Archive | Vegetarian

Tomato and Avocado Toast with Balsamic Syrup

Avocado Toast



Hard to believe there was a time I didn’t like them.  When I was younger they seemed weirdly textured, even more weirdly colored, and devoid of taste.  At that time the avocado hadn’t achieved the status it has today, being used primarily for guacamole and not much else.  Even then, the guacamole served in most restaurants was slimy-not the chunky, complex versions of today.

I just finished reading several reviews of Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook, It’s all Easy:  Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook.  Apparently, it’s a visually beautifully book with overly simple recipes-good for some, but not necessarily for experienced cooks.  Although I haven’t check it out firsthand, one particular reviewer stated they were disappointed to find  several pages  solely dedicated to making avocado toast.  Don’t get me wrong-I like Gwyneth more than the internet does on most days.  I own one of her previous cookbooks, It’s all Good, and I’ve even made a few things from it (it’s been a while, though); however, I acquired the book primarily for the stunning photography by Ditte Isager.

The real question is this:  Do we really need a recipe for avocado toast?

I make avocado toast a lot.  Like, A WHOLE LOT. It’s filling, good for you, and, as with eggs, it can be dressed up pretty nicely and stand in for any meal.    This variation elevates the toast by the addition of tomatoes and an easy to make balsamic syrup that can also be used with other dishes, such as grilled vegetables and salad dressings.

Just for laughs…a love letter to Gwyneth Paltrow’s luxurious cookbook sweaters


Tomato and Avocado Balsamic Toast


  • 2 pieces multigrain bread, toasted to preference
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Make the balsamic syrup: Heat the vinegar in a small saucepan over low heat until it is reduced to 3-4 Tablespoons. Keep an eye on it-once it starts reducing it cooks fast and I have burned it a time or two. Remove from heat and pour in a small bowl or dish to cool while you assemble your toast.

Layer each piece of toast with avocado and a pinch of red pepper. You can slice the avocado if you want it to be pretty, or simply mash and spread with a fork impatiently like me. Top with tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the vinegar over the toast. Enjoy perfection!


Butternut Squash Soup with Rice and Coconut Milk

squash wild rice soup

Just as there are certain cooks that one knows by name alone-Ina, Jamie, Ree-there are food bloggers who have achieved the same status.  Say the name “Heidi” and one undoubtedly knows you must be speaking of Heidi Swanson, recipe creator and photographer of the site “101 Cookbooks”.  Heidi’s first book, “Super Natural Every Day”, was the first natural foods cookbook I ever purchased and continues to be one of the cookbooks I continually fall back on for great dishes.  Heidi has travelled extensively and I couldn’t wait for her new book, “Near & Far:  Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel”, knowing it would be filled not only with fabulous recipes from her trips abroad, but ethereal photographs as well.

Jimmy Fallon Squash

There are no shortage of butternut squash soup recipes on the internet, but many tend to lean toward the sweeter side.  What drew me to this recipe was the inclusion of a serrano chile, giving it just a slight spiciness.  Heidi recommends serving the soup with a scoop of wild rice, rather than adding it into the soup as I did.  You could even use a different cooked grain, such as farro or barley.

Butternut Squash Soup with Rice and Coconut Milk


  • 1/4 Cup coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions, cut into eights
  • 2 large shallots, halved
  • 1 whole serrano chile, stemmed
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp fresh grated or pureed ginger
  • 2-4 cups cooked wild rice blend (I use Royal Blend brand)
  • toppings such as toasted nuts or croutons

Cook the wild rice while you make your soup. I steam mine in my rice cooker (2 cups of rice to 3 cups of water).

Melt the coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, shallots, serrano, and salt. Cook until softened, about 7-10 minutes. Add the squash and the broth. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the ginger and coconut milk. Add the cooked rice and season with more salt to taste. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds, pepitas, croutons, or yogurt.



Couscous with Preserved Lemon and Pistachios



We are three weeks into 2015 and I’m wondering…how’s the new year going for everyone?

I feel like I’ve been on a blogging vacation for waaaay too long and I’m determined to spend more time in this space from here on out (if that sounded like a resolution, it’s not).  The truth is that for many years I didn’t believe in New Years resolutions…or intentions…or whatever you want to call them.  I think I get it, though.  A definitive time start to changing things for the better.

Taking action.

For the past several years, my resolution has been to be a blessing to others.  I thought this was a pretty simple and somewhat easy-to-achieve goal, but in reality it isn’t.  It’s such a general intention that without specific steps or actions, it’s been forgotten pretty quickly.  To that end, I came up with some more realistic steps I could take that would hopefully result in blessing others by more of a “trickle-down” effect:

1).  Make eye contact and say hello to people in public.  The cashier at the pharmacy when I pick up a prescription.  The mechanic when I take the car for an oil change.  The person checking out my books at the library.  It’s so easy when we have a huge list of errands to run to go about our business with the mindset of moving on to the next thing we have to do.  We all say “how are you doing”, but more times than not it’s just a pleasantry.  Making eye contact is the key.  When I engage that person for a few seconds (instead of looking down at my wallet or my phone), I see faces soften and smiles.

2).  Use all of the food and toiletries we have in the house before buying more.  This is hard for me (but so right for our budget) on so many levels.  Sometimes I want a roast chicken, but we have a freezer full of perfectly good stuff that isn’t roast chicken.   Sometimes I’m convinced the shampoo my hairdresser uses to wash my hair is going to make my life better and have to have it, but I already have two bottles of shampoo at home.  This is already impacting our budget and I’m only three weeks in.

3).  Finally, I’m going to stay off of social media (specifically Facebook) as much as possible.  I’ve written an entire piece (but decided against posting it) on why I dislike Facebook, but I continue to log in primarily to manage the blog page.  Narcissism, politics, mean-spirits, gaming invitations-I’m over it.

Moving on…

I decided to go back to clean eating and working out the weekend after Christmas so that I wouldn’t look like one of “those” New Year resolution makers.  The thing with clean eating and cooking at home is that you really have to amp up your condiment game to boost flavors in vegetables, whole grains, and meats.

Enter preserved lemons.

preserved lemons

Thin-skinned lemons cured in salt and lemon juice are used in a lot of Moroccan recipes.  After sitting in salt and juice for a period of time, the lemons develop a flavor that is bright, intense and a little funky.  They aren’t eaten straight up, though.  The preserved lemon peel can be chopped and added to salad dressing, seafood, or grain salads for a concentrated kick of lemony flavor.

To make your own, I refer you to the kitchn.  You can’t get much easier than lemons and salt.  The only thing I do differently is that I halve this recipe  and use wide mouth pint jars.  It’s hard to say how many lemons you will need to fill the jar because it depends on the size.  The lemons I purchased this year were almost the size of oranges and I only needed two for each quart jar.  Also, I add a few peppercorns and cardamom pods, but that’s totally optional.

Take note that you won’t typically see photos of the lemons after they’ve cured for a couple of months because they just don’t have that crisp brightness as when they’re first placed in the jar.  Truthfully, they’re not very pretty.

Couscous with Preserved Lemon and Pistachios


  • 1 1/4 cups Israeli couscous, or other grain or small pasta cooked according to directions
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit-I used cherries, but you can use chopped dates, raisins, etc.
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, lightly chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • black pepper

Place the butter in a large bowl. Separate and discard the pulp from the rind of the preserved lemon. Finely dice the preserved lemon rind and add to the butter along with parsley, dried fruit, pistachios, salt and cinnamon.

Cook the couscous: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the couscous and cook according to package instructions. Drain and add to the bowl. Stir gently until the butter is melted and the ingredients are well mixed with the couscous. Add salt and pepper to taste.





Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes