Foolproof Hard Boiled Eggs

Just in time for Easter:

How to make perfect hard boiled eggs.

EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Are you one of those people who struggles with hard boiled eggs? Middles are too done, have icky green color, middles are underdone? You’re not alone and I won’t tell. All egg dishes have their own quirks and tricks, but today we’re going to do down and dirty perfect hard boiled eggs. Step by step. Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps. This is super simple. The whole process takes about 40 minutes and you will spend 33 minutes of that time just…waiting. Are you ready?

Step 1: Fresh Eggs

Fresh eggs taste the best. Period. If they are free range, and chemical free, all the better. Yes, there is a difference. If you are going to eat your boiled eggs with the classic salt and pepper, there is no other way as far as I’m concerned.

Step 2: Start the water.

Fill a pot with enough water to cover your eggs and plenty of room for the number of eggs you’re cooking – accounting for evaporation. Do not add your eggs at this time. You do not need to add salt, vinegar, or anything else to your water. Wait for the water to come to a boil.

Step 3: Poke your eggs

What? Poke the eggs? Yes, poke the fat end or bottom of the egg with a clean pin, just breaking through the shell. This is going to keep the egg from cracking or exploding  when you put it in the water (not violent, but messy). This step allows the air to escape the little pocket there. Especially if it’s come out of the fridge as most eggs do unless fresh from the chickens. The reason: the coating that preserves the egg when the chicken lays it is washed off in commercial operations. That’s why you have to refrigerate store bought eggs.

Step 4: Drop your eggs in the boiling water

Wait! Don’t just drop your egg in the water. Be gentle. Use a slotted spoon to gently deposit each egg into the boiling water and at the bottom of the pot.

Step 5: Set a timer

Set a timer for 13 minutes. Walk away. When the timer goes off, turn off the heat.

Step 5: The ice bath

Ever hear of the Polar Bear Club? It’s a bunch of people who love to jump into frigid waters. Your beautiful eggs are about to join this club. Fill an appropriately sized bowl with lots of ice and cold water with enough room left for all your eggs. Yes, you’re going to put all your eggs in one bowl. Ba, dum, dum. Using your slotted spoon, gently lower each of your hot eggs into the ice bath. This stops the cooking which keeps them from getting that icky green ring around the yolk, which is caused by iron in the yolk interacting with sulfur in the white at high temperatures (although sometimes caused by high iron content in the water).

Step 6: Set the timer

Reset your timer and let the eggs chill out in the ice bath for 20 minutes.

Step 7: Peel

You shouldn’t need running water to peel these (Yay! Water conservation!). Give them a gentle whack on the bottom and a few more all around, cracking the shell but not breaking the egg. You will find that a lot of times half the shell just slips off effortlessly. If you feel the need, give them a quick rinse once they’re peeled. And hey, you can crush those shells and use them for fertilizer for all kinds of plants, tomatoes, peppers, potted plants, and little ones that are really thirsty.

Here’s a look at the end result and it’s just as creamy and delicious as it looks. done all the way through, but not over or undercooked with a bright, sunshiny, yellow yolk.

Hard Boiled

Easy Deviled Eggs

Slice the eggs in half, pop out the yolks, smoosh ‘em up real good, add some Miracle Whip, sweet pickle relish, mustard and paprika. Throw mixture into a baggie smoosh it all to one corner and give it a twist. Snip off the corner and pipe the egg mixture back into the whites and you have easy deviled eggs.

Note: If you are dyeing these eggs there is a chance that the white of the egg may absorb some dye due to that tiny hole you poked in it.

Ta-da! Have a great Easter!

Easy Over Easy Eggs

Tired of trying to flip over-easy eggs in the pan with a spatula or tossing them in the air hoping that they all end up in the pan and the yolks don’t break? Simple as 1, 2, 3. The secret is medium heat and a pancake turner.

Today I’d like to talk about eggs. My favorite type of eggs, actually. Over easy.

Over easy eggs have two crucial characteristics. 1. The egg whites are tender but done. 2. The yolks are runny so that they can make a yummy sauce for toast, hash browns, grits, whatever you like. However, making great over easy eggs can be a challenge so if I’m feeling particularly challenged, as I am on most mornings, I can use this handy hack.

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  1. Don’t skimp on the cooking fat (EVOO, coconut oil, butter, whatever) and use a small frying pan over medium heat. Mmmmmmm… melty butter.

Pancake turner

  1. When the egg white is mostly solidified, slide the eggs out of pan onto a large pancake turner. Note: I don’t have a fancy schmancy tripod, so no pictures of action scenes. They’re pretty self explanatory anyway.

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  1. Hold pan inverted over pancake turner and gently, but quickly turn eggs back into the pan (do this over a plate or paper towel to catch any drippings from pan). Cook for just a minute or two to finish the whites.

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No more trying to scoop them up in a spatula and no broken yolks from tossing (although the tossing may impress last night’s date when done right). Voila! You’re welcome. 🙂

What’s your favorite food hack. Let me know in the comments below.

Homemade Italian Croutons Featuring Garlic Festival Garlic Ghetti

So you over-proofed your French bread and ended up with a flat loaf of what could have been sliced up and made into biscotti had you known it was going to flop. Note to self, set timer when proofing bread while novel writing. Even if you are sitting in the dining room right outside the kitchen. Seriously. Do it.

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Why yes, that is a Shun bread knife, thanks for noticing. If you’re going to bake bread, get a good bread knife. ‘Nuff said.

Alright, back to our sad little loaf of bread. Do not despair! Bake that sucker, make some Panini, and/or, you could make these, but I warn you, they are addictive! You can also make these with regular, well-formed French bread or pretty much whatever bread you want. This particular batch was made from a partial loaf of flopped home-made French bread that would have been on its way out. No kidding. Instead I made these Italian flavored croutons. Even failures in the kitchen can turn into something wonderfully yummy. Plus I just saved some cash on those store-bought bags of jawbreakers covered in preservatives.

You’ll need:
About 4 cups of bread you have cut into roughly, 1-inch cubes
4 teaspoons melted butter (salted)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Garlic Festival Garlic Ghetti
1 teaspoon dried parsley

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300˚. Chop bread and set aside in a large bowl. Combine butter, olive oil, Garlic Ghetti, and parsley in small bowl and stir until all ingredients are incorporated and there are not lumps. Drizzle the Garlic Ghetti mixture over the bread and toss until thoroughly coated. Spray a cookie sheet with olive oil spray to prevent any sticking and bake for 30 minutes turning once at 15 minutes. Store any croutons you don’t eat warm from the oven and manage to cool, in an airtight container or zipper bag. The hardest part is staying away from them long enough for them to cool so you can store them.

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Ta-da! Crispy little croutons that are going to make your salad very happy!

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Just look at those little cubes of crunchy goodness! (Eats a dozen before you know it.) STEP AWAY FROM THE CROUTONS!

Check out the Garlic Festival website for fun garlic spice blends and other cool stuff including a kick-ass, lemon garlic pepper and something called Garlic Garni that is awesome sprinkled on meat, veggies, and even in salad dressing.

This is What You Do with London broil Leftovers

Like red meat? These recipes build on a fresh, grilled and marinated London Broil. This will easily make three meals for two out of one good sized hunk of steak (about two pounds). “London broil” refers to a method of cooking this tough cut of lean beef that was especially popular from the 1950s through the 1970s as a way to make the inexpensive cut of meat more palatable. This first recipe is the London Broil.

Recipe #1 – London Broil

london broil

Marinade
Ingredients

4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 2-pound (or so) boneless “London Broil”
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Prep

  1. Tenderize steak with a piercing tenderizer like this one Jaccard Meat Tenderizer (you can us a fork, but it’s way more labor intensive). This is a good time to get out some of that aggression you might have been bottling up.
  2. Combine everything but the salt and pepper with the steak in a large zip-top plastic bag and seal. Marinate in refrigerator at least overnight turning occasionally. Let all those flavors marry and have a splendid honeymoon.
  3. Preheat grill and rub with some olive oil. Grab your steak out of the bag and throw it on the grill about 4-8 minutes per side or until no more than medium rare.
  4. Remove steak from grill and let it rest for about 10 minutes so all those tasty juices can redistribute throughout the meat.
  5. Cut steak into thin strips slicing against the grain.
  6. Reserve about 2/3 of the steak for the next two recipes. It might be hard, but you’ll thank yourself later.

Hint: if you make the garlic butter for the next recipe now, with the London broil, you can serve this with a salad and some garlic bread (remember to get the pre-sliced French bread).

Recipe #2 Open-Faced Steak and Cheese Garlic Bread Sandwiches

Steak Sandwich

Ingredients
1 packet powdered au-jus mix
1 packet brown gravy mix
3 cups water
Leftover London broil (reserve the gravy and half the meat for the 3rd recipe)
4oz cheese, shredded or sliced (can be provolone, mozzarella, or even Monterey jack)
8 slices French bread (from a pre-sliced loaf to help control bread portions)
1 Garlic Butter (recipe below)

Garlic Butter recipe

1 cup softened salted butter (you can use salt free if you’re watching your salt)
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic (we love garlic, adjust to your preference)
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/3 cup parmesan cheese (not that powdery stuff, don’t skimp)
Sprinkle of paprika

Throw it all in a small mixing bowl and mix until smooth. Do this ahead of time so that the flavors have a chance to mingle and get good an happy together.

Prep

  1. get out your meat (ha, ha) and let it sit and warm up a little.
  2. combine au jus and gravy packets in a sauce pot with the three cups of water and bring to a boil (if you want to get all fancy and make your own, knock yourself out, but this is supposed to be a down and dirty quickie weeknight meal).
  3. once the gravy mixture has come to a boil, reduce heat to simmering and slice your London broil pieces in half twice. Once on lengthwise and once width-wise. Add pieces to the simmering gravy.
  4. Simmer steak in the gravy for about an hour or until steak pieces begin to hold the gravy and become tender. This is how you’re going to make the steak tender enough for sandwiches.

Helpful hint: If you don’t want to eat red meat three times in one week (although the portions are small) you could split the meat and gravy in two and make the second and third recipes at another time. They’re flexible like that.

  1. Slap some garlic butter on those French bread slices and toss them in the oven to toast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.
  2. Once the meat is tender, add four strips or so to each slice of toasted bread being careful to reserve half for the next recipe (or not, it’s up to you, these are pretty good saniches).
  3. Sprinkle or add 1 slice of that cheesy goodness on top and return to the oven, turning on the broiler, just long enough to melt the cheese.

This will yield 4 open faced “sandwiches” per person. Plenty. Trust me. I serve this with a Caesar salad or baby greens with a good Italian dressing or homemade vinaigrette.

Recipe #3 Beef Stroganof

Serves 4, you can freeze some for later…or not 😉

beef stroganoff

Ingredients
8oz uncooked egg noodles
Last of your London broil
3 fresh green onions, sliced (all of it, not just the green part)
8oz of fresh mushrooms (I use baby Portobello)
8oz sour cream
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Prep

  1. cook noodles as directed on package without added salt or fat
  2. while noodles are cooking, sauté onions, garlic, and mushrooms in a nonstick pan until mushrooms and garlic are tender and browned a bit. Add salt and pepper.
  3. add gravy and meat mixture to the mushrooms and onion and warm through until it comes to a boil. Thicken if needed with a thick flour and water mixture (add slowly and stir constantly to avoid lumps and/or over thickening). Turn down to a simmer and add the sour cream, stirring thoroughly.
  4. Serve over cooked and drained egg noodles.

Serve this with a green salad with cut up veggies in it like broccoli, carrots, snap peas, and red peppers.

Since the carbohydrates in these recipes are fairly low and controllable they are all diabetic friendly. Each is accompanied by a salad by design because in most diets, well, salads and veggies are free, and filling, and good for you! You do have to count the dressing, though. Awwwwww! Drat!

NOTE: To clear up any confusion, these recipes originate from one, single, grilled London broil. Each recipe builds upon the last giving your three different meals for the week.

If you get a chance to try these recipes please let me know how they turned out for you. If you have a “London Broil Leftover” recipe to share, please feel free!

Favorite Diabetic Recipes – Egg White Cheese Omelet with 505 Green Chile Sauce

A favorite for me because it’s quick, easy, and so packed with bold flavor that I don’t even miss the richness of the egg yolks. I adapted this recipe from one that Jay Robb published in his book The Fat Burning Diet Made Easy. Jay Robb is a clinical nutritionist and former body builder. He also happens to sell the best tasting, and healthiest protein powder on the market. No, I’m not crushing on Jay Robb, but I have done my homework over the years.

Back to the omelet; there are three keys to making this omelet perfect.

1) A good nonstick pan (have I mentioned how much I love Scanpan?).

2) Quality organic coconut oil.

3) Medium heat.

You don’t need to go out and buy an omelet pan to make good omelets. I, for one am not into single-use items taking up precious space in my cupboards. A good nonstick 8” pan with a good bottom is just fine and happens to work well for a single burger, a single grilled cheese sandwich, two or three over easy eggs, well, you get the picture. What do I mean by good bottom? Better pans such as Scanpan, Swiss Diamond, and All Clad will have a nice, thick, and heavy bottom. This distributes heat more evenly even if you are working on an electric stove such as the one that I am unfortunate enough to own (once your use gas you never want to go back). Of course you still need to have the right fat to cook your eggs.

Egg whites are very sticky and no matter how nonstick a pan is, a little fat ensures they aren’t going stick, tear and generally be uncooperative. But which fat should you use? Butter? Nope. Olive oil? Nope. Vegetable oil? Nope. The problem with most fats we use for cooking is that they break down into unhealthy compounds when heated. True, Olive oil and vegetable oil have a higher tolerance for heat, but olive oil’s tolerance is probably lower than you think and vegetable oil is surprisingly toxic to your body. The best choice ends up being, of all things, coconut oil.

Coconut oil was widely used up until the late 50’s when the powers that be decided that saturated fat was bad for us. Now that we have come full circle, it turns out that coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils on the planet, especially for cooking at medium to medium high temperatures (keep the olive oil for the salad dressing though because it’s still heart healthy that way). Go figure. Not to mention they make sticky egg whites slide around in a pan like a dream, but all this is for naught if you have the heat set too high.

I have found that this egg white omelet cooks best on medium-low heat. This allows the eggs to cook thoroughly but not browned or tough (unless you’re like my husband and you like that sort of thing. Eww.). This is also the perfect temperature to melt the cheese once you flip the omelet. Yes, I said flip, and I am aware of how omelets are usually made. Believe me, it’s not that hard, in fact you can do it with a spatula if flipping eggs in the air isn’t your thing. So without further ado, here is the recipe for the bold, the extraordinary, the spicy, the ultra-low carb, egg white cheese omelet with green Chile sauce!

Ingredients

3 egg whites (large)

1tbsp. Coconut Oil

1 ½ tsp Lemon Pepper

1-2oz sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)

2 tbsps. 505 Green Chile Sauce (warmed)

Instructions

Heat an 8” nonstick pan over medium heat. Separate eggs (you can save the yolks in the fridge for a day or two to use in another recipe). Add lemon pepper to egg whites and beat with a fork until bubbly. Add coconut oil to pan and swirl around to coat and return to heat. Pour egg whites into pan allow them to set for a few minutes until the edges are white and they are about half cooked.

Flip the egg whites over with a spatula or, if you’re really talented or want to learn a new skill, flip the egg whites over by tossing them in the air and gently catching them in the pan (it is not recommended that you do this over the burner…big mess…huge). Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of omelet reserving a tablespoon or two for the top. Allow cheese to mostly melt as the omelet finishes cooking.

Slide omelet onto plate folding it over with the cheese in the center, which will now finish melting under the residual heat of the egg whites. Pour 505 Green Chile Sauce evenly over the top and sprinkle with the remainder of the cheese.

To make this a proper breakfast for a diabetic we would need to add carbs. I would suggest fresh fruit, which would offer a cooling contrast to the spiciness of the Chile sauce and gives a boost of vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants, depending on what fruit you choose. I tend to stay away from breads and cereals except oat meal for the most part.

A word of caution here, please be sure to cook your eggs thoroughly to avoid very unpleasant illnesses caused by nasty little microbes like salmonella (says the woman who loves her eggs over easy).

Anybody else out there with great-tasting diabetic recipes they’d like to share? I hope to be sharing more recipes for diabetics in upcoming posts. Having been diagnosed with Type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome a few years ago, I have had to change the way I look at food, but that doesn’t mean that I have to eat drab and boring meals or that I can’t indulge in something sweet. Stay tuned for more diabetic friendly (and maybe not so friendly) recipes.

Ode to My Bread Machine

Oh beloved bread machine, where would I be without you. Slaving away half the day making lumps of dough, heating up the entire house with an oven in the summer when heat is the last thing we need. The customized little loaves you yield make my family so happy and I’m happy that their happy and we’re all happy when mom’s happy. <insert sound of record scratching>

Seriously, I think my bread machine is one of the best things since….since…well, since sliced bread. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the traditional way of making bread and I have done my share of it and thoroughly enjoy it, but when you have a full-time job plus a myriad of other activities spinning around in your world, making bread the old-fashioned way becomes a rare treat. Then there’s the satisfaction of controlling the ingredients and knowing you’re making something wholesome for your family (if you choose your ingredients wisely). For me, it also means that I can also control the carbohydrates while still allowing the rest of the family to make yummy sandwiches and without paying $9 a loaf for bread. Just using stevia instead of sugar makes a big difference. However you do need one special ingredient, rapid rise bread machine yeast and on a side note, expect to have to experiment with making decent sourdough bread in a bread machine. Expect to end up buying sourdough starter. Breadtopia.com has a great one. Bread dough is also better to use in a bread machine, but not crucial.

Now a little bit about bread machines. There so many on the market and some are better than others. The biggest loaf you’re probably going to get is a 2lb loaf, but beware, you may not be able to find a bag to put it in as it will be a big loaf with slices approximately 4”w x 8”h or so. My bread machine will make a 1lb, 1.5lb, or 2lb loaf. More often than not I will use the 1lb setting because this makes better sandwich bread slices. Why did I bother to buy a machine that can do a 2lb loaf, do you ask? I’ll tell you; because 1lb machines don’t make loafs, they make unruly cubes. Plus, since I can use my machine to make bread dough and bake it off myself (after a final rise outside of the machine) the larger capacity comes in handy when we have guests.

Now that we have sizes down, let’s think about brands. I am on my third bread machine in a little less than a couple of decades and it is by far the best I’ve ever purchased. Good capacity, lots of versatility (it will even make jams, puddings, batter breads, and of course, pizza dough) and good, sturdy construction. My machine is a Breadman Pro breadmaker (pictured above). I got it in a warehouse sale at CHEFS catalog for an undisclosed amount. I adore it. Some other top rated machine brands include Zojirushi, Cuisinart, De Longhi, and Salton. Expect to pay about $100 to $150 USD for a good machine. Your machine will come with an instruction manual and recipes to get you started. From there, it’s easy to find other recipes on the web.

Keep in mind the main difference between baking bread in a machine and baking bread from scratch is that the machine is doing all the work, rising, and baking for you. The best breads start with a good recipe and these are not an exact science due to factors such as humidity, altitude, and quality of ingredients. Also, ingredients should be room temperature and the water should be warm enough to help activate the yeast (about 80˚F). Once you get the hang of it, you can make homemade bread any time you want. A favorite at my house and a big hit as Christmas gifts one year is an Italian herb bread that I got in my first bread machine user guide that I tweaked and kind of made my own. It’s simple enough that a beginner can easily make it. Here’s mine.

Bread Machine Italian Herb Bread – Yield 1-1lb Loaf

¾ cup + 2 tbsp. water

1-1/2 tbsp. Oil

1 tbsp. Sugar

1 tsp. Salt

1 tbsp. Dry Milk

2-1/4 cup bread flour

1-1/2 tsp. Dried Italian Seasoning

2 cloves of garlic (crushed)

1-1/2 tsp. Active Dry Yeast

Select your machine’s French bread course and hit start. Take a peek after a few minutes to make sure the dough is not too dry or wet. If it is, follow the recommendations in your machines user guide.

Do you have a favorite kitchen machine, gadget, or helper? What makes you so fond of it?

No Pain Lo Mein

I have faithfully (or perhaps brazenly) reproduced Rachel Ray’s yummy version of this recipe here (don’t send me hate messages that she’s not a “real chef”, because I don’t care). It’s one of my favorite recipes because it’s so versatile. There are so many things you can put into this recipe, pineapple, broccoli, cauliflower, the list goes on and on. It’s almost one of those “whatever is in the fridge recipes”. You could also add meat, shrimp, scallops, or tofu. I’ve used spaghetti noodles to make this and it was terrific! I use a large electric skillet to make this since I don’t own a wok and find that it works well. I tend to use less noodles to cut down on the carbs.

2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan in a slow drizzle) vegetable or wok oil

1 cup (2 handfuls) snow peas, halved on a diagonal

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into match stick size pieces

1/2 pound assorted mushrooms (shiitake, straw, enoki, or oyster), coarsely chopped, if necessary

 4 scallions, thinly sliced on a diagonal

2 cups (about 4 handfuls) fresh bean spouts

2 inches fresh ginger root, minced or grated with hand grater

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound lo mein noodles or thin spaghetti, cooked to al dente and drained well

1/2 cup aged tamari soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, several drops

 Heat a wok-shaped skillet or large non-stick skillet over high heat. When pan is very hot, add oil, (it will smoke a bit) then, immediately add the snow peas, pepper, mushrooms, scallions, and bean sprouts. Stir fry for 1 minute to flavor the oil, then add the ginger and garlic, and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add the cooked noodles and toss with to combine. Add the soy sauce and toss the ingredients to coat noodles evenly with sauce. Transfer the lo mein to a serving platter and garnish with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil.

YUM!