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Spinach Omelet

August 14, 2014 Leave a comment

Tonight I tried my hand at making a healthy and tasty recipe. Thanks to myfitnesspal.com getting the calorie counts was a snap. We gobbled it up too fast to get pictures!

Ingredients:

1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 roma tomato, diced
4 egg whites
2 eggs
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp grated parmigiana cheese
1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
pepper to taste

In a large non-stick skillet, sauté onions on low heat until they start to turn transparent. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Transfer onions and spinach to a separate bowl and add tomatoes.

In a bowl, mix egg whites, eggs, salt, water and parmigiana, Pour into skillet and cook covered over low heat until eggs begin to firm up. Sprinkle mozzarella on top of eggs and then spread spinach mixture on top. When eggs are mostly set, fold or scramble omelet. Cook to desired doneness; I like the outside to be lightly browned.

Yields: 2 servings, 390 calories each. Serve with toasted Italian bread (60 calories each).

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The Brave Little Toast

June 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Toast has probably been around for as long as there were people well-fed enough to let bread get stale, and other people hungry enough to want to find a palatable way to eat it. Toasted bread also holds together better than the fresher, fluffier stuff, making it good for transporting soups and dips from bowl to mouth. So it’s not surprising that over time it’s appeared in many popular forms:
Read more…

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Trust Me I’ve Done the Eggwork: Fridge Cleaning 101

April 26, 2010 2 comments

I’ve been sprinkling my ideas here and there on the internet for a pretty long time, but until I started using “tag clouds” I never realized that the single biggest subject I wrote about was food. So while I’ve been a huge fan of this here blog that’s unfolding, I was mildly disappointed by the lack of posts about, you know, frying stuff in butter. My mistake was mentioning this to Snarky’s Machine, who of course decided that I was just the person to correct this discrepancy.

Keeping with Snarky’s suggestion, I thought I’d start with eggs, which I do in fact rather frequently fry in butter. I don’t eat meat, so along with legumes and dairy, eggs provide a significant part of my protein intake. I like them because they’re cheap — even organics are just two bits a pop — versatile, and widely available, at least before 11 AM.

I do enjoy going out to breakfast, and I plan on writing about that soon. But right now I want to talk about cooking, particularly that kind of cooking I learned when I was first on my own — the kind I resort to when I haven’t done much shopping lately, and the state of the refrigerator is hovering somewhere between raidable and Fight Club.

  • As a kid, I spent a lot more time watching my mom cook than out in my dad’s garage. So while I didn’t know how to drive or check my oil until I was 24, I knew at an early age that eggs make a great refrigerator cleaner. Not in the Arm-and-Hammer sense, but as a way to tie together small quanitites of accumulated leftovers. One of my favorites of these has always been potatoes and eggs, consisting of eggs, salt, a little romano or parmigiana cheese, and whatever potatoes have been hanging around. Anything works: I’ve used baked, boiled, post-Thanksgiving roasted potatoes, tater tots, even McDonald’s french fries — and trust me (I’ve done the eggwork) they always turn out great. I heat the spuds (in butter of course) in a frypan at medium heat and then add in a few eggs scrambled with the cheese and salt, flipping once when it starts to brown at the bottom. When I can’t keep it together (which is most of the time), I find scrambling the heck out of it doesn’t affect the taste at all.
  • Once I mastered the basic technique I found that pretty much anything else could be added after the potatoes and before the eggs: onions, cubes of cheese, broccoli (though I usually save larger quantities of it for quiche), red or green peppers, green beans, peas (though if you have kids be careful as I find the addition of peas often makes anything I cook inedible) and sausage or bacon or really any kind of meat if you’re so inclined.
  • A little less versatile but still useful is my spaghetti omelette, which is the only way I’ve found to dispose of leftover spaghetti that doesn’t involve wiping sauce off the sides of the garbage pail or the kitchen floor. It’s the same idea as potatoes and eggs, except that I mix the pasta, cheese and eggs together in a bowl before pouring it all into the buttered pan. The long strands of spaghetti work like a polymer resulting in the only kind of omelette I’ve ever consistently been able to flip. Something I’ve figured out only recently is that this also works as a casserole, baking the whole thing at 375° until it’s solid in the middle.
  • Keeping with the “mix something starchy with eggs and fry it in butter” motif, another favorite nothing-in-the-fridge dish is fried matzo which, growing up in an Italian/Jewish section of Brooklyn, I was exposed to at an early age. The main difference from the other dishes is that the matzo needs to soak in the eggs ahead of time. Some recipes I’ve seen call for dunking it in water first, but I prefer just using eggs, even if it takes a bit longer and cooks up a bit drier. I also like to add a little onion — onion powder works great when the cupboard is bare of anything fresh — and some ground pepper.

One of the wonderful things is that all these recipes scale from one person to a whole family, making them one of the few pieces of information from my college years that I still use on a more or less daily basis.

This was originally posted at I Fry Mine In Butter.

Categories: Essays, Recipes Tags: , , , ,

Happy Pi Day

March 14, 2010 2 comments

In honor of Pi Day (3/14) I made one of my favorite — but also, importantly, one of my kids’ favorite — foods, broccoli quiche.

Broccoli Quiche

Pi Day Broccoli Quiche

I’ve heard of mythological children somewhere who make a face at broccoli, but it’s one of those foods that all three of my boys have always enjoyed enthusiastically, making it my go-to veggie when I’m feeling the need to get some deep green goodness into their growing bodies. It’s the non-meat pizza topping of choice, sometimes with black olives (the only one who won’t eat the olives will chow down on the pepperoni pie that I usually get to appease the ominvores). They like it the way my mom prepares it with garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I’ve already written about the crowd-pleasing properties of my Tofu Broccoli Stir Fry. They’ll even gobble it up steamed with a little salt.

But as much as they like all these, my broccoli and cheddar quiche seems to get the most “yays!” when they find out I’m making it. I like it because I can get nearly all the cleanup done in advance. Also, because the veggies are inside, it makes a side dish optional, though tonight I served it with steamed carrots and garlic bread. I also got a peach pie just to be extra celebratory.

My recipe is adapted from Mollie Katzen’s famous Moosewood Cookbook and its sequel The Enchanted Broccoli Forest (which, interestingly enough, I’ve never prepared). I don’t make my own pie crusts; I probably could but I’d rather avoid the time, work and mess for something that would never come out as good as the boughten kind anyway.

Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche

2 pre-made deep-dish pie crusts
2 medium crowns of broccoli, cut into small pieces
8 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
6 eggs
2 cups milk
4 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp. mustard powder
1 tsp salt
1 small clove garlic, crushed
juice of 1/2 lemon
paprika

Preheat the over to 375 degrees. Steam the broccoli until it’s bright green and gives some resistance when you try to pierce it with a fork.

Line the bottom of the pie shells with the cheese.

To make the custard, whisk together all the rest of the ingredients except for the paprika. When the broccoli’s done, add half to each pie shell, and then cover each with the custard. Dust the tops with paprika and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the middle is firm. Let the quiches set for ten minutes before cutting.

Happy Pi Day!

Categories: Recipes Tags: , ,

Pressure Cooking

February 14, 2010 2 comments

I’m pretty comfortable in the kitchen, but occasionally I manage to forget that (1) I have three hungry kids waiting for me at home and (2) I haven’t gone shopping lately, which tends to make me anxious about preparing dinner. Ordering pizza is always an option but, in the interest of inflicting a death of a thousand cuts upon the debt monster, I prefer to reserve pizza and take-out for special occasions or emergencies.

It was on one of these brain-addled evenings that I was checking the larder when I got home. There are certain ingredients I try to keep on hand at all times for such situations; one of these is broccoli, which holds the honor of being the healthiest food that is also enjoyed by every member of my household.

A few other staples I had were eggs, milk, cheese and frozen pie shells — I know that pie crust isn’t that difficult but I have a hard time tolerating the mess — making broccoli quiche another option. But that would have taken about an hour and a half to prepare, bake and cool, and I don’t like pushing the evening routines too late, both for my kids’ sakes and mine.

Digging deeper, I found a few boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese — actually the Wegmans equivalent — but it’s one of the foods the kids can prepare by themselves when I can’t get home in time. Besides, it’s not a comfort food I grew up with — macaroni were made either with sauce or garlic and oil, never powdered neon-colored cheese — so I’d prefer to declare a pizza emergency than go the box-dinner route.

Fortunately there were also a few cakes of extra-firm tofu in the fridge and several packets of ramen noodles in the pantry, meaning I could make another family favorite: tofu and broccoli stir fry with ramen. I tend to avoid this dish on weeknights because I usually get too OCD about the preparation to do it quickly. But on this evening, I was pretty motivated and managed to throw it together efficiently (though accidentally leaving out the garlic) with a minimum of mess, stress and grumbling. In the end, there was good food that everyone liked, ready at a reasonable hour, without spending lots of extra money.

Tofu Broccoli Stir Fry

ingredients:
3 broccoli crowns
1 red or green bell pepper
1 medium onion
1 pound extra-firm tofu
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
5 packages any flavor ramen noodles (throw away the flavor packets unless you have kids, in which case put one packet at each place at the table)
.25 mg Xanax (optional)

marinade:
juice of 1/2 medium lemon
3/4 cup soy sauce
2 cubic inches fresh ginger, grated
1 medium clove garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons honey

If you opt for the Xanax, take it first with a tall glass of water. This will help keep things under control later on when you have to clean up the mess, set the table, and serve the food before the noodles get gummy and the vegetables get limp.

Mix the marinade ingredients together with a whisk or fork.

Drain tofu and cut into cubes about a half inch on each side. I try to keep the entire block intact when I cut it so I can put it back into the plastic package it comes in, and then pour the marinade over it. If this is too anal-retentive for you, just toss the tofu and the marinade into a plastic ziploc bag and shake it up.

Cut broccoli into florets and stem chunks. Florets should be no larger than about an inch across, stem pieces roughly 1/2 inch cubes. Steam until bright green and still firm but not crunchy. You should be able to pierce it with a fork, but with significant resistance.

Slice the onion and pepper into strips about 1/2 inch by 2 inches. You can also use carrots, celery, bok choy, pretty much any firm vegetable, just cut the pieces about the same size. Or you can leave these out entirely and just use more broccoli, it’s up to you. Put the veggies aside. You’re done with the prep, so rinse the cutting board so you don’t get food chunks running around the dishwasher. And make sure you scrape the inside of the garlic press because you know how icky it is to empty the dishwasher and find soggy washed garlic inside the press.

Put up a big pot of water for cooking the ramen. By the time it boils, you should have the stir fry part done.

Heat oil in large frying pan or wok. Drain off marinade into a bowl, and mix in the cornstarch. Pat the tofu dry with a paper towel to avoid splattering oil when you drop the tofu into it.

Stir fry tofu for a few minutes until it starts to brown a little — you’ll need the heat pretty high or else you’ll just be sauteeing it. Add the cut up veggies and continue to stir fry until the onions start to get translucent. Add broccoli, lower heat to simmer. Add the marinade, stir and cover.

Serve with ramen. It’s good with rice too, but then you should make sure you start the rice before steaming the broccoli or else you’ll end up with soggy vegetables and nobody likes soggy stir fry. You’d end up throwing the whole thing out and ordering pizza after all.

Categories: Essays, Recipes Tags: , , , , ,

When life hands you bananas…

January 24, 2010 11 comments


I like bananas, but only when they’re yellow. If I eat one when there’s any green to it at all, I know I’ll be punished for my impatience by a hard and bitter fruit. On the other hand, ripe bananas have something in them that tickles my throat — when I was a kid, they used to make me cough — so I probably have a mild food allergy. Still, they’re a very healthy, inexpensive and versatile fruit so I usually like having them around. But being a cheapskate I hate having to throw away the brown ones which have passed their window of attractiveness, which is why I’ve always been a big fan of banana bread.

I always thought of banana bread, and its cousins carrot cake and zucchini bread, as the “stone soups” of quick breads. I mean, looking at most of these recipes, each of these would probably taste just fine without their eponymous ingredient.

Some years ago when I was a UU youth advisor, I was looking for a snack to bring to a overnight event and saw all these brown bananas in the kitchen. Knowing that there were vegans in the group who generally chose to abstain from most baked goods — all of my own baking included milk and eggs — I wondered if I might be able to find something in one of my hippie cookbooks (I’ve flirted with vegetarianism and veganism for years, but haven’t managed to work up the discipline, leaving me a hardly worth mentioning lacto-ovo-pescatarian).

My hippie cookbooks failed me, and there was no internet yet to speak of, so I was forced to improvise. Amazingly, I found this vegan chocolate cake recipe in — of all places — the Betty Crocker cookbook that had been left behind by an old roommate who probably used it mainly for its instructions for cooking meats and potatoes. Anyway, it turns out this recipe uses the science fair volcano technique — baking soda and vinegar — to get the cake to rise. With a little trial and lots of inedible error, I managed to figure out how to use the same method to make the eggless, milkless banana bread that for years has been my default pot-luck contribution. I get lots of requests for the recipe, so here it is:

Redlami’s Vegan Banana Bread

redlami's banana bread

3 – 1/3 cups flour*
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cider vinegar
4 mashed ripe bananas
1 cup chopped nuts (optional; some people like nuts in it but I don’t)

Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Combine and pour into three lightly greased loaf pans, or one 13×9 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes, or until dry toothpick comes out clean.

Variation 1: Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread
After mixing all the batter, separate out about a third of it, mixing in 1/4 cup cocoa. Pour the plain batter into a 13×9 baking dish, then add the cocoa mixture on top, swirling it in with a knife. Bake as usual.

Variation 2: Spiced Banana Bread
Add the following to the dry ingredients: 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1 cup raisins.

*I don’t claim it will make it healthy, but if you’re looking to cut down on the guilt, whole wheat flour works just fine.

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