Raspberry Pistachio Muffins w/ Peaches

For some reason, when I was making these muffins, they made me think about when Brion & I had traveled in Europe years ago. You were offered a ‘continental breakfast’ with your hotel stay. Its all pretty common place these days, but as always, the history behind it is interesting.

A continental breakfast is defined as, ‘a light breakfast in a hotel, restaurant, etc., that includes baked goods, jam, fruit, and coffee’. All of which were shelf-stable items in portion sizes that are perfect for large groups of people.

The term continental breakfast originated in Britain in the mid-19th Century. To the British, the continent refers to the countries of mainland Europe. A continental breakfast describes the type of breakfast you’d encounter in places like France and the Mediterranean. Its a lighter, more delicate alternative to the full English or American breakfasts.

Along with being cost effective … you don’t need much staff to tend a few trays of bagels, pastries and carafes of orange juice & coffee in the lobby. Guests like the convenience of the food and the perceived value of getting something for free.

Today, the continental breakfast included in the price of the room is pretty much standard in most hotels worldwide.

Long story short, these little fruit filled muffins fit the bill perfectly!

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Raspberry Pistachio Muffins w/ Peaches
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper baking cups.
  2. In a food processor, pulse pistachios until finely ground. In a medium bowl, whisk together pistachios, flour, sugar, baking powder & baking soda. Add peaches, stirring to coat them.
  3. In another bowl, whisk yogurt, butter, eggs, vanilla & orange zest. Fold in the dry ingredients making sure not to over mix. Divide batter between the 12 muffin cups. Insert 2 or 3 whole raspberries into each muffin. Sprinkle with some slivered pistachios. Push them down a bit into the batter so they don't fall out when the muffins rise.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes or until risen & golden. Cool in muffin tin for 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if you wish.

Chicken Avocado Fiesta Salad

For some of us, the best part of salads is everything but the greens! I have always had a hard time digesting lettuce so I’m never drawn to it when we get to salad season.

The idea of a full meal (lettuce-less) salad has always appealed to me. Of course there are many of these using a variety of ingredients. Probably one of the most popular was the taco salad. The earliest record of it dates back to the 1960’s with its predecessor being the small teacup-sized ‘Tacup’. It consisted of beef, beans, sour cream and cheese, served in a small ‘bowl’ made entirely of a Fritos tortilla.

The taco in a Tacup was invented by Charles Elmer Doolin, the founder of Fritos (tortilla chips). He created a device that looked like tongs but with two tart molds at the end of each tong. One mold would fit within the other mold with a tortilla sandwiched between them. The scalloped-edged shell was the dipped into hot oil. Holes in the bottom mold exposed the tortilla to the hot oil, enabling it to cook evenly.

Tacups were first served in Dallas, Texas in the early 1950’s and by 1955, he was selling them in Fritos’ flagship restaurant, ‘Casa de Fritos’, at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It became popular enough that the Tacup was made bigger and served as a full, main-dish sized salad bowl.

Today’s salad is a satisfying meal (without a shred of lettuce) served in an edible tortilla bowl.

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Chicken Avocado Fiesta Salad
Instructions
Marinade
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients. In a large resealable plastic bag, pour marinade. Add sliced chicken; seal & turn to coat. Refrigerate for 1-4 hours. When finished marinating, cook chicken over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Remove from heat & set aside.
Salad
  1. Cook corn cobs in a pot of boiling, salted water, covered for 5-7 minutes. When cool enough to handle, hold the corncob vertically on a slip-proof cutting board & cut corn kernels from top to bottom around the sides with a sharp knife. Leave corn in bite-sized pieces.
  2. Fry bacon slices until brown & crispy. Chop into small pieces.
  3. Peel, pit & cube avocados. Sprinkle with a bit of lime or lemon juice to keep from turning brown. Dice Roma tomato. Slice green onions, chives & dill. Drain sliced black olives. Cube Gouda cheese.
Tortilla Bowls
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush the inside of 2 heat-resistant glass bowls with oil. Place one tortilla in each bowl so that the shape more or less adheres to the bowl. Line each tortilla with cheddar cheese slices & then place the second tortilla on top.
  2. Place the bowls with the layered tortillas in the oven & bake for 7 minutes. Remove the bowls from the oven & allow to cool before removing the 'edible tortilla bowls'.
Assembly
  1. Place tortilla bowls on serving plates. Place cooked chicken on the bottom, top with corn, avocados, tomato, onions, olives Gouda & herbs. Drizzle with Ranch dressing (or dressing of choice). If you wish, before putting the dressing on, give it 30 seconds in the microwave to warm it slightly again.

Kiwi Strawberry Cookies

When did the world first fall in love with this flavorful combination? From what I remember, it was in the 80’s & 90’s. There was strawberry-kiwi flavored Gatorade, applesauce, wine coolers, Jello, Kool-Aid, lip balm, yogurt, jams, chewing gum, etc., etc. The fact that these two fruits perfectly compliment each others flavor profile, make them an ideal choice for flavoring summer treats.

When I originally saw these ‘kiwi cookies’ on the internet, I was intrigued by the look but not the recipe ingredients. From what I could find, they resembled kiwi slices in their looks but not in taste. The Lorann Company makes a very interesting assortment of flavoring oils, one of which is strawberry kiwi. This seemed just what was needed.

Through a little bit of my recipe development process, I was able to accomplish the look and flavor I was after. When you think about it, these are just another variation to the classic German pinwheel cookie which were popularized in the 1920’s.

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Kiwi Strawberry Cookies
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DOZEN
Ingredients
Servings
DOZEN
Ingredients
Votes: 1
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Instructions
Assembly
  1. Roll out the chocolate dough between parchment paper in a rectangle shape about 5 X 10-inches & about a 1/8-inch thickness. Next, roll out the green dough between parchment paper in a rectangle about 3 X 10-inches & about 1/4-inch thickness. With the beige colored dough, roll out to 10-inches long & form into a round 'log' for the center of cookies on parchment paper.
  2. Now top the chocolate layer with green layer. Place cylinder of beige dough at one side. Using the help of the parchment paper, roll together, starting at even end & roll to end with the extended chocolate, so that the chocolate goes all the way around. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap & refrigerate about an hour or freeze until ready to use.
  3. Preheat oven to 300 F. When chilled, unwrap & cut slices 1/3-inch thick. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; place slices about an inch apart. With the tip of a knife, make a kiwi pattern in center of cookies & arrange black chia seeds. Bake for about 20 minutes. Do NOT brown. Allow to cool on baking sheet a couple of minutes then place on a cooling rack.

Chicken Cheese Burgers w/ Portobello Fries

CELEBRATING CANADA DAY!

In Canada, July 1st marks the day for Canadians to show pride in their nations history, culture and achievements. From coast to coast the country’s birthday is marked with various events.

This is the date of the historical event in which Canada gained its independence from Great Britain in 1867.

Barbecues are definitely the preferred choice of food event for the day. Although we are experiencing some rainy conditions this Canada Day, nothing says you can’t modify the traditional barbecue with cooking indoors. For something different, I decided to try making some portobello ‘fries’ to accompany our chicken cheese burgers. Technically, they are not really fries at all, but they’re crispy and dip able and that is all anyone expects from a fry.. right? Sliced and breaded with crumbs and cheese then baked makes these portobello fries super tasty.

Of course, the staple at most barbecues, tailgates and picnics is the classic burger. But a burger doesn’t have to be just a burger and cheese isn’t just cheese. For ours, I’m making chicken burgers ‘infused’ with shredded Gruyere cheese. Then taking it to the next level and adding caramelized onions and guacamole.

What a nice ‘Canada Day’ meal it makes!

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Chicken Cheese Burgers w/ Portobello Fries
Votes: 1
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Chicken Cheese Burgers
  1. In a large bowl, combine chicken, Gruyere, bread crumbs, parsley, egg & garlic. Season with salt & pepper. Form into 4 patties & place in refrigerator until ready to grill.
Caramelized Onions
  1. Heat oil in skillet until hot. Add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat; sprinkle with vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Place in a dish; set aside.
Guacamole
  1. In a bowl, coarsely mash avocados with lime juice & salt. Stir in garlic, onion & cilantro; blend well. Cover with plastic wrap & place in fridge until needed.
Portobello Fries
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Place a wire rack on a large baking sheet lined with foil.
  2. In a shallow dish, whisk together the flour, spices, salt & pepper. In another shallow dish, lightly beat eggs with 1 Tbsp water. In the third shallow dish, combine panko/butter mixture with the Parmesan cheese.
  3. Gently toss mushroom slices in the flour mixture. Coat evenly & shake off any excess flour. Then, dip the floured fries into the eggs, drip off any excess eggs & then place them into the panko mixture. Gently press the panko mixture onto the mushrooms.
  4. Place the fries onto the wire rack, leaving an 1/8-inch space between each. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown & crispy. If you wish, you could serve fries with marinara sauce, ketchup or a roasted garlic mayo.
Assembly
  1. Once you have all the various components to this meal this far all that is left is to barbecue the chicken burgers over a medium heat for about 5-6 minutes per side or until cooked thru. Instead of baking the mushroom fries you can alternately grill them on the BBQ as well.
  2. Slice & lightly grill Ciabatta buns. Top each bottom half with a chicken burger, a slice of cheese, some guacamole, caramelized onions & a tomato slice, ending with the other half of the bun. The big question is, how to get your mouth around it!
Recipe Notes
  • Whether you bake or grill, either way its all good!

Raspberry Sour Cream Pie

The perfect pie for a summer evening. First off, if your not accustomed to using sour cream in a sweet pie filling you will probably cringe. My first encounter with this idea was many years ago and I’m still addicted.

Sour Cream has worked its way into many facets of my baking and cooking, so for me its a basic fridge staple. I know for some people it happens all too often … you pick up a container of sour cream to have on some tacos and then what to do with the rest before it spoils??

This pie recipe makes an extra deep dessert. It works well in a spring-form pan or a deep pie dish. The crunchy, buttery brown sugar streusel on top is lightly accented with cardamom spice & fresh lemon zest. It is the perfect foil to the lush, rich sour cream and raspberry filling.

I should mention, its best not to use light or fat-free sour cream. Another thing, is to bake the pie until the filling is set THEN top with the streusel and bake until golden. This is a pie that is best served cold or just slightly warm as it will not be firm enough to slice if it is hot.

Raspberries lovers … this one is for you!!

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Raspberry Sour Cream Pie
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Ingredients
Shortbread Crust
Raspberry Filling
Servings
Ingredients
Shortbread Crust
Raspberry Filling
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Instructions
Shortbread Crust
  1. In a bowl, combine butter & sugar; beat until light & fluffy. Mix in flour & baking powder; blend together. Pat dough in a 9-inch spring form pan or a deep dish pie pan.
Raspberry Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a bowl, combine sugar, flour & salt; whisk in eggs, sour cream & vanilla until smooth. Place raspberries in pie shell & pour filling over top. Bake for 30-35 minutes OR UNTIL FILLING IS JUST SET.
Streusel
  1. In a bowl, combine all streusel ingredients until well blended. After the pie filling is set, remove from the oven & turn the heat down to 350 F. Squeeze the streusel between your fingers & palms to create clumps ranging in size from small to large grapes then top pie with it. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes OR until streusel is golden brown.
  2. Remove from oven & allow pie to cool completely on a wire rack to thicken further. Serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate any leftover pie.
Recipe Notes
  • Even though I mentioned you should use a full fat sour cream, I chose to use a fat free one too lighten up on the calories.
  • The only difference is, it will take longer to bake & the filling is not quite as firm in the end result.
  • As far as the taste goes, there is no difference. It's heavenly!!

Salmon & Zucchini Enchiladas

Salmon and zucchini have always been a great pairing, but have you tried this combo in some enchiladas?

Wild canned salmon doesn’t have to just mean sandwiches. This high quality protein makes for an incredible pantry staple that is ready when you need it. Add it to just about any plate … over top a green salad, in a wrap, served over rice, pasta, zucchini noodles, potatoes or squash etc., etc.

When I originally developed this recipe, it served as a filling for some jumbo pasta shells. After a few modifications, it became an enchilada meal.

As their original form as Mexican street food, enchiladas were simply corn tortillas dipped in chili sauce and eaten without fillings. There are now so many varieties, which are distinguished primarily by their sauces, fillings or form. Here are a few examples:

Enchiladas suizas are topped with a milk or cream based white sauce such as bechamel.

Enfrijoladas are topped with refried beans.

Enchiladas verdes are sauced with salsa verde and typically made with white corn tortillas, poached chicken breast and cheese.

Entomatadas are made with tomato sauce.

Enchiladas montadas are a stacked variation.

Always on the quest for something different!!

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Salmon & Zucchini Enchiladas
Votes: 1
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword enchiladas
Servings
ENCHILADAS
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword enchiladas
Servings
ENCHILADAS
Votes: 1
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Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, saute onion, zucchini & mushrooms until tender-crisp; place in a large bowl & set aside.
  2. In saucepan, melt butter & remove from heat. Stir in water & sauce mix. Return to heat & bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat & simmer 3 minutes.
  3. To bowl of sauteed vegetables add drained salmon chunks & a small amount of cooked 'dill sauce'. Lay out tortilla shells on a work surface & divide mixture between them. Blend together remaining dill sauce, reserved salmon juice & soup.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a 9 X 13-inch baking dish, spread some sauce over the bottom. Lay filled, rolled tortillas single file in baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over all & top with grated cheese combo. Bake about 30-40 minutes.

Rhubarb Pastries

Here we are at that time of year when rhubarb makes an appearance once again. As always, if you read my blog, you know I can’t resist featuring numerous rhubarb recipes during its growing season. The question is … do you love it or hate it? It demands an opinion. Is it fruit or a vegetable? Is it red or is it green? Doesn’t matter …. rhubarb is rhubarb. It is what it is and doesn’t care if we love it or leave it.

Today, I have made some rhubarb pastries. The tartness is there, as it should be, but is mellowed a bit by the velvety cream cheese so the sharpness is balanced. The night before just put the frozen puff pastry in the fridge to defrost. Make up the rhubarb compote and cream cheese mixture so they can chill overnight. The next morning its nothing more than a quick assembly job before you are ready to bake them.

Great little ‘upscale’ breakfast pastry!

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Rhubarb Pastries
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword rhubarb danish
Servings
Ingredients
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword rhubarb danish
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Rhubarb Compote
  1. In a small pot, place rhubarb, orange juice, sugar, cinnamon, anise, vanilla & ginger. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low; simmering for about 10 minutes. Rhubarb should be tender but still hold its shape. Set aside to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. In a bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, egg yolk, salt & vanilla together until well combined. Store in fridge until chilled. As with the compote, the cream cheese bakes better in these when it is chilled.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Lay puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface & use a pizza cutter to create 16 small triangles (first cutting eight rectangles & then splitting them into 2 triangles each). Spread each triangle with a thin layer of cream cheese mixture & top with some rhubarb compote. Starting at the long end, roll each triangle into a crescent shape. Transfer pastries to a parchment lined baking sheet with space in between each one.
  3. Refrigerate pastries for 10 minutes then beat together egg white & water. Brush the surface of pastry with egg wash & bake 12-15 minutes or until golden. Allow to rest on baking tray for 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack.
Topping
  1. In a bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, extract & milk. Drizzle over danish & garnish with toasted almond slices. Serve warm.
Recipe Notes
  • Usually puff pastry is packaged containing 2 sheets. I only wanted to make one but you will definitely have enough of the cream cheese & rhubarb fillings to make both sheets if you wish.

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin w/ Sweet Potato, Caramelized Onions & Bacon

CELEBRATING FATHER’S DAY!

Father’s Day is celebrated on many different dates around the world. It gives us the opportunity to thank or reflect on, that special person we call ‘Dad’.

The imprint of a father remains forever on the lives of his children. For daughters, he is the standard against which she will judge all men. To a son, he is his first hero.

Father’s are some of the most unsung, unpraised and unnoticed valuable assets of our society. Growing up, I recall that wonderful feeling of being very protected by our father.

Both of our dad’s are no longer with us but we will always hold dear fond memories of them. It seems a father’s love and influence is never fully appreciated until they are no longer with you.

Today, I’m making a stuffed tenderloin meal which I think they both would have enjoyed.

Pork tenderloin is definitely one of my ‘go to’ sources of protein. It is a very lean cut with virtually no fat at all and can be flavored and cooked in a variety of ways.

Pork can be as easy or involved as you choose to make it. Since sweet potatoes make the perfect compliment to pork, combining them with caramelized onion and bacon tastes amazing.

Slicing into this tenderloin reveals the wonderful colors of the stuffing, making it a feast for both eyes and taste buds.

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Stuffed Pork Tenderloin w/ Sweet Potato, Caramelized Onions & Bacon
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Servings
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Instructions
  1. In a skillet, fry bacon until cooked but not crisp. Remove bacon from skillet; blot on paper towel.
  2. Dice onion in about a 1/4-inch size. Add to bacon drippings in skillet & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture has evaporated & onion is soft.
  3. Reduce heat; sprinkle with apple cider vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Add brown sugar; cook & stir until golden. Cook sweet potato, peel & mash.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  5. Remove any 'silver-skin' from pork tenderloin. Butterfly tenderloin & pound carefully to make it an even thickness. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Spread cut side evenly with mashed sweet potato & top with caramelized onion & crumbled bacon .
  6. Starting on the short end, roll tenderloin & place seam side down on a lightly greased piece of foil. Place on a baking sheet & cup foil corners to resemble a dish. Brush tenderloin with Fig Balsamic Olive Oil Vinaigrette (or just use oil).
  7. Roast about 45 minutes or until meat thermometer reaches 160 F. If you prefer you can roast the tenderloin 8-10 minutes more.

Avocado Dinner Buns w/ Major Grey’s Mango Chutney

Although, avocados are most traditionally used as a main ingredient in guacamole or to top a salad or sandwich, used in baking they are amazing.

When adding them into yeast bread recipes, you can replace all the butter with equal amounts of room temperature, mashed, ripe avocado. The ripeness of the avocado is very important as it needs to be very soft for it to work perfectly.

In addition to their creamy texture and mild flavor, avocados have a high water content so they can help to make baking softer, chewier and less likely to crumble.

You can freeze mashed, fresh, ripe avocados if you want to have an ’emergency supply’ on hand. To freeze, mash the avocados with a fork or blender. Add some lime juice and mix well. For every avocado use about 1 tablespoon of lime juice to prevent them from browning. Fill a freezer weight zip-lock bag with this puree. Remove the air from the bag, then zip closed and freeze. Best to use frozen avocados within 4-5 months of freezing.

I thought some Major Grey’s mango chutney would be a perfect compliment to these avocado rolls. Major Grey’s chutney is a style of chutney not a brand. The ingredients in Major Grey’s chutney vary both across commercial brands and recipes, but a few elements seem to remain constant like mangoes, raisins, citrus, onions, a sugar of some sort, and warm spices. The chutney is sweet and tangy with a nice ‘kick’ of heat at the end that’s enough to compliment the different layers of flavor without consuming them. You will often see it served with curried dishes or as a compliment to meats and cheeses.

Major Grey’s chutney is considered by many the gold standard of all chutneys. Complete with its own legend of a 19th Century British Army officer who presumably lived in British India and created this unique condiment.

The great part about making your own chutney is that you can tailor the ‘sweet & heat’ balance to your own preferences. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with just picking up a jar at the supermarket!!

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Avocado Dinner Buns w/ Major Grey's Mango Chutney
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ROLLS
Servings
ROLLS
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Instructions
Avocado Rolls
  1. In a small bowl, place yeast, lukewarm milk & 1 tsp sugar. Stir; cover & set aside until frothy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup sugar, mashed avocado, eggs. Add yeast mixture & stir to combine.
  3. In another bowl, whisk flour & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture gradually, combining after each addition. Once all flour has been added, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes.
  4. Lightly grease the large bowl, place dough in it & cover with plastic wrap & a tea towel. Allow to rest for at least an hour in a draft-free place until dough has doubled in volume.
  5. Punch dough down. Divide into 18 equal pieces in shape into balls. Place into a greased baking dish & cover with plastic wrap/towel. Allow to rise until doubled in volume, about an hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake rolls about 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven; cool for just a few minutes then brush with the Tbsp of butter. Serve with Mango Chutney.
Mango Chutney
  1. In a saucepan, combine all chutney ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring, until reduced & thick. Refrigerate any not used on rolls.

Pearl Couscous w/ Wild Mushrooms & Herbs

If you follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed pearl couscous has become one of my favorites. There was a time when rice and pasta reigned supreme as a side dish staple in North America. But we have become more adventurous, probably due to world travel and the internet. Foods like couscous have come onto the food scene and never left.

If you have not tried it, pearl or Israeli couscous has a chewy texture with a warm, nutty flavor. Made from wheat flour and semolina, it has a ball-like shape and is toasted, rather than dried, after the granules are formed. Unlike common types of pasta or couscous, pearl couscous was factory made from the outset and therefore is rarely seen homemade from scratch.

Whether you like it hot or cold, savory or even a little sweet, the options are endless with this versatile ‘ancient’ food.

I find it pairs so well with the wild mushrooms & herbs. I wanted to make this dish as our main course so I added some bacon which really added to the flavor.

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Pearl Couscous w/ Wild Mushrooms & Herbs
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Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, fry chopped bacon until crisp, about 3 minutes; remove from pan & blot on paper towel. Add mushrooms, onion & garlic; saute until softened.
  2. To the mushroom mixture add broth, (salt if using water) & bring to a boil. Add couscous; stir to combine. Cover saucepan & remove from heat; set aside until liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add herbs & bacon crumbles. Gently stir together with a fork. Serve immediately.