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

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

Steps
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%

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Foodie Pen Pal Fun – May

The joy of my life with joining Foodie Pen Pals is that so far, with every pen pal package, there has been at least one item that has been a game changer for me. Whether I knew I would love my treat at first sight like last month or whether it was a whole new, never-before-seen item that I PRAY is sold in Texas stores like this month, I think this is what the pen pal program is all about. I would have never known Justin’s peanut butter cups existed without Laura sending them to me in April. Nor would I have known the deliciousness of breakfast biscuits without Debra changing my world this month. Sit tight, and I’ll tell you all about it!

This month I was paired with two runners. I sent my package to Sara over at Run Around Sara. I was a little nervous because she said she is kind of a picky eater, but she also said she likes spicy, sweet, and salty, so pop over and see how I fared. 🙂 I aimed to send her a bit of Texas, touch on some foods she told me she liked, and maybe introduce her to a few new items that I know I love, even as a result of the pen pal program – hello, Biscoff! I received my package from Debra in New Mexico who blogs at Miles to Run. She is serious business about running, y’all. Go see what she is about. She sent me a fantastic package! Check out all these great items and this sweet card which now lives on my refrigerator door.


I was happy to see all the Skinny Cow and Fiber One treats. Recently, I’d had a conversation with my mom and grandmother about Skinny Cow being a good brand for healthier treats, but I’d never actually tried anything other than the ice cream. Well, now I have! The caramel clusters didn’t ring my bell too loudly, and there were only 5 in the package. However, that peanut butter heavenly crisp bar? HELLO! It smelled and tasted just like a Nutty Bar! De-freaking-licious! I was so happy to eat that sucker! I will be getting some more of those, for darn sure. The Fiber One brownie was a nice chocolate treat for the afternoon at work, but closer to the caramel clusters than the peanut butter crispy bar.

           

           

I’m rationing the chocolate truffles she sent me. There are four in the box from Cocopotamus, which is apparently a well known chocolate shop in New Mexico. At the time of writing, I’ve eaten the salt and pepper truffle which sounds STRANGE, I know. But it was actually quite good. Again, it is something I would have never ordered on my own, but because someone sent it to me, I’ll try it, and I’m glad I did. I have the following flavors waiting for me: red chile/cinnamon, dark chocolate fudge, and peppermint dark chocolate. Because there is no writing on the package, it’s just roulette when picking. What a food adventure!


Speaking of adventures in food, can you all identify all these different beans? How fun to get a homemade bean mix?? Debra is going to email me her favorite recipe for making them. I’m really looking forward to that.

Okay, y’all. Here is the game changer. Get ready. Belvita Breakfast Biscuits.
Yep. I’ll wait if you want to go out and find some right now. They are that good. I wasn’t sure what to think of them at all, and Debra had never had them, either; she got us both a box. I hope she loves them as much as I do. Heavens to Betsy. I took them to work the first day I had them and ended up sharing with some co-workers, much to their delight. When you open the little foil package, the most delightful oatmeal blueberry aroma wafts out, and you think, “How does it smell that amazing?” It smells freshly made! There are four thin, crispy wafers of blueberry and oatmeal tastiness just waiting for you. It’s a bit chewy where the blueberries are. You can see actual oats. There are hints of cinnamon. It’s a good thing you can’t see me drooling on my keyboard right now. My co-workers loved them just as much as I did. We were all amazed at how good they smelled and how homey they tasted. Thank you, Debra, for making our morning! I will have to ration these also, but they are a welcome addition to my breakfast rotation. Now to find out if and where they sell them in my area!
                       

If you are not already participating in Foodie Pen Pals, you should be. It’s seriously sweeping the nation and practically sweeping the globe. I don’t make this up. Visit Lindsay’s blog to find out the details. You should sign up by June 4th to get your match on June 5th. There is a spending limit of $15, and you put your package in the mail by the 15th of the month with the treats and a handwritten note/recipe. Then you wait on your own fantastic package to come in the mail. When it does, you rejoice, photo-document, and eat. 🙂 Then we all post about them at the end of the month. It’s a delightful way to make new friends across the country and learn about so many new places, foods, and people. Find us on Twitter with the hashtag #foodiepenpals. Come, join us, won’t you?

The Lean Green Bean

Phoenix by Food: Other Tasty Eats

Not only did I eat delicious tasty tacos while I was in Phoenix, but I ate other really great food throughout the rest of the week also. Having traveled previously with me, my friend, Stacey, is now used to the fact that I take multiple pictures of my food and the restaurant around us. It’s standard procedure when our food arrives for me to whip out the camera for a few shots. She’ll even ask, “Can I eat it yet?” Bless her heart having to wait on my documenting my tasty eats for posterity. She is so patient with my hobby. 🙂  Somehow we always manage to find ourselves in places with abundant personality, which is a delight for us both. My two suggestions for you in picking places to eat when traveling are: 1. ask the locals where to go and 2. pick a “top” place to go. This has worked out well for us every time.

Our “top” place for Phoenix was Pizzeria Bianco. We decided to eat here because it was on a list of Top 101 Restaurants in America and my friend in Phoenix suggested we make it a priority also. Saturday night we arrived and set out in search of the pizzeria. It is not exactly difficult to find if you know what you are looking for, but they don’t have bright neon signs out front with a mamajama parking lot either. It’s quite the tiny establishment, really. When we walked up, there were people sitting around outside, and I assumed they were eating. Inside, the restaurant was packed, and the hostess said to us without blinking an eye that our wait would be about two hours. *cricket, cricket* Come again? Stacey said, “Even for outside?” Well, don’tcha know? Nobody outside was eating! Funny how you just see things when you don’t really look. So here’s the scoop at Pizzeria Bianco.

There are nine seats at the bar and about ten tables, give or take any that might be pushed together. When you arrive, they put your name on the list, give you a time estimate for when you will be seated, and promise to feed you even if your estimated time is after the restaurant officially closed. Next door to the restaurant is Bar Bianco where you can go for some vino or other beverages while you wait. There isn’t really any food offered at Bar Bianco, so don’t plan on snacking while you wait. But all those people I saw sitting around? They are hanging out with their drinks from Bar Bianco. There were lots of picnic tables, sets of two or three chairs, and nooks created for folks to sit and wait. At 9:45, 15 minutes prior to closing, they check on who is still waiting to be seated as confirmation of their list, and you keep waiting. It was quite lovely outside, and we had a lot to catch up on, so we didn’t mind. When we were seated, we ended up at the bar, which I liked because it gave us an eagle-eye view of the brick oven.

Y’all, this pizza was worth every bit of our wait. We ordered the Sonny Boy pizza (tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, salami, and kalamata olives – only on half because Stacey is anti-olive) and the Rosa pizza (red onion, rosemary, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and AZ pistachios). Yes, friends, PISTACHIOS on my pizza.

Upon dissecting our pizza experience, we both agreed that we preferred the Rosa pizza because it was just so different from what we have ever had before. Don’t get me wrong, the salami and kalamata olives combination was quite delicious, but the unexpected flavor of the pistachios with the onions and rosemary was amazing. The crust on our pizza was my favorite: crazy thin and crispy. Because it is cooked in the wood-burning oven, parts of it were a little charred, but it just added to the flavor. It came straight from the oven to our table in about 30 seconds or less so the cheese was still bubbly and melty.
It’s possible my mouth is watering as I’m recalling all of this to share it with you. While I haven’t yet made my own version of this pistachio pizza, I probably will at some point. I don’t want to mar the memory, but one day I’ll give in to the longing, and when I do, I’ll be sure to share it with you!

Mid-week I ate some ridiculously delicious lettuce wraps at the hotel lounge restaurant, Icon, of all places. They were so beautiful when they arrived. The wrap had good flavor, and I should be so talented to cook tuna that well. They had good texture with wonton strips with the tuna inside the lettuce with the sauce. My one issue was that the menu did NOT mention a thing anywhere about a spicy condiment on the wraps. I had to get up close and personal to discover a dollop of what I believe to be Sriracha on top.  Boy howdy! I had to scrape that bit of heat off the remaining wraps in order to be able to eat them. Even smelling it made my mouth water and my throat tighten because it was so spicy-smelling. Overall, though, quite tasty.

I was a little anxious about navigating Meatless Monday while being out of town because of the menu temptations. But at Hanny’s, there was the most delicious chopped salad that was meat- free. Look at all the tasty additions to that bed of lettuce!

Who needs meat with all this??

It was so filling and satisfying. Plus at Hanny’s, we discovered they have a special restroom area. We found a restaurant with funny restrooms last year in Philly too, if you recall. It cracks me up when restaurants have personality in the restroom area. Each of these doors leads to their own restroom for one. It’s actually a pretty cool concept, although we were initially a little confused and skeptical when we got upstairs.

Walking in, there are lots of mirrors too!

Breakfast before leaving town was the perfect way to end the week. We chose Matt’s Big Breakfast at the recommendation of some locals we talked to just the night before. It’s another tiny restaurant with a crazy wait situation. This place is about the same size as Pizzeria Bianco, and when you arrive, you write your name on the little yellow notepad outside the door and then wait nearby to be called inside. I’m not even sure how long we waited, to be honest, I think, somewhere in the neighborhood of an hour? Sometimes you don’t want to know. 🙂 It was very intriguing to me how the owner worked the system. She would come out and make sure the folks on the list were still out there, then she’d let you know your table was almost ready, and if she knew you or you were a regular, you had the option to pre-order your breakfast so you didn’t have to wait as long when you got inside. Now that’s expediency!

Stacey and I technically ordered the same thing by choosing The Hog and Chick. However, there were so many options to personalize our plates that we actually ended up with very different meals. She got ham and scrambled eggs with home fries, and I ordered breakfast sausage patties with fried eggs and hash browns. It was all unbelievably good. The sausage patties were almost certainly made in-house due to their free-form shape and unique seasoning blend. They were a little spicy and very flavorful! My hash browns were crispy on the outside edges which I love.

Stacey’s ham was a serious piece of ham – not a slice of spiral-cut, honey-baked ham. It had that good home-cooked, southern flavor (even though Arizona is not really the south at all).

We ate until we were stuffed! It was another place where we were glad we waited it out. As a Food Network fan, I was also excited to see that Guy Fieri had been by and eaten there as well. I hope his experience was as fantastic as ours.

Guy was there!

When you visit other cities, I encourage you to find the local flavors and explore what culinary gems the city has to offer rather than sticking with chains or restaurants that might be familiar to you. Maybe you have to wait a little while to be seated, but I suspect that means there is good food in exchange for your perseverance. At least, that was our experience. 🙂 Thanks for a great food experience, Phoenix. You treated us right!