Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Last Song: Breakfast Burritos! But First, an Update in Six Quick Takes

Dang, has it really been over two months since I've posted anything here?  Holy smokes.  I'm sure you figured I've ditched this blog and gotten on with my life.  Well, let me give you a quick update on what's been keeping me away (and I'm going to post this as a "7 Quick Takes"--aren't I clever?)  Here goes:

1Our trip to Alaska.  It was only a week, but we returned right before school started, and then things REALLY got crazy. (They showed The Lucky One on the red-eye from Fairbanks to Minneapolis.  I still haven't seen the movie, not really; even in my half-awake state and with no sound I could almost fill in the dialog.  I'm sure that's partly due to the fact that I've read the book twice.  One of these days we'll sit down and watch it properly.)

2.  My job:  These past several years I've worked--assisting, subbing, and teaching in various schools--about twenty hours a week, on average; this year I'm working thirty.  It doesn't seem like much (and all you moms who work 40+ hours per week--I salute you) but it keeps me busier than ever.  And right now I have no carpool (that may be changing soon--wish me luck), and I'm having to drive Curly and Moe both two AND from school every day. 

3.  After we all return home from school, things get even busier--I usually have just enough time to pour myself a nice glass of red wine and relax and think about nothing for about fifteen minutes before it's time to start dinner, take kids to their activities, pick up Larry from whatever activity he happens to be doing after school (there's always something), do a little laundry, or whatever.

4.  In the evenings I'm exhausted.  If I'm not already in bed by 9:30 pm, I'm attempting to watch something on TV with my husband and/or the boys, and I miss most of it anyway because I always fall asleep.  (That's usually when I finally finish that glass of wine I poured myself at 4:30 in the afternoon.)

5.  On the weekends, it's time for everyone to clean the house--that is, when we're not trotting off to someplace or another, or enjoying a visit from friends or family--and do the grocery shopping and all the  other random errands and tasks we don't have time to do during the week.  If I DO get on the computer, I'm catching up on emails from people who need me to help out with some such thing, inviting the boys to this or that party, or reminding me of some very important event that someone absolutely positively cannot miss and that we need a permission slip and x amount of dollars yesterday.

(Here I am on a recent visit to a pumpkin farm, when Joe's brother and sister-in-law came for a weekend visit with their two adorable kids.)

6.  All that said, I'm actually enjoying being a working mom.  Even though I have less free time, and I feel a little overwhelmed on occasion, I'm learning NOT to stress out when the in-laws are coming the next day and I still need to clean the entire house; and when it's 5 pm and I've spent the entire day with people needing things from me and all I want to do is take a nap or cry and the boys are handing me papers to sign and telling me oh by the way I need to get such-and-such for school tomorrow and oh yeah, the sole came off my shoe, can you fix it? I can take a deep breath, take a few sips of wine, utter a few words in prayer, and thank the Lord that I am really, truly blessed.  And I love my job at the Episcopal preschool, which definitely helps! 

7.  Now for the REAL purpose of this post, which is to show you the breakfast burritos we made recently, a la The Last Song

Way back in July,  I told you a little bit about Nicholas Sparks' longest book:  seventeen-year-old Ronnie and her younger brother, Jonah, are staying with their father Steve at the beach in Wilmington for the summer.  Ronnie is angry with Steve for leaving their mother, and spends her days avoiding contact with him.  He does all kinds of nice things to try and warm her to him, and when she turns her nose up at the bacon he fixes for breakfast one morning, Jonah tells Steve that Ronnie is a vegetarian.  The next morning (after Ronnie has discovered a turtle nest near Steve's house, and a cute guy who just happens to work at the nearby aquarium and knows a thing or two about sea turtles) he tries again, this time hoping to appeal to her vegetarian tastes:

In the kitchen, her dad was standing over a frying pan at the stove, stirring with a spatula.  On the counter beside him lay a packet of tortillas, and Ronnie had to admit that whatever he was making smelled terrific.  Then again, she hadn't eaten since yesterday afternoon.
                "Hey there," he said over his shoulder.  "Who was that you were talking to?"
                "Just some guy from the aquarium.  He's here to mark the nest.  What are you making?"
                "A vegetarian breakfast burrito."
                "You're kidding."
                "It has rice, beans, and tofu.  It all goes in the tortilla.  I hope that's okay.  I found the recipe online, so I can't vouch for how it tastes."
 (The Last Song, p. 113)

Well, now, at our house we are NOT vegetarians, and frankly I wouldn't dream of putting tofu in anything, not even for the sake of this blog.  (If you want to put tofu in yours, be my guest; to each his own!)  Like Steve, I browsed the Internet until I found something that looked good.  I learned that most breakfast burritos have fried potatoes in them, and it took a little searching to find one with rice and beans.  I found this recipe and used it as a guide:
1 cup rice - brown or white
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 onion
1 15-oz can black beans - or your favorite bean!
1 1/2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese, about 4 ounces - or your favorite cheese!
6 eggs, whisked
Large flour tortillas
Optional Extras: Roasted potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted poblano peppers, crispy bacon, cooked sausage
Equipment [OR] Tools
Griddle or skillet
Lots of prep bowls for holding ingredients
1. Cook your rice - We like cooking rice in a large amount of boiling water (like pasta) and then draining it at the end. Rice can be prepared the day ahead.
2. Roast your vegetables - Cut the peppers and the onions into large chunks and spread them onto a baking sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast them under the broiler for 15-20 minutes, until the peppers are soft and all the vegetables show roasted surfaces. Check the veggies every few minutes and remove any that look done before the others. Slice all the vegetables into long strips.
3. Cook your eggs - We like our eggs soft and creamy, so we cook them slowly over low heat. You can also fry or poach eggs for breakfast burritos. The yolk splits as you roll the burrito up, covering everything with warm, runny yumminess.
While roasting the vegetables and cooking the eggs, rinse the beans and warm them in the microwave. If the rice was prepared ahead of time, also warm the rice. Set up a space on the counter where the burritos can be assembled.
4. Melt the cheese on the tortilla - Melted cheese is the key to an excellent breakfast burrito! Wipe the pan clean that was used for eggs and set it back over low heat. One at a time, warm the tortilla shells with a sprinkling of the shredded cheese. Place a large lid over the tortilla to help the cheese melt and keep the tortilla from getting too dried out.
5. Assemble the burrito - Spread a little of each filling down the center of the tortilla.
6. Fold the burrito - Fold the top and bottom of the burrito over the inside (or leave the top open, as we did), and then fold in the sides to make a neat package. Eat immediately while the cheese is still gooey!

I didn't roast my vegetables beforehand (Why?  Because I forgot to check the recipe before I started.)  Instead I chopped them and cooked them in a pan with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.  And, because I'm lazy, I also left out the part about melting the cheese on the tortilla.  

The Supplies.  I added in some Poblano peppers just for fun, and they were a big hit!

My gluten free version.  Notice the bacon on the side; something that would make Ronnie cringe.  I thought about making some corn tortillas--which is so easy it's ridiculous--but once again laziness got the best of me.  (Ha Ha, get it?  The Best Of Me?  Lucky for me you can't throw any rotten tomatoes at me through your computer screen...)

In the near future I will finish re-reading The Last Song; I know there are one or two more things I can cook, including--maybe--apple pie.  It's high time pulled out that that gluten free pie crust recipe again that my friend Wendy gave me...

Have a wonderful weekend, and for more Quick Takes, be sure to visit!