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Posts Tagged ‘bacon’

I’ve mentioned before in posts that usually, the easiest recipes are the most beloved.  And I’m not talking about the one doing the cooking.  I’m talking the peeps doing the eating!

I’ve never had a huge repertoire of appetizers, but they all tend to be easy.  Lil Smokies in “homemade” barbecue sauce, lots of dips with just a handful of ingredients, etc.  Yet, my maturing taste buds sometimes crave something a little more…fancy.  Luckily, thanks mostly to Pinterest, I’ve found some really great appetizers that only seem to have taken hours to prepare 🙂

Here we go:

1.) Stuffed Mushrooms

My friend in San Francisco found this gem to serve us as a starter to a delicious Italian dinner last summer.  They have some great heat to them thanks to the red pepper (which, obviously, is easy enough to omit).  Another great thing about this recipe – they don’t call for bread crumbs, so they are gluten-free.  They are highly requested among my friends out here 🙂

The most time consuming step in this recipe is probably washing the mushrooms and dicing up the stems.  Remember – never submerge mushrooms in water.  Don’t even spray them in a colander.  They’ll absorb the moisture and get all mushy and weird.  Just dampen a paper towel and wipe each one down!

Also – 12 mushrooms is 1) not enough to use up all the cream cheese stuffing and 2) not enough to keep your friends happy.  I can usually stuff about a pound (I like creminis) with one batch of stuffing.

2.) Marinated Mushrooms

Yep, we like mushrooms around here 🙂  Ali, Chris and I are big fans of the olive bar at Whole Foods (though we don’t really partake in any olives, the mushrooms, artichokes, mozzarella and other offerings are quite delicious).  But at something like $10/pound, it’s easy to really blow through some cash.  I tried these last night and they were delicious.  And simple.  And cheap, since all I had to buy were the mushrooms.  (We always have red wine vinegar and Worcestershire around, turns out).

I used just under 2 pounds of fresh creminis, and doubled the amount of marinade (1 cup of oil total).  I stirred them up a couple of times before I went to bed, and by noon today they looked perfect.  What I like about this recipe is that you can basically experiment with any combination of dried herbs and spices.  I added red pepper flakes and left out the fresh parsley.  They are probably not the healthiest finger food around, as they have been bathed in oil…but who am I kidding?  If I’m making an actual appetizer, I plan on eating many, MANY calories.

3.) Bacon-Wrapped Dates

I picked up this recipe from a close friend’s roommate who happens to be gluten-free.  There are a lot of foods I never ate much of (or even liked) before I moved to California.  Artichokes, avocados, quinoa….dates…I was a little skeptical the first time I tried them.  I don’t know why.  They were amazing.  AMAZING!  Slightly time-consuming, but they don’t take any real cooking skill.

Pick up some dried, pitted dates (I used about 1 1/2 small bags to one package of bacon.  Luckily, they are tasty to snack on plain, so if you have extras, it’s no big deal.)  You don’t need a really thick cut of bacon, but quality bacon is key.  Wrap a small slice of bacon around a date and secure with a toothpick.  Then roll this in a combination of brown sugar and red pepper (or, if you’re a wuss, leave out the red pepper).  Bake at about 375 until the bacon starts to crisp up.  You will probably have to drain off some bacon grease halfway through baking, or said bacon will never actually crisp.  This is one of those recipes that is difficult to screw up.  Bake them at 350 or 400.  Finish them in a frying pan.  Who cares.  The recipe involves bacon, and that automatically makes probably 90% of your guests happy!

4.) Baked Brie and Roasted Garlic

I’ve ordered this combo a few times at restaurants.  It’s pretty freaking delicious served up with some crostini or French bread slices.

Everybody should know of the glory that is roasted garlic.  Garlic gets surprisingly mellow once roasted, which means it isn’t overpowering to spread an entire clove on a slice of bread with some gooey Brie.  When I made baked Brie at home I didn’t even sprinkle it with wine, fresh ground pepper was perfect.  This is one of those things that basically involves putting a pan in the oven for an hour, but seems so sophisticated (it tastes pretty sophisticated too).

I hope these help you impress crowds this summer!

 

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It’s been beautiful in California this week: sunny and warm, perfect weather for drying laundry out on the patio like we did yesterday.  It’s just over 70 degrees today, so not exactly soup weather, nevertheless I have been craving this for weeks and decided to waste no more time.  This is one of my favorite of Grandma’s recipes from my childhood, and I can’t say I’ve had it since before she passed away over a decade ago, high time I tried making a pot for myself.

Cream Sou

Assembling the ingredients for Grandma's cream soup

  • Boil together until tender: 1 small diced onion, 2 carrots diced fine, 1 medium head broccoli or cauliflower (flowerettes & tender stems).  Use only enough water to cover the veggies.
  • Add: 6 cups milk, 2 Tbsp Butter, and 1-4 oz Velveeta cheese
  • Thicken with flour and milk mixture.
  • Mushrooms optional
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste

Obviously, I chose cauliflower and looked for my best guess at what a “medium” head would be.  In case you’re wondering it rang up at 2.3 lbs.   We’ve only got medium-largish onions in the pantry so I just chopped up half of one.  I was also curious how much water would be the right amount so I measured out how much I used, turned out it was just shy of 8 cups.

Turns out our local grocery store only carries Velveeta in 2 lb bricks, which when you only need 1-4 oz can seem a little excessive.  Lucky for us  it keeps in the fridge for a while so we can use it in shells & cheese or a dip later and those 28-31 extra ounces won’t go to waste.

The only hiccup I had was getting the soup to thicken, I was using skim milk since that’s what we keep in the house, but as Danielle brought up Grandma was almost certainly using something with more fat in it.  Even with a 1/2 cup or more of flour my soup is a little thinner than that of my memories, next time this gets made we will make a special purchase of whole milk.

When I first brought up the recipe with Chris he was full of suggestions for things to add, but I’m hesitant to mess with my Grandma’s recipe, especially one so beloved to me.  I compromised with him by adding the optional can of mushrooms and frying up some bacon crumbles on the side for him to garnish with.

All in all, I’d say this was pretty successful.  The soup, albeit a bit thin, tastes exactly how I remember it.  I’m looking forward to heating it up for lunches all week long.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

The delicious end product.

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My final post of my barbecue adventure was getting a bit long so I decided to post a final review of the meal separately.  To recap the menu was:

  • Grilled Chicken Legs with Southern Comfort BBQ Sauce
  • Green Beans with Bacon
  • Summer Vegetable Medley, marinated and grilled
  • Sweet Corn Bread
  • Sweet Iced Tea

The general consensus? Delicious!  The BBQ sauce was a big hit, especially with the smokey flavor from the charcoal grill.  Chris (not a SoCo fan at all) liked that it wasn’t overly SoCo flavored and Mike particularly liked the tang that the lemon juice added.

Also a favorite were the green beans with bacon, I’m sure we all would have eaten seconds if there had been more to go around.  Big points for the beans still having a little crunch.

The grilled vegetables were good and liked by all, but I do think the flavor of the marinade I chose clashed a bit with the rest of the meal.  I’d probably go with some different herbs/spices next time I’m barbecuing and use this particular blend for something Italian/Mediterranean.

The sweet corn bread, as I expected, was the perfect finish.  Chris’s first comment was that it tasted like Famous Dave’s, which I informed Danielle of and she seemed pretty excited for the feedback.

I think only Mike tried some of my Sweet Tea, but he gave it a good review: very refreshing and not too sweet.

My Adventure was a huge success and I had a great time spending my day baking, cooking, grilling and eating.  I got to try out a bunch of new recipes and they are all keepers.  I hope I’m lucky enough to be struck with another menu idea for a food adventure soon.

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Alright, I’m back to finish my little series on my Saturday BBQ adventure.   If you’ve read parts one and two you know what I had planned for the menu and what I had left to prepare Saturday afternoon before my BBQ could be served.  First up I made my sauce…

As you might remember some left over Southern Comfort was inspiration for this sauce and I used Google to help me find a recipe.  Here’s what I found:

Browning onions and bacon, with the other sauce ingredients on deck in the background.

Southern Comfort BBQ Sauce [from keyingredient.com]

    • 1 medium onion – finely chopped
    • 3 slices bacon – finely chopped
    • 1/2 cup Southern Comfort
    • 2 cups ketchup
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp chili powder
    • juice of 1 lemon

Lightly brown onion with chopped bacon.  Remove from heat, add Southern Comfort and ketchup; stir. Add remaining ingredients and simmer slowly for 10 minutes.  Grill chicken, basting often with sauce.

Notes: the original recipe calls this sauce “spicy” but it was really more sweet and tangy – you could try adding more chili powder or some red pepper if you really want spicy, but I liked it just the way it was.  I don’t know that I used as much SoCo as the recipe calls for as I just poured in the rest of the bottle I had, but our sauce did not overly taste like the whiskey.  I think what it really gains from the SoCo is some sweet caramely  flavors.  The bacon I used was apple wood smoked, which also probably added sweet smokey flavor.

Once my sauce was done and simmering, I started on my green beans.  I stumbled on this recipe a few months ago while browsing foodie blogs and saved it for use when green beans were in season.  The original poster heralds this as an alternative to ‘gross’ green bean casserole for Thanksgiving, I take offense as I absolutely adore green bean casserole, but this is still a great alternative green bean dish.

Green Beans with Bacon [from foodbat]

Sorry the picture is a bit out of focus, I think you still get the general idea of deliciousness, though.

  • 3 pieces thick cut bacon, diced
  • half of a sweet onion, finely diced
  • one clove of garlic, smashed
  • one pound fresh green beans, washed and with the tips snapped off
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • the zest of one lemon
  • half a lemons worth of juice
  1. In a heavy pan over medium-high heat cook bacon for a few minutes until it begins to crisp, then add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the green beans and toss to coat with the onion and bacon mixture. Add a little olive oil if it looks dry.
  3. Add the red pepper flakes, lemon zest and lemon juice.
  4. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the green beans are crisp-tender, about 5-10 minutes depending on what sort of beans you got. Tasting is key!
  5. Add salt and pepper to your liking.

Notes: the original recipe calls for 1 Tbs of butter to fry the bacon in but I left it out, a bit of olive oil to help coat the beans works fine.  One pound of beans cooked down is not a lot of beans!  If you’re making this for more than 3 or 4 people, I’d recommend doubling it.

And with that all that was left was to light the grill and cook the chicken and veggies.  Chris helped out with this part: rotating chicken legs as I basted and keeping track of time so they cooked evenly.  When all was said and done we had quite the delicious feast.  One last post coming with final reactions!

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