In past years, our February recipe column focused on dinners for two, chocolate desserts, homemade cordials – all standard Valentine's Day fare. But this year, the calendar presents a special opportunity: Feb. 14 is a Sunday.
Why not brighten the morning even before your sweetheart tosses off the covers? Express your love with these quick main dishes for breakfast in bed from local farmers (via the N.C. Egg Association).
Add a selection of berries, toast, jam and honey. Bonus for pouring Mimosas and Bloody Marys!
Easy Cheesy Cheddar Chive Soufflé
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons butter (plus extra to grease ramekins)
3 tablespoons flour
1-1/4 cup hot milk
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
2 tablespoons chopped chives
5 egg whites mixed with 1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Salt & pepper
Grease the inside of the ramekins with butter and sprinkle Parmesan cheese inside. Place in the freezer 5-6 minutes (so the Parmesan sticks).
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a sauce pan, melt butter. Whisk in the flour and a pinch of salt and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat.
Pour in the hot milk and turn the heat to high, and whisk well to blend. Keep whisking and when it reaches a boil, remove from heat.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Temper by adding a little of the hot milk/flour mixture into them while whisking.
Pour the tempered yolks in the saucepan of mixture and whisk in the cheddar, mustard, chives, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites, water and cream of tartar together with a mixer until soft peaks form. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites at a time into the yolk mixture until all is blended. Fold in gently so the egg whites don't deflate!
Pour mixture in ramekins to the top. Place on a sheet pan and bake 25 minutes.
Serve immediately for a pretty, puffy presentation. But they're still delicious when the soufflés deflate as they cool!
Makes four 8-ounce or five 6-ounce ramekin
1 tablespoon butter
1-1/2 cups small broccoli florets
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped onion
5 cups French or Italian bread pieces (3/4-inch)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Italian cheese blend
1 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Generously spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
Heat butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add broccoli, red pepper and onion. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove to medium bowl. Add bread and cheese; toss to mix.
Beat eggs, half and half, salt and pepper in small bowl until blended. Pour over bread mixture; toss gently to coat.
Place about 1/2 cup of the bread mixture into each muffin cup. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed, golden and knife inserted near center comes out clean. Loosen stratas from sides of pans with thin knife.
Makes 12 muffin cups
Nonstick cooking spray
6 large eggs
1 avocado, pitted, peeled,
1/2 cup cooked crumbled
turkey bacon (6 slices)
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup shredded sharp
Cheddar or Monterey Jack
1/2 cup chopped green or
Spray large skillet with cooking spray. Beat eggs with a wire whisk in medium bowl. Pour eggs into skillet.
Cook on medium heat, gently drawing mixture across bottom and sides of pan forming large curds, until eggs are thickened and no visible liquid egg remains.
Spoon eggs into serving bowl. Place avocado, bacon, tomato, cheese and onions in sections on top of eggs.
Makes two 3-egg servings
Southwest Breakfast Tostadas
2 (10-inch) corn tortillas
1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons margarine or butter
1 tomato, sliced
2 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco or shredded Mexican blend cheese
2 tablespoons sour cream
Fresh cilantro (optional)
Warm tortillas according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, use a potato masher or fork to slightly mash beans; set aside.
In another small bowl, combine eggs, water, pepper and salt. Beat with a wire whisk or rotary beater.
Preheat a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat, melting margarine. Pour egg mixture into hot skillet. Cook, without stirring, until egg mixture begins to set.
Then, run a spatula around edge of skillet, lifting egg mixture and tilting pan, so that the uncooked portion flows underneath. Continue cooking until egg mixture is cooked through but is still glossy and moist. Remove from heat.
Spread one tortilla with mashed beans. Top with cooked egg, tomato, cheese, cilantro and remaining tortilla. Cut in half to serve. If desired, fold each portion in half. Top with sour cream and cilantro.
Makes two tortillas
Orange French Toast Casserole
1 loaf Texas toast (thick bread)
8 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1/2 cup 2% milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange peel
2 teaspoons orange extract or 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (orange liqueur)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash of salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, to room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Butter or spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Arrange the Texas toast in 2 overlapping rows.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half and half, milk, sugar, vanilla, orange peel, orange extract or Grand Marnier, orange juice, nutmeg and salt. Whisk until well combined.
Pour the mixture over the bread and in between the slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Combine pecan topping and set aside until morning.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Top French toast with pecan topping and bake for 40 minutes.
Serve with your favorite syrup.
Makes 8 servings
2 medium-sized croissants, sliced in half
2 slices of Cheddar, Swiss or mozzarella cheese, each about 3-inches square, cut in half diagonally
2 thin slices ham, Canadian bacon or smoked turkey
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup combined chopped green or red pepper, green onions and mushrooms
2 tablespoons water
Place bottom halves of croissants on cutting board. Top each with 2 pieces of cheese and 1 slice of ham, Canadian bacon or smoked turkey.
Meanwhile, melt butter in skillet on medium-high heat. Sauté vegetables 1 minute.
Beat eggs and water. Add to vegetables in skillet. Cook egg mixture, lifting to allow uncooked eggs to flow to bottom of skillet, until all egg mixture is cooked.
Fold omelet in half. Slide onto cutting board. Cut in half. Place half of omelet over ham on each croissant. Cover with top of croissant.
Microwave each sandwich on high for 30 seconds or until warm and cheese is melted.
Note: Croissant sandwiches may also be grilled in skillet or on Panini press to heat and melt cheese.
Makes 2 servings
Italian Frittata Rolls
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan,
Romano and Asiago cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and blend to mix.
4 tablespoons water
Pizza or marinara sauce
Whisk eggs and water together in a bowl until completely combined. Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with vegetable spray.
Pour 1/4 cup egg mixture into pan and tilt pan to coat bottom evenly in a thin layer. Cook until eggs are set and slightly browned on the bottom. Turn frittata over and cook until set and slightly golden. Turn onto plate.
Repeat cooking process with remaining egg mixture. Place frittatas on a plate.
Place about 1/3 cup ricotta filling among frittatas, spreading to edges. Roll up each frittata in a jelly-roll style. (May wrap each frittata individually in plastic wrap.) Chill overnight.
Unwrap frittatas and cut each on the diagonal into 6-8 slices. Serve chilled or at room temperature with marinara sauce.
Makes 8 appetizer-size servings
One refrigerated pie crust for 9" pan
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup corn kernels (cut from 1 ear, or 1/2 cup frozen)
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
6 large eggs
1-1/4 cups low- fat milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line 9" pan with refrigerated pie crust (for deep-dish pie) and flute edges as desired.
In a large frying pan, sauté onion, green pepper and red pepper in butter until vegetables are tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add corn and black beans and stir until heated through, 2-3 additional minutes.
Pour vegetable mixture into the bottom of the pie crust and cover with shredded cheese.
In a mixing bowl, add eggs, milk salt and pepper and whisk together well. Pour egg mixture over vegetables and cheese.
Bake 50-60 minutes or until center is set.