Apple Breakfast Sandwich

My husband and I just spend the holidays in Pittsburgh with his mother and my sisters. I love visiting new cities because there is usually so much good food. Pittsburgh was no exception. Our first morning there, we ate at a greasy spoon called Eggs 'R' Us with unsurpassable homefries and perfect over-medium fried eggs.

On our last day in the city we tried to eat at Franktuary, a hot-dog place inside a church, but they were closed. My little sister instead took us to a kitschy place in Garfield called Quiet Storm. Their menu was full of unique vegan and vegetarian diner fare.

This morning I whipped up a breakfast sandwich inspired by their Apple Panini. I added some of my homemade breakfast sausage. The sweetness of the apple and jam blend perfectly with the salty sausage and tangy cheddar. The cream cheese brings it all together.

1 thin bagel, or thin bread of your choice
1 breakfast sausage patty
2 slices of granny smith apples
cream cheese
strawberry jam
2 slices of sharp cheddar

Heat the sausage patty over medium high until browned on both sides. Lightly toast the bagel and spread the jam on one slice and the cream cheese on the other. Place one piece of apple on each bagel slice and top with cheddar cheese. Place under the broiler till cheddar is melted. Add the sausage patty and enjoy!


How to Take a Neat Christmas Tree Photo

I really wanted to take a photo of our little Christmas tree without using anything but the multi-colored lights.

Click to get the full effect

You'll need a digital camera where you can change the ISO and the shutter speed. Nothing too fancy!

Here's what to do:
Set the ISO to the highest speed you can. This is the highest number, which is 1600 on my camera. 

Next, set the shutter delay to two seconds. This will ensure you won't be touching or shaking the camera when the photo is taken.

Now set the shutter speed to really slow, like 1/6th of a second. 

Set your camera on a tripod or a solid surface like a table.  Take the photo. If your photo isn't glowing enough, tinker with the shutter speed. Make is slower and see if that does the trick. If there's too much light, make the shutter speed faster.

Christmas magic!


Feliz Navidad!

Sunrise, Punta el Custodio, Nayarit, Mexico

Side of seafood store, Zacualpan, Nayarit

Party shrimp, San Blas, Nayarit

Sunset, Punta el Custodio


Crab Bisque

While basking on the beach yesterday in Punta el Custodio, Mexico, the boys decided to behave like, well, boys and torture a few of the small blue crabs in the tide pools.

After a half hour of chasing them with long sticks they decided to actually catch some.

I was impressed they caught 33 of the poor creatures. I was even more impressed when they cleaned and boiled them. Bisque was on their minds. My dad gave us his recipe he made up last month when it was crab breeding season in the estuary and he captured 240.

It is a time consuming process, but the bisque turned out rich and bursting with flavor.

3-5 pounds fresh whole crab
Chicken bouillon
6 cloves garlic
One onion
2 carrots
3 Tbs. butter
8 ripe tomatoes or one large can chopped tomatoes
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1.5 cups cream

Rinse crabs thoroughly in fresh water, getting out any grit. Use protective work gloves if using live crabs.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Put crabs in batches into water and cook about 5 minutes.

Rinse crabs again and cut off and discard females' tails if they contain eggs.

With a cleaver, chop an "x" in the backs of each crab and crush the claws with the blade of the knife.

Bring another large pit of water to a boil and toss in all the crabs. Simmer without the lid for 3-5 hours. You should have a concentrated broth that smells über crabby and kind of gross. Strain broth into a smaller pot and discard all the crab parts. Stir in bouillon based on how much broth you have. I added two teaspoons.

Let the broth cool and then refrigerate if you don't have time to finish bisque on the same day.

Toss the butter into a tall-sided frying pan and turn to medium heat. Chop up the garlic and add to pan. Sauté for a few minutes, but don't let it burn. Roughly chop the onion and grate up the carrots. Add to pan and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add more butter if it gets too dry.

Chop up the tomatoes if using fresh. Add tomatoes to the pan and cook till everything is soft and cooked through -- about 10 minutes.

Let cool and place in a food processor. Process till smooth, about two minutes.

Add this mixture to the crab stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer for three hours with the lid off so the bisque reduces a bit. Add paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and leave the bisque till it's room temperature. Stir in the cream.

Serve room temp or pop a bowl in the microwave for 40 seconds before eating.


Virgin Mojito

Ok, so it's been challenging being on vacation in Mexico and not being able to drink. I've been playing blind bartender for my friends, serving up tequila sunrises, margaritas, and mojitos.

So tonight I tried to make a pregnant lady mojito and it turned out great.

Mexico has a store bought simple syrup called Jarabe, which is just the tastiest, but you can make your own of you think of it ahead of time. Just boil a cup of water and add a cup of sugar. Stir till fully dissolved and then cool.

One shot glass of freshly squeezed lime juice
1.5 shot glasses if simple syrup
6 fresh mint leaves
Club soda

In a tall glass, add the lime juice and mint. Muddle with a fork or wooden spoon handle. Add the syrup and the ice. Stir well and top off with club soda. Garnish with a sprig of mint of you like.


Bananas à la Lechera

My parents' banana tree produced about two dozen red bananas and they've been hanging in the hall for a week ripening. They are finally ready to be eaten so we have to get to work!

I thought I'd make a simple fried banana dessert and it was scrumptious.

You could use any type of banana as long as it isn't over ripe.

La Lechera is just Mexican brand sweetened condensed milk. It can be found in the Mexican food section of the grocery store.

Serves four

three bananas
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup warmed Lechera

Cut the bananas in half lengthwise. Heat butter in a frying pan over medium high heat. Set the bananas in the pan cut side down and fry till brown. Flip and fry on the other side. Transfer to a plate and drizzle Lechera over bananas. Dust with cinnamon.


Grilled Jalapeño Poppers

These beat deep-fried poppers hands down. Also, they are wrapped in bacon so that's automatically the best thing ever.

Fresh jalapeños
Cream cheese

Cut off the tops of the jalapeños. Cut the peppers lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.

Fill each pepper half with about two teaspoons of cream cheese.

Cut each slice of bacon in half and wrap the half slices around each jalapeño.

Place the poppers on metal or wooden skewers. I suggest soaking the wood ones for about ten minutes first.

Place on a medium high grill and turn a few times till bacon is cooked. Enjoy!


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