Paleo Tuna Salad in Avocado Cups

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One of the first things I really learned to “make” on my own was my dad’s tuna salad. I distinctly remember living in my own apartment with my own kitchen for the first time and thinking that I could make anything, ANYTHING! So I made tuna salad. Anti-climatic, huh? Still, sometimes these baby steps are the sort of affirmation you need to feel confident doing more complicated things (see: pasta. What? It was college after all).  I remember calling my dad up and asking him what he put in it. His answer was simple: sweet relish, tuna, mayonnaise, hard boiled eggs, and seasonings.  Sometimes, he said, he’ll serve it  inside half an avocado. You know, because avocado makes everything taste better.

Easy enough and delicious in its simplicity, I made a lot of tuna salad over my college years, and sometimes, when I’m feeling nostalgic, I still pull out dad’s old recipe. I even bought sugar-free sweet relish one time (do not recommend), before foregoing the relish altogether, just to try to “healthify” the recipe some more. I also, over time, started to add some veggies into the mix so that it would be a more complete meal of protein and carbs. Sometimes I add the hard-boiled egg, but most times I can’t be bothered to wait long enough to make it. To me, tuna salad had always been and should always be one of those standing over the counter and throwing things together kind of meals. Hard-boiling an egg? You gotta plan that, brah.

Which brings me to my Whole30. This week for some strange reason has turned out to be a week of throwing random things together at the last-minute recipes. Once I was in this mindset, dad’s tuna salad jumped up from the well of my memory and was like, hi! I’m perfect for this! So, I set out to make a Whole30 compliant tuna salad with a homemade mayonnaise. Mostly because I wanted something in an avocado cup.

Paleo Tuna Salad in Avocado Cup
Paleo mayonnaise inspired by The Paleo Kitchen
Serves 6

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Ingredients:

1 large pastured egg
3/4 cup olive oil or other oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp kosher salt
2 7-oz cans albacore tuna
3 celery stalks, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise and diced small
1/3 cup red onion, diced small
3 tbsps fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 avocados, cut in half around the seed and pitted

Directions:

1. Add the egg, olive oil, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and 1/8 tsp salt to a medium container (I used the container that came with my immersion blender). Place the blender in the bottom of the cup, then turn it on high-speed and blend until the bottom begins to turn white and frothy. Then, slowly lift the immersion blender blade up through the rest of the mixture so that the oil mixes in well. Once everything is mixed in, which should take no longer than 30 seconds, turn off the blender. Pour the mayonnaise into a mason jar or other airtight container for storage, but reserve 1/3 cup for the tuna salad.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, use a fork to break the tuna up into small pieces. Once small, add the celery, the onion, the parsley, the reserved 1/3 cup of mayonnaise, the garlic powder, and salt and pepper.

3. Mix until everything is well-distributed and the mayonnaise coats the fish. Feel free to add more mayo if you like a creamier tuna salad.
IMG_86204. On a small plate, put down one half of the avocado and then use a spoon to top with the tuna salad. . Garnish with extra parsley and serve!
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Whole30: Week 1

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I’ve now officially started my second week of Whole30, and I’m happy to report that it’s going pretty well. There were some definite challenges this week, but I think mostly because I was already eating pretty well before I started the Whole30, I haven’t experienced some of the worse parts of the infamous Whole30 timeline, but just for fun, I’m gonna go through a mental recap using it as a guideline.

“Day 1: So what’s the big deal?” Yup. Felt that exactly. In fact, for breakfast day 1, I made the same thing I’d been eating for the whole week prior: bacon, mushroom, onion, and red pepper scrambled eggs. Breakfast scrambles are the best for using up any bits and pieces of random vegetables you have in the fridge, so that’s what I’ve been doing until I get tired of it. I also had leftover pulled pork and stir-fried veggies from the week before for lunch, and for dinner I ended up throwing some lamb shoulder chops on my grill pan and making a side of theclothesmakesthegirl’s silky zucchini soup. And, it did feel good to be consciously aware that I was making good choices.

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“Days 2-3: The Hangover” Not so much (at least not compared to the one I had the day before I started whole30). My breakfast continued to be my scrambled eggs, my lunch was leftovers of lamb and soup, and for dinner I threw together paprika roasted chicken thighs with pastured chicken we’d picked up at the farmer’s market a few weeks before and a wilted bacon spinach salad.

Not the greatest pic, sorry

Not the greatest pic, sorry

The only real challenge of these two days was  a pre-scheduled Austin Food Blogger’s Alliance happy hour at Sushi Zushi. I contemplated over and over again whether I should just skip it but when I saw that they had riceless rolls, I decided to go.  It was definitely difficult, and more than little disappointing to not be able to eat about 90% of the food they offered, but the shishito peppers and the riceless roll that they special ordered for me were both really really good.

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“Days 4-5: Kill ALL the things!” Again, not really. Or, at least, not sure, because these two days also coincided with a big deadline at work so I was already stressing out about that. My breakfast these days consisted of leftover bacon spinach salad with a fried egg and fruit and more scrambled eggs, this time with Mexican chorizo that made my week. I did, however, get tired of both my zucchini soup and lamb leftovers at this point though, so I used up some leftover sweet potato, cabbage, and bacon and made a sort-of stir fry that was very satisfying. And Friday Mr. Little Fish and I had a small, last-minute dinner party of grilled steak with caramelized mushrooms and onions, crispy salt and vinegar potatoes, and oil and vinegar coleslaw (that I unfortunately forgot to take pictures of). Our friends also brought sausage, cauliflower rice, and spaghetti squash. The whole meal was decadent and fantastic, and no one ever would have guessed that I had a particular “diet.” It did sort of suck not to be able to drink, but waking up without any of the aftereffects was kind of great.

“Days 6-7: I just want a nap….” This is an interesting one, because last night, having forgotten about this timeline, I was trying to theorize with Little Fish about why I was having such a hard time waking up this weekend. I thought it might’ve been because I’d started taking my allergy medication at night and it was knocking me out. But now I’m wondering whether it is indeed because of the Whole30. In any case, the food we made this weekend included a DELICIOUS Mexican chorizo, red potato, and spinach scramble for breakfast with a side of banana drizzled with some homemade cinnamon macadamia nut butter (heavenly).

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It also included some grilled salmon that I marinated in coconut aminos, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes, but unfortunately for me, resulted in my only fail of the week when I accidentally burned it. It was still delicious; we just lost some to the pan. We ate it with leftover oil and vinegar coleslaw and cauliflower rice that I drizzled with some homemade ghee (see my instagram for some process photos)! I also made the happy discovery that Applegate grass-fed beef hotdogs are Whole30 compliant, so we rounded out the weekend with hotdogs and grilled onions and, you guessed it, coleslaw. And, of course, at some point I snacked on some apples and macadamia nut butter.

 

Overall thoughts: I know I’m not supposed to weigh myself and count calories and whatnot, but for me this is as much a fitness tool as it is a nutritional reset. So I’m pleased to say I lost at least 2 pounds this week and, even despite all the food I’ve been eating, I’ve continuously clocked in at below my calorie goals. I still get sugar cravings every once in a while, but I’m actually pretty impressed with my willpower, especially at the sushi happy hour. I am sort of preemptively sad that  I won’t be able to enjoy a nice, fun meal out for my birthday next week, but Little Fish and I will be scheduling a birthday dinner for when I get back from Mexico so patience I must have.

Fig and Prosciutto Salad

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For someone who, not long ago, would gag at the suggestion of a salad for dinner, it’s slightly unsettling that this has been the Summer of Salads. In just a few short months, I’ve brought you a tuscan kale salad, a cucumber caprese salad, and a watermelon mint steak salad. And just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be any more salads up my sleeve? I bring you this: a blue-cheese-stuffed and prosciutto-wrapped fig salad. If you think that sounds pretty fancy for a salad, it is. But whoever said salads had to be boring?

I’d been on the lookout for figs at the farmer’s market for months now. I remember one time in May, I thought I’d seen figs in the Central Market flyer, so I went determinedly to go find some. After painstakingly browsing each fruit bin, Mr. Little Fish decided to just ask a worker where we could find them. “See those bins with the bananas? Right next to them.”  Yes! I thought, as I quickly shuffled between the crowd to get to them. Alas, upon arrival, only lowly dates sat in their place. Of course, when we went to ask again, employee-man said he thought we’d said dates, but figs, well, they didn’t have any. Sigh.

So, I waited, drooling over the fig pictures that kept popping up on my instagram. I had never even tried fresh figs before, only dried, but I had convinced myself they would be my new favorite thing. So, I went to the farmer’s market every weekend, crossing my fingers that this would be the time. Once, I happened across Confituras (find them on instagram!), a local small-batch jam maker, at the farmer’s market and bought some of her sugar fig jam, which was so good that I temporarily forgot about The Search for Figs.

But then, one Saturday, my friend M realized that she had weekends to herself again, so we decided to celebrate. I suggested going to the lobster roll truck at the farmer’s market, because when else is a great time to buy a $16 sandwich than when you’re feeling celebratory? So, off we went, with butter lobster rolls on our minds, and all thoughts of figs forgotten. But lo and behold, at the tiniest table in the whole market: baskets and baskets of fresh figs. Despite the odd looks I was getting from my friend M, I couldn’t contain my joy. I strolled right up to the vendor, said “that one!” while assertively pointing at the cute container on the corner, and handed over the cash. I was a woman on a mission. Feeling giddy with accomplishment, I asked the vendor was his favorite way to eat the figs was, and he suggested wrapping them in prosciutto and grilling them. PURE GOLD, I thought.

The idea went even further when, two stalls down, I happened across my favorite goat-cheese maker, CKC Farms. The enabler than I am, I convinced my friend M to try their plain goat cheese while I sampled there baby blue. Although I’m not typically a fan of blue cheese, I loved this one! It was very silky and smooth and had that lovely creaminess that goat cheese has. Remembering my plan for the figs, I declared that before wrapping them in prosciutto, I would first stuff them with this cheese. Meanwhile, my friend M shot darts at me with her eyes as she handed over the cash for the goat cheese she couldn’t stop herself from buying. =)

Thus, this salad was born on a weeknight after work two nights later. I paired it simply with a bed of arugula, some walnuts sprinkled over the top, and with a dash of balsamic vinegar. You can add whatever you’d like to it. You could even go fancier by reducing the balsamic vinegar with some honey until it’s a lovely, sweet syrup.  If you’re not a fan of blue cheese, this would work just as well stuffed with regular old goat cheese or, if you’re dairy-free, no cheese at all. Also, I ate this as a meal itself, but it would definitely make a great side for a steak on a date night (you’re welcome. 😉 !

Fig and Prosciutto Salad
Serves 2

IMG_7881Ingredients:

1 pint fresh figs, gently washed and dried
3 oz prosciutto
1 small package baby blue goat cheese
4 cups baby arugula
1-2 tbsps walnuts
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp bacon fat or butter, for grilling

Directions:

1.  Using a sharp knife, delicately cut each of the figs in half. If they are very ripe, they will be a little mushy and you don’t wanna squish them too much.
IMG_78852.  Use a spoon to put a tiny bit of blue cheese in the center of each fig half. The amount should be proportional to the size of the fig and to your own personal preference.
IMG_78873.  Then, since my figs were quite small, I tore each piece of prosciutto into threes and carefully wrapped each third around one fig half. Make sure to wrap it fairly tightly so that the fig stays in the prosciutto when frying.
IMG_78884. Heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat, and add the fat. Once the fat is melted and/or started to lightly smoke, use tongs to place each fig half in a circle lining the outside of the pan and work clockwise until you get to the center. This will help you remember which figs hit the heat first, so you’ll follow the same pattern when it comes time to flip. Let sit for 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned. Use tongs to flip each fig over, and allow to sit another 2-3 minutes, until desired brownness. Remove from plate and turn off the heat.
IMG_78905. On a separate plate, put down about 2 cups of the arugula. Top with 4-5 figs, a tablespoon of walnuts, and more blue cheese crumbles, and drizzle about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over it. Enjoy!
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Grilled Fig and Prosciutto Salad
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 pint fresh figs, gently washed and dried
  • 3 oz prosciutto
  • 1 small package baby blue goat cheese
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 1-2 tbsps walnuts
  • 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp bacon fat or butter, for grilling
Directions
  1. Using a sharp knife, delicately cut each of the figs in half. If they are very ripe, they will be a little mushy and you don't wanna squish them too much.
  2. Use a spoon to put a tiny bit of blue cheese in the center of each fig half. The amount should be proportional to the size of the fig and to your own personal preference.
  3. Then, since my figs were quite small, I tore each piece of prosciutto into threes and carefully wrapped each third around one fig half. Make sure to wrap it fairly tightly so that the fig stays in the prosciutto when frying.
  4. Heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat, and add the fat. Once the fat is melted and/or started to lightly smoke, use tongs to place each fig half in a circle lining the outside of the pan and work clockwise until you get to the center. This will help you remember which figs hit the heat first, so you'll follow the same pattern when it comes time to flip. Let sit for 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned. Use tongs to flip each fig over, and allow to sit another 2-3 minutes, until desired brownness. Remove from plate and turn off the heat.
  5. On a separate plate, put down about 2 cups of the arugula. Top with 4-5 figs, a tablespoon of walnuts, and more blue cheese crumbles, and drizzle about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over it. Enjoy!

Hatch Chili Sausage Saute

Those of you who follow me on instagram (if you don’t, you should! Check out the pictures on the sidebar to see why! @gwensfishfood) might already have been indirectly introduced to my latest obsession:

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It was Hatch Chili Fest at HEB last week, and I happened to go grocery shopping on the first day of it (totally just on accident, yup), which meant:

X ALL THE THINGS - Sample All of the things!

They had Hatch chili bread, hatch chili enchilada sauce, hatch chili salmon, hatch chili guacamole….seriously you name it, they had it. My favorites were these hatch chili and cheese sausages and, of course, this jalapeno hatch chili jam. At the store, it was served on top of cream cheese for a dip (yum!), and also served as a topping for the sausage. (Unexpected bonus: the sample ladies were feeling extra generous, so I got nearly an entire sausage as a “sample” and a whole quarter of a turkey burger.)

So, naturally, I bought both the sausage and the jam (and this hatch bean dip that was ah-mazing). I still had a bunch of kale leftover from making this kale salad on repeat for about 2 weeks, so the next morning, before work no less, when I realized I didn’t have leftovers for lunch (see: eating too many samples and not being hungry for dinner the night before), I threw together a quick sort-of stir fry. The kale worked out perfectly because it was able to withstand the heat of the sautéed sausage and onion and was just perfectly wilted by the time I ate lunch. But, since then, I’ve thrown this same stir fry on spinach and arugula and both were delicious. And, like any stir fry, you can mix and match the veggies to suit whatever you have on hand! If I add other veggies, I usually saute the onion for a little while by itself, and then I’ve thrown in things like broccoli and mushrooms for extra flavor. The nice thing about this is that, once you add the hatch jam, the sugar in it helps everything caramelize. The other nice thing is that it takes all of 10 minutes! Happy hatch season to you!

Hatch Chili Sausage Saute
Serves 1
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Ingredients:

1 hatch chili and cheese sausage link (or any other sausage), sliced into thin rounds
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
2 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed, or other leafy green
1 tbsp Jalapeno Hatch Chili jam
1/2 tbsp fat, such as butter or coconut oil, for sauteing
Optional: other veggies for you stir fry, e.g. broccoli or mushrooms

Directions:

1.  In a large skillet, melt your fat over medium heat. Once melted, add the sliced onions to the pan, and cook for about 3-5 minutes until softened. Make sure to push it around with your spatula so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. NOTE: if you plan on adding other veggies, here is where you would add them.
IMG_78142.  Add the sliced sausage to the pan, and again push it around so it doesn’t stick (think stir-fry technique). Cook until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes.
IMG_78173. Add the tablespoon of hatch jam, and stir well to coat the veggies and sausage.
IMG_78194. Put the kale in a bowl or large plate, as a bed. Pour the sausage and veggie mixture over the kale. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes so the kale wilts, and then serve!
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Hatch Chili Sausage Saute
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 hatch chili and cheese sausage link (or any other sausage), sliced into thin rounds
  • ½ red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed, or other leafy green
  • 1 tbsp Jalapeno Hatch Chili jam
  • ½ tbsp fat, such as butter or coconut oil, for sauteing
  • Optional: other veggies for you stir fry, e.g. broccoli or mushrooms
Directions
  1. In a large skillet, melt your fat over medium heat. Once melted, add the sliced onions to the pan, and cook for about 3-5 minutes until softened. Make sure to push it around with your spatula so it doesn't stick to the bottom. NOTE: if you plan on adding other veggies, here is where you would add them.
  2. Add the sliced sausage to the pan, and again push it around so it doesn't stick (think stir-fry technique). Cook until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the tablespoon of hatch jam, and stir well to coat the veggies and sausage.
  4. Put the kale in a bowl or large plate, as a bed. Pour the sausage and veggie mixture over the kale. Allow to sit for a couple minutes so the kale wilts, and then serve!

Banana Oat Bread

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I had originally intended on posting a recipe that uses the Jalapeno Hatch Pepper Jam from HEB that I’ve been obsessed with, but then I realized that I had three bananas that were quickly getting on the ugly side of ripe, and I decided to make this recipe instead. Because, banana bread. Duh.

I don’t really have a fun story to tell today, so I’ll just tell you about this bread and save the stories for when I have more energy to tell them (something I think that this weekend’s beach time will go a long way towards restoring!). The original recipe came from pinterest, where one of my coworkers had pinned this recipe from the Healthy Apple. I’ve loved the idea of using oats as a flour since I first made my strawberry rhubarb breakfast bars a while back. I love using oats as flour mostly because I’m too cheap to buy fancy gluten-free flour mixes (or really, any specialty flour, coconut and almond included). I really try to stay away from the treats more generally (and making treats with coconut or other gluten-free flour are still treats!), so I also don’t really buy those things on principal–I know that buying them will make me feel like I need to use them and BAKE ALL TH E THINGS, which sort of defeats the purpose of clean eating.

So oats–>flour. What I especially like about using oats is that, even if you indulge more than you should in said baked good, all you’re really doing is eating oatmeal. And oatmeal is healthy sooooo the baked good is healthy too (right??! Right.)! It’s a little mindhack I use when I want to feel a little decadent but don’t really wanna ruin a good streak I’m on. As it stands, this recipe is gluten-free, vegan, refined-sugar free, and dairy-free. BUT the decadence can definitely be fine-tuned: want to err on the side of dessert? Add more chocolate chips and maybe a tablespoon more of maple syrup. Want to make this super healthy and nut free? Omit the chocolate chips entirely and substitute the walnuts for sunflower seeds and/or pepitas. Don’t care about being vegan? Use butter in the place of the coconut oil. You can make this recipe totally yours! And really, all it is is oatmeal. 😉

Banana Oat Bread
Serves 6

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Ingredients:  

2.5 cups gluten-free traditional rolled oats
3 tbsp real maple syrup
4 tbsp melted coconut oil+more for greasing
3 medium bananas, very ripe
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup walnut pieces
1/3 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips or regular chocolate chips if you don’t mind a bit of dairy
2 tsp ground flax-seed

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a tiny bit of melted coconut oil to grease your loaf pan well. Set the pan aside.
2. In a blender or food processor, add your rolled oats, and blend until you have a fine flour.

3. In the same blender/processor, add the baking soda, baking powder, and ground cinnamon and mix everything together. I used a fork, but you could easily just give the blender/processor another couple of pulses to blend.
IMG_77904. In a large bowl, use a potato masher (or a fork) to mash your bananas together until almost smooth.

5. Add your maple syrup, coconut oil, salt, and vanilla extract to the bananas and mix well.
IMG_77886. Then add the dry oat mixture, the chocolate chips, and the walnuts to the mixture, and mix until you can’t see any dry oats anymore.

7. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and use a spoon to smooth it out so it’s evenly distributed.  Sprinkle the flaxseed over the top.

8. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 40-50 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

9. Remove from oven, and let cool for about 10 minutes. Serve warm by itself, with a pat of butter, or with your favorite jam!
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Banana Oat Bread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Bread
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2.5 cups gluten-free traditional rolled oats
  • 3 tbsp real maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp melted coconut oil+more for greasing
  • 3 medium bananas, very ripe
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅔ cup walnut pieces
  • ⅓ cup
  • Enjoy Life chocolate chips
  • or regular chocolate chips if you don't mind a bit of dairy
  • 2 tsp ground flax-seed
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a tiny bit of melted coconut oil to grease your loaf pan well. Set the pan aside.
  2. In a blender or food processor, add your rolled oats, and blend until you have a fine flour.
  3. In the same blender/processor, add the baking soda, baking powder, and ground cinnamon and mix everything together. I used a fork, but you could easily just give the blender/processor another couple of pulses to blend.
  4. In a large bowl, use a potato masher (or a fork) to mash your bananas together until almost smooth.
  5. Add your maple syrup, coconut oil, salt, and vanilla extract to the bananas and mix well.
  6. Then add the dry oat mixture, the chocolate chips, and the walnuts to the mixture, and mix until you can't see any dry oats anymore.
  7. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and use a spoon to smooth it out so it's evenly distributed. Sprinkle the flaxseed over the top.
  8. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 40-50 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Remove from oven, and let cool for about 10 minutes. Serve warm by itself, with a pat of butter, or with your favorite jam!