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       Volume I - December 29, 2008

SMART Ideas!

Festive Foods & All About Eggs

by Alice Osborne

Foods make holidays festive. But some festive foods often include more fat than your health or hips allow.

If you need to trim fat from your diet to control your cholesterol count or your measurements, you can still keep food exciting. Try these trimming tips for replacing favorite, fat-dense holiday ingredients with lower-fat alternatives.

Instead Of...

1 cup of butter in baking use 1 cup applesauce
8 ounces of cream cheese use 8 ounces of yogurt cheese
1 cup crème fraiche use 1 cup yogurt cheese made from lowfat or nonfat yogurt
1 cup heavy cream (in recipes, not for whipping) use 2 teaspoons cornstarch or 1 tablespoon flour whisked into 1 cup nonfat milk
1 cup sour cream use 1 cup lowfat cottage cheese + 2 tablespoons skim milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup fat for sautéeing use 4 cups low fat stock, fruit juice or wine and sauté until liquid evaporates
1 egg* use 2 egg whites*
1 cup oil or fat for basting use 1 cup fruit juice or low fat stock

from the book, Eggs, by Michel Roux

While eggs will keep in your refrigerator for several weeks, it's important to note that they can lose some quality. A little known fact about eggs is that they can absorb odors from your refrigerator if stored in an open container, although this shouldn't be a major problem unless you're storing eggs along side opened containers of onions and garlic or other such strong smelly foods.

Do you need only egg whites or only egg yolks for a particular recipe?
Don't throw out the leftovers, find another recipe to cook which will use the other portion.

Once out of the shell, you can keep eggs whites for about a week in the refrigerator and egg yolks will keep for two or three days, although be sure to cover them with water.

How To Separate Eggs

Cold eggs are easier to separate. Gently crack the egg open in the center, either hitting it gently with a knife, or using a convenient counter edge. Hold the egg upright and gently pull off the top half of the shell. You now have three options:

1. Hold your hand over the egg white bowl, pour the egg into your hand and let the egg white ooze through your fingers while retaining the yolk in your hand -- a very easy, albeit unelegant, way to separate eggs. Make sure to wash your hands first.

2. Over the egg white bowl, gently pour the contents between the two shell halves, allowing the egg whites to pour out in the process, leaving just the yolk in one shell half. Be gentle, it's possible to break the yolk if you’re not careful.

3. Buy a handy-dandy gadget called an Egg Separator , which looks like a small measuring cup. The egg yolk is retained in the cup while the whites are allowed to drip through.

Beating Egg Whites

Egg whites WILL NOT WHIP (they just won't) if they come into contact with even the slightest trace of fat, grease or egg yolk. This is why it's a good idea when separating eggs to have three bowls: one for the yolks, one for the whites and one bowl to separate over so that you won't have to throw out a whole batch if one yolk breaks while separating. It is also a good idea to wash your hands, beaters and bowl before beginning as well, to make sure they are grease free.

Egg whites that are at room temperature will whip easier and faster. You can add 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar to help the process along (although it is not necessary unless your recipe calls for it.) Use an electric mixer for best results, although you can use a whisk if you want a good workout.

How To Cook Eggs
Eggs are quick, easy and nutritious comfort food in and of themselves. Here are some popular ways of preparing eggs.

Boiled: Put your eggs in a pot (avoid aluminum as it will darken) and cover with cold water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer. Depending on the size of your egg, they will need to simmer for 2-3 minutes for soft boiled, about 4-5 minutes for medium and 15-20 minutes for hard boiled. Drain the eggs and immerse them immediately in cold water to stop the cooking process. Refrigerated boiled eggs will keep for about a week.

Fried: Add a small amount of butter or oil to your skillet (non-stick pans will need very little to none of this) and heat. When you can drop a drop of water into the pan and hear it sizzle, it's time to cook the eggs. Carefully crack the eggs into the pan. For sunny side up eggs, allow them to cook for about 3-4 minutes without turning (or until they're done to a consistency you like), before removing them from the pan. If you prefer your eggs turned over, first cook the eggs for about 2 minutes before using your spatula to flip the eggs over. The amount of time the turned eggs are cooked will depend on how you like to eat your eggs.

Scrambled The cooking procedure for scrambled eggs is the same as for fried. First beat your eggs in a bowl (you can add a tablespoon or so of milk per egg as well as salt, pepper, seasonings etc.). Pour into the skillet and cook while gently stirring until the eggs reach the desired consistency.

Poached: Cover the bottom of a small pot or skillet with about two inches of water and bring to a simmer. Break an egg into a small bowl. Stir the water to create a small whirlpool effect and drop the egg into the center. Cook for 3-5 minutes before removing the egg with a slotted spoon.

Holly Clegg's Egg & Green Chili Casserole
from her book, Meals on the Move
Serves 8

This is a "non-eggy" dish that works well on a buffet as it easily cuts into serving portions.

2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chiles, drained
8 (6-inch) flour tortillas, cut into 1-inch strips
1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
5 large eggs
4 large egg whites
1 cup skim (nonfat) milk
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salsa (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Layer half the chiles in the dish. Top with half the tortilla strips and then half the cheese. Repeat another layer, using the remaining chiles, tortillas and cheese.
In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, egg whites, milk, pepper, cumin and garlic powder; pour evenly over the casserole. Bake uncovered, for 40 minutes or until puffy and set in the center. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with salsa, if desired.

Healthy Tip: To lower fat and cholesterol even further, substitute 1-1/4 cups egg substitute for the large whole eggs.

Diabetic Exchanges:
2 Starch; 2 Very Lean Meat; 2 Fat.

  Download this recipe.

Information Courtesy Fabulous Foods

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