In the thick of a bitterly cold winter, there's nothing better than a piping hot meal of good old fashioned comfort food to stick to your bones and keep you warm all day (or night). For January, I thought I'd serve up some of my favorite down-home recipes! Enjoy!
Normally, I plan my weekly menus, make my grocery list, and trek to the Commissary Saturday morning. I don't do much cooking on the weekends. Hubs normally takes me out to dinner Friday night, he fends for himself for breakfasts, we'll grab lunch while we're out and about, and other than my Friday night meal out, we'll either have dinner with my parents or scrounge for leftovers. By Sunday evening I'm back to cooking.
Well, a while ago, I got a wild hair and decided to cook breakfast one Sunday after Mass. I'd been grabbing breakfast at the hospital during my morning break and loved the hash browns they serve; I wanted to perfect my own easy version (which doesn't include a deep fat frier or a vat of fatty oil!). So, on my weekly grocery list, I included the essentials for, what I consider, a traditional, All-American farmhouse breakfast!
Two or three weekends later, I was sitting at the kitchen table after Mass, catching up on blogs, when Hubs looked at me from across the room and said in his sweetest I-really-want-you-to-do-something-for-me-but-I-don't-want-to-cause-you-extra-work voice, "Were you gonna make breakfast today?" "I hadn't planned on it, Babe," I replied, "I'm not really hungry." "Oh. Well you make scrambled eggs so much better than me. Won't you please make me some? I'll clean everything up and make myself some toast if you'll just make me some eggs." Hubs was so sweet, it was really hard for me to turn him down. "Besides," he continued, "I thought it was a tradition for you to make Sunday breakfast." Well, he had me there. Even though this "tradition" had only just started three weeks before (with only two of us, the ingredients allowed for a few weeks of Sunday breakfasts), without even knowing it, I'd started a new family tradition! He knows, as do you, that I'm the Tradition Nazi. I can't help it. I was sold. I got up from my chair and began gathering the breakfast ingredients...and not just the stuff for eggs, but the whole she-bang. By then my mouth was watering for the breakfast I'd been making the last few weeks.
Long story short, most Sunday mornings, we wake up early and go to the 8:00 Mass. We come home and head to the gym, usually to work off whatever empty calories we drank up the night before, and then I make brunch. Scrambled eggs with just a touch of cheese, shredded hash brown potatoes, and bacon, three strips each. Always the same, always Sunday morning. When I'm finished cooking, the kitchen smells like a vintage diner and my mouth is watering waiting for that first bite! I set the table with our everyday linens - the only time other than dinner when I set the table - and call Hubs in from whatever chore he's finishing while I cooked. Always the same. Other than the fact that I'm usually still in my gym clothes for this meal, our Sunday mornings are very old fashioned. Very Leave it to Beaver. And I love it!
But you don't really care about all that! You just want to know how I do it!! But, like my mama's meatloaf, I don't really follow a recipe, so here goes (this makes a hearty breakfast for two)... It's best, if you have the cookware and space, to get all this going at the same time so you can serve it up piping hot!
Combine 6 eggs, a tablespoon (or two) of water (I usually just pump the kitchen faucet a couple of times), salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Beat with a fork until incorporated. Heat a tablespoon (again, or two) of butter in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the egg mixture. Scramble as desired...I like mine sorta big and fluffy, but my dad likes his at more of a constant stir, so it's smaller pieces. Just before the eggs are fully cooked, add a handful of shredded cheese (I use reduced fat Mexican blend, a mixture of Monterey Jack and cheddar). Stir until melted and serve hot.
Shredded Hash-Brown Potatoes
Melt two tablespoons butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a large handful of shredded potatoes (you can buy them in bags in the refrigerated section of your grocery store..the kind I buy are in a green bag, but I can't remember the brand off the top of my head), a half cup to one cup diced onion (sometimes I'll use half onion and half red bell pepper...one cup total), salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over all. Saute, stirring every now and then, until cooked through, golden brown, and the veggies are fragrant. Serve it hot! Tip: I've found that the bag I purchase has 7 servings in it (according to the label). When I buy the bag, I divide it into sandwich-sized zip-lock bags, along with my diced onions/peppers, and pop it in the 'fridge. That way I only have to measure once, and the remaining weeks I just have to dump the bag into my hot skillet (don't tell Hubs I just figured that out today; he thinks I've been doing it all along and am therefore brilliant!)
Perfectly Crispy Bacon
Everyone's favorite part of breakfast, right?!? Well, I do it the super duper easy way! Place a paper towel on a dinner plate. Arrange six bacon strips (we get three each) in a single layer on the paper towel lining. Lay another paper towel on top of the bacon. Microwave until cooked. My mom's rule of thumb is one minute per strip, but I use the reduced fat bacon (it tastes just as good...promise) and have found that half that time is perfect! So just before I put the cheese in my eggs, I start the microwave for three minutes. Everything comes out perfectly on time at the same time!!
The only thing missing is piping hot coffee (that's Hubs' department, I don't drink coffee unless it's a White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks) and juice!