Fried Rice and Easy Potstickers

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Life gets busy, y’all.

As you can tell from my lack of posts, this is a busy time of the year for us. This is the time when we all need a stash of quick dinnertime recipes to get us through, am I right?  This fried rice totally fits the bill.  It’s a quick pull-together option that is pretty customizable and perfect for leftover rice.  Like, the drier/stickier the rice, the better in this case. I’m pretty bad about making way too much rice as a side dish so it is not uncommon to see this dish as a follow-up throughout the week in our house.  You can also make it more of a centerpiece dish by adding these easy potstickers on the side.  What’s so easy about them?  We skip the attempt at making the dumpling dough and reach for the premade wonton wrappers instead.

So how can you change these two recipes up?  Both call for ground pork – you can use the Asian Sausage as we did, or sub in ground/shredded chicken, ground beef, thinly sliced pork chops or leave out the meat completely for a vegetarian option.  You can use the potsticker filling in egg rolls, or scoop it into a bowl with fried wonton strips for an even faster “deconstructed” egg roll dish.  Pick and choose the veggie options for both the fried rice and filling to whatever you have currently available in your fridge.

So let me hear you – what are your go-to dinners for when life gets busy?


Fried Rice and Easy Potstickers

For the Fried Rice:

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced – reserve half of the sliced green tops
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ – 1 cup thinly shredded cabbage (optional)
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • Chicken stock
  • Soy sauce

For the Potstickers:

  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 2 stalks celery, julienned
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup thinly shredded cabbage
  • Wonton wrappers

For the Dipping Sauce:

  • 6 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 thinly chopped scallion
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 inch ginger, finely minced
  • 8 T soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp sesame oil (2-3 drops)
  • 1 T chili garlic paste

Start by mixing up the dipping sauce so that it has time to sit and develop.  That’s all it takes – mix all the ingredients together and let it sit at room temperature for at least an hour.  This sauce is great with dumplings, potstickers, egg rolls, etc.

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The most time consuming piece of this recipe is prepping the veggies.  I do highly recommend spending some time chopping and prepping the veggies before you start cooking as it all comes together pretty quickly once you start cooking. For the rice, I cut all the veggies other than the bell pepper into a small dice for even cooking.  I like to leave the bell pepper in a good-sized strip so that they don’t completely wilt away when cooking, especially if you are using the small thinner-skinned sweet bell peppers like we typically do.  For the potstickers, you want to julienne the veggies in to thin strips. This cut helps for a couple of reasons.  First, the thin strips cook quickly and second, they are pretty uniform inside the potstickers. You can see the difference here between the veggies for the rice on the left and the veggies for the potstickers on the right.

I also shred the cabbage pretty thinly and sprinkle a little salt on it as it sits so that some of the water inside the cabbage starts to draw out a bit before adding it to the saute pan.

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Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high. Add olive oil to the pan and begin to saute the full pound of ground pork. As stated above, we used the Asian Sausage recipe for this dish.  If you are using a plain ground pork, ground beef or chicken, season the meat with a little ginger, coriander, garlic, salt and pepper. Once the pork is browned, remove half of the meat and set it aside for the fried rice.

If keeping your dinner vegetarian, you would start here 🙂

To the pork left in the pan, add the julienned celery and carrots, scallion and garlic.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Saute the mix until the veggies are just starting to become tender.

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Add the shredded cabbage, excess water drained/dabbed off, and toss the mixture until the cabbage is wilted.  Remove from the heat.

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Lay one wonton wrapper on a tray or sheet of parchment paper. Place one heaping teaspoon of the filling on the wrapper just off-center.  Using room temperature water, wet two edges of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the filling and press the edges together. Set the potsticker aside and repeat the process for the desired amount of potstickers.  (The remaining filling freezes very well if you do not use it all here)

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As you can see, we tried a few different shapes and sealing/pinching techniques on the potstickers.  Will liked using a biscuit cutter which gave the rounded, scalloped edges.  Mine were freeformed and definitely less precise!

Place the nonstick skillet back over medium high heat and cover the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil. *Nonstick is KEY here!* Place the potstickers in a single layer over the bottom of the skillet and cook for just about one minute, until the bottoms are starting to turn golden.  Pour some water in the pan until just the bottoms of the dumplings are covered and place a lid over the skillet.  This action will steam the potstickers to heat up the filling and cook the dough through.  Cook until most of the water has vaporized, about 7 minutes.

Remove the lid and cook until the bottoms of the potstickers are golden brown, another 1-2 minutes.

While the potstickers are steaming, prepare the fried rice.

Heat another nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Scramble the eggs, then set them aside and wipe out the skillet.

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Add the reserved 1/2 pound of cooked pork. Add a little olive oil, if necessary, then add the celery, carrots, whites and half of the greens of the scallion, bell pepper, garlic, and cabbage (if using).  Saute until the veggies are softened.

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Add the rice to the skillet.  This is where your actions will change a little depending on how dry or sticky your rice is.  Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce over the rice and begin to “fry” it in the pan.  The rice should stick and brown up a little. If the rice is fairly wet and sticky, you may be pretty good here.  If the rice is cold or drier, add a little chicken stock, just a couple tablespoons at a time, to loosen it up a little so that it will cook and brown in the pan.  You want the rice to take in a little of the liquid but not become too wet and mushy as you cook.  Taste it and check for consistency and seasoning.  Continue to fry the rice in the pan until you have reached your desired texture.

Stir in the scrambled egg at the very end so that you don’t break it up too much – I like to leave pretty decent sized chunks of egg in the rice.  Remove the rice from the heat.

Sprinkle the fried rice with the reserved green portion of scallion and serve with additional soy sauce, if desired.  Drizzle the dipping sauce over a few of the potstickers and serve with additional sauce on the side.

Looks pretty impressive for a quick weeknight dinner, don’t you think? 😉


Full Recipe

Fried Rice

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ pound ground pork -or- Asian sausage
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced – reserve half of the sliced green tops
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ – 1 cup thinly shredded cabbage (optional)
  • 2 cups cooked rice (great for leftover rice)
  • Chicken stock
  • Soy sauce

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat.

Scramble the eggs.

Set aside and wipe out the skillet.

Add oil to the skillet, saute pork until browned. (Season with garlic, ginger, coriander, salt and pepper)

Add the celery, carrots, whites and half of the greens of the scallion, bell pepper, garlic and cabbage, if using.

Saute until veggies are softened.

Add rice to the skillet.

Top with 1-2 T soy sauce and “fry” in pan.

If the rice is dry, add a little chicken stock.  Continue to “fry” until you have reached your desired texture – taste and adjust seasonings.

Stir in scrambled egg.

Remove from heat, top with reserved scallions.

Easy Potstickers

  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 2 stalks celery, julienned
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup thinly shredded cabbage
  • Wonton wrappers

Saute the pork in a skillet until cooked through.

Add the celery, carrots, scallion and garlic, season with salt and pepper.

Saute until veggies are starting to become tender.

Add cabbage and toss until wilted.

Remove from heat.

Lay one wonton wrapper on a tray.

Place one heaping teaspoon on the wrapper just off-center.

Using room temperature water, wet two edges of the wonton wrapper.

Fold the wrapper over the filling and press the edges together.

Set aside and repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat and cover the bottom with oil.

Cook for about 1 minutes, until bottom of dumplings are golden.

Pour some water in the pan until the bottoms of the dumplings are covered.

Place a lid over the skillet and steam the dumplings until most of the water has vaporized, about 7 minutes.

Remove the lid, cook until the bottoms are golden brown.

Dipping Sauce

  • 6 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 thinly chopped scallion
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 inch ginger, finely minced
  • 8 T soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp sesame oil (2-3 drops)
  • 1 T chili garlic paste

Mix all ingredients together.

Let sit at room temp 1 hour.

Zucchini Nut Muffins

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Will and I may disagree a little on this one. He heard “zucchini” and immediately said “NO”.  But for a muffin with some squash in it, these are pretty dang tasty.

Back in Weslaco, Texas my mom made these little gems often.  I believe the recipe came from a friend in town and my sister and I love them.  In fact, when Laura made the seven-and-a-half hour move to Baylor University these muffins became part of care packages sent her way.  I remember packing them up and more than once making sure the precious cargo got in the hands of a loving, die-hard Baylor couple from the church that would be making the trek up north.  When I went to Baylor a few years later you best be sure plans were made to send me some as well.

Zucchini Nut Muffins have everything right about them – they are just a little sweet, always moist, have a crunch from the nuts and they freeze well.  One batch makes 24 muffins so they are great grab-and-go breakfast options or make an easy brunch offering.

Let’s go back to our college days for just a few minutes: What’s in your care package?  You can fill mine with Zucchini Nut Muffins any day.


Zucchini Nut Muffins

-This recipe makes 24 muffins-
  • 2 c shredded, unpeeled zucchini*
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c corn oil
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 2 c flour
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 c chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts)

Preheat your oven to 400.  Grease two muffin tins or line the cups with baking liners.

*When you shred the zucchini be sure to leave the peel on.  Just wash the produce, chop the stem off and then use a grater to shred it up.  To get 2 cups of shredded zucchini you will need roughly one large or 2-3 small veggies.  Be sure you concentrate just as hard as I am 😉

In a large bowl, combine the shredded zucchini, eggs, oil and vanilla.

Why use corn oil?  Corn oil has a slightly higher smoke point than other oils and is essentially flavorless, both which make it nice for baking. If you don’t have corn oil on hand, reach for the vegetable oil for the same end results.

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Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and baking powder.

Add in the nuts and stir until moistened.

It’s completely up to you which nut you use but the most common choices are pecans and walnuts.  More often than not, I’ll go with pecan.  If you have halves on hand, chop them up a bit.  I like to leave some large pieces for texture throughout the muffins so I don’t worry about keeping the sizes of the pieces too even.

Fill the muffin cups about two-thirds full.

Bake for 18 minutes.

Let the muffins sit for a couple minutes in the pan, then move them to a wire rack to cool.

Once cooled, the muffins freeze and reheat very nicely.

What do you think?  Does the squash-in-a-muffin scare you off or are you intrigued?  Mix up a batch and let me know how you like them!


Full Recipe

Zucchini Nut Muffins

  • 2 c shredded, unpeeled zucchini (about 1 large, 2-3 small veggies)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c corn oil
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 2 c flour
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 c chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts)

Preheat oven to 400.

Grease muffin tins or line with baking liners.

Combine zucchini, eggs, oil and vanilla.

Add remaining ingredients and stir until moistened.

Fill muffin cups ⅔ full.

Bake 18 minutes.

Let cool on rack.

Yields: 24

Crawfish Cornbread

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Crawfish boils are one of the best things about springtime. Typically they involve warmer weather, piles of peel-and-eat mudbugs, various veggies that have soaked up all the good spice, dirty rice, lots of napkins, drinks and good friends.  Minus the warm weather, we had all that this past weekend.

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Towards the end of the night, I start hoping for leftovers.  That’s because something tasty comes the day after a boil… Crawfish Cornbread.  This recipe comes from a family friend of Will’s and it has now become a post-boil tradition in our little home. It’s easy to make and makes a potentially forgotten and leftover mudbug shine as a new dinner option.

Fun fact:  Will also won the Friday Night Feast event at a local cookoff with this recipe.  It’s award-winning cornbread!

Do you love a good crawfish boil?  What’s your go-to for leftovers?


Crawfish Cornbread

  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Cajun spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 C cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ C chopped green onions
  • ½ C chopped bell pepper, or small can of diced green chiles
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 lb crawfish tails

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a large bowl, or using a mixer, combine the cornbread mix, melted butter and eggs.

Stir in the creamed corn.  Add the baking soda, Cajun spice*, salt, pepper and shredded cheese.

*For Cajun spice, we tend to use something along the lines of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning.  If you are into making your own blends, I like to follow the recipes for Emeril Lagasse’s seasonings.

At this point, I usually take the bowl off the mixer stand and do the rest by hand. Stir in the chopped veggies and the crawfish tails.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9×13 baking dish.

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Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is a golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Easy, right?!

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Full Recipe

Crawfish Cornbread

  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Cajun spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 C cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ C chopped green onions
  • ½ C chopped bell pepper, or small can of diced green chiles
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 lb crawfish tails

Mix all ingredients and pour into a prepared baking dish.

Bake at 375 for about 45-50 minutes.

Blackberry Buttermilk Pie

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It’s officially Spring!  Which means it’s officially time for blackberries.  They have been harder to find lately (thanks again Harvey and winter ice days) but Will and I love to find a good berry spot, pick a bucket-full and then find tasty ways to use them.  Many of mine go towards jelly-making and Will tends to choose cobblers for his stash.  However, this time we wanted something different from the usual and this pie completely satisfied.

This recipe stemmed from two key factors – we had a small amount of blackberries to use and some buttermilk leftover from another cooking venture.  The results were delicious! It looks a lot more complicated that it really is and I love the homemade crust here to play into the rustic, homey look of the pie.  This pie is so tasty warm from the oven as well as ice cold the next day.  I think we came up with a keeper!

So… anyone have any berry patches that need picking???


Blackberry Buttermilk Pie

For the pie crust (this recipe makes 2 pie crusts):

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

For the filling:

  • 6 oz blackberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ c sugar
  • ½ c butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 T flour
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

Rinse and dry the blackberries. Place the berries in a large bowl and cover with ¼ cup sugar. Toss them up a little then press and mash the blackberries with a fork or small masher so they begin to release the juices.  You are macerating the berries to  bring out their full sweetness.  You can also add a shot of liquor here in the macerating process – rum or whiskey would probably be nice here – I won’t tell if you add it in!

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Let the berries sit, stirring and mashing them occasionally, until the berries are to your desired consistency and sweetness.  This will take typically 45 minutes up to an hour.

Preheat oven to 400.

It’s time to mix up the pie dough!  You can absolutely slide in a premade refrigerated crust here, this is just an opportunity to be a little fancy in our pie-making with a simple homemade pie crust.  The only big trick is to use ice-cold butter when you are mixing up the dough.  The “pebbles” of butter then melt when baking and make for a flaky pie crust. This recipe makes two pie crusts – freeze one, or bake two pies!

Combine the flour and salt in a food processor.  I like using the food processor here, it works the flour and butter together nicely without softening the butter.

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Gradually pulse in the butter until the mixture resembles tiny pebbles.

Move the dough to a large bowl.  Lightly beat one egg with a fork, and then add it to the mixture. Add in the cold water and vinegar. Mix the mixture together until it’s just combined, and then remove half the dough from the bowl.  Again, you want to keep the butter cold so work it at little as possible so that the heat from your hands doesn’t melt the butter.

To freeze half the pie dough, place one half of the dough in a large plastic bag (do not seal it) and slightly flatten the dough with a rolling pin. This makes it much easier to thaw and roll out the crust later.  After flattening, seal the bag tightly and freeze.

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To bake one pie crust, place half the dough on a lightly floured surface. With a rolling pin, begin rolling the dough from the center, outward.

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Place in a lightly-sprayed pie pan and pinch or crimp the edges.  I kinda like a rustic-looking pie crust.  That may be that I lack the patience to perfectly roll out, trim and crimp the edges but I heartily accept that about me.  So, you do you on the crust here 🙂

Lightly cover the dough with foil so the edges don’t burn while baking. Press the foil gently down into the pan and fill with pie weights, or dried beans. This holds the pie crust down a bit as it bakes so that it doesn’t form air pockets that bubble up then shrink back down as baking.

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Bake until golden, about 10-12 minutes.

Remove pie weights, or dried beans, and the foil from the pie crust.  Let the crust sit while you mix up the filling. (Save those beans – they will still make a great pot!)

Decrease oven temperature to 350.

In a large bowl, whisk together three eggs and 1 ½ cups sugar until the mix is a pale yellow color. Whisk in the butter, buttermilk, lemon juice and vanilla.

Whisk in the flour, ground nutmeg and salt until smooth.

Pour the macerated blackberries into the cooked pie crust.

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Pour the buttermilk filling on top of the blackberries.  Some of the berries or juice may mix or float up to the top a little and that’s okay!  It’s nice to see a few berries at the top after it bakes.

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Bake for 45-50 minutes. The center of the pie will still be a little jiggly, but it should hold it’s crust on top as you transfer it out of the oven.  Let the pie cool on the counter for a few minutes before serving to set up all the way.

This pie is delicious warm from the oven with whipped cream or ice cream.  It’s equally lovely the next day cold from the fridge.  So basically, this pie is a win-win!

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Full Recipe

Blackberry  Buttermilk Pie

For the pie crust (this recipe makes 2 pie crusts):

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

For the filling:

  • 6 oz blackberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ c sugar
  • ½ c butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 T flour
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

Place blackberries in a large bowl and cover with ¼ cup sugar.

Press and mash the blackberries with a fork or small masher so they begin to release the juices.

Let sit, stirring and mashing now and then, until berries are to desired consistency and sweetness, 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 400.

Make the pie crust:

Combine the flour and salt in a food processor.

Gradually pulse in the butter until the mixture resembles tiny pebbles.

Move the dough to a large bowl.

Lightly beat one egg with a fork, and then add it to the mixture.

Next, add in the cold water and vinegar.

Mix the mixture together until it’s just combined, and then remove half the dough from the bowl.

To freeze half the dough:

Place one half of the dough in a large plastic bag (do not seal) and slightly flatten with a rolling pin. This makes it much easier to roll out the crust later.

After flattening, seal the bag tightly.

To bake half the dough:

Place half the dough on a lightly floured surface.

With a rolling pin, begin rolling the dough from the center, outward.

Place in a lightly-sprayed pie pan and pinch the edges.

Cover the dough with foil.

Fill with pie weights, or dried beans,and bake until golden, about 10-12 minutes. 

Remove crust from the oven and remove pie weights, or dried beans, and the foil from the crust.

Decrease oven temperature to 350.

Make the filling:

In a large bowl, whisk together three eggs and 1 ½ cups sugar until a light yellow color.

Whisk in the butter, buttermilk, lemon juice and vanilla.

Whisk in the flour, ground nutmeg and salt until smooth.

Pour macerated blackberries into cooked pie crust.

Pour buttermilk filling on top of blackberries.

Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Center will still be a little jiggly, let cool on counter for a few minutes before serving.

Roast Chicken, Gruyère Bread Pudding and Roasted Brussel Sprouts

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In case you didn’t already know… Will and I love food.  We love to stay at home and cook and we love to go out.  We find new restaurants to try, we hit up our favorite places multiple times, we are on a mission with another food-loving couple to go to as many of the Houston’s Top 100 restaurants as we can, we indulge in both Houston and Galveston Restaurant Weeks every year… basically, we love food.

In trying new places we try many new dishes.  Sometimes you just gotta try what the restaurant boasts as their specialty, right?  However, every now and then it’s all about the basics.  I mean, if the restaurant is good their roast chicken should be pretty darn good , right…?  I like to test this theory sometimes.

Will and I had the opportunity to travel to Colorado in the summer of 2016.  We stayed with a fabulous friend in the mountains for a few days and planned an anniversary dinner at Acorn in Denver our last night of the trip.  We shared a couple small plates to start but then landed on the their oak roasted chicken with a savory bread pudding, seasonal vegetables and whipped potatoes.  It was amazing – the whole meal was!  When we got home, I played with a recipe until I got what I am sharing today – Roast Chicken, Gruyère Bread Pudding and Roasted Brussel Sprouts.  Any one of the three recipes is a stand-alone stunner.  But together, they will always remind me of a special anniversary dinner we shared at a cozy spot on a wonderful vacation.

To me, recipes and memories make the best souvenirs. And a signed menu, of course 😉

Acorn dinner


Roast Chicken, Gruyère Bread Pudding and Roasted Brussel Sprouts

*For this recipe we are brining the chicken. We typically let a whole chicken sit in the brine overnight.  If you are using bone-in chicken pieces, let the pieces sit in the brine 3-4 hours.

For the chicken:

  • ½ cup Turbinado or raw sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup pink Himalayan salt
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 2 T whole peppercorns
  • bundle of fresh rosemary
  • bundle of fresh thyme
  • bundle of fresh oregano
  • Tea kettle of boiling water
  • 4-5 lb whole chicken, innards removed
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1-2 lemons

For the bread pudding:

  • Olive oil
  • 2 stalks leeks, or 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 12 c cubed, day-old bread (Challah, Brioche, French)
  • 3 c Gruyère (or Swiss) cheese, shredded
  • ⅓ c chives, chopped
  • ⅓ c parsley, chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 T freshly ground pepper
  • 2 T scallions, chopped
  • kitchen twine

For the brussel sprouts:

  • 3-4 strips bacon, chopped
  • Brussel sprouts
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar

Start with brining the chicken.  A basic brine is 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of salt and 1 gallon of water.  We’ve tweaked this one a bit with some more flavor.  (see note about brining a little further down)

Mix the sugars, salts, peppercorns and 4-5 stems each of the fresh herbs together in a large container.  For a whole chicken, we use a plastic 8-qt container with lid.  Don’t have raw sugar?  Sub in some brown sugar.  Don’t have pink Himalayan salt?  Well, you just aren’t living right.  Just kidding – double up on the kosher salt.

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Pour the boiling water carefully over your mixture and stir to combine and melt sugar/salt.  Set it aside to cool or add some ice to bring the temperature back down before adding the chicken.

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When the brine has cooled, submerge the chicken.  You may need to add more water to the brine as you want the entire chicken to be covered.  Before placing the lid on the container, we used a coffee cup under the lid to hold the bird down a little.

Cover and chill overnight, or 3-4 hours for bone-in chicken pieces.  When ready, remove the chicken from the liquid and discard all leftover brine.

So – can you roast a chicken without brining it?  Definitely.  You can simply start here in the recipe for a flavorful chicken.  Will swears by brining though and I’d have to agree – he’s made some killer chicken and smoked turkey in many a cookoff.  Soaking poultry in a brine not only seasons the meat itself but keeps the bird moist as it roasts/cooks.  Try it at least once!

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and set aside.

Finely chop 3-4 stems of each fresh herb.  In a food processor, mix the room temperature butter, the chopped herbs and a pinch of salt until it is all evenly combined.

Work the butter under the skin of the chicken, all around the bird.  Use your fingers to gently loosen pockets around the breast, legs and wings then massage the skin to move the butter all around.  Get the butter all over the chicken until you have used the entire stick and a half.

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Quarter the lemon(s) and fill the cavity of the chicken with the lemon and any remaining fresh herbs.  Since we are using leeks later in the bread pudding, we also stuffed an extra stalk of leeks in here, you could also use quartered onion here.

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Truss the chicken to keep the wings and legs tight against the body.  Don’t be scared – that basically means use some kitchen twine to tie the legs together and to pin the wings to the breast so they don’t flap around or hang out while cooking. We may not truss the same way every time… but it gets done.  Here’s a good tutorial if you’d like to check it out.

This past Thanksgiving we moved our family time out to Sargent beach and took a Big Easy oil-less fryer with us for turkey-cooking.  We fell in love with it!  It produced a juicy, delicious turkey on Thursday, followed by a wonderful prime rib on Friday.  Since then, it’s been a go-to for roasting/”frying” meat.  We use it here but you can certainly oven-roast your chicken nicely.

We placed the buttered & trussed chicken in the basket of the Big Easy and roasted for about an hour and fifteen minutes before checking the internal temperature of the bird.

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To oven roast your chicken, place the bird on a rack over a sheet tray to catch the drippings. (Bonus: if you have any potatoes, carrots, root vegetables etc, you can place those under the rack to catch all the drippings or use them as the ‘rack’ itself!  Pile the veggies up and place the chicken right on top.  You just want some air to be able to get to the bottom of the chicken so that all sides crisp up while cooking).  Roast the chicken at 425 for an hour and 15-30 minutes, checking the internal temperature in the last 15 minutes.

**Food safety by definition means that chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees to be considered safe to eat.** Will usually pulls chicken closer to 145-150 and gives it some resting time before cutting into it.

Remove the chicken from the cooker/oven and let it rest a few minutes before carving.

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While the chicken is cooking, get the bread pudding and brussel sprouts going.  To plan ahead, both have about a 15 minute prep time and will bake for a total of 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the bread pudding, place the day-old cubed-up bread in a large bowl.  You don’t have to be precise about cubing the bread – you can even just tear it up with your hands.  The size and shape of the bread is up to you!

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In a medium skillet heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Saute the leeks (or sweet onion), the red onion and the garlic until soft.  Remove from heat.

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*Leeks can be fairly gritty.  To easily clean them, chop off the dark green tops and discard (you can use them for making stock, but they are too tough to eat).  Cut off the root end and then slice the stalk lengthwise.  Chop the stalks down to your desired size, then swish the chopped leeks in a bowl or sink of cool, clean water.  The grit will sink to the bottom leaving the clean leeks at the top to strain and dry*

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, stock, cream, salt, and pepper.  

With the bread cubes, combine the Gruyère, chives, parsley, and cooked onion mixture. Stir it all around, it’s okay if the cheese starts to melt a little bit.

Pour egg mixture over bread mixture. Using the back of a spoon, press bread to soak up liquid.  Let the mix sit 8 – 10 minutes or until bread has absorbed all liquid.

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For the brussel sprouts, rinse the sprouts and cut them in half lengthwise.  Smash and peel the garlic cloves, leaving large pieces to roast.

 

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and dump the veggies on top. Drizzle the veggies with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste, mixing well.  

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Butter a 3-quart casserole dish, or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the bread pudding mixture to the casserole dish and cover with foil.

Place the bread pudding and the tray of brussel sprouts in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Toss the sprouts a bit about halfway through.

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While those are cooking, saute the bacon for the brussel sprouts until cooked about ⅔ done – think chewy bacon, not crispy.  

After 30 minutes, add the cooked bacon to the sheet of sprouts and stir.  Remove the foil from the bread pudding and cook both dishes another 15-20 minutes.  The bread pudding should be nice and brown across the top.

During the last 15 minutes of cooking, add the balsamic vinegar to a small pot. Over medium-low heat, reduce the vinegar by about half, until it is thick and sweet, about 10 minutes.

Let the bread pudding rest and set a few minutes after coming out of the oven, then sprinkle on scallions before serving. Drizzle the reduced balsamic vinegar on top of the roasted sprouts before serving.

Look at this lovely meal!

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Play with the flavors of butter for the chicken – you can use any combination of herbs, any citrus or onions for stuffing.  You can roast a combination of veggies as a side and change up the cheese and onions in the bread pudding for different flavors.  This meal is a classic by nature but so very comforting and brings back a couple of my favorite travel memories.

What’s your favorite food souvenir?


Full Recipe

Roast Chicken, Gruyère Bread Pudding and Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Roast Chicken:

  • ½ cup turbinado (raw) sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup pink himalayan salt
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 2 T whole peppercorns
  • bundle of fresh rosemary
  • bundle of fresh thyme
  • bundle of fresh oregano
  • Tea kettle of boiling water
  • 4-5 lb whole chicken, innards removed
  • 1 ½ sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1-2 lemons
  • Kitchen twine

 

Mix sugars, salts, peppercorns and 4-5 stems of each herb in a large container.

Cover with boiling water and stir to mix, set aside to cool to room temperature or add ice to drop the brine temperature.

When cooled, place chicken in brine.

Cover with enough cool water to submerge chicken completely.

Cover and chill overnight (3-4 hours for pieces of chicken)

Remove chicken from brine and pat dry; discard brine.

Finely chop 3-4 stems of each fresh herb.

In a food processor, mix the butter, herbs and a pinch of salt until thoroughly combined.

Work the butter under the skin of the chicken, all around the bird.

Quarter the lemon(s) and fill the cavity with the lemon and any remaining fresh herbs.

Truss the chicken to keep the wings and legs tight against the body.

Using the Big Easy oil-less fryer – 1 ½ hours; oven roast 425 for 1 ½ hours

Let rest, serve.


Gruyère Bread Pudding:

  • Olive oil
  • 2 stalks leeks, or 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 12 c cubed, day-old bread (Challah, Brioche, French)
  • 3 c Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • ⅓ c chives, chopped
  • ⅓ c parsley, chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 T freshly ground pepper
  • 2 T scallions, chopped

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil.

Add leeks, onion(s) and garlic and cook until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool a while.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, stock, cream, salt, and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine bread, Gruyère, chives, parsley, and reserved onions.

Pour egg mixture over bread mixture.

Using the back of a spoon, press bread to soak up liquid.

Let sit 8 to 10 minutes or until bread has absorbed all liquid.

Butter a 3-quart casserole dish, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Transfer bread mixture to the casserole dish, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and bake until hot and browned on top, 15 to 20 minutes more.

Let rest 15 minutes, then sprinkle on scallions before serving.


Roasted Brussel Sprouts:

  • 3-4 strips bacon, chopped
  • Brussel sprouts
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 350

Rinse and half the sprouts.

Smash and peel garlic, leaving large pieces to roast.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and dump the veggies on top.

Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste, mixing well.

Roast 30 min, tossing halfway through.

While the sprouts are roasting, saute the bacon until cooked about ⅔ done.

After the first 30 minutes of roasting, add the cooked bacon to the sheet and stir.

Roast another 15 min.

Add the balsamic vinegar to a small pot.

Over medium-low heat, reduce the vinegar by about half, until it is thick and sweet, about 10 minutes.

Drizzle the reduced balsamic vinegar on top of the roasted sprouts and serve.

Freezer Meal: Make Ahead Mini Chicken Pot Pies

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I love to have ready-to-go meals in the freezer for a few reasons: they are easy to share with friends and family, they are great food gifts when someone needs a night or two free from dinner planning and prepping, and there is always a time or two when you just want to grab something out of the freezer, warm it up and relax for the night.  These Make Ahead Mini Chicken Pot Pies are perfect for all of these reasons.

Chicken Pot Pie is such a classic comfort food.  The crust, the veggies, the gravy… it all just makes for a warm, tummy-filling dinner.  This recipe makes 6 mini CPPs – and while they may look small, one CPP is a pretty filling dinner!  Will and I are pretty adamant about the double-crust on a good CPP so these have a layer of premade pie dough on both the bottom and top.   You can be fancy and make your own pie dough for these… but if I am looking for a quick, easy freezer meal I’m going to reach in the cold case for the premade version.

Plan ahead and pick up 6-7 mini aluminum loaf pans when you plan on making this recipe.  I find them in the baking aisle with all the other disposable aluminum baking pans.  These also add to the no-fuss, individualized gift-giving option of the CPP – who wants to worry about giving/getting back a dish?! 😉  I’ve also easily doubled this recipe and made up to 15 CPPs to freeze at a time.  Heads up if you double – I usually feel that the gravy doesn’t thicken as much as I like it to in the doubled version and add a little cornstarch slurry as it cooks to help it out.  We’ll talk about that more down in the recipe.

Did a new neighbor just move in? Do you have a friend with a busy week that could use a go-to dinner? Try these Make Ahead Mini Chicken Pot Pies out and share!  I won’t tell though if you make a batch just for your own freezer… 🙂


Make Ahead Mini Chicken Pot Pies

 Yield: six pot pies per recipe

  • 1 ½ -2 lbs. chicken – breast, thigh, tenders – boneless and diced
  • salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 48 oz. chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/3 cup carrots, sliced
  • 1 1/3 cup celery, diced
  • 1 shallot or onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas
  • 15 oz. box refrigerated pie crust (two pie crusts)
  • Disposable aluminum mini loaf pans (at least 6 per recipe)

Remove the pie crusts from their box and set on the the counter to warm to room temperature.  Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  If I am making one recipe, I tend to use chicken tenders or breasts, whichever is on sale at the store when I shop for groceries.  If I am doubling the recipe, I’ll grab one package of white meat and a package of chicken thighs.  Thighs are incredibly tasty, and inexpensive, and they work well in this dish.  Use whatever you like or have on hand!

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Brown the chicken until cooked through, about 7-8 minutes – work in batches if you are doubling the recipe so that you don’t crowd and cool the pan.  Remove the cooked chicken to a plate and set aside.

Melt the butter in the now-empty Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the carrots, celery and shallot or onion.  Don’t forget when you are chopping up your celery:  there is a ton of great flavor in the leaves of the celery stalks.  Use the bright green, tender leaves in the center of your bunch (on the left of the picture below) and avoid the darker, larger leaves on the outside (top-right of the picture below) for best taste.

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Stir occasionally and cook the veggies until lightly browned and softened.

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Add the flour to the veggies and whisk for about 1 minute, making a light roux.

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Add the broth and milk and whisk until it thickens, about 5 minutes or so.  Remove from heat.

This is where we need to talk about the cornstarch slurry.  As you can see from the picture above, when I make a double batch of these CPPs, as was the case in these photos, I start the gravy in a separate pot.  This is just because in a double batch there are a TON of veggies to incorporate.  It does take longer to thicken in a double batch and in this instance it wasn’t getting as thick as I liked.  Think about what you want – the sauce will thicken a little as it cools, but you want a sort of biscuits-and-gravy, custardy consistency to this so that it is scoopable to place into the pie crusts and so that it freezes well.  As the gravy was cooking, I ended up adding a slurry of about 1/4 cup of cornstarch and 1/4 cup of water.  That definitely helped to get things going!

Add the cooked chicken (and veggies if using a separate pot to make the gravy) to the thickened gravy.  Taste and adjust your seasoning if needed.  Set this aside or in the fridge to cool completely.  I have even made the CPP filling the night before and let the whole batch chill in the fridge overnight until ready to scoop into CPPs.  (I know you see peas in that picture below… don’t worry, they are coming.  My picture-taking timing was a little off here!)

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Spray each mini aluminum loaf pan with a nonstick cooking spray.  **THIS IS IMPORTANT!**

Unwrap one pie crust and roll it out on a flour dusted counter. Using the mini loaf pan as a guide/template, cut a bottom layer of dough for each mini loaf pan.  Place it in the bottom of each mini loaf pan.

Unwrap the other pie crust, unroll it onto your floured counter, and cut a top crust for each mini loaf pan.   Cut a few slits into each top crust to vent the crust. At this point, I sometimes get a little creative with the dough scraps.  I use them to cover the top, leaving little vents here and there where the dough scraps don’t exactly meet up.  You could also cut the dough into strips and make a weaving pattern across the top ala a dessert pie if you wanted to be super fancy.  You do you when it comes to CPP top crusts.

Grab the filling mixture from it’s chilling location and stir in the frozen peas.  Spoon the filling evenly into each mini loaf pan on top of the bottom layer of dough. Top each loaf with a pie crust – remembering to have some slits or places for steam to escape when baking.

From here, it’s either cook or freeze!

To cook now: 

Brush the top crust with an egg wash (whisk one egg with about a tablespoon of water in a small bowl). Place on a sheet tray and in a 400 degree oven, covered with foil, for about 20 minutes, then uncover and bake another 20-30 until crusts are golden brown.  Let sit a few minutes before serving.

To freeze: 

Wrap each CPP well with plastic wrap and aluminum foil.  I like to then put two CPPs in a gallon freezer bag or vacuum storage bag and seal them up in pairs.

Freeze up to 2 months.

To cook from frozen:

No need to thaw out the CPP!  Unwrap the pot pies and place on a sheet pan.  Brush the top of the frozen CPP with egg wash (whisk one egg with about a tablespoon of water in a small bowl) and replace just the foil on top of the CPP.  Cook at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.  Uncover and cook for another 30 minutes.  Let the pies sit a few minutes before serving.

Want a handy tag for printing the cooking instructions?  Click here!

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What’s your favorite freezer meal?  Let me know what you like and how these super delicious Make Ahead Mini Chicken Pot Pies work out for you!


Full Recipe

Make Ahead Mini Chicken Pot Pies

  • 1 ½ -2 lbs. chicken – breast, thigh, tenders – boneless and diced
  • salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 48 oz. chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/3 cup carrots, sliced
  • 1 1/3 cup celery, diced
  • 1 shallot or onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas
  • 15 oz. box refrigerated pie crust (two pie crusts)
  • Disposable aluminum mini loaf pans – at least 6 per recipe

Remove pie crusts from box and set on counter to thaw/warm to room temp.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Brown the chicken until cooked through, about 7-8 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Melt the butter in the empty Dutch oven over medium heat.

Add the carrots, celery, and shallot/onion.

Stir occasionally and cook until lightly browned.

Add the flour to the vegetables and whisk for 1 minute.

Add the broth and milk and whisk until it thickens, about 5 minutes or so.

Remove from heat.

Add the chicken to the sauce, season with salt and pepper, and mix well.

Cover and refrigerate until completely cooled.

Spray each mini loaf pan with cooking spray.

Unwrap one pie crust, unroll it on a flour dusted counter.

Cut a bottom crust for each loaf pan, place in the bottom of each mini loaf pan.

Unwrap the second pie crust. Cut a top crust, or use the scraps, for each mini loaf pan.

Cut 3 steam vents in each top crust.

Remove the vegetable/sauce mixture from the refrigerator. Uncover the bowl and mix in the frozen peas.

Spoon the mixture into 6 mini loaf tins evenly.

Top each with a pie crust.

 

Wrap well in plastic wrap and aluminum foil.

Freeze up to 2 months.

 

To cook from frozen:

Unwrap the pot pies and place on a sheet pan.  Brush the top of the frozen pot pie with egg wash and replace just the foil on top of the CPP.  Cook at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.  Uncover and cook for another 30 minutes.  Let the pies sit a few minutes before serving.

Breakfast Two Ways: Savory & Sweet

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I love a good breakfast – eggs and bacon, biscuits and gravy, chilaquiles or migas, pancakes, oatmeal, toast with jelly, grits – there are so many options.  Or, even better, brunch.  With brunch you typically get to mix and match several tasty food options… and there’s usually the added bonus of mimosas 🙂 Either way you go, it’s a time to enjoy the best both worlds of savory and sweet foods.

In this post, we’re looking at both options.  For the savory, we have Breakfast Cups.  This recipe originated from a friend back in Weslaco.  It quickly became one of our family favorites for a few reasons – they are quick to make, great for brunches/showers/food gifts, and they freeze really well for a fast breakfast option during the week.  To satisfy a morning sweet tooth we have Quick Cinnamon Rolls. Will loves cinnamon rolls while I am fairly picky about them. These work for both of us and take advantage of packaged crescent roll sheets to bake quickly for a no-fret breakfast option.

What’s your favorite breakfast or brunch treat? Grab a cup of your favorite coffee and try these two out!


Breakfast Cups

  • 1 tube flaky biscuits
  • 2 C shredded cheese (Cheddar, Mont Jack, whatever your preference)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lb breakfast sausage

Preheat oven to 325.

Cut each biscuit into thirds.  Spray two muffin tins with nonstick spray and place 1/3 of a biscuit into each muffin cup.

*Note:  I like these best with flaky biscuits.  However, at the time of this post, all I had on had was a tube of buttermilk biscuits.  They work fine as well – your end product just won’t be as tall since the buttermilk biscuits won’t “puff” as much as the flaky option.  There were 10 buttermilk biscuits in the tube, flaky has 8 in a tube, so 6 muffin tins ended up with an extra 1/3 biscuit in them.

Brown the breakfast sausage and drain off any excess grease.  You can use any flavor of breakfast sausage here – my go-to is the sage, but I do like the spicy option now and then.

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Remove your pan from the heat and stir in the eggs and shredded cheese.  This mixture will be very thick but you don’t want to cook/scramble the eggs, just get it all mixed up together.

Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the mixture on top of each biscuit piece.

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Bake for 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven, let the tins sit just a minute or two, then pop the Breakfast Cups of out the muffin tin and place on a cooling rack if you are not serving them right away.  If you go straight to a plate when they are right from the oven the bottoms will get a little soggy.

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Breakfast Cups are so versatile – they are awesome straight from the oven, great as they cool down a little, and perfect reheated for 30 seconds straight from the freezer.  I have often made these the night before a brunch or breakfast meeting or froze half the batch for a quick breakfast grab on weekdays.  Try them out!

*Note: when I made both the Breakfast Cups and the Easy Cinnamon Rolls at the same time I set the oven at 350 and started with the Breakfast Cups.  They baked for just over 20 minutes instead of 25 and the cinnamon rolls went closer to 13-14 minutes.


Easy Cinnamon Rolls

  • 1 pkg refrigerated crescent roll sheets
  • 1 T butter, melted
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup finely chopped pecans
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 tsp orange juice or milk

Preheat oven to 375.  Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray, or line it with parchment paper.

Unroll the crescent roll sheet but do not separate the strips just yet.  If you can’t find the crescent roll sheets, just use the normal crescent rolls.  You can press the seams together after unrolling the dough and cut them into strips later, or just roll them up like normal crescent rolls.

Brush the dough with the melted butter.

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In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the dough, then sprinkle the chopped pecans over as well.  Gently press the pecans into the dough – you want them to stick a bit but not deflate the crescent dough.

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Tear out each crescent strip, using a paring knife if necessary to cut along the seams.  Roll each strip into a spiral and place it on the baking sheet.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and cool slightly on the pan or a wire rack.

In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, vanilla and enough of the orange juice or milk to make an icing.  You want it to drizzle off the spoon easily but be thick enough to not completely melt when it hits the warm rolls.  Drizzle this over the cinnamon rolls.

Serve warm and enjoy!

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*Note: when I made both the Breakfast Cups and the Easy Cinnamon Rolls at the same time I set the oven at 350 and started with the Breakfast Cups.  They baked for just over 20 minutes instead of 25 and the cinnamon rolls went closer to 14-15 minutes.


Full Recipes

Breakfast Cups

  • 1 tube flaky biscuits
  • 2 C shredded cheese (Cheddar, Mont Jack, whatever your preference)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lb breakfast sausage

Preheat oven to 325.

Cut each biscuit into thirds.

Grease a two muffin tins and place ⅓ of a biscuit in each cup.

Brown sausage and drain off excess grease.

Remove pan from heat and stir in eggs and cheese – mixture will be thick.

Spoon a heaping tablespoon of mixture on top of each biscuit piece.

Bake for 25 minutes.


Easy Cinnamon Rolls

  • 1 pkg refrigerated crescent roll sheets
  • 1 T butter, melted
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup finely chopped pecans
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 tsp orange juice or milk

Preheat oven to 375

Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray, or line with parchment paper.

Unroll the crescent sheet, do no separate.

Brush dough with melted butter.

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the dough.

Sprinkle the chopped pecans over the dough and gently press them into the dough a bit.

Tear the crescent strips, using a paring knife if necessary, and roll each strip into a spiral.

Place each spiral on the baking sheet.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool slightly on pan or wire rack.

In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, vanilla and enough of the orange juice or milk to make an icing of drizzling consistency.

Drizzle over the warm rolls.

Serve warm.