warm avocado? for breakfast? yes please!

I saw this “recipe” on Pinterest a while ago and I’ve been meaning to try it. It was just bizarre enough to catch my attention and just yummy-sounding enough to keep it! So, one random morning last weekend, I texted my handy dandy best friend/neighbor and asked if she wanted breakfast! See, I always feel like I need someone to cook breakfast for if I’m going to go all-out. She accepted my invitation and I had a go at this.

First, I got out all of my ingredients. Brace yourself, there are a TON in this recipe.

Ha ha just kidding! Really, this recipe is easy peasy. Not too many ingredients… all you need is avocados, eggs and some salsa to serve with them! I also ended up serving tortillas with them… but that was an afterthought so the torts didn’t make the ingredients picture. They make an appearance later, I promise.

I would have included a picture of my guest because, as you know, I believe things like coffee, wine and guests are all important ingredients, but she had just gotten out of bed. If I had publicly posted a picture of her right after she got out of bed, I would’ve been scared for my life. She knows where I live you guys. She even has a key to my apartment! At the very least, I bet there would be an unflattering payback picture posted on her blog soon. I didn’t want that. Next time I cook for her, she won’t get out of the requisite picture so easily!

First things first, I cut the avocados in such a way that I ended up with two about 1-inch thick rings out of their centers. Like this:

Basically, I cut the round sides off of each avocado, then poked out the pits. Now, this method may seem like it wastes a lot of valuable avocado BUT that is only the case if you throw it in the trash can. If you throw the excess avocado in a bowl and add some of the aforementioned salsa, you have a handy dandy guacamole to snack on later. Waste not, want not!

Anyway, after I poked out the pit, I cut the hole it left a little bigger. If you try this at home, I recommend that you cut the holes bigger than I did. My holes didn’t hold a whole egg very well. You’ll see in just a second. Also, a very important point: I left the skin ON the avocado slices. I repeat: I left the skin on!

Next, I started a skillet on medium-lowish heat and sprayed it with cooking spray. Then, I laid the avocado slices in the skillet. And the moment we’ve all been waiting for, I cracked an egg into the hole in each slice!

See what I was saying? Egg overflow! If you make the same hole-cutting mistake that I did, never fear! After the overflow egg white cooks a little and solidifies, you can just scoop it out of the pan like I did. Who needs extra egg white when you have all that avocado anyway? Really, it worked out better this way… or that’s what I’m telling myself at least.

I put a lid on the pan to cook for a little while and let the contained heat help cook the eggs. I left the lid on for about 3-4ish minutes (it was hard not to peak) and when I took it off this is what was waiting for me underneath:

Voila! Gorgeous! I could’ve stopped at this point and if I had just been cooking for myself I would have. However, my handy dandy best friend/neighbor guest doesn’t like her eggs runny… so I decided to give flipping these puppies over a try. It was scary. I’m telling you. It was touch-and-go for a few minutes there… Ok ok, it wasn’t really THAT hard thanks to this fabulous flipping device:

I highly recommend this magical flipping device. I can tell you from experience that it is 100% worth it to buy the Williams Sonoma version. I tried a cheaper knock-off version and it quickly met it’s demise in my trash can. The edge of it got all nasty bendy and it wouldn’t slide under eggs without tearing them up! What good is a flipper if it doesn’t slide under eggs?! Moral of the story: buying quality pays off. This one is fabulous and it did a great job of flipping egg-avocado situations over!

This side didn’t need to cook very long so, while it was cooking, I quickly tossed a couple whole wheat tortillas in the microwave. Luckily, my microwave just so happened to be clean so I could take a picture!

Finally, I quickly threw some salsa onto a couple plates and topped it with an avocado-egg!

There you have it folks! The finished product! This breakfast was a hit with both me and my best friend/neighbor, Natalie. If you’ve never tried any sort of a warm avocado situation such as this, I think you should. Immediately. You should probably just try this very recipe. It was very creamy and delicious. It was the perfect breakfast to start a productive day!

my first quinoa experience

So, I’ve never made quinoa before. I’ve never really even eaten it. But, this recipe http://pinchofyum.com/spicy-sweet-squash-bowl looked way too delicious to resist! I gave it a try and boy did it pay off. This is an awesome, healthy meal that has the perfect combination of sweet and spicy to make your tummy happy!

To start, I got out all of my ingredients (so I could take a picture of course!!):

If you compare the original list of ingredients with my picture, you’ll notice a couple differences (shocking… I know). I used chicken broth instead of vegetable stock because I’m not a vegetarian. Also, the white sugar and brown sugar didn’t quite make the picture (oops!). Anyway, I grabbed some spinach, butternut squash, cilantro, olive oil, quinoa, cinnamon, curry powder, cayenne pepper, white sugar and brown sugar. Other important ingredients to note include: some beautiful friends to cook for…

…and a lovely glass of wine for the cook (that’s me!). 🙂

Anyway, first things first, I started my oven pre-heating to 400 degrees. Then, I cut up my butternut squash.

If you are not an expert butternut squash cutter, I highly recommend you read this blog post: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2008/10/how-to-peel-and-cut-up-butternut-squash.html. Before I read that post, I clumsily cut up several butternut squash while cursing them for being so hard to cut. It was bad. I’m lucky to still have all of my fingers. Thank goodness for the author of that blog. I have to keep my future surgeon (ha!) hands intact! Anyway, I cubed up my butternut squash and threw it in a bowl.

Since I am a bad recipe reader and like to make things up as I go, I tossed the squash with a salt, pepper and a little olive oil. If you read the original recipe, you will see that what I really SHOULD have done was toss it with 1 tsp of white sugar, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp of curry, and a little olive oil. Meh… I fixed it later. So, it all worked out! I spread the squash out on a cookie sheet with foil on it. I recommend putting foil on your cookie sheet if you make this recipe. The squash and sugar make for a pan that is hard to clean! No one likes hard-to-clean pans. No one.

I put the squash in my 400 degree oven and set a timer for 20 minutes. I always set timers. I forget things otherwise. And burnt squash is bad news. After 20 minutes, I took the squash out and gave it a stir. At this time, I also added the cinnamon, white sugar, and curry powder that I was supposed to add at the beginning (oops!). Then, I put the squash back in the oven for another 20 minutes. While the squash was cooking, I got the other ingredients ready…

I chopped up some cilantro. The recipe calls for one “bunch of cilantro”. I didn’t really know what that meant, so I just grabbed a big handful. I figured if it was too much, it would be ok. In my opinion, it’s always better to err on the side of too much cilantro.

After that, I tore up some spinach into a big bowl. Eventually, all of the ingredients will go into this bowl and I like to do as few dishes as possible. About this time is when I took the squash out to stir it (after the first 20 minutes). I knew I had about 20 minutes left and that the quinoa would take about 20 minutes to cook, so I started it cooking. Since I had never made quinoa before, I turned to http://www.ehow.com to teach me how (http://www.ehow.com/how_4514031_cook-quinoa.html). I didn’t take any awesome pictures of this, but this is what I did:

  1. I started 1 cup chicken broth + 3/4 cup water heating to a boil on my stove.
  2. To the broth/water mixture, I added 2 tsp curry powder, 1/2 tbsp brown sugar and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper.
  3. Once the broth/water mixture started boiling, I added 1 cup of dry quinoa. I turned the heat down to medium-low and let it simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Ehow.com told me to simmer for 12 minutes, but it didn’t quite look done so I let it go a little longer.

This is what it looked like when it was done:

Not super pretty, but it sure was yummy! Next, it was time to take the butternut squash out of the oven…

Beautiful! Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: time to combine all of the ingredients! I added the cilantro, squash, and quinoa to the bowl with the spinach.

Then, I gave it a real good stir. Since the squash and quinoa were still hot, it wilted the spinach and cilantro to perfection:

Finally, I served it up:

I topped the quinoa with a big dollop of white bean hummus that I made the night before. I didn’t take pictures, but it was really easy. I just threw a can of cannellini beans (drained and washed), 1/4 cup chicken broth, 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1 clove of garlic, salt and pepper into my food processor. Et voila! Delicious White Bean Hummus!

Now: it’s time to tell on myself. The original recipe calls for the quinoa to also be topped with toasted pecans. I didn’t have pecans so I decided that walnuts would work. After I took the squash out of the oven, I put the walnuts in to toast. However, I forgot to set a timer (this is why I always set timers…) and I forgot about them until they started smelling and smoking up my little one bedroom apartment. This is what happened:

OOPS!!! To make matters worse, my friend Sully who was over is deathly allergic to walnuts, so we were worried that she was going to go into anaphylactic shock from the walnut smoke in my apartment! It was a scary 5 minutes. Smoke alarms going off… rushing the pan outside… fanning smoke outside… Eeek! Luckily, there was no anaphylactic shock AND the quinoa was delicious without any dang toasted nuts on top of it!

This dish got rave reviews from my guests and, personally, it’s one of my new faves. It’s the perfect combination of spicy and sweet and the white bean hummus really adds another layer of awesome. If you make this, don’t leave off the hummus! Although, to make life easier I might use normal store-bought hummus next time. Oh, and there will most definitely be a “next time” for this dish in my kitchen!