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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Sausage Breakfast Bombs

I love breakfast recipes. I am a bit of a breakfast snob though because I only like to eat it at breakfast time. My dad made fried eggs way too much for dinner in my childhood. I hope you enjoy this super easy peasy recipe.

fullsizerender-10Sausage Crescents from Pinterest
4 sausage patties
1 package of refrigerator crescent rolls
3 eggs
shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Microwave sausage patties according to package directions. Cut each patty in half. Cook eggs to a scramble. In a sprayed muffin tin, place a crescent roll in each cup leaving half hanging out. Top each with a half sausage, eggs, and cheese. Take excess crescent roll and cover ingredients. Bake for 11 minutes.

Notes:

  • I used turkey sausage. It’s healthier for you.
  • I used reduced fat crescent rolls.
  • I added a little skim milk to my eggs to make them fluffier.
  • I used 2% cheese – it’s healthier.
  • If you prefer ham and cheese, check out this oldie but goody recipe.

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.

Breakfast Burrito

I got this recipe from Harvesters’ Nutrition Department. This is a recipe that Jeremiah and I had originally planned to make for the week of the SNAP Challenge. We had to pass because it was too much for our budget. That’s too bad because they are healthy and super filling.

PicoHarvesters’ homemade pico de gallo
3 medium tomatoes, diced
2/3 c. cilantro, minced
½ small onion, diced
juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno

Breakfast BurritoBreakfast Burrito
1 T. canola oil
1 medium bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium russet potatoes, diced
8 eggs, beaten
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper
8 (10 inch) whole wheat lower sodium tortillas
1 c. low fat Cheddar cheese, shredded (4 oz.)

Mix all ingredients to make pico de gallo.

In a large skillet, heat oil. Add pepper, onion, and potatoes. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 8 minutes).

Spread potato mixture to the edge of the skillet and cook eggs in the middle.

Spread egg mixture into tortillas. Top with cheese and pico. Roll up like a burrito.

Nutritional Facts: 288 calories, 11 g. fat, 15 g. protein, 35 g. carbs, 6 g. fiber, and 193 mg. sodium.

Notes:

  • Nutrition says this recipe serves 8 at a cost of $1.35 per serving. I was able to make 12 burritos by using a smaller tortilla. Plus, we had a little pico de gallo left for homemade tortilla chips.
  • I omitted the jalapeno from the pico.
  • I froze some of the burritos. If you do this, please add more seasoning to your eggs/potato mixture.
  • We used a high fiber tortilla shell.

The Quest Continues

100_1059If you have been following my blog for awhile, you know I’m on a mission to share 101 crescent roll recipes with you. This one comes from a popular Pinterst photo. The recipe comes from a Navy wife’s blog. Two of my uncles served in the Navy and I dated a Naval Academy alum (even visited the college in Annapolis for homecoming once) so you have to respect that. I wouldn’t say this isn’t something you couldn’t have come up with on your own but it was quite taste and a fun  way to make it.

Bacon, egg, & cheese ringBacon, Egg, & Cheese Ring
1 can of crescent rolls
5 eggs
1 c. cheese
8 slices of bacon, cooked

Scramble and cook eggs. Layout the crescent rolls in an eight sided star shape (make the wide sides lay on top of each other in the center). Top with 1/3 c. of cheese and cooked bacon. Top with scrambles eggs and remaining cheese. Pull the skinny tips up and seal together. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-17 minutes.

Notes:

  • I used reduced fat crescent rolls.
  • I used three eggs and the equivalent of two egg whites with from substitute. I also added milk because I like my eggs fluffy.
  • I used probably the equivalent of 3-4 slices of crumbled reduced sodium bacon. I thought it was plenty. You could easily use turkey bacon. If you substitute the precooked bacon, you might want to use all eight slices. If you prefer ham or sausage, you can also easily substitute.
  • I decided to smear a thin layer of nacho cheese on the bottom instead of cheddar cheese. I topped with about 1/3 c. of fat free cheese. As long as you cover it, the cheese will melt fine.
  • I cooked for 15 minutes on an air bake pan and it turned out perfect. The original recipe suggests foil or parchment paper on your cookie sheet.

Share Breakfast

Last week, I saw Taye Diggs on Good Morning America saying to tweet something to provide breakfast for kids in need. I usually watch The Today Show these days so I had to go online to figure out what exactly he was talking about. Kellogg’s will provide up to $250,000 (or 1.25 million school breakfast) for every share, pin, tweet, or YouTube related video watched. The promotion doesn’t end until April 15, 2013 so I hope you will help. Be sure to use the hashtag #sharebreakfast on Twitter to be sure your efforts are counted.

Why is this so important? Because children are hungry and it impacts their learning. I know because I saw it with my own eyes when I was an AmeriCorps Member. At the end of my college days, I was hired as an AmeriCorps Member for the Comprehensive School Health Initiative/Nebraska Reads program in Lincoln, NE. I mentored and tutored children ages K-6 and helped coordinate an afterschool/summer program for at risk youth. Every day, I worked with smart kids who struggled to focus on their classwork because they were hungry. The easy solution seems like getting your kids to school early to partake in the school breakfast program. Well, that only works if mom, dad, or whoever their caretaker is gets them to school early enough to eat. For one of my girls, just getting to school when the bell rang at 9AM was a chore. In fact, one day her mother didn’t bring her or her siblings to school until 1:30PM. Yes, you read that correctly. Mom said she overslept in the note to the teachers. And I can tell you, that little girl also missed lunch that day. When I asked if she had anything in her house she could fix herself, this 8 year old informed me “no”.

I wish I could tell you this was a rarity but I know lots of kids in the same boat. It’s part of the reason we provided our kids enrolled in the afterschool program with a healthy snack.  That’s why programs exist today like Harvester’s BackSnack Program. This program helps ensure kids have food (they can prepare) on the weekends when they can’t be at school for breakfast and lunch. It’s also one of the things I worry about kids on days when schools have to close for bad weather.

I came up with a solution for my little girl when I was in AmeriCorps. I started packing granola bars in my backpack for her to eat every day. I wish I could say it was my idea but a fellow AmeriCorps member suggested it. And my super smart little girl was less irritated and was better able to concentrate. We also worked on a goal all year – for her to make it to school every morning for breakfast for one entire month. I’m happy to report, she accomplished the goal a few weeks before the end of our time working together. (Something I hope she was able to carry one after I was gone.) The reward she picked for achieving her goal was ice cream during out time working together – 10:30AM. Now, I’m not a parent but I also know kids shouldn’t eat ice cream for breakfast. My compromise was Strawberry Frozen Yogurt.

I still think about that little girl and all the others I worked with. Her little sister would be a senior in high school this year. My hope is that she and her older sister are in college somewhere now. And I hope I made a positive impact in her life…something she will want to do for others in her future.

Biscuit cupScrambled Egg Biscuit Cups by Betty Crocker
2 c. Bisquick
1/3 c. cheddar cheese
3/4 c. milk
8 eggs
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 T. butter, softened
1/2 c. Parmesan and mozzarella cheese pasta sauce (from 1-lb jar)
3 T. bacon bites
1 tsp. chives

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, mix Biquick, cheese, and 1/2 c. milk until soft dough ball forms. Knead a couple of times and then shape into a 10 in. log. Cut into 12 pieces and place one in each cup. Press up along the muffin tin sides. Bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and use the back of a wooden spoon to press air puffs down. Meanwhile, mix eggs, remaining milk, and pepper in another bowl. Melt butter in a skillet. Cook your eggs in the skillet until firm. Fold in pasta sauce and bacon. Remove biscuits from muffin cups and spoon in egg mixture. Sprinkle with chives and bacon bits. Makes 12 servings.

 Nutrition Information (Per Serving): 180 calories (80 from fat), 9g. fat (3.5 saturated fat, 1 g. trans fat), 150 mg cholesterol, 420 mg. sodium, 15 g. carbs, 0 g. fiber, 2 g. sugar, and 8 g. protein.

Notes:

  • I used nonstick cooking spray instead of butter.
  • I also used fat free cheese and pre-cooked bacon. It’s a great way to cut fat grams.
  • I used egg whites substitute for half the eggs. It’s an easy way to cut calories and cholesterol.
  • My Bisquick wasn’t think enough to form a soft ball. I used the last of my box so I didn’t have extra to add to the mix. I went ahead and spooned in balls. It kind of worked but the biscuits were half as tall and stuck to the pan. As a result, I had too much egg mixture. Maybe decrease by one or two eggs (adjust milk accordingly).

Breakfast Meat Crescent Rolls

My boss hates bacon. I know, it sounds crazy. Do you know anybody who hates bacon? Her feelings about bacon rival with mine for mustard or pickles. I can’t enjoy fries when they have pickle juice on them. And my mother never understood you really can’t cover the taste of mustard or pickles even once you have scraped them off a hamburger. So if you aren’t a pork fan, you should probably steer clear of this recipe I found in the October 2011 issue of Taste of Home.

Brittany’s Breakfast Bites by Brittany Whitworth

1 package of crescent rolls (8 count)
2 eggs
3 T. cooked bacon, crumbled
3 T. chopped deli ham
3 T. shredded cheddar cheese

Scramble and cook eggs. Add cheese and meat to skillet. Evenly spoon mixture over crescent rolls and roll up into eight triangles. Bake at 375 degrees for 11-13 minutes.