Brown Sugar Bacon Crackers

I made a meal and took it into work for a group that was having trouble finding a meeting time during an especially busy week.  It was a week when dining services wasn’t in service and so I promised them food.  One of the individuals had just returned from his family’s house in Virginia and so I wanted to provide a few snacks that were inspired from the south.  The most popular item I brought to eat were these crackers from The Southerner’s Cookbook.

Brown Sugar Bacon Crackers

Brown Sugar Bacon Crackers

12 bacon slices (not thick-cut)
48 saltines or buttery club crackers
6 tsp dark brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Line the bottom of a broiler pan with foil for easy cleanup.  Cut the bacon slices in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise to create 4 long strips.

Arrange the crackers on a work surface and wrap a bacon strip around each cracker, overlapping the ends on top.

Carefully sprinkle 1/8 tsp brown sugar on the top of each cracker, pressing it to help adhere (avoid getting sugar on the cracker or it will burn).

Set a perforated rack on the top of the foil-lined broiler pan and arrange the crackers seam-side down 1/2 inch apart in a single layer and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the bacon is at your desired level of crispness.  Transfer the crackers to a cooling rack and cool completely before serving.

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Slightly Honeyed Couscous

I thought I had couscous in the cupboard to use up, but it turns out what I had was quinoa.  Lots and lots of quinoa.  But, I’d found myself excited for this recipe, so I decided to make it, adjusting for quinoa instead of couscous and craisins instead of golden raisins.  This was from the Bonne Femme Cookbook.  It was a nice, slightly sweet, grain recipe.

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Slightly Honeyed Couscous

1 c water
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 c quick-cooking couscous
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 c sliced almonds
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 c golden raisins or snipped dried apricots

In a medium-size saucepan, bring the water, salt, and olive oil to a boil.  Stir in the couscous, cover, and remove from the heat.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Transfer the couscous to a serving dish.  Wipe out the pan.  Melt the butter in the same pan over medium-low heat.  Add the almonds and cook, stirring, until golden, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in the honey and the raisins.  Return the couscous to the saucepan; cook and stir until warmed through and the ingredients are evenly dispersed throughout.  Return to the serving bowl and serve.

Porktastic Frittata

A few weeks ago, the broccoli in my garden was ready and nearly out of control, so I decided to incorporate it into my breakfast frittata for the week.  I had a recipe from Beyond Bacon that I had been wanting to make and so I was excited to put it together.  So, on Sunday evening, I found myself making this frittata.  It was from a paleo cookbook, which I can appreciate, but I do wish it had a little bit of cheese in it.  I think if I was to make it again (despite trying to eat mostly paleo/clean), I would add a little cheese for some additional tastiness.

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Porktastic Frittata

12 eggs
1/2 c milk (recommend full-fat coconut milk)
1 lb Italian sausage
1 c broccoli, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp chopped Italian parsley
1 tsp chopped oregano

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and milk.  In a skillet, brown the sausage over medium heat.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage from the skillet to a towel-covered plate.  Drain the fat from the skillet, except for 2 tablespoons.  Saute the broccoli, onion, and garlic, until the onion pieces are translucent, about 6 minutes.

Return the sausage to the skillet and add the parsley and oregano.  Stir to combine.  Whisk the eggs and coconut milk together again until bubbly and frothy.

Pour the freshly whisked mixture over the top of the sausage, and transfer the skillet to the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees until the top just starts to brown.

Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

More from the using up what is in the cupboard…I came across my nut stash and found a bunch of pecan pieces, so went looking for a recipe.  It also helped that I was cooking for some folks who had a chocolate allergy and I wanted to make sure I had a bit of a dessert for them.  Thrilled to not have to make a trip to the grocery store, I put together these Oatmeal Pecan Cookies from the A Taste of Hope and Prayer cookbook.

Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

1 c butter or Crisco
1 c brown sugar
1 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp milk
2 eggs
2 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 c oatmeal
2 c chopped pecans

Cream sugars and shortening; add vanilla and milk.  Beata eggs and add to the mixture.  Mix together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; add to above mixture.  Add oatmeal and pecans; mix thoroughly.  bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, until browned.

Corn and Bacon Risotto with Wisconsin Cheese Curds and Paprika Oil

In the middle of Iowa, there’s a fairly short period of time when sweet corn comes fresh from the cob, and this dish, from Denver and Boulder Chef’s Table, is full of Midwestern goodness.  It incorporates bacon, sweet corn, and cheese curds (preferably from Wisconsin — luckily only an hour away from here, so Wisconsin cheese curds are plentiful).  This recipe was a little time-intensive, and a little heavy for the hot summer day when I made it, but the flavor was great.  I also love a cheese curd and incorporate them all the time into things, but if you find a great one, you’ll hear the curd squeak as you eat it, so something to watch for when purchasing your curds.  While not Wisconsin, one of my favorite local cheese curd purveyors is WW Homestead Dairy.  With fresh sweet corn, leftover milk from my ice cream making adventures this summer, and some bacon ready-to-be cooked, I knew it was time to make this recipe.

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Corn and Bacon Risotto with Wisconsin Cheese Curds and Paprika Oil

Paprika Oil:
2 fluid ounces canola oil
1 tsp smoked paprika

Roasted corn:
2 ears sweet corn, shucked
1 Tbsp canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Roasted garlic puree:
2 heads garlic
1/2 c canola oil

Corn puree:
3 ears corn, shucked
1 quart milk
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme

Risotto:
1 quart chicken stock
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 c finely diced yellow onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1 c Arborio rice
1/2 c white wine
salt to taste
1 medium red bell pepper, deveined and diced small
3/4 c Wisconsin cheddar curds
6 strips, bacon, cooked until crispy, divided
2 Tbsp chopped chives, divided
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the paprika oil: Pulse the ingredients to combine in a blender, pour into a small container or squeeze bottle, and let sit until the paprika settles.  Strain and reserve.

To prepare the roasted corn: Slice the kernels carefully off the cob with a knife.  In a pan with canola oil over medium heat, lightly saute them until tender, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Next, roast the garlic: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Slice off the tops of the bulbs so that the tips of the cloves are showing.  Place top-down in a shallow baking pan and pour oil over the top.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in oven until tender and golden, about 1 hour.  Remove and let cool, reserving the oil in the refrigerator for future use (it’s great on bread or in pasta sauce).  hen ready to handle, press the roasted cloves out of the bulb and mash them with a fork or use a food processor to grind them into a paste.  Set aside.

To make the corn puree: Slice the kernels carefully off the cobs.  Add them along with the milk and herbs to a small saucepan and, over medium heat, bring to a simmer.  Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.  Strain the kernels, reserving the milk but discarding the herbs; place in a blender and puree, adding milk as necessary (use as little as possible) until the consistency is smooth.  Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap to prevent the formation surface skin and set aside.

Begin the risotto: In a medium pot, bring the stock to a simmer.  Add canola oil to another good-size pot and sweat onion and garlic over medium-low heat.  Add rice and toast until translucent.  Deglaze with white wine.  Add 3/4 c stock to the risotto, stirring continuously.  When the liquid is almost gone, add another 3/4 c and keep stirring.  Repeat until rice is tender yet still has tooth, about 20-25 minutes.  (You will likely use all the stock, though a little less or more may be needed to ensure the proper al dente texture.)  Salt to taste.

When the risotto is finished, fold in the roasted corn kernels, 2 Tbsp of roasted garlic puree, 4 Tbsp corn puree, diced red pepper, cheddar curds, 4 pieces of bacon crumbled into small pieces, and 1 Tbsp of chives.  Heat a few minutes until the cheese begins to melt.  Season to taste.  Ladle into four bowls and garnish each with a half piece of the other two bacon slices, remaining tablespoon of chives and paprika oil.  Serve at once.

Cinnamon Zucchini Bars

There is a point when zucchinis become too big to eat regularly.  They are only good for baking at this point.  And, so, we’ve become pretty inventive about incorporating zucchini into baked goods, such as these cinnamon zucchini bars, a recipe from the Linn County Fair Cookbook.  Bonus component was that I was able to use up some coconut that was in my cupboards!

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Cinnamon Zucchini Bars

2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c margarine (softened)
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 c shredded zucchini
1 c coconut
3/4 c nuts

Cinnamon Icing
2 c powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp melted margarine
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Grae and set aside a small jelly roll pan.  In a small bowl, blend flour and baking powder; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat the margarine for 30 seconds.  Add sugars and beat until fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.  Add zucchini, coconut, and nuts.  Spread in pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Cool.

Mix together the icing ingredients.  Beat well and frost bars.

Cartwheel Quilt

Remember Meg’s bestie, Daisy?  And how I shared that I’d become good friends with Daisy’s people?  Well, they are completing the next part of their transition to Mississippi.  As they were announcing their move this spring, I was working a quilt.  One day, as I was putting the fabrics together, I looked at it and could only see that it was the same colors as their house and I knew that the quilt had to be a going away gift for them.

This quilt was great — but then again,  I love jewel-tones almost all the time.  So I’m a little biased about it.  I used a Soho Chic jelly roll and the Cartwheels Quilt pattern from the Moda BakeShop.  My shortcut was using a jelly roll solid, instead of purchasing and cutting a separate yardage of fabric and cutting it into 2 1/2 inch strips.

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After the top was finished, I headed over to my friend Dawn’s place and her longarm business Modern Home Arts to get it quilted.  I am so lucky she lives nearby, but I know she takes orders from around the country as well.  Like I do with my hair, I often let her know that if there’s something she’s been waiting to try, then this is the quilt to try it on!  And we went bold!  But, isn’t this pineapple with the dark red a great complement to the bold colors in the quilt itself?  I love it so much!

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I am so thrilled to be getting some of these unfinished projects off my to-do list, because I have some other ideas of ways to work with my stash coming up…I hope you are enjoying seeing these projects as much as I am enjoying doing them!