Air Fryer Breakfast Burritos

Air Fryer Breakfast BurritosIf breakfast is your challenge when you’re trying to eat healthily, Air Fryer Breakfast Burritos are a flavor-packed alternative.  I fall into the trap of eating cakes and cookies instead of building a good breakfast. Air Fryer Breakfast Burritos are my “go to” recipe when I want something tasty with a big presentation factor.


Air Fryer Breakfast Burritos
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Spicy
Packed with nutrition and a lot of flavors, Breakfast Burritos are quick and most of the recipe can be prepared well in advance.
  • Black Bean Mash:
  • 2 15-ounce cans of black beans (rinsed)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chile in adobo
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup Monterey Jack Cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (optional)
  • Spicy Filling
  • 1/2 pound spicy chorizo
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 yellow, red or orange bell pepper chopped
  • Eggs – 1 per person
  • salt and pepper
  • Salad Topping
  • 1/2 head Romain lettuce finely shredded
  • 10-12 grape tomatoes halved
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 diced avocado
  • Sour cream
  • 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded.
  1. Make the beans in advance. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook about a minute until fragrant. Add the beans, 1/2 cup of water or chicken stock and the chipotle pepper. Cook until the liquid is reduced and the beans are heated through and soft (about 30 minutes). Mash with a potato masher leaving some texture. Stir in the cilantro. Set aside to cool.
  2. Put the tomatoes, avocado, green onions and salt in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper and fold together. Squeeze in the lime juice and oil cilantro and watercress. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet until it begins to shimmer. Add the chorizo after removing it from the casing and brown, stirring frequently, until crumbly. Remove the sausage and set aside. Add the onions and pepper to the drippings and cook to soft. Add this to the chorizo and set aside. Beat eggs in a bowl and add to skillet and scramble to soft curds. Remove from heat and add back the chorizo, peppers, and onions.
  4. Place a flour tortilla on a board and spread with beans on the lower half. leaving a 1-inch border at the bottom. Top with some chorizo and egg filling. Sprinkle grated Monterey Jack over this mixture. Fold in the sides of the tortilla and then roll from the bottom into a cylinder. Place seam-side down in the basket of an air fryer. Repeat until all the tortillas are assembled (1 or 2 per person). Brush the top of the tortillas with canola oil and “fry” at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.
  5. Transfer burritos to a platter or individual plates. Top with salad mixture, salsa remaining Monterey Jack and a dollop of sour cream.
  6. I like to serve this with citrus slices.


The nourishing and warming aspects of oatmeal

oatmealOatmeal — that breakfast staple of our grandparents — reigns supreme in your breakfast recipe repertoire.  But it can also become one of your family’s favorite mealtime side dishes with just a little imagination.

This week the entire US is experiencing a blast of truly cold weather with many states not even getting above zero.  This is a very good week to warm up the kids and family with gourmet oatmeal breakfasts.

My family has battled the worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s for over a year.   My Mom was diagnosed three years ago with the disease.  Surely by now, everyone knows the disease affects memory loss, but unless you’ve witnessed the decline of a loved one you probably don’t realize that the disease is accompanied by a loss of taste, anorexia and an inability to eat and digest a lot of food types.  However, oatmeal has remained one food that Mom would eat and we were able to add all kinds of supplements and flavors to keep her strong.

Oatmeal is a power food — high in fiber, calcium, and potassium — with a low glycemic index.  It is known to reduce blood pressure and help maintain heart health.   Oatmeal is rich in nutrients and phenols that provide antioxidants and it is naturally anti-inflammatory.

Best of all, oatmeal — rolled oats or steel-cut oats — are neutral in flavor and provide whole grain benefits while accepting a variety of flavor additives.  They are also budget-friendly and available in every American grocery store.

Here are just a few ideas to amp up your oatmeal and expand your whole grain culinary taste.

Breakfast Oats

Oatmeal and your favorite fruits!  Oatmeal pairs well with almost any fruit for a perfect breakfast cereal. After cooking your oats, mix in blueberries, honey, and cinnamon: Or mix apples and maple syrup, or pears and pecans with this great grain.  Add any dried fruit and your favorite seeds or nuts to change out the routine like apricots and toasted pumpkin seeds or cranberries and pistachios.

  • tropical_oatsPut a tropical twist on your oatmeal by adding yogurt and pineapple, mango and coconut to your bowl. Yummy!
  • Chocolate oatmeal — absolutely yes.  Add a drizzle of melted semi-sweet chocolate and 1/2 a banana to your morning oatmeal for a dessert-style breakfast that’s still pretty healthy. For a healthier version at 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa, 2 teaspoons of raw honey and a banana to 1/2 cup of uncooked oats and 1/2 cup of coconut milk.  Refrigerate overnight.
  • Oatmeal pancakes put a new healthy twist on a family favorite weekend breakfast.  Oatmeal pancakes keep the family from getting hungry all morning and they taste great with any traditional pancake toppings.
  • Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
  • Granola
  • Parfaits

Oatmeal Side Dishes.

  • Steel-cut Oat Risotto.  Replace the arborio rice with steel cut oats in the preparation and mix in mushrooms, asparagus and Parmesan cheese for healthy side dish option.
  • Roasted tomato and basil oatmeal is a fabulous side dish for any lean protein meal.
  • Roasted vegetable oatmeal creates a filling base for eggs for a lighter evening meal.

Refrigerator Oats are ready when you are.

Use simple canning jars that can be reused for this healthy breakfast treat.

Basic refrigerator oats are made by adding 1/2 cup of rolled oats (Use old-fashioned rolled oats for the texture.  If you use quick cooking oats you’ll end up with a pasty, gummy texture.) to 1 cup of milk (soy, almond, coconut, or even plain old 2% or whole milk) in a jar or container.  Top with fruits, nuts, spices, and sweeteners.  Refrigerate overnight, and in the morning it magically has become a hearty and flavorful breakfast porridge.

Here you are only limited by your own imagination.  My favorite recipes are:

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal, 2 teaspoons Chia seeds, 1 cup milk, 1 diced apple, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon of honey.  Cover, shake and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning top with a drizzle of homemade caramel or chocolate sauce.
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal, 2 teaspoons Chia seeds, 1 cup coconut milk (remove the cream at the top of the can), 2 rings of pineapple cut in chunks, 1/4 cup of blueberries (frozen or fresh), 1 tablespoon blanched almonds, 1 tablespoon of honey.  Top with a spoonful of Greek yogurt and toasted coconut.
  • For picky eaters – mix 1/2 cup of oatmeal, 2 teaspoons of Chia seeds, 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1/2 a small banana, 2 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter, and 1 cup of milk.   It will taste like desert to them, but you’ll know it’s packed with good things.






Sofritto: The key to great starts

Lesson 1: sofritto

sofrittoEvery great cuisine starts with a basic recipe of flavor — a sofritto, mirepoix, battuto, holy trilogy — are slight variations that create the base of many meals.

A French mirepoix is the best known classic. It combines 2 parts onion to 1 part each celery and carrot. These are sauteed together in butter without any browning to become the start to most French stews and soups.

An Italian battuto starts with a French mirepoix, but then adds fennel and/or garlic to add spice to sauces that need to spice up pasta.

Creole cooking combined the same 2 parts onion with 1 part celery and 1 part green pepper to form a Holy Trinity of flavors. These are cooked in butter or oil or even bacon fat to create the base of gumbos or jambalaya.

Latin and Caribbean cooking combines onion and peppers with garlic and cilantro for spicier combination. A sofritto is cooked in oil until the vegetables almost form a paste. It then can be used to create soups, but also can be added to ground meats, chicken and rice. This is a sofritto.

How to make a perfect sofritto.

Start with olive oil or rendered fat from pancetta or bacon. Add onions and peppers to hot oil and saute for several minutes until they soften and begin to darken (roast). The onions and peppers should be finely diced or even pureed in a food processor. As they saute, pay special attention to the color of the vegetables. The lighter the sofritto, the lighter the flavor. As the onion and vegetables darken, the flavor deepens. Be careful not to burn the vegetables as a roasted flavor brings out the sugars, but a burned flavor is bitter.

When you’ve achieved the color desired of your sofritto, add 1-2 cloves of garlic and remove from the heat. Let the heat of the vegetables and the remaining heat in the pan cook the garlic. Then add the fresh cilantro.

Sofritto is a great start!


Braised Short Ribs

braised-short-ribsBraised short ribs is one of my comfort foods.  My Mother didn’t make this recipe for us, but in my family we had a Sunday roast every week and this slow-cooked meat with a velvet sauce reminds me of Sundays at home.

This is my choice for a recipe for dinner parties.  The texture and taste always pleases guests.  Braised Short Ribs is easy to plate and always looks impressive.  Finally, the prep that requires me to stay in the kitchen is minimal and I can do my table scape and get cleaned up while it braises in the oven.

Braised Short Ribs Recipe

Braised Short Ribs
Recipe Type: Main Course
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 servings
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil (use an oil with a high smoke point)
  • 4-6 English Cut Beef Short Ribs (trimmed of excess fat — approximately 2 pounds)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme (you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon or dried thyme if you can’t find fresh)
  • 1 dry bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3-4 cups of beef stock
  • fresh parsley for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Chop the vegetables into similar size pieces
  3. Roughly chop the garlic
  4. Preheat the oil on medium high heat until oil reaches shimmer stage.
  5. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper.
  6. Sear the ribs in the oil until brown — approximately 3-4 minutes per side.
  7. Remove the ribs to a plate while you cook the vegetables.
  8. Add onion, carrot and celery to the pan drippings. Stir occasionally until softened. This should take approximatel 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and cook only until fragrant — about a minute.
  9. Add thyme sprigs and bay leaf and stir gently.
  10. Melt butter into vegetables. When the butter has completely melted, sprinkle the mixture with flour and stir for about 3 minutes until the flour hydrates and the mixture appears dry.
  11. Add the wine and stock and stir. Return the ribs to the pot. The ribs should be immersed in the liquid about 1/2 way.
  12. Cover and place the pan in the oven for two hours.
  13. Remove the ribs from the pan and strain the vegetable mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Return just the liquid to the pot. Reduce the sauce until it is thickened and velvety smooth (this shouldn’t take too long).
  14. Serve ribs with the sauce and garnish with parsley.
  15. Serve over mashed potatoes or with any two vegetable sides.


When you braise foods you first sear or fry them to quickly develop flavors in the bottom of the pot, then gently stew those meats or vegetables until they are tender.  Because braising requires foods to be submerged in liquids for a long cook, it is best used with heartier meat cuts or with vegetables that are fibrous enough to withstand the long cooking time.

Suitable meat cuts are brisket, ribs, chops, chucks and cuts that have significant marbled fats and long fibrous muscle strands.  Vegetable choices are root vegetables, leeks, cabbage and greens.

For my Braised Ribs, I like to first remove any visual silver skin from the ribs and cut out any hard marbled fat blocks.  The silver skin protected the muscle in the meat cut from injury and unfortunately it will toughen during cooking and become chewy.  Likewise a heavy fat cap on the ribs or blocks or hard fat will not melt during cooking and should be removed with a sharp knife at this point.

Before starting the cooking process I like to cut up all the vegetables.  The stove top cooking goes very quickly so having everything chopped ensures the ribs don’t get overcooked or heat up and cool down too quickly before the braising liquid is added.

The Perfect Short Rib Braising Pan

Perfect braising pan - short ribs cook perfectlyA braising pot is a heavy skillet, everyday chef’s pan, or even a large soup pot.  Braising pots usually don’t have high sides — about 3-4 inches deep — and they have a well-fitting lid so you can keep all the liquids from evaporating during cooking.   I personally use a Lodge Braising Pan as pictured here.    It’s a 3-quart capacity which is capable of holding  10 good-sized ribs or a brisket for a family of four.  It’s available for about $60 and costs about 30% as much as the famous Le Creuset braiser.

Lodge is the leading manufacturer of cast iron pans and like Le Creuset, this braising pan might be too heavy for people with dexterity issues. Braising pans need to accommodate liquid and meats A good alternative is the All-Clad 18/10 4-quart week night pan.  A braising pan always has to have some heft to it to properly conduct heat evenly, but the design of this pan, with its balanced handle and easy helper handles make it easier for people with arthritis or dexterity issues. The All-Clad Week Night pan is $199 with a 5-ply bottom surface that is also safe for induction cooking.

The Short rib Cooking Process

Place a large heavy bottom pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil over medium-high heat and let it pre-heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Season the ribs liberally with salt and pepper.  Sear them in the pot until deep golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side.  Work in batches if necessary and don’t over crowd the pan — leave an inch or two  between each rib so that they sear and they don’t steam.   Remove the ribs to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium.  Add the onion, carrots and celery to the pot and cook.  Stir them occasionally until tender — about 5-6 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for a minute until the fragrant.  Stir in the thyme and bay leaves and then melt the butter into the vegetables.  When the butter has melted, sprinkle the flour over the mixture and toss to coat.  Gently stir the vegetables and flour allowing the flower to cook and hydrate for another 2-3 minutes.  Add the wine and stock to the pot and bring the liquid up to a boil.  Nestle the ribs back into the mixture and cover with the lid.  (If your pot doesn’t have a lid, you can cover tightly with aluminum foil carefully sealing all the edges.)

Place the pot into the oven and cook for approximately 2 hours.

Remove the cooked ribs from the pot and cover them  to keep them warm.  Pour the remaining vegetables and liquids through a fine mesh strainer, pressing gently to remove all the liquid.  Discard the solids and return the liquid to the pot over medium heat.  Reduce the sauce until thickened and velvety as necessary.  Season as needed with salt and pepper.

(I hate wasting or discarding anything.  The vegetables strained from the sauce as soft but very flavorful.  If you save them, mix them with any left over rib meat–if you are lucky enough to have them–and beef stock for a quick next day soup.)

Serve the ribs with the sauce and garnish with chopped parsley.

Give your friends a taste of the world with this Spice Kit Subscription

The most unique gift this season fspice-kit-400x398or your friends who enjoy cooking is a Monthly Flavor Kit from

You can send a 6-month subscription right to the door for for just $37.  A 6-month Spice Kit subscription is $7 per month ($42) but you can save an additional $5 off your first subscription 6 month gift order by using code: RAKFLAVOR.

Each month your friends will receive 3 freshly ground, recipe-ready flavor kits.  Each kit is accompanied by 3 custom recipe cards that combine with the spices and their local, fresh ingredients to create three globally inspired meals for 3-4 people.

Customize gifts for your friends based on their own tastes.  Recipes are tailored to vegan, vegetarian, gluten free or paleo diets, or those simply eating for weight loss and health!

The spice packets arrive at their door freshly ground and at the peak of flavor.  What a great way to explore the world of flavors without having to commit to a large jar of a spice you might not use again for months.  You don’t have to purchase any additional spices — everything is included except local produce and kitchen pantry items.

No more “old spice” experiences.

We’ve all done it.  You go to the grocery store to buy a spice because you’re going to test a new recipe. You get to store #1 and they don’t have that spice in stock.  You drive to another store in hopes of finding it.   You end up buying a jar of Garam Marsala or ground fennel for a recipe that requires a 1/4-teaspoon.  You pay $4 for that jar and a year later you still have most of it in the cabinet taking up space. When you open the jar you smell the spices and they either don’t have any scent or the perfume is just a little off.   The Raw Spice Bar’s recipe/spice kit combination lets you test out flavors before committing to a complete jar.  You get enough of every necessary spice to complete your monthly recipes.  It’s so convenient because you don’t have to drive to get it, pay extra or store the leftovers spice.


The sample Raw Spice Bar recipes are tasty and easy to prepare.

Why give your friends another sweater, bath set or wine bottle.  A Raw Spice Bar Spice Kit subscription comes every month and reminds them of you for about the same price.  Who knows, you might even get a free dinner invitation from this creative gift!

Baked zucchini appetizers with cheese and herbs

Baked zucchini appetizers with cheese and herbs