Garlic Avocado Bread to Knock Your Brains Out!

i’ve noticed that i post a lot about food, almost exclusively!  i guess we can all tell what i’m passionate about.  hey its either food or my cats (and soon my daughter!), take your pick!  cooking is what i missed most during the first trimester.  my older sister loves to cook and is much more dedicated and better at it than i am.  she finds gourmet recipes, buys the ingredients even the exotic ones, and puts together fantastic dishes.  in my family she’s known best for her baking – cupcakes, my favorite rum cake, cookies, bars – Christmas dinner isn’t finished until we bring out her deserts.  but she cooks a lot of savory recipes as well and i’m so excited when she shares them with me!

she’s always been attentive to what i eat.  i find it amusing now but that wasn’t always so.  i mentioned the rum cake she makes, its my favorite and has been since i was a little girl.  she often makes it for Christmas and the first year or two that she brought it over (rum balls one year too!) i would always have a slice (or two and some extra glaze scooped up on my finger!).  then one year, i think i was about 12 years old, she brought over the rum cake and i spent the entire day walking by it with a line of drool hanging off of my chin.  i couldn’t wait to get dinner over with and dig into a slice of that cake!  i was more excited about the cake than i was presents!  dinner ended and, after an agonizing half hour of coffee and chit chat, dessert was brought out.  the rum cake sat on the table, glistening with yummy goodness.  the glaze ran down the creases of the bundt cake, the cake itself moist with the flavoring it had soaked up, and the glaze covered the glass plate in a pool of sugary white love.  my mom and sister began passing out the desserts and when my sister asked me what i wanted i immediately asked for a slice of rum cake.  then my heart broke.  she looked at me and said, “oh honey, that has alcohol in it and i’d really be more comfortable if you had something else.”

um… WHAT???  this was never an issue before!  our parents didn’t care!  quite often on holidays they would even allow me a quarter or half glass of Beringers White Zinfandel with dinner, which more often than not, i would end up giving to someone else after a couple of sips.  hey once wine got room temperature, i wasn’t interested.  anyway, i was so angry!  my parents hate confrontation so they told me to just roll with it and pick something else.  i did, and pouted.  when she and her husband went home that night, she left the rest of the cake behind for my parents.  as soon as the door closed, i looked at my mom and said, “please?”  she said of course and i got my delicious slice.  i’ve never been denied that cake since.

as a kid, i thought this was incredibly unfair and i didn’t understand where she got off!  as an adult, i still think it was overkill but i realize now that my sister was trying to look out for me.  yes the alcohol cooks out, but she had used a lot of rum that year and wasn’t sure it had all cooked out.  she was near her 40’s at the time and going through a period she later described as trying to be more like a mother than a sister to me.  something she later said she regretted.  but with that age difference, its actually endearing that she would be so concerned even if it wasn’t necessary.  it was love.

now she seems very intrigued with my being a vegetarian.  i don’t think she fully understands that it isn’t eating meat that i’m against.  it’s the practices within the mass meat industry.  i’ve recently discovered kosher meats and CSA (consumer sustained agriculture) farming and may eat meat again myself.  i’ve even decided that i won’t necessarily raise my children vegetarian so that they aren’t limited when they stay with family.  i’ll raise them to respect life and when they’re older, they can make their own decision.  i’ve never thought that meat didn’t taste good (except corned beef one year… never again!).  sometimes i even crave it and i was so excited when Jack-in-the-Box released a bacon flavored milkshake!  no actual bacon in the shake or the syrup but it had the taste and it was bacon-rific!  but that’s another tangent!

anyway, the perk of her interest is that she often comes across vegetarian and vegan recipes, even if they aren’t labeled as such, and passes them on to me.  and never has she suggested anything that didn’t sound amazing!  and that held true this week on Facebook when she sent me this message:

OMG, you have to try this recipe: 4 slices of rustic bread (we use pugliese from Safeway/Raley’s), lightly grilled or toasted. Rub the hot bread with a clove of garlic. Scoop out the insides of a very ripe avocado onto the bread. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Drizzle lightly with good EVOO. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper, to taste. It is to die for! You can’t eat it just once. We made it last night and Uncle Stan [what i call my brother-in-law] just came and asked me if we had any more avodaco, and we did!, so we are having it now.
I used a really good EVOO from Italy that Fr. Jeff gave me for Christmas; I sort of hoard it for the special things.

i ran to the grocery stores and immediately sought out bread (small french bread loaf from Trader Joes), an avocado, sea salt, and garlic cloves.  the rest i had, who doesn’t have EVOO and chili pepper flakes!  granted my EVOO isn’t of the quality she used, but it does well.  this afternoon, i threw the bread in the oven at 400 (left it in for either a bit too long, or it was too hot but it dried out a touch on me) then covered it in the rest of the ingredients.  i used the entire avocado cuz that’s how i roll (get it… roll? bread roll?  *rimshot*)

it looked so pretty, that i had to take pictures and get it up here to share!  and it tasted great!  i’m eating the whole loaf to myself since my husband doesn’t like avocado.  what’s nice too is that i don’t have to feel guilty about eating this.  everything on it is healthy for me and the baby.  sure there’s a lot of fat, but it’s the healthy fat which is so much better than the Cheez-its fat i’ve been eating lately!

this bread makes a great lunch or appetizer for company.  i’d like to try it with spinach, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, and/or tomatoes.  i bet it makes a great sandwich and if you eat meat, it probably would go great with a little sliced turkey and swiss!

UPDATE 8/6/12: elsewhere in the blogosphere, a more detailed recipe for this deliciousness has been provided by salt and serenity.  read it here!  detailed pictures and steps provided 🙂

Loving Hut – Restaurant Review

my husband and i loved going to a restaurant called “Veggie House” while we were dating.  it was a great vegan place with delicious lemongrass “chicken.”  but a couple of years ago they sold out to vegan restaurant chain called Loving Hug.  we were wary at first, afraid they would totally change the menu.  while they made a few tweaks and parred it down a bit, they still offered our lemongrass chicken.  so we gave it a shot and loved it!  the sage lemongrass chicken is just as fantastic done by Loving Hut.  we also have ordered the potstickers and the wontons, both are also deliciouuuuuus.  so if you have a Loving Hut near you and are considering trying it, GO! go now!  vegan chinese food that never misses!

Fat Tuesday Dinner – Vegetarian Jambalya & Biscuits – February 21, 2012

since i couldn’t go to New Orleans for mardi gras, and i didn’t want to spend my fat tuesday getting fatter on margaritas  in the bar, i decided that tonight i’d cook a dinner for us befitting of the holiday – meatless jambalya and spicy cheese biscuits.  when i was in my early 20’s i worked at an elementary school.  we had pot lucks often and for a couple of these pot lucks, our principal would make and share jambalya.  i fell in love! it was fantastic!  but since then, i haven’t met a jambalya that i’ve enjoyed even close to as much.  since going vegetarian, i’ve had a hard time even finding a jambalya i can eat!  so when i saw this recipe on i thought “what the hell… why not?”  after all i’m trying to become a better cook, that isn’t going to happen if i’m too intimidated to try anything!  and the recipe looked fast and simple enough with relatively few ingredients compared to other recipes i’d found.

i can say that this was the first jambalaya i’ve actually enjoyed since those pot luck days!  it was flavorful but not over powering, and it got better the longer it sat.  my second helping (yep, good enough for seconds!) was even tastier than the first because the rice had soaked up even more of the juicy tomatoey goodness.  yes these are real words… i’m an english teacher, i can say whatever i want!

so i’m providing the recipe below for both the jambalaya & biscuits and, best part of all, pictures!!

Meatless Jambalaya & Spicy Cheese Biscuits

Meatless Jambalaya – c/o

1 can (28 ounces) Italian plum tomatoes (i used garlic flavored from Target)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup quick cooking brown rice (i used Target brand multi-grain blend 8.8oz packets.  i don’t usually like the taste of most plain brown rices but i didn’t want to sacrafice too much nutrional value.  only 1 g carb more and less 1 g fiber so it seemed like an okay substitute.  nutrition and flavor ftw!)
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce, or to taste (Tapatio)
1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup diced yellow squash
1 can (16 ounces) black eyed peas, drained (hard to find *not* flavored with bacon so you may want to consider buying dry and soaking all day)
Chopped parsley or chives, for garnish

Directions: Combine tomatoes, onion, broth, rice, garlic, bay leaves, basil, thyme and hot pepper sauce in a large saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. While rice is cooking, cut green pepper into 1-inch pieces and dice yellow squash. Stir into stew and reduce heat to medium. Stir in black eyed peas, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring once. Remove and discard bay leaves. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.

Bisquick Biscuits 

Spicy Cheesy Biscuits

2 1/4 cup Bisquick mix
2/3 cup 1% milk (use any % you want)
splash in hot sauce (Tapatio) to taste
drop in shredded cheese to taste

Pour all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until dough is formed.  I did not measure either the hot sauce or the cheese since I was just experimenting around.  But I suggest using a lot of both!  Box directions say to knead the dough but it was too messy so I didn’t heh Instead, I used a dinner spoon sprayed with Pam cooking spray to scoop out dough and drop it into a cupcake tin.  You can also use a regular baking sheet, but again there was a directions I didn’t feel like following (cutting out circular shapes) so I used the tins 😀  As you can see, they turned out fantastic!