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.

Travel Diary: Sacramento for 60 Years

Last weekend, I made my way back to the homeland (aka, the capital city of California), to gather with my family and a plethora of family friends to celebrate an incredible achievement for my grandparents: 60 years of marriage.

60 years.

A part of me is in complete awe by that inspiring number, but another part of me is just quite simply, inspired… and, frankly, always has been. It was mentioned throughout the weekend how my grandparents so fiercely set an example of love & aloha for our family, and that could not be more true. If there is one consistent with us (besides, of course, an affinity for good wine, which they also instilled in us), it’s the spirit of aloha.

I was born in Sacramento, so going back never quite feels like travel… a bit more like a homecoming. (Yes, I get this same feeling when I go back to the wine country, too. Is it spoiled to consider so many places home?)

Still, this particular trip turned us into tourists — literally, we went down to Old Town Sacramento, the small section of city alongside the river that clings on to the charm of when it was truly a train stop town.

The perks of being in town for celebrations — the anniversary coincidentally coincided with Father’s Day, which allowed me to sneak out to see my dad and his side of the family, too — is also the chance to indulge, more than you might normally on vacation. We were treated some very delicious Sacramento cuisine.

Where We Ate

I’m highlighting 2 of the places we went in this post, primarily because I forgot to get pictures of the crab melt at the third place (Rio City Cafe, if you’re curious).

Il Forno Classico

My grandparents are regulars here — so much so, that they actually knew the waitress we had in the back wine room, which we’d reserved for the party. Granted, this isn’t the only place they know the wait staff — their friendliness with everyone they meet is one of the many reasons we all love them.

As mentioned, our family rented the back wine room for the dinner party. The wine flowed, so did the bubbles, and the food. We had three delicious courses. The first of burratta, calamari, and bread, followed by the most delicious salad. My mom and I both got the ratatouille — and yes, I did request a cute little rat in the chef’s hat to accompany the dish.

But let’s talk about the dessert. I’ve got a family of sweet tooths (teeth?) — my stepdad and my grandfather in particular, and my aunt is always down for a good chocolate cake. We couldn’t decide, so plates of tiramisu and chocolate cake and creme brûlée made their way around the table.

Localis 

I went here with my dad’s side for Father’s Day brunch and I’ll use my dad’s words here: this was one of the best meals I’ve had since Italy (and I eat a lot of good food). Localis is, as the name might imply, a locally-sourced restaurant with an everchanging menu based on what’s seasonal and fresh. There’s a set menu for things like Father’s Day.

That set menu included a stone fruit salad, which just might have turned me into a fruit-in-salad convert.

Then came the vegetable hash, which was served with a side of roasted potatoes and the best green beans I may have ever eaten.

And let’s talk for a second about that dessert (there’s a theme here, if you couldn’t tell… I like dessert). The beauty of a restaurant that knows exactly how the play up flavors is that dishes don’t need a lot of show or spices or sugar. It’s simple. And simple food, if you ask me, is most often the best.

Localis had a sign in front when we were there:

Good vibes. Good food. Good Service. That describes Localis, and it describes the weekend. And, just maybe, it might describe the secret to my grandparents’ 60 years.

Good vibes… what will be, will be.

Good food… well, that one’s self explanatory.

Good service… to one another, to family, and to love.

60 years is a heck of an accomplishment, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be there to celebrate any other way.

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! 

Basic Brunchin’: My 5 Fave Spots in Phoenix

Basic (as defined by Urban Dictionary)
only interested in things mainstream, popular, and trending

Okay, guys, let’s face facts: being basic these days is not always looked at as a good thing. It’s usually used sarcastically, or, worse, not as a compliment.

Well, I’m here to tell you: it is totally okay to fly your basic flags high. In fact, I’d even say it’s encourage, especially when it comes to one thing in particular:

Brunch. 

I’ll admit it. I. Love. Brunch.

But then again: who here doesn’t love brunch!? Brunch is the quintessential epitome of basicness, sure, but it’s also delicious. 9 out of 10 times it comes with bottomless bubbles. And it’s smack-dab in the middle of the day, so you don’t have to get up early OR stay up late. (I’m much more excited about the latter.)

So, in the spirit of this unprecedented excitement that I recently found I harbor towards the best meal of the weekend, I’ve rounded up my top 5 favorite brunch spots in Metro Phoenix:

Snooze

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Admittedly, this one might be a bit of a cop-out. Everyone in Phoenix loves Snooze… but there’s a dang good reason. Snooze has something to offer for everyone: the yummiest pancakes (or drunken monkey French toast… which is made with banana bread!), delicious egg creations, and even some healthy things thrown in there. I’ve actually become really fond of the last item: pictured here is a quinoa egg bowl filled with feta and kale and all those good-for-you things that you don’t normally see on a brunch menu. Plus, they’ve got fun drinks if you’re there with girlfriends and delicious coffee if it’s a family affair, and several convenient locations throughout the Valley

Pro Tip: There’s no reservations on weekends! Be prepared to wait… but grab something from the bar while you wait, or help yourself to the complimentary coffee!

The Breakfast Club

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This one has a special meaning to me that has nothing to do with why I’m recommending it, but probably is part of why I like it so much. My family in California gets together every Saturday morning for what they’ve dubbed “breakfast club.” It’s hard to miss out on the weekly meals, but sometimes, I go to The Breakfast Club in Old Town on Saturday morning and send them a snap of my food – just to feel included. 🙂

That said, The Breakfast Club (with locations in Old Town and Downtown) has the best French toast, and the best waffles! I’m not usually a sweet breakfast person, but for some reason, every time I go here, I get hooked on sugar. The Boy is a big fan of their Quick Start Loaded – eggs, bacon, potatoes and the whole 9 yards.

Pro Tip: Be wary of the Breakfast Club signature iced coffee if you’re a black-no-sugar kind of person. It’s really sweet! They have a plain cold brew if you’re not diggin’ the sweet side.

Daily Dose

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Another place that I slip towards the sweet side of the menu. The Boy and I used to go to the Daily Dose pretty regularly when it was on the way back to my old apartment from church. The wait was always a little shorter than Snooze, but the food was equally fantastic. They have the perfect waffle for peanut butter lovers like me (it comes with banana, but I think warm bananas are weird so I omit those…)

Pro Tip: If you aren’t feeling breakfast food, they also have a great lunch menu!

scrAMble

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When I found out that they are set to open a location right by my office – I got SO excited! This is less of a leisurely brunch, and more of a good place to go if you’re looking for a good bite and quick service. They have a counter-style setup, so you go order and then find a seat, and they’ll bring the food out to you. It’s much more laid back than other brunch and breakfast places, and sometimes, that’s exactly what you need. I’ve had several scrambles here and you just can’t go wrong (which I’d hope not, considering the name).

Pro Tip: It’s all self-service, so don’t forget to grab your knifes and napkins from the drink station!

The Vig

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This one’s probably a bit of an unconventional choice for brunch – and especially unconventional considering there are fries and tacos pictured here. But The Vig is hands down my favorite spot for brunch in Phoenix. It’s such a chill atmosphere, and the whole menu is available… even the bacon mac! You do have to ask for that, though, but I promise they’ll serve it (my friends would never go here if they didn’t.) Plus, they’ve got a Bloody Mary bar with all the fixins… how can you go wrong?

Pro Tip: Actually, you can go wrong. Don’t use the house-mixed Bloody Mary juice. They’ve got plain Bloody juice to start with… season as you’d like from there, or else you’ll get a lot of peppery red stuff in your drink. 

There you go – my five fave brunch spots in Phoenix. Now, full disclaimer: I was in no way compensated for any of these reviews… these were written purely out of my admiration for the Phoenix brunch scene.

Disclaimer part 2: I definitely listened to Taylor Swift the entire time I was writing the post. I mean, if you’re going to write a basic post, might as well go all out, right?

Cheers!

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