Tag Archives: eggs

Hey Breakfast Skippers…

28 Apr

I am up and at the gym by 5:30 most mornings. After a good workout, I dash back home for a quick shower and then zip off to work. Nope-no time for breakfast.

But that is a huge mistake. We all know that. A healthy breakfast sets a successful eating pattern for the day, so we’d better make it a good one. That is a challenge on a tight schedule though. What is the solution? The Grab and Go breakfast.

No-not the drive through kind, the refrigerator leftover kind. Here is how to do it. First, grab a couple of eggs because they offer excellent protein. Why does that matter? Protein can help stabilize blood sugar and keeps the hunger pangs at bay. You feel full longer. Eggs pack a quality nutritional punch, so feel free to grab 3 or 4 of them. Next grab the leftover quinoa with spinach and pimento that you made last night for dinner.

Once you are at work, get situated. Check your emails, review your calendar, and fill your water bottle with refreshing ice water. Next, take your eggs and quinoa and find a microwave.

Crack your eggs into a glass microwave safe dish. Include one or two whole eggs and one or two of the whites only. Most of the protein in an egg resides in the white so use all of the whites. Don’t be afraid of those egg yolks though-they contain beneficial vitamins and minerals like choline, selenium, and B vitamins like folate.

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Next, take a fork and whip up your eggs. If you are a milk drinker, add a few tablespoons to make your eggs fluffy. Add some pepper for a little kick. Pop it in the microwave.

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Try cooking your eggs in 30 second increments until almost done, stirring your eggs every 30 seconds.

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Next, add in your grains. This adds fiber, texture, flavor and a bit more muscle building protein.

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Finish cooking your eggs with the grains.

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So there you have it. You are having a delicious healthy breakfast at the office in a snap. This is how to do a healthy Grab and Go breakfast. And the best part is that this is very budget friendly because you used leftovers. Love that! What are you doing with your leftovers?

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Inspiration and the Waffle Iron

26 Mar

Inspiration. It comes from many places. A sweet smile from your child. The scents wafting out of a bakery. An impassioned speech from a respected figure. A plate with artfully arranged food.  Walking through a museum. Beautifully arranged flowers brightening a room. Inspiration, when it comes, affects us all differently.

Admittedly, I am a bit quirky, so when I get inspired it usually sends me into the kitchen. My kitchen represents an ideal arena for self expression, and allows creativity to be channeled in wonderful ways. Take, for example, a recent weekend morning. Inspiration came in the form of wonderful weather, the promise of a great bike ride, and a powerful hunger.

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The morning was a lovely temperature and getting outside to enjoy the budding day was in order. So Denis and I decided to take a long trail ride on our bikes. But first we needed to power up with a breakfast that would provide much needed energy for our ride. Eggs, Canadian bacon, and hash browns sounded delicious.

The thing is, I am not a big potato fan-unless it is breakfast. I just adore hash browns. They are crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and just plain yummy. But they can be a pain to make, and take a bit of talent to make well.

I’ve tried pulling out my cast iron skillet, oiling it up, shredding potatoes, seasoning them, they frying the heck out of ’em. That was my best attempt at delicious home made hash browns. And they were just so so. Then inspiration hit in the form of my trusty old waffle iron. And I made the Best.Hash.Browns. Ever.

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This is how I started-my waffle iron, potatoes, and some cooking spray. I also had salt and pepper on hand as well. I plugged my waffle iron in and set it to preheat at a medium temperature. While that was heating up I pulled the preshredded potatoes out of the freezer and quickly defrosted them. I squeezed out the excess water.

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When the waffle iron was good and hot I sprayed it with a generous amount of cooking spray. I then placed roughly 2 handfuls of shredded potatoes on the bottom plate of the waffle iron. I sprinkled salt and pepper on top, then placed the top plate over the potatoes.

The potatoes started sizzling away. Denis was busy working on the eggs and Canadian bacon while I fussed over the hash browns. Since this was an experiment with no recipe, I was not sure how long to let the potatoes cook. I watched them closely. After about 6 minutes I gently lifted the top of the waffle iron to take a peek at breakfast project. What did I find?

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Perfection. Absolute deliciousness. I used a spatula to remove the “potato waffle” from the iron. It slid off the iron and onto a plate with ease. The waffle iron made amazing breakfast potatoes. This paired with our eggs and bacon very well. The trail ride, with inspiration from the breakfast, was a rousing success.

Will I try this again? You bet! But next time I will mix in some diced bell peppers and maybe even some cheese. I can’t wait for my next inspiration!

Soup Time!

30 Dec

Cold weather is soup weather. When the chill sets in, the soup goes on. I decided to try making a soup I had never made before. And I wanted to make it from scratch. My darling Denis talked about his sister Kathy’s Italian Wedding Soup. He remembered it being quite delicious. Decision made.

Italian Wedding Soup has meatballs, so my first order of business after finding a recipe that I could start with (while making it my own) was to make meatballs. I used a couple of types of ground meat, bread crumbs, a beaten egg, and some italian seasoning. While some epicureans fry their meatballs, I bake mine. I cooked up a big batch so there were extra to put into the freezer for another day.

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While the meatballs were cooling, I assembled the rest of my ingredients. Cooked meatballs, chicken stock (both homemade and store bought), shredded carrots, celery, arugula and spinach, orzo, eggs, parmesan cheese, and finally salt and pepper were set to come together in one magnificent soup. The homemade chicken stock was loaded with succulent herbss-and would perfectly season the soup.

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Next I started chopping. I like everything ready when I begin making something, It just makes it easier to assemble.

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Just a little FYI…when I use celery in a recipe, I use both the outer stalks and the leafy insides. I don’t waste any flavorful tidbit when I cook.

Next I sautéed the carrots and celery in a little butter. Then I added the stock. My first  ever soup kettle of Italian Wedding Soup was underway. The tantalizing aromas floating through the house brought my darling Denis to the kitchen. One of the many things I love about cooking…the kitchen becomes an impromptu gathering place.

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The soup was bubbling away, and the scents wafting through the house made the frosty day outside fade away . Next, more building of the flavors when the chopped arugula and spinach went into the broth.

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Then it was time to froth up the eggs. When I add eggs to any recipe, they sit on the counter for about 20 minutes to come to room temperature before adding them to a recipe. Eggs work better in recipes when they are room temperature.

 

After whipping the eggs, I stirred the soup and slowly drizzled the eggs in-they cooked slowly as they were added. The soup was coming together beautifully.

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The house was filled with the warmth of bubbling soup.

In went the meatballs. They just had to be heated through and the soup was complete. Time to dig in!

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Freshly grated parmesan garnished the soup. Cripsy garlic bread completed the meal. While it was chilly outside, inside it was warm and oh so delicious.

Soup lends itself to personal csutomization. It can be easily tailored to taste. Love pepper? Grind some flavorful heat into the soup. Want more veggies? Chop them up and toss them in. Is vegetarian soup your preference? Use tofu and vegetable broth. Easy Peasy. Let your food express your personality and have fun!

 

No Labels Please.

22 Jun

Labels. I loathe and reject them! They are so limiting. The smart one. The athletic one. The workaholic. The baby of the family. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. That’s right. I hate labeling everything including meals. Boring! And limiting!

Breakfast does not have to be oatmeal. eggs, toast, bagel, or cold cereal. These foods can be eaten any time of the day. And if it’s last night’s leftovers for breakfast who cares? There is nothing wrong with chicken, rice, and broccoli for breakfast. If that is what sounds good, go for it.  Dinner has to be a big hunk of meat and a couple of side dishes?  Nope.  Not in my book.  Sometimes a bowl of cereal is perfect for dinner. Sometimes eggs and toast work. My youngest son’s favorite dinner is breakfast! For many years his special birthday dinner request was breakfast, or what some would label as breakfast food.

I am going to tell a story through pictures. It is the story of a meal. But I will not label it. And I will not reveal what time of day I enjoyed this meal (which, by the way, features several servings. I only had one!). I will toss a caveat in saying that it is not a story for the faint of heart. It is of adult nature….it features…dare I say it….bacon and bacon fat. Totally obscene! Outrageous! But it is moderation in the use of the fat that allows my conscience to let this dirty little secret out.

Fresh!  Beautiful!

Fresh! Beautiful!

Lucky for me I have friends who have what I lack…namely a green thumb. This bowl is full of fresh peppers and tomatoes. I was the lucky recipient of this lovely fresh bounty, and I let it inspire me. It took me to a very unexpected place.

Bacon.  Decadent!

Bacon. Decadent!

I began my homage to these fresh ingredients by frying up some bacon in my beloved old cast iron skillet. While the bacon was crisping, I started cutting up the peppers and tomatoes.  When it was done, I scooped out the bacon to drain on  paper towels and disposed of most of the bacon fat in the skillet.  I  left a bit of the grease in my skillet though. The aromas in my kitchen started deepening, layering. Man, was I hungry now!

Pepper mania!  yes!!

Pepper mania! yes!!

I tossed those fresh peppers and tomatoes into that bacon fat. Yes, that’s what I said. Right into the fat. Well here is where I kind of compounded the naughty factor. While the peppers were frying up I went to the fridge and hung on the door. Hunting. Digging. Then I popped to the pantry. Nope…nothing there…went back to the fridge. Here comes more of the naughty…I was seriously misbehaving with that bacon grease!

Peppers to the side...eggs in front!

Peppers to the side…eggs in front!

I pushed the veggies aside and tossed in eggs. Frying eggs in bacon fat. Yup…I warned you! Totally obscene! And completely delish! But my conscience would not allow this dish to be totally devoid of some sort of nutrition. So I made some whole grain toast. No butter.  Next I just  tossed eggs, peppers and tomatoes on the toast. The bacon was on the side.  Fabulous!

YUM!

YUM!

I will not label this meal, nor will I reveal the time of day that this meal was consumed. Let me just say that it was amazing! I cook with bacon grease maybe once or twice a year. I love great food cooked in different ways. And in moderation, I think that everything can be enjoyed. As I said, I only cook with bacon fat occasionally. This dish was certainly worth the wait..and totally label free.

 

Tale of a Saturday morning

18 Mar

Today is just a regular Saturday.  I got up, did a load of laundry, and made a big lunch for my son heading out to a long day of life guarding class.  While I was doing this, I nibbled on a bagel.  Trying to shake the long week off, I head to the gym for  a workout with Denis.

At the gym, we hopped on some treadmills for a good 40 minute run.  Then we headed over to the free weights for a little strength training.  Such a great start to the weekend!  We zipped on back home, and were surprised that the workout didn’t leave us super hungry.  Peculiar, I thought, as we usually have a pretty healthy appetite!  But knowing post workout major food craving comes on fast and strong, I decided to make something when we got home anyway.  Eating some protein after a workout is important.  Since it was still morning, I thought eggs would work for the post workout nibbler.  And what better way to eat eggs than a big honkin frittata?  (Okay, maybe deviled eggs, but that’s a story for another day!). There were 2 goals here-a great post workout dish plus plenty of leftovers for my teenagers!

I went the fridge and pulled out 1/2 dozen eggs.  Then I started digging.  My frittata would be totally dependent on what was on hand.  As Denis would say, I am the best refrigerator cook he knows.  I can pull any meal together with the odds and ends in my kitchen.  I dug into the pantry, the freezer, and the fridge.  Here is what I pulled out:

4 pieces of uncooked leftover bacon

1/4 bag leftover frozen hash brown style potatoes

1/2 an onion

1 package frozen chopped spinach

jar of roasted red peppers

6 eggs

skim milk

A chunk of sharp cheddar cheese

First, I got my trusty ol’ cast iron skillet out.  Then I turned the oven to 450 to preheat.  Next, I cut the left over bacon into small pieces  and tossed it into the skillet, which was on medium high heat.  That started sizzling, and I cracked the eggs into a mixing bowl.  To cut down on the fat, I used 4 whole eggs and 2 with the whites only.  I whipped those while the bacon was cooking, and added about 3/4 cup skim milk.  I let that sit.  While I was working on that, Denis chopped 1/2 the  onion, 1/2 the jar of roasted red peppers, and shredded about 1/2 cup of the cheese.

When the bacon was done, I scooped it out of the skillet and put it on some paper towels to soak up the grease.   I tossed the chopped onion and the potatoes into the still hot skillet.  That started cooking.  I cooked it, stirring twice, until the onions were translucent  and the potatoes soft, about 4-5 minutes.  While that was cooking, I put the package of frozen spinach in the microwave to thaw, then squeezed it dry.  After the onion and potatoes were cooked, in went the red peppers and spinach.  I gave everything a good solid stir and let it heat through.

After about 2 minutes I gently poured the egg mixture into the pan.  I gave the whole thing a good stir.   Only one.  That was it.  The heat was still medium high, and I left the skillet on the heat until the eggs started to set, about 4 minutes.  I sprinkled the cheese on top, then popped it into the oven for 10 minutes.  I toasted some whole wheat bread to accompany the frittata.  It was a yummy dish, I used up some leftovers, and it was ready in a snap.  With all the vegetables I added, it was also packed with nutrients.

So what is in your pantry, your fridge, your freezer?  Have some fun, get creative, and whip up something fun!

Fabulous Frittata!

8 Nov

I love breakfast.  But only after coffee.  And an hour or two awake.  I am not a morning person, so more accurately I can say that I love breakfast, but for brunch.  On the weekend I love sleeping in a bit, getting out of bed slowly, and reading the paper with a cup of coffee.  Next, I like to have a nice nutritious breakfast.  But an easy one.

One weekend morning, I decided to have some eggs.  I had taken a long run the day before and felt like I needed some protein.  Some vegetables.  Something substantial.  But I did not feel like standing at the stove for a long time, and omelets just aren’t my thing.  A frittata was the perfect breakfast for this particular morning.

A frittata is an italian creation.  It is like an omelet but it is baked.  You begin with an egg mixture, then toss in whatever you like or whatever you have on hand.  It is delicious, can be low in fat, and packed with nutrition.  It can feed several people too, making it very budget friendly.  Bonus!  Let me share my recipe with you.

I began by pulling 6 eggs out of the fridge.   Eggs, in many recipes, are better at room temperature, so I set them on the counter for a few minutes.  Then I started to look at what to add to my frittata.  I found some yummy ingredients and a left over to use.   I found a jar of roasted red peppers and leftover grilled ham steak.  I also had a small wedge of fresh parmesan and some frozen spinach.  That was enough to get rolling.

The start of a brilliant frittata!

I started by scrambling 2 whole eggs and 4 egg whites.  Yolks are where the fat and cholesterol are found in an egg, so use whole eggs sparingly.  I like using more egg whites, where the protein is, than whole eggs. I whipped them up into a froth, then added 1 cup of skim milk.  I also added some black pepper.

I set that aside for a minute and chopped up the red peppers and my leftover ham steak.  I defrosted the frozen spinach and squeezed it dry.  Next, I got a large skillet that is oven safe out of the cabinet, because this dish starts on the stove top and then goes into the oven.  I sprayed the skillet with nonstick vegetable spray.  I sautéed the spinach, red peppers, and ham steak over a medium high heat.  I added some more fresh ground black pepper and a tiny sprinkle of salt.  I also added some red pepper flakes, a favorite seasoning of mine to use with anything containing spinach.

After a few minutes, I gave the veggie ham mixture a final stir. Next, I poured the frothy eggs on top.  No more stirring!  I turned the heat under the skillet to medium and stepped away from the stove for a few moments.

Pour the eggs!

After the eggs started to set, which took about 4-5 minutes, I tossed the frittata into a

My frittata was puffing!

400 degree oven for 15 minutes.  I sat and enjoyed a rare second cup of coffee, and took another look at the paper.  But after about 10 minutes, the scent wafting from the oven was too much for me to handle.  I had to go to the oven and take a peek.  That frittata was puffing up and turning the most beautiful golden color.  Yum!  My mouth was watering and I was ready to dig in!  But the frittata had a few more minutes to bake.  So I closed the oven door and waited a few more minutes.

The frittata was worth that wait!  I pulled it out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before cutting it.  I cut it into wedges like a pie and had a piece with some whole wheat toast.  It was the perfect weekend breakfast.  Next time, though, I might have it for dinner!

Aaahhh! The finished product! And yes, that is a delicious dollop of butter on the toast! Just enough to add flavor, but not enough to kick up my cholesterol!

Egg off!

10 Jun

At the farmers market the other day, my darling significant other Denis and I got some free range eggs and some quail eggs.  The quail eggs were a novelty, not really necessary, but we just had to try them.   The farm fresh free range eggs were from the most charming farmer, a lovely shade of brown, and they were  not the least bit uniform in size.  Just like nature intended!

We decided that a taste test was in order!  We had to see if there was a taste difference between the eggs.  Organic versus store bought (aka factory eggs in my book).  We had already prepared the quail eggs, so it was just between the white store bought and the free range eggs.

It was a weekend so we could have a leisurely breakfast.  The next morning Denis came over for breakfast.  We sat on the screen porch sipping coffee and perusing a couple of newspapers.  We also chatted about the best way to prepare the eggs for a pure taste.  The decision was made.  Fried, over easy, in really good butter.   But please don’t judge the methodology!   It was in the name of science!  Really it was!!

I got my cast iron skillet out and melted the butter in it.  Whole grain bread was toasting.  Fresh berries were glistening from being freshly washed.  The eggs sat on the counter.  When the butter was just right, a wee bit browned and bubbling, we tossed 2 brown eggs and 2 grocery store eggs into the pan.  Delicately.  Because every one knows that fried eggs are about the perfect yolk.  Heaven forbid a yolk break!  We took a deep breath in and let the aroma of the eggs sizzling twang our buds!

The whites of the eggs were firm, the yolks delightfully jiggly.  Time to get them out of the pan and onto our plates!  Toast and summer fresh berries accompanied our eggs.  We dug into the eggs with robust curiosity.  There was a clear front runner in my opinion, but I waited for my sweet Denis to voice his opinion.  It took one bite from each egg for a clear winner to emerge.  The satisfied moaning from a bite of the brown egg spoke volumes!

The brown free range egg had an amazing flavor all its own.   The white store egg was flat with the butter taste being more dominant than the egg itself.  Yup, the brown egg was fantastic!  And no one was more surprised than me to discover the taste difference.  I am now a convert.

For the record, I didn’t even finish the white egg.  As a budget minded single mother, I am always conscious of my food dollars.  And if I am baking, the white store bought eggs will be fine.  But from now on, when I want to splurge on an egg featured in a meal, I will definitely spend the extra money on the brown farm fresh eggs.  Hands down!

 

Lovely poached quail eggs!