Guacamole Day, Everyday! Avocado Recipes

Guacamole Day, Everyday! Avocado Recipes

Want to learn how to make the best guacamole ever?

September 16 is National Guacamole Day, and what better way to celebrate than by making some delicious avocado dishes? I will show you how to grill avocados and perfect your guacamole for avocado toast, as well as other tasty avocado recipes!

Join Jorj In The Kitchen!

Join Jorj for Meal Inspiration & Home Foodie Conversation!

The Art of The Fresh Market

Grab the book that contains my favorite travel adventures, with inspired original artwork by artist Susan Fazio.
New Year, Old Friends and the Birth of This Book

Southern Supper Book Club: “Big Lies in a Small Town”

Southern Supper Book Club: “Big Lies in a Small Town”

It’s National Book Lover’s Day and my book club party planner is here! Host a Southern-style book club supper with “Big Lies In A Small Town” by Diane Chamberlain and these recipes from my cookbooks.

This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission. 

I must admit, I was captivated by this book from the first sentence. After all the main character’s first name is Morgan.

Her surname is Christopher (name of my middle son) and her boyfriend’s name is Trey (name of oldest son). There’s a Jon in there somewhere, I’m sure!

The extra pull is that the novel is set in my adopted state of North Carolina jumping back and forth from the early forties and to the present. But it is the writing that really captures the reader. You feel like the characters are your peers. You find yourself dancing in a time warp while you are cheering for the heroine(s).

This is my next pick for our Super Supper Book Club. Gather your readers, give them the title and dole out the recipes for what will be a roller coaster discussion and meal.

Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit; she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold―until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

I already cooked up some questions for your Super Supper Book Club gathering…

  • After a year, you get your hands on a cell phone for the first time. Who do you call? 
  • Was it brave or crazy for Jesse’s family to aid Anna?
  • Does Morgan ever come to accept that alcohol is a problem for her, or does she simply comply with her parole requirements?

My Southern inspiration for this Super Supper Book Club menu is Jesse’s family’s Sunday dinner. I take the liberty of substituting Anna’s least favorite vegetable (collard greens) with my delicious recipe for Swiss chard. I exchange corn on with cob for creamed corn. In place of stewed tomatoes liberated from the family’s root cellar, I substitute slow roasted cherry tomatoes.

The author didn’t mention a dessert, but I bet the farm, there was strawberry shortcake somewhere, sometime on Sundays. My swaps are allowed, because all these recipes are rooted in my love of the South. Lest there be controversary during the discussion, keep those paintbrushes close to allow everyone to express themselves.

This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission. 

Super Supper Book Club Menu: “Big Lies in a Small Town” by Diane Chamberlain

Fried Chicken Basket

Sunday Best Dishes, page 71

Creamy Smashed Parmesan Potatoes

Sunday Best Dishes, page 280

Braised Rainbow Chard

Canvas and Cuisine, page 124

Old-Fashioned Cream Corn

Fresh Traditions, page 208

Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Fresh Traditions, page 205

Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@helloimnik?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Hello I'm Nik</a> on Unsplash

Southern-Style Strawberry Shortcake

Canvas and Cuisine, page 331

Explore Jorj's Cookbooks

7 Cookbooks and Counting!
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Jorj’s Mahogany Cake (The Lava Legacy)

Jorj’s Mahogany Cake (The Lava Legacy)

I’ve baked this chocolate cake for every birthday for every child and friend for years and years. It’s dark, rich, and has a flavor all its own. Try this featured Women’s Day Magazine recipe that everyone will ask you for!

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In honor of National Chocolate Cake Day, I give a nod to my late mother-in-law, Mary Jane Morgan, and the legacy chocolate cake she passed down to me from her mother, Irene Seeley.

I remember traveling with my firstborn, Trey, to visit George’s parents in September 1979.

Trey turned two that visit, and Mary Jane made chocolate cupcakes turned into clowns using ice cream cones as hats and candies for their faces. Trey was delighted and I noticed something funny.

Hubby, George, would sneak into the fridge and scoop from a bowl spoonful of left-over frosting again and again and again

Mary Jane shared the cake recipe and I’ve baked it for every birthday for every child and friend for years and years.

I’ve made it as a sheet cake, a two-layer round cake, and a four-layer square cake. The frosting is so gooey that the more layers you try the more the cake slides to one side or another leaving it a tiered cake or as my sons refer to it the AVALANCHE cake!

No matter how it looks, the cake is incredible.  It’s dark, rich, and has a flavor all its own.

The secret ingredient is black walnut flavoring. McCormick produced this essence until ten or so years ago when it was dropped.  Lovers of the cake would ransack their grandmother’s pantry for stored bottles of the stuff. We found quite a few that way!

Today, Amazon will give you a good selection of choices when you search, and I’ve tried them all. It works!

 

This is truly our family’s legacy cake. It was featured in Women’s Day magazine when my first book was published in 2000.

In honor of National Chocolate Cake Day, I will share with you the short-cut secret to making this cake for your family.

Yes, it is a departure from the original, but I’m sure both Mary Jane and Irene will approve of this modernization.

Jorj’s Mahogany Cake (The Lava Legacy)

Servings

6-8

Ready In:

30-35 Minutes Until You’re Ready

Good For:

Everything!

Ingredients

  • Devil’s Food Cake recipe or boxed mix
  • ¾ cup Sprite
  • ¾ cups brewed coffee
  • 4 tablespoons of black walnut flavoring
  • 6 cups of confectioners’ sugar 
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • ⅓ cup milk or cream

Jorj’s Mahogany Cake (The Lava Legacy)

Start with a Devil’s food cake recipe.

In place of water, use ¾ cup Sprite and ¼ cup brewed coffee.

Add 2 tablespoons of black walnut flavoring.

Continue as directed on the box and bake as either cupcakes or any version of your favorite layer cake. Cool the cakes.

 

National Chocolate Cake Day Mahogany Cake

For the frosting:

  1. Add 6 cups of confectioners’ sugar into the bowl of your electric mixer
  2. Add ¾ cup cocoa powder and ¼ teaspoon salt
  3. Mix in 4 tablespoons melted butter, ½ cup brewed coffee, 2 tablespoons black walnut flavoring, and ⅓ cup milk or cream
  4. Mix this all together, scraping down the sides

Home Chef Tip!

If the frosting is too loose, add more sugar. If it’s too tight, add more milk. Keep a can of prepared chocolate frosting on hand just to be safe

Tried it? Tag it!

I would love to see what you did with this recipe.  Share your creation by tagging #inthekitchenwithjorj and with Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj, my free private home cooking group.

Cooking With Mushrooms and Spinach
Cooking With Mushrooms and Spinach

Make This Garden Art Focaccia Bread That Simply Inspires

Make This Garden Art Focaccia Bread That Simply Inspires

Easy Garden Art Focaccia Bread Recipe – Farmer’s Market Edition!

This garden bread art recipe was inspired by traditional Azerbaijani outdoor cooking and my love for all things fresh from the Farmer’s Market! Join me as I revisit my focaccia bread that first appeared in “Canvas and Cuisine: The Art of the Fresh Market” 

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Sometimes inspiration just hits! For me it started with the Azerbaijan cooking vlogs that constantly show up in my Facebook feed. 

I used to look forward to seeing friends and kids of friends and grandkids of friends. 

Now, I peer into the screen waiting to see my adorable Azerbaijan friends as they emerge through the green door of their tiny house to forage through the woods, harvesting as they go. 

The only sounds you hear are the rustling of leaves and chirping birds. He throws down a metal pan, slices some logs and before you know it there is a working oven in the middle of a field or by the side of a stream or at the top of a ridge!

She uses a clever wooden board to chop everything from onions to a whole leg of lamb. He makes tea out of the flowers he picks as he passes the field. 

I’m inspired by everything that they cook – always outdoors and always on an open fire. But what gets me the most is how she (Lord, I wish I knew her name) bakes bread at almost every meal using nothing but her hands and a covered skillet. 

It’s amazing! 

And even more, it makes me crave fresh baked bread almost daily. 

Let’s face it…I have every modern tool known to man starting with electricity and ending with a machine fitted with a dough hook and still, I find bread making to be daunting.

I’m over it! If my Azerbaijan friend can bake gloriously delicious-looking bread over an open fire, then I can certainly take my bread baking to a new level using my state of the art kitchen. Right?

I have a really good recipe for focaccia bread in my book “Canvas and Cuisine: Art of the Fresh Market”.

The dough comes together quickly and rises when requested. It bakes in about 15 minutes and has just enough crumb to distinguish itself from flatbread. It’s my go-to bread recipe, so I decided that my focaccia dough would be my canvas.

My morning trip to the Farmer’s market yielded all sorts of treasurers. I purchased peppers and multi-colored carrots. I gathered my favorite purple-green tomatoes and all sorts of herbs. When I laid out all of these, I saw my plan come together. I would create a flower garden using veggies and herbs to decorate my bread. I would make my Azerbaijan friend proud! 

It’s all in the planning, so I laid out my design on parchment paper while the bread was rising. This was the smartest thing that I did, because I could change things around on paper that I would have been stuck with when placed on the bread dough.

I used red onions for flower petals and chives for stems. I sliced the carrots using my mandoline and cut olives, red cherry bomb peppers and grape tomatoes into thin slices. Sage and parsley leaves pulled everything together and my flower garden was born.

In the end, it worked like a charm and my pals oohed and awed at the results. I must admit I was pretty impressed with myself!

My Azerbaijan friend started me on this journey. (I feel I have more to come!!) The Farmer’s market furthered my vision.

And here’s my take from this experience. Inspiration can be found anywhere; you just have to open your eyes. 

What’s going to inspire you this week??

Garden Art Focaccia Bread Recipe

 

Servings

6 – 8

Ready In:

20 Minutes plus a few hours for bread to rise

Good For:

Appetizer, Brunch

INGREDIENTS FOR GARDEN ART FOCACCIA BREAD

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 ¾ cups warm water

5 cups unbleached all-purpose

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 cup olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon dried thyme 

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Tried it? Tag it!

I would love to see what you did with this recipe.  Share your creation by tagging #inthekitchenwithjorj and with Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj, my free private home cooking group.

DIRECTIONS FOR GARDEN ART FOCACCIA BREAD

Place the yeast and sugar into a small bowl. Stir in the warm water. Place the bowl in a warm place until the yeast is bubbling and fragrant, about 15 minutes. I use the proof setting on my warming drawer for this.

Use an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook to combine the flour, salt, ½ cup of olive oil and the yeast to form a dough. Once the dough comes together, continue to knead the dough in the machine until smooth. Stop the machine and check the dough every couple of minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic, hold its shape around the dough hook and spring back when you indent it with your finger. This takes anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes using the mixer. If you are kneading by hand, knead until you can’t knead anymore!

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead it by hand for an additional 30 seconds. If the dough is too sticky, you can sprinkle with additional flour. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil. Cover and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. I use my warming drawer for this step, too.

Pour the remaining cup of olive oil onto a 12 ½ x 17 ½ x 1-inch jelly roll pan. Transfer the dough to the pan, stretching it out to fill the pan. Turn and coat with oil on both sides. Use your finger to poke indentations into the dough. These will be the “nooks and crannies” to hold the seasoning in the next step. Place the dough in a warm place to rise again, for 1 hour. Yep, the warming drawer is still the best place!

Preheat the oven to 400°. Transfer the pan from its warm place. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, sea salt, thyme, and rosemary. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Bake until the top of the bread is golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan before cutting into squares.

Let There Be Harvesting: Jalapeno Corn Bisque

Let There Be Harvesting: Jalapeno Corn Bisque

Creamy and sweet with a touch of heat, this soup is fabulous served after a brisk walk on a cold day!  Welcome Fall with my Jalapeno Corn Bisque! Click to skip to the recipe

 

We took a drive through the countryside this past week. This was by complete accident.

We were on our way to our friend’s home across the state, about a three-hour drive. Usually, we take freeway to by-pass freeway to alternate state road freeway and bam…we’re there.

Not this time. I pecked in the address, plugged the phone into the car, and listened to my (Aussie-voiced) virtual assistant as he directed me along the way. In an entirely different way!

We were on roads that we had never traveled.

Once hubby looked up from his iPad and asked me where we were…and I couldn’t say…we began to look around at our whereabouts.

We drove through town after town and passed farm after farm and noticed the fields full of growing cornstalks. Hubby noted that it was soon to be harvest time for that corn and that was just enough insight to send me off in that direction.

I found my recipe for Jalapeno Corn Bisque from Canvas and Cuisine and altered it by placing the ingredients into a slow cooker while I skedaddled towards errand running.

The results were delish.

But I pushed the meal up a step by adding a wedge of home-baked focaccia bread (Also, a recipe from Canvas and Cuisine). Now, it was both delish and tummy-filling.

If you are in the mountains of North Carolina, then you know fall is in the air. If you are living by the ocean in Florida, then you are experiencing the dog days of summer.

Either way, you will find corn is most plentiful at this time of year and I invite you to “harvest” some of your own and chow down on this really yummy soup.

Jalapeno Corn Bisque

Creamy and sweet with a touch of heat, this soup is fabulous served after a brisk walk on a cold day; I like my bowls fireside! I was introduced to this soup, by a super chef in Banner Elk, North Carolina. It was that kind of bone-chilling Autumn day when you just need a big bowl of soup to warm you from the inside out. It didn’t hurt that the corn is grown right down the street from the restaurant.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and chopped, about 1 cup

1 whole leek, washed, white part chopped, about 1 cup

4 large jalapeno peppers, seeded, veins removed, diced, about 1 cup

8 ears of corn, kernels removed from cobb, about 6 cups

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup sherry 

3 cups homemade chicken stock or prepared low sodium broth 

4 cups half and half

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour mixed with 1 tablespoon room temperature butter (beurre manié)

Fresh chopped cilantro

Serves:   8

Time:   60-Minute Cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Heat the olive oil in a deep soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, leek, and jalapeno pepper and cook until beginning to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the corn and cook for 5 minutes more. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and garlic powder. Pour in the sherry. Cook until the liquid is almost all evaporated, about 3 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the veggies are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Use your gadget of choice (food processor, blender, or immersion blender) to emulsify the soup. 

Return the soup to the pot if you have used a blender or food processor. Heat the soup over low heat. Stir in the half and half. Drop small pieces of the beurre manié (flour mixed with butter) into the soup. Stir until the soup thickens to your desired consistency. You can add more cream to thin the soup or more of the beurre manié to thicken it.

Garnish with fresh herbs, cheddar cheese, salsa, cooked bacon, or all the above!