Monday, May 12, 2014

Breakfast Rice Bowls


If you scroll through my Instagram feed, among the photos of cats and feet and plants and selfies, you will find pictures of eggs. Fried eggs, on top of stuff. Because Fried Eggs on Top of Stuff is possibly my favorite meal ever. Wondering what to eat for breakfast? Find those leftovers, mix 'em all together, and put a fried egg on it. Ta-daaa! Time to eat.


The "stuff" part of the equation varies depending on what I already have on hand -- toast, ramen, black beans, waffles if I'm feeling ambitious. But the best, hands down, is rice. I've been eating eggs and rice for as long as I can remember, and is quite possibly the reason for my love of runny egg yolk. Nothing sops up that liquid gold like steaming hot rice. Nothing reminds me of breakfast at home, made lovingly by Dad, like eggs and rice.
Lately I've been making brown rice on Saturday mornings -- the super easy frozen Trader Joe's kind, where you just pop the bag in the microwave for three minutes and it's done -- and keeping it on hand for weekend breakfasts or when I'm on my own for weeknight dinner. This morning, I tossed the rice with leftover steak, mushrooms and green beans from last night's dinner, and topped with -- you guessed it -- a fried egg. I took a quick iPhone pic of my breakfast rice bowl (what I've started calling these things in my head lately) and started shoveling it in my mouth, which now that I think about it, is a very accurate description of how I typically eat eggs and rice.
And you guys. It was so good -- enough for me to start thinking, half way through, "I should blog about this. I should take a picture with my camera. How come I never take pictures of these things?" But then I was done eating, because even food bloggers hit a point of no return when so engrossed in a delicious meal that no photo op is going to pull her away.
But it was good enough for me to pull out the laptop, even though it's 70 degrees out right now and I had plans to hit the garden center and pull weeds and rearrange my day lilies in the front yard, to write about it. I realize that most of you already know that eggs and rice is a delicious thing, but I thought, maybe some of you don't? Maybe you've seen other recipes and photos but decided to just stick with eggs and toast? I am here to tell you to make this already, and eat it, and to give you some suggestions for what to add (STEAK! STEAK! STEAK!).
Breakfast Rice Bowls*
I feel kind of silly writing a recipe for this, since really all it involves is scooping some rice in a bowl, mixing in whatever leftovers you find in your fridge, zapping it in the microwave and topping with a fried egg (or two). That's it! But in case you're unsure of what to add in your bowl, below are some suggestions. As I mentioned above, the steak + mushrooms + green beans combo I had was really, really good. Which reminds me -- I have to tell you about cooking mushrooms (or any veggie, or any food, for that matter) in a cast iron skillet. Stay tuned!

What you need:
leftover rice 
1-2 eggs, fried to your liking

Possible additions:
Leftover meats - STEAK! Ham, turkey, rotisserie chicken. Sausage. Whatever you used for taco night (ground beef! shredded chicken! carnitas!). Shrimp, salmon. Or hey, I bet you could mix in that sushi you couldn't finish the night before and that'd be good, too.
Beans - black beans, white beans, chickpeas, edamame.
AVOCADO - It is a happy morning indeed when I have rice, avocado and eggs all on hand. 
Veggies - The asparagus you grilled with the steak would be perfect. Or any vegetable that you served with dinner the night before. Also - corn, tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, green beans, green onions. If I don't have any cooked veggies in the fridge, sometimes I'll quickly saute something in olive oil and set aside. It helps to cut up the veggies in small, bite-size pieces.
Hot sauce - I like Sriracha, Valentina or Frank's.
*Can also be eaten for lunch or dinner. :)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Weekend in Austin #keepleslieweird



We drove through winding dirt roads, 10 of us singing along to the Spice Girls and Ace of Base and TLC, stopping at wineries to enjoy the views of Texas wine country. We bought a couple of bottles at one stop, and Di told the infamous story of Leslie's trip to the emergency room after busting her chin open while doing the Worm.



One night ended right back where it began -- at Magnolia Cafe, a 24/7 diner where we had tacos and enchiladas for brunch, and pancakes and eggs for a late-late-night snack.



A dragon, a galaxy, a cat, a country bumpkin, a sloth, two '80s chicks, a flower girl, a cat and a bee celebrated Eeyore's birthday at Pease Park. The dragon was serenaded by a man passing by with a guitar. A human pyramid was formed by the May Pole. The sloth got pulled into a giant drum circle.



There was beef brisket and spicy collards, Shiner Ruby Redbirds, white cheddar cheesy puffs, sea scallops and quail and risotto, mimosas, cookies, giant turkey legs, wine.



We danced. Then two very determined pedicab drivers pedaled six drunk ladies up one big hill on South Congress Avenue. We passed by a man riding a white horse on the sidewalk, and when we reached the top, sang "Happy Birthday Marriage" to a certain curly blonde bride-to-be.


These are the scenes that take place when you get 14 women together, with friendships that span up to 30 years, and put them in a house in Austin, Texas, with an entire weekend to do whatever they want. We celebrated my friend Leslie, who is getting married in August to a man named Jens. Les is the kind of girl who grows kale in her front yard, raises chickens in her backyard, and when asked who her celebrity crush is, responds: Heidi Swanson. She also speaks fluent Spanish, learned how to make authentic paella while living in Spain, and will take your boyfriend to the ER when he breaks his collarbone while walking out of a White Sox game, despite his insistence that he's fine.
All this to say, it's good to have a Leslie in your life. Jens is a lucky man.


Where we stayed:
Rented a house in South Congress through airbnb.

Where we ate:

Where we drank:

Other activities:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

30.












I said goodbye to my twenties with a feast
that started off with beer,
fried pickles,
and burgers.
Then there were olives,
lamb meatballs,
roasted bone marrow with bacon jam on toast,
seared scallops and foie gras,
fried chicken roulade with biscuits,
lemon meringue pie,
and bourbon.
Lots of bourbon.
Luckily the restaurant where we ate dinner
had a room
upstairs
with a bed,
which is where we passed out
with the TV on,
Friday Night Lights playing on Netflix.
When we got home
the next morning
we had biscuits and gravy and bacon.

I was hoping to have more to say about 30.
But really
it's the food I can't stop thinking about.
So I figured I'd write it down here
so I wouldn't forget.
Because your memory starts to go
once you're my age.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Slow cooker sausage and potatoes, and January.

Last week, in the check-out line at Trader Joe's, the guy bagging my groceries said casually, "Kind of cold out there, huh?"

"It's a little bit chilly," I joked.

"What's your favorite hot beverage?" the cashier asked.

"Whiskey," I replied. "Warms you from the inside out." We all laughed, and they finished ringing up my order and packaging my items, and I smiled as I wheeled my cart out of the store and into the cold, gray, slushy, frigid parking lot.


Typically, small talk about the weather is just that -- small talk about the weather. A surface conversation that gets us through those awkward silences. Something to chat about while we wait for the elevator to reach the top floor, or wait for other coworkers to arrive at the meeting, or wait for our groceries to be bagged. But when you're in the Chicagoland area, and it's January 2014, small talk about the weather becomes something much more. It's a small connection that tells the other person, "Hey. This sucks. And we're all fighting through it together."


Because it's really easy to feel sad and alone and frustrated when you're shoveling snow in the dark, in the freezing wind, and Tom Skilling keeps telling you that there's no end in sight. When you have to pull on three layers of clothes and heavy-duty boots just to get a few chicken thighs from the garage freezer. And when your 9-5 makes it so that enjoying natural light is only a weekend thing, and only when the sun actually decides to shine.


Knowing there's an entire city and its surrounding suburbs of people that are feeling exactly the same way makes it not as bad. Don't get me wrong, it's still really bad. But at this point, I'll take what I can get.


So this arctic chill we're experiencing in my neck of the woods explains why all my photos from January feature dark corners of my home, daily routines, familiar foods like eggs and tacos that keep us chugging along. That's what my January has been about, mostly -- taking one day at a time, and trying to find comfort in everything, even things as simple as humming along to happy music while cooking dinner or joking about the weather with strangers in the check-out line.

I hope you're staying warm, wherever you are!


Slow Cooker Sausage and Potatoes (adapted from Real Simple)
The original recipe is called a sausage and kale stew, but Murdo's not into kale, so I subbed those greens for green peppers. The spinach you see in that photo is some frozen spinach I heated in the microwave and added to my bowl. I also skipped the mashed potatoes from the original recipe and used small gold potatoes, served whole. 

This is my favorite kind of slow cooker recipe, because everything can be prepped the night before and thrown into the slow cooker the next morning.

1 lb Italian sausage links (sweet or spicy), casings removed and broken into large chunks
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, sliced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6-8 small Yukon Gold or red potatoes
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
dried oregano
crushed red pepper flakes

Combine all of the ingredients in the slow cooker with 1 cup of water (less if you don't want it too thin), making sure to nestle the potatoes as deep as possible so they're not just sitting on the top.


Cook on low for 8 hours. Serve with cooked spinach or kale.