California Eggs Benedict

You guys, I think this might be my new favorite breakfast. Poaching eggs is apparently the easiest thing in the world and they look so impressive. Take some avocados, smoked salmon, and the The Best Dressing Ever for a little heat, put them on whole-wheat English Muffins, and you have an unbelievably delicious, healthy-ish, completely filling breakfast that – honestly – puts just about every weekend brunch you could pay for to shame. Brendan and I had these for breakfast this morning, and both of us were taking our sweet time finishing them because we didn’t want to get to that last bite. SO GOOD.

– 4 fresh eggs
– 3/4 avocado, sliced
– 4 oz. smoke salmon
– 2 whole wheat English Muffins
– a little bit of butter
– a little bit of kosher salt (optional)
The Best Dressing Ever

1. In a smaller sauce pot, heat about 6 inches of water over medium high heat. The temperature here is key – you want it to be bubbling but not boiling. Add a little white wine vinegar and a little kosher salt.

2. Crack 1 egg into a concave ramekin. If the yolk breaks, toss it and start again. 

3. When the water is ready, swirl it with a spatula into a little tornado of water. Gently spill the egg from the ramekin into the “eye” of the tornado. 

4. Let the egg cook for approximately 3-4 minutes. You want the egg yolk to be a little bit set but mostly runny, not firm. When yolk is ready, remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel. Repeat with the other 3 eggs, one at a time.

5. Meanwhile, slice the avocados and get out the smoked salmon.

6. When you add the last egg to the poaching pot, lightly toast the English Muffins. When toasted, add a little butter to melt. 

7. Remove the last egg from the water, turn off the stove, but leave the water on the stove.

8. Have your super talented boyfriend get out his bad-ass camera to take the following pictures.

9. Top English Muffins with smoked salmon and avocado slices.

10. To reheat the first few eggs, add them back to the poaching pot for a minute to reheat in the warm water. Remove and drain.

11. Top smoked salmon and avocado slices with poached eggs.

12. Get out the Best Dressing Ever, and drizzle over the eggs. 

13. Top with a sprinkle of Kosher salt (optional). 

14. Cut into the middle of the yolk so it spills over the English Muffins. Brace yourself for enjoying one of the best breakfasts you’ll ever have.  

Lump Crab and Avocado Stacks

Kitchen Hacks. Do you own a measuring cup? Yes? Congratulations, you can make a really pretty-looking dinner with minimal effort. What is it about meals presented in neatly-rounded stack format that make them so appealing? I don’t know, but this is one of my favorites. I had some of my girlfriends over for a little dinner last week, and made these along with pear, prosciutto and honeyed goat cheese apps, those polenta fries with sage and a giant platter of one of my most-indulgent-while-still-being-healthy salads, an avocado and tomato salad with lemon olive oil and toasted almonds over arugula. Yummo. This is perfect for summer. 

LUMP CRAB AND AVOCADO STACKS (makes 5 1-cup portions)
– 20 oz. lump crab (make sure you get lump or jumbo lump)
– 4 avocados, mashed into larger chunks
– approx. 1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
– 2-3 limes, juiced
– zest of 1 lemon
– 2-3 dashes of cumin
– chopped fresh chives
– kosher salt and pepper

1. Cube avocados, then mash gently (you still want them to be chunky so this can stand up to the crab). Mix in 1/2 the lime juice, a little kosher salt and about half the cilantro. Taste and adjust.

2. In a separate bowl, gently combine the lump crab, chives, the rest of the lime juice, cumin, lemon zest,  and a little kosher salt and pepper. Taste and adjust.

3. Now comes the fun part! Grab a 1-cup measuring cup, and gently put a layer of the crab mixture in the bottom of it. Add the avocado mixture, packing it in gently.

4. Get a plate, and swiftly but with confidence (don’t be nervous, this is going to look great!) flip the measuring cup upside down. Pull the measuring cup up, leaving the crab and avocado mixture. 

5. Step and repeat with the other plates. Serve and enjoy with a delicious lemon-marscapone cake (Goddamn Jonelle. That thing was too good.) Girlfrandz.

Poached Eggs with Thyme over English Muffins with Avocado, Cheddar and Tomato

Ok, seriously. Do you guys have any idea how simple it is to make poached eggs? These were the result of my first time ever making them. !!!  If I can do it this easily, you can too. There are a couple basic tricks that will make this a piece of cake. Get ready to wow whoever’s lucky enough to be over for breakfast.


– 4 eggs, super fresh (fresh is key)
– 2 whole English muffins, cut in half
– Fresh thyme
– Good cheddar, cut into curls
– Avocado slices (about 1/2 an avocado)
– Slices of plum tomato 
– splash of white wine vinegar
– kosher salt & pepper
– butter

1. Heat about 5 inches of water in a pot – temperature is key here. I slowly brought up the heat on this to medium, medium high, so that it was starting to gently bubble but definitely not boiling.

2. Crack an egg into a ramekin, making sure you keep the yolk intact.
3. When the water temperature is at that perfect “starting to bubble, definitely not boiling” temperature, throw in a splash of white wine vinegar and a little kosher salt. Make sure the salt dissolves.

4. Get a spatula and swirl the water in the pot into a little whirlpool. While the water’s spinning, gently slide the egg into the middle of the whirlpool (the eye? Do whirlpools have an ‘eye’ like tornadoes do?). You’ll see the egg start to swirl itself together, as it cooks. If it sticks to the bottom of the pot, gently nudge it up with the spatula.

5. Leave it alone for about 4-5 minutes. You want the egg center to be runny, not overcooked. This is probably the only hard part about this, trying to gauge when it’s ready. Keep practicing – it’s a delicious experiment.

6. When the egg is ready, scoop out with a slotted spoon. Set on paper towels to drain. Repeat with the rest of the eggs. 

7. Meanwhile, toast the english muffins. Top with a little butter, avocado slices, tomato slices and cheddar curls.

8. Put the eggs on top of the assembled english muffins. Top with a little kosher salt & pepper, and some fresh thyme, too.

9. The best part – gently cut into the yolk of the egg – the poached yolk is all you need for a topping on one of the most delicious breakfasts you’ll ever have.

Summer Salad: Watermelon, Avocado and Cucumber with Herbs

I don’t know about you guys, but for me, summer doesn’t really begin until I’ve had at least one watermelon (“I carried a watermelon?). They feel like such a summer indulgence, and they’re one of my favorite bases for salads. This combo of watermelon, cucumber & avocado is perfectly sweet, crunchy and creamy, and the lemon-lime dressing pulls it all together. Throw in some chopped fresh basil, mint and chives and dig in. Nobody puts Baby in the corner. 

– 1 English cucumber, peeled and diced
– 2.5 C. seedless watermelon, cubed
– 1.5 avocado, cubed
– 5-6 basil leaves
– 4-5 mint leaves
– small handful of chives
– Juice of 1/2 lime
– Juice of 1/2 lemon
– 5 tbsp. EVOO
– 1 tsp. Herbamare, or 1/2 tsp. kosher salt & pepper mix

1. Dice the peeled cucumber (if you can’t find an English cucumber, seed a regular one and use that), and put the pieces in some paper towels to drain it a little bit.

2. Dice the watermelon into about the same size pieces as the English cucumber, wrap that in towels too, so that drains.

3. Make the dressing – juice the lemon and the lime, then add the Herbamare or kosher salt/pepper blend. Mix so the seasonings react with the acids of the lemon/lime mixture.  Add the EVOO, stir (or shake) well to combine.

4. Roughly chop up all the basil, mint and chives. 

5. Add about half the cucumber and half the watermelon to a pretty big bowl. Dice the avocado into similar-size cubes and add half of that to the bowl. Add the remaining cucumber, watermelon and avocado. 

6. Add the dressing evenly over the top of the salad. Then add herbs. 

7. Mix, serve and enjoy. This doesn’t keep well, but chances are it’ll be gone before you have to worry about that.

Cucumber Roll-Ups stuffed with Avocado-Feta Mousse

My parents had a little dinner party at their house, and we all kind of went overboard with our contributions. I made these cucumber roll-ups and those pear, prosciutto & honeyed goat cheese apps, my dad made his incomparable filet mignon with merlot reduction sauce, and my sister made this insane blackberry, lime & olive oil cake. And my mom just made everything look beautiful, as always.  Anyway, these are super simple, really delicious and healthy too! Brendan helped me make them and he was all, “they’re like little cucumber burritos!” which…yup, I can see it. You can use just about anything as a filler, but you know how I looooves me some avocado & feta.

CUCUMBER ROLL-UPS STUFFED WITH AVOCADO-FETA MOUSSE (makes enough for 8 people as apps but only if you have a bunch of other little delicious apps, too)
– 1 english cucumber, washed, skin on
– 1 avocado
– 1/3 c. feta
– 1 tbsp. dill
– juice of 1/2 a lemon

1. Make the avocado-feta mousse. Dice the avocado, then mash it well.  Combine with the dill, lemon & feta. Taste, then adjust seasonings as needed.

2. With a vegetable peeler or a mandoline (I can’t use these, they truly truly freak me out), shave the cucumber into very thin slices. 

3. Take a small spoonful of the avocado-feta mousse and spread it over each slice of the cucumber. Roll and either secure with a toothpick, or leave as is.

4. Serve and watch your family enjoy. Make a mental note to try and make everything as beautiful as your mom always does. 

(Don’t worry. We went for a 7 mile waterfall hike the next day to burn this all off!)

Cilantro-Lemon Quinoa Salad with Avocados, Tomatoes and Chickpeas

Quinoa all day, every day. I love it. It’s like pasta without the guilt, it’s packed with protein, and goes with just about everything. This salad mixes avocado cubes, cherry tomatoes and chick peas with a cilantro-arugula dressing…it was terrific and would be great for a summer salad (just add the dressing right before serving).

– 1/2 C quinoa, cooked (this makes a surprising amount)– 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
– 2 C arugula
– 1/4 cup vidalia onion, chopped
– 1 garlic clove
– 1 avocado, diced
– 1.5 C cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Cilantro-Lemon Dressing
– Juice from 1.5 lemons & zest
– 3/4 cup fresh Cilantro
– 1/2 tsp sugar (or to taste)
– 1 tsp Dijon mustard
– 3 tbsp EVOO
– 1/2 tsp ground cumin
– 1/2 tsp kosher salt + ground pepper

1. Make the quinoa – you want to rinse this really, really well so it gets all the bitter tasting dust off. Just when I think I’m finished rinsing, I always give it one more swish, because that dust is yuck. Boil the water and add the quinoa, cook according to package directions.

2. While the quinoa is cooking, put the arugula, the chopped onion and the garlic clove into a food processor and pulse until combined and chopped.

3. In a bigger bowl, add the chickpeas, tomatoes, avocados and cooked quinoa.

4. Combine the lemons, sugar, dijon, cumin, kosher salt & pepper, mix to combine. Add the EVOO & shake it up again.

5. Pour the dressing and the arugula/onion blend on top of the quinoa chickpea mixture and stir well, then add salt and pepper to taste. Let stand for about 10 minutes to let everything combine.

Avocado Feta Toast

This has the double benefit of being really great for you and also totally delicious. I would eat avocados and feta at just about every meal and on just about everything, so anytime I can combine those two things, plus get a filling breakfast, I’m down.

– Good bread (this makes a difference, you want something a little hearty that will stand up against the avocado-feta mix). I used an organic rosemary-olive oil loaf this time.
– Approx. 1/4 avocado per toast slice
– Crumbled Feta, approx 1 tbsp. per toast slice
– Kosher salt

1. Mash the avocados, then add the feta. Blend well and add Kosher salt to taste.

2. Spread on good toasted bread. Top with olive-oil poached eggs for a full heart-healthy fats and protein kind of  breakfast.

Quinoa with Black Beans, Avocado, Tomatoes, Scallions & Mini Mozzarella with a Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

What do you make for a cardiothoracic surgeon and a journalist after watching open heart surgery on Valentine’s Day? This is what I came up with, and for someone who’s big on eating healthy (the surgeon) and someone who’d never tried quinoa before (the journalist), I think it was a pretty good pick. Quinoa is definitely my favorite grain – it’s an ancient source of protein and also high in iron, fiber & magnesium – and also, with its little pop of texture, it’s fun to eat. It goes well with just about everything, and has completely replaced rice in cooking for me at this point. Plus, heart-healthy avocados, tomatoes and scallions, fiber-rich organic black beans and a little mozz…yummo. This dish has a southwestern vibe but in a really clean, bright way. I love this.

 – 1 C. dry quinoa
– 2 C. chicken broth or water
– 1 can organic black beans, rinsed and drained
– ½ C. mini mozzarella balls (these just look cuter in the salad, otherwise dice up a larger mozzarella ball)
– 1 avocado, diced
– 1 C. cherry tomatoes, halved
– 3 scallions, sliced
– 2 limes, juiced
– Zest of 1 lime
– 4 tbsp. EVOO
– ½ tsp. cumin
– Handful of cilantro, chopped
– Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
1.       Cook quinoa. You have to really rinse it well, otherwise the “dust” that’s on it makes it bitter. I have a really fine mesh strainer that I just dump the uncooked quinoa in, then run water over it, swishing it around in the strainer, until the water runs clear.

2.       Once the quinoa is rinsed and the chicken broth (or water) is boiling, add quinoa to the water, then turn heat down to low. Cover the pot and let the water incorporate into the quinoa, approx. 15 mins. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, still covered. Fluff with a fork.

3.       Meanwhile, dice the avocados and scallions, cut the tomatoes, and dry the mozzarella a little bit.

4.       Drain and rinse the black beans well.
5.       Make the dressing – in a mason jar, combine the lime juice, lime zest, cumin, salt & pepper. Mix to blend everything together in the acid of the lime juice before adding the EVOO. Add the EVOO and shake it all up.

6.       In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, black beans, tomatoes, mozz, scallions and avocado. Mix gently to blend.
7.       Add the dressing, and the cilantro, mix gently again. Serve, or cover and refrigerate to let flavors absorb into the quinoa.

8.       Make a mental note to take better care of your heart after watching someone have seven blockages cleared that morning (okay, that was just what I did).  For more information on heart health, visit

Black Bean Burgers (the best)

Black bean burgers could make me go back to being a vegetarian again. (I ended that college streak one summer down in Philly with an ill-advised trip to Pat’s at 4 in the morning, but that’s a different story for a different time.) These are so awesome, completely worth the messiness of eating them, and a welcome substitute for “real” burgers, which make me want to take a nap after eating them, almost every time.

BLACK BEAN BURGERS (make 5 large ones or probably 7-8 normal size ones)
– 2 cans organic black beans, rinsed and drained and dried. Drying them is key to keeping these from falling apart.
– 1/3 C. minced red onion
– 1/3 C. minced red bell pepper
– 1 egg white
– Handful chopped cilantro
– 1 tsp. onion powder
– 1 tsp. garlic powder
– 1 tsp. cumin
– 1 tsp. paprika
– 1 tsp. salt
– vegetable oil, for frying

1. After rinsing the black beans, lay them in one layer in the fridge and let them dry. Meanwhile, mince the red onion and red bell pepper.

2. In a bowl, mash about 3/4 of the black beans into kind of a paste. Add the rest of the black beans whole for texture.

3. Add egg white, red onion & red bell pepper, cilantro, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, paprika and salt. Mix well. 

4. Form mixture into patties. In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. 

5. Fry black bean burgers in oil when hot, being careful not to burn, about 3 minutes on each side. 

6. When burgers are done, serve with thick slices of avocado (or avocado mash) and a reaaaaally fancy mixture of ketchup and mayo.

7. Enjoy. One is enough for a normal person. Two is enough for someone who can eat impressively and still stay in shape (not, obviously, me).

Chopped Chicken Salad with Summer Nectarines, Avocado & Feta in a Basil Vinaigrette

This is, clearly, the summer of salads.  It’s been so hot out lately that I can’t even think about turning on an oven, so here we are.  You can get pretty creative with salads – for this one, I had some leftover grilled chicken, and the rest was in my refrigerator. It was delicious. You can sub peaches for nectarines, but make sure they’re pretty ripe, because crunch of the nectarines was perfect when paired with the creamy avocado, the grilled chicken, the saltiness of the feta and the sweet punch of the basil vinaigrette. It doesn’t keep well (at all) so make as much as you’re going to serve at a time.

– 2 nectarines (or peaches), chopped
– 1 large grilled chicken breast, chopped
– 1 avocado, chopped
– 1/4 cup crumbled feta
– couple basil leaves, chiffonaded

Basil Vinaigrette (makes more than enough, so just use however much you need)
– 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
– 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
– 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
– 2 tsp. honey
– 6 tbsp. EVOO
– little kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper

Ready for this? It’s super complicated.

1. Chop up the nectarines/peaches/avocado into pieces roughly the same size (approx. 1/4 inch), add to a bowl.

2. Add the feta, mix gently to combine and not bruise the avocado.

3. Combine the vinegars and the salt/pepper, then the honey, then the EVOO & the chopped basil.  Put a lid on it and shake it up (that doubles as life advice).

4. Top the salad with the dressing just before serving, then gently combine.  Top individual servings with the extra chiffonaded basil.

— It was hard for me to concentrate while writing this because I SWEAR TO YOU, STINK BUG BUZZING SOMEPLACE IN MY SUNROOM, I WILL FIND YOU AND YOU WILL BE MINE.