Celebratory Avocado White Bean Sandwiches

At the beginning of the month, I found out I was promoted to Senior Tax Associate.

I’m not one for lots of hoopla… I mean its evident in the fact that I just used the word hoopla. My mom asked me if I was going to by myself a special gift and I responded… “Yeah, maybe some new goggles.”

I’ve been training for my first sprint-triathalon that’s on July 1st and I’ve been borrowing a pair from home. They leak. Contacts and Chlorine don’t really mesh well, so goggles will be something special.

Now avocados, they make anything extra special.

Chips + Guacamole = Special Dip

Rice + Avocado + Seaweed + = Special Sushi

White Bean + Avocado = Special Sandwiches

So fresh, so light, so simple, so green. It’s feel good kind of food.

Two of my favorite Spring/Summer ingredients: Avocado and Cucumber. Slice them both thin. This is where having good knives is key.

The sandwich didn’t get its name without the protein of the meal, white (great northern) beans. Probably the creamiest and most delicious of all beans, in my opinion. It’s a perfect match with the crisp cucumber and ripe avocado.

After you slice the veggies and mash the beans with all the other good stuff (see complete recipe below), that’s essentially all the prep required. No oven to pre-heat or water to boil. Just simple prep and assembly!

After “schmearing” the beans on the bread, layer the thinly sliced cucumber.

Next comes the creamy, oh-so-tasty avocado.

Spread a little mayonnaise and a little more bean mixture onto the other slice of bread top with fresh mixed greens. The final touch before smushing them together is a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper.

Green with envy yet?

Here’s how to do it…

White Bean Avocado Sanwiches

Adapted from Real Simple Magazine

Serves 6-8 (depending on how thick you layer the beans)

Ingredients:

2 Cans Great Northern (White Cannellini) Beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 tsp. Cayenne

1/3 c. Mayonnaise + extra for spreading onto the bread (optional)

2 Avocados, thinly sliced

1 English Cucumber, thinly sliced

Mixed Greens

Bread (6-8 Sandwich Thins or enough slices of bread for 6-8 sandwiches)

**The original recipe has bean sprouts which add a tasty crunch. I just didn’t have any on hand so I substituted with the mixed greens and it turned out just as delicious.

Directions:

Mash white beans in a large bowl. Once roughly mashed, add mayonnaise and spices and mash until smooth but still has some texture.

Slice the avocado and cucumber in thin slices.

Spread the extra mayonnaise (if using) on one piece of the bread and then the bean mixture. Layer the cucumber, avocado and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with mixed greens and cover with the second slice of bread.

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“Semi-Homemade” Mini Cupcakes

Last weekend, one of my best friends came in town for her bachelorette party.

Becky and I really enjoyed our time sitting in traffic. ūüôā

Other than the traffic, we went to the zoo, went shopping, took a break from shopping for Trophy Cupcakes, and of course there was a bachelorette party! It was busy and sooo much fun.

I had the pina colada cupcake with rum buttercream. It had a layer of sweet pineapple on the bottom. Uh-maz-ing.

For the party, I gladly volunteered to make a sweet treat and as time flew by, I realized that maybe semi-homemade was the way to go.

What exactly is semi-homemade, you ask?!?

Ask Sandra Lee from the Food Network. She is a semi-homemade genius, not to mention she coordinates everything on the show from the outfit to the Kitchen Aid. It’s my everyday living sort-of dream. My mixing bowls matching my mixer matching my t-shirt??? I’m sold.

The semi part of the mini cupcakes is a tasty box of confetti cake mix.

The homemade part is this buttercream frosting recipe from Food Network. I didn’t change anything about it and it was off-the-charts delicious so I couldn’t resist sharing.

The cupcakes looked so much prettier before tumbling over in the car and sitting in traffic for nearly an hour to go approximately 5 miles (well, maybe that part was me).

More from the party… delicious veggie platter and scrumptious fruit tray!

To get the recipe, just click the link here, since I didn’t make any modifications.

I will leave you with a couple of tips from my experience…

1. Use a large bowl. Ideally, I would use a stand mixer, if I had one. See tip #2 below and you’ll understand why!

2. If you have to use a hand mixer, don’t use the whisk attachment. At least on my Cuisinart model, the whisk was WAY too flimsy and there was frosting everywhere. Literally, everywhere including the refrigerator 5 feet to the right of me. The regular mixing attachment worked just fine and got it plenty fluffy.

3. This icing keeps very well. I made it on Wednesday and decorated the cupcakes Saturday and it was every bit as fresh and tasty!

Happy mixing, spreading, and licking the bowl clean!

Pizza Partay!

The other day, May 26th to be exact was my birthday.

It’s a holiday weekend. Coincidentally, my birthday falls on or around Memorial Day every year… that’s the OTHER holiday of the weekend. It makes it a very convenient weekend for a quick trek home.

The first night there… I got quite the surprise when my cousin and her husband surprised me from Texas!

The morning of my birthday, I got my hair cut for the first time 9 months! The afternoon of my birthday, we went for a nice hike around Liberty Lake. Nothing like an 8.5 mile hike to make you feel 25. AND I did the whole thing without a hair-tie!

The night of my birthday, we had CAKE and other delicious food, insignificant in comparison. My request to my mother was very specific, a Rosauers (local grocery store with scratch bakery) white cake, white buttercream icing, with white and blue flowers¬†ALL¬†over. Rosauers homemade buttercream is a game changer. Your life will be forever changed and you’ll just want more buttercream. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure you can make a great cake from scratch on your own but it ain’t no Rosauers cake.

I have come to terms that I get a little obsessive about my sweets, it’s genetic…blame my mother.

Besides the cake… all weekend we ate real good, including personal sized pizzas from the grill.

At the Turner household, we spare no expense (calorie). The pizza toppings including some of my favorites: Mushrooms, Zucchini, Olives (Green, Kalamata, and Black), Jalepenos, Artichokes, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Pesto and CHEESE.

The dough recipe is simple. Find yourself a Trader Joe’s and pick up a couple bags of whole wheat pizza dough. That’s it!

The hardest part is dividing it up evenly into 4-6 pieces (depending on how big you want your pizza) and then letting it rise at room temp. for 20 minutes. Why is waiting always the hardest part?!?

Once it has risen, start to work it into the shape you desire. It’s likely it won’t come out perfectly round… don’t stress, it all adds to the “rustic” effect.

After adding all the toppings… transfer it to the grill (I spaced getting a picture). This part can be tricky, at least that is what my dad said. I’m too afraid of making someones perfect circle a giant blob, so I “passed the buck” and just watched. ¬†Tip: Make sure to flour the bottom of the dough to transfer from plate to grill more easily. Using a paper plate will help it slide off easier too!

15-20 minutes later on the grill-turned-pizza-oven (see details below) and the wait is finally over!

Easy, delicious, fun for a group, and perfect for a summer night on the patio.

Here’s how to do it…

Grilled Personal Pizzas

Servings: Makes 8 large personal sized or 12 small/medium sized.

Ingredients:

2 packages prepared whole wheat pizza dough (Trader Joe’s is fantastic)

Toppings of your choice. See list above and/or add the following:

  • Marinara/Pizza Sauce if Pesto isn’t your thing.
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Mini Turkey Pepperoni and Canadian Bacon are great additions if you are a meat lover.

8 bricks

Foil

Directions:

Prepare the pizza dough according to package cutting into the desired number of pieces, up to the point of baking.

Add the sauce and toppings, putting the cheese last to seal it all in once it bakes.

Prepare the grill. Wrap the bricks completely in foil and place on the grill rack. (My family just has a stack of bricks that stay wrapped). Fire up the grill and close the lid to heat the brick and make an oven-like atmosphere. You’re looking for a temperature of 350 degrees or so. If its hotter, it will just take less time to cook.

Gently and quickly transfer the prepared pizza to the grill bricks. Close the grill quickly after the transfer to limit the amount of heat lost.  Cook for 15-20 minutes or until pizza is crisp but not burnt.

Remove from the grill, slice, and enjoy!

Costa Rican Style Beans and Rice

Long long ago… well, 2010… mi madre and I went to Costa Rica. I had just completed my Master’s in Accounting and it was time to celebrate.

Here were are in the rainforest in Arenal. Shockingly… it was raining.

From the rainforest we headed down to Manuel Antonio for some sun, sand, and not rain.

I loved everything about Costa Rica. The volcano, the hiking, the beaches, the wildlife, and of course the comida tipico (authentic food).

Beans and rice are big time down there. As a vegetarian/pescetarian… it’s big time for me too. It was a match made in veggie heaven.

Probably my favorite souvenir from the trip. Salsa Lizano. It’s a vegetable based salsa. It’s tangy and flavorful, not spicy. It can take any beans and rice dish from “Oh, this is great” to “OH, this IS GREAT!” You see the difference?? It’s talking in CAPS good.

Don’t worry, this isn’t the same bottle since 2010. I found a great spot in Pike’s Place Market that sells this among other tasty Mexican, Spanish imported items.

While we were down there, another traveller told us the other secret to Costa Rican cooking. It’s Sazon Goya and it’s what gives the rice and beans this rich¬†orangy-red color. It has achiote which provides the coloring and flavor along with coriander, garlic, and cumin. Mmm…

What I love about beans and rice is that it’s so simple. While it can takes some time to cook, it’s minimal ingredients and doesn’t require much babysitting.

Comerse! (Eat up!)

Here’s how to do it:

Costa Rican Beans and Rice

Serves a small army.

Ingredients

1 lb. black beans (rinsed and soaked over night)

2 c. brown rice (the slow cooking kind)

1 onion, diced

2-4 garlic cloves, minced

1 can diced tomatoes (Rotel also works great with the green chiles)

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 small can V8 Tomato juice

1/2 tsp. cayenne

Salt, to taste

2 Packets Sazon Goya (If you can’t find that use some chili powder, cumin, and make your own spicy mix.)

Queso Fresco for topping (salty, crumbly Mexican ‘feta’)

Directions

After the beans have soaked overnight, rinse and cook the beans according to the package. Make sure they are thoroughly cooked, this may take some time but you really want to make sure the beans are softened but not overdone. I recommend taking a couple out throughout the process and tasting for ‘doneness’.

Once the beans have cooked, set aside and begin on the rice.

For the rice, in a large pan (cast iron like Le Crueset works great) begin by saut√©ing the onion and garlic in the olive oil until the onion is soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes or so.¬†Add in the rice and toast for 2 minutes with the onion and garlic.¬†Add in about 4c. of water with the V8 juice and the juice drained from the can of tomatoes. Also add in the Sazon Goya packets, cayenne, and salt. Stir all together and let it simmer away to cook the rice. Stir the rice occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

After the rice is cooked, add in the tomatoes and beans, mix and heat through.

To serve, simply fill up your bowl, drizzle with Salsa Lizano, and a little crumble of queso fresco.