cheesy egg sandwich & a chat about breakfast

Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day. It sets the tone and establishes the comforting  idea that I have eaten today. Even if I can’t eat for the rest of the day– I forget to pack a lunch, I get caught up doing something and can’t find time, I end up stranded in a desert somewhere– it’s okay because I had a nice, hearty breakfast. This is the reason why as much as I love Italy, I seriously don’t understand how Italians forgo breakfast. Cookies, pastries and coffee are delicious, but it just doesn’t cut it for me as a start to my day.

When we were in Sicily this last December, Paolo (the husband of my 5th cousin, Francesca) shook his head as I described how we typically eat eggs for breakfast in America. He would frown and say pesante (heavy), cautioning us that eating eggs at the start of the day would make us fat. Cookies however, are totally cool.

The real tragedy is that for the first couple days during our stay they did give us eggs in an effort to make us feel at home, and they were the BEST eggs I’ve ever eaten: fresh from a nearby farm, deep-colored yolks, cooked in butter and served with the most delicious bread.  So good. But after seeing them look on in horror, we finally decided we would do as the Sicilians do and nibble on our biscotti and sip our cafe in the morning, and then proceed to eat our weight in pasta at lunch.

California apricots are so delicious this summer

My daily at-home cappuccino

Although I was sad to leave Sicily, I definitely longed for my California breakfast. Normally in the morning I take a cappuccino and an egg in some form (I love soft boiled and poached eggs) paired with one or two of the following: a piece of toast, a good-quality frozen (or fresh) waffle, juice, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, bacon, a sourdough muffin, a pancake or a smoothie. This combination of fruit + protein + carb will lead to a happy Danielle. The only thing I will NOT eat for breakfast is cereal. I just don’t do cereal. The bottom line is, I won’t waste my time with unfulfilling, processed bits of flakes, whether they are sugar-coated flakes or cardboard flakes. Cereal is a soulless food and a horrible way to begin a day, in my humble opinion.

Today is the boyfriend’s day off, so I offered to make him my “famous” egg sandwich. Now, let me say that the boyfriend and I do not eat these regularly and neither should you if you want to avoid heart attacks and gallstones. Nevertheless, these make a great treat for the occasional brunch.

Ingredients (for one sandwich… double or triple it if you intend to make more than one).

  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 Tablespoons buttermilk OR half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons butter OR butter substitute (I used ghee because we’re out of butter and Earth Balance)
  • 4 Tablespoons cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 slices Italian, French or sourdough bread

Recipe:

  1. Crack eggs into a small bowl and whisk with a fork until well-blended. Add buttermilk, salt & pepper to taste.
  2. Heat up a skillet on medium. Put 1-2 teaspoons of butter in the pan and then add the egg mixture, continuing to scramble with spatula or fork. If the pan is well-heated, they should cook for literally 20 seconds. My secret to great scrambled eggs is to remove them from heat while they are still a little runny because they continue to cook. Nothing is worse that overcooked eggs.
  3. Toss grated cheese into the eggs & allow the heat to melt the cheese.
  4. Meanwhile, take the two slices of bread and spread butter on one piece and mayo on the other. Take the eggs with melted cheese and carefully stack on one slice of bread, and cover with the other. Then spread mayo on the outside of the bread– this is my “secret” for amazing grilled sandwiches.
  5. Let the pan re-heat to medium-low, and place the sandwich on the skillet, heating up and getting perfectly crispy and hot. Flip and repeat.

Want to make this even worse for you (read: more amazing)? Cook a couple pieces of bacon and then cook the scrambled eggs in the bacon drippings instead of butter and add bacon to it.  This is what I did in these photos, which is why the eggs look kind of “off.” I found this version AMAZING, but Dhiren prefers his egg sandwiches straight-up sans bacon flavor (which makes sense since he is a recently converted vegetarian and doesn’t know any better).

You can also add: avocado, tomato and/or make this healthier by choosing a higher-fiber bread, using egg whites and cutting way back on the fat. I actually ended up eating a poached egg with some fruit and bacon in my effort to keep it paleo, but the boyfriend offered me a bite of his sandwich (not like he had a choice!)

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How to Poach Your Eggs with Pride

I’ve been a little obsessed with poached eggs lately. They are so delicious & healthy and have a softer consistency than a fried egg. Whenever I fry my eggs, I always feel a little vulgar as well, even though I don’t actually fry them in fat. Eating a poached egg however, always leaves me feeling very refined.

Directions:

  • Bring about three inches of water close to a simmer in a large saucepan.
  • Drop a splash of vinegar in the water (this will help “tighten” up the egg- or at worst, give you a false sense of confidence). Crack one egg into a small bowl (this makes it easier).
  •  Carefully slide the egg into the water.
  • Using a spatula, help the egg keep its shape and allow the white of the egg to envelope the yolk.
  • Boil for about three minutes.
  • Use a slotted spoon to gently scoop up the egg, and set it in a bowl. Wait for about 30 seconds, and then using a paper towel, swirl the bowl around to drain the water “run-off” (sounds appetizing, huh?) and dab. Some people like to drain the egg on the paper towel, but I always worry that it’s going to stick to the paper!
I usually do about three-four at a time for the boyfriend and me, using a large, wide saucepan. I haven’t encountered any problems doing this. I just use a spatula to help the eggs stay in their place and fold over.

Goodbye little Poachie. I mean, you’re cute and all, but I can poach four eggs in three minutes on my own, and well…. you’re just holding me back.

Sweet Crepes with Sautéed Cinnamon Bananas

This will be my last post until the weekend. I’ve been posting daily because I’m trying to catch-up on my long list of ideas and recipes that are standing by. I’m finding that blogging is taking up too much of my very limited time though. I have two auditions for grad school in t-minus three weeks, and so I need to be channeling all my creative efforts into that. I will be posting on weekends and scheduling posts to publish during weekdays, but I am banning myself from logging onto this blog or on Facebook on weekdays until February 18th.

Yesterday I woke up and thought that crepes with bananas sounded like a great idea. Crepes are easy to make, lighter than normal pancakes, and they make you feel oh-so-fancy. While in Paris in November we ate some amazing crepes, and some… not-so-amazing ones. The best one we tried was at the Sunday Market by the Bastille. It was delicious and stuffed with bananas and caramel sauce. I totally regret not buying a tub of $15 caramel from that stand. I also regret losing my camera which held pictures of it. 😦 (I still get sick thinking about how we left that camera on the plane…)

This was our favorite street performance we saw that day:

http://www.facebook.com/v/10100719818509791

I’ve tried lots of crepe recipes. Some require a blender, an hour of waiting time, etc. But then there are times when you’re in an “instant gratification” mood and in that case, this recipe works extremely well! I’ve been following Weight Watchers since September and so I’ve modified this a little to make it healthier (albeit, not as tasty). If you don’t care about caloric content, use butter and regular flour. Otherwise, you can stick with this recipe.

Ingredients for crepes (makes about five large crepes):

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose), sifted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%, but whole milk will make it tastier)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 2 TBSP light margarine, melted (or butter)

Whisk the eggs until frothy in a medium bowl. Add the milk, water and butter and whisk until combined. In a separate bowl combine salt, sugar and flour with a spoon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and fold in until just incorperated. Add the vanilla but take care not to over-mix.

Heat up a large skillet on medium-high heat, and when ready toss in a pat of margarine or butter.

This is the fun part. Working quickly, pour about 1/3 cup of batter onto the hot skillet and quickly pick up the pan and rotate it in a circular motion so that all of the batter spreads out to fill the width of the pan.

Roll them, and keep them wrapped in foil.

Ingredients for Sautéed Bananas:

  • Two bananas
  • White sugar (about 1/4 c.)
  • Butter or margarine (about 2 TBSP)
  • Cinnamon (about 1 tsp)

Melt butter in a skillet set on high. Toss in the bananas, sugar and cinnamon and let them fry for about 2 minutes, constantly scraping down the sides and bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula.

Arrange bananas inside the crepes, sprinkle with sugar, maple syrup, caramel sauce or nutella and enjoy!

 

Many thanks to Dhiren for helping me take photos on this post. Up next: Vegetarian Fiesta Burrito, Bread Pudding, Angelini Osteria Review & Homemade Ravioli & Pesto.

Yummy, crumby, blueberry muffins

These muffins are from July when Dhiren got that big package of blueberries from his madre in Connecticut.

Which brings me to: I am SO behind on posts. I literally have 20-30 blank posts with titles and concepts, but no time to assemble it all.  Part of the reason, at least for this last week, is that I’ve recently gotten into scrap-booking (I know what you must be thinking: “Oh… she’s one of THOSE people…” Trust me, I’m just as disturbed as you are).  I’m going to post quite a bit in the next couple of days though to catch up. I have an article about our OC Fair Foodventure, Dhiren’s birthday weekend, Weight Watchers, and lots of gifted food and recipes to share.

These muffins were my first ever, and they turned out delicious with very minimal effort. Here I was all these years, imagining muffins to be a challenge.

I’m going to be kind of lame though and not post a recipe. Why? Because I can’t remember which one I used two months ago and Dhiren is snoring, which reminds me that it’s past my bedtime.  But if you feel like making muffins from scratch, I’d check out this.

And why not, since we’re on the topic, take a trip down memory lane for a bit. Do you all remember this video from back in the day?

South Beach Wannabe Waffle

There’s one aspect of the South Beach Diet that I don’t like: the 14 days of breakfast hell. Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day, full of creams, breads and sweet, fluffy doughy things paired with eggs. When I traveled to Italy last summer I was in breakfast heaven:

My blood sugar was all out of whack too, which is probably why I had a complete meltdown on Capri… not a flattering moment. The come-down from the pasta and sugar highs were not pleasant.

Anyhow, back to breakfast!

On Phase 1, breakfast is strictly an egg, meat, cheese and vegetable thing. I don’t know about you, but sipping coffee with a piece of turkey bacon and broccoli for two weeks strait is NOT my idea of enlightening or sustainable.

So, these waffles were a lifesaver half-way through, when I started feeling gaggy at the thought of eggs. Pair it with tomato juice or a small egg white veggie omelette and you’re set!

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 C.  lowfat Ricotta
  • 1 Tbsp. Splenda (or Xylitol, my fav. alcohol sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon

Combine everything in a big bowl and beat with an electric mixer. I like to beat it for about 5 minutes. Unlike normal waffle mix, you want to beat in a lot of air to make these a bit fluffier.

Preheat the waffle maker and spray with Pam. Pour in the mix (it will be runny) and cook for a few minutes. The texture will be sort of soggy (I know, sounds delightful…) BUT you won’t feel that all-too-frequent bloat after, and will have eaten a protein-filled waffle.

I topped this with some light cream cheese mixed with Splenda and vanilla, and drizzled some agave syrup on it. Yum.

A little update on my SBD progress

I began Phase 2 of the South Beach Diet yesterday, and though there were some hiccups and moments of cheating during the first 14 days, I am nonetheless 7 pounds lighter this morning. Today I added-in one half of a whole grain tortilla and used a cup of mango for a cardamon-mango lassi for dessert, which was amazing.

It isn’t easy for me to blog in a public forum about my weight loss efforts, BUT I figure a little fear and humility-based motivation couldn’t hurt. And, at least I can share some recipes (and a couple of not-so-good recipes coming soon……)

Stay tuned for Danielle’s Nasty Microwave Quiche Disaster…