Sweet Potato Avocado Tartare

Sweet Potato Avocado Tartare

I’m so behind with the trends. Do you know that avocado toast has become avocado “toast” with quotation marks? People are using sweet potatoes as the “bread” and the first time I saw that oh-so-clickable headline I thought it was ridiculous.

One morning though, desperate times called for desperate measures. I had no breakfast food – just a sweet potato, an avocado, and some almond butter. I don’t really ever skip breakfast, so I roasted sweet potato rounds and topped half with the almond butter and half with the avocado. Jack walked in, I said “look, ‘toast’ ” (with air quotes) and he looked at my like I was crazy, but we both gobbled it up.

This definitely was good, but still wasn’t toast. Nonetheless, I got inspired to use sweet potatoes like this, so I used that little impromptu breakfast as my inspiration for this tartare on sweet potato not-toast.

Sweet Potato Avocado Tartare

This recipe is more of an appetizer or a tasty light lunch.

I mixed up the avocado with ingredients that would be in tuna tartare – sesame oil, a little dijon mustard and sesame seeds. There’s diced red onion for a little crunch and lemon juice to brighten it all up.

I topped my sweet potato rounds with little pieces of watermelon radish but that step is completely optional, I just think it’s pretty and the crunch is nice.

Sweet Potato Avocado Tartare

Kentucky Derby Party Recipes

Kentucky Derby Party Recipes

As you know, the Kentucky Derby® is right around the corner (did you see last week’s Sparkling Mint Juleps?). Today I’m partnering with 14 Hands Wine to share some Derby Day party tips, recipes, and a few great wine pairings. It’s time break out your fancy hats, pour some wine and get started!

Kentucky Derby Party Recipes

First up are these colorful open-faced (crust off!) tea sandwiches. These are super easy to make if you make the spread ahead of time and assemble these just before your guests arrive. Instead of a cream cheese spread I made an herbal creamy dill spread by blending sunflower seeds to create a creamy base. Slather it on some sourdough sandwich bread and then top with rows of paper thin slices of cucumbers, radishes, and candy striped beets. Use a sharp knife to cut the crusts off and you have the cutest little springtime snacks. (See the full recipe below in this post).

This recipe pairs especially well with 14 Hands Sauvignon Blanc – it’s citrus-y aromas and its crisp flavors of grapefruit and guava are a lovely compliment to these spring vegetable bites. Sometimes I find Sauvignon Blanc to be a little too sharp, but I love this one because it’s light, mellow, and juicy.

Kentucky Derby Party Recipes

My husband Jack has more southern roots than I do, so when I asked him what to put on my Derby Day menu he didn’t hesitate before blurting out “Pimento cheese!” What can I say, the guy loves cheese. Since we’re going for a lighter, brighter theme here, I made my version vegan and Jack, my cheese lover, is obsessed. Ok, that’s a lie – we’re both so obsessed that we sat down and ate it for dinner one night while I was testing it. Like, that was the whole dinner – crackers and “cheese”. And wine.

Cashews give this spread a creamy base while jarred pimentos, dijon mustard, and lots of lemon give it a proper tang. It’s best with Ritz-like crackers, but I also like to serve it with tons of chopped up veggies as well. This is another recipe you can make in advance, but just try not to eat it all before your guests show up.

This recipe is also a wonderful pairing with the crisp flavor of the 14 Hands Sauvignon Blanc.

Kentucky Derby Party Recipes

And now for dessert! To be honest, I don’t always love wine and chocolate as a pairing, but when we tasted 14 Hands Limited Release Kentucky Derby Red Blend, the subtle hints of cocoa and caramel really stood out to me. That’s when I decided I needed to finish this menu with wine, chocolate, and pecans. In lieu of pecan pie, I made chocolate pecan truffles. The base of these truffles is made by blending pecan and dates before they get dipped in chocolate. The opulent red blend with aromas of blackberries and plums is a bold pairing with this sweet treat.

Kentucky Derby Party Recipes

Just to recap, here are my top 5 tips to have a great Kentucky Derby viewing party:

1. Make a fancy Mint Julep – check out the Sparkling Mint Juleps I posted last week.

2. Go for pretty vegetable-forward dishes – they’re perfect for a spring menu and work well with the juicy flesh flavors of the wine. Plus, they’re so pretty and festive!

3. Make food that you can prepare ahead of time and easily assemble before guests arrive.

4. Be sure to have plenty of wine! 14 Hands is the preferred wine of the Derby, so taste and create your own wine pairings with the Kentucky Derby Limited Release Red Blend−perfect for any Derby party, and the new Rosé. 

5. Tune in to Facebook Live on Thursday, April 27th at 2pm CST to watch me demo these recipes and set up a simple party table that you can recreate for your own Derby gathering. 

Kentucky Derby Party Recipes

Sweet Potato Noodles with Garlic & Kale

Sweet Potato Noodles with Garlic & Kale

Have you tried sweet potato noodles? In the past, I’ve made zoodles and doodles (noodles made out of daikon radish), but it didn’t occur to me until recently to make swoodles(?). Is that what we’re calling them? Anyway, one night, with a hungry stomach and minimal ingredients on hand, I saw this gorgeous recipe for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, and I realized I could make something similar using sweet potatoes in place of the pasta.

Sweet Potato Noodles with Garlic & Kale

This recipe starts with 2 medium sweet potatoes – you’ll be surprised how many noodles they make, and then you’ll also be surprised by how much they cook down in the pan. This recipe will make about 3 decent-sized servings, depending on the size of your sweet potatoes.

P.S. I’m a big fan of the Inspiralizer because unlike the other types that I’ve tried, it clamps down to your countertop making the “noodling” process far less frustrating and you won’t have sweet potatoes all over your floor.

Sweet Potato Noodles with Garlic & Kale

Because this is not actual pasta, more is more. The toppings are a really important component in this recipe to make the flavors and textures more exciting. Add plenty of toasted pine nuts, basil, grated cheese (or vegan “cheese” from this post), and serve with dollops of pesto.

You can also customize this to your liking: roasted tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, roasted broccoli, and goat cheese (if that’s your thing) would be great additions.

Sweet Potato Noodles with Garlic & Kale

Sparkling Mint Juleps

Sparkling Mint Juleps

Happy Friday!

Hold on to your giant fancy hats – the Kentucky Derby® is coming up in a few weeks, so we’ve partnered with 14 Hands Wine (a.k.a. the preferred wine of the Kentucky Derby) to bring you a fresh spring cocktail. What is it? A twist on a traditional mint julep – it’s minty, it’s tangy, and it’s sparkly!

Sparkling Mint Juleps Sparkling Mint Juleps

The classic mint julep is made with mint, bourbon, simple syrup and crushed ice. Instead of the simple syrup, I took the liberty of adding lime juice and sparkling wine instead. I think bubbles make everything better and 14 Hands Brut, with its apple and citrus flavors, is the perfect addition.

Sparkling Mint Juleps Sparkling Mint Juleps

I hope you give this one a try this weekend or while you’re enjoying the Derby on Saturday, May 6th!

Also – tune in to Facebook Live on April 27th at 2pm (central). I’ll be making Derby drinks a (including a delicious and refreshing rosé cocktail that’s pictured above!), along with some pretty party bites.

Chickpea Salad Wraps w/ Avocado Dill Sauce

Chickpea Salad Wraps w/ Avocado Dill Sauce

I think there are 2 types of people in this world – those who love tuna salad and those who hate it. I’ve loved it since I was a little kid, my mom made it all the time, so I definitely fall into the first category. But I’m hoping to bridge the “hater” gap with these chickpea salad lettuce wraps. If you’re not into fishy things, no worries, these are completely vegan. If you are into fishy things, I think you’ll love these just the same – mashed chickpeas combined with salty, briny flavors (i.e. good dijon mustard, capers, and cornichons) combined with crunchy celery and scallions, recreates that tuna-salad-like taste to me.

Chickpea Salad Wraps w/ Avocado Dill Sauce Chickpea Salad Wraps w/ Avocado Dill Sauce

You could definitely make a great sandwich or mock-tuna melt out of this chickpea mixture, but since it’s spring and we’re trying to eat lighter and brighter I made lettuce wraps.

To balance the bright and briny flavors of the chickpea salad, I made this creamy avocado dill dip using Almond Breeze Almondmilk to whip it all together.

Chickpea Salad Wraps w/ Avocado Dill Sauce    Chickpea Salad Wraps w/ Avocado Dill Sauce

This is a great lunch, especially if you make the components in advance – the sauce should last 2 to 3 days, the chickpea salad will last the week. These will also make a lovely Easter brunch appetizer for the same make-ahead reasons. Plus – how pretty and springy?

Chickpea Salad Wraps w/ Avocado Dill Sauce

The recipe below will make about 12 lettuce wraps with a little extra avocado dip. If you’re looking to use up the rest of the dip, I suggest you break out a bag of tortilla chips! Or, at the very least, slather it on a veggie sandwich the next day (#notasaddesklunch) it’s so luscious and delicious – I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!