01/4/17
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Patatas y Huevos Tacos and a Second-Hand Christmas

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

In the winter of 1975, my parents divorced. My mother had a chronic heart condition that made it impossible for her to work and the two of us couldn’t quite make ends meet that first year on our own.

In previous years, Christmas had been a grand event in our home. Money had always been scarce, but my parents scrimped and saved for the holidays.

My first memories are of bright lights, rich smells and a pile of gifts with my name on them. That year, however, would be different. My mother received a meager social security check each month that almost, but not quite, covered the bare essentials, with nothing left for the luxuries of Christmas.

I remember that most of our meals consisted of potatoes and the big blocks of American cheese that the government passed out at the Social Security office.

My mother, alone for the first time in her life, found it difficult to put aside her own hurts and fears and participate in the holidays. I do remember that we had a small tree and brought a box of decorations down from the closet shelf, but there wasn’t much joy in our home that year.

One thing that did worry my mother was that there was no money for gifts. She fretted over this for weeks but the funds just were not there for presents. One day, a neighbor told her about a local toy charity, an organization dedicated to providing donated presents for children in need. My mother applied for the program and visited their office, bringing home a small box of gifts, which she wrapped and hid under her bed.

The night before Christmas, we ate our baked potatoes, and Mom read to me from a book of children’s Christmas stories.

Just before bedtime, there was a knock at the door, and my mother answered to find a young woman who had just moved in next door to us. She was Hispanic, speaking very broken English, and had twin sons who were my own age. She was also divorced and was in as bad, or worse, financial straits as we were. She came to the door asking to borrow some flour and looked so exhausted that Mother invited her in and made her a cup of coffee. I was hustled off to bed (lest I still be up when Santa made his appearance) and they stayed up and talked awhile.

I remember my mother coming into my room and gently waking me up, then sitting on the side of my bed and asking me if I minded if we had company for Christmas. I said no, unused to have my opinion asked in such matters. Then she took my hand and asked if it would be all right with me if Santa gave some of my presents to the two little boys next door. I thought about this for a while, wondering why Santa couldn’t bring them their own presents, but somehow my young brain sensed that it would make mother happy, and she hadn’t seemed happy in a long while, so I hesitantly agreed.

Mother kissed my forehead, and I went back to sleep.

The next morning I awoke to the most wonderful smell wafting under my  bedroom door. Hunger banished even the memory of Christmas from my mind, and I ran from my room to the kitchen to find the source of that glorious aroma.

I skidded to a stop as I rounded the corner into a strange dark-faced woman standing at my mother’s stove. She was rolling out tortillas and dropping them into a smoking pan, while our cast-iron skillet sizzled noisily on the back burner.

I blinked one or twice in confusion, until my mother walked in, then remembered that we had company, and even more importantly, that today was Christmas! I spun on my heels and ran into the living room to look under the tree. Two little Mexican boys sat, looking uncertainly around them, on our couch. Several small wrapped packages lay beneath the tree.

Mom followed me in and began to pass out presents, there were just enough for one gift each. I gazed longingly at the brightly wrapped packages in these stranger’s hands, knowing they should have been mine, clutching my solitary present tightly to my chest.

I unwrapped the box to find a GI Joe action figure, the old fashioned kind with the moving knees and elbows, the kind that came with a little rifle and a little backpack and a string that you pulled to make them say cool army things. Except mine didn’t have a rifle, or a backpack, and there was only a hole in the back where the string had once gone. I stood there in the middle of the living room, my lip trembling, clutching my broken toy.

I looked to see what the other boys had gotten, what gifts I had missed out on. One package revealed a cap pistol (without caps) and a worn plastic holster (I had a much nicer set in the toy box in my room), the second box revealed a plastic bag full of Legos, in various shapes and sizes. I stood there and watched these two boys whooping and laughing like these were the only toys they had, turning their meager gifts over and over in awe, and suddenly I realized, that these were the only toys they had.

Soon I would learn that these two, who would become my closest pals, each had exactly two shirts, two pairs of pants, and a worn sleeping bag that they shared on the floor of their room.

As I watched my mother talking to this strange woman in our kitchen, tears running down their cheeks, I was suddenly happy that she had woken me up, and that Santa had shared my presents with these boys, for how terrible would it have been to wake up with nothing under the tree, no presents to play with, no Santa at all?

The boys, Jay and Julio, followed me to my room, where I showed them, to their amazement, the wealth of my toy box. Soon we were playing like old friends, until called out for a breakfast of seasoned eggs and potatoes wrapped in fresh, warm tortillas. It was the best breakfast I could ever remember having.

I’ll never forget that morning, as I’ll never forget my friends from Mexico who taught me that there is always something to be thankful for, often much more than we think.

And that sometimes there is no greater gift than sharing a meal with a friend.

– Perry
MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

 

(“A Second-Hand Christmas” by Perry P. Perkins. Originally published in Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas, 2007, and Sassee Magazine, Dec 1, 2009,)

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Okay, so this is a little touched up from that Christmas breakfast, but even if you leave out the sausage, poblanos, and toppings, it’s pretty darn good!

1 lb bulk breakfast sausage
2 large russet potatos, sliced and seasoned (unpeeled)
1 large ancho chili, seeded and diced
2 Tbsp oil
8 eggs
1/2 tsp each: salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder
3 Tbsp milk
1 cup pico de gallo
1 cup Mexican Crema
1 cup cheddar cheese
10-12 50/50 tortillas, warmed

Brown tacos in a skillet with very little butter. Set aside and keep warm.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Take sausage out of casing and cook in a separate pan, breaking it up, until no longer pink.

Drain, and set aside.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Slice potatoes in thick matchsticks (can use a French-fry slicer.) Heat oil in an ovenproof skillet.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Place potatoes and diced poblano chili in a single layer in pan and cook potatoes until golden brown, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Beat together eggs, milk, and spices with a whisk.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Add egg and milk mixture to pan; heat until almost firm, folding once or twice with a wooden spoon.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Add sausage. When egg mixture is almost firm, add cheese, cover, place in oven and bake until eggs are firm and cheese melts.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Divide evenly between tortillas, topped with potatoes, and serve with pico and Crema.

Patatas y Huevos Tacos

Number of Servings: 6

NOTE: To take this recipe up another notch – substitute 8oz chorizo for half of the breakfast sausage. Just make sure to drain the meat before adding it to the potatoes.

 

03/8/16
Cabot Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

Cabot Garlic & Herb Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

Cabot Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

Cabot Garlic Herb CheddarCabot Garlic & Herb Cheese Breakfast Sandwich
Serves 2

2 brioche buns, split
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 cup diced ham
salt & pepper, to taste
2 oz. Cabot Garlic & Herb Cheddar

Pre-heat broiler to high, and move oven rack to high position.

Beat eggs and milk together with salt & pepper.

Cabot Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat, and melt a tablespoon of butter and toast the cut side of buns, then set aside and keep warm.

Cabot Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

Melt a second tablespoon of butter. Place an oiled biscuit cutter over the melted butter and spoon in 1/4th cup of diced ham into the bottom and spread with the back of the spoon. Allow to brown for a minute.

Cabot Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

Slowly pour in the eggs, and give them a quick stir. Cover pan, and let cook 2-3 minutes.

Cabot Cheese Breakfast Sandwich
Cabot Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

Once the eggs are set (little or no jiggle), add the cheese and cover again for a minute to allow the cheese to melt.

Cabot Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

Once cheese is melted, slip pan under broiler to brown the cheese (watch closely).

Cabot Cheese Breakfast Sandwich
Cabot Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

Remove the biscuit cutter from the egg by slipping a butter-knife around the edges.

Place the egg on the toasted bun, and serve.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

 

SimplySmartDinnerPlans does not get monetary compensation to review all products.  On occasion, companies will send us a sample product for review on the site.  We pick and choose what products appear on SimplySmartDinnerPlans and NEVER recommend something we would not use on ourselves or our own family.  Many of our product reviews are based on products we’ve purchased ourselves.  Receiving product samples does not influence our final review. 

02/15/16
PotatoEggCheeseBurrito__47889.1378001962.1280.1280

My 7 Favorite Recipes for National Breakfast Week


It’s National Breakfast Week!

Here’s a week’s worth of my favorite ways to start the day…


7. Patatas y Huevos Burritos

A little taste of my own childhood. Hearty and filling…lots of love on very little coin.

 


6. Sriracha Bacon Pancake Wraps

This recipe was actually invented while racing out of Chef Terry’s kitchen one day, on our way to a cooking event.

He had made pancakes, eggs, and bacon for his family that morning and, feeling slightly peckish (as always), I rolled all three together, and splashed it with a manly helping of Sriracha sauce, not realizing that the pancakes had already been drizzled with maple syrup.

The combination of sweet-spicy-savory-crunchy-soft and eggy turned out to be fantastic!


5. Taylor’s Pork Roll Breakfast Biscuit

Taylor’s Pork roll (regionally known as Taylor Ham)is a pork-based processed meat originating and commonly available in New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania and Maryland. It was developed in 1856 by John Taylor of Trenton, New Jersey, and sold as “Taylor Ham”.

Other producers entered the market, and subsequent food labeling regulations required Taylor to designate it as a “pork roll” alongside their competitors.


4. Quick and Easy Pork Meatball Pho

Sometimes the best breakfast isn’t even breakfast. A steaming, spicy bowl of Pho can really get your blood pumping on a cold morning! Need it more “breakfasty?” – Lay a lightly poached egg over the top and dig in!


3. Biscuits & Sausage Gravy

One of my all-time favorite breakfast dishes, biscuits and gravy, especially homemade sausage gravy is crazy easy to make from scratch, and SO much tastier than anything you’re going to find in a bottle or can. In fact, it’s so easy that I put together a quick video to show you, step-by-step, how simple this 5-ingredient dish really is!

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.


2. Bacon Apple Cheddar Dutch Baby

A Dutch baby pancake, sometimes called a German pancake, a Bismarck, or a Dutch puff, is a sweet popover that is normally served for breakfast. It is derived from the German pfannkuchen.


1. My #1 favorite breakfast: Hangtown Fry!~

Oysters may not be your thing, and that’s okay…somebody has to be wrong. Farm-fresh scrambled eggs, fresh Willapa extra-small oysters sauteed in butter with garlic and shallots, smokey bacon right out of the Traeger… oh, baby!

If I see this on the menu, I close it up and order…with a side of rye toast, please…

11/27/15
Bacon Apple Cheddar Dutch Baby

Bacon Apple Cheddar Dutch Baby #‎BakeItForward

Bacon Apple Cheddar Dutch Baby

My first Bacon Apple Cheddar Dutch Baby…and it was awesome!

FYI… Food Network will donate $1 for each share of this post to one of my favorite causes, No Kid Hungry!

Just make sure to include this message, with the #‎BakeItForward hashtag!

So, share, share, share!

Chef Perry
www.joinmykitchen.com

Bacon-Apple-Cheddar Dutch Baby

A Dutch baby pancake, sometimes called a German pancake, a Bismarck, or a Dutch puff, is a sweet popover that is normally served for breakfast. It is derived from the German pfannkuchen.

1 apple, cored and sliced thin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons sweet cream butter (3 melted)
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
5 large eggs, room temp.
8 strips cooked apple-wood thick bacon, chopped
1 cup extra sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated

Toss apple slices in lemon juice. Melt butter.

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Place a 10-inch baking dish in oven, and allow the pan to heat up. (3-4 minutes)

In a large bowl (if you have a stick blender, if not use a mixer), add the 3 Tbs of melted butter, flour, cornmeal, milk, salt, sugar, and eggs. Mix until smooth, then add the bacon and cheese. Stir.

Remove the baking dish from the oven, add the rest of the butter, and let it melt. Then layer the bottom with apple slices, and pour the batter over the top.

Bake until puffy and golden, about 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and let rest 10-15 minutes.

Slice and serve!

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

 

07/21/15

Taylor’s Pork Roll Breakfast Biscuit

Taylor Pork Roll Breakfast Biscuit

Taylor’s Pork roll (regionally known as Taylor Ham)is a pork-based processed meat originating and commonly available in New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania and Maryland. It was developed in 1856 by John Taylor of Trenton, New Jersey, and sold as “Taylor Ham”.

Other producers entered the market, and subsequent food labeling regulations required Taylor to designate it as a “pork roll” alongside their competitors. Taylor's Pork Roll

Taylor’s Pork Roll Breakfast Biscuit

Serves 2

4 thin slices Taylor’s Pork Roll

2 Buttermilk Biscuits, split

4 Tbsp. Marion-berry Jam

Warm biscuits in a 250F oven. Fry slices of pork roll in hot oil until golden and crisp. Add pork roll to biscuits, add jam, and serve immediately.      

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids.

 

 


06/7/15

Bacon, Manchego, and Pico Breakfast Bagel

Bacon manchego pico breakfast bagel recipe

This is my wife’s new favorite breakfast sandwich: bacon, Manchengo cheese, and pico de gallo on a toasted everything bagel!

1 “Everything” bagel
1 tsp unsalted butter
2 strips of bacon, halved
1 thin slice (1oz) Manchego cheese
2 Tbs. fresh pepper pico de gallo (see pico de gallo recipe here)   

Butter the cut sides of bagel and toast in a medium hot skillet until golden brown. Remove bagels and set aside.

Cook bacon over medium heat, on one side, until it reaches your preferred doneness. Flip the slices, keeping them together to form a square and top with cheese. Cook 1-2 more minutes, covered, until cheese has melted.

Place the bacon & cheese on top of the bottom bagel slice, add pico de gallo, and top bagel slice.

Serve immediately. (It’s important to serve as soon as possible, so the pick is still cold, and the bacon is still hot.)

You could replace the Manchego with just about any cheese. Either a sharp cheddar, or a smoked Goulda would be awesome in this recipe, as well.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids.

05/14/15

Happy National Biscuit Day!

Easy biscuits and sausage gravy recipes

It was a biscuits & gravy kinda morning! Nothin’ better than homemade sausage gravy, right!

Then I find out that it’s Nation Biscuit Day!

My friend Peter Battaglia from A Food Obsession, says I knew this in my  “subconscious chef’s mind” (now THERE’S a neighborhood you don’t want to wander through at night…)

Perfect Sausage GravyRegardless, I’m happy to whip up a batch of these for any reason, holiday or not. Sausage gravy is so simply to make that it always baffles me that anyone would buy the canned or packaged stuff!

Here’s the how-to video recipe for my personal sausage gravy, as I learned if from Chef Frank Perkins (my father), who learned it from Chef Frank Ray Perkins (his father), lol.


For an equally simple and delicious biscuit recipe, check out my pal Christy Jordan’s Southern Plate blog for these Classic 3 Ingredient Southern Biscuits.

Like everything on Christy’s site…they’re awesome.

So, have a great National Biscuit Day, and if you missed them this morning, whip up a homemade batch of biscuits and gravy for dinner tonight… it’ll still be breakfast time somewhere!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

PSplease subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send a week’s worth of amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday, no charge!

Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk and foster kids!

02/20/15
Truffled-Egg-Flowers

Truffled Flower Eggs

Truffle Poached Eggs

Truffle SaltJust for fun…a Truffled Flower Egg.

Not only is the dish sexy and beautiful, it’s unbelievably delicious!

It’s a little bit of work, with a couple of sweaty moments, but certainly one of the best tasting things I’ve ever put in my mouth.

I picked this bottle of loveliness up on a very pleasant visit to the Truffle Cafe at Pike Place Market during last summer’s International Food Blogger’s Conference.

I’m pretty sure there was wine tasting involved, as well.

Note to guys: THIS dish, with some freshly squeezed orange juice, and a single red rose in a vase…makes for an extremely romantic breakfast-in-bed.

Just sayin’

Truffled Flower Egg
Cooking spray
2 Tbs. roasted mushroom slices
1/4 tsp. Truffle Queen Truffle Salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp. minced cilantro
Black pepper

Cut a 6-in by 6-in square of plastic wrap, lay it on a flat surface, and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Poaching eggs in plastic wrap

Line a small bowl or ramekin with the oiled plastic wrap. Crack a single egg into the bowl, and top with a sprinkle of truffle salt.

Poaching eggs in plastic wrap

Bring the four corners of the wrap together, tie them with string, or a bread wrap to form a packet , and chill for several hours or overnight.

Roast your mushrooms according to this recipe, and keep warm.

Oven Roasted Mushrooms

Bring a small pot of water to a simmer. Remove the egg pouch from the bowl and cook (still sealed) until whites are cooked through, 3 minutes.

Poaching eggs in plastic wrap

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the egg packet into a bowl of ice water. Let cool 30 seconds.

Truffle poached egg recipe

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids.

 

Arrange mushrooms on a small, warmed plate.

Carefully remove the plastic wrap from the egg, and gently place the egg on top of the mushrooms.

Truffle poached egg recipe

Sprinkle with a little fresh chopped cilantro, a grind or two of black pepper, and serve immediately.

Truffle poached egg recipe

If you really want to take this up a notch (and you’re a fan of the fishy eggs), a small dollop of caviar on top of these eggs is heavenly.

Pretty darn good with just some fried pork belly and toast, too!

 

02/3/15

Sriracha Bacon Pancake Wraps

Sriracha Bacon Pancake Wraps

Coinciding with National Hot Breakfast Month in February and to make sure everyone can regularly enjoy both the simplicity and fun of breakfast for dinner, Krusteaz has officially named every Wednesday Night “Breakfast Night.”

This comes after the launch of the Krusteaz #BreakfastNight in September, National Breakfast Month!

In honor of this, here’s my personal favorite way to eat my pancakes!

This recipe was actually invented while racing out of Chef Terry’s kitchen one day, on our way to a cooking event.

He had made pancakes, eggs, and bacon for his family that morning and, feeling slightly peckish (as always), I rolled all three together, and splashed it with a manly helping of Sriracha sauce, not realizing that the pancakes had already been drizzled with maple syrup.

The combination of sweet-spicy-savory-crunchy-soft and eggy turned out to be fantastic!

Oh, and be sure to stay tuned for our upcoming pancake contest!

Enjoy!

-Chef Perry

Chef Perry’s Sriracha-Maple Pancake Wraps
Serves 2
2 – 6in Krusteaz “Light & Fluffy” Buttermilk pancakes
2 slice of bacon
2 egg
2 tsp. butter
dash of salt and pepper (opt)
4 tsp. pure maple syrup
2 tsp. Sriracha brand hot sauce (look for the rooster on the label)

Cut bacon into thirds and fry until crisp. Press and drain well on paper towels.

Sriracha Bacon Pancake Wraps

Cook your pancakes according to package directions. Allow the batter to set up slightly in the pan, then press bacon into one side. Flip and cook until finished.

Sriracha Bacon Pancake Wraps

In a nonstick skillet, heat butter and fry the eggs, either sunny-side up, or over-easy, to desired doneness. (I like ’em runny). Sprinkle with salt and pepper (optional).

Sriracha Bacon Pancake Wraps

To assemble: Drizzle pancakes with maple syrup, and add the eggs. Break the yolks (if cooked easy) and spread golden perfection all over the whites. Add 1 tsp (or more) of Sriracha sauce to each wrap.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, you may want to subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk and foster teens!)

Sriracha Bacon Pancake Wraps

Fold over and enjoy!

Sriracha Bacon Pancake Wraps

Krusteaz provided the pancake mixes to us, for free, as part of this promotion.

02/2/15

Krusteaz Breakfast Night!

Krusteaz Breakfast Night

Working with Krusteaz to promote “Breakfast Night” and I just got my gift pack in the mail, woo-hoo! We will be offering a reader giveaway for a similar gift pack directly from the fine folks at Krusteaz.

That’s where I need YOUR help. What kind of contest should we have? Best pancake photos? Most unique use of pancake mix? Best topping recipe? Best pancake story?

What do you think?

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans