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Jenny’s chalkboard: Mexican breakfast for dinner

With an assist from food TV–including a new show on Travel Channel called Feed the Beast, which I’ll be previewing before it premieres on Wednesday; and then an hour of Food Network’s Diners, Drive Ins & Dives yesterday, and after my wife (i.e. Jenny) and I both had this sluggish, head-achy thing going on, we decided we needed to eat something fatty and greasy. We were not hung over, but that’s what it felt like, and we needed a Sunday morning hangover remedy on Sunday evening. Those shows made me crave eggs and fat and salt, and when I saw we had chorizo in the fridge, I knew what had to be done–we had to make Mexican breakfast for dinner. Jenny agreed and put that on her chalkboard.

So what you’re seeing in the photo and that went happily into our bellies last night is this…..first, I took a leftover baked potato and cut that up, and stir fried it in a bit of canola oil. Meanwhile, as the potato was cooking, I took a link of chorizo (by link I mean it was maybe a foot long), removed the meat from the “fake” casing, and fried that up in a pan for about 10 minutes until it was cooked through and crispy, draining on paper towels. I wiped out the pan, and fried four eggs in it. Jenny shredded some cheddar cheese (full fat kickass Wisconsin cheddar), and I cubed an avocado while the eggs were cooking. I also opened up a can of refried black beans, and chopped some cilantro. As the eggs were set, it was time to assemble this creation in a big bowl–

First, the potatoes, which were nice and crispy. Then a dollop of refried beans and the chorizo. We topped that with two eggs in each bowl, followed by the avocado chunks, cheese and cilantro. Oh, and some Mexican hot sauce for good measure. Suffice to say we both felt so much better after eating this dinner. It was one of those food nirvana moments when you feed your body what it’s craving, and then some. And hey, now I know what to make next time we are hung over….and we hope you try it too.

Five things I crave every so often

You know you have them–call them vices, foods you love and have to have every so often, or just items you are just a slave to. I could probably list 50 things here, but I’m going to start with five and maybe do another one of these soon. Here are five food items I crave either weekly, monthly, or a few times a year.

1. Buffalo chicken wings–It’s probably the sauce more than anything, but it’s also the fried. The crispy fried skin of chicken wings soaked with buttery, tangy hot sauce. You may as well inject this stuff, but then you wouldn’t get to taste it. I have gotten by of late by ordering those fried chicken tenders (or even grilled if I’m on a diet) at Buffalo Wild Wings (sorry, nobody does it better….it’s just true), but the real deal is sometimes the only way to kill the craving.

2. Green curry–an amazing combination of spices, hot peppers, coconut milk, fish sauce and other stuff that makes up a thick, spicy and addictive sauce that is cooked with meat and/or vegetables, and served over sticky rice. Sometimes you have to find the best green curry where you live, and that’s not always easy. But once you find it, you are golden. Or at least that’s the case with me.

3. Steak–I’ve tried to eat little or no meat before, but I’m just not wired for that. I love beef, and I especially love a great grilled steak. I also make a killer steak sauce, but if the steak is good enough I don’t like to drown it in anything extra-curricular.

4. Fried chicken–We have a diner here in Madison called Hubbard Avenue Diner. They have fried chicken every Thursday and Saturday, and sometimes on Saturdays I have to practically beg my wife to let me take us there. Their chicken is just phenomenal.

5. Donuts–I can’t always walk past them, but I really can’t walk past Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme without buying a donut or twelve. Yum. Nothing like fatty, doughy, fried sweetness. Sadly, there are not many donut shops in Madison–only grocery store and gas station donuts.

What are your cravings? Let me know in the space below, or e-mail me at mikeyskitchen@gmail.com and I’ll post your replies soon!

Quick breakfast frito pie

Don’t tell your cardiologist about this one. Also, don’t tell my doctor, either. But I whipped this up this past weekend and it was too delicious not to share with you. And it’s real easy. It also was the perfect breakfast after I had a few beers Friday night.

First, take a generous handful of Frito’s and put then in a shallow bowl. Cook 2 slices of bacon in the microwave (or as you would normally cook bacon) for about 2 minutes or until crisp. Cut 3-4 slabs of Velveeta off a hunk and cut that into smaller cubes. Sprinkle over the Fritos and nuke for about 30 seconds. Crumble bacon on top of Frito mixture. Meanwhile, spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and warm over medium heat. Crack an egg (or two) into the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the whites are set and yolk is still runny. Slide egg(s) onto the top of the Frito mixture and sprinkle with hot sauce. Serve with a big glass of OJ or big mug of coffee, and enjoy (trust me, you will!).

Healthy breakfast bowl

Last week I posted something on easy breakfast tacos, but it doesn’t always have to be about tacos or burritos when you are making a quick and healthy breakfast. What follows is my take on the breakfast bowl, something that has become more prominent in fast food chains as carbs have fallen out of favor the last few years.

So here we go…..

Chop some tomatoes, shred some cheddar cheese and open a can of pinto beans.

Prepare some quick brown rice (I like the Trader Joe’s kind in the freezer section, that you nuke in three minutes) and put about 1/2 cup of the cooked rice in a bowl. Set the rest aside (or multiply this recipe out for more servings).

Cook 2 eggs in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until the whites are just set (don’t overcook–you want a runny yolk). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the beans and tomato in the bowl with the rice, top with the cooked eggs and shredded cheese. (Other options and add-ins are green pepper, jalapenos, cooked corn off the cob, or diced avocado.)

Top with salsa or hot sauce and serve.

Easy breakfast tacos

It’s not always easy to make a quick, healthy breakfast, but here is one you can do that is way better than something you can get at any drive-thru. Breakfast tacos, and super easy ones at that.

For one person, you’ll need 2 corn tortillas (I like the white corn rather than the yellow), 2 eggs, some shredded sharp cheddar, optional bacon and some good salsa or hot sauce or both.

You can either warm the tortillas by wrapping them in foil and putting in the oven or toaster oven for 10 minutes at 300 degrees. OR my way is to quick fry them in a nonstick pan by spraying both sides with cooking spray and cooking over medium high heat for about 30-45 seconds per side.

If using bacon, cook 2 slices according to package directions (I use the microwave for this).

Meanwhile, heat another nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk with salt and pepper. Pour into pan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until just set. Divide the egg on each tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, crumbled bacon and hot sauce or salsa.

Fold in half and eat!

Grilled vegetables over cheese grits

I’m not a big seafood guy, so this is my version of “shrimp and grits”–it’s grilled vegetables over cheese grits. It’s simple, satisfying and a great light meal for the summer months.

All you need are some grits, a good sharp cheddar cheese, and some veggies to throw on the grill. I had received an awesome box of produce from our CSA (community supported agriculture) from Driftless Organics–and in it were zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, onions and banana peppers among other things. So I used all of those as well as a red bell pepper I bought at the farmer’s market.

Here is what to do……cook grits according to package directions for four servings, and add 1 cup of shredded cheddar at the end of the cooking process. Stir until cheese melts and set aside.

Meanwhile, cut vegetables (enough for 4 servings) into large chunks, spray with olive oil or cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill for 4-5 minutes, or until cooked through and slightly charred with nice grill marks. Divide grits among bowls, top with some veggies, and then throw a few cherry tomatoes on top (we also got these from Driftless…you can grill these too but it’s not necessary), and then splash with hot sauce.

That’s it. This is an easy and really tasty dish. Of course, the sharper the cheese, the better. And the hotter the hot sauce, the better. Enjoy!

Mikey’s breakfast bowl

Breakfast bowls have become all the rage these days, and I’ve decided to join the party–with rice as the backdrop. Here is my version, and we’ll called it Mikey’s Breakfast Bowl and it serves one (but you can multiply it out).

Ingredients
3/4 cup cooked brown rice
1/3 cup cooked pinto beans, from can, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped smoked sausage or ham
1/4 cup chopped avocado
3 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 eggs
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
Hot sauce

Directions
Warm rice in microwave according to package directions (Easy to microwave rice is everywhere now, but I love Trader Joe’s brand–it comes in pouches that are frozen and microwaveable in 3 minutes). Stir in beans and nuke for another 20 seconds. Stir in avocado, tomatoes, and sausage or ham. Meanwhile, spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray, and crack two eggs into the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the whites of egg are set and not runny. Slide eggs into bowl, and crack the yolks to let the egg run into the bowl. Sprinkle with cheese, cilantro, and hot sauce, and serve.

Low carb breakfast special

I’m trying to lose a bit of weight, so for the moment I’m cutting back on carbs. But as I looked at a South Beach Diet cookbook this morning, I decided that I was just going to whip up my own recipe. So I made an egg sandwich using fried ham as the “bread,” and used mashed avocado and hot sauce as condiments. It was awesome. Here is how I did it and how you can, too….

Fry up two slices of ham until crisp, but not burnt. In another skillet, scramble two eggs and add salt and pepper. Cook until just set. Meanwhile, mash half an avocado with some salt. Lay ham on a plate next to each other, place a slice of swiss (or any cheese you have on hand) on one slice of ham, and spread avocado on the other. Then slide the scrambled eggs onto the slice with the cheese. Shake some hot sauce, on, assemble the sandwich and eat. As my wife said, it might be low-carb but it’s not low-fat. That’s okay though, I was only looking to cut carbs in my breakfast, and I succeeded.

Product review: Cholula Hot Sauce

If you’ve been to a good Mexican restaurant before, you’ve seen it on the table–Cholula Hot Sauce. With all due respect to all of the great ones like Tabasco (delicious but thin) and Frank’s (only good on wings), Cholula is the ultimate hot sauce–it’s thick, perfectly spicy and goes with anything. Well, except maybe in chocolate milk.

When the NHL season kicked off recently, Cholula began a campaign for tailgating and recipes on Facebook that can be found here.

Meanwhile, these fine folks sent us a 4-pack of the sauce–all four flavors. I’d had the original flavor and in fact you can almost always find it in our fridge. Here is a review of all four:

Cholula Original–Awesome bright flavor and just the right amount of heat, and all from a simple list of ingredients–mostly peppers, vinegar and salt. And what you taste most is peppers, and that’s how it should be. This is the best hot sauce on the market today, in my humble opinion.

Cholula Chili Lime–The same bright flavor as the original, but with a slightly smoky flavor from paprika, and a big hit of lime juice. Pour this one into your salsa to wake up your taste buds, or in your bloody mary.

Cholula Chili Garlic–Wow, a big hit of garlic and of course the same heat from the original Cholula. But the thing is, the garlic is out front but yet not too overpowering. This is the kind of hot sauce used in many Oriental recipes, but it would also wake up just about any dish.

Cholula Chipotle–Pretty much the same ingredients as the original, but included in the pepper batch are some chipotle peppers, which are dried and smoked jalapenos. So the smoky flavor is even stronger than in the Chili Lime, but very different.

My verdict? I like them all a lot, but I still love the original. But if you haven’t tried Cholula, go buy yourself a bottle or 4-pack, and let me know if it’s not the best hot sauce you’ve tasted.

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