Getting Toasted

 

Avocado Toast..BLTA Edition

I love going out to brunch like anyone else and there’s some really great (and overly popular) brunch spots within walking distance of our house. But what I don’t like is the often long wait for these very popular (crowded and busy) brunch spots. So that’s where having an arsenal of quick and easy to prepare brunch worthy recipes comes in. So this week’s post is exactly that, a few quick and easy recipes for dressing up toast. A good toast needs a solid foundation and I’m partial to sourdough for toast and there’s an added benefit that sourdough is Low FODMAP diet friendly. But you can use whichever bread like base you’d like.

Avocado Toast

First up is that brunch mainstay, Avocado Toast in this case, the Bacon Lettuce Tomato and Avocado edition.

Freshly picked tomatoes, micro greens and crumbled bacon dress up this avacado toast

For my version, I coat sourdough bread in bacon grease and toast on a griddle until golden brown on each side. In a small bowl, I mash 1 avocado with salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of mayonaise together. Feel free to add any herbs that you like then top with micro greens which is acting as the lettuce in this case, fresh tomatoes and crumbled bacon and season with salt and pepper. It’s that easy.

Fig Toast

Our next toast features figs which are just starting to come into to season here. We had a decent amount of rain and expect another bumper crop of figs from the two trees out back. So this will come in handy to highlight the figs as well as use them up.

For fig toast, mash 8 ounces of goat cheese with 2 tablespoons of honey and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread on toasted bread and top with quartered figs, top with a drizzle of honey and crumbled blue cheese. Place under the broiler until the blue cheese and figs start to brown. To take this over to the savory side, add candied bacon and caramelized onions. This would be good on soda bread or a cinnamon raisin form.

The next few recipes use whipped feta which is a great salty tangy alternative to cream cheese or goat cheese.

Whipped Feta

  • 8 oz of crumbled feta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 oz of mascarpone cheese

Toss all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and whip until smooth. This takes about 2-3 minutes.

Pastrami Smoked Salmon with Whipped Salmon

We recently discovered that our local Trader Joe’s has pastrami style smoked salmon and it’s really good. They also have a really good gluten free everything bagel. Whipped Feta and micro-greens make a great accompaniment to the salmon and bagel.

Tomato and Whipped Feta Toast

Tomato and Whipped Feta Toast is as simple as it sounds, its just really fresh tomatoes on top of whipped feta. A finish of a really good olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper will bring out the sweet brightness of the tomatoes. This is a great way to really show off homegrown tomatoes.

Roasted Corn Cucumber Tomato Salad with Whipped Feta Toast

Roasted Corn Tomato and Cucumber Salad

  • 2 cups of fresh corn kernels
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes seeded and cut into cubes
  • 1 medium sized English Cucumber
  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons flat leaf parsely (Italian Parsley) finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil divided
  • salt and pepper to taste

Spread out the kernels of corn on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in an oven preheated to 425F until kernels start to brown and blacken, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Allow the cool to room temperature. In a large bowl combine, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs and dress with the remaining olive oil, salt and pepper.

The toast part is dead simple, just spread whipped feta on the toasted bread of your choice and top with the salad.

That’s it. All are super easy, flavorful and seasonal.

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling chilly? Warm up with some football and some chili.

chili

I look forward to Fall, not because I’m a big fan of Halloween or the trees changing colors. I like Fall because I feel like I now have the permission of the Weather/Season gods to stop eating salads and light grilled fare and can now eat heartier comfort foods like soups, stews, and roasts.

Chili is hearty, comforting, easy crowd-pleasing dish for entertaining because you can make it ahead or cook it in a slow cooker. It doesn’t require a lot of attention. Also, you can easily extend it to feed a good number of people by adding beans or serving with some kind of bread or chip.

I’ve found that chili is a good gateway to introduce folks to vegetarian food. I will typically use a combination of different beans in my chili as well as TVP (textured vegetable protein). You can buy TVP at health food stores and I know in my area both Wegman’s and Whole Foods have the powdered form in their bulk food section. I prefer to use MorningStar Farms® Meal Starters Grillers® Recipe Crumbles™ . Check for it in your grocery store’s freezer section or in their health food section.

The crumbles look like and are texturally similar to ground beef, this will lend a little familiarity and comfort to folks that are leery of vegetarian and meat-free dishes or have had a bad experience with tofu and tempeh. The crumbles come frozen and don’t require defrosting before cooking. They just need to be heated through. With the relatively short prep and cooking time, you can easily get a hearty meal on the table with minimal planning and effort.

Augment the “meat” with a couple of different types of beans and vegetables. I’m not a big fan of kidney beans so for something like a chili I’ll use a combination of different types like pinto, red beans, black beans or garbanzos. Each bean has its own unique texture and flavor. I like the contrast of texture that each bean lends to the chili. Use what you have on hand and your family likes. In addition to the usual chili ingredients like onions, garlic and peppers, I’ll also add vegetables like corn, red bell peppers, or zucchini, again its whatever you have and like. The version pictured above has corn, garbanzo beans and black beans.

I buy the small cans of beans, even though they are more expensive. I have less waste with a smaller can especially if I’m going to be using more than one kind. Canned beans tend to have quite a bit of sodium, so I’ll pour them into a strainer and rinse them in cold water before using. I also used canned chipotles in adobo sauce. Chipotles are fire roasted jalapeños. The roasted flavor from the chilies as well as the spicy adobo sauce lend a rich smokiness to the chili that typically would come from grilled meat. They can be fairly hot so use in moderation. I haven’t figured out how to make small amounts of chili, so this stores really well in the freezer it also makes for a great topping for nachos.

Recipe
1 Yellow Onion Diced
1 Bell Pepper Diced
4 Garlic Cloves Crushed
1 Cup Frozen or Fresh Corn Kernals
2 cups of what ever type of beans you like
16 oz of Low Sodium Vegetable Stock/Broth
2 Chipotles chilies and 2 TBS of the Adobo sauce that they are canned with (optional) Add more chipotle if you like things really hot.
2 cups of MorningStar Farms® Meal Starters Grillers® Recipe Crumbles™ (optional)
1 15oz can of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 TBS Cracked Black Pepper
2 TBS Ground Cumin
2 TBS Chili Powder
Salt to taste
2 TBS Olive Oil

Heat the 2 TBS of oil in a large stock pot or dutch over over medium high heat. Add the onions, bell pepper and garlic and cook until the onions soften. Add the pepper, cumin and chili powder for about a minute then add the tomatoes. Turn the heat down to medium and cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the the remainder of the ingredients except the salt and cover and simmer until every thing is heated through.

Garnish with shredded cheese and green onions and serve with corn bread or corn chips.

Next up…a wonton three-way or rather, wontons three different ways.

Salty, crunchy, sweet and savory homemade energy bars. Psst, they’re also healthy.

Energy Bars

We’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth in my house. I’m a big fan of things that are crunchy, sweet ‘n salty. I LOVE LOVE LOVE potato chip, particularly spicy ones and all the sweet and savory permutations of Chex Mix and similar treats.

These energy bars satisfy my salty, crunchy sweet craving and are somewhat healthy. Or rather healthier than eating handfuls of potato chips or Chex Mix. The added bonus is that they are high in fiber and gluten free.

You can find the original recipe here. This recipe is very easy to customize by adding whatever dried fruits and nuts your family likes. I’ve added some toasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, touch more salt and a dash of cinnamon to punch up the salty, sweet, savory factor.

A couple of tips, that will make prep and clean up easier for you. Coat all cooking utensils, measuring cups and bowls with cooking spray. If you’re planning to toast the nuts and coconut flakes yourself, don’t allow yourself to be distracted. Its a few brief seconds between toasted and burned.

I crumbled up a few of the not so camera ready bars. The crumbled bits make a great topping for ice cream or yogurt. You can also add milk and eat it like cereal.

Add the crumbled kind bars to yogurt and drizzle with honey

Add the crumbled energy bars to greek yogurt and drizzle with honey

Falafel is the Best Street Food Ever: Millions throughout the Middle East Would Agree.

Falafel with tomato cucumber salad

Falafel with tomato cucumber salad

Falafel is a popular street food throughout the Middle East. Its a great meat replacement and its high in protein, flavorful and healthy if fried in a heart healthy oil like grapeseed oil or first press extra virgin olive oil.

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or fava beans are the two most common beans used to make falafel. The beans are ground up with onions, herbs and spices then formed into ping-pong sized balls or patties.

Falafel’s eaten as a convenient on the go kind of meal. Its often served in a highly portable warm Pita with a variety of condiments. Popular condiments are shredded lettuce, pickles, onions, hot peppers, radishes hummus, tahini, tomato cucumber salad or yogurt garlic sauce.

The beans have to soak in water overnight so this isn’t something that you can decide to make at the last minute. Once the beans have soaked and have softened its just a matter of putting all the ingredients into a food processor until everything comes together and can be formed into balls or patties. I’ll let the mix chill in the fridge for an hour or so before I form into balls and fry them up.

Falafel Recipe
1 cups dried garbanzo or fava beans
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
3 cloves of garlic crushed
4 green onions chopped whites and greens
1 jalapeño minced (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp each, pepper, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground cinnamon and ground cardamom
1/2 tsp flour
1/2 tsp corn starch

Strain the garbanzo beans and put into a food processors with the rest of the ingredients. Pulse the ingredients until everything comes together. It should look like bread crumbs. Don’t over blend or you’ll make humus. Heat fryer to 350 form falafel into balls or patties and fry in batches until golden brown then drain on paper towels. If you find that your falafel isn’t cooked through you can finish them in the 350 oven for about 10 minutes.

Yogurt Sauce
1 TBS Lemon Zest
Juice from 1 Lemon
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
16 oz Greek style yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

Toss everything into a food processor and blend until everything is well incorporated.

Tomato Cucumber Salad
2 Medium sized tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 medium sized red onion diced
1 English-style cucumber, diced
1 clove garlic crushed
1/4 cup coarsley chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
2 TBS Extra virgin olive oil

Mix all the ingredients together and chill until ready to serve.

Next up…energy drinks