Anytime, anyhow

You’d think I’d be a “get up early in the morning and make breakfast girl” since I have this nutso dream of owning a B&B one day. You’d think that waffles, quiches, and pancakes would dominate the posts here, and that the breakfast section of the recipe page would be enough to dedicate a separate page to it. You’d think all these things, but as it turns out, your thinking would be wrong.

I barely make breakfast. Meaning, I double a recipe of granola or granola bars, and I hope they last us a week or two. Making breakfast is reserved for times when we have company, and even then there are way too many great brunch spots to take advantage of in Chicago.

Nonetheless, I’ve always been a fan of breakfast for dinner, and in this group I’d include practically anything involving poached eggs, even though often times you’ll find them in dinner recipes as well. Eggs in purgatory? A very easy recipe that now that I think of it, needs to be revisited. Salad with bacon and poached eggs? That sounds like two ‘breakfast ingredients’ to me.

This one here might be stretching it a bit on the breakfast front, but maybe not.

I mean, I’ve seen a-plenty of breakfast burrito (heck, I had one for brunch today), so it certainly seems plausible to have a breakfast taco in the AM hours, don’t you think? Of course, since I really don’t make breakfast at breakfast all that much, this was most certainly consumed in the nighttime hours.

I’m imagining a remake with scrambled eggs, not that there’s ever anything wrong with the poached variety. Basically, you can have this anytime, anyhow, and even anywhere.

Beef barbacoa all by itself isn’t the worst concept, either. Though you could easily buy the beef already spiced in most any Mexican market, I prefer to spice it, braise it, and marinate those flavors all by my lonesome. Should you choose to do the same, I suggest you plan ahead, as the beef will be tastiest if you let it hang out in the pot, once cooked, overnight.

However, if you are making yourself a meaty breakfast, overnight is just enough time to let those flavors come together, and it might be all the time you could stand before shredding it up and eating it, anyway.

Beef Barbacoa w/ Poached Egg
Adapted from Cooking Light, June 2010

printable version

ingredients
1  (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
6  T salsa, divided (make your own, or buy bottled; I prefer Frontera Salsa)
2  T water
8  (6-inch) corn tortillas
Cooking spray
4  large eggs
1/4  t kosher salt
1/4  t freshly ground black pepper
1  cup Beef Barbacoa (recipe below)
1/2  c (2 ounces) cotija cheese, crumbled
1/4  c finely chopped fresh cilantro
4  lime wedges

instructions
In a small saucepan, mash beans with fork. Combine beans, 2 T salsa, and 2 T water in saucepan over low heat until warm, stirring occasionally. Keep warm.

Preheat oven to 300 F. Wrap tortillas in aluminum foil and heat tortillas in oven for about 8 minutes.

Add water to a large skillet, filling two-thirds full; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer. Break 1 egg into each of 4 (6-ounce) custard cups coated with cooking spray (if you have them; otherwise add eggs to large saucepan full of water). Place custard cups in simmering water in pan. Cover pan; cook 8 minutes. Remove custard cups from water. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over eggs.

Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates, and top each tortilla with 2 tablespoons bean mixture. Top beans with 2 tablespoons Beef Barbacoa. Place 1 poached egg on each plate so it overlaps both tortillas. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon remaining salsa. Sprinkle each serving with 2 tablespoons cheese and 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Beef Barbacoa
Adapted from Cooking Light, June 2010; serves 10 (2 oz servings)

printable version (beef barbacoa only)

ingredients
1  t freshly ground black pepper
1  t dried oregano
3/4  t kosher salt
3/4  t ground cumin
3/4  t ancho chile powder
1  (2 1/4-pound) boneless chuck steak, trimmed
Cooking spray
1  c water
2  garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1  T fresh lime juice

instructions
Preheat oven to 300 F.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl; rub oregano mixture evenly over beef. Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add beef to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Add 1 c water and garlic to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cover and bake at 300 for 3 hours or until beef is very tender. Cool to room temperature. Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight.

Skim fat from surface of broth. Remove beef; shred with 2 forks. Return beef to pan; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer mixture 3 minutes or until liquid evaporates; stir in lime juice. Reduce heat to medium, and cook beef 3 minutes or until crisp in spots.

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Refreshed, Rested, Revived

blue hawaiian


Let me begin by saying there is nothing, nothing at all, like vacation. Whether you go touring the sites in Europe, on an African safari, a remote island in the Caribbean, or simply in the confines of your own home, everyone deserves some time off from life. Time off from being responsible and any issues going on in your life. And yes, time away from the internet.


We chose door number three this year, and landed ourselves on the remote island of Antigua for a week of pure relaxation. We didn’t even plan on having access to the internet, but upon arrival we immediately saw the dreaded hut equipped with wires, a monitor, and a keyboard providing unlimited, free access to the world beyond. Bleh. You think you get away, you think you’re “off the map”, but that world wide web follows you everywhere. We immediately made a promise to only go in that room for brief, very brief, periods of time. For me, I used it to clean the junk outta my inbox.

I responded to one email. I had to, because it made me chuckle. It was from my mother-in-law, and this is what it said:


Hope you are enjoying Antigua. What are you doing spending your time on your blog? I know you love it but now I know you really must love it!!! Love, Susan

You see, she thought I was in that little ol’ hut bloggin’ away. I wasn’t, I swear. I did those posts on jerk chicken and baklava before leaving. I went to my blog once to make sure the formatting didn’t screw up, which blogger sometimes does. In case you were wondering. Just in case.

caribbean


The rest of the time we did just what we intended. We awoke each morning to the wind and the smell of the Caribbean, suited-up and headed down to eat a lackluster breakfast, usually involving an attempt at an egg dish and unripened tomatoes. Or french toast with plain white bread. Thank goodness for the juice of the day and for a new fruit in my vocab, soursop. Afterwards, we plopped down on some lounge chairs and watched the little bitty waves come and go across the turquoise sea that pictures only try to depict. We marinated our bodies with sunscreen and baked in the sun, day after day while drinking blended tropical concoctions. We broke only for lunch – different fish specials, burgers, jerk chicken, and different desserts every day, generally featuring a local fruit.


caribbean sunset


At night, we loaded up with bug spray, ate varied, tasty three course meals, and proceeded to drink wine on the balcony – just us, the mosquitoes, and music from the iPhone. For the life of me, I could not figure out why I got so many bites while Chris got 1. I have stopped three times already, just while typing this, to itch another one and no joke, have at least 100 tiny little bites on places like the side of my hand, my fingers, my armpits, and my heels. According to WebMD, I either get to thank my parents or my body’s ability to quickly process cholesterol. I prefer being the 1 in 10 people writing with the left hand rather than the 1 in 10 who are highly susceptible to mosquito bites. At first I thought the mosquito netting on the bed was for prettiness – I was (obviously) quickly informed otherwise.


cottage


Other than frequent trips to the beach, or to the bar on the beach, or into the Caribbean to cool off, we were fairly stationary. Our hike up to our cottage was our exercise, and that hike stole our breath every time. We mustered up enough energy to jetski and I finally tried my hand, or rather my mind, at scuba. Until next time, let’s just say there is something to be said for ‘overcoming’ a trifecta of fears in one moment and then finding enough courage to live through 45 minutes of that same torture, just hoping an ounce of it fades into the sand below.


cool clouds


Not unlike any other vacation, I choose based on locale but also on cuisine. The resort boasted about their food, their fresh seasonal ingredients, and their variety. Other than breakfast, we were more than satisfied. Don’t get me wrong, I could rattle off dozens of places with better food in the states, but if given the choice of eating good food in the middle of nowhere or excellent food in civilization, I would have a tough time choosing without forming a large column listing pros and cons of each.


Nonetheless, I managed to arrive back in Chicago with tighter jeans and no desire to wear a swimsuit in at least a few months. For that reason, I welcome Fall, sort of. I also arrived with an uncanny craving for breakfast fare. I attribute that to the above-mentioned less-than-ideal breakfasts.


frisee salad

So to kick off “salad week”, I started with a variation of bacon and eggs. I’d found this recipe in one of my go-to’s, Cooking Light, and have toyed with making it on a number of occasions but for various reasons never did. It quickly became a recipe I kicked myself for not making sooner – light but rich in flavor, the tarragon vinaigrette is perfect with a small spoonful of bacon fat that coats every little featherlike piece of frisee. The bacon flavor continues with pieces of crunchy crispy bacon and in the same bite, slightly softened bits of rye crouton. The poached egg on top is like icing on the cake.


frisee salad with poached egg


Frisee Salad w/ Bacon & Poached Eggs
Adapted from Cooking Light, July 2009; Serves 4


printable version

ingredients
4 slices (1 oz ea) rye bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 slices applewood-smoked bacon, but into 1/2 inch thick pieces
1/3 c white wine vinegar
1 T chopped fresh tarragon
3 T olive oil
1/4 t kosher salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 head frisee, torn (8 oz; two small heads)
1 T white vinegar
4 large eggs
Cracked black pepper

instructions
Preheat oven to 400 F

Arrange bread on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, turning once. Cool.

Cook bacon in large skillet over med-hi until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove from pain and set on plate lined with paper towel to drain. Save 1 T drippings. Combine that with white wine vinegar, and next 4 ingredients (through black pepper) in a large bowl, whisking. Add croutons, bacon, frisee, tossing to coat. If saving for leftovers, do not add dressing to entire mix; put dressing (~3 T each serving) in smaller container. Otherwise, divide among 4 plates.

Add water to large skillet, filling 2/3, bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer. Add white vinegar. Break eggs into pan and cook 3 minutes. Carefully remove with slotted spoon and place atop salads; top each with cracked pepper.