Saturday, April 11, 2009

Basic Recipe for Easy & Versatile Baked Eggs in a Cup

I read a recipe somewhere for eggs that you bake in a muffin pan, but those little cups just didn't seem big enough, and what do you do if you only want to make one or two? What about making them ahead of time to use throughout the week for a quick breakfast? And maybe I want some of lastnight's leftover asparagus in mine and my husband doesn't?

The possibilities are endless with this recipe. I'm giving you the basic recipe and method, and you use your imagination to make this perfect for you. At the end of the recipe are some of my ideas. I'm sure you'll have a lot more!

You'll need one 4-ounce custard cup for each egg. Spray it with cooking spray and press one piece of Canadian bacon into the bottom. Top that with vegetables of your choice (or no veggies if you don't want any) and then break an egg on top. You can do this up to one day ahead, cover tightly and refrigerate or just continue with the recipe if you want to bake them right away.

Put the filled custard cups onto a baking sheet and slide it into a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, top with about a tablespoon of shredded cheese and loosely cover with a sheet of foil. Let rest for 5 minutes; the cheese will melt and the interior of the eggs will finish cooking. When cooked this way, the yolk will still be soft and a bit runny. If you want it cooked harder, just leave the eggs in the oven for a few more minutes.

Easy & Versatile Baked Eggs in a Cup

Serves 4

4 slices Canadian bacon
4 large eggs
1 T. shredded reduced-fat cheese (I use Mexican blend)
Sautéed or leftover vegetables of your choice (optional)

Spray each of four 4-ounce custard cups with nonstick cooking spray. Press one slice of Canadian bacon into bottom of each custard cup. If using fresh vegetables, sauté them first (onion, scallion, bell pepper, tomato, etc.). If using cooked vegetables, just chop them first into small pieces. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the vegetables on top of the bacon and then break an egg into each cup.

Place filled custard cups onto a baking sheet and slide into a preheated 400-degree oven. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove. Sprinkle with cheese and cover loosely with foil. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. With a spoon, scoop contents of each cup onto your plate or, if you are doing this for a crowd, onto a warmed serving platter or chafing dish.


Make ahead: Bake according to directions; cool completely and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 4 days. To heat, microwave for 45 seconds on high. Serve.

Mexican: For veggies, use sautéed onions and combine with a can of diced green chiles. Cooked corn would be a good addition to this, or use a can of drained Mexican corn. Serve with a selection of salsas (rojo-red and verde-green). For the traditional Guadalajaran "Divorced Eggs," serve each plate with two eggs, top one egg with red sauce and one with green.

Italian: For veggies, use sautéed onions and bell pepper. Serve topped with a quick sauce of minced garlic, green onion, diced tomatoes, and fresh basil. Fresh asparagus tips would be a good addition to this, too!

On a buffet: Serve in chafing dishes with a variety of sauces on the side, with fresh fruit and an assortment of muffins. Great for a family gathering since you can do these ahead of time!

Veggie suggestions: onions, bell pepper, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, English peas

Sauce suggestions: Italian red sauces and bruschetta toppings, Mexican salsas, classic hollandaise

Nutrition per basic recipe each egg cup: 136 Calories; 8g Fat (53.2% calories from fat); 14g Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; 0g Dietary Fiber; 229mg Cholesterol; 507mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Fat.

Bon Appétit!
Chef Debbie

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Recipe for Fresh Italian - Style Spaghetti Squash

I was looking for a budget-friendly vegetable side dish to make today. I'm on Phase 1 of South Beach, and I tend to get very bored with the vegetable/protein thing. I'm hungry for pasta so I decided to give spaghetti squash another try.

Understand that I've tried spaghetti squash before and just was not impressed. No way was it even close to tasting like pasta. Just as that mashed cauliflower stuff that is supposed to replace mashed potatoes doesn't come anywhere near the flavor/texture profile of good mashed potatoes.

After my wine tasting in Charlotte last evening, I wheeled into Harris Teeter (one of our really nice grocery stores in Charlotte) and browsed the produce department, hoping to get some ideas. I picked up the spaghetti squash, found fresh tomatoes (reduced because they were a bit over-ripe) and grabbed the rest of the ingredients I usually put into good Italian tomato sauce. Here 's the result, and I've got to tell you that it is delicious! I think it is the fresh herbs that I used. They are expensive to buy in the produce department of grocery stores, so plant some in pots and put them outside your kitchen door so you can use them all spring, summer and fall. You'll be amazed at the difference fresh herbs make in your culinary creations!

Fresh Italian Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
3 c. chopped tomatoes
Salt & Pepper to taste
Handful of mixed fresh herbs (I used basil, oregano, and chives)
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese to taste

Wash squash; pierce several times with sharp knife and microwave on high power for 15 minutes or so until it's soft when you press on it. Remove from the oven to cool slightly. Cut squash in half and using a clean kitchen towel to protect your hand, hold the squash half. Using a spoon, scoop out seeds. Take a fork and pull the spaghetti-like strands of flesh away from the skin and into a bowl. Repeat with the other half and set aside.

Heat a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 tsps. olive oil and add onion and green pepper. Season with salt and sauté until just getting tender. Add minced garlic and continue to sauté for about two minutes. Add tomatoes and stir until tomatoes are heated through. Empty bowl of squash into the pan with the vegetables and fold into mixture until everything is heated through. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

Lastly, toss in fresh herbs and scatter shredded cheese over top. Serve and enjoy!

Bon Appétit!
Chef Debbie

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Budget-Saving Recipe for Easy Salmon Salad

I've never been wild about salmon salad because I am just not wild about fishy tasting cold food. (Well, I do love tuna salad, so I guess that is the exception.)

I roasted some salmon fillets for supper the other night and, as I usually always do with meats, poultry, and seafood, I throw in some extra servings for quick meals in the days to come. I had one 6-oz. serving of salmon left over and created a great salad that I just loved because the taste of the salmon was offset by the briny olives and capers. Lots of freshness, too, with the vegetables, and that final shot of lemon juice just took it over the top!

A bonus to this salad is that you can stretch a 6-oz. piece of cooked salmon to feed 4 people generous servings. So, the next time you cook salmon fillets, make an extra serving to use for this delicious salad for lunch or dinner the next day.

Easy Salmon Salad

Serves 4

6 oz. cooked salmon, skin and bones removed and flaked into bite-size pieces
1/2 lb. grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 c. celery, sliced
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled, quartered and sliced cross-wise
1 tablespoon rinsed and drained capers
1/4 - 1/2 c. sliced pimiento-stuffed green olives
Olive juice to taste
Good quality mayonnaise to taste
Juice of one lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste
Leaf lettuce

Combine all ingredients except salmon and lettuce in large bowl. Stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper, and olive oil and lemon juice until it's perfect for your taste. Gently fold in salmon just until incoporated, keeping chunks of fish intact. Chill well.

Serve cold on a bed of lettuce with lemon wedges on the side. Enjoy!

Bon Appétit!
Chef Debbie

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cafe 222's Peanut Butter & Banana French Toast

What a shame to have to stay in San Diego for two nights longer than planned! I should be so lucky again! That is just what we were forced to do when our red eye flight out was cancelled on Thursday night last week. Since airlines have reduced the number of flights, the next flight that we could get on was Saturday morning. Neither of us was too disappointed; we checked into the beautiful Marriott in the Gaslamp Quarter and gratefully crawled into our luxurious bed for a good night's sleep.

In the morning I found Bob working at his laptop (it was a workday for him, after all) and so I went through my usual morning routine and then went downstairs to get some advice from the concierge. First on my list was to find a good place for us to have breakfast, and without hesitation the concierge suggested Cafe 222!

Cafe 222 is only open for breakfast and lunch. It feels really small because its seating for 75 is at small tables for 2 - 4 that are scattered throughout two levels of outdoor patios and a few tables inside. Nothing fancy here, but I loved the artful touches that always make me happy with these kinds of charming eateries. How perfect was this arrangement of artificial flowers stuffed into box graters and arranged on one of the two solid walls inside. (The other two walls are windows.)

Isn't this chandolier darling?

This was my breakfast. I know, not a very healthful breakfast, but this is what I usually get when I go out. I don't make Eggs Benedict for myself at home so it's ok to splurge. That is my rationalization. It also is a pretty good way to judge a breakfast place. There is, after all, an art to poaching eggs perfectly and making hollandaise sauce that has that perfect balance of lemon to offset all the butter and egg yolks in the sauce. This was delicious!

Peanut Butter & Banana Stuffed French Toast? They serve a lot of that here at Cafe 222. In fact, Bobby Flay came here and challenged the owner to a Throw Down with this signature breakfast. I heard that he lost, but then he usually does. He might be an Iron Chef, but how can he compete with someone who has made thousands of servings of Peanut Butter Banana Stuffed French Toast???

Here's the recipe by Cafe 222 owner Terryl Gavre. You can watch her make this here.

Peanut Butter & Banana Stuffed French Toast

Makes 3 servings

6 slices day-old white or wheat bread
1 to 2 ripe bananas
8 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
Honey, for drizzling
4 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash salt
Butter or oil, for frying
Powdered sugar, for topping
Maple Syrup, for topping

Remove crust from bread. Lay bread out on counter and spread a thin layer of peanut butter on each slice. Peel banana and slice enough to cover every other piece of bread. (You will be making 3 complete sandwiches). Drizzle a small amount of honey on each piece of bread that does not have banana on it. (These are the tops). Place honey drizzled piece of bread on top of a piece with bananas on it to make a sandwich. Repeat until you have made 3 sandwiches.

In a shallow medium sized bowl, gently whip, by hand, the eggs, cream, vanilla, rum, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Heat skillet to medium heat, around 350 to 375 degrees F, or until butter melts and begins to sizzle. Dip 1 sandwich at a time into rum batter and place into skillet. Cook until golden brown (about 3 to 4 minutes before turning) on each side. Remove from skillet and cut in 1/2 diagonally. Top with powdered sugar, butter and maple syrup.

Bon Appétit!
Chef Debbie