Nitrate Free Bacon & Sausage…

Breakfast meats 028We all love bacon, and most people enjoy sausage.  We’ve known for some time that processed meats are not good for us, right?  They are now saying conclusively that processed meats cause cancer.  What?  A world without bacon?  Sausage?  I immediately thought of Whole Foods.  I know that they are very particular about what is sold in their stores.  They are environmentally conscious and they have a five step Animal Welfare Rating program that is followed to assure that animals are properly raised and treated.  Here they are:

  1.  No crates, cages or crowding.
  2.  Enriched environment.
  3.  Enhanced outdoor access.
  4. Pasture centered.
  5. Animal centered, all physical alterations prohibited, 5+ Entire life on the same farm.  No hormones or antibiotic enhancements.  Antibiotics are needed in crowded environments where they can easily become ill due to the conditions.  Hormones are given to bulk the animal up much quicker.

The ingredient list:
Breakfast meats 006Raw Pork Breakfast Sausage–made in house.
Pork, brown sugar, sea salt, red pepper, black pepper, parsley, sage, canola oil, lamb casing.

The best way to cook breakfast sausage is on the stovetop in a pan large enough to accommodate without crowding.

Breakfast meats 012You’ll want to cook it slow, over low heat with enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.  Cover with a lid and let it steam for about 4-5 minutes.

Breakfast meats 026Remove the lid and allow the water to evaporate, still over low heat.  Once you start to hear them sizzle, watch them closely, give them one turn when golden brown.

Black Forest Bacon, United States
Pork, raw sugar, malted barley, sea salt, yeast, extract, spices. No nitrates added except for those naturally occurring in ingredients such as celery, juice powder, parsley, cherry powder, beet powder, spinach, sea salt.

Breakfast meats 018

Bacon especially goes a long way in terms of flavor, especially THIS bacon!  I don’t think I have ever tasted a more delicious piece of bacon.  The bacon is coated with a dry rub which caramelizes when you cook it.  Great to crisp up and cut into small pieces as a condiment for salads or great to throw into scrambled eggs so you have great flavor without going overboard with portion size.  Try when making my pan roasted brussel sprouts.  Serving a crowd?  Cut the pieces in half before cooking as they are long, thick slices.

The best way to cook bacon is in the oven, you get beautifully cooked flat pieces.  Spread over a non-stick foil lined baking sheet with sides without crowding.

Breakfast meats 013

You can see here that I didn’t have enough bacon to fill the pan so I curled the edges of the foil up to prevent excess spattering in the oven.  Easy clean up, let it cool and fold it up and toss, or you could wipe it clean with a paper towel and recycle it.    A full sheet of bacon should take approximately 15-20 minutes.  My four pieces of bacon took about 16 minutes.

You may wonder about the cost.  Consider the importance to consume breakfast meats in moderation.  Even though they are nitrate free, this is still what I would consider a treat.  Two pieces of bacon or two pieces of sausage per serving.  That being said, you can ask the butcher to package exactly what is needed for your crowd.  When you buy the 1 lb. packages there are far more servings than needed.  Quality versus Quantity.  The bacon was $9.99/lb.  I bought 4 slices, it came out to $2.80 or  $.70/slice.  Oscar Mayer bacon is typically around $7/lb. and the slices are super thin and sometimes tricky to pull apart.

The sausage was $6.99/lb. and I bought 12 pieces, which came out to exactly $6.99.  The links are larger than say a Bob Evan’s sausage link, which I think are about one ounce links.

Thanks for reading, have a great, healthy day!


Date Bread…..

orng chx slm patDSCN3137_2817I am in love with old-fashioned recipes that remind me of my Grandmothers.   I got this recipe out of Cooking Light Magazine years ago and it’s my go-to Date Bread recipe.  Add walnuts or chocolate chips if you wish.   Stir them in with the dry ingredient to keep them suspended during baking.   Moist and delicious and love that it isn’t loaded with fat.  This bread freezes beautifully as well.

orng chx slm patDSCN3154_2834

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I baked my batter in small loaf pans.  I love doing this because the baking time is significantly shorter.  This recipe makes 4-5 small loaves (about a cup and a half of the batter)  and it takes about 30 minutes.  Check with a toothpick after 30 minutes and add time if necessary one to two minutes at a time.

I don’t know about you but I am SO ready for fall!  This 90′ weather has got to go.  Bring on the comfort foods!!

Have a nice day~


Whole Grain Cranberry Scones…..

These slightly sweet goodies will totally make your morning, afternoon, or night!   Is there really a bad time to have one for gosh sakes???   I love this original recipe as is but you can customize it to whatever you like.  Try it with dried cherries and chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, raisins and cinnamon (add 1 teaspoon to the dry mixture) or coconut and pecans…the possibilities are endless!

I topped them with large sugar granules.  You can find them at Michael’s Craft store.

Whole Grain Cranberry Scones

2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2″ cubes (if using salted butter omit the salt in the recipe)
1/2 cup oatmeal, old fashioned or quick cooking
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup craisins
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (you can substitute the milk with a couple of teaspoons of cider or white vinegar)
1 tablespoon orange or lemon zest
2 tablespoons milk
1-2 tablespoons large sugar granules (regular sugar is fine too)

1)  Preheat the oven to 375′.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2)  In a large mixing bowl add the flour through the salt.  Add the cold butter cubes and work into the flour with a pastry blender or your fingers.  You can also do this in a food processor.  Process until there are no large lumps and the flour resembles cornmeal.
3)  Add the oatmeal, wheat germ and craisins and mix to combine.  Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk and orange zest.  Stir until just combined.  It’s OK if it’s a bit sticky.  Flour the counter top and plop the dough onto the counter.  With floured hands, knead 2-3 times into a smooth ball of dough.  Add a little flour if necessary.  Roll out to about 3/4″.  Cut with a round biscuit cutter and place on parchment paper on the cookie sheet.
4)  Using a pastry brush, coat the scone tops with milk and sprinkle them generously with sugar.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.  They are best the day you make them.  Makes about twenty 3″ scones.




Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake…..

When I think of coffee cake I get warm fuzzies.  This coffee cake is very much like the one my Mom would serve after Sunday Mass.  We’d have my Aunt Anita and Uncle Jerry and our cousins over for coffee and cake.  This is a simple coffee cake that everyone will love.  I make it in the small loaf pans as it takes only 30 minutes to bake.  You can also make them into muffins.

If you look closely, you can see that I put a layer of streusel in the middle of the bread as well.  Streusel on the top and in the middle is twice as nice!

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

For the streusel:

3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
dash of salt

For the cake:

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

1)  For the streusel.  Put all ingredients into a small bowl and work them together with your fingers until you have a crumbly mixture.  Preheat the oven to 350′.  Coat 4 mini loaf pans with well with cooking spray.
2)  Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center.
3)  Add the egg, milk, sour cream, and melted butter into the well.  Mix until just blended.  Fill the pans 1/3 full, sprinkle a little streusel over the batter, then top with the rest of the batter.  Top with the remaining streusel.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Test with a toothpick for doneness.  Cool for 10 minutes on a cooling rack before you remove from pans.  Cool completely on rack.  Wrap with plastic wrap or put into a cellophane bag.

*For muffins.  Line a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners and coat the liners well with cooking spray.  Fill each cup 2/3 full and top generously with the struesel.  Bake for 17-19 minutes.    Makes 12-15 muffins.

Apple Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake…..

One of my fondest childhood memories is walking home from school and smelling apples and cinnamon in the air.  It was then that we broke out into a full sprint for home.  The smells were always coming from our house!  My Mom made some of the most delicious goodies!    I always wanted to be like my Mom.

I think it’s interesting how popular cinnamon scented candles are these days.  I found it funny that when I first met my husband he had many of these candles in his house.  I remember thinking how much he’d enjoy my homemade apple pie or cinnamon rolls.    To this day anything I make that has cinnamon in it drives my people crazy!

Try this amazing apple cinnamon delight.  There are a few steps involved.  Make the apples and the streusel a day in advance if you like.

Apple Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

For the apples:
3-4 small tart apples such as Johnathon or Granny Smith, peeled and cut into 1/4″ pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup water

For the streusel:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons room temperature butter

For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 1/3 cup milk

1)  For the apples.  Place the prepared apples into a medium size sauce pan and add the sugar, flour, cinnamon.  Mix to evenly coat the apples.  Add the lemon juice and water.  Cook over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.  Add a little more water if it’s too thick.  Remove from heat and set aside or refrigerate if using the next day.
2)  For the streusel.  Add all ingredients into a small mixing bowl and blend together using your fingers until you get a nice crumbly mixture.  Refrigerate in an air tight container if using the next day.  Otherwise, set aside.
3)  For the cake.  Preheat the oven to 350′.  Generously coat a 9×13″ baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.  Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixing bowl.  Stir to blend.  Make a well in the center of the ingredients.
4)  Add all of the wet ingredients into the well.  Mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated, do not over mix.
5)  Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.  Evenly top with the cooked apple mixture.  Top evenly with the streusel topping.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.  A toothpick should come out clean.  Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.  Cover and refrigerate leftovers.  Makes 12 servings.



Pumpkin Bran Muffins…..Weight Watcher’s and Ryan Worthy!

Forget the notion that bran muffins are bland and dry.  As far as bran muffins go, these are incredibly moist and delicious, and will only cost you 4 Weight Watcher’s points!  Packed with flavor and fiber they’re very satisfying and filling.  Ryan gave them the double thumbs up so I know they’re great:-)   My recipe makes 10 but you can easily double it and put some in the freezer (individually wrapped)  for an easy breakfast.  This simple recipe goes together in no time.

Pumpkin Bran Muffins
(4 points/muffin)

Wet ingredients:

½ cup all bran cereal
¼ cup milk
½ cup pumpkin
1/3 cup water
¼ cup non fat yogurt
1 egg
2 T. canola oil
¼ cup raisins

 Dry ingredients:

 1 cup whole wheat flour
6 tablespoons packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon each cloves and nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

 1)  Preheat oven to 350’.  Add 10 muffin liners to muffin pan and coat with cooking spray.

2)  In a medium size mixing bowl, mix all wet ingredients and allow to stand for 10 minutes (this will make the bran cereal dissolve)

3)  In a large mixing bowl add dry ingredients.  Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients all at once.  Mix until just blended.  Divide among 10 prepared lined muffin cups.  Bake for 16-18 minutes.

*add nuts if you like (this will affect the point value.

Skillet Potatoes….

Ever have leftover baked potatoes and don’t know what to do with them?  Well, this is the most delicious solution I can think of!   The next time you make baked potatoes, make a few extra.  (ALWAYS refrigerate leftover potatoes!)  Simply remove the skins and coarsely slice them up.  Enjoy as a side dish to most any roasted or grilled meats or make your own breakfast skillet.

Skillet Potatoes

2-3 large baking potatoes, skin removed and sliced

2-3 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 small onion, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with green onions

1)  Heat non stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat until very hot.  Add the oil and the onion,  cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add potatoes.  Resist the temptation to stir often.  You want to let them sit in the pan long enough to get brown before turning.  Use a large spatula to give them a flip.  Cook until they get nicely browned.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish with sliced green onions.

*Add peppers and mushrooms if you like.

Homemade Turkey Chorizo Skillet…..

I LOVE breakfast!  Especially a delicious skillet.  Try making this homemade turkey chorizo sausage.  A little goes a long way.  The sausage is so lean that you have to add a little fat to the pan to prevent it from sticking!  It is best made a couple of days ahead and left to marinade in the refrigerator.  Make the 2 lb. batch and freeze it in 4 to 8 oz. packages.  As always, label and date.

For the chroizo:

Turkey Chorizo Sausage

2 lbs. 93/7 ground turkey
5 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
6 cloves garlic, crushed
3 ½ teaspoons salt (I like kosher)
2 teaspoons cumin
1  tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 ½ tablespoons water

Blend all ingredients together well in a large bowl. Put into an air tight container or a zip bag and refrigerate for 2 days.  Use or freeze after two days. Label and date.

Turkey Chorizo Skillet

4 medium size red potatoes, or russet potatoes, cut into ½” cubes
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon canola oil + 1 teaspoon
Salt and pepper
4 ounces turkey chorizo
2 tablespoon water

4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 large eggs
1 small bunch of chives or green onions, thinly sliced for garnish

1) Heat a cast iron or a non stick skillet over medium heat. Add oil, potatoes, and onions. Cook for 7-10 minutes, turning often. Season with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper.  When nicely browned, remove from pan and place in a medium bowl. Set aside.
2) Add the chorizo to the pan with the water. Break up sausage with a spoon. Cook thoroughly. Once all water has evaporated, add the potatoes back to the pan. Cook for a couple of more minutes. Divide among four plates and top with cheese.
3) Wipe out the hot pan with a paper towel and place over heat. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil to the pan. When very hot, break your eggs into pan. Cook to your liking. Serve 2 eggs over each plate of potatoes/chorizo. Top with chives.  Serves 4.

*Tasty with hot sauce
*Add any vegetables you like when cooking the potatoes. Peppers and mushrooms are very, very good.

Vanilla Yogurt Whole Grain Pancakes

Don’t you just LOVE breakfast?   This is very, very simple and has a wholesome ingredient list.  You could mix all dry ingredients the night before and simply add the wet in the morning if that’s easier for you.  For leftover batter, refrigerate and use within a few days, or,  make the rest of the pancakes and freeze for another morning.  I would freeze them in single serving portions for easy microwave heating, defrost for 3 minutes then on high for a minute or two.  The yogurt in this recipe gives it a very light & fluffy texture.  I use a cast iron griddle but you could use any non stick pan, just be sure it’s heated and oiled before you start.  Enjoy with fresh berries or bananas and real maple syrup…..need I say more?

2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:

3 cups milk
1 6 oz. container Dannon all natural vanilla yogurt
¼ cup canola oil
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

1) In large mixing bowl, blend all dry ingredients.
2) In medium mixing bowl, whisk all wet ingredients together.
3) Make a well in dry ingredients and add all wet ingredients at once. Mix just until dry ingredients are incorporated. Over mixing will give you a tough result.
4) Pour about 1/3 cup batter onto hot, lightly oiled griddle. Carefully flip when you start to see bubbles. You can check to see if pancake has browned with a spatula before flipping.

Makes about 15 six inch pancakes

Egg & Sausage Breakfast Bake

Hello!  I’d like to share one of my favorite “make ahead” recipes for Christmas morning.  You can add any ingredient you like.  Simply put it together the night before & when you get up, before you open presents, put it in the oven.  It takes 45 minutes to bake and after only about 20 minutes you start to smell the aroma of breakfast, yum!  It’s also nice to serve some sort of bread, try the blueberry streusel, it’s very good and you can make it a couple of days ahead and freeze.  I defrost in the microwave for 2 minutes and it’s ready to go!  Stress free and delicious breakfast, so easy.

1 lb. sausage, cooked and drained (any kind you like, you could also use cooked and crumbled bacon or no meat at all)
Vegetables-any you like, cook them first, otherwise there would be too much moisture.  Mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes, any one or all of these would be great!
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
6 slices of whole wheat bread, cubed
2 teaspoons dried mustard
6 eggs, beaten

Evenly coat a large casserole dish or a 9 x 13″ pan with cooking spray.  Add cubed bread.  Cook and drain sausage, add evenly over bread.  (if you want to add any vegetables, cook and add them now) Beat the rest of the  ingredients in a mixing bowl and pour over bread and sausage.  Cover and chill overnight.  Place in cold oven and set temperature to 350′, bake for 45 minutes.  Serve immediately.