RSS Feed

Tag Archives: bacon

Corn and Bacon Fritter Cakes

I have a confession to make. Until moments ago, I had no idea what Labor Day was really all about, other than it being the weekend before school starts, the symbolic end of summer, a traditional occasion for grilling out, and the last day where it is appropriate to wear white. Does that fashion rule even still apply? 

Oh, I could have made some guesses, based on the holiday’s name; perhaps something having to do with working people or labor unions. But it took a visit to Wikipedia to learn the history and reason behind the holiday we’re celebrating today.

The worst part is that I’d never given much consideration to my ignorance about this particular holiday until my son asked me to explain it.

Me: Daddy has off from work tomorrow!

Little Man: Oh yeah? Why?

Me: Because it’s Labor Day.

Little Man: What’s Labor Day?

Me: Uhhhhhh…a day when Daddy doesn’t have to work? 

I feel ashamed. I am clearly one of the millions of Americans who are clueless about so much of our history. I can hear my Dad in my ear warning, Those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it.

I’m certain that I must have learned the history of Labor Day sometime back in my elementary school days. But I think that sometimes we’re just not prepared to appreciate that sort of history without the background knowledge or experience to latch onto. It’s not until we’ve experienced a bit of the world that these things start to really make sense. I think, as adults, we need to take the initiative to reeducate ourselves a bit, reread those classic novels, remind ourselves of the significance of things we’ve come to take for granted…

Do you know the history of Labor Day?

Let me tell you about a holiday I do know something about… International Bacon Day! It takes place every year on the Saturday before Labor Day. Did you celebrate? I certainly did. If you missed it, it’s not too late to pay your respects to bacon. (Bacon won’t mind that you’re celebrating two days late.)

If you’re in need of a suitable celebratory bacon recipe, I’ve got just the thing. My corn and bacon fritters pair delicious, crisp bacon with irresistibly sweet end-of-summer corn in a rich batter to form little fry cakes; slightly crisp on the outside, tender in the middle. Make them large and serve them as a side dish to broiled salmon or make them small, topped with bits of smoked salmon and creme fraiche for a fantastic little hors d’oeuvres!

Cheers to all of the working people who help to make our country great and cheers to bacon!

Corn and Bacon Fritters

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • Corn from 4 cobs, cooked (about 3 cups)
  • 8 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • Vegetable oil

Directions

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cayenne pepper in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, lightly beat together the milk and the egg. Gradually whisk the milk and egg mixture into the dry ingredients to form a batter. Stir in the corn, bacon, and green onions. Heat a thin layer of vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. Pour or spoon batter into the oil, as large or as small as desired. Cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side. Drain in a single layer on a paper towel to remove excess oil.

Independence Day Menu Ideas

Posted on

It’s almost time to celebrate America’s birthday; America’s number one holiday for backyard barbecues and launching brightly colored explosives into the sky.

Many of us will spend the day with friends and family, gathered around a hot grill, enjoying good summer food and cheering to independence. Check out these ideas for making your Independence Day menu extra delicious! (Click on the titles for a link to each recipe.)

And if you’re wondering how to make that tasty American flag cake pictured above, click here for a step-by-step guide.

Grilled Ribeye and Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Butter – Including lots of tips for grilling a delicious, juicy steak!

The Mona Lisa Burger – A juicy beef patty with gorgonzola, roasted garlic aioli, olives, prosciutto, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes

Grilled Honey-Garlic Baby Lamb Chops– A simple and elegant grilled alternative to burgers!

The Hangover Burger (aka The Heart Attack on a Bun) – Beef patty with bacon, chili, and spicy cheese sauce, topped with a slightly runny fried egg. Heavenly delicious!

Greek-style Lamb Burger with Tzatziki Sauce– My husband’s most favorite dish in the whole world, hands down.

Turkey Burger with Fresh Tomato Salsa– Slightly cheesy and perfectly delicious!

Barbecue Beef Chili – Pulled barbecue beef meets spicy chili in this super-satisfying dish. Totally worth the time it takes to put together. Make a huge batch and freeze the leftovers!

Baked Potato Salad – A flavorful potato salad alternative for those with an aversion to mayonnaise (like myself)!

Mediterranean Cous Cous – Simple and flavorful side dish which can be made ahead and served chilled.

Tomato-Cucumber Salad– Fresh summer tomatoes and crisp cucumber in a tangy vinaigrette.

Barley and Bean Salad – Bursting with nutrition and bright flavors!

Grilled Fingerling Potatoes– Throw them in a foil packet and pop them on the grill. Sprinkle with a bit of gorgonzola, if desired!

Dinosaur Barbecue Macaroni Salad – The only macaroni salad I’ve ever loved!

Orzo with Salmon and Cucumber A fresh and satisfying side dish or main course on a hot summer day!

Tomato and Mozzarella Caprese Classic and delicious!

Fresh Ginger Lemonade– A hint of infused ginger root with freshly squeezed lemons gives this lemonade that extra something special!

Mixed Berry Mousse– Pair it with a layer of vanilla bean panna cotta for an extra special treat!

Creamy Chicken, Bacon, and Mushrooms

Posted on

Happy Cinco de Mayo!! Time to dress in your best sombrero and put your basic level Spanish to good use! Dos cervezas, por favor, should suffice. Celebrate the day with some delicious, spicy Mexican food and a frosty margarita! Heck, have one for me while you’re at it; perhaps something frozen and mango flavored, no salt please…

Had I been thinking ahead, I would have prepared some delectable Mexican dish to celebrate this festive occasion; perhaps some spicy chorizo tacos or tender carne asada or maybe some sweet, cinnamon-coated churros… But, thinking ahead has not been my strong suit of late. We’re in full baby-waiting mode around here, completely preoccupied with last minute preparations and eager anticipation. Soon enough though, soon enough…

In the mean time, you might say that cooking has taken a place on the back burner. Pun fully intended.

But the family still needs to eat, so our kitchen remains semi-operational; just keeping things quick and simple. And recently, one of my younger readers contacted me with a request, which provided the perfect inspiration for a super easy, delicious weeknight meal. Her request was simple; something involving chicken and bacon. I admit that I’m guilty of neglecting chicken recipes. It just rarely occurs to me to cook chicken. Now, bacon, on the other hand, is a completely different story. When am I ever not thinking about cooking with bacon??

So, in answer to my young reader’s chicken and bacon request, here is a delightfully simple, creamy and flavorful meal. It’s hard to go wrong with a dish involving bacon and cream, which is served over hot buttered noodles!

Enjoy!

Creamy Chicken, Bacon, and Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, chopped into chunks
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • Hot, buttered egg noodles

Directions

Cook bacon in a pan over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, leaving the bacon grease in the pan. Season the chunks of chicken with salt and pepper. Then, toss with the flour until evenly coated. Add the chicken to the bacon grease in the pan and cook over medium heat for a few minutes on each side, until mostly cooked through. (The chicken will finish cooking in the simmering sauce.) Add the chicken broth, cream, and mushrooms to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. (This would be the perfect time to cook the noodles.) The sauce should thicken as it simmers. Return the cooked bacon to the pan. Stir in the parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, as desired.

Lobster BLT Sandwiches

Posted on

Ding! Ding! Ding! Balloons are dropping from the ceiling all around you. The crowds are cheering. The sirens are ringing. Brightly colored bits of paper confetti are obscuring your vision. Your heart is racing with excitement and your mind is filled with utter bewilderment…

You MAY have just been the 100,000th visitor to this blog. CONGRATULATIONS! I’d send you a real prize if I could, but I have no way of determining who the actual 100,000th reader will be. So, simply beam with pride in knowing that it might be you and accept this celebratory recipe as your grand reward!

According to my stats, some time today, this little food blog will reach its 100,000th view. Yowzers! I can only hope that this milestone represents 100,000 happy customers, 100,000 delicious meals,  and 100,000 satisfied bellies!

In celebration of this momentous occasion, I’ve got a special little dish for you; elegant in its simplicity, an unassuming sandwich on a croissant. But between those flakey, buttery layers of golden croissant lies a decadent lobster salad, lightly tossed in a champagne tarragon dressing. A few slices of crispy applewood smoked bacon and some ripe red tomatoes complete the dish. It’s a BLT sandwich in every sense of the word, simply swapping the traditional lettuce for a bit of luscious lobster; the perfect way to raise the level of a classic BLT sandwich into a celebratory meal!

Pescetarians, rest assured. This dish is for you too! Simply omit the bacon for a luscious lobster salad delight!

Lobster BLT Sandwiches

Ingredients

For the Champagne Tarragon Lobster Salad:

  • 1 pound lobster tail(s), cooked and chopped*
  • 2 tablespoons good-quality mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar (can substitute white wine vinegar or lemon juice)
  • 1/2 shallot, finely diced
  • 5-6 fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

For the BLTs:

  • 2 croissants
  • 4-6 slices bacon, cooked
  • Tomatoes, sliced
  • Romaine lettuce, optional

Directions

To prepare the salad, whisk together the mayonnaise and champagne vinegar until smooth. Stir in the fresh tarragon and shallot. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, as desired. Toss the lobster with dressing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To assemble the sandwiches, split a croissant in half. Place 2-3 slices of crisp bacon on the croissant. Top with fresh tomato slices and a generous scoop of lobster salad.

Makes 2 Sandwiches

* For ease and convenience, this recipe utilizes lobster tails. (You can use the meat from a whole boiled or steamed lobster, if desired.) My grocery store carries freshly frozen lobster tails in the seafood department. Defrost the tails in the fridge for several hours before using, until they are mostly defrosted and flexible. To roast the lobster tails, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Use kitchen shears to snip a slit through the top of the shell from the body end to the fan end. Carefully separate and lift the lobster meat from the shell, leaving it attached at the fan end. Rest the lobster meat atop the split shell. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of melted butter. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the lobster reaches an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees. Adjust cooking time based on the size of your lobster tails and how frozen/defrosted they are.

Pork with Pork, Pork, and Pork

Posted on

Happy Fat Tuesday! Put those Lenten resolutions of abstinence and chocolate deprivation on hold for one more day. Tomorrow, we fast. Today, we feast!

Recently, during a particularly lucid early-morning shower brainstorm, I developed a recipe which is either my most genius creation or proof that I’ve completely gone insane; pork stuffed with pork and pork, wrapped in pork. I’m calling it The Whole Hog. We’ll start with boneless pork chops, then stuff them with a sweet and savory filling made from bacon and sausage, and wrap them in prosciutto for the final touch. This is a dish to send the three little pigs running for the hills.

In honor of Fat Tuesday, I proudly present you with The Whole Hog: Pork with Pork, Pork, and Pork.

Genius or insane? You decide.

The Whole Hog

Bacon, Sausage, and Apple stuffed Pork Chops wrapped in Prosciutto

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless pork chops, trimmed of fat
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 4-5 slices applewood-smoked bacon, chopped*
  • 4-5 breakfast sausages, removed from casings**
  • 1 granny smith apple, diced
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • Salt and pepper

* Regular bacon can be substituted

**Use an apple flavored sausage, if available

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and sausage. Cook until bacon begins to crisp and sausage is fully cooked. Use the side of a spoon to break up the sausage as it cooks. Add the apple and cook for a few minutes longer, until softened. Add the panko and stir until the panko crumbs absorb the excess fat and pan juices. Season the stuffing with salt and pepper, as desired.

Split each pork chop almost all the way through, to create a pocket for the stuffing. Generously stuff each pork chop with the bacon and sausage mixture. Scatter any extra stuffing on the bottom of a baking dish. Place the pork chops on top of the extra stuffing. Season the outside of the pork chops with salt and pepper. Wrap each pork chop with prosciutto. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until fully cooked.

Serves 2

Buttermilk Battered Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Chipotle Dipping Sauce

This recipe is a holdback from our New Year’s Eve celebration. Poor planning necessitated a few New Year’s recipe alterations. Namely, my lack of vegetable oil for frying the shrimp led to baking, which produced a delicious (and lower-fat) coconut shrimp, but not exactly my ideal result. I strive to present you with the ideal. So, I reserved this recipe until I had the opportunity to prepare it as planned.

The first time I ever made coconut shrimp was for a Caribbean-themed bridal shower, which I threw in honor of my sisters, who were having a double cruise-ship wedding. At the time, I used a recipe for beer-battered coconut shrimp which I’d found online. I’ve since developed my own buttermilk-based recipe, but I fully stand by the battering idea. A quick dip in a bit of batter helps the coconut to adhere to the shrimp and produces a fantastic, doughy coating around the shrimp.

To save a bit on the fat and calorie count, you can bake these little guys in a 400 degrees oven for about 15 minutes or so, until the coconut begins to turn golden and the shrimp is fully cooked. But, hands-down, my preferred method is frying. Go ahead and indulge! A sweet and spicy Pineapple Chipotle Dipping Sauce makes the perfect accompaniment to these tasty shrimp.

Buttermilk-Battered Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Chipotle Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

For the Shrimp

  • 3/4 cup Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 3/4 cup Buttermilk
  • 2 Eggs
  • Creole Spice Blend
  • 1 pound Jumbo Shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail-on
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 2 cups Shredded, Sweetened Coconut
  • Vegetable Oil, for frying

For the Dipping Sauce

  • 1 (12-ounce) jar Pineapple Preserves (or Orange Marmalade)
  • 1-3 Chipotle Peppers (from a can of Chipotle in Adobo)

Directions

To prepare the batter, combine flour and baking soda. Stir in the buttermilk and eggs until well blended. Season with a dash or two of Creole spice blend.

To prepare the shrimp, arrange a plate of flour, the bowl of batter, and a plate of the coconut. Holding by the tail, press each shrimp in the flour to lightly coat. Then, dip into the batter and allow the excess to drip away. Press into the shredded coconut to cover both sides. Place the coconut-coated shrimp onto a baking sheet until you’ve prepared all of the shrimp.

Heat about an inch of vegetable oil in a large frying pan, over medium heat, until it’s good and hot. Place several shrimp in the hot oil and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until the coconut is golden brown and the shrimp is fully cooked. The oil should sizzle around the shrimp as it cooks. If the coconut browns too quickly, reduce the heat.

Prepare the dipping sauce by blending the pineapple preserves and chipotle peppers in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender. Adjust the quantity of chipotle peppers based on your desired spiciness.

Serve the shrimp with a simple baby spinach and bacon salad, dressed in a honey balsamic vinaigrette.

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1/8 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Oil (Olive, Canola, Sesame)
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

Whisk together all ingredients until well combined or combine all ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously, until blended.

New Year’s Eve Hors d’oeuvres Round Up

I’ve said before and I’ll say it again. I love hors d’oeuvres. In my opinion, there’s no better way to entertain, be it for a casual girls’ night in, an elegant cocktail event, or a poker game, than with a selection of tasty hors d’oeuvres. One of my favorite events to host with an all hors d’oeuvres menu is New Year’s Eve. We keep things casual around here; pajamas, champagne, and an all munchies menu. With that in mind, I thought it wise to take a look back at some previously posted hors d’oeuvres and appetizer ideas which work perfectly for a New Year’s bash!

Click on the titles for links to recipes and more info on each idea.

Petite Toasts with Smoked Salmon and Crème FraicheCold smoked salmon with a dollop of crème fraiche. Check near your grocery store’s cheese section for crème fraiche, which is similar to sour cream, only thicker and less sour. If your store doesn’t carry crème fraiche, you can substitute with a bit of sour cream or cream cheese blended with fresh dill.

Feta Cheese Mousse with Summer FruitsWatermelon and fresh figs will be more difficult to find at this time of year. Substitute with any fresh or dried fruits. Goat cheese would also work well in this recipe and pair deliciously with fruit.

Buffalo Chicken Wing DipThis one’s a crowd pleaser! Not too pretty to look at, but super tasty. Pair with tortilla chips, fresh celery, or chunks of doughy bread. It can be made ahead, refrigerated, and baked before serving.

Olive Tapenade Three WaysThree variations on a simple and delicious olive tapenade. My favorite is the sun-dried tomato tapenade. Serve with crackers or slices of baguette.

Asian Style Turkey Meatballs with Hoisin Peanut Sauce – An interesting twist on cocktail meatballs. Prepare ahead of time and reheat before serving. About 15-18 minutes in a 350 degrees oven should do the trick!

Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Basil PestoA classic favorite! Serve with slices of baguette and let your guests construct their own little hors d’oeuvres.

Baked BrieFill with apricot preserves or your favorite type of jam. Fresh whole-berry cranberry sauce works well too!

Bacon Stuffed MushroomsOmit the bacon for a vegetarian alternative.

Shrimp with Spicy Cocktail SauceNew Year’s Eve feels like the perfect night for shrimp cocktail! Make your own cocktail sauce and serve with a few wedges of lemon.

Crab-Stuffed Jalapeño PoppersA fresh and elegant alternative to frozen jalapeño poppers! Certain to clear those sinuses.

Mini Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with Chipotle RemouladeMy personal favorite of the bunch! Prepare the mini crab cakes exactly as directed for full-sized crab cakes, only smaller. Broil for about a minute less. Serve each bite-sized crab cake with a dollop or drizzle of the remoulade.

Blue Cows in a BlanketWhile all your neighbors are serving Pigs in a Blanket, you can stand out with these Blue Cows in a Blanket!! Think mini Bacon Bleu Cheese Burgers wrapped in puff pastry! Ummm….YUM!

Apple Cinnamon RangoonsI want to marry these little goodies and run away with them to spend our lives together in apple cinnamon bliss. (Don’t tell my husband!)

Spinach Dip with Fried Wonton ChipsA simple prepare-ahead dip. Serve in a bread bowl with chunks of bread for an even easier, and equally delicious, alternative.

Spanakopita – Recipe Coming Tomorrow!!

A Few Other Simple Ideas…

Pigs in a Blanket – People love ’em. Make your own honey mustard sauce by combining dijon mustard with honey, as desired. Or serve with a simple Sweet and Sour sauce made from ketchup, grape jelly, and a splash of Worchestershire sauce.

Dates wrapped in Bacon – I might be making these myself this year. Stuff the dates with goat cheese or bleu cheese, if desired. Wrap each date with a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Bake for about 20 minutes in a 400 degrees oven, until bacon is crispy.

Dried Figs with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto – Easy as it sounds! Cut dried figs in half. Place a small piece of goat cheese on the cut side. Wrap with a piece of prosciutto

Assorted Cheese Tartlettes – A fun alternative to a traditional cheese platter. Purchase pre-made phyllo shells and fill with a variety of cheeses and other toppings. Bake in a 350 degrees oven for about 10 minutes before serving. Try Feta with Olive Tapenade and Pine Nuts, Gorgonzola with Poached Pears and Bacon, Brie with Dried Apricots and Almonds, or Cheddar with Ham and Apples.

Post Christmas Recovery and Recap

Well, the big day has passed. The carefully wrapped gifts have been enthusiastically unwrapped. The cookies, pies and festive dinners have been prepared and consumed, with minimal leftovers to speak of. New toys have been put through their paces and new clothes have been worn and washed. Our house guests and house pets have all made their way home and all that’s left is to launder the sheets and towels. It was a beautiful holiday filled with laughter, love, and smiles.

And now, things are gradually returning to normal. We’re slowly reclaiming the house from the holidays, sweeping up the pine tree needles, and finding places to stash the new toys. As much as I thrive on the Christmas festivities, I’m looking forward to a bit of normalcy. I’m ready to pack away the cookie sheets for a while and get back to our normal day-to-day cooking and routines.

I must admit, I’ve been feeling a bit of post-holiday indulgence remorse. I ate way too many cookies and slices of eggnog pie “for the baby”, which I’m pretty sure went straight to my hips instead. The measly remainder of holiday cookies have been officially exiled from the house and I’m looking forward to some light, nutritious meals for the sake of my hips. But speaking of the baby, we found out yesterday morning that we are expecting our third boy! Looks like my husband just formed himself a foursome for golf!

I’ll be whipping up some healthy new recipes soon. But first, here’s a quick recap of some of the goodies we enjoyed with our holiday guests.

We started on Christmas Eve Eve (does that make sense?) with a request from my brother-in-law for my Steak Bordelaise Pizza. I’ve shared this recipe for you before, back in my Pizza Dragons and Chairs of Stock post. I guess you can say this is one of my signature dishes. It’s sort of a steak dinner on a pizza crust. This is definitely not your run of the mill pizza. My pizza traditionalist father would be reluctant to call it a pizza at all, but we’re all big fans of the dish around here.

On Christmas Eve, I cooked up a Chicken Parmigiana dinner, complete with spaghetti and toasty hot garlic bread. I’ve been cooking Chicken Parmigiana on Christmas Eve in this house for many years now, long before my husband and I were married and long before this house was our house. I’ll give the Chicken Parm it’s own post with a proper recipe soon, but for now, you can take a look back at my recipe for Eggplant Parmigiana. My Chicken Parm follows the same basic recipe, only substituting breaded thin-cut or pounded chicken breasts for the eggplant. It’s a delicious meal that can be almost fully prepared ahead of time. It’s definitely a satisfying crowd pleaser!

On Christmas, we started with two easy appetizers of Fresh Mozzarella and Tomatoes with Basil Pesto on Baguette and Shrimp with Spicy Cocktail Sauce. You can find my recipe for Basil Pesto back in my Toasted Caprese Sandwich post. For the shrimp, simply boil large de-veined shrimp for a few minutes until they curl and turn bright pink. Or, take the easy route, as I do, and buy a large bag of frozen, peeled, tail-on shrimp and allow them to defrost in the fridge overnight. Make a quick, delicious cocktail sauce by combining about a cup of ketchup with a healthy dose of horseradish (a few heaping tablespoons), a splash of Worchestershire Sauce, splash of Lemon Juice, and splash of Tabasco.

Our Christmas dinner featured Roasted Beef Tenderloin with two sauces. I trimmed and tied a 5 1/2 pound beef tenderloin, rubbed it with olive oil, generously sprinkled with salt and pepper, and roasted in a 425 degrees oven for about 45 minutes. Smaller roasts will cook quicker. On the side, I served a Horseradish Cream Sauce (made with sour cream, a generous amount of horseradish, dash of white wine vinegar, salt and pepper) and a Red Wine Mushroom Sauce, which was simply an adaptation of the Bordelaise Sauce used on my Steak Bordelaise Pizza; a little less wine, slightly less reduced, with sauteed mushrooms added at the end.

On the side, we enjoyed my Cheddar Garlic Biscuits, Spicy Utica Greens, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Walnuts. Every bit was enjoyed. The brussel sprouts even managed to surprise a few apprehensive diners. For dessert, we enjoyed massive platters of cookies and Chocolate Eggnog Pudding Pie. Overall, it was a simple meal to pull off for a large group, which gave me plenty of downtime to enjoy with the kids and our guests.

It was another truly wonderful Christmas season, topped off by the revelation of our third baby boy! We are so very thankful for all of our blessings. Stay tuned for new recipes, coming up soon!

Sweet Potato Bisque with Pan-Seared Scallops and Bacon

Confession: I’m a digger. Give me a pint of cookie dough ice cream and I will inadvertently eat the entire container as I dig and search for those luscious little bits of cookie dough. Just one more bite always uncovers the hint of another piece. So, I dig and eat and work with the patience of an archeologist at an excavation site, gently removing each glorious piece of cookie dough. I get lost in my work, until suddenly I’m holding an empty container. I feel both ashamed and proud simultaneously. I’m a digger.

So, you may imagine the little problem I had with those brownies I recently shared with you; the ones I so cleverly filled with bits of halloween candy; those bits of halloween candy which taunted me into consuming bite after bite after bite of chewy, fudgey brownies. I would have stopped. Really, I would have. But then I’d catch a glimpse of something; a piece of Twix, perhaps. One more bite. But wait…what’s that? Gooey, melted Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, behind which hid a few caramel-coated peanuts; remnants of a chunk of Snickers. And that’s how the brownies disappeared, one focused bite at a time.The baby in my belly is most thankful for the sweet treat.

But this post isn’t about my small digging problem. Though it is about sweets; sweet, sweet, sweet potatoes. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I’ve got sweet potatoes on the brain. And my brain was convinced that it was the perfect time for a spicy sweet potato bisque. I know. You’re probably thinking that this girl sure makes a lot of soups for someone who claims to be largely indifferent to soups. Perhaps I enjoy soup even more than I realize.

When it comes to creamy, bisque-style soups, I’ve got a little weakness for serving them with a bit of fresh seafood showcased in the center. (See my recipe for Chilled Avocado Soup and Crab Cake with Chipotle Remoulade.) A bit of crunch in the form of crispy bacon, croutons, seeds or nuts never hurts too. These little touches of flavor and texture turn a simple bisque into a simply elegant meal. I’m pairing my sweet potato bisque with a few seared sea scallops and some crispy applewood-smoked bacon for a fantastic autumn meal.

Spiced Sweet Potato Bisque

Ingredients

  • 4 large Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 medium Onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic, minced
  • 5-6 slices Bacon*
  • 3 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 cup Half and Half
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ginger
  • Dash of Nutmeg
  • Dash (or two) of Cayenne

*If available, I recommend using applewood smoked bacon. It’s nitrate free and the flavor is fantastic.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash the sweet potatoes and pierce the skin several times with a fork. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for about 90 minutes until fork-tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

In a large wide-bottomed saucepan or stockpot, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside for garnishing the soup. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease. Add the onion and garlic to the bacon grease and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are tender and slightly translucent. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the sweet potato and add it to the pan. Discard the skins. Add the chicken broth. Simmer the sweet potatoes in the broth for a few minutes. Then, allow the mixture to cool slightly. Blend the mixture until completely smooth. (An immersion blender is the most convenient tool for the job, but a regular blender or food processor will work fine. Just be careful when transferring the warm mixture to a blender or food processor.) Return the blended mixture to the saucepan. Add the half and half and stir until well blended. Add the salt and seasonings. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve warm.

Note: Depending on the size of the sweet potatoes and your desired soup consistency, you may need to add more or less chicken broth and half and half.

For the Pan-Seared Scallops: To cook the scallops, heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium to medium-high heat. Pat the scallops dry and season with a little salt. (About a pound of scallops will serve four people.) Place the scallops in the pan. Let them cook for about 2-3 minutes, without disturbing. Once they’ve formed a golden-brown crust, turn the scallops over. Cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side, or until fully cooked through. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the scallops.

To Serve: Pour some of the warm soup into a wide bowl. It shouldn’t be too deep. Place several seared scallops in the center of the soup. Top with the crispy bacon reserved from the soup.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Chicken on the Side

It felt like the right time for a roasted chicken, rubbed and stuffed with tons of fresh garlic. Something about the aroma of roasting chicken and garlic seems to instantly warm the house on a crisp autumn day; the same effect as a fireplace ablaze with crackling logs in the winter or a cool glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. Comfort. My husband remarked that the scents which fill our house will leave lasting impressions on our kids. Someday, when they’re all grown up, they’ll catch a whiff of garlic somewhere and think of home. That’s a thought which comforts my heart.

Roasted chicken with garlic always makes a tasty meal, but the brussel sprouts became the surprise star of this show. One bite of the brussel sprouts and the chicken quickly became relegated to side-dish status. Don’t get me wrong, the chicken was delicious. But it paled in comparison to these brussel sprouts; these lovely, lovely brussel sprouts.  If you think you don’t like brussel sprouts, I implore you to try this recipe. It’s inspired by a similar dish, which my local Wegmans carried in their prepared foods section, last year. It was the first time I’d ever tried roasted brussel sprouts and I became an instant fan. The roasting process develops a vibrant, nutty flavor and pleasant texture, which is nothing like the bland, boiled brussel sprouts you may be familiar with. Tossed with crispy bacon and toasted walnuts, these brussel sprouts become a heavenly autumn feast.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Walnuts

Ingredients

  • 1.5 Pounds Brussel Sprouts
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 5 slices Applewood Smoked Bacon, chopped*
  • 1/3 cup Walnuts, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper

*I prefer Applewood Smoked Bacon for it’s flavor. Plus, it’s uncured and nitrate free! If applewood smoked bacon isn’t available, regular bacon will work fine.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut off the ends of the brussel sprouts, slice them in half lengthwise, and remove any browned or yellow leaves. Toss the sprouts in olive oil and season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place the brussel sprouts in a baking dish and cook  for 45-60 minutes (depending on the size of the brussel sprouts). Occasionally toss the brussel sprouts as they cook, to promote even browning.

While the brussel sprouts are cooking, prepare the bacon and walnuts. Warm a pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until browned and slightly crispy. Carefully pour off the excess bacon fat, leaving a tablespoon or two in the pan. Add the walnuts and continue cooking for another minute or two.

During the last 15 minutes of the brussel sprouts’ cooking time, pour the bacon, walnuts, and remaining bacon fat over the sprouts. Toss to distribute. Continue cooking until the brussel sprouts are tender, but not mushy. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

For the Chicken: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove and discard the giblets from a 5-6 pound roasting chicken. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, and pat dry. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan. Pour about two tablespoons of olive oil over the chicken and give it a little massage to evenly coat. Rub a couple smashed garlic cloves all over the skin. Gently loosen the skin on the top. Insert a few garlic cloves under the skin. Throw a handful of garlic cloves inside the chicken. Generously season with salt and pepper. Place the roasting pan on a lower rack in the oven. Roast for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, as measured by inserting an instant-read meat thermometer into a deep section of the breast. (My almost 6-pound chicken took about 90 more minutes.) Occasionally baste the chicken with the juices which will begin to collect in the bottom of the pan. When cooked, remove the chicken from the oven. Loosely cover with foil and allow it to rest for about 15 minutes. Carve and serve. *Save the carcass for chicken soup. An easy chicken soup guide will be coming up soon!

Secrets of An Avon Beauty Boss

Achieving Beautiful Dreams with Avon

The Gourmand Mom

Good food, seasoned with a dash of life

%d bloggers like this: