Monday, October 28, 2013

Bacon Arachnid (Bacon Garlic Pumpkin Seeds and Twice Baked Potato Bacon Casserole)

Are you afraid of Spiders?  (Seriously.  It's just you who's reading this.  No one is going to see you silently nod your head yes as you reluctantly answer the question.  Your secret is safe.  Spiders can't read you know, but they do sit back in corners silently judging you.)  Does the very thought of spiders send you running for the nearest sneaker or spouse as you hoist yourself daintily up onto a chair, until the eight-legged invader is safely disposed of or nothing more than a splatter on the wall?

Let me ask another question.  Are you afraid of Bacon?  I didn't think so.  So maybe you won't be afraid of this monstrosity.....The Bacon Arachnid.  Huh, so this is what became of actor Tom Green.

In all it's fall glory, here's what came out of my kitchen this weekend.  Enjoy!

Bacon Garlic Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds from 1 medium pumpkin
1 tbsp Olive Oil or Bacon grease
1 1/2 tbsp Boss Hog Bacon Salt
1/2 tsp Garlic powder
1/2 tsp Onion salt or powder
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper or chili powder (optional)

Preheat over to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

In small bowl, mix together dry ingredients. (Add in Cayenne pepper or chili powder if you want to make your seeds spicy.)

In bowl, mix pumpkin seeds with the olive oil or bacon grease until the seeds are thoroughly coated. (If you are using stored bacon grease, you’ll want to warm it up in the microwave.)  Pour in dry mixture a little at a time and coat oiled seeds thoroughly.  Spread the coated seeds evenly on a greased cookie sheet (if you used bacon grease, you won’t need to grease the pan).

Cook in the oven for approximately 25-30 minutes checking every 10 minutes for desired crispness.

Twice Baked Potato Bacon Casserole

6 large potatoes
5-6 slices of cooked bacon, chopped fine and set aside for garnish
1-1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup butter
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded (1/2 cup for potatoes, 1/2 cup for topping)
1 cup hot milk
1/2 cup sour cream

Scrub potatoes, pierce skins and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes.

Cut potatoes and scoop out pulp; mash in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, butter and cheese; whip or beat well.

Add hot milk and beat until fluffy and cheese is melted. Stir in sour cream; blend.

Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spoon potatoes into an 11”x7” baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese and bacon.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Expeditions in Bacon (Bacon-Wrapped Cheesy Chicken Bundles)

Want to express your bacon love fashionably? Check out this awesome bacon site...

This week's recipe was made up after checking out what ingredients I had left in the fridge, the night before a semi-monthly grocery shopping expedition. (Expedition makes it sound exciting, don't judge.)

Bacon-Wrapped Cheesy Chicken Bundles
1 large Chicken Breast (for 2 people)
4 slices of uncooked bacon (cut in half)
½ large White Onion
2 Slices of Provolone Cheese (cut in half)
½ cup of BBQ Sauce
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take the chicken breast and cut it into fourths (2 pieces per person).  Set aside.  Take 4 strips of uncooked bacon and also cut them in half.  (Two half pieces of bacon is used to wrap the chicken) Set aside.  Take the 2 pieces of Provolone cheese and cut them in half.  Set aside.

Slice onion into thin slices.

In a shallow baking dish, place one piece of chicken and season with salt and pepper.  Top chicken with cheese and then sliced onion.  Wrap 2 bacon slices around each chicken bundle, one piece going over the length and the other going over the width.  Repeat these steps for the 3 other pieces of chicken and assemble into bacon-wrapped bundles.

Top each bundle with a little BBQ Sauce and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Canadian Junk Food (Bacon Poutine)


This past month, a couple of different friends of mine mentioned this heavenly creation called Poutine.  Leave it to the Canadians, more specifically the Quebeckers (yes, that is what you call someone from Quebec, I Googled it) to create such a delicious 'Heart Attack in a Bowl'.  So, because I'm not one to ignore signs from the universe telling me to make the famed marvel, I opted to give them a shot.

First, what is Poutine? It's a common Canadian dish, made with french fries, topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds.  Claimed inventor,  Fernand Lachance, (from Warwick, Quebec, invented in 1957) is said to have exclaimed, "├ža va faire une maudite poutine" ("it will make a damn mess") when asked to put a handful of cheese curds on some fried potatoes. The sauce was allegedly added later, to keep the fries warm longer.

I made Bacon Poutine last night for dinner.  It went perfect with beer, which is why I think it's one of the top comfort junk foods of our northern neighbors.

Bacon Poutine
10-12 strips of Bacon
1 small onion
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups beef stock
1 cup white wine
½ bag frozen french fries
2 cups cheese curds or any your favorite melting cheese
3 tbsp fresh rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

1. Chop up your bacon into relatively small pieces and fry them in a medium sauce-pot until they’re crispy. Remove the bacon onto some paper towel with a slotted spoon to leave the rendered fat any anything else that came off in the bottom of the pan.

2. Dice up your onion and fry it in the bacon fat until its super soft and golden. This should take a few minutes. Do this on medium heat so the onions don’t burn, but cook through.

3. Add your 4 tbsp of flour and mix together thoroughly. If you find that it’s really dry, you can add some butter, 1-2 tablespoons to loosen it up a bit. We are making a roux. The consistency should be slightly thicker than pancake batter. Continue to stir this on medium or about five minutes.

4. Little by little, add your stock and white wine while using a whisk to stir the roux. Keep whisking until the gravy comes to a boil and begins to thicken. If you want to make a larger amount of gravy, the golden ratio is 2 tbsp of fat, 2 tbsp of flour and 1 cup of stock make a nice, thick gravy. Add pepper.

You can leave this gravy on your back-burner on low to keep warm while you make your fries. Remember to stir it periodically so a film doesn’t build up. If it thickens up too much for your liking, you can add a bit of stock, wine or water.

Deep Fry:
1. Preheat cooking oil in electric deep fryer at 400 degrees. Fill deep fryer not more than a half full of oil.

2. Fill fryer basket not more than half full of frozen french fries. Carefully lower basket into hot oil.

3. Fry 2-1/2 to 3 minutes. Cook to a light golden color.

4. Drain on paper towels. Season to taste. Caution: Ice crystals on frozen foods can cause spattering when added to hot oil. Add product carefully.

Chop up your cheese into ¼” to ½” cubes.

Assemble the dish: In a small bowl, put your fries, then a layer of cheese, smother in your delectably gravy.  Top with Bacon.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Pumkinfest (Bacon, Ham & Swiss Stuffed Bread)

I love Fall.  Everything about it.  Upstate New York is one of the best places to view the changing leaves and everything that come about this time of year.  It's the season that insists that every food item on the shelves is Pumpkin-flavored, no matter how much I wish it weren't so.  Everything doesn't need to have the flavor of Gourd.  I like it, as last week's recipe will show, however, if ANYTHING needs the addition of another flavor to make it better, wouldn't the obvious choice be bacon?  
 Are you cold?  Could you or someone you love use a sweatshirt?  Wrap your family in the sizzling warmth that is a Bacon Sweatshirt?

In a epicness that matched no other, I attended the 10th Annual Pumpkinfest last night.  A traditional party thrown in celebration of good food, good music and good pumpkin carving.  Where $10, beer, a carved pumpkin and a dish to pass will open the doors to a great outdoor feast full of turkey, steamed clams, pig roast and stone hearth pizza matched with awesome music, the night stands out as one of the best parties of the year.  3 bands played and a surprise rendition of Micheal Jackson's "Thriller" broke out, including the zombie dancers.  The night had three large fire pits and burning carved wooden logs adding to the ghoulish vibe, and a pumpkin carving contest with categories and prizes.  Last night had more than 75 different pumpkins on display, topping all past years' parties by far.

So of course, my dish to pass had bacon in it.  It was sadly an under-supported food group at the party.  I only saw bacon on some Mac and Cheese and wrapped around pineapple.   So my addition was well received.  Went back at the end of the night and all the bacon pieces were picked out of the remaining slices of bread.  I can only take that as a compliment.

Bacon, Ham and Swiss Stuffed Bread
1 (1 pound) whole wheat refrigerated pizza dough
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon
6-8 slices of bacon, cooked, drained on a paper towel
6 slices Swiss cheese
6 slices of deli ham
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook your bacon to desired crispiness. Drain on a paper towel.  Set aside.

Follow the package direction for readying the pizza dough for baking. Roll dough out in an oval shaped to 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.

Mix olive oil, oregano, basil and garlic powder in a bowl.  Using a pastry brush spread 1 tablespoon olive oil mixture over entire dough, leaving 1/2 around the edge untouched.  The edge will adhere and seal better if it's free from oil. Lay out ham over oil covered area of dough.  Top with the six slices of Swiss cheese, and then bacon slices.

Roll dough, jelly roll fashion, into a tube shape, folding the long edge in first, then rolling up from the short end to the top. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, seam side down. Spread remaining teaspoon olive oil mixture over top of dough. Sprinkle with salt and bake until golden brown on outside and no longer doughy on the inside, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.