Avocado Toast

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Happiness is a fresh seasonal avocado. I’ve met a few people who have mentioned they don’t like Avocado’s…those people cannot be trusted LOL. Avocados this year have been amazing so far, I’m happy it’s finally summer and I can have access to all of the avocados…if only I could get more than 2 for a reasonable price!

Avocados are a stone fruit with a creamy texture that grow in warm climates. Their potential health benefits include improving digestion, help in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and are a very nutrient rich fruit with beneficial fats to keep you full and satiated. With an impressive list of health benefits, I don’t comprehend how anyone could say they are gross. Avocados are versatile and one of the freshest ingredients to work with in summer dishes. They make a great alternative to mayonaise and butter in many recipes, even dessert! I propose if you are one of the many people who don’t appreciate a fresh avocado, to eat least try it in this recipe listed below. Add a little salt & pepper, maybe some juice from a lime or lemon, give it a good stir and they try again. Avocados might just guac your world.

This recipe is a trend showing up on many menus around the country. I’m certain Avocado Toast is nothing new for you to get excited about. These are just (3) ways I love my avocado Toast. Do you have any suggestions of a good avocado toast pairing? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Avocado Toast with Fresh Strawberries and Balsamic Reduction:

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Mise en Place:

  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 2 Slices of Bread, Toasted (I use Whole Wheat, or English Muffins)
  • 4 Strawberries, Sliced
  • Balsamic Reduction, to drizzle on top
  • S&P, TT
  • Fresh Mint leaves, optional

Method of Prep:

  • Cut avocado in half, remove from skin and add to a bowl. Season with salt & pepper. Using a fork, mash, then spread on toast. Top with strawberries. Drizzle with a little balsamic. Top with fresh picked mint.
  • Enjoy!

Southwest Avocado Toast:

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Mise en Place:

  • 1/2 Avocado, sliced
  • 2 Slices of Bread, Toasted
  • 2 Eggs, over medium
  • 2 Tablespoons Chunky Salsa or Pico
  • S&P, TT

Method of Prep:

  • Add sliced avocado to toast. Season with S&P. Top with over medium egg. Garnish with salsa.
  • Enjoy!

Smashed Avocado with Hard Boiled Egg:

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Mise en Place:

  • 1/2 Avocado, Smashed
  • 1 hard boiled egg, sliced
  • 2 Slices bread, Toasted
  • Hot sauce, optional

Method of Prep:

  • Remove avocado from shell, mash with salt and pepper. Spread on toast. Top with Hard boiled egg. Garnish with hot sauce.
  • Enjoy!

**Not pictured: Avocado Toast with Crab dip

  • Same process as above, just top sliced avocado with fresh lump crab or a seafood crab dip.

 

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Shrimp Primavera

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The weather here in The Land, aka Cleveland hasn’t quite broken into spring temps just yet. Mother Nature has decided to keep winter around a little longer this year. Well, I think everyone can agree with me, enough is enough and winter, you need to go bye bye! The forecast for this weekend is giving us a little hope that spring isn’t far, with a high of 75 tomorrow! However, this is Cleveland and any chance we get with warmer weather always comes with rain….If you dislike the weather where you live, move to Cleveland and change my mind. 

April is the month I like to start looking into more fresh ingredients to use in my cooking. It’s around that time of the year where all the good produce is coming into season and everyone is looking for lighter food options to enjoy during the summer heat and refrain from gaining extra winter weight (I refer to this as the summer body diet). There is also the issue with cooking time on meals. I find most folks don’t want to spend more than 30 minutes preparing dinner especially when they are feeding more than themselves. Long days at work and then having to come home and cook dinner get exhausting very fast. Pasta is always a quick go to and whats nice about this recipe, you can cook the pasta and prepare you vegetables ahead of time so all you have to do when you’re ready to eat is heat it up! 

Even on a low carb diet, I find this recipe to be keto friendly. I just measure out my pasta to grant myself 1/4 cup to eat that way I don’t consume all of my daily carbs in one meal. I love the addition of fresh lemon juice and the mixture of vegetables in this dish! My primavera is very light and the acid gives a lovely crisp mouthfeel. Shrimp is the best option for protein as it is also very light. Butter is the only “sauce” used, you may substitute EVOO or Avocado Oil in place of the butter if you would like. 

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Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Total Time: 40 Minutes

Mise En Place:

  • 1/2 Box Bow Tie Pasta, Cooked in salted water, drained
  • 1 LB Raw Shrimp (Approx. 20 Pieces) peeled & deveined
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 1 Green Belle Pepper, medium dice
  • 1/2 Cup Red Onion, medium dice
  • (1) 14 Oz Bag Frozen Vegetable Medley
  • 1/2 Lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • S&P, TT

Method of Prep:

  • Cook off pasta and drain if you haven’t already done so. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add frozen vegetables. Cook until soft but not overcooked, approximately 5 minutes.
  • In a saute pan, Melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Season both sides of the shrimp with salt & pepper. Add into pan and sear for 2 minutes over medium heat. Turn shrimp over, cook for an additional 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, add  1 tablespoon butter, 1 Teaspoon minced garlic & half the lemon juice to the pan, quickly baste the shrimp for 10 seconds. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • In a large pot, heat up 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add in all vegetables and garlic. Stir and allow to cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add in pasta, remaining butter, shrimp, pepper flakes, and lemon juice. stir until well combined and hot. Taste, adjust seasoning if needed.
  • Enjoy!
  • **Pair this pasta with a glass of French Chardonnay or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc!

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Cookies In A Jar

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Does anyone else have the problem of a colossal collection of Mason Jars? I have not only inherited more jars than I can count, but I began saving them for God knows why. Mason Jars can be used in many ways more than anyone can imagine, just search Pinterest if you don’t believe me! I was determined to finally clear out the Mason Jar inventory and start using them around the house. I spray painted a few and used them for holding eating utensils in the kitchen, some I use as glassware, others are used for storage in the bathroom and in the spice cabinets. 

Every year, the Club puts on a Princess & Superhero party for the kiddos. We usually include a raffle with a few different gift baskets the families have a chance at winning. I was asked to put together a baking basket using some of the baking supplies we had in house, I wanted to go beyond just a basket with a whisk & spatula in it. My inspiration for the cookie mix in a jar comes from a friend of mine who packages these jars and sells them! I was fortunate enough to have plenty jars on hand to make this happen. This is a favorable gift idea and exemplary gift basket filler. I believe that when packing something edible, sweets are the way to go! The cookie in a jar recipes are a great shortcut to homemade cookies. Typically these gifts are given around the holidays, however they are also great to give as a “Welcome to the neighborhood” and Teacher gifts. Families enjoy receiving these gifts because they are simple to make, and who doesn’t love a fresh baked cookie!?

I’ve included (3) distinctive jars that everyone is sure to enjoy. The directions are simple, You fill the jars with the dry ingredients, & whoever the receiver is they just add in the wet elements and bake to perfection!

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M&M’s Cookies:

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time: 25 Minutes

Yield: Approximately 20 Cookies

Mise En Place:

  • 1 1/2 Cups AP Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Holiday M&M’s
  • 1/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Quart Mason Jar

Assembling Jars:

  • Using a funnel (or paper plate rolled up), pour flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt into the bottom of the mason jar. Top with the m&m’s. Next add in the Sugars, press firmly with a spoon. Seal with the lid and decorate with ribbon & fabric.

Recipe to Include with the Jar:

  • Pour the contents of the Jar into a large bowl & stir to combine. Add 1/2 Cup unsalted butter, lightly melted, 1 egg, beaten, & 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract. Stir until well combined. Chill dough for 30 minutes.
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Using a cookie scoop, place dough balls onto a lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before eating.
  • Enjoy!

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Cocoa Brownies:

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 45 Minutes

Total Time: 55 Minutes

Serving: 1 (9×13 inch pan)

Mise En Place:

  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa (I used Hershey’s)
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 8 Ounce Mason Jar

Assembling Jars:

  • Add the flour, salt and cocoa into bottom of jar. Pack in the sugars firmly. Seal with lid and cover with fabric & ribbon.

Recipe to Include with the Jar:

  • Heat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Add brownie mix from jar into a large bowl, mix well. Add 2 eggs, 4 ounces unsalted butter, melted, 1 Teaspoon Vanilla. Mix until well incorporated.
  • Add mix into a greased baking pan. Bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
  • Allow to cool 5 minutes. Cut into squares.
  • Enjoy!
  • **Add in 1/2 Cup Chocolate chips into mix for a fudgier brownie!

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies In a Jar:

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time: 20 Minutes

Yield: Approximately 10 cookies

Mise En Place:

  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Chocolate Chips
  • 8 Ounce Mason Jar

Assembling Jar:

  • Add flour, baking soda and salt to the bottom of the jar. Add in chocolate chips. Pack in the sugars.
  • Seal with lid, cover with fabric & ribbon.

Recipe to Include with the Jar:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Add jar mix into a large bowl & mix well.
  • Cream together 1 Stick butter, softened, & 1 egg. Add 1 Teaspoon vanilla, stir. Add dry ingredients into wet and mix until well incorporated.
  • chill dough for 30 minutes. Scoop small dough balls onto a lined and lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
  • Allow to cool at room temperature for 5 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

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Twice Baked Cauliflower

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I’m continually looking for new low carb recipes. When this video for a twice baked cauliflower dish popped up in my news feed on facebook, I thought to myself, that’s a new recipe I haven’t seen yet & it looked too good not to try! 

I’ve always loved cauliflower, raw or cooked. The internet has countless recipes that are using cauliflower in place of proteins and other high carb foods. The cauliflower head is very versatile and can be used grated as a rice or other grain substitute, cut thick to mock a “steak”, mashed up as a side dish, pureed as a sauce or into a soup, pulsed fine to mimic “cheese” on a salad. Cauliflower can be a substitute for flour and made into a pizza “dough”, cut into florets and tossed in buffalo as “wings”, even molded together and fried as a “tater tot” in place of potatoes. The Cauliflower possibilities are literally endless.  

I had tweaked this recipe a little bit from the original. I always love the inspiration from other food bloggers but will always put my own twist on a recipe. Obviously this recipe is made vegetarian, but if you would like to go full loaded twice baked, add bacon into the mix! The end result of this is super creamy & makes a great side dish with dinner. I served this as a side of pan seared salmon and roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner. This baked cauliflower dish is even great on its own! I am looking forward to making this again and next time adding in some different spices or vegetables. 

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Mise En Place:

  • 1 Head of Cauliflower, florets removed, chopped up small
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese, cut in cubes
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • Scallions, as a Garnish
  • S&P, TT

Method of Prep:

  • Turn oven to 350 degrees. Remove core and stem from cauliflower. Cut florets into smaller chunks. Cook in a medium pot of salted boiling water until cauliflower is tender but not soft, approximately 5-7 minutes. Drain well and & mash with a potato masher, still leaving some chunks.
  • Mix in butter & cream cheese until smooth. Season with salt & pepper.
  • Once cauliflower is mixed well and creamy, add into a gently greased casserole dish. Top with shredded cheese. Bake in the oven, uncovered 15-20 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.
  • Garnish with scallions & Enjoy!

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Spinach & Mushroom Stuffed Flounder

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I’m keeping this post short & sweet for all my readers! With a mild sweet flavor and delicate flaky texture, Flounder is a versatile, easy-to-prepare filet of fish. This firm-fleshed white fish can be baked, sautéed, stuffed, and poached. I recommend cooking this lean fish with butter, or oil to maintain moisture and prevent your filet from drying out. Substitute Flounder for Grouper, or catfish in any tasty seafood recipe you’ve got your heart set on. (*Credit: Southern Living Magazine)

I wanted to get slightly creative and do something with the Flounder other than just season with salt & pepper and sear or bake it. Last time I prepared a Flounder dish at home, I stuffed it with crab meat and served it with pan seared Scallops. Defiantly one of my favorite Seafood dishes I’ve made at home. You can find that recipe in the link here

These filet’s were somewhat difficult to work with because of how thin they are. For as much as I can’t argue the $5 price for the bag at Aldi, these filet’s are super thin, that’s why my rolling looks weird. Last time, I was able to line up 2 filet’s next to each other to make one large roll. This time, I had to use half the amount of filling and roll one at a time. I took the remaining mixture and topped the Flounder with it. 

The sauteed spinach and mushrooms gave the dish a very light, Mediterranean feel. Only thing I would loved to have added if it was on hand would’ve been some fresh dill and feta cheese! 

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Mise En Place:

  • 2 Flounder Filet’s
  • 2 Cup’s Raw Spinach
  • 2 Each Baby Bella Mushrooms, small chop
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • Butter
  • S&P, TT

Method Of Prep:

  • To prepare the filling: heat up a large pan over medium heat. Add butter & garlic. Cook until garlic is lightly browned. Add mushrooms and cook until softened, approximately 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms from pan. Add more butter then saute spinach until wilted, approximately 2 minutes. Pour cooked spinach into a mesh strainer and allow to drain for 10 minutes. Use the back of a spoon to press liquid out of spinach if needed. Once spinach has been drained, add to mushrooms onto a cutting board and rough chop the two together. Mix well.

 

  • Turn oven to 350 Degrees.
  • Using a paper towel, pat dry the Flounder filet’s on each side. Season with salt & pepper.
  • Take 2 tablespoons of the filling and lay on the center of the filet(s). Roll from bottom to top. Place stuffed fillet(s) onto a greased and lined baking pan (I used foil). Add 1 Tablespoon of butter onto of filet. Place in the oven and allow to bake for 20 minutes or until fully cooked.
  • Serve right away with your choice of vegetable (I chose Roasted Brussels). Garnish the Flounder with any leftover mixture.
  • Enjoy!

**Cooking Tip: Add fresh squeezed Lemon juice to the fish right out of the oven. The acid will brighten up the flavors of the fish! You can also use citrus zest in the spinach & mushroom mixture as well. **

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