Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sausage Patties and busy mornings

As much as I love bacon, sometimes I do want a little something different for breakfast.  Pork sausage patties!

But...have you ever looked at what is in the pork sausage patties or links you get at your grocery store?  Most sausages are cured with sugar or have added corn solids.  A no-no in my book.  Others include MSG.  

Here is the ingredient list for a couple different sausages:

  • Bob Evans sausage links:  Pork, Fresh Hams, Pork Tenderloins, Water, Salt, Dextrose, Spices, Flavoring, Monosodium Glutamate, Formed in Collagen Casing. 
  • Jimmy Dean sausage links:  Pork, Water, Contains 2% or Less of the Following Salt, Sugar, Spices, Corn Syrup, Monosodium Glutamate, Spice Extractive, BHA, BHT, Citric Acid.

eeeewwww!  Why eat this garbage when it's super simple to make your own pork sausage patties?

Breakfast Sausage

1 pound ground pork (make sure it's just pork and nothing else added - read labels!)
1 tsp sea salt 
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp rubbed sage
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp fresh grated nutmeg - just a couple of grinds

Mix all together and form patties. Fry in a hot pan.  Depending on the fat content of your ground pork, you may or may not need to grease the pan first.  Use butter, olive oil, coconut oil or coconut oil spray.

You can use this sausage wherever you would normally use breakfast sausage.  To make my busy weekday mornings easier, I make a large batch of egg bake on the weekends.  We then pop a square of the egg bake into the microwave and munch on our commute to our jobs.  Easy and tasty!

Egg Bake

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 pound breakfast sausage (from recipe above)
1 10 oz box of frozen spinach - defrosted, drained well and chopped
12 eggs
1 Tblsp hot sauce
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper 
optional:  1/2 cup grated cheddar (or other cheese)

Pre-heat oven to 350˚.  Heat a large skillet.  Saute the onions and peppers with enough butter, olive oil, or coconut oil to prevent sticking.  When onions and peppers are just starting to get soft, add the breakfast sausage and saute until sausage is done.  Drain any excess fat.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Add spinach and mix well.  (You could also use about 1/2 bag of fresh spinach - chopped - instead of the frozen).  Add sausage mixture to egg mixture and combine well.  Mix in cheese if desired.

Spray a 13X9" pan with coconut oil (or butter or other oil) and pour in the egg/sausage mixture.  Bake at 350˚ for about 30 minutes.  (Mine usually takes about 35.)  It is done when the eggs are set and the top is just starting to brown.

Cut into 12 pieces.  Serving size is 1 piece (this gives you approximately 1 egg and 1 1/3 ounces of sausage in each piece).  Refrigerate and use as needed.  These can also be frozen.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

International Bacon Day!

Today is the most sacred of all holidays:  International Bacon Day.  "sigh"  :-)  Do you really know how good bacon is???  They wrap OTHER food in bacon!  Filet mignon's are often served bacon-wrapped.  It's THAT GOOD!

According to wikipedia, this is an "unofficial observance" held on the Saturday before Labor Day - or today.  "Unofficial"?  Hogwash!

Everyone knows I love bacon.  It is a long-standing joke in my family.  For my birthday this year, my niece gave me this t-shirt!!             --->        --->      --->      --->
My sister-in-law gave me a bacon wallet (ok...not REAL bacon - but it looks real!) 

Bacon fits well into my way of eating, as long as it's sugar-free.  High in fat*, good source of protein and no carbs - not to mention tasty!  Here is my latest find from my local Piggly Wiggly store.  It even states No Sugar on the package.  You can find others - just need to search a bit.  I have noticed that whenever I do find a sugar-free version, it is usually lower in sodium too.  Coincidence?  dunno.

There are several ways to fix bacon:  frying, baking, and nuking.  I'm not real keen on using the microwave more than necessary (another thought for another day), and I don't like turning on the oven on hot summer days, so frying is my method of choice.  Frying in a cast iron skillet is the best - nothing beats a Lodge cast iron skillet.  Get your own here:  Amazon lodge skillet.    The key to successfully frying bacon is to heat the pan up first on high and then lower to medium heat.  Add your bacon making sure not to crowd it.  You want plenty of room to flip and flip and flip your bacon until done.  Place cooked bacon on paper towels to drain excess fat and continue frying until you have enough (can you ever have enough?).  I like to cut my bacon in half first - it makes it easier to fry that way.  Oh, and, never, EVER, do this naked.

Now that you have enjoyed your bacon - what to do with the fat?  Do what your grandmother did:  save it in a jar on your kitchen counter.  Bacon fat is a doesn't go bad.  Ever.  I keep my fat in a special grease container - like this one:  Amazon grease strainer.    I keep the same fat for months and months - it just never goes bad.  If you're concerned about that, store yours in your fridge.  

I use my bacon fat to saute veggies - my fav way to cook and eat brussel sprouts is to cut them in half and saute them in bacon fat.  I also use it to make my own barbecue sauce - so nummy - see recipe below.  Other ideas for bacon fat include:

• Use in place of butter when scrambling eggs or frying potatoes
• Use in place of butter or oil to caramelize onions
• Rubbed on chicken breasts (and under the skin) before roasting

See a theme? Essentially, use a spoonful of bacon fat anywhere you'd use a pat of butter or a glug of olive oil.  You can even strain it very well, chill it, and use it in place of butter when baking - I'm thinking it would go great in my Cheesy Biscuits (click for recipe)  - might need to try that tonight!'s a suggested menu for today:  
Breakfast:     Bacon and eggs
Lunch:          Bacon, lettuce and tomato salad or wrap
Dinner:         Armadillo eggs (click for recipe) or any meat wrapped in Bacon!! barbecue sauce!

BBQ Sauce 

  • 2 Tblsp bacon fat 
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 small can (6 oz) tomato paste
  • 1 can (12 oz) sugar-free cola - Zevia cola is preferred - Zevia cola 
  • 1 Tblsp vinegar
  • Liquid sweetener to taste (try Stevita liquid stevia)
  • 3 Tblsp mustard
  • 1 Tblsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • Hot sauce to taste

Heat the bacon fat in a saucepan - a 2 quart saucepan works well.   Add the onion and  cook over medium until soft - 3-5 minutes.  Add garlic at this point if you're using fresh.

Add the rest of the ingredients, plus about half a cup of water.  Stir well.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes.  It will cook down a bit and flavors will combine.  Adjust the seasonings so you have the balance you want - you can add vinegar, sweetener, or hot sauce. (If it's too hot, adding more sweetener will remove some heat.)

The recipe makes approximately 10 servings of 1/4 cup each. 

*concerned about saturated fats?  Don't be.  Stay tuned to this blog for the reasons why saturated fats are not bad for you, but GOOD for you!  Really.