Tag Archive for Bacon

Heavy hors d’ouevre party for 35

We had the opportunity to provide a heavy hors d’oeuvre catered party for 35 a couple of weeks ago. It was so much fun to work with the hostess on the menu. The party was a wedding shower and the bride-to-be was gluten-free so we wanted to make sure she could enjoy everything we made. 

 

The somewhat Spanish themed menu consisted of the following:

Heavy charcuterie and cheese platter with lots of ‘extras’ including a custom-made 5 foot long reclaimed wood board as the focal point. It seemed to be the talk of the party! The platter did not just end at smoked meats, cheeses and crackers. It also had grapes, spiced candied pecans apricots, stuffed peppadews, Habanero and apricot jam, and candied bacon (which there may or may not have been a fight break out over…just sayin’).

 

Braised Short Ribs on Polenta Round with Cilantro and Pickled Onions

Roasted vegetables (curried cauliflower and okra, squash and zucchini with lemon and basil oil)

 

Garlic Shrimp – Gambas al Ajillo

 

Moorish Chicken Kebabs

 

Quinoa Salad with Orange-Lime Dressing and Avocados

(not pictured)

 

Dessert was from Alon’s – Chocolate Louise which is Gluten Free and decadent!

 

 

 

Low Fat Potato Soup

I love soup, especially when the temperature dips into the 20s and teens like it is this week! I avoid creamy fattening soups because, well….I just don’t like to eat them. I found a recipe for a low fat potato soup in Cooking Light (January 2013) that I thought would be a big hit with my family. It takes some time to prepare, but well worth it. Part of the secret to making this healthier than traditional baked potato soup is the pureed roasted cauliflower. My son tried it and LOVED it. Of course, he had no idea that he was eating cauliflower, or a low fat soup. I just told him that if he liked baked potatoes he would like the soup!! Score one for Mom!!

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Time Required: Prep Time – 35 min; Cook Time – 1 hour

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 
1 cup chopped onion 
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
5 garlic cloves, chopped 
1 pound cubed peeled baking potato (about 2) 
1 pound cubed Yukon gold potato (about 4)
5 cups unsalted chicken stock (I actually used salted chicken broth)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 bay leaf
1 pound cauliflower, cut into florets (about 1/2 head)
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided 
Cooking spray 
1 1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk (to cut the fat more, I used 1% milk)
3/4 cup chopped green onions, divided
1/2 cup fat-free fromage blanc or sour cream (I used light sour cream)
2 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 1/2 cup)
4 slices center-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Blender

Preparing Low Fat Potato Soup:

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, thyme, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add potatoes, stock, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes or until potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; discard bay leaf.

3. While potatoes simmer, combine remaining 1 tablespoon oil, cauliflower, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray; toss to coat. Roast at 450° for 30 minutes or until browned, turning once.

4. Place cauliflower mixture and milk in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour cauliflower mixture into a large bowl. Add half of potato mixture to blender; pulse 5 to 6 times or until coarsely chopped. Pour into bowl with cauliflower mixture. Repeat with remaining potato mixture. Place cauliflower-potato mixture in Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 cup green onions, and fromage blanc; stir until fromage blanc melts. Ladle soup into 8 bowls. Top evenly with remaining green onions, cheese, and bacon.

Low Fat Potato Soup

Variations:

You can put any topping you want on the soup. Just think of what you would normally put on top of a baked potato. Clearly if want to cut the fat even more, don’t use bacon and use a minimal amount of cheese.

Got Leftovers?:

This soup heats up very well. It’s a good thing because this recipe makes a lot of soup!

Chicken and Bacon Waffles

My son’s birthday was this past weekend. I always try to make birthdays special in my house and it starts with a fabulous breakfast! He asked for chicken and waffles. He had never had it before. Actually, no one in my family has ever had it. We have never even ordered it in a restaurant and I had no idea where he got the idea from. Anyway, I had pulled out a recipe for Chicken and Bacon Waffles out of the March 2014 edition of Food Network Magazine a while ago and decided to give it a try. It was a little more labor intensive than dishes that I would normally make, but you can never turn down a request from a birthday boy. My husband handled the bacon and chicken and I took care of the waffles. I typically don’t allow people to “help” in my kitchen, but in this case, it worked out very well….and we ended up having an amazing breakfast on Sunday! 

Chicken and Bacon Waffles

Level of Difficulty: Difficult
Time Required: 1 hour of active hands on time

Ingredients:

FOR THE WAFFLES:

16 slices bacon

4 c. all-purpose flour

2 T. baking powder

1 T. sugar

Kosher Salt

3 large eggs plus 1 egg white

3 c. buttermilk, plus more if needed

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Cooking Spray

FOR THE CHICKEN:

3 c. peanut or vegetable oil, for frying

2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

1 tsp. sweet paprika

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 in. wide strips

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 T. all purpose flour

Maple syrup, for serving

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Waffle Iron

Wire Rack

Baking sheet

Cast Iron Skillet

Preparing Chicken and Bacon Waffles:

1. Make the waffle batter. Dice 10 bacon slices; cook in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Add the remaining 6 bacon slices to skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 9 to 11 minutes. Remove to the paper towels; reserve the drippings in the skillet.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt in a large bowl. Whisk the whole eggs, buttermilk and melted butter in a separate bowl, then whisk into the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the diced, cooked bacon. Transfer 2 cups of batter into a separate large bowl for the chicken; reserve the remaining batter for the waffles.

3. Make the chicken. Preheat oven to 325 Degrees. Add the oil to the skillet with the reserved bacon drippings; heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350 Degrees. Add the paprika, thyme and cayenne pepper to the 2 cups of waffle batter; add up to 2 T. buttermilk if the batter is too thick. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then toss with the 2 T. flour. Add the chicken to the batter and set aside until ready to fry. 

4. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet. Working in batches, remove the chicken from the batter, letting the excess drip off, then fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side; transfer to the rack and season with salt. Transfer to the oven and bake until no longer pink inside, about 8 minutes. 

5. Meanwhile, cook the waffles. Spray a waffle iron with cooking spray and preheat. Whisk the egg white in a bowl until soft peaks form; fold into the reserved waffle batter. Ladle 1/2 to 1 cup batter into the waffle iron for each waffle and cook according to manufacturer’s directions. Serve with fried chicken, bacon slices and maple syrup. 

Important Tips:

This is one of those recipes that you REALLY need to read through before starting the cooking process. There are lots of steps and it’s easy to mix them up if you don’t take your time!

Got Leftovers?:

The chicken pieces were so big that there was no way anyone could eat more than two. I heated the leftovers up in the oven the next morning, wrapped them in foil, and gave them to kids in their lunches!

Pasta, Power Greens and Bean Soup

Pasta, Power Greens and White Bean Soup

Pasta, power greens and bean soup sounds incredibly healthy doesn’t it? Well, it kind of is. I like to think that the health benefits of the power greens cancel out the bacon that is in there. I have never cooked with bacon in my soup since I tend to prefer the “healthier” varieties. However, the bacon really does make this soup a complete bowl full of deliciousness.  

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 15 min; Cook Time – 30-40 minutes

Ingredients (enough for several meals and to share):

6 slices of bacon, chopped

1/2 white onion, chopped

6 baby carrots, diced

5 cloves of garlic, minced

2 T. tomato paste

2 tsp. fresh thyme

Kosher salt and pepper

12 c. chicken broth 

1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese (divided)

2 1/2 c. small pasta

2 15 oz. cans of white beans, drained and rinsed

3 c. fresh power greens, chopped

Preparing Pasta, Power Greens and Bean Soup:

Cook the bacon pieces in a large pot over medium heat, stirring often, until crisp (about 4-6 minutes). Add the onions and cook about 3 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add carrots, garlic, tomato paste and thyme. Stir well. Add 1/4 tsp. each of salt and pepper and cook for 4 minutes, or until carrots soften. Add chicken broth and turn the temperature up to high. Cover and bring to a boil. 

Add the pasta and beans and cook for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the power greens. Simmer, uncovered until the soup thickens slightly, about 7-10 minutes. Stir in half of the parmesan cheese. Ladle soup in the bowls and sprinkle with remaining cheese. 

Got Leftovers?:

This soup heats up nicely for leftovers. If it’s too thick for your liking, just add some more chicken broth or water. 

 

Pastor Ryan’s Pasta Carbonara

My friend Maria always come through with amazing dishes that she brings to our different  “Fests”. This time, she brought Pasta Carbonara which she got straight from The Pioneer Woman.  It was the perfect dish for Baconfest – The Sequel because it was very adult AND kid friendly. Take a look at The Pioneer Woman website for pictures! 

Ingredients:

1lb linguine pasta
4 eggs
1 pound bacon or pancetta
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese
8-12 cloves of garlic
1 large onion
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup white wine (or substitute another cup of stock)
1/2 stick of butter
1 handful of parsley
1-2 tablespoons black pepper
THIS SHOULD EASILY FEED 4 ADULT HUMANS.
Now, as is the case with all good things in our lives, we’ll begin with BACON. 

Preparing Pastor Ryan’s Pasta Carbonara:

First, slice up 1 pound of bacon into pieces about one inch wide. Once they’re sliced, just toss your bacon pieces into a stainless steel pan. Cook until browned and crisp.
While the bacon’s cooking, set a pot of salted water (I use about 2 tablespoon of salt for a gallon of water) on the stove for our pasta. When it comes to a boil add your linguine and cook until al dente, tender-firm.
Next, chop your onion. When the bacon is cooked, scoop it out with a slotted spoon and set it onto a plate. Reserve the bacon grease! We still need that stuff.
Throw the diced onions into the bacon grease. Give the onions a quick stir and let them cook down over a medium-high heat for a couple of minutes.
In the meantime, thinly slice the garlic. After the onions have cooked for a couple of minutes, throw in the garlic. Adding it after the onions have cooked a little will prevent the garlic from burning. After the onion and garlic have cooked for another couple of minutes, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Discard the grease.
Place the pan back on high heat until it starts to smoke a little. As soon as the pan begins to smoke, pour in the white wine (or chicken stock). Whisk until pan is thoroughly deglazed and all of the brown bits have come off of the bottom of the pan. Add 1 cup of chicken stock. Return bacon, onion and garlic back to the pan. Let simmer over medium heat.
Crack four eggs into a large bowl. Add most of the Parmesan cheese, and rough chop the parsley, adding it into the eggs as well. Leave a little Parmesan and parsley out for a garnish. Mix well with a fork.
Drain the water from your pasta. Be sure the pasta is very hot. Add the pasta to the egg mixture and then add the bacon/onion mixture. Finally throw a ½ stick (1/4 cup) of butter in there. Mix it all together well. Pepper to taste. Garnish with Parmesan and parsley. And you’re done! Enjoy!

Tomato Bacon Bites – Mini BLT Explosions

mini BLT appetizer

For Baconfest The Sequel, Denise asked me to do some items on the ‘lighter’ side just in case everything was uber bacon heavy. I opted for a traditional spinach salad with hot bacon vinaigrette and these little tomato bacon bites. I don’t know what they should be called but I usually describe them as mini-BLT explosions in your mouth, even if there is no ‘L’.

These things are always a hit but I will admit…they are a complete pain in the A#* to make. The key is to make them for a small crowd. I’ve done them twice. Once for 70 people and this time for about 30 people. This is great if you do for less than 10. Count on at least 4 tomatoes per person so do the math and you’ll quickly understand why they are a pain but oh so good!!

Level of Difficulty:Difficult (just because of time)
Time Required:Prep Time – depends on how many; Cook Time – 15 minutes

Ingredients for 10 people:

1/2 pound of bacon

40 grape or small cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

2 T horseradish

2 T chopped chives plus more for garnishing 

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Patience….that’s it. See if you can find a can on Amazon. Good luck.

Preparing Tomato Bacon Bites:

Cook the bacon and try not to eat any of it. I always cook a pound of bacon when I’m cooking it because I have no will power over fried pork belly….another one of my ‘issues’.

bacon and tomato

Now for the fun part. Make a teeny tiny cut to remove the top and the bottom of the grape tomato. You will use the top cut to remove the insides for stuffing and the bottom so that it stands up.

mini BLT

Then, using a small knife or some kitchen gadget of your choice, cut the insides of the tomato out. You are not trying to hollow out the entire thing, just enough room to stuff it with a bit of the bacon filling. I usually squeeze a bit to help get the seeds and tomato water out.

tomato bacon bites

Turn the tomatoes upside down on a towel as you complete them to let them drain. You don’t want all the tomato water in your bite.

mini BLT

After all the tomatoes are hollowed out and are drying, you can mix the filling together. Take your cooked bacon and chop it relatively fine (it has to fit in that little hole). Place in a bowl and add the mayo and Greek yogurt and horseradish and chives. Stir and give it a taste. Add more horseradish or salt and pepper if needed. You can even add a shake or two of hot sauce.

Now, use a small spoon and try to stuff the mixture in the tomatoes. Set on a platter and add some chives for garnish.

bacon tomato bites

Enjoy! 

Bacon Bourbon Butter

Bacon Bourbon Butter takes butter to a whole new level. My friend Jessica brought this for Baconfest – The Sequel and it was a huge hit. She was so sweet she made an extra one just for the family that we wouldn’t have to share with anyone!! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 10 min; Chill Time – at least 2 hours

Ingredients:

1 slice smoked bacon, finely chopped
1 tsp. bacon drippings
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter room temp
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tsp. brown sugar
Kosher salt to taste

Preparing Bacon Bourbon Butter:

Using a fork, vigorously whisk together all ingredients in medium bowl until well combined. Transfer to wax or parchment paper.  Fold over paper and roll into a cylinder. Chill until solid. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks or freeze up to 3 months!

 

Bacon Bourbon Butter 

Meal Ideas:

Jessica served her Bacon Bourbon Butter with a warm baguette. I used it in baked potatoes and it was delicious! I think next I will try it in with pasta and see how it tastes. I’m sure it will be amazing!!