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 Dinner? Slab Bacon and Steak Heaped with Caramelized Onions


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Slab Bacon, Steak Heaped with Caramelized Onions, and Avocado

If your mouth is watering just looking at that picture, you’re not alone. As much as I enjoyed the food, looking at it is almost as good – believe it or not! I had had a hard day at work, as had my wife. We were both coming home a bit late; my wife a bit later than me. So, what better way to unwind at the end of a really long day than with some of the most savory of the savory food category? Well, this slab bacon, as I’ve mentioned in my Slab Bacon Bacon Project Post, has been treating me and my wife every bit as well as it did when we first bought it and tried it. Without a doubt, this is the best commercial bacon we’ve had the pleasure of eating.

This meal does very well with additional cook time, so if you know that dinner may be delayed, this is a great meal to allow to simply keep cooking on a lower temperature. It’s a great meal to prepare for dinner parties, allowing the host to let dinner time be socially dictated, rather than when the dinner bell rings (it also allows the friends who got caught in traffic get there and still eat with everyone else!).

What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Slab Bacon
  • 1 lb Grass-Fed Rib Eye Steak (can use other cuts)
  • 2 medium Onions, chopped
  • 1 large Avocado
  • Spices: Turmeric, Black Pepper (fresh ground), “Herb De Provence” spice mix

Serves: 2-4 (depending on how hungry you are…)
Cook and prep time: 70 minutes

1. Heat the steak up in a pan on high until the steak is sizzling loudly.

2. Turn the heat down to medium-low, about 3 out of 10, and as soon as the sizzling stops, flip the steak.

3. Put the slab bacon in a separate pan and cook, covered, on medium-low heat, or about 3 out of 10.

4. Add the chopped onions around the steak in the steak pan.
Optional: Using 4-5 medium chopped onions, you can cook them in the bacon pan instead. This will produce leftover caramelized onions for quite a few meals.

5. Spice the steak liberally and cover the pan allowing the steak to cook.

6. Lay the bacon down on a new side every 10 minutes.

7. About 5 minutes before meal time, turn the steak pan up to high heat, take the steak out, and stir the onions thoroughly.

8. Alternately leaving the steak on top of the onions, and stirring, keep the onions cooking and stirring for 5 minutes on high heat.

Now serve and enjoy!

Questions:

  • What is your favorite dinner-party meal?
  • Which is the “Side Dish” in this meal: the steak, or the slab bacon?
  • Would you use something other than caramelized onions? How would you cook them?
  • How do you and your friends determine dinner time during dinner parties? When the food is ready, or when the guests are ready?
  • What kinds of drinks would you serve with this meal? Any specific brand/year?
  • Is there a difference between friends for dinner parties, and family? Do you cook differently? Do you clean, or set a different table?

What’s For Lunch? Pulled Pork and Bacon Bento Box


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UPC’s Pulled-Pork and Bacon Bento Box Lunch

I had a surprisingly good reaction from you folks about my Bento-Box style lunch menu last week. It would seem this is something you’re all interested in, in general. So I am going to try to put together a Bento-Box style meal at least once a week. By “Bento-Box” what I am really referring to is a full meal that you can pack from home for lunch with three separate components. You could very well combine them as you see fit, ending up with two parts, or even one whole salad. And I’ve had more than a few posts on here with my lunch salads for you all. The Bento-Box style meal, though, is a little bit of a change from the normal routine, and might add an extra bit of excitement in to your lunch routine. I really enjoyed having my lunches as one big salad. Even still, it was a nice change in my routine to have a simple, delicious salad, with a meat and some cooked vegetables to accompany it. And your comments last week tell me that you all enjoyed reading about it!

UPC’s Bacon and Pulled Pork Bento Box Lunch; What you’ll need:

  • Leftover Pulled Pork (See here for instructions on how to make it; today’s version was spiced with sage and cloves, still plenty of mushrooms!)
  • 1 lb Bacon, 1-inch slices (This is Vermont Smoke and Cure bacon)
  • Salad:
  • Favorite Salad Greens (This is baby kale and spinach)
  • 1 cup Shredded Carrots
  • 1 Nectarine, chopped
  • 1 Avocado, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep time: 15 minutes

1. Start the bacon.

2. Add the pulled pork to your Bento-Box.
Note: If you want to re-spice the Pulled Pork, you should re-heat it in a pan with some coconut oil to ensure the flavor is well absorbed.

3. Add the salad ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.
Note: I always mix my salad with my hands; I think that the end result is tastier.

4. Tend to the bacon.

5. Add all of the ingredients to your Bento Box style lunch container. Pack them, and head off to work, school, or wherever it is that you go during the day!
Note: The above link takes you to a google search for the lunch containers that I have in the picture. I’m really starting to love them, and highly recommend them!

Questions:

  • This is my second Bento-Box installment. What are your thoughts so far?
  • Is there any take-to-work meal that you would like to see me put together?
  • I often use pre-cooked ingredients in my lunches, to save on time in the mornings (and they’re already chilled because I prepared them ahead of time and stored them in the fridge). What kinds of pre-cooked ingredients are you using for your lunches?
  • Are there any particular pre-cooked ingredients that you would like to see featured here in a Bento-Box lunch?

Ginger Garlic Guacamole


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UPC’s Ginger Garlic Guacamole

Ginger plus garlic – sounds like a strange combination, doesn’t it? Well, if all you normally use ginger for is ginger-snap cookies, and candied ginger, then this will be a totally unique flavor! I like ginger for a lot more than sweet meals. Fresh ginger can give the sting I usually expect from a spicy meal, most commonly associated with peppers. Of course, anyone who has eaten a Szechuan dish knows that ginger can be used for heat. But what if I want a flavor that has the heat without the “smokiness” of a pepper? I know, who would want something like that?!? But what if I did… Enter: Fresh Ginger. You can get the bite, the sting, of a pepper in a dish where you’re not looking for the flavor (or the lasting heat) that a hot pepper brings to the dish. And a garlic guacamole is best when garlic is the prime flavor! The ginger acts in this meal as a supporting flavor, helping to call attention to your taste buds with every bite. They end up working together very well.

What is it about holiday weekends and guacamole? I don’t know if it’s a “Me” thing, but it seems like every time I have a holiday weekend guest, I make some guacamole as an appetizer. In fact, I can’t remember a single time I’ve hosted a holiday get together without it! Fortunately, guacamole is nearly universally accepted as the social food of choice among most of the people who may be attending one of my parties.

As a note: a quality mortar and pestle are a definite requirement for a good guacamole. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and serving guacamole in a bowl simply does not have the same effect as serving it in a mortar and pestle. For a while (unfortunately, this is no longer the case) I had 3 different mortar and pestle sets: I had a very large, very rugged dark granite set, a smaller finer set (the one you see here), and I had a wooden set. As much as I would like to say otherwise, I never ended up using more than one of them at a time; and ended up paring down my collection during one of my many moves over the past several years.
Get a mortar and pestle the suits you, your personality, and fits the decor of your parties. And unlike me, you really only need one set. Trust me!

UPC’s Ginger Garlic Guacamole

  • 2 large Organic Avocados, chopped then crushed
  • 5-6 cloves Fresh Garlic, peeled and diced
  • 1-inch Ginger, peeled and diced
  • 1 Lime, fresh squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Serves: 4+
Prep time: 25 minutes (plus another 30-60, depending on your timing).

1. Put the ginger and garlic in to your martar and pestle, then add the olive oil and squeeze the lime juice over the top. Using the pestle, stir the ginger and garlic up with the olive oil and lime juice.

2. Let the slurry of ginger, garlic, lime and olive oil sit for 20 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle.

3. After 20 minutes of sitting, using the mortar and pestle, grind the ginger and garlic slurry for about 1 minute. This isn’t about how hard you can press down; this is about how well you can compress the thicker ingredients – it’s about mixing more than grinding.

4. Add half of the first avocado to the mixture and continue to mix/grind the mixture into a slurry.

5. As the first half of the avocado is mostly mashed, add the next half. Add each subsequent half-avocado as the previous half is mostly mixed and mashed. This will give you the fine partially-chunky finished product that you see in my picture.

6. Once you’re satisfied with the consistency, give the almost-finished guacamole a taste to “set your taste buds”, then add some salt and pepper. Keep adding more salt and pepper, and tasting the guacamole, until you’ve got just the right flavor.

7. If you have time, cover the guacamole and put it in the fridge for 30-60 minutes. This will be delicious immediately; and even slightly better after being chilled for 30 minutes.

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Questions:

  • What is your go-to appetizer for your parties and get togethers?
  • Do you host often?
  • Are you a grill-person?
  • If so, do you have a different set of appetizers that you serve your guests while you’re grilling?

What’s For Lunch? UPC’s Bento-Boxes


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UPC’s Salad Bento Boxes

I’ve shared pictures of my lunch salads before, but today’s post is somewhat special. My wife and I making a concerted effort to remove unnecessary plastic from our lives. There are a couple of reasons for that, but the biggest one is an attempt to reduce our impact on the world. I’m a firm believer in the “Golden Rule” and my wife recently pointed out to me that I really should be working hard to use as much re-usable materials as possible, since that’s ultimately the best application of the “Golden Rule” in regards to my impact on the environment. She’s right, of course, and I didn’t need any convincing. The plastic containers that I had been using previously would often last me months before being replaced. But they’re still plastic. So we made the shift to glass for out refrigerator items, and we just picked up several of the Smart Planet “Meal Kits” that are made entirely from silicone.

These are awesome for a couple of reasons, in my book: they’re durable, they’re light, they’ll last until we don’t like the colors anymore, and they collapse once you’re done with them to take up less space. And, of course, most importantly, they’re not ugly. Which makes it easier for me to share my lunch recipes with you!

I may make this “Bento Box Lunch” a whole separate category, if you all end up think it’s a hit. Be sure to read the “Questions” at the end to help me figure out whether this should be a regular thing, or if I should just keep in in the 3-meal rotation that I have going now.

Today’s UPC Salad Bento Box; What you’ll need:

  • 1 Serving of UPC’s Salad Eggs
  • 1 Serving of Rosemary Carrots and Mushrooms (instructions below)
  • 1 Double-Serving Tossed Salad (any great lunch-salad will do; instructions for pictured salad below)
    UPC’s Salad Eggs:
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Organic Yellow Zucchini, chopped (obviously green zucchinis will work too!)
  • 2 Organic Carrots, chopped
  • 1 bunch Organic Basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
    Rosemary Carrots and Mushrooms:
  • 2 medium Organic Carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup Crimini Mushrooms, quartered (chopped large)
  • 4 sprigs Organic Rosemary, Rosemary pulled off the sprig and chopped
  • Optional: Add copped Celery for additional flavor and green.
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil (for extra credit: use bacon grease!)
    Tossed Salad
  • 1 large Organic Avocado, chopped
  • 1 medium Organic Cucumber
  • 2 cups UPC’s Pulled Pork (alternately, sliced ham or bacon)
  • 1 bunch Organic Basil, chopped
  • 3 cups Organic Arugula, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Serves: 2 (Breakfast and Lunch, depending on your meal sizes)
Cook and Prep time: About 1 hour

1. Start the UPC’s Salad Eggs. I’m going to skip the instructions for this, since they’re well documented in the linked post.

2. In a small pot, add the carrots first, then the mushrooms, rosemary, and coconut oil. Cover, and cook on high for 1 minute. After 1 minute, turn down to medium-low, and leave covered, stirring every 3-4 minutes while you prepare the rest of the Bento-Box.

3. Tend the UPC’s Salad Eggs, continuing to follow the directions in the post.

4. Turn off the carrots and mushrooms after about 12 minutes of cook time.

5. Add the chopped arugula (or your favorite salad greens) and basil to a mixing bowl. On top, add the avocado, cucumber and pulled pork. Then spread the olive oil evenly over the salad and mix carefully (I mix with my bare hands; yes I wash them first).

Serve each meal portion in to a separate section of your Bento Box, and enjoy!

Questions:

  • What are your thoughts on a full-meal post from time to time?
  • Do you like the idea of the lunch Bento-Box format?
  • Would you like to see more hot-meal components, or cold-meal components?
  • What do you bring for your own breakfast and lunch?

What’s For Lunch? Steak Hot & Cold Summer Salad


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UPC’s Steak Hot & Cold Summer Salad

This was a looong weekend! There are “Long Weekends” where you have an extra day due to a holiday, or perhaps a carefully chosen vacation day. And then there are looong weekends, like this one was for me, where you are still unpacking, setting up your new apartment, and throwing away old stuff that you haven’t used in the past 5 years. This weekend, since my wife and I moved recently, was the second version. And I’m not sure how many more of these I have in me before I have a breakdown!

On the positive side: we have the kitchen (the most important room in the house!), living/dining room, bedroom, and my closet all set up with well conceived temporarily situated solutions to our needs from the space available in the room. We know how we’ll eventually have the rooms look, what we need to make the space work, and we’ve put together some sort of interim solution, using the furniture and other tools we have available now. That’s an important start! All we have left now are the office, my wife’s closet, and the bathrooms. And I am exhausted from the effort to get us this far this fast! I am so exhausted that I barely managed to put together today’s post. Barely; but still managed. You can thank me after you see what’s in it.

Steak Hot & Cold Summer Salad; What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb Grass-Fed Steak (I used my lately-favorite cut: Rib-Eye)
  • 1 large Avocado, chopped
  • 2 cups Cherry Tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup Blueberries (wild if possible, otherwise organic)
  • 1 cup Toasted Coconut Chips
  • 1 medium Cucumber, chopped
  • Mesclun Salad (or your other favorite salad mix)
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Serves: 2, with a little to spare
Cook and prep time: 20 minutes

1. Cook the steak in a pan with your favorite steak seasoning (I used sea salt, fresh ground pepper, anise seed, and thyme) on medium heat, covered. Continue cooking until it is finished to your liking (shorter times for rare, longer times for well-done).
Note: I like my steak on the rare-side when eating it by itself. For some reason, I prefer it well-done in a salad.

2. While the steak is cooking, prepare the salad. In a large mixing bowl, add the salad greens, cucumber, blueberries, avocado, and olive oil. Using a serving spoon, mix the salad thoroughly.

3. When the steak is cooked to your satisfaction, take it out and slice it, no more than 1/2 inch thick slices, on a cutting board.

4. Serve the salad in a salad bowl after sprinkling the coconut chips and the sliced tomatoes liberally across the top of the salad. Carefully lay the sliced steak on the side of the bowl, like shown in my picture.

Questions:

  • How did you spend your weekend?
  • What kinds of things do you prefer to spend your weekend on? Socializing? Traveling?
  • What’s your “ideal” weekend look like, given your normal constraints?
  • How often do you manage to do your “ideal” weekend? Is it a once-per-month thing? Or more or less frequently than that?

What’s For Dinner? Bacon Avocado Burger on Caramelized Onions


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UPC’s Bacon Avocado Burger on a bed of Caramelized Onions

I had a great weekend! Saturday was one of the most lazy days I have ever had. My wife and I woke up well after the sun came up – and closer to noon than dawn. We don’t get to sleep in that late, between errands, traffic, social engagements, and the occasional trip out of town, we are rarely in a position where we can sleep much later than a typical work day. And on occasion, we actually get up earlier than week days!
On Sunday, we headed back to Connecticut to spend time with our friends up there – that’s three weekends in a row now! When we arrived, we engaged in some perfectly-Paleo activities: eating, and playing in the water! My wife and I purchased some inflatable kayaks last summer. They have turned out to be every bit as good a purchase as a good bicycle! We can throw them in the trunk of our Civic coupe (yes, they both fit), take a drive somewhere, and have them both set up and be out on the water in 20 minutes! And best of all: they still fit, without any issues, in our closet at home!

Bacon Avocado Burger; What you’ll need:

  • 4 1/4lb Grass-Fed Burger patties (if you have the inclination to make them yourself, add some spices, olive oil, garlic and onions to the beef before patting out the patties!)
  • 8 slices Bacon (no nitrites/nitrates, low sugar, quality meats!)
  • 1 large ripe Avocado
  • 2 large Yellow Onions, chopped (or, for some color variance, use a yellow and a red onion)
  • Lettuce leaves
  • 1 Beefsteak Tomato

Serves: 2
Cook and Prep Time: 25 minutes

1. Chop up 4 of the slices of bacon in to small bits, and start cooking it in a pan on high.

2. Once the chopped bacon is starting to sizzle, add the onions to the pan, stir thoroughly, and turn the heat down to medium-low, covered.

3. Put the remaining 4 slices of bacon in the oven on a baking sheet and turn the oven up to 450.

4. In a second pan (you may need a third pan as well) add the burger patties and cook on medium, covered.

5. Stir the bacon and onion mix every 1-2 minutes.

6. After about 10 minutes of cook time, flip the burgers and the bacon in the oven. Leave the lid off the burger pan.

7. Prepare the avocado, tomato, and the plates. I put the caramelized onion down first, then the avocado on top of that. Alternately, it might be nice to put the lettuce down first, then the avocado, and drizzle the caramelized onion over the burger once you serve it.

8. After another 10 minutes of cook time, for a total of about 20 minutes of cook time, everything should be ready for serving.
20 minutes at medium heat, will cook the burgers to a medium-well; with very little pink left. If you like your burgers more rare than that, cut down the cook times by 2-4 minutes per side, as it suits your tastes.

Questions:

  • Workout and Diet: I’ve stopped doing my Workout and Diet posts. Does anyone wish I continued?
  • I did a full 4-week segment of Workout and Diet – would anyone like me to do a recap of the workout, the diet, and perhaps build it in to a 4-week Paleo Plan? Maybe a diet/workout guide to help people reach their goals?
  • Would you like to see a “Beginner” version, with cooking tips? Maybe an “Expert” version, with workout plans and form tips?
  • I realize that all of the above would entail quite a bit of work for me, but if you readers want to see it, I would be willing to undertake the efforts. Let me know what you think!