Huevos Mexicanos

If you’ve been reading and paying attention to past entries, you may have noticed that I’m pretty much in love with all Mexican foods. It’s just such a delicious genre. I’m sort of sad for my friends who live in places where there aren’t breakfast tacos, huevos rancheros, and huevos mexicanos. In grad school, I remember the shock of a girlfriend when I told her that I liked to eat beans with my breakfast. She could hardly comprehend what I was saying to her. When I said that salsa for breakfast was equally delicious, I might as well have been speaking to her in another language, she was so dumbfounded. This recipe doesn’t have any beans nor did I have any with my breakfast that day, but beans would certainly make a positive addition to the meal. This recipe is not your most traditional version of huevos mexicanos, but the semi-homemade aspects certainly make it accessible to everyone. I used my Roasty Toasty Red Salsa, but you could certainly use whatever salsa you have on hand to tweak the recipe as your taste buds require. I doubt you’ll ever be disappointed.

Mmm...mmm...good!

Huevos Mexicanos

Ingredients
2 tbsp favorite salsa
1 whole egg
1 egg white
1 oz cheese – grated (I won’t tell if you use more.)
2 – 4 green onions, just the green parts
Splash of milk
¾ oz tortilla chip crumbs – more or less

Steps
1. Grate your cheese and keep handy.
2. Crack your whole egg into a bowl, and add the white of the other egg. Add a splash (I count to 1, sometimes 2) of milk. Beat vigorously until there are plenty of bubbles.
3. Using kitchen scissors, snip your green onions into wee pieces directly into the egg mixture.


4. Preheat your pan over medium-ish heat. My standard is usually 5, on the dial. I also recommend using a non-stick skillet with a bit of non-stick spray in it. Eggs have a surprisingly high stick factor, regardless of the type of pan. After 2 minutes of preheating, give the eggs a final vigorous stir and pour into the pan. Let them be until they begin to set up a bit.
5. Begin your preferred scrambling method. When they are starting to firm up in spots, toss in about a third of your cheese and stir. Within a minute of adding the cheese, pour in your salsa. Swirl/stir it together.

6. Let the eggs get nearly all the way done and dump in ½ to ¾ of your chip crumbs. If you put them in earlier, they will get soggy, and that’s not good eats. Stir the crumbs around and give the eggs no more than 1 more minute in the pan…unless you prefer drier eggs.


7. Put the rest of your chip crumbs on your plate, and top with about half of your remaining cheese. Do this while your eggs are getting their last bit of cooking.


8. Scrape your eggs out onto the chips and cheese. Top with the remaining cheese. Add the bacon you’ve been baking (see below), and voila! Breakfast is served!

I’m so excited to share with you my tip on green onions! I learned this gem from my grandmother a while back, and now I have 3 pots of green onions thriving on my balcony. When you buy a bunch of green onions from the store, save the white root ends to put in some dirt. Give them just a few days, and you will be rewarded with new growth. With time, they will grow tall and lanky, perfect for you to snip away when you need them. I really love to use green onions in a wide array of recipes but was frequently frustrated that I didn’t have any when I wanted them or that I was throwing away wilted, slimy onions that I didn’t use fast enough that week. Having my pots alleviates waste and frustration in my kitchen, which is always a good thing. I think I’ve planted two or three bunches over the last several months. It’s good to have them on a bit of rotation so they have time to regrow between cuttings. If you cut them too frequently, they’ll grow thinner than if you give them time to hang out a bit. I know that green onions are usually only fifty cents a bunch. However, when you throw away most of the bunch, it’s about forty wasted cents, which can add up. Give it a try; it’s super easy!

Finished Eggs Without Cheese

Recently, I’ve begun baking my bacon. As I do with other packages of meat, I split it up into two slice serving slices, wrap with plastic wrap, and freeze in a zip-top freezer bag. It defrosts pretty quickly with the method mentioned at the end of this post, and then it’s ready to pop into the oven. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. I line a pan with foil and use a rack to lay my bacon on, so it’s not sitting in the fat drippings. Baking time will vary, depending on your preferred doneness. It doesn’t get quite as crispy as I sometimes like it, but it’s so easy and still delicious that I am happy to give up the spattered stove and the split-second timing of done to overcooked and burned. Give it a try!

If you’ve never separated an egg before, you can go one of two ways. Well, if you happen to have an egg separator implement, by all means use it and skip to the next paragraph. However, if you don’t, never fear – it’s not a crucial kitchen tool. You can separate the two parts by cracking the whole egg into a bowl, then pouring the egg into your hand. Let the whites run out through your fingers until all that’s left is the yolk. Keep or dispose of the yolk as you see fit. You are less likely the break the yolk this way. The slightly less messy way is to do your best to crack the egg in half. Pass the yolk back and forth, carefully between the two egg halves allowing the whites to slip over the edges until it’s just the yolk in the shell. There is a higher chance of breaking the yolk with this method, but it’s a rare occurrence for me. Check out the Cooking Education page for some links on ways you can use those extra yolks for even less waste!

I wish you happy and delicious eating! Let me know what you like to make for breakfast. I’m always up for something new.

Nutritional Content – The whole thing
Calories: 355
Fat: 20 g
Carbs: 22 g
Protein: 21 g
Calcium: 33%

Don’t stress about the higher numbers; it is practically your entire meal. Your baked bacon, if you use center cut, will only add about 80 or 90 calories, depending on the brand.

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Roasty Toasty Red Salsa

I love chips and salsa above all other foods out there, nearly. If we are in a fight and you want to send me a reconciliation gift, chips and salsa will be a guaranteed winner. If I am sick, chips and salsa will make me feel better. If I’m grouchy, I would like chips and salsa to the rescue, please! I will almost always pick the restaurant with free chips and salsa over the one without, or heaven forbid, the restaurant that charges for them. Those places are evil and might should be boycotted, in my opinion. Ahem. So salsa pretty much rocks my socks. If you pop over to the Food Memories page, you’ll see that I grew up with salsa and came by my affection for it honestly. My dad makes homemade salsa, and one day, I decided I was going to make my own homemade salsa, too. Oh boy! It was the start of a beautiful thing. At first, it was a more chopped up version of pico de gallo, made in tiny batches in my wee food processor attachment on my blender stand. Since then, I’ve graduated to an adult food processor and have been experimenting all over the place. I’ve learned that I love to roast my salsa ingredients. I have learned that kiwi salsa is delicious. I’ve learned that homemade salsa is for sharing as I cannot eat (or at least, should not eat) the whole batch. I suppose you could cut the recipe in half to make a smaller batch, but why deprive a friend of your culinary delights??  Have your friends over for game night, and let them marvel when you serve them homemade salsa. I won’t judge if you don’t put it all out so you can have some the next day; that’s only good sense.

DELICIOUS!

There are many more salsa recipes to come, but this is the most recent edition to come from my kitchen. Don’t be frightened by the surprise herb – it actually provides quite a pleasant taste. Thanks, Rick Bayless, for the inspiration!

Roasty Toasty Red Salsa (adapted from Salsas That Cookby Rick Bayless)

Ingredients*
1 lb Roma tomatoes (sometimes also called plum – the ones that are more oval than circle)
6 ounces poblano chiles (probably 2 regular-sized ones)
1/2 red onion (or to taste)
4 – 6 med-lg garlic cloves
1/2 cup tomato puree
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (recommended, but optional for those who are not cilantro eaters – not a deal breaker)
1/4 – 1/2 cup water
dash of salt

Steps
1. Set your oven rack near the top of your oven, and turn on the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and lay out the tomatoes and peppers. Broil (maybe 5 – 8 minutes) until the skin is charred and blistered. Flip everything over to roast the other side. Continue this process until all sides are well blackened. Don’t be afraid of the char. You are likely to hear the skin sizzle and pop; don’t be afraid of that either. When everything is charred, pull the pan out of the oven and let cool.

2. Put the peppers in a plastic bag, and wrap with a towel. They won’t melt the bag, and it will help the skins come off later. Leave the tomatoes on the pan to cool.
3. While the tomatoes and peppers are in the oven, slice the onion into slices. Err on the side of thicker rather than thinner. Aim for a quarter to half inch slice. As much as possible, keep them uniform so they’ll cook evenly. That’s probably more important than width of the slice. Peel the garlic, leaving the last layer of papery covering (this will keep it from burning). On another foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet, lay out the onion and garlic. Roast them until the onions are soft, there is some char on the edges, and the garlic is soft when pressed. Stir a few times while they are roasting. This may take 15 minutes or so. Let cool on the pan when you take them out.

4. Using tongs, a knife, and/or your hands, peel the skins off the tomatoes, and pull the flesh off the core. I have yet to roast them long enough for the core to get soft – so get rid of the hard feeling middle. Do all of this on the pan so you don’t lose any juices. Leave the flesh on the pan to cool a bit before you go back to them in step 9. Discard the skin and core.

5. Using the same tools, over the same sheet of tomato pulp, if possible, pull off and discard the skins from the peppers. The blacker the skin is, the easier it will just peel right off. Tear open the peppers and scrape out the seeds, if you want a milder salsa. More seeds = more heat. Your call. Please don’t rinse them – you’ll lose flavor. They will likely drip juice into the tomatoes, which is okay. That’s why you are peeling them over the tomatoes in the first place.
6. Chop the peppers into small, bite sized pieces. They won’t get any smaller later in the prep, so dice away. Scrape the pieces and the juice from the cutting board into a clean serving bowl.

7. Chop your thyme and cilantro, and toss into the serving bowl.
8. Pulse your roasted onion and peeled garlic cloves in a small food processor to finely chop them. Add some of the tomato if the mixture needs some liquid to help facilitate the job. Scrape into your bowl with the peppers.
9. In the same food processor bowl, put the cooled tomatoes and their juices and whir away. Dump into the serving bowl where the peppers and herbs are waiting.
10. Stir in the tomato puree, and slowly add the water to get to the consistency you want. Go slowly with the water because you can’t take it back out. Season to taste with some salt, but go easy as your chips will likely also be salty.

*Notes about ingredients: I had ginormous Roma tomatoes so it only took 3 to make a pound. It would probably take 5 – 7 regular-sized Roma tomatoes for a pound. I was also using poblano peppers that my dad brought me which were WAY smaller than store-bought poblanos. My four were 6 ounces which is why I suspect 2 regular-sized ones would be sufficient. I don’t usually measure my herbs – I just chopped what looked good to me. I like lots of cilantro, so it’s possible I had more than 2 tbsp. I recommend not going overboard with the thyme until you are certain you’ll like it. I will probably add a bit more next time. Also, if you don’t have enough poblanos, I think Anaheims would be a good addition which will also decrease the spiciness.

Large Romas and Small Poblanos

I’m nervous about giving you a recipe with 10 steps. Please don’t be intimidated as many of the steps are simple. Plus I’m overly detail-oriented sometimes. 🙂 Many of the steps can be accomplished while items are either roasting or cooling. I promise you that it’s totally worth 10 steps! This salsa will be a little saucier because of the water and puree. Once, I thickened mine up using my immersion blender to chop it all up into smaller pieces. It’s delicious either way. Rick Bayless encourages you to use it in place of tomato sauce with fish or pork or even mac and cheese.

I watch a lot of “Good Eats” on Food Network, and Alton Brown frequently uses latex gloves (medical style) when dealing with peppers. At first I laughed at him, just a little, and thought it was sort of wimpy. But then…one unfortunate day, I got pepper juice in my eye. It came from my finger which had been washed, at least twice. There are hardly words to describe how terrible the experience was. I promptly went to buy rubber gloves, and now I’m a convert. It makes it easier to use your hands to seed the peppers, and then the gloves come right off into the trash without threat to your sensitive parts. I encourage you to try it, also. Safety first, people.

What is your favorite kind of salsa? Keep your eyes peeled for more salsas coming soon to a food blog near you. Happy eating!

Nutritional Information – 1/4 cup (This may be the best part!!!)      
Calories: 18
Fat: 0.2 g
Carbs: 4.1 g
Fiber: 1 g
Vitamin C: 27%

Perfectly Portioned Tostadas

Oh Tex-Mex, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. You make bad days better. You are good for what ails me. You bring me joy, deliciousness, and comfort – without fail. You are variety with consistency. You are both crunchy and creamy. You are chile gravy with cheese. You are breakfast tacos. You are chips with nooks to fill with salsa. You are one of my favorites and I could eat you every day without boredom. Yes, Tex-Mex, you are my one of my all time favorites and I will never leave you.

Dearest reader, you may be thinking my love affair with Mexican/Tex-Mex food seems a little over the top. But as any good born-and-bred Texan knows: it is totally valid. Ask any of those poor displaced Texan souls who are living in the lands of poor quality Mexican eateries where spicy ketchup substitutes for salsa and they will tell you – their heart longs for that of which I speak. Bless the hearts of those who have lived away from the land of deliciousness for so long that they begin to actually think that the “Mexican” food in their area is an acceptable representation. Dear friends, hurry back to the Lone Star State! Hurry back to land of chile gravy, quality salsa, homemade guacamole, homemade tortillas, (corn and flour please!), and hole in the wall joints that will feed your soul. In the meantime, please consider this super simple meal to tide you over until then. There is nothing complicated or surprising about this dish, and truthfully, that’s part of why I think my perfectly portioned tostadas are so darn great.

Total Tostada Tastiness!

Part of what makes this dish so fabulous to me is the home-crisping of the corn tortillas. I know you can buy pre-crisped tostada shells at the supermarket so you may be thinking to yourself, “why would I need to buy regular tortillas to crisp when I can buy them that way and skip a step?” Well, in my opinion, home-crisped are superior in flavor and texture to the others. Plus, buying regular tortillas gives you flexibility in how to use the tortillas which does not come with the already crispy ones. Additionally, one cannot be certain of how the manufacturer made the shells crispy. If you make them at home – it is totally possible to do it without frying  (and in 2 steps) which helps keep it nutritionally sensible. Here, let me tell you how!

Baked up crispy!

Perfectly Portioned Tostadas

Ingredients
2 corn tortillas
1/2 cup refried beans – I used a no-fat canned variety
4 oz lean ground beef – I used 93% lean
1/4 cup grated cheese – I “cheated” and used pre-shredded Mexican blend that needed to be used. Normally, I use regular Cheddar.
preferred Mexican seasonings – I used adobo, and ancho chile powder for the beans and about 1.5 tbsp taco blend for the meat.
1/4 cup water
Pam or other cooking spray
salsa to taste

Steps
1. Preheat oven to 375. I have a pizza stone so I leave it in there to wait for the tortillas. No pizza stone? Try a cookie sheet.
2. Start to brown gr. beef over med-low to medium heat.
3. Grate (or measure!) cheese.
4. Mix seasonings into beef, then add 1/4 cup water and turn up heat just a bit. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a mild simmer, stirring occasionally. It will turn sort of saucy and a bit thicker. It’s done when it doesn’t look like beef sitting in water anymore.
5. Put beans on to heat through. Add in 3-4 shakes of your seasonings and stir.
6. Spray both sides of the corn tortillas with your cooking spray and lay flat on your cooking surface. Let bake for 5 minutes.
7. Check your tostada shells. If they aren’t done, flip them over for another 2 minutes and check every 1 – 2 minutes until they are the brownness and crispness you like. Once they start to turn though, keep a good eye on them because they’ll burn in a hot minute. Trust me.
8. Let shells cool while you taste your beans and meat and adjust seasonings as desired. I suggest layering your toppings: beans, beef, cheese, then salsa.
9. Take a bite and roll your eyes in culinary delight. 🙂

It really is pretty simple and can all be done in 20 minutes or less, which is an extra plus. If you feel the need to add things like lettuce or tomato to your tostada, go right ahead. Beans, meat, and cheese are really all I want when I”m making this dish. The shells can be topped with just about anything…guacamole, queso, beans and eggs, sauteed vegetable mix – whatever floats your boat. It’s really quite versatile. One could add onions or peppers to the meat mixture. Black beans could be subbed in for the refried beans. Spices can be changed up, decreased or increased to alter the flavor as well. The variations are, in my opinion, endless.

A note about the ground beef: As I am using a leaner meat, it’s important to cook it slower and over a lower heat so that it doesn’t overcook and dry out. I never went above #6 on my dial except to get it to boil, and then I turned it down to 3 or 4. Don’t rush it or you could be sorry. Again, trust me.  Adding the water helps with this at the end, but it cannot rehydrate overcooked meat. You can use a higher fat ground beef if you like and you won’t have to worry about it quite as much – but it’s still good to keep in the back of your head. As there are few ingredients in this dish, it would be difficult to camouflage dried out meat.

Cooking away

Finally, the bonus on top of all the other wonderfulness of this dish is that the ingredients are measured according to their serving size. This means you are eating a reasonable amount of food and, at least for me, coming out full on the other end. It also means the total caloric intake for these two tostadas is less than 500 calories, which in the world of Tex-Mex is sometimes hard to come by. I hope this recipe brings you as much joy as it does me. Happy eating! 🙂

Nutritional Information – 2 tostadas

Calories: 453
Fat: 19 g
Carbs: 33 g
Protein: 35 g
Fiber: 4 g