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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Milwaukee’s Best

Man, is this shaping up to be one of the best summers ever, or what? Sure, it’s hot practically everywhere, but last time I checked summers are supposed to be hot. So I won’t complain about it, and instead I’ll say that I’ve enjoyed almost every single drop of sweat that’s dripped down my leg these last couple of months.

Especially from this past weekend. Who doesn’t like to sweat beer?

And have pretzels eaten off your necklace? That’s how Milwaukeeans roll, apparently. Following the awesome concert on Friday that was Bon Jovi (& Kid Rock, who really was awesome too although I hated to admit it), we awoke, hit up the Dunkin’, and high-tailed it up I-94 to Rach & Andy’s new digs.

Word on the street is Milwaukeeans cringe when someone calls their city a “miniature Chicago”, but I’m gonna have to agree with whoever started that metaphor because it’s true. Lake Shore Drive, neighborhood variety (even an Evanston-like suburb), enough greenery to briefly forget about the city, Lake Michigan, and plenty of great food, these are just a few things that remind me of Chicago. Of course, there’s also the affordable housing, two-second parking, no waiting at restaurants (even if you make a reservation one hour ahead of time), and serenity that is a road without honking horns that immediately remind you that you are definitely not in Kansas Chicago anymore, and those are things that undoubtedly go straight to the top of my “pro” list after living in this big ‘ol place for 6 years (as of this week!).

In short, I can easily see why Rachel & Andy are happy to call Milwaukee their new home. If it isn’t your home though, I should add that it’s a great summertime road trip if you’re in the Midwest.

The highlight of our short weekend in Milwaukee was the “1st Annual Brew Fest”, which was held in McKinley Park. Forty bucks at the door gets you in for 4 hours of unlimited sampling of local (and no so local) breweries, people-watching galore, and a long line at the facilities. Of course, since this was the “1st Annual Brew Fest”, there were some kinks to iron out, such as the fact that all but 2 breweries literally ran out of beer, and the other obvious issue was the port-o-potty shortage – a 30 minute minimum wait in line, while everyone else (well, everyone not in line) drinks the quickly diminishing beer supply. Overall, it was a great event, and given the 90-minute drive to Milwaukee from Chicago, I’m guessing we’ll be back next year.

By the way, is Rachel gettin’ frisky up there?! Shame on her.

Aside from Brew Fest, we kept leisurely busy by eating, drinking, and drive-by checking out a few breweries and museums as potentials for the next trip. I probably drove Rachel crazy by saying the following exactly 1,000 times, “Wow, you don’t get this back home!”. Usually, this was because we literally walked up to multiple outdoor eateries (in fact, we ate outdoors everywhere we went) at various times (brunch, lunch, and dinner) and were easily able to snag a table for 4. Don’t get me started on the ease of sliding into a parking spot a block away and Andy asking, “Do you mind walking a block?”, as if he never ever set foot in Chicago.

Hubs was oohing and aahing when we stopped by the Harley Davidson museum, but he must not want one as bad as he thinks because my “a puppy for a motorcyle” compromise was laughed off for a fifth time, after an obvious roll of the eye followed by a vehement shaking of the head. Meanwhile, I almost lost my marbles during one of our drives north of Milwaukee when hearing the price tags for the houses up there, realizing again how outrageous the Chicago market is, and how one smallish condo equals one whopping mansion elsewhere. Bleh.

What we both agreed on is the food – plenty of great restaurants offering all kinds of local, seasonal choices, not to mention custard that rivals Goodberry’s, Milwaukee is certainly on my “to do again” list. Of course, with Rach & Andy there, we’d go back even if we hated it, but nonetheless, we didn’t.

The following are some points of interest from our trip (food included, of course). We didn’t go to any breweries this time, what with a festival full of beer at our fingertips, but if you’re in the neighborhood they are certainly worth a visit.

Food
Water Buffalo, 249 N Water St
Alterra Coffee, 1701 N Lincoln Memorial Dr (but multiple locations throughout Milwaukee)
Cafe Hollander, 2608 N Downer Ave
Buckley’s Kiskeam Inn, 801 N Cass St
Kopp’s Frozen Custard, 5372 N Port Washington Rd, Glendale WI (other locations as well)

Sights, etc.
Historic 3rd Ward Neighborhood
Milwaukee Art Museum, 700 N Art Museum Dr
Milwaukee Brew Fest (annual event), 1600 N Lincoln Memorial Dr
The Pabst Mansion, 2000 W Wisconsin Ave
Miller Brewery, 4251 W State St
Harley Davidson Museum, 400 Canal St

Of course, after all the eating and drinking, we entered the Windy City with a relatively tiny appetite, and a salad seemed like the perfect light dinner, not to mention the fact that there was no cooking and relatively little prepping involved. A pit stop at the Whole Foods remedied that situation, and this salad was whipped up in no time and even though we weren’t really hungry, we ate it as if Rachel’d starved us. Hungry or not, this is a great summer salad that hits all the right spots – sweet & salty, chewy & crunchy, you’ll wonder why you don’t eat peaches with prosciutto all the time.

As for summer, we have a whole lot of it left, even though it doesn’t seem that way! I’ll try to share more about our upcoming vacay real soon, because we are ready for suggestions from ya’ll! As for the rest of you, what’s headed your way for the rest of the summer?

p.s. – if you’re a Facebooker, don’t forget to sign up for my new page!

Prosciutto & Peach Salad
Unadapted from Cooking Light, August 2010 (although I won’t pretend that I measured anything); serves 4

printable version

ingredients
2  T  fresh lemon juice
2  t  honey
1/4  t  freshly ground black pepper
1/8  t  salt
2  T  extra-virgin olive oil
1  T  finely chopped fresh mint
1  (6.5-ounce) package sweet butter lettuce mix
2  large ripe peaches, cut into wedges
3  oz  very thin slices prosciutto, cut into 1-inch pieces
3  oz  ricotta salata cheese, divided into 4 equal pieces
2  T  dry-roasted sunflower seed kernels
Small mint leaves (optional)

instructions
Combine first 4 ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Gradually drizzle in olive oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in chopped mint.

Combine lettuce mix and peach wedges in a large bowl. Drizzle lettuce mixture with dressing; toss gently to coat. Arrange about 2 cups salad in each of 4 bowls; top each serving with 3/4 ounce prosciutto, 1 piece of ricotta salata, and about 2 teaspoons sunflower seed kernels. Garnish with small mint leaves, if desired.

picture descriptions
food: Water Buffalo black bean burger, Cafe Hollander coffee, Water Buffalo salmon burger, Alterra honey latte, Cafe Hollander breakfast tostado special, Buckley’s Kiskeam Inn restaurant sign, Kopp’s Frozen Custard cows, Water Buffalo side salad, Milwaukee Brew Fest beer glasses

sights: 3rd Ward neighborhood, Milwaukee Art Museum, harbor view, view from park, the Wisconsin Club, view of Miller Brewery, Miller Brewery sign, Harley Davidson museum, Pabst Mansion