Huevos Rancheros with Bacon and Corn Tortillas

Hoevos Rancheros with Bacon and Corn Tortillas

Hoevos Rancheros with Bacon and Corn Tortillas

I admit that sometimes I’m just weird, like when I jump out of bed thinking about what I’ll make for breakfast.  I’m not talking OJ, toast and coffee or a bowl of cold cereal here.  I mean really cooking up something good.  This happens mostly on a weekend morning, like today, Saturday.

It would be eggs, with bacon included, but in a not so ordinary way.  Like huevos rancheros.  That means eggs on the ranch,  or eggs ranch-style.  See, I’m fluent in Spanish.   I’m also fluent in cooking by the seat of my pants, which means no recipe in sight.  OK then, here’s how it unfolded.

Walk to the refrigerator and take out eggs ( natch), bacon, corn tortillas, an open jar of salsa and some grated cheddar jack cheese.  Do I know what I’m doing?  Not really,  I’ve never made huevos rancheros, but I have seen a recipe with a picture of the finished dish.  What I intended to produce was my own version of what I thought they must be like.  Be on notice: that’s open to wide interpretation.

Begin by cooking up 4 slices of bacon till crisp.  Save a small amount of the drippings in the pan.  Add two corn tortillas to the bacon drippings and cook until puffed and golden.  Remove to paper towels to drain.  Keep any drippings remaining in the pan and add a small pat of butter.   Prepare eggs in the usual way for scrambling,  add to pan and cook until just beginning to set.  Sprinkle with grated cheddar-jack cheese.  Cover and turn off heat, allowing cheese to melt, and eggs to finish cooking.   Place a crisp tortilla on each plate,  cover with a portion of scrambled egg,  spoon on some salsa, and top with strips of bacon.  Olé.  Mue Bueno!

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HUEVOS RANCHEROS WITH BACON AND CORN TORTILLAS

Yield:   Serves 2   Increase quantities accordingly to serve more

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices lean bacon
  • 2  (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 jar salsa, mild or spicy, your preference
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 small pat butter
  • grated cheddar-jack cheese or Cotija cheese or queso fresco

Directions:

1.  Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until crisp.  Drain on paper towels, reserving the drippings in the skillet.

Cook the bacon first and save some of the drippings for the tortillas.

Cook the bacon first and save some of the drippings for the tortillas.

2.  Cook the tortillas:   heat the bacon drippings in the skillet, add the tortillas and cook until golden brown on the bottoms, 3 – 4 minutes; flip and cook until golden on the other side, about 3 more minutes.  Wrap in foil to keep warm.

Corn Tortillas get crispy and puffed when cooked in a little oil.

Corn Tortillas get crispy and puffed when cooked in a little oil.

3.  Make the eggs:   in a small bowl, whisk the eggs together to blend,  add 1 -2 tablespoons water, salt and pepper to taste, and continue whisking to mix well..   Add the butter to any remaining drippings in the skillet, and allow to melt and become hot.  Pour the egg mixture into the skillet, and cook on medium heat until the eggs are set, lifting the edges and letting the liquid portion run underneath.  When the eggs are almost completely cooked sprinkle on the grated cheese.  Turn off the heat, cover , and allow the cheese to melt before serving.

4.  To serve:  Place a warm tortilla on each plate.  Top with a portion  of the eggs,   Spoon on desired amount of salsa, and lay two pieces of bacon on the top.

Layer it all up with some salsa and bacon on top.

Layer it all up with some salsa and bacon on top.

 

This is probably not the most appetizing-looking meal I’ve ever made, but it sure tasted good, and got a weekend morning off to a great start.

 

SOURCE:   A Carolyn Original

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Beefy Mac and Cheese

Beefy Mac and Cheese

Beefy Mac and Cheese

Don’t you think it’s about time we get down to the real thing?….We’ve roasted vegetables, cut up pumpkin,  and peeled apples.  Now let’s eat some mac and cheese.   Here we are into November and we have every right to put apples in our pancakes, chicken in our pot pies, and chili beef in our Mac and Cheese.  We have every right to all the comfort foods we can possibly eat.

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Routines are comforting don’t you think?   I have my routines.   I get my oil changed every 3000 miles, I get my hair cut every 6 weeks, I drag myself out of bed every morning and back into it every night somewhere between 11 and 12m.  It all feels good, and right.   In the catalog of sometimes mundane routines is this Mac and Cheese recipe.

About three times a year I over-indulge and make this dish and wonder why I don’t make it a part of my more pressing monthly routine.   Then I remember the calories, making the roux, assembling it all and baking it.  Its worth it though, but still it remains my every-once-in-a-while dish.  Maybe that’s why I enjoy it so much when I do make it.  Something about absence making the heart grow fonder?

My variation:  the recipe calls for 8 oz. ground beef, but I like the dish heartier, so I use 1 pound of beef and double up on the tomato paste and chili powder.  This makes a thicker layer of chili beef under the mac and cheese, and you get more in every bite.  Use either half or a whole pound of beef, it’s up to you, and either way it’ll be delicious!  That’s what we do it 🙂

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BEEFY MAC AND CHEESE

Yield:    Serves 4

Ingredients:IMG_8417

  • 8 ounces medium pasta shells
  • 3 Tbsp, unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup low-fat milk ( 1%)
  • 2  2/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend ( about 8 oz,)
  • 2 Tbsp. breadcrumbs, preferably panko
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Directions:

1.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook as the package directs.  Reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.

2.  Meanwhile, melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and chili powder and stir until brick red, about 2 minutes.  Add the beef and cook, stirring, until browned, 4 minutes.

Browning the beef.

Browning the beef.

Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Spread the mixture in a 3-quart baking dish.  Preheat the oven.

3. Having cooked the beef, now we make a roux.  Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the same skillet over medium heat.  Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. (It’s a thick and goopy mess.  You’re totally doing it right.)  Slowly add the milk and reserved cooking water.

Making the roux.

Making the roux.

Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking away until thick, about 2 minutes.  Add 2 cups cheese, the cooked pasta and 3/4 teaspoon salt and stir until the cheese melts.

Stir in the cheese and let it melt.

Stir in the cheese and let it melt.

Add the cooked pasta.

All that cheesy sauce gets inside the shells…Oh, Wow!

Spread over the beef mixture.  This is all about layering flavors.

4.  Mix the remaining 1/2 cup cheese and the breadcrumbs; sprinkle over the pasta mixture and bake for about 20 minutes.

Top with remaining cheese and bake.

Top with remaining cheese and crumbs and bake for 20 minutes.

Before removing from the oven, turn on the broiler, and broil until the top is golden and crunchy.  Top with the scallions and serve.

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Oh man… this is really good!

SOURCE:   Cooking Light

Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin Scones

Pumpkin Scones

Pumpkin Scones

I love Charlie Brown specials on TV.  I watch them whenever I can.  One in particular that  I love is It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  The Great Pumpkin seems to be known only to Linus who waits for him every year on Halloween.  Linus and his blanket wait patiently in the pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin to appear.  Invariably he fails to show up and a humiliated but undefeated Linus vows to wait for him again the following Halloween.

A line made famous by the  TV special is “There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people:  religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin”   Well, I pretty much adhere to that rule, too, but seeing that Halloween has just passed, today is election day, and I baked pumpkin scones, I’m breaking the rule to share with you this recipe for awesome pumpkin scones.   I imagine Linus would have loved to have one while he waited for the Great Pumpkin, but you don’t have to wait that long, only long enough to whip these up and have one while it’s still warm with a cup of coffee or tea.

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PUMPKIN SCONES

Yield:  10 -11 drop sconesIMG_8448

Ingredients:

  • 2  1/4 cup all-purpose flour ( or use half white flour, and half whole wheat)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
  • 6 Tbsp. chilled butter, cut into small  pieces
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup fat-free half and half ( plus extra for brushing the tops of the scones, if desired.)
  • In place of the half and half you can use 3/4 cup fat-free buttermilk, plus add 1/2 tsp. baking soda to the dry ingredients.

Optional Spice Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp. water

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400*F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice, and pulse to blend briefly.

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Add the orange zest and better and pulse on and off. until the mixture has the consistency of fine meal.

Transfer flour mixture to a large bowl.

Transfer flour mixture to a large bowl.

Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in the pumpkin and half and half, mixing just until combined.

Mixing in the pumpkin and half-and-half.

Mixing in the pumpkin and half-and-half.

3.  Spoon the dough onto the baking sheet, using 1/4 cup measure or large spoon, to divide evenly.  This should make about 10 scones. (I got 11.)   Space them about 1 inch apart.

Space about 1-inch apart on parchment lined baking sheet.

Space about 1-inch apart on parchment lined baking sheet.

Brush the tops with a tablespoon or two of fat-free half and half.

Brush tops with half-and-half.

Brush tops with half-and-half.

Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until they are lightly browned.

4.  For the glaze:  Add powdered sugar, pumpkin pie spice and water to a small ;bowl.  Whisk together well.  Drizzle over scones and serve warm or cold.

Drizzle scones with glaze.

Drizzle scones with glaze.

Light and tender.  Just right for a snack.

Light and tender. Just right for a snack.

 

SOURCE:   old recipe from the Hartford Courant

 

Fall-ing for Apples

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Apples are the essence of fall.

Several weeks ago I attended an “apple-tasting” event at Scott’s Orchards in Dummerston, Vt.  It was at the height of foliage season and the farm, orchards, and surrounding countryside were ablaze in the wonderful colors of autumn.  The 36-acre orchard is located high above a valley and offers magnificent views of the surrounding hills.  It is on the estate that once belonged to the author, Rudyard Kipling, but is now in the care of the Vermont Landmark Trust.  The apple orchard is known for the variety of heritage apples that are being tested and grown there.

The farm and orchard are set in beautiful surroundings.

The farm and orchard are set in beautiful surroundings.

A few of the many heritage apples grown at Scott's Orchard.

A few of the many heritage apples grown at Scott’s Orchard.

On my visit, I purchased a variety of apples, previously unknown to me, some of which you see pictured here.  I have been using them sparingly  so that we can taste and enjoy their unique flavors in some tasty treats.  Some of these apples are strange looking, but the flavors are surprising and wonderful.  Some are especially tart–you’ll taste it with your jawbone–but blend them with others that are sweeter and you will have a mixture that hardly needs any sugar.   Applesauce is one of those mixtures that improves greatly by using a variety of apples to make it. Mixing a tart variety with a sweet one, or juicier apples with drier varieties, may produce excellent results–the only problem being that you may not ever be able to reproduce it’s exact flavor.

On the day of my visit the farm stand was bustling with people grabbing bags of apples and jars of cider.  There were many “bins” of apples where you could fill a bag with the apples of your choice.

Many bins of apples, like this one.

Many bins of apples, like this one.

That is what I did, taking only one or two of 12 different kinds.  One woman asked the orchardist what apples were good right now, and he responded, “well, I’ve been taking home Reine de Reinettes.  If you like Honeycrisps, you should try the Reine de Reinettes”.

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Convincing someone to try a strange food/fruit can be challenging, but more and more people, New Englanders in particular, are showing an interest in trying the awkward, cosmetically challenged apples of the world, apples with an astonishing inner beauty that takes some time to get to know.  Many of the apples from this farm are sold at Whole Foods and independent grocery stores throughout the eastern region of the country.   If you should have the opportunity to meet a heritage variety of apple, I urge you to give one a try—it’s probably wise to start with an eating apple, they’re a little sweeter and pleasant to eat.  But those tart babies, they’ll surely put some zing in your apple pie!

An example of what I mean by “using them sparingly”, is this dish I made recently that consisted of pork chops roasted with apples and onions.  It required only two apples, but we got tremendous enjoyment from this meal.

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Another example is the recipe below for Apple Cinnamon Squares. It also needs only two apples, but produces an outstanding dessert with lots of apple flavor underneath the crumb topping.  Layered in between buttery yellow cake crumbs is a creamy layer that elevates this dessert from good to great.  Made from a yellow cake mix, this couldn’t be easier, so give it a try.

Apple Cinnamon Squares

Apple Cinnamon Squares

APPLE CINNAMON SQUARES

Yield:   about 20 squaresIMG_8487

Ingredients:

  • 1 ( 18.25-oz) box yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup gown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. round cinnamon
  • 2 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Lightly spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

2.  Combine the cake mix with the butter in a mixing bowl.  Mix until crumbly. Reserve 2/3 cup of cake/butter mixture in a separate bowl.  Add brown sugar and cinnamon to this 2/3 cup mixture.  Mix well and set aside.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon with reserved crumbs.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon with reserved crumbs.

3.  Spread remaining cake/butter mixture in the bottom of the baking dish.

First layer, buttery crumbs in the bottom.

First layer, buttery crumbs in the bottom.

Then, layer sliced apples on top of that.

Next layer, sliced apples.

Next layer, sliced apples.

4.  In a separate bowl, blend sour cream and egg until well mixed.  Spread cream mixture evenly over sliced apples.

Spread sour cream mixture over the apples.

Spread sour cream mixture over the apples.

Top with reserved cinnamon crumb mixture.

Top layer, cinnamon crumbs.

Top layer, cinnamon crumbs.

5.  Bake 30 minutes until golden brown.

Bake till golden brown.

Bake till golden brown.

This dish is best served warm.

Does it need cream on top?  No, but it sure is good!!

Does it need cream on top? No, but it sure is good!!

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SOURCE:  Table for Seven