Toast Week {day 1}

According to Webster, there are five meanings to the word “toast.”  But this week we’re talking about the first definition:

1. a :  sliced bread browned on both sides by heat

    b :  food prepared with toasted bread

Toast is such a simple food.  But it’s incredibly versatile.  And when I posted a picture of my breakfast a couple of weeks ago on Instagram I was surprised at the positive reaction to a simple picture of toast.

So this week I’m sharing with you five days of toast.  You can eat it for breakfast or lunch or dinner.  Not only is toast easy to assemble – simply toast and top – but it’s also cheap, especially when you use ingredients that you have in your kitchen.  But don’t stress over the recipes because there really isn’t a recipe.  Instead, think about what you have on hand and what combinations your taste buds would enjoy.

Mix and match.

Make it yours.

{toasted Udi’s gluten free bread, smashed avocado with salt, and a quartered hardboiled egg. plus a sprinkle of pepper}

Friday Favorites

After a cold, rainy, wet week I am more than ready for a little sunshine and salt air.


Oh, and I’m always ready for the weekend.  But before we get our weekend started, here’s my favorites of the week….

Favorite Whoa:  Slow Cooker “Rotisserie” Chicken.  This would be such a lifesaver during the week.  Simply prep and cook on Sunday and I would have chicken for salads for the entire week.


Favorite Slice:  Marinated Kale and Whipped Ricotta Pizza.  Jessica understands my love of pizza.  Whether she realizes it or not.


Favorite Truth:  


Favorite Drool:  Whole Roasted Onions.  I love onions.  Kind of like how I love garlic.  And these onions remind me of roasted garlic which is one of my favorite things in the world.  These and a steak.  Yes.


Favorite Cozy:  I am dying over all the winter neutrals I’m seeing lately.  Obsessed.



Favorite Decadence:  Extra Fudgy Coconut Oil Brownies.  I can’t even deal.


Favorite Indulge:  Crock-pot Tuscan Sausage and White Bean Ragu with Gnocchi.  How perfect would this be for a cold Sunday evening?  All you need to add is a glass of red wine.


Favorite Must-Have:  A coffee nook!  I really don’t like having a ton of appliances out on the counter top but I use my coffee maker  This is the perfect solution.


Favorite Combo:  Black + Blue.


Favorite Tipsy:  Le Fizz Cocktail.  A simple, fizzy cocktail that would be a perfect part of any weekend plans.


West African Peanut Soup

Last Friday I claimed West African Peanut Soup as my “Favorite Spoonful.”  And not five minutes after the post went “live” I received an email from my husband (Big Guy) asking if “peanut soup” could be our Monday night dinner.  Never in a million years would I have imagined myself receiving emails from Big Guy requesting a vegetarian soup for dinner.  A.) While he always eats the vegetarian meals I serve, I know that his favorite dinners typically involve animal products.  B.)  Soup isn’t something he ever requests.

So guess what was on the menu for Monday night.  If you guessed “peanut soup,” you’re correct!  I wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip by as I’ve been flirting with West African Peanut Soup/Stew recipes for a couple of years and I never quite found the right recipe.

This particular recipe is actually quite simple though it brings together three ingredients you would never expect to be in a recipe together.  Peanut butter.  Tomato paste.  Collards.  I should also note that two of those three ingredients are two of Big Guys favorite things:  peanuts and collards.

But the ingredients work together in the most creamy and comforting way possible.

The soup is incredibly thick and filling and is best served over a bed of rice with a sprinkle of crunchy peanuts on top for a little texture.  And Big Guy has now deemed this the “best vegetarian” meal I’ve prepared EVER.  That’s saying something.  And he even asked if I could make it again.  (Maybe next year, honey.)

The flavors are incredible thanks to the addition of ginger, garlic and Sriracha.  Oh, and peanut butter (all.the.peanut.butter.).

And yes, the elephant background was totally planned.

The “Boom” Pizza

I totally just made up that name of this pizza.

But “Chipotle BBQ and Sweet Chili Pineapple + Jalapeno and Bacon” Pizza seemed like a ridiculously long name for a pizza.

But when a pizza looks like this, does the name really matter?

No, the name does not matter.

But the toppings do.

A homemade pizza crust is slathered with a barbecue + chipotle sauce that includes barbecue sauce (I used some homemade tomato based barbecue sauce), a tablespoon of pineapple juice, 1 chopped chipotle pepper, juice from 1/2 a lime, and chopped cilantro.

After you spread the sauce on the crust, sprinkle the entire pizza with half of your cheese (I used fontina and mozzarella).

Now it’s time for the good stuff!

Crispy bacon.

Sweet pineapple. 

A drizzle of sweet Thai chili sauce.

Now it’s time to top with the remaining cheese and pickled jalapeno slices.

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Before serving, top with fresh cilantro for a pop of flavor.

Verdict?  Incredible.

This is one of my favorite cheese combinations.  Fontina is earthy and woodsy while the mozzarella is the ultimate melting cheese.  I knew I was in for a treat when I went to cut a sliced and the cheese was super stringy between the slices.

This pizza is a perfect combination of sweet and spicy and savory.


Gnocchi with Bacon and Sage

Fluffy potato pillows.

Crispy sage.

Smoky bacon.

Salty Parmesan.

And butter.


Thick-cut bacon is chopped and then cooked until crisp.  Once the bacon is removed from the pan, butter is added to a little of the bacon fat and the sage cooks until crisp.  The cooked gnocchi is then added to the butter and bacon fat bath and tossed before plating.  Each plate is then topped with bacon, Parmesan and fresh cracked black pepper.

Five ingredients never tasted so luxurious.


Weekend Review {red wine braised beef shank}

And just like that, the weekend comes to an end and another work week begins.  But before we get the work part started, let me rewind.

Friday evening we had plans to attend the first wine dinner of 2015 with our wine club, Friends of the Vine.  The wine dinner was a 90+ Point Wine dinner.

We sipped our way through dinner with two whites, two reds and a dessert wine.  The wine that surprised me the most was a chardonnay that was poured during the social hour.  I typically do not enjoy chardonnays but this particular one was not oaky and butter but instead crisp and refreshing.  The syrah was a wine that was much better with food and the sauvignon blanc was the perfect balance of grassy and grapefruit.  Such a fun evening with new and old friends.

Saturday we found ourselves heading to Raleigh to run errands and enjoy lunch.  Once home, we got started on the Red Wine Braised Beef Shank.  Beef shank is a new-to-my-kitchen ingredient as we typically find ourselves leaning to recipes utilizing short ribs.  I was excited to cook a new cut of meat.  Especially when braised in red wine.

The recipe comes from the Easy Gourmet cookbook by the blogger i am a food blog.  The beef shank is seasoned liberally with salt and pepper before being seared in a Dutch oven until browned on each side (about 5 minutes).

Smashed garlic, mushrooms, tomato paste, and a quartered onion is sauteed before adding in the red wine, a little water and a sprig of rosemary.  The beef shank cooks low for about 4 hours.

While dinner was cooking, we enjoyed cocktail hour and a movie (Taken 2).  I made myself a French 75 with gin, fresh lemon and simple syrup.

Several hours later, dinner was ready.  I served the braised beef shank over a creamy bowl of polenta.

The braised beef shank was incredibly tender and the mushrooms were one of my favorite components of the meal.

The perfect bowl of comfort for a date night at home.

Sunday came way too fast but was quite the productive day as we prepared for the upcoming weekend festivities.  Big Guy broke in his new (and bigger) smoker, The Bandit.  Smokey will be finding a new home soon where we knew he’ll be loved and taken care of well.  I also prepped lots and lots of barbecue sauce.

Looking at the calendar we are quite busy the next several weekends so it was nice to enjoy some time at home as well as getting things done around the house.

Ok, Monday, let’s do this.


Friday Favorites

Did you know that waffles are one of my favorite breakfast items?  In fact, I start almost every Friday morning with a waffle (topped with nut butter).  It gives me something to look forward to all week. And yes, a waffle is something to get excited about.


Today is Friday and I did, indeed, have a waffle for breakfast.  We’ve {almost} made it to the end of our first work week of 2015.  (That calls for champagne – not a waffle.)

So before you go poppin’ bubbly and getting your weekend started, here are my favorites of the week!

Favorite Wake-Up:  Oat Waffles.   Except I would need a waffle iron.  That’s one thing I decided not to put on the wedding registry.  But these waffles!  Crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside waffle.  Friday morning perfection.

Favorite Devour:  Spicy Shrimp Nachos with Chipotle Crema + Pickled Jalapenos.  A plateful of these and I would be in heaven.  Nacho heaven.  Cheesy, crunchy, messy heaven.  I’m thinking these might be perfect for Superbowl Sunday (when is Superbowl Sunday?!?!).

Favorite Workout:  Booty Burning Walking Workout.  Now that our group fitness schedule has changed, I’ve had to come up with my own workouts on Wednesdays.  I tried this treadmill walking workout this past week and my glutes were on fi-ya.

Favorite Smashed:  Chickpea Sunflower Sandwich.  This is about as “granola” as I get.  This just might make the cut for the lunchtime rotation next week.

Favorite Obsessed:  Caramel Brownies with Pretzel Crust.  I am lusting over brownies lately.  And I’m on the search for the perfect recipe.  I’m having flashbacks of my cinnamon roll obsession.

Favorite Spoonful:  West African Peanut Soup.    Creamy, comforting and spicy.

Favorite Fresh:  OPI Bubble Bath.  I know, I know.  This color has been around for quite some time.  BUT I have said bye-bye to dark nails this week and hellllllo to nudes.  Apparently it’s trendy this season. 


Favorite Woah:  Slow Cooker Short Rib Sauce with Bucatini.  I’m not a huge pasta person but this plate of deliciousness is making me drool.  I’m pretty sure the short ribs are to blame.

Favorite Classic Cocktail:  Vanilla-Sugar Lime Daiquiri.  Shaken until your arms hurt.  A little fancy, but no frills.

Happy Weekend!