On most mornings this time of year, I’m awakened to the melodiuos chirping of birds preparing for spring. However, this season (at roughly 4 A.M.) my slumber’s been suspended by one of the loudest birds my ears have ever encountered. By the fourth sleepless night, I decided to venture outside to handle the issue (i.e. make pointless verbal threats at a tree). Flashlight in-hand, I prepared myself to face what must be a 15 foot sparrow with a bullhorn—I cannot rationalize anything else capable of such volume. To my relief I startled two finches, furiously fluttering about. As I drew closer, I realized they were intently building a nest in the eave of my roof (apparently they’re on the night shift). Though I was dismayed for the audible interruption, I was happy to see spring in full effect! Sometimes little moments like this provide inspiration, and I’ve been needing some in the kitchen. I make a variety of spring & Easter recipes, and sometimes grow tired of the same deviled eggs and ham. Thanks to my little songbirds, I decided on a new brunch recipe this year, Easter Egg Hash Brown Nests with bacon & cheese—you didn’t think I’d skip bacon on a holiday did you?
Betty Crocker has a recipe for these that’s been around for years. Theirs uses boxed potatoes, but I decided to create a version using fresh potatoes, parmesan, eggs, havarti and maple bacon. Breakfast all in one bundle! I think these would be great for an Easter brunch alongside virtually any dish, and we only need a few ingredients.
Egg & Hash Brown Nests (bacon & havarti)
All the breakfast flavors you love, in one dish! Muffin tin egg nests are a great brunch or breakfast alternative.
What to get...
- 2 cups raw hash brown potatoes (not frozen, either bag of fresh or grated fresh)
- 6 eggs (large, but not XL)
- 3 strips maple bacon, crisped & chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper (finely ground)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/8 tsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
- 6 slices Havarti cheese (small ~1 inch square slices, can use any cheese)
- *cooking oil spray (to coat muffin tins)
- *larger size muffin tin (with 6 wells, recipe can be doubled)
What to do...
- Crisp slices of bacon in skillet, set aside and chop.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Spray muffin tin liberally with canola or vegetable cooking oil spray (coating well bottom & sides).
- In bowl combine shredded potatoes, parmesan, salt, pepper, paprika, minced garlic, stir well to coat.
- To oiled muffin tin, press ~1/4 cup hash brown potato mix into each well, using hands to depress/form a ‘nest’ with potatoes evenly spread out on bottom & up sides to ‘hold’ egg.
- Lightly spray top of potato nests with a little more oil.
- Bake hash brown nests in 425 degree oven until browning (15-20 mins), check partially through cooking to make sure they’re not over-browning (if so reduce heat to 400, if not browning raise temp to 450—mine took longer, 20 mins partially at 450).
- Remove browned nests from oven & cool completely in pan & reduce oven temp to 375 degrees.
- To each browned nest, sprinkle ~1 tsp worth of chopped bacon (pressing bacon slightly down against bottom of potato nest to save room).
- To bacon add small slice of the havarti cheese (or sprinkle any shredded cheese) just a little to coat, but not to fill well of muffin tin too high).
- Carefully crack one egg into each nest (6 wells total), carefully to not spill/overflow egg white & also centering yolk in middle (they should be very full, but not overflowing the pan).
- Bake eggs in nests until whites are cooked through and yolk is desired doneness (I like mine partially runny) ~15-18 minutes (check periodically and if cooking fast reduce oven temp to 350 and/or take out pans early).
- Cool pan enough to handle and then using a knife carefully loosen edges of nests and with a small spatula carefully remove nests scraping bottom to make sure nest stays intact.
- Serve warm!
This recipe is easily doubled. Depending on the amount of moisture in the shredded potatoes you’re using, your cooking time to brown the nest will vary. I use a bag of fresh hash brown potatoes, pre-shredded at the store (refrigerator, dairy isle). These are easy and time-saving. Otherwise, you can shred russet potatoes, peel & grate for hash brown-style potatoes (in the latter case pre-baking the potato slightly helps with shredding, or use food processor attachment). Frozen variety have too much moisture so I never use. Make sure you spray oil the muffin tin really well, so the nests do not stick when removing from pan to serve. Continue to bake just the hash browns initially to achieve a golden brown nest (vary temp accordingly, avoiding scorching them). With one batch I began to see bubbles forming in the cooking egg white, so I used prong of a fork to dissipate them.
If you prefer your yolk to be firm & cooked-through, simply bake a longer, I prefer runnier yolks, so I just watched the egg closely as they cooked. Also, any cheese will work here!
from the kitchen of www.dinnervine.com
This took me a little trial & error at first. Initially I mixed melted butter with the potatoes, which resulted in a greasy not-so-nest of hash browns. By omitting the butter and raising the oven temp, I was able to get these little guys golden before the egg was baked inside. You could really use any cheese, or any additions for that matter—I’m planning to try proscuitto and spinach next time. I love that these are portioned for single servings, which couldn’t be more perfect—and festive—for this weekend’s Easter brunch.
May you enjoy the many gifts of this season, especially in the kitchen!
What do you get when you combine green beers, crowds of green people, and shots of green whiskey (besides a large headache tomorrow)? That’s right, Saint Patrick’s Day! I cannot believe the time is already upon us. Last year we celebrated in the kitchen with delicious boxty and finished the evening with Irish coffee (throw in a couple pints of Guinness somewhere in-between). My family is part Irish and that’s a good enough excuse for me join the festivities. Though I may not be parading around my city dressed like a leprechaun, I do attempt culinary creativity, and this year that involved some good ole’ potatoes! A staple since the 1700’s, potatoes fueled the Irish population daily in many variations. Though we’re not serving ours alongside corn beef & cabbage, nor in our Guinness beef stew. but instead a savory version of Irish Nachos. We’re topping our taters with some Guinness caramelized onions, jalapeños, Irish porter cheese, Irish aged cheddar, and don’t forget the bacon. This is one skillet sure to soak-up all of the stout at the end of the night. We can skip the crowded pub, and indulge at home with a helping of these:
Irish Nachos (& Guinness Caramelized Onions)
You don’t have to have tortilla chips to enjoy nacho goodness! The dinnervine is using potatoes for this take on Irish Nachos loaded with toppings like our guinness caramelized onions, Happy Saint Paddy’s!
What to get...
What to do...
- In a large skillet cook bacon until crispy, drain on paper towels & reserve bacon grease (no more than 1/4 cup, can do bacon ahead if you reserve drippings).
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Peel & slice onion in half vertically then thinly slicing each half (you will have half circle rings).
- In the same large skillet you cooked back, preheat with bacon drippings and add sliced onions, stir to coat in drippings, add the pinch of salt & pepper, and let cook on medium low for ~5 mins.
- To onions in skillet add 3/4 of the Guinness porter stirring to combine and continue to cook/caramelize onions for another 10 minutes, then adding the chopped jalapeño & cook an additional 10 mins.
- Add last 1/4 cup of Guinness and continue to cook onion/jalapeño mix until liquid cooks out & onions are rich brown in color & very soft/caramelized (~10 more mins), stirring occasionally.
- Once cooked, remove form heat and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl add sliced potatoes, EVOO, and potato seasonings listed above, stir well to combine on all slices.
- On a large foil lined baking sheet with a wire rack on top, arrange potato slices in a single layer and bake on 400 for 30 minutes.
- Increase heat to 500 degrees and continue to cook potatoes until they begin to brown and become tender in center with fork, but brown on edges, then removing from oven and letting cool slightly to handle.
- Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.
- In a greased cast iron skillet or large rimmed dish, arrange Irish nachos by partially overlapping potato slices with cheeses on top of each, around the dish.
- Add the caramelized onion mic evenly over top and in-between rows of potato slices with cheese.
- Then sprinkle with the shredded cheddar towards center on top, then adding some of the crumbled cooked bacon.
- Place skillet into oven and heat until cheese is thoroughly melted and potatoes are heated throughout (~5-8 mins).
- Meanwhile in a small bowl mix add the ripe avocado a5d smash with back of spoon, then mixing with the sour cream, set aside (If no avocado, plain sour cream works well too).
- Remove skillet from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, then serve warm in skillet with sour cream to top (in center or on side as it may melt somewhat) and then topping with the chopped green onion & cut tomatoes.
- Serve with hot sauce or salsa, optional!
You can fry the potatoes in oil if you prefer, but I prefer to bake. The texture of the potatoes are still soft with a firmer crisp edge, depending upon how thick you cut your potato slices. You can use any cheese, but I had a nice block of aged Irish sharp cheddar to use! The porter infused cheese was very good, but if you don’ find one, I would just add more shredded cheddar. This is best served right away, and you can add hot sauce or salsa to spice it up further!
from the kitchen of www.dinnervine.com
These are indulgent but very delicious. To be true to my Irish roots, I selected an aged Irish sharp cheddar, and also came across a tangy Irish porter cheese. The rich Gunniess is the perfect addition to help caramelize our sweet onion. We also add some jalapeño for a kick, and top with crunchy bacon, sour cream mixed with fresh avocado (green is the thing today), chopped green onions, and some fresh pear tomatoes. Hot sauce would also be a nice add-on. By oven-roasting the potatoes in herbs & fresh garlic, we’re infusing our spuds with maximum flavor (and we wouldn’t want it any other way on this holiday)! A long day calls for a cheers, and some of these potatoes.
So raise your pints up high! May you be lucky in good drink, good food and mostly good company!
That’s right! There’s always room for a buttermilk biscuit, especially if it’s homemade. With all of this chicken stew we’ve been cooking lately, it was time to bring these baked beauties back to the menu. To say we’re making biscuits is a little vague, as that word means different edibles in different places. For example, in England I might spend my morning dunking rich tea biscuits into my piping cup of Earl Gray, whilst reading OK! and learning which prenatals the Duchess Kate is taking. However, in the southern United States, I might face a critical morning dilemma of turning my biscuit into a sandwich with my scrabbled eggs, or just slathering it with honey (ignoring the fact I gave up gluten for Lent). Different strokes, for different folks.
We’re making the Southern-style, which are essentially a savory quick bread, with a soft center and golden-brown crust. You can literally have one morning, noon or night! Instead of topping these with gravy or adding a touch of honey (both commendable options), I went savory by adding cheddar cheese & chives! If the thought of making biscuits from scratch seems like a pain in the ass, I can assure you it’s pretty painless (and world’s better than the frozen variety or those from a mix). Unlike many traditional ‘breads’ we don’t need yeast to leaven these; therefore, we don’t have to wait on dough to rise. These guys are flour-based and with a few pantry ingredients, they’re on your table in about 10 mins! I even use my food processor to work the butter into the flour mix, which makes this even faster . . . and the less obstacles between me and a biscuit the better!
Here’s how we do it:
Cheddar Chive Buttermilk Biscuits
You can’t go wrong with savory buttermilk biscuits, especially if we add cheddar cheese and chives!
What to get...
- 2.25 cups flour (all purpose, and extra for working dough)
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1T baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 6T cold butter (unsalted, cut into ~12 small chunks)
- 2.25 cups buttermilk (I used the reduced fat variety)
- 2T fresh chives, chopped finely
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- *butter for topping biscuit (optional)
- *Food Processor for cutting butter into flour (optional but recommended)
- *Piece of plastic wrap to work-out dough
- *biscuit cutter (I use one ~3 inches in diameter)
- *baking pan, cookie sheet or baking stone
What to do...
- Place 6 tablespoons of the butter in the freezer for about 10 mins & preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Prepare a large cutting bored (or counter space )with flour for pressing-out dough.
- In a bowl combine the dry ingredients (flour, soda, powder, salt, pepper) & whisk together until combined.
- Remove butter from freezer & cut into small chunks.
- In a food processor add flour mix and ‘cut’ the cold butter chunks into the mix by pulsing the processor until you have a fine, slightly-crumbly biscuit meal.
- Return butter/flour mix to mixing bowl, stir in chives & cheese, then add buttermilk gently mixing with a spoon (only stir to combine & avoid over handling the mix, dough should be wet & sticky)
- On floured board or surface, put dough in center & place large piece of plastic wrap on top, gently press the dough out into an even layer (~ 3/4 of an inch thick).
- Lift-up plastic wrap & fold dough over in half, place back the plastic on top and press out dough again until even (~3/4 of an inch thick).
- Take round biscuit cutter dipped in flour and cut out biscuits (my dough yielded 12), you can work together scrap dough to cut out additional biscuit rounds.
- Place biscuit rounds on a non-stick cooking sheet sprayed with oil, with edges touching all together.
- Bake in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for ~12-15 mins (less time of making smaller biscuits), or until outsides are lightly browned & slightly firm to touch, avoiding over-browning.
- Cool biscuits slightly on pan, serve warm.
This is easy to make especially if using a food processor which takes less time to cut the cold butter into the flour mix, and does it more evenly. Though you can do this step by hand. Watch biscuits in oven to make sure they’re not over browning—if over-baked they will be hard. Traditionally I bake my biscuits on a non-stick cookie sheet grouped all together (edges touching), which makes them a little softer. If you bake them separated-out, they will have harder crust.
from the kitchen of www.dinnervine.com
If you want to make plain biscuits, this recipe is great sans the cheese & chives, but cheddar really does make everything better. These would also be well with Pepper Jack for a little extra kick. I make these often and love to have them in lieu of dinner rolls. They’re moist, flakey and go great with soups of all kinds, not to mention breakfast sandwiches—the palatable possibilities are endless. These are bound to be a household favorite, Happy Friday to you!
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