Thursday, April 16, 2015

Week 14 - Easter

The theme for Week 14 of the challenge was Easter. When I think of Easter foods, I mostly think about candy, but after that, ham and lamb. I didn't really want to make either of those, so when I saw this recipe for leek and bacon egg tottins on the Trader Joe's site in the Easter section, I jumped at making that. It was certainly something that would fit an Easter brunch, so it was perfect for our Easter-themed challenge dinner.

For the tottins, I used:

- 30 potato tots (a little more than 1/4 of a bag) ($0.62)
- 6 slices of uncured bacon ($3.37)
- 2 large leeks ($2.99)
- 4 oz (1/2 log) of garlic and herb goat cheese ($2)
- 16 oz carton of quick eggs ($1.99)
- salt and pepper ($0.05)
- 1/2 bag of wild arugula ($1)

The grand total for our tottins dinner was about $12. Not the cheapest, but good bacon comes at a price and I also went the convenience route on a couple of items (leeks, eggs) to simplify our dinner routine. The trimmed leeks at Trader Joe's are a great product and very clean as far as leeks go, but they're definitely not cheap. I also went for the carton of eggs instead of using 8 actual eggs, which cost about 30 cents more, but that's not much of a difference for the convenience of not having to crack open and beat all those eggs. Still, we were pretty full in the end, and at $12 for 2, that's not too bad.

Making the tottins was very straightforward and simple. It took a little bit of time for the bacon and leeks to cook, but it was easy, perfect for a weeknight dinner. I changed up the process a bit from what Trader Joe's put in their recipe, as you'll see, and we were perfectly happy with how it turned out. The steps were:

1. Grease a muffin tin and add 2-3 tots per cup.
[The recipe said 3 but the tots looked so crowded in the cups that I wasn't sure any of the other stuff would fit in. I put 2 tots in 1/2 the cups and 3 tots in the other 1/2. I personally think the ones with 3 were better.]

2. Fry the bacon and then let it cool on a paper towel, then crumble.

3. Chop the leeks. Once the bacon is done frying, add the leeks to the same pan (without draining the bacon grease or adding oil or butter). Cook the leeks until they are caramelized.
[The original recipe had these swapped and said to cook the leeks in butter and then fry the bacon. I couldn't figure out why, since the bacon was going to let out a ton of its own fat that we could cook the leeks in. Seemed like a waste to not use it! The day before, we only made 2 slices of bacon and there was so much grease left over that I caramelized an onion for fun so we wouldn't waste it. It just made sense to use that instead of butter.]

4. Mix the caramelized leeks, crumbled bacon, eggs, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and then add to each muffin cup.

5. Add a few pinches of goat cheese to each muffin cup.
[The recipe said 3 or 4 pinches for each cup and that would be 1/2 of the log of goat cheese.  I don't know if I don't understand how much a "pinch" is or if mine were too small, but I had put more than 4 pinches in each cup and barely finished 1/4 of a log. I added more until it seemed like the right amount and then we just ate the rest of the log half with crackers.]

6. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes (until eggs are cooked and brown on top).

We ate some of the tottins over a bed of arugula just to add some more vegetable matter to our dinner and all together, it was pretty good. We really liked the tottins. Combining bacon, caramelized leeks, potatoes, and cheese, what's not to love? The only negative was that I thought they were a little on the salty side. I definitely think you could skip adding the salt to the egg mixture because of the bacon and cheese. It really wasn't unnecessary. But other than that, it all worked really well together.

Considering that there were 12 tottins, we probably shouldn't have eaten them all in one sitting, but they were so good that we couldn't stop. They were just so tasty! We would definitely make these again and maybe mix it up with different ingredients next time. Happy (belated) Easter!

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