Veggie Breakfast Frittata

I was in one of my Kitchen MacGuyver moods one Sunday morn. I had a 1/3 of a bag of wilting spinach, half a container of little cherry tomatoes that were staring to shrivel and my last 6 eggs in the fridge. If anything will make me feel like an Iron Chef, it’s one of those situations. I’ve become very fond of making frittatas because they are so versatile. They are a great vessel for those little bits of leftovers, cooked or uncooked, that you need to use up in the fridge. You can also save leftover slices and have a tasty breakfast ready to be warmed up throughout the week in a matter of seconds. If you’re feeling particularly swanky, pair a slice with a salad for what the fancy people like to call a light lunch. Or if you’re strapped for cash (like myself), you can call it not-tuna-salad-again-because-I-get-paid-in-two-more-days lunch.

One thing I have been sneaking into my cooking lately is this crazy blend of spices called Berbere. It’s a north African blend of spices that is really robust and give a complex and distinct flavor. It has lots of cayenne pepper, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and a few other things. I picked up some at Penzy’s, but any specialty market might have it. If you can’t find it, a good pinch of cayenne pepper and turmeric might do the trick.

Side note: Remember to use a pot holder when removing your pan out of the oven and after. Maybe you all are smarter than me, but I can’t stop burning myself because I keep forgetting that the pan came out of a 375 degree oven and I just grab it as if I were making an omelet or something.

Veggie Breakfast Frittata

Veggie Breakfast Frittata

1 cup spinach
½ cup cheery tomatoes, halved
3 whole eggs
3 egg whites
1 tsp Berbere spice blend
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbs olive oil

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

2. Heat your garlic and oil in an oven-safe pan over medium-high heat.

3. Just as the garlic starts to get a bit of brown, add your tomatoes and spinach. Sprinkle in the Berbere spice and toss to wilt the spinach and cook the tomatoes.

4. Whisk together your eggs and egg whites. Add them to the pan.

5. Gently stir the bottom of the pan with a spatula to move the veggies around in a uniform layer.

6. After the eggs cook for about 4 minutes on the stovetop, place the ovenproof pan in the oven to cook the eggs longer. Bake for 10 minutes, until the eggs have set.

7. Remove the pan from the oven and slide out the frittata on to a cutting board for cutting.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cups

I’m trying to work those ‘good’ grains back into my diet these day. I know I need to watch the carbs, but you can’t deny the goodness of putting whole grains into your body. In addition to all of the fiber you’ll get to keep you full, they are little nuggets of goodness to get you through a derby practice. Nothing is worse than running out of steam and you still have to keep skating another hour.

I like this recipe because it allows me to use all of those overripe bananas that I throw in the back of my freezer. Store in an airtight container for a few days in the fridge or pop them in the freezer for much later. These are awesome on-the-go when you overslept before your morning practice or only have a few minutes to get to derby after work.

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Makes 12 cups
2 cups of rolled oats
1 Tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (you can sub any unsweetened milk of choice, I just like almond)
1 egg
2 medium bananas
1 large apple (preferably Granny Smith) cored and cut into small chunks

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

2. Spray your muffin tin with nonstick spray, or use tin foil liners. The paper ones may be harder to get off (they were for me).

3. Mash your bananas and add your egg and milk. Mix together thoroughly.

4. Add your dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Once blended together, fold in the apple.

5. Fill your muffin tins to about the top. Bake for 25 minutes.

Vanilla Chia Smoothie

I’m trying to clean up my eating again. Like everyone else, I fall off the bandwagon during the holidays. I work in an industry full of food vendors. They are sending us droves of goodie baskets, as if the continual supply of food for testing throughout the year wasn’t havoc enough on my hips. Usually I wouldn’t mind, since I don’t beat myself up if I slip a cookie here and there because I know I’ve got at least 4 hours on my skates every week. However, my derby league is on holiday break like everyone else. Hopefully when I do start skating again back in January, the chocolate-covered pretzels, French truffles, Christmas cookies, and caramel popcorn won’t slow me down too much.

For me, getting back on the bandwagon is all about shortcuts. Just something to make the act of saying, “No, you don’t need to pull into T-Flats for Taco Tuesday because you have something equally delicious at home,” a little easier; like ripping off a Band Aid. My big problem this past month has been not eating a balanced breakfast. Lunch is easy for me if I don’t have time to pack it. I walk over to Panera for a fresh salad, or drive to one of many sushi places around and grab a fairly healthy meal. I’ve come to love Jimmy John’s not only for their freaky fast delivery to my office, but their Un-Wich as well. But when it comes to breakfast, I’m screwed if I don’t plan ahead. A bagel is out of the question, and though I like the hidden menu steak and egg bowl at Panera I don’t like paying more than $6 for it.

Enter chia smoothie goodness. I can whip this up in less than 5 minutes while I’m making dinner. Really no mess (especially if you heat the milk in the jar in the microwave) and after it sits in the fridge overnight, all you have to do is grab and go. I drink mine right out of the jar once I get to work and have been pairing it with eggs cups (recipe here) for a protein-packed breakfast that will help keep me going all morning.

Vanilla Chia Smoothie
1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (or soy, coconut or cow’s milk)
3 Tbs chia seeds
1 Tbs honey
1 Tsp vanilla extract

1. Heat your milk of choice either in the microwave or on the stovetop. Be careful not to scald it; stand by the stove and wait for it to warm. You want it warm so when you add your honey it will dissolve.

2. Add the honey and stir through, making sure it has dissolved into the milk.

3. Add your sweetened milk to a container with a lid (I prefer a mason jar or something from my collection of reused pasta sauce, pickles, mustard, and olive jars).

4. Add the vanilla extract and chia seeds.

5. Seal the lid and shake vigorously (over the sink!) until everything is incorporated. Let this is in the fridge for about half an hour and give it another good shake. Put it back in the fridge for at least 3 hours before shaking up and enjoying!

Poached Eggs with Spinach and Pasta

Sometimes you’re just craving pasta… Even at 10:47 in the morning. Appropriate? Maybe.

Perhaps that’s why I love brunch so much. Got some vodka? Add some juice, and magically daydrinking is now encouraged. Take your favorite thing to eat at dinner, throw an egg on it, and VOILA! It’s now acceptable to eat it before noon. Some of my favorite brunchie things are any type of steak and eggs (I had a chimichurri flank steak and eggs at Dexter’s Winter Park that was amazing) and crab cakes eggs bennedict (the gold standard of this is at HUE in Thornton Park, but I heard they are now closed, which may be good because I can only justify paying $14 for this dish there). Sadly I don’t keep crab cakes on hand.

So I rummaged around in my fridge once I finally put my book down, because sleeping in and reading a good book in bed is quickly taking precedent over cardio tennis at 9 in the morning. I do fancy myself a Kitchen MacGyver and I love a good challenge. Kinda feels like Iron Chef, and today’s secret ingredient was the leftover whole wheat penne I’ve had shoved in the back of the fridge since making the conscious decision to slow way, way down on the amount of bread and pasta that I eat. This decision was also made before my friends and I decided to make homemade pizzas nearly every other day for a week, which explained the open jar of pizza sauce sitting in the fridge amongst all of the lovely fruits and veggies I just bought and have barely touched. I blame it on all of the work functions, the awesome friends that I have that just love to share great food in unorthodox abundance, and this new beau of mine that enjoys treating this lady to culinary adventures around town. It’s not entirely my fault.

But since I turned down the urges to order pizza and wings at midnight and opted for a good night’s sleep, I will indulge in a little pasta this morning. Topped with eggs, of course.

Weeee!

You’ll need:

2 eggs
Apple cider vinegar (or any other light colored vinegar, like white wine, just please no balsamic!)
Some kind of tomato-based sauce (pizza sauce, pasta sauce, whatever)
Pasta (any shape and kind will do)
A big handful of spinach

1. Get a pot of water to a rolling boil, salt it, and drop in your pasta. Cook it like usual, for about 7 minutes or until al dente.

2. While your pasta is cooking, get a frying pan, preferably a deep one, and fill it about half way with some water and a good splash of your vinegar of choice. If you need definition of a ‘good splash’, take that as 3-4 tablespoons. Bring this to a soft simmer.

3. Once the water in the pan is lightly bubbling, crack your eggs and slowly add them into the water. This is called poaching. The vinegar in the water and the temperature will keep the whites from making a huge mess. After about 2 minutes, you can take a slotted spoon and gently turn them over in their bath. If you like runny yolks like me, take them out of the water after another 2 minutes and place them on a paper towel to drain. For fully cooked yolks, go for a full 3 minutes.

eggs

4. After the pasta is done, drain it, add it back to the pot, and throw in your handful of spinach. Wilt the spinach, which won’t take too long because of the heat of the pasta. Toss in a few spoonfuls of your tomato sauce to coat the pasta and heat through.

5. Put the pasta and spinach into a bowl, then top with your poached eggs. I added a chiffonade of fresh basil and some pepper, but you could also throw on a little grated Italian cheese or a drizzle of quality olive oil.

brunch

Breakfast: Egg Cups

Breakfast is unfortunately is the most overlooked meal of the day. The problem for me is 1. I L-O-V-E breakfast foods and 2. I’m like everyone else and I have no time to make myself something worthy of being considered breakfast. I’m sorry, but a bowl of sugary cold cereal at 7am just hits my stomach like a rock, and swinging into the DD on my way to the office most always makes me late.

Through my experimentation with different ways of eating, I’ve noticed that a high-protein breakfast not only keeps me going through lunchtime, but it’s pretty effective at helping me keep my weight in check. Also as a skater, my body needs all the protein it can get. While looking through some clean eating sites, I came across something called an ‘egg cup’. Basically they are mini egg quiches but without the crust, and by far the best thing that I’ve incorporated into my morning routine since the snooze button.  Do these Sunday while you’re making dinner, and you’ll be ready to go in the morning!

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You’ll need:

A muffin tin

8 eggs (whole, or any combo of white and yolks)

Shredded cheese (optional)

1 leak

2 strips of cooked bacon

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the rough top of the leak off and discard, about 1” from the end. Thinly slice the leak all the way to the bottom. Rinse under warm water thoroughly to remove any sand (leaks are notoriously sandy).
  3. Sautee the leaks in a pan in your favorite fat or cooking spray of choice on medium heat until they are soft.
  4. Mince the bacon and add to the leaks.
  5. Spoon the leak and bacon mixture into the muffin tin.

Resist the urge to season the ingredients! Adding salt to eggs while they are cooking can make them tough, and the bacon you are using may have enough sodium already. Do feel free to use herbs, like rosemary, or pepper.

  1. Crack your eggs into a bowl and whisk together.
  2. Pour enough egg into the muffin tins to reach about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up the side. They will puff up!
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until they have risen and look firm on top.
  4. Remove and sprinkle a pinch or two of shredded cheese on top. The heat from the eggs will melt it while they rest.
  5. While they are still warm (but not hot), gently lift the egg cups out with a fork and place into a container.

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To reheat in the morning, pop them into the microwave for 30-50 seconds and you have a delicious way to power up in the morning!

There are a million ways you can tweak this recipe. It lends itself as a way to use up any leftovers you might have, like the veggies that you didn’t finish at dinner mixed with some extra sausage you made for breakfast over the weekend. Try any combination of grilled or sautéed vegetables, but make sure that your ingredients do not contain much water. If you’re using spinach, be sure it’s relatively dry before you add it to your muffin pan- spinach and mushrooms hold a lot of water, which will compromise the texture of your eggs. I’m a fan of zucchini, asparagus, and onions. Play around with different cheese to top your egg cups with. I think hard or semi-soft cheeses would work best. Sharp cheddar and parmesan are my two favorites, especially because they add a lot of flavor without having to use much.