Miz Chef

Cooking Up a Healthy Life


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Squash Blossom Frittata

In summer, along with the abundance of zucchini comes the bounty of squash blossoms, a unique delicacy. In Italian, they’re called fiori di zucca.

You might be wondering, if they’re so fabulous, why don’t they sell them at the produce store or in supermarkets? The reason is that they’re highly perishable. As soon as they’re picked, they begin to deteriorate immediately. The best way to get them, therefore, is to grow zucchini( or any other type of squash) yourself, or get them from a gardening neighbor. Barring that, you can often find them at farmers’ markets.

When you do get a batch of blossoms, make sure you handle them gently and use them quickly, preferably within 2 days. To clean them, cut off the stems close to the base. Open them gently with your fingers and check for insects. If you see insects, shake them out. If necessary, run them under a fine stream of running water and then  shake them out gently. If you can, remove the stamens (the long piece inside) as they can harbor insects.

Let them sit on paper towels to dry. If you’re not using them right away, place them in a plastic bag and close it loosely. Store them in the refrigerator.

Squash Blossom Frittata

Makes 4 servings

4 or 5 squash blossoms
5 medium eggs

1 tablespoon parmigiano
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Clean the squash blossoms. Open them up very gently and check for insects. Remove the stamens from inside and rinse carefully under a thin stream of water. Place them on a paper towel to dry.In a medium bowl, beat the eggs well with the parmigiano, salt, and pepper.Heat a small nonstick skillet (approximately 6 inches). (If you don’t have a nonstick skillet, use a regular skillet and heat 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil.) Pour in the eggs and arrange the squash blossoms across the top. Cover and cook over medium heat until the underside has browned. Remove the cover. Place a plate that’s wider than the skillet over the top and (using pot holders or kitchen towels!), carefully flip the frittata over onto the plate. Then slide it back into the pan and continue cooking until the underside has browned, another 2 or 3 minutes.Slide the frittata onto a plate or cutting board and cut into wedges. Serve with fresh bread. Enjoy.

 

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Quick Omelet Cups

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Today’s recipe is one that I created in order to have quick, easy-to-transport, and easy-to-heat breakfasts that fit in with a low-carb diet. Working a full-time job, commuting 15 hours a week, and having a writing career on the side makes it difficult for me to prepare meals for myself on a daily basis.

Obviously, I love to cook, but lack of time and energy keeps me from doing a whole lot of it. To be truthful, I rely on my mom’s leftovers to get me through the week. But when there isn’t enough for a week’s worth of lunches and dinners (never mind breakfast), or when I’m on a particular diet, I have to engage in a long, arduous cooking spree on the weekend.

And that’s what happened when I created these omelet cups. I needed something that I could have for breakfast that would fill me and that I didn’t have to think about–I could just grab some and go.

I wanted to pack them with as many veggies as I could, so I got what was fresh at the farmer’s market that week: zucchini, summer squash, and green beans. Spinach is always a good veggie option for egg dishes, but needed to make this fast (especially because it was a thousand degrees that day and I didn’t want to spend more time in my hot kitchen than I had to). But you can certainly use fresh spinach if you want to.

These are very easy to make, are wonderfully transportable, and easily heated in a microwave or toaster oven. Or eaten at room temperature. They are not only low carb, but gluten and wheat free as well. And since this makes a batch of 12, you can throw some in the freezer for three months.

Enjoy!

Quick Omelet Cups

10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
½ cup chopped green beans
1 cup chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped summer (yellow) squash
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 large eggs
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Squeeze as much water as you can from the spinach and set aside. Grease the cups of a standard 12-cup muffin tin (or 2 6-cups tins) and set aside. (If you want, you can use paper muffin cups.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the oil in a wide frying pan. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent.IMG_6163

Add the green pepper and continue sautéing until the pepper softens. Add the green beans, zucchini, summer squash, salt, and black pepper. Continue sautéing, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened and begin to brown.IMG_6164Add the spinach and mix well. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.IMG_6165Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Mix in the cooked vegetables, along with the cheese.IMG_6170Ladle equal amounts into each of the 12 muffin cups.IMG_6173and bake about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of an omelet cup comes out fairly clean.IMG_6176Serve hot or at room temperature. These can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week, or frozen up to 3 months.IMG_6184

 

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Bedeviled Egg Salad

IMG_4556Earlier this year, I learned about Barnraiser.us, whose mission it is to promote sustainable farming by raising and providing funds for farmers and food producers who want to provide sustainable products. When they were helping Carole Morison, a farmer, go free range, I contributed an egg recipe for a promotional collection they were putting together. I thought I’d share it with you.

This is a cross between deviled eggs and egg salad. What makes this egg salad special is the dressing, which bursts with flavor, partly from the balsamic vinegar and partly from the mustard, and it’s healthier because rather than using the typical mayonnaise, I used Greek yogurt.

Choose a good-quality, flavored mustard—I first tried this with a wonderful bourbon-molasses mustard and it was a huge hit. Also, I suggest using whole-milk yogurt because low- or non-fat yogurt can be tarter and grainier than whole milk yogurt.

Try this at your next party, barbecue, or picnic. Enjoy!

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Bedeviled Egg Salad

12 eggs
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more
½ cup Geek yogurt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon flavored mustard (like honey, beer, or bourbon or a fruit mustard)
1/3 cup finely minced celery
2 tablespoons minced green pepper
Black pepper to taste
Garnish: slivered red onion, chopped green pepper, minced parsley and/or celery leaves

Place the eggs in a pot big enough to hold them without crowding them. Fill pot with cold water to cover by at least an inch. Add ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, keep the lid on, and let them sit for 10 minutes off heat.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, balsamic vinegar, shallot, mustard, celery, green pepper, pepper, and remaining salt. Taste and adjust, as needed. Set aside.

Drain the eggs and place them in a bowl with cold water. Drain and refill with cold water a couple of times. Gently tap and roll the eggs on a counter or plate to crack the shells then place them back in cold water and let them sit about 15 minutes (this allows the water to seep underneath the shells, making them easier to peel).

Peel and rinse to remove all shell remnants. Dry on paper towels. Cut into quarters lengthwise and arrange them neatly on a platter.

Place dollops of the dressing over the eggs, spreading it out so that all the eggs are covered. Garnish as desired. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Makes 48 pieces (about 24 servings).

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