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feta

Breakfast Bagels with Baba Ganoush

Breakfast Bagels with Baba Ganoush

I really do love bagels. Often, I have my mom’s voice ringing in the back of my head saying, “Oatmeal is a better choice”. But then I just push it away, because bagels are worth it. Especially on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Breakfast Bagels with Baba Ganoush

Besides, when you use bagels as a canvas for garden veggies, they can be considered an excellent choice, right? Maybe even better than oatmeal.  Don’t worry mom, that’s a whole wheat everything bagel plated below.

And it’s loaded with creamy baba ganoush.

Breakfast Bagels with Baba Ganoush

Recently, I’ve been using bagels as a platform for vine ripened tomatoes, spilling out over a nice smear of cream cheese and layered with sweet onions. It’s what I consider a perfect breakfast. Throw a farm fried egg on the side, and breakfast feels flawless. Cue Beyonce: I woke up to this.

Breakfast Bagels with Baba Ganoush

The days of huge tomato harvests are beginning to slow down though, just as eggplants are quickly populating the nearby plants. Those purple guys were the inspiration for ditching the cream cheese in favor of a new kind of spread.

Buttery baba ganoush on a chewy toasted bagel – it’s a match made in heaven, no cream cheese needed. Feel free to keep it vegan, or throw some salty feta on top. I recommend some chopped tomatoes, too, if you have them.

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Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Pilaf with Feta

Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Pilaf with Feta

Guys. Gals.

Yesterday I received some incredible news.

I’m going to have a garden plot in one of my favorite community gardens in Philadelphia!! I have been dreaming of this day since I first laid eyes many years ago on the magical oasis currently plopped right in the center of what’s now my neighborhood. It’s dreamy. And green. And filled with dirt, and creatures, and veggies, and all the other outdoor components I miss often from my farmer days.

Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Pilaf with Feta

Spaces like these are in hot demand in the city, which of course is no surprise. Generally, they’re locked down with a waiting list so full of names that you could’ve moved to three other towns within the time that they call your name.

Luckily, my roommate and amigo has had her name on that list for three years. And yesterday, she got THE call. I moved into her house a few months ago, and am thrilled to have stumbled into this situation. I am more than excited to scheme up how we are going to takeover the world…I mean, this new 10×10 foot of land.

Roasted Carrots

This was obvious reason to celebrate, and what better way to celebrate a new garden than with roasted carrots? (I would also argue these veggie tats are an excellent source of celebration. But that’s aside the point.)

One of my favorite veggies to grow is carrots because they simply taste 10 times better from the ground than they do from the plastic bags you get at the supermarket.

That thought has me chowing down on this light and healthy pilaf, rich in flavor and salty, feta + sunflower seed goodness. That saltiness gets balanced with a touch of sweetness, derived from both caramelized onions and earthy carrots, to create a well-rounded side dish or lunch.

Sure, those carrots pictured above are from Trader Joe’s…but this recipe’s in honor of my carrot-filled dreams and optimism for spring, when I’ll be eating out of my own garden. Cheers to that!

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Spring Salad with Hard Boiled Egg and Feta

Spring Salad with Hard Boiled Egg and Feta

We’re about to touchdown into my favorite half of the year –  that magical time of spring and summer! According to the calendar, we’ve already made landing there, but Philly seems to be dragging its feet a little. Today, I awoke to a balmy 39 degrees. Only a little short of paradise…

As the shining sun spreads its rays into my window, screaming, “patience grasshopper”, I’ve quickly begun moving my kitchen into spring mode. Late March has launched a revival that fills me with happy anticipation and my fork full of salad greens. Pretty soon, roasted asparagus spears will join us, and I’m ready for it all.

Colorful Eggs

As April nears, young lettuces and tender baby greens will be the first to fill the garden as well as local farmer’s markets. They’ll be paired with spring onions, and soon followed by radishes. All of these early ingredients are what inspired this simple recipe I unfold today. That, and those beautiful eggs you see pictured above, given to me by a new coworker who shares in my love of all things food.

When warm weather hits, I like to lighten up a bit on my plate. Salads like these frequently grace my diet, and leave me feeling every bit as fresh and lively as the produce that fills them. Quick and simple, they also leave me time to go wander around outside. Feel free to add nuts or toasted seeds to this for a little extra crunch, and perhaps pair it with a side of buttered toast, which will compliment both the eggs and greens.

Note, for hard boiling the egg, I use the Martha Stewart method. It works perfectly everytime. You may wish to also hard boil some additional eggs while you’re going through the process for the one in this salad. Keep them on hand for a quick, protein-packed snack. Continue Reading…

Roasted Curry Carrot Socca with Lentils & Feta

Roasted Curry Carrot Socca with Lentils & Feta

The best Saturdays are ones where you wake up, grab a cup of coffee, and immediately start scheming lunch creations with your friend. (Foraging figs, going on a photo adventure, and scheming up breakfast, all follow close behind.)

This was the first full weekend I’ve been completely free in awhile. Two Philly mornings in a row with no set agenda. No photo gigs. No work engagements. No client meetings, camping trips, or out-of-town excursions.

While I love all of the above, it felt great. And it felt even greater once this socca landed on my Saturday plate.

Roasted Curry Carrot Socca with Lentils & Feta

On Friday night, I saw Aziz Ansari do stand-up. His act was hilariously relatable, to say the least, ranging from riffs on the factory meat industry to creepy boys to relationship vs. single life status. He hit all the right topics, and made my abs hurt from laughing so much.

Although, there was one joke with which I just couldn’t agree. And it had to do with carrots.

Carrots

You see, Aziz claims, you walk into a house and someone’s cooking bacon, and often you’ll say, “Plate me up a few pieces!” Aziz is convinced bacon exudes a pheromone-like lust that veggies just don’t have. He says, walk into a house where someone’s steaming carrots, and you won’t find anyone screaming, “Pull me up a plate of those.”

Roasted Curry Carrot Socca with Lentils & Feta

But Aziz, I must tell you, you’re wrong. This carrot-loving [weirdo?] individual would far prefer carrots to bacon. And no, not for health reasons. For taste.

Carrots are hands-down my favorite, and since the mention on Friday night, my Saturday morning mind inserted them straight into that afternoon’s lunch plans.

Roasted carrots? One of fall’s best assets, if I have to say so myself. Perhaps steaming wouldn’t do the trick, but throw carrots on a baking sheet and into the oven, and I bet at least a few would be enticed by the caramelized smell they give off. Plate me up, please.

Black lentils

With the orange beauties in mind, my friend and I got to work on this fall-inspired socca pizza.

Here, carrots are roasted up, and then pureed into a slightly sweet, slightly spicy curry sauce that lends itself perfectly to a flavorful flatbread destination. Topped with salty feta, fresh cilantro and some crispy baked onions, this is a better-than-restaurant-quality meal, fit into a single cast iron pan.

Roasted Curry Carrot Socca with Lentils & Feta

You’ll find multiple steps below in making this recipe. Don’t get intimidated. Each is simple, and you can get going on many of the layers simultaneously. For instance, as the carrots roast, prep everything else.

Roasted carrots

Far better than bacon? A definite. Stemming from carrots? Heck yeah.

Roasted Curry Carrot Socca with Lentils & Feta

You tell me – what healthy fall ingredients are on your mind? Any featuring veggies that you know could out-do bacon in a heartbeat? Please share!

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Watermelon, Basil and Feta Salad

 

Watermelon, Basil and Feta Salad

I woke up on Saturday morning realizing August was just 2 weeks away. Woah, woah, woah, hold the phone! But by all means, don’t hold the melon.

It wasn’t until I then realized I had went this far into the summer without buying my first full watermelon that the panic set in. That’s like living in the city without a bike — practically a crime, at least in my world.

I love watermelon, and how I let this much of summer slip by without eating a full half to myself is beyond me. Summers are made for meals of watermelon, right?

So of course, Saturday morning, straight to the market I went. And breakfast become none other than a huge slice of sweet, juicy summer. My favorite.

Watermelon, Basil and Feta Salad

It’s a miracle that the other half of the melon ended up in this salad. Like a just-picked heirloom tomato, or a perfectly ripe avocado, there are some things in life that I often feel, “Why bother doing anything more than adding a fork.” Although it goes without saying, a little bit of salt can entirely enhance those first two items, and it appears a little bit of feta and basil can do the same for watermelon. Sliced watermelon is great, but so is this melon salad.

On Sunday, I also happened to be heading to a friend’s b-day brunch, so the opportunity to make something special couldn’t be passed up. If you’re a food blogger, sliced watermelon isn’t all that great when fun, food-related occasions arise. Although, the few slices you’re munching on while cooking — those speak of excellence.

Needless to say, this was a hit and a totally worthy use of an impressively ripe and ready melon. Salty feta plays off the sweetness of the melon, while a minty basil takes its natural refreshingness to a whole other level. If you want your watermelon to feel fancy, in an effortless sort of way, this is it. I’m already ready for brunch, round 2, and of course, watermelon round 2, too.

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