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

Savory Schmeres

This pair of recipes may be used as dips, schmeres, spreads, dollops, or any other way you can think of to serve them. I personally like them in small dollops on a cheese cracker or spread on biscuits hot out of the oven.

BACON JALAPENO JAM
Prep Time: 30 minuntes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Serves: 10

Ingredients
1¾ lb. thickly sliced bacon, cut into 1” pieces
2 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
? cup cider vinegar
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup strong brewed coffee
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 bags (large) Kettle Brand Original Chips

Directions
Cook bacon over medium-high heat in a large skillet, stirring occasionally, until bacon is lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Transfer bacon pieces to a large plate or tray to drain.

Saute jalapeño, onion and garlic in bacon fat until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes, then add the vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup and coffee.

Bring mixture to a boil, stirring and scraping up browned bits from skillet.

In a crockpot, combine the bacon and the vinegar mixture, stirring briefly to combine.
Cook on high, uncovered, for 1 hour.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and two tablespoons of the cooking liquid; stir into the bacon crockpot mixture.

Continue to cook on high, uncovered, for 3 hours. Carefully transfer mixture to a blender or food processor and pulse mixture until coarsely chopped.

Transfer to a serving bowl and allow to cool before serving with chips.

Mixture can easily be made and refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 weeks before using.
MEATY ONION RELISH
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Serves: 10

Ingredients 
2 cups drippings from pork loin, roast beef or other roasted meat
4 large sweet yellow onions
1tsp black pepper
1tsp garlic powder or minced garlic

Directions

Peel and dice onions.

In crock pot, combine all ingredients. Set on medium and allow to cook until all onions are soft and clear.

Turn heat to high for 10 minutes. Add arrowroot powder and allow to thicken, stirring often.

Allow to cool before placing in a bowl to serve.

Relish may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks before using. Also good for canning project.

This relish relies on the spices used for the roasted meat as a major part of the flavoring. It will be a little different with every batch, depending on the drippings. Bits of meat and fat may be included, adding to the savory flavors.

 

I apologize for the lack of photos, but these were oddities in my kitchen. Hopefully you will give them a spin and let us know what you think.

Enjoy!

–Ann Cathey

Quick and Easy Meals

 

There are a lot of variations  on recipes out there in the world, but sometimes we need a reminder to think outside the box. These recipes are all suggestions for a quick lunch or dinner when you have a lack of time to work with. They are based on ideas offered by a grocery snail mail supplement I received a couple of weeks ago.

Well, they aren’t so much recipes as guidelines that may be personalized as much as you like.

Chicken Salad
Prep your salad a day in advance. Pick up a whole roasted chicken and strip it. Mix the chicken with Greek yogurt, chopped celery, dried cranberries, chopped pecans or walnuts, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. For a little zing you might add some paprika. Cover and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to mingle and marry. Serve on sliced sourdough bread or over a bed of mixed greens for a simple lunch or dinner. Preparing this salad ahead of time also allows you to take some for lunch!

Lemon Chicken
This sheet pan dish is easy to prepare and delicious to serve. In a large bowl mix a small amount of melted butter and lemon pepper seasoning, to taste. Dip chicken and halved baby gold potatoes in butter mixture. Lay the chicken and potatoes out on a sheet pan. Brush the chicken with a bit of honey and roast with lemon slices on top at 425F for 15-20 minutes. In the last ten minutes of baking, add honey-brushed asparagus spears. Serve over saffron rice or a bed of baby leaf spinach with fresh lemon wedges on the side. The results are a sweet/tart treat for the palate. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Elegant Mushroom Pasta
Saute sliced mushrooms in a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add in minced garlic, chopped baby leaf spinach and chopped basil. Stir until the greens are softened. Remove from heat and toss with your favorite pre-cooked pasta. This is a tasty treatment for leftover pasta, as fresh cooked. Add a sprinkle of Parmesan or Asiago for a delicious finishing touch.

Pistachio Crusted Tilapia
Thaw your fish, if frozen, then dip them in whipped egg whites. dredge each filet in a misture of chopped pistachios, bread crumbs, and parsley. Bake at 450F for 8-10 minutes or until the fish reaches a safe internal temperature of 145F. Serve atop a bed of your favorite greens. Slices of fresh peach or pear on the side are a subtly sweet accompaniment on the side. Refrigerate any leftovers.

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

Easy Enchiritos

In need of a hot meal quickly?This little Tex-Mex experiment turned out much better than expected.
Easy Enchiritos
 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Serves 4
 
Ingredients:
1 15ox can black beans, drained
1 8 pack burritos or chimichangas
1 15 oz can chili
1 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder, cumin
lots of grated cheese of choice (to desired cheesiness)
 
Oil spray an 8×8 baking dish. Spread the drained beans evenly in the bottom. Dust spices over the beans. Add a layer of cheese.
 
Layer in burritos. I had to cut one in half to make them fit: five across, two and two halves to fill the rest of the space. Add a layer of cheese.
 
Top all this off with the can of chili, spreading evenly and covering all exposed tortilla to prevent drying. Add another layer of cheese. Go ahead and lay it on thick! You know you want to! 🙂
 
Bake at 400F for 40 minutes to ensure that all ingredients are thoroughly heated and cheese is melted.
 
Serve with dollop of sour cream, hot sauce, salsa, sliced black olives, sliced avocados, or diced green onion, as preferred.
 
I would offer photos, but it went too fast.
Enjoy!
–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