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Tag Archives: mexican

Mexican Hot Pot

It’s been one of those crazy weeks where nothing goes to plan. There’s no particular rhyme or reason but I couldn’t stick to a routine most of the days which makes me feel overwhelmed and uninspired. And its work that often gets affected and when I mean work, it’s often food, cooking and the associated bits and bobs.

I am not one of those people who say, ‘the kitchen is my happy place; when I am upset or stressed I go into my kitchen and cook to make me feel good again.’ Nope, that’s not me at all. I simply can’t cook or to be honest, detest getting into the kitchen when I am down. When I am feeling low, I can mess up even the most basic of dishes. Most people don’t believe me when I say it but that’s the real honest truth. I can burn water if I am not in the right frame of mind.

Today’s recipe was actually prepared last week. It was developed for a client but all of us loved it so much that I decided to post it here too. Especially since it fits the bill as a winter warmer dish.

The Mexican hot pot is one of those dishes that require a bit of prep but then the whole dish comes together in no time at all. It’s warm, comforting, hearty, delicious and perfect for sharing. And it makes the perfect weeknight meal or weekend indulgence.

Mexican Hot Pot - thespiceadventuress.com

This hot pot is all about the broth that has been infused with Mexican flavours. I used chicken as the protein, but it can easily be substituted with any other meat, fish or even vegetables of your choice. To maximize the flavour of the broth, the onions, tomatoes and bell peppers were roasted and then blitzed. Roasting helps to intensify and draw out flavours, a step that’s totally worth it.

Rice is optional, but I wanted this Mexican hot pot to be a complete meal so rice was part of the bowl. A totally customizable dish, it is best served as different components like the broth with chicken, rice, coriander, lime, avocado crema, tortilla strips, pickled onions, jalapenos etc…. Allow everyone to assemble their own bowls, building up the flavours to their preference.

And before we get onto the recipe, here are some of our all time Mexican favourites;

  1. Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa
  2. Chicken Tinga Tacos with Roasted Poblano Salsa
  3. Byron Bay Guacamole
  4. Fish Tacos with Pickled Slaw

Ingredients:

For the hot pot:

  1. 1 large Spanish onion; diced
  2. 1 large red tomato; diced
  3. 2 fresh jalapeno; sliced
  4. 1 large red bell pepper; diced
  5. 2 garlic cloves; peel on
  6. 2 tbsp olive oil
  7. 400 ml crushed tomatoes
  8. 2 litre chicken stock
  9. Salt, to season
  10. 1 tsp smoked paprika
  11. ½ tsp cumin powder
  12. 1 tsp dried oregano
  13. 4 chicken thighs (boneless); finely sliced

Avocado Crema:

  1. 1 ripe avocado
  2. ½ cup plain yoghurt
  3. 1 small garlic clove; grated
  4. Juice of ½ lemon
  5. Salt, to season

Toppings: (adapt to individual preferences)

  1. Steamed white rice
  2. Pickled red onions
  3. Fresh jalapenos; finely sliced
  4. Fresh coriander leaves
  5. Lime wedges
  6. Lebanese cucumber; cut into long strips
  7. Fried tortilla strips (cut 1-2 tortillas lengthwise using a scissors and fry in oil till crisp)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. In a roasting/baking tray, add the diced onions, bell pepper, tomatoes, jalapeno and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and mix well to coat. Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes till the veggies are lightly roasted and soft. Remove and cool lightly.
  3. Remove the peel of the garlic and add all the roasted veggies to a blender. Add the crushed tomatoes and blend well.
  4. In a large stock, add the blended mixture along with chicken stock. Then add the paprika, cumin and oregano. Taste and season with salt if necessary. Bring to boil and then simmer covered for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken pieces and cook on high heat till the chicken is tender and cooked through. This should take only about 5 minutes as the chicken pieces are finely sliced.
  6. Meanwhile prepare all the toppings.
  7. To make the avocado crema, blend the avocado, yoghurt, garlic, salt and lemon juice till you get a smooth consistency. (Makes an excellent dip with nachos or any other crisps).
  8. To serve, lay out the chicken broth, toppings and avocado cream. Let each person assemble their bowl based on preferences.

Mexican Hot Pot - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

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Fish Tacos (with Pickled Slaw and Jalapeno Mayo)

Tacos are delicious morsels, packed with flavour and these fish tacos are no exception!

Crispy slivers of barramundi with sweet n’ salty pickled onions and carrots, finished off with jalapeno mayo to spice things up a bit. An easy dish to put together that brings the whole family around at the dinner table.

Fish Tacos (with Pickled Slaw and Jalapeno Mayo) - thespiceadventuress.com

It’s been a little crazy out here, with all of us getting sick and that paired with the start of the school holidays, when every routine gets unfollowed. A death in the family further put me back on spirits so there’s been very little work that I have actually been doing. Top that with the early winter sunsets, I hardly get to shoot any food if I haven’t prepared it on time.

I made these tacos for a client, so thought this was a good time to share it with you especially if you live Down Under and have hungry kids all day at home. Tacos are one of my favourite things to make in the kitchen because even though there is a bit of prep involved, it’s easy and everyday ingredients that can be put together really quickly.

You could use any white fish for this recipe; buy whatever is in season and locally available. We are lucky to get local and really fresh barramundi out here so that’s why I have used it. But any white fish with a relatively firm flesh can be used.

Fish Tacos (with Pickled Slaw and Jalapeno Mayo) - thespiceadventuress.com

I always have an assortment of pickled veggies in my refrigerator; it’s just a convenient, affordable and simple way to add oodles of flavour to your food. For these tacos, I have made pickled slaw using carrots and onions with whole spices for that extra hint of flavour. And the jalapeno mayo, which is the simplest thing to make. I have grown quite fond of homemade mayo, it’s such an easy job once you begin to do it regularly and so much healthier than the bottled stuff. So do give it a try if you have never made it before.

Ingredients:

  1. Wheat tortillas
  2. 1 large carrot; julienned
  3. 1 large red onion; julienned

Find the full recipe here…..

 

Fish Tacos (with Pickled Slaw and Jalapeno Mayo) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

This recipe was developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood..

El Sabor (Melbourne) – a Review

El Sabor by El Cielo, located on Victoria St, North Melbourne, specializes in authentic and traditional Mexican style comfort food in an upscale setting.

The fact that the restaurant has Executive Chef Dhi (a two time winner of Restaurant & Catering award for Best Corporate Caterer (Victoria) 2012 & 2013) at its helm speaks a lot in terms of the quality of food served here.

I decided to check out the restaurant with my girlfriends who were equally keen to try out some real Mexican food. El Sabor has a quaint ambience with a bit of functionality and tradition thrown in. The restaurant has two seating areas….the more communal dining space with handcrafted wooden tables and benches on the ground floor and a more relaxed space on the first floor for those who want to spend more time catching up over food especially on weekends and at dinner times. It is best to make reservations if you are visiting on weekends or in a large group.

El Sabor (Melbourne) – a Review by thespiceadventuress.com

El Sabor (Melbourne) – a Review by thespiceadventuress.com

You can also find a lot of products, especially salsas and hot sauces made under the El Cielo banner on display and on the tabletops. While there is a small bar area on the ground level, most of the drinks are mixed in the bar space upstairs which boasts of some traditional mezcals, tequilas, beers and wines from South America & Spain.

El Sabor (Melbourne) – a Review by thespiceadventuress.com

El Sabor (Melbourne) – a Review by thespiceadventuress.com

The menu is truly Mexican and not the fusion that we often get to see in many restaurants that claim to serve Mexican cuisine. So while the tacos, fajitas and many other dishes may sound familiar, you will be surprised that the flavours are different to what you may have eaten in many other places.

The drinks menu is also very interesting, especially the cocktail section with a lot of Mexican/South American influence. Hence we decided to skip the wine and try out the cocktails. Also strongly recommended are the mezcals and tequilas.

We couldn’t skip past Tommy’s Margarita, which is the classic style served on the rocks. Loved the rim lined with chipotle salt; lipsmacking and highly recommended. I always gravitate towards drinks or dishes which uses a particular spice in an interesting manner and that’s how I ended up ordering the Chipotle El Sabor made with mezcal, chipotle, agave, lime and ginger beer. Very refreshing and a really different cocktail; loved it. The third cocktail we tried was the Mariachi with mezcal, pineapple, jalapeno, orange, lime and agave. This one was really refreshing with a lot of punch on the tastebuds. Don’t feel threatened by the jalapenos; a really good drink if you like refreshing flavours.

Tommy’s Margarita - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Chipotle El Sabor - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Mariachi - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

And to accompany, we had the corn chips (made in house) with some delicious guacamole and salsas. Can’t think of a better way to start a Mexican meal.

Corn chips, guacamole, cocktails - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

We began our meal with the tacos. Tried out three different ones; Pollo Pibil (chicken marinated in orange-lime juice & Achiote, served with pickled red onion), Pescado (Baja style battered fish, served with chipotle mayo, red cabbage and lime) and Carnitas (Michoachan style slow cooked pork belly, served with coriander and onion). All the three were delicious and in the hurry of gobbling it all up, I forgot to photograph one. But the Pescado was the crowd favourite; that battered fish combo was simply to die for.

Pollo Pibil (chicken marinated in orange-lime juice & Achiote, served with pickled red onion) - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Pescado (Baja style battered fish, served with chipotle mayo, red cabbage and lime) - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

The next dish we tried out was Sopes; this is a traditional Mexican dish that I have heard a lot about but never really tried one. So it’s basically handmade thick corn tortillas served with refried beans and topped with chicken/beef/potatoes (your choice) and then topped with lettuce, cheese and cream. We tried out the chicken and it was really delicious; and I recommend trying it out with the salsa if you want a bit of that oomph factor.

Sopes - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Another traditional Mexican dish that I have heard heaps about but never tried is the Tamales. So we ordered the chicken tamales which is basically freshly steamed corn masa pockets, filled with chicken mole; again recommended with the salsa especially the hot green one.

Tamales - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Next it was time to try out the Fajitas. Loved the way it was presented; make your own fajitas which are so much fun with friends and family around. So the tortillas, chicken fajita filling and a platter with beans, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, Mexican rice, corn chips and cheese. And there are of course the salsas on the table.

Fajitas - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

And even though we were stuffed, dessert was not going to be skipped. The dessert choices are rather minimalistic with just three options. Instead of the classic churros, we decided to try out the Burnt Flan with that hint of coffee and icecream on the side. While it was good, not the best I have had.

Burnt Flan - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

To summarize, El Sabor is a great place to experience traditional and authentic Mexican cuisine. The staff are friendly and ready to help you out with suggestions. And don’t forget to make a booking before you visit.

El Sabor (by El Cielo)

500 Victoria St
North Melbourne

Phone: (03) 93299477
Website: http://www.elsabor.com.au/

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday – 6pm onwards

Disclaimer – I was invited as a guest but all the photographs, opinions stated here are entirely mine.

El Sabor by El Cielo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chicken Fajita Tacos with Minty Cucumber Yoghurt

What a newsworthy month it has been! And while the headlines continue to shock and stir us, the social media is filling up with delicious treats that promise us much joy and hope this festival season.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have no plans whatsoever for Christmas or New Year; in fact we haven’t thought or discussed about it as a family. There will be some sort of celebration and most likely a quiet one with just a couple of close friends….that’s our style of entertaining.

I have always been picky and choosy about my friends. And while during my teens, that was seen as a disadvantage (my parents used to get a tad bit worried that I walked around lonely with a book in hand most of the time), it eventually turned out to be the biggest strength of my life. My ability to choose just a handful of good people as friends ensured that I was always surrounded by positivity.

And luckily I am married to a person who shares that idealogy though it took him a while to get that. He had a zillion friends only to discover that when life dealt him a series of blows, there was hardly anyone to turn to. So now we have our chosen few, friends who are non-judgemental, accept us the way we are and shares a common thread of mutual respect and understanding not confined by social norms. And I know, plan or not, we will celebrate this holiday season with a couple of them.

While I am getting busy developing, testing and photographing new recipes leading to the festive season, the reality of everyday dinners is always on the horizon. So when Maraya, who is one of the super moms behind the popular blog ‘Stuff Mums Like’ reached out to me for a guest collaboration, I was thrilled.

While there were a zillion ideas buzzing in my head, I zeroed in on tacos….I mean, who doesn’t like tacos. I am sure it’s a fave at every home. And this recipe is bound to be a big hit with the kiddos; my 7 year old adores it. And if there are any leftovers, you can convert it into a wrap or add it to the salad bowl for a delicious lunch the next day.

Chicken Fajita Tacos with Minty Cucumber Yoghurt - simple, easy to make and feeds a crowd - thespiceadventuress.com

Chicken Fajita Tacos with Minty Cucumber Yoghurt - simple, easy to make and feeds a crowd - thespiceadventuress.com

Also, don’t forget to make an extra batch of the fajita seasoning; a very handy blend in your spice cupboard.

Fajita Seasoning - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. Mini wheat tortillas
  2. 500gms skinless chicken thighs; cut into thin strips
  3. 1 orange bell pepper; cut into strips

This is a guest post in collaboration with Stuff Mums Like, so kindly head over to their website for the full recipe.

Chicken Fajita Tacos with Minty Cucumber Yoghurt - simple, easy to make and feeds a crowd - thespiceadventuress.com

Chicken Fajita Tacos with Minty Cucumber Yoghurt - simple, easy to make and feeds a crowd - thespiceadventuress.com

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa

Looking at the title, are you wondering where the hell did I find ripe mangoes?

This recipe was developed for a client a while ago when mangoes were in season but I somehow never got around to sharing it with you guys. And since we are moving homes this week, I thought of making these tacos again since I had some leftover prawns in the freezer. That’s when it struck me that I haven’t shared these awesome tacos with you, so here we go – Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa.

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa - easy and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

The star of these tacos is ofcourse the prawns that has been cooked in a rich Mexican style tomato sauce with oodles of flavour. All the ingredients are pantry and refrigerator staples, nothing fancy at all. Just get your hands on fresh local prawns and the job is done. Any type of salsa may be used; the mango salsa was a delicious addition because of the sweetness which balanced out the spice kick from the paprika in the prawns.

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa - easy and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa - easy and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

Not going to keep you longer with small talk today…I am plainly tired from all the packing, cleaning and scrubbing going on so I promise we will talk more when I have finished with all the moving stuff.

And if you love tacos, then you need to check out this one too.

Ingredients:

For the prawns:

  1. 300 gms large prawns; deshelled and deveined
  2. 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 small red onion; finely chopped

For full recipe, click here.

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa - easy and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa - easy and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood.

Dark Chocolate Beef Chili

I am definitely not a winter person.

Huddling (and sometimes getting lost) inside layers of clothing is not my idea of fun at all. I hate having to wear jackets all the time, running up huge electricity bills and totally getting blamed for it, washing dishes after dishes in the cold tiled kitchen (a food blogger nightmare!), existing on mugs and mugs of coffee that I turn into a caffeinated zombie half way through the day….

But if there’s one thing I love about this crazy weather, it’s my one pot, rich, spicy warmers in the forms of stews, curries and now this chili….

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Chili or Chili con carne is a Tex Mex delight; in fact it is the official dish of Texas. At its heart, a chili con carne is a rich meat stew with hot chili peppers and tomatoes. To add or not add beans to a chili is a matter of much debate and you can choose to make it however you wish to. I had a tin of black beans languishing in my pantry so in it went.

Dark chocolate in a chili is not very common but you will be surprised at the depth of flavour that a bit of chocolate can add to this beef chili. It has to be dark chocolate and not the sweetened milk ones as it would make the dish too sweet. You do not get to taste the chocolate as such but there definitely is a balance, a meeting of flavours that happens which makes this dish a delicious treat.

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And of course, what’s a chili without some chilli? Used in a couple of different varieties, the chilli is what makes this dish a real winter warmer. You can play around with the quantities to suit your tastes; mine can’t be anything but hot.

Beef is the meat of choice but if you do not eat beef, then lamb would be a good substitute. You really do not need any other accompaniments with a chili con carne; just a bowl of it topped with jalapenos and plenty of grated cheese.

So, here’s how you make a comforting pot of dark chocolate beef chili to warm your insides on a cold winter night!


Ingredients:

1. 1 ½ kg beef mince
2. 1 large onion, finely chopped
3. 1 can crushed tomatoes
4. 3 medium tomatoes; finely chopped
5. 1 can black beans (optional or use any variety you prefer)
6. 2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
7. 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
8. 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
9. 3 red jalapenos; finely chopped
10. 2 tbsp red chili powder
11. 1 tsp cumin powder
12. 2 tsp red chilli flakes
13. 1 tsp cayenne pepper
14. ¼ cup melted dark chocolate
15. 1 tsp brown sugar
16. 2 tbsp tomato sauce
17. Salt, to season
18. Black pepper, to season
19. 1 red jalapeno; sliced for garnish
20. Cheddar, grated for garnish

Instructions:

1. Keep all your ingredients chopped and ready to go.
2. In a large heavy bottom pan, brown the ground beef.
3. Next add the onions and brown for a couple of minutes.
4. Then add all the other ingredients and mix well to combine. Add less seasonings if you wish to and build up as you go.
5. Simmer on low heat for around 45 minutes; check and stir occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings especially the sweet: spice balance.
6. Serve hot with sliced jalapenos and grated cheddar.

Note: If you prefer a thinner chili, add stock or if you prefer the tomatoey flavour, then add an extra can of crushed tomatoes.

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A big thanks to ‘Two Red Bowls’ for sharing this wonderful recipe.

Chicken Tinga Tacos with Roasted Poblano Salsa

Any time is taco time!

Yes, I can eat tacos at any given time of the day, right from breakfast to dinner. I find these little parcels an explosion of flavour and texture. Keep it simple or get creative and gourmet, but tacos are delightfully delicious, full of oomph and a food that makes me smile from within.

Today, we have Chicken Tinga Tacos with a Roasted Poblano Salsa.

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Tinga comes from the Mexican state of Puebla and is a simple dish that is famous and common across the country. I have used chicken today but this works well with pork and beef. Tinga is generally prepared as a filling for tacos, empanadas, tlacoyos and also as a topping for tostadas.

The signature ingredient responsible for the flavour profile of the tinga is the chipotle peppers. I used chipotle in adobo sauce but you can use just the peppers too. Chipotle adds not just heat but a complex and rich smoky depth to this chicken tinga.

Extremely simple to make, the tinga is an extremely versatile dish that you could use in so many ways. I even made a lunch box subway with this topped with some pickled jalapenos and mayo…..deliciousness!

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And of course, no taco is complete without a salsa. Couldn’t go past the poblanos at the local market without grabbing a bunch, and these found a way into my salsa. Again, I wanted to add a hint of smokiness along with the heat so roasted the poblanos to complement the freshness of the other ingredients.

So there you have it – my Mexican fiesta with chicken tinga tacos topped with a roasted Poblano salsa, deliciously cocooned in mini corn tortillas.

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Ingredients:

For the chicken tinga:

1. 500 gms chicken; cooked and shredded
2. 2 tbsp vegetable oil
3. 1 medium onion, finely sliced
4. 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
5. 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
6. 3 large red tomato, finely chopped
7. 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (adjust to your heat preferences); chopped
8. Salt, to season
9. Black pepper, to season

Note – Leftover rotisserie chicken works well for a tinga.

For the salsa:

10. 2 poblano peppers
11. 1 large red onion, finely chopped
12. 2 ripe red tomatoes, finely chopped
13. 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
14. 1 lemon
15. Salt, to season

Others:

16. 1 packet of mini corn tortillas
17. Lemon wedges

Note – If you can’t find Poblano peppers, use any other type of peppers. Bell peppers/capsicum also work great though this wont’ give any heat.

Method:


For the tinga:

• Cook the chicken with a bit of salt, shred and keep aside.
• In a large pan, heat oil and add the sliced onions. Soften for about 2 minutes and then add the garlic.
• Cook for about 2 minutes or till fragrant and then add the tomatoes and parsley. Lower heat and cook till the tomatoes have begun to release their juices and turn slightly mushy.
• If the tomatoes you use do not release enough juice, add a few tbsps of water.
• Next add the chicken and chipotle peppers; season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes till the sauce has reduced and the mixture comes together.

For the salsa:

• Roast the Poblano peppers till the outside skin has charred well; I did this on a stovetop but you can use the oven too. Cool lightly and remove the skin, pith and seeds. Chop the flesh and add to a bowl.
• To the same bowl, add chopped onions, tomatoes and fresh coriander; mix well to combine.
• Squeeze lemon juice and season with salt.

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Tacos are meant to be a communal meal. Individual plates have no place here; so bring out all the components of the meal to the table and get your family around. Let each one create their own tacos and enjoy amidst plenty of fun and laughter!

Byron Bay Guacamole – A Guest Post for Simplify.Create.Inspire

The modern Australian cuisine is a true representation of the multicultural camaraderie of this country. The culinary influences of other cultures are a marked feature of the food here and when combined with the beautiful produce of this country puts Australia at the top of the gourmet world map.

The same goes for today’s recipe too. In his book Mercurio’s Menu, Paul Mercurio writes about his visits to Byron Bay where he was introduced to Russian garlic. This experience inspired him to come up with the ‘Byron bay guacamole’ in which he used jalapenos and Russian garlic to spice up this much loved Mexican dip.

Now, I couldn’t find Russian garlic in the area where I live but came across some beautiful ‘single clove garlic’ at the farmer’s market in Dandenong plaza. Also known as solo garlic or pearl garlic, this is my first experience with this type of garlic. Smaller in size with purple striations, I found it has a milder ‘garlicky’ taste and has a beautiful smell especially when roasted.

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I would strongly recommend using a mortar and pestle to make this guacamole. I prepared mine using this beauty from Kitchenware Direct.

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And this dish is a guest post I did for Holly of Simplify.Create.Inspire. To describe her in a nutshell, a mother, a blogger, and an ex-prison officer now studying to be a psychologist (wow!), Holly’s blog is all about her journey through life staying in touch with her creative self. So hop over not just for this amazing recipe but also to get creatively inspired.

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So, here’s the recipe for Byron bay guacamole – creamy avocado chunks infused with the sweetness of roasted pearl garlic and spiced with rustic smoky jalapenos.

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