce! You can have nearly three servings of Kraft's FF Cheese for just one serving of their standard shredded cheese. Shocking! Same case with sour creams: Average brands contain 60 calories per two tbsp. Fat-Free sour creams can range from 15-25 calories per two tbsp. serving. Whatever the case, it'll still be lower in calories than standard sour cream. And they taste exactly alike!

For today's Taco Night, I put salsa, spinach, tomatoes, onions, fat-free cheddar cheese, Tabasco, red pepper flakes, and some seasoned chicken on my tortilla. Then I wrapped it all up and warmed it in the nuker for a minute or so. I drizzled more salsa on top and dug in! It was nice and piping-hot! Reminds me of the days I'd put Taco Bell Soft Tacos in the microwave for too long and they'd end up burning the roof of my mouth. But the way the spinach cooks down and the cheese melts all over the insides... Mmm... It's just so good!
I like a mixture of red and green salsa on my taco. Looks kind of Christmas-y...
I'm not a big fan of Spanish Rice, but Mama had bought Microwaveable Mexican Style Rice from Taco Bell. It was supposed to be microwaved in its bag, but Mama accidentally opened it before reading the instructions! D'oh! But she poured the rice in a bowl and covered it with plastic wrap before she heated it up, and it turned out just fine. Phew!

So! There you have it. Two super-easy recipes to kick up your Taco Night, and some tips on how to keep it healthy as well. I hope you readers find the guac' is good and the seasoning is sizzlin'!

What kind of meat do you like on your taco? What toppings? What's your favorite Mexican food? Any Taco Night recipes you'd like to share? Leave your comments down below! I love to hear from you!

Till' next time, RiRi is out!

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