Tag Archives: meatless

Breakfast Burritos

Sorry that I have taken so long to get back…extenuating circumstances! This is the first of several posts I where I wish to give advice on breakfasts for family and that you can show-off with to feed guests with little effort.

When we lived in Colorado our church held a Mexican Breakfast every year to benefit the religious education program. It started slow and then grew every year as the Mexican/Americans in the parish rallied to show their best. It went from being (just) the wonderful breakfast burritos to homemade anise cookies on every plate, with entertainment of dancers in varying traditional dress and a Mariachi band in full costume…and full volume.
The star, however, were basically the Smothered Breakfast Burritos I give you today. Although I take a short-cut with the sauce, the outcome is worth the slight further effort.Breakfast Burritos

Smothered Breakfast Burritos

[To serve 4]

Take approx. 1 ½ cups very lean pork (traditional) or chicken breast, cube it and brown in 1 Tblsp. Oil or butter. Remove from pan and add to a pot in which you have your green chili sauce.
If you can make a nice green chili, go for it, if not, pick up a nice brand of basic tomatillo green chili sauce in mild or medium, or as I prefer, a mixture of both.(Warning: the medium runs pretty hot, but if you want and can take it made traditionally, go medium).

Pour off the fat from the frying pan and add a Tablespoon or so of water and deglaze the pan.(Place the pan over med-high heat and ,using a spatula or wooden spoon, loosen the pan drippings). Add to the chili mixture and simmer for at least 10 minutes.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil or butter in a non-stick pan. Using 1-1 ½ cups of the Parsley Potatoes (previous post) or other pre-cooked potatoes,(boiled or baked and cubed), or if need be,frozen hash brown potatoes, cook over med-high heart until slightly brown and slightly dry. Add 4-5 eggs with 1 tsp salt and scramble with the potatoes until set firm.

Warm 4 large or 8 small flour tortillas. Place some of the egg and potatoes in each tortilla and roll, after folding and tucking the ends in. Place on dish and spoon the chili mixture over the burritos.

Breakfast Burritos were popular with my restaurant clientele, but since most were bought ‘To-Go’ and eaten while driving to work, smothering was out of the question. I added the pork, chicken,( or more often), sausage or bacon to the egg and potato mixture as it cooked, (made fresh, per order. With pre-cooked potatoes ready, it is very easy and quick.).

One of our regular customers, a real Santa Claus look-alike, came back from a trip to New York City. He said,”I was walking near Times Square and thought, ‘Those burritos need sour cream’.” You can bet the next order from our supplier was individual packets of fresh sour cream to go with every burrito.

(Want to go meatless? If you use eggs and cheese, fell free to leave the meat out and enjoy.)

I hope you try these and join me for the continuation of Guest/Family Breakfasts.

You Know Beans

 I have been asked to post recipes before I go any farther, which is probably where I should have started in the first place. Bear with me, while I get a feel for where this blog should go; I’m open for suggestions and questions.

I should have explained that this all started as a letter to answer a call from an alumna of my husband’s college begging for ideas for ‘meatless Fridays’, as her kids were tired of tuna sandwiches and mac & cheese. I later had the idea to put out a pamphlet when I saw people struggling with meatless or less-meat entrees. Then I started a book when I found that people were intimidated by the idea of  entertaining. I wanted to help put people’s minds at ease. So here I am pulling pieces out of the middle of what supposed to be my book, and kind of making hash of it all! This blog is not about meatless eating. It is about eating and entertaining.

But here are the first recipes, most suitable for Lenten Fridays, Ash Wednesdays, vegetarian, some vegan, some cutting back on cholesterol, and of just plain good food.

I will give recipes with as many optional shortcuts as I can .

 

There will be plenty of meat recipes and tips in upcoming postings.

 

Let’s start with beans and legumes.

A slow-cooker, (Crock Pot), is a blessing when it comes to cooking dried beans and legumes. I will go so far as to say it is almost essential when living at high altitudes.(I had a neighbor who confided that although we lived about 25 feet above sea level, as a young bride she used the ‘high-altitude’ directions on cake mix boxes  when she lived in a nearby  high-rise apartment).

Without a slow-cooker, overnight soaking is required, and at high altitudes, bringing the beans to a boil, soaking, rinsing and repeating is required,(and even  then I could not get them soft enough when I lived in Denver.) A basic slow-cooker can be found at the time of this posting from ten –fifteen dollars; well worth the investment. Cooking times may need to be adjusted because of varying temperatures of brands and the size of the cooker.

 

There are quite usable pre-cooked , bottled white beans available in local supermarkets. Canned beans are too soft and not as suitable for these soups.

Note about oils: Extra Virgin (first pressing) olive oil has the taste of olive; regular,(later pressings), olive oils have a more neutral taste, which is actually more suitable for most recipes. Olive oils burns easily. Peanut oil  is good with beans and is better for frying than other oils as it does not easily burn and never smokes.(It is the only oil used in submarines for that reason).. These are the three oils used in my kitchen; Extra V olive oil, regular olive oil, and peanut oil. A little oil not only adds body but aids in the softening of  beans. It can be omitted. I know some people are against any and all oils.

The Country-boy in my father liked black-eyed peas and they were a ‘must-have’ on New Year’s Day, as they are considered to bring good luck.(Why it was continued throughout the years, I’ll never know, as we never had a lot of luck).  Mom liked to add a little vegetable oil to them and to any bean she cooked. My father once caught her and told her never to do it again. If my father was anywhere near the kitchen, she didn’t, but if she knew he’d be out, the oil would go in. Every time he would ask her which brand of peas or beans she had fixed. If she had added oil, they were a good brand; if she hadn’t, well, let’s remember not to buy that brand again, even though he was sure that was the ‘good’ brand he’d eaten the last time.  And Mom would snicker either way, every time.

Nothing could be simpler than these quick, tasty soups. If you have a vegetarian or vegan guest or in the family, they will love you for these:

 

Basic White Bean Soup: (slow-cooker, or shortcut below)

One pound of dried white beans( Navy or Great Northern)

One Tablespoon Salt

¼ cup minced onion

1/8th cup minced celery

two Tablespoons vegetable oil

½ teaspoon white pepper (optional)

one Tablespoon dried parsley (optional)

 

Place all ingredients in a slow-cooker with 1 1/2-2 quarts of cold water. Cook on ‘high’ setting for 8-10 hours, checking and stirring every couple of after the first six. You want the beans fairly soft.

(to cook beans suitable for other dishes, omit celery and onion; cook only for 6-8 hours.

SHORTCUT: Sauté onion and celery in two Tablespoons oil. Add to a pot with  bottled, precooked beans, salt, pepper and one quart of water. Simmer for at least one hour.

Mediterranean White Bean Soup-Greek style

 One pound white beans

One cup of thinly sliced carrots

¼ cup thinly sliced celery

one cup chopped onion

2 teaspoons crushed/chopped garlic,(or 1 teaspoon of dried)

one 16 ounce can of tomatoes or 2 cups fresh, pealed and chopped

½ cup vegetable oil (preferably regular olive oil

one bay leaf

1 Tablespoon salt; 1 teaspoon pepper

(Mediterranean White Bean Soup-Macedonian style:

Omit celery, add 1teaspoon dried thyme)

Add all ingredients to slow-cooker with 1-1 ½ quarts water; cook for 6-8 hours.

SHORTCUT: Cook vegetables with oil, herbs and spices for one hour in 1 quart of water; add bottled , cooked beans. Cook for at least one half hour.

OPTIONS: Serve with open-faced grilled cheese,(cheese on bread under broiler for a few minutes.) Experiment with cheddars, Swiss, Provolone, Muenster, Edam, Gouda and Mozzarella with Parmesan.

Adding a little extra water and quick-cook barley to the soups will make a vegan one-dish complete protein meal, as will adding pre-cooked rice.

More about Rice and rice cookers next time.

Meeting Hosting Challenges

Lent?

Or- Johnny’s New Girlfriend Doesn’t Eat Red Meat

Your father had a heart attack and Mom is at a loss as to how to cut cholesterol;

Janie comes home from camp and announces that she is now a vegetarian. What do you

do? (After arguing, which only strengthens her resolve).

Or maybe Jerome brings a Bangladeshi friend home with him from school. Your visiting cousin says that his wife has celiac disease.

DON’T PANIC.
You probably have enough on the pantry shelves and in the refrigerator/freezer for at

least one meal, a snack and breakfast before you feel the need to run to the store.

Don’t know if the vegetarian will eat eggs and dairy? Aren’t sure if a guest eats beef? First,

Play it safe. Offer something not possibly offensive. This is where knowledge of

meatless protein comes in handy. And then, Ask! Say, (in your sweetest, but most

unpatronizing tone),

“Do you have any dietary restrictions?”

Not your style? Practice it. This is always a good idea, as there are many people

with health related food requirements. What ever you do, avoid asking, “Is there

anything special that we can make for you?” That will only make your guest extremely
uncomfortable. They will not want to “put you out”. Being a good host means always making your guests comfortable and never seeming to be ‘put out”. If possible, enlist the aid of the person who brought them in. Try to tailor the family’s meals to suit your guest as much as possible.
No, Janie is not allowed to dictate that the family will now avoid all animal products, but if you have a Jewish or Muslim guest, please do not serve pork, or beef if your guest is a Hindu. It is only common decency respect other people’s religious sensitivities. That is being a good person and a good host. And believe me, there is nothing more frustrating than putting on a good show, only to have the guest pick at only a few things because they cannot eat the rest. All your hard work will have been in vain, and you find out only after tearing your hair that you possibly could have gotten off easier by meeting their needs. Even when I was young, people’s conversations with me seemed to gravitate toward food. When I was about twelve a teacher, whom I had all to myself , lamented over the previous evening. Her husband’s position had required them to entertain VIP’s from some exotic locale. She had looked into their dietary do’s and don’ts , pulled out all the stops, spending a great deal of time and money creating fine canapés and sweets pleasing to their eyes and she was sure, palates. They came in, she showed off, and they thanked her very kindly, but you see, they were sorry, but they were fasting as an observance of their religion. They wouldn’t touch a morsel. And she was stuck with platters of fancy foreign finger food, frustrated.
Right after we were married, a young man who was a friend of my husband’s family came to visit.
He was a tall, strongly built, active man, whom my husband warned me was a big
eater. He was in town, staying with his brother, and was going to visit us, starting

very early the next day. I made a huge breakfast of waffles, eggs, sausage, fruit and

more, but he had had breakfast. (Husband never thought to actually invited him for

breakfast, but that is an argument already fought). Anyway, he did eat, and lunched

well, and talked about his active life , all of the sports in which he was involved. He

came back through town a couple of years later. He was going to drop in to eat a

quick lunch with us and he was leaving from our place to

drive across the country. Husband asked me to fix a large bag dinner for him to take

on the road. As I was getting dessert, (something gooey), Husband brought sports up to

him. “Oh, no, not any more. I hurt my back, and I’ve had to radically change my life!

No more sports. Only whole grain foods, no more sweets, lots of fresh

vegetables…..” I panicked for only a second… that was all the time I had. I sent them

into the living room, as I sliced fruit, grabbed a jar of dry roasted nuts, pulled raisins

and dried fruit out of the cabinet to make a platter. “This is exactly how I should eat!”

he proclaimed. I had to change some of what I’d already prepared for his road bag,

but I made it, and he was happy. Husband was happy. And I was darned

pleased with myself.
Once I just plain lucked out. The story that I will tell another time about the family of nine who dropped in from out-of-state for dinner has one part missing. Having to quickly serve 13 people, I made large pitchers of fruited iced tea mix. Unknown to me, the father of the family was allergic to corn in any form, even corn sweeteners. The mix was, fortunately, sugar sweetened.
You can’t always rely on luck, ( however, as there are no atheists in fox holes or hospital waiting rooms, I might add that I have heard more than one muttered prayer or quick sign of the cross from many otherwise unreligious cook or chef when facing a culinary crisis), you can learn to rely on yourself and your shelf. You cannot possibly be prepared to set up housekeeping for every unusual contingency, but with a little knowledge and forethought, you can keep your head when faced with unexpected dietary needs of family and friends. You can come shining through.
Next time, we will talk about fish and meatless protein combinations and what you should have in your pantry cabinets at all times.