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Posts Tagged ‘Bacon’

  1. Now Playing in My Kitchen: Big Fork and Pasta

    September 26, 2014 by Barb

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    My brain seems a little frazzled right now. I’ve eaten a lot of really great food these last couple of weeks and now I am trying to get back into the swing of my own kitchen. I keep waiting for someone to present me with a menu, put it on a small plate and do all the work. (This is where in the movies a dark, ominous sky appears and the heroine looks forlorn.)

    It is not like I’m not motivated, it is more like I just don’t know where to begin because I’ve been so inspired. I have learned so much lately that I want to share it all with you. (Except the weight gain, I don’t think any of you want to share in my newfound poundage!)

    So I thought I’d start by sharing with you one of the products that I always seem to have available in my freezer…sausages. I love to have sausages in the house because your options are endless with them. (This is where I would get a PG-13 rating for all of you naughty people out there making sausage innuendos!)

    Sausages can be a meal on their own like in a sandwich or as an entrée. Or you can use your sausage to add an exciting component to something like a spaghetti squash casserole.

    Last week at the Fortune Fish & Gourmet Seafood and Specialty Show, I bumped into one of my favorite sausages….Big Fork. Chicago made (and nobody knows sausages as well as Chicago), natural, handcrafted, local farmed and most important…DELICIOUS!

    I was first introduced to Big Fork a couple of years ago when I won some of their sausages in a raffle. (Seriously, if you have a chance to be in sausage raffle…enter it!)

    I think the one I won was the Hickory & Applewood BACON sausage!

    Did you catch that? Big Fork puts bacon in their sausage. I love the extra flavor the bacon adds to the sausages. (They have a ton of different flavors of fully cooked sausages like Portabella, Maple & Brown Sugar, Cracked Black Pepper and aged Cheddar.)

    Embarrassing plot twist of the storyline: I was sure I won the Spicy 3 Pepper EXCEPT that hadn’t come out yet. Still feeling a little stupid about that one but Big Fork humored me like a fairy godmother and granted me a package of the Spicy 3 Pepper Hardwood Smoked Pork and Uncured Bacon Sausage to try. (This time to really try..not make believe try!)

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    So my brain instantly thought that this sausage  would be a great compliment to a nice creamy tortelloni. And I must say that what I came up with was truly a happy ending to the story.

    Tortelloni with Fennel, Peppers, Roasted Tomatoes, Arugula and Spicy 3-Pepper Sausage

    Ingredients

    1 bulb of Fennel, large dice

    1 Red Pepper, large dice

    1 Onion, large dice

    3 cloves garlic, chopped

    1 pint grape tomatoes (roast at 400 degrees on parchment paper (single layer) with a douse of olive oil for 20 minutes.)

    2 cups arugula

    ½ cup FRESH Basil

    1 Package (12 ounce) Big Fork Spicy 3 Pepper Sausage*

    *You can purchase Big Fork Sausage online or in some stores in the Midwest. If you can’t find it, make the recipe with a good spicy sausage cooked in bacon drippings. The salty-smokiness of the bacon was a nice add on to the other flavors.

    1 12 ounce package of TORTELLONI (I like the brand Rana the best)

    Olive oil, salt and pepper

    Directions

    In a large sauté pan, sauté the fennel, red pepper and onion. (A little salt and pepper is nice too.) This is one time you don’t really want to brown everything. You are just softening the veggies up. It took about 8 minutes over medium heat.

    Add garlic and cook until fragrant. (Another minute or two.)

    Add the roasted tomatoes and lower the heat to simmer lightly. This is where your flavors are all going to hug together. The tomatoes will start to burst a little and that is a good thing.

    Meanwhile, get your pasta going and put your basil and arugula in your colander.

    While the pasta is cooking, get your sausages done. I browned them whole in a non-stick skillet JUST until they showed some color. And then I sliced them into circles and continued to brown them in the pan. The Big Fork sausages have a lot of juice to them and I like the extra flavor you get when you cut it up and brown it further in the juices. I do drain the finished pieces just to make sure they don’t start squirting people.

    Ding! Your pasta is done. Pour the hot pasta water OVER the colander filled with the arugula and basil. It is a quick and easy way to take away a little of the bite of the arugula and keep the color in the greens.

    Mix the pasta with your sauce (make sure you taste for seasoning, you may want to add more salt BUT be careful with adding more pepper because the sausage has a kick to it) but don’t let it cook for more than a minute or you will end up with mushy pasta.

    Dish out into bowls and top each dish with some slices of sausage.

    For a night that I was wishing for an out meal, I ended up creating a meal that made me feel like I was at a really good Italian restaurant. The flavors of the sauce (especially the fresh fennel) really paired nicely with the Big Fork sausages.

    Thanks to Big Fork for sharing your new product with me. It was great and like your t-shirt says…I think they are made magically from unicorns!

     

     


  2. Hypocritical Oaf Potato Packets

    May 12, 2014 by Barb

    Potato Packets

    The Hippocratic Oath.  It is the oath that is recited by physicians to care for their patients honestly and ethically.  It is the backbone of our healthcare industry.

    I, on the other hand, am a hypocritical oaf.  Have you heard of people like these?  We are the first to be vocal on a subject but change  our minds when it works to our advantage.  Not quite ethical but a funny assessment of certain people.  (Actually, it is hysterical.  You may laugh out loud now thinking of people who fit this description.)

    A hypocritical oaf is the gal who gets emails or posts from friends with recipes and then corrects the recipe IMMEDIATELY because it isn’t “healthy.”  We will make suggestions on improvements because we are so knowledgeable.  (And obviously, the friends are not since they liked such an unhealthy recipe.)

    BUT then it happens….that same critical person tries the recipe with her new adjustments. And guess what?  She made a recipe that probably isn’t going to win any awards from Healthy Digest.  (Is that a periodical?  If it isn’t, it should be be.)

    It is okay to be a hypocritical oaf, if you admit to your wrong doings.  (Hi, my name is Barb and I’m a hypocritical oaf.)  One of my friends recently posted a recipe for an oven baked bacon and onion foil packet of potatoes.  Sounds great, right?

    My biggest issue with the recipe was the sodium content.  The original recipe had an entire packet of onion soup for the seasoning, which is around 600 mg of sodium!  Given it also has bacon…I just thought the onion soup wasn’t necessary.  (The bacon is imperative so something had to give!)

    I did recreate the recipe and decrease the sodium content.  Ta-Dah!!  My oafness came out when I didn’t exactly make it that much healthier.  Who was I kidding….it is a packet of potatoes with bacon and cheese!  There isn’t a lot of magic that can happen there. 

    With that said, I will probably continue to berate recipes my friends give me and then tuck my tiny little tail between my legs.  They are okay with me being a hypocritical oaf or at least that they say so they “do no harm” to my ego.  : )

    Bacon & Onion Foil Packets

    Ingredients

    4 sheets of heavy, no-stick aluminum foil

    4 cups of potatoes, thinly sliced. 

    4-6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled (Reserve 1-2 TBSP of bacon fat)

    1 small onion, diced

    ½ cup cheddar cheese

    ¼ tsp onion powder

    Sour cream and chives for garnish  (or if you really want that packagey onion soup flavor add a plop of onion dip but really do you need that?)

    Directions

    Oven at 350

    In a large bowl, add the slices of potatoes.  Toss with bacon fat (yep, I did that), onion, onion powder, cheese and bacon.

    Spray the sheets of foil with non-stick spray.  (This is important because it will stick like glue!)

    Divide potatoes evenly over the four sheets and seal COMPLETELY.  I pinched it lengthwise first and then rolled up the sides.  You want it to be sealed up completely.

    Bake for about 35-45 minutes.  Let sit to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

    Add plopper of sour cream and some chives.  And then send the recipe to your friend with a note of apology for your earlier criticism!

     

     


  3. Getting Lost at the Baconfest Finals

    April 26, 2014 by Barb

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    Yesterday was a huge day for Felt Like a Foodie. Most importantly, I am proud to say that this little blog has received 1 MILLLION hits!! I am so grateful to all of you who keep coming back to read my food adventures. (And for those of you who I promised a nudey picture at 1 Million hits, it is in the mail.)

    My other big adventure yesterday was competing in the finals of Baconfest 2014 amateur cook off. This was my first year physically competing after striving to be part of this event for 3 years.

    The entry that FINALLY made it to the contest was my Bacon and Eggs Maki and I was positive that this was going to be my year.

    The entire experience sort of reminded me of going on a well planned mountain hike, the kind of hike where you are prepared for pretty much anything except for the outcome.

    The start of this hike was very exciting.

    In the morning, I spent hours preparing bacon 3 different ways-candied wasabi bacon, bacon sesame crunchies and bacon aioli. (You get hungry on a hike so you need to make extras.)

    Making candied wasabi bacon

    Making candied wasabi bacon

    I packed my bag with everything I would need to achieve my goal….winning at the end of hike. (Okay, no one wins at the end of a hike.)

    The journey began as magically as I could imagine. The excitement of arriving at the starting destination was like seeing the beauty of the forest surrounding you for the first time. (A forest that smells like bacon.)

    My friend, Beth, and hubby Earl were my traveling companions.

    My friend, Beth, and hubby Earl were my hiking companions.

    Each step was making me smile. The sign marking our prep room was like one of those “you are here” wood signs found in some National Parks. The welcoming smells pulling you into the forest. (If the smell of a bacon forest is welcoming to you.)IMG_4841-imp

    But like all hikes there are other creatures on the trail so you need to size them up to see if they are friend or foe. (They were sizing me up too!) Did they want to just hop along their merry way or did they want chase me down the path to get rid of me? It was kind of unnerving.

    We were allowed to investigate the surroundings a bit before we started the intense part of the hike. The exploration was fun because I did see some of my favorite wildlife roaming around the forest.  (I was so happy to see Mercat a la planxa as I traversed the trails.)

    Always love seeing Chef Cory from Mercat!

    Always love seeing Chef Cory from Mercat!

    The elevation of my nerves made the actual cooking part of the contest quite hard. My hands were shaking as I was trying to pay attention to every detail of my dish. I was happy that my hiking companions were there to help and cheer me on.

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    The judges made me think of those people who hike the Appalachian Trail. They were the expert hikers and I needed to prove why I deserved to be on the trail with them.

    Who could resist this?

    Who could resist this?

    But somewhere I think I lost them. They had other food cravings on their personal journey.

    Making the descent and hearing that I did not win made me feel lost for a moment. It was kind of like a blur of tall trees surrounding me and not knowing which way to turn to get back on the right path.

    Listening for the winning name to be announced.

    Listening for the winning name to be announced.

    My internal compass found my north as I turned and saw Earl with Beth and heard the cheers of my friends at Mercat a la planxa. My disorientation disappeared and I found my way out.

    Hearing the cheers from some of the coolest people in the restaurant industry was a trophy in itself.

    Hearing the cheers from some of the coolest people in the restaurant industry was a trophy in itself.

    Any time I have gotten lost on a hike, it is scary. I wonder if I will hike again and I wonder if it is worth my time to wander so aimlessly. But also like any hike you get lost on, you end up with an awesome adventure, repeat the story and push the boundaries the next time you go out.

    Please note the frown, hands on hips and mild pout….that is as gracious as I could get!

    Please note the frown, hands on hips and mild pout….that is as gracious as I could get!

    I guess it is fitting that this all happened on the day I hit my million mark and 300th post. It is all a journey and not winning was the fork in the road.   Although I had a moment of shaken confidence, I know there are times when I need to hop on another path to see where it leads me.

    Thank you to the people at Baconfest for the crazy experience and to Nueske’s for all the delicious bacon. I was happy to see The Greater Chicago Food Depository who was the real winner tonight with so many food donations and a huge check for $75000.  Finally, thank you to my fellow “hikers” on this journey especially Diane and Hipolito. Thanks for being the friendliest creatures in the forest.

    Hipolito's ceviche won.  I could only hate him a little bit because he was a truly nice guy.

    Hipolito’s ceviche won. I could only hate him a little bit because he was a truly nice guy.


  4. Livin’ the Dream: Bacon Rice Krispie Treats

    January 27, 2013 by Barb

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    2:34.  2:34? 2:34!  Why the heck did I wake up at 2:34?!  Now according to my husband, I was not fully awake.  I would have to agree.  I remember lifting my head, looking at the clock and plopping my head back on my pillow.

    I know I didn’t fully go to sleep for a few reasons.  First, my husband said I kept muttering it was a “bad time.”  I don’t know what that means.  Unless it is what a wife usually says to a husband in the middle of the night when she is trying to sleep.  (In his defense, I don’t think that was the issue….this time.)

    Second reason, I know I wasn’t asleep because I was thinking and not dreaming.  Unfortunately, my thoughts are sometimes as random and bizarre as dreams so this can be a bit of a gray area.  (If you know anything about dream analysis, you probably would find me an interesting case.)

    Finally, my perception was my reality when I got out of bed the next morning and had a clear and concise motive…I needed to make Rice Krispie treats…..with bacon.

    One of my friends had recently made a comment about Rice Krispie treats and I couldn’t (obviously) get them out of my head.  As for adding bacon, it was simple.  I like bacon.

    To me this was going to be the perfect marriage between salty and sweet.  I also thought while I am at it, I might as well toss some spicy, candied bacon on the top.  My taste buds were awakened and if this was a dream I hope no one pinches me to wake me up!

    Livin’ The Dream Rice Krispie Treat

    Ingredients for the Treat

    (The Krispie treat recipe is true to the original because you don’t mess with that magic)

    4 cups of mini-marshmallows

    6 cups Rice Krispies (use the real stuff!!!)

    3 TBsp butter

    1 tsp bacon butter (yes, I am still calling bacon fat butter)

    8 pieces of bacon, cooked and finely chopped (Reserve some of the drippings for the recipe.)

    Directions

    Prepare a 13 x 9 dish by spraying it with cooking spray.

    1. In a large bowl, mix Rice Krispie Treats with the finely chopped bacon

    2.  In a large pot, melt butter over low heat.

    3.  Add bacon butter (or drippings or fat whatever you want to call it)

    4.  Add Marshmallows and stir until they are COMPLETELY melted.

    5.  Remove from heat and gently mix in the Rice Krispie/bacon mix.

    6.  Butter up your hands and press the marshmallowy goodness into the pan.

    7.  Let cool (and make the topping)

    Optional Topping (Really there is no option you need to make this!)

    Ingredients

    4 slices bacon

    3 Tbsp brown sugar

    1 Tbsp water

    ¼ tsp chili powder (If you have more of sweet tooth, you may want to omit the heat.  I like spice and less sweet so this was a perfect match for my taste buds.)

    Directions

    Oven at 350 and cover a baking sheet with nonstick foil.

    Mix sugar, water and chili powder in a small bowl.  Individually coat each strip of bacon in sugar mixtures and lay flay on baking sheet.

    Bake for about 8 minutes a side.  (You want the bacon cooked but you don’t want to burn you sugar.  Mine went 8 minutes first side and 10 on the 2nd.)

    Let cool on cooling rack.

    When cool enough to touch (that sugar gets hot so be careful), thinly slice and sprinkle on top rice Krispie treats.

    I tried the treats with and without the topping.  I don’t have a sweet tooth so I preferred the smoky, spicy addition to the sweet and spicy treat.

    I think I just gave Snap, Krackle and Pop something to talk about!


  5. Bacon Buttered Potatoes

    August 13, 2012 by Barb

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    The summer of 2012 will probably remind most people of the events of the Olympics in London, women’s boxing and Michael Phelps,   (Okay, I personally am not a big Olympics viewer so that’s all I’ve got on that topic.)

    The summer 2012 will mean something completely different to me.  This is the summer of the BLT. My little side garden has grown some gold medal winning tomatoes and I am making yummy sandwiches daily. (No, I’m not going to tell you how to make a BLT.  Seriously people, we are a little more advanced than that.)

    The best thing that comes out of making a lot of bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches is the bacon butter!!!  Bacon butter?  Also known in my world as bacon juice, bacon butter is all the liquor left after you make bacon.  (Some cultures call it “drippings” or “grease” but that seems so unpolished.)

    The other week I started a bacon butter jar after making lunch.  I kept looking at this jar of smoky infused goodness and was trying to think of a proper use.  (My dog thought it should all be hers.  She has some selfish tendencies that we need to work on.)

    Now for the record, I KNOW healthier eaters may say I should just pitch it.  (Healthier eaters also would say I shouldn’t eat BLT’s everyday for lunch.)  In my defense, I don’t use bacon butter each time I cook.  (It’s not like a have a gallon jug sitting on my counter, it is in a cabinet!)

    I had some nice new potatoes that I wanted to eat with dinner.  I like new potatoes because the skin is thin and almost flaky.  My original thought was just to toss them in some olive oil and roast them.  Simple and tasty, right?

    Well, you know what is simple?  Tossing those sweet little babies into some bacon butter and THEN roast them!  Now I’m talking…to myself..but that happens quite often in my kitchen.

    What turned out were little golden circles of sunshine.  Each slice held the depth of flavor that only bacon can give you plus the comforting soft texture of a potato.  I am in hog heaven!

    Bacon Butter New Potatoes

    Ingredients

    4 cups new potatoes, thinly sliced, not paper thin, but thin

    2 Tbsp bacon “butter”

    4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

    A healthy sprinkle of fresh chives (about 1 tsp)

    Optional:  Cheddar cheese and sour cream

    Directions

    Heat oven to 375.

    In a large bowl, mix bacon butter and sliced potatoes.  I found heating the butter a minute or two in the microwave allowed it to coat easier.

    On a baking sheet with parchment paper, spread the potatoes so they are in one layer.  You may need two baking sheets.

    Roast for about 15 minutes and give them a stir.  I cooked mine for another 15 minutes but I also like my potatoes REALLY done.  (I would cook for 15, stir and then check after 10 minutes.)

    Ding.  Potatoes are done.  In a large bowl, toss the hot potatoes with crumbled bacon and chives.  (Add some cheese too if you are feeling naughty.)

    When I started using the term “bacon butter,” I realized there are actual recipes for making something called bacon butter.  I haven’t tried any of those yet but they are on my list!  (I wonder if you could dip BLT’s in bacon butter?)

     


  6. Foodie Fun Day #14: Baconfest

    April 15, 2012 by Barb

    Check out my bacon t-shirt!

    Everyone has at least one obsession.  The obsession can bring you together with a diverse group of people with only one thing in common.  It brings joy to you like no other commodity and you will all talk about it whenever you get the chance.

    So when I heard that there was something called Baconfest in Chicago, I just had to go.  I love bacon and I wanted to be surrounded by my other bacon lovin’ soul mates.

    Started in 2008, Baconfest was born from the pork loins or I should say pork belly’s of Michael Griggs, Andre “Vonbaconvitch” Pluess, and Seth Zurer. Three guys with a common goal of bringing the “bacon nation” together for a day of food, fun and comradeship.

    With my periodic table bacon t-shirt on, I had the joy of being inducted into the bacon nation this weekend.  (There is more bacon attire out there than I ever realized.)

    It was like the scene from Charlie and Chocolate Factory when the kids first see all of the candy….except replace candy with bacon.   Table after table of some of the coolest chefs in Chicago offering tasting samples of creative dishes that showcase bacon.(Apparently there was a restaurant who did a Willy Wonka theme at dinner.  Not being at the dinner session, I did not know they did that.  With that said, I apologize if I offended anyone by using a Roald Dahl reference.  I was just painting a picture and was not trying to steal their thunder by writing that description.)

    I was grateful that Baconfest provided me with a map but for a lot of us, it wasn’t necessary.  It was just fun to go to the tables and see (and taste) the chef’s creations.  (There were over 55 things to taste at my lunch session and ANOTHER 55 things to taste at dinner.)

    All my bacon dreams were fulfilled as I tried innovative dishes like “Baconomiyaki”  (Japanese style pizza with bacon, napa cabbage, pickled ginger, scallion, nori and bonito flakes) from Chizakaya, Bacon-Wrapped Peppadew Peppers from Frontier, and the finger licking, Peppered bacon-wrapped pork wing with a bourbon coffee bbq sauce from Flo and Santos.

    And for those REAL fanatics, there was some pork on pork action going on.  Barn & Company’s smoked brisket slider with bacon jam, Bistro Campagne’s roasted pork belly with bacon apricot marmalade and bacon brittle, and The Florentine’s Short rib crostini with bacon jam were all so delicious.

    Another highlight was being able to eat a couple lighter (if you can say that when bacon is involved) options.  Union Sushi + BBQ and Spacca Napoli served a couple of really flavorful salads that weren’t overshadowed by the heartier dishes.

    I loved everything I tried but special shout-outs go to Moderno (bacon cannoli, shaved reggiano, crushed pea powder), N9NE Steakhouse (topless bacon and steak slider), and Red Butter (sweet and spicy balls).

    Props to all of the people who were able to get to all the tables.  My small frame filled up quicker than I imagined.   (I will train next year so I can eat more.)  There were so many dishes I did not get to try and I’m glad that a lot of the chefs will be featuring them on their menu.  (Here is a full list of all of the participants and dishes.)

    The lunch session ended with an entertaining Golden Rasher Awards (the Oscar’s of the bacon world), raffle and check presentation to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.  (They received multiple barrels of food donations and a check for $50,000)  It was a touching way to end the event.

    Great job to the “bacon boys” for organizing the event and all of your volunteers.  I hope I can be a part of the “feastivities” next year.

    And a special thank you to all of my new friends in the Bacon Nation.  It was so much fun standing in line with you, hearing your stories, and sharing our mutual love of bacon.  I hope to run into you again.

     

     

     

     


  7. Baking with Bacon….The Cupcake’s New Best Friend

    December 9, 2011 by Barb

    Cream cheese frosted maple cupcakes with bacon topping foodie recipe

    ‘Tis the season to bake or so that is what I am told but the big problem is that I really don’t enjoy baking.  I may have tried out for Masterchef but I’m no Masterbaker!  (I think that is a late night show on Cinemax.)

    I know my issue with baking is that you can’t really get a feel of how the finished product is going to taste until it is completely cooked.  (You can taste but it is like reading the last page of a novel before you officially start a book.  It may be interesting but it just isn’t right.)  I LOVE to taste my food and baking bursts that bubble of excitement in the kitchen for me.

    I have to stop psyching myself out.  If I keep telling myself that I hate it, I will never be able to put the love in the food, right?  So today I channeled one of my friend’s who loves to bake.  Jen is a wizard with cakes and all that is pastry.  Many people must need her strength.  What else would those WWJD t-shirts imply?  What Would Jen Do?  Right?

    Well, Jen has a goal in 2012 of baking 52 cakes in 52 weeks so she has been posting all sorts of her inspirations.  (No pressure Jen, I know you can do it or else I’ll mock you on the web).  A couple of her cupcakes were based on traditional breakfast foods (French-toast, pancakes, pizza) really caught my eye.  (She didn’t have a pizza cupcake but that would be a challenge!)  But I can’t have breakfast without my favorite breakfast protein…bacon.  WAIT!!  I just got inspired!  Why can’t I make a maple cupcake with caramelized bacon?  No reason at all!!!

    I surfed the web (and my pantry) and was able to mix and match a couple of recipes to come up with a moist and delicious a cream cheese frosted cupcake topped with a wonderful bacon crumble.  I was shocked at how satisfying the combination of the salty/sweet cupcake tasted.  (I confess I ate too many cupcakes in lieu of a real breakfast and am now feeling a bit wonky.)  It is a different flavor “profile” but it is just what the “masterchef” needs to get in the mood to masterbake!!  *My cupcake came out a little more like a muffin than a cupcake.  Looking back I think I “overbeat” it.

    Maple Cupcakes Recipe

    Ingredients for Cupcakes

    2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

    1-tablespoon baking powder

    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temp.

    1 ½ cups pure maple syrup

    3 large eggs, room temp

    1-cup milk

    1-teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
    2. Mix together flour and baking powder.
    3. In a large mixing bowl (or your Kitchenaid mixer), cream butter until smooth.
    4. Add maple syrup slowly and mix.
    5. One at a time, add the eggs until each is fully mixed in.
    6. Add in flour mixture.
    7. Finally, slowly add milk and vanilla bean
    8. Fill lined muffin tins, evenly.  Bake at 350 for about 17 minutes.
    9. Set aside to cool on a rack.

    Cream Cheese Frosting

    Ingredients

    8 ounces cream cheese, softened

    1 stick of butter, unsalted and softened

    1 ½ cup sugar

    1 tsp vanilla bean paste

    Directions

    1. Using a hand held mixer beat cream cheese and butter together.
    2. Slowly add sugar.  Taste as you go along to make sure it isn’t too sweet.
    3. Add vanilla and beat until smooth.
    4. Put in a pastry bag to pipe onto cupcakes.

    Bacon Topping

    Ingredients

    ½ tsp cayenne pepper (if you don’t like heat, add less)

    2 TBsp brown sugar

    3 TBsp toasted almonds

    8 slices of center cut bacon, cooked until crisp.

    Directions

    1. In a small food processor, add all ingredients.
    2. Process until they resemble a crumble not a powder.
    3. Frost cupcakes with the maple frosting and using a small spoon add the bacon topping.
    4. If you are going for a WOW factor, add a small slice of caramelized bacon!

     

    It was funny, after I stopped talking myself out of it; I really started to enjoy myself.  I had music playing in the kitchen and just took my time and enjoyed the art of baking.  The results were rewarding and I’m grateful that I FINALLY figured out WWJD!

     


  8. Bacon Vacation

    July 31, 2011 by Barb

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    August is almost here and that means one thing to a lot of people….vacation.  Fortunately for me, a lot of my friends consider coming to my house a vacation!  (If you ever have seen my house, you would realize William Shatner couldn’t get them a great deal anywhere better so they had to come here.)

    Our guests this weekend were college friends of my husbands.  Our friend, Michelle, made a comment to me about my love of bacon.  I was shocked that I didn’t hide my love affair.  Was it the 3 Little Piggy Burger I made for dinner?  Or was it the extra bacon we put on the burgers?  Maybe it was the breakfast dish I made that had potatoes sautéed in bacon juice?

    I had always loved bacon but it just wasn’t something I talked about openly.  It seems like bacon is now the “cool” food so I don’t feel so odd talking about how much I adore it.  (Kind of like when I was a teenager and still played with Cabbage Patch Kids.  Wait, that was never cool, was it?)

    Michelle’s husband, Brad, asked if I had ever tried making caramelized bacon.  I replied that I hadn’t but took his question as a challenge.  I had heard of it but I didn’t understand what could possibly make the smoky, salty wonderfulness (this is not a word unless you are talking about bacon) of bacon any better.

    Caramelized Bacon
     
    Ingredients
    • 6 slices of thick cut bacon
    • ⅓ cup light brown sugar
    • 1-2 Tbsp water
    Instructions
    1. Oven 400 degrees.
    2. Place a piece of parchment paper on a large, deep rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.
    3. In a small bowl, mix sugar with about one tablespoon of water. You don’t want to make it dissolve, you want slurry.
    4. Take one piece of bacon at a time and put it in the sugar slurry. Make sure the bacon is coated. (When I made it, the bacon strips resembled wallpaper strips. I would pick one up and pull the paste down off of the strip.)
    5. Use your fingers to gently remove the excess sugar and lay flat on your baking sheet.
    6. Repeat with the additional strips of bacon.
    7. Bake for 8 minutes per side. If it isn’t crispy at the end of the 16 minutes, continue to bake but watch it so the sugar doesn’t scorch.
    8. Use tongs and let cool a few minutes on a cooling rack.
    Notes
    A couple of my faithful readers told me to add some cayenne pepper to add a little heat. I tried it and would say try it both ways!

    This bacon can be eaten alone as a sweet treat, added in contrast to a savory dish or as a dessert topping.  I confess that the process of coating bacon in brown sugar made me skeptical but my taste buds had a different opinion.  I think I have my new favorite treat to serve guest on their “ba”cation!


  9. The 3 Little Piggies Burger

    July 7, 2011 by Barb

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    Once upon a time, there were three little chefs who were ready to test their cooking skills in their own restaurant.  Before they went out on their venture, their mother said “Whatever you do, make the most unique burger so everyone keeps coming back because that is the only way you will survive in this economy.”

    The first little chef bought a pre-made pub burger that the store sold because that was the easiest way to serve the customers.

    The second little chef bought ground turkey because he thought people would eat more if they thought the meat was healthier.

    The third little chef decided that a ground pork burger with bacon would make the people sit up and take notice.

    One day, the big bad food critic came into their restaurant.  He was skeptical and wanted these chefs to work for his hard earned money.  He said, “Order in, order in, Little Chef, or I’ll huff and grump and turn a bad review in.”

    The little chef said, “Taste my burger it is the best of my kin.”

    The critic took one bite and threw it at the little chef and knocked him out cold with his pre-made patty.

    Next the critic decided to try the turkey burger.  He said, “Order in, order in, Little Chef, or I’ll huff and grump and turn a bad review in.”

    The next little chef said, “Taste my burger it is the best of my kin.”

    The critic took one bite and nearly choked because it was so dry.  He whipped it at the little chef who ducked out of the way.  The burger was so dry that it shattered against the wall and its shrapnel killed the second little chef.

    Finally, the critic was ready to try the burger from the third little chef.

    He said, “Order in, order in, Little Chef, or I’ll huff and grump and turn a bad review in.”

    The next little chef said, “Taste my burger it is the best of my kin.”

    The critic took a bite and the third little chef stood there shaking as he watched the critic eat.  The critic slowly smiled as he ate the last bite of his burger.  He finally said, “Little Chef, the challenge you met and so a great review your restaurant will get.”

    The little chef smiled and shook the man’s hand and lived happily ever after with his “3 Little Piggies” burger in high demand.

    The 3 Little Piggies Burger
    Recipe type: Main
     
    Ingredients
    • 8 slices of bacon (4 raw, 4 cooked) (I use center cut bacon)
    • 1 tsp. of fresh garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp fresh sage
    • 1-pound ground pork
    • Salt & pepper
    Instructions
    1. On your cutting board, chopped the raw bacon until is minced very small.
    2. Combine raw bacon, garlic, sage, ground pork, salt and pepper.
    3. Divide mixture into fourths and make burger patties.
    4. On a preheated grill (medium-high), grill about 5 minutes with grill cover closed.
    5. Flip the burger, lower the heat to medium and cook another 6 minutes. This is pork so it needs to be 160 degrees in the center. If you poke it in the center, it should be firm not mushy.
    6. Serve on your favorite bun with toppings of coleslaw and an additional slice of your cooked bacon.

    I hope you enjoyed my story and try the recipe.  The moral of the story is when making your burgers take the time to think outside of the box.  You never know when a food critic will taste your food!