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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Simple Supper: Healthful Shepherd’s Pie

Remember me mentioning The Cleaner Plate Club a couple weeks ago? Well, I made another great recipe from the cookbook, a shepherd’s pie topped with mashed sweet potatoes. The recipe called for frozen veggies, which would undoubtedly be easier, but I decided to chop up a variety of fresh veggies I had on hand including cauliflower, spinach, carrots, and also frozen green beans. The result was quite delicious!

Take this recipe as a foundation and add the ingredients that suit your taste. This also makes great leftovers!

HEALTHFUL SHEPHERD’S PIE
(from The Cleaner Plate Club)
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1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup uncooked white rice
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
4 cups frozen mixed veggies ( about 2 packages)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 large), peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the ground beef and brown until no longer pink, 10-15 minutes. Add the rice, tomatoes, and frozen mixed veggies (or chopped fresh veggies of choice). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Season with slat and pepper.

Meanwhile, steam the sweet potatoes until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Put a couple of inches of water into a large pot, set a steaming basket in it, and bring to a boil. Set the sweet potatoes in the basket, cover, and let steam. Let the potatoes cool slightly, then mash them in a large bowl with the milk and butter.

Spread the meat mixture in the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with the mashed sweet potatoes, and sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake until the cheese melts and starts to turn golden, 10-15 minutes.

Simple Suppers: Turkey-Veggie Skillet

I don’t know about you, but I definitely have evenings where I wonder what in the world I’m going to pull out for supper. Monday night we were just back from a weekend of holiday-ing. I’d worked and then grocery shopped my way home and still, to my tired eyes and brain, my fridge looked bare. However, I remembered some leftover Thanksgiving turkey in the freezer. With minimal chopping, some seasonings and a bit of heavy cream, we had a filling and delicious supper. I served this over steamed broccoli, but it would be just as delicious over rice or pasta.

So, for the next time you have a what’s-for-supper moment, perhaps this recipe will be a source of inspiration. Any veggies you have on hand would easily work.

TURKEY-VEGGIE SKILLET
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olive oil and/or butter
8 oz mushrooms, chopped
2 carrots, shredded
1 large onion, chopped
8 oz fresh spinach (I chopped mine because I preferred it small)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Cooked, chopped turkey (or chicken)
salt and pepper to taste
heavy cream or bechamel sauce

Heat olive oil and butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onions, carrots, and garlic. Saute until onions start to soften and become translucent.

Add spinach and saute about 1 minute before adding chopped turkey. Season with salt and pepper. Cook another couple of minutes to heat turkey.

Add moderate amount of heavy cream (this honestly depends on the quantity in the skillet, you just want enough to cover everything, but not be drowning in cream) and simmer until cream thickens slightly. Serve over steamed veggies, rice, or pasta.

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?!

Market Fresh: Sweet Corn

Ah, corn. Doesn’t it make you think of summer?!! My parents always thought it was the sweet corn on Long Island that was the best. No matter where we got it, it certainly seemed better when bought from a stand by the side of a hot, dusty road.

My favorite corn memories are from my teenage years when an older friend would invite me to lunch with him and his wife. His first question always was, “How many ears can you eat today?” I think my record was five. We always ate the corn with plenty of salt, pepper and butter (which this friend mixed together on the side of his plate first) and accompanied by a huge cantaloupe, a plate of sliced tomatoes, and another plate of sliced cucumbers soaked in vinegar. It couldn’t have been more simple, nor more delicious.

This recipe for Mexican-Style Corn on the Cob is bursting with summer flavor. It is super easy and looks beautiful.

MEXICAN-STYLE CORN ON THE COB
(William-Sonoma Comfort Food)
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1/2 cup butter at room temperature
2 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
zest of 1 lime
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

6 ears fresh corn

pure ancho chile powder or other chile powder for serving (optional)

kosher salt

Using a rubber spatula, in a small bowl, mash together the butter, cilantro, lime zest and juice. (Note: I could not get the lime juice to incorporate into the butter so would leave it out next time.) Cover butter and let stand while you prepare the corn. (The butter can be prepared, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Remove the husks and silk from the ears of corn. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add the corn and cook until the kernels are tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a serving platter.

Serve the corn piping hot, with the cilantro-lime butter, chile powder, and salt on the side for diners to add as they like.

Serve 6.

Creamed corn is absolutely delicious made from fresh corn. A friend made some for us after the birth of one of our children and I couldn’t believe she had gone through the trouble of making it from fresh corn. But, after tasting it, I also couldn’t believe how good the corn was and decided any effort was worth the results.

This dish would be better made with fresh corn that has very tiny kernels. The corn I used had large, salt and pepper-type, kernels and I felt it was just a bit tougher than it should have been.

CREAMED CORN WITH CHIPOTLE CHILES
(adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Vegetables)
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6 ears fresh sweet corn
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup finely diced white onion
2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced plus 1 tsp. adobo sauce (optional)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. sugar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream

Remove the husks and silk from the corn. Using a large, sharp knife, carefully cut the ear in half crosswise. One at a time, stand the halves, flat end down, on a cutting board and cut the kernels from the cob. Transfer the kernels to a bowl. Using the dull edge of a knife, carefully scrape the wet pulp from the corn cobs into the bowl.

In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and saute until soft and translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add the chipotle chiles, adobo sauce, corn kernels with pulp, oregano, and sugar. Pour in 1/2 cup water and add a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is tender but still has a bit of crunch, 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until the water evaporates, 2-3 minutes.

Add the cream to the pan, raise the heat to medium-low, and cook until the liquid is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Transfer the corn to a warmed serving bowl and serve right away.

Serves 4.

Counter Culture

My counters have been busy this week: from the stacks of china and glass to be put away after my daughter’s baptism dinner to the mountain of baking on my to-do list, and then the testing of our new ice-cream machine! Yes, we are now the proud owners of a Cuisinart Automatic Ice-Cream Maker!!! This was our first attempt:

The kids decided on mint chocolate chip and we happened to have the chocolate and green chocolate chips to add. We all loved the results and the next night we tried raspberry frozen yogurt — also very delicious. Making one’s own ice-cream means you can control the ingredients, especially the sugar. So far we’ve been using about 1/3 of the amount called for in ice-cream recipes. No doubt ice-cream recipes will begin to appear on The Cooks Next Door.

Getting my CSA each week is something I really look forward to. I love the challenge of using the vegetables we get.

Here’s some of what we’ve eaten recently:

Swiss Chard — I made this Swiss Chard Lasagna and it was so good I hope to make it again soon
Kohlrabi — a relative of the cabbage, I added mine to coleslaw
Peas — we ate the sugar snaps raw and the boys shelled the shell peas to be steamed for dinner
Cabbage — we all love coleslaw and that’s what we did with our beautiful cabbage
Kale — I made an amazing Italian sausage, white bean and kale soup which I plan to make again this week
Mustard Greens — I used these greens in place of spinach in a Greek rice salad
Herbs — we’ve been given a lot of “cutting celery” which I’ve never heard of before. It has the appearance of overgrown parsley but tastes more like celery. I’ve been using it in salads and as a substitute for parsley.
Basil — I came home with a shopping bag full of basil and decided pesto was in order. The recipe I found gave options for freezing, which was perfect for me. Seven little jars found their way into the freezer.

BASIL PESTO
(Food Network)
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2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (I left these out)
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese

Combine the basil, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.

If freezing, transfer to air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in the cheese.

Makes 1 cup.

Last, but not least, the children and I went black raspberry picking in the nearby woods last week. When we got home we made handpies with the berries we found. It made me think of my childhood and the memories I have of berry picking. Hopefully my children will someday look back and remember the fun we had (even though we all ended up being eaten up by bugs!!).

Weekend Fare: Easter Brunch

I love holidays and Easter is the one I most often host for my great big family! Planning the menu, setting the table, designing the favors/placecards, and then actually cooking are all so fun for me.


For the past couple of years, I have done an Easter brunch with ham as the centerpiece. I’m always looking for an excuse to serve brunch. Unfortunately, I’m not hosting this year since we are still living in a hotel from the smoke damage a couple of weeks ago. We are making the best of it and I will still be helping with some of the cooking at my parent’s house and I’m planning to do the favors. Anyway, here are a few recipes that we enjoy for a special brunch.

I often use asparagus and tomatoes with a balsamic vinaigrette so I’m posting two version of this recipe but only have one photo. These are both beautiful with lots of color!


MARINATED VEGETABLE SALAD
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1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch asparagus, blanched and sliced into 1 inch pieces
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
1 english (seedless) cucumber, sliced or diced
Italian dressing (you can buy this or make your own)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine all vegetables in a pretty serving dish. Season with salt & pepper. Dress with Italian dressing and toss. Allow salad to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serves 8 or so.

TOMATO ASPARAGUS SALAD
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2 bunches asparagus, blanched and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 pints tomatoes (I use cut up campari or romas, cherry, and sometimes yellow pear)
salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Combine tomato and aspargus. Season with salt & pepper. Dress with twice as much olive oil as balsamic vinegar (or you can purchase a Balsamic Vinaigrette (Newman’s Own is excellent). Toss to coat. Makes 8 servings or so.

These tiered platters make fruit presentation gorgeous! For Easter, I would add strawberries even though it’s a little early for them, I love that they remind me of spring! You can use whatever seasonal fruits you want. Arrange them on a platter and serve with this simple dip.


GREEK YOGURT FRUIT DIP
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1 – 16 oz container plain greek yogurt
1/4. honey
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients. You can add more honey if you prefer it sweeter. Serve with fresh fruit.

I made these blueberry lemon scones and they were delicious! They are also beautiful! Lemon is another spring-y flavor to me. So these would be an excellent brunch addition.


BLUEBERRY LEMON SCONES

(adapted from food network)
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2 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tb. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tb. sugar
5 Tb. unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
1 c. heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
1 Tb. fresh lemon zest

Lemon Glaze
1/2 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 c. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 lemon, zest finely grated
1 Tb. butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sift together the dry ingredients. Using 2 knives or a pastry blender, cut in the butter to coat the pieces with the flour. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Stir in the lemon zest. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Take care not to mash or bruise the blueberries because their strong color will bleed into the dough.

Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 by 3 by 1 1/4 inches. Cut the rectangle in 1/2 then cut the pieces in 1/2 again, giving you 4 (3-inch) squares. Cut the squares in 1/2 on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle shape. Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown. Let the scones cool a bit before you apply the glaze.

For the glaze, combine the lemon juice, sugar, zest, and melted butter. Whisk to incorporate and remove any lumps. Drizzle on warm scones.