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Avocado Toast

March 12, 2016


Mrs. Smith Cooks started in 2010 as a scrapbook of my cooking and a way to share the recipes that delighted me and my family. I still cook and experiment with recipes but don’t take as much time as I used to to share them on this blog. In the last several years my attention has focused more on children’s spirituality and the church, and I’m blogging at more on those issues. There are still recipes I’d like to share from time to time, though, and for now, I’m going to post those both at and at, though maybe I’ll merge them in the future.  So… avocado toast.

There are so few ingredients in avocado toast, it hardly counts as a recipe. Then again, toast is super trendy right now, and the story of how the artisanal toast trend came to be is so much deeper than you’d think.

This avocado toast is worth sharing, then, because it’s one of those things where the total is more than the sum of its parts: avocado, hearty bread, a squeeze of lemon juice, good salt, and a sprinkle of cumin. That’s it. Somehow, though, those ingredients combine in this super amazing way and creates a breakfast or snack you’ll want to eat every. single. day.  (Not that I do that, of course, hee hee.)  Give it a try, watch something so simple become your favorite breakfast.

A few notes:

  • Though I’m not a super foodie, I have noticed the fun in trying different salts. For this toast, I use himalayan sea salt. Sounds fancy, but it’s not that expensive. I buy from, but here’s some on Amazon.
  • The heartier and thicker the bread, the less soggy and droopy the end result will be
  • When the star of the show is avocado, one had best be sure that the avocado is perfectly ripe. Avocados can be finicky, it seems that the window between underripe and overripe is really narrow. If you’re interested in reading an article (with 65 comments!) about getting the perfect avocado, try this one. Another avocado PSA: never refrigerate your avocados!

Avocado Toast, One Slice 


  • One slice hearty bread
  • 1/2 of a perfectly ripe avocado, sliced (if you’re taking a picture of it, otherwise just mushed on the bread)
  • Generous squeeze of lemon or lime juice
  • Big Pinch of sea salt
  • Teeny pinch of cumin

Instructions: (ha! writing instructions for toast! It’s amazing, I’m not kidding!) 

  1. Toast the bread as dark as you can without burning it (helps it to hold up under the weight of the avocado)
  2. Top with avocado, squeeze of juice, pinch of salt and pinch of cumin. Tip for the cumin: put your fingers up really high and sprinkle from up there so the cumin doesn’t fall down in one big glob. I’m serious about this. I make this toast nearly every day and I was getting tired of the cumin glob.

Source: Adapted/invented from the avocado toast I love to eat at Rosella Coffee in town




Blueberry Lime Sauce for Waffles, Pancakes and Ice Cream!

August 1, 2015


I make blueberry sauce a lot. So much, in fact, that I’ve had a chance to try a variety of different recipes and choose a favorite. (Note: it is probably not a coincidence that my favorite one has the added addition of butter. Ahem.) Most of these recipes include (in addition to the obvious blueberries) cornstarch, some sort of citrus juice and zest, and sugar. It’s blueberry season, so I’ve been making this recently. It takes about 10 minutes to make, so if you’re at a loss for what to bring to someone’s house for a summer pool party, just grab some vanilla ice cream and bring some of this sauce. People will be licking it off of their plates! We eat it on waffles, stir it in to yogurt, and put it on pancakes. I also bring it as a sauce for my favorite any-berry cake. 

Summer Blueberry-Lime Sauce


  • 1 pint blueberries (or 12 oz bag of frozen)
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (we use key limes)
  • 1/2 t. lime zest
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 1 T water
  • 2 T butter


  1. In a small bowl, stir together the water and cornstarch until a paste is formed, and set aside
  2. Combine berries, sugar, lime juice and zest in a small nonreactive pan* (HERE’s a good one)
  3. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the berries begin to soften a little and release their juices (2-3 minutes)
  4. Stir in the prepared cornstarch mixture and continue to stir until the sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes more.
  5. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter until its melted.

Voila! Amazing blueberry sauce!

*what’s a nonreactive pan, and why do you need one? Here’s a good article about it

FCC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which keep running.

Caramelized Onions in the Slow Cooker

December 29, 2014


There are a few “basics” I make all of the time but never post on this blog because unlike the last flashy and fancy bourbon pumpkin cheesecake recipe I posted, they are, well, basic. I have a few of these, though, that I’m going to post, not because they are so revolutionary, but because the technique is so simple and maybe different from the way that it’s usually done. (Cooking beans in the oven without soaking them? Yes, yes, that’s how I make them all the time now, more on that in another post.)

Ok, let’s talk about caramelized onions, shall we? Here’s the thing. Recipes lie about caramelized onions.  It takes a long, long time to truly caramelize them, but a caramelized onion is an amazing thing in the kitchen. I use them to make mujaddrra (yet another recipe I want to share sometime, harumpfh) and tacos with black bean and sweet potato (I actually did share that recipe a long, long time ago). I also stir them into omelets or throw them in to any dish that needs a little perking up.

love to make them in the slow cooker. For one, they get truly caramelized, for another, they take hardly any work at all, just cut them up, throw them in the slow cooker and wait.  (The cutting of the onions the hardest part of the job, for me. Onion goggles, anyone? I seriously would use these if I had them, and I’m not joking.) Ok, without further ado…

Caramelized Onions in the Slow Cooker 


3-5 pounds yellow onions (enough to fill your slow cooker 3/4 of the way full)

3T olive oil or melted butter

1/2 t. salt


1. Slice all the onions. The original recipe I used says to “thinly” slice them. I think it depends on how you interpret the word “thinly” — don’t make them paper thin or they will stick to the side and burn. I make them what I call “medium thin” — hard to quantify… don’t over think them. Definitely not thick slices, but don’t worry about getting them too thin.

2. Toss with olive oil and salt

3. Cook for 8-10 hours on low. This might take some fiddling with for your own slow cooker. For me, I cook it on low for the first 8 hours, then leave it on “warm” for an additional couple of hours.

4. optional 4th step – cook for an additional 3 hours with the lid ajar. The original recipe says this will result in “jammier” caramelized onions. I’ve made these several times and have never tried it. Just cooking on low for 8-10 hours results in beautiful, deeply caramelized onions.

About stirring — when I have these going in the house, I stop by “from time to time” (If I’m home and not at work) and give them a stir. If I’m not home, I don’t stir them. When I don’t stir them, there are often a few burned ones stuck to the side that I have to throw away, but it’s not a big deal.

To me, there’s something sort of spiritual about these onions. They are a reminder that pungent, strong and humble yellow unions become sweet, tender and complex with heat and time. (Lots and lots of time). Isn’t that true of life?

Original source: The Kitchn  

Gluten Free Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

November 3, 2014


It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on MSC and this is the perfect recipe to come back to. Wow. So good. We’ve been on a cheesecake kick over here at casa Cabarcas-Smith. I’m planning on making a cheesecake for my birthday later this week, and I’m tempted to just make this one again because it was so. good. It’s not hard, but there are quite a few steps — make the crust, let it cool, make the cake, make the topping. It’s worth it. I’ll keep you posted on the birthday cake. For now, enjoy this one. Make it for thanksgiving or just because.

A few pointers:

* I didn’t put on all of the topping when I made this and wished I had. When it bakes it soaks into the cake… just use the whole TWO CUPS of sour cream. Whatever. This dessert has three blocks of cream cheese and BURBON in addition to butter, heavy cream and two kinds of sugars. This is not health food, people. Slather on the sour cream and be happy.

* Another benefit of the topping = it covers up the cracks that form on the top.

* This cheesecake is NOT coming off the bottom of the springform pan in one piece. Don’t even try it. Just serve from the pan bottom. (The greasing of the pan will help you get the individual slices off, but I would have a HEART ATTACK trying to transfer the whole thing. No. Don’t go there.😉

* Yes, you can leave the bourbon out, but if you do, you won’t be able to shadily go to the liquor store and buy the teeny tiny bottles and put them in your purse. That’s what I did. Good times.

* Gluten free ginger snaps — I made this modification for Elias because he’s Mr. Gluten free. People loved the crust the most.

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

Serves 12

For the crust
3/4 cups gluten free gingersnaps
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

(extra butter for greasing pan)

For the filling
1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 T heavy cream
1t vanilla
1T bourbon
1/2 cup white sugar
1 T cornstarch
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t salt
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened


For topping

2 c sour cream
2 T white sugar
1 T bourbon

Garnish: pecan halves


1. Grease the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan with butter

2. Stir together cookie crumbs, pecans, white sugar, brown sugar and melted sugar until well combined. The mixture should look like wet sand. Press into the bottom and 1/2 inch up side of the pan.

3. Chill crust for 1 hour.


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2. Whisk together, pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and bourbon until combined.

3. In a separate bowl (bowl of stand mixer if you have one) stir together white sugar, cornstarch, spices and salt.

4. To the sugar mixture, add cream cheese and beat at high speed until the mixture is creamy and smooth (about 3 minutes) reduce speed to medium, add the pumpkin mixture and beat an additional minute.

5. Pour the filling into the crust, smooth the top and bake until the center is set like jello. It can wiggle a little, but shouldn’t be soupy. (50 – 60 minutes.) Leave cake to cool slightly while making the topping (leave oven on)


1. Mix together sour cream, bourbon and sugar

2. Spread on top of cake (it will look like a lot, but use all of it)

3. Bake for 5 more minutes at 350.

4. Cool cheesecake with topping in the rack for at least 3 hours. Transfer to fridge.

Serve cold or at room temperature.


Source: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen (one of my go to sites for awesome recipes.)

Vanilla Dutch Baby (Puffed Pancake)

June 12, 2014


In recent weeks, I’ve been making this oven baked, puff pancake (aka a Dutch Baby) at least 3x a week for my boys and I. It’s really easy to whip up, doesn’t create a lot of mess, and fills up two toddlers and a mama just fine. Elias doesn’t get any because it’s got regular flour in it (sad face). Awhile ago I posted about David Eyre’s pancake which is very similar to this in preparation, but comes out more crepe-like and less substantial. This one comes out more custardy and seems to suit us a little better these days. It’s so easily customized. We’ve put lemon or orange zest in the batter or cinnamon. I’ve never tried chocolate chips, but someone totally should.

As for what to put on top, most days we eat it with a little powdered sugar and lemon juice, or just plain for the boys, or with some fruit on top. It doesn’t require syrup like regular pancakes do, but I’m sure syrup lovers won’t use that as a deterrent to throwing a little bit of syrup on top.

I also love to serve this to the boys with some sausage or bacon for a quick and easy supper!

Vanilla Dutch Baby, Adapted from Melissa D’Arabian 



3 eggs

3/4 cup milk, warmed in the microwave for 20-30 seconds

3 TBS salted butter

t TBS granulated sugar

3/4 cup flour

1 tsp vanilla extract


Toppings: powdered sugar, lemon juice, fruit of your choice.



1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Put the butter in an oven-safe frying pan (mine’s about 12 inches, I think) and put in the oven to melt while you prepare the batter

3. Whisk eggs and warm milk together for about 30 seconds – 1 minute until the eggs are no longer stringy

4. Whisk in vanilla and flour and whisk until there are no lumps

5. Remove melted butter from the oven and pour most of it (about 3/4s) into the batter, swirl the rest around to coat the pan

6. Pour batter into hot pan

7. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until the pancake is puffed and golden

8. Top with powdered sugar, lemon juice and fruit of your choice.



Takeout Style Chicken Fried Rice

April 10, 2014


When Elias and I were first married, I learned very quickly that he didn’t consider a meal a full meal unless there’s rice. We eat rice in our home every single day. While I learned the secrets of making rice and it’s not hard, I did wonder out loud (on Facebook) awhile ago if I should get a rice cooker. The response was pretty one sided “Yes! Get one! I love mine!” People seemed to be passionate about their rice cookers. One friend was the lone dissenter “I don’t really use mine. Wish I could trade it for one of your books.” It sounded like a great deal to me, and so we made the swap.

The verdict? I love the rice cooker. I really do! What’s easier than making rice? Nothing… except making it in a rice cooker. I think the thing I like about it is that it frees up mental space. I just throw it in there and turn it on and then I’m back to the business of making the “fun” food.

Because of my over zealousness with the new rice cooker, I had a big pot of white rice sitting in the fridge. After a few days it gets a little dried out and not so exciting, so I decided to make chicken fried rice. It seriously cooks up in 15 minutes, and it was so tasty. In addition to being absolutely no trouble to throw together and really tasty, it’s cheap and uses up whatever’s in the fridge (within reason).

Take Out Chicken Fried Rice


3 cups of leftover rice

1 and 1/2 cups cooked cubed (or shredded) chicken

1 cup frozen peas and carrots (total = 1 cup. 1/2 cup of each)

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 eggs

3 T neutral flavored oil (vegetable or sesame, if you have it)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tsp. ginger paste (optional)


  1. Heat oil in a large pan on medium-heat
  2. Add vegetables (onion, peas, carrots) and fry for 3-5 minutes, or until tender
  3. Crack eggs into pan, and scramble them in to the vegetables
  4. Add, chicken, rice, and ginger paste to the pan and stir to combine for two minutes
  5. Finish by adding in soy sauce

Source: Adapted from Rachel Schultz 

Date Night Chicken

March 27, 2014
A lot has happened since the last time I posted a recipe on Mrs. Smith Cooks! I published a book, learned how to make the perfect play-doh pancake (Clayton and Sam say they are delicious!) and started a Faith and Family Newsletter. In fact, I’ve had so much going on that I said to Elias a couple of weeks ago, “I think I’m going to shut Mrs. Smith Cooks Down.” “Yo no estoy de acuerdo” Elias said, which means “I don’t agree.” We talked about it and he had some good points. The whole point of Mrs. Smith Cooks is to document my own cooking adventures. I actually use it all the time to look up my own favorite recipes. I decided that I really do still enjoy cooking and trying out new things, but the hardest part of the blog – styling the food and setting it up and taking nice-ish pictures of it in the sunshine — is something that I just don’t have time for anymore. So, for the 8.2 readers of Mrs. Smith Cooks out there, still, you can expect to continue to see my favorite recipes from time to time, but the pictures will be more iPhone-y / Instagramtastic type shots. I’m ok with that if you are.
Ok, on to the cooking. Recently Elias and I have been instituting “Stay at home date-nights” that involve eating a real “fancy” homecooked meal in peace and drinking wine while the children sleep. Luxurious, I tell you, luxurious. It’s a huge change from the usual “scarf down some enchiladas in between picking up enchilada bits off the floor and wrestling toddlers into feety pajamas.” (as much as we LOVE wrestling the toddlers into feety pajamas and scraping enchilada bits off the floor…) One of the challenges of these awesome stay at home date night meals is finding a dish that feels fancy and wonderful enough for date night but also doesn’t involve a lot of A. Dishes to wash B. Fussing C. Time
When I first saw this dish in the New York Times, I was positive it would work and that we’d love it for all of the reasons just described. The dish is about 30 minutes of hands-on time and another 45ish of letting it simmer and cook on the stove. So great. So French. So delicious. The sauce, you guys. The sauce. We ate this with just brown rice (ok, not JUST brown rice, there was also wine to drink and cake for dessert — can I get an amen?) but there were no vegetables, (aside from the tomatoes in this dish) no fancy potatoes, no delectable side dishes. We didn’t need them. We didn’t care. This dish speaks for itself. It’s the perfect dish for company or for date night. It’s exactly the reason I don’t want to shut Mrs. Smith Cooks down — I would have never dared to make something like this back when I started this blog. I’m so enjoying this adventure.
The only changes I made to this dish are the following:
1. I used six thighs, not eight, for two reasons. 1. I was not about to brown these thighs “in batches” as the recipe suggests. Oh no. When there are toddlers running amuck there will be one batch and one batch only. (And as the Food Network taught me, it’s important not to overcrowd the pan when browning to get a nice sear.) 2. I was pretty sure we’d want a higher sauce to chicken recipe and I was right. Always more sauce. Always more sauce!!🙂
2. I didn’t use cherry tomatoes, I cut these Campari tomatoes into fourths. They looked great at the store, and they were on sale. It was the right choice, but the cherry tomatoes do make for a nicer presentation (See the NYT article’s photo… yum!)
3. Just before adding the tomatoes, I turned the flame way WAY down, to almost non existent and let the chicken go for an extra 15 minutes or so. This wasn’t for any other reason than I wasn’t ready to serve it yet and I needed to keep it warm. I added the cherry tomatoes last minute and it was just fine.
6-8 Bone-in chicken thighs with skin on
2 T flour
1 T each, salt and pepper
2 T Butter
2 T Dijon Mustard
2 C Wine
2 Sprigs Tarragon (plus a little more, chopped, for garnish)
10-12 Medium shallots, peeled
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (see note above)
1. Rinse chicken thighs and pat very dry with paper towels.
2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and flour
3. Melt butter on medium-high heat in a thick, deep frying pan and brown the chicken well on all sides (don’t crowd the pan!)
3. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside
4. Add shallots to the pot with the chicken fat and butter and brown them until they’re lightly caramelized (about 10 minutes)
5. Add the wine to the pot to deglaze (be careful it spatters a little bit) and whisk in tarragon and mustard. Reduce the heat to low and take a moment to revel in the reality that you are as amazing as a French chef.
6. Cover and simmer on low (medium low in my opinion/experience… if your stove has numbers I think it’s about a 3 you’re going for here) for 30-40 minutes. I did the longer end of this because I’m paranoid about raw chicken (gross!)
7. Remove the lid and simmer for another 20-30 minutes on low (to let the sauce thicken)
8. Stir in tomatoes at the last second. Stir to combine.
9. Plate the chicken: spoon sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with a little extra tarragon. Impress the heck out of your handsome husband/wife/girlfriend/SELF.
10. Devour.