Mother's Day Brunch

by Nina Z


Remember when I told you that I haven't been cooking? Well, I made you and my kitchen proud today. I've been planning for the last few days - grocery shop Friday, prep list Saturday, cook up a storm Sunday.

I wanted to show my mom, and grandma, how much I appreciate them with a delicious meal. My dad and grandpa got to tag along, which gave me an opportunity to make more than I usually would. Served with dish- and silver-ware that were handed down from my grandparents to me, this meal seemed extra special.

I wanted to make light, healthy dishes, packed with lots of flavor:

Kale and Mesclun Green Salad with Lemon and Turmeric Vinaigrette
Asparagus and Chive Frittata with Goat Cheese
Avocado Toast with Pea Shoots and Lemon Zest
Applewood Smoked Uncured Bacon
Banana Oat Walnut Bread

I loooove Avocado Toast. It's a go-to snack for me these days, and I love to top it with a variety of toppings - red pepper flakes, turmeric, sesame seeds, and to make it a meal, an over-easy egg!

I amped up this snack to make this beautiful, bright side dish:

- Sliced baguette grilled in leftover bacon fat (after frying the bacon)
- 2 avocados smashed with the juice of 1 lemon and a good amount of sea salt
- After topping each piece of bread with a dollop of avocado spread, garnish with lemon zest and pea shoots

To balance the savory-ness of the meal, this banana oat walnut bread was a HIT! With the natural sweetness of over-ripe bananas and only 1 cup of raw sugar, a piece of this bread was the perfect way to end the meal. But let's be honest, none of us only had one piece...

This recipe will come in a separate post, so stay tuned.

I had so much fun planning, cooking, and staging this meal. I forgot how great it felt to pick up my camera and snap photos in my new kitchen nook! Oh, this is the start to a beautiful, scrumptious summer.


Learning to Balance

by Nina Z


When I was looking for an apartment, my non-negotiable was a decent-sized kitchen. I ended up with an amazing kitchen, which for the past four months, has been used mainly to heat up leftovers, cook Sunday brunch, and bake the occasional batch of brownies. Whenever I'm in my kitchen not cooking, I feel a pang of guilt: what is this kitchen doing here if I'm not going to be spending my free time cooking, taking awesome pictures, and then posting here for you all to learn new recipes?

But then I attempt to justify: Nina, you just moved into one of the most amazing cities in the country, so why would you spend all of your free time inside when there's so much to explore (and eat)!?

So herein lies my dilemma. As much as I enjoy grocery shopping at local markets and cooking up fun and interesting meals for myself, I also enjoy wandering around my new neighborhood(s) and sampling the amazing food they have to offer.

While I may feel guilty for not cooking as much as I used to, and for not posting here as much as I would like to, I shouldn't feel guilty for embracing my new home. 

Here is my confession to all of you: I, Nina, do not usually cook dinner. I like to eat leftovers from work, often having the same meal twice in one day. I like to go out to dinner, and brunch, and cocktails, and I unapologetically enjoy every single minute of it.

I know that eventually, I'll find the balance that's right for me, and for this blog. But for now, dinner will sometimes look like the above (I mean, who wouldn't want that!?), and sometimes, groceries will consist of a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, two bars of chocolate and a bottle of $5 wine.

This is only the beginning of my adventure and while I have lots of BK terrain to cover this summer, my love for cooking will still prevail.


Reflections

by Nina Z


It feels like I blinked and the trees went from lush green to tinged with yellow and orange, and the air shifted from hot to cool and crisp. Sweaters and boots and apples, oh my!

The last two months were a whirlwind, barely leaving me time to get to the gym, let alone spend time creating delicious treats in the kitchen. Things are settling down - kind of - so I'm taking this opportunity to reflect on the end of summer and the beginning of fall. What better way to do this than through pictures? Make sure to check out the comments in each picture - there may be a quick recipe hiding there!

My first lobster roll on Fire Island was a delicious success!

My first lobster roll on Fire Island was a delicious success!

I was so excited to get my hands on a fresh coconut finally at Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, BK, NY!

I was so excited to get my hands on a fresh coconut finally at Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, BK, NY!

Exploring Madison Square Eats - Spicy Pork Bibimbap left my mouth on fire, but so worth it

Exploring Madison Square Eats - Spicy Pork Bibimbap left my mouth on fire, but so worth it

The easiest pancakes you'll EVER make: 1 banana (mashed), 1 egg, 1/2 cup old fashioned oats, splash of vanilla, and a splash of (almond) milk; mix well in a bowl; heat griddle on low-medium heat and cook pancakes until no longer liquid on the inside; high protein, high fiber, low effort!

The easiest pancakes you'll EVER make: 1 banana (mashed), 1 egg, 1/2 cup old fashioned oats, splash of vanilla, and a splash of (almond) milk; mix well in a bowl; heat griddle on low-medium heat and cook pancakes until no longer liquid on the inside; high protein, high fiber, low effort!

The famous apple cake, the first one of the year! Head over to www.smittenkitchen.com and look for Mom's Apple Cake. My only variation was to add the zest of 1 lemon and 1-2 TBS fresh grated ginger to the batter.

The famous apple cake, the first one of the year! Head over to www.smittenkitchen.com and look for Mom's Apple Cake. My only variation was to add the zest of 1 lemon and 1-2 TBS fresh grated ginger to the batter.

Brunchin' in Gloucester, MA at Sugar Magnolia's. That's multi-grain bread with egg, arugula, goat cheese and fig preserves. I definitely have to re-create this masterpiece.

Brunchin' in Gloucester, MA at Sugar Magnolia's. That's multi-grain bread with egg, arugula, goat cheese and fig preserves. I definitely have to re-create this masterpiece.

The Blue Stone Pizzeria in Waterbury, VT. Local beer, local produce, fresh wood-fired pizza... perfection. There's three different kinds of mushrooms, local goat cheese and basil on that glorious pizza! Switchback to wash it all down.

The Blue Stone Pizzeria in Waterbury, VT. Local beer, local produce, fresh wood-fired pizza... perfection. There's three different kinds of mushrooms, local goat cheese and basil on that glorious pizza! Switchback to wash it all down.

Unbelievably spoiled and grateful to have eaten at The Hen of the Wood in Burlington, VT. This was only a portion of the meal: grilled octopus, romaine salad with sheep's milk pecorino, radishes, and a walnut vinaigrette. If you have the chance to go, GO!

Unbelievably spoiled and grateful to have eaten at The Hen of the Wood in Burlington, VT. This was only a portion of the meal: grilled octopus, romaine salad with sheep's milk pecorino, radishes, and a walnut vinaigrette. If you have the chance to go, GO!

Visiting the new tasting room at Switchback Brewery. We were told to sample from the bottom of the state to the top: the classic Switchback Unfiltered Ale, a new Brown Ale, a new Citra Pils, and a Roasted Red Ale. The classic will always be my favorite.

Visiting the new tasting room at Switchback Brewery. We were told to sample from the bottom of the state to the top: the classic Switchback Unfiltered Ale, a new Brown Ale, a new Citra Pils, and a Roasted Red Ale. The classic will always be my favorite.

Spent my last few hours in Vermont walking and taking in the foliage with one of my closest friends, Sara. It looks like a candy bowl of leaves!

Spent my last few hours in Vermont walking and taking in the foliage with one of my closest friends, Sara. It looks like a candy bowl of leaves!

Feeling thankful for the food, the friends, and the family during the shift of the seasons.