Posts in Entertaining
Stuffed Sweet Potato
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I feel like I eat a lot of the same foods but I am constantly mixing up the WAY that I eat them. Lentils and chickpeas are definitely frequented ingredients because there are only so many plant based, lean proteins out there. I decided to stuff some sweet potatoes and bake them and was not disappointed with the result. This recipe has some spiciness to it so if you can't handle the heat, get out of the kitchen! Try them out with the easy recipe below. 

Ingredients:

4 medium sized sweet potatoes

1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

1 T olive oil

1 cup cooked red lentils

2 T cayenne powder

1 T chili powder

1 container of Kite Jalapeño Vegan Cream Cheese (or Alouette Garlic and Herb Soft Spreadable Cheese for a non vegan option)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Scrub the sweet potatoes so that they are clean. Wrap each sweet potato in tinfoil and then place them in a casserole dish (like the one I used, linked below), with parchment paper in the oven. Bake for 1.5-2 hours or until you can push into the side of the potato and it feels soft. 

While the potatoes are baking, cook your lentils according to the directions. 

Brush the chickpeas with olive oil and then sprinkle the cayenne pepper and chili powder on them. Bake them in the oven on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for the last 15 minutes that the potatoes are in the oven. 

Once you remove the potatoes from the oven, slice a slit down the center of each one, lengthwise. Stuff each one with lentils and chickpeas. Then, use a knife to spread your cheese or vegan cream cheese along the inner wall of each side of the potato. Enjoy it by eating all of the components in each bite! 

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Shirataki Tofu Pad Thai
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I’ve been wanting to try Shirataki noodles for a while because they are almost zero calorie noodle substitutes. However, I’ve heard how they smell so bad and can taste bad so I was wary to try them. I heard that the key to them not smelling bad is to rinse them really, really well. I rinsed mine for almost 15 minutes as I prepped the rest of the meal and just held my breath when I was around them because I didn’t want to risk getting turned off from wanting to eat them. I also figured that I would do the first recipe as one with a powerful sauce. It all turned out so well and I was so happy with the results! I didn’t miss the real noodles in this recipe (but I know that with a red sauce it wouldn’t be the same). My husband was SO impressed with it and kept saying how it was the best Pad Thai he’d ever had, which seems like too generous of a compliment but I’ll take it. I made mine vegetarian but you could easily sub in chicken or shrimp for the tofu. Also, even though there were only 2 people eating, I made this recipe for 4 servings so that we could eat it as leftovers the next day. The leftovers held up pretty well and were even good cold. It’s a great healthy alternative to a typical Pad Thai dish!

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Ingredients (yields 4 servings):

2 packages of tofu Shirataki noodles (I used House Foods Tofu Shirataki Fettuccini)

1 cup soy sauce

2/3 cup smooth peanut butter

4 T Sriracha

1 large clove of garlic, minced

1 lime, juiced

3 T avocado oil

1 T sesame oil

Pinch of black pepper

1.5 cup shredded carrots

1.5 cups snow peas

Scallions, chopped for garnish

1 block of extra firm tofu (I used Nasoya Organic Extra firm tofu)

1 T olive oil

Directions:

Remove the Shirataki noodles from the packaging and place them in a mesh strainer. Run cold water over them for 10-15 minutes (go over and mix them up so that the water hits a different spot every few minutes).

Place a pot of boiling water over medium heat until it comes to a boil.

Remove the tofu from the packaging and place on a cutting board with a folded paper towel on top of it. Then, top it with another folded paper towel and something heavy to weigh it down (I used a heavy skillet). Allow it to sit like this for at least 20 minutes in order to drain a lot of the water from the tofu. Feel free to replace the paper towels half way through in order to absorb more water.

While you are rinsing the noodles and letting your tofu drain water, prepare your sauce. In a blender, combine the soy sauce, peanut butter, Sriracha, garlic, lime juice, avocado oil, sesame oil, and black pepper. Blend at medium speed until all ingredients are combined and sauce is smooth. Set the sauce aside.

Once your tofu is drained, cut it into 1 inch cubes. Heat a skillet over medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Sauté the tofu in the olive oil until it is golden brown on all sides. Set the tofu aside.

Place the Shirataki noodles in the boiling water for a few minutes (follow the directions on the packaging).

While the Shirataki noodles are cooking, use your sauté pan again to sauté the shredded carrots and snow peas (for approximately 5 minutes) in olive oil.

Drain the Shirataki noodles in a mesh strainer. Then, add the Shirataki noodles, sauce, vegetables, and tofu to a large mixing bowl. Toss with tongs to mix and then serve!




Banana Christmas Cake
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Don’t get me wrong, I love making Christmas cookies. I like making different kinds so there’s an assortment. I always think it’s fun for a group of people to try a selection of foods and talk about their favorite items and what they like about each one. I just went to Sidecar Doughnuts in LA with my friend and husband and had a great time ranking all of our favorites together. I could talk about food that I’m passionate about in great length!

Anyways, I’ve found that I’ve also enjoyed the aesthetic of a pretty Christmas cake so I made sure to find a time to bake one around the holidays the past couple of years. I love the festive but simple decorating ideas that you can do to them. I feel like it provoked a fun reaction from your hosts when you bring it to a gathering or from your guests if you’re hosting a party. People ooh and ah over the simplest things, like this cute gingerbread topper that I bought.

Since I created more a Christmas spice cake recipe last year, I wanted to do something a little different. I’ve made a bunch of cakes from scratch and some are worth it and some are really not because box cake mix for a funfetti cake, for example, is usually better and 1/102840th the work. However, this banana cake would be hard to find in a ‘cheat’ alternative so I think that it makes it worth the ‘from scratch’ elements. Plus, it was delicious!

Cake Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 T lemon juice

3/4 cup butter, softened at room temperature (let it come to room temperature on its own)

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 T vanilla extract

1 t kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups flour

3 ripe bananas (approximately 1 1/2 cups), mashed

Cake Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°F

Coat 2 9-inch round cake pans (or 3 8-inch round cake pans) with nonstick coconut oil spray (or whatever nonstick spray you typically use). I used a foam-spring cake pan so that the cake would easily come out of the pan. Set aside.

If your bananas are not ripe enough, you can puncture some holes in the peel with a fork and then wrap them in a paper towel and microwave them for 30 seconds.

Mash the bananas with a fork on a cutting board until they are totally soft and slimy looking.

In a medium bowl, combine the milk and lemon juice and set it aside.

In your electric mixer with a large bowl and fitted paddle attachment (linked below), beat the butter and both types of sugar on medium speed. Beat for 2 minutes.

Add in the vanilla, salt, eggs, and baking soda. Mix on medium speed until smooth.

Alternate adding in the flour and milk on low speed a 1/2 cup at a time (make sure to start and end with flour).

Add in the bananas and mix on low speed.

Split the batter evenly between the cake pans.

Bake for 35 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test (you stick the cake with a toothpick and it comes out clean). Rotate the cakes in the oven halfway through baking them.

Let the cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then place them on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Icing Ingredients:

1.5 cups unsalted butter

1/3 t salt

5.5 cups sifted powdered sugar

7.5 t whole milk

1.5 t vanilla extract

Icing Directions:

In a bowl with a mixer and paddle attachment, beat the butter and salt on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Lower the speed to low & add in the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Best until all powdered sugar is incorporated.

Raise the speed to medium and add in the milk and vanilla extract. Beat for another 2 minutes.

Make sure that the cakes are completely cool before frosting them. Add a frosting layer between the 2 (or 3) cakes.

Garnish the cake.

Garnish Ingredients:

1/3 cup shredded coconut

Sprigs of rosemary

Mini gingerbread house

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Chai Tea Cocktail
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This time of year makes me want to have all the hot drinks! It’s alsp probably the biggest drinking season of all. I thought I would combine the two and make a hot cocktail. I made this for some of my friends when they came over and everyone liked it. Sometimes, I have to live up to the Cozy Curator reputation and this cocktail helped since it’s plenty cozy! Plus, it’s so easy!  This cocktail is perfect for Christmas celebrations.

Ingredients (Yields 5 Cocktails):

32 oz Chai Tea Latte Concentrate  (I used Oregon Chai Slightly Sweet)

15 oz Almond Milk (unsweetened)

20 oz Whole Milk

1 cup Whiskey

1 T agave (unless you buy sweetened almond milk & fully sweetened chai tea concentrate, in which case I would forgo this) 

1 T Ground Cinnamon

6 Cinnamon Sticks 

Whipped cream (for topping)

Directions: 

Over a stovetop, combine all of the ingredients except the whipped cream. Heat over low heat until it is hot while continuously stirring.

Pour into mugs & drain out the cinnamon sticks.  

Top with whipped cream and enjoy.  

 

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White Christmas Margaritas
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Every holiday season I’m looking for fun cocktail ideas that aren’t loaded with a ton of sugar (for taste purposes, not splurging purposes because the holiday’s mean you can load up on sugar). Jay loves tequila so I wanted to incorporate that into a recipe, especially since its so rare for Christmas cocktails. These are so festive and taste really fresh!

Ingredients (yields 3-4 cocktails)

10 ounces silver tequila

8 ounces fresh lime juice

8 ounces coconut water (unflavored)

8 ounces coconut milk (I used SO delicious refrigerated)

6 ounces coconut rum

Springs of rosemary and fresh cranberries for garnish, if desired

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients in a large shaker.

Shake/mix thoroughly right before pouring.

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Zucchini Lasagna Roll Ups
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The other night on Instagram stories I was talking about this healthy meal that’s a go-to of mine when I’m craving something hearty and cozy without the pasta. This meal just screams ‘home cooked’ in that way that makes you want to dim the lights and get in your coziest clothes while stuffing your face. However, this option comes without the major guilt. Plus, its surprisingly good (obviously, not as good) when you have it for leftovers the next day. I’m all about doing work that I can get 2 meals out of. In order to get 2 full meals for 2 people out of it, double the recipe!

Ingredients:

4 large zucchini (about 4 pounds)

Sprinkle of salt

Olive oil spray

1 cup fresh spinach

Freshly ground black pepper (1 T)

1 cup part skim ricotta cheese

1/3 cut freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 large egg

1/4 cup fresh basil (chopped)

2 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 1/2 cups marinara sauce (divided)-I use Raos Arrabbiata sauce for an extra kick

2 cups shredded mozzarella (divided)

Directions:

  1. In the morning, slice your zucchini lengthwise into thin strips (about 1/8 inch thick). Lay the slices flat onto paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt. Lay another paper towel on top of the zucchini. Let is sit for a few hours (or until you make the meal that night) to lose as much water as possible.

  2. Once you are ready to prep the filling, spray a large skillet with olive oil spray and place over medium heat. Sauté the spinach in the pan until it reduces. Set it aside so it can cool down.

  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese (so 1 cup), spinach, garlic, egg, black pepper, and basil. Stir to combine.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  5. Spread 1 cup of marinara sauce onto the bottom of your baking dish. Set aside.

  6. Spread approximately 1 T of the ricotta mixture onto each zucchini slice and then roll it up and place it inside of the prepared baking dish. Repeat until the dish is filled with the zucchini roll ups. Then, top with the remaining marinara sauce and remaining mozzarella cheese.

  7. Cook in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until the lasagna rolls are heated throughout and the cheese is golden brown.

  8. Serve and enjoy immediately!

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Holiday Cards with Basic Invite
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Can you believe that it’s already the time of year to order your holiday cards? I made mine on Basic Invite this year and thought that the process was really seamless. I feel like whenever you try to create something with photos and text, it becomes a disaster but I found the process to be really easy. I also liked that they had plenty of ‘alternative’ options besides the traditional red and gold choices. I like to choose cards that are still ‘on brand’ with my style and I appreciated that I was able to do that. We’re not an ultra traditional couple so I was glad that we were able to create a card that didn’t feel super classic or traditional. They have almost an unlimited variety of color options, so that was super helpful! We are a mixed religion household so keeping it ‘neutral’ is important to us. That being said, Basic Invite has plenty of traditional options as well. They also have cards with beautiful foil details, which I LOVE. They also have cool and retro holiday cards as well as awesome holiday party invitations! Check out the best Christmas cards!

In the interest of keeping it real, I had a hard time when I saw my cards. I created our holiday cards the week before my dad died and when I came back to my apartment for the first time following his death, I had these waiting in the mail for me. It felt absurd to read the words ‘Joyful’ splashed across the top of my cards. It is the opposite of how I have been feeling ever since and I have felt weird about sending them out to friends and family with all that’s been going on. However, I decided to try and look at them as a reminder to choose joy whenever and wherever we can. There are so many reasons to let Joy escape our lives but we can’t let it fully do that. Even while living under the crazy weight of this grief, I know that I still need to find reasons to smile and laugh, even if they are just a tiny drop in the bucket of tears. I know that this holiday season will be extremely hard. I know that there will be a million reasons why I find it to be extremely painful. I also know that I need to open my eyes as wide as I can so that I can seek out any bits of joy that may be scattered around in the midst of the sorrow. When I can’t find it, I know that I will need to create it…even if its just in subtle ways like having a cozy night by the tree with my husband watching a movie. So, this card that I created may not currently speak my truth since I am not ‘Joyful’ but I will hang it up with the reminder to create any tiny shreds of joy that I can and I hope that you will find plenty of reasons to be joyful during the holiday season.

If you are looking to create awesome holiday cards or holiday party invitations, make sure to check out Basic Invite. You won’t be disappointed with the selection! They even offer an address capturing service to make the whole process easier on you. They are running a ton of promotions this holiday season so make sure to check the website for their current promotion. At this moment, they are offering 15% off everything with the code 15FF51. Happy Holidays, friends!

 

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This post is sponsored. However, all thought and opinions are my own.

Celebrate National Spread Joy Day with Knack
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Who else is feeling burnt out from the constant negative news? I dread reading it every day because there is just so much to be sad about in the world. That’s why I love also spending time each day focusing on happy things that are going on in the world! Knack, a really cool online retailer, is doing just that with a new national holiday. The National Spread Joy Day is this Thursday, October 11th!

You can read more about National Spread Joy Day here. Basically, its a really fun holiday where you are encouraged to gift a friend, stranger, WHOEVER a gift box from them. Its all about paying it forward and making other people happy! It's the day to fight back against negativity with positive counter-programming. Knack will give away 1,000 free gifts online worth over $80 each on that day to anyone willing to let them widely publish their gift message as inspiration to others on October 11th. You can go here and send one to someone that you want to make happy!

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This post is sponsored. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Currently Entertained By...

I thought that I'd share what I'm currently loving listening to, reading and watching. I'm sharing my favorite podcast, book series, music album, and TV show of the moment (aka last couple of months). If you watch/listen/read any of them, let me know what you think! I feel like we're all always looking for a solid recommendation and here are mine:

What I'm Listening to:

Podcast: I've been loving Armchair Expert podcast by Dax Shepard. I've always been a fan of his but now am even more so. I love people and getting to know them and their stories. Howard Stern interviews have always been favorites of mine because they really don't have a large agenda and are more so about getting to know someone and their story. Human nature, how we all cope, love, and things like that are my JAM and Dax is in touch with a lot of that and really highlights it in his podcast. I listen to it on the Podcasts application that came on my Iphone (make sure to download episodes while you have WIFI). I will listen to an episode over the course of a couple of days, broken up into little segments. I listen as I'm folding laundry, applying lotion after I shower, cooking dinner, running errands, driving, etc. It's such a great way to stay entertained and engaged during all of the mundane tasks. Plus, for someone who works from home, it helps me feel less isolated during the day (sad but true). My favorite episodes were: Mila Kunis, Mae Whitman, Anna Faris and Jimmy Kimmel. If you're a Parenthood fan (like me), then you will appreciate all of his cast mates interviews! He also does one with his wife, Kristin Bell, which was cool. I've honestly loved all of the ones that I've listened to but that's my highlight reel.

Music: My album of the summer has been Come Tomorrow by Dave Matthews Band. I was raised on DMB and have been a fan since I learned how to talk/sing. My mom is a huge Dave Matthews fan and always incorporated his music into our lives. She was so passionate and would rewind songs and say "did you hear how much he loves her by the tone of his voice?" "did you hear that line, let me play it for you again." Now, I annoy Jay by doing the same things. I have had tears in my eyes more times than I can count from his songs. So many summers of my life are marked by his albums. The songs from them can transport me back in time in an instant. It's so cool how music can mark the timeline of your life like that. I remember the couple of songs that I was obsessed with the summer before my senior year of high school for example and it always puts me back to that moment when I listen to them. I attended his concert every year from the time that I was 11 or so and those also marked the summers in my mind. I've only gone to 1 since my accident and it was so hard on my back that I haven't gone back since but its something that I truly miss SO much. I want to try and find a way to make it work somehow in the future because it feeds my soul. If you haven't listened to this new album, you definitely should! I love the first song to his daughter(s). I also love Can't Stop, That Girl is You, Here on Out, Virginia in the Rain, and When I'm Weary. I really wanted to name them all but controlled myself haha. 

What I'm Reading:

I read the Cold Fury Hockey Series this summer and really liked it. Each book is about a different player on the Cold Fury professional hockey team. I downloaded all of the books as a package on my kindle. They are quick and easy reads that keep you engaged the whole time. I love reading a series because I feel like otherwise you fall in love with characters and then they are just gone from your life. With this series, I was able to keep those characters around because the next book would be about their friends or siblings and the characters from the previous books would make appearances and you'd get updates on what's going on with them. I read for relaxation and to escape so I typically don't read thought provoking books (I'm more likely to listen to those on an Audible or listen to podcasts). Instead, I want to read to escape and turn my mind off (and prepare to sleep). I personally love romance novels but I know they aren't for everyone (especially if you're prude haha). If you're on board with love stories, in this case about professional hockey players, then definitely check it out! 

What I'm Watching:

I feel like we always watch less TV in the summer. We're not really binging a show or setting aside the time to do so. We probably have been watching 1 episode of GOT a week (still catching up) and 1 other episode a week. We've been liking watching My Next Guest Needs No Introduction by David Letterman on Netflix. They are stand alone episodes so it's perfect to watch one here and there when you aren't sitting down in front of the TV frequently. Like the Armchair Expert podcast, he doesn't have much of an agenda of what he has to talk about as the guests aren't really coming on the show with the intention to promote something. I don't think that Letterman is as interesting of an interviewee as Dax because he doesn't divulge much about himself and his own feelings on topics and really just redirects every question that he's asked. Still, he's a legend and is funny. His guests are awesome. My favorite episodes were Jay Z and Obama's. If you like interviews that "go there" then definitely check this out.

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Turmeric Hummus Buddah Bowl
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I'm always looking for healthy dinner recipes to mix it up. I also like recipes that I can easily use the leftovers for lunches. All about killing 2 birds with one stone! In fact, I killed 3 birds because I also used some of the roasted veggies in a Mexican salad the following night. Technically, I killed zero birds because this meal is vegan! The turmeric hummus is an awesome way to add some turmeric into my dinner in a way that makes sense. I started taking a turmeric supplement daily because its supposed to help with inflammation (I also take flaxseed oil supplement for this reason and try to eat a lot of flaxseed as well). However, I try to work it into my diet as well. I even doubled the hummus recipe and froze half of it, which I don't think was necessary in hind sight because it was so easy to make. I had turmeric hummus at a farm in Ibiza this summer and its amazing how quickly tastes can transport you back to a moment in time so that was a nice plus as well! 

Turmeric Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15.5 oz) of chickpeas (drained but WITH LIQUID RESERVED)

  • 3 T olive oil

  • 2 T reserved liquid from chickpea can

  • 1 T tahini

  • 2/3 t turmeric

  • 1/4 t nutmeg

  • 1 large clove of garlic

Directions:

Drain the chickpeas but preserve the liquid and set it aside

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Blend for longer if you want it thinner and more whipped. 

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Buddah Bowls (Yields 4-6 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes

  • 1 bunch of pencil asparagus

  • 1/2 yellow onion

  • 3 zucchini

  • 4 Japanese eggplants

  • 1 bag (4 cups) of shredded brussel sprouts

  • 4 cups of shredded kale

  • 1/2 cup avocado oil

  • 2 t dried garlic

  • 2 t dried lemon zest

  • 2 t black pepper

  • 1 t salt

Directions:

Cut the sweet potatoes, Japanese eggplant and zucchini into long 1/2 inch strips

Cut the onion into rings

Sautee the brussel sprouts with a little bit of olive oil and a combination of the seasonings over medium heat until they start to brown

While the brussel sprouts are cooking, coat the other vegetables in avocado oil and season them

Place the sweet potatoes, Japanese eggplant, zucchini, asparagus and onion on a hot grill and cook until they begin to brown a little bit

While the vegetables are grilling, place the shredded brussel sprouts and kale in the bottom of your bowl

Top the salad base with all of the roasted vegetables and the hummus and enjoy!

 

 

 

Mexican Street Corn
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Grilling season has begun! Yay! I love grilling up on our rooftop or on our patio. It's great to be able to incorporate some of my summer 'go-to's into my meal planning because I feel like I exhausted all of my winter regulars. I love some fresh corn on the cob when its grilled...doesn't it taste like summer?! This Mexican Street Corn recipe elevates corn on the cob in the best way. I usually use some guacamole on our burgers/veggie burgers to tie in the Mexican theme in an easy way. Whenever I see cojita cheese at the grocery store in the summer, I buy it so that I can make this awesome recipe!

Ingredients:

6 ears of corn, husked

1 cup plain greek yogurt (you can use half sour cream and half mayonnaise as a substitution if you want it richer)

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon chili poweder

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 cup cojita cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup cilantro, minced

Directions:

Heat grill so it reaches 400 degrees or so

In a bowl, whisk together the greek yogurt, garlic, chili powder and lime juice

Grill the corn until the edges start to brown a little (approximately 3 minutes on each side)

Using a brush, coat the corn with the yogurt mixture

Top with crumbled cojita cheese and cilantro

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Sweet Potato Hash Skillet
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You guys know that one pan meals make my heart happy. My biggest deterrent for cooking is the clean up...anyone else?! That’s why I’ve LOVED my cast iron skillet and legit crockpot (linked at bottom of post). They can both go from stovetop to inside of the oven and the crockpot insert can obviously also go into the crockpot base for slow cooking. 

I’ve been making variations of this sweet potato skillet for breakfast for my guy (I don’t eat straight up eggs) and he LOVES it. It’s all real food and so nutritious. I've also added black beans and ground sausage at various times when I've made variations of this. I also recently swapped the avocado for guacamole and the hot sauce for salsa and it went over really well! Try it out and let me know how you like it! 

INGREDIENTS: 

3 sweet potatoes

1/2 a yellow onion

1 bell pepper  (red is my favorite but do whichever you like best)

1 T olive oil  

6 eggs  

1/2 cup shredded colby cheese  

1/2 an avocado

2 green onions (can easily be omitted) 

Hot sauce for topping  

DIRECTIONS: 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Peel the sweet potatoes and then dice them into 1 inch cubes.  

Dice the onion and bell pepper. Slice the avocado into thin slices. Dice the green onion into 1/2 inch circles.

Heat the cast iron skillet over medium heat and place the olive oil, onion, sweet potato and bell pepper in it. Cool until the onions turn translucent. 

Place the cast iron skillet into the oven for 25 minutes (you want the sweet potatoes to get soft enough to eat). 

Remove the skillet from the oven and crack the eggs on top of the vegetables. Then, sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes or until the eggs are no longer runny.  

Remove skillet from the oven and top with avocado slices, green onion and hot sauce. Enjoy!

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