Avocado Toast with Poached Eggs

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Avocado toast is hands-down my new favorite breakfast food. I’ve seen it popping up on more and more brunch menus in New York, which makes me really happy now that I can get it while eating out and not just homemade. But I really think my homemade recipe beats most restaurants. I add a lot of fresh lemon and pepper flakes to make it tangy and spicy, just the way I like it. My other signature feature is adding fresh avocado slices on top of the smash mixture- you can never have enough avocado, right?

While I was home in California for Christmas break I stopped by my local market one morning and picked up a fresh loaf of whole grain fitness bread, micro greens and some ripe avocados. I went out to the backyard and picked a fresh lemon to mix into the avocado smash. I made avocado toast with poached eggs for my whole family, and they are it up. I love that this meal makes a pretty healthy breakfast but also leaves you feeling full and satisfied.

Bon Appétit!

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 Avocado Toast with Poached Eggs

2 Slices Whole Grain Bread (I used a fitness loaf)

2 Eggs

1 Tsp White Vinegar

1 Handful Micro greens

2 Ripe Avocados

1/2 Tsp Olive Oil

1 Tsp Fresh Lemon Juice

Pinch of Salt

1/2 Tsp Pepper Flakes

Directions:

Avocado Smash: Place 1 1/2 avocados into a bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper flakes into the bowl. Mash lightly, making sure to leave large chunks in the mixture.

Poached Eggs: Boil a small pot of water and add 1 Tsp white vinegar. Crack an egg into a small bowl. Create a swirling motion in the pot of water, and slowly dip the small bowl with the egg into the boiling water, letting it slip into the water egg white first. Cook for 3 minutes and remove the egg with a strainer spoon.

Assembly: Place half a handful of micro greens onto each slice of bread. Smash half the avocado mixture onto the toast. Slice the remaining half avocado, and place the slices on top of the mash. Slowly place a poached egg onto each toast.

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Baked Oatmeal

bakedoatmeal6Oatmeal is my perfect five-minute breakfast. Recently, work has picked up, meaning more morning meetings and the occasional late night. And if you are like me (read: I like my zzz’s), this instant breakfast grain is a godsend when i’m rushing out the door in the mornings. And what’s better is that I don’t think I’ll ever tire of oatmeal since it’s so versatile in terms of flavor. If I don’t feel like oatmeals with bananas and drizzled in honey, I just switch it up with some seasonal berries or cinnamon, and so on. Needless to say, I don’t think oatmeal will make it’s way out of my breakfast rotation any time soon.

This recipe takes all the goodness of your five-minute breakfast and makes it even shorter and tastier. Packaged in a bake-ahead container, this recipe is more of a “guideline.” You can really add whatever fruits and flavors you wish. I found these beautiful blackberries and blueberries at the local market, so I decided to bake a those into my oatmeal. And boy, let me tell you … delicious.

Cheers!

bakedoatmeal4Baked Oatmeal (adapted from Epicurious)

2 Cups of Oatmeal

1/3 Cup of Sugar (optional)

1 Tsp. of Baking Powder

1 1/2 Tsp of Cinnamon

1/2 Tsp. of Salt

2 Cups of Almond Milk

1 Egg

2 Tsp. of Vanilla

2 Ripe Bananas

1 6Oz Box of Blueberries

1 6Oz Box of Blackberries

Directions:

In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (oatmeal, sugar if desired, baking powder, cinnamon and salt) and set aside. In another bowl, whisk egg until fully beaten. Add almond milk and vanilla and set aside.

Grease the bottom and sides of an 8 inch pan. Cover the bottom with slices of banana. Layer half of the blueberries and blackberries on top. Then, carefully cover the bananas and berries with the dry oatmeal mixture, covering fully. Slowly drizzle the ingredients from the liquid bowl over the oatmeal mixture, ensuring that the mixture seeps through all the fruit layers. Top with remaining berries. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-45 minutes or until the top begins to brown.

Makes 5-6 servings.
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A Taste of SF: Michael Mina

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Slow Cooked Pork Tortelloni

I’m a huge Michael Mina fan, and over this past Thanksgiving break I finally had the chance to try his signature restaurant in San Francisco named after himself, Michael Mina. My dad is a huge supporter of an organization in the SF Bay Area called Good Tidings, which predominately builds sports facilities for under privileged kids in the Bay Area. He purchased an auction item of a tasting menu donated by Michael Mina, and luckily waited until we were all home to enjoy it together. Unfortunately Michael Mina was not there in-person, but he graciously left signed menus for us to take home!

One of the first things I’ll point out that was really unique to this restaurant was the “make-your-own-drink” set-up. They had signature cocktails available, but also had a feature where you could explain to the waiter what kinds of alcohols and flavors you like, and they would come up with a new concoction. I’ve been really into moscow mules, so I asked for something similar to a mule but also a little fruity. My “fruity mule” was outrageously delicious.

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Another highlight was definitely the crusty bread with honey butter. We really couldn’t get enough, it was so good. The tasting menu the night we went had so many good options that I had a really hard time choosing. We had a group of six, so we were able to spread out our menu choices and have a taste of everything. The ahi tuna tartare turned out to be my favorite appetizer, one of the best I’ve ever had. The Nantucket bay scallops with creamy leek risotto was equally amazing. The only mistake I made was ordering the risotto as a main dish, because it ended up being risotto-overload!

The desserts were incredible, and the pastry chef even brought out an additional little tray of treats including homemade passion fruit caramels and pumpkin macaroons. Michael Mina 2

Michael Mina  $$$$

252 California St. San Francisco, CA 94111

What to Order: The menu is a rotating $95 tasting menu, but the Ahi Tuna Tartare is a signature that is a must-have if on the menu! Also make sure to make your own drink.

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Ahi Tuna Tartare

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Nantucket Bay Scallops

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Black Angus Ribeye

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Risotto

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Ocean Trout

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Chocolate Hazelnut Protein Muffins

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A little over a month ago, I decided to change up my workout routine. With my work schedule and social life the way it is, I couldn’t always make it to the gym classes I liked, and I found that my regular cardio routine (read: a half-hearted two mile run/walk) was starting to not cut it anymore. So, I decided to start lifting weights. And, while I’m not sure I can say I see physical results just yet, I sure am hungry all the time!

That’s where these protein muffins come into the picture. They provide just the right amount of sweet, while still being the perfect pre-workout snack. The best part is, they are chock-full of protein.

I used the ceramic muffin pan that Marta got for me, and as you can see, was fully occupied with taking muffin photos … that is, until Sophie (my cat) crept into the picture.

Cheers!

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Chocolate Hazelnut Protein Muffins (adapted from DailyBurn)

1 1/4 Cups and 3 Tbsp. of Whole Wheat flour

1 1/2 Tbsp. of Ground Flaxseeds

2 Tsp. of Baking Powder

1/8 Tsp. of Salt

2 Eggs

2 Bananas, mashed (*note: use ripe bananas, as they will help naturally sweeten the muffins)

1/2 Cup of Nonfat, Plain Greek Yogurt

1/4 Cup of Almond Milk

1 Tbsp. of Vanilla

1/4 Cup of Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread (for homemade, click here)

Directions:

Sift together the following dry ingredients: flour, flaxseeds, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Using another bowl, mix together the eggs, banana, Greek yogurt, almond milk and vanilla. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, just until combined.

In a generously greased muffin tin, fill up cups half way. Drop in a large teaspoon-size dollop of chocolate hazelnut spread. Cover the chocolate hazelnut fully with more muffin batter. Bake for 17-22 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Eat immediately, or store in the fridge in an airtight container for two days.

Serves 6.

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Acai Bowls

Acai Bowl 3Being home for Christmas break, I couldn’t get enough of the fresh California produce. I forgot how lucky we were to have fairly good quality fruit all year round, which I don’t get to the same extent in New York. My sister and I went to downtown Palo Alto for a morning yoga class, and decided to try the new Acai Bowl joint, Bare Bowls, to top off a healthy day. Bare Bowls was fantastic and very refreshing, but man was it over-priced, as all Palo Alto spots tend to be. My sister and I decided to make our own Acai bowls the next day for breakfast!

I definitely took advantage of the fact that my parents own a Vitamix, which makes Acai bowls, or VERY thick smoothies, much easier to make. An Acai bowl is basically a smoothie so thick you have to eat it with a spoon, with acai, other fruit and typically some kind of nut butter. Acai bowls are then topped with more fresh fruit, granola, nuts, coconut shavings and any other topping of choice. We didn’t have acai berries, but used acai juice and added bananas, strawberries, blackberries and peanut butter to make the base. We topped it off with banana slices and granola for a refreshing, hearty breakfast.  Overall I was pleased with the results, and even more thrilled we were able to eat outside.

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Acai Bowls

2 Bananas

8 Strawberries

10 Blackberries

4 Tbsp Acai Juice

1 Heaping Tbsp Peanut or Almond Butter

8 Ice Cubes

Toppings: Banana slices, granola, other fruit

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth. (Note: the base of the acai bowl should be very thick. Some normal blenders, including my own, will not work well with such little liquid. I was fortunate enough to use my parents’ Vitamix while I was home which worked great. Feel free to add more acai juice in order to property blend). Top with banana slices, granola and other toppings of choice.

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Cranberry Lemon Shortbread Bars

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Day 11: Cranberry Lemon Shortbread Bars

I’ve just arrived at Hailey’s house for a week of fun. Our itinerary: Sonoma wine country for Hailey’s birthday (happy birthday!), day hiking on New Year’s Eve Day and a celebratory New Year’s Eve night in San Francisco … and oh yeah, don’t forget, a vacation with us is no vacation if we don’t include tons of food. So, it’s basically guaranteed to be a blast.

I made these cookies right before my 10 hour drive up north, and I’ve got to say that my favorite thing about these cookies are how tart they are. The lemon and fresh cranberries complement each other perfectly, making for the best bite-sized on-the-road snacks. I hope you enjoy!

Cheers!

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Cranberry Lemon Shortbread Bars

4 Cups of Flour

1 Cup of Butter, cold and cut into cubes

1/2 Cup of Sugar

1/2 Cup of Lemon Juice

2/3 Cup of Fresh Cranberries, plus a handful for garnish

The Zest From 1 Lemon

Directions:

Sift together the flour and sugar until completely combined. Using a mixer on the lowest speed, gradually add the cubes of butter until the mixture starts to look like large crumbles. Sprinkle the lemon zest and juice and combine. By this time the dough should come together when you grab it in your hands. Slice the cranberries and add them to the dough.

Line a 13 X 9 inch pan with wax or parchment paper. Spread the dough out on the pan. Press the dough firmly into the pan. Using a sharp knife, begin to carefully cut the bars. *Note: the dough will be extremely crumbly in texture. You will need to press it down again after you perforate the dough to form the bars.* Garnish each bar with a cranberry by firmly pressing a cranberry in the middle of each bar. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until the shortbread starts to look browned.

Makes approximately 30 bars.

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Cinnamon-Raisin Rugelach Cookies

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12daysofcookies

Day 10: Cinnamon-Raisin Rugelach

Merry Christmas everyone! I’m going to keep this post short and sweet because 1) it’s past midnight and I’m getting sleepy (chalk it up to a cookie coma), and 2) my cat Sophie is being inexplicably sweet. Seriously though, anyone that knows Sophie knows her as the cat that characteristically runs and hides under the bed for hours. So, excuse me while I take advantage of what little kitten love and attention I can get.

I actually first decided to make these cookies on recommendation from a coworker. And, boy, am  I glad I did. Not only are they super simple to make, they are really customizable. On top of it all, they look like you spent hours in the kitchen when in actual reality, you only really put in about 30 minutes of prep time.

Also, given that the original recipe calls for two sticks of butter and one packet of cream cheese (no amount at the gym could save me there), I ended up using only 3/4ths of the original butter in the recipe and half of the cream cheese.

Cheers!

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Cinnamon-Raison Rugalach Cookies (adapted from The Kitchn)

Dough:

2 Cups of Flour

1/2 Package (4 oz) of Cream Cheese, cubed

3/4 Cup of Cold Butter, cubed

1 Tsp. of Vanilla

1 egg yolk

Filling:

1/2 Cup of Sugar

2 Tbsp. of Cinnamon

1/2 Cup of Raisins, chopped

2 Tbsp. of Butter, melted

Directions:

Using your hands, cut a few tablespoons at a time of the butter and cream cheese into the flour. Once the dough starts to form rough crumbs, set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolk and the vanilla. Sprinkle this egg mixture over the flour mixture and mix using hands until the dough starts to clump together. Divide dough in two, form two balls and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Once the dough has chilled, turn one of the dough balls out onto a powdered sugar surface (do not skimp on the powdered sugar!). Roll the dough ball into a circle until about 1/8th an inch thick. Brush the dough with the melted butter, generously cover with the sugar-cinnamon mixture and sprinkle the raisins on last. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into even “pizza slices.” *Note: the recipe I followed said to create 16 even slices, but I found it easier to create 15 slices.* Roll each slice tightly into a crescent and place onto an ungreased baking sheet, crescent tail down. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Use the same process with the other refrigerated dough ball.

Makes approximately 30 cookies.

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Lemon Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

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Day 9: Lemon Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

Christmas is 2 days away! It’s hard to believe that 2014 has come and gone. This is my first holiday season on the east coast, and I’ve been loving all of the Christmas decorations in New York City. I’ve walked by the Rockefeller tree about three times already because it truly is that magnificent. Although winter hasn’t been too bad yet, this cooler weather is definitely more conducive to baking, especially on overcast Sunday afternoons.

This past weekend I wanted to bake something sweet using rosemary, because it’s one of my favorite flavors and I thought it could be interesting to use in a cookie. I came across this great recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Two Peas and their Pod, and gave it a whirl using star cookie-cutters to make the cookies a little more festive for the holidays. I took these to a holiday party this weekend and they were definitely a hit. They have a very interesting flavor given the bits of savory herb baked right into them, but man they made my apartment smell amazing.

These would be great cookies to leave for Santa too, since they can be made into all sorts of fun shapes with the kids!

Bon Appétit!

 

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Rosemary Lemon Shortbread Cookies (Recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod)

2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

1/4 Tsp Salt

1 1/2 Tsp Lemon Zest

1 Tsp Fresh Rosemary, minced

1 Lb Butter, unsalted and room-temperature

3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Tsp Fresh Lemon Juice

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, lemon zest and rosemary. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand-held mixer), cream butter until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar on medium speed until fully combined. Add vanilla and lemon juice. Slowly add flour mixture until just combined.

Take dough out of the bowl and combine into a bowl. Place on counter and form into a disk shape. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Pre-heat oven to 325 deg F. Remove dough from fridge, and roll out on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes of choice. (Can also use an upside-down wine glass for circular cookies). Place cut-outs on a lightly greased cookie sheet (or use parchment paper). Cook for 10-12 minutes. When finished, cool fully on a cooling rack.

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Persimmon Gingersnap Cookies

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Day 8: Persimmon Gingersnap Cookies

This cookie come with two stories: 1) my hatred of ginger root, and 2) my first encounter with persimmons.

First: when I would get sick as a kid, my mom would “force feed” me a spoonful of fresh ground ginger root and honey. The stuff “scarred” me so much, that now I rarely touch the stuff. Seriously though … I avoid the ginger from sushi restaurants, stay away from ginger drink concoctions and usually omit ginger whenever a recipe calls for it. I really, reallyreally dislike ginger. So, you might be a little confused on why I decided to make gingersnap cookies.

In order to explain, I need to tell you about my first persimmon. Growing up, my mom loved persimmons. And, not the let-me-eat-two-in-one-sitting type of love. I mean, let’s-buy-a-20-pound-box-and-eat-it-until-we-finish kind of love. And though this fruit was commonly found in Korean and other Asian markets (though now, many markets have started carrying persimmons), there’s not too many places where you can buy in bulk … or in my family’s case, in a one-week’s supply. ;)

So, one day my brother, mom and I decided to go persimmon picking. The concept was simple: anything you picked had to be brought to the front, weighed and bought. Well, needless to say, my brother and I got a little a lot carried away. I can’t remember how many pounds of persimmons we ended up buying, but I do remember that we didn’t run out of the red-orange fruit for quite a while.

Turns out that ginger complements persimmon nicely. Who knew?

Cheers!

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Persimmon Gingersnaps (loosely based on the brown eyed baker)

3 Cups of Flour

1/2 Cup of Whole Wheat Flour

1 Tsp. of Salt

1 1/4 Tsp. of Cinnamon

1 1/4 Tsp. of Ground Cloves

1 Tsp. of Ground Ginger

1 Cup of Butter, room temperature

1 Cup of Sugar

1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar

2 Tbsp. of Vegetable Oil

2 Eggs

1 Persimmon, pureed (extra for garnish)

Directions:

Whisk all the dry ingredients together and set aside. In another bowl and using a stand mixer, combine the butter and both sugars until they are completely mixed. Add oil, eggs and persimmon and mix further. On a low speed, add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix until just combined.

Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cookie dough onto a baking sheet about two inches apart. Adorn with persimmon slices if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes. *Note: the edges should turn brown slightly and the middle will be soft).

Makes ~30 cookies

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Red Velvet “Kringle” Cookies

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12daysofcookies

Day 7: Red Velvet “Kringle” Cookies

Can you all believe it’s already half way through December?! Where has the time gone? I feel like it was only a few days ago when Hailey and I started our 12 Days of Cookies adventure. And look at us now … half way through. :)

I originally wanted to make something festive — evocative of all things “Santa.” So I thought, I love chocolate crinkle cookies. Why don’t I look for a way to transform this classic into a new holiday favorite? And thus, I started my search for the red velvet “Kringle” cookie. (Who doesn’t love a good pun while baking?)

That said, I’ve got a baking confession to make: these aren’t my favorite cookies in the world. To be fair, I’ve never really enjoyed red velvet and I prefer my chocolate as dark and bitter as it gets. But I recently brought these into work, and they were a hit. A few coworkers said that they reminded them of a Mexican bread cookie, which was totally unintentional but awesome. (Hey, I’ll take compliments where I can get them ;) ). Another plus: these are incredibly simple to make ahead and freeze. In fact, a little chill time is preferred.

A little slightly-random-but-also-related update: I started going to a new gym and working out with a trainer twice a week. And boy, can I tell you, he’s been whipping my poor (and very sore, may I add) booty into shape. I guess that’s a blessing in disguise though. If I continue to eating as many cookies as I’ve been baking, I’m sure to regret it come January 1st. Oh well. What’s 15 more days of sugary indulgence anyways? ;)

Cheers!

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Red Velvet “Kringle” Cookies (adapted from Cooking Classy)

3 Cups of Flour

1/4 Cup of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

2 Tsp. of Baking Powder

3/4 Tsp. of Baking Soda

3/4 Tsp. of Salt

3/4 Cup of Butter, at room temperature

1 1/3 Cup of Sugar

3 Eggs

1 Tsp. of Almond Milk

1 1/2 Tsp. of Vanilla Extract

10-15 Drops of Red Food Coloring

1/4 Cup of White Chocolate Chips

1/2 Cup of Powdered Sugar

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt). Sift and set aside. Using a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar for around 2-3 minutes on a medium-high speed. Once the butter mixture is pale and fluffy, add one egg at a time, ensuring that each egg is completely mixed in. Add the almond milk, vanilla extract and red food coloring. *Note: start with only a couple drops of red food coloring and slowly add more as desired. I found that I needed more red food coloring (closer to 15 drops), but you may find that to be excessive.* Once the red food coloring is fully mixed in, reduce the speed to low and gradually add the dry ingredients. Hand stir in the white chocolate and set in the fridge to chill until dough is firm enough to form into balls.

After about 2 hours, form the dough into balls approximately 1.5 inches in diameter. Roll each red velvet ball in powdered sugar, making sure to cover the entire surface of the cookie. Place on a cookie sheet and slightly flatten the cookie using the back of a large spoon. Cook for 12-14 minutes at 350 degrees or until the cookies are lightly firm to the touch and cracked on top.

Makes around 30-40 cookies.

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