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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Happy Accidents – Quiche

Radical mistakes in the kitchen can often lead to happy accidents.

Pie A - Sliced and served.

Pie A – Sliced and served.

We were making quiche for supper the other night, one of those “what have I got in the kitchen” nights. I had dough and roasted garlic in the freezer, shredded cheddar and pepperoni in the fridge, a well-heeled spice cabinet, and plenty of eggs. Christopher picked up cream on the way home from work, and we were set to create pepperoni pizza flavored quiche.

The dry spices (powdered garlic and onion, basil and oregano) were in two bowls, the eggs were out and the cream was ready. I popped the still quite frozen dough into the microwave to thaw a bit. When I removed and opened it, I discovered that I had made a huge mistake. It was not pastry dough, but filo, and it was already thawed and opened.

Right, I thought. Brazenly forward!

Using spray olive oil, I forged ahead, laying out the layers of filo as if for a pie. I tamped them down slightly to remove some of the air and give a little more space for the egg mixture.

While this was going on, Christopher was manfully whipping the spices, eggs and cream into a lovely frothy state.

Pie B - Loaded with roasted garlic and pepperoni.

Pie B – Loaded with roasted garlic and pepperoni.

Roasted garlic was sliced and sprinkled about in the bottoms of the filo shells, followed by quartered slices of pepperoni. The liquid was poured gently into the shells. Rather than leave the corners of the filo poking up where they were likely to burn, they were liberally spritzed with olive oil and folded over.

Pie B - Awaiting cheese.

Pie B – Awaiting cheese.

“Wait!” you exclaim. “What about the cheese?”

Funny, Christopher said the same thing.

The smaller shell had already had the corners folded down, so the cheese went liberally on top. The larger shell actually got cheesed before the corners were folded. I guess we shall see which one came out better?

Pie A - Filo corners folded in. Forgot the cheese!

Pie A – Filo corners folded in. Forgot the cheese!

Pie A - Cheese added on top of folded filo.

Pie A – Cheese added on top of folded filo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pie B - Cheese added, awaiting folding of corners.

Pie B – Cheese added, awaiting folding of corners.

Pie B - Filo corners folded.

Pie B – Filo corners folded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep in mind that in using the filo, the shell will be subject to eggy leaks into the pie dish in a few places. Fortunately the dishes were also sprayed with olive oil at the start, so I hoped nothing would stick or brown too badly.

Half an hour later, we realized the results of our mad dash in the kitchen for ingredients.

Pie A - Fresh out of the oven.

Pie A – Fresh out of the oven.

The filo toasted up beautifully. The pies cut well, the pepperoni giving the knife a little trouble, but not so much that anything tore. I didn’t need to worry about sticking – between the olive oil spray and the properties of filo, the slices slide right out of the dish!

Pie B - Fresh out of the oven. Noticeable difference in visual appeal.

Pie B – Fresh out of the oven. Noticeable difference in visual appeal.

Then came the moment of truth, tasting. I was amazed. The spices and other ingredients came together beautifully. Rather than tasting like eggs, the entire dish tasted like a pepperoni pizza on a gourmet crust!

I recommend trying sun-dried tomatoes if you want that tomato zing in place of sauce, or a drizzle of pizza or spaghetti sauce just before serving. Adding it to the pie could cause there to be too much liquid for the crust.

Black olives, anchovies, fresh spinach, or any other ingredients that you typically use on a pizza may be added or substituted.  The shells may also be used for the traditional Lorraine quiche, as well. Just be wary of how much you load on – the shell will only hold so much goodness!

 

Pie B - Sliced and served!

Pie B – Sliced and served!

I’m quite pleased with this happy accident!

— Ann Cathey

Crock-Pot Breakfast Casserole

A delightfully variable recipe came into my kitchen from a family reunion a few months ago. It’s taken all this time for me to try it out, and I’m sorry I waited!

The concept is simple – set it up the night before, so that it is hot and ready when you wake up the next morning. It’s great for parties when folks stay over, family gatherings, and for kid’s sleepovers. With the kids, it can be a great group activity to set up the meal.

Here is the basic recipe as I received it:

*  *  *  *  *
1 bag (2#) hashbrowns
1 jar salsa
1 bag real bacon bits
1 small bag shredded cheddar (2 cups)
1 dozen eggs
1 cup whole milk
Salt & pepper to taste

Spray crock pot with non-stick spray. (Or use a bag liner – your choice)

Layer 1/3 of hashbrowns evenly into the bottom of the crock pot, 1/3 bacon bits, 1/3 salsa and 1/3 of cheese. Repeat twice, ending with cheese.

In a separate bowl, scramble eggs and milk. Add salt and pepper. Pour mixture evenly throughout the crock pot.

Cover and cook overnight 8-10 hours. Serve!

*  *  *  *  *

Of course, my partner in food and I could not leave this alone.

Noticing the similarity between this recipe and a quiche (which we love and play with regularly), we picked up fresh eggs and cubed ham. Everything else needed was already in the kitchen.

We dutifully layered the hashbrowns, ham, and an excessive amount of cheddar into the pot, skipping the salsa for this first experiment. The eggs got a nice uplift of season salt, garlic and dill. We decided the salsa would be better if served cold and crisp on top of the hot and lovely casserole.

Two more friends joined us the next morning for breakfast. As we cracked the seal on the crock pot, the captivating aroma of melted cheese wafted playfully about the kitchen. Our attention, all four of us, was instantly riveted on the food.

We served up the gooey stuff from the crock-pot with a sprinkle of yet more cheese, a bit of salsa (hot sauce was also available), and, as if the cholesterol content wasn’t bad enough, a side of bacon.

This was a wonderful nosh! The possible variations for “next time” was the primary topic of conversation in between mouthfuls and moans of foodie pleasure.

Ham, sausage (pork, Italian, sage, chicken, etc.), crumbled bacon, and shredded turkey were all offered as possibilities for the meat ingredient. The cheese might need to be adjusted to compliment the meat, such as Mozzarella with Italian sausage, or Swiss for turkey.

Including the salsa in the crock-pot will give a nice flavor, though I personally prefer using as a condiment rather than a spice.

The “salt and pepper to taste” is an excellent base spice choice. Our use of garlic and dill rather than pepper gave the dish a mild flavor, enhancing the cheese rather than taking over. Spicing to match the meat/cheese combination is the way to go.

Experiment with this “super-quiche” and let us know what you come up with!

— Ann Cathey

Quiche!

Quiche, while it sounds all French and difficult, is actually a very simple dish. I bless the Frenchman who invented it. I could get into the history and etymology, but I’d rather just link you to Wikipedia rather than quote them heavily.

Quiche is typically a pie-style crust filled with meat, cheese, seafood, and/or vegetables. It is often served as tarts, mini-tarts, and is a popular party food.

Quiche with crab, Swiss Cheese, and tomato

Quiche with crab, Swiss Cheese, and tomato

My favorite quiche recipe is from Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, and is courtesy of William Rolle, owner of Cafe Rolle in Sacramento, CA. I often use a pre-made crust, much to my shame. My daughter can whip up a delightful crust every time, but I do not seem to have a good hand for it.

With this recipe, I have literally walked into my kitchen, started pulling random items from the refrigerator and cabinets, a pie crust from the freezer, and about 45 minutes later have a hot quiche in hand to share with my foodie partner. He loves quiche!

Quiche Provencial (tomatoes and Swiss cheese)

Quiche Provençale (tomatoes and Swiss cheese)

Some simple and delightful combinations have included:
• Quiche Lorraine (ham and Swiss)
• Quiche au fromage (cheese, to your taste)
• Quiche aux champignons (mushrooms)
• Provençale (tomatoes)
• Florentine (spinach)
• Florentine Special (spinach, grilled onions and mushrooms)
• Ham and cheddar
• Bacon and any cheese you like
• Breakfast (hashbrowns, bacon or sausage)
• Southwestern (taco meat, Monterrey Jack cheese, chilis, salsa on top)

Quiche with roasted carrots and asparagus

Quiche with roasted carrots and asparagus

Of course quiche requires eggs. Adding a little cream or half and half as Chef Rolle’s recipe requires is essential. The eggs will smooth out and maintain a light a fluffy texture, rather than becoming hard and rubbery when cooking.

If you are looking for a light and quick breakfast or brunch idea, you can’t go wrong with quiche.

 

— Ann Cathey