Enjoy eggs for more than an Easter hunt

Boiled, dyed eggs may symbolize the holiday, but there are inventive ways to incorporate them into meals

Mini frittatas

There are few symbols more associated with Easter than the egg.

Hard-boiled and dyed pastel colors, they are hidden and then hunted by children who may not realize the egg’s association with the holiday.    

In many cultures around the world, the egg is a symbol of new life, fertility and rebirth.

For Christians, the Easter egg is symbolic of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The hard shell of the egg represents the sealed tomb of Christ, and cracking the shell is said to represent Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

Painting Easter eggs is an especially beloved tradition in the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, where the eggs are often dyed red to represent the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross.

According to the American Egg Board, the best way to do this — and eliminate that unsightly greenish ring that sometimes forms around the yolk — is to place the eggs in a single layer in a saucepan, then add enough cold water to cover them by 1 inch. Heat the water over high heat just to boiling, then remove the pan from the burner and cover it. Let the eggs stand in the hot water about 12 minutes for large eggs or 9 minutes for medium eggs. Drain the eggs immediately.

Either serve them immediately or cool them completely under cold running water or in bowl of ice water, then refrigerate them.

To perfectly center the yolks, wrap a rubber band around the egg carton and refrigerate it on its side for several hours or overnight before boiling.

To peel the egg, gently tap it on the countertop until the shell has fine cracks all over. Roll the egg between your hands to loosen it, then start peeling at the large end, holding the egg under cold running water.

Hard-boiled eggs can be used to create deviled eggs, and they can be dressed up to create deviled egg chicks perfect for the holiday.

Or, by sticking a breadstick or pretzel in the boiled egg and topping them with bacon bits or finely chopped veggies, such as carrots or cucumbers, you can create an egg pop youngsters will enjoy dunking in dip before eating.

But even if you don’t like hard-boiled eggs, there are plenty of ways to enjoy eggs this holiday. Try a frittata, strata or even a French toast for Easter breakfast — or even make a breakfast for dinner leading up to the holiday.

Following are some egg recipes from www.incredibleegg.com.

Prosciutto Toast and Egg

1 thick slice country white bread
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
Cooking spray
1 large egg
2 thin slices prosciutto
Few leaves arugula or baby lettuce
1 teaspoon shredded Swiss cheese

Toast bread, then spread with butter. Spray a small skillet with cooking spray. Scramble egg over medium heat. Warm prosciutto in microwave oven or skillet. Top bread with arugula and prosciutto, then place egg on top. Sprinkle with cheese. Makes one serving. You may substitute mayonnaise for the butter. A fried or poached egg may be prepared in place of the scrambled egg.

Hard Boiled Egg Pops

4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
4 thin pretzel or crisp bread sticks
1/4 cup refrigerated ranch or dill dip
For topping:
Bacon bits
Finely chopped carrots
Finely chopped cucumber

Cut a small X in the larger end of each egg. Insert a thin bread or pretzel stick, being careful not to split the egg. Serve the egg pops with your choice of dip and favorite toppers. Makes four servings.

Mini Frittata Crostini

6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup finely chopped zucchini
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
For crostini:
36    thin baguette slices
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup chive and onion spreadable cream cheese

For crostini, brush both sides of bread slices lightly with olive oil. Place in a single layer on baking sheets. Bake in a 375-degree oven about 10 minutes, until lightly toasted, then cool on wire racks.
Beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper in medium bowl until blended. Add cheese, zucchini, bell pepper and onion, then mix well. Spoon about 1 tablespoon egg mixture into each of 36 mini-muffin cups that are coated with cooking spray. Bake in 350-degree oven for 10 to 13 minutes, until just set. Cool on wire rack for five minutes, then  remove from cups. To serve, spread about 1 teaspoon cream cheese on each crostini, then top with a mini frittata. Makes 36 appetizers.

Deviled Egg Chicks

12    hard-cooked eggs, peeled
1/3 cup    mayonnaise
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
24    mini-chocolate chips
1 baby carrot, cut into 12 small pieces

Slice a small portion off the bottom (wide portion) of each egg so it can stand upright. Cut approximately 1/4-inch off the top of the egg, enough to expose the yolk. Remove the egg yolks, being careful not to tear the whites. Place yolks in a medium bowl. Stir mayonnaise, mustard and salt into yolks until well blended. Refrigerate egg-yolk mixture for two hours or until well chilled. Fill each egg white with some of the egg yolk mixture, rounding off the top of the mixture for the “chick’s” head. Add 2 mini chocolate chips for eyes and a piece of the carrot for a beak. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 12 servings. You may substitute small pieces of black olive for the mini chocolate chips.

Puff Pastry Galettes With Eggs

1/2 cup goat cheese, softened
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh chives
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 of a 17-ounce package frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
5 eggs
4 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine goat cheese, 1 tablespoon parsley, chives, dill, garlic and lemon zest until smooth and spreadable. Place pastry on lightly floured surface. Roll into a 9-inch square. Cut into four even portions. Score a 1/2-inch border on all sides of pastry squares with sharp knife, then prick pastry all over inside score lines with fork. Place on large parchment paper­–lined baking sheet and transfer to freezer for five minutes. Beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon water and set aside. Spread goat cheese mixture evenly inside score lines of each pastry square. Brush border of each pastry with egg wash. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until pastry is lightly golden. Remove baking sheet from oven. Crack egg into center of each pastry. Top evenly with tomato slices, then return to oven and bake 8 to 10 minutes, until whites are set and eggs are cooked to desired doneness. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with remaining parsley and serve. Makes four servings. Tarragon or basil may be substituted for dill. You may also use store-bought herbed goat cheese or flavored goat cheese.

Provencal Mushroom Stratas

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teapoon salt
1/2 teapoon pepper
6 cups cubed day-old baguette
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
4 eggs
1 cup half and half
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
For salad:
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon honey
Pinch salt
Pinch pepper
1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
6 cups mixed greens

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook mushrooms, garlic and half the salt for five to eight minutes, until golden and tender. Cool slightly. Combine baguette cubes, mushroom mixture and cheese. Divide evenly among six buttered muffin cups. Whisk together eggs, cream, mustard, herbes de Provence and remaining salt and pepper until blended. Pour over bread mixture and let stand 25 to 30 minutes, until bread has absorbed all the egg mixture.Bake in a 425-degree oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden and set in center. Makes six servings. For light and airy stratas, make sure baguette cubes are dry to the center. Stratas may be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, for as long as 24 hours.

Wild Mushroom Flatbread With Poached Eggs

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 white onion, diced
4 cups mixed, sliced wild mushrooms such as cremini, shiitake or oyster
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar    
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 prepared flatbreads
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion about five minutes, until softened but not brown. Add mushrooms, garlic, thyme, rosemary, hot pepper flakes and half the salt and pepper and cook five to seven minutes, until cooked through. Stir in blasamic vinegar and lemon zest and cook one minute. Toast flatbread on baking sheet in a 400-degree oven for five minutes, until golden and heated through. Pour three inches of water into a saucepan set over medium heat. Add white vinegar and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Crack eggs into a small dish, then slide, one at a time, into the simmering water and cook three to four minutes or until they reach the desired doneness. Remove with slotted spoon and blot on paper towels. Top flatbreads with sauteed mushrooms and poached eggs. Sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper and garnish with chives. Makes two servings.

Moroccan Eggs in a Basket

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup canned garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed
1 small cucumber, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
2 cups fresh spinach
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon butter
2 large eggs

Heat olive oil in sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook garlic in oil, stirring, for one to two minutes or until fragrant. Add garbanzo beans. Cook three to fourminutes, until softened, then mash using the back of a fork. Stir in cucumber and garam masala and cook four to five minutes, until cucumber is slightly softened. Fold in spinach and cook one to two minutes, until spinach wilts. Season with salt and pepper. Using a spoon or spatula, make a hole in middle of the vegetable mixture. Place butter in the hole and allow to melt, then crack eggs in the hole. Cover pan and cook about four minutes, until eggs are cooked to desired doneness. Slide onto a plate and serve. Makes one serving.

Mini Frittata Sandwiches
2 jalapeño peppers
1/4 cup whipping cream
8 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons canola oil
8 breakfast sausage links
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
16    prepared mini buttermilk biscuits, split
1 large green tomato, thinly sliced

Place jalapeños on small baking sheet and broil in the top third of an oven about five minutes, turning occasionally. Transfer peppers to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand five minutes, then peel skin.Chop jalapeños coarsely into small pieces, removing seeds if you desire less heat. Set aside. Whisk together whipping cream, eggs, salt and pepper in a bowl. Heat oil in a nonstick, ovenproof sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Cook sausages for four to six minutes, until browned, breaking up meat with spoon. Transfer sausages to a plate and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and, using same pan, cook onion for four to six minutes, until lightly caramelized. Return jalapeños and sausages to pan and stir to combine. Pour egg mixture into pan and cook about three minutes, until frittata is almost set but top is still runny. Transfer pan to oven and broil about three minutes, until lightly puffed and cheese is golden brown. Turn oven off and let stand in oven for five minutes. Arrange biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in a 300-degree oven about five minutes, until warmed. Makes 16 servings.




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