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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Recycling Trader Joe's Tapenade

We recycle. The sentiment extends to food.

We had a friend who'd proudly assert to anyone who’d listen that they hated leftovers and ate absolutely no leftovers, nope, not ever. This left us confused because we know something they apparently do not: Sometimes leftovers are tastier because ingredients get a chance to consummate the marriage, as it were.

This is true of pasta meat sauces as it is of soups, meatloaf and roast pork—let it sit a day or two and I swear to you it will taste better than the moment you first plated it after cooking it! Sometimes in winter we start a soup that morphs from chicken noodle into three different kinds of soup, if not more (leftovers serving as a base for a new batch of soup).

Our friend was not a cook, and perhaps that was part of the problem; though they did not seem to enjoy food in an epicurean way. There was shame and regret, like their religion, but not joy in eating—it filled no voids.

Mom and I start the year recycling elements of the New Year’s meal—leftover caviar becomes a topping to Mom’s birthday omelet. Somewhere between Boxing Day and the Epiphany, we combine leftover cheeses, mousses and pates and make a richly delicious quiche. These are meals made almost entirely out of leftovers but nothing to sneeze at proverbially. Funnily enough, the quiche tastes better as leftovers (so leftovers of leftovers).

This year we discovered a new reason to recycle: Trader Joe’s tapenade. Making your own tapenade is easy enough, but the Trader Joe’s version is pretty darn good. Tapenade can be made in less than 10 minutes, and can be a really satisfying snack/spread/appetizer--but you have to start by buying good quality olives. The beauty of Trader Joe’s is that you can have a variety.

Halkidiki olives (image credit: Olivellas S.A.)

Trader Joe’s carries two varieties of tapenade: the original (and mellower) spread is a blend of Kalamata, black and green olives; and the other includes Kalamata and Chalikidiki olives. Kalamata olives are the large, meaty Greek black or dark brown olives. Chalkidiki (or Halkidiki) olives are large green fruit that have all manner of magical lore attributed to them (including as a PMS cure). The tapenade keeps as long as it remains refrigerated, so you can enjoy it as a snack for as long as it lasts.

So far, my favorite quick meal involves tilapia fillets (2 per person). Spread a tablespoon of olive oil to cover the bottom of an oven pan, season the fish lightly with salt and pepper, top with a tablespoon or two of tapenade and add a sprinkling of grated Parmesan. Bake for 15-20 minutes (temperatures depend on how thin the fillets are -- 375 for thinner fillets up to 425-degrees for heftier pieces, or you can broil for no more than 10 minutes).

I put the fish in oven as water starts to boil for rice and finish both at the same time, but this dish will also go well over pasta or a variety of vegetable side dishes. I suggest finishing it off with some Sriracha—but you can also bake in chopped chilis over the fillets.

The fish will flake easily (and you can use cod, sole, flounder, snapper or any other white fish), and it will simply melt in your mouth, the spread will create a savory and soft crust over the fish. The simpler the better, but you can garnish with fresh parsley, cilantro or dill to taste. If you enjoy rice bowls, I can see adding a fried egg to it and taking it all to a whole new level. 

Next we may try game hens stuffed with tapenade. I’d also love to try some of the tapenade in black bean soup. We are going to recycle the heck out of this tapenade!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Pastelon and Piononos: Puerto Rican Downsizing of a Dish

We knew this woman years ago. I disliked her the moment we were introduced. We rarely saw her, except around the holidays, so as we approach the holidays, I sometimes think of her. I remember having a ridiculous conversation with her as she told me that her boyfriend’s family knew how to have a really classy Christmas. “They’re white,” she explained. “They had lasagna.” She was very impressed. “Really classy,” she repeated it in case I missed it.

Soon she began speaking in pronouncements, Her Majesty did...

I was a little confused because I had spent a cringe-worthy twenty minutes in a fruitless and joyless conversation with her guest (whom I found out was both her boss and lover). The topic of the traditional Hanukkah lasagna had not come up, but he did spend a good portion of the time we were speaking loudly telling me how no one present has living life properly. He had an opinion about how we were each wrong in our approach to [pick a topic]. I drank a LOT that night.

There was no joy in knowing that uppity twit, especially because her premise was that she'd outgrown being Latina and she ascribed true class only to white folks. Her self-hate made me sad. Puerto Ricans tend to relish telling people their soul is stained by plantains. But she was not one of us and her pride tended towards other qualities beyond her ethnicity or nationality. But this is about food, don't worry about whatever happened to her. 

That story comes to mind every time I see the gastro types in Puerto Rico trying to "elevate" the local cuisine, from its "humble, peasant and slave origins." Last spring I saw a recipe circulating around the interwebs about Puerto Rican lasagna… Huh? I was curious what this newfangled pasta dish could be. It turned out to be a pastelón. Not that everything involving alternating layers should be called or likened to a lasagna.

I wrote about it a few years back and included a recipe in the cookbook. A pastelón is a big, meat pie. In the Caribbean there are a few varieties, but traditionally the filling is made of picadillo. Picadillo means chopped or minced (meat). What makes the pastelón unique is a plantain crust—which also makes it gluten free.

In Puerto Rico, the "crust" is generally made of slices of ripe plantain fried to a golden crispness. In the Dominican Republic, the crust is made of extra ripe mashed plantains. I've seen a Cuban combine the two and create a delicious hybrid (mashed bottom and slices up top). Of course, varieties abound and every Caribbean mother and grandmother has her own recipe!
Pastelón can be made with chicken or shrimp fillings too; and, it is rumored, there are vegetarian recipes floating about. While the pastelón is a meal in itself, it can be served with a simple tossed salad, or a little rice. Macaroni salad is surprisingly good with it as well.

1 lb ground beef
2 tbs oil
1 small diced onion
Crushed garlic (to taste)
1 small green pepper
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp oregano
Black ground pepper

Heat oil in pan and sauté onion, garlic and pepper until softened. Add the meat and brown. Add tomato paste and herbs, season and mix. Cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat until meat is fully cooked.
To season you may use a dash of salt or a packet of sazón. As an alternative, you may also season the meat before cooking with a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. You may add a third to a quarter cup of water (which you'll allow to evaporate). You may substitute with red wine vinegar or cooking wine. And, if your heart can take it, a dash or two of hot sauce can add another dimension to the taste. Instead of green peppers, you may substitute with sweet and hot chilies.
The picadillo can include any of the following, depending on your taste: raisins, diced green apples, salad olives with pimentos. You can also add about a cup of frozen peas, green beans or corn (or use mixed vegetables that come already diced for your convenience) -- add at the last minute of cooking to heat through and mix thoroughly.
Ultimately, what you want is moist but not saucy filling.
You can prepare the picadillo a few days ahead and refrigerate. This also allows all the flavors to marry. Heat slightly before filling pastelón or bring to room temperature.

YES: as I always encourage, be a rebel, make it your own. 
I’m giving you the basic steps, you run with it as you wish!

6 ripe plantains (dark skin)
1/4 cup of unsalted butter
1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese

Cut the ends off the plantains, cut in halves or thirds lengthwise, and split the skins (see the archived article on plantains for a more detailed explanation). Place in pot of salted water and boil for about 10 minutes or until very tender. Drain water and remove peels.
Mash plantains with a fork, add soft butter and incorporate into the mashed bananas.
Spray a baking dish (you may use a pie dish or even a lasagna pan, depending on what you have available). Spoon half the plantain mixture on the bottom and smooth out the layer, top with a third of the cheese and a layer of meat. Add cheese to top the meat. Spoon the rest of the plantain mixture and top with cheddar. [NOTE: This is a skinny version, but you can add about 2 or 3 large eggs, beaten, as a binder.]
Place in oven, preheated to 350° F and heat through until cheese is melted and golden brown for about 30-40 minutes. Cooking time depends on whether the filling is already warm, of course.
The result is an enchanting combination of sweet and savory (and picante) flavors. The textures go from soft to crunchy. The bananas harden on the outside to literally create a crust, but the inside will remain soft. The important part is that you can always play around with the filling to meet your exact specifications. It's different and quite comforting. It yields 6-9 portions (depends on whether this is a side dish or the main dish), and all told you can make this dish for less than $10!

For those of you who prefer to downsize, you can try piononos, which are individual servings of the pastelón. It starts with maduros (yellow plantains, with or without spots—the more spots, the sweeter but also the softest to work with). You will cut plantains in half and then slice lengthwise, fry them in oil until browned (the sugars in the fruit will caramelize). Dry them off on paper towels and, until cool enough to handle.
Now you have two choices, you can make rounds and close with toothpicks and fill with picadillo, top with cheese and then egg. You can fry them until the egg sets and the cheese bubbles. A healthier version is to line the inside of a ramekin or a muffin tin with the plantain and then fill with picadillo. You can heat it up at 350-degrees for about 20-30 minutes until the egg sets and the cheese melts and bubbles.
As an alternative to the meat picadillo, you can substitute ground pork for a completely different taste and texture. I usually steam up sausage links, remove the casings, and chop it up before seasoning and cooking with sautéed veggies and herbs. If cheddar is a little strong, you may use a milder cheese. This is a very versatile recipe. If you prefer a more savory taste, you can use plantains that are beginning to ripen but have not reached maturation (skin is green and turning yellow).
I’m thinking it’d go well with a minced curried goat too! And I’ve heard there are crabmeat piononos I have not tasted yet (culinary goals, baby!). A fabulous presentation and a tasty alternative: serve with slices of avocado (plain or with a dash of olive oil and lemon juice).

So, if a pastelón is a Puerto Rican lasagna, the pionono is like a tiny sweet and savory Christmas wreath on the plate. You can prep ahead of time and cook later. Can’t tell you whether it freezes well because I’ve never seen leftovers of this stuff in my whole life! Usually the pastelón is made with rice and beans, but it can just as easily be served with green beans, carrots, or a salad. The piononos make it easier to portion control, if you want to keep it lighter. I personally think it is all very classy indeed!

For a better idea of what each step might look like, check out this: 

For a muffin pan version, you can try this:

Folks in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands
still need your help, if you can offer some 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Good Eggs: My Love Affair with the Tortilla

Let's talk eggs for a minute or two. Just to cleanse our palate of all the bad eggs on the news, shall we? 

When I was a kid, I had a love/hate relationship with eggs. I loved eggs, but not everyone understood the delicate nature of the product. Eggs are versatile in that they’ll let you cook them in variety of ways, temperatures, and mixed with herbs, meats and vegetables of all kinds. But a bad cook can ruin eggs so easily…

So to my literal mind a “bad egg” was not necessarily a morally deficient person but what happened when a bad cook got hold of an egg.

The word tortilla (omelet) carried the promise of adventure because the eggs could be enveloping any number of delicious ingredients; and sometimes they cleverly hid the surprise under a cover of golden richness. But not always.

I had a cousin who drenched everything he ate in ketchup. He did not taste his food. His go-to move was to slather enough ketchup to hide the original offense and then a little more so that the only aftertaste would be whatever Heinz intended it to be.

I have no recollection why I spent the night at their house, though I suspect it may have been at the heels of the Hooker Incident--a story for another blog--and that morning the matriarch in that particular house (being very careful not to “out” her) cooked us breakfast. "I'll make you eggs," she announced. And I got excited at the prospect. But Cousin was circumspect, at best. He took out the ketchup and pointed to it. “You’ll need this,” he said and winked at me. I shook my judgy little head, because although not of school age yet, I knew his culinary crime to be immense.

First, she threw a big soup spoon full of margarine on a small frying pan and then the eggs. She shook a dash of salt into the pan and put on the flame as high as it would go--explaining the presence of a couple of fire extinguishers in the room. I think it may have been intended to be sunny side up until she broke a couple of yolks and we ended up with the inevitably scrambled eggs, or so I was led to believe by my cousin. (Intending to add onions to it but not doing so because they made you cry does not count! But also, I believe she tried to cut an onion one time and then tried to dry a tear and knocked the glasses off her face with the knife. She didn't cook again for weeks.) And while she referred to that abomination she served as a “tortilla”; she didn’t put anything on the eggs, so technically it wasn’t an omelet. It was just plain scrambled eggs. 

I mean, really: she didn't even roll it up pretty on the plate. Come on!

Well, plain, overcooked, slightly burned scrambled eggs with the consistency of soft rubber with one salty spot. But at least the margarine made it all slippery and, thus, easier to swallow. The ketchup hid its imperfections, and added sweet and tangy to something that did not need that type of complexity. Frankly, what that dish needed was a garbage bin and a Requiem Mass so we could, all involved, ask the Lord’s forgiveness for what was done to those poor, defenseless eggs.

That morning, for the first time in my life, I ate toast for breakfast and begged the Universe to reunite me with a good cook soon! I have not prayed much in this lifetime, but when I do, I am a pragmatist.

There is a distinctly Puerto Rican omelet with onions and Vienna sausages that remains a favorite comfort food to this day. One of my first adventures in the kitchen was making cheese omelets. And once I set out on my own, I freestyled with herbs and vegetables, diced ham and tiny shrimp, and then I set to learn the breakfast secrets of my neighbors in Brooklyn.

Certainly, anyone who has found themselves in financial straits knows that eggs-for-dinner is one of the best things to come out of peasant cuisine from around the world! It is also handy to know a few egg dishes when you work long and strange hours and have no desire to spend your free time standing over a hot stove.

One of the things I perfected was taking the simple tortilla de papatas (the world famous Spanish potato omelet) and tweaking it into a meal. I use leftover Spanish potatoes—potato slices cooked with sautéed onions and garlic from an old recipe from some monastery, if I remember correctly. It's really a bastardization of a Cuban omelet.

I remember checking off this photo grid of popular tortillas served in Madrid and pairing them to different wines during our brunch days. Each tortilla had its own personality, some more robust than others, some more fragrant, others delicate and others just badass!

There are places in Spain (from small delis to bars) that serve nothing but omelets (swoon!)

The most memorable entries included tortilla de mariscos (with seafood, including mussels, shrimp, and cuttlefish), tortilla de sardinas (with sardine filets laid over the eggs as they cook), tortilla de atún (with either fresh or canned tuna), tortilla de hígado de pollo (with coarsely chopped chicken livers), and tortilla catalana (made with a spicy Butifarra sausage and cannellini beans).

Whether you chose to have your omelet with a salad, with pan y tomate (brushing off a tomato’s juices over slices of bread), under gravy or over a grain or pasta, all of these Spanish omelets are delicious. And for the flexitarians options run from wild mushrooms, to asparagus, spinach and garlic, roasted tubers, and mixed herbs; and depending on your rules about dairy, an international array of melty cheeses to enchant the palate.

Of course, every culture has its own version of an omelet and you can open your horizons by cooking beyond borders.

(more to come…)

Friday, October 20, 2017

One Million Served. Help Us Do More!

I have been feeling more than a little conflicted about my Food Goddess activities. Nothing I do in that regard is offensive but it feels silly, unimportant, and maybe a little tone deaf knowing that a portion of my audience living in Puerto Rico hasn’t had a decent meal in weeks.

Taino symbol for coquí 
Most of our people are okay (not great, but alive, sustained minimal damage and are ready and eager to move on). Some have sustained more property damage/flooding than others. This isn’t the case for everyone we know. There are a few people “missing” or displaced, and not in a position to communicate. We have elders in hospital, and in no position to be moved. Most still have no cell service, intermittent water, and some have yet to get electricity.

So if you know any Puerto Ricans, you’d have witnessed a high level of neurosis and nervousness, anger, sadness, fatigue, all happening almost simultaneously, fueling us back into action and another round of more intense neurosis.

Our family, friends, our island is in broken and in peril and we feel helpless and broken too. We are warriors and don’t let that bother us! We need to work to bring more help to the island and restore it. It must be restored.

In the meantime, I am left feeling conflicted about my Food Goddess activities. Life must go on, but there are other more important issues to attend to. Gathering and sharing recipes feels trivial.

What’s worst is that as the temperatures start going down and the holidays approach, I am left with the sad realization that the holidays won’t be the same in the island this year – though Puerto Ricans will make the best of whatever the Universe throws at them! In fact, it may be years before there can be holidays like we used to have…

I want to get back to normal, but it may take me some time to get there. But as Food Goddess, may I suggest that you help Puerto Rico by donating to Chef Relief / World Central Kitchen José Andrés has provided over 1 million hot meals all over the island (follow them on Twitter to see how they continue their mission #ChefsForPuertoRico).

I will come back and write about some ridiculously delicious dish that will make you break the current diet. Just not today.

(Watch a resilient little coquí come back after Hurricane Maria to sing his song of freedom: -- and if the coquí can rise above the chaos, so can we!)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Foods to Help You Fight Seasonal Allergies

I love fall—from the cool nights to the gradual change in the color palette in the northeast. I used to love the start of school! New shows would premiere, and the good movies came out. Halloween nears...

I gain a spring in my step, until I find myself chased by grass, pollen, dust, and dander trying to kill me! There were many other reasons I love the season, but the itching, sneezing, coughing, sniffling, tearing up did interfere with some of that enjoyment. Allergies are total joy killers.

If you are affected by seasonal allergies, you know that antihistamines help (when they don’t make you sleepy). If you prefer to take a more holistic approach and lay off the chemicals, there are some foods that help you ease some of those annoying allergy symptoms. You can start by adding more whole foods and decreasing the processed foods in your diet.

Go through the list below and pick food items to add to your daily/weekly routine. These help lower the amount of antibodies that trigger allergy symptoms and some have anti-inflammatory properties that block the release of histamines in the body.

The easiest change you can make is creating snacks – from nuts to seeds to fruit salads to chocolate (which incidentally would go equally well as yogurt toppers). Add an afternoon tea break to your day.

At least once a week: Create your personal curry, the type that will literally clear your sinuses! Make a quick veggie stir-fry. Broil or grill a piece of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Have dessert—make it fruit every time. And, if you dare, make the Spanish Garlic Soup, a special treat even if you don’t suffer from allergies.

Herring, mackerel, trout, tuna, salmon and sardines
Walnuts and flaxseed

Apples, onions, berries, cabbage, cauliflower, tea

Vitamin C
Oranges, red peppers, strawberries, kiwi, pineapple

Yogurt, kefir, miso, tempeh, kombucha


Cashews, wheat bran, kelp, pumpkin seeds, almond, sunflower seeds, broccoli, leafy greens, and chocolate

There are suggestions that local honey might help you develop a tolerance for pollen from local trees. The jury is still out on this one, but then, you get to sample honey!


Spanish Garlic Soup
(Sopa de Ajo)

2 tablespoon olive oil
8 slices stale French bread, crusts removed, cut into ½” cubes
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon paprika (see notes)
Salt, to taste
4 cups chicken stock
Poached egg

1. Pour olive oil into a pot and heat to medium-high. Add bread to pot and sauté bread for 4-5 minutes. Stir constantly.
2. Add garlic, paprika, and salt, stir well and cook for another 3-4 minutes, but do not brown the garlic.
3. Add stock, bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes.
4. Serve with soup with poached egg (see notes).

  •          You may use sweet, hot, or smoked paprika. Each will give you a slightly different taste. Sweet paprika will give it a little grittiness and color, the hot spiciness. The smoked paprika gives it depth.
  •          You may substitute chicken stock for vegetable stock, and you can use reduced sodium stock too (it’ll still be tasty). You can also use meat stock for a different, stronger taste.
  •          You can poach your egg ahead of time and keep refrigerated until you are ready to use. To poach an egg, bring a small pot of water to a boil the lower temperature to a simmer (around 140-150°F), add 1 teaspoon of vinegar. Crack an egg and gently slide in water. Cook 5 minutes.
  •          You can add a bay leaf in the stock and reserve when you are ready to serve.
  •          If you need something a little more substantial, you can add a cooked and sliced link of sausage, andouille or chorizo—and add an element of heat, if you like.
  •         Some folks like the silkiness of the egg but do not like runny poached eggs. You can beat an egg and cook in the liquid for about 2 minutes. You may even add to the bowl, ladle soup over it and stir with fork until opaque strands appear.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Easy Strawberry Sorbet

I kept the tab to the Serious Eats article on How to Make the Best Sorbet open for three days. I was reading it almost two sentences at a time, with hours in between readings. Let's just say focus was lacking... 

There was about a pound of strawberries already in the fridge and I got it into my head that I wanted to try making a batch of sorbet as a test before the next heatwave hit. In fact, once I did my last batch of mango ice cream, I cleaned the canister and put it back in the freezer for that very reason. (Focus no, foresight yes!)

Serious Eats had a recipe and some very specific suggestions. But, of course, I knew I wouldn’t follow it. For one thing, I had about half of what their “recipe” required. Also, Mom had already cut the strawberries (about one-one half pounds) and they were marinating in a dash of rum and about a tablespoon of sugar. They had been in there for a couple of days and the sugar and rum worked together to plump up, soften and create a little more juice. [Click link for more information about macerating fruit.]

For the sorbet, I added about a quarter teaspoon of kosher salt, half a cup of sugar, and a teaspoon of lemon juice. I whipped it in the blender for about a minute and put it in the freezer for a few minutes to get it cold again (just short of icy). The recipe called for straining but I like the unexpected crunchiness of the seeds, so I skipped that step.

The idea was to churn it for about 20 minutes, but the truth is that I completely forgot I had set it up and had the machine running and it churned for over 40 minutes. Luckily, it didn’t get soupy. It doesn’t need to run that long.

The verdict of our first taste test: soft and naturally creamy (velvety is a good word for it too), not too sweet and just tangy enough. The color is beautiful, a deep red that will just make you happy to look at it!

Strawberry sorbet, version 1
Just as we’re unlikely to purchase ice cream again, we are now unlikely to spend any more money on store-bought sorbet. We are lucky to have good access to fruit markets year-round, so don’t be surprised if the next sorbet news includes dragon fruit…  

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Heatwave Kitchen Survival: Avocados

(This piece was meant for the Food Goddess blog but I ended up publishing at the Temple of Doom. I claim heatwave insanity!)

We’ve had two heatwaves already and, technically, summer just started last night! Without entering the whole global warming debate, if your kitchen reaches three-digit temperatures, you may not be in the mood to cook. 

You still have to eat! You can't just sit facing a fan drinking a beer. 

Our little George Foreman grill gets a lot of work in the summer because most meals can be done in less than 10 minutes. But some nights even that is too much. In a heatwave, you'll not want to be near hot appliances or food. But again, you have to eat! 

To survive the heat, the perfect solution is to find ways to prepare food without cooking and, for this the avocado is perfect. One of the most delicious solutions is to buy a variety of avocados and get them at different levels of ripeness (you can put them in the fridge to slow down ripening). I’ve kept avocados in the fridge for about a week.

The next time you have a heatwave barreling towards you, buy a few avocados and keep one or more of these recipes in your repertoire to beat the heat. Make sure you purchase staples for several cold dinner ideas that will keep you refreshed and satisfied. Of course, shop for produce that can last you for a few days to survive your incursion into hellish dimensions. Most veggies keep well in the fridge.

Avocado Toast
Trendy tapa aside, this is beyond hipster bar appetizer. The bread and avocado will fill you up and there is no need to be boring about toppings. A cold beer, or a sparkling wine will round it up, and easily forget the misery of living through another heatwave.

Stuffed Avocados
Tuna salad tastes amazing stuffed in an avocado half (it honestly does!). Ceviche is perfect. If the idea of letting fish cook in ceviche makes you nervous, keep frozen cooked shrimp which you can thaw in the fridge (I marinade them as they tend to be pretty bland). Black beans and garbanzos lend themselves to this dish as well. 

Avocado Cold Soup
Chilled soups are a great way to cool off and generally can be made ahead, requiring little to no cooking. Much like gazpacho, you can keep toppings to augment the dish (tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, grated carrots).

Zoodles with Avocado Pesto
Everything's better in pesto and avocado pesto is creamy and just dreamy--smooth and velvety. Spiralized veggies means that cooking can be done in a matter of minutes (or even by microwave and in seconds). Spiralizing veggies is a great way to rethink recipes, you need not limit yourself to zucchini. 

Breakfast for Dinner?
I don't know that a smoothie is all you'll need to keep you satisfied, but if you are not in the mood to eat, this is a good way to fill up. You can add spinach for added nutrients and a greener smoothie.

Avocado Salads
Summer salads are great on their own, as a side to rotisserie chicken, or even inside pita pockets.

Ice Cream!!!
Some days you just don't even want dinner and an extra scoop of ice cream is all you want. I don't recommend you do this often, but you're an adult. If you want ice cream for dinner, then have ice cream for dinner. If the weather outside is 122-degrees Fahrenheit, you should be able to have whatever the hell you want because this most be the end times!

Of course, you cannot live on avocado alone, but having a few recipes in your repertoire -- especially no-cook ideas for days too hot too cook -- can be live savers.