Flaxseed and Rye Bread with Avocado, Tomato, Basil and Mayonnaise Sandwich

I realize that this sounds like a mouthful but trust me it’s worth the effort.

Instead of going gluten free I’ve decided to stay away from all wheat; Dwarf Wheat in particular, and opt for other grain varieties.

I happen to love rye bread and the added benefit of flaxseed made this a great choice.

Although Rye does contain gluten, it is much less than what is found in dwarf wheat which is consumed today.

Let’s get back to this sandwich!

The avocado, fresh basil and tomato are sprinkled with sea salt and a large dollop of mayonnaise.

This is a huge treat for me.

The mayo is the only real dietary indulgence….everything else is so healthy!

It is a filling, delicious lunch that leaves plenty of room for watermelon later in the day!

Enjoy and share!

Tomato, Basil and Mayonnaise on Olive Oil Grilled Whole Wheat!

I remember growing up in my European immigrant family with great food.

Some from Italy and some from Eastern Europe but all of it driven by the freshest ingredients and much of it, meatless.

My grandmas and aunts always had their own gardens and were “putting up” or canning something at any given time.

For me summertime always means tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches.

These were not gourmet growing up.

They were just any bread with mayo, fresh tomato and “crunchy” salt on top.

I spruced these up a little by grilling artisan whole grain bread with olive oil to give crunch and texture to the bread and I’ve also added big fleshy leaves of basil for that peppery edge that basil can give.

Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise is my favorite with this sandwich.

Even a few slices of avocado would be delish!

Get creative and keep it meatless. The possibilities are endless for a tasty, light and nutritious meal that says, “Summertime” in every bight!

Lunch at Fred’s at the top of Barney’s in Chicago!

What a gorgeous sunny day in Chicago!

What better to do than lunch and shop on a crispy cool Spring day?!

Where better to go for both than Barney’s and Fred’s?!

A seat next to the window with a glorious view of the Gold Coast was the perfect way to enjoy this beet and goat cheese salad!

Fred’s is a cool upscale spot which features organic and local food as much as possible.

The atmosphere is pure Gold Coast; Comfortable luxury!

The salmon was wild caught, tender and juicy.

The spinach was perfectly cooked and flavorful.

This is a great combination.

I can eat salmon and spinach everyday!

The avocado and tomato salsa made this the absolutely perfect meal for me!

All my favorites on one plate with green onion, too!

Very fresh. Delicious!

My honey had the linguine with clams in a very light tomato sauce.

This dish was garlicky and spicy.

Absolutely fantastic!

We were both jockying between the two plates trying to decide which was better.

It was a tie.

We were so full!

But that did not stop us from completely cleaning our plates!

Of course, we walked around Michigan Avenue for a while.

I shopped, he tried to stop me from shopping, and so it went until we stumbled on Tavern on Rush……..

Dinner with Michelle Bernstein at Sra. Martinez in Miami!

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Michelle Bernstein chef/owner of Sra. Martinez and Michy’s in Miami was kind enough to spend some time with us at Sra. Martinez.

Bernstein was previously a co-host of the Food Network series Melting Pot and was once in a battle on Iron Chef America versus Bobby Flay, from which she emerged victorious. She has since appeared on numerous shows, including as a guest judge on Top Chef.

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Going over the menu was serious business. The birthday girl ordered for all of us…she’s a pro!

035sra. martinez bread and olive oil

Beautiful and simple. The most delicious olive oil and warm bread…some of the best bread all weekend.

037fried artichokes with sauce at sra. Martinez

Long Stem Chokes, Lemon-Coriander Dipping sauce was fantastic; crispy, flavorful and delicious!

046Martinez Manchego and raisin walnut bread

I had my doubts about the raisin bread with Manchego. I was pleasantly surprised. The best combination ever.

The bread and cheese were irresistable.

050tuna and fried bread

Yellowfin tuna and this amazing Cuban toast. Something like a savory doughnut is the best way that I could describe this incredible dish.

052sweet potato chips with balsamic and molasses martinez

Crispy Eggplant Miel, Sea Salt. Tasty! Delightful and addictive!

055bread with tomato and olive oil martinez

Ciabatta, Fresh Tomato, L’Estornell . Crazy great! Michelle can get the most amazing flavor from the simplest of foods.

062califlower steak with marcona almands and raisins martinez

The cauliflower steak with Marcona almonds and raisins…..Inspired! I have a whole new love for cauliflower!

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Of course, there was dessert! Bannana, ice cream, Churros, chocolate sauce; Girl Heaven!

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The chocolate sauce was spicy and creamy. The churros were fried to perfection.

077churros and banana dessert at sra. Martinez

This was one of the most memorable and wonderful dining experiences of all time.

It was the friends, the love and Michelle Bernstein’s genius.

A perfect storm for a perfect night!

085churros and banana sra. martinez

Spacca Napoli in Chicago for Authentic Neapolitan Pizza and Beautiful Cheeses!

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Spacca Napoli on West Sunnyside in Chicago is the home of beautiful fresh ingredients, bufala mozzarella and huge wood burning pizza ovens.

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“Spaccanapoli” is the old quarter and heart of Naples, Italy.
Naples is famed as the birthplace of pizza.

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Mesculin greens with a light balsamic dressing.

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The special today; mozzarella bufala with olive oil and sea salt.

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This didn’t last very long and it worth the trip for the cheese alone!

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Pizza is wood fired and thin crust.

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Fresh ingrediants and light sauce create a heavenly balance of flavors.

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Pizza Perfection! Goat Cheese and Spinach with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction Sauce! Pepperoni with Fresh Oregano! The Perfect Margarhita Pizza!

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We have making pizza down to science here.

And I must admit that this is due to the secret weapon in my kitchen; My Daughter!

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She has the perfect touch when it comes to preparing the dough; which we buy at a local pizzeria, and she has the perfect touch when it comes to layering the ingredients!

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She gets the dough just right. Thin but not too thin and she has a light touch with the cheese, which is key to proper cooking.

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Her specialties include but are not limited to the Margarhita and pepperoni pizzas.

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We were so confident with our skills that we threw these pizzas on the grill! First time ever and they were perfect!

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Fresh oregano made the pepperoni especially delicious for th meat eaters but the overwhelming favorite was the Margarhita with basil fresh from the garden and fresh mozzarella.

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I tried my hand at something a bit more fancy; spinach and red onion with mushroom and goat cheese topped off with a balsamic vinegar reduction.

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The reduction came out perfectly, it was my first attempt! I simply poured about 1 cup of balsamic vinegar into a small frying pan and on meduim heat let it cook until it started to thicken.

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My mistake was to pour it over the pizza before baking. I should have drizzled it over the pizza when it was finished cooking to keep the thick texture that I so proudly created!

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Lightly blanche the spinach before layering on your pizza. It can dry and burn if you don’t.

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Tr your hand with your favorite ingredients. Be patient. Cook with loved ones and Enjoy!

Summer Fun! The Best Drink Ever! Whipped Cream Flavored Vodka Cocktails with Bruschetta!

whipped cream vodka cocktails PD

The possibilities are endless with this Whipped Cream Flavored Vodka from Pinnacle.

We mixed ours with fresh pineapple, coconut milk and pineapple/coconut juice.

The secret to the amazing taste was, of course, the vodka but we were careful not to add anything too sweet.

Fresh ingredients are a must. And the juice we used from Hortex is great because they are natural with no added sugars.

012bruschetta with fresh mozzerella

070whipped cream vodka cocktails PD

This recipe was fairly “freehand”.

I used one fresh pineapple which I cut the night before and placed in the freezer; huge tip! Freezing the pineapple make the drinks amazing!

In the blender place half of the cut and frozen pineapple

1/2 can of coconut milk

1 cup of juice

1 cup of Pinnacle Whipped Cream Flavored Vodka

Blend until creamy and frothy

Some enjoyed some whipped cream on top!

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073whippped cream vodka cocktails PD

075whipped cream vodka cocktails PD

014whipped cream vodka cocktails PD

009bruschetta with fresh mozzerella PD

These brushetta are fantastic! My friend has this recipe down to a science and we are able to whip these up really fast:

1 baguette sliced about 1/4 peices

olive oil

3-4 fresh garlic cloves

3-4 tomatoes

fresh basil leaves

fresh mozzerella

Slice the bread and rub with garlic cloves on bothe sides

Use enough olive oil to lightly cover both sides

Toast lightly under the broiler

Chop tomatoes and basil and mix with some olive oil and salt to taste

Top toasted bread with tomato mixture and shredded fresh mozzerella and serve!

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, Roasted Red Pepper, Tomatoes, Scallions, Cilantro and Lime!

030quinoa salad bowl

We love quinoa!

It is a great alternative to pasta in that it delivers the same creamy, chewy, texture but is high in protien. A complete protien, as a matter of fact.

Aside from it’s nutrtious profile it is delicious and versatile.

We love this salad!

It is a power packed meal that delivers flavor and energy for very little expense.

Get creative and use your favorite fresh ingredients to create your own quinoa delights!

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I used lots of lime in this dish. It compliments the cilantro and brightens the tomatoes.

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Ingredients

1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water
5 scallions
2 medium tomatoes
1/2 roasted red pepper
1 cup black beans ( canned are fine )
1 cup corn
1/2 cup of finely chopped cilantro
2 Tbspn olive oil
1-2 limes

Method

Boil the quinoa. 10-15 minutes

Set aside and chop all the veggies

combine and add salt and pepper to taste.

Sqeeze lots of lime on the salad!

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I mix the fresh veggies in when the quinoa is still a bit warm; it seems to bring all the flavors to their peak yet not cook them at all.

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There is always room for more lime!

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Garnish with avocado for an even richer flavor!

Meatless Monday! Spinach and Feta Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Burger

004 spinach and feta stuffed portobello burger PD

Meatless Monday! is gaining momentum! And for good reason. Protein is everywhere! We can afford to give the planet a break at least one day a week.

Portobello mushrooms stuffed with spinach and feta were amazing!

Nutritious mushrooms are yummy and good for you.

Delicious olive oil drizzled on everything created a rich and filling burgeresque sandwich.

007portobella burger PD

I dug out the stem and brushed the tops with olive oil and broiled for about 10 minutes.

Cooking makes them meatier and tastier so don’t hesitate to brown them well for maximum flavor!

010spinach and feta stuffed portobella PD

I blanched spinach for about 5 minutes and added feta cheese and mixed well, then stuffed the mushrooms, drizzeled olive oil on top and broiled them until them until things started to bubble and smell good.

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I also broiled the whole wheat buns with a little bit of olive oil until toasty!

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Tomato and red onion added the final touch.

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Yogurt sauce would have aslo made a nice condiment compliment but we were ravenous!

We couldn’t wait to dig in!

portabello burger PD

Meatless Monday! Broccolini Soup and Quinoa, Black Bean Salad

044meatless monday PD

Meatless Monday! Broccolini soup and quinoa salad were the perect combo.

Quinoa is a complete protein and black beans, tomato and basil create a filling nutritious but light meal.

Olive oil and lemon dress the salad with salt to taste.

Quinoa is fast and easy to prepare; 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water, boil for about 15 minutes and you’re ready to go.

Just chop the rest of the ingredients and fold into warm quinoa. I used canned black beans so I rinsed them well to decrease the sodium content. I used about 1/2 can.

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I made a quick “broth” for the soup by boiling the stems of the broccolini in water with garlic slices.

I boiled until tender then pureed in the food processor.

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I then sauteed 1/2 onion and more garlic in olive oil and created a roux with 2 Tbspn of flour and 2 tbspn of butter.

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Then 1 cup of half and half and 2 cups milk.

My girls wanted cheddar so I added about 3/4 of a cup.

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I then combined everything in one pot to cook then added the tops of the broccolini to cook in the soup.

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Warm and creamy with light and bright.

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These tomatoes were the best. The juicy brightness set off the quinoa just right.
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