Simplicity Savored: Weekend Morning Breakfast Quesadillas

I’ll confess this upfront: I didn’t plan this recipe out. This is very much one of those whatever’s-in-the-fridge-that-sounds-good recipes… and it turned out to be so good, I just had to share it.

So, I present to you my new favorite weekend morning meal: Breakfast Quesadillas.

I realize these aren’t revolutionary. I’m pretty sure you can get them at every good brunch place in town. But they’re good, and better yet, they’re easy. So when you don’t feel like waiting forty-five minutes for a table and a mimosa, here’s a recipe you can enjoy in the comfort of your own kitchen — and pj’s! — with a mug of coffee in hand.

Ingredients (makes one, so multiply as necessary for whoever’s in your household):

  • Eggs (This is a deliberately unspecified quantity. I went with 1 egg + 2 egg whites because that’s how I like ’em, but you do you.)
  • 1 tortilla
  • 1/2 Roma tomato
  • Handful of spinach
  • 1/2 tbs butter
  • Pinch of salt + pepper
  • Shredded cheese of your choosing (Again, I’m not about to tell you how cheesy to make your quesadilla… but I suggest very cheesy.)
  • Optional: Salsa / guac / hot sauce / Other toppings of your preference

Directions:

Chop up your tomato & throw it in a frying pan. Give it a little toss, let ’em warm up, and then throw in the spinach.

While the veggies are cooking, scramble up your eggs.

Combine with the veggies and cook ’em up.

When your eggs are slightly less cooked than you’d normally like them (that’s important!) take them out of the pan.

Butter your tortilla and put it in the pan (butter side down, in case you’ve never made a quesadilla before).

Sprinkle half your cheese on one side of the tortilla. Add your eggs + veggies on top, and add the rest of the cheese.

Fold over the other half of the tortilla.

Let cook, flipping occasionally, until both sides of the tortilla as deliciously golden brown.

Slide out of that pan and onto a plate add your fave toppings — and a side of fruit if you’re feeling it — and enjoy!

There you have it. To quote Jack Sparrow: “Simple, easy to remember.” As any good weekend meal should be.

AZ Hot Spot: The Porch

To state the obvious: Phoenix is a hot place.

(I’ll interject here to point out the irony that I am actually writing this blog on a rainy, cool October day. But I digress.)

Besides the weather, Phoenix is also a simmering spot for cuisine. It seriously seems like there’s a new restaurant popping up on every corner. We’re a city full of patios, bar games, and delicious, indulgent food.

The Porch in Arcadia brings together the best of all three.

Recently, I had the opportunity to head to The Porch and try out a few new menu items.

First off, let’s talk the space itself. If you’ve never been to The Porch and are looking for a great place for a Sunday Funday, I’d recommend it. There’s cornhole, a slew of big televisions, and pool tables and skee ball in the back. Safe to say, no matter what you’re into, you won’t be bored.

Also, it’s so Instagrammable. As a blogger, you know that I know the importance of that feature. 😉

However, I’d suggest a rideshare, or at the very least carpooling. There isn’t much parking, but I have a hunch that might be designed that way on purpose. When you sell such delicious libations, limiting parking for the sake of safety might be a wise choice.

Speaking of delicious libations, take your pick off their menu. You simply can’t go wrong.

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The fig mule? Refreshing, and not overly figgy, which, for me, was plus. The “My Ex-Wife’s Secret”? A hilarious name and a delicious drink.

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The “Big Trouble in Little Shanghai”? Well, it comes in a takeout carton, so that should tell you how fun it is. Also, it’s made with RedBull, which I’m not a fan of, but you can’t taste it. Or, more dangerously, the alcohol. It’s basically a grown up Capri Sun.

Whatever drink you get, you can pair it with a number of menu items. While I didn’t have them during my most recent video, I can confirm that the fries are top notch. However, I got to get a little taste of some potentially new menu items, which offers a strong promise of what’s to come:

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The black & white Ahi poke was divine. Granted, it does feel a little weird to be having poke at a place that you’re meant to be up and about at, playing bar games and lingering with pals, but the dish was good nonetheless. I’ve never had poke with beets in it, but I have to say – I’ll be having it with beets much more often.

The chicken stir fry, also not on the menu yet, was good. However, be prepared for a bit of a bang for your buck. It’s quite spicy.

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The salmon salad was, hands down, my absolute favorite. I’m keeping all of my fingers and toes crossed that it makes its way to the menu because, if it doesn’t, I’ll have to track down the chef and ask for the recipe.

Oh – and don’t forget the donut holes!

My only disclaimer – besides the parking and the spice – is that you shouldn’t be in a hurry when you come here. The service is leisurely… which gives you more time to enjoy all the takeout-carton drinks you desire, I suppose.

The Happiest Hours Around Phoenix

I’m a happy hour girl. I owe a lot to whoever invented the concept. Half priced appetizers and five dollar wine? What’s not to love?

Besides, I think there is a lot to be said for getting all of your socializing in and then being able to be home with a book (and a cat and a boyfriend) by eight.

In honor of my love of happy hours, and partially because it’s just fun, I’ve rounded up my favorite happy hour spots in metro Phoenix:

North

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This one’s a given, and will top the list every time. Ask me anywhere I ever want to go for happy hour, I will pick North without fail. In fact, my friend Makenzie and I are such regular visitors to this establishment that we have our own table. Granted, we deemed it as such, but it is nice that there’s enough regularity to my appearances here to have something like that.

North has a board and bottle offering that rivals Postino’s. Actually (and I mean no offense to Postino’s here, because they also have a large part of my wine-loving heart), I think North’s is better. You get to pick between a pizza, bruschetta, or a chef’s board, and I almost always pick the latter. I’d recommend getting some extra bread, though. Mainly because the bread is delicious.

The Montauk

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For a spot smack-dab in the middle of Scottsdale, the Montauk has the greatest New England island vibes. With clapboard walls adorned with fishing nets, the nautical vibe can transport anyone to the world of Blair Waldorf and Hampton lifeguards on… well, Montauk.

I had the opportunity to check out some of the Montauk’s new menu items earlier this summer, which is when I first experienced their happy hour items. Before that, I’ve only ever brunched here.

In addition to a great range of appetizers, the Montauk offers full meal options that are delicious and unique, like their new bowls! Plus, they’ve got a full bar and some delicious cocktails to keep you… wait for it… happy all hour.

(Okay, sorry. I know. That was bad.)

Gwin Wine and Beer

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This is another recent discovery. I’ve been saying ever since moving to Scottsdale that I want to become a regular somewhere, and not in the way I’m regularly at North. I want to be a regular here in the sense that Ted, Robin, Marshall, Lily, and Barney were regulars at MacLaren’s. Now, I’ve only been to Gwin once, but this seems like exactly the sort of place that could make that oddly specific dream of mine a reality.

Gwin’s bar takes up most of its dining area, but that’s what’s great about it. You feel like you’re really there to get to know the staff, to learn from them, and to look up at the really impressive chalk map of their wineries and specials. There is live music every weekend (and occasionally on Monday, which is when I saw Jaty Edwards perform). The food offered ranges from the best baked Brie I’ve had in a long time to Cornish Pasty Co.’s pasties, with a charcuterie board in the middle. While this might not be the sort of spot I’d go if I was ravenously hungry, I do plan on returning for plenty more Chardonnay and finger foods… and then walking across the parking lot for dessert at The Baked Bear.

Blanco Tacos & Tequila

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Yes, I do drink things that aren’t wine. I also like margaritas, and Blanco has some of the best. They also have a delectable queso dip that I could eat as an entire meal… and I have before, because it’s what tops their nachos. Blanco also has probably some of the best options for sharing plates out there, between their aforementioned dips and their gigantic cheese crisps. If you’re looking for a place to take a group, I’d definitely give Blanco a top-notch recommendation.

Phoenix Public Market

img_1639Oh, how I greatly miss living within walking distance of this gem. (Let’s start a petition to convince the boy to move back downtown so I can relive those happy hour glory days? Just kidding. Kind of.)

Phoenix Public Market is certainly one of the most recognizable spots downtown, partly because food trucks fill up its parking lot every Friday during lunch. But it’s quickly becoming one of the most recognizable happy hour haunts, too, and to that I say — of course it is! Their happy hour menu includes two of their best food offerings: Downtown Devil fries and a soft pretzel. Plus, they’ve got 5 dollar wine and beer and sangria, and a 5 dollar signature cocktail — the Lee Trevino, which is both gloriously refreshing and surprisingly spicy in the same sip.

Combine that with the fact that PPM is within walking distance of all the major sports and concert venues, just so long as it’s not five million degrees out, then you’ve got the perfect spot to get a quick bite and a drink before heading out to a game.

So, there you have it, my own little opinionated round up. And, granted, I part with the disclaimer that this is no way a comprehensive list, but rather the five spots that I frequent most often.

What are your favorite happy hours around the Valley? And for those of you checking in on this blog from out of town, I would love to hear your favorite local spots too… we can add it to the list of Things To Do for whenever I come visit. 😉 Until then… cheers! After all, it is 5 o’clock somewhere.

Simplicity Savored: Babe’s Favorite Brownies

My boyfriend loves chocolate. Like, loves it. I could make chocolate eggs and chocolate-covered bacon for breakfast, and he would eat it. (Okay, chocolate eggs might be an exaggeration… but chocolate-covered bacon sounds delicious… right?)

So, every time I feel like baking, and ask him what he wants, the answer is simple:

Chocolate. 

That generally brings one thing to mind, right? Brownies. 

I’ve found that I usually end up making these for special occasions. Our anniversary. Valentine’s Day. The Fourth of July.

Wait, what? The Fourth of July isn’t that special.

Except that it is. My guy has been working so hard, spending each and every waking moment studying for his CPA exam and I am so proud. So my itch to bake coupled with my desire to show him just how proud of him I was, and that resulted in me spending the holiday “perfecting” my brownie recipe.

And while I do put that word, perfect, in quotation marks because I’m sure there’s better bakers out there (I mean, I’ve hardly won the Great British Bake Off over here), I do think I knocked it out of the proverbial ballpark with these brownies.

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Ingredients (makes about one 9×9 pan of fudgy brownies):

  • 1/2 cup oil (I used melted butter this time to be extra indulgent)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Frosting (you could get super fancy & make your own… but this is, after all, “Simplicity Savored” – so I cheated and used the can)
  • Festive sprinkles (optional for taste, but required for fun… M&Ms also work deliciously well)

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.

Combine all dry ingredients except sugar in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine oil and sugar until smooth.

Add eggs.

Add vanilla.

Mix until smooth.

Stir dry ingredients into the oil/sugar/egg/vanilla combo.

Pour into the greased pan.

Bake for 20 minutes. The sides should pull away from the pan, and a toothpick should come out somewhat clean. (If you’re like me, you know that slightly undercooked brownies are definitely the way to go.)

Cool completely… which, yes I know is the hardest part!

Once cool, slather with frosting & sprinkles till your heart’s content.

Enjoy.

Simplicity Savored: 4 Ingredient Pasta

I love simple things. I love simple colors, styles, clothes, furniture… and food.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m incredibly adventurous with food and am just as likely to eat a curry with a million spices in it, but sometimes — especially, I might add, during the blazing desert summer — I crave a simpler pallet.

My idea of simple is a bit different from the boy’s idea of simple, though. He likes what reminds him of simpler times; I like to appreciate the aromatics of a simple dish, if you catch my drift (I know I’ve stated on numerous occasions that all we would eat is mac and cheese, if he chose the menu.)

That said, I wanted to share with you one of my absolute favorite simple dishes, which I’ve come to call 4 Ingredient Pasta. The premise is simple, as are the ingredients: pasta (obviously), olive oil, and 2 veggies of your choosing. Of course, we can up the game and make it a 5 ingredient pasta by adding the one thing that I do believe all pasta dishes need:

Cheese. 

Now, the veggies can be of your choosing — I’ve tried a multitude of combinations, myself. But my favorite is usually just plain old cherry tomatoes and a huge heaping of spinach.

The steps are easy: make the pasta while sautéing up the veggies separately. Once that process is done, it’s just a matter of mixing it all together with a drizzle of olive oil to bring out those extra, simple, subtle flavors.

And, of course, add the cheese.

You simply can’t forget the cheese.

Simplicity Savored: Saturday Morning Muffins

One Saturday morning, I woke up early, and determined to make something warm and yummy for breakfast. Granted, I had no clue what I wanted. I could have made pancakes, or waffles, or hot eggs and bacon. Except, I didn’t have any bacon, pancakes are way too much work for me, and – well, I have no excuse for why I didn’t make the waffles. I just didn’t.

I had an itch to bake, I guess, was the real reason that I spontaneously decided to whip up these easy blueberry muffins to satisfy my warm + yummy craving.

I keep lots of baking things on hand at all times, just in case I do ever get such an urge… which is good, because it’s a fairly common desire for me, actually. I always have staples like flour, sugar, oil, eggs, baking cups (and… as soon as I get my act together, I’ll never have to worry about that last one, since I plan on buying these reusable baking cups* as part of my next Amazon order.)

That particular morning, I also happened to have blueberries that needed using up.

The obvious came to mind: muffins!

I had all the ingredients, but no real recipe. So I looked up a basic muffin recipe and made a couple of tweaks…

With, I’m proud to say, great success!

So the next time you, like me, find yourself craving something simple and sweet on a Saturday morning, try your hand at these simple Saturday morning muffins:

Ingredients (makes about 10 regular-sized muffins, depending on how much you scoop): 

  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 3/4 cups of granulated sugar (+ a little sprinkle for the tops)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup oil – you can use any kind, but I like to use olive oil. I always have it on hand, for one, but it adds a nice flavor.
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk – I used almond, but any kind should do.
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon syrup – I used the regular pancake kind, because that’s what was in the cupboard, but you can try it with honey, maple, agave, whatever.
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Fresh blueberries – as many or as few as you’d like!

Method (this is a simple one): 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line your muffin tin.

Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder) in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine oil, milk, egg, syrup, and vanilla. Whisk to combine.

Carefully fold in the wet ingredients to the dry – I’d suggest mixing with a fork, and be very careful not to overmix. Muffins turn out dry that way! The batter should be thick, sometimes even a little lumpy.

Once combined, fold in the blueberries.

Divide the mixture between the muffin cups, and use that little sprinkle of sugar you saved for the top of each muffins.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick & it comes out clean.

Let cool.

Enjoy. 

And don’t forget – if you find yourself whipping up a batch next Saturday, don’t forget to post & hashtag them: #SevenAfterSevenCooks. I’d love to see what you create!

*Note: The link used here is an affiliate link – if you click through & make a purchase, I may receive compensation, at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Simplicity Savored: Unsloppy Taco-Joe’s

The boy and I try to eat dinner together whenever we can. Granted, sometimes life gets in the way, but for the most part, we try to sit down for a few minutes each night. My family always did this growing up, and it was a good time to just connect and chat about the day. So now, we’ve – unintentionally or otherwise – incorporated it into our nightly routine.

That said, I’m the cook in our apartment.

I don’t say that with a groan: I love to cook. I’m also a huge foodie, and I love experimenting with different flavors and spices and cheeses and meals. However, the boy? He’s a bit less adventurous when it comes to eating. We’ve had to find a compromise many times so that I don’t feel stuck in a rut of eating mac and cheese every night (which, trust me, the boy would so willingly do).

During my search for creative but palette-friendly dinner ideas, I came across Unsloppy Joes. Well, okay, I didn’t so much “come across them” as my boss suggested them. She’s got 2 kids and a wealth of recipes.

The original recipe is quite simple in premise: make sloppy joe mix, and put it in a Pillsbury Grand instead of slopping them onto a bun. They’re much less messy, and who doesn’t love putting anything inside of a biscuit?

I made the original recipe one night, and they were a hit with the boy. They became a regular meal in our apartment, until one day, I went to go make them for dinner, and I didn’t have any sloppy joe seasoning. I did, however, have taco seasoning.

And so, the Unsloppy Taco-Joe’s were born! (I’ve been playing around with the name for a bit… Unsloppy Taco-o’s? Taco-In-A-Biscuit? I’m not entirely sure what works best here so, if you’ve got an idea, drop a note in the comments!) To be honest, these were much more of a hit than the original recipe, partly because tacos are one of the boy’s other favorite meal. Watch… soon enough, I’ll be stuffing mac and cheese inside the biscuit dough.

The best part is, they don’t take a whole lot of effort, so they’re perfect for a weeknight!

Ingredients (makes 8): 

  • 1 can of biscuits
  • 1 lb ground meat (turkey, beef, chicken… whatever you like best!)
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • Taco seasoning (this can be homemade or out of the packet)
  • CHEESE (as much as desired, but I suggest loads)

Method: 

  1. Cook ground onions & meat as directed. Once cooked, drain the excess liquid (you really won’t want that later on) and incorporate tomato sauce & seasoning.
  2. Let meat cool to room temperature.
    Note: this step isn’t necessary, but helps keep the biscuits from getting soggy.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. While the oven is preheating, fill the biscuits. Roll each biscuit out so it lays flat. Fill with a spoonful or two of the meat and top with cheese. Fold biscuit dough over and press the edges with a fork.
    Note: If you have some leaking out, that’s fine. I usually dab excess liquid with a paper towel, just to keep things from getting messy.
  5. Pop those bad boys in the oven! Cook for at least 9 minutes, or however long you’d like to get the biscuits baked to your ideal level of golden-brown. We like ours a little less brown, so we cook them for a little less time, but of course, you’ll want to make sure they’re fully cooked. We’ve found that the insides do cook a bit more even once they’re out of the oven.
  6. LET COOL. You’ll obviously want to eat them while they’re warm, but remember that anything in a pocket is going to be a bit steamy on the inside!
  7. Enjoy.

I pair these with some steamed broccoli or a salad to get some extra veggies in.

Now, like I said, these make about 8, so if you live in a normal household, you’ll probably have leftovers. I live with a walking disposal, who also really likes these, so we rarely have leftovers, but if I made these just for myself, they’d last me for several days. They reheat really easily, too – just pop them in the toaster oven or the regular oven for a few minutes, but I suggest cutting them in half so the insides get warm again too.

If you make these, I’d love to see them! Post a photo on Instagram and use the hashtag #SevenAfterSevenCooks.

PS: There is a similar recipe to mine on Pillsbury.com. They call them Mexican Sloppy Joes, but there’s a few differences. Let me know if you make these, too!