September 16, 2014

Breakfast Cups

Even though I've only been in college for a few weeks, I can already appreciate the convenience of these breakfast muffin cup thingies. They pack all of your tasty morning cravings into one convenient bite, and you could probably take them on the go with you if you don't mind dribbling some oozy egg yolk all over yourself. So maybe you can't take them everywhere, but you can at least eat them quickly since all your breakfast foods are combined into one. And at 7am when I'm rushing to catch a bus to my three hour chemistry lab, that's all I could ever ask for.

Although I'm pretty sure everyone has their own version of the perfect breakfast, these breakfast bites have just about anything you could possibly want. If you don't see what you like, you can always add it, too. The first step to making these "muffins" is setting up the bacon. You can use regular bacon, turkey bacon, thick bacon, center-cut bacon, flavored bacon, or whatever bacon your heart desires. If you are a vegetarian, vegan, or anyone else who somehow has the self-restraint to not eat bacon, try to find some similar alternative because the bacon really is important for structure. It holds everything in and prevents the eggs from sticking, and it just tastes so good.

The first real layer is a base of shredded potatoes, which bake up all crispy and salty since they are supposed to mimic hash browns (spoiler alert: I think they come out pretty similar). Before I press them into the muffin tins (you really do have to pack them in hard), however, I mix them with some sauteed diced onions. Those are optional, but they add some extra flavor to the potatoes so it's not just salt.

Now you can really get creative. On top of the potatoes, you can sprinkle cheese, vegetables, diced cooked meats (think little nuggets of ham), or whatever else your heart desires. I think any good, mild melting cheese would be fantastic, and sauteed mushrooms and/or bell peppers would be a great addition as well. If you like spicy food, you can also throw in some minced hot peppers like jalapenos, habaneros, or whichever pepper matches your heat tolerance. Whatever you choose, just stick it on top of your potatoes, but make sure you save enough room for the egg.

One of the most overrated culinary trends right now (at least in my opinion) is sticking fried eggs on top of everything. Yes, the runny yolk makes a great sauce, but there are so many other amazing flavors you could have used. Nevertheless, eggs are a breakfast staple, and the runny yolks really are good in this dish. I'm not going to fry up eggs and plop them on top of the muffins, though, because I've found that baking them on top of the muffin gets almost the same texture, and it saves so much time since you don't have to sit there frying up a dozen perfectly cooked, non-broken eggs.

The trick to getting perfect eggs for each of your muffins is individually cracking each egg into a dish and gently transferring it into the bacon-wrapped cup. The bacon should hold it all in so it doesn't touch the sides of the muffin tin (because it will most definitely stick); if you find that your toppings take up too much room, either pack them down or take some out so the entire egg fits. Once they are cooked, use an offset spatula or butter knife to gently wiggle the muffins out. The goal is to avoid breaking the yolk so you end up with gorgeous cups and controlled runniness (meaning all the egg yolk ends up in your mouth and not your stove). However, even if your muffins don't come out perfect (let's be honest; a few of mine didn't), they will all taste amazing, and you get all of the wonderful flavors of breakfast in one bit.

12 Eggs
12 Strips Bacon
2 Idaho/Russet Potatoes
1 Medium Yellow Onion, Diced
1 Cup Shredded Cheese, Optional
Sauteed Vegetables, Optional

Heat oven to 350ºF and grease a muffin tin.

Heat some oil in a skillet and add the onions. Cook until translucent and tender, 3-4 minutes.

Peel and shred/grate the potatoes. Season liberally with salt, wrap in a towel, and squeeze the excess moisture out (use cheesecloth or an old towel since it will probably stain). Combine the cooked onions and shredded potatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Press the bacon around the sides of the cups of the muffin tins. Press a spoonful of the potato mixture into the bottom. Sprinkle on the cheese and/or vegetables, if using. Gently pour one egg into each cup and bake for 10 minutes or until the whites of the eggs are just set.

Makes 12

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