Helmer offers the following tips for making easy, nutritious and affordable meals, from his famous 40-second omelet to straightforward strata. Be Preppy. Save time getting meals on the table by prepping ingredients ahead of time. Slice and dice vegetables while watching television, or marinate meats and pre-cook anything that can be safely made ahead of time so that breakfast, lunch and dinner can be made in a flash on busy weekdays. Fast Food. Who said fast food has to come from the drive-thru? According to Helmer, anyone can make an omelet in 40 seconds with a little practice! And because everyone can customize their own, omelets are perfect for accommodating picky eaters. Leftover Makeover. Don't have the same meal twice. Reinvent leftovers -- from last night's pasta to Chinese take-out -- by using them as fillings in easy egg dishes. Almost anything from the refrigerator or pantry can go into an omelet, quiche, frittata or strata. The Heat is On. Helmer's secret weapon for his famously fast omelet is a very hot pan. A pan is hot enough to make the perfect omelet in just 40 seconds if the eggs sizzle and bubble up as soon as they hit the pan. Heavy on the Salt? If a cooking mishap makes your meal too salty, peel a potato, cut it into large chunks and add it to the pot or plate. Then throw out the potato before serving the meal -- it will have absorbed the extra salt! Easy Ethnic Flavors. Give scrambled eggs and omelets an extra kick by using basic condiments to create new egg flavors. Beat eggs and then add soy sauce, salsa, curry powder or even Italian salad dressing for easy ethnic dishes. Get Fresh. Keep eggs fresh and safe by storing them in their original cartons on a middle shelf in the refrigerator at 40*F degrees or below. Those special egg compartments on the door actually let eggs absorb food odors and spoil faster. Stored properly, fresh shell eggs can be kept for four to five weeks beyond the carton's pack date. Howard is looking for America's worst cook. Feeling intimated in the kitchen? Tired of ordering out? Enter the "Search for America's Worst Cook" contest for a chance to receive a cooking makeover by visiting www.AmericasWorstCook.com You'll also find more of Howard's tips, and insert yourself -- or the worst cook they know -- into a music video alongside Howard and YouTube video sensation Remy. Howard Helmer's 40-Second Omelet Multiply the recipe by as many servings as you need and use 1/2 cup of the egg mixture for each omelet. For a sweet dessert omelet, substitute a pinch of sugar for the salt and pepper. Ingredients 2 eggs
2 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon salt, optional
Dash pepper, optional
1 teaspoon butter or cooking oil OR cooking spray
To Prepare the Omelet
In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and water with the salt and pepper, if desired, until blended.
In a 7- to 10-inch omelet pan or skillet over medium-high heat, heat the butter until it's just hot enough to sizzle a drop of water.
Pour in the egg mixture. (The mixture should set immediately at the edges).
With a spatula, carefully push the cooked egg portions at the edges of the pan toward the center so the uncooked portions can reach the hot pan surface, tilting the pan and moving the cooked portions as necessary. Do this until the egg is set but still moist on top.
Sprinkle desired fillings on the left side of the pan (or right side if you are left-handed). Slide the spatula under the unfilled side of the omelet and fold it entirely over the filled side. Set aside spatula.
Invert the omelet onto a plate with a quick flip of the wrist or slide the omelet from the pan onto a serving plate.
4 to 6 servings
The kids might be able to start a frittata themselves. You simply cook the egg mixture and filling ingredients together without stirring. With its high heat, you'll want to be in charge of the broiler, though. In this frittata, eggs bind together beans and corn, nutritious staples which sustained native Americans. Altogether, the combo is rich in nutrients, including plenty of protein, but not high in calories or fat.
1 can (11 oz.) Mexicali corn OR 1 1/3 cups kernel corn
1 can (15 oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped sweet red and/or green pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 to 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
Salsa or taco sauce, optional
Drain corn, reserving liquid. If necessary, add water to make 1/3 cup.
Evenly coat 10-inch omelet pan or skillet with ovenproof handle* with spray. Add drained corn, beans and pepper. Cover and cook over medium heat until peppers are soft, about 5 to 7 minutes.
In medium bowl, beat together eggs, reserved corn liquid, garlic powder and pepper sauce until blended. Pour over vegetables. Cover and cook over medium heat until eggs are almost set, about 8 to 10 minutes. Broil about 6 inches from heat until eggs are completely set and lightly browned, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Cut into wedges and serve from pan or either slide from pan or invert onto serving platter. Dollop with salsa, if desired.
* To make handle ovenproof, wrap completely with aluminum foil.
Drain corn, reserving liquid. If necessary, add water to make 1/3 cup.
Evenly coat 9-inch pie plate with spray. Add drained corn and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap. Cook on full power until peppers are soft, about 5 minutes. Add beans.
In medium bowl, beat together eggs, reserved corn liquid, garlic powder and pepper sauce until blended. Pour over vegetables. Cover. Cook on full power, rotating dish once or twice, about 5 minutes. Continue cooking on 50-percent power until sides are puffy and center is set, about 2 to 3 minutes. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes.
Cut and serve as above.
Note: Microwave cooking times are based on a full power output of 600 to 700 watts. For a lower wattage oven, allow more time; for a higher wattage oven, allow less time.
Nutrition information per serving of 1/5 recipe using 1 1/2 teaspoons each garlic powder and hot pepper sauce without optional salsa: 205 calories, 7 gm total fat, 255 mg cholesterol, 437 mg sodium, 376 mg potassium, 23 gm carbohydrate, 14 gm protein and 10% or more of the RDI for vitamins A, B12 and C, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, dietary fiber
Variable Vegetable Strata
Got leftover cooked veggies on hand? This casserole is a great way to use them up. You can use one kind of veggie or several together for a colorful medley. Any kind of bread or shreddable cheese will do and, if you haven't got mushroom soup on hand, use any creamed soup that you like.
6 slices day-old bread
1 to 2 cups chopped cooked vegetables
1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
1 can (10.75 oz.) low-fat, reduced-sodium condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/2 cup skim or low-fat milk
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon basil leaves, crushed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Evenly coat 8 x 8 x 2-inch (or 2-quart rectangular) baking dish with spray. Cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Evenly sprinkle half of the cubes into prepared dish. Sprinkle vegetables and cheese over cubes. Sprinkle with remaining cubes.
In medium bowl, beat together eggs, soup, milk, mustard, basil and pepper. Pour over bread-vegetable mixture. Cover. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Bake in preheated 350* F oven until knife inserted near center comes out clean and top is golden brown, about 50 to 60 minutes.
Cooking Tips from the "World's Fastest Omelet Maker"
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