Tag Archives: Bacon

Honey-Glazed Beans

Honey-Glazed Beans

Honey-Glazed Beans

T-minus 12 days and counting until Thanksgiving.  We are hosting this year for the first time ever.  It is exciting but also a little nerve wracking.  Even with all the cooking we do, the idea of putting a big spread together and serving everything perfectly cooked and timed is somewhat overwhelming.  To help ease the stress, we try to plan a meal that has lots forgiving dishes.  Those that take very little minding while they are cooking and that provide a lot of flexibility for serving.

Dried Pinot Beans

Dried Pinot Beans

These beans meet both of those criteria, with the additional benefit of offering a unique twist on classic baked beans.  The honey flavor comes through loud and clear in this dish, making it immediately obvious that you are dealing with something just a little bit different.  Like all good bean dishes, these cook long and slow and need very little help from the chef.

Honey and Maple Syrup

Honey and Maple Syrup

The beans cook in a honey-flavored broth with onion and a smoked ham hock (or bacon) until they are tender.  Then the beans are removed, the ham hock is chopped, and the broth is reduced until it is thick and syrupy.  Everything is tossed together and can sit, gently warming, on the stove until the rest of dinner is ready.  It’s the perfect recipe for a busy Thanksgiving meal.

Chopped Smoked Ham Hock

Chopped Smoked Ham Hock

Honey-Glazed Beans

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

1 pound dried pinto beans

2 medium onions, diced

1 smoked ham hock (or 8 ounces bacon, diced)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 tbls ground ginger

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

To Make:

Rinse the beans.  Combine them with 10 cups of water in a large, oven-proof pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until beans are almost tender, about 45 minutes.

Drain the beans and reserve the cooking liquid.  Place the bean along with the onion, garlic, and ham hock (or bacon) back in the pot.  Stir the honey, syrup, ginger, mustard, salt, and pepper into the cooking liquid.  Pour the liquid over the beans, cover, and place in a 300 degree F oven.  Cook until the beans are fully tender, about 2.5 hours.  If cooking with a ham hock, remove the skin and bone and chop the meat.

At this point, you could separate the liquid from the solids refrigerate them both overnight.  About 30 minutes before you are ready to serve, boil the liquid over medium-high heat until it is reduced by about 2/3.  Once the broth is thickened, fold the beans, onion, and ham hock (or bacon) into the liquid.  Keep warm on the stove top until ready to serve.

To Serve:

Serve warm.  Makes 8 servings.

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Filed under Beans, Dairy-free, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Side Dish

Bacon and Apple Stuffed Squash

Bacon and Apple Stuffed Squash

Bacon and Apple Stuffed Squash

Well hello there, how have you been?  I am not sure what happened but I must have blinked because October is almost over and we haven’t done any blogging.  Yikes.  Luckily, it is fall and we just got our first Winter CSA distribution so there is plenty of inspiration to go around.  The winter CSA is lots of fun because the distributions are over flowing with tons of vegetables, apples, dried beans, and other goodies.  With that big box of yum, we were quickly inspired to make this delicious (almost vegetarian) butternut squash stuffed with flavors of fall.

Apples and Bacon (home cured)

Apples and Bacon (home cured)

The squash is roasted with butter and maple syrup and then filled with a stuffing made from leeks, apples, bacon, brown rice, and more maple syrup.  The stuffing nicely balances the sweet with the savory and makes for a light but filling main dish.  The recipe calls for butternut squash but you could easily substitute acorn or another hard shelled squash if that is what you had on hand.

Chopped Leek

Chopped Leek

This dish requires a few steps to make but it can almost all be done ahead of time.  It makes a great Thanksgiving option because you can prep it all a day or two in advance and then heat it up right before serving.

Ready for Roasting

Ready for Roasting

Bacon and Apple Stuffed Squash

Ingredients:

2 medium butternut squash

1 tbls butter

3 tbls real maple syrup, divided

2.5 ounces thick cut bacon

1 leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 small apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 cup cooked brown rice

To Make:

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Arrange the squash in a roasting pan, cut side up.  Divide the butter and 1 tbls of the syrup between the four cavities.  Fill the pan with about an inch of water, cover with foil, and roast at 375 until mostly tender, about 40 minutes.  Remove the foil, rub the butter and syrup from the cavity all over the squash and cook for another 10-15 minutes until it starts to caramelize around the edges.

Meanwhile chop the bacon and cook in a heavy skillet over medium heat until browned and crisp.  Remove the bacon and set aside to drain on paper towels.  Drain off all but about 1 tbls of the bacon fat from the pan.  Add the leeks and garlic and sauté until the leeks are softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the apples to the pan and sauté until they are soft, another 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked rice and 2 tbls of maple syrup to bind it all together.  At this point, you can refrigerate both the squash and the stuffing, tightly wrapped in separate containers, until you are ready to serve.
Mound the stuffing into the cavity of the squash halves and bake in a 375 degree oven until warmed through, 10-20 minutes, depending on how cold everything was.
To Serve:
Serve hot as a main dish or as a hefty side.  Make it vegetarian by omitting the bacon and using olive oil or butter instead of bacon fat for sauteing the filling.  Serves 4.

 

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Filed under Dinner, Fruit, Recipes, Rice, Vegetables

Corn Pesto

Corn Pesto

Corn Pesto

Can I share a fear with you?  I am afraid that corn and tomato season is almost over.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the fall with its cool weather, pretty displays of nature, and pumpkins.  But corn and tomato season sends my heart aflutter and makes me do things like eat tomatoes at every meal and make enough corn and black bean salsa to fill a 5-gallon bucket.

Corn off the cob

Corn off the cob

So while there is still corn left, please make this pesto.  It is a revelation, and I don’t use that word lightly.  Gently cooked corn is pureed and mixed with pine nuts, parmesan, and topped with chopped bacon and basil.  It is so thick and creamy that I contemplated eating it with a spoon like pudding (okay, maybe I actually did that).  The corn is super sweet, the bacon and cheese are salty, and tomatoes add just enough acid to balance the whole dish.

Bacon and tomatoes

Bacon and tomatoes

While we served this over pasta as the recipe suggested, it would also be excellent spread on crusty bread, or eaten with a spoon for breakfast.  Seriously, it is that good.

Smooth and creamy

Smooth and creamy

Corn Pesto

Adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients:

4 bacon slices, coarsely chopped

4 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 6 large ears)

1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces spaghetti

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely torn

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or quarters if very large)

To Make:

Cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp, stirring often. Transfer to paper towels to drain and roughly chop.  Pour off all but 1 tbls bacon drippings from skillet.  Add corn, garlic, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Sauté over medium-high heat until corn is just tender but not brown, about 4 minutes.  Reserve 1 1/2 cups corn kernels in small bowl and put the remaining corn mixture into a food processor or blender.  Add grated Parmesan and pine nuts and pulse to combine.  Add olive oil through feed tube in a thin stream with machine running and blend until pesto is almost smooth, set aside.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot. Add corn pesto, reserved corn kernels, and the basil leaves. Toss pasta mixture over medium heat until warmed through, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency.  This definitely made a very thick pesto that needed some thinning.  Season pasta to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the bacon.  Divide the cherry tomatoes among each serving.

To Serve:

Serve hot, with additional grated Parmesan as desired.  Serves 6 as a main course.

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Filed under Dinner, Gluten-Free, Meat, Pasta, Recipes, Vegetables

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara

Alex, I’ll take Bacon for $1,000. 

A:  Bacon is a key component to this traditional Roman spaghetti-based meal. 

Q:  What is Spaghetti Carbonara? 

Tonight's starting lineup

I have this very simple cookbook that my Mother gave me when I moved out of the house.  It’s great really; straight forward recipes, nothing complicated, and basic enough that typically I have all the ingredients that I need on hand.  Also, it’s short and focused enough that I can lazily flip through a section to see what strikes my fancy and then make it for dinner that night.  I came across this Spaghetti Cabonara and it struck my fancy.  I had been saving my CSA bacon for something special and this was it.  The best part is that the whole meal comes together quickly with minimal fuss.  Perfect for a weeknight dinner.

Stirring the eggs while piping hot

Spaghetti Carbonara

Adapted from Clueless In the Kitchen by Evelyn Raab 

Ingredients:

8 oz whole wheat spaghetti 

1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk 

4 oz pecorino cheese, finely shredded 

6 slices bacon 

To Make: 

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil to cook the pasta. 

While the spaghetti is cooking, fry the bacon until crisp in a large skillet.  Remove the bacon and chop up into crumbles.  Set aside.  Drain all but about 2 tbls of the bacon fat from the skillet 

Beat the egg and the egg yolk and grate cheese.  Set aside 

When the spaghetti is fully cooked, drain, do not rinse it, and pour it into the skillet where the bacon was cooked. 

Immediately add in the cooked bacon and pour in the raw beaten eggs with the shredded cheese to the skillet with the piping hot spaghetti.  Stir to even coat the spaghetti.  The hot spaghetti will cook the raw eggs and transform the mixture into a rich and creamy sauce.

To Serve: 

Best eaten right away!  Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with any fresh herbs that suit your fancy.  Serves two as a main course or four as a side dish.

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Filed under CSA Talk, Dinner, Eggs, Meat, Pasta, Recipes

Gougeres (aka French Cheese and Bacon Puffs)

Gougeres (aka French Cheese and Bacon Puffs)

The weekend is almost here.  Do you have any big plans?  If you are doing any entertaining and need something that is both easy and impressive, look no further than these delicious appetizers.  

Golden and delicious butter

These cheesy, crispy puffs are French so they add instant panache to your appetizer spread.  Plus, they have bacon and everything is better with bacon.  They are light and airy with fluffy insides and, the best part, they are really easy to pull together.

Dough ball

Boil (yes, boil) some butter and water, stir in flour until you get a dough ball that somewhat resembles a thick roux, and then beat in eggs until you get the most beautiful and glossy batter you have ever seen.  Fold in grated Gruyere cheese and crispy hunks of  bacon and you are nearing appetizer nirvana.

Batter after beating the eggs in

Once these beauties come out of oven, all golden and crispy, do your best to wait until your guests arrive before you devour them.

Unbaked puffs

Gougeres (aka French Cheese and Bacon Puffs)

Adapted from The Bacon Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 cup water

8 tbls (1 stick) butter

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

1/2 pound slab bacon, rind removed, finely diced

1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

To Make:

In a heavy saucepan, combine the water, butter, and salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, add the flour, and beat with a wooden spoon till a ball of dough forms.  Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and add the eggs one at a time, beating with an electric mixer on high speed till the batter is just thick enough to hold soft peaks.  Transfer the batter to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill briefly.

In a large skillet, fry the bacon dice over moderate heat till crisp and drain on paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Butter a large baking dish.  Fold the cheese and bacon into the prepared batter till well blended, then drop by tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet.  Bake the puffs for 30 minutes, turn off the heat, and let the stand till they are golden and crisp, about 10 minutes.  Serve the puffs warm.

To Serve:

Makes about 36 puffs.  Serves 8-10 as appetizers (or 2 people who can’t stop eating the bacon-y deliciousness).

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Filed under Appetizers, Baked goods, Recipes

Maple Toast Cups

Maple Toast Cups

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had a nice day.  Marc and I spent New Year’s Eve making (and eating) a big bowl of kettle corn and watching Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince.  It wasn’t the most exciting evening ever but it was very relaxing and babysitters are tough to come by on December 31.

Maple brushed bread with bacon

If your New Year’s Eve was more typical, then you might have a need for a good breakfast the “morning after.”  If so, then these maple toast cups are a sure thing.  These are reminiscent of McDonald’s McGriddle sandwich except that they are much, much better.  They are both sweet and salty, soft from the egg and crisp from the bacon and the toast.  1 or 2 of these and you have all your breakfast needs covered, except for the coffee of course.

Raw eggs in bread cups

Maple Toast Cups

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup

6 slices bread (Make sure to use a tight crumb, good quality bread.  We used homemade maple buttermilk bread and it was delicious)

4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

6 large eggs

To Make:

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Butter six regular muffin cups.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter with the maple syrup.

Remove the crusts from the bread.  Flatten each slice with a rolling pin.  Brush both sides of the bread with the syrup mixture.  Put one slice into each muffin cup and sprinkle the bacon pieces evenly into the cups.  Carefully break an egg into each cup (be careful or the white will run out).  

Bake until whites are set and the yolks are still a bit runny.  It took about 20 minutes in our oven but since ovens vary, you should start checking after 5 minutes.

To Serve:

Lift toast cups from the pan and serve immediately, drizzled with additional syrup, if desired.  Serves 3 to 6, but is easily multiplied.

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Filed under Breakfast, Eggs, Recipes

Bacon and Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles

Bacon and Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles

Yes, you read that right, bacon and peanut butter chocolate truffles.  Are you still with me?  Are you a little weirded out?  If so, let me help:

Peanut butter = delicious

Chocolate = delicious

Bacon = ridiculously delicious

That means that peanut butter + chocolate + bacon = one helluva awesome treat

Truffle center ingredients

Make these little gems for your New Year’s party and surprise your guests (or your hostess) with the unique taste.  They are salty, sweet, chocolatey, and yes, bacon-y.  They come together very quickly and easily and can be made ahead of time.

Chocolate and butter and bacon fat, oh my

The original recipe calls for salted peanuts as part of the truffle center.  We used salted peanuts and the finished truffle is tasty, but a little on the salty side.  Next time, I will use unsalted peanuts to see if that makes a difference.  If you make these and use unsalted peanuts, please let us know how they are.  Also, the original recipe calls for 4 tbls of butter to be melted with the chocolate.  We wanted to give the truffles an extra kick of bacon so we use 2 tbls butter and 2 tbls bacon fat.  The chocolate was a bit thin so we dipped the truffles twice.  If you want to tone down the bacon flavor (why??), then you can use all butter.  In that case, you may not have to dip them twice… though if you have as much chocolate left over as we did, you might as well!

Dipping the balls

Bacon and Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles

Recipe adapted from The Bacon Cookbook

Ingredients:

6 slices lean streaky bacon

4 oz salted peanuts (about 1/2 cup)

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons bacon fat

six 1-oz squares semisweet chocolate

In a large skillet, fry the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, drain on paper towels, and let cool completely.  Reserve 2 tbls of the rendered bacon fat and let cool.

In a blender or food processor, combine the bacon, peanuts, and sugar and grind to a fine texture.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl, add the peanut butter, and stir until well blended and smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill about 1 hour.

Roll the mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter, place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, cover with plastic wrap, and chill about 30 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, combine the butter, reserved bacon fat, and chocolate in a small sauce pan and stir over very low heat till melted and smooth.  Remove from the heat and let cool until slightly warm.

Using a fork, coat the balls completely in the melted chocolate.  Set them back on the baking sheet and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes more).  If there is melted chocolate left over, give the balls a second coating.  Store in the refrigerator till ready to serve.  Or eat them all now.  It’s your choice….don’t think it’ll be an easy one.

To Serve:

Serve chilled.  Makes 18 to 20 truffles.

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Filed under Candy, Dessert, Recipes