Just Beet It! Beet Purée

I’ll be honest, for most of my life beets have been a hard limit. No way, no how, they were not going in my mouth. The taste was fine, a little earthy, whatever; but the texture, ugh I could not get over that texture – and so I spent all my life pushing away my grandma’s borscht and every fancy beet salad at nice restaurants.

“What changed?” you ask. For one, taste buds evolve as you get older. There are so many foods that I used to despise as a child that I love now (mushrooms for one). This doesn’t really help if you have a thing with texture though, so let me just get to the beet story: I recently had the extreme pleasure of ordering my Passover Seder plate contents from authentic-Russian/Ukrainian Portland powerhouse Kachka. Let me just say, if you’re in Portland and looking for a place to eat – you will not be disappointed.

One of the components of the Seder plate is commonly a shank bone or lamb chop, but vegetarians often use root vegetables. Kachka’s z’roah was a phenomenal lamb chop with a beetroot purée. Guys, listen to me when I tell you, this was the most amazing vegetable item I had ever put in my mouth. I licked my plate clean… and the container the purée came in, and the Seder plate, and The Boyfriend’s plate. Revelation: I love beets, and have been on a mission to recreate the recipe since this discovery (took me about… four days). Kachka let me know that their recipe uses a bit of honey which I have obviously omitted as it is not a slow carb compliant ingredient, but feel free to add some in on cheat day or if you’re eating paleo!

If you have never worked with beets before, don’t panic! I hadn’t either, but it was very easy!

For this recipe, you will need: 
Clean kitchen gloves (or two pairs disposable gloves)
Large pot with lid
Strainer (optional, but recommended)
Blender or food processor

Ingredients: 
1 bunch red beets (3-4 large beets)
1-2 tsp olive oil
~ 2 tbsp warm water
Salt, to taste

While wearing gloves, remove greens from beets. Leave the beets whole including the roots (the long skinny part) and about 2″ of the stem – this will help keep the red color from going all over the place. Place the beets in a pot, season with salt to taste, and cover with water.

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Cover pot with lid and bring water to a boil. Allow beets to boil until tender, about 40-45 minutes (very large beets may need some more time). Immediately drain beets and rinse them in cold water for 1-2 minutes. While wearing gloves, gently peel the skins off the beets – they should just slip right off along with the root, no peelers needed!

Allow beets to cool on a cutting board for at least 15 minutes. I gently cut the beets into a few large pieces so the insides would cool as well.

Once beets are cool to the touch, add them to the bowl of your blender or food processor with salt, olive oil, and 1 tbsp warm water. Blend until smooth or desired texture. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed – if your purée is very thick, you may need to add a bit more water or oil – and blend again.

Serve as is, or refrigerate and serve cool (I like it cold). Eat within 2-3 days.

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Two Years: My Top 20 Recipes!

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been TWO YEARS since I first created SlowCarbSnacktime. It’s been a long road learning how to eat properly and fuel my body, and there’s still a very long journey ahead, but it has been such an amazing and educational adventure so far and I’ve come up with so many healthy slow carb recipes along the way. There’s many more to come, but for now, I’m celebrating two years of SlowCarbSnacktime with my top 20 recipes.

All 20 of these recipes are grain, gluten, sugar, corn, potato, rice, and soy-free. Two recipes use some dairy, but I’ll make sure to note that in the list. I will also note paleo and whole30 compliant recipes (they are obviously all slow carb compliant). Items marked “vegetarian” are either vegetarian or can easily be made so by changing an ingredient such as swapping out chicken stock for vegetable stock.

  1. Amazeballs: Super Scallion Turkey Meatballs – paleo/whole30 – I used ground pork rinds instead of bread crumbs to give these meatballs the fluffiness they need without the carbs you don’t want.
  2. B^3: Butternut Bacon Bitespaleo/whole30 – It may take a few minutes to wrap these precious little pieces of squash in strips of bacon, but I promise it’s worth every second of your time.
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  3. Butternut Squeek Soupvegetarian, paleo/whole30 – There are few things better than a hot butternut squash soup on a cold winter day… this soup with butternut squash plus leeks is one of them.
  4. Chicken Liver Mousse – dairy – Okay, I’m not going to lie, there’s a lot of butter in this recipe, but it is one of the easiest things to make for a classy dish to stun your guests without sacrificing protein. Also tastes great with eggs for breakfast, or by itself on a very large spoon…

    Beautifully set. Dig in!

    Beautifully set. Dig in!

  5. Decontamination: Ginger Chicken Souppaleo/whole30 – The perfect comeback to any cold, my chicken soup is infused with a ton of ginger to help combat the ickiest of feelings. A favorite of my dad’s to fight back against chronic sinus infections.
  6. Duck Duck Asparaguspaleo/whole30 – Crispy asparagus oven-roasted in duck fat. The way to my heart is through my stomach.
  7. Easy Peas-y: Split Pea Soup w/ Sausage – One of The Boyfriend’s favorites, I boil the sausage in chicken stock and then use that stock in the soup. So rich, so good.
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  8. “Gazpacheaux” Gazpachovegetarian, paleo/whole30 – This cold tomato soup is a perfect snack to beat the summer heat or spoon into shot glasses for a classier kind of party.
  9. Hold the Sizzle: Fiery Chicken Fajitas – paleo/whole30 – This spicy little stir fry is a great option for a protein-packed dinner for two and tastes great with strips of beef too!
  10. Holy Crap! Garlic Soupvegetarian, paleo/whole30 – Over 20 cloves of garlic and a whole head of cauliflower into the pot for a super smooth, bright white soup.
  11. Kimchi Fried Cauli-Rice – paleo/whole30 – Cauliflower rice, kimchi, eggs, and bacon fat. What more could you want?
  12. Lamb Chop’s Play Along: One Baaaaad Burgerpaleo/whole30 – This ground lamb burger with fresh rosemary is so juicy, sticking it on a bun would just be a waste.
  13. Perfect ‘Stachio Guacvegetarian, paleo/whole30 – My copy cat version of the stunning guacamole at Jose Garces’ El Vez. Never pay $14 for guac again.
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  14. Red Lentils are Dal-iciousvegetarian – My take on a traditional Indian dal, prepared in a slow cooker using red lentils and a ton of fresh spinach. I crave this all the time and it’s a great dish entirely on its own, paired with a meaty protein, or even reheated in a pan with some eggs!
  15. Rosemary Bone Brothcrockpot, paleo/whole30 – This slow-cooked broth is made from beef soup/marrow bones and cooks on low for nearly two days to extract all the vitamin goodness from the bones. When it’s cold, it looks like jell-o, but warm it up for a mineral-packed cup of life. Seriously, I know how cheesy that sounds, just try it. It’s amazing.
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  16. Saturday Morning Shakshuka / Date Night Zoodlesvegetarian, paleo/whole30 – These two quick dishes pair great together for a meal so tasty, you won’t even realize there’s no meat!
  17. Sweet Hundos: Oven-Roasted Cherry Tomato Saucevegetarian, paleo/whole30 – This super easy tomato sauce is made with “Sweet 100’s” cherry tomatoes and is unlike any sauce I’ve tasted before. I just couldn’t get enough and ate half the jar with a spoon. Serve with just about anything.

    Mmm saucy!

    Mmm saucy!

  18. Top Secret Deviled Eggs / Devilish Egg Salad – My go-to potluck dish and an easy alternative for cravings at home.
  19. Tiny Viking Funerals – cheat day, dairy – Jalapenos stuffed with chorizo and cream cheese. A cheat day treat guaranteed to knock the socks off all your friends.
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  20. Whatsername Fish Tacos – Chickpea flour-crusted tilapia fillets and large lettuce leaves make for this delicate but delicious taco dinner. You won’t even miss the tortillas.

Turnip For What: Winter Mushroom Soup

Woo-hoo! The first semester of grad school is finally over. New recipes posted created by slowcarbsnacktime, 1/4 MHA. No but seriously, I finished the semester with straight As for the first time since sixth grade and I am feeling so relieved and ready to write.

If you follow me on instagram or facebook, you may have heard that our Whole30 adventures went exceedingly well. The Boyfriend and I each lost about 10 lbs and he is down nearly two inches on his waist! We just started a new lifting program so I didn’t expect to see much in the way of inches lost, but all my jiggly bits are definitely less jiggly. Bonus: a lot of my chronic stomach issues seem to have disappeared on Whole30 as well (I am guessing because of sneaky soy lecithin hidden everywhere that we weren’t so strict about before). For this reason, we’ve decided to give strict paleo a whirl and see how it stands up to slow carb. For the time being, I will do my best to create and share recipes compliant with all three – slow carb, paleo, and whole30 – but you should always make sure to check my ingredients anyway just to be safe.

One of my first winter break creations was this damn delicious mushroom soup that came together so quickly and paired great with The Boyfriend’s pan seared pork chops.

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For this recipe you will need:
1 large pot
Immersion blender
Vegetable peeler

Ingredients: 
1.5 lbs white button mushrooms, sliced
1 lg yellow onion, diced
1 turnip, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 can coconut milk (Thai Kitchen)
2 tsp white vinegar
2 qts (8 cups) chicken or beef stock

Seasoning:
2-3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 tbsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp sage

Notes:

#1 – pretty much any mushroom will do, but I’ve been on a huge button mushroom kick lately and they’re also super cheap, so that’s what I used.

#2 – if possible, get the Thai Kitchen brand coconut milk (in the red can). For whatever reason, the milk is separated with solid cream at the top and the liquid at the bottom. I only added the cream and it was amazing. Mushrooms and onions already give off a ton of liquid and with two quarts of chicken stock, we didn’t need any more. Just adding the cream (all of it) made for a super creamy and rich soup, completely dairy free. A regular can of coconut milk will do just fine (in the can, not the carton), but I highly recommend that brand if you can swing it.

#3 – if you’ve seen some of my soup recipes in the past, you may have noticed I’m a big fan of blended soups. It’s a trick my step-grandma used to pull on us when we were kids to eat her (seriously delicious) healthy soups without picking out ingredients we didn’t like. It’s a trend that stuck and my go-to state for soups, but if you want a bit more chunk, just chop your mushrooms and turnip into small bite-sized pieces and ditch the Immersion blender.

#4 – I used chicken stock today because it’s all we had at home, but I suspect it would be even more delicious with beef broth. This soup (and most others on my blog) can also be made vegan in a pinch by subbing in vegetable broth.

Recipe:

Peel the turnip, removing ends, and chop into large chunks. Thoroughly wash all mushrooms with water. Seriously, they grow in poo, wash them well. Transfer mushrooms to a large bowl. Dice the onion and add it to the bowl of mushrooms.

Drizzle 1-2 tbsp of oil over the mushroom-onion mixture and toss gently to coat.

Melt 1 tbsp of ghee or olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onion to pot and allow to gently fry, stirring occasionally (to ensure even browning) until reduced by half – about ten minutes. As I said above, mushrooms and onions hold a lot of water, so when you first add them to the pot it will take up a lot of space. As the mushrooms cook, they will give up a lot of this water and shrink down taking up half as much space in the pot as they did when raw. Add ~1 tbsp granulated garlic.

Add the chopped turnip to the pot and 1tsp of salt, mixing again to make sure everything got a little bit of time on the bottom of the pot to brown up. This caramelization packs a ton of flavor and will add some serious depth to your soup.

Add in two quarts of stock, mix again, and bring to a boil – stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and allow soup to simmer for 20-25 minutes before adding the coconut cream/milk. Remove from heat and let cream melt before blending the soup. Blend to desired consistency and return to low heat.

Add 1tsp salt, cracked pepper, and celery salt, and sage to taste and allow to simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until soup thickens.

Sometimes a few pieces miss the blender so if the soup isn’t smooth enough for you, now is the time to blend it again (remove the pot from the stove to do this).

Return pot to heat to help marry flavors. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve immediately. Finish with truffle salt or a swirl of coconut cream (optional).

Allow to cool completely before storing in the refrigerator. To reheat, add desired amount of cold soup to a small pot. Bring to a low boil on medium-high heat and serve.

Sweet Hundos: Oven-Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Mmm saucy!

Courtesy of our lovely next-door neighbors, late last week I found myself with close to four pounds of cherry tomatoes in the kitchen, mostly of the irresistibly orange Sweet 100 variety. We couldn’t possibly eat them all, and soup was out of the question – have you ever peeled that many tiny tomatoes? I certainly wasn’t going to. So here it is, oven-roasted cherry tomato sauce: so good, I literally ate half the jar before it had cooled enough to put away.

For this recipe, you will need: 
Large baking pan (glass recommended)
Food processor
Heat-safe jar (glass recommended)
Plastic bags for freezing (optional)

Ingredients:
2-3 lbs cherry tomatoes (Sweet 100, or other variety)
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled
1-2 tsp onion powder
2-3 tbsp high quality oil (olive or avocado)
~ 0.5 oz fresh basil (10-15 g)

Gently remove stems from all tomatoes and rinse with cold water (I saw a hobo spider while out in the garden, so I made sure to wash them really well).

Pour 1-2 tbsp oil in a glass pan, tilting the pan to cover most of the bottom. Add tomatoes, garlic, onion powder, and an additional 1-2 tbsp of oil and carefully toss – you want to be gentle so the tomatoes don’t break, but you also want them to be coated with the onion powder and in a flat layer.

Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until tomatoes are soft and wrinkly and liquid is lightly boiling. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.

Oven ready!

Oven ready!

Transfer full contents of the pan (including any liquid) to a food processor. Add fresh basil, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend for 1-2 minutes or until desired texture is reached (some people like it chunky, but I like it pretty smooth).

Transfer sauce to a heat safe container like a mason jar and let cool before storing in the fridge.

Serve with… basically everything. I put it in my roast chicken and even in a sausage and pepper stir-fry! Or just eat it with a spoon, ’cause it’s really that good.

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This recipe makes about one quart of sauce. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week or frozen in a ziplock bag for 1-2 months (to defrost, place bag in a bowl of warm water).

Kimchi Fried Cauli-Rice

A few months ago, The Boyfriend and I took a little trip through Seattle and Vancouver, BC to celebrate his 30th birthday. While in Vancouver, we had the good fortune to grab seats at the bar at one of the renowned Guu Izakaya restaurants. The special that evening just happened to be kimchi fried rice with pork intestine… and we’ve been talking about it ever since.

There’s just something about fried rice – it’s both exotic and comforting, simple and complex. I could philosophize for ages, but let’s just get to the cooking.  I’ve made cauliflower rice before, so switching out regular rice for the cauli-good-stuff was no big deal. I had originally intended for this part of dinner to last us at least two days, but that just didn’t happen. Thankfully, cauliflower is packed with far more nutrients and other healthy goodies than rice so no real harm in filling up, other than the lack of leftovers. Guess I’ll just have to make it again!

Ingredients: 
1 large head cauliflower
8 oz kimchi
5 slices bacon (optional*)
3 large eggs
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

Appliances/Special Equipment: 
Food processor or food mill
Large non-stick pan
1 small bowl

* if you are not using bacon for dietary or personal preferences, you will need about 3 tbsp of oil (avocado recommended) to replace the bacon grease.

Wash and clean the cauliflower, chop into medium-sized florets, and set on a paper towel to dry. Working in small batches, pulse the cauliflower in a food processor or run it through a food mill until it resembles rice (you can see the full length recipe in detailhere). Place cauliflower “rice” in a large microwave safe bowl, microwave for 60 seconds, and set aside.

Using a very sharp knife, chop 8 oz kimchi into smaller pieces (I make them just slightly larger than “bite size”) and set aside. Again using a sharp knife, slice bacon strips into smaller, bite-size pieces. Finally, using a fork or whisk, scramble three eggs together in a small bowl.

Heat a large non-stick pan on medium-high heat (~ 8/10). Add about half of the bacon pieces, using tongs or a spatula to make sure they don’ t stick together. After about 2 minutes, add the rest of the bacon pieces – varying the cooking times makes for a fun change in texture and keeps everybody happy (The Boyfriend prefers the crispiest of bacon, I’m less excited by this). Continue cooking bacon for 3-5 minutes, stirring/flipping often to insure even cooking and that pieces don’t stick together.

Add all 8 oz of kimchi to the pan, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes or until cabbage begins to soften. Dump the entire batch of cauli-rice into the pan, stirring immediately so it’s not just sitting on top of the bacon and kimchi (it will start to burn this way). Continue cooking cauliflower mixture, stirring often, for about 7 minutes or until cauliflower begins to brown. Finally, dump the scrambled eggs over the cauliflower mixture, stirring/flipping all contents of the pan (so the eggs are fully incorporated) for about 3 minutes or until eggs are no longer raw.

Remove contents of pan to a large bowl and serve immediately.

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Amazeballs: Super Scallion Turkey Meatballs

Amazeballs!

I have a confession. Prior to creating this recipe, I’d never made meatballs before. I’ve eaten Russian meatballs, Italian meatballs, matzah balls, you name it. I helped my grandma make the little meatballs when I was a kid, I helped my mom make matzoh balls for most of my life, and I’ve eaten a LOT of excellent Italian food since The Boyfriend and I started dating, but I’d never actually made meatballs on my own! I have to say, I am pleased as punch with myself for how these guys turned out.

I got 21 medium-sized meatballs from 2 lbs of turkey, perfect for two hungry grown-ups and a few extras for breakfast leftovers. Adjust proportions accordingly.

Ingredients: 
2 lbs ground turkey
2 large eggs
12-15 scallions (~ 4 oz)
1.5 cups pork rind “breadcrumbs” (details below)
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp bacon fat (or equivalent)

Seasoning:
1 tsp salt
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Appliances/Special Equipment: 
Food processor
Large non-stick pan
Oven

All the scallions!

All the scallions!

Place several handfuls of pork rinds (I really like Mission’s Chicharrones) in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse in 10-15 second intervals until pork rinds resemble breadcrumbs. Repeat until you have at least 1.5 cups of “pork crumbs” – I usually use up the entire bag so I can store the extras and use as I please, but if you just want enough for this recipe, that’s okay too. If you’re making extra, store in an airtight container.

From the scallions, remove the “hairy” end and any wilted tips. I usually peel off and completely remove the outermost layer from the scallion, but if you don’t feel like dealing with it, a good scrub is just fine too. Thinly slice scallions (yep, the white part too) and set aside.

In your food processor, combine the ground turkey, salt, celery salt, pepper, garlic, scallions, and eggs. Blend until mostly uniform – it’s a fine line between mixed and mushy, and you can always do more by hand, so pay careful attention. Remove the turkey mixture to a large bowl. Add 1.5 cups “pork crumbs” and mix until uniform, a large baking spatula is great for this (my food processor came with one, see link above).

Prepare to get messy! Using a tablespoon (the regular dining kind) and your hands, form the turkey mixture into round meatballs. Place on a large cutting board or plate to set. Let the meatballs rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes – this will help them stay together.

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Pre-heat oven to 400*F.
Grease a large, oven-safe pan with bacon fat, non-stick spray, or oil and set aside. Note: I usually just use a metal cookie sheet, but for this recipe I whipped out the big Pyrex with actual sides to prevent my meatballs from rolling all over the place.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large non-stick pan at medium heat.
Working in batches, brown the meatballs – about 1 minute on each “side”. They don’t have to be perfectly brown the whole way around, but getting a good sear on at least two “sides” will lock in some great flavor just like with a steak. Place browned meatballs in rows on oven-safe pan.

Bake meatballs in 400*F oven for 20-25 minutes or until internal temperature reads 165*F.

Serve immediately. (I dipped them in a little bit of creamy horseradish sauce. Amazeballs!)

Suggested Pairing Options: 
Holy Crap! Garlic Soup
Red Lentils are Dal-icious

Cheatin’ on Chipotle: Beef Barbacoa

The barbacoa at Chipotle is a thing of beauty. Other than the new Bonfire Bowls at Baja Fresh, Chipotle’s barbacoa is by far my most frequent craving for a slow carb meal when we’re out and about. Now, The Boyfriend and I fully appreciate Chipotle’s more natural approach to feeding the masses, but sometimes we just don’t want to pay extra for guacamole.. or wait in line. You might have to wait all day for this homemade take on your favorite burrito bowl, but it will feed you all week without actually having to eat the same meal twice (see suggested pairings below).

Ingredients: 
~ 6 lbs boneless chuck short ribs (or equivalent)
2 yellow onions, halved
7 oz chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (1 can)
2 dried red chilis
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup chicken stock
2 tsp True Lime crystals (or 4 tbsp fresh lime juice)
~ 3 tbsp vegetable oil, for searing
1 small bunch radishes, thinly sliced (optional, for garnish)

Seasoning: 
3 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cayenne

Appliances/Special Equipment: 
Blender or food processor
Slow Cooker

Dig in!

Dig in!

Slice onions into thin half-moons and place at the bottom of the crock pot (in theory, this step is completely optional, but I love onions and think they add great flavor to this dish). If you don’t want to use onions, add 1 tsp of onion powder or granulated onion to the blender sauce (further instructions below).

Rinse meat under cold water and pat dry. Trim about 40% of the fat off – leaving enough to render down in the crock-pot, but not so much that the meat won’t sear. Cut the chuck into smaller pieces – I ended up with about 10 total – this will make it a bit easier to fit everything in the slow cooker as well as increasing surface area available for searing (a must-do step to lock in all that great flavor).

Heat oil in a large pot or pan over medium heat. Sear each piece of meat until golden brown (1-2 minutes per side) and for a few seconds on each edge. Add to the slow cooker.

In your blender or food processor, combine: apple cider vinegar, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, True Lime crystals (or lime juice), dried peppers, and all seasoning/herbs/spices. Blend until smooth. Note: If you have a mortar and pestle, I’d recommend crushing up the dried peppers and discarding the seeds before adding them to the blender. Add blended sauce and 1 cup chicken stock to the slow cooker and mix gently, coating as much of the meat as possible with the sauce (my crock pot was pretty damn full at this point so it was a bit of a challenge, but I did what I could).

Set crock pot on high for 6+ hours or on low for 10+, stirring occasionally (and to make sure that any pieces of meat sticking up out of the liquid do not dry out or burn). We actually went out in the middle of making this dish, so I had it on high while I was home for about five hours and then set it on low for an additional four hours (nine hours total) and it came out perfect.

When meat is fork-tender and falling apart, remove meat and onions from the crock pot to a scratch-resistant bowl. Add about 1/2 cup liquid from the slow cooker back to the barbacoa and, using two forks, shred the meat. Adding some liquid back to the barbacoa will keep the meat moist and will also help keep it alive in the fridge a little longer.

Serve immediately: with a few thin slices of radish for a nice little crunch, with lettuce leaves for “green tacos,” or however you choose! Leftovers can be refrigerated up to 5 days.

Suggested Pairings: 
Nice Rice: Cauliflower
Busy Black Bean Soup (recipe coming soon!)
Holy Crap! Garlic Soup
Perfect ‘Stachio Guac