Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

When I was growing up, there were always TV shows were kids were like, “Ugh, Brussels sprouts! Why are you trying to kill me Mom?!”

I can’t recall if my mother ever made us Brussels sprouts, but I’m sure if she ever did I protested it. I’m sure I explained to her that t.v. had taught me that this was an evil green vegetable and was probably Jolly Green Giant’s mortal enemy.

f06a740a-bacc-45a3-83ff-4449b5bb9dad_1-8cc708f880cbfa8244065d0e59c93d2f

He’s probably just a double agent, right?

As I got older and more open, refining my taste for vegetables, I discovered that not only did I not hate Brussels sprouts, but that I freakin love them.

As I’ve stated in previous posts, this love of Brussels sprouts is not as passionate and as deep as my love for spice and cheese, but every once in awhile that green eyed beauty of a vegetable gives me a little wink and I can’t help myself. It’s an on and off again torrid affair, I’m telling you.

My first encounter with Brussels was when I was working at a pizza place that had seasonal menus and pizzas with toppings from local farmers. Every time we changed the menu, we had a special meeting where we would test out the food so we could give the proper recommendations to customers. That’s when I was introduced to Brussells sprouts and bacon pizza.

Yes, you read that right.

I know it sounds weird, but it was amazing.

We also had a side dish of Brussel sprouts sautéed in garlic with this slightly peppery ranch dressing that was to die for. Sometimes for my lunch meal, I’d get that and a side of meatballs.

Best perk working there was the food, let me tell ya.

If you reside in LA, that place is called Pitfire Pizza and you should definitely check it out.

Anyway, thanks to Pitfire, I developed a love for Brussels sprouts and this meal below, from Portlandia is similar to Pitfire’s Brussels sprouts and bacon pizza. It’s got bacon, Brussels sprouts, and it’s heavenly.

What you’ll need

  • 1/2 cup of hazelnuts
  • 1 pound of medium-sized Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 ounces of thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large shallot, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar

The first step is my favorite step. Pre-heating the oven to 350. If it was 400, it’d be my second favorite step.

Next step is to spread the hazelnuts on a pan and toast them for about 12 minutes. You’ll know they’re ready when the shells are cracking a bit. Allow them to cool after the toasting and then rub them with a towel to peel off the shell skin completely. After this step, you will chop them into itty bitty bits.

Next, you will coat your sprouts with oil, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss this mixture until they are evenly glazed.

Meanwhile, place a skillet on your stove top and set that sucker to some high heat. Once the skillet is hotter than a Texas summer, place the sprouts in the skillet with the cut side down. After about 5 minutes, the sprouts should be sufficiently browned and flipped over. Once flipped, cover and cook until they are crisp, yet tender. This should take about 3 minutes.

Remove the sprouts from the pan and replace with bacon. Scale back to a California summer heat setting (medium in case you don’t know) and cook for about 5 minutes.

The shallots are the next item to add to the pan. Cook those puppies while stirring for another 5 minutes.

We are now ready to tag back-in the Brussels sprouts. Toss and combine a couple of times and then add the vinegar. Cook the vinegar until it just about evaporates and then add the nuts and serve right away!

Or…..

You can add an egg, over easy or over medium, however you prefer on top. I did and I highly recommend it.

It’ll probably come to no surprise that I loved this recipe. As I mentioned, bacon and Brussels sprouts pair nicely together. They are both crisp and crunchy but in different ways that compliment each other.

The hazelnuts give it even more texture and add a bit of a salty taste which settles in nicely with the vinegar.

Then there’s the egg. You can’t go wrong with an egg in a skillet dish. At least for me anyway.

Since I’m plugging LA restaurants, I might as well add that this recipe is almost exactly like a breakfast item at The Brite Spot in Echo Park. It’s called the Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Hash and it is to die for!

The major difference is that this dish has potatoes. It’s basically a high end version of Denny’s breakfast skillets. I’m telling you, it’s a simple dish, but there is something they are doing that I can’t figure out and I need to, sorely.

For now, I am more than content with this recipe from Portlandia. 

How could anyone ever hate you Brussels sprouts?

 

 

Bourbon French Toast for the Lost Soul

If you put bourbon on French toast, does that make you an alcoholic or are you just Cajun? Cause you know, bourbon is a southern drink and Cajun people are Southerners who are French.

Don’t get it? It’s ok, I just drank ate too much Vanilla-Bourbon French Toast from Cook This, not That. 

Look I’m not coping well with the state of my nation and I haven’t cooked or written a blog post in so long and to top it off, my phone decided to stop acknowledging any touches on it’s screen which means I can’t access the photo of my drunk toast.

Sigh…I need to make this again to drown my lost soul with bourbon toast.

If you feel similar, here’s what you’ll need

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups of 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup of bourbon (or the whole bottle, it’s ok, I won’t tell)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1 loaf of day-old country bread, preferably whole wheat, cut into 8 slices
  • Butter for pan
  • Syrup for serving

The first step in making drunk French toast is to pre-heat the oven to 225. This is for those of you who want to keep your first batches of cooked toast warm while you finish the rest.

The next step is to combine eggs, milk, bourbon, vanilla, sugar, and nutmeg in a shallow dish. Combine by whisking. Once everything is whisked away soak each slice for 30 seconds on both sides.

After your bread is sloshed soaked, heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt a small slice of butter on it to coat the pan. Add as many slices as you can fit into the pan and cook for about three minutes. Repeat this process on the other side as well.

You’ll know when they are done by the color and firmness of the bread. Ideally they should be golden brown and firm, but not necessarily toasty.

Once your first batch is cooked, you can place them in the oven to keep warm while you cook the rest.

When all the toast has been cooked, serve with syrup and powdered sugar.

Or just a whole handle of bourbon. Why not?

Don’t really do that, that could possibly kill you and I don’t think it would actually be good anyway. So it’d be a waste of bourbon and your life.

drunktoast

Drunk toast, photo not mine because I lost my photo due to phone issues.

img_2101

Long lost footage of lost bread, retrieved from old phone!

Mile-High, Southwest, Western, Denver Omelet

This omelet is brought to you by Cook This, Not That and its official name is Mile-High omelet aka Denver Omelet aka Western omelet aka Southwest Omelet.

Why there are so many names for this omelet? I do not know, but every diner I’ve been to flip-flops on what to call it. My best guess is that some diners are jealous of Denver. The Western and Southwest omelets don’t even want to acknowledge that it’s a Denver thing and the Mile-High ones are trying to be sneaky about it. I imagine a conversation between a Denver citizen and a Mile-High omelet diner goes like this, “So…why didn’t you just name it a Denver omelet?”

“Oh, but we DID! We named it Mile-High because you are the Mile-High City!!!”

“……some people might not know that though. I feel like you’re trying to trick me.”

Mile-High Diner stammers and flashes fake smiles to hide their infinite and envious jealousy. They make up some lame excuse so they don’t look bad and Denver is annoyed, but Denver is used to it. Denver’s motto is “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”

acd400d5-9a96-489b-92ac-b1ee6515b757

Denver doesn’t have time for Mile-High games

Anyway, some people say to make an omelet you’ve gotta break some eggs. That is true. In my case you break a lot of eggs and brutally murder two omelets. “Third time’s a charm” has been proven to also be a true statement.

What you’ll need (For 4 Servings)

  • 1/4 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 4 oz cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 oz smoked ham, cubed or sliced into thin strips
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup of shredded sharp Cheddar

The first step is to heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Saute the bell pepper, mushrooms, and onions for 7 minutes. The vegetables should soften up and be lightly browned. When this happens, add the ham and cook for a minute. Season with salt and pepper to your liking once the ham is cooked.

You are now ready to break some eggs!

Break the eggs into a bowl and add the milk. Whisk this mixture until it’s slightly frothy and season with a bit of salt. (If you are just making an omelet for yourself, I like to use only two eggs and I just splash a bit of milk)

Now here comes the challenging part, making an omelet that doesn’t fall apart. The best advice is to use a skillet that is as non-stick as possible. Heat that skillet over medium heat with a dash of olive oil. Swirl the oil in the pan so that it can act as extra non-stick protection. Then pour one-quarter of the eggs in the pan. As they cook, take a wooden spoon and scrape the outer edges. This is to even out the eggs as well as a check to see how settled the omelet is. When the eggs are almost fully cooked, you will add one-quarter of your filling and one-quarter of the cheese on one half of your eggs.

Here comes the other hard part. Take a spatula and carefully fold over the empty side of your omelet. My best advice to accomplish this is to use the wooden spoon and the spatula. You can also tilt your pan as you lift the empty side of your omelet.

Once flipped, I like to let it cook a little more so the cheese is a melted, gooey deliciousness but feel free to take it off for consumption as soon as possible.

I’m not sure what to say about the taste. It’s your standard omelet and I love omelets so that’s my lazy way of saying that it’s good. Whether you successfully flipped your omelet or not, the final taste will be rewarding.

I did get super excited about that final omelet though. I still haven’t mastered omelet cooking, but I love to eat them, no matter what they are called.

 

 

 

 

 

Monkey See, Monkey Do, but Monkey Don’t You Dare Eat Healthy Banana Pancakes

My latest recipe comes from Cook This, Not That. For once, I have to say I’d rather eat the fattening thing, and not cook and eat that.

It’s such a let down when I don’t like a recipe that looked scrumptious and delectable. My disappointment was amplified due to the fact that it’s also supposed to be a healthy alternative. It wasn’t disgusting, but the cookbook claimed that with cottage cheese and yogurt as a base, my pancakes would be fluffy and scrumptious. They were more like bland, crumbly, and dry. The only saving grace were the bananas. I forced myself to eat my leftovers the next day and I just smothered that pancake in bananas. Syrup would help too, I bet, but I didn’t have any syrup.

If a pancake is fluffy and buttery enough, I actually prefer to eat without syrup. I used to smother my pancakes with syrup, like most mid-westerners, until I realized I wasn’t sure what a pancake tasted like without all the bells and whistles. So one day I tried it without and came to the conclusion that syrup wasn’t always necessary. I tried the same thing with sushi and found that I loved the taste on its own. In fact soy sauce ruins the taste for me now, so I never use it.

My mini food experimentation made me realize that with many foods, we learn to automatically eat it in a certain way. We aren’t even sure if we like it that way, we just copy what our culture taught us. How do you know if it’s better that way, if you don’t try it plain first? For the weight conscious, you’re just automatically adding calories for something you might not even like all that much. So why eat everything the way society tells us to? Branch out. Rebel. It’ll be ok.

You will fail sometimes. It’s inevitable, but taking risks is what makes life enjoyable. I failed when I tried to make these healthy banana pancakes, but at least I know. Right?

What you need are, 1 cup of plain 2% Greek yogurt, 1 cup of low-fat cottage or ricotta cheese, 3 eggs, juice of 1 lemon, 1 cup of white whole wheat flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 2 sliced bananas.

The first step is to make your pancake batter. To do so, whisk the yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. In a larger bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and a pinch of salt. Once your two bowls are mixed, combine bowls to unleash your ultimate pancake batter power.

The next step is get your pancake skillet out. I know you all have one. Do what you normally would do with pancakes, except this time around add three to four banana slices soon after your batter hits the pan. The next steps are normal pancake cooking steps. In case someone out there doesn’t know how to cook pancakes, all you do is cook one side for at least 3 minutes and then flip it and cook the other side for about 3 minutes.

I would like to mention a useful tip that this cookbook provided as well. I actually do the same thing whenever I’m making pancakes or appetizers that take awhile to cook through the whole batch. While you are waiting to cook the rest of your batch, set your oven to 200 degrees and place your cooked pancakes in the oven. This temperature setting keeps the pancakes warm and won’t result in overcooking. That way, when you are finally finished nothing will have gotten cold in the process.

I know I already let the cat out of the bag that I was disappointed in these pancakes, but I wouldn’t mind trying it again. I think I might have messed up with the type of flour I used. I had some white whole wheat flour, but it’s probably kind of old. I’m guessing that might have affected the texture a little. Also, I’m curious to see how it would turn out if I used ricotta cheese instead of cottage cheese.

If all else fails and you find yourself disappointed like I was, smother them with bananas. The bananas will save you. That’s why monkeys like them so much.

IMG_1516

Crumbly, bland banana pancakes

IMG_1515

Sad banana pancakes

Frittata Con La Ricotta, Sicilian for Ricotta Omelette

This recipe comes from Sicilian Cookery. I find it funny that in my last entry I confessed that I’m terrible at making omelettes and then my next recipe ended up being an omelette. Well, this omelette recipe was easy and yet not easy. I know that’s probably confusing my readers. Well, if it helps at all, I’m confused too.

On second thought, that’s probably not helping anyone. Story of my life, constant confusion. Constant confusion involving eggs and cheese.

As far as taste goes, I thought this turned out ok. It was a little weird for me.

This cookbook is making me sad. All my life, I’ve wanted to be a gorgeous, hot, sassy, Italian chick and yet I don’t like Sicilian food so far. What does that mean?! Am I not those things?! What am I going to do with my life?! What do I have to live for?!

Then again, Italians are opinionated little mofos. They all think their region has the best food and even in my small town, my mother said all the matriarchs complained about each other’s cooking. Northern Italians cook different from Southern Italians and Sicilians are a whole different ballgame as well. Even the Italian family I stayed with when I went to Rome had a rift about their cooking styles. The husband, Mossimo, was Roman and the wife, Nila, was Sicilian. One night Nila lamented to me that no one in her family liked her cooking. They complained it was too Sicilian. I love Nila, but I think I’m more Roman than Sicilian myself.

Anyway, to make this recipe you will need; 14oz of ricotta, 5 eggs, salt, pepper, and olive oil. You can also add parsley and grated pecorino.

Your first step is to coat your frying pan with the olive oil. No need to dump it, just put enough to cover the pan. Once the oil is warmed up, place the cheese in. You’re supposed to brown the cheese on both sides. Mine never seemed to brown and I got impatient. This was most likely a mistake I made. As I said in my last entry, I get impatient when I make breakfast.

Once the cheese has been browned, you add the eggs. Hopefully you already know that you have to beat the eggs first, but I don’t like to assume.

Guess what?! In this next step, I actually did something right! I waited the right amount of time to flip the egg! This is usually where I fail with omelettes. I get impatient and then it ends up becoming a scramble or a half omelette. The trick is to not be impatient, obviously, and to continuously swirl the pan so all the excess egg liquid gets cooked evenly. This cookbook also gave a great tip that I will share. They recommend turning the pan to one side and using a pot lid to help flip over the other side.

Hopefully, you won’t need any of this advice because you are an awesome person. I’m not, though. I need all the help.

After flipping, there’s not much else to do except to wait for the other side to cook. Once that’s done you can go ahead and eat your omelette.

I ended up putting parsley on my omelette, by the way. I mean this is an extremely easy and simple recipe, I figured I might as well add parsley to it.

As I said earlier, my final analysis is that it was ok. I think ricotta is too similar of a texture to mix with eggs. At least it was for me. It just gave it a slimy and strange sensation. I have to make another confession though. I’ve never been crazy about ricotta. I mean I like it just fine, but in the rankings of cheese, it’s on the low-end for me.

IMG_1290

Parsley and ricotta cheese omelette

Huevos Rancheros or Rancher’s Eggs, for the Gringos

I was excited about this Huevos Rancheros recipe in Cook This, Not That. Even though it’s fairly simple to make, this gringa has never attempted to make it before. That’s not a huge shocker though. I love eating breakfast, but I don’t like making it. Why? I don’t why, I just don’t.

Ok fine, it’s because I’m terrible at making omelettes. I realize this is not an omelette, but it’s related. I either get impatient and don’t wait long enough or I wait too long. Plus, I’m not a morning person. I’d rather drink coffee and have people give me breakfast then make it for myself. Walt Jr, would hate me if I was his mother. I mean what would he do in Breaking Bad if I was his mother?

Anyway, this recipe is a healthy alternative, but it doesn’t require a whole lot of tweaking. Not frying your eggs and tortillas is the basic major change. I’m a gringa that grew up in the mid-west, but something tells me it’s not an authentic recipe either. Like I said though, I’m just a white girl, what do I know about these things?

What you’ll need to make this is, 1 16oz can of whole peeled tomatoes, 1/2 of a chopped onion, 1 chopped garlic clove, 1 tablespoon of chopped chipotle pepper, 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro, juice of 1 lime, 1 16oz can of black beans, pinch of ground cumin, 8 eggs, and 8 corn tortillas.

I should note that this serves 4, but you can still prepare most of it as it’s written. The eggs and tortillas can be adjusted accordingly.

Your first step is going to be making the salsa. To do so, place the tomatoes, onion, garlic, chipotle, cilantro, and half of the lime juice in a food processor. I should note that I just had some lime juice in a bottle. I think I added two tablespoons, but I admittedly don’t remember exactly. It’s not something that’s too difficult to eye though. Anyway, you will blend those ingredients until it’s slightly chunky.

The next step is to prepare the beans. The beans don’t require much, you just need to mix them with cumin and the remaining lime juice. Again, you can eye this if you don’t have a fresh lime. Once that’s mixed, feel free to season with salt and pepper and then mash lightly with a fork.

You are now ready to assemble your eggs!

Coat your skillet with some Pam and break open however many eggs you want. Cook the eggs over easy style.

Meanwhile, on another skillet, heat up your tortillas. Generally a minute on each side will do the trick.

Once that’s done, you add it all together for heavenly egg glory. To do so, spread the beans on the tortillas first, then the eggs, and finally the salsa.

If you’re feeling frisky, you can also garnish with cilantro. I do recommend this.

I also recommend stocking up on as much cilantro as possible when you visit El Pollo Loco if you are cheap like me. I mean, why not? You can have some tasty chicken the day before and then the next day use your free cilantro for whatever you need it for.

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you enjoy this recipe, because I did.

IMG_1277

Rancher’s Eggs!