FoodStyle: Toast

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A few months ago a friend told me about a new restaurant in the Dilworth neighborhood named Toast. Given my recent gluten allergy I was hesitant to subject myself to a place named Toast, but one Saturday the husband and I decided to venture in and give it a try. The first thing you notice when walking up is the cozy outdoor seating that makes you feel right at home. Inside potted plants hang from the ceiling and friendly wait staff greet you with baskets of (not gluten free) buttery cornbread. The husband was happy to have that all to himself. And while I couldn’t partake in the cornbread, I was delighted to discover a range of gluten free options that appealed to my tastes. Gluten free pancakes? Be still my heart.

What really caught my eye though was the California Salad, a mixed green salad with fruit, nuts and goat cheese topped with your choice of grilled chicken, tuna salad or chicken salad. Seriously the way to win my heart (or my stomach) is with goat cheese. So I went for the California Salad and savored every tasty gluten free bite. So much so that I have been back at least five times to partake in this delicious salad (though I have heard that there are many other tasty dishes on the menu). If you aren’t lucky enough to make it out to one of Toast’s three Charlotte locations (Davidson, Dilworth and Ballantyne), you can easily recreate this tasty salad at home.

California Salad (adapted from Toast of Charlotte)

Salad

2-3 cups of mixed baby greens (I like the bagged version from Trader Joes)

½ sliced Hass Avocado

1 oz. chopped Walnuts

1 oz. of Goat Cheese

½ small can of mandarin oranges

5 strawberries cut into halves

Tuna Salad

1 can of dolphin safe chunk white tuna (in water)

¼ Cup diced celery

¼ Cup Mayonnaise

1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper

Creamy Balsamic Dressing (can also use bottled variety)

1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

¼ Tsp Dijon Mustard

¼ Tsp Mayonnaise

1 clove finely minced garlic

Dash of Salt and Pepper

Directions:

1. Mix salad ingredients together in large bowl.

2. Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss throughout salad mix.

3. Drain tuna and use food processor to combine tuna, mayonnaise, celery and pepper. Scoop atop salad and enjoy!

You can also replace the tuna salad with grilled chicken, shrimp or even chickpeas to cater to your preferences!

Foodstyle: Go Green

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Growing up Southern, green beans were always prepared with a little delicacy we like to call fat-back. If you don’t know what this is, I don’t suggest finding out. Only we southerners can take a perfectly healthy vegetable and prepare it until it is devoid of all nutritional value. Imagine my surprise when, as an adult, I discovered there were dozens of ways to cook these delicious beans while still maintaining my waistline. With my backyard garden overflowing with green beans, I am always seeking new ways to cook up these little green pods and here a few of my recent favorites:

RoastedSalt & Vinegar Green Beans {I substituted Malt Vinegar for the Balsamic and it was amazing!}

SautéedBlue Cheese & Walnut Green Beans {down South we have a little thing called Clemson Blue Cheese, obviously made in Clemson, and it is the BEST blue cheese you will ever have}

SteamedMicrowave Steamed Garlic Green Beans {great for when you are short on time}

CasseroleBest Ever Green Bean Casserole {I like to sub out the chicken stock for vegetable to make this vegetarian…best of all, no canned soup required!)

SaladGreen Bean Salad with Goat Cheese Dressing {they had me at goat cheese, my absolute weakness}

What is your favorite way to cook green beans?

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving! I am now sitting on the couch with a full belly and a happy heart! After running the Charlotte Turkey Trot this morning I came home and cooked up a storm in the kitchen. Our menu included:

- Turkey

- Dressing

- Mashed Potatoes

- Sweet Potato Casserole (my favorite!)

- Green Beans

- Macaroni and Cheese (my grandma’s recipe of course!)

- Squash Casserole

- Homemade Biscuits

The best part is all the leftovers we will be eating throughout this weekend :)

On this day and every day, I think it is important to think about what I am thankful for and sometimes tend to take for granted:

* Having a healthy and happy family and two loving parents who have been married over 30 years!

* My husband who loves me unconditionally, no matter how bossy and irritable I get

* The cutest, sweetest doggie and kitty that a girl could ever want

* A strong, healthy body that helped me run the Turkey Trot 8K this morning in 52.23!

* A stable, well-paying job doing something I really enjoy and great coworkers who teach me something new every day

* A roof over my head and hot food on my table

* Having a group of amazing friends, some of which I have had most of my life. Though many of them are far away, I know I have their unconditional love and support and can pick up the phone any time I need them

While I may love shopping and material things, I thing there is nothing better to be thankful for than some incredible people in my life and a God who brings me new things to be thankful for each day!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and continues to remember to be thankful each day!