The Best Sandwich in the World: Bacon Lettuce and Tomato

August 2, 2011 at 8:28 am | Posted in Breakfast, Sandwiches | 59 Comments
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It’s a tradition around our house that as soon as the first ripe tomato is picked from the garden breakfast the next morning is a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. And with each bite I’m wishing that the sandwich would never end. Afterall it is the best sandwich in the world and what tastes better than the first home-grown vine-ripened tomato::::sigh. Served with an ice cold glass of orange juice and a slice of Rocky Ford cantaloupe it’s an award-winning meal.

This year I planted two Early Girls, one Beefsteak, some sort of who knows what kind of cherry tomato plant (the marker from the greenhouse mistakenly indicated it was an Early Girl), One Better Boy, one Patio and then I got daring and on impulse picked up a yellow Brandywine plant at Whole Foods, (which by the way has yet to produce a single bloom).

So what’s your story Early Girls? The first ripened tomato, picked on July 30, came from the big beautiful Beefsteak plant rather than quicker producing Early Girl plants. Sometimes I think these plants have a mind of their own.

So how do you build the best sandwich in the world?  Here’s how we do it.

  • Thick slice your delicious and prized first fresh garden tomato. Lightly salt and set aside
  • Fry 8 slices of good quality thick sliced bacon (4 slices bacon for each sandwich)
  • Toast 4 slices of OroWeat Oat Nut Bread
  • Best Foods Mayonnaise
  • iceberg or butter Lettuce

Slather each slice of warm toast with mayonnaise. Arrange 4 slices of bacon for each sandwich. Add that thick slice of garden tomato. Top with lettuce and the other mayo slathered piece of toast.  Slice on the diagonal.

Bacon Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches…It’s What’s for Breakfast.

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Wedding on Top of a Mountain and Breakfast Enchiladas

July 16, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Posted in Breakfast, Chicken, Mexican/Southwest | 29 Comments
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Ever tried drinking and dancing for hours at 11,500 feet? It’s a tough job. Even raising a glass of champagne to toast the bride and groom can cause a slight shortness of breath. 🙂 Nonetheless, seems like we managed. A couple of weeks ago Brian, son of friends Tom and Kathy got married to Melanie on top of a mountain at a ski lodge above Keystone Resort. It was hands down the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever attended.

Continue Reading Wedding on Top of a Mountain and Breakfast Enchiladas…

Ham, Avocado and Egg Bake

June 6, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Posted in Breakfast, eggs, pork | 32 Comments
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As you know, Sunday mornings around our house are reserved for a big hearty breakfast, which 99.99999% of the time involves a sunny-side up egg.  Here’s the latest and here’s what I did.

Continue Reading Ham, Avocado and Egg Bake…

Sherried Mushrooms with Fried Eggs on Toast

May 15, 2011 at 10:51 am | Posted in Breakfast | 34 Comments
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My Sunday mornings are reserved for spending time in the kitchen to serve up a tasty breakfast. An over easy egg is more than likely to make an appearance. 

I found this recipe over at Food and Wine and it’s been bookmarked for quite  sometime as a “must try”.   The dish starts off with a slice of chewy rustic Italian bread. It’s topped with a mixture of mushrooms and onions, which have been caramelized in olive oil and sherry. That is then topped with a fried egg. 

Continue Reading Sherried Mushrooms with Fried Eggs on Toast…

Crab Cakes Benedict With Spicy Hollandaise Sauce

April 24, 2011 at 10:58 am | Posted in Breakfast, eggs | 39 Comments
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There are so many things to talk about with this post.  A new method (for me) to make Hollandaise Sauce in a blender, a great new flavor for the Hollandaise Sauce, and a double-yolked egg when I went to make the Hollandaise Sauce. 

I guess there’s really only one thing to talk about…The Hollandaise Sauce.

When making the sauce, I cracked open an egg and found a two yolks?  Timeliness is critical when making Hollandaise, so no photo of the twins. Have you ever seen a two-yolked egg?

This recipe comes courtesy of my favorite local specialty store Tony’s Market.  I subscribe to Tony’s Culinary Club, receive emails for mid-week specials, weekend specials and recipes courtesy Chef Mick.  Throw in all the wonderful products available in their stores and it’s a culinary extravaganza.  This recipe came through on an email and I couldn’t wait to give it a try.  Let’s take a look.

The crab cakes were a cinch to make.  I simply purchased them premade at Tony’s takeout dinner section and sautéed them until golden brown.

Photo from bonappetit.com

The new edition of Bon Appetit magazine featured a  five-minute method for making Hollandaise Sauce in a blender. I really thought this sounded like a simplified solution to the otherwise  finicky stove top production. Worked like a charm.

  • 1 1/2 C. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed  (I couldn’t bring myself to use this much butter, I reduced to 1 1/2 sticks and then added two tablespoons of very hot water to make up for the loss of butter)
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and Pepper

From here I incorporated seasonings  for Chef Mick’s spicy version.  Not exactly what the recipe called for, but I used what I had on hand.

  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • A pinch of Aleppo Pepper
  • A pinch of Ancho chile powder or Chipotle chile powder for some smokiness

Fill a blender with very hot water, set aside.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Remove pan from heat. Drain blender and dry well. Put egg yolks and 2 T. lemon juice in blender; cover and blend to combine . Working quickly and with blender running, remove lid insert and slowly pour hot butter into blender in a thin stream of droplets, discarding the milk solids in the bottom of the saucepan. Blend until creamy sauce forms. Season to taste with salt, pepper and more lemon juice, if needed.  Serve immediately.

To build the Benedict: toasted English muffins, sautéed crab cakes, a poached egg and all drizzled with spicy Hollandaise sauce. 

The Verdict:  DEElicious.  What a wonderful combination of flavors.  The blender Hollandaise turned out to be perfectly luscious and creamy in texture and really did look just like Bon Appetit’s photo.  Making the Hollandaise sauce a bit spicy was such a nice compliment to the crab cakes and with the creamy yolk from the poached egg…MUUUUWAAAA.  An exquisite combination of flavors.

Crab Cakes Benedict With Spicy Hollandaise Sauce…It’s What’s For Sunday Brunch.

One Year Ago: Crispy Tilapia Tacos

Sunday Brunch Menu

April 11, 2011 at 11:07 am | Posted in Bread, Breakfast, pork, Potatoes | 48 Comments
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After a full meal with many delicious offerings Bob and I enjoy a ritual of asking “what was the best thing on the plate?” 99% of the time we’ll agree that the potatoes, no matter how they were prepared, win the contest.  

Stephanie with lil' Chili

 

This Sunday Brunch post mortem ended up with quite a different scenario. 

Our God Daughter Stephanie came over presenting a perfect opportunity to try out new recipes on my favorite little guinea pig. Stephanie lives in Ft. Collins, about an hour North of Denver.

She attends Colorado State University, majoring in Communications with a minor in Political Science. She graduates in December and we couldn’t be prouder.

Let’s take a look at what I cooked up for brunch and find out what won the “best on the plate” contest.

Take a close look at the bacon. See that shiny glaze? A mixture of brown sugar, cayenne and black pepper turns an over-the-top delicious slice of bacon into a dog fight for second helpings.

Simple to make, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay out one pound of thick-sliced bacon, single layer on a sheet pan. In a small bowl, mix together 1 packed T. brown sugar, 1/4 t. cayenne pepper, 1/2 t. black pepper. In our case the 1/4 t. of cayenne turned into 1/4 heaping teaspoon. Bake the bacon until it looks like it’s about 3/4 done. Remove from oven, drain grease, turn and sprinkle each piece with the sugar mixture. Return to oven and watch carefully until it looks done.

Everyone loved this, however, not the “best on the plate” winner.

Next up, the quiche. Going forward, the combination of ingredients for the base of this recipe will be my go-to for quiche. I believe the texture and the creaminess offers a great canvas for about any variety of vegetables and seasonings. The name of the recipe is Three Cheese Baked Eggs With Roasted Red Pepper and Scallions. I can picture Three Cheese with asparagus and scallions or jalapeno with adobo sauce or mushroom and chives….aren’t there always so many possibilities for quiche?

Next time I make it I am going to substitute the grated cheddar with gruyere cheese and see how it turns out. You’ll find the recipe below.  Delicious, but not the winner.

The potatoes on the plate really couldn’t be in the contest since I simply opened up a bag of Oreida Hash Browns, salt and peppered and browned in olive oil until golden.  Always a simple, easy and delicious side for any brunch.

Not being dessert people, for the first time in the history of “what was best on the plate”,  sweet beat out savory. This is a combination of ideas and recipes offered up by two of my favorite bloggers.  Kirstin, over at My Kitchen In the Rockies posted this quick cinnamon bun recipe at about the same time Larry over at Big Dudes Ramblings was frying up pecan bread and wishing he had some Butter Pecan Ice cream to melt over the top. I haven’t been the same since I read that, and knew I was going to have some sort of warm ice cream topped breakfast type bread on Sunday.

I followed Kirsten’s recipe and added about 1/2 cups of pecans to the topping mix. I served it warm from the oven with a scoop of Butter Pecan ice cream drizzling itself down the sides. This is one of those flavors that once the spoons of warm pastry and cool ice cream hits the inside of your mouth, you’re momentarily paralyzed by its outstanding combination of textures and flavors.

Now if I can just wrangle Bev’s Pecan Bread recipe out of Larry before the ice cream is gone, I’d love to try his original combination. 

Spicy Bacon, Three Cheese Quiche, Hash Browns and Cinnamon Pecan Bread with Butter Pecan Ice Cream…It’s What’s for Brunch.

One Year Ago:  Tangy Pineapple Chicken

Three Cheese Baked Eggs with Roasted Pepper

  • 3 medium red bell peppers (I used jarred roasted red bell peppers)
    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1 tsp salt
    3/4 tsp baking powder
    9 large eggs
    3 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
    1 1/2 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (6 oz)
    1 cup whole-milk ricotta (8 oz)
    1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2 oz)
    3 scallions, finely chopped (1/2 cup)

Roast peppers on racks of gas burners over high heat, turning with tongs, until skins are blackened, 10 to 12 minutes. (Or broil peppers on a broiler pan about 5 inches from heat, turning occasionally, about 15 minutes.) Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap, then let stand 20 minutes.

2. When cool enough to handle, peel peppers, discarding stems and seeds, and cut into 1/3-inch dice.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F.

4. Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder into a small bowl.

5. Beat eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. Add butter, flour mixture, and cheeses and mix well at low speed, then stir in peppers and scallions.

6. Pour into a buttered 10-inch (6-cup) glass pie plate and bake in middle of oven (or lower third of oven if baking with bacon) until top is golden brown and a tester comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Toast, Chipotle Mayonnaise, Bacon, Avocado and Poached Egg Recipe

March 29, 2011 at 6:47 am | Posted in Breakfast | 53 Comments
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Thank you Dara over at Cookin Canuck. All I had to do was look at the title and photo and before reading any further, I  left a comment indicating this would be on my breakfast table Sunday morning…and it was. 

Is this not right up my chipotle adobo obsessed, Mexican food fetished, breakfast crazed, runny egg lovin’ alley?

Came together in a jiff…let’s take a look.

First whip together a simple chipotle mayonnaise. In a bowl combine 1/2 C. mayonnaise, 1 chopped chipotle pepper, 1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce and a good solid squeeze of lime juice (about 2 teaspoons).

Then build your sandwich. A slice of toast slathered with the mayo, topped with two slices of avocado, two slices of bacon…

And top it with a beautiful poached egg.  This was so DEElicious I may have to have it every Sunday for the rest of my life. 

A side note: Do you see that strip of pastry in the background. My friend Karen made this and brought it to our Saturday Front Range Blogger Meetup. I insisted on the recipe and she just posted it over at her site; Eat Drink and Wash Up. You owe it to yourself to check it out. It’s so good that a slice of it may have to be part of  my every Sunday breakfast .

Chipotle Mayo, Bacon, Avocado and Poached Egg Open Faced Sandwich…It’s What’s For Breakfast.

One Year Ago:  Ham Hash With Mustard Cream Sauce

FnB’s Braised Leeks

March 23, 2011 at 8:11 am | Posted in Breakfast | 34 Comments
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Food and Wine Magazine is one of my favorite sources for reliably interesting, creative and delicious recipes. Over the years  many have found their way into my database as permanent dishes I make over and over.

In a recent issue, I spotted a small photo on an obscure corner of a page within a big article naming the Ten Best Restaurant Dishes of 2010. It caught my attention because it was topped with a sunny side up egg.  The piece featured FnB Restaurant in Scottsdale, and their winning dish Braised Leeks with Mozzarella and a Fried Egg

I had to give it a try. Not really giving me a recipe, the article directed me to a television segment from a Phoenix station where chef Charleen Badman is featured and demonstrates how to make her winning creation.

The video does help with the construction of the dish, but honestly I found it somewhat entertaining on a completely different level.  Along with the demonstration came the ever-annoying local television personalities hovering over the chef with their distracting antics which they think bring us entertainment.

Denver most certainly has it’s share of pretentious local celebrities, who provide us with never-ending eye-rolling, snickering moments, and after watching this clip I see every city has its “guy”….and this one takes the “full of himself” cake. C’mon Mr. Anchorman…”take a leek”…really???  Then if you watch carefully, he further entertains himself with another devilishly clever moment by using the leek as a mock microphone while everyone on set laughs giddily. Well, at least woman in yellow. And then something about leeking on his arm??? I didn’t snicker, didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or sit down and write Chef  Badman a note of commiseration beginning with “oh you poor dear”. 

Let’s take a look:

via How to make FnB’s braised leeks.

Even though I was warned not to, I tried this at home. (Photos from point and shoot camera.)

I halved, cleaned and braised leeks in butter, lemon slices and thyme until tender and fragrant.

Placed them in a casserole dish…

I topped with grated mozzarella cheese…

Sprinkled on some panko bread crumbs which were mixed with melted butter, Dijon mustard and a sprinkle of thyme. Popped the dish under the broiler which then transferred nicely to our breakfast plate.

Carefully topped with a sunny side up egg…

Oh look, the egg sprung a leek…… (ok, everyone in unison… snicker and roll eyes)

and the dish was a hit.

And served with a simple bowl of sliced kiwi and mangoes, it was a fun little breakfast. Even though the dish was different and tasty, I’m not sure it’s interesting enough that I’d make it again.  Even though they were cooked tender, the leeks were still tough and hard to cut, coming apart and sliding all over the plate. The whole thing lacked that “wow” factor.  I’m blaming it all on those heckling local “celebrities”. 🙂

Braised Leeks…It’s What was for Breakfast.

Breakfast Pizza With My New Camera

March 16, 2011 at 6:27 am | Posted in Breakfast | 59 Comments
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For better or worse, welcome to my first breakfast pizza and photos with my new camera.

I must admit that I love the ease of my snappy little point and shoot, but was also feeling the tug of challenge offered by a DSLR.  At our last Front Range Foodie Meetup we focused (pun intended) on fine tuning skills with DSLR food photography. I was surprised to learn a lot, even with point and shoot in hand.   Interest was piqued.

Days later, Vickie over at Part Three posted this stunning,  jaw-dropping photo of  limoncello against a snowy outdoor background, shot with her DSLR. A day later Karen over at Eat Drink and Wash Up emergency emailed me with a  notice of a “can’t pass up sale” for a  Canon Rebel DSLR.  Throw in an impending birthday and you’ve got a  perfect storm which washed ashore a new camera.

I’m currently reading the manual, commiserating with new user Karen, and pestering  3 – 4 month experienced Vickie, with question after question.  Thank you ladies for your patience and willingness to help!  🙂

Right now I can’t see a lot of difference between the DSLR and the P&S but with a little practice I hope to have you all gasping in delight over my food photography. HA! Seems light years away right now.  Let’s take a look at my first photos and my breakfast pizza.

I made a quick and simple pesto in my food processor using one cup warmed and wilted spinach, 1/4 cup olive oil and two small cloves garlic. 

Results:

  • I’ve never made pesto before. This was quick, easy and rewarding.
  • I’m somewhat pleased with the photo and you’re probably saying “oh look, bless her heart, she tried to food style”.

I then took two rounds of Naan bread and smeared on some ricotta cheese and a small dab of the pesto. I went light on the pesto, I was really worried about combining the strong flavor with the impending runny egg.

Results:

  • In the end the pesto didn’t overwhelm at all and was a delightful addition to the overall flavor.
  • Forgetting to “disable flash” you’re now reaching for your sunglasses.

My next layer included some sautéed asparagus spears and rounds of small russet potatoes that I boiled and thin sliced. 

Results:

  • New cook in the house pointed out that the asparagus needed to be cut in smaller bite sized pieces. He was given that task. (as with any committee work, never come up with a good idea, you’ll be assigned).
  • Even with flash disabled, coloring seems odd…I’m thinking the Canon Rebel doesn’t like that aluminum sheet pan.

After topping with sliced tomatoes and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper, I placed my breakfast pizza in a 350 degree oven so all ingredients could cozy up to greet the final topping.

Results:

  • Placing ingredients in the oven for about ten minutes worked great. It gave me plenty of time to slow cook my eggs while balancing the camera manual in one hand and fiddling with the camera in the other.
  • The color in the photo is still odd…and where did those peas come from?  🙂  Just what the camera didn’t need…more vivid green.

The eggs were slow-cooked to a doneness that would have made me squeamish to eat…runny in the white.  Keeping my fingers crossed, I carefully layed the eggs on the pizza, grated on some Parmesan and popped under the broiler hoping to end up with a sunny-side up egg.

Results: 

  • I watched that cheese topped broiling eggs like a hawk and luckily ended up with good results.
  • I’m obviously going to have to learn Photoshop or buy new sheet pans…new camera sure picks up those unsightly and hard to scrub spots.

Voila.

Results:

A sigh of relief, producing a decent meal while nervously taking unimpressive photos. And getting that egg perfect??? I have to admit that was my top priority.

Photo was nicer once moved to the kitchen table where natural light became a part of the mix. Next time I’ll lose the blazing overhead kitchen lights, I’ll lose the odd addition of peas, and I’ll practice on that aperture. 

Pizza…It’s What’s for Breakfast.

Shirlene Disantis’ Eggs Ole’

March 12, 2011 at 9:27 am | Posted in Breakfast | 33 Comments
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Eggs Ole'; a cheesy Mexican egg casserole with a side of sliced avocados and oranges sprinkled with chili powder.

Bob and I are avid bird watchers. 

Wikipedia says:  Birdwatching, or birding, is the observation and study of birds with the naked eye or through a visual enhancement device like binoculars. Birding often involves a significant auditory component, as many bird species are more readily detected and identified by ear than by eye.

Well…accurate, but also birds are detected and identified by habitat, behavior, location, elevation, weather systems, food supply and even by patterns of flight.

That’s what makes it so interesting and never boring. Always something to learn. Did you know that around 1,000 different species of birds can be seen north of the Mexico border?

Birdwatching has taken us to remote Alaskan Islands, to swamps in Florida, prairie pot holes on the Great Plains, pelagic trips in Monterey Bay,  and dense forests in the Northeast.  It’s not all glamorous, did I mention a sewer pond or two…or three? All in all, I’ve visited more State and National Parks that I never knew existed, seen parts of our country that I never would have seen, met some diverse species of humans that I would have never met…all due to bird watching.

One of our favorite destinations is Southeast Arizona.

A sought after birding destination and one the most biological rich areas in the United States, Southeast Arizona hosts a unique variety of birds, mammals, reptiles and butterflies. These habitats draw flocks of migrating birdwatchers from all over the world to scour the Huachuca, Santa Rita and Chiricahua Mountains for species that can found no other place in the United States. The canyons that share habitat with bordering Mexico welcome birds that cross the border so that we can add them to our list of  birds seen in the United States. Did I mention that fourteen species of hummingbirds can be seen here? 

One of our favorite spots is Ramsey Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains.  Here, the Sierra Madre of Mexico, the Rocky Mountains, and the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts all come together. The abrupt rise of mountains from the surrounding arid grasslands creates “sky islands” harboring rare species and communities of plants and animals. 

Nestled in the floor of the tall canyon walls and near the pond where the unique leopard frog whistles underwater, javalinas wallow and coati roam,  hummingbirds buzz, Spotted Owls hoot, and Elegant Trogons tease us with their elusive flight and calls, and at the mouth of one of the most famous birdwatching trails sits a charming bed and breakfast, The Ramsey Canyon Inn. 

It’s a perfect place to fill up on a hearty breakfast before you set out on the long arduous hike up the canyon on the Hamburg Trail. It also welcomes you home in the evening to a counter full of fresh-baked homemade pies.  There’s nothing like relaxing on the patio overlooking the gardens and the hummingbird feeders while listening to the spring-fed creek and recounting with fellow birders the exciting finds of the day. 

On one of our visits to the Inn, I brought back this recipe for Eggs Ole’.  Shirlene Disantis was the owner of the Inn at the time, served this up for breakfast and was kind enough to pass along the recipe.  Let’s take a look:

Just line a baking dish with corn chips.  Next time I’ll use soft corn tortilla shells like the recipe calls for  to make more of a crust.

Sprinkle on some cooked and crumbled chorizo.

Add some grated Monterey Jack and Cheddar.

Pour in your egg, cheese and salsa mixture. Bake, then drizzle with a velveeta and tomato sauce and top with some sliced black olives and ole’…You’ve got a tasty breakfast treat.

Shirlene DeSantis Eggs Ole’

1 dozen corn tortillas
3 Tbs oil
1 lb chorizo
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup Monterey jack cheese
16 eggs
12 oz salsa
1 cup sour cream
For the sauce:
12 oz Velveeta
8 oz salsa
Heat together until melted

1. Heat oil in large skillet. Place tortilla in skillet and turn quickly just to soften. Line bottom of large Pyrex dish with tortillas. Cook chorizo and drain; spread over tortillas. Spread cheeses over chorizo. Mix eggs, sour cream and salsa together; pour over cheese and bake at 350 for 30 – 45 minutes or until set. Serve with sauce and black olives.

Servings: 12

Eggs Ole’…It’s What’s For Breakfast!

All non-food photos are courtesy of Ramsey Canyon Inn Website.

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