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.

Weekends Are Meant for Brunch

by Nina Z

I don't care what anyone says about brunch. I love it and how it makes me feel. Sorry I'm not sorry.

Whether you're rolling out of bed in last night's makeup to go wait on line for bottomless cocktails and some version of a Benedict,

OR, you've already been to the gym and had breakfast and ran errands AND just want to have breakfast-y food again, there's no wrong way to EMBRACE THE BRUNCH!

Pancakes are usually served stacked and can leave you feeling way too full after only one. Where's the fun in that!? I want to have my pancakes, and eat them too! Here's a protein-and-fiber packed pancake that won't leave you feeling more hungover.

Here's what you'll need to make 12 medium-sized pancakes (18-20 small pancakes):

  • 2 large very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, mash bananas with a fork until smooth. Add in eggs and whisk until combined. Add in oats, milk, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon, and mix until thoroughly combined.

Heat griddle on low-medium heat. Spray with cooking oil or add 1 TBS Earth Balance and spread evenly on pan. You'll know it's hot enough when you sprinkle water on the griddle and it sizzles and steams!

Spoon the pancake mixture onto the griddle to make pancakes of desired size. Let cook for 2-3 minutes on one side or until the edges begin bubbling, then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side. The pancakes are done when they are no longer liquid in the center.

Your first batch may take longer than the following batches, since the pan may still be heating up. I was always told growing up that the second batch is better than the first.

Serve immediately with Vermont Maple Syrup.

Having brunch at a restaurant can be fun, but staying home and cooking in your pajamas/gym clothes is a real treat.