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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Countdown to Dinner: Hash brown omelet filling fare

Thursday, April 13, 2000

Tested by Betsy Kline

Countdown to Dinner's correspondent in Lincoln Place, Marie McElhinny, checks in this month with one of her favorite "light" Lenten recipes, Hash Brown Cheese Omelet.

This recipe is somewhat of a departure for McElhinny, whose main claims to fame are her tiny but abundant vegetable/herb garden and her vegetable recipes. Countdown has already published her recipes for Sugared Asparagus, Green Beans With Hazelnut Butter and Green Beans Supreme.

"I like to share," says the great-grandmother with the green thumb.

This entree omelet is filling and fast -- as long as you remember to thaw the frozen hash browns in the refrigerator overnight. McElhinny's version calls for egg substitute (her favorite is EggBeaters) but whole fresh eggs may be used, if so desired. Just be extra careful to make sure the egg is thoroughly cooked before serving.

A garden salad or dish of fruit would complement this meal nicely.

Tester's notes: The size of your skillet will determine the cooking time. The smaller the pan, the thicker the omelet; be sure to test for doneness. We recommend a 10- to 12-inch skillet. You can vary the amounts of potato and egg, depending on your preference. We used a little over a pound of hash brown cubes, but next time will use just a pound or less, so the eggs are not overpowered. A handful of herbs would be great, too.

Hash Brown Cheese Omelet

1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
3/4 to 1 pound bag frozen cubed hash brown potatoes, thawed (they're usually called Southern-style)
Egg substitute equivalent to 8 eggs (we used Better 'n' Eggs)
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 slices "lite" American cheese

In a large skillet coated with non-stick cooking spray, saute onions and green pepper. Add potatoes and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Beat thoroughly in a bowl the egg substitute, water and pepper. Pour over vegetables in skillet. As egg sets, lift edges, letting uncooked portion flow underneath. Just before eggs are completely set, place cheese slices over half of the omelet. Fold in half and transfer to a warm serving platter. Serves 4 to 5. Pass the ketchup!

Tester's tip: When folding any omelet, the easiest way is to first make sure the omelet is totally loosened from the pan. Tilt the skillet just enough to allow the omelet to begin to slide slowly onto the serving plate. When it's halfway there, tilt the skillet more so the omelet folds on itself.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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