Foodie Pen Pal Fun: Carbs of Pennsylvania

I’m back in the Foodie Pen Pal saddle this month with a splendid box from my new friend, Julie from Philadelphia. Julie and I have had great fun writing/tweeting back and forth about culinary delights in Philadelphia. If you’ve never been to Philly, you should definitely put it on your list of places to go! It’s a wonderful city with lots of history and tremendously tasty food options. One of the beautiful foodie joys of Philly is Reading Terminal Market. Julie got the treats for my box by wandering around the market and letting her “hungry guide her.” She said she sent me the “carbs of Pennsylvania.” I do enjoy me some carbs! Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of what I got! Here’s the overview of everything.

Philly Foodie Pen Pal package

The sweets are up first. Yes, please, and thank you. The Red Laces were an impulse buy for Julie, but a total WIN for me. I love strawberry Twizzlers, and these are WAY better. The boyfriend is also a fan, and together, we’ve been making our way through the generous container. These are so fun. They stretch and are bendy so you can do fun things like tie them in a bow. The fruit flavor is intense, and gets you in the back of your throat just a little bit. It’s a no-joke strawberry taste that I adore. Nom nom nom.

They are so long and stretchy!

They are so long and stretchy!

They make it easy and fun to play with your food.

They make it easy and fun to play with your food.

Goldenburg’s Peanut Chews are also a delight for me. They are dark chocolate, peanuts, and caramel. It has a very distinctive bittersweet flavor from the dark chocolate and caramel.There is a touch of salt from the peanuts, and because it’s a bite-sized piece of candy, it’s all just the right amount. It is possible that Julie kept some of these back for herself, but I ain’t mad at ya, girl. I have plenty for me without being out of control. 🙂 I eat one after lunch and it’s just perfect.

The stick candy is so nostalgic and fun. I haven’t eaten them yet, because I’m waiting for the right opportunity. Boyfriend is also excited about them so I expect that I’ll have to share. But I believe that good flavors will abound.

Y’all, I got some legit Amish sticky buns! They were cinnamony and yeasty, and a total delight to have for breakfast several mornings in a row. I warmed them up in both the microwave and the oven, and every time they were so good. I’m not one for frosting on my cinnamon rolls because I think it hides the cinnamon flavor and all you end up tasting is sugar. These buns were frosting free, and thus full of every flavor I could want in my cinnamon rolls. Thanks, Julie!

sticky buns
Sticky Buns!!

Julie also sent me a bag of extra dark split pretzels. To be honest, I thought the pretzels were covered in dark chocolate when I first saw the bag. That’s how dark they are. These pretzels are dark because they are “nicely burnt” (according to the bag) as part of the creation process. Back in the day, the burnt ends of pretzels were split off and sold. Eventually they became a favorite staple for so many that now they are made and sold as such. These are Julie’s favorite so I very much wanted to like them. Alas, these did not fall into my favorite category quite like the Red Laces or the Peanut Chews. But I do appreciate the exposure to them and knowing a little more about pretzel making in Philadelphia now.

pretzel history
dark pretzels

What Julie had no way of knowing when she sent the box, because we never talked about it, was that growing up popcorn was a staple in my home. It might as well have been its own food group. I pretty much love popcorn. So good. Blue popcorn is quite intriguing to me! I was a little disappointed to discover that the kernel does not stay blue when it is popped. Nonetheless, these small kernels had just the right crunch and burst of corn flavor for me.

blue corn

Popping corn is serious business in my kitchen.

Popping corn is serious business in my kitchen.

popped corn
The hand scrub smells like an herb garden and will be fabulous to use when I’m trying to get that garlic or onion smell off my hands or if I’ve got pesky pepper juice on my hands. The granules and pieces of herbs in the scrub will help remove unwanted oils or smells, for sure. So handy!

hand scrub

What a great “welcome back” box to get this month! I’m glad to be back in the program. If you are interested in joining up with us, head over to Lindsay’s blog at The Lean Green Bean. She has all the details you need to sign up. Like any good project, there are a few rules and guidelines to help everyone be successful. You must sign up by February 4th to receive your match. You have a spending limit of $15 per package/month. After shopping for your partner, you mail the lovely box on or before the 15th of the month. If you are a blogger, you post about the box you received on the last day of the month. And you agree not to send things to your partner that will make them sick. It’s pretty simple. 🙂 It’s a lot of fun to be a part of the whole swap, and there is a link-up party on Lindsay’s blog at the end of the month so you can see what other folks got as well. I hope you’ll join us.

Many thanks to Julie for her thoughtful purchases. Check out her awesome blog, What Julie Ate, and make some of her great recipes! She doesn’t disappoint! Until next time, happy eating!

The Lean Green Bean

Baked Scotch Eggs

Happy New Years Greetings my foodie friends! I hope the new year is treating you all well, and if you have made new year’s resolutions that you have had good luck in keeping them so far. Mostly, I don’t make resolutions in the traditional sense. However, I have made a one word resolution this year so I am excited to see how that unfolds. In the food realm, I’m aiming to learn to make black bean burgers and to practice using my slow cooker more. I don’t really feel like those are resolutions but “to do” list items. What about you? What are you hoping to do this year?

I’m excited to bring you my recipe for Baked Scotch Eggs to kick off the New Year! I’ve been sitting on this recipe for a while now, and I have no good reason for not sharing sooner. Please forgive me. This is a simple recipe, requiring few ingredients, that makes a fancy-feeling dinner, or an elegant breakfast. You can make this to impress just about anyone who digs on eggs and sausage. I have a little trick for you if you want to up the ante, it will knock the socks off anyone eating with you, and only you will know it was easy-peasy. That’s the best kind of trick, isn’t it?!

Scotch Egg and Salad

Baked Scotch Eggs

1 lb breakfast sausage*
5 eggs
1 tablespoon flour
1/3 cup Panko** breadcrumbs
Non-stick spray

1. Cook your eggs with your preferred hard-boil method. I put eggs in a pan with cold water, then bring to a boil, and take off the heat for 7 minutes. Carefully transfer from the hot water into an ice bath, and let sit for 10 minutes before peeling.
Ice Bath
2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204.4 degrees Celsius). Line a jelly-roll pan with foil and put a cooling rack on it. Spray with non-stick spray.
3. Divide your sausage into 5 equal portions. If you have a scale, you are looking for 5 1/8 ounces (145.3 grams) per portion.
4. Take a peeled egg, roll it in the flour, and then shake off the excess. You want just a thin coating to help the sausage stick to the egg.
5. Very carefully, take the sausage portion and shape it around the egg. When you close it up, be sure to smooth the seam of the sausage over. (It may feel a bit like a middle school clay project!) Repeat for each egg.
6. Roll your sausage balls in the Panko to coat.*** Place on the cooling rack.
7. Put in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes. You want to make sure the sausage is no longer pink.

Sausage Portions

* Tip – If you wish to impress folks, you can make your own breakfast sausage. I promise you, it is not hard at all. Here’s how you do it.
– 1 lb ground pork
– 1 tablespoon Penzey’s breakfast sausage seasoning, or other breakfast sausage seasoning blend
– Mix it up with your hands and then use! See how easy that was!! It takes an extra couple of minutes, but you can tell everyone that you made your own sausage, and they’ll be totally wowed. Do it!

egg formation
** Here is a post that explains Panko breadcrumbs in detail in case this is your first time to be exposed to them. It’s worth the switch from regular breadcrumbs to Panko; I promise.

***My personal recommendation is to only put the Panko breadcrumbs on the eggs you plan on eating that meal. These make lovely leftovers, but the Panko doesn’t reheat well so if you know you’ll save two of them for lunch the following day, then skip the breadcrumbs on those two.

Panko Bath

Depending on your sausage approach, if you were using my dad’s good friend, Jimmy Dean, there are lots of flavor varieties that could spice up your eggs. If you are making your own, I think you can trust your own palate to know when and how to add more heat or flavors as you prefer. Trust your judgment. It is your kitchen, after all.

The aroma as these bake is heavenly. It makes me think of a weekend morning, even on a Thursday night. The layer of sausage around the eggs keeps them from overcooking which means the eggs come out soft and tender, wrapped inside a blanket of spicy sausage goodness. My preferred meal is to pair the Scotch Eggs with a salad or some steamed broccoli and carrot sticks to make sure that I get in my veggies. For leftovers, you could slice up the egg between some hearty bread for a breakfast sandwich that I am sure would be divine.

Whole Scotch Egg

As there are only a few ingredients in this recipe, I do encourage you to use the best ones you can find. My preference is to use eggs from one of my favorite vendors at the nearby farmer’s market, ground pork from Richardson Farms (also from the farmer’s market), and the breakfast sausage spice blend from Penzey’s. I like feeling connected to the people who grow/produce the items I buy, and I believe that the quality of my food is higher. Plus, knowing the sources of my food makes the meal more special for the boyfriend and me because we can go back and share with the vendors what we made with the items we bought. That’s always fun to do.

One final note: sometimes shaping the sausage is tricky. You think you’ve gotten it all smoothed out. You believe the seam is meshed together well, and then your scotch egg comes out of the oven looking like this.

Cracked Egg
Well, my friends, don’t despair. I assure you, it’s still edible, and your egg is still fine. It’s just a great reason to try again next week. After all, practice makes perfect, yes? I just want you to know you aren’t alone when this happens. Dig in, and happy eating!

Nutritional Information: 1 Scotch Egg
Calories: 350
Fat: 24 grams
Carbs: 2.6 grams
Protein: 30 grams
Calcium: 4.5%