Category Archives: Breakfast for Dinner

Holiday Eats

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I know I had a great time relaxing at home with my family, and I wasn’t ready for it to be over. My family celebrates Thanksgiving with just myself, my sister, and my parents so it’s a relatively easy-going affair. As my mom put it, we eat when the food is ready! It’s nice to not have to worry about traveling or organizing a large group of people for the meal. It was especially nice this year since my dad had the flu the whole week, so it was much easier on him to be able to sleep and relax without lots of other family/friends around. Not that it was nice that he had the flu! Poor guy 😦

The last day of work before the break, even my afternoon tea was advising me to take a break from work. Such wise words!

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I didn’t take a ton of pictures over the Thanksgiving break because I prefer to unplug and just “be present” and spend the time with family. This may make me a #badfoodblogger but I can deal with that. I did snap a few pictures though.

This year, we used a recipe from Rachael Ray for our stuffing called ‘Simon and Garfunkel Stuffing’, called that because (wait for it!)…it uses parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme! I am absolutely in love with this stuffing recipe. It’s a good basic stuffing recipe, absolutely packed with fresh herbs. This is definitely going to be my go-to from now on! In our house, we always make ‘stuffing muffins’ instead of just a big casserole dish of stuffing for two reasons: 1) instant portion control and 2) there’s lots more yummy crunchy pieces (which lets face it – is the best part) to go around! I managed to take a picture of the stuffing muffins before they went into the oven, but that’s the only ‘Thanksgiving’ picture I took. Trust me – they’re delicious!

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On Friday, my mom and I got up at 5 am for Black Friday shopping. It’s a tradition for her and I to go every year – but we do a very laid-back version of Black Friday. We get up at 5 am and are usually shopping by 5:30-5:45 which is too late for the people who get up really early to shop (or go the night before) but too early for the people who sleep in and shop at a normal time. This, combined with the fact that I’m from a relatively small town, means that there’s barely anyone at the stores. We also don’t go out looking for anything in particular or any big-ticket items. We just like to spend the time together and browse – picking up a movie here and a sweater there. I got a beautiful new sweater at American Eagle for 50% off as well as a couple movies from Target – ‘The Way, Way Back’ and ‘The Heat.’ I also picked up some more water bottles at Target as they had my favorite Contigo bottles on sale for $15 for a 2-pack. I’m happy with the things I bought, but I was more happy to spend the time shopping and chatting with my mom.

On Saturday, my mom and I went out shopping again to celebrate Small Business Saturday. We stopped by a new shop that just opened up called ‘Olives and Grapes’ that sells high-end olive oils, infused oils, and vinegars. We tasted a few different oils, and my mom bought some bottles as gifts for her friends. It was a really nice place and it sounds like they have some great ideas for the future (like hosting nights when chefs come in and prepare dishes featuring their oils!)

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On Saturday, I decided to make some bread pudding for my family with the leftover bread cubes from the stuffing. Someone (a.k.a. me) got a little carried away and we ended up with WAY more bread cubes than we needed for the recipe. So I decided to put the leftovers to good use! I’m always seeing chefs whip up bread puddings from all kinds of ingredients in the final (dessert) round on Chopped so I figured I could do the same with items we had around the house. I ended up with this delicious recipe!

bread pudding

Apple-Raisin Bread Pudding
Makes 8-10 servings.

    – 10 cups cubed stale or toasted bread
    – 5 apples, peeled, cored and cubed
    – 1/2 cup raisins (I didn’t measure these – just sort of added them to the bread until it looked like enough)
    – 3 1/2 cups milk (I used soy but any will work)
    – 4 eggs
    – 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    – 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (I probably use a lot more than this because I’m a little cinnamon-obsessed)

Mix bread, apples and raisins together in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon. Add the milk mixture to the bread mixture and stir gently to combine. Let sit for 15 minutes (up to overnight) to allow the bread to soak. Transfer to a casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Confession: we ate this for breakfast on Sunday, with ice cream and it was amazing. So amazing I didn’t think to Instagram it until after I had finished stuffing my face.

I must have been bit by the baking bug this week, because last night I used the leftover cranberry sauce to bake these ‘Cranberry Cheesecake Brownies’ from Damn Delicious. Not healthy at all, but at least they’re made from scratch and absolutely delicious! After all, the holidays only come once a year!

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Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes & A Kitchen Tip!

Since it’s October I’m taking full advantage of the excuse to celebrate two of my favorite things: pumpkin and horror movies! Both of these things are October staples – and I had plenty of each this weekend! After Body Pump on Saturday morning I whipped up some Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Up first – a tip for cooking bacon!

I learned this tip for Rachel Ray and have since seen it on many cooking shows and articles online. Apparently, restaurants bake their bacon on sheet trays rather than cooking it on the stove top. This prevents 1) grease from splattering all over the stovetop and 2) keeps the bacon from having those “less cooked” spots as it cooks and crinkles up in the pan. Another great tip is that if you bake the bacon up on top of a cooling rack over the sheet tray – all the grease will drop down below! I recently purchased a new set of cookie sheets from Bed, Bath and Beyond so I took full advantage of baking my bacon this weekend – but I have yet to find a cooling rack that will work to put up on top. As soon as I do I’m definitely trying that method!

Bake the bacon in a single layer in a 375 degree over for 12 – 15 minutes.

uncooked bacon

cooked bacon
Tada!

And while the bacon was baking I moved on to making the pancakes!

whole wheat pumpkin pancakes title

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes
Makes 7-8 pancakes.

    – 1 cup of my whole wheat pancake mix
    – 1/2 can of pumpkin puree (I’d say it’s about 1/2-3/4 of a cup)
    – 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    – Enough milk (I used soy milk) to bring the mixture to a pancake batter consistency

Mix all ingredients together until smooth – don’t over-mix! Drop onto a hot skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

whole wheat pumpkin pancakes

Yum! These pancakes were so delicious and filling on a nice, cool, weekend.

I spent most of the weekend being sort of a hermit and getting stuff done around my house while I caught up on TV shows and watched a few movies. And by “watched a few movies” I mean watched the Paranormal Activity movies in marathon format. It’s not the first time I’ve done this, and I swear I never learn my lesson. I absolutely love horror movies, and I enjoy the scary feeling they give me while I watch them but sometimes after a marathon like this (or a particularly scary movie) I wake up in the middle of the night seriously creeped out. Luckily, I’ve discovered that the Animal Planet show “Too Cute” is on Netflix Instant and it is seriously the best cure for a case of the late-night heebie-jeebies! I’m sure I’ll need it again soon, as one of my favorite horror franchises – the Halloween series – is on marathon all this week on AMC. Even though I own all the movies on DVD (except for that terrible third outing that doesn’t count because Michael Myers isn’t even in it) I cannot resist the urge to watch them and/or DVR them when they’re on TV!

Questions of the Day:
What are your favorite horror movies? Or do you like horror movies at all?
Are you addicted to pumpkin too? If not, what is your favorite fall treat?

Zucchini Pancakes

One of my best friends went home to visit her family last weekend which is good news for me because every time she takes a trip home, she brings me a load of fresh vegetables from her dad’s garden! 🙂

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Check out that huge haul of veggies! I actually knew it was going to be a challenge for me to eat them all myself. Luckily, my mom is coming into town for Labor Day weekend and I know her and I will eat up a ton of them! My friend also brought me some zucchini bread which I had never had before and is absolutely delicious. It takes like dessert to me! In addition to the zucchini bread, she also gave me two of the biggest zucchinis I have ever seen! I hope the picture does them justice – they were each literally the size of my forearm.

So one of my first challenges was to decide what to do with all this zucchini! I already had zucchini bread – so I was looking for other ideas. I decided on zucchini pancakes, or latkes or zucchini fritters – whatever you want to call them. I’ve seen them called a bunch of different names on the internet. Basically, they’re very similar to potato pancakes.

First thing, I shredded up about a zucchini and a half (I saved half and diced it up to use in a frittata). I was a little wary of the task of shredding up that much zucchini, but it actually went pretty easily – probably because the zucchini has such a high water content. Because of that, I didn’t want soggy pancakes so I put the shredded zucchini in a strainer with a little salt and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Then, I squeezed it out in a water towel. I’m glad I did because a ton of water came out!

Next, I mixed the shredded zucchini up in a bowl with granulated onion, granulated garlic, eggs, and a little flour.

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I heated up a few tablespoons of oil in a skillet and dropped in small, silver-dollar sized pancakes of batter and cooked over medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides.

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I drained the pancakes on paper towels to soak up the excess oil.

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Ta da! These are delicious. They really remind me of potato pancakes, and a little bit of hashbrowns. They would be great served up with ketchup, or sour cream, or even apple sauce (which is traditional for potato latkes). I definitely saved up the leftovers for my mom and I to enjoy for brunch on Friday!

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Zucchini Pancakes
Makes approximately 12 pancakes, depending on size.

    – 2 cups shredded zucchini
    – 2 eggs
    – 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
    – 2 teaspoons granulated onion
    – 1 tablespoon flour
    – 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and sauté a few tablespoons of batter (small pancake size) in hot oil until golden brown on both sides, approximately 5 minutes per side. Serve for breakfast or brunch.

“Protein” Pancakes

Yesterday was one of those days when nothing seemed to go my way. The weekend in general seemed to slip by rapidly, which I think is what happens when you spend Saturday afternoon/evening on the couch not feeling well. At least I had the new show “Orange is the New Black” to binge-watch on Netflix (I highly recommend it by the way).

Orange is the New Black

On Sunday, I made a big batch of slow-cooker “refried” beans (recipe to be posted later this week! :-)) and for the first time in my life, I got a pepper burn on my hands from chopping the jalapeños. At first I couldn’t figure out why my hand was bothering me so much. I’ve chopped jalapeños numerous times in the past without incident, but this time around I learned my lesson and will use definitely be using gloves in the future. I spent the afternoon with my left hand throbbing, trying every home remedy in the book (lotion, aloe, dish soap, lemon juice, ketchup, yogurt, etc) with no luck. It turns out time is the only thing that really gets rid of the burn.

I had planned my first “long run” for Sunday (5 miles) and it did not go according to plan at all. My first mistake was trying to run outside at 3 in the afternoon. After about a mile, the heat and humidity had done me in and I jogged over to my community’s gym to run on the treadmill. Less than a mile in on the treadmill, I felt terrible. My stomach was starting to really bother me. Worried that the bug from Saturday was returning, and feeling utterly useless and disappointed in myself, I returned back to my apartment to shower and continue my “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” day.

Alexander's Bad Day
Alexander, I know how you feel brother

I made and ate a cheese pizza for dinner (pretty much the same one I had last Monday, as two crusts came in the package), which of course didn’t cut properly and stuck to my baking stone, in keeping with the theme of the day. A couple hours later, I was still hungry and looking for some sort of comfort food to heal my battered soul. I was considering making a couple pancakes using my whole wheat pancake mix, which is one of my go-to late night comfort food snacks when I remembered all the pins I’ve seen for making pancakes with bananas and egg.

You know the pins I’m talking about, don’t you? I think I’ve seen them a million times (though I’ve never re-pinned any). They all swear you can make pancakes using just eggs and banana (usually labeled “Paleo” pancakes, since they don’t contain grain and are high in protein). To say the least, I’ve always been skeptical that this combination would really produce fluffy pancakes like all the pins claimed. But I decided to give it a shot.

The ingredients – one banana, one egg, and a dash of cinnamon.

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I spent a few minutes mashing/mixing the ingredients together with a fork. If you don’t mind dirtying your blender or food processor, that would probably be a faster method but the “batter” came together easily enough using just a fork.

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I added a little bit of coconut oil to a hot pan and then dropped the batter in. The batter cooked just like normal pancakes, and I flipped them after they turned a nice golden brown. FYI, the one banana/egg combo made two pancakes – a perfect single serving! And, much to my amazement, the recipe did make nice, fluffy pancakes!

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The pancakes had a great texture, and a delicate banana flavor. They tasted way more like pancakes than I was expecting. I’m not sure what kind of black magic is behind this, but it’s a neat trick! I ate mine with a little butter and syrup, but they would be delicious with lots of other topping options.

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I’m already thinking about adding a few chocolate chips to these next time I need a late night, comfort food snack!

Have you tried any alternative recipes to traditional pancakes? How did it turn out?

Banana-Walnut Baked Oatmeal

In addition to the succotash and Caprese pasta salad that I took camping, I also made a batch of baked oatmeal to take along for breakfasts. I figured baked oatmeal would be an easy thing to make ahead of time, and reheat when it was time for breakfast. Plus, it’s easy for everyone to customize with their favorite toppings! 🙂

I was inspired by a baked oatmeal recipe that I saw on PB Fingers, but changed it up a bit to incorporate some of my favorite things (walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds) and exclude the things I’m not crazy about or didn’t have in the house (flavored almond milk, coconut). I was so happy with how it turned out that I made another batch as soon as I got back from the camping trip! It’s such a convenient breakfast or hearty snack to have prepped and ready to go.

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After combining all the ingredients, I just cut the oatmeal into eight squares and store them in Tupperware containers. I’ve been eating this as a mid-morning snack at work because it’s nice and hearty and helps me not eat lunch until early afternoon, instead of scarfing it down at 11:30 like I usually do.

And it couldn’t be easier to make! Just combine all the ingredients and then bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. The oatmeal gets nice and crispy on top which is a great texture in the finished product. The first batch I made, I didn’t grease the pan and it was a mess to get out of the pan, as well as to clean the pan – it definitely reduced the number of crispy pieces! I don’t know what I was thinking not greasing the pan, like the oatmeal was just going to pop out on its own? 🙂 Craziness. The second time around I used a small piece of paper towel and “greased” the pan with about a tablespoon of coconut oil. It worked great! Nice, square, crispy pieces of oatmeal!

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Banana Walnut Baked Oatmeal
Makes eight servings.

    – 3 cups rolled oats
    – 2 teaspoons baking powder
    – ½ teaspoon salt
    – 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon (I’m a little cinnamon-crazy so I probably put it more than this! :-))
    – 2 cups soy milk, or milk of your choice
    – 1 egg
    – 1/3 cup applesauce
    – 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
    – 2 bananas
    – ½ cup sunflower seeds, not in the shells
    – ½ cup walnuts
    – 1 tablespoon chia seeds
    – 1 tablespoon flax seed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix all ingredients together, mashing the bananas up really well (I found that using my hands is the most effective, and messiest, way to do this!). Grease a 2 quart dish with coconut oil or other fat. Pour the oatmeal into the pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

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Cut into squares and serve with your favorite toppings. I personally like mine with a scoop of Greek yogurt, a little honey and some fresh fruit (this time I went with blueberries). My mom likes hers with some slivered almonds, milk, and fruit while my dad prefers his with just honey on top. It’s also delicious with maple syrup!

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Feel free to mix it up and add whatever nuts/seeds to the dish that you like! I’m already dreaming about a pumpkin version for the fall… 🙂

Question of the Day:
What are your favorite oatmeal toppings? If you don’t like oatmeal, what is your favorite go-to breakfast food

Spring Vegetable Frittata

On Sunday I was seized by the sudden urge to make a frittata. Does that happen to other people? I guess there are worst problems I could have. I think it started because I still had potatoes to use up. Trying to “use something up” is pretty much a constant state of being for me. Also, I was finally working my way through a backlog of Rachel Ray episodes on my DVR and she was making a frittata so of course I wanted to make one too. Monkey see, monkey want to cook. Plus, I knew the leftovers would make the perfect “Meatless Monday” lunch!

Frittatas are one of my favorite “use up what’s left in the fridge” recipes (along with salads). Starting with a base of potatoes and onions, you can add pretty much any vegetables you like, top with some eggs and voila! You have a hearty meal. This particular combination was borne out of a combination of what I had available, and what sounded tasty to me at the time. And I can tell you – this was a particularly winning combination! I will definitely be making this exact frittata again.

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Spring Vegetable Frittata
Serves six

    – 4 small potatoes (such as Yukon gold), thinly sliced
    – 1 medium onion, sliced or chopped
    – 2 cloves garlic, minced
    – 2 teaspoons dried thyme
    – 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
    – 6 eggs
    – 1 cup milk
    – 1 cup of feta cheese
    – ½ cup frozen spinach, defrosted
    – ½ cup frozen peas
    – Salt and pepper, to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Thinly slice your potatoes. I used my mandolin which is quickly becoming one of my favorite kitchen tools. Then, slice or chop your onions (depending on how you like your onions) and mince or paste up two cloves of garlic. Heat up 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sauté pan (enough to cover the bottom) and add the potatoes, onion, and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and thyme, and cook for 15 minutes over medium heat, or until the potatoes are cooked through.

Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk together with 1 cup of milk. Most of the frittata recipes that I see call for mixing the eggs with cream or half-and-half but I find the meal is plenty rich with just milk (especially with the cheese!) but feel free to substitute if you’re feeling decadent or if you have cream to use up! 🙂 Add the defrosted spinach (be careful to let it cool so it doesn’t start cooking the eggs), peas, feta cheese and salt and pepper to the egg mixture. Once the potato mixture is done, add the egg mixture to the pan and gently stir to evenly distribute the potatoes throughout the frittata.

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Just before going into the oven…

Cook on the stovetop until just set around the edges, and finish in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Note: I saw some frittata recipes that only cook in the oven for 10 minutes, but I find that mine usually need 20 minutes or more. Temperatures and times vary from oven to oven, so check on your frittata regularly and remove from the oven when the center is set.

Just like with cakes, pies, brownies, etc – the first slice never comes out pretty. But I took a picture anyway just to show all the wonderful ingredients layered throughout the egg.

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It was such a delicious, light, dinner! I was plenty full with just the frittata, but you could bulk it up by serving bread and/or a salad on the side. Also, I chose to make this frittata meatless, but you could add any meat you like (I’ve used Canadian bacon in the past with great results). Frittatas are great brunch or breakfast items also, and can be served warm or at room temperature so they are pretty low-maintenance! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did! 🙂

Homemade Hashbrowns

Yesterday was a dreary day in DC. Rainy, a little cold (especially for April!) and there wasn’t the slightest hint of blue sky or sunlight all day long. On top of all this, it was a Monday. And I was exhausted. This weekend, I went to visit my parents in my hometown of Chesapeake, VA (and had a wonderful time) which meant that I also had the pleasure of traveling up and down I-95. Why, oh why, is I-95 such a mess? First off, anyone traveling from anywhere north of DC to anywhere south of DC along the east coast (and vice versa) has to use 95. There’s just no other way to go. So it’s always packed full of people, and always slow. It took me 5 hours to get there on Friday afternoon (it should be a little over a 3 hour trip) and 4 and a half to get back on Sunday. And driving wears me out like nothing else. I find it to be a very stressful experience.

I was also exhausted because I had an action-packed weekend. My mom and I got up early on Saturday to go to yoga class together. And my mom bought me a beautiful yoga mat and carrying bag so now I look like a yoga professional 🙂 – she’s the best! Then we went to a local festival where they race rubber ducks in the river (oh small town amusements) and then to a friend’s kid’s birthday party and then out to dinner and drinks with my friends. Then up early again on Sunday for brunch at a wonderful local restaurant, Cotton Southern Bistro which serves farm-to-table locally sourced foods. I’m so proud of all the wonderful food options that are popping up in my hometown! When I got home on Sunday around 5 pm, I made a quick run to the grocery store and unpacked the groceries at home before sitting on the couch to hang out with my cats for a few minutes. The next thing I knew it was 7:30 at night and I was waking up on the couch. That’s when you truly know you’re an adult – when you fall asleep on the couch, and you wake up on the couch. Gone are the days when a parent magically whisked you off to bed. It’s needless to say, Sunday afternoon/evening was not a productive time for me.

So on this [meatless] Monday evening, I was in need of some good old fashioned comfort food. I had planned on just having some spaghetti with marinara but halfway through my work day I remembered I had some potatoes that needed to be used up. One of the side effects of living alone is that there is always something that needs to be “used up” before it goes bad – so that dictates a lot of my cooking decisions. So an epiphany struck me – I could make some homemade hash browns and a fried egg. Breakfast for dinner! Boy that sounded delicious the minute I thought of it! And what’s more comforting than that? So, with the knowledge that I had breakfast for dinner, and a new episode of Game of Thrones waiting for me when I got home, I made myself go to the gym for a run. And let me tell you I did not feel like it. I was exhausted, and I had so much to do around the house. In fact – I had a million canned excuses ready to go about why I couldn’t go for a run. But I made myself do it anyway. I knew that if I let myself get off the hook this time, it would lead to snowballing excuses not to exercise on other days. I just kept saying to myself: “someone busier than you is running right now.”

But once I finished a short 1.5 miles, and at a new record pace for myself, there was cooking to do! I decided to make a straightforward just-potatoes version of hashbrowns but you could easily sauté up other root vegetables with this same recipe: sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, even beets would all be delicious. However, on this dreary Monday – simplicity (and less chopping!) was the name of the game.

Homemade Hashbrowns
Serves two

    – 3-4 small potatoes (I use Yukon gold) or 2 large baking potatoes, cubed
    – 1-2 tablespoons olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan)
    – 2 teaspoons garlic powder
    – 2 teaspoons granulated onion
    – Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cut whatever potatoes you’re using into small cubes (I actually think cubed potatoes like this are technically called homefries but I’ve always referred to them as hashbrowns) and dry on a paper towel. It’s important to pat the potatoes dry so that they just nice and crispy on the outside! 🙂

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When the oil is hot (it should look like it’s rippling slightly), place the potatoes in the oil and season with garlic powder, granulated onion, salt and pepper. Alternatively, you could use chopped onion and garlic. Sauté the potatoes for 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the potatoes are brown and crispy.

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I fried the egg in the same pan I had cooked the potatoes in (once the potatoes were finished) to save on dishes.

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Now this isn’t exactly the most veggie-rich dinner in the world but it was exactly what I needed – comfort food! To up the veggies, you could sauté in other root vegetables, or even mix in some fresh spinach or other greens. Enjoy! 🙂