Veggie Tostadas

I hate throwing away food.  And because I hate throwing away food, corn tortillas seem to annoy me.

They come in packs of like 60.  Okay, not really – I’m exaggerating.  But I never need all, usually not even half, for a recipe.  So I find myself needing to use them up.

And I found the perfect solution to having excess corn tortillas:  tostadas.

Come to find out, tostadas originated from the need to use tortillas that weren’t fresh enough for tacos. (Learn something new every day.)

tostasa

First, warm up your tortillas.  I used a cast iron skillet to get them crisped and browned.  If you’re using flour tortillas, the broil setting on your oven would work.  I find that corn tortillas curl too much in the oven.  The base of the Veggie Tostadas is refried beans mixed with salsa (the recipe called for enchilada sauce, but the salsa verde I had in the fridge worked like a charm).

And on top of the beans, anything and everything!  Seriously…it couldn’t be easier.

Our tostadas were topped with sliced avocado, feta cheese, chopped tomatoes, green onions and pickled jalapenos.  But go wild!  And use what you have on hand.

By the way, I forget how much I like refried beans.

Is there an ingredient that you buy and never use up?

Lemon-Herb Chicken Skewers with Blueberry-Balsamic Salsa

Typically I meal plan on Sundays.  I lay out what the evenings look like for the week and go from there.

But this past weekend didn’t quite go that way.  I had a late afternoon arrival into Raleigh after being in Nashville, TN all weekend and then I met up with Big Guy for an errand at the mall followed by a sushi date.  Arriving home at 8pm on a Sunday night after being gone all weekend is late for this gal.  That’s typically when I’m getting ready for bed on Sunday nights (sorry, I’m not sorry).

Seeing as though I left the bags unpacked and on the floor (the horror!) I can assure you that no meal planning happened on Sunday night.

However, waiting to meal plan on Monday before I left for work ended up having it’s advantage.

I arrived at the gym on Monday morning way before the sun came up (I was also cursing myself for being so dedicated to my 5am classes) and one of my friends arrived with a pint of fresh, local blueberries just for me.

As soon as I saw the blueberries I knew they were making their way into my dinner plans for the week.

Those sweet, succulent blueberries were destined for Lemon-Herb Chicken Skewers with Blueberry-Balsamic Salsa – a recipe that caught my eye the moment I flipped through my latest issue of  Cooking Light.

The recipe is fairly simple but it does require about an hour of hands-off work – that is time for the chicken to marinate.

The chicken (I ended up using organic chicken breasts because our grocery stores never have a decent selection of chicken thighs – note to self:  stock up at Trader Joe’s) is marinated in a mixture of garlic, parsley, basil, cilantro, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and fresh cracked black pepper.

While the chicken marinates, make the salsa.  Half of the blueberries, balsamic vinegar and honey is brought to a boil and then simmered until thick and syrupy.  Be sure to use a spoon to mash the blueberries as it cooks.

The other half of the blueberries are given a quick whirl in the food processor before being added to a bowl with the cooked blueberries along with the other salsa ingredients.  I totally forgot to buy a red onion at the store so I used green onion that I had from the night before.

The chicken is then grilled to perfection and served with the sweet and sour blueberry salsa.

Word to the wise:  double the blueberry salsa.  It would be fantastic as an appetizer with goat cheese and crackers.

Just sayin’.

Chicken Salad in Lettuce Cups

I love chicken salad.  But I’m picky about my chicken salad.

Too healthy and it’s just not very tasty (aka – all the mayo is taken out of the recipe).

Too much mayo and it’s just not very tasty (because well, too much mayo).

But when you find the perfect balance, all is right in the world.

Using equal amounts of Greek yogurt and mayo plus a little bit of vinegar is the perfect balance.  And the use of rotisserie chicken means this chicken salad couldn’t be easier to pull together.

chicken salad cups

Instead of walnuts, I used cashews.  I love cashews and they add the perfect amount of nuttiness to the mix.  (I also didn’t have any walnuts on hand.)

And instead of dried cherries, I used golden raisins.  I adore dried fruit in my chicken salad and the golden raisins added an amazing burst of sweetness to each bite.  (Craisins would also work great!  Or dried blueberries…)

Green onions added great flavor without being too harsh and taking over – especially in the leftovers.  As always, I love a hint of freshness and herbiness (totally made that word up) and that’s exactly what the parsley did.  Basil would also be a fantastic addition.

p.s. I made this recipe when Big Guy was out of town and never told him…because I knew he would be super jealous.  He may love chicken salad more than I do.

Fried Egg and Avocado Toast

Big Guy is finally back in town after being in Asia for a little over two weeks and I’m so excited to have him back at home.

And as much as I missed him being around the house, I enjoyed making a few dinners that he wouldn’t have enjoyed as much as I did.

Fried Egg and Avocado Toast is the perfect B, L or D (breakfast, lunch or dinner) and incorporates three of my favorite things.  Fried egg.  Avocado.  Toast.

avo toast

A toasted piece of bread (I used a slice of Udi’s Gluten-Free bread) and topped with smashed avocado.  The creamy avocado is topped with crunchy, earthy sprouts and a perfectly fried egg.  And to top it all off, a spoonful of salsa and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

And while I don’t think I’ll ever tire of simple avocado toast, sprouts and salsa added lots of flavor and texture to the combo.

This is a single-girl’s dinner if I ever saw one.

Greek Salad

Greek Salad is not a new thing in my world.  I eat them on the regular.

But the twist to Jessica’s recipe is marinating the veggies in the homemade dressing before eating.

The flavor is unreal.

Salty and briny and everything I love about a Greek Salad.

The dressing is a mixture of red wine vinegar, lemon juice, honey, garlic, dill, oregano, salt, pepper and EVOO.

And not only is this dressing amazing on this salad but I think it would be pretty amazing on just about any salad.  It’s going to be one of my go-to dressings from now on (because I’m totally over store-bought dressings).

The base of the salad is onion, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta and for me, artichoke hearts.

Toss all of the above ingredients with the dressing and let them just hang out and get friendly for at least 30 minutes.

Eat it just the way it is or add it to a pile of lettuce for a little more bulk.

I’ve eaten this salad for the past three days and it’s perfection.

My perfect lunch.  Well, except for the fact that I didn’t have any banana peppers.

So it’s almost perfect.

Roasted Garlic and Bacon Spinach Dip {plus two more small bites}

Good morning!  It’s a two day work week for me so I’m a happy girl.  I have lots to accomplish in the next 48 hours but I have faith in myself.  Tomorrow I’ll give you a full recap of my lovely long weekend but today I want to share with you three, yes, three appetizers that are sure to make any “appy” hour a “happy” hour.  My Momma and I had a girls night on Friday night before the guys arrived and we decided to snack on several things instead of deciding on one dinner option.  I was quite impressed with our spread.

**To note – after I took the picture and posted it on Instagram, I realized that there’s a major blooper in the picture.  Do you see it?  See the fish dish with the edamame – my soy sauce bowl is stuck in his tail.  I got a good laugh.**

Speaking of the edamame, we simply steamed the pods and then tossed them with course salt and orange zest.  I loved the brightness of the orange zest especially with the salty soy sauce.  So simple but a little special from the addition of the zest.

To the left of the edamame, are crackers topped with honey goat cheese and a blackberry.  This might have been my favorite bite of the night.  Tangy but smooth goat cheese, crunchy cracker and a sweet yet tart berry on top.  Simple is sometimes the best.

And for our hot appetizer of the night, Roasted Garlic and Bacon Spinach Dip.  Honestly, how can you go wrong with roasted garlic, bacon and cheese?

You can’t.

The roasted garlic is the most time consuming part of the recipe but it’s a hands-off kind of task.  Simply cut off the top of the garlic, drizzle with EVOO and a sprinkle of salt then wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Roasted garlic is one of my favorite things ever.

While the garlic is roasted, crisp up the bacon and then wilt the spinach in the bacon fat.  Just do it.  Don’t question yourself.

The base of the dip is cream cheese, a little Greek yogurt and a little mayo which is then mixed with mashed roasted garlic (the whole darn head), chopped bacon and the spinach along with shredded Parmesan cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

The top of the dip is finished with one of the bacon slices, crumbled, and a little more cheese – because you can’t have enough cheese.

Baked until bubbly and hot.  We served the dip with crackers and some baby bell pepper.

And to complete the spread, a glass of Vouvray – which is a French white wine.  Tart and sweet and incredibly light.

Appy hour is my favorite hour.

{virtual} coffee chat

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If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you about how excited I am for Spring/Summer produce!  Last week our friends came over and brought all the ingredients for a salad – and all the ingredients were from their garden except for the cheese and almonds.  Duh.  But I can’t wait for our garden to start producing veggies.

{lettuce, strawberries, beets, feta, marcona almonds, lemon-herb vinaigrette}

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d let you know that our garden growing!  It’s amazing how much it’s grown in the past 10 days.  I cannot wait for homegrown corn, bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, leeks, onions, zucchini and jalapeno.  Big Guy is most excited about the zucchini because he wants me to make another batch of this lasagna.

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d talk about how delicious strawberries are right now.  They’re at their peak and I can’t get enough.  Hopefully I’ll grab some local ones this weekend and whip up something delicious to share with the family.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d share my new favorite margarita recipe.  Because they were incredible.  My sister-in-laws (hey hey, Sarah and Stephens) visited last Friday and we enjoyed fresh Strawberry-Coconut Margaritas, guacamole and caramelized pineapple quesadillas.  We had an absolute blast and I was so thankful to spend some quality time with the college graduates.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you about how my Iron Horse wine shipment finally arrived.  Big Guy The Easter Bunny signed-me up for Two Bottle Club and so now I have something to look forward to every month.  Iron Horse bubbles are my new favorite “fancy” bubbles and I can’t wait to try the limited release Summit Cuvee but I was also excited to see a bottle of Chardonnay in the box.  I enjoy trying new wine so much.

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d talk about more than drinking.  Wink Wink.  I’d tell you about the baby shower that we hosted for our friend Kristen last weekend.  The past few years have been wedding heavy but it looks like the times are ‘a changing and we’re on to the years of baby showers.  Baby Max is a lucky guy to have Kristen and Adam as parents.  But I can also say that we’re all so lucky to have a great group of ladies to experience the twists and turns of life with.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d let you in on a secret.  I was “in charge” of the food for the shower on Sunday.  And while I made most of the food myself, pimiento cheese is one thing I have no problem buying pre-made.  But only if it’s Palmetto brand.  It’s seriously the best.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you about another grocery store find.  But this is a new-to-me product.  While grocery shopping last week, I stumbled across Hope Hummus.  Holy hummus!  The Thai Coconut Curry is amazing.  A little spicy, a little sweet – kind of exotic tasting.  Go find some!

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d leave you with this truth: