Spicy BLT Avocado Toast

BLT meets avocado toast and has a party with some spicy jalapenos.  This hardy toast is a feast of textures and flavors.
Spicy BLT Avocado Toast
 

Say it with me, Spicy BLT Avocado Toast. Perhaps I should start off by saying that I did not think I liked avocado for the longest time. I know, I know.  What type of self-respecting southern Californian does not like avocado?  I swear I did not.  Boy, I have never been so happy to prove myself wrong.

As part of my Tay Tastes Things (again)! Series, I decided to put avocado to the test.  Now, I could not just do it any ole kind of way; I had to be different.  Therefore, I took something I knew I liked, the BLT, and mixed it with something I was not sure I liked.  It was a hit!

That being said, I still do not slather avocado on everything. Oddly enough, I have to continue to remind myself I enjoy the fruit. Since it is after Thanksgiving and I have a couple of pounds of turkey to get through, I am thinking now it is the time to start slicing and smearing avocado on turkey sandwiches.  Turkey BLT with avocado and sliced cheddar cheese sounds like a winner to me. Oh, come on!  Bacon and turkey go hand-in-hand, same with bacon and avocado, including cheddar, bacon, and avocado.  It is a win-win situation!

Eventually, I will start cozying up with my newfound love on other culinary applications.  For now, I want to take my time to really get to know them. It may take a little bit to integrate avocado into my life, and the Spicy BLT Avocado Toast is the vehicle to usher me into new foodie delights.

Some other honorable mentions for Tay Tastes Things (again) include mushrooms (delicious), kimchi (delicious), Gochujang paste (super flavorful), and Gochugaru flakes (extra flavorful).

I hope you give Spicy BLT Avocado Toast a whirl.  At the very least, try something new this week!  Enjoy!

Spicy BLT Avocado Toast

Spicy Avocado Toast

BLT meets avocado toast and has a party with some spicy jalapenos.  This hardy toast is a feast of textures and flavors.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2
Calories: 361.54kcal
Author: Tay M.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp lemon juice fresh-squeezed
  • ½ tsp granulated garlic powder
  • ½ tsp granulated onion powder
  • kosher salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 slices bacon thick-cut
  • 8 grape tomatoes large, sliced in half
  • 12 slices pickled jalapenos or fresh
  • 1 handful spring mix
  • 1 handful baby spinach
  • 2 slices bread of choice

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Bake bacon for 15 minutes, drain on paper towels.
  • Toast the bread to the desired doneness.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, add avocado, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, and black pepper.
  • Mix spring mix and baby spinach together in a small bowl.
  • Spread avocado mixture over the toast and top with tomato, jalapeno, and spring mix mixture.
  • Slice in half if desired, then enjoy!

Notes

Feel free to use any lettuce and tomato to your liking.
You can fry your bacon if you prefer.
For an extra kick stir in some of the juice from the pickled avocados.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 361.54kcal | Carbohydrates: 24.34g | Protein: 12.01g | Fat: 24.43g | Saturated Fat: 8.05g | Trans Fat: 0.08g | Cholesterol: 38.28mg | Sodium: 549.39mg | Fiber: 4.59g | Sugar: 7.46g | Vitamin A: 8.9IU | Vitamin C: 121.35mg | Calcium: 6.44mg | Iron: 9.87mg
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Stocking Series: Kitchen Utensils

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Stocking Series

There are so many innovative and fun kitchen utensils; it easy to get carried away and sometimes lost. Do you need a metal or plastic spatula?  Perhaps both?  What’s the deal with spring-loaded tongs? Refer to this guide when it the time comes to pick up new kitchen utensils.  However, there are a few things to consider before you start loading things into your cart. Let’s quickly go over them.

When selecting kitchen utensils, make sure you have room to store them. Kitchen counter and drawer space have limitations.  You do not want to come home, as I have before, with bags of new utensils only to realize there is no room to store them. There are many creative ways to free up room.  I opted for an enormous swivel kitchen utensil holder from Cooler Kitchen. I purchased three of them in red, black, and white.  

Next, consider how much you would actually use the item.  If you are like me, you’ll want every kitchen utensil out there. For the most part, I use most of the utensils pretty regularly.  Nonetheless, that may not ring true for everyone. Ask yourself, will this item get enough use to make it worth the cost?

A good example is a candy thermometer. While I am a massive fan of using digital instant-read thermometers to get the perfect doneness level, I do not often make candy.  When I do, I usually do not need a candy thermometer. If you plan on making homemade candy, this is the only way to go!  I’ll be going over thermometers when I write about kitchen tools for the Stocking Series. Instead of getting every tool that catches your eye, like myself, think about getting useful quality items you often use, such as spatulas and slotted spoons. 

Kitchen Utensils

The point of this list is to help you create a functional kitchen space. Keep in mind your mileage will vary.  For this guide, I am ditching the tier system I usually use in the Stocking Series. The main difference between the tiers would be multiple quantities and varying materials of the kitchen utensils. Each utensil is linked to information about different types.  There is so much useful information online that there is no need to reinvent the wheel completely. Feel free to add kitchen utensils that are specific to the type of cooking you do most often.  Some ethnic cuisines may require tools that the “typical” American home cooks may not readily use.  As always, feel free to make adjusts as you see fit.

Vegetable peelers – Y, swivel, and speed are the most used peelers.

Spring-loaded tongs – an absolute must for so many culinary applications. I suggest getting varying sizes and materials but make sure they are locking.  Locking tongs can help save space.

Solid spoon – This kitchen utensils, one of the most used in the kitchen, without a doubt.

Slotted spoon – Having at least 2 of these is a must. On coated and glass cookware, stick with wood or silicon to avoid scratching.  Stainless steel can be used on uncoated cookware.

Spatulas – There are many types of spatulas for various uses.

Offset – Most often used to ice cakes; however, its shape makes it easier to spread batters evenly in their pans.

Turner – You may have seen these at your favorite burger joint.  They are made with a thin lip to get under food. They are also suitable for smashing food as well, like a grilled cheese.

Rubber – These come in a variety of sizes. They are useful for folding batters and scraping down the sides of a bowl. Some use them when cooking eggs. Just keep in mind since it is rubber, it can melt.

Fish – If you ever struggled to turn over a fish fillet without breaking it, then this one is for you.  It is thin and flexible, yet still pretty sturdy.

Whisk – I can make a case for having each of these whisks. 

Tiny – This one is great for smaller amounts.  The flat whisk is for your sauces and gravies.

Balloon – This is the most common whisk. It is the workhorse of the group since it can handle a lot of volume at once.

French – Like the balloon whisk, this kitchen utensil pulls its weight around the kitchen. Great for getting into tight spaces of a bowl, getting the lumps out of batters, as well as stirring things like grits.

Masher – There are two main types of mashers: one with a single wire and another with several holes.  Depending on your mashing and the consistency you want to achieve, it might be a good idea to have both types.

Basting brush – These come in nylon, silicone, and natural (boar’s hair).

Ladle – A ladle is good for more than just serving; they are also great at portioning. Consider getting a couple of different sizes and shapes.

Why I Love to Cook

I love to cook, in case you have not noticed. In my (not so) humble opinion, I tend to be pretty good at it.  Recently, I realized I was using my cooking abilities in both a healthy and unhealthy manner.  As I look back over the years, I can see where I used it as a tool to get people to like me.  Moreover, I would use my culinary prowess to get praise and acceptance.

On the other hand, I used cooking to build my confidence and self-esteem.  When I go into the kitchen,  I leave my mental health issues at the door.  Cooking became a form of meditation. Additionally, my self-love grew as well.  Making masterpieces in the kitchen is a form of high praise that I heap upon myself.  In those moments, I am reenforcing I am worthy of this effort.  It took a while before I could appreciate my skill when applied to myself as opposed to others.

My Cooking Journey

When I was in single digits, I had an encyclopedia that had recipes intended for children.  Additionally, I collected a few Highlight magazines which had recipes as well. They were simple concoctions, such as Ants on a Log and other “non-cooking” recipes.

As I marched toward double digits, I started scrambling eggs and baking cookies.  I made plenty of mistakes, such as using too much salt in the eggs.  Once I even, I forgot to add sugar while making cookies. To “fix” the mistake, I sprinkled sugar on top before baking.  Of course, it didn’t work!  Regardless of the setbacks, I continued trying and retrying recipes.

During my pre-teen years, my mother and I would spend a lot of time watching cooking shows on PBS on the weekend.  These weekly marathons helped me understand cooking methods.  Eventually, Food Network rolled around, introducing me to Alton Brown. He exposed the science behind cooking and reinforced knowing methods, not just recipes.  It was around this time my love of cooking really blossomed.

Love to Cook

Now you know how I became interested in cooking.  Let’s talk about how I became pretty good at cooking.  Was I born with some cooking jutsu? Did I study cooking at a culinary school? Nope and nope.  While I have taken a few culinary classes, I do not have formal culinary school training.   However, you do not need a culinary arts degree to be a good cook.  Josh Elkin is a fantastic example of how imagination and practice can make up for formal education.

Here’s how I did it:

Practice

This is most helpful for skill development, such as knife styles.  Get a bag of potatoes, carrots, basil and, tomatoes to practice different knife cuts. Practicing aids in developing muscle memory, which in turn will help you use knives with more confidence.

Experiment

Experimenting is the number one way to kick up your spice and herb game.  Also, try switching up cheeses, protein, and vegetables in recipes to get a whole new spin on a dish.  Experimenting is quite fun and really helped me to develop my love to cook. 

Having a well-stocked pantry makes this phase easier. 

Studied

Studying for cooking is easier than it may sound.  You can take this step as far as you like, from learning about different cooking techniques to using spices from around the world.  Personally, I enjoy browsing Spice Inc to learn about the world of spices. 

In the modern kitchen, having the correct tools, such as cookware, utensils, knives, and “gadgets” saves time. Shortly, I will make a list of my favorite kitchen equipment.

Comfort Zone

This is also good practice for real life as we often have to set out of zones as we interact with our environments.  Being able to dip a finger into an unfamiliar cooking area is one of the best ways to broaden our culinary horizons.  Even if you do not take the big plunge into authentic regional cooking, you can bring some elements into your regular cooking style.

Almost Lost My Love of Cooking

My love to cook was temporarily taken from me during one of my struggles with depression.  When I could muster the motivation for cooking, it was plagued with problems.  My internal timing was off; therefore, I burned or undercooked so much of my food.  My frustrations boiled over to the point where I knew I had to do something about it. 

I needed to start using timers.  The truth is, I had a resistance to timers because I was so proud of my ability to keep track in my head.  Unfortunately, this ability has not fully come back, but timers are easy to set on my Google Home products.

The Outcome

I was able to take this process and use it in my day-to-day life.  Cooking has taught me as I experience how to sit in my emotions for a moment, then find solutions or accept the new circumstance. My culinary experiences have given me a new lease on life.  It also helped me to change my outlook when faced with unfortunate setbacks.  It is my hope you enjoyed my cooking origin story and why I love to cook. Please leave a comment with your experiences!

Spicy Orange Beef

Tender top sirloin and tangy citrus are the stars of this show. You can use oranges or tangerines for this recipe, either way, it is delicious.
 

Allow me to introduce Spicy Orange Beef! It is a delicious and easy stir-fry dish.  It can be paired with rice or noodles, but personally, I love it by itself.  This dish can be made in a wok or 12-inch skillet.

This recipe can be veganized by replacing the beef with Gardein beef tips or firm tofu. It was would probably work well with seitan too. Of course, it can also be a vegetable stir-fry; however, you would want to add sliced sweet onions, carrot chips, snow peas, or sugar snap peas.

Stir-Fry Tips

Spicy Orange Beef, like other stir-frys, requires a little bit of skill and preparation to pull off without a hitch. The following tips can help give you a leg up on this recipe. Be sure to have your mise en place finished before you start.  Mise en place means everything in its place.  In the culinary world, it is basically prep work.  Since a stir-fry cooks very quickly, it is crucial to have all the ingredients measured, chopped as required by the recipe.

Do not crowd the cooking vessel. Be sure to keep the food moving in the pan or wok continuously, except when a recipe says otherwise.  Use a wooden or silicone spatula to keep from scratching up the wok or pan. Add your sauce in the last step of the cooking.

Shortcuts

I think it is evident by now that I enjoy a good stir-fry.  Besides this Spicy Orange Beef recipe, I have posted Stir-Fry Beef and Broccoli and Thai Beef with Basil recipes.  It is the versatility and quickness for me. Buying pre-prepped ingredients can save time with prep work; consequently, those items will be more expensive. Stir-in ginger, pre-peeled garlic cloves, bagged broccoli florets, and carrot chips are some of the short cuts I feel safe taking.

Minced garlic stored in liquid is one of my least favorite shortcuts.  It just does not have the same flavor as fresh chopped garlic.  When using pre-peeled garlic, I usually pass it through a garlic press.  This technique works well with sauces, soups, or any recipe where you do not want garlic pieces. Of course, you can slice and chop it as needed.

Spicy Orange Beef

Tender top sirloin and tangy citrus are the stars of this show. You can use oranges or tangerines for this recipe, either way, it is delicious.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Cuisine: Asian
Servings: 4
Calories: 432.78kcal
Author: Tay M.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium navel oranges or 4 tangerines
  • 1 large bunch of broccoli 1½ lbs (or 10oz bag of florets )
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 12 oz. boneless top sirloin steak thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch plus ½ teaspoon
  • 2 tbsp.
  • 3 green onions cut on diagonal into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 serrano chile finely chopped, seeded for less heat
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger peeled and minced
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper

Instructions

  • Using a paring knife, peel and remove with white pith from 1 orange. Hold the orange/tangerine over a small bowl to collect the fruit and juice. Cut fruit away from the membrane to release each section by making a slice on each side. Set aside. With a vegetable peeler, cut 3-inch strips, about ¾ in wide from the other two oranges or 3 tangerines. Remove any of the white pith with a paring knife. Squeeze ¾ cup of juice into a bowl and set aside.
  • Cut broccoli into florets breaking down any larger pieces (if using the bagged florets, halve or quarter any large florets). Peels the stems and cut into ¼-inch thick slices.
  • In a cup, combine the orange juice, soy sauce, crushed red pepper, and remaining½ teaspoon cornstarch and store until blended.
  • In a 12-inch skillet or wok, heat 2tablespoons oil over high until very hot. Add peel strips and cook until lightly brown, about 3 minutes. Keep them moving. Transfer to a larger bowl.
  • On a baking sheet, place the meat on a single layer and springer with 2tablespoons of cornstarch, coating evenly. Add half of the beef to skillet and stir-fry until brown on both sides, about5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the peels. Add the last tablespoon of oil and repeat with the last of the beef.
  • Add broccoli and water to the skillet, reduce heat to medium, and cover for 2 minutes. Increase heat to high and remove the lid. Add red bell peppers, serrano, and green onions, stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add ginger and garlic, stir-fry for one minute.
  • Give cornstarch mixture again, then add to the skillet. Stir until thickened. And boils.
  • Return beef mixture to skillet. Add citrus sections and juice in the bowl; toss to combine.

Notes

  • If the citrus fruit is a little bitter, add about 1 tablespoon of honey.
  • It takes a little practice to section an orange beautifully. Take a look at this guide on the Pioneer Woman website
  • Use the edge of a spoon to peel the ginger easily.

Nutrition

Serving: 0g | Calories: 432.78kcal | Carbohydrates: 34.02g | Protein: 25.27g | Fat: 23.76g | Saturated Fat: 5.71g | Trans Fat: 0.08g | Cholesterol: 66.34mg | Sodium: 986.69mg | Fiber: 8.5g | Sugar: 13.85g | Vitamin A: 14.1IU | Vitamin C: 303.54mg | Calcium: 17.59mg | Iron: 18.77mg
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