We’d like to introduce you to a new contributor to Downstream: Michael van Vliet and Megan McDuffie of Fresh Off the Grid. In August 2015, Michael and Megan quit their 9-to-5 jobs in Los Angeles, sold nearly all their possessions, and left on an indefinite road trip across North America. During that time, they launched Fresh Off the Grid, a camp cooking and outdoor travel website, to document their culinary adventures on the trip. Now they spend their days developing camping-friendly recipes for car campers, backpackers, and anybody else who enjoys eating well in the outdoors.
Since departing, they’ve travelled up the west coast, through the pacific northwest, into British Columbia, over to Alberta, and all the way down the Rockies to New Mexico. They are currently traveling through Arizona, and trying to eat their weight in green chiles. Read below for their take on a southwestern breakfast quesadilla.
If traveling for the past six months has taught us anything, it’s the importance of breakfast. It’s strange, but back when we lived in Los Angeles and had traditional 9-to-5 jobs, our mornings were wildly chaotic. You might think a recurring schedule would foster a healthy morning routine, but between hitting the snooze button a few more times, jumping in and out of the shower, and throwing on (hopefully matching) clothes, it was a miracle if we got out the door at all – much less feed ourselves. Breakfast, if we even got to it at all, was a hastily prepared afterthought.
Now that we’re on the road, things have changed completely. Perhaps it’s because we’re operating on a more natural timeline (we can’t hit snooze on the sun) or because we’re actually looking forward to day (instead of being in denial about it), but we’ve started to develop a much healthier – and far less frantic – morning routine. And central to that routine is breakfast.
We’ve found that when we take the time to eat right in the morning, it results in a much smoother ride throughout the day. We have more energy, we make better decisions, and we just feel better when we make breakfast a priority. We think of it as an investment in our short-term future, and so far it has never failed to pay dividends.
Recently, we’ve been exploring the vast desert landscape of Arizona, which has gotten us in the mood for southwestern fare. With every Mexican market and taco stand we drive by, our noses are filled with the intoxicating smell of cumin, garlic, and chile. So we decided to develop a breakfast that draws on these distinctive local flavors.
We’ve found the key to starting the day off right is with a healthy dose of protein. So for this quesadilla we combined scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, and spicy pepper jack cheese to deliver stick-to-your-ribs substance. But it’s in the spices that the southwestern flavor really shines through. Cumin and New Mexico chili powder add a rich and smoky flavor to the sausage while the cilantro adds a fresh brightness. Serve with your favorite salsa or drizzle with some Sriracha (our go-to favorite hot sauce) to wake up your tastebuds.
While this meal certainly takes longer than eating a granola bar in the morning, we guarantee it’s well worth the effort. So the next time you’re camping, celebrate the dawn of a new day with this southwestern breakfast quesadilla.
Southwestern Breakfast Quesadilla
Makes 3 full-sized quesadillas
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 6 breakfast sausage patties
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon New Mexican chili powder
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 6 eggs, cracked into a bowl and mixed with a fork
- 6 flour tortillas
- 1 ½ cup pepper jack cheese (or Monterey Jack for a milder spice)
- ¾ cup cilantro, chopped
- Hot sauce or salsa to serve
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the sausages and break them apart with the spatula. Add the cumin and chili powder. Cook, turning frequently, until cooked through and browned, about 5-7 minutes.
Turn down the heat to low. Add the whisked eggs to the skillet with the sausage and scramble by using the spatula to slowly stir the eggs. As they begin to set, fold the curds over onto themselves. Once the eggs are cooked through to your liking, turn off the heat.
To assemble the quesadillas, sprinkle ¼ cup cheese onto a tortilla. Add a third of the sausage and eggs mixture, ¼ cup cilantro, top with another ¼ cup cheese, and cover with an additional tortilla. Heat a second skillet (alternatively, you can move the sausage and eggs to a bowl and wipe out the skillet you’ve already used) and place the quesadilla in it to warm through for about 4 minutes, flipping halfway. Remove from the heat and repeat to cook the two remaining quesadillas.
Cut into wedges and serve immediately with hot sauce or salsa!