What’s For Breakfast? Portobello Bacon Avocado Breakfast Sandwich


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UPC’s Portobello Bacon Avocado Breakfast Sandwich

Believe it or not: I didn’t wear a suit today. I know, it’s shocking, right? That wasn’t tongue in cheek – it really is shocking! Today is the first day in almost a year that I’ve been to work without a suit. Well, admittedly I did go to work in a pair of good jeans, a tie, french cuffs, and a vest; on two occasions. It’s an interesting feeling for me. I almost feel under-dressed, though I fit in perfectly with my colleagues here. I was overdressed before. Despite being overdressed, according to the work environment, I actually like wearing a suit. I’ve been in more jobs than not where wearing a suit was normal, so I’m quite comfortable with my suits every day. Shoot: I even run to the ferry in the mornings with my suit on; if that’s not a statement of comfort, I don’t know what is!

I woke up yesterday morning feeling energized and excited. I ended up coming up with three really great recipes, and I started marinating some ribs for a fourth! It was an amazing day for me! The other side of that, of course, was that my wife got to enjoy my culinary adventures, with only the minor annoyance of having to wait while I took pictures. She jokingly said to me:

I’m going to post on Facebook that there actually IS a downside to having a Foodie Blogger for a husband: You have to wait while he takes pictures of the food before eating…

I commiserate. She’s not the only one waiting! As much as I love this blog, I have to be honest and point out that, at least once a week I devour my food before the thought of “Oh, right, I should take a photo for the blog” manages to weasel it’s wait into my head… From time to time I post an apology note on Twitter, to the tune of “I just had _____, and it was awesome… Sorry, forgot to take pics!” That happened yesterday with some St. Louis style slow-cooked ribs that I put together for lunch. They were so delicious, I just forgot to take pictures! Fortunately, I didn’t forget the pictures of this breakfast sandwich!

PortobelloBaconBreakfastSandwich-WifeEating

As I said: This is a real sandwich!

UPC’s Portobello Bacon Avocado Sandwich; What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 lb Bacon (Only the best!)
  • Avocado, 2 thick slices
  • Lettuce, several leaves (or some other greens)
  • 2 Portobello Mushrooms

Serves: 1
Cook and Prep Time: 35 minutes (Same total time for 2-4)

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1. Cut the bacon strips in half, and cook them, covered, as you like them.
Note: I like my bacon slightly chewy, so I cook them covered for about 20 minutes on medium heat.

2. Remove the bacon and let it drain on a plate.

3. Pour off most of the bacon grease (for use some other time!) and put the pan back on the heat to keep hot.

4. Slice the stem of the Portobello mushroom caps off, so that the whole cap is flat and level.

5. Cook the Portobello mushroom caps in the bacon pan for about 2 minutes on medium heat.

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6. Put the caps on a plate, stack the lettuce, avocado, bacon, and the top cap on. In that order.

Serve, and enjoy!

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Questions:

  • What do you wear to work?
  • Do you match your attire, generally, to your co-workers?
  • Do you try to keep yourself looking like a well-dressed professional at all times?
  • Is “well-dressed professional” a match for your workplace? Or would it be out of place?
  • Should I do this with eggs next? Tomato? A caramelized tomato glaze or chutney?
  • What kind of bacon is your favorite commercial brand?
  • Is your bacon good enough that you re-use the grease?
  • Do you use Portobello Mushrooms for buns with your burgers, breakfast sandwiches, etc.?

What’s For Dinner? Ginger Chicken Soup


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UPC’s Ginger Chicken Soup

There are a million varieties of chicken soup. That’s an accurate count, too, I think. Actually, if anything, I’m underestimating. There are probably at least 1 million and 1 varieties. At least. In fact, my wife and I end up with a new variety of chicken soup almost every night. Lately, we’ve been cooking up some chicken soup every night, re-using the leftovers from the night before, and adding in a new set of ingredients – some the same, some different. We’ve had some really delicious versions, and some that aren’t really worth getting all excited about. That’s cooking for you!

This Ginger Chicken Soup was one of the more impressive versions that we’ve put together over the past week. The way that the ginger brightened the flavor of the soup was amazing! It brought out all the best flavors of the other vegetables that I used. And the way that ginger works with chicken is like magic! I’m really going to have to use some ginger on some baked chicken now – I’ve done it extensively with stewed meats, chicken included, but now I have got to try it baked!

UPC’s Ginger Chicken Soup:

  • 2 Whole Chicken Legs (skin, bones, everything)
  • 2 inches Ginger, diced
  • 1/2 Jicama Root, chopped (would work with a sweet potato or diakon too; though that would result in a very different flavor)
  • 1 medium Carrot, chopped
  • 1 medium Golden Beet, chopped
  • 1 medium Zucchini, chopped
  • 3 sprigs Basil Leaves
  • 3 sprigs Basil Stalks, diced
  • Spices: Sea Salt, Turmeric, Sage
  • 6 cups Water

Serves: 2-4 (2 with a lot of leftovers)
Cook time: 45 minutes

1. Put the chicken legs and spices in the water and cook on high, covered.

2. While the chicken is heating up, chop the ingredients and add them to the pot. Here is the order that I add ingredients:

  • Ginger first (need the flavor!)
  • Carrots (hardest; needs the most time in the water to soften)
  • Jicama (or Sweet Potato)
  • Golden Beet (Very different flavor profile from red beet – I would use Sweet Potato or Rutabaga instead of Golden Beet if you need to substitute)
  • Diced Basil Stalks (Yes, dice up the stalks of the basil sprigs – these cook quite well, and the flavor is subtle but delicious)
  • Zucchini

3. Let the water boil, still on high heat (use a big pot) for 10 minutes.

4. Take the chicken legs out of the pot and pull them apart, shredding the meat and extracting the bones. Put the chicken back into the pot once it’s been shredded.
Note: I do this step right in the pot, shredding the chicken and extracting the bones all without removing them from the pot. If you’re going to do this, be very careful not to get burned by the steam or splashing.

5. Let the soup continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Now serve and enjoy!

Questions:

  • How much do you enjoy chicken soup?
  • Seriously, how much do you love chicken soup?!?
  • Is chicken soup a year-round comfort food for you, or do you typically start turning to it as the weather turns?
  • What other soups are your fall and winter comfort foods?
  • Are you adventurous with your chicken soups?
  • Are you adventurous with your other soups?
  • What kinds of adventures have worked out well for you?
  • What has failed miserably?

What’s For Lunch? Peppered Shrimp Bento Box


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UPC’s Peppered Shrimp Bento Box

It’s cool and rainy outside. There isn’t a lot of rain, but the rain drops that are coming down are generally bigger ones. I love weather like this for running; there’s really nothing quite as refreshing as the brisk feel of a light wind and some fat cool raindrops falling on my face, head, and shoulders while I pump out a speed workout on the track! Unfortunately, that’s not what I’m doing right now, and may not be something I get a chance to do anytime soon. I say “unfortunately” because I really enjoy speed workouts, and even more when I get to enjoy weather like this!

On the more fortunate side, I have a delicious lunch to look forward to! My morning conversation with my wife, as with most mornings, went about like this:

Me: What do you want for lunch?

Wife: I dunno, whaddya got?

Me: Mmmm…

I peered about in the fridge, knowing that the soup I made last night was unsuitable for lunch today. There wasn’t a convenient Rack of Ribs sitting around for us to eat, like we did on Monday. So I pulled out one of my old-standby meals: Peppered Shrimp. It went over the first time I made it for lunch, shrimp travels well, and it still tastes good after being reheated (at least, the first day). It was just right!

UPC’s Peppered Shrimp Bento Box; What you’ll need:

  • Peppered Shrimp:
  • 1 lb Wild-Caught Shrimp (mine is frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Ground Black Pepper (more or less)
  • Salad:
  • Mixed Greens (your favorite mix; this is a “Power Greens” mix)
  • 1 medium Cucumber, chopped
  • 1 medium Carrot, chipped
  • 4 White Button Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Celery, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Avocados:
  • 1 Avocado, chopped
  • 3 sprigs Basil, chopped

Serves: 2
Prep time: 25 minutes

1. Put the shrimp in a pan with the coconut oil and cook it on high heat.

2. Cook this for about 5-7 minutes, letting it thaw and cooking off the water from the thawing. Stir regularly while cooking.

3. While the shrimp is cooking, begin preparing your salad.

4. After 5-7 minutes of cook time, when the shrimp is mostly thawed, sprinkle the pepper across the shrimp liberally.

5. Continue preparation of the salad and avocados.

6. Continue to cook and stir the shrimp until the water has all boiled off and the shrimp is sizzling like bacon in the pan.

7. Let the shrimp cool in the pan, stirring occasionally.

8. While the shrimp cools, complete preparation of the salad, pack it in your bento box, and enjoy!

Questions:

  • Do you ever have trouble figuring out what to eat for lunch?
  • What do you pull out of the fridge, freezer, or cupboard as a stand-by meal?
  • Do you ever take a shrimp meal to work as your lunch?
  • Do you like running in the rain?
  • If you do workout in the rain, do you prefer running, or another workout?

Home-Made Chunky Dark Chocolate Butter


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UPC’s Crunchy Dark Chocolate Butter

I love indulging. Some of my favorite indulgences, as we’ve covered here in this blog, are life’s simple pleasures. This is obviously not a complete list, but certainly these items will make the top of my list: chocolate, bacon, chocolate bacon, smoked salmon, good wine, good tequila, good rum, sleeping soundly and waking up refreshed, and staying up all night just to watch the sun rise. As far as I’m concerned, the above list of indulgences should be on EVERYONE’S list! Ok, fine, I’ll give that some people just don’t like salmon. My wife doesn’t like salmon, and smoked salmon is even worse to her. While this is intriguing to me, particularly as a pleasantly munch down on some spicy smoked salmon, and she makes faces at me, I don’t particularly mind. That just means I get to keep it to myself! Fortunately, we share interest enough of our other indulgences that this has never been an issue. So, today’s recipe, hopefully, will become a regular indulgence for you all as it has become for me.

I’ve been working on this recipe for months now, and while you’ll see that it is quite simple, putting the pieces together has been a real challenge! Chocolate is amazing, in all it’s forms. It can be a real challenge to work with, though, because getting your recipe just a little bit wrong can result in it being quite bitter. While I love chocolate, and even really really dark chocolate (I eat the good baking chocolate bars straight – but only the good ones), I don’t love bitter. There are definitely some recipes that bring out the bitter in chocolate more than others. Not this one though. This recipe produces the kind of indulgent decadence that I can really look forward to!

UPC’s Crunchy Dark Chocolate Butter; What you’ll need:

  • ChocolateButterDesert_CocoaNibsAndChocolatePowder1 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Carob Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Cocoa Nibs
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 Storage Jar (a nut-butter jar?)

Serves: Umm… Only 1!!! 🙂
Prep time: 10 minutes.

1. Mix the cocoa powder, carob powder, and cocoa nibs thoroughly.

2. Pour the mix into the jar, then add the coconut butter and the coconut oil on top, in that order.

ChocolateButterDesert_PreMixed

As the coconut oil melts, it will loosen up the coconut butter for stirring.

3. Close the jar and place it somewhere warm so that the coconut oil can melt, and the coconut butter will soften.
Note: If you can’t think of a good warm place to put it; you can easily just throw it in the oven on the lowest heat setting for 5-10 minutes.

4. Let it sit until the coconut oil has completely melted, then begin stirring.

ChocolateButterDesert_Mixing

Start to stir after the coconut oil has fully melted.

Serving:

Since it’s warmer now, it’s the optimal time to serve it over your favorite fruit! This will be amazing over nearly any fruit, but particularly strawberries, raspberries, mangoes, and pineapple.
If you’d prefer to eat it in a more solid state, just let it sit at room temperature for a while, then dig in! It will be thick, like coconut oil or macadamia nut butter, and perfect for eating with a spoon!

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Freshly made, still warm Crunchy Chocolate Butter over Starfruit!

Questions:

  • Do you like your indulgences?
  • What are your 3 favorite indulgences?
  • If you could take one of your non-food indulgences, and compare it to a food, which food would it be most comparable to?
  • Are there any indulgences that you used to enjoy but don’t anymore?
  • Why don’t you enjoy them anymore?
  • Do you miss them? Or have you replaced them?

What’s for Breakfast? Bacon Egg Cups


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UPC’s Bacon Egg Cups

I’ve been mulling over how I want this recipe to come out for some time. I’ve seen various versions of this floating around the internet. It was hugely popular this past spring, and I think I saw it pop up on several of my frequent haunts in the same week! So I didn’t post my own version. I chose not to post a version mostly because I didn’t yet know how I wanted my version to look and taste, but being completely honest here, I just didn’t want to be jumping on the same train as everyone else! 🙂 I didn’t want to just copy someone else’s ideas when I did this – I wanted to give the recipe time to really marinate in my creative space, so that I could add my own UPC slant to it.

Well, the wait is over. We all know that I love marinating things, and for this recipe, the marinade has had plenty of time to settle in. I made the recipe my own way, incorporating my own style and taste, this past weekend. In fact, as I often do, I made more than enough to bring leftovers for a day or two to work. Unless, of course, I want to share. My guess is that once I offer this out to a coworker, there won’t be enough left for me to get my own food!

UPC’s Bacon Egg Cups; What you’ll need:

  • 8 Eggs (Check my The Egg Project page for the best eggs)
  • 6 slices Bacon (I used my favorite: Vermont Smoke and Cure; find that and other great bacon choices here at my The Bacon Project page)
  • Spices: Garlic Powder, Turmeric, Fresh Ground Pepper, Sea Salt

Serves: 3-6 (depending on how much you want to share…)
Prep and cook time: 30 minutes
Note: Recipe is designed for a 6-muffin tin. May need to be modified for a 12-muffin tin or for shallow muffin tins.

BaconEggCup_BaconCup1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cook the bacon for about 90 seconds per side on medium heat.

3. Curl the bacon around the base of the muffin tin that you’re using, making the outside of the cup.
Note: If you’re worried about your Bacon Egg Cups sticking to the muffin tin, you can rub the bacon around on the tin to ensure that it’s well greased for the eggs.

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4. Thoroughly whip 2 eggs with the spices. I used a tablespoon of garlic powder, a teaspoon of turmeric and pepper, and just a pinch of sea salt.

5. Spoon the whipped eggs into the muffin tin, making sure that there is approximately the same amount of egg in each muffin container.
Note: the whipped egg should only reach part way up the bacon, leaving plenty of room for the cracked egg in step 6. below.

6. Crack one egg into each muffin cup.

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7. Cook the Bacon Egg Cups for 20 minutes

8. Check your Bacon Egg Cups after 20 minutes of cook time – you need to see that the egg yolk has changed color from the pre-cooked color to a darker cooked color. This let’s you know that the eggs are full cooked and ready to be eaten.
And finally: Serve and enjoy!!

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Questions:

  • When you see a recipe that interests you, do you go and make it right away, or do you let it percolate in your creative mind for a while so that you can add your own flair to it?
  • Do you prefer to read other people’s recipes, or do you like to try and come up with your own?
  • Do you like to modify old recipes to match your current tastes?
  • How do you generally add your own style to a recipe? Spices? Different cooking/baking/slow-cooking style? Change ingredients?
  • Do you have any recipes that you’re working on right now, letting them slosh around in your creative mind to see what you’ll come up with?
  • Do you have any recipes that you’d like my, or some other readers, to comment on?

What’s For Dinner? – Basil, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Mushrooms


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UPC’s Basil, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Mushrooms

Inspiration can come from a lot of different places, for a lot of different things. I love it when inspiration strikes me, and I am most definitely the kind of guy who will pull over to the side of the road to take a picture or write something down. I’m not so much of a sing-in-the-shower person, but you shouldn’t be the least bit surprised if I were to break into song while standing on the subway platform, or walking down a crowded street. Why? I was inspired. Interestingly, most often when inspiration strikes me, I’ve completely forgotten what inspired me by the time the inspired action begins. It’s one of the reasons why I believe in inspiration so thoroughly. Fortunately, for those really life-changing events, the ones that have a lasting impact on my life, I usually remember the inspiration for those. For instance: I remember what inspired me and my wife to go Paleo. In fact, I can trace that particular decision through an interesting path of choices, all made possible by one single moment of inspiration (and not a terribly pleasant one, I might add) almost a year before we did finally make the decision. And, depending on how you look at it, that particular moment, that inspiration, may in fact be responsible for my blogging as well. Sometimes it’s amazing to consider the implications that one action may have such lasting impressions! If I could, I’d go Paleo AGAIN – though I’m certainly not willing to give it up first…

My inspiration, as small as it may seem, for today’s meal was a box of mushrooms. Some mushrooms just say to me “I want to be chopped up in little bits and eaten in a salad.” Some of them say “I want to be sliced thin and made into a soup.” And these mushrooms that you see here, they were jumping up and down, screaming to be made into stuffed mushrooms as loud as they could! Honestly, I don’t understand how everyone else in the grocery store wasn’t annoyed by all the ruckus.
On a slightly more serious note: I saw these mushrooms and was instantly and immediately inspired to make stuffed mushrooms with them. Unlike bursting in to song, stuffed mushrooms take some preparation, consideration, and planning. I knew that they wanted to be made in to stuffed mushrooms, but I still had to figure out what to stuff them with! Not to worry; it came to me. Or, rather, my wife and I spent an agonizing 30 minutes spit-balling ideas back and forth until one stuck. Like inspiration, I knew it once we had it. So, here it is!

UPC’s Basil, Bacon and Caramelized  Onion Stuffed Mushrooms; What you’ll need:

  • Large Mushrooms (I used 20 oz) – any large cup-mushroom (white button, crimini, etc.); or cake the stuffing on top of a cap-mushroom (portobello, shiitake, etc)
  • Mushroom Stems, diced
  • 1 lb Bacon, cooked and crumbled (Top-Quality only! 🙂 )
  • 1 large Red Onion, diced and caramelized (also called “Spanish Onion”)
  • 1 medium Rutabaga, finely chopped.
  • 2 cloves Garlic, diced
  • 5-6 sprigs Fresh Basil, diced (including the stems – they add to the texture)
  • Several Fresh Basil Leaves, diced (keep separate from above)
  • Spices: Savory, Anise, Marjoram, Turmeric

Serves: 4-8
Cook and Prep Time: 60 minutes

2GarlicOnionBaconStuffedMushrooms-Bacon1. Cook and crumble the bacon. Drain the pan of most of the bacon grease (to be used in some other culinary creation!).

2. Add the onions and rutabaga to the remainder of the bacon grease and begin cooking on medium heat. Stir regularly (every 1-2 minutes).

1GarlicOnionBaconStuffedMushrooms-Mushrooms

Remove the stem, cut out the lip, and scrape out the gills.

3. Remove the stems of the mushrooms, cut out the lip of the cup, then scrape the gills off the inside of the cup (or cap, if you’re using caps) of the mushroom with a spoon. This makes more room for the stuffing.
Note: Don’t know what the gills are? Check here.

4. After about 10 minutes of cook time, add the garlic and mushroom stems to the onions and rutabaga and continue to cook and stir for another 5 minutes, or until the onions are thoroughly caramelized.

5. Turn off the heat, add the spices and diced basil and mix thoroughly.

5GarlicOnionBaconStuffedMushrooms-Stuffing-LastStir

Stir in the spices and basil with the caramelized onions and rutabaga.

6. Pre-heat the oven to 350.

7. Spoon some stuffing in to each mushroom, making sure that they’re filled to the top, but not over filled. The mushrooms will shrink while baking.

6GarlicOnionBaconStuffedMushrooms-PreBake

Don’t over-fill the mushrooms; they shrink while baking.

8. Grease the bottom of each mushroom thoroughly (yes, you can use the bacon grease 🙂 ) and place the mushrooms in a baking pan with enough space between them so that they’re not touching.

9. Put the pan in the oven once it’s up to temperature; set the timer for 15 minutes.

10. When the timer dings, sprinkle the remaining diced basil on top of the mushrooms, and serve and enjoy!

Optional: If you’re a cheese person: you can add cheese to the recipe at the end, while you’re adding the basil and spices to the stuffing.

StuffedMushroom_Take6

Questions:

  • What kinds of inspiration strikes you?
  • Do you ever have inspiration that you can act on immediately? Do you?
  • Do you ever have food inspiration?
  • How would you use this stuffed mushroom recipe?
  • How might you change it to suit your needs?
  • Are there other stuffed mushroom recipes that you like?
  • Would you serve this as a meal, or an appetizer?
  • What would you serve this with?

What’s For Lunch? Smoked Salmon Bento Box


SalmonBentoBox

UPC’s Smoked Salmon Bento Box

Ok, I’ll admit it… I’m an addict! I’m an unmitigated food addict. It’s always been my “drug of choice,” so to speak, and that hasn’t changed one iota over the years. And I love it!!

“I’m UPC, and I’m an addict.”

“Welcome UPC.”

All jokes (mostly) aside, these Bento-Box lunches have been leaving me seriously looking forward to my lunch every day! It’s not like I don’t normally enjoy my food. Of course I do, it’s made by my favorite chef! No, this is another situation entirely. I thoroughly enjoy the idea of being in a position to easily, painlessly carry a full meal, and a full-looking meal, all the way to work with me to eat at my leisure. It’s truly a delight.

Smoked Salmon Bento-Box; What you’ll need:

  • Smoked Salmon:
  • 12 oz Smoked Salmon
  • 2 oz “Glaze” (Apple Cider Vinegar (or any flavor), Olive Oil, Black Peppercorns, Whole Mustard Seeds; mixed together and soaked for a day)
  • Salad Eggs
  • Salad:
  • Favorite Mixed Greens
  • 1 cup Celery, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Green Onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1 large Avocado, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Serves: 2
Cook and prep time: 30 minutes

1. Prepare the Salad Eggs. I used ham, basil, and carrots for this Salad Eggs dish.

2. In a pan, sear the smoked salmon on high heat for about 1 minute per side.

3. After turning off the heat, paint the salmon with the glaze, leaving the salmon in the pan so that the glaze can thicken in the heat. Let the salmon sit in the glaze for 2-3 minutes per side.

4. Slice the salmon and put it in the Bento Box.

5. Mix the salad ingredients and add them to the Bento Box.

6. Add the Salad Eggs to the Bento Box. And bring it to work to enjoy!

Questions:

  • What kinds of lunch foods get you excited?
  • Do you ever eat seafood for lunch?
  • Do you prefer smoked salmon, or another preparation method?
  • Do you prefer a different salmon preparation for a different meal? Have you ever thought about it?