It's that harsh time of year again. Our budgets are a bit pinched; our diets are pinching us. Between the wallet and the waistline, we start to feel things are getting a tad dismal.
The weather is so chilly and dreary that all of us feel justified going for comfort food and carbohydrates to make ourselves feel better on gray, rainy or snowy days.
After all, we've given the first six weeks of the year our best shot, haven't we? Isn't it time to take a break and enjoy a few forbidden pleasures—say, that buttery gooey cake or that cheesy, rich pasta Alfredo?
Even though we know in our heart of hearts that if we stick to healthier options, we will be happier in the long run. I have an idea to help us all get through these times.
Let's save a few calories and some serious cash by living large with the best source of comfort and protein on the planet.
Let's try a few tricks with that simple yet most adaptable food—the incredible, edible egg!
Eggs are the least pricey item in the grocery, on a portion and protein basis. They can be terrific alone scrambled, fried or softly baked. But they can also be a source of amazing menu satisfaction as a base for many comforting hot meals with the addition of a few ingredients.
Think of walking into a warm kitchen with the smell of a delectable quiche baking in the oven. Or the joy you might feel serving perfectly puffy individual cheese soufflés to guests on a cold winter evening. Or the happiness you'll have winning the race between your “Keto” dieting buddies and your wallet.
By mastering just a few simple egg recipes, you can have all of this and more—a win at the waistline too!
My advice is to start with a few simple principles.
While eggs like to be cooked fairly gently, they work best in recipes when well beaten. That means for almost every entrée egg recipe, you must start by beating the eggs properly before adding other ingredients and seasonings.
For instance, to make an omelet or quiche, beating the eggs until the whites are thoroughly incorporated is important. For a soufflé, you may have to beat the yolks with other ingredients and whip the egg whites before thoroughly incorporating them to add a lightness and rising ability to the dish.
Cooking eggs in most recipes until they are completely set will ensure that most people will appreciate the final dish more. Leave that soft, runny center for fried or boiled egg preparations, where the yolk is supposed to create a rich, almost sauce-like addition to the plate.
Never forget that eggs are fairly adaptable.
So, if you don't like mushrooms in a recipe, skip them and add something else—maybe some roasted chicken or chunks of cooked squash. If you love cheese, eggs are a lovely palate to show off your favorites. If you love fresh herbs, they can be the star of an omelet without adding much more than eggs. If you want to add more savory notes, a touch of nutmeg, Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce can complement most egg dishes.
Here are two of my favorite easy egg entrees, sure to make a strong, budget friendly foundation for brunch or supper when paired with a salad and some crusty bread.
Crustless Winter Quiche
(This recipe can be adjusted in many ways—by adding cooked broccoli instead of mushrooms, or cubes of roasted chicken instead of ham or even making it a quiche Lorraine using crisp cooked bacon and onions in the place of the mushrooms and ham. Feel free to make it your own!)
Butter or cooking spray
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheese—cheddar, Swiss or Gruyere all work well
1 cup sautéed sliced mushrooms
½ to 1 cup shredded ham, depending on taste
½ cup cream or evaporated milk
½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
a pinch each of grated thyme and grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Preheat the oven to 350oF. Grease an 8-inch pie plate with butter or cooking spray. Dust the pie pan with the finely grated Parmesan cheese. Set aside. Toss the mushrooms, ham and cheese together. Place them into the pie pan. Beat the eggs with the rest of the ingredients, making sure everything is well incorporated. Pour over the mushroom mixture in the pie pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the center is completely set (you can test for doneness by inserting a sharp knife in the center. If it comes out clean, the quiche is ready to serve.)
Ann Cox's Easiest Cheese Souffles
Butter or Margarine- enough to butter the soufflé dish or ramekins
Parmesan Cheese- enough to dust the dish
1 ½ cups Cubed Sharp Cheddar Cheese
6 ounces Cream Cheese Cubed
2/3 cup Milk or half-and-half
½ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon ground mustard
Preheat the oven to 350oF. Butter a 1-quart soufflé dish or 6 individual ramekins. Dust with Parmesan cheese; set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in blender; cover and blend at medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Blend at high speed another 10-15 seconds. Carefully pour into prepared dish. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until puffy and delicately browned. Serve immediately.