Brunch Cups featuring Hormel Natural Choice Bacon

Warning: This entry is photo heavy! As always, click on a photo to view a larger image.

Bacon. Seriously, other than folks with allergies and specific diets, who doesn’t like bacon? (I know there are a few of you out there, but what you don’t care for is our treat.)

34985143_10214773115775264_2706663659517509632_nI have had an opportunity through My Magazine Sharing Network to give a free sample of a Hormel product a try: Natural Choice Cherrywood Smoked Uncured Bacon. There are other flavors of course, but this one appealed to my partner in crime, so that’s what we took home.

 

From Hormel:

No Preservatives,* No Artificial Ingredients

The makers of HORMEL®NATURAL CHOICE® Bacon believe everyone deserves to eat better. That’s why they’re committed to making honest products you can trust that are both enjoyable and affordable. HORMEL® NATURAL CHOICE®Bacon is made without artificial preservatives or ingredients. It’s gluten free, minimally processed and comes from pork raised without added hormones.** Whether enjoyed alone or in a recipe — it’s a delicious way to start your day.

*No nitrates or nitrites added except for those naturally occurring in cultured celery and cherry powder
**Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in pork.”

 

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Look good, don’t they?

Now that you have the pertinent information, let’s get down to business. The recipe. I’d been wanting to make brunch cups sans pastry dough (my usual tactic) for a while, and this was a golden opportunity. There were a bunch of photos taken during this kitchen session, so you can get a step by step idea of how these lovely cups are built, if you are not already aware. The recipe is good for breakfast, brunch, or anytime you feel the need for these flavors, and can be a wonderful cooking project to share with kids at home or at Gramma’s when you go to visit.

As usual with any of my recipes, feel free to make additions, deletions, and alterations to suit your own dietary and taste needs. The more variations, the merrier!

 

BRUNCH CUPS
Prep time: minutes
Cook Time: minutes
Servings: 6

34874862_10214773116295277_866612718298202112_nIngredients:
1-12 oz package of bacon,
6 whole strips, the rest cut into thirds
10 large eggs
4-6 oz potato, pre-cooked
6 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
1 tsp parsley
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp cumin
Sea salt, garlic, and pepper to taste

 

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Freshly washed yard eggs, medium to large in size.

NOTE:
-I used slices of baked potato (Golden) that had been stored in the refrigerator, tossed with sea salt and diced garlic).
-Olive oil baking spray is a standard in my kitchen.
-Cupcake pan should be larger than normal, but not cake sized. This handy chart helps with sizing.-The Cherry Wood Smoked bacon smells amazing!

Directions:

35080231_10214773116055271_8061552674270609408_nPre-heat oven to 350F. Spray cupcake pan liberally with olive oil.

Line baking cups with bacon in stages: 2 cut slices on bottom, one whole slice around the inside of the cup. Place slices of potato (with garlic and salt) into the bottom of the cup. Place a single slice of cut bacon on top of the potato. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest while other prep work continues.

34963243_10214773153696212_9215589916891676672_nIn a moderate sized bowl, crack eggs. Whisk briskly while adding parsley, paprika, and cumin.

 

 

Pour egg mixture into baking cups slowly, to allow any air bubbles to surface. Return to hot oven for 15 minutes.

 

Remove cupcake pan from the oven. Divide Swiss cheese evenly among the cups, making sure that coverage is even and no bits of cheese are hanging out to make cleanup a chore. Return the pan to the oven and cook for 5 minutes or until the cheese is all melted.

 

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Emplated, with a dab of onion sour cream.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow to rest a couple of minutes. Carefully remove the cups so as not to scratch up the pan. They may be plated individually or removed to a serving platter.

 

Refrigerate any leftovers.

 

The brunch cups may be served with fruit, a bit of sour cream on top, or however you prefer to emplate them. The meal is fairly low in carbohydrates and quite high in protein, making is a delicious main dish for diabetics. It is not particularly ketogenic friendly due to the potato content.

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Try this recipe with one of the Hormel Natural Choice bacons, and let us know how you like it. We, and our guests that morning, have enjoyed the experiment a great deal.

 

“That bacon is not too salty and not too sweet. Great stuff!” – Adrian
“I found the cups to be an interesting bit of breakfast. The egg mixing with the bacon and the cheese had a slight sweet taste. Yet, I found the cups to be soft and easily eaten with little mess. My furbaby even enjoyed a few nibbles that escaped from my plate! I would be interested in trying this again — maybe with sausage or a different type of cheese to see how the flavor changes.” — Billie Jean

 

– Ann Cathey

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Breakfast! It’s Good for You!

It is said that breakfast is an important part of your day, and I have found this to be true. Making a few minutes every morning for food to get your day started has a lot of potential benefits.

There’s a lot of research out there on the effects of a nutritionally balanced morning meal (whenever your relative morning may be), though even a simple glass of orange juice can get your motor running more effectively than an empty stomach.

Your metabolic rate will get a boost if you wake your system up with some breakfast. This not only gets your fat-burning potential revved up, but can energize your whole system. Your body and brain can benefit from the boost. They should me more energized and active all during the day.

Your heart, the central motor of your circulatory system, will likely thank you. Breakfast may assist in reducing the risk of a number of heart disease risks, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

Cognitive function can be difficult to maintain if you are being distracted by a cramping or growling stomach. Higher protein foods can help your stomach remain satisfied, which in turn tends to keep down overeating later in the day.

Your mood is another factor that breakfast can help with. Starting your day on an empty stomach can make you cranky, especially if you are a coffee drinker. Adding food to your morning can help keep you on a even keel. Even a cup of yogurt can help, and add 1 of the 3 recommended servings of dairy to your daily intake.

Breakfast doesn’t always have to be super healthy granola and berries, either. As the start to your day, it can be a wide rage of tasty things depending on your dietary requirements. The two recipes below are bacon-based palate pleasers!

BREAKFAST CLUB
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients:
1 croissant
1 egg, fried or scrambled
2 leaves Romaine lettuce
1 Roma tomato, thinly sliced
2 slices bacon, cooked
3 slices oven roasted deli turkey
3 sliced honey deli ham
Mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper to taste

Slice your croissant in half as a base for the sandwich. Apply condiments to taste. Layer on remaining ingredients as you prefer. Insert two toothpicks, one on either side, and slice in half. Enjoy.

NOTES: Why anyone would want to pile more salt on top of the sodium in the meats is beyond me, but some folks prefer a lot of salt. For this sandwich, I prefer fluffy scrambled eggs held together by a slice of cheddar or Swiss above and below, a brown mustard, and sliced pickle instead of tomato. The suggested condiments are all right, but not to my personal taste. My partner on the other hand, loves yellow mustard and black pepper.

The prep time for doing two to four of these sandwiches is not noticeably different. Not only are they great for a fairly quick breakfast, they are also a delicious addition to the brunch table.

 

BACON CINNAMON ROLLS
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:
1 package refrigerated cinnamon rolls (with cream cheese icing)
2 slices bacon, cooked (not too crispy) PER ROLL

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Prep a baking sheet with either parchment paper or baking spray.

Unroll the dough onto a flat surface with the cinnamon side up. If the rolls do not separate during this process, cut them apart gently. Lay 2 slices of bacon along each strip on the cinnamon side. Re-roll each strip of dough, maintaining the bacon along one long edge of the dough.

Place the bacon rolls flat side down on on the prepared baking dish. Bake 16-20 minutes or until the dough is golden brown. Remove to wire rack and let stand for five minutes.

Glaze the rolls with icing while still warm. Let stand until glaze is set. Serve warm.

Refrigerate any leftovers.

NOTES: Make sure you have 2 slices of bacon per roll noted on the packaging – some packs of cinnamon rolls contain 6 rolls, while others may have 8 or 10. Adjust your recipe accordingly.

Whip an ounce or two of cream cheese with the icing from the package, or just spread cream cheese instead of the sugar for a less sweet breakfast roll. When using the cream cheese by itself, you might consider adding a dash of chili powder to the roll before adding the bacon, or dried or fresh herbs for a more savory presentation.

I prefer to cook the bacon, drain and pat it dry of excess grease. Beef bacon as well as pork bacon both go well with this recipe. I have not tried it out with turkey or tofu based bacon products.

I had to learn the hard way that breakfast really was a good way to start my day. In making it a practice, however, I find myself with more energy and have actually lost a few pounds over the last year – without really trying. You might give it a shot if you don’t already eat breakfast in the mornings and see how you feel after a week or so.

Enjoy!

– Ann Cathey

Simple Almond Flour Waffles

This tuly simple waffle recipe is great for folks on gluten free diets and can be made Paleo in a pinch. It’s also super tasty for folks who simply enjoy waffles!

I admit I found it on the internet and decided to give it a try. The ingredients listed below are what I actually use at home.

Simple Almond Flour Waffles 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Yield: 4-6 waffles

 

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Almond flour is creamier in color than wheat flour and has a coarser texture.

Ingredients 
1-1/2 cups almond flour
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon honey
oil for brushing waffle iron (if needed)

 

 

 

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Hot waffle iron treated with olive oil spray.

Preheat a waffle iron to medium. Spray or brush with oil if needed just before adding batter.

 

 

 

 

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Push dry ingredients more to the sides, creating a ‘well’. This will allow wet ingredients to be mixed in more readily.

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Note the difference in color and texture of each of the dry ingredients. Arrowroot is white (left), baking soda is a brighter white (far right), and the salt is a greyer white (left side of right-hand photo. These small differences can help you keep track of added ingredients.

dsc_0953Add eggs, milk and honey to bowl and mix until well blended. The mixture will come out similar to cookie dough, though not as visually smooth due to the almond flour.dsc_0954

 

 

 

 

 

dsc_0956Drop approximately 1/2-3/4 cup batter into the waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.

 

 

Serve hot with butter and/or syrup as desired.

 

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Large waffle still on the griddle (left), and a smaller waffle on a salad plate (right).

To make these waffles Paleo friendly, use pure honey or maple syrup (not the stuff that’s full of preservatives or cut with high fructose corn syrup) and a non-dairy milk product. Also be sure to use a fine ground sea salt.

If you prefer not to use honey, an equal amount of molasses, maple or another syrup may be used instead.

While arrowroot is easy for me to find locally, you may substitute an equal amount of tapioca starch or coconut flour.

“Oh, holy low carb, Batman!”
– Me, excited about being able to eat waffles again.

This recipe came out right the first time for us. Tasty, fluffy, though obviously with the
slightly grainy texture of almond flour. Even after they have cooled off, they were delicious
and went outstandingly well with fried chicken tenders.

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Chicken and Waffles!

— Ann Cathey

Corned Beef Hash Quiche Tarts

My partner is Irish and has a distinct affinity for corned beef and potatoes. I wanted something that I could serve for breakfast that wasn’t just hash on a plate with a biscuit and eggs. The idea for this dish came to me one evening in the grocery, where I wound up hunting down the individual ingredients for availability.

Corned Beef Hash Quiche TartsDSC_0024
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 12 tarts

Ingredients
1 15oz can corned beef hash
8 eggs
1 can crescent roll dough, large
8 tsp heavy whipping cream
8 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
baking spray or olive oil

Preheat oven to temperature required for the crescent roll dough. If using a toaster oven, increase heat according to your experienced usage. (My toaster oven requires a 50 degree increase.)

Spray insides of cups on a standard 12 cup muffin tin. Adjust size of tray for your oven or for larger individual cups.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs and cream until you have a uniform color and consistency. You should have some froth appearing.


Open crescent  roll dough and roll out on a glass board. Do not use flour. Separate dough in pairs, making long strips of 2 triangles each. Pinch seams shut. Cut each strip into three relatively equal squares.

Place one square of dough into each individual cup and pat with fingertips to ensure that the bottom of the cup is covered. You may push some of the dough gently up the sides if desired.

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Place one tablespoon of hash into each cup, spreading it out to roughly cover the bottom of the dough.

Place a hefty tablespoon of Swiss cheese into each cup. Make sure to tuck in any stray strand so that they are contained and will not melt onto the pan and make a mess.

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Whisk egg mixture again lightly to reverse any separation. Pour egg mixture in a thin stream into each cup, making sure to cover all the cheese with at least a thin layer of liquid. Do not over fill (as shown in photo). Leave about a quarter of an inch space in the cup above the level of the egg. The egg mixture will rise like a muffin, creating a lovely dome top that may spill over onto the connective tray.

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Place tray into the preheated oven and cook for the time directed on the package of dough.

When ready, remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Use a spatula or other plastic implement to loosen he sides for easy removal.

Serve with a spot of sour cream on top, or a sprinkle of cheese. You might also accompany with these Crock Pot German Style Potatoes, the recipe for which is coming up next week.
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As with most of my recipes, there are plenty of variations that may be used. Add a bit of garlic or salt to the eggs. Dice and toss in some bell pepper for a bit of color. Top with bacon. Be creative and combine flavor that please your taste buds. A sprinkle of parsley flakes on top before baking will help to differentiate any tarts with additional or customized ingredients.

Enjoy!

— Ann Cathey

Crock Pot Breakfast

With the weather being cool to cold in most of the United States, I thought these warm breakfast dishes might be appreciated.

There are an amazing number of things that can be cooked in a crock pot or other slow cooker. I bet you didn’t know that breakfast can be prepared in a slow cooker rather than on the stove top. Here are a few recipes that are sure to delight.

These recipes are written more like concepts than with the usual ingredients list due to the many variations that are available for each.

OATMEAL
Instant oatmeal is quick, true, but it’s also just not the same as the real thing. Steel cut oatmeal or whole oat groats are a great way to kick start your morning, but the hour they take to cook can make that difficult.Instead, you should prepare oatmeal the night before for that wonderful smell in the morning. First, toast two cups of oats in a dry pan for five minutes until you can smell them.Then put the oats in a buttered crockpot with eight cups of water, two cups of milk, 1/4 c. brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt.Cook on low for eight hours and enjoy!

APPLESAUCE
Fresh applesauce is amazing served with a pork loin or just as a comforting snack, but it may seem a little intimidating to make. Never fear! All you have to do is peel, core, and dice 10 McIntosh apples and put them into a slow cooker with 1/2 cup of water, one teaspoon of cinnamon, and one cup of sugar. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours and enjoy the warm cinnamon smell that permeates your house. Eat warm, cold or freeze for later.

HUNTERS BREAKFAST
I think this concept has been covered before, but this blog is about breakfast and it bears repeating. Layer potatoes (sliced leftover bakers, diced leftover french fries, frozen or leftover tater tots, frozen hash browns), meat (crumbled sausage or bacon, diced ham, or any combination you may prefer), cheese, and diced bell pepper. Do as many layers as you have ingredients for. If your crock pot is half full, use 6-8 eggs, if it’s mostly full use 12-18 eggs. Crack your eggs into a large bowl and whisk them thoroughly with a splash of milk or cream for fluffiness. Salt and pepper the eggs to taste. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the ingredients in the crock pot. Sprinkle extra cheese on top. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours (overnight). if the smell of a hot breakfast waiting for you in the morning doesn’t make your tummy rumble, you may have a cold. Serve as is or wrapped in a warm tortilla for breakfast tacos.

Give these dishes a try and let us know how you enjoyed them. See if you don’t agree that the crock pot method is a time-saving twist on these breakfast favorites.

–Ann Cathey

Fast Food Leftover Madness

Ever wonder what to do with those fast food leftovers in your fridge? Maybe you ordered more than you really wanted, or the kids didn’t polish off all their fries. If it’s substantial enough to warrant tossing in the fridge, it’s plenty to fix for a meal or side for the next day.

Note that wherever “french fries” are mentioned, this could be regular french fries, seasoned curly fries, waffle fries, or even steak fries. They all work wonderfully in your leftover madness.

FRIED CHICKEN SALAD
Cold fried chicken, de-boned and diced make a wonderful chicken salad for sandwiches or wraps with your favorite ingredients. Mayo, brown mustard, chopped onion and peppers are one variation. Another is mayo, yellow curry and purple seedless grapes served up in a pita half!

FRIED CHICKEN TACOS
Strip that chicken off the bone, toss it with garlic and chili powder in a skillet with a spritz of olive oil, then fill your tacos with chicken, cheese and whatever else you may desire.

HASH-BROWN FRENCH FRIES
Take those cold french fries out of the fridge and dice them. Give a skillet a spritz of olive oil and heat some diced garlic. Toss in those fry bits and treat them like hash-brown potatoes. They will cook up to whatever consistence you desire, from soft to slightly crunchy.

Crack and egg into the middle and serve it sunny side up in a ring of hash-brown fries.

CHILI CHEESE CHICKEN NUGGETS/STRIPS
Got some chicken nuggets or strips left over? Arrange them on a dish and heat in the microwave. Smother them in hot chili and your choice of cheese and enjoy.

Garnish with a bit of sour cream and sliced black olives for some complementary flavors and textures.

CHICKEN ENCHILADAS
De-boned fried chicken makes a great filling for enchiladas. Wrap the chicken and some cheese into tortillas, cover in enchilada sauce, heat and serve with fresh guacamole and sour cream.

HUNTSMAN’S BREAKFAST
Start a skillet with a spritz of olive oil and some diced garlic and onion. Cook until the onion is just beginning to soften. Add in a meat, like diced sausage or chicken strips, and cook until hot. Dice the leftover french fries and add the to the skillet, stir this mixture fairly often to keep it from sticking. Whisk up an appropriate number of eggs for the contents of the skillet, adding your spices of choice. Add this to the skillet and cook until the eggs are done.

You might serve this up on a plate with a few dashes of hot sauce, or in tortillas with cheese as breakfast tacos. Either way, it’s a quick and simple breakfast plan.

MORE DICED DELIGHTS
Diced french fries, and other leftover potatoes, with or without onions also make filling additions to stews, bean pots, and even home-made chili. Diced onion rings are great in chili and in hashbrowns.

We’ve actually bought chicken nuggets from the Golden Arches specifically to take home and smother in chili and cheese for supper. It wasn’t the healthiest meal we have ever enjoyed, but it was so tasty we didn’t mind.

— Ann Cathey

Scones: the cure for the breakfast blues

Back in my former hometown of Nacogdoches, there is a lovely coffee shop called Java Jacks. They got me hooked on scones. I used to love to drop by on my way to work or school and pick up one of their tasty specialty lattes and a cinnamon chip scone.

For years, I tried to make scones at home, but they never would turn out anything like the ones I got at Java Jacks. I tried numerous different recipes, and I got everything from triangular muffins to hardtack. Even Alton Brown’s recipe didn’t work for me (probably because I did something wrong). I tried scone mix, and while the results tasted really good, they still weren’t quite…scones.

Just recently, I stumbled across yet another scone recipe. This one didn’t seem any more promising than any others, but it sure was easier. The recipe called for baking mix, milk, and add-ins of your choosing. Easy-peasy. So I gave it a whirl.

Well, the scones still weren’t quite like the ones I was used to. They were a little more moist, not so crumbly…but man, were they tasty! The texture was somewhere between a scone and a muffin, but they were easier to make than either one.

Then I decided to try an experiment. What would happen, I wondered, if I added a little butter? I used Alton Brown’s technique and hand rubbed the butter into the baking mix. Then I stirred in the milk and the additional ingredients and baked as directed. When they came out of the oven…lo and behold—scones! Crumbly, tender, tasty, wonderful scones!

Since then, I’ve tried a couple of other variations (with and without the added butter), and they’ve all turned out really good. So I decided to share my “secrets” with the other scone lovers of the world.

scones

The basic recipe (from the King Arthur Flour website):

First preheat your oven to 450°F. Scones tend to be a little larger than biscuits. You’ll make about 4 scones per 1 cup of mix. To each cup of mix, add any combination of Defining Ingredients before adding 1/4 cup milk. For a richer scone, use half-and-half instead of milk.

Put the scones together the way you would biscuits, adding any “defining ingredients” to the dry ingredients before you add the wet.

Mix, knead, and roll as you would biscuits. Scones are traditionally cut into wedges, which avoids the waste issue. Place them on a lightly floured or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes.

 

Now, here is the first place I deviate from their instructions. My “defining ingredients” can be anything from chocolate chips to coffee, so I add them in where appropriate (I add the coffee in place of the milk, for example, and stir in chocolate chips after all other ingredients are mixed). I also find that my scones work better at a slightly lower temperature (say, 400). Your mileage may vary, depending on your oven.

You can switch things up a bit by changing the essential elements of the scone, as well as the “defining ingredients.” For instance, you can add 2/3 cup of canned pumpkin to the baking mix (leaving out the milk). You can use coffee or a nice, flavorful tea in place of the milk. And of course, you can use whatever kind of baking mix you prefer, including gluten-free, or you can even mix up your own ahead of time. As far as defining ingredients, the King Arthur website lists a handful of possibilities. You can always glean ideas from Pinterest and other internet resources as well. Between savory and sweet options, the combinations are almost infinite. Below are a few ideas to get you started:

Spinach & Feta

Pesto (regular, sundried tomato, or sweet pepper varieties would all be good)

Chocolate chip, cinnamon chip, or espresso chip scones (add a little sugar to your baking mix for these—these also work well in pumpkin scones)

Cranberry orange (orange zest and dried cranberries, also with a little sugar added)

Pumpkin with maple extract added, or a maple icing drizzled on top

Pumpkin scones with candied bacon topping

Peanut butter banana

Apple cinnamon

Apple cheddar

Nutella (in place of part of the milk)

Lemon with candied ginger

Chocolate scones with salted caramel chips

 

You’re limited only by your imagination…and what you can find at your local grocery store. Go forth and bake, scone lovers! Edible happiness awaits.