I have a post coming on my process for meal prepping that helps me to stay on track with healthy eating throughout the week. Before that, however, I must share the four tools that have made my cooking marathons significantly easier.
You guys. I’m done with school. and almost done with work-school. I turned in my last paper and took my last final for this session of grad school last night, and I now have 9.5 days left of this school year as a teacher. Summer. cannot. come. quickly. enough. As I drove home last night after my exam, I kept thinking about how I should do something to celebrate – pour a glass of wine, eat a cupcake, etc. Oh, but Whole 30. Plus, I was so exhausted last night after waking up 3am that all I wanted to do was go to sleep. So, the celebration was delayed a day. Tacos used to be a weekly tradition in our house, and it got put on the back burner for a few weeks, so my husband made a special request. While I’m not eating tortillas right now, it was a good opportunity to try out a meal I’ve been hearing about for awhile now: plantain nachos. Plantains are one of my favorite foods lately. When they’re still green, you can make tostones with them, and once they’ve ripened and become yellow you can fry them into a nice dessert treat. Or, you can get plantain chips and use those as the base for nachos!
Step 1: Spread a layer of plantain chips on a plate.
Step 2: Top with crumbled taco meat. For this, I browned a pound of beef with a tablespoon of homemade taco seasoning and some onions.
Step 3: Top with a dollop of guac. If you don’t want to dig through for a perfectly ripe avocado, use Wholly Guacamole like I did.
That’s it! Dig in!
Oh, wait. Step 4: Crack open a cranberry La Croix and drink it on ice with a squeeze of lime. In a wine glass. Because you’re celebrating!
Then take a second to admire your handsome brown dog in the background and go back for seconds. Bon Appétit!
I’ve mentioned before the importance of me not trying to think too early in the morning. It can get dangerous if I do. But sometimes it results in accidental culinary brilliance, like this breakfast miracle. (Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase something through one of the links, it will help me earn a small amount to maintain this blog at no extra cost to you.)
Last week, I was bumbling around the kitchen half-awake putting together my breakfast scramble. I had just tossed the last ingredient in the pan (herbs, of course) and put the lid on for it to heat up when I turned to grab an avocado to slice up. The pan is always filled with eggs (protein) and tons of veggies, but I like to add a little bit of fat to keep me full until lunch. But I was out of avocado!! I know this is not at all a tragedy, but it presented me with the need to actively think. Pre-second cup of coffee. Which I’ve mentioned is dangerous.
I opened the fridge and just kind of stared mindlessly, waiting for an epiphany. Then it came! There was a jar of tahini on the door of the fridge. If you’re not familiar, tahini is basically a paste made of ground sesame seeds, and it has a peanut buttery texture. I decided to drizzle a spoonful on top of my scramble, and oh. my. It was so scrumptious. Plus, I don’t have to spend precious seconds at Kroger now having to prophesy which avocados will reach perfect ripeness without going bad by the end of the week. It’s a win-win!
So, without further ado, here’s the extremely inexact recipe for my perfect savory breakfast scramble – so delicious you will want to eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- eggs (I use three, but this is up to you)
- oil for cooking
- veggies – the world is your oyster here and you can make it as simple or complex as you like depending on what you have in stock and what’s in season
- fresh herbs
- tahini – any brand will do. I really like the consistency of this one.
- salt and pepper, to taste
You’ll notice I don’t have measurements. The beauty of this “recipe” is that it works with just about any amount of the above ingredients that your heart and taste buds desire. I’m usually rushing in the morning, so I like to use as few dishes as possible to minimize cleanup. I also spend a good chunk of time on Sundays washing, peeling, chopping, and roasting lots of food to keep on hand in the fridge for use during the week. This cuts down on daily meal prep time significantly. Here’s how I assemble the scramble:
- Set your pan on the stove and turn on medium heat to start warming it up. Yes, before you get out a single ingredient. This preheating is important. I’ve been LOVING my cast iron skillet lately, and I plan to write about it soon, but for eggs and quick cleanup, this pan that my Chef Aunt Cheryl got me last year is top notch. Grab your cooking oil and spoon in enough to coat the bottom of your pan. I use about a forkful (because a spoonful would mean getting another utensil dirty and having to clean it).
- While your oil melts, start pulling all your veggies out. After the oil has heated 30-60 seconds, toss in some diced onion, 1/4 – 1/3 of a cup or more. This is the part that takes the longest. You want to let the onion soften for a few minutes, so empty the dishwasher, pack your lunch, or look up a corny joke to write on a napkin to sneak into your husband’s lunch.
- After a few minutes, the onion should be softening and more translucent. Add in a handful of mushrooms, and a 1/3 of a cup or so of diced sweet potato. The sweet potato is a new addition for me. My sister-in-law just suggested it to me, and it’s delicious. Let this start to heat for another few minutes.
- Crack your eggs into the pan. Use the spatula to mix them up – you can crack and beat them in a small bowl first if you want, but I’m too lazy for that. The pan should be pretty hot by now, and the eggs will cook quickly. Let them sit for about a minute, and get your leafy greens ready! You can use a lot of volume here. I aim for about a cup. If I have some spinach to use up, I’ll use that. Otherwise, I like kale. While the other veggies heat up in the pan, I’ll tear the kale up into smaller pieces.
- Add the greens and a small handful of herbs to the pan, turn the heat to low, and cover it to steam. Leave it for a minute or two while you put all your Pyrex veggie containers back in the fridge.
- Once the greens have wilted, scoop the whole delicious mess onto a plate. This is where the magic happens. Spoon (or fork) about a tablespoon of tahini and drizzle it on top. Add some salt and pepper, and dig in.
The tahini with any scramble is fantastic, but the combination of tahini and sweet potato is the stuff of legends. I may be exaggerating, but you’ll have to try it to find out. Seriously. Let me know what you think!
Disclaimer: I am no chef. If you are (Aunt Cheryl, I’m talking to you here), you’re going to read this and think Duh. You just figured this out? Yes, I just figured this out. I’m a rule follower. The food version of this is a recipe follower. If the recipe doesn’t specify a step, I don’t include it. Until now! I’m working on cooking more without recipes, and improvising as I go along. So, earlier this week when I was throwing my breakfast together, I noticed this secret ingredient to culinary greatness just waiting for a chance to shine:
What is this ingredient you ask? Chopped herbs. Yep. That simple.
As I’ve mentioned before, my family likes to get together on Sundays to have dinner together. Usually we go to my parents’ house, but occasionally we mix it up. I was planning to host this past week since my mom was out of town and the entree was an herb crusted chicken. Due to circumstances beyond our control, dinner fell through and I was left with a pile of basil, oregano, and thyme that smelled incredible. (Sidenote, does anyone else start singing Scarborough Fair every time they see, hear, or speak the word “thyme”?) I had already chopped them all up, so I tossed them in a Pyrex and put it in the fridge to potentially be used later.
Fast forward to a few days later when I was making my breakfast scramble. I’m a creature of habit. Prior to consuming my second cup of coffee, I basically just stumble around in a stupor getting ready in the same routine I follow every day. The breakfast part of that routine is as follows: I heat up a skillet, melt some coconut oil in it, and start popping open Pyrex containers in the fridge and throwing their contents into the skillet. (Sunday meal prep is essential to this routine. If there are no Pyrex containers in the fridge, then the routine is interrupted and I have to think to create a backup plan. This is extremely risky pre-second cup of coffee.) This week, one of my magical glass containers held the chopped herbs! Why not? I’ll toss those in too.
It. Tasted. Incredible.
I can’t overstate it. And you guys, this was several days later. Before saving the herbs, I made sure to dry them completely, which helped keep them from going bad quickly. Imagine how amazing freshly-picked herbs would taste? Hopefully, if the Great Gardening Catastrophe works out better than planned, I won’t have to imagine. In the meantime, I will be stocking up every week at the store and including this miraculous ingredient in every dish.
Try it and let me know how it goes!