Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pancetta, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Baskets


Seriously, though.

No fancy food photography moves needed here.

A soft wheat roll, filled with crispy pancetta, un œuf, thyme and two kinds of cheese.  Do you really need anything more?

I poached the basis of this recipe from The Londoner a while ago and it is my second favorite brunch to make (this Quiche is by far my favorite!).  But if you want to make something a little unexpected and individualized for house guests, these egg baskets will be sure to impress.

They are relatively quick to make and you can prep everything ahead of time.  Then easily assemble while you preheat the oven in the morning.  This way you can chat with your company while the magic happens in the oven!

Clean up is a breeze too.  Since you bake these beauties in tin foil there is no need to get your hands dirty washing pans and spatulas.

Can I get a 'good morning!'?  Good mooorning!






Pancetta Egg and Cheese Bread Baskets

Ingredients

3 good sized soft rolls (soft is key here)
3 eggs
3 slices of cooked pancetta, ripped into smaller pieces (bacon would work too, or veggies for you veggies out there!)
1/2 c shredded cheddar
1/2 c fresh grated Parmesan
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
about 1/2 c cream or 2% milk

Directions

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Prepare a baking sheet by covering with parchment paper.

Use a paring knife to cut out bread lids, then use your hands to hollow out the bowls but don't go too deep you need the bottom to hold up.  Remove the excess bread from the lid you just cut out and set the lid aside.

Sprinkle some cheese in the bottom of each bread bowl and shove some pancetta into the sides of the hollow.  To avoid any shells getting in my egg baskets, I usually crack one egg at a time into a small bowl and then pour it into the bread basket.  The size of your roll while determine how much cream fits in the basket.  Pour a little at a time slowly into the bread basket until the egg and cream reach the top.  I like to cram as much in as possible so the bread doesn't overwhelm the filling.  Sprinkle with some chopped thyme, add the rest of the cheese, salt and pepper.  Top each basket with its lid!

Gently wrap each bread basket with a generous piece of tin foil and set on the baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes for runny yolk (a little longer if you prefer cooked yolk).

When they are finished, unwrap, toss out the foil and serve with any extra pancetta that you couldn't fit into the basket!

I think next time I make these I'm going to try sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and breakfast sausage, yum!

Now, who's egg-cited for the weekend?  Are you going to give these a try?




Tuesday, April 28, 2015

DIA and Slows BarBQ - Detroit


When I found out a few months ago that the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo exhibition was opening up at the Detroit Institute of Art, I mentioned to Andy that we should go, but we didn't really make plans.  Then a few weeks ago, my friend Christen told me that I have to watch "Frida" with Selma Hayak on Netflix.  I remember wanting to see it when it came out a few years ago but hadn't got around to it.  I felt like this was a sign!  With the exhibit running through July and our summer filling up fast I figured we if we're going to do this now is the time!

We watched Frida last week and really enjoyed it!  What a pistol she was!  I knew of Frida and Diego and I could recognize some of their artwork but I didn't know the details of their relationship and their art as the movie portrays.

This past Sunday, off we went with Christen and her family to visit the DIA and see the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo exhibition...




Ah, we loved it!  Included in the price of the ticket, we each received an audio guide.  I always find audio guides helpful as they make looking at art a little more interactive and educational.  Learning how and why art is made tends to make me appreciate it a lot more.

There were small scale sketches of the Detroit Industry mural and life-sized preparatory drawings of the different walls of the mural.  It was in Detroit that Frida had her first miscarriage which led to a change on the East wall - where there is now a fetus depicted, growing in a pod being nourished by the earth.  Originally, there was supposed to be a farm scene and we got to see the preparatory drawing for it.  There were short silent films throughout the exhibit where you could watch Rivera paint portions of the mural, which took him 11 months to finish.  There were a few of the paintings shown in the film Frida that were on display here, including Frieda and Diego Rivera, 1931 and Henry Ford Hospital, 1932 (and the preparatory sketch), plus a lot more that are less well-known to the common folk like myself ;)

Since there was no photography allowed I only have a few photos from the gift shop.  Frida coasters, why not!



After the exhibition we made our way to Rivera Court.  I've seen this mural once before in person but after learning more about how and why it was made, I find it a lot more interesting!  The size and detail is so impressive.  It was fun to see the different sections here in its finished form compared to the sketches we just saw.





There goes two-year-old Parker, doing laps around the people gathered in Rivera Court!


He has happy to be caught by his mama...



Don't ya just love Spring?



Since listening to an audio guide isn't the most conducive time to have a conversation, we stopped at Slows Bar B Q on the way out of town to grab a late lunch.  This place.  It really is all it is cracked up to be.  The ambiance, the meat, the sides, the drinks...everything is just outstanding.



Andy ordered "The Reason".  Pork butt, smoked slow and pulled, bathed in sauce and topped with their signature coleslaw and dill pickle strips.  It was oh-so-good!  Juicy, smokey and spicy with a pickle-y crunch, yum!


I stuck with my all-time favorite, "The Yardbird".  Smoked chicken, pulled apart and tossed in Yardbird sauce with sauteed mushrooms and cheddar cheese, topped with applewood bacon.  I have no clue what 'Yardbird sauce' is but I do not care because it is insane delicious.


A close up is warranted.  Tender, smother-y, cheesy, pepper-y, HOLY CHICKEN !!!


You can't beat the $3 sides.  Best waffle fries ever.  They were so potato-y and crispy, which sounds like it would be a given, but most fries tastes like grease to me.  No ketchup needed.


Have you seen the Diego and Frida exhibition yet?  Or been to Slows?  What did you think?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Lyon Opera Ballet: Cinderella


My parents-in-law make sure that I know about the cool stuff happening in Ann Arbor (like this).  Each year they get tickets to a handful of University Musical Society (UMS) shows and invite me and Andy to a few of them.  Last weekend the Lyon Opera Ballet came to town to perform Cendrillon (Cinderella).   I was especially excited for this show because I had tried to get us tickets to the Lyon Opera Ballet while we were in Lyon for our honeymoon but there weren't any performances for the three days that we were there.  It is so great to live in a city where international performances come to us!

Andy met me downtown after work to get a drink at one of our favorite spots, Aventura, before we met with the rest of the family for dinner at Knight's.  It was unexpectedly sunny outside, though chilly in the shade, so we basically had Aventura's whole patio to ourselves.  We scooped up the only sunny spot and basked in the warmth.  I ordered something unmemorable with Tito's and cucumber but Andy wisely ordered the La Rambla cocktail, my usual go to.  It is Bulleit bourbon, cynar, punt e mes (fav sweet vermouth!), orange bitters and angostura rinse.  I did not take a picture of La Rambla, but it looks like a Manhattan.  The glass of water on the other hand was looking rather photogenic!



Green sprouts a.k.a. signs of life!  Yay, Summer!



We made it to Knights before everyone else, ordered round two and sneaked in a quick selfie.  I ordered the Maize & Blue, which is essentially a vodka martini with blue cheese stuffed olives, sans vermouth.  If it isn't obvious by now, I like a stiff drink HA!



The rest of the Barcelona Seven arrived shortly after and we all chatted about our respective upcoming trips and what was sure to be an interesting ballet we were about to go see!

This kid though.  He is growing up so fast!  He loves to eat and he was thrilled when his grilled cheese and applesauce arrived.  I love his funny faces!



Speaking of the Barcelona Seven, one of the first times we captured this funny face was in Barcelona when Daniel was 10 months!


What a doll!

Back to the other exciting part about dinner at Knight's - the food!  As I've mentioned before, Andy aren't big on eating beef so he ordered the Chicken Scallopini (tasty) and I ordered the same thing I always order here...


...the Black and Bleu Pork Chops with a side of potatoes au gratin.  YUMMY!!!


This dish is heaven.  The pork chops are tender and juicy (not an easy thing to master but I'll teach you my tricks some time!) and the potatoes are flavorful and the perfect combination of mashed with a bit of crunch.  And it is a huge portion so you better believe Andy and I shared this for lunch on Saturday.


After dinner, the younger boys went home and the patriarch took the ladies to the ballet.  We skipped around the corner to the Power Center and excitedly waited for the show to start!




With our pocket chocolate at the ready, the ballet began!

The dancers wore chubby-faced masks and padded costumes to look more doll-like.  This wasn't your classical ballet by any means as the dancers movements must have been somewhat limited by their garb, although you couldn't tell.  Lots of flexed feet and right-angles.  The music told quite a story, intertwined with baby gurgles and coo's at times, it was dreamlike, as if the dancers were toys in wind-up music box .  You could tell it was based off of the Cinderella story line - the ballerina who played Cinderella was first dancing with a broom and later she was the belle of the ball after a visit from her fairy godmother who was some sort of alien from a suitcase; she had an awful stepmother and bullying stepsisters (in the final scene the stepmother sits on Cinderella to prevent the prince from seeing her) and of course the prince who road from town to town (on a rocking horse!) trying to match the slipper with its owner.  Mirrors, smoke and flashing lights paired with talented performers and contemporary choreography - it was a unique and fanciful experience indeed!

They had a Q&A session after the 90 minute performance and we found out that they were wearing the masks from original show from around 1984 which is pretty incredible.  The masks don't really fit their faces and there are only two small eye holes and two small holes to breath through their nostrils - it sounded really uncomfortable!  Yet the dancers looked perfectly comfortable to me.  It was impressive how the dancers could convey emotions through a tilted head or a waving hand while wearing a frozen facial expression in a hot mask!

Photography wasn't allowed for obvious reasons so I only took a few shots at the very end when the dancers were taking their bows and taking off their masks.




This is the 4th time since 1999 that Lyon Opera Ballet has performed at UMS so I doubt that this will be the last.  You can see a few more photos on the UMS website here.

I loved this show, thank you Lesli & Andy for taking me!  BPILIWW <3

Friday, April 24, 2015

Veggie Stir Fry with Tofu

Veggie Stir Fry with Tofu

I'm so excited to finally share one of our classic, go-to recipes!  Andy and I make this Veggie Stir Fry with Tofu almost every week.  It is really healthy with a comfort food feel and taste.  Plus it makes great leftovers.  Cook once, eat twice.  Everybody wins!

We also love this recipe because we always make it together.  I chop and prep all the veggies and he mixes the sauce, makes the rice and stir fries everything together. #dreamteam

You can easily substitute any veggies you want in or out of this dish.  You can skip the tofu and add chicken to make a veggie and chicken stir fry - it is up to you!  Sometimes we get crazy and include tofu and chicken!

When we add chicken to this dish, we cook it in a separate skillet and then add to wok after the chicken cubes are fully cooked on the outside.  It is probably food safety overkill but it makes it easier to focus on getting the veggies cooked right.

Which brings me to my next point.  The key to a good stir fry is layering the vegetables.  They can't all be thrown in at once or your carrots might still be raw while your mushrooms will cook away to nothing.  And that would be sad.

So if it has been a long week and you're craving take out but you don't want to ruin your diet, this recipe has your name all over it.  It is relatively easy to make and easier to modify :)

Have a great weekend everyone!


Easy Stir-Fry Glaze:  Soy Sauce, White Vinegar, Flour and Sriracha


It is pretty amazing that a murky reddish-brown liquid can cook down to a spicy, umami sauce to glaze our veggies and tofu!


Veggie Stir Fry with Tofu

Ingredients

For the stir fry

1 package of extra firm tofu
2 tbsp of oil, plus a bit extra if needed
4 in piece of ginger, peeled and minced (I use a food processor)
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 small onion chopped
4 - 6 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 small green bell pepper
1 small red bell pepper
1 c broccoli, separated into florets
1 c mushrooms cleaned and quartered

For the sauce

1/3 c white vinegar
1/3 c soy sauce
1/2 c water (you can use less water for a thicker glaze)
1 1/2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp Sriracha (optional)

Rice (optional)

Directions

Prepare rice as directed on the package, plus add 1 tbsp of butter to the water.  A little butter goes a long way!

Press the water out of your tofu and cube into even, 1-inch to 2-inch sized pieces.

Add your oil to a wok and turn on high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the tofu pieces.  Frying on each side for a few minutes and use tongs to turn them over until they are golden brown on each side 8-10 minutes.

Add the ginger, garlic, carrots and onions to the wok.  Using tongs, toss until all the veggies are combined and coated with the oil in the pan.  If more oil is needed add just a little at a time.  We use canola oil and sometimes add sesame oil for extra flavor, but it really isn't necessary.

After about 5 minutes, your onions should be translucent and carrots starting to get cooked through, add your bell pepper.  (Add cooked chicken cubes if you're adding chicken!)  Cook for about 3 minutes.  Add the broccoli and cook for about 5 minutes.

While your veggies are cooking, make the sauce in a glass measuring dish.  We like to add Sriracha, but it isn't necessary if you don't like spice!

Add the mushrooms and toss to coat everything.  Cook for 1 minute then give you sauce one last whisk and pour over into the wok.

Let veggies and tofu simmer on medium high heat for about 10 minutes, gently stirring every 3 minutes or so.   Once the sauce looks like a glaze and not runny you are basically ready to serve.  Remove the wok from the heat.  It is really important that you don't overcook!  No one likes mushy veggies.

Add a scoop of rice into a shallow bowl and top with your veggie-loaded stir fry.  Make sure to get lots of spicy glaze!