Real Maple Syrup

IMG_1190This year, I really wanted to go to Vermont on vacation. I wanted to visit Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory and to tap a Maple tree to get syrup. I learned though that you can’t really just tap a tree to get syrup. During our trip, we visited a visited a Sugar House. img_1186.jpgWe learned that getting sap from a tree requires a very extensive string of plastic tubing to be drilled to the trees. When the temperatures in the spring first reach above freezing, the sap drips from the tree as the temperature drops below freezing at night. This usually happens in late March or early April. The sap runs through the tubes to a giant collection container. Those containers are then transported to process IMG_1187the sap through a boiling process to produce maple syrup. It takes 40 gallons of sap and about 45 minutes of boiling sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. Wow, now you know why really Vermont Maple Syrup cost so much. We also learned that Maple Creemes (soft serve ice cream with maple syrup swirled in) is very popular…and delicious. It’s actually pretty cool to meet the families who run these Sugar Houses.

IMG_1157The syrup excursion was part of our Maple and Wine Tour with Greg. Following our visit to the Sugar House, we went to Boyden Valley Winery. This family farm has people producing maple, grass feed beef, and wine. In addition to ice and maple wines, Vermont’s oldest winery produces maple syrup aged in oak barrels. I learned I like oak ages syrup better than I like oak aged wine.

The state of Vermont only has a population of around 620,000 in the whole state. Despite a drought, this 14th state to the union lives up to its name which mean green mountains. The IMG_1154state is very proud of local business. In fact, this is the only state in the country to not currently have a Target store. One lady at the airport was telling us that she traveled via fairy boat to New York with her daughter to return an item to Target. (Now that’s dedication to Target shopping.) Vermont is also home to the Green Mountain Coffee (Keurig maker), the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, and Cabot Cheese.

For this morning breakfast, I wanted to use a little of our new real maple syrup.

Sausage Breakfast Casserole from Pinterest
FullSizeRender (16)1 package of Grands biscuits
1 package of frozen hash brown
1 lb. of ground sausage
8 eggs
¼ c. milk
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
maple syrup

Bake biscuits on a baking sheet for 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Meanwhile, cook hash browns until golden brown on the stove top. At the same time, brown sausage on the stove top. You’ll also need to cook the scrambled eggs and milk in that skillet. Place hash browns in the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish. Top with ½ c. of cheese. Sprinkle with sausage. Top with scrambled eggs and remaining cheese. Bake for 10 minutes. Plate and drizzle with maple syrup.

Note:

  • I did not overly cook the hash browns. I’d suggest maybe cooking them in the 13 x 9 plan for make 10 minutes before added other ingredients or removing them from the recipe. I don’t really think the hash browns are necessary ingredient in this recipe.
  • If you can get it, Cabot cheese would have been a great addition. Perhaps, even a Vermont White Cheddar.
  • I think the biscuits might have also been delicious with some Maple sugar sprinkled on top. We are still waiting for ours to be delivered.
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Biscuits and Gravy Casserole

When I first met Jeremiah, I learned very quickly that he loves biscuits and gravy. He’s very particular though – no one does it like his mother. I soon learned the whole family feels this way.

When Jeremiah and I were planning the menu for our wedding day brunch, our Sales Manager suggest biscuits and gravy. I said, “No, his family will just compare it to his mother’s recipe and be disappointed.” Sorry Chef – no offense.

Every year, the whole family gathers at his parent’s house for Christmas. It is practically a requirement that my mother-in-law Lynn make biscuits and gravy when EVERYONE is there. On Christmas Eve morning  though, Lynn made a Biscuits and Gravy Casserole recipe a friend had shared with her. Lynn let me in on a little secret. Occasionally, she uses the Pioneer brand packet gravy. This I can do. Although this isn’t the exact recipe my mother-in-law made that morning, my husband does like this dish. He also likes it when I use sausage from our local butcher shop – The Peculiar Meat Company.

Biscuits & Gravy Breakfast Casserole from Pinterest
img_0223.jpg2 cans (16 oz.) Grands biscuits
1 lb. ground breakfast sausage
1 package of Pioneer Country Sausage Flavor Gravy Mix

Cut one can of biscuits into quarters. Sprinkle in a sprayed 13 x 9 baking dish and cook at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Then, cut the second package of biscuits the same way. Meanwhile, cook and drain sausage. Also prepare gravy according to packet. Mix sausage and gravy together and pour over biscuits. Top with remaining biscuits and cook for 15-20 minutes. (Optional – top biscuits with melted butter to make them shine.)

Notes:

  • I’d suggest maybe making it in a 9 x 9 pan and using only one can of Grands biscuits (half on bottom/half on top) if you want more gravy to biscuit ratio. You could also use regular sized biscuits and still make it in a 9 x 13 pan. 
  • Another option to to make a second envelope of gravy to pour on top of finished dish. That’s what Lynn did for her family. 

 

 

Breakfast Bubble Pizza

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I love Bubble Pizzas. The beauty is you mix everything in a bowl and dump into a pan. Who doesn’t love less dishes? I’ve made traditional Bubble Pizza (first made for me by my Uncle Tom and Aunt Annette) and Mexican Bubble Pizza.

This morning, I was trying to use up some of our leftover Christmas ham. Jeremiah and I bought a Smithfield ham (my favorite brand – local and support my favorite charity with donations of product to feed hungry people) at Sam’s Club. The ham was the most delicious ham I’ve eaten in a long time but we had way too much left – even with my nephew whose favorite meat is all pork products didn’t finish it off. You’ll love this super easy, five ingredient breakfast casserole. Plus, it looks beautiful. It turned my day around that started with a smoke detector we couldn’t get to stop beeping and a tv that was frozen on an infomercial.

Incredible Breakfast Bake by Key Ingredient Recipes
img_0537.jpg½ c. milk
5 eggs
1 c. ham
1 package (8 oz./2 c.) cheddar cheese
1 package of Grands biscuits
Salt & pepper

Beat eggs in a large bowl and top with salt and pepper. Add milk, ham, and cheese to bowl. Cut biscuits in fourths and fold into egg mixture. Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish and pour mixture into dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Ham and Cheese Hash Brown Casserole

Jeremiah and I had some extra ham and a half bag of hash browns. I found this breakfast dish but I think you could very easily use it as a meal you make with Christmas leftovers. Not as cheesy as your traditional cheesy hash browns but still good.

Ham and Cheese Hash Brown Casserole by Plain Chicken

IMG_02161 bag of frozen hash browns
1 lb. diced ham
2 cans condensed cream of potato soup
1 – 16 oz. container of sour cream
2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
1 ½ c. grated Parmesan cheese

Spray a 13 x 9 pan with non-stick spray. In a large mixing bowl, mix everything but Parmesan cheese. Pour into dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cook for one hour at 375 degrees.

Note:

  • I halved the recipe and baked in a smaller baking dish for the same time.
  • I added a little salt and pepper.
  • I think you could easily add some onion or garlic salt to this recipe.
  • You could use Greek yogurt in lieu of sour cream. I think you could also skip the Parmesan cheese and still enjoy this recipe with less fat.

Hash Brown Lasagna

My mother-in-law is the queen of biscuits and gravy. Nobody can even compete with her recipe. It sounds like she has been perfecting it over the last 30 years. I saw this recipe and wasn’t sure how my husband would feel about it. I made this delicious Biscuits and Gravy Casserole dish from an old coworker. He told me the jar country gravy was “too salty”. For this recipe, I made the McCormick Country Gravy. I think he was ok with this gravy in a dish that is very different than his mother’s original. We did like this dish but I think I like a few other breakfast recipes better like Breakfast Sliders, Weight Watchers Breakfast Quiche, Mini Maple Bacon Rolls, Creamy Biscuits, or Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Ring.

Hash Brown Lasagna from Pinterest
img_00341/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
shredded hash brown potatoes
salt and pepper
sausage crumbles
bacon
cheddar cheese
mozzarella cheese
McCormick Country Gravy packet prepared
1 Tsp. butter, melted

Bake bacon in the over at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cook sausage according to package.

In the meantime, pour gravy packet into a medium pan. Slowly pour two cups of milk over mix while whisking. Cook over a medium heat to a boil, stirring frequently. Then, reduce your to low and simmer for 1 minute.

Spray 8 x 8 pan. In a bowl, mix hash browns, Parmesan cheese, salt & pepper, and eggs. Pour half of mixture into pan and even out. Top with a layer of cheese, gravy, and meats. Repeat with other cheese, gravy, and meats. Top with remaining remaining hash browns. Pour melted butter on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool slightly before cutting.

Notes:

  • I used a 13 x 9 pan because it appeared to be too much for the pan.
  • I used skim milk to prepare my gravy mix. It cut the fat and salt in country gravy.
  • I thawed the hash browns slightly in the microwave. This helped them break-up easier. Looking back, I wish I had baked the bottom layer for 10 minutes before topping to give me a slightly cruncher crust. 
  • I used turkey sausage.
  • I only used four slices of bacon. I really couldn’t taste it so you either need to use more bacon or opt it out. Sausage can be an overwhelming meat flavor.
  • The recipe suggested both mozzarella and cheddar. They suggested a prosciutto wrapped mozzarella and Velveeta cheese slices. I used shredded cheese. I’d suggest just mozzarella because I think it matches the flavors of the country gravy better. 
  • Make sure you have a lot of time to cook this recipe. I think I took me a good 40 minutes to prepare before backing. 
  • If I made it again, I think I might create a crust with something different like crescent rolls.
  • Jar gravy and precooked meats can save you time. 

 

 

Breakfast Sliders

Last Christmas, my mother-in-law made the Hawaiian Ham & Swiss Sliders for Jeremiah and I to take on the road. At the holidays, we alternate between our parents’ homes. That means a 5 ½ hour Christmas afternoon road trip between Kansas City and Wayne. These little sandwiches were definitely tasty snack along the way. She also whipped up a Gluten-free, dairy free version for her grandson. (Just substitute with Gluten-free rolls and dairy-free fake butter.)

Recently, I ran across this slightly sweeter breakfast variation on Pinterest. I cooked up a batch for Jeremiah and I on Tuesday morning. Delicious and filled us up until lunch time. Perhaps you could cook up a batch for your family over the Christmas break.

Breakfast Sliders from Pinterest
img_01671 package of King Hawaiian rolls
1 stick of butter
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. maple syrup
6 slice of ham
6 scrambled eggs
6 slices of cheese
1-2 T. poppy seeds

Cook scrambled eggs and sit to the side. In a pan or microwave dish, melt the butter, Worcestershire sauce, and syrup together. Meanwhile, slice rolls in half. Spray a 11 x 7 pan with non-stick spray. Place the bottom halves of rolls in dish. Top with half of butter mixture. Cover with ham, cooked scrambled eggs, and cheese slice. Top with remaining bun tops and press down into pan. Brush remaining butter on top of buns and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Post Easter Recipe

Not sure what to do with that leftover Easter ham? Here is a make-ahead recipe that you can throw in the oven while you are getting ready for work.

Amish Egg BakeAmish Egg Bake from Pinterest
1 lb. cooked bacon (or ham)
1 medium, sweet onion
6 eggs, beaten
1 (30 oz.) package of hashbrowns
2 c. cheddar cheese
1 ½ c. cottage cheese
1 ¼ c. Swiss cheese

Mix all ingredients. Pour into greased 13 x 9 pan. Refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Notes:

  • I used about ¾ of pound of ham. I thought it was plenty.
  • I used low-fat, small curd cottage cheese.
  • I used 1 ¾ c. cheddar cheese and 1 c. Swiss cheese. I didn’t miss the ½ c. of cheese. I also used 2% cheese.
  • I used about ½ onion. When diced small enough, you can’t even taste it.
  • I had to bake it for 1 hour to fully cook the egg.

Welcome Back

Oh my goodness, it feels like forever since I last wrote a blog post. Perhaps because it was a long time ago. This month has been just crazy. Work budgets, illness, much needed time with friends, and the loss of my Grandpa Fletcher. But now it is time to buckle down and share some of the new recipes I’ve been cooking up in my kitchen. Today, I am going to share a new breakfast recipe that I thought turned our pretty good. Perhaps you will enjoy it for a Sunday Easter Brunch.

Breakfast CasseroleBreakfast Casserole from Pinterest

Two packages of sausage links
Six eggs
1 c. of milk
salt & pepper to taste
½ a bag of tater tots
2 1/2 c. of cheddar cheese

Cook sausage according to package. Then, slice into bite sized pieces and sprinkle along the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan. In a bowl, beat eggs and milk together. Pour over sausage. Sprinkle with a cup of cheese. Top with tater tots. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Notes:

  • I used turkey sausage, skim milk, and 2% cheese to make it a little healthier. I think you could also reduce the number of eggs by using egg substitute.
  • I used the mini-tater tots so I could reduce the amount of cheese in the recipe by a ¾ of a cup. This way, the lower cheese amount melted together better.

Weight Watchers Breakfast Quiche

This recipe came as a recommendation from my friend Theresa. It’s a Weight Watchers breakfast recipe. I’ve made a lot of egg recipe over the years and many times, they start to taste the same. This one is a little different mixing evaporated milk, egg substitute, Swiss cheese, and turkey bacon. But nutmeg is the secret ingredient that gives this recipe its flavor.

If you are trying to watch what you eat, Phyllo Dough is one of the best crusts you can use. I like to buy Wonton Wrappers since they work pretty much the same. In case you aren’t sure where they are located in the grocery store (I didn’t know and had to ask when I first started using it), they are by the fresh fruit and veggies in the refrigerated case.

Breakfast QuicheWeight Watchers Breakfast Quiche
2 sheets of phyllo dough
3 eggs
1/4 c. egg substitute
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 T. flour
1/2 oz. Swiss Cheese (3 T. )
3 oz. turkey bacon, cooked (about 1/3 c.)
1 c. evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 inch pie plate with nonstick spray. Line dish with dough. Spray with cooking spray. Whisk together all ingredients except cheese and bacon. Sprinkle with cheese and bacon on dough. Pour egg mixture over. Bake on baking sheet for 30-35 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Cut into eight wedges. Each piece is 3 Weight Watchers Points.

Notes:

  • I used Wonton Wrappers instead of phyllo dough. I layered it in the bottom of the pie dish. Just be sure to cover as much as possible it you don’t want a crunchy crust.
  • I also tried to make it in a muffin. Crust is definitely crispier. But you get to eat two pieces for 3 WW Points and it only takes 12 minutes to cook. A messy muffin tin is also a minus to doing this.
  • I used fat free cheddar and low sodium bacon when baking one time. I tasted just fine.

Cheesy Southwest Egg Bake

This is a hearty breakfast recipe I found on the Pillsbury website.

Cheesy Southwest Egg BakeCheesy Southwest Egg Bake by Pillsbury
1 package of chorizo or pork sausage
1/2 c. chopped onion
3/4 c. chopped bell pepper
10 eggs
1/4 c. whipping cream
2 c. shredded pepper Jack or Mexican cheese blend
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 can Grands flaky layers biscuits
1 T. vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In skillet, cook sausage, onion, and pepper. In a large bowl, beat eggs and cream. Stir in 1 c. cheese, red pepper flakes, and sausage mixture. Separate dough  into 8 biscuits. Cut each into 6 pieces. Spread oil bottom of skillet. Drop biscuits over oil. Pour sausage mixture over biscuits. Top with remaining cup of cheese. Bake 25-30 minutes or until crust is set. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Notes:

  • I used regular sausage and added fresh cilantro.
  • I used 6 eggs and 4 egg whites.
  • I used red bell pepper but you can use any kind.
  • I also used Mexican cheese.