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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Dee’s take on Nana’s Baked Mac ‘n Cheese

Since I date a vegetarian, macaroni and cheese has become one of my tastiest dishes and a guaranteed hit with the boyfriend. It’s quick, simple, delicious and I never need to reference a cookbook when assembling it. True, it’s not the healthiest option, but pair it with a salad and you can kind of justify it.

I made this for New Year’s Eve din-din at home, paired with some Trader Joe’s baby back ribs (for me), a salad and some cornbread. We had a fun time just hanging out at home, detonating poppers & banging on pots and pans.

My recipe comes from my Nana, who taught me how to make baked macaroni about a year ago.

Ingredients:

-butter, 4 TBSP
– half & half, 1 cup
-flour, 4 TBSP
– milk (1% – whole milk), 3 cups
-elbow macaroni (1 box)
-1 stick of cheddar cheese (or you can use different cheeses to make a more “gourmet-style” three or four-cheese macaroni)
-salt (to taste)
-breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup or so

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Immediately add the flour and begin stirring until it is incorporated into the butter.

2. Add the milk and the half & half and whisk until mixed together. As the milk heats up, grate the cheese into the milk mixture. You can also buy pre-shredded cheese or a four-cheese blend and slowly add it in, whisking every minute or so.

3. Meanwhile, boil the macaroni for about 6-7 minutes (or until al dente) and drain and pour into a Pyrex 13 x 9 baking dish or casserole pan.

4. Once the roux is thick and the cheese is melted, pour it directly over the pasta in the casserole dish.

5. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and casually arrange small cubes of chopped butter over the bread crumbs.

6. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly.

7. Take your cholesterol medication.

YUM.