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.

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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

Lunch: Provencal Potato Salad

I like to call this The Pantry Cleaner. Basically, take all of your things in your pantry and just dump them in here. Not really. But basically.

Provencal Potato Salad

Provencal Potato Salad

Usually I can’t stand recipes that call for so many ingredients. And you still have to make the base of this recipe, which can be found HERE. But, Ina Garten again works her magic, and everyone that I had try this at the office agreed its pretty flippin’ amazing and totally worth the slaving in the kitchen.

OK, maybe you’re not really slaving… Just opening up a few jars, mincing a few things, and peeling some eggs. If you’re a fan of nicoise salads like I am, your mouth will thank me. Thankfully this does make a pretty hefty batch, so get ready to eat a few bowls of this or feed a small army of friends. Since this is a pretty complete meal, you’ll have a great lunch for the week!

Here we go!

½ lb haricots verts (fresh green beans, to you and me)
1 recipe French Potato Salad
1 can of tuna fish, drained
½ cup capers, drained
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small red onion, minced
½ cup pitted olives, chopped
6 hard-cooked eggs, quartered

1. Get a giant ass mixing bowl with your French Potato Salad in it.

2. Get a pot of water to a rolling boil. Drop in your haricots verts and cook for about 3-5 minutes. You want to keep them fairly crisp, instead of too mushy. Drain and give them a chop in half.

3. Add the haricots verts, tuna fish, capers, cherry tomatoes, onion, olives, and eggs to the potato salad. Toss well and serve!

So pretty...

So pretty…

...So yummy!

…So yummy!

Sides: BBQ Deviled Eggs

I happen to work for a barbeque restaurant. I prompted everyone to find a creative way to use one of our products, a Carolina-style mustard-based BBQ sauce, in a recipe. Tomorrow is judgment day, and we’ll all be competing for a cash prize and bragging rights in the office. I’ve postponed this competition once, and it was only until today at 4:30p that I actually started thinking about what I’d be making.

I feel like there is some pressure here! Not only am I talking a big game in front of my coworkers about how much I cook, but I have you fine readers to impress as well! It’s like the first time I skated in front of non-derby friends…

So I’ve settled on a barbeque classic: deviled eggs. In my family, it’s not a get-together without them. This barbeque sauce lends itself to the recipe because it’s replacing main ingredients vinegar, mustard, and salt. Some people add sugar, and BBQ sauce would cover that as well.

There are some other changes that will make this egg unique to me. My mom has always put pickle relish in her deviled eggs. I’m going for a slice of dill pickle nestled in the filling on top, like a garnish that actually serves a purpose. I also always see paprika, and while there’s nothing wrong with it paprika doesn’t do much for flavor. The egg whites are bland, and when you take a bite of a deviled egg you want to see color and texture and get some flavors going. A good BBQ rub will have sweet, smoky, spicy and salty covered and it will look great against the blank canvas.

Try these out at your next family get-together, or at a pot luck with friends. Though humble and seen as out-dated, there are definitely ways you can modernize this Southern classic.

My handsome little egg!

My handsome little egg!

You’ll need:

1 dozen hard boiled eggs, shells removed

½ cup of quality mayonnaise

½ cup of Carolina-style mustard BBQ sauce

1 mini dill pickle

Your favorite BBQ spice blend

    1. Slice each egg lengthwise. Gently squeeze the sides until the yolk loosens, or take a small spoon and finagle it out. Reserve all yolks in a mixing bowl. Set your empty whites on your serving tray (if you are so fancy).

    Squeeze the whites gently to loosen up the yolk.

    Squeeze the whites gently to loosen up the yolk.

2. Take a fork and break up all of the yolks until they resemble corn meal. Try to get as many lumps out as possible.

Crumbled yolks

Crumbled yolks

3. Add the mayo and BBQ sauce, and thoroughly mix it. Keep trying to work out any lumps you may have.

4. Taste test! Does your mixture need salt, or did your BBQ sauce have enough? Mine didn’t, so I added about a teaspoon of salt. Don’t forget that you’re dolloping this onto bland egg whites, so if you prefer a spicier mixture feel free to add some of your favorite hot sauce.

5. Spoon or pipe your mixture into the egg whites. For a makeshift piping bag, scoop your filling into a plastic baggie, seal, and snip off one of the corners. Instant piping bag! (with no cleanup after, of course)

6. Take your dill pickle and slice thin slices, enough for each egg to get a little garnish.

7. Sprinkle all of the eggs with your BBQ spice rub.

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.