English Muffin Breakfast Sandwiches

One of my favorite things about English Muffins is that they are the perfect size to hold one egg in a sandwich. An easy breakfast can be made by toasting an English Muffin and cooking an egg your favorite way. For me, I like a fried egg best, so that’s what I make. But what about adding a little extra to your sandwich. In the sandwich I made yesterday, I put some butter down on a medium cast iron skillet. I cooked my egg in the center, on one side, I cooked a small handful of spinach. On the other side, I toasted the English muffin, melting some thinly sliced Havarti cheese on it. Put the muffins on first, then the egg, then the spinach. To keep the egg from spreading out too far, I put it in a metal one cup measuring cup and  flip it on the griddle, leaving the cup in place. It holds the egg in place pretty well. You can also cut both ends off a can of tuna or cat food, and use it as a shaper to keep the size right.  The creamy Havarti is a perfect complement to the umami of the spinach.

This morning I made another sandwich. I started with the tomatoes first. I put 8 grape tomatoes in a small pan on medium. I did not add oil at first because I wanted a bit of char….it deepens the flavor and I always like a little char anyway. Meanwhile I heated my skillet for the egg, melting some butter in the center where I would cook it. When the first tomato burst, I put the egg on to cook with a dash of salt and pepper, put the English muffin in the toaster. Then I started to finish the tomato sauce. I added 2 tsp of olive oil, 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and then zested some lemon on top. When the muffin was done, I flipped the egg to cook the other side slightly, put it on the muffin. I then squeezed about 1 TBSP of lemon juice on the tomatoes and stirred. I spooned the cooked tomatoes on the other side of the muffin. It was delicious. The tomato sauce is rich in flavor, sweet with some heat and tartness and of course, the over easy egg added a creamy richness. Yum!

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Chicken & Spinach Sandwich

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Heat a cast iron skillet to medium with 1 TBSP of olive oil. Chop 2 TSBP of red onion and 2 of those baby yellow bell peppers. Add salt and pepper. Sauté until tender.

On a cast iron griddle or pan on another burner, toast a sandwich bun. I toasted it dry without butter or oil.

Meanwhile, cut one boneless chicken breast tenderloin into small pieces of about 1/2 inch square, salt and pepper. Add to the skillet and cook until done, (3 – 4 minutes), Add 1/2 cup chopped spinach or baby spinach, add a TBSP of mustard vinaigrette and put a lid on for two minutes to cook.

While the veggies and chicken are finishing, cut two slices of tomato and grate a bit of parmesan cheese, just enough to sprinkle over the sandwich.

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To assemble, spread some mayo on the top side of the bun and place two thin slices of tomato. On the bottom side of the bun, spread your cooked veggies and chicken and sprinkle grated parmesan over it.

Add salt and pepper.

This was delicious, the blend of textures, the crispy coated bread, the gooey parm, the slight crunch of the peppers, with the tender spinach and the freshness of the tomatoes. The flavors are full of freshness and umami. I used only a small bit of parm, but it was just enough to be creamy. The mustard vinaigrette finished it off perfectly with a bit of tang and bite.

Farro with Sausage & Dried Plums

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This is one of those recipes that begin with one ingredient and then just come about by thinking what would be good with it, then what would work with two ingredients, with the third, the fourth and so on until you know it’s done.

So, I had about 1/2 cup of farro and decided to use it up. I had an open container of vegetable broth, too, so I decided to cook the farro in the broth for extra flavor. I used about 2 cups of broth for the 1/2 cup of farro even though I only needed 1 cup because I would simply drain the extra off and use to make some couscous for a salad.

Farro: Add 1/2 cup of farro to 1 cup of vegetable broth and bring to a boil, lowering to a simmer for 30 minutes or so. Strain (I used an extra cup and reserved it to cook some couscous because doubling up is smart cooking.)

Meanwhile, I cooked 4 breakfast links in a cast iron skillet on medium heat. When the sausage was half done, I added 1/2 can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained). I wanted to use cannellini beans but I didn’t have any. No matter, chickpeas worked great. I added some salt and pepper and added about 1 cup of chopped spinach and just a splash of water, covered with a lid and let the sausage, beans and spinach steam a bit.

Meanwhile, I sliced 5 dried plums into strips, added them to the mixture and put the lid back on for a minute. Stirred and mixed everything together.

I put the farro in the bottom of my bowl and then spooned the sausage, spinach, beans and dried plums mixture on top. I sprinkled a bit of feta over it and served. Makes a great one-dish single serving meal.

The flavors are so wonderful together. The pork sausage and the dried plums are perfect together. The feta and spinach were made for each other, the farro and beans add a great foundation for these flavors. Cooking the farro in broth gave it a rich flavor to begin crafting the dish. The spiciness of the sausage and the sweetness of the plums meant there was no need for anything other than salt and pepper.

 

Spinach Pear Salad with Hazelnuts

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My best friend came over for dinner last night, so I whipped up a lovely salad. Those pears I got from the Food Bank last week are ripe and I need to be using them up quickly, so I decided on a salad with pears.

First I sliced 1/2 of a yellow onion on the mandolin so I could get super thin slices. Then I cut up 5 of those mini peppers. (A 4 pound package of mini peppers costs less than 3 regular red peppers.) into thin strips, removing the seeds. I also corned and sliced three Bosc Pears. I put all of this in a plastic container with a lid. I added 1/3 cup rice vinegar, salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp of dry mustard powder.I put the lid on and shook it all as much as I could to mix it together. Then I added about 6 cups of baby spinach. Put the lid back on, shook some more and put it in the fridge for about an hour.

I toasted some hazelnuts (about 1/4 cup) with tajín (a spice mix of lime and chilis) in a dry pan.

To serve, I put the salad mix on the plate, added some hazelnuts and slice some asiago cheese on top.

The flavor is a wonderful blend of sweet, sour and a bit of heat. The hazelnuts are a great crunch and it was one of the best salads I have come up with this year. Service two.

Bulgur with Celery, Grapefruit, Pomegranate, Spinach, Feta and Grapefruit Onion Vinaigrette

Couscous Salad with Grapefruit Onion Vinaigrette

I made some bulgur while I made my morning tea, adding two cups of boiling water to 1 cup of bulgur and leaving it io absorb the liquid. It was tender and ready for salad later in the day when I was making lunch.

I started by cutting the flesh from a grapefruit. To supreme a grapefruit, cut away the peel and then slice the wedges. I cut this on cutting board to capture all the grapefruit juice that gets squeezed out in the process no matter how hard you try to avoid it. I cut the wedges to avoid any skin and pith and then tossed the juice on the cutting board and the skin and grapefruit left on the skin when cutting wedges into a sauce pan to flavor a vinaigrette. I added about 3 TBSP of chopped onions and cooked them with a bit of olive oil and the grapefruit remnants. I added about 2 tsp of sugar and some white wine vinegar. The vinaigrette was tart and sweet and delicious. I removed the grapefruit bits and left the onions.

I added the grapefruit segments from the grapefruit plus thinly sliced pieces from two stalks of celery, about 1/4 cup of pomegranate, 2 cups of chopped spinach, 1 cup of chopped cilantro, 6 toasted and chopped almonds and 1/4 cup of feta. I then added the bulgur and the vinaigrette and let the flavors marry for about an hour before serving.

The bulgur have it a hearty foundation and the grapefruit and pomegranate added a nice light sourness. The vinaigrette was slightly sweet. The salad was a rich combination of flavors. The next time I make it, though, I might try added some dried cherries, too. Makes 4 servings.

Spinach, Pomegranate, Apple and Couscous Salad

Spinach, Apple, Pomegranate Couscous Salad

It was a hot day today. I went to the World’s Largest Louie Louie Sing-A-Long downtown so I was not interested in cooking or making anything difficult, but I wanted some rich and complex flavors. I kind of just started with some couscous and added what appealed until I ended up with something scrumptious.

  • 1/3 cup of couscous
  • 2/3rd cup of boiling water
  • Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
  • 1 bunch of spinach
  • 1/3rd cup chopped red onion
  • 10 toasted almonds
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • 1/2 granny smith apple, chopped.
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

I took 1/3 cup of couscous and poured  2/3rds cup of boiling water on top of it in a small bowl and put a lid on it. While it absorbed the boiling water, I prepped a pomegranate. I used all the seeds from half of a pomegranate.

There is a fast and easy way to prep pomegranates. Carefully cut through the skin without cutting deep, leaving the pomegranate seeds whole. Once you have cut through, give a little twist and it will separate into two halves. Take a half and pull and twist the edge a bit to loosen it, then turn it upside down in the palm of your hand and whack it hard over and over and all the seeds will fall out. I only needed half a pomegranate, but I cleaned both halves and stored half the seeds in a plastic container for another day.

I toasted some almonds in a clean dry skillet and chopped them in half after they cooled.

I cleaned and chopped a bunch of fresh spinach, chopped up some red onion and tossed them in with the pomegranates and couscous. I added some salt and pepper, the feta and toasted almonds.

I then chopped up 1/2 of a granny smith apple and tossed in some balsamic vinegar.

I put a lid on the bowl I was mixing this all up in, shook it up a bit and refrigerated for about an hour.

This was delicious and so rich in texture from the crispy apple, crunchy almonds, tender couscous and the juicy bursts of pomegranate. The flavor is grounded in the couscous, the spinach adds a nice fresh taste, the red onions a bit of heat, the apples some sweetness, the almonds some umame and the pomegranate a lovely sweet-sour tang. The feta gives a bit of richness, making it all come together in this big explosion of flavor and texture and color.

Makes two servings.

 

Bacon & Spinach Wilted Salad

Bacon & Spinach Wilted Salad

I chopped up three slices of pepper bacon into half inch pieces and cooked them in an iron skillet on medium heat for about three minutes. Meanwhile, I sliced an onion and diced it up fine and added to the bacon and let them cook. While they were cooking away, I minced 4 cloves of garlic – a lot, but I wanted this nice and garlicky. I tossed the garlic in and let it cook until everything was caramelizing nicely.

While that was cooking away, I washed a bunch of spinach, squeezed as much water out as I cut and chopped it up. I tossed it the skillet, turning and mixing quickly while it wilted. I removed from heat and squeezed the juice of a full lemon in and mixed it all up. The flavor had so many layers, the earthy flavor of the spinach, the tang of garlic, the sweet bite of onion with the fresh bright lemon. This is quick, easy and delicious.