This is one of my top-five appetizers. It was inspired by a lovely special at one of the best (and most underrated) restaurants in Minnesota, the New Scenic Café. A bright yet unassuming exterior with views of Lake Superior just across North Shore Drive hides wonderfully simple, local fare. Unfortunately, I don’t get to make it there as often as I would like, but a version of this crostini was served as a special appetizer one of the last times I was there. Once I got home, I had to re-create it — I love the contrast between the sweet balsamic-glazed figs and the salty gorgonzola cheese. You could also serve this as dinner with a salad (which I have definitely done).
I’m actually in Minnesota this week (hooray for vacation!), and won’t be making it up to Duluth, but I can’t wait to check out some favorite restaurants, like The Bachelor Farmer (I wrote about it last summer here), Anchor Fish & Chips (best fish and chips I have EVER had), and hopefully a few more. But mostly, it’s so lovely to hang out with my family, see some friends, and relax. Are you taking any trips this summer?
Now that it is finally feeling like summer around here, I have been craving cool salads and smoothies for breakfast (of course, they would taste even better if I could drink them on my terrace, but alas, that will have to wait until I live somewhere besides New York. Or make a lot more money. One of the two.) I’ve gotten to be a big fan of adding greens to smoothies, as they add lots of nutritional value while not tasting like salad in a glass. This is my current favorite combination, and I added chia seeds in there for some protein, though they are completely optional if you don’t like the taste. One of the other things I love about smoothies is the endless variation — you could sub berries for the pineapple, or use 1/2 coconut or almond milk and 1/2 orange juice instead. Whatever you try, the results usually end up being pretty delicious.
Also, in case you’re wondering, the metal straws are from Amazon. I happen to always want to use straws for any kind of drink, so I love these — eco-friendly and so much cuter than the boring old plastic straws. (Though I kind of hate myself for using metal straws AND a mason jar. So twee. And yet, I still love it.)
We have been having a lot of smoothies lately for breakfast — which is great, but in an effort to switch things up a bit from the routine, while still being healthy, I decided to try out this chia seed pudding recipe from Food & Wine. It couldn’t have been easier. Ari was not as big of a fan — I will admit, the texture takes a little getting used to, but it pretty much just tasted like vanilla almond milk — so, delicious. I used maple syrup (my dad makes it!) instead of agave, and vanilla almond milk (from Trader Joe’s — it’s SO good), and served it with diced mango and just a touch of maple syrup drizzled on top. My note would be to make sure that you shake it occasionally while refrigerating — the chia seeds in mine were a little unevenly distributed, making some parts more liquidy than others. Overall, it made a delicious, healthy , and filling breakfast — and I always love anything that you can make the night before to make getting out the door in the morning that much quicker.
If you are anything like me, there are nights that you simply don’t want to go to the grocery store (although mine is a block and a half away, so I don’t have much of an excuse). This recipe uses ingredients that I pretty much always have on hand, and can be adapted really easily to suit your tastes — you could add in some chicken sausage, sprinkle lettuce or cotija cheese on top, make scrambled eggs instead of poached. But in any case, this is an easy, cheap option for weeknight dinners or weekend brunches — and even if it’s still a little cold here in New York (although, compared to what my family is experiencing in Minnesota, it’s practically summer here), I can almost imagine sitting on a beach, maragarita in hand, devouring these tostadas.
Disclaimer: Ari told me that I had to tell you that this is very messy to eat. We tried our luck with forks but ended up just picking up the whole tostada at once. It still tastes good, in any case.
I am really ready for spring. I’m definitely sick of all of my winter clothes, and I would be pretty happy if I didn’t have to wear my winter coat for at least six months. We’ve had a few glimpses of spring in New York, but then it inevitably starts snowing again. So until I can find asparagus, ramps, and any fruit besides apples, I’ll have to tide myself over with this (non-vegetable filled) open-faced sandwich. (Note: it makes an excellent pre- or post-St. Patrick’s Day breakfast if you aren’t feeling the best). This sandwich was inspired by a really wonderful café in my old neighborhood called Milk Bar, and I would recommend serving it with a latte, like I would have there. Or a mimosa. You know, whatever appeals to you.
Confession: I did a juice cleanse last week. As an avid lover of butter, wine, and pretty much anything crunchy, I’m not going to lie — it was REALLY hard. (And probably nearly as hard for Ari, who had to listen to me whine, “I’m so hungry!” for three days straight. Why do such a thing, you might ask? Turns out, too much fried chicken, cake for someone’s birthday, and butter can catch up to you, and I felt like my system needed a break. While the juice itself was good, I’m not sure if I’ll be committing to one again — but it did make me think more about what I eat on a day to day basis. These super simple kale chips give me the crunch I love while still being a much healthier alternative to potato chips. Plus, they taste better and are much cheaper than the ones you can buy at the store.
Alright, that may be a bold statement. That said, I do think that this is a pretty great recipe, and it tends to disappear very quickly at parties. It’s also easy to modify, if you want to throw in a handful of cherry tomatoes, or substitute fresh jalapeños for the pickled ones. Just make sure your avocados are perfectly ripe — it makes all the difference.
This guacamole also goes very well with tacos or on sandwiches — but my favorite way is the most simple, with some good corn chips and a beer, and summer doesn’t feel quite so far away.
Hi everyone. Terribly sorry for the month-long absence — I must admit that I don’t really have a good excuse, except that between work and going home to Minnesota for the holidays, December simply got away from me. Combine that with very short daylight hours, and it makes it a little difficult to take photos. In any case, I’m back just in time to give you the perfect thing to make for your (hungover) New Year’s Day breakfast (or dinner). Minimal prep time + the magic combinations of egg, bacon, tomato, and arugula = happiness. This does also make a lovely meal when you are not hungover, just so you know.
In other holiday news, Minnesota was very cold and snowy, but quite lovely for Christmas. My family had our usual meals of Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, and lefse. I know, super Scandanavian. Did you have a good Christmas? Are there any foods that you always eat at Christmas or New Year’s? I would love to know! And happy New Year to you all! Continue reading
Guys, I’m totally late on my own anniversary. It happened two days ago, on October 11. One year (and two days) ago I started this little blog as a way to give myself a creative outlet and to try to improve my photography skills. Since then, I’ve met lots of you through your comments, discovered new blogs, and (hopefully) learned many things about this crazy business of blogging and food photography. I still have much to learn, but I think that I have improved a little bit (DON’T look at my banana bread photos. Terrible.)
This recipe comes from my mother, and I’m not sure where she got it. It’s still my favorite recipe for zucchini bread (although I made these into muffins), and it only gets better after a few days. I added a little more zucchini and used olive oil instead of vegetable oil to try and make it slightly on the healthier side. However, these make excellent breakfast as well as dessert, and if you wanted to make it even a little healthier you could cut the sugar by 1/3 of a cup or so.
Thank you all for visiting this little corner of the internet, and for your wonderful comments and support over the last year — and here’s to many more years at 124 Park.
You know, I was finally ready to accept the fact that summer was over. Ready to embrace apples, crisp fall nights, colored leaves. And then of course, New York goes and throws a slew of 80 degree days at us, and I’m back to wearing shorts and eating the last of the summer tomatoes before months of squash and root vegetables. Not that I don’t love squash — I’m just not quite ready to let go just yet. I made these crostini a few days ago as a quick lunch, and I love how the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes is balanced by just a dash of fleur de sel and the creamy ricotta. In fact, the cherry tomatoes I got from the farmer’s market were so sweet, I could have omitted the salt and drizzled a little bit of honey over them for another take on this easy appetizer.