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%

Pasta Carbonara

One of my criteria when I go out to eat is to order a dish that I can’t, or won’t, make at home. Why spend the money on a dish that I can likely make for less money with a higher degree of ingredient control in my own home? Do any of you all have this rule, also? Every so often, I will take a dish that has previously been deemed “out of my league” and tackle it at home in the hopes that I don’t have to wait to go out to eat in order to enjoy its deliciousness. Spaghetti carbonara was one of those dishes that was always deemed out of my league. Cooking eggs with carryover heat to create a sauce? I was skeptical, at best. I’d seen some shows on Food Network on how to make it, and I’d eaten plenty of plates of carbonara from local Italian restaurants. I was content to let the professionals tackle such a complicated dish. But then, one day, I just decided I would not be bested by eggs, cheese, pasta, and heat. Y’all, I’m here to tell you a secret. Listen closely. It isn’t all that complicated. Not.at.all. Here we go!


Pasta Carbonara – Serves two

Ingredients
4 ounces pasta – I like linguine, personally
4 eggs: 2 whole and 2 yolks
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
8 Kalamata olives
1/3 cup diced onion
2 – 4 cups chopped spinach (I only had 2 cups this time, but I wish I’d had more.)
1 tablespoon of oil or butter (for cooking the onions – your preference)
Basil or parsley leaves for garnish if desired

Steps
1. Put a large pot of water on to boil for your pasta. Salt the water liberally as this is your only chance to season your pasta. A Food Network chef once said, “The water should taste like the ocean.”
2. While the water is boiling (and doesn’t it always seem to take forever??), dice your onion, drain, blot, and chop your olives, and grate your cheese.

3. Heat a skillet over medium heat. I typically use 5 out of 10 on the dial on my stove. Add your butter or oil, and let it heat up for a minute or two. Add in your onions, turn the dial down to 3 or 4, and let them sauté until they reach your preferred level of softness.
4. Usually while my onions are cooking, my pasta water is ready. Add your pasta and cook it for the time given on the box. This is semi-critical for the remainder of the recipe. I suggest you set a timer to keep you on track.
5. Crack your whole eggs into a bowl. Carefully crack the eggs you need to separate over the sink and separate using your preferred method, adding only the yolks to the bowl. Add the cheese and beat well. It will be thick, and this is okay.
6. Chop the spinach, and check on your onions to make sure they aren’t burning – just sautéing and even caramelizing just a bit.

7. With about 2 minutes to go on your timer, turn your heat down to low (I go with 1 or 2 on my dial), add your spinach to the onions and mix them together. The spinach will cook and wilt a little bit. You can cook it higher or longer if you prefer your spinach to be more wilted or cooked. I do not. Add your olives just at the last minute, and toss them around.
8. When the timer goes off, drain your pasta, and then add it to the pan of veggies. Gently stir to mix it all up. Now you can choose your level of bravery and comfort. Officially you can turn the heat off and proceed, or you can leave it just barely on low. It’s up to you.
9. Once your pasta is all mixed up with the veggies, add your cheese-egg mixture, stir like crazy, and don’t stop for a good 90 seconds – 2 minutes. Keep stirring! For a split second, you may think it resembles something that might want to be a scrambled-egg pasta. Keep stirring, and something magical will happen as it transforms into a creamy, cheesy egg sauce for your pasta. It will be pale yellow/light white and well combined when all is said and done.
10. Transfer to a plate, top with your desired garnish, and enjoy your impressive feat.

Pour the sauce mixture into the pasta pan.

Stir and keep stirring!

Whip it around the pan!

Fold, turn, rotate, and keep stirring!

Don’t be shy now. Keep it up!

Soon and very soon you’ll have pasta sauce!

How ’bout them apples? It’s pasta sauce!

A few recipe notes: This is certainly not a traditional carbonara. Traditional carbonara is simply the pasta (which ought to be spaghetti to stay within tradition), the egg/cheese sauce and a crispy pork product like pancetta or bacon. The cheese should be Parmesan if at all possible. However, I first made this recipe for Meatless Monday, and I wanted to balance out what I assumed to be a high calorie/fat content with some vegetables and to add some additional flavors while removing the bacon. In my carbonara research, the “experts” and purists were emphatic that cream did not belong in a carbonara recipe. Nonetheless, there are many recipes out there with cream in them. My thought, however, is that there is already a CUP of cheese and FOUR egg yolks in this recipe. Do we really need cream? I think not, friends. Let us show some restraint somewhere. 🙂 Last note, I’ve mixed my sauce and pasta both over heat and off heat. For my current, personal comfort level, I prefer to mix it over the barest level of heat, but I’m also sure that the one time I did it off heat, my boyfriend and I survived without contracting food-borne illness. So maybe one day soon, I’ll graduate to full off-heat mixing.

Since I’ve clearly made my peace with a non-traditional carbonara dish, I do encourage you to experiment with variations of your own pasta carbonara. To me, this dish is simply begging to be experimented with, be it with pasta type, different kinds of veggies, or various kinds of crispy pork bits. So far, I’ve made my carbonara with combinations of kale, spinach, onions, shallots, garlic, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, green onions, bacon bits, and broccoli. The combination I gave you above is my preferred Meatless Monday combination. I did really enjoy the crispy bacon bits the one time I had them, but they aren’t a deal maker for me. The green onions are also really nice on top. A word of caution about the tomatoes, if you choose to try them: they will make your sauce much looser than you might anticipate. As they are made up of so much water, it’s hard to get it all out before you cook them; they will release their liquid into your skillet, and thus, it will end up in your sauce which will be a little thinner and a little pinker than you were ready for. Just a heads up. I’d love to know what combination of vegetables you use in your pasta carbonara!

If you are unused to separating eggs, let me offer you a few tips. First of all, you do not need any special kitchen gadgets to separate eggs! And this is serious business coming from a lover of all kitchen gadgets. Your clean hands or the egg shells will work just fine. Some folks prefer to use their hands to separate the egg, cracking it and pouring it into their hand over the bowl or sink, depending on which part you need. You can let the whites run out between your fingers, leaving the yolk behind. Alternatively, you can carefully crack the egg in as close to half as you can get and then, leaving the yolk in one half of the eggshell, let the whites run out over the edges. Gently shift the yolk to the other half of the yolk, and the rest of the white will run out; if you do this maybe 3 or 4 times, you will get a white-less yolk.

Sometimes the yolks break and that’s okay.

If you are cooking for one, this is a great dish for that as it scales easily. Just adjust your eggs at one egg and one yolk per person and a half cup of cheese per set of eggs for the sauce. Past that, it really is all about your vegetable preference. When I’m making it just for me and not for my blog, I’m less likely to measure and just to eyeball instead. Maybe it’s a little extra onion-y and garlicky that night, but if it’s just me, who cares? I encourage you not to care either. Throw caution to the wind, and go with what your taste buds tell you sounds good!

Leave me a comment, and share what veggie combinations you have tried or are planning to try. I’d love some inspiration myself, and it is always good to share the foodie love with others. Good luck and don’t be intimidated; you can do it! Happy eating!

Nutritional content: per serving
Calories: 643
Fat: 43.3 g
Carbs: 49.8 g
Protein: 38 g
Calcium: 79.2%
And that’s without the bacon or pancetta, y’all! I may never put bacon in it again!

Jalapeño Bacon Deviled Eggs

I am so excited to share these deviled eggs with y’all! Right before New Year’s Eve, I got a hankerin’ for deviled eggs, pretty much out of nowhere. I’m okay with the regular deviled eggs we’ve all seen at potlucks and parties, but my taste buds really wanted more. Somehow I got the idea to put jalapeños in the mix. Then I thought to myself, “I bet bacon would be delicious with eggs and jalapeños!” A quick Google search showed some recipes with jalapeños, but not too many with bacon. I can fix that! My friends, pull up a chair to my table and bring your deviled egg appetite as I share this most delicious recipe with you. They are freakishly tasty so get to making them soon; I promise you’ll be glad you did!

Jalapeño Bacon Deviled Eggs (inspired by this Southern blogger)

Ingredients
6 hard-boiled eggs
2.5 tablespoons good-quality mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1.5 tablespoon diced pickled jalapeños
4 slices cooked bacon – crumbled (6 if you want to garnish with bacon as well)
pinch of salt
Cilantro – for garnish

Steps
1. Cut your eggs in half lengthwise, and scoop out the yolks into a bowl. Place whites onto a plate.
2. In your bowl with the yolks, add the mayonnaise, mustard, cumin, diced jalapeños, and crumbled bacon.

3. Using a fork, mash and mix until everything is well incorporated. I did have to switch to a spoon at the very end to get a smoother consistency.
4. Taste and see if it needs a little salt, more cumin, or more heat. If it needs more heat, you could use some juice from the pickled jalapeños. Adjust seasonings as needed.
5. Using a spoon, carefully scoop a large dollop of the mixture back into the egg whites. You’ll have plenty to make a nice mounded top as you’ve just increased the volume of the yolks quite a bit.
6. Garnish with a piece of crumbled bacon if you want additional bacon. (And who doesn’t?)

mmm...bacon

7. If you want to garnish with cilantro, give it a rough chop and sprinkle on top. You could alternatively combine it into the yolk mixture as well.

I’ve made these twice now, and with the exception of folks who don’t like cumin or deviled eggs in general, everyone has been in LOVE with them. They’ve gone like the proverbial hotcakes. I seriously wish I had a reason to make deviled eggs all the time so I could eat them all the time. Maybe that wouldn’t be a healthy or balanced choice, but my taste buds don’t care. If you have friends who are finicky about spice or cumin, you could certainly adjust those amounts. I did that when I made them recently for my friend who doesn’t like spicy foods. I went with just a tablespoon of jalapeños, but even he said he would have been okay with more. So far, every time I’ve made them, I’ve been with my friends who are anti-cilantro so I have yet to mix in the cilantro, but I am keeping my eye out for the opportunity to do so. To date, it’s just been a garnish on top which is still delicious.

More jalapeños, please!?

Here is how I boil my eggs, in case you are on the prowl for the best way to boil eggs. I used to try out a variety of different methods, but finally settled on this method that I now use faithfully. Here goes. It’s quite simple.
1. Put your eggs in a pan, cover them with cold water, put a lid on the pan, and put on the stove.
2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. I use 6 or 7 out of a 10 dial.
3. As soon as it comes to a boil, remove from heat, and let sit in the hot water for 10 minutes.
4. At the end of 10 minutes, drain off the hot water, and rinse with cold water. I let them sit in cold water, even adding ice to help cool them down and prevent carry-over cooking.


If you wanted your yolks less done, you could and should cook them for less time. Here is a site with a guide on cooking times. However, I have not yet done this. I will soon though, as I plan to make Scotch eggs which call for boiling the eggs, wrapping them in sausage, and then either baking or frying them. Are you drooling yet? Maybe the sausage wrapping keeps them from overcooking in the second round of cooking, but I think I’ll probably medium-boil the eggs in case they cook a little more in the oven. And if they don’t, there is nothing wrong with a slightly runny yolk in my book. I’ll keep y’all posted on how those gems turn out.

Peeling hard-boiled eggs can be tricky. Over the years of trial and error, of experimenting with crazy things like vinegar in the water, blowing in the egg shell (oh, yes I did!), and other craziness, here is what I have determined. Older eggs peel better. If you buy eggs at the store, boil them up them up in the next few days, and go to peel them, you may want to commit eggicide. The egg will stick to the shell as you peel, causing bits and pieces of the egg to break off, leaving you with an egg that is pockmarked like the face of an unfortunate, acne-scarred teen. If you wait a week or so, the story will turn out differently. Start at the large end of the egg because there will likely be a pocket of air, with potentially a little bit of liquid. This will help you get a good start on the peeling. Peel carefully, but nearly every time the shell will just come right off in one or two large pieces. You may feel the heavens open up and egg-peeling angels sing. I understand this feeling. 🙂 My current exception to this rule seems to be eggs from the farmer’s market.

Recently, I was persuaded to purchase my eggs from one of our local farmer’s markets. To be honest, it took a little bit of talking myself into it because eggs at my grocery cost me about $1.27. These eggs cost me $4. You are a smart cookie and can do the math your ownself to see the difference in cost. However, research had told me that this was a good price for farm eggs in the Austin market and that cage-free eggs from Kansas at HEB (my local grocery store) would run me about $4.25. My father had heart failure upon learning that I paid $4 for my eggs. He is a fortunate enough soul to have a farmer hook-up and only pays $2 a dozen. I won’t tell you where he lives so you can’t picket his home. May we all be so lucky one day. Anyway. I committed the cardinal egg-boiling sin of buying my farm eggs the day prior to making my deviled eggs. I just wasn’t thinking, to be honest. When I realized my mistake, there was nothing to be done, but proceed. When I started peeling, I was so astonished!! These did not peel like store eggs at all! My first egg peeled like it was touched by the peeler gods or something. A few of the eggs did have the bits and pieces problem, but not at all like newly-bought store-bought eggs do. It was simply amazing. I’m not certain yet why there is this difference, but if you know, tell me! Thanks!

The two that gave me trouble.

If you are experimenting with boiling your eggs, or as some websites like to call it – hard-cooking, if you get egg yolks that have a silver or green ring around the yolk, that is typically an indicator you’ve overcooked them. My sister-in-law told me once that the texture of the yolk also was an indicator. If it’s tough or rubbery, then it might be overcooked. However, I’ve also heard that to be an indicator of age, so I’m less sure on what that means. Also, if you boil up a bunch of eggs, but then forget which eggs in the fridge are boiled and which are raw, just give them a spin on the counter. A cooked egg will spin faster and more immediately than a raw egg. Here is a video that will show you. Watch out for the hammer at the end!

I hope you have an opportunity to make these deviled eggs soon. You and your friends will VERY happy! The last time I made them, my boyfriend informed me that we were going to have to start doubling the recipe. That’s a lot of eggs, y’all, but it’s worth it. Happy eating!

Nutritional Information – 1 deviled egg half, including bacon garnish      
Calories: 77
Fat: 6.5 g
Protein: 4.3 g
Potassium: 51.4 mg
Vitamin A: 2.9%