Saturday, August 31, 2013

EASY Breakfast Bake

Years ago my friends and I stayed in a fabulous bed and breakfast, The Iris Inn, in Ashland, Oregon. Our breakfast treat was a decadent shirred egg with cream and spinach. I loved it!

I tried to recreate it a number of times, and I often came close, and more often under cooked or over cooked the egg. Recently I saw something similar on Pinterest and set to work creating my own variation. What I loved about the idea on Pinterest was that it used a muffin tin and did not require an aluminum foil covering.

I have made this several times since, and have found that a variety of cheeses work. When we ran out of spinach I used finely chopped zucchini in it's place.

1 pkg Thin sliced black forest ham
4-6 eggs
Fresh spinach
The completed serving looks like a rose.
Fresh Parmesan
Favorite cheese (Havarti, Coastal or other)
Heavy cream/Whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 Chives

For each individual cup layer ingredients as follows:

2-3 slices meat, creating a "bowl" for the other ingredients
3 spinach leaves, nest these in the bottom of the bowl
Sprinkle of Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/3 of a slice of Havarti nestled between the ham and egg
1 1/2 tsp heavy cream/whipping cream drizzled on top
Pepper to taste
Sprinkle of chives

Bake in 350° oven for 15 to 20 minutes depending on your oven and your egg preference. Time and heat is based on a dark muffin pan in a gas oven, and an over easy/medium egg. Serves 4.

Microwave variation: Use a ramekin instead of a muffin pan. Heat for 1 1/2- 2 minutes. Again, time may vary and you may want your egg to cook more fully.

What other veggies might you add to make this a healthful breakfast bake?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Summer of Ramen

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is not my friend. In fact, I have cursed this additive on more than one occasion. For the fact is, I discovered--wow, nearly ten years ago--that this amazingly common preservative and flavoring is a headache trigger for me. About a year ago I learned that it did unhappy things to my son as well.

Because my son and I have this "sensitivity" we as a family avoid MSG like the plague. At home this isn't a problem, potlucks can be rough. However, there were two things that we missed. For me, it was mushroom soup--that stuff was a staple in so many recipes!--but I created my own recipe quite easily. For my son, he had to give up Ramen noodles.

Ramen is a quick easy meal, and it was his "go to" lunch for school. He would crunch noodles into a thermos, add the seasoning packet, and some water. By lunch he had a perfect meal--in his definition if not mine. But in all those nifty little packages of cheap Ramen, we found MSG.

So no more Ramen for us.

Until we visited World Market. They have a wonderful product by Nongshim USA: Shin Ramyun: Gourmet Spicy. We tried it, we loved the flavor, but hot diggity it was HOT! And it is quite spendy in comparison to the other stuff. Please note: there is No MSG added, this is a bit tricky, because there is naturally occurring MSG in many products, however, for us small quantities of this type of MSG creates little to no effect.

We loved the Ramen, but had to dilute it to use it. After some experimenting we have found a way to enjoy Ramen again, and we all enjoy it, because this isn't your average poor-college-kid-one-pot-dinner. In case you would like to try it here's what we've done:

Find and buy the Shin Ramyun: Gourmet Spicy. We can buy it in a six pack bundle--this gives us six lunches/dinner. Buy an inexpensive package of ramen and throw out the prepackaged spices, or find ramen noodles in the Asian department of your favorite store.

The following makes about 6-8 servings or approximately 10 cups of noodle soup. *I have listed the veggies we use, but I am sure you can substitute many others--especially fresh from the garden produce you may have.

1 pkg Shin Ramyun: Gourmet Spicy, spice and veggie packet
1 pkg Ramen--no spice packet
1 can chicken broth
1 can chicken
1 cup finely chopped carrots*
1 cup finely chopped celery*
1 cup finely chopped onion*
1-2 chopped green onions*
1 cup finely chopped mushrooms*
1 tbs Better than Boullion Vegetable base

Add the chicken broth to a sauce pan. Rinse the can, adding two full cans of water to the pan. Add the chicken, including any broth to the pan. Drop in Gourmet spicy packet, and veggie packet contents. Add veggies. Bring to a boil. Add noodles and stir. Noodles are usually done within 1-2 minutes. Serve.

PLEASE NOTE: This is still a spicy version!

I learned two things from our search for MSG free Ramen: 1. Chicken broth and or the vegetable base  are great alternatives to the included spice packets. 2. The addition of chicken and veggies makes ramen a wonderful and easy meal.

We have made up for lost time with a summer of ramen....

What is your favorite way to eat ramen?