Easy Pico De Gallo

I absolutely love pico de gallo.  And, it’s hard to believe that I’ve never made it before now.  That’s just plain crazy!

Easy Pico de Gallo | No Thanks to Cake

Being that it’s tomato season, and that I can’t get enough of these red beautiful bad boys… it was prime time for me to try to make my own pico.

I got inspired to make this chunky salsa after enjoying Cafe Rio again on Saturday.  I always get what I like to call a “mexi-salad” there.  The Cafe Rio Salad comes with way too much on it, so I change it up quite a bit… I remove the tortilla, the beans, the rice, and most of the toppings to make room for grilled chicken, guacamole, and what I like to call an obscene amount of pico de gallo.

Cafe Rio Salad | No Thanks to Cake

Yep… it’s a little excessive, but when you remove everything else… you might as well load up on what you like, right?

Knowing I had a few fresh tomatoes leftover from last week’s haul at the farmer’s market, I decided to get chopping and create my own at-home pico.  I also had just picked up a new citrus juicer that I was dying to use….  great excuses to make some great pico!

Easy Pico de Gallo

Makes 2 1/2 cups

INGREDIENTS

Easy Pico de Gallo | No Thanks to Cake

4 hot house tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 small onion, diced

1 jalapeño, diced with seeds and stems removed

1/4 bunch of cilantro, chopped

juice of 1/2 lime

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Dice your tomatoes, taking care to remove the seeds.

Easy Pico de Gallo | No Thanks to Cake

2.  Dice your onions next.  Note:  I took this as an opportunity to use my onion chopper from Williams-Sonoma.  I wish I had used this for the tomatoes too, as it created the most perfectly uniform dice!

Easy Pico de Gallo | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Dice your jalapeño next.  Note:  I put the jalapeño into the vegetable chopper for a fine dice… in seconds!

Easy Pico de Gallo | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Chop your cilantro and add it to the mix.

Easy Pico de Gallo | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Squeeze 1/2 of a fresh lime into the mixture.  Note:  I used my Lemon Press from Williams-Sonoma to squeeze the lime.  If you don’t have one of these yet, I highly recommend it!

Easy Pico de Gallo | No Thanks to Cake

Easy Pico de Gallo | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Add the salt and pepper.  Mix to combine and refrigerate immediately.  Flavors will begin to combine, and create the most delicious pico.

Easy Pico de Gallo | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Serve with baked chips, over grilled chicken, or with a spoon!

Easy Pico de Gallo | No Thanks to Cake

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If you like this recipe, you may also enjoy these yummy sauces from NTTC.

Restaurant Style Salsa | No Thanks to Cake

Cafe Rio Creamy Tomatillo Ranch Dressing | No Thanks to Cake

The Very Best {EVER} Guacamole | No Thanks to Cake

Related posts:

The Del, A Massage, and Wine

I feel like I have been writing about this trip to California forever, recapping all the fun I’ve had along the way. In its own fabulous way, NTTC is sort of my very own scrapbook.  A great way to recap trips, outings, and recipes for my friends and family!

So, I’ve got one more day to share about this awesome week.  And, then, I will get back to my normal blogging schedule… whatever normal is… :)

The day after the concert, I woke up and had to get my things packed to head out.  Notice, I didn’t say HOME, I said out.  Whenever I get a chance to travel to California, I usually try to extend my trip a little to visit friends that I don’t get to see nearly enough!

Now, when I visited my friend Crystal in early June, we agreed that if I had a chance to travel to Rockstar again… that I should come back to visit her family!  You don’t have to ask me twice… the plan came together so nicely!

Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

Before I met up with her, I decided to spend a little time unwinding on Coronado Island.  And, my favorite way to unwind… I scheduled a massage at a nearby hotel.  Not just any hotel, however… I scheduled it at the Hotel Del Coronado.

Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

My goodness… what a beautiful place.

Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

The hotel is an institution on the island…. and so incredibly gorgeous.  I can’t even believe I got to spend the day here.  I checked my luggage at the bell stand and headed off to the spa.  To get there, I had the option of walking through the hotel or walking outdoors on the property… I choose the outside path and had a chance to experience the beauty that is the Del.

Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

From the white buildings with red roofs to the lovely outdoor cafes to the exquisite view of the Pacific… the Del is perfection.  The guy at the bell stand told me to walk until I saw the herb garden and the spa would be on the right.  I absolutely love that the property has such a delightful herb garden.  Just made it all that more perfect… 

Herb Garden Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

Inside the Spa at the Del, I quickly got changed into a robe and slippers and waited for my massage.  I had scheduled myself a Hot Shell Massage and was so excited to see how this would work.  I’d had hot STONE massages before, but never hot SHELL!  How perfect for this trip!

Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

When I got called back into the spa for my service, I found that the shells weren’t REAL shells, but instead ceramic shells created specifically for this purpose.

Hot Shell Massage Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

The massage was WONDERFUL.  Relaxing.  Perfect.  After all the excitement of Rockstar, my feet were incredibly sore… so my masseuse spent some extra time on my toes.  HEAVEN!

After the service was completed, I ordered some lunch and found a spot at the spa pool to relax.  I had intended upon reading a book, but it felt better to just relax and soak in the atmosphere.  There was beautiful people watching to be had… families vacationing, couples walking by hand in hand, and that gorgeous ocean in the distance.  I soaked it all in… and a little sun.

Lunch at the Hotel Del Coronado | No Thanks to Cake

The Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

Spa at the Del | No Thanks to Cake

At the end of the day, my friend Crystal picked me up to whisk me away to Temecula.  One of my favorite people, I am so thankful that I had a chance to visit with her again this trip!

We spent our time catching up, cooking, and tasting local wines… you can only imagine how much I loved that!  We also spent some of her favorite wineries.  First stop:  Miramonte… Such a beautiful patio for tasting the most delicious wines!

Miramonte | No Thanks to Cake

I’ve always thought of Napa or Sonoma when I’ve thought of California wine country; however, I have to say… Temecula should be listed right there in that list.  I’ve loved so many of the wines I’ve tasted here… and the tasting rooms are so lovely.  Highly recommend touring this area if you are ever close.

Miramonte Winery | No Thanks to Cake

The next day, after a lovely lazy morning, we headed out to Robert Renzoni for the most amazing round of wine tasting!  His Concerto was my favorite… and I was able to get a signed bottle to take home!

Robert Renzoni | No Thanks to Cake

 

Robert Renzoni | No Thanks to Cake

After our first stop, we set off for some lunch (and more wine!) at Ponte Family Estates.  SUCH a beautiful place!

Ponte | No Thanks to Cake

Ponte Grapes | No Thanks to Cake

The magic happened at lunch…. Crystal and I ordered a Watermelon Tomato Caprese that just knocked our socks off.  Expect to see a version of this on NTTC soon.  It was that good!  Doesn’t it look gorgeous??

Watermelon Tomato Caprese Ponte | No Thanks to Cake

While the massage, the wine, and the food were amazing, the best part of the weekend was getting to spend it with this girl…

Ponte | No Thanks to Cake

We’re in the early stages of planning another adventure early next year… I absolutely can’t wait!  Thanks, Crystal and Adam, for a wonderful end to a wonderful trip!

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Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese

I found this recipe on Pinterest and it made me drool.  INSTANTLY.

Spinach Queso Pinterest | No Thanks to Cake(Source)

It has spinach and tomatoes… and has a base similar to that addictive white queso cheese from Mexican restaurants.  I did the right thing… I pinned the recipe to a “Dangerously Delicious” board on Pinterest and stepped away from the idea of ever making this mac and cheese.  Do you do that too?  Pin delicious foods that you’re never (ever) going to make?  I totally do…

However, this mac and cheese concoction stuck in my brain.  And, I wondered if there was a way to make this dish a little bit healthier.  And, I figured out a way!

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

 I’m not going to tell you that this recipe is the same as the original.  That it has that creamy gooeyness that comes with that cheese sauce.  BUT… what I can tell you is, that for someone who has never tasted the original… I think this is the best darn spinach queso mac and cheese EVER!

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese

Inspired by Pinterest

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

2 oz. whole wheat macaroni, cooked

2 Tbsp. diced onion

1 tsp. minced garlic, about 1 clove

1/2 can of Rotel Tomatoes – Original recipe, drained

1 wedge Laughing Cow Cheese – Queso Fresco and Chipotle flavor

 1 container Green Giant Just for One Broccoli and Cheese

Dash of Cumin

2 cups spinach

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Saute your aromatics in a large skillet sprayed with cooking spray for 1-2 minutes.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

2.  Meanwhile, cook the tray of broccoli and cheese per the package instructions.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Add the wedge of Laughing Cow and mix in.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Add spinach to the pan, and cook until wilted (about 3 minutes) stirring frequently.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Add your tomatoes to the pan.  Be sure to drain the Rotel before adding it to the pan.  Cook 1-2 minutes and mix well.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Add cooked pasta to the pan and the cheesy broccoli mixture.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Add a dash of cumin, optional.  Stir pasta well, cooking until cheese have combined and melted.  Stir often.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

8.  Move pasta to a bowl, and prepare yourself for a treat!

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

Per Entire Recipe:

CAL 320; CARB 57g; FAT 5g; PROT 14g; FIB 11g; WW Points Plus: 8

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Grilled Avocado Caprese

I’m just about three weeks from attending my favorite conference of the year:  Fitbloggin!

Not only do I get to visit beautiful Savannah, Georgia for the first time, but I also get to see some of my FAVORITE people along the way.  So excited!!!

I was particularly excited to hear that one of our sponsors is… the California Avocado Commission!

California Avocado Commission | No Thanks to Cake

Not only will I get to hear all sorts of new information about the health benefits of avocados, but I have a feeling that (fingers crossed!) we’ll be eating some amazing avocado while we are there too!  YESSSSS!!!

And, if that weren’t enough, they’re also hosting an amazing “California Avocado Cutting-Edge Culinary Recipe Contest” for all of the attendees.  To participate, we had to create a unique recipe using this green goodness.  If you’ve read my blog, you know that this wasn’t a stretch for me… I’m a little bit of an avocado fanatic!

To come up with just the right recipe to enter, I got to experiment quite a bit with one of my favorite ingredients.  In the end this is the recipe I loved the most of those I tried… I hope you guys like it as much as I do!!!

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

This is the very first time I’ve ever grilled an avocado, and it certainly won’t be the last.  Being that summer is just around the corner and we’re all firing up our grills more frequently here in Colorado, why not add an avocado to your fire??

Not only does grilling add a beautiful color to the dish and those gorgeous grill marks, but it also contributes a smoky rich flavor to the avocado that is INCREDIBLE.  Paired with traditional italian flavors like tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella, this dish was the clear winner in my house.

Grilled Avocado Caprese

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

1 California Avocado, halved

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced

1/2 cup boccochini (fresh mozzarella balls)

2 Tbsp. basil, sliced chiffonade-style

salt, to taste

balsamic reduction, drizzled

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Preheat your grill pan to medium high heat.  While the pan warms, cut your avocado in half.  Pour a small amount of olive oil into a small bowl.  Lightly brush the exposed avocado with EVOO.  Note:  For extra flavor, you can also use a basil infused olive oil.  Also, I used my indoor grill so I could control the temperature, but you can also use your outdoor grill!

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

2.  Place the avocados face down on the grill pan for 1-2 minutes until beautiful grill marks appear.  Remove to a plate to cool. Note:  Depending upon the heat of your pan, the cooking time may vary.  

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

3.  To slice your basil, take a small stack of fresh leaves and roll lengthwise, creating a long tube.  Then, slice into ribbons.

Basil Chiffonade | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Place tomatoes, cheese, basil ribbons, and about 3/4 Tbsp. EVOO in a small bowl.  Mix to combine and add salt to taste.

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Pour tomato mixture over avocado halves.

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Drizzle with balsamic reduction.  Note:  You can find this at your local grocery store in the vinegar section.  While you can make your own, the pre-made version is incredibly handy and easy to use – - it tends to be my go-to!

IMG_3591

7.  Serve and enjoy!

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

Per 1/2 recipe serving:

CAL 360; CARB 12g; FAT 32g; PROT 12g; FIB 6g; WW Points Plus:  10

Have you ever tried a grilled avocado??

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