Made Easy: How to Make the Perfect the Omelet

The omelet is a basic dish every home cook (especially broke students) should be able to master. Eggs are relatively cheap and an excellent source of protein and takes minutes to cook. Omelets are also perfect for any leftover scraps you have in the fridge whether it’s that last cube of cheese, broccoli floret, or the lone slice of ham. We’ve been conditioned to only eat eggs during brunch, but omelets make for quick and easy (and budget-friendly) dinners.

When I first got into cooking, my omelets would always run into one of two problems:

1. The omelet tore and fell apart when I tried to fold it in half or
2. I added too many toppings and the whole thing became more of a weird egg stir-fry.

Here are some tips to avoid those problems:

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The Perfect Omelet

Ingredients:

3 large eggs
1 Tablespoon oil or small pat of butter
3 toppings of choice (peppers, mushrooms, ham, onions, tomatoes, etc.), 1/3 cup each
Salt and pepper, to taste

Step 1: Have Your Mise en Place Ready

A ‘mise en place’ is a French term for having everything in its place. As you can see, I diced the onions and mushrooms, grated the cheese, beat the eggs, poured out the oil, and had my seasonings ready. You don’t want to be still chopping mushrooms while the eggs are cooking away (in addition to risking burning the eggs, once they cook up and solidify the mushrooms won’t stick to the omelet).

As for how much of everything to use, a general guideline is to use three large eggs and then up to three toppings at 1/3 cup each or 1/2 cup if you’re only using two toppings. Loading your omelet with too much stuff would result in the egg ripping and becoming more of a scramble.

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Step 2: Get the Oil Hot Enough

Put the skillet over medium heat for about a minute. Then pour in the oil or butter and wait again till the butter melts (and starts foaming) and the oil becomes shiny and coats the pan.

If the oil is still cold when you pour the egg in, you get this gross-looking oily egg mixture where the oil floats on top of the egg, which defeats the purpose of the oil making the egg not stick to the pan.

Step 3: Cook the Tougher Fixin’s First

First sauté the toppings that require more cooking time than the eggs such as bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, bacon, and broccoli.

I’ve had many hotel omelets when I’d bite into the eggs and taste raw mushrooms in the centre. Don’t do that.

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Step 4: Pour in the Eggs

Spread the sautéed toppings evenly across the skillet. Gently pour the beaten eggs into the hot skillet, making sure that it envelops all the toppings and there aren’t any gaps in the omelet.

Step 5: Be Patient

Don’t poke the omelet with the spatula just yet. Let the omelet cook and solidify for about 30 seconds so that it won’t fall apart when you fold it.

Gently nudge the edges of the omelet towards the centre with a spatula, making sure the eggs aren’t stuck to the pan. You can tilt the pan and give it a light swirl with the wrist to allow the uncooked eggs from the middle of the pan to flow to the edges. The centre of the omelet should still be a bit runny.

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Step 6: Add the Delicate Stuff

Sprinkle in the toppings that don’t require as much cooking time such as finely grated cheese, herbs, or chopped tomatoes.

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Step 7: Fold 

This is the critical part. Try to get as much of the spatula under one half of the omelet before you do a quick flip (it’s all in the wrist). You also can use your other hand to tilt the pan towards the spatula.

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Step 8: Shimmy 

Gently slide the folded omelet on to a plate. Garnish with additional herbs or cheese if you like. Serve immediately.

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734863_10151322355189438_2070375187_n Karon Liu is a freelance food writer based in Toronto who is slightly lactose intolerant but will otherwise eat and cook anything.

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Pepper + Paint: Kid-Friendly Carrot, Apple & Flax Muffins

I love the feeling of knowing my children are starting their day with a proper breakfast and since they keep reminding me “it’s the most important meal of the day.”

made a mental record of the things I wanted them to have: protein, fibre and fruit topped the list. I also wanted something that would taste good and would be relatively fast and easy to prepare.

I came across an amazing muffin recipe that tastes like carrot cake. It’s moist and filling and full of deliciously healthy things like flax, oat bran, apples and carrots. I omitted the nuts and raisins and added a streusel topping instead. The muffins are lovely on their own but the streusel adds a touch of sweetness that I think makes them just perfect.

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Apple, Carrot & Flax Muffins with Steusel Topping

Muffins:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup ground flax seed
3/4 cup oat bran
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup milk
2 ggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons canola oil
2 cups shredded carrots
2 cups shredded apples
Handful raisins, nuts (optional)

Streusel Topping:

5 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease muffin pan or line with paper muffin liners.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, flax seed. oat bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
  3. Add the milk eggs, vannila and oil. Mix until just blended. Stir in the carrots, apples, raisins and nuts.
  4. Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Add streusel topping and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

pepper-paint Nicholetta Bokolas is a food writer based out of Halifax, NS. She is the author of the food blog Pepper + Paint where she captivates readers with her stories, recipe development, food styling and photography. She is a regular contributor for a local parenting web site and has been highlighted in magazines and other web and print media. She continues to collaborate with businesses on culinary-related projects and is proud to support the locally-sourced food movement. Pepper + Paint was voted one of Canada’s best-designed web blogs in 2012.

Nicholetta Bokolas is part of the Lifestyle Blog Network  family.

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Made Easy: Sriracha Chicken Salad Sandwich

I like to call this my “Absent-minded lunch” for those times when I have a million other things going on and don’t have the attention span to keep an eye on the stove. By boiling the chicken breasts, it keeps them juicy unlike grilling or roasting, which can dry-out the bird if you’re not paying attention. This also works for frozen chicken breasts; just toss them into the boiling water and they should be ready in 20 minutes.

I prefer shredding the chicken for a finer texture that’ll keep the meat from falling out (don’t you hate it when cubes of chicken fall out of your sandwich?). Make this the night before for a delicious packed lunch the next day.

Sriracha Chicken Salad Sandwich

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Ingredients:

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 thick slices sandwich bread
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1/4 cup onion, finely minced*
Chili flakes (optional)

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Directions:

  1. In a pot of boiling water, boil the chicken breast until it is no longer pink in the middle.
  2. Using a fork (and another fork or a pair of tongs to hold down the chicken), shred the chicken into thin threads.
  3. In a bowl, mix the shredded chicken, mayonnaise, Sriracha, and chili flakes together.
  4. Assemble the sandwich. Serve with a side of crudités.

*The key to a good chicken (or tuna) salad is to have a sweet crunch in the mix. If you don’t like onions, you can try for milder green onions or even apples that have been diced into tiny bits.

734863_10151322355189438_2070375187_n Karon Liu is a freelance food writer based in Toronto who is slightly lactose intolerant but will otherwise eat and cook anything.

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Sweet Eats: Gluten-Free Cornbread with Bacon & Cheese

With the days getting chillier, nothing battles the nip in the air better than warm and cozy, stick-to-your ribs food. When it starts to get cold outside, comfort food is where it’s at – and this recipe for bacon, cheddar and green onion cornbread fits the bill.

Make a batch and serve it warm with something equally as comforting like chili. Or eat it on its own, slathered in butter as an afternoon snack. However you decide to enjoy it, it will certainly help ease the certainty that cold weather is on the way!

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Ingredients:

1 cup cornmeal
¾ cup corn flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups milk
10 slices pancetta or 5 slices bacon, diced and cooked until crispy
2 green onions, finely sliced
1 cup packed grated cheddar cheese

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Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Butter an 8” baking dish. In a large bowl combine the cornmeal, corn flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together the butter, eggs and milk. Combine wet ingredients into dry and mix until just combined. Fold in the cooked pancetta or bacon, green onions and cheddar cheese.
  2. Scrape mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Slice into squares.

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SONY DSC Miranda Keyes is a freelance food stylist, recipe developer and writer who used to live in London, UK but moved back to Canada for nanaimo bars, maple syrup and poutine. To learn more about her, follow her on Instagram littlemirandapiggy and Twitter @mirandaak.

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Made Easy: Spiced Peach Punch

One of the best parts of summer here in Ontario is peach season, which runs from late July to late September when farmers markets and produce aisles overflow with gorgeous baskets of plump and vibrant pink peaches. You can tell if a peach is ready to eat by holding it up to your nose and smelling its juicy aroma. And when it’s ripe you better eat them fast because they tend to turn within three or four days (they’ll last another day in the fridge, but bring them back to room temperature before eating).

Typically when home cooks have an excess of peaches (since you’re more likely to buy a basket of 10 than just one) they turn to making preserves or pies, but try making this easy and quick spiced peach puree drink that can be served hot or cold as we transition to fall. Consider this as the gateway drink before you full switch to pumpkin spice lattes.

Spiced Peach Punch

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Ingredients:
8 ripe peaches
2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup whole milk

Directions:

  1. Remove the pit from the peaches and chop them into smaller pieces. Don’t bother removing the skins. In a blender, puree the peaches and the milk until smooth.
  2. In a pot over medium-low heat, pour in the peach mixture and add in the spices. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Yields 3 to 3 1/2 cups of peach puree, depending on how juicy the peaches are.
  4. Serve hot in a mug like an apple cider, or pour some over oatmeal. Alternatively, chill in the fridge for a spicy, pick-me-up breakfast smoothie or serve it as a chilled appetizer soup with fresh mint leaves as garnish.

734863_10151322355189438_2070375187_n Karon Liu is a freelance food writer based in Toronto who is slightly lactose intolerant but will otherwise eat and cook anything.

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