My Go-To “Muffin Pan” Breakfast: Bacon-Wrapped Eggs

YellowFlowerShadowSmile, this one is for you.

(Video Credit:  RecipeCards)

I love how scalable this meal is.  I also like that it comes out of the (toaster) oven at once, so when serving it to a large crowd no one has to be served a cold portion.  I find some people eat one, some people eat three.  So on average, I make 2 per person (if they aren’t awake yet to place their order).

In addition to the simply crack-and-poured egg which turns out like a hard-boiled egg, I make a scrambled egg version.  (Just scramble the egg before pouring it in.)  This works out best for kids or people in general who don’t like to try new things.

We really do like using Mrs. Dash’s Onion and Herbs seasoning with the eggs, but feel free to experiment.

PS I think thick bacon works best.

Chicken “Muffin Pan” Pie

The child is napping.  And all through the house there was much rejoicing.

It’s been a rough month of teething.  It seems that all of her remaining teeth want to come in, at once.  This negatively affects sleeping.  This leads to unpredictable meltdowns at home and in public.

But I think we’re seeing improvement because her appetite is back, which leads me to what I want to write about:  my newest fascination with muffin pan cooking.  I can’t believe I haven’t written about it yet.

To me, muffin pan cooking is like food deconstruction.  You know, you take a basic concept like lasagna and identify all of the pieces that make it a lasagna.  The noodles, the sauce, the ricotta cheese, the protein, etc.  A fancy chef would then reconstruct those ingredients into a main dish that looks nothing like lasagna but pays homage to its roots.  

Muffin pan cooking is supposed to be simple.  Most muffin pan recipes I’ve come across though manipulate the recipe somewhat.  So instead of lasagna noodles, they might request wonton wrappers.

Other muffin pan recipes also call for shortcuts.

I don’t like shortcuts.

Often times, shortcuts involve pre-manufactured food.  These processed foods usually have a ton of sodium in them, not to mention a list of preservative ingredients which I can hardly pronounce let alone identify.  If you were to take a peek into my cupboards, you wouldn’t find any cans of Campbell soup.  If you looked in my fridge, you wouldn’t find any store-bought cookie dough.

(You would notice that I have at least two types of shortening in my fridge and at least eight types of sugar stored away.)

Nope, I like to make things from scratch.  No shortcuts for me.

So when I come across a muffin pan recipe that interests me, I must fiddle with it.

For example, I spotted this mini chicken pot pie recipe on Pinterest last night and just had to make it.   (Thanks, Katie!) Though I don’t have Pillsbury biscuits in the fridge or cream of chicken soup, I did one better and made my biscuits from scratch (rolled to 1/4″ high).  I also made the chicken pot pie filling from scratch.

If you are going to repeat this success story, make sure to double the biscuit recipe.   (This will then serve 24.)  There was twice as much chicken pot pie filling than biscuits.  This isn’t a problem because tonight’s dinner is going to be chicken pot pie deconstructed.  You see, I’m going to make proper biscuits and then ladle the remaining warm chicken pot pie filling on top (like a Southern biscuits and gravy breakfast).

I should have totally taken pictures last night of the muffin pan version.  They were so purdy.  Alas, we devoured them all.  Even my little girl went back for more.

That’s another problem about muffin pan cooking, the serving sizes appear so small that you end up eating more than you should.  But no one really complains about that.

Head Count

We like to host.  It’s something that Okey and I have done since the dawn of our relationship.

The dorm rooms I had in college as an upperclassmen had a kitchenette.  The dormitory was initially created for married couples, although they didn’t serve that purpose when I lived there.  It had a little stove with two or three burners, an itty bitty electric oven which heated irregularly, and a mini fridge under the counters. In addition to the study desks furnished by the university, there was a table and a couple of chairs.  Whenever we’d make our dinners with our friends, we’d ask them to bring their table with them.  We also always ended up inviting people who would ask to invite someone else, and our slogan became “What’s one more?”

Well…  Now over ten years later…  We aren’t college students anymore.  We have a little townhouse with a galley kitchen, but we can do so much in it.  When planning out our guest list, we now joke, “What’s one more family?” Continue reading

Experiencing Baby Food

At sixteen weeks, Wren had shown great interest in our food.  Sitting upright in her bumbo, she would mimic her daddy and mommy as they ate their own food.  She would also reach out for our plates.  Because she exhibited a lot of the signs that she was ready to eat, we went ahead and gave her “solid food.”

She took immediately to the rice cereal.  After a week of that we tried green beans.  With reservation, she ate her vegetables.  By the third night of this legume, however, she was a fan.  We put her back on rice cereal for a couple of weeks since we were travelling so much.  Last night, we gave her some plain yogurt (per our doctor’s recommendation).  At first we didn’t think she approved of the sour taste, but then she was reaching for more, more, more!

A couple of weekends ago, we went to visit my folks at their farm.  The plan was for my mum and me to preserve some fresh homegrown vegetables to be pureed during the winter months for Wren.  Well, while I was feeding Wren and changing her diaper, my mum was busy canning.  All said and done, we she got 25 jars of Italian beans and seven jars of yellow squash.  These have been labeled and put into storage for the winter months when fresh vegetables are harder to come by.

Although I did not actually preserve the vegetables, I learned a couple of important things from my mum concerning canning baby food:

1.  Do not puree the food before canning them as the internal temperature may not reach its target and some bacteria may survive.

2.  Low acid foods must be pressure canned (versus the boil water method that I learned last fall).

This is something I hope to do again, perhaps on my own and perhaps once we can find the replacement parts for the pressure canner I received from a Freecycling donor.

Tartota Ice Cream Recipe (Two Versions)

I recently dug up my old ice cream notes and found this one which is perfect for summertime.  This quick lemon ice cream recipe was inspired by the recipe book provided with the circa 1970 ice cream maker given to us a while back.  It is great… if you don’t mind raw eggs.

Lemon Ice Cream, 1st Version

Makes 2 Quarts

Whip 1-1/2 Cups of Chilled Heavy Cream in a Chilled Bowl.

Mix in the following:

1-1/2 Cups of Sugar
1/4 tsp of Salt
1-1/2 Cups of Milk
2 Eggs

Add the juice and zest of 3 lemons. This equates to roughly one cup.

Optional: Add yellow food coloring as desired. For a point of reference, I added five drops.

Then follow the instructions for your ice cream maker. Voilà!

I have made the above recipe a few times and have not been sick.  The key is to use clean, fresh eggs.  However, there are times when you don’t want to risk getting sick, so here is the tweaked recipe with tempered eggs.  This is just as tasty, has the same amount of ingredients, but it’s done in a different order and takes longer to prepare.  (If you have ever eaten lemon ice cream at my house during a party, this is the version I served you.)

Lemon Ice Cream, 2nd Version

Makes 2 Quarts

Part One

Whisk 2 eggs together then add:

1-1/2 Cups of Sugar
1/4 tsp of Salt

Part Two

Separately, warm up 1-1/2 Cups of Heavy Cream and 1-1/2 Cups of Milk in a small pot, whisking just til simmer and remove from heat.

Combine Parts One and Two slowly by adding a third of the milk mixture to the egg mixture.  (You want to warm up the eggs gradually so that it does not cook.)

Now add the juice and zest of 3 lemons. This equates to roughly one cup.

Optional: Add yellow food coloring as desired. For a point of reference, I added five drops.

Continue to cook on low heat until 170 degrees (or wooden spoon coats).  Let sit for 30 minutes then cool in fridge for 4-8 hours.

Then follow the instructions for your ice cream maker. Voilà!

The grapes in our backyard are starting to turn purple so I am looking forward to making my grape ice cream.  I’ll share that recipe with you in the next month or so.

About X (and a Recipe)

Country Living Blackberry Rose Ice Pops

Evidently all three of my sisters got together and ate popsicles that my talented sister X made. And when I say talented, I mean puts Martha-Stewart-to-shame talented. Invent and patent a custom teddy bear to hold photos?  Sew wedding gowns?  Upholster her living room and sew coordinating curtains?  Create the awesome “hands of love” quilt for Wren?  Raise three beautiful and smart children, the kind that reassure you that there is hope in the next generation?  Take all the creativity genes that should have been shared among her sisters?  Yep.  That’s her.

So when she forwarded the popsicle recipe to all of her sisters, it didn’t shock me to see that it contained a rare ingredient: rose water.  The note on the recipe said that high end grocery stores would carry this ingredient, so off to Wegman’s I went.  Alas, I could not find this delicacy.  I tried to call my sister to figure out what I could use as a substitute, but she didn’t pick up.

I came home and realized that not only did I not have the rose water, I didn’t even buy enough blackberries so I raided my fridge for other fruits to get to the target weight of 27 oz.  I researched substitutes for rose water online and learned that I could use vanilla or almond extract.  Neither of those seemed like they would go with blackberries and peaches, plums, and blueberries.  Then I had an aha! moment.  I have spearmint growing in the backyard, so I picked four leaves and tore them into the simple syrup to maximize their flavor.  I continued to follow the recipe as best as I could (except I switched out an orange for the lemon) and wow! this tasted great.

Here’s the link to the official recipe:  http://www.countryliving.com/recipefinder/blackberry-rose-ice-pops-recipe-clv0712

Here’s what I did:

  • 9-1/3 Tbsp. of organic cane sugar
  • 9-1/3 Tbsp. of water
  • 4 torn leaves of fresh spearmint

Heat and simmer until sugar is absorbed.

Using a food processor, puree the following:

  • 18 oz. of blackberries
  • 4 handfuls of blueberries
  • 2 plums
  • 1 peach
  • 1/4 orange

Combine and then pour over strainer into another pitcher.  Then pour the mixture into moulds and freeze.  My concoction took longer than five hours to freeze, so I think this is something best made a day in advance.

Polly’s Improvised Fruit Salad Ice Pop

When X and I reconnected after I made the recipe, we had a good laugh.  You see?  She also omitted the rose water.  So maybe she took the creativity genes, but at least she left me a few improvisational ones.  😉

PS  Why do I call her X?  Because my parents didn’t give her a middle name (it’s a Scottish thing), my sister would use the letter X to fill in the middle name section on forms.