“Street Style” Breakfast Taco

Quick and easy hot breakfast for one (or two).

I go through phases with my breakfast choices. Although I don’t mind yogurt with granola or fruit or even cold cereal with milk and fruit, I do enjoy a hot breakfast. The trick is coming up with something that’s relatively healthy and quick and easy to make.

Preferably something that uses eggs. My chickens make five per day, on average, and they accumulate quickly.

That’s how I came up with the idea for a breakfast taco. I’m talking about a so-called “street style” taco that uses a soft corn tortilla — not crunchy “gringo Mexican” taco shells — with the ingredient tucked inside. Fold it, pick it up, and enjoy.

Here’s my recipe for one.


  • Breakfast Taco IngredientsSmall amount of oil or cooking spray. I usually use olive oil spray to keep the fat down a bit.
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion or sliced scallions. About once a week I chop up an onion and store it in an airtight container in my fridge. This keeps chopped onion close at hand. Some folks use frozen chopped onion and I don’t see anything wrong with that. Sliced scallions work, too, and have the benefit of cooking faster. The taste is milder, though.
  • 1 large egg.
  • 2 tablespoons shredded cheese. I use a Mexican blend, but you can use any kind you like.
  • 1 taco-size corn tortilla. Get the real thing if you can, in the Mexican food area of your supermarket or, better yet, in an Hispanic food market. I buy them 10 in a bag and keep them in the fridge or freezer. (Just noticed that these are “hand made style” — whatever the hell that means. That’s what happens when you shop without your glasses.) I’m pretty sure my tortilla press is around here somewhere; I might actually make them from scratch one of these days.

If you’re one of those people who likes salsa on your tacos, get some of that, too. I’m not a fan of salsa on anything other than chips so I don’t use it.


  1. In a small skillet over medium heat, heat the oil or cooking spray.
  2. Add the onions or scallions and cook until softened and just starting to brown at the edges.
  3. Cooking EggGather the onions or scallions into the middle of the pan and drop an egg on them. You might want to use this opportunity to break the yolk so it cooks. I don’t scramble my eggs before cooking, but you could if you want to. Just make sure the egg stays together in the middle of the pan so it doesn’t get larger than the tortilla.
  4. When the egg has cooked on the bottom, lower the heat and flip it.
  5. Immediately sprinkle the cheese on the egg and lay the tortilla on top.
  6. Cook until the egg is done the way you like it — over easy? over medium? — and then flip it again so the tortilla is on the bottom.
  7. Cook until the tortilla has heated through and the cheese is melted.
  8. Remove to a plate, spoon on salsa (if desired), and fold in half.


I used to wait until after flipping the egg to break the yolk. That kept the yolk in the middle. Now I break it right away. I also use a pot cover to speed up the cooking process.

You can make two or three of these at once if you have a larger skillet or a griddle.

Is this a healthy meal? Well, I don’t think it’s unhealthy. After all, it uses a minimum of added fat and has fresh ingredients such as onions and eggs. Minimizing processed foods is one way to keep your diet healthy — who knows that’s in those “hand made style” tortillas I bought? The way I see it, it’s a lot healthier than breakfast pastries or sugar-filled cereals.

How to make it better? That should be obvious: skip the oil/spray and sauté the onions/scallions with some chopped bacon. Now we’re talking.

Super Simple Dark Chocolate Pudding

Two recipes, five or six ingredients.

Chocolate Pudding
It’s not difficult to make chocolate pudding from scratch.

I love chocolate pudding. With my new stove needing testing and my good pots and pans finally unpacked, I’ve decided to use chocolate pudding for experimentation. The trick was to find recipes with ingredients I had at home.

Why make pudding from scratch? Well, why not? It’s all about knowing exactly what the ingredients are. Neither of these recipes are much more difficult than cooking pudding from a box, but there are no mystery ingredients. Best of all, you can fine-tune the recipe you prefer to change the sweetness, thickness, and darkness of the chocolate.

The Cornstarch Version

Nutritional Information
Basic nutritional information for this recipe. Click here for the full information.

The other day, I made a chocolate pudding recipe I found online. Like most pudding recipes, it used cornstarch as a thickener. It had just five ingredients and looked pretty simple, so I gave it a go.


  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 cups nonfat milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. In a saucepan, combine the dry ingredients.
  2. Stir the milk in slowly until smooth.
  3. Cook on medium heat, stirring continuously, for 3 or 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Pour the hot pudding into 4 individual serving bowls.
  6. Serve warm or chill at least 2 hours to set.

It was good, but not as good as I’d hoped. I thought I’d try another one.

The Flour Version

Years ago, when I was seriously into cooking, I used to make chocolate pudding from scratch. I found the recipe in my original Fanny Farmer Cookbook, which I replaced for some reason years later. The recipe I used for chocolate pudding was gone. This evening, I went searching for a recipe using the search phrase “chocolate pudding w/cocoa and flour.” I came up with a bunch of options, but the one I tried was on Cooks.com, mostly because I didn’t want to scald milk or put eggs in my chocolate pudding.

Nutritional Information
Basic nutritional information for this recipe. Click here for the full information.

I made the recipe exactly as written. I was disappointed. It was way too sweet and the “almost heaping” measurements were a bit too vague for my taste. So I rewrote it.


  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups nonfat milk
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


  1. In a saucepan, combine the dry ingredients.
  2. Stir the milk in slowly until smooth.
  3. Cook on medium-low heat until pudding thickens.
  4. Stir in the vanilla and butter.
  5. Pour the hot pudding into 4 individual serving bowls.
  6. Serve warm or chill at least 2 hours to set.

As you can see, the preparation is almost identical. The flavor is different. It could be the butter — which I’m not convinced is needed. Just seems to make it richer. I like this version better.

If you try either one, let me know what you think.

Taking “Home Made” to New Levels

I realize that I can take home-cooking to extremes.

French Toast Breakfast
My home-made/grown bread, eggs, and honey went into this.

This morning, I made French toast for breakfast. For most people, that’s not a big deal — French toast is easy enough to make. But I realized that my French toast went beyond what most people would consider a home-cooked meal for a few reasons:

  • I baked the bread.
  • The eggs came from my chickens.
  • The honey I put on top came from my bees.

The only thing related to my plate that I didn’t make or grow was the cooking spray I used in the pan and the fresh strawberries. In two months, the strawberries will come from my garden.

While anyone with an oven (or bread machine) and a tiny bit of skill (or ability to follow directions for a bread mix) can make their own bread — and I highly recommend it! — I agree that raising chickens or keeping bees is not for the average person. So no, I’m not trying to tell you to follow my lead here. I’m just pointing out that it’s possible to have better control over what you eat.

And the results can be delicious.

How to Calculate Nutritional Information for a Recipe

And why you might want to do it.

As the folks who know me well or follow my blog know, I’m dieting again.

Back in 2012, I lost 45 pounds in four months and regained both my health and my self-esteem. Although I’ve managed to keep most of the weight off since then, it’s been creeping up slowly. I want to nip that in the bud so I’ve gone back on the same diet that helped me lose so much weight so fast nearly three years ago. I expect that two months of serious dieting should be enough to get back down where I was in September 2012.

Nutritional Info Example
Calculating the nutritional info for an easy and yummy looking biscuit recipe a friend shared on Facebook makes it clear that this is something I need to avoid. (In case you’re wondering, this recipe’s ingredients are 4 cups Bisquick, 1 cup sour cream, 1 cup 7Up soda, and 1/2 cup butter.)

I know the reason I gained that weight back, which is important to prevent it from happening again:

  • Portion control. Although the diet I was on basically “shrunk my stomach” so I couldn’t eat those big portions, over time, I stretched it back out by eating more and more. What can I say? I like to eat. And when you put a big plate of food I really like in front of me, I want to eat as much as I can. This is something I need to control once I’m back down to my goal weight again.
  • Bad food choices. In general, I eat very well. Lots of fresh foods — not prepared foods — cooked simply. I grill or smoke most meats, I eat salads and fresh vegetables. But occasionally I make bad choices — usually at restaurants — that include fried or high-carb (or both!) foods. And every once in a while a friend will share a recipe online that looks too good to pass up and I’ll make it.

I believe that if you’re at a good, healthy weight and keep relatively active, short forays into the realm of bad food choices should be okay. Sure — enjoy a piece of pie or a flaky biscuit or a plate of pasta once in a while. But remember that portion control! And don’t do it every day.

That’s what I’ve learned over the past two years. Now if only I could remember that when you place my favorite food in front of me!

But how do you determine what’s a good food choice and what’s a bad food choice when it comes to preparing recipes? That’s where nutritional calculators come in handy. The one I use is on a site called SparkRecipes, but there are plenty of others. You enter the ingredients for the recipe along with the quantity of each item, indicate how many servings it creates, and click a Calculate Info button. The result is a display like you see here, which I calculated this morning for a four-ingredient biscuit recipe a friend shared. The numbers make it clear just how healthy — or unhealthy — a food choice the recipe can be.

I began doing these calculations for all the recipes I share on my blog. I recently learned that by omitting part of a recipe — for example, the dumplings in the chicken and dumplings recipe I recently shared — or substituting one healthier ingredient for another, you can make a recipe healthier without sacrificing flavor. This can help you cook healthier meals for yourself and your family — something that’s especially important when weight-related health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes is an issue.

Is calculating nutritional information like this worth the effort? What do you think? Isn’t your health worth a few minutes of time in front of a computer so you can make an informed decision?

Rosemary Chicken with Dumplings

One of my favorite recipes for a cold winter day.

A few times over the past year, I had an urge to make Rosemary Chicken with Dumplings. This is one of my favorite one-pot recipes, an extremely flavorful root vegetable stew that I distinctly recall making at least once in my big dutch oven up at my vacation property in northern Arizona.

Trouble was, I couldn’t remember exactly how to make it. The few times I tried to make it from memory, the flavor fell far short of what it should taste like. I needed the recipe.

Of course, the recipe was in one of my cookbooks. And my cookbooks were still packed, waiting for my new home’s kitchen to be done.

The other day, I could resist no longer. I went to the designated book box storage place in the garage (between my truck and Honda, if you’re curious), and went through the pile of boxes. The Cookbooks box was on the bottom (of course). I dug it out, cut open the tape holding it closed, and began to go through the cookbooks.

What's Cooking Chicken
I finally found the recipe in this cookbook. Like most of my cookbooks, it’s heavy on photos.

It would have been helpful if I could remember what book it was in.

In all, it took about 20 minutes to find the recipe. I brought it inside, made a shopping list, and picked up the ingredients the next time I was in town. Earlier this week, I finally made it. Although I was tempted to put it in my crock pot, I made it on the stove instead. Since one of my Facebook friends asked, here’s my version of the recipe.


  • 8-10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I also trim off excess fat, which Penny gets to eat for dinner with her kibbles. The original recipe called for 4 chicken quarters.
  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil. I didn’t have any of that and although I usually use olive oil, I suspect that the oil I have might be somewhat rancid. So I used a tiny amount of vegetable oil.
  • 2 medium leeks, cleaned and chopped. The ones I wound up with were huge.
  • 2 large carrots, chopped. My local supermarket sells them loose! Don’t buy the baby carrots; they will likely turn to mush.
  • 2 large parsnips, chopped. I had to tell the checkout girl what this was.
  • 2 small turnips, chopped. I actually used one large one because I didn’t want to have to peel two.
  • 2-1/2 cups chicken stock. I normally use canned, but this time I used chicken bouillon dissolved in boiling water.
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce. Of course I had that on hand. After all, I do occasionally make bloody marys.
  • 2 springs fresh rosemary. Back in Arizona, this grew in the yard. It’s on my list of houseplants for next year.
  • Salt and Pepper. I omitted the salt. You can always add it later, but you can never take it away.
  • 2 cups Bisquick. The original recipe called for self-rising flour and lard (of all things). This is a lot quicker and easier.
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary leaves. Fresh is best.
  • 2/3 cup milk. I used 2%, because that’s what I have. Skim or whole would work, too. Heck, water would probably even work; that’s what the original recipe called for.


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or stew pot and fry the chicken until golden brown all over. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Drain off any fat left in the pan.
  2. Add the leeks, carrots, parsnips, and turnips to the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes, until lightly colored.
  3. Chicken and dumplings
    Here’s what it might look like right after putting all of the ingredients in the pan.

    Return the chicken to the pan.

  4. Add the chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary sprigs, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 50-60 minutes, or until the chicken and vegetables are fully cooked.
  6. In a bowl, mix the Bisquick, rosemary leaves, and milk until well blended. You should have a firm dough.
  7. Form the dough into 8 small balls and place on top of the chicken and vegetables. Cover and simmer another 10-12 minutes, until the dumplings have risen.

Serve hot.

If you follow this recipe as shown here, it’ll make 4 extremely flavorful servings of healthy root vegetables and chicken. The nutritional information I calculated indicates high calories but also high vitamins and minerals. If you skip the dumplings, you’ll bring the calorie and sodium counts way down for an even healthier meal.

This is a huge hit at potluck suppers — which we have a lot of up here in Washington state. Double the recipe and stir in some cooked egg noodles instead of the dumplings just before serving to make it easier to serve.

If you make it, let me know how it goes!