Monster Hens in the Hen House

Over the summer, our backyard chickens really slowed down on their egg production. I figured it was the heat. But lo and behold, they started molting. This is when they lose a lot of feathers and egg laying slows down because it takes a lot of energy to grow new feathers. Well, at first I thought they were dying. They looked awful and well, they had lost a lot of feathers so they were looking skinny and unhealthy. And I guess they’d molted before because we’d noticed loss of feathers in the past, but not to this degree. A little research (Google answers all my questions!) and I discovered this was completely normal for the time of year.

Well, we patiently waited for them to start laying again. And then we impatiently waited. Adam wanted to cook them up for Thanksgiving. Seriously, if I’d allowed it, he would’ve made it happen. But no way! We’ve had these chickens for a few years now and they’re more pets than anything. Unless a zombie apocalypse happens and I run out of food. Then it’s winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Anyways, they finally stopped losing feathers and grew back their new ones and now they basically look like hens on steroids. They are huge and healthy looking and complete monsters now. They bock incredibly loud. So loud that I’m afraid my neighbors will call the police on my confused hens who seem to think they’re roosters. And they’ve been bocking early. Like 6:30 am early, and then bock off and on for like an hour. It’s pretty annoying. I’ve discovered that means they want to be let out of their coop to roam. And eat. They eat incessantly. And they started laying eggs again. And their eggs are enormous. And the shells are strong. I read that after molting, the quality of the eggs is much better. And it’s so true! Before, their shells were getting thin but now, it’s such a difference. They’re like whole new hens! It makes me wonder if someone experimented on them while I wasn’t looking because these hens are vocal, hungry and huge.

hens

Our flock of New Hampshire Reds

This is Large Marge. She lives up to her name and is our biggest hen and lays the BIGGEST eggs. She's pretty. Pretty freakin huge.

This is Large Marge. She lives up to her name and is our biggest hen and lays the BIGGEST eggs. She’s pretty. Pretty freakin huge.

Now that I have an abundance of eggs again, it’s time to make more egg dishes. Here are some of my favorite recipes to use eggs in:

Chilaquiles

Breakfast Quesadillas

Vanilla Bean Croissant French Toast

Chicken Apple Hash with Fried Eggs

eggs

This is the first egg they laid after molting was over. And that white one is a store bought large egg.

eggs 2

Monster eggs

eggs 3

This is only half of what I currently have. Eggs for days!

And for those of you who’ve thought about trying out the backyard chicken thing, I recommend it! If you have cool neighbors. And if you don’t, a carton of eggs will usually put a smile on their face. But seriously, they’re an easy, manageable pet, and their poop makes great fertilizer!

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Breakfast Quesadillas

bq 10What can I say about these breakfast quesadillas? My kids like them! My husband likes them! I like them! Therefore, I hope you like them too! These for me are definitely a weekend breakfast, but if you’re an early riser and a go getter, have at ’em on a weekday morning. I love that these quesadillas have the traditional breakfast flavors but with that little Mexican spin. Ole!

Breakfast Quesadillas (makes 2 large quesadillas)

  • 1/2 tbsp. butter
  • 4 eggs plus 1 tbsp. milk, beaten together in a bowl
  • Pinch of salt & pepper
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked
  • 4 flour tortillas

In a skillet (preferably non stick) over medium heat, add butter. Let melt and swirl to coat the pan. Add the beaten egg mixture and a pinch of salt & pepper and let cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until the eggs set and are just no longer runny. Turn off heat and set to the side.

On a large skillet, add two tortillas. Spread 1/4 c. of cheese on each tortilla, then dividing the eggs evenly, spread across the cheese. Next top each quesadilla with 3 bacon strips and then add the remaining cheese to the top. Cover each with an additional tortilla. Turn heat on medium and let cook for about 4 minutes, or until the underside is browned and crisp. Carefully flip over and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and place on a cutting board, cutting the quesadillas into half, and then in half again. Serve with your favorite salsa.

bqbq 2bq 3bq 4bq 5bq 6bq 7bq 8bq 9*If you like things spicy, you can add pickled jalapeno slices like I did on one of my quesadillas. Other great additions would be cilantro, green onions, even sautéed mushrooms. Quesadilla possibilities seem endless!

Top O the Morning to Ya!

So this post has nothing to do with Irish food. I just wanted to say good morning in a less traditional way. So top O the morning to ya! This should give you a hint that I’m going to talk about breakfast. On Saturdays in my house, my family looks forward to a nice home cooked breakfast. It’s our one day that we are not rushed to go anywhere or do anything (except during softball season).

Look at those "farm" fresh eggs! Beautiful!

Look at those “farm” fresh eggs! Beautiful!

On a recent Friday when I was at the grocery store, I found some great looking chicken apple sausage links on manager’s special. Only about $2 and I figured I could use them to make some kind of yummy Saturday breakfast. We also have an abundance of brown eggs because we do the whole backyard chicken thing. So I get fresh eggs on a daily basis. With this in mind, I thought of hash!

This breakfast turned out to be so good, (and pretty looking too!) so I wanted to share it with you. Feel free to substitute the chicken apple sausage for any other sausage you’d like (or can find on sale). Make it your own, and use what you have!

Not done yet, just you wait!

Chicken Apple “Hash” w/ fried eggs (serves 4-5)

¾ pound chicken apple sausage, removed from casing

½ green bell pepper, chopped

¼ onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

½ c. aged white cheddar, shredded

4 potatoes or 5 small potatoes, baked and cut into cubes

4-5 eggs, fried

Pepper to taste

Sliced green onions

Add sausage to a pan (cast iron works great), along with onion and bell pepper. Break up sausage and cook until no longer pink. Add garlic, cooked potatoes and pepper, stirring until combined. Add shredded cheese on top, put a lid on it and turn heat off. To fry eggs, spray your non stick skillet with cooking spray. I use canola oil cooking spray. Heat on medium heat. When skillet is ready, crack eggs, season with a little salt and pepper, and cook on one side for approximately 2 minutes, flip over, and cook for a couple more minutes. Cook the eggs for as long or as little as you prefer. It just depends on how much you like the yolk cooked. Scoop a generous portion of the hash onto a plate, top with the fried egg and sprinkle with the green onions.

*Use your microwave setting for baking potatoes for this recipe. It takes much less time than actually baking them in the oven, and I always do this for any type of breakfast potatoes.

Now THAT'S pretty!

Now THAT’S pretty!