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!

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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 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 Breakfast? Salad Eggs


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UPC’s Salad Eggs

The weather here in the NYC area was idyllic over the weekend. It was stunningly beautiful all day Saturday and all day Sunday! I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better weekend! Not only was the weather excellent, but it couldn’t have possibly been a better test for my first ever New York Road Runners race as UPC. I know, I have done a few posts on working out, and you all know that I love running as a part of my exercise regimen, but most of you didn’t realize that I like to test myself on occasion, to see what is “the best that I can do” at that point in time. You’re all also well aware that I’m training for a 1-mile race in one month; but this is a little bit early for that post, right? Well, as much as I love racing, I haven’t participated in a race in nearly a year now. I’ll write another post today (that’s right, you get two posts today!!) to discuss the race, share some pictures, and give you all a training update on how I’m doing, and what my results from this weekend indicate to me with regards to my training and preparedness for the 1-mile race, which is my ultimate goal. So, since I’m not going to tell you about the race itself, let me spend a few words talking about testing in general.

I am a big fan of testing. Of course, I am not referring to the testing that you go through as a  normal part of training. I don’t mean “can I get an 11th rep?” when I talk about testing. What I’m talking about is the kind of testing that happens best under the umbrella of competition, though it’s possible to host your own version of a testing cycle. This kind of testing is when you save up your energy for a few days, or longer, so that you can push yourself to the absolute maximum of your capacity. You sleep, eat, rest, and train differently leading up to testing day, making sure that your capacity on that day is the absolute best that it can be. What you’re looking for is where the bar is for you, under optimal conditions, at this point in your physical fitness. Again, competition is not the only way to test yourself. But they’re set up specifically for that purpose; there’s usually a monetary cost to participate. While this is ostensibly to cover time and materials to make the testing possible, from my perspective what this is really for is to ensure that the athletes take the competition seriously. There is often a prize associated with success; though some of the time a prize is awarded to all participants (in most cases, I am ok with this). And competition in general always draws crowds. People like to see peak performance; it’s exciting.
All of these factors lead an athlete to build up that day to be different from any other day. As I mentioned above, because of the testing aspect of the day, athletes change their patterns leading up to the day. They reduce their training, otherwise called “tapering”. They eat differently. Some athletes eat more of one food group, and less of another. Sometimes there is more eating. Sometimes there is less eating. Often runners do something called “Carb loading” in the hopes that they’ll increase their total glycogen stores in their muscles and liver. Many wrestlers and boxers reduce their total food and water intake in order to make their weight class goals. They sleep differently. Often athletes operate on a reduced sleep schedule in order to get their training in around their other required daily activities (school/classwork, work, etc). Where the “taper” before the test day, they will emphasize getting enough sleep so their body is fully rested.
All of these things add up to an optimized athlete. And while I don’t necessarily agree with all of these activities, or with the fact that they are needed to begin with, these are a part of the testing cycle for regularly competitive athletes. I do love the testing cycle. I’ve been a competitive athlete for as long as I can remember, and I honestly don’t want to discontinue the testing cycle in my life. As one activity becomes less prevalent in my life, I replace that activity with another; and usually I seek out a way to test myself in that activity. Testing, when done right, is as important to me as the training. And in it’s own way, the testing is every bit as valuable.

But, there are many athletes who don’t do their testing the right way, as defined by me. Sometimes they carry the stress of the testing on their shoulders. Some of the time they like testing too much, and do it too often. Frequently I see athletes who don’t give their testing the kind of respect that it deserves, and they set themselves up for injury.
So here’s my stand on testing / competition: Do your testing infrequently enough, and with enough focus, that you get the best results you possibly can, you enjoy it, and you don’t set yourself up unnecessarily for injury. I know that’s a tall order; testing can be addictive! But it’s important to keep your competition days in perspective. These are intended to be tests of your ability. Make them infrequent enough that you can approach them with optimal performance in mind. And be sure to schedule a reasonable recovery so that any amount of injury that your body sustained during the testing it can heal from properly before you resume your full training regime.

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UPC’s Salad Eggs; what you’ll need:

  • 4 Top-Quality Eggs (See here for egg recommendations)
  • 2 Organic Carrots, sliced
  • 1 Organic Yellow Squash, sliced (Zucchini works too)
  • 1 bunch Fresh Organic Basil, chopped
  • (Optional) 6 Crimini Mushrooms, quartered
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep time: 15 minutes

1. Add the vegetables and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to a pan and cook on medium heat, covered.
Note: Be sure to allot appropriate time for whatever side dish you’re preparing with the salad eggs. If you’re using bacon, as I did in the picture, it can be prepared in a second pan in the same amount of cook time as listed above by cooking it on medium-high heat, covered.

2. Stir the vegetables once every minute for 5 minutes.

3. After 5 minutes of cook time, shake the pan to make sure the vegetables are evenly spread out on the base of the pan and sprinkle your salt and pepper over the vegetables.

4. Turn the heat up to high. Wait for a moment and then crack the four eggs directly over the vegetables.
Note: Some people prefer to pre-mix the eggs and pour them in to the pan fully mixed. I prefer to mix them in the pan – this is a stylistic choice, and doesn’t appear to make much difference either way for scrambled eggs; though there can be a big difference for omelets or frittatas.

5. Stir the eggs and vegetables vigorously as the pan continues to heat up, making sure the egg yolks and egg whites are mixed thoroughly.

6. Just before the eggs reach your desired consistency, turn the heat off and let the eggs finish cooking using just the heat of the pan.
Now serve and enjoy!

Questions:

  • Do you enjoy testing / competition?
  • When is the last time you really tested yourself?
  • What kinds of competitions are the most fun for you?
  • What is your preparation ritual for your testing / competition?
  • Do you make changes in your normal daily rituals when testing / competitions are coming?

What’s For Breakfast? Paleo Chocolate-Bar Omelet


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UPC’s Paleo Chocolate Bar Omelet

I’m a very playful guy. I love to run, jump, spin… There are few things in the world that are more gratifying to me than attempting something, and failing. Don’t ask me why, I don’t really have a good answer; though I am certain that it’s related to my “muchness” as Johnny Depp so adroitly described Alice’s childlike wonder and fearlessness in Alice In Wonderland. But landing flat on my butt in green grass under a blue sky after an awesome attempt at something both exciting and stupid is precisely what I envision when I think of “what would I rather be doing right now?” Except when I’m blogging, of course. This, much to my surprise and delight, has not turned out to be me, rubbing my butt as I stand up off the grass and attempt to figure out how to do it right the next time.

My playfulness translates in to the kitchen as well. I like to play with ingredients, experiment, and actually just being playful in general. I’m a very playful guy, and I can’t think of a time in my life when I didn’t want to spend time being playful. Being playful in the kitchen is somewhat more challenging; there are rules in there, sharp instruments and objects, dangerous surfaces… But my playfulness will not be overcome!
I’ve been spending a lot of time experimenting with cocoa nibs recently. They’re a touchy flavor, and so I’ve been hesitant with them for a long time. Now I look back and wonder “what took me so long?” As touchy a flavor as they are in the raw, they turn out to be amazingly adept at blending their savory chocolate goodness with just about anything I’ve managed to throw their way!

UPC’s Paleo Chocolate Bar Omelet; What you’ll need:

  • 4 eggs (Use the good stuff if possible)
  • 2 tablespoons Cocoa Nibs
  • 2 tablespoons Shredded Coconut
  • 1 Baked Sweet Plantain, chopped (prepare your Baked Maduros ahead of time)
  • 3 tablespoons Coconut Oil

Serves: 2
Prep and Cook time: 40 minutes

1. In a pot, add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, the cocoa nibs, and the chopped maduros. Cook on medium-low heat, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

2. Add the shredded coconut to the pot, and continue to cook while you make the omelet. Continue to stir regularly.

3. Heat up the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil in an omelet pan on medium-high heat.

4. Pour the eggs in to the pan and cook, covered, for 2-3 minutes.

5. When the eggs are about 2/3 cooked, or about 2-3 minutes after adding them to the omelet pan, pour the cocoa nibs, shredded coconut, and sweet plantain mixture on to one side of the omelet. Continue to cook, covered, until the omelet is fully cooked through.

6. Serve, and enjoy!

“Life’s Short, Eat Dessert First” Eggs


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“Life’s Short, Eat Desert First!” Eggs

I haven’t written to you all in a week! I feel deprived!! I know, it almost sounds backwards, right? I don’t write, so I’m the one feeling deprived? But the truth is that over the past 6 months, I’ve built a great relationship with a good number of you readers, and I honestly miss that discourse on the days that I don’t have a chance to write. In a normal week, when I put together 4 or 5 posts, it’s really no big deal. But after a full 9 days (a week, with both weekends) of no writing, I miss both the writing, and the interaction. I’m not one for too much mushy sentimental stuff, so you’re not likely to hear this often, but I don’t mind giving credit where it’s due. And credit is due. You all make this experience worth the effort. And you do such a good job, it turns out, that I miss you and writing when I don’t have time.

So, why didn’t I have time to do any blogging and writing? Because I was moving! My wife and I have been living a great life in a decent apartment. But our lease was up this year, and rather than renew it to continue to live a great life in a decent apartment, we decided to shop around a bit and see if we could find a great apartment to match our life. Fortunately, for within 5% of our current rent, we found an apartment that suits our needs wonderfully! And more germane to the blog, the kitchen is perfect for Video Blogging! I’ve been groaning and griping that I couldn’t do a Vlog post for a while now, since my previous kitchen was seriously unworthy… but no more! Look out UPC followers, because Vlogs will start to show up regularly! I am really hoping to be able to pump out a few amateurish Vlogs over the next month, really get my feet wet with Vlogging, and then I’ll bring in some big guns and really get set up for a great Vlogging experience! We’ll see… But either way, it’s coming!

“Life’s Short, Eat Desert First” Eggs; What you’ll need:

  • 4 Soy-Free Eggs (hard to find, but SO worth the effort!)
  • 6-8 Crimini Mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 large Organic Sweet Potato, 1-inch cubes
  • 2 large Organic Carrots, 1-inch chunks
  • 4 tablespoons Shredded Organic Coconut
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • Optional Spices: Allspice, Nutmeg, Cinnamon (I do not recommend using all of them; Nutmeg is a GREAT choice for the first try!)

1. Add the mushrooms, sweet potato, carrots and coconut oil to a pan and cook on medium heat, covered, for 10 minutes.

2. After 10 minutes of cook time, add the shredded coconut and the spice you’re going to use to the pan and mix thoroughly.
As mentioned above: for your first attempt, choose only one spice, and use sparingly. Experiment with the recipe after you’ve tried it with only one spice.

3. Once the shredded coconut is mixed in well, pour the eggs over the top of the mixture, and mix thoroughly.

4. Turn the heat up to medium-high and continue to mix the eggs until cooked to your desirable consistency. And Enjoy!

Questions:

  • I don’t do a lot of desserts – would you like to see more of them?
  • What kinds of desserts would you be most interested in seeing?
  • Is there a specific SAD dessert that you love, and don’t know how to make Paleo? Send it along, and let’s see if there’s something I can do!

What’s For Breakfast? Mushroom And Tomato Omelet with Bacon


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UPC’s Mushroom And Tomato Omelet with Vermont Smoke And Cure Bacon!

I know that some of you have been enjoying my Diet And Workout posts, where I am sharing with you everything I am doing to reach my goals this summer. They’re tough goals, and I am really excited by the prospect of trying to meet them both! Well, my wife has been increasing her workout activities as well. We both love to workout regularly, and we can often be seen out together doing various different workouts. We’ve both been careful about how we increase our workouts, and are monitoring our body’s needs carefully. So it came as no surprise to either of us that our bodies have been craving more protein, and we have been more than happy to oblige!! Today’s breakfast comes from that increased need.

Mushroom and Tomato Omelet and Bacon; What you’ll need:

  • 4 Eggs, whipped (I use a fork)
  • Salt and pepper mixed in with the eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut oil
  • 2 cups Mushrooms, chopped (I used a new mixed organic mushrooms that I picked up in the frozen section of Whole Foods)
  • 1 cup Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 lb Bacon (Vermont Smoke and Cure!!)

Serves 2
Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes

1. Start the bacon in a pan, covered, on medium heat.

2. In a small cook pot, heat up the mushrooms with 1 tablespoon coconut oil on medium heat.

3. Heat up an omelet pan (needs to have curved sides) with the remaining 1 tablespoon coconut oil to medium-high temperature.

4. Once the omelet pan is hot, pour the mixed eggs in to the omelet pan. Swirl the mixture in the pan so that the omelet has a relatively uniform thickness.

5. Turn the heat down on the omelet pan immediately to medium heat, and cook covered for 3-5 minutes.

6. Using a spatula, move the omelet around in the pan carefully, making sure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

7. After about 5 minutes of cook time, spread the mushrooms and tomatoes across the top  of the omelet.

8. Fold the omelet in the pan, then slide it out onto a dish.

9. Add the bacon to the plate, and serve!

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Questions:

  • What are your favorite omelet ingredients?
  • Do you prefer them cooked, or raw?
  • How much are you willing to branch out, stretch yourself, with your omelet ingredients?
  • Do you like your omelet ingredients spilling out, like in my picture, of do you prefer the omelet to completely contain your ingredients?

What’s For Breakfast? Hot & Cold Salad – Scrambled Eggs


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I don’t know what it is about eggs, but I’ve been on a huge kick with them over the past week or so. Maybe it’s the increased training I’ve been doing in pursuit of my training goals? If so, then it would make sense that my body would be asking for increased protein intake, to help the body repair muscle damage from my training. I’ve been having a great couple of weeks so far, and my training is feeling fantastic!
Maybe it’s a summer thing? I’m not sure… But I’ve been all-over eggs! And recently even that hasn’t been enough. I’ve started to supplement my breakfast eggs with some smoked salmon! I know, I know. I’m going back to the increased training. See, running is no new thing to me, and even speed training shouldn’t increase my body’s protein needs so dramatically. But I’ve been doing more heavy things too; I’ve hit the gym at least once per week, which is a bit more often than I used to do. I’ve also been doing more push ups, sit ups, and pull ups than I used to do – 2-3 times per week now, where once per week was common for me previously. Anyway, my body has been celebrating my protein intake. And I’ve been giving it what it wants!

The Breakfast Hot & Cold Salad; What you’ll need:

  • The Hot:
  • 4 Eggs
  • Ham, chopped
  • Zuccini, chopped
  • Leeks, Sliced
  • Ginger, finely chopped
  • The Cold:
  • Leafy Greens (I used Arugula for this meal, but usually Spring Mix)
  • Cucumber, chopped
  • Sun-Dried Tomato Halves

First, add the chopped zucchini to a pan with some coconut oil and turn the heat on high, while you chop and add the other ingredients. As the pan heats up, and the zucchini, and whatever else you’ve added begins to sizzle, turn the heat down to medium, or about 5 out of 10 while you finish chopping and adding the remainder of the ingredients. I like this a lot with the ham – there’s something delicious about cooked ham in eggs. Perhaps it’s part of why bacon and eggs go so well together? A question for another time, perhaps…

Once the Hot portion is cooking, you can turn your attention to prepping the Cold portion of the salad. We’ve all made a salad before, but I’ve got a few hints and tricks on this one. I really like the extra flavor that a sun-dried tomato adds to a dish. And that flavor is only increased by heating them up a bit. The trick is this: keep the sun-dried tomatoes out of the salad until the end of your prep, so that you can have them closest to the hot portion of your meal. The flavor will be much better as the sun-dried tomato soaks in the heat from the hot portion of the salad!

With the Cold portion done, turn your attention back to the Hot portion. These vegetables (and the ham) should be ready for the eggs after no more than 5 minutes, or so, of cook time. If your prep of the Cold salad took that long or longer, you can stir it, and add the eggs immediately. I’ve mentioned my preference for mixing the eggs in the pan, but that’s just my style. If you prefer to mix the eggs ahead of time, that’s fine too. Mix the eggs in thoroughly, stirring the eggs constantly until they’re fully scrambled.

Serving

As I mentioned above, there is a trick to the order of the salad. Add the greens first, along with the cucumber. If you’re going to add other green ingredients, like avocado or green onions, add these at this point as well. The “Cold” portion of the salad should be well mixed, though you’re leaving out the sun-dried tomatoes for now. Next, add the eggs. Spread them across the top of the salad, like I have in my picture. I find that eating them this way is actually more enjoyable for me than fully mixing them before eating. Last, add the sun-dried tomatoes. These are technically a “Cold” portion of the salad. But as I have mentioned, these are best when they’re heated up slightly, and the best way to do that is by having them right on top of the steaming hot eggs!

Questions:

  • What’s your favorite summer breakfast?
  • Is it a different breakfast than your winter breakfast?
  • Have you noticed any changes in your dietary urges recently? Like me needing more protein?
  • Why do you think your needs are changing? OR, if they’re not, why not?