Saturday, March 31, 2012

Perfect Soft Boiled Eggs and A Priceless Memory

The largest single chicken egg ever laid weighed a pound with a double yolk and double shell.....OUCH! But, it made a GREAT omelet!

Eggs are so yummy and they pack so much nutritional wonderfulness for only 70 calories! Check out their nutritional value!

I was struck a few weeks ago with a memory.....not sure how it came to 

me, or what triggered it. You know the kind....OUT OF THE BLUE, something out of your past hits you "up long side the head"! I've talked before about my mother and the kitchen....not her best venue, but put her with a group of people and she could tell you everything about them in 4 minutes....but, I digress!

Mom used to make the VERY BEST soft boiled eggs when I was growing up. They were perfectly done EVERY TIME! The whites were fully cooked, but not hard, and the yolks were warm and runny! The perfect place to dunk toast! They were Dad's favorite breakfast, but we were only blessed with them on special occasions!

I can make the perfect hard cooked egg (NEVER boiled), but I have never tried the "ever elusive" PERFECT Soft Boiled Egg, so I went on the hunt for every trick and technique I could find and I tried MANY!
Some techniques were just weird, but, I tried them this half inch of cold water (DON'T cover the egg with water), put in your egg, high heat to boiling for 4 minutes, turn down heat to medium for 3 minutes, immediately shock eggs for one minute in cold water.....tried it runny yolk!

Warm water, put in egg...count the minutes, turn heat up, count the minutes, turn heat down, count the minutes, put in cold water, count the minutes, stand on your head, count the minutes, turn around five times, count the minutes.....I would not have thought there were so many ways to cook the PERFECT Soft Boiled Egg.

So, I went back to the basics! I tried it a few times, tweaked the seconds (not minutes) and my eggs came out PERFECT

They were so perfect, in my mind, I was sitting at the retro linoleum kitchen table with my parents (rest their souls), dunking buttered white toast into my PERFECT runny yolks. It was heaven!

Soft Boiled Eggs

4 large eggs
Large Pan with a lid

Place enough water in the pan so the eggs will be completely covered by one inch of water. Bring water to a boil over high heat.

Set a timer for 5 minutes (don't start it, yet)!

Using a spoon, slip eggs into the water (if you just drop them in, they will hit the bottom of the pan and crack). Cover the pan and start the timer.

Prepare an ice bath to shock the eggs immediately after the 5 minutes is up. Let them sit for 20 seconds, remove and peel.

I needed to leave my eggs in the boiling water for about 10 seconds after the timer to get the perfect consistency I wanted....fully cooked whites and the PERFECT runny yolk. Less time if you like your whites partially set or longer if you like your yolk slightly congealed!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A "NON" Guilty Pleasure!

I'm in love!

I'm in love and I have found a wonderful "NON" Guilty Pleasure!

If you know me (and if you don't know me, you'll get it), you know my weight fluctuates like the tide......comes and goes!  I love food!  When I go somewhere, I want to try all different kinds of food and downfall!  

Sometimes, I can stop after a few bites.....sometimes NOT!  All the wonderful flavors and different textures are so tantalizing that I WILL over consume.  If I only disliked food more!  HA!  Not a chance.....too many foods to try and fall in love with!

And, I dearly love peanut butter!  I love to eat peanut butter right out of the jar from a spoon, on a banana, in celery, on bread, on bagels, on waffles, in cookies, in frosting.......YUM!!!!  OH, and one spoonful is NEVER enough!

But, I have found something to satisfy my cravings for peanut butter!

Check out PB2!  Only 1.5 grams of fat per serving (2 tablespoons) and just 45 calories.  It has 5 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and 5 grams of carbs!  WOW!!!

You're thinking.....FAKE!  Here's the ingredient list:  roasted peanuts, sugar and salt!  It comes in a powder and you add water!  It tastes GREAT and it isn't gritty!

I love this stuff!  I haven't found it in stores, but you can buy it from Amazon or from it's creator, Bell Plantation!  

Complete disclosure, it is more expensive than peanut butter, but if you have virtually eliminated peanut butter from your diet because of the fat and calories, PB2 might just fit the bill!

OH.....did I also mention it comes in a chocolate peanut butter flavor, too?  =)

PS....So, I'm back at the Double W, and being more "in tune" with what I'm eating....OH and I dusted off my bike!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Country Potatoes and Pork Chops

Wonderful comfort food!  Easy to prepare and will please everyone in the family!

4 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 ¼ cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups prepared packaged country gravy*
3 or 4 boneless pork chops (3/4” thick)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Place potato sticks in baking dish.  Mix in Cheddar cheese.  Pour prepared gravy over potato/cheese mixture.  Bake uncovered for 60 minutes.

Place pork chops on top of potatoes and push the chops slightly into the potato mixture.

Bake for 20 - 35 minutes more, or until pork chops are cooked thru (cooked to 145 degrees) and potatoes are tender.

Serves 4

*Read back of gravy package, some packaged gravies make 1 cup, some make 2 cups.  There is no need to heat gravy, just whisk the mix into cold water and pour over potatoes.

Balsamic Shrimp

This is a wonderful appetizer that you can serve warm or cold!  Or have it as a main course paired with a salad!  

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, leave tails on
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon The Olive Oil Experience Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ inch piece of fresh ginger, finely minced
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup The Olive Oil Experience Traditional Balsamic Vinegar or Pineapple Balsamic Vinegar
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon minced flat leaf parsley

Mix the shrimp with the garlic, olive oil, ginger and sesame oil in a bowl and place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours.  The shrimp can marinate for up to 6 hours.

In a sauté pan, over medium high heat, melt the butter.  Add the shrimp (reserve marinade).  Sauté shrimp for 2 minutes, stirring and flipping shrimp until it just starts to turn pink.  Add marinade and continue sautéing for 2 more minutes.

Reduce heat to low, add the balsamic vinegar, one third at a time, stirring continuously so it coats the shrimp. Keep adding balsamic one third at a time, stirring and tossing the shrimp so that a glaze forms. 

Remove shrimp to a shallow bowl, drizzle with remaining sauce from pan and sprinkle with salt and parsley. 

Serves 6 as an appetizer

Broccoli Rice Casserole

An easy casserole for a holiday dinner or potluck!  Either bake and take, or take and bake it there!

3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 pound frozen broccoli, thawed and drained
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature, cubed
2 cups cooked white or brown rice
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack or Provolone cheese
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper or to taste
Several dashes of hot sauce or to taste
1 cup crushed Ritz Crackers
3 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an oven safe baking dish lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter, sauté onion for 5 minutes.  Add broccoli to pan and sauté for 5 more minutes.  Stir in cream cheese and soup, heat until the cream cheese melts.  Stir in rice until well blended.  Season broccoli mixture with salt, pepper and hot sauce.

Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.  Mix together cracker crumbs and melted butter, sprinkle on top of broccoli mixture.

Bake for 40 – 50 minutes or until light golden brown and bubbly.

Lemon Breakfast Cake

Could there be anything better than cake for breakfast?  Don't worry, you won't need an excuse to make this for your family, co-workers or that special brunch!

1 box lemon cake mix
1 box (4 serving size) instant cheesecake pudding mix
1 cup whole milk Ricotta cheese
½ cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons lemon extract
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray a 13” x 9” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat together cake mix, pudding mix, Ricotta cheese, oil, eggs and lemon extract on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Pour into prepared pan.

Mix together sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over cake batter.  Swirl sugar/cinnamon mixture into batter.

Bake for 35- 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool slightly, cut into squares.

Serves 16