BREAKFAST tortilla cup

We typically eat different foods at different times of the day. But why should that be so? Who made eggs best to eat at breakfast? I really don’t know but I’m not really arguing either. Don’t get me wrong, we eat eggs all throughout the day. My latest fav is the runny fried egg that my husband tops our chicken fried rice with. Yet, I appreciate eggs the most at breakfast.

Breakfast is often people’s most favorite meal of the day. Personally, I think it’s because normally it’s not a meal we put much effort into so when we do, it seems so much more decadent without too much effort.

Kind of like this little gem. This is barely a recipe. It was so easy to put together, I used whatever I found in my fridge, and then it sat in the oven while I tided up and drank my glorious iced cappuccino. And yet, when my husband came downstairs last week to see this little guy resting on the counter, his eyes lit up and he asked what was this little bowl of happiness and what made today so special that it got made?

This is more of an idea than a recipe. After the tortilla and the eggs, you can put in anything you want. I love onions so I add them anywhere I can but of course if you don’t want onion breath so early in the day, leave them out. Next time I’m going to try mushrooms and poblano pepper which is easy to find here and a staple in our fridge. Great thing is, because they’re so versatile you can make each one individualized for every person at your breakfast table.

Try this “idea” your way and add any ingredients that will put a smile on your face for the rest of the day!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small flour or corn tortilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 slice bacon, cooked and diced
  • 1 TAB diced parsley
  • 1 TAB chopped onion or green onion
  • 1 TAB diced tomatoes
  • 1 TAB cheddar or parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a small oven-safe bowl. Fit tortilla in it. Crack two eggs and pour into tortilla. Add all other ingredients. Pour a little olive oil over the top of the eggs. Put in oven for about 15-20 minutes or until egg whites are set. Remove and enjoy.

Serves 1.

Bacon & Cheese Waffles

I love the sitcom Parks & Rec. I love the character Leslie Knope. Probably the only thing I don’t get about her is her obsession for waffles. Nor anybody else’s obsession with waffles, frankly.

The only meal of the day I do not prefer carbs at is breakfast. I would much rather have eggs, bacon, yogurt, fruit … anything other than pancakes or waffles. I’m not sure why this is. My mother always made fantastic pancakes and waffles. After I moved out, I tried making pancakes the way she did. For years, I never understood what the problem was when they didn’t turn out the same. My family constantly reminded me that my pancakes “aren’t as good as Grandma’s”.  Recently, when I watched her make them, I realized she practically deep fried them, that how much oil was in the pan. Of course they were delicious that way. Of course mine didn’t turn out the same.

This recipe was another that she always made growing up. I thought that everybody knew about bacon and cheese waffles. Seems this is not the case. When I searched Instagram for #baconcheesewaffles the other day there were “fewer than 100 posts”.  That surprised me. Haven’t waffles been done six ways to Sunday?

Guess not.

So today I must share this recipe with you. I will admit, it’s not the same base waffle recipe my mom always made. A trip to Belgium changed that. Have you ever been there? Have you ever had one of their famous waffles? They can shove you with great force off the fence that you’re sitting on about waffles as they did me.

They have two varieties to choose from, the Brussels and the Liege waffle.  The Liege is thicker and contains little clumps of sugar, (not cheap to buy on Amazon), whereas the Brussels one is lighter and more like what you and I are used to. I had no idea there was a difference. But I’ll tell you, I loved every single one I ate in the three days I was in Belgium.

wafflesinbelgium

I appreciate waffles more now. Still not to the extent Leslie Knope and the rest of the world does though, I will admit.  So if I don’t love waffles why did I post this recipe? Because everybody else loves waffles, especially does my family love this bacon and cheese version.

When I make waffles, I make such a mess that it’s not worth it for me to just make them for that morning. I always double the recipe, let the waffles cool on a rack like you would any baked good, and then freeze in Ziploc bags. Then they just need to be popped into a toaster for a few minutes whichever morning you are ready for them. Much better than those boring, stale, pre-packaged frozen waffles, let me tell you.

This version has less sugar in it than most because it’s a savory waffle and because the maple syrup makes it sweet enough. Beating the egg whites separately is what makes it as close to a Belgian waffle as possible without the special pearl sugar and customized waffle makers that they use in Belgium that I want so bad but can’t bring myself to buy.

Laying a strip of cooked bacon down right on the top of the batter is what makes that bacon poke out on the top instead of getting lost in the batter. Ain’t it gorgeous?

Happy waffling!

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 12 strips bacon, cooked and cut in half

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar and whisk to combine.

Put egg whites into a small, dry bowl. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, a few minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together yolks, milk, and oil.

Add wet mixture to dry, stirring only until just combined. Add cheddar cheese. Gently fold in egg whites.

Heat waffle iron. Spray with non-stick spray. Pour batter into waffle iron, filling well. Lay down four strips of bacon on top of the batter. Leave lid open for 30 seconds before closing. Cook until golden brown (every waffle iron varies, mine takes about 3-4 minutes per side).

Remove and repeat until all batter is finished.

 

 

Makes 3 large waffles (depending on the size of your waffle iron)

Serving 1/2 waffle each, serves 6 people.

Stuffed French Toast Dippers

I’m sick today.  Stomach flu.  Yes I’m starting today’s food blog off like this.

I’m bored.  There’s nothing to watch on Netflix.  My eyes are too tired to read my friends new book that I’m dying to read.   My stomach can’t handle my eyes scrolling through my food feed.  I feel so weak I should be trying to sleep more, but I just can’t because everything hurts.

Do you know what’s even worse than that? I have dear old friends here for only 6 days, and today is their last day.  Today was supposed to be our beach and cenote day, nice dinner, and games afterwards.  Ug.  Instead my friend is sitting alone at the pool reading.

Stomach flu is the worst.

It does give me time to blog.  I didn’t want to do that either, but I’m going stir crazy so I should do something.

Many moons ago, when my family lived in Bolton, Ontario, we had an adorable little house that I did not then appreciate, but now often think of.  We had beautiful Brazilian cherry-wood floors that stunned most people …. but left me hating them because they showed every speck of dirt and dog hair.  We had a park right across the street, which sometimes would lead to me complaining about the noise of the neighborhood.  It had only been lived in for about 10 months before we purchased it, so it still very much had that starter home look.  Which I hate.  I grew up spending a lot of time in Bloor West Village in Toronto, which, if you don’t know, is a beautiful, old, neighborhood in Toronto’s west end full of stunning little shops, old trees, and houses that had character.  Tons and tons of character.  No two houses were the same.

I love that.

Our house didn’t have character.  So we worked on it little by little.  I am no interior designer, I prefer food.  I was so tired for looking for ‘the perfect chandelier’ for our front entrance.  Don’t get me wrong, I was happy when I found it, but it just didn’t give me the same amount of joy as cooking and baking and feeding people does.

We had an open concept design on the main floor, and the best part of that was that I could see the television from the kitchen.  I could watch all those afternoon cooking shows and get inspired and actually cook along with these dazzling television personalities.

One afternoon, before my son arrived home from school, I saw this idea on television.  Don’t ask me which show because I can’t remember, but I started copying this idea right away.   My kids loved it and I don’t even remember who gave it it’s name, but in our house, they are simply and affectionately called ‘dippers’.

The idea is simple: take whatever combination of peanut butter and jam, or bananas, or Nutella, almond butter, or whatever you use, make a sandwich, treat it like french toast, cut into pieces, and dip into warm maple syrup.

Easy peasy.

Why had I not posted it before now? Because this recipe truly belongs in the ‘Ugly Delicious’ movement.

I’m not gonna lie, I get a little irritated when I see a beautiful pot of pasta or salad with the #uglydelicious attached to it.  It is in no way ugly or I doubt was hard to photograph.

But have you tried to photograph bread that’s oozing out peanut butter out of the sides because the food you make isn’t just to photograph, it’s to eat? The bread isn’t evenly browned because that’s not real life either.  I tried and gave up so many times.

Then I figured I’d have to give in and just do my best.  Yes, it’s not the prettiest plate of food, but it will change your weekend breakfasts with the kids and even an after school snack to new levels, just as it did in our house.

Oh, and thanks to everyone on Instagram who provided me with some name ideas.  I chose my friend Catherine’s idea because I felt it suited this dish perfectly.  I’m not surprised she’d come up with a good name, she’s always been funny and witty, and actually has her own food account on Instagram ‘fabulousfoodiefun’.  Make sure to check her out.

In our house though, these will always just be called ‘dippers’.

And now I need a nap.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 slices of bread of your choice
  • options for sandwich: peanut butter, almond butter, Nutella, bananas, jam, whatever your little one likes best
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten well
  • 1 TAB cinnamon
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • maple syrup for dipping

DIRECTIONS:

Make two sandwiches with whatever ingredients are popular in your house.  In a flat dish, combine milk, egg, and cinnamon.

Heat a medium skillet with a little oil over medium heat.  Dip sandwiches on each side into milk mixture, and then transfer to pan.  Fry a few minutes on each side, or until nicely browned.  Remove to cutting board.  After a minute or two, cut into strips and serve with a little maple syrup to dip into.

Serves 2.

Egg in a Bagel hole

Do you ever get tired of serving eggs the same way?  Don’t have enough ingredients in the house to dazzle the family this morning with stacks of pancakes and french toast?  Grab those bagels from the freezer that you were smart enough to pre-slice and freeze while they were fresh, some butter, and a few eggs, and within 5 minutes, you are going to be happy.  I promise.

We are fortunate here in Playa del Carmen because we now have a few places that sells some great bagels.  Back in the day, there were none to be found.  In fact, in desperation once, we went to a bagel sandwich store and asked if we could just buy four bagels to take home without the sandwich.  They wouldn’t allow us because it was unheard of and they had no idea what to charge us. I didn’t want a bagel sandwich, I JUST WANTED A DECENT BAGEL.

My mother bought bagels from only two places in Toronto that I recall, and that was it.  She would drive through snowstorm, downpour, freezing rain, you name it, for those bagels and those bagels only.  Other bagel shops wouldn’t do.  A good bagel doesn’t need to be toasted or buttered.  It’s good because it’s good all on it’s own.

We used to make and sell our own so we are self-proclaimed bagel snobs.  After we closed our shop, we sold our industrial sized stone oven and all the equipment that went along with it so our bagel making days at 4 a.m. were over.  (I sure don’t miss the hair nets).

I still swoon over a good bagel.  This fact is widely known among my friends, because in recent years, I have had bagels straight from the shops of Montreal brought/sent to me.  Yes indeed, my Italian foodie friend who left me to make pasta and watch Top Chef alone moved back to Montreal, on more than one occasion, has either brought back or sent to me, Montreal style bagels.  The last time it was a surprise.  I walked into my house and saw a couple semi-smooshed bagels on the counter in a brown paper bag.   I just knew.  By looks only, I knew they weren’t from around these parts.  Those kinds of friends can’t be beat.

Here’s to a simple yet satisfying breakfast.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 bagels
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 TAB butter
  • salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Slice bagels in half.  If bagel hole is too small, cut a little more around so that the yolk will fit in the middle.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Put in 2 TAB of butter and melt.  Put two halves of bagels in, sliced side down.  Break one egg into each hole.  Cover with lid and cook about 2-3 minutes, or until egg is cooked as you like it.  Add more butter if necessary.  Remove to plate, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Platz

There are many wonderful things about living in Mexico: white beaches, cheap tacos, swaying palm trees, and the ease of socializing with friends.  One of the downsides is when those friends move to another place or go back home.

The couple that moved here at the same time we did over 9 years ago has since moved on to Guatemala.  I probably would have never gone to Guatemala except for the fact that two sets of our dearest friends moved there.  Only after we visited for the first time did we realize how beautiful the country is.  We visited Lake Atitlan, which is unparalleled in its beauty.  The city of Antigua, nestled below a few volcanoes, including Fuego which is still active, is beautiful in its colonial buildings, heritage, and great food.  From Cancun, the flights can be less than $100 each way.

Despite all of that, we’ve only been there twice.  Life is busy and we just never get to visit with the people we love as often as we want.  That’s why, when I do visit, I kind of want to do, see, and eat the same things I did last time.  Except for hiking up the volcano Pacaya.

I like to go along with the gang, but this time, I may have been in over my head.  Did anybody tell me that it’s 2 miles straight up?  We decided to do it only with our trusty legs and to forgo the horses that are literally nudging your butt three quarters of the way up.  Not making it any easier were their owners behind them, who would call out ‘taxi, taxi’, just waiting for the first sign of weakness.  We refused to give in. Instead, we used our sturdy walking sticks.  We had to rest often, between altitude that us coastal people can’t handle and the hike itself.  Of course, the effort was worth it.  The views were spectacular.  Roasting marshmallows on hot lava rocks was an experience itself.  We drank in the beauty around us.

Then came the walk down.

I can’t tell you how many times I fell.  You would think I’d had a bit too much to drink.  Instead, my calves had had enough.  Because I was the oldest of the bunch, nobody was really laughing, I got more words of concern every time I slipped.

And I thought climbing up was the hard part.  My calves hurt for daaaaaaaaayyyysssss.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I did it, but I now consider it checked off my Bucket List, not to be re-visited.

When we do visit our friends in Antigua, there are three things that I expect to be fed: the husband’s Peasant bread, the wife’s Tortilla soup, which recipe I forced her to give to me and is on the blog, and this dessert.

It’s simple, fast, and you’ll always have the ingredients on hand.  While I almost never buy fresh berries here because they’re quite pricey, I always have a bag of frozen mixed berries in the freezer.

Just the smell of this baking today reminded me of dear friends, adventures together, and the food we eat that binds us all together.
INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened and cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups mixed berries

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Add butter and cut into flour mixture until it looks like small crumbs.  In a separate bowl, beat eggs; add milk and vanilla and whisk to combine.  Add wet mixture to dry and combine well.

Spread evenly into a cookie sheet.  Top with berries.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then broil for 2 minutes.

Let cool slightly.  Serve warm with whipped cream and/or dust with icing sugar.

 

 

 

Blueberry French Toast

Who doesn’t love brunch? Isn’t it just the most leisurely of meals? What time should it start? Doesn’t matter.  What time should people go home? Doesn’t matter (unless they’ve over-stayed their welcome).  Should you serve coffee or mimosas?  Both, please.   For some reason, it seems to be a meal that we don’t often get to enjoy unless we’re on vacation or it’s a weekend where we don’t have a thousand errands to run.  Brunch is a table in which there is a taste for every person around it.

As mentioned  in this post, I’ll eat a Croque Madame at every brunch, lunch, breakfast, dinner.  I’m a savory girl.  But I have many a friend who love the sweet: the pancakes, the waffles, the sweetened whipped cream.  And I want need to make my people happy.

The last time we held a brunch at our home, I wanted to do something a little different, a little more elevated.  So I fiddled around with a fancier french toast.  I started off with some croissants from our French bakery, prepared them like french toast, and added a sweetened cream cheese with fresh blueberries inside and out.

frenchtoast3

Yum.  It was the perfect amount of sweet, combined with that beautiful, flaky croissant.  It took the same amount of time as any other french toast or pancake recipe, definitely less time than waffles, and it provided a ‘wow’ factor when brought out.

I like blueberries with this, but you can try any other berry.  If you use strawberries, just slice them so they fit nicely in the croissants.

Enjoy this while you have the most relaxing of meals, the brunch.  What other things would you like to see on the blog that can elevate your brunch?  Let me know below!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 good-quality croissants
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 TAB honey
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, whisk or cream together cream cheese and honey until smooth.  Set aside.

In a shallow dish, combine cream, milk, egg, and cinnamon and whisk well.  Slice croissants in half.  Heat a little vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Dip both sides of croissants into milk mixture and fry each side, about 2 minutes each, trying not to flatten croissant.  Remove from pan to plate.  Repeat with other croissants.

Smear cream cheese mixture evenly on bottom of four croissants.  Add blueberries.  Top with top part of croissant and a little more cream cheese mixture if desired and blueberries.

Serve immediately with warmed maple syrup.