Burrata + Beet + Blood Orange Salad

IMG_3763Have you ever had Burrata cheese? If your answer is no, stop what you are doing and immediately go buy some. Burrata is the God of all cheeses. It looks like a ball of Mozzarella cheese, but when cut into it reveals itself as a distant (and way cooler) relaitive . It oozes out a rich, buttery and creamy filling. Buratta tastes amazing on it’s own, which is why it is important to keep the recipe simple when it involves this gem of a cheese. Today I tossed it with some arugula, roasted beets, blood orange and finished it off with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The spiciness of the arugula, sweetness of roasted beets, tartness of blood orange and overall amazingness of the burrata came together to create magic. Serious deliciousness.

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Piña Colada Green Smoothie

IMG_3683The entire country seems to be jumping on the cold weather band wagon.  I think it is safe to say we could all use a break from the bone chilling weather. Lucky for you I have a way you can bring a tropical vacation into your kitchen, no airplane ticket or packing required. My Piña Colada Green Smoothie will take you from the numbing cold to white sandy beaches in seconds. It tastes like a vacation.

There are a few reasons this green smoothie has become a favorite of mine. Number 1- It tastes like a vacation. Number 2- it is the smoothie that turned my husband into a green smoothie lover. He is always a bit reluctant to drink my smoothies, but this smoothie was different. He smelled it, took a sip, took another sip and then finished it off in one big gulp. It was a proud moment of mine when he told me he could drink it everyday. I could too.

Swap kale for spinach or any other greens you have on hand. You’ll still achieve the full tropical vacation effect. If you don’t have any hemp seeds, feel free to use flax seed, chia seed or a mix of all three. They all blend well into this recipe

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Sesame Seared Ahi Salad

IMG_3294This recipe is a bit of a tease for me. I love love love seared ahi tuna but for the next 5 months it is off limits (one of the many perks of being pregnant…major sarcasm). Making this salad without taking a bite of the ahi was torture, but I managed to do it. Lucky for Taber he got double the amount of ahi while I enjoy the salad vegetarian style.

This salad is crisp and refreshing, which is a nice break from holiday comfort food. I tossed the cabbage, carrot, pepper and tomato mixture with a sesame dressing and then topped it with seared tuna. It is substantial enough for a main course salad.

With that I will leave you the recipe. The more I write about it the more I want seared ahi. So this post is done.

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Fall Salad + Maple Tahini Dressing

IMG_3178The first of November marks the day I officially start planning my holiday menus. It also appears to be the day stores start playing Christmas music.  I love Christmas music and was definitely singing along, but shouldn’t we let the Halloween treats digest before jumping to December?  Anyways…back to holiday menu planning. It is one of my all time favorite things to do. If I were on match.com it would forsure be in my bio under interests. Thank goodness I am not on match,  I am pretty sure that would deter all potential (cool) dates. By the second week in November I have a folder full of potential dishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. When I am not brainstorming recipe ideas, I am in the kitchen recipe testing. Gotta test out the recipes and make sure they are holiday table worthy! Today I tested a Fall Salad with Maple Tahini Dressing. It definitely passed the test and will be on the holiday table. Tart granny smith apples mend well with the sweet dressing, salty pumpkin seeds and red onion. I threw in some chewy dried cranberries, which complements the crunchy apples and seeds. Very well balanced and a  great way to get some greens on your holiday plate.

Use whatever nuts or seeds you have in your pantry. The pumpkin seeds are perfecto in the salad, but walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds or any other nut/seed would work well too. A little blue cheese would also taste great on this salad.

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Spice Apple Cider

IMG_2907OMG…buy some apples, get out your juicer and make this cider right now. Or even better, make this cider, put it in a to-go cup and head straight for the pumpkin patch. If you follow these commands directions, your Fall will be complete.  I promise. There is something so nostalgic about apple cider. It transports me straight back to the days hyper color t-shirts were still cool (I am afraid they will make a comeback), when my mom would bring home jugs of freshly pressed apple cider. It was the perfect way to warm up after a crisp fall day. To this day, she still has the fridge stocked with apple cider during the holidays.

If you don’t have a juicer, please don’t turn your back on this recipe. You can still make homemade apple cider by using the old school (and flavorful) boiling method. Quarter your apples and place them in a large pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the apples. Add the spices to the pot. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for an hour or until the apples are very mushy. Once apples are mushy, mash with a potato masher. Place a very fine colander over a large bowl. Drain the apple mixture. And there you have it- apple cider without a juicer.

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Salmon + Avocado Lettuce Wraps

IMG_2897People often ask me how I come up with recipes. It usually happens at random times, when I am least expecting it.  An idea will  pop into my head as I am drifting off to sleep, while I am at the grocery store and a piece of seasonal produce jumps out at me, or on the tail end of a run when I am using my thoughts to distract myself from my tired legs. Today my recipe idea came to me while I was driving by a giant billboard. “Fresh. Bold. Spicy. Lettuce Wraps”. In an instant I went from not having a single thought of lettuce wraps to craving them. The gotta have it RIGHT now type of crave. This is how my Salmon Avocado Lettuce Wraps with Caesar Dressing came to life. I wanted lettuce wraps, and I wanted them fast.  These wraps are a snap to put together. Cooking the salmon is the most time consuming part of the recipe, and that isn’t hands on. Easy peasy.

Salmon Avocado Wraps work great for a lunch or dinner. They are also a crowd pleaser for entertaining.  Who doesn’t love a lettuce wrap? For a vegetarian version swap the salmon for some quinoa.

The Yogurt Caesar Dressing makes 1 cup, so depending on how saucy you like your wraps ( I like mine saucy), there is usually left over. The dressing will stay fresh in the fridge for up to a week.

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Avocado Pasta

IMG_2709Avocados are hands down one of my all time favorite foods. Rich, creamy, satisfying and delicious.  Avocados go well beyond just tasting fantastic. They are full of fiber, folate, potassium,  vitamin A, C, E, K and B6. Don’t be afraid of the high calorie and fat content of these alligator pears (that’s really their nickname), the calories are health supportive and a majority of the fat is monounsaturated fat. In other words, the fat and calories found in avocados are A-OK.

I most often find myself eating an avocado straight out of the skin, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. So tasty. So satisfying.  Tonight I switched it up and made a creamy avocado pasta sauce. It was a hit in the Lee household. The avocado lends a buttery texture and mild flavor allowing the lemon and basil to have the spot light. Tossing in a diced tomato adds the perfect amount of color and texture. Taber added a bit of feta and sirracha sauce (note: he adds sirracha to EVERYTHING), but I liked the pasta as is.

Avocado Sauce goes well with all pastas. Fell free to ditch the quinoa pasta and use your favorite pasta or whatever you happen to have in the cupboard.

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Criss-Cross Applesauce

pumpkinsWelcome back, Fall. The switch from summer to fall seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. Grocery stores swiftly change their entrance displays from flowers to pumpkins, the beloved pumpkin spiced latte makes a comeback, and Halloween super stores pop up out of nowhere. There is zero time to mourn the loss of summer. Although it is still 90 degrees here in Austin, I decided to jump on the fall bandwagon by making cinnamon applesauce. Nothing gets me in the mood for fall faster than the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg wafting through the house. I was ready to throw on my leggings, zip up my boots and wrap a scarf around my neck. Then I remembered I live in Austin and the weather won’t chill out until late October (at the earliest). I was tempted to blast the air conditioning in our apartment just so I could pretend it was a perfect brisk fall day, but decided that would be an irresponsible waste of energy. So instead I sat out on my patio in shorts and a tank top and enjoyed my applesauce full of fall flavors.

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Chicken + Feta + Basil Burgers

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Rumor has it meatballs are a trendy food item right now. I had no idea. While I was watching one of my gossip educational shows, Extra,  an editor of People Magazine suggested viewers throw a “meatball party”. Hmmmm if I were to receive an invitation to a meatball party I would expect the entire male cast of Jersey Shore to be there. Meatball/meathead…same thing, right?

Instead of following the trends and making meatballs I decided to make chicken burgers. A distant relative to meatballs. So often chicken burgers start out great, but by the end of the cooking process they have transformed into dry wannabe burgers. When I set out to make these chicken burgers my main goal was to make an extra juicy burger with high flavor. Fresh herbs and mushrooms played a large part in helping me accomplish my goal. Mushrooms add moisture and fresh basil amped up the flavor.

If you aren’t a mushroom lover, this burger is still the burger for you. Taber strongly dislikes mushrooms, so I had to hide them in the recipe. I chopped them up so small he had no idea they were there. I have a horrific poker face, so I let him in on my little secret. Of course, I waited until after he was done with the burger.

These would also be great on the BBQ. Chill for one hour before throwing them on the grill.

To make this recipe gluten free- substitute almond meal for the bread crumbs or omit the bread crumbs all together.

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A Farewell Summer Gazpacho

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Farewell, summer. I will be counting down the days until we meet again. Yes, I know summer doesn’t officially end until September 22nd, but Labor Day feels like the unofficial toast goodbye. It is the last hurrah before the swim suits are packed away and butternut squash takes back the center stage.
To bid adieu to my favorite season I made  gazpacho, a chilled (super delicious) Spanish soup that embodies the flavors of summer. It’s the perfect light meal for the hottest of summer days. Gazpacho is essentially a liquid salad. Chop up some raw veggies and herbs, throw them in the blender and bada-bingo bada-bang you have yourself a soup.

For this gazpacho recipe, I blended 3/4th of the veggie mixture and kept the remaining 1/4th unblended, which resulted in a chunkier soup. For a smoother consistency, blend all the veggies together. Same flavor. Different texture.

One more thing, summer- Please send Austin the memo that your time here is unofficially done, so the 100 degree temps aren’t necessary. I would be very thankful. So would my super furry dog.

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