New York Nosh

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Recently, work took me to NYC for a few days.  It was a jam-packed trip, but in the evenings, I took advantage of my locale and munched on the Big Apple. (See what I did there?! ;) )

Fortunately, I have a few obliging friends in the city, all of which allowed me to drag them to restaurants I was eager to try.  I was thrilled; not only did I get to catch up with an old friend at the end of each day, but I got to eat my way through a few restaurants on my New York Foodie Bucket List.  And yes, such a list exists. :)

Unfortunately, the one miss on this trip was that I managed to forget my camera (ERRG.), so please forgive the phone photos!

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On one of these lovely evenings, I met up with a Chicago friend who just happened to be also in town on business.  Also a foodie-at-heart, he happily agreed to my restaurant of choice for the evening: Ed’s Lobster Bar in SoHo.

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A truly tiny spot, this all-white restaurant has mostly been taken up by the gorgeous marble bar that spans nearly the whole length of the place.  It’s the perfect perch for your meal – you’ll enjoy every bite as you watch the bartenders and servers whirl and whiz past, busy maintaining a well-oiled machine.

Before you know it, your small order of fresh oysters are presented in front of you, and you’ll immediately regret the decision to place a small order instead of a very, very large one.

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But you’ll quickly get over this oversight as soon as you see this monstrosity of lobster arrive in its’ place:

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HummanaHummanaHummana.

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A WHALE of a lobster roll, accompanied by a perfectly crisp pile of french fries.  You’ll proceed to eat every single last fry.  Even the crunchy bits.  (Ok, maybe that was just me…)

The lobster itself is presented in a perfectly soft pillowy vessel that resembles brioche.  It’s delightfully light; not weighed down with mayo like you might expect.  You’ll inhale the fresh flavorful roll, scooping up the chunks of lobster that tumble out onto the plate, making sure not to miss a single bite!

One more close up, because before you know it, your roll will disappear…

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My mouth is literally watering as I type… le sighhhh.

Net: Ed’s is definitely worth a stop when in NYC.

I proceeded to plan every single precious meal I had in the city around my taste-buds (because how else would you plan it??), and took advantage of even breakfast and lunches.  It required plenty of research and some serious speed-walking, but it was worth it for every slurp, bite and sip.

To offset my gluttony in the beautiful New York evenings, for breakfast I tracked down a lovely local juicing chain that would help me kick the day off with a healthy start.

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Juice Generation offers fresh smoothies, juices, and raw foods, and it was just what I needed.  I picked up a Mr. Greengenes before my day full of meetings, and sipped down the energy I needed to keep up with my long days.

Clearly, food is my favorite part of this gorgeously huge city, but a very close second is simply exploring. 20140722_191815I probably walked 3 miles or more a day, just absorbing as much New York as I possibly could, soaking in every beautiful building and charming corner.

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On my very last day, I had one last place on my list, one that I’d heard lots about…

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In fact, I was told that Shake Shack is BETTER than In & Out.

Yeah.

So naturally I had to try out myself.  You know, purely for market research.

Since it was a painfully beautiful day, I refused to eat indoors and toted my meal to a nearby park, in order to eat in the gorgeous sunshine.

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Unfortunately, my stubbornness resulted in a very melty custard, but I enjoyed it, regardless.  The burger itself was flavorful and fresh; I think the patty almost could stand on its’ own.  As in, I would totally eat it even if given a plate + patty.

I’m not sure I would say it’s BETTER than In & Out.  I  would have to do more market research to validate this claim, of course.  But I will say it is arguably as good as In & Out.

Undoubtedly, it was a lovely ending to my food-filled trip.  I sat on my park bench and tried to soak in as much as possible during my last precious moments in NYC.  I watched as the city bustled around me.  So fast, everything is almost a blur, and yet you can’t help but want to be a part of that big blur.  If even for just a mere moment.

But soon it was time to go, and while I wasn’t quite ready to depart for home, my feet sure were, so I picked up my bags and got on my way.

Until next time, New York.

Cheers!  xx

G

 

 

 

Avocado Croque Madame

HELLO Friday!! Anyone else ready for the weekend??  ‘Cause I sure am.

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Weekends lately have been busy whirlwinds of events, travel, and general busy-ness.  But this weekend…  this weekend comes with the promise of very few commitments and hopefully a whole lotta relaxing. :)  Sometimes you need a chill weekend, amiright??

At any rate, this Friday I have a treat for you – a delicious, healthy and happy breakfast that will surely turn even a gray and cloudy weekend into one full of sunshine and rainbows.  (Hint-hint, Dallas… where’s the SUNSHINE??)

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A slight twist on a Croque Madame, this breakfast reminds me of spending a lazy Saturday camped out at a sidewalk café, in the middle of Paris.  And who wouldn’t want to spend their Saturday just soaking in the City of Light whilst consuming this lovely, lovely breakfast?

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Crispy toasty bread with a lemon-y avocado spread, topped with a juicy slice of ham, melty Gruyère cheese, and then finished off with a beautifully runny fried egg.   Yeah.  Come to momma.

This egg-tastic dish will not only tickle your taste buds, but it promises to give you the energy to tackle whatever the weekend brings your way.

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Bon appétit!

-G

Avocado Croque Madame

Serves 2

  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread (I like Whole Foods’ Seeduction loaf)
  • 2 slices of quality ham
  • 4 slices of Gruyère cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • Slice of lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Start with avocado spread – scoop 1/2 an avocado into a small bowl or ramekin. Squeeze fresh lemon slice over top, add salt and pepper, and mix until chunky but spreadable.

Toast bread in a toaster or oven on low, just until slightly crunchy (not yet golden-brown).  Spread avocado onto each toast, then layer with ham and cheese.  If you have a toaster oven, put the toasts back in for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese.  Otherwise, you can use your oven and set it to broil in order to melt the cheese.

Heat non-stick frying pan with drizzled olive oil to medium heat.  Crack each egg onto frying pan, then let cook for about 3 minutes, until the whites are set and the edges start to brown.   Remove from heat and scoop each egg onto toast.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Lucia

On a gorgeous July summer night in Dallas a few weeks ago, we stepped out and enjoyed a little celebratory dinner.  P1070676

The birthday girl got to decide on the spot for this occasion (a.k.a. yours truly), so we dined at Lucia, a tiny Italian nook in the middle of Bishop Arts where it takes WEEKS to get a reservation.

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Perhaps it was the promise of Italian food, or maybe it was just the mere fact that this place is so hard to get into, but whatever the reason, I had pretty high expectations of this place before walking in the door.

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We started with a few aperitivi, and before we knew it, a plate full of warm, soft bread was delivered to our table…

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Not a bad start, Lucia.  Well played.

Having properly kicked off our carbo-loading session, we placed an order of the Red Wattle Prosciutto with figs and arugula, which was a perfect combination of sweet, salty and peppery.  The prosciutto was perfectly savory, and when paired with a bite of the sweet fig and slightly bitter arugula, it made for a delectable flavor combo.

P1070659With high spirits and happy taste buds, we continued on, ordering a plate of the Cavatelli, with cannelini beans, more prosciutto (because why not!), and lumache (which, we learned that evening, was the word for snails in Italian).

P1070665It was AWESOME.  The pasta resembled gnocchi and offered a soft pillow-like texture that was quite enjoyable.  We quickly finished the plate and awaited our secondi.

AG had picked out the Texas Waygu coulotte, and I selected the Foie-Gras-stuffed Quail; both of us promising to share, of course. :)

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The Waygu coulotte was a perfect pink, and insanely juicy.  The flavor was just awesome, and when stacked on a fork with a generous scoop of cauliflower puree and salty cheese shavings… mmmm it made my day!

The quail, on the other hand…

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It looked beautiful on the plate, served with figs and gorgeously caramelized onions, but to be honest, it just didn’t tickle my fancy.

I don’t know if it was the Foie Gras, or simply that quail is not my thing after all, but I didn’t love it.  AG on the other hand, was happy to take on my plate and enjoyed every bite.  So perhaps it was just a personal taste-thing, but I wasn’t that impressed.

That being said though, the meal up until that point was awesome, and I will absolutely return and try out another dish.  Sometimes we all deserve second chances, no?

P1070675All in all, it was a lovely evening out with my favorite person, and definitely not a bad way to spend a birthday. :)

If you decide to check out Lucia, I’d recommend calling a month in advance to make a reservation.  Then after dinner, take a little stroll around the lovely foodie district that is Bishop Arts, because it’s worth a little look-see.  You can always finish the night off with some chocolates from Dude Sweet Chocolate next door, S’mores at Tillman’s Roadhouse, or a big slice of pie from Emporium Pies.

If you can’t tell, I’m feeling a lot of love right now for this food-filled neighborhood of Dallas!

Cheers!  xx

G

 

 

Turkey Eggplant Lasagna

Italian food, to me, is the ultimate comfort food.  Pasta + Cheese + Garlic-y Tomato Sauce = Happiness.   So every few weeks, I’ll whip up one of these cheese-y garlic-y lasagnas, and well, let’s just say it doesn’t last too long in this house.
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For days, we’ll have lasagna for lunch and dinner, and honestly, I never get sick of it.  We haven’t go so far as to eat it for breakfast… but I wouldn’t put it past us.  Poached egg on top of a hefty serving of lasagna?  Mmmhmmm I’m ok with it!

Thankfully, I don’t have to feel TOO guilty about this delicious dish, because it’s packed with lean turkey meat, fresh eggplant, and gloriously green spinach.  Pretty much guilt-free, if you ask me!

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This dish, while it does take some time to make, will save you oodles of time the rest of the week, as you pretty much won’t need to cook for the rest of the week.  Unless you have a hungry manfriend around, then maybe you won’t have to cook for a few days.  :)  Either way, I’d consider that a worthwhile investment!

To make this dish, you’ll need a large saucepan and an ovenproof casserole dish.  Yup, that’s it!

Start by browning your turkey meat, onion and cloves of minced garlic.

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While the turkey is browning, dice up your beautiful purple eggplant into cubes, and toss into the pan with your turkey meat.

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Let everything cook together for a while… in the meantime, start chopping up your fresh basil.

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I took a cooking class a little while back that taught knife skills.  Now, I cannot claim to be any kind of expert on this matter, but one of the most useful things this class taught me was how to properly chop basil without bruising the leaves too much.  If you’re curious, check this out!

P1070591After the turkey and eggplant has properly browned, add your fresh spinach, and let it cook down.  You can put as little or as much spinach as you want – I like plenty of spinach, so I usually add one full container of fresh spinach.

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Green, fresh, healthy goodness!

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When the spinach has cooked down and looks slightly less overwhelming, add fresh basil, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and paste.

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Bring to a boil, and then let this sauce simmer for a good 30-45 minutes, allowing all those lovely, lovely flavors to mingle and mix together.

Once you’ve let all the ingredients cook together for a while, add a bit of salt and pepper and then TASTE!  In my humble opinion, Italian food simply cannot be cooked without being tasted along the way.

Ok, maybe this is my rule for all food, but who’s keeping track?!

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In a small bowl, add ricotta cheese, crack two fresh eggs on top, and then cover with as much Parmesan as makes you happy.  In my case, this is quite a bit. :)

Mix together until the cheesy mixture is combined, and then preheat your oven to 350F.

While you’re waiting for the oven, start layering your lasagna.  Spoon about 1/4 of the sauce into the bottom of your casserole dish, and layer with 3 oven-ready lasagna noodles.

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Cover noodles with 1/3 of your cheesy ricotta mixture, top with 1/4 more of sauce, and then finish the layer off with a generous sprinkle of mozzarella.

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P1070620Repeat layers x 2, ending with a layer of sauce, followed by another generous sprinkle of mozzarella.  Aaaand maybe a bit more Parmesan sprinkled on top.  Just because. :)

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Throw that big bad lasagna into the oven for about 30-40 minutes.  In my oven, this tends to be closer to 30-35 minutes, but I can always tell when it’s done, because the cheese is nice and golden brown on top.

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Molto bello, no? :)

Let your bubbly, hot lasagna cool for about 10 minutes… even if it’s hard to wait.  Then slice, scoop, and serve, alongside some fresh slices of ciabatta.

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Then proceed to make lots of “yummy” noises, because you will be very VERY happy with what you’ve whipped up!

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Buon Appetito!

-G

Turkey Eggplant Spinach Lasagna

Adapted from Food Network

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 eggplant, diced
  • 1 package fresh spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic,  minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bunch of basil leaves, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 28-oz can of roasted tomatoes
  • 2 15-oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 6-oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 container of ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 9 oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • 1 16-oz package of shredded mozzarella
  • Parmesan cheese (as much as you like!)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan, combine turkey meat, onion and garlic.  Cook over medium heat until brown, then add diced eggplant, continuing to cook until eggplant is a golden brown.  Add spinach and cook down for a few more minutes.

Add fresh basil, roasted tomatoes, sauce, and paste.  Bring sauce to a boil and then simmer for 30-45 minutes.  While the sauce is simmering, preheat your oven to 350F.

In a small bowl, combine ricotta, eggs, and parmesan, then mix to combine.

Spoon 1/4 of sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish, then top with 3 oven-ready lasagna noodles.  Spread 1/3 of ricotta cheese mixture on top, then layer with another 1/4 of sauce, and 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella.  Repeat x 2, ending with a layer of sauce, topped off with shredded mozzarella and fresh parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until cheese is golden brown on top.  Let cool for 10 minutes, then serve with a nob of fresh bread.

 

 

 

South Beach Sabor

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A few weeks ago, we took a little weekend trip to Miami.  We were there on *official* business, for AG’s High School Reunion, as well as his birthday. ;)  With a fun-filled weekend ahead, we decided to kick things off with a bit of Ocean Drive fun on Friday.

After doing a bit of research, we identified a spot right in the middle of South Beach that we wanted to try out for lunch.  The Local House is located right on Ocean Drive, just a hop-skip away from the beautiful, white, sandy South Florida beach.

P1070436It was the perfect place to start our weekend getaway.  A true Miami urban oasis of a restaurant…

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We settled into our well-cushioned seats and promptly ordered up some cocktails.

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A Peach Bellini for moi and a deliciously unique beverage for him, called “Down the Rabbit Hole.”  It was comprised of Bourbon (his favorite), muddled raspberries, lime, mint, sugar, and topped off with some ginger ale.  Delightfully fruity and fresh, it quite honestly blew my Bellini away.  I might have to try to replicate this drink just for you! :)

P1070444We enjoyed our beverages with a side of South Beach views and studied our menus to determine what to nosh on!

Almost immediately, we spotted the Goat Cheese Croquettes and agreed this was a must-try.  P1070451They were served with a sweet and spicy Guava sauce that went perfectly with the creaminess of the goat cheese and the salty, lightly fried exterior.

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They didn’t last long.

We followed up with an order of Shrimp Risotto, which mingled flavors of fresh shrimp, asparagus, basil and more goat cheese (can you tell we like goat cheese??).

P1070458It was light and fresh, a perfect lunch option before hitting up the beach!

Finally, we continued with our beachy theme, and ordered a plate of the Pan-Seared Branzino, which was perfectly cooked and served with Polenta Fries that were simply to.die.for.!

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MmmMmmMmm!

The fresh fare offered at Local House did not disappoint – it served up the flavorful flair of South Beach while offering a relaxing spot to chill and enjoy the scenery.

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That is, until they brought us the bill…

Upon reviewing our charges we noticed that they had already included 18% gratuity.  However, with a second glance, we realized that their “18%” was completely inaccurate – they’d overcharged us by several dollars.  We brought it to their attention and they apologized, but as we’d already paid our bill, we decided to let it go.

Lesson learned though – if you are in Miami in the near future and decide to check out The Local House, please double check your bill before paying so they don’t rip you off too!!

Despite this slight hiccup, we moseyed down the strip to enjoy more South Beach sunshine.

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And discovered someone hunting for Coconuts…

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After watching him gather a few coconuts via that impressive pole-contraption, we made a pit-stop at Wet Willie’s for their famous frozen beverages to take to the beach.

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Mine was a Piña Colada & Sex on the Beach swirl, and AG ordered a “Colombian Flag,” which was pretty much just a random mix of colorful flavors. :)  It sure did look festive though!

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We took our beverages to the South Beach sand and enjoyed them while looking out onto the gorgeous turquoise water.

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We left with sandy toes and slightly pink noses (ok, mine was a bit more than slightly pink…).

A truly beautiful beach day, indeed!

Cheers!  xx

G

FT33

Birthdays in this house are kind of a big deal.  I’ve always loved birthdays… anyone’s birthday.  It’s a great excuse to get together with some of your favorite people, and the fact that cake is part of the celebration is just icing on the… uh… cake!

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AG and I happen to share the same birth month, so June is pretty much the best month of the year.  It starts with celebrating AG and ends with my birthday, so it’s almost a straight month of birthday festivities.  And I’m not complaining.

This year we happened to be headed to Miami over AG’s birthday weekend (more to come on that trip!), so we decided to do a bit of our own celebrating a few days before, which of course involved food, because what else?!

I’d been hankering to try out a new Dallas spot that was getting quite a buzz – FT33.  We went on a gorgeous Wednesday and sat close enough to the big windows in the front to enjoy the amazing sunlight that was still pouring in after 7pm.  Ahhh I just love Dallas in the summer!

We perused the cocktail menu, which was nearly a foreign language – featuring beverages you surely wouldn’t fine elsewhere.  Truffled martini, anyone?

(Sorry for the grainy photos… I neglected to grab my camera on the way out the door, and was therefore stuck with my camera phone.  Fail.)wpid-img_20140604_205748.jpg

We weren’t quite that adventurous on this visit and opted for a Strawberry + Bourbon (for me), and a White Whiskey + Coconut (for him).  Both were delicious – the Strawberry was tangy with a gorgeous color, and the Coconut cocktail offered a very smooth, refreshing flavor that I could just suck down if provided an unlimited supply! :)

With beverages in-hand, we placed an order of Lamb Agnolotti, which pretty much resembled ravioli.  It was served with caramelized onions that when paired with the agnolotti, sang a sweet, sweet tune in your mouth. MmmmmMmmmm.

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Warm, fresh bread that was delivered to our table was put to good use, sopping up the delicious sauce that lingered when the pasta was gone.  I don’t think there was a drop left on that plate.  The bread didn’t make it very long, either!

We followed our first course up with our mains (and a replacement order of warm bread).  I ordered the Skate, which was served with a gorgeous hunk of pork belly, morels, and a dill sauce that pulled me right in.  I was quickly back to dipping anything I could, to get every bit of that saucy goodness!

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AG chose the Bavette, which was smothered in a Kentucky Bourbon soy sauce that made my knees weak.  I vowed instantly to get my hands on some of that Bourbon soy sauce, and have already placed an order on Amazon (in case you’re also interested). :)wpid-img_20140605_083151.jpg

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With happy bellies, we debated on getting dessert for a hot second, but as per usual, any self control was tossed aside… for this:
wpid-img_20140605_181152.jpgRocky Road, FT33 style – and boy, was it good!  I looked around for brioche or something to scoop up the last bits, but sadly this was the only area where FT33 lacked. Which, really, is probably better for my waistline anyways…

Just as we were paying the bill to leave, our lovely waitress popped over for one last surprise – a finishing touch on the meal that we would have have never expected:

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From the master chef himself!  :)  We were humbled that he took the time to thank US, when we were the lucky ones who got to enjoy his amazing food!  This little detail only made me want to come back for more.

All in all, a delightfully memorable dinner to celebrate my favorite man! :)

Until next time, FT33…

Bon appétit!

-G

 

Summer Superfood Salad + Pomegranate Vinaigrette

P1070422Summer is hands-down my favorite season.  The sun comes out to grace our presence, people are more active and social, and the Vitamin D appears to do wonderful things to our moods – everyone just seems happier.  I don’t even mind the rise in temperatures, though it sure does get HOT here in Texas!

But certainly my favorite part of this season is the fresh, beautiful produce that summer just exudes.  Fresh watermelon, avocado, berries, nectarines, luscious greens and gorgeous tomatoes seem to be everywhere and I simply can’t get enough.

P1070425I love this salad because it reminds me of all that I love about summer.  Plus, it’s packed with antioxidants, healthy fats, complex carbs and micronutrients (aka – vitamins and minerals) that will keep you going on those HOT days, giving you the energy and the nutrients you need to keep enjoying that summer sunshine! :)  (With sunscreen on, of course!)

P1070424Your taste buds will thank you with every bite of this happy, healthy salad.  AND it’s pretty much the easiest meal you can make. That’s what I call a win-win-win!

Hope you’re all enjoying the lovely summer season!

(I know, I know, it technically starts on Saturday, but hey, that’s right around the corner!)

Bon appétit!

-G

Summer Superfood Salad

Serves 1 as a full meal (or 2 as a beautiful side salad accompaniment to your meal!)

  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 5 or 6 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 of an avocado
  • 1/4 cup brown rice (cooked)
  • 3 handfuls of mixed greens

Toss your fresh mixed greens onto a big plate, top with brown rice, berries, and avocado.  Drizzle dressing over top and EAT!

Pomegranate Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 1 tsp pomegranate juice
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinaigrette
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dijon
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Add all ingredients to a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine.