If you've been anywhere near Instagram, you know that avocado roses are all the rage. Simple, elegant, beautiful. Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) and I decided to try our hands at making them, and I think they turned out pretty well!
Watch this video to learn how to do it. Melissa is much more coordinated than I am, so those are her hands you are seeing.
Or you can follow these directions: Oil a cutting board and knife with olive oil.
Oh my gosh, this cauliflower bowl is so gorgeous, and filling, and satisfying, and yummy, and healthy, and low carb, and all the things. It has a lot of different components, but they come together to make such a lovely whole. Another successful vegetarian lunch with Melissa from Smells Like Brownies.
Start by making your cauliflower "rice" (actually, start by pickling some chard stems, which was done by Melissa before I arrived). Place raw cauliflower into a food processor and pulse until chopped to the size of rice (a few larger pieces are fine) - 1/2 a large head will make 3-4 cups. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave for 2 minutes, just to soften.
Next, heat some coconut oil in a pan and add turmeric, cumin, a pinch of cayenne, and some fresh pressed garlic. Cook for a bit to activate the spices, then add the cauliflower and stir to combine and heat through. But don't leave it on for too long - you want the cauliflower to have texture! Make sure to season with salt and pepper.
A month ago, Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) asked for my help coming up with toppings for these gorgeous beet, quinoa, and black bean burgers. How could I refuse?! Before I tell you what we decided on, let me tell you about the burgers themselves.
The are firm, full of flavor, have great texture, and are a little bit smoky. Everyone always says this, but they do taste very meaty. I swear.
Veggie burgers rely on many ingredients to make a good product. They can be notoriously mushy and fall apart. This recipe seems to hit all the right notes to make a great burger. Mushrooms, onions, and beets give moisture and flavor; quinoa gives texture; and black beans and ground nuts hold it all together.
I made these cupcakes (a long time ago) for the bridal shower of a vegan friend of mine. Please ignore how terrible I am at frosting - this was literally my first time using my piping set. I got the recipe from Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) who said it was a delicious cake recipe, even for non-vegans. And you know what? She was right! These cupcakes are moist and decadent and very chocolatey - and don't taste at all like avocado! They are also incredibly easy to make.
The original post included a lemon and avocado frosting that I was not a fan of, so I ended up using Duncan Hines chocolate frosting in the tub (which just happens to be vegan). You can use whatever frosting you prefer.
Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes
adapted from Joy the Baker
makes 36 cupcakes
3 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used avocado oil)
1/2 cup soft avocado, well mashed, about 1 medium avocado
2 cups water
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cupcake wrappers into 3 muffin tins.
Sift together all of the dry ingredients except the sugar.
Mix all the wet ingredients together in a bowl, including the super mashed avocado (you really don't want any chunks).
Add sugar into the wet mix and stir.
Mix the wet with the dry all at once, and beat with a whisk (by hand) until smooth.
Scoop batter into muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Let cupcakes cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove onto cooling racks to cool completely before frosting.
Everyone knows that crab legs go perfectly with drawn (melted) butter, especially if it had lemon and garlic in it. But what do you do if you are craving that combo in a lighter dish? Melissa and I decided to make a quinoa salad incorporating those flavors, along with fresh avocado, to keep things nice and light. Yum.
Step 1 - acquire crab legs. I got a pretty good deal on pre-cooked king crab legs at Costco.
Step 2 - remove crab meat. This was both thrilling and frustrating. I felt compelled to extract every last shred of meat from those suckers - not an easy task, but very rewarding. This will take a while, so start cooking your quinoa in the meantime (Step 1.5? 2.5? I give up). We used a 3:1 mixture of white and black quinoa because we thought it would look pretty (we were right), you can use whatever you like.
You know what is very summery? Tacos. Especially fish tacos. Melissa and I were looking for something light and fresh, with a lot of flavor and texture. So we cobbled together a bunch of different ideas and came up with these gorgeous tacos!
We started out by marinating mahi-mahi with tequila, lime juice, garlic, red onion, and cumin. Yum, yum, yum! We chose mahi-mahi because it is a mild white fish that will take on a marinade and stand up to searing.
We wanted a good sear on the outside, so we sauteed it at high heat for a short time, let it rest, and then flaked it into big pieces with forks.
We also wanted to make our own condiments, and came up with a lime and crema (Mexican sour cream with tons of flavor) coleslaw and a chipotle mayo, along with avocado, pickled onions, cotija cheese, and cilantro (or parsley for me).
Now that I am settling into my new place, and Melissa has welcomed her baby daughter to the world, we are getting back into our lunch schedule. We started with this gorgeous Spring inspired egg salad. This is really customizeable, and you can add whatever you find fresh in your area.
We started by finely dicing some celery, scallions, chives, parsley, and dill while we boiled some eggs. You can use whatever combination of herbs you prefer. We also separated the greens from a bunch of radishes.
To that, we added chopped eggs and avocado, caper, garlic, lemon zest, mayonnaise, and dijon mustard.
A friend of mine asked if I could put together a week of meals that are healthy, easy, and cost effective for a single working mother. I thought that sounded like a great idea! But I definitely underestimated how much work it would be. It's hard to make food for just two people without having a ton of leftovers - so to get a different meal in each night, I had to figure out how to use ingredients in multiple dishes. And I wanted to make sure that they were healthy, had a bit of variety, and took 30 minutes or less to put together. It's a tall order, but I think I managed. Each recipe is sized for two adults, and there is a shopping list included at the bottom of the post.
First up - Broiled Salmon with Mustard Butter and Boiled Potatoes and Green Beans. This meal is healthy, easy, and comes together in under 30 minutes. I am so in love with this mustard butter (that I discovered making this recipe), I make it all the time now. There are no grains in this dinner, and as far as starchy potatoes go, baby red-skinned are relatively low on the glycemic index. Plus - by cooking more salmon and vegetables than you need, you will already have the ingredients you need for dinner the next night. This meal comes first because fish needs to be cooked the same night that it is purchased for best quality.
The salmon is going to be one of the more expensive proteins for the week, but it is worth it because it is so good for you (not to mention delicious). Gotta get those Omega-3's! However, I do not recommend buying farm-raised Atlantic salmon as it is full of chemicals and pollutants. Instead, I recommend buying wild Alaskan or farmed Norwegian. The Norwegian salmon is pretty great and I can get it here in NoVA for around $15/lb, and coho goes for $13/lb (versus $29/lb for king salmon, yikes!). If you absolutely cannot swing Alaskan or Norwegian salmon, buy another type of fish instead (cod, halibut, or tilapia would be good).
For our second dinner, we use the extra ingredients from the previous night, plus a few more, to make Salmon Nicoise Salad. The only thing you have to cook for this dinner is hard boiled eggs, and you can do those in advance if you like. Boil more than you need, because we will use some in another dish. Like the previous night, this meal is grain-free and loaded with healthy fats. You can see how big one serving is in this photo - I ate the whole thing, Jasper only ate half of his. So if this is too much food for you, plan to set aside half of it for lunch the next day. It should travel well, just keep the dressing separate.
This is actually the most expensive meal of the week (if it is making 2 servings, and not 4), so the kind of greens you use will matter. I used mache or lamb's lettuce, which I think is really delicious. But there are definitely cheaper lettuces/greens out there. A note on olives - nicoise olives are traditional, but expensive, so feel free to sub kalamatas, which taste very similar. You could even buy jarred kalamatas to save even more.
Normally, I wouldn't advertise for warm avocado. I mean, that's just weird. But combined with a soft egg and runny yolk? It becomes like butter. This is the breakfast of champions, friends.
First you will need to scoop out enough of the flesh so that your eggs will fit. Go ahead and just eat that scooped out avocado plain, yum. Place the avocado halves into a muffin tin or ramekins to hold them in place and catch any egg drippings. If you want, you can add a teeny bit of water into the ramekins to prevent the spilled egg from burning.
I find that the best way to get the eggs into the avocado is to crack each one into a small bowl. Then, carefully scoop up the yolk with a spoon and place it in the hollow. Then spoon the white on top until it is full. Save any leftover white for another use.
Season with salt and pepper and bake in a 425 deg F oven for 15-20 min, until the whites are set. The yolks might cook on top, but the bottom will still be runny. Grab a spoon and dig in!
If you want to totally ignore the fact that you were trying to have a grain free breakfast and spread that sucker on some buttered toast, I wont blame you.
After a bit of a hiatus, Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) and I are getting back to our weekly vegetarian lunches. Last week we tried this amazing soup recipe packed with veggies. It is warm and comforting, with lots of flavor and texture - plus it's really easy to make. It's also both vegan and vegetarian friendly. And gosh, isn't it pretty?
The soup starts out with sliced squash (we used acorn) and tiny cubes of turnip simmered in water until tender. At first I thought that one small squash and one turnip wouldn't be enough, but they turned out to be plenty! So don't go overboard and think that you need to get more/bigger. The cooking water then becomes the base for the broth and miso, tahini, and lemon zest are added to round it out.
You can garnish the soup however you like, but we stuck with the original recipe and used avocado, chives, toasted nori, and toasted sesame seeds.
The soup can be served over a grain, and we choose to try out buckwheat. We are both avoiding white rice for health reasons and thought this grain-like seed would be fun to try. Unfortunately it cooks to a porridge like consistency instead of individual grains. So I would recommend barley or brown rice instead.