Nacho Omelette

I have this problem with throwing away food. Even if there are only two tablespoons of chicken curry left, I feel the urge to schlep it into a container and stick it in the fridge. Sadly this all too frequently results in me schlepping it out of the fridge again in a week or two when it’s started to change colors and smell a little…oh right, this is a food blog. You don’t want to read about my moldy leftovers.

However, this desire to save leftovers has resulted in some very creative and – believe it or not – delicious meals. Take this one – nacho omelette. You see, nachos don’t naturally make good leftovers. After a night in the fridge, the chips get soggy. Soggy chips do not good nachos make.

However, I like to consider the corn chips less soggy and more – well, more like softened corn tortillas. And if you’ve ever had huevos rancheros or omelettes with torn-up corn tortillas in the mix, you’ll see where I’m going with this. And I’ll be the first to admit, this could have turned out very badly. But it didn’t. It’s delicious. As in, freakishly addictive delicious. So next time you’re eating happy hour nachos, ask for a take-home-box with pride and *wham* – you’ve got the makings for a delicious 5 minute breakfast the next morning. Can you say winning?

So grab out a portion of those leftover nachos and give it a rough chop (into ~1 inch pieces). Or just tear them into pieces by hand. Your choice. This is one of those few instances, where I feel like a knife and a cutting board is just easier.

Then crack an appropriate amount of eggs into a bowl. There were two of us, so I used 5 eggs. Yeah…we go through eggs pretty quickly in this house.

Look at that egg yolk in the upper left of the picture. Don’t ask me what was going on with that yolk (it wasn’t cracked). It didn’t want to look like all the other round yolks. It wanted to be special. And no, we didn’t get food poisoning from this meal.


Now stop staring at that strangely shaped egg yolk, grab a fork, and scramble the eggs together (with a dash of water,  milk, or half n half if that’s how you roll).

Yep, I went for half n half.

Now heat up a skillet over medium heat and add a pat of butter.

This recipe goes a lot quicker if you’re not running back and forth from the stove to the window because of the terrible lighting by your stove. Just in case you were wondering.

Add the nachos to your skillet and let them sizzle for a minute or two, until they start heating up.

Now pour in the eggs. You can cook this however you prefer – I usually turn the heat down to medium-low after adding the eggs to cook them a little slower and keep them from getting too dry.

Whether you turn the heat down or not – it will only take a couple of minutes to cook.

Use a spatula to turn the eggs while they’re cooking. Don’t go stir crazy.

Once it’s cooked, dish it up on a plate and add any toppings of your choice (I went for salsa, hot sauce, and sour cream). If you’ve got guacamole to go with it – well, then I’m jealous.

Nacho Omelette

Roughly chop a handful of leftover nachos. Crack  2-3 eggs/person into a bowl and scramble with a dash of milk, cream, or water. Heat up a skillet over medium heat and add a pat of butter. Once melted, add in the chopped nachos and let heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the scrambled eggs, turn the heat down to medium-low and stir occasionally until cooked. Serve with toppings of your choice (such as salsa and sour cream).

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Everyday Fried Rice

I’ve always loved fried rice. Back when I was in elementary school, my mom would take my sister and I to the local mall for back-to-school shopping. Rivaling the enticement of new clothes however, was the prospect of eating at the food court for lunch. Bright eyed I’d carefully pick out my meal. Despite my feigned serious consideration, I’d always order sweet and sour pork with fried rice. I was in heaven!

Now I eat fried rice on a near weekly basis but I enjoy it as much as ever. It’s such a quick meal to put together and utterly satisfying. Each week the recipe changes based on what I have in the fridge and what sounds exciting. I usually add some sort of salty, crispy meat and an assortment of colorful fresh vegetables.

As I mentioned, fried rice is a very quick dish to make. 30 minutes tops (20 minutes if you’re quick at chopping). But…you need cold, leftover rice. I wish it worked well with fresh rice, but every time I attempt that shortcut I end up with a mushy mess. So I’ve just adopted a habit of always adding extra rice to the rice cooker for fried rice later in the week. Then dinner the next night will come together in a flash.

Ready for the recipe?

To start, you’ll need to cut up some meat into small pieces.  Sausage, bacon, tofu (the other meat?), and ground beef all work marvelously.  Strangely I had some hot dogs in the fridge. I blame Dirk.  But they make some pretty tasty fried rice.

If you’re using ground beef I recommend seasoning it with plenty of salt and pepper. Salty morsels of meat make for delicious fried rice.

Another vegetarian option besides tofu is peanuts or cashews (check out my Indian Fried Rice).

Now chop up some veggies. As few or as many as you’d like. Just make sure you chop them up into a fine dice (~ 1/4 inch)  so they’ll cook quickly.

I used a couple carrots…

…and some onion (about 1/4 of a large onion).

Red onion also works nicely in fried rice.  As with any vegetables, onions are optional.

Now that we’ve got our meat and vegetables chopped up it’s time to grab out your wok. If you don’t have a wok you could use a large skillet (preferably nonstick or cast iron).

Heat wok over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon oil.

Peanut oil, coconut oil, canola oil, or bacon grease all work well. Especially bacon grease.  Obviously.

Let the meat cook for 1 minute to allow it to brown slightly.

If you’re using cashews or peanuts skip this first step and add them with the vegetables.

Now add in your chopped vegetables.  The key is to a good fried rice is to keep the pan hot. You’ll need to stir the vegetables around occasionally, but don’t be afraid to let them sit for a minute and brown.  Browned bits = flavor.

Let the vegetables and meat sizzle for about 3 minutes before the next step.

Now push the vegetables to the side of the wok and grab out your leftover rice.

If there is no excess oil in the pan, drizzle in another tablespoon.

Crumble the leftover rice into the empty half of the pan.  And wait.

Let everything sizzle for 1 minute before mixing.

After that minute, go ahead and mix everything together.  Let cook for 5-10 minutes mixing once per minute.

Over stirring does not a tasty fried rice make.

While you’re twiddling your thumbs trying not to stir the rice, go ahead and chop up some green onions (aka scallions).  I used four because that was the number I had on hand. If you don’t have any green onions, your fried rice will still be delicious. Don’t worry so much.

Now that you’ve patiently fried the rice, add in your scallions.

Whisk two eggs together in a small bowl.

Or one.

I like two.

Push the fried rice to the side and slowly pour in the eggs to the side.  Let sit for a minute or until the eggs are partially cooked.

Flip the eggs over to finish cooking.  Some rice may cling to them in the process.  That’s normal.

Once it’s finished cooking, vigorously chop the egg into small pieces with your stirring utensil. A spatula works quite well.

Go ahead and mix everything together.

At this point feel free to add any frozen vegetables that you’d like to (green peas or frozen spinach work nicely). I added some frozen spinach.

Let it cook a couple more minutes or until the frozen vegetables are…no longer frozen.

The final step is to add 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (or white pepper), 1 tablespoon dark (toasted) sesame oil, and 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce. I usually add a dash of salt as well.  Take off the heat and serve. It’s important to add the sesame oil at the end because it loses it’s flavor when heated too high.

I hope you enjoy the recipe and make it your own!

Everyday Fried Rice

(serves 2 as a main, 4-6 as a side dish)

3 sausages (or bacon, ground beef, tofu etc.)

1 tablespoon oil* (canola/peanut/coconut etc.)

assorted vegetables, finely diced (I used 1/4 onion, 2 carrots, 1 cup frozen spinach)

4 scallions, sliced (optional)

2-3 cups cold leftover rice

2 eggs

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1 tbsp dark sesame oil

1/2 tbsp soy sauce

Heat oil in wok over medium high heat. Add meat.  Let saute for 1 minute. Add finely chopped vegetables (except frozen vegetables).  Let saute 3 minutes. Push vegetables to the side and crumble in cold rice. Let cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring only occasionally. Add scallions and push everything to the side of the pan.  Whisk two eggs in small bowl and add to pan.  Let sit until mostly cooked, then flip and finish cooking. Break up the cooked egg into small pieces and mix everything together.  Add in frozen vegetables and cook until heated. Add pepper, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Stir, take off heat, and serve.

*you may need more oil if you’re using a lean meat/tofu

What are your favorite ingredients to use in fried rice?

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Sweet Potato & Spinach Quesadillas

Snow has officially fallen in Seattle and provided a stark reminder that winter is still here. Indeed, I must resign myself to the fact that farmers markets filled with the bounty of spring are months away. Thus I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and make use of the bounty of winter; butternut squash, yukon golds, acorn squash, sweet potatoes, and parsnips. I decided to start with sweet potatoes.

And spinach. There’s something so comforting about the beautiful bright orange and dark green mingling together that brightens a cold winter day.

Now you see, I’m the type of person that usually starts cooking before I know exactly what I want to make. When I saw the sweet potatoes humbly perched in a bowl on my counter top I decided to bake them all in one swoop. A couple baked sweet potatoes could serve as a side dish for dinner but what about the rest? I figured it would be easier to find a use for them once they were already baked. How right I was.

The addition of sweet potatoes to these quesadillas transform them into something totally different. Satisfying. Slightly sweet. Wholesome. Did I mention delicious?

In case you didn’t already realize this, quesadillas make a great quick-to-prepare and satisfying meal. Tortillas + cheese + whatever-else-you-have-lying-around. Black beans, corn, leftover meat, avocados, pickled jalapenos, diced green chilis, peppers, or sauteed onions all fit the bill nicely.  Or spinach and leftover baked sweet potatoes.

Have I convinced you yet?

In case you didn’t already get the point, you’ll need some spinach.

Leftover baked sweet potato (about 1/2 per quesadilla).  Chop into small pieces.

And some grated cheese.  I used white cheddar but feel free to use what you have on hand.

I imagine gouda, queso fresco, or goat cheese would all be quite tasty additions.

Now place a tortilla in your skillet of choice  (no oil or anything necessary) and add half of the desired amount of grated cheese.

Now you could make your quesadilla in the microwave but why would you?  Have you ever had a quesadilla made on the stove top with it’s crispy flaky tortilla and oozing melted cheese?

I can still remember the first time I had a quesadilla made on the stove top.  It must have been in middle school when I was at my friend Leah’s house and she asked me if I was okay with quesadillas for lunch. Sure. But then why was she turning on the stove when the microwave was right there? One bite of that crispy and beautifully speckled tortilla and I was hooked.  You see, growing up I had always made my quesadillas in the microwave (which was probably a safe idea for my absent minded small child self) but one bite of a quesadilla made on the stove top and I was hooked for good.

Are you convinced yet?  Okay, moving on…

Add your desired amount of spinach and chopped sweet potatoes.  Keep in mind that the spinach will shrink in size as it cooks.

Add the rest of the grated cheese.  By adding cheese as both the first and last ingredient it will help the toppings adhere to both tortillas and make your life much easier when you go to flip your quesadilla.  Trust me.

Add a sprinkling of pepper too, just for kicks, and top with a second tortilla.  Go ahead and press it all down with the palm of your hand to help everything adhere.  If your skillet is already hot, use a spatula.  Kitchen safety.

Now go put it on the stove on medium heat until the cheese has melted.  Don’t try and flip it before then or you’ll encounter a big mess.  If you lift up a corner of the tortilla and it’s getting too browned before the cheese is melting, turn down the heat.  Likewise, if you’re starting with a preheated skillet you will likely find you need a lower level of heat.

Once it’s melted flip it over to brown the other side.  At this point you can turn the heat up if you want it to brown faster.  Your choice.

Wait a minute or two (if you can stand it), cut the quesadilla into slices and enjoy.  It’s especially delicious served with some hot sauce, sour cream, and/or guacamole.

Speaking of hot sauce, I just discovered Cholula in January and I’m already working on my second bottle.  My husband and I are addicted.  A-d-d-i-c-t-e-d.  Please send help.

Only after you’ve enjoyed a bite of your quesadilla, of course.

Sweet Potato & Spinach Quesadillas

  • Handful of baby spinach
  • 1/2 small baked sweet potato*, cut into small cubes
  • Handful of shredded cheese
  • 2 8-inch flour tortillas
  • pepper (optional)

Place one tortilla in the skillet.  Cover with half the cheese.  Add the spinach and chopped sweet potatoes.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and a touch of freshly ground (or not) pepper.  Top with the second tortilla.  Cook over medium heat until the cheese has melted.  Flip and cook other side until tortilla is speckled with color.  Place on cutting board, slice into wedges, and enjoy!

*To bake sweet potatoes: Rinse. Scrub. Prick with a fork.  Place on baking sheet.  400 F for 40-60 minutes depending on the size.


What do you like to make with Sweet Potatoes?  I’ve still got a couple months of winter-y weather to get through and I need some inspiration!

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What to do with overripe bananas…

…freeze them.

Oh, that wasn’t helpful? You want to know what to make with frozen bananas?  Well, there is always banana bread*, but given the number of languishing overripe bananas that grace my counter top and make there way into the freezer…well there is only so much banana bread one can eat. That’s where this banana smoothie recipe comes in. It’s addictive and delicious as is – simplicity is a beautiful thing – but it also makes the perfect blank canvas for a delicious and healthy shake (freshly grated nutmeg, espresso + chocolate, vanilla bean…).

Despite the fact that this recipe has only two ingredients – bananas and milk – it doesn’t taste overly banana-y.  Don’t get me wrong, you probably won’t like this shake if you hate bananas, but I find the flavor to be reminiscent of soft serve with just a hint of true banana flavor.  That’s why it makes such a good base for additions (though it’s truly delicious on it’s own).  The frozen banana adds body and creaminess to this smoothie and while I love berry smoothies, this might just edge them out in my book (plus it’s a lot more economical to make).  Now if you just make a habit of tossing those ripe bananas into the freezer you’ll have a simply delicious breakfast (or snack) ready to go – even if the fridge is looking a wee bit bare.  Onto the ridiculously simple “recipe”…

Place the frozen banana pieces into a blender.  Complicated, I know.

(I always break the ripened bananas into pieces before freezing which makes it a little easier on my blender.)

Add 1.5 cups of milk (preferably 2% for the extra creamy factor). This isn’t rocket science.  If you like a thicker (more soft-serve texture) use less.  Thinner?  More.  You can always add ice cubes to the mix to make it thicker without upping the banana factor but I don’t usually bother.

P.S. I kept wanting to call this a milkshake (because it’s made with milk!) but then that makes me think of a shake made with ice cream which this is most definitely not.  Although it kinda tastes like it…

Blend.

Yup, it’s a pretty difficult recipe.  If you don’t have the world’s strongest blender, you might have to do the whole start-stop-stir thing.  Phew.  It’s hard work.

Now go pour yourself (and your friend) a glass and enjoy.  You deserve it after all that hard work you put into preparing the “recipe.”

Banana Smoothie (serves 2)

2 frozen bananas + 1.5 cups milk.  Blend.  Enjoy.

Thanks for bearing with my “recipe” – I just wanted to help inspire you out of a breakfast rut.  Speaking of which…any quick, delicious recipes for breakfast anyone wants to share?

*To make banana bread with frozen bananas, just let them thaw (or defrost them in the microwave) and add to your chosen recipe.  They may not look pretty once they’re thawed, but they work beautifully in bread batters.  Or pancake batters…

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Spiced Chai

As the gray days of winter meander along here in Seattle, I find myself preparing all manner of warm beverages to brighten my mood. Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate all fit the bill nicely – but there is something so soothing about the warming spices and gentle sweetness of chai that keeps me turning back to this recipe.

(Or maybe it’s just the hefty dose of caffeine. I can’t really be sure.)
The recipe I’ve outlined here is more of a guideline. I like my chai moderately spiced and sweetened, and definitely creamy. I use a handful of different spices – perhaps to justify my compulsive spice shopping habit – but you can certainly leave out any that you don’t like or don’t have. Up the quantities of spices if you like a really spicy chai. Me? – I prefer to let the flavor of the tea leaves shine through with the spices adding a gentle background note.
I’ll get to the recipe in a second, but first a little background on my chai escapades. My first introduction to chai was at my aunt and uncle’s house as a young girl. They were world travelers with many treks to remote regions of India and Nepal under their belt and the food they served was equally exotic. I remember being served a peppery chai that was bewildering but wonderful. I was hooked.
Fast forward a few years to when I visiting my older sister in college. She had two roommates, one from Pakistan and one from India, who made simply spiced chai on a near daily basis. This was where I first learned to make a more traditional chai (compared to the tasty but utterly different chai lattes that are available at coffee shops around here). As my sister can attest, there is nothing like a cup of chai to get you through a study session.
Lastly, in college I became mildly obsessed with replicating the chai from a nearby Indian restaurant (formerly Cedar’s – now Taste Of India). Their chai is heaven, pure heaven. I have yet to be completely successful in my replication efforts (maybe I’ll have to get a job there to learn their secret?) but this version I’m posting comes pretty darn close. At the very least, it filled all my cravings for chai on this cold, blustery day.
Onto the recipe…
First you’ll need some ginger and some whole peppercorns.
I used about 3/4 inch of ginger, sliced up and 10 peppercorns. If you don’t have whole peppercorns, I recommend leaving them out as ground pepper would be difficult to strain out. And nobody wants gritty chai.
By the way, an easy way to peel ginger is to use the side of a spoon. As you pull the spoon along, it will release the skin – voila! – peeled ginger.
This is a lot easier to do if you’re not trying to use your uncoordinated left hand and take a picture at the same time.
You’ll also need some whole cloves, anise seeds, cardamom pods, and a cinnamon stick.
I used:
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
1/8 tsp anise seeds
10 cardamom pods
Place 2 cups of in water in pot and add all the spices (including the ginger). Bring to a boil over the stove and gently simmer for 10 minutes.
Now for this recipe, I used 6 teabags of black tea (orange pekoe, darjeeling or any unflavored black tea). Note, that it only serves 1-2 people. So if you’re downing the whole batch yourself or are caffeine sensitive you might want to use fewer tea bags.
Or you could use all or half decaf teabags.
Now that the spices have simmered for 10 minutes, turn off the stove and add the teabags. Let steep for 5 minutes.
Now add 1 cup milk plus a splash of cream.
Or instead of the splash of cream you could use half n’ half or just additional milk. Your choice.
I like cream.
Take a moment and enjoy the beautiful swirling colors.
Is there anything more therapeutic than this?
Now add 2 tbsp of sugar to the whole mix.
Turn the stove back on (medium/medium-high) and bring the whole mixture to a boil and let simmer for just a moment before removing from the heat.
Be sure to watch the mixture because milk has a tendency to bubble over.
The mixture should look something like this, with the faintest hint of frothy milk. Don’t worry if a “skin” forms on the top of the mixture (we’re boiling milk after all). You can simply spoon it away, or just filter it out in the next step.
Finally, strain the tea to remove the spices. It may be easiest to remove the tea bags first.
I strained it into a teapot for kicks, but you could strain it directly into your mug.
The last step is to enjoy a cup! Preferably curled up on the sofa with a blanket and a good book or shared over a heartfelt chat with a friend.
Spiced Chai
1-2 servings*

3/4 inch ginger, peeled and sliced
~10 peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 tsp anise seeds
5 cloves
10 cardamom pods
2 cups water
6 black teabags (orange pekoe, darjeeling, etc.)
1 cup milk
1/8 cup cream, half n’half, or additional milk
2 tbsp sugar
Place 2 cups of water in a medium sized pot. Add spices (ginger through cardamom). Bring to a boil on the stove and simmer 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Add tea bags and let steep 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients (milk, cream, and sugar) and turn the stove back on. Bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for a moment (~20 seconds) and then take off heat. Strain and enjoy.
*This recipe is easily doubled
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