Sunday, February 23, 2014

Avocado Breakfast Toasts

It seems silly calling this a recipe. Maybe I should call this "a glimpse into my weekend breakfast." No matter what we call it, just know that these cute little toasts are a perfectly simple and wonderfully tasty breakfast.

I totally love avocados--me and guacamole have a special love language. We get each other. Avocados are tasty whether you enjoy them with breakfast, lunch or dinner. They are smooth and creamy and, let's face it, soooo dreamy. Their soft texture make them the perfect replacement for butter, jelly, or whatever condiment you usually put on your morning toast.

This breakfast doesn't feel like "just toast" though. Oh no. We are upping the toast ante. It starts with a toasty piece of whole wheat or multi-grain bread. This is a no-fuss toasting process...I just popped the bread in my toaster. I happened to have a clove of garlic on hand, so I cut it in half and rubbed the warm toast with the garlic. This is something we should do always. Flavor Nation.

On to our garlicky toast goes a ripe and mashed avocado. Avocado begs for flavor, and we will answer these wishes with a bit of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. A little spice in the morning will awaken our taste buds and get our day started on the right foot. I love tomatoes with avocado...must be a guacamole I place a few slices right on top of our 'cado mash. To finish off the breakfast thing, a sliced hard boiled egg seemed all too appropriate. For step by step instructions for perfect hard-boiled eggs, see this post.

I may be dwelling on this silly easy breakfast treat, but there are so many great things happening here. This breakfast is fulfilling and packed with flavor, and perhaps even better than that it is healthy for you! Forget the pancakes and the waffles and the cheesy omelettes. These Avocado Breakfast Toasts are your new "not-so-guilty" breakfast pleasure.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Baby Kale Salad with Sweet Potato, Dried Cranberries, Pecans and Goat Cheese

That title is long-winded, but I find it really hard to "name" salads. I just want you to know what is in it, that way you are still tempted to read the recipe even though the name "salad" is in the title.

In the vein, let me tell you about this salad. Let me tell you how delicious it is. I want you to know that I ate a big plate of this salad in about 5 minutes flat, maybe less. I just couldn't stop eating it! I'm not exaggerating. The flavors are big and compliment each other wonderfully.

Sweet and tangy. Crunchy and smooth. Flavors and textures are what make this salad interesting--and irresistible to boot!

This Baby Kale Salad with Sweet Potato, Dried Cranberries, Pecans and Goat Cheese is a wonderful winter salad.

Baby Kale is a great find that you can get in the grocery store -- it's actually a mix of different greens including baby kale and baby spinach. I find fully grown kale to be really rough for a salad unless treated correctly. On the other hand, baby kale packs a great punch of the same nutrients without any of the harsh stalks and chewy leaves of adult kale. With the other bold flavors of this salad, I think baby kale is the perfect green to use as the base.

I roast my sweet potatoes in a 400 degree oven tossed in a bit of olive oil sprinkled with salt and pepper until tender and golden. I also toast my pecans in a dry skillet until fragrant and nutty. You want to be careful not to burn the nuts!

So we have baby kale, roasted delicious sweet potatoes, and nutty pecans. Dried cranberries are just the sweetness we need--plus they are slightly tart and juicy. I just love them! Goat cheese is everything that is right in the world, and it's smoothness is just divine in this salad. The tang of goat cheese compliments the cranberries and pecans and coats everything in a blanket of rich, creamy deliciousness.

I almost forgot to mention the icing on the cake! A tangy Dijon vinaigrette that comes together in no time at all. All you have to do is shake up Dijon mustard, olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, lemon zest, and a bit of salt and pepper in a jar--yummy!

Alright -- enough blabbing! The handy dandy printable is below. This will serve 3 to 4. Treat yourself well and treat yourself to this salad!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lunchbox Upgrade: Mediterranean Barley Salad

For those of us working the 9 to 5 grind, lunchtime can be a very trying time. I'm not being dramatic, I swear. See, around 12 o'clock a very real internal struggle happens. The struggle is between eating that very sad looking sandwich or boring salad sitting in your lunchbox or being weak and spending a lot of unnecessary money at one of the various lunch spots in the area.

For a while I thought leftover dinners would do the trick--they'd be warm and satisfying and something different every day. Sometimes, though, leftovers just fall flat. And that healthy salad we threw together the night before? Sometimes it just does not keep us satisfied until dinnertime (am I right?!)

This Mediterranean Barley Salad is the perfect lunchbox upgrade for anyone who needs something new and exciting to look forward to. Barley is chewy and nutty, a fulfilling whole grain that goes beautifully with roasted red peppers, sauteed zucchini, and tangy feta cheese. I dress this salad with a lovely, simple balsamic vinaigrette.

Mediterranean flavors are some of my favorite to work with. Beyond the amazing flavor in this salad, the best part about it is that it is equally delicious slightly warmed or chilled. It makes a satisfying lunch or a very interesting side dish for dinner with grilled chicken.

Mix up your lunchtime routine and give this salad a try! This recipe will make about 4 servings. Cook it up Sunday night then portion it into 4 separate containers and store in the fridge for an easy lunch solution the whole week!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sage Buttermilk Biscuits

Let us once again talk about biscuits. In particular, let us talk about the best biscuits I have ever eaten. THIS IS NOT A HYPERBOLE.

Let me take you back to a time a few months ago. I was sitting at work, and long before it was an acceptable time to have lunch I was having hunger pangs. At the same time my eyelids were heavy and I was craving a warm cup of coffee. What would a woman do in such a trying time!?

Well, luckily I am blessed to work in an office in downtown Boston that is just steps away from the Back Bay location of Flour Bakery. If you live in Boston, I can only assume you already know the joys of Flour. If you have never been, or plan on visiting soon, let me suggest you make a breakfast or lunch stop at there. Freshly baked goodies line the countertop and they have an amazing selection of salads and sandwiches to choose from. Joanne Chang is the genius behind it all. And luckily for us, she has not one but two cookbooks to help us recreate the joys that one can find at Flour.

Back on this day, when things were not going as great as they could have been, I took a quick walk to Flour and came away with a warm coffee and the most delicious Sage Buttermilk Biscuit. Buttery, flaky, golden brown biscuits with flakes of fresh sage all throughout a soft, tender dough. Is your mouth watering yet?

When I found the recipe for Joanne's Sage Buttermilk Biscuits online, I did not hesitate to whip up a batch of my own. And then another 2 or 3 batches after that. Seriously, these biscuits are so addicting--they remind me why breakfast is the best and most important meal of the day.

I brought these biscuits to a brunch with a some good friends--I can't even begin to tell you how impressive our spread turned out to be! The biscuits were very well received by the whole crowd. Even kitties like to get in on a little biscuit action...after all, who wouldn't!