Vegetable Egg Scramble

I’m just not great at making omelets – they stress me out and never turn out the way I want. So, my solution is to make a veggie egg scramble. It is easy, gourmet, and delicious. I actually prefer it because the flavors so beautiful marry. Also, I’m kind of weird about cheese in my eggs – I just don’t love it even though cheese is one of my top favorite foods. So, my solution is to sprinkle the cheese on top of the eggs as an optional addition. This is a dish that you can totally personalize which is especially nice for choosing the ingredients that would be most appreciated by the person or people you are cooking for! And again, you can easily add fresh herbs as a garnich or put them in for the last few minutes of cooking for a lovely, fresh flavor.


VEGETABLE EGG SCRAMBLE
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2 eggs per person
vegetables (I used onion, multi-colored peppers, and fresh baby spinach), chopped small
breakfast meat, optional (I sued sausage)
cheese, optional
butter
salt & pepper

Beat the eggs until light in a bowl. Add a little milk and salt and pepper to taste (you can always add more but you definitely want to cook them with some seasoning).

Melt a little butter in a skillet on medium to high. Add the chopped onion and peppers and saute until almost tender. Add the spinach (I do not chop this) and cook until wilted and veggies are tender. Reduce heat to medium. Pour in the eggs and scramble – fully mixing in the vegetables. Cook until eggs are fully cooked (add herbs right before finished if desired). Serve garnished with cheese if desired.

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Weekend Fare: Brunch & A Giveaway!

This Giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who entered!

I’m late getting this post put together. My husband was home working on some paperwork today and the boys were busily cleaning their rooms. As the hours passed and we still really hadn’t eaten breakfast, I decided it was the perfect morning to make brunch. And thus this morning became a lovely morning of cooking for the men I love!

We enjoyed breakfast egg sandwiches and a fruited spinach salad. It was wonderful to spend time preparing for the day and feasting on the delicious, seasonal food.

The sandwich began with an inspiring loaf of rosemary olive oil bread. I decided to use parmesan as the cheese because I felt it would compliment the bread and not detract from it. The combination of flavors and textures proved fabulous.

BREAKFAST SANDWICH
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1 egg
fresh grated parmesan cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer)
pepper to taste
2 slices bread (I used rosemary olive oil bread)
butter
1 slice cooked bacon
a few leaves of baby spinach
2-3 slices of tomato

Fry the egg in a litte butter – breaking the yoke. When it is almost finished, sprinkle parmsan cheese and allow to melt. Sprinkle with a little pepper.

Toast the bread – I put it under the broiler to crisp one side, leaving the other side soft. Butter one side of each piece.

To Build:
Top first slice of bread with baby spinach, then bacon, then the egg, then the tomato and top with remaining slice of bread. Serve immediately.

The salad was a delightful combination of fresh. The granola was perhaps the most interesting and most surprising addition. It took the salad right over the top and solidified it as a brunch salad. Simple and delicious.

BRUNCH SPINACH SALAD

Baby spinach or mixed greens
Creamy Balsamic Dressing (or dressing of your choice – a sweet poppy seed would also be lovely)
Fresh berries (I used raspberries and sliced strawberries)
Granola

Toss the greens with the dressing and place on plate. Top with berries and granola. Serve.

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It’s been a very  LONG time since we’ve had a giveaway! Things have been busy and quite frankly, I just haven’t gotten around to it! However, a very thoughtful and generous reader and friend offered us this delightul book to giveaway. Thank you!

Do you like to entertain and set a beautiful table? Do you wonder how to pull together things you may already have to create ambience? Do you just enjoy creativity and love looking at beautiful inspiring photos? Then this is the book for you! The gorgeous photos of table ideas for all occasions will definitely inspire you. You can keep it simple or dress a table the would make Martha Stewart proud. Table Inspirations by Emily Chalmers is a lovely addition to any home. You won’t be disappointed!

Here’s the all important information on HOW TO ENTER:

Leave a comment on this post telling us 1 of your favorite summer dishes or a favorite summer recipe.
– Make sure we have a way to contact you!

For additional entries (just leave us a comment telling us which ones you have done!):
Subscribe via the link to the right or with google reader.
– Add us to your blog roll.
– Join our facebook group – The Cooks Next Door.
Facebook about this giveaway.
Tweet about this giveaway.
Blog about this giveaway.

There you go! You could earn as many as 7 entries. And if you already are in our group, subscribe etc, let us know and we will add in the extra entries!

This giveaway will be closed on Tuesday, June 7 and the winner announced on Wednesday, June 8!

Weekend Fare: Sweet Potato Egg Cups

I found these egg cups on a blog I read occasionally, Everyday Paleo. I decided to give them a try for Jeremy and I’s Easter brunch. As per my usual, I changed the recipe by adding a few more ingredients and making it more my own. The taste was amazing. I did have trouble removing these from the muffin tin so they weren’t as pretty as I’d hoped. However, if you want a fun presentation for a brunch or fancy breakfast, this is definitely a recipe to consider.

SWEET POTATO EGG CUPS
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3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
1/4 cup butter, melted
sea salt to taste
12 eggs
4 slices of bacon, diced
4 mushrooms, diced
3 green onions, sliced

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease thoroughly a muffin tin.

Mix the grated sweet potatoes with the melted butter. Using your hands, press the grated sweet potatoes into each muffin cup making sure the bottom and sides are completely covered. Press down firmly creating a potato “basket.” Bake the sweet potatoes for 25-30 minutes.

While potato baskets are baking, cook the diced bacon, drain and set aside. Lightly saute the diced mushroom and green onions in olive oil.

Remove potato baskets from the oven, place a few bacon pieces and some of the mushroom mixture in the bottom of each (make sure not to overfill, just a little bit of goodies!). Top with an egg. Return to oven and bake until the egg whats are set, but yolk is still slightly runny, about 10 minutes. Garnish with additional green onions, if desired.

Market Fresh: Eggs

Eggs are always in season and a wonderfully versatile ingredient. I am blessed to have access to local, organic eggs at $2.25/dz. I could eat eggs for breakfast and supper in the same day; I don’t, of course, but I could.

Today I want to share with you two great egg recipes that just might be out of your normal scope of egg cooking and eating.

Sometime ago, while flipping through an issue of Everyday Food, I came across several recipes that involved baking in parchment paper packets. The salmon recipe is amazing (will have to share another time). The egg recipe, equally superb. Combining eggs with seasonal veggies, you’ll have a balanced, semi-fancy meal within 20 minutes. It’s perfect for breakfast, brunch, or supper.

Parchment paper is a little pricey, but I find having a roll on hand is indispensable.

EGGS WITH ASPARAGUS AND MUSHROOMS
(adapted slightly from Everyday Food, issue unknown)
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2 teaspoons, extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1/2 pound of fresh asparagus spears, woody ends broken off
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare two 24-inch long pieces of parchment by folding each in half and then cutting into a half-heart shape. Place both pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush half of each heart with olive oil. Place mushrooms and asparagus spears on oiled half. Carefully crack two eggs over each. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pleat tightly around the edge to seal. (I’m not very adept at the pleating, so just do your best!)

Bake until the egg whites are set and asparagus is tender crisp, 8-10 minutes. Top with shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.

(Note: If you make more than two servings, you will need to place baking racks in the upper and lower thirds and then rotate two baking sheets halfway through baking.)

Egg Drop Soup is a super easy and yummy first course for a home-cooked Asian meal. If you’re making this gluten-free be sure to use gluten-free soy sauce.

BETTER-THAN-TAKEOUT EGG DROP SOUP
(from The Cleaner Plate Club)
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1 Tbsp canola oil
2 scallions, chopped, white and green parts separated
4 c. chicken broth
1/2 tsp sherry (I used a splash of white wine)
1/2 tsp soy sauce (La Choy or San-J for gf)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 drops sesame oil
2 eggs

Heat the canola oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the white parts of the scallions and sweat for five minutes.

Pour 3 1/2 cups of broth into the pan, reserving 1/2 cup. Add the sherry, soy sauce, salt, ginger, and white pepper. Bring to a boil and let cook for 5 minutes.

Mix the cornstarch with the reserved broth in a small bowl, and add to the pan. Add the sesame oil. Turn the heat to low. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then add to the broth while stirring rapidly in a clockwise motion. Stir for 1 minute, until the eggs have cooked and look like shreds.

Sprinkle the soup with the scallion greens. Serve hot. Serves 4.

International Cuisine: Polish Dishes

We thoroughly enjoy trying different cuisines. I have yet to find one that I don’t like! It keeps food interesting, creates new ideas for flavor combinations, and expands the palates of my three sons. Last week, we spent time studying the country of Poland and whenever we focus on a country, we try to make at least one dish native to that area. This time we made two and both were delicious!

POTATOES BAKED with EGGS & CREAM (adapted slightly from this site)
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2 Tb. butter, melted
3 c. potatoes, diced & cooked
salt & pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. sour cream (I subbed some yogurt)
2 Tb. chives or spring onions, chopped (I was out of both so I used a little dried parsley)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour butter into the bottom of an oven proof casserole. Add potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Mix together the eggs and sour cream and pour over potatoes. Top with chives or onions, cover and bake for 1 hour.

SAVOURY SAUSAGE & SAUERKRAUT (adapted slightly from this site)
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2 Tb. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
¼ c. green peppers, chopped
1 lg. apple, peeled, cored, & chopped
2 Tb. brown sugar
½ tsp. caraway or fennel seeds
3 red potatoes, cleaned & diced
1 ½ c. sauerkraut, drained, rinsed, & packed
1-2 lb. smoke sausage (kielbasa), cut in 3-inch pieces

Melt butter in saucepan. Add onion and green pepper. Cook until tender. Add apple, brown sugar, caraway seeds, potatoes, and sauerkraut. Mix well. Place sausage on top of sauerkraut mixture. Cover. Cook over medium-low heat for 40 minutes.

Simple Suppers: Apple, Leek, and Cheddar Quiche

About a month ago, I made this Quiche for a quick Saturday night supper when my sister and her husband were in town.  It was incredible! Seriously, I took a bite and I think I complimented myself on the deliciousness.  And when I went to town this weekend I brought along some leeks for the express purpose of making this recipe for my parents.  And once again, everyone loved it!

I found the recipe in Recipes from the Root Cellar by Andrea Chesman. The first time I made the recipe I added chopped mushrooms and put it all in a pie crust. The second time, no mushrooms, no crust. Both times, delicious. So, that’s to say, the recipe is adaptable and easily made gluten-free.

APPLE, LEEK, AND CHEDDAR QUICHE
from Recipes from the Root Cellar
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Pastry for a 9-inch or 10-inch single crust pie (favorite gf crust works great)
3 Tbsp butter
1 large leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
2 Tbsp flour (for gf: 2 Tbsp all-purpose gf flour, or 1 Tbsp corn starch)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 c. firmly packed grated sharp cheddar or smoked cheddar cheese
3-4 eggs
Milk or cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Roll out and fit pastry crust into a 9- or 10-inch pie pan. Flute the edges

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leek and saute until limp, about 3 minutes. Add the apple and saute until the leeks are tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and thyme.

Sprinkle 1/2 c. of the cheese into the pie shell. Layer the leek mixture on top. Cover with remaining cheese. Beat the eggs in a glass measuring cup and add enough milk to make 1 1/2 cups. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the pie filling.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until puffed and browned. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Cast Your Vote & Simple Supper

Here are our top favorite suggestions! Now it’s your turn…you vote for your favorite! The poll will be open for one week and the winner will win the awesome Salad Cookbook as well as the privilege of having their suggested name be the new feature name for at least the next 3 months! The random winner of the other cookbook will also be announced at the same time.

And I’m sharing the simple meal we enjoyed last night. Veggie Egg Scramble, Roasted Potatoes, and Toast w/Homemade Peach Jam.

I had vegetables left over from a veggie tray this weekend so I chopped up the red, orange, and yellow peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, and broccoli. I sauteed the vegetables in a little butter and then added beaten eggs (seasoned with salt and pepper with a little half & half), scrambled together, and topped with cheese.. The potatoes were diced and then tossed in a little olive oil, salt, & pepper and baked at 425 degrees for 15-18 minutes. The toast just had butter and peach freezer jam I made last summer – the perfect sweet, fruity compliment for the meal.

It was nutritious, delicious, and satisfying! Who says dinner can’t be simple and quick and a little break-fasty?!

Counter Culture

This past week marked the opening of my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I was so excited to go and pick up the first produce of the season. Here’s what we received: one bag of mixed greens, one bunch of asparagus, kale, two heads of lettuce, radishes, eggs, chives, tarragon, spearmint and peppermint.

And here is what we’ve done with this delicious food:

asparagus — steamed with butter, salt and pepper
radishes — although I wanted to make this salad again, I’ve just been putting these into regular green salads
mixed greens and lettuce — salad; the first salad I made needed to be quick and consisted of the greens plus snipped chives, including the chive blossoms. Salad dressing also needed to be quick and so I used cream, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. A perfect combination!
chives — the chives have appeared in salads and our egg supper, and I’m thinking of trying to dry some to use in the winter. I’ll have to let you know how that goes.
tarragon — I’m envisioning turning this into a lemon-tarragon sauce for chicken

kale — I browned a bit of garlic in some olive oil and then threw in the washed and chopped kale to cook until it was tender. Balsamic vinegar finished it off as a delicious side dish to our pasta dinner.
eggs — we often have eggs on Saturday night since I plan for a large meal on Sunday. Most frequently I mix five eggs with 3/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup grated cheese, salt and pepper and bake it in a greased pie plate. This week I added snipped chives.
spearmint and peppermint — my favorite way to enjoy these herbs is in my tea. I drink Trader Joe’s Irish Breakfast Decaf and add a sprig of mint to my mug when brewing the tea (or make a large pot with several teabags and a few sprigs of mint). I drink this hot with milk, but it’s also excellent chilled. Some of the mint found its way into the cucumber and sugar snap pea salad that I made again this week.

We enjoyed a delicious meal for Mother’s Day, cooked for us by my sister. She made hamburgers on the grill with various toppings such as lettuce, tomato, onion, blue cheese, avocado, and bacon. Side dishes included oven fries, rice salad, and Israeli salad.

Of course the most exciting thing happening in our kitchen right now is the presence of our baby girl — Laura Elizabeth — who arrived on April 27th.

And, since Laura’s arrival, our family has been enjoying the cooking of many friends who have kindly provided meals for us. We’ve all enjoyed the variety and I think the kids are sorry to see the meals coming to an end.

Market Fresh: Irish Colcannon

Today kicks off Irish week – in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day. For this market fresh, we will focus on potatoes with a little cabbage and kale thrown in – it’s Irish Colcannon to be exact. I’m offering two recipes for this traditional Irish potato dish – both are vegetarian and both are gluten free. One would work great for a main dish and the other is better as a side dish.

IRISH COLCANNON – Side Dish Version
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4 lg. potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 c. chopped cabbage
1 med. onion, chopped
1/4 c. milk
2 Tb. butter or stick margarine, divided
salt & pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a large saucepan or Dutch oven; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat until potatoes are almost tender. Add cabbage and onion. Cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes or until cabbage is tender. Drain well. Mash with1 Tb. butter, milk, salt and pepper. Place 1 Tb. of butter on top for serving. Serves about 5.

My friend, Jenna, gave me this recipe. I’ve modified it slightly to our taste. We really love the way that the egg yolk breaks into the potatoes. Delicious!

BAKED IRISH COLCANNON – Main Dish Version
(Thanks, Jenna!)
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4-6 med. potatoes, cut into even pieces
1/2 bunch curly kale, shredded (I remove the ribs and chop the leafy part)
1 med. onion, chopped
2 Tb. butter or margarine, to taste
1/4 c. milk
fresh nutmeg, grated
salt and pepper to taste
4 large eggs
1/4-1/3 c. fresh grated paremsan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Boil the potatoes until almost tender, add the kale and onion and cook until kale is just tender. Drain and mash well with butter, milk, and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon the mixture into a shallow ovenproof dish and make four hollows in the mixture. Crack an egg into each and season well. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the eggs are just set, then serve sprinkled with the parmesan cheese.

Market Fresh: Spinach

Our focus today is on spinach, a plant filled with iron and multiple vitamins. Spinach often gets a bad rap, and people associate it with unpleasant childhood experiences. It must be that as we grow older and realize the nutritional benefits of this plant our tastes somehow mellow and many of us decide it is a food we can eat with pleasure regularly. I almost always have a bag of fresh spinach in my crisper.

So what to do with spinach? My first thought is salad, of which there are numerous varieties. Then creamed spinach, spinach pizza, spinach quiche, spinach with pasta, spinach lasagna all begin to come to mind. A recipe for Baked Eggs with Spinach and Brioche caught my attention and that is what I finally settled on to make for this post. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this dish. I won’t repeat what my children said, nor relate the battle that ensued at the dinner table. Suffice it to say, their tastebuds have not taken on adult maturity yet.

BAKED EGGS WITH SPINACH AND BRIOCHE
(adapted from Brunch: 100 Recipes from Five Points Restaurant)
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2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced (I used 3)
2 bunches spinach (about 1 1/2 pounds), washed and stemmed
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp. butter
8 slices brioche, 1/2-inch thick each (I used good quality sliced whole grain bread)
12 large eggs (I used only one per person, which was 6)
1/4 cup creme fraiche (I used sourcream)
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 400F. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and, when it shimmers, add the garlic. Cook the garlic until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes, and add the spinach. (Don’t worry about  a little water clinging to the leaves; it will help steam the greens.) Reduce the heat to medium, add a pinch of salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is just wilted, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the spinach to a bowl to cool (it need not cool completely before you proceed, but you don’t want it so hot it will start cooking the eggs before they get in the oven).

Toast the bread slices in a toaster and butter them as they are done.

Lightly butter four ramekins or a baking dish large enough to hold the brioche in one layer (I used a 9×13-inch pan). Arrange the brioche on the bottom of the dish(es) and evenly scatter the wilted spinach over the bread, making rough little nests to hold the eggs in place. Crack the eggs into the spinach nests and season them with salt and pepper. Drizzle creme fraiche over the dish(es), sprinkle with grated Parmesan, and set on the lowest shelf of the oven. Cook until the whites are just set but the yolks are still runny, about 12-15 minutes. (I baked mine until both whites and yolks were set.) Serve immediately.

To make gluten-free: substitute gluten-free bread for the brioche.

Serves 4.

For other spinach recipe ideas, why not check out these recipes in our archives:

Creamy Spinach
Sweet Potato Quesadillas with Spinach
Spinach-Mushroom-Bacon-Swiss-Egg Breakfast Casserole
Frittata
Spicy Butternut Squash Curry with Spinach
Butternut Squash Tarts with Spinach and Feta
Spinach Salad

And, check back Wednesday for our March Magazine Review and another great dinner recipe using spinach.