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Bacon, Scallion and Caramelized Onion Dip
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Bacon, Scallion and Caramelized Onion Dip

If you’re having a party and inviting me to it, please, don’t sit me next to the onion dip.  I swear, onion dip is my diet-busting downfall.  And to be brutally honest, I don’t care if it’s made with a package of dry soup mix or it’s plopped into a bowl from a container from the dairy aisle.  It’s really the cold and creamy sour cream that makes onion dip so addicting for me but this homemade version is a little different.  Well, a lot different since it’s a bacon, scallion, and caramelized onion dip and not made from a package.  Plus?  Yup – bacon and caramelized onions?  Sign.me.up.

Bacon, Scallion and Caramelized Onion Dip

I showed you how to make caramelized onions a few weeks ago and this dip recipe was the primary reason why I wanted to finally get my caramelized onions right.  When they are the star of a dish, they had better be right!  So you’ll use a batch of those onions and mix them up with some crumbled baaaaacon, scallions, sour cream, cider vinegar, and cayenne pepper.  Homemade onion dip – done and done.  And yeah, keep me away from this one too – it’s dangerous!!

Bacon, Scallion and Caramelized Onion Dip

Yield: about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup caramelized onions, cooled
  • 6 slices bacon (about 6 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch pieces, cooked crisp
  • 3 scallions, green and white parts, minced
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups sour cream or Greek yogurt (or a combination of the two)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Stir all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for 20 minutes (or up to 3 days) before serving.

Source

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http://www.smells-like-home.com/2013/03/bacon-scallion-and-caramelized-onion-dip/

Bacon Brie and Fig Jam Grilled Cheese
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I don’t know about you, but the best new thing I’ve found in my local grocery store in the past couple of years has been fig jam.  If you’re into jam-making, I’m sure it’s pretty easy to make but it seems that fig season flies by in an instant and I never seem to be ready for it.  So for now, I’ll stick with the stuff I can buy all year-round.  And what that means is that I can also make these bacon brie and fig jam grilled cheese sandwiches whenever the heck I want to as well.

There’s no need to complicate a grilled cheese sandwich so this one is easy: a thin layer of fig jam on one side of the bread, topped with crisp, smoky bacon and creamy brie, then grilled to perfection.  Cover the pan with a lid to trap the heat and help the cheese goo-ify itself – it’s a little trick of mine that works like a charm every time.  Served alongside a bowl of homemade tomato soup?  You may have trouble keeping enough fig jam stocked for these sandwiches!

Bacon Pesto Tomato Sandwiches
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While it would be perfectly acceptable for me to swoon about how this bacon pesto tomato sandwich is the only way to highlight your gorgeous tomatoes, I really want to talk about bacon here.  It’s not an ingredient that I often highlight in my meals mostly because I feel, unlike most of the food blogging community, that it’s a complementary ingredient – not the star.  However, the thick-sliced applewood-smoked bacon that I used in this sandwich is the star and I built the sandwich around it solely based on the fact that I had a few slices in the fridge that needed to be used up.

And that’s how it goes with me.  I can never seem to use up a package of bacon before freezing it (and gah! sometimes forgetting about it until it’s freezer-burned) or it gets pushed to the back of the fridge and is again, forgotten about (which is even worse!).  So with full intentions and an empty stomach, I fried up the leftover fridge-bacon in my kitchen buddy (the cast iron frying pan), sliced some fresh mozzarella and tomato, and whirled a creamy [nut-free] pesto around in the blender.  And by the time Kyle ambled in the door, absolutely filthy from playing in the yard, I had a killer sandwich ready for him.  I hustled him and his sandwich back out the door (“your shoes!!!”) and joined him for lunch on the porch.

Now you’ve just had a glimpse upon our Sundays in the summer:  Me trying to use up the leftovers in the fridge before we start a new week of meals and lunches…and Kyle, the mudhog, showing up when it’s time to eat.  Typical, easy-going Sundays.

Bacon Burgers with Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam
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I debated about whether I should share a sweet or a savory recipe with you today.  And it wasn’t an easy decision.  Cookies, bars, or burgers?  But I felt really strongly about you guys needing these burgers in your lives.  Like, pull-that-bacon-and-ground-beef-out-of-the-freezer-before-you-go-to-work strongly.  You’ll regret not putting them on your tables tonight.

OK, maybe if you’re having pizza tonight you won’t regret not having these burgers but for the love of all things good, don’t let the weekend go by without them.  The burgers infused with bits of finely diced bacon and then they’re topped with this other-worldly concoction of slow cooked red onions mixed with [yes more] bacon and balsamic vinegar that thickens into a jammy sauce.  A nice liberal slice of sharp cheddar finishes everything off and by the end of dinner, you’ll wish you had the chance to rewind and start it all over again.  Damn that lack of time travel thing.

We served some baked oven fries alongside these babies but frankly, any typical burger side will work here too, as would a heaping mound of grilled veggies or fresh fruit (you know, for the guilt-factor).  We’ve found our new favorite burger and you can assume that if you’re coming to our house for dinner any time this summer, these are what we’ll be making for you!

¼ ½ ¾

Bacon Burgers with Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

    For the Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam:
  • 4 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon, sliced into ½-inch wide pieces
  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced (about 1 ½ cups)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup water
  • For the Burgers:
  • 2 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon, finely diced
  • 1 ¼ pounds ground beef (85% or 90% lean)
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ¾ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns, split
  • Sliced sharp cheddar cheese, optional

Instructions

  1. To make the jam: Heat a large saute pan (that has a cover) over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until browned but not crispy, about 8 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and let it drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Drain off all but 2-3 tablespoons of the bacon grease and then stir in the onions, about 1/4 tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper. Cover the pan to cook the onions for 2 minutes. Uncover the pan and in a splash of water, scraping the bits off of the bottom of the pan with a spatula or wooden spoon. Recover the pan and cook the onions for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and lightly browned.
  2. After the onions have cooked for 10 minutes, stir in the balsamic vinegar, mustard, and water then return the bacon to the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens and is almost completely absorbed, about 2-4 minutes (mine definitely took upwards of 4 minutes). At this point, the jam can be covered and refrigerated (you can make it up to 2 days in advance). If using immediately, set it aside in a bowl until ready to use.
  3. To make the burgers: Using a fork, lightly mix the finely diced bacon with the ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and ground pepper in a medium bowl until the ingredients form a uniform mixture. Shape the burger mixture into four equal-sized patties, about 1-inch thick. Cook the burgers on a grill pre-heated to medium-high, about 4-5 minutes per side. Once you flip the burgers, add the cheese (if the cheese is thinly sliced, give it a minute or two on the second side before adding it). Once cooked to desired doneness, remove the burgers from the grill and set them aside to rest for 5 minutes before adding the topping, placing on the buns, and serving. No ketchup required.

Source

source: adapted from Fine Cooking, July 2011, via Annie’s Eats and Cook Like a Champion

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http://www.smells-like-home.com/2012/07/bacon-burgers-with-bacon-onion-balsamic-jam/

Bacon Ranch Potato Salad
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In my lifetime, I have passed over hundreds of offerings of potato salad.  I don’t know what the trigger was for my distaste of it but I do know that gloppy mayonnaise-based salads have never been my thing.  Apparently, my grandmother makes the best potato salad and it’s the only version that has been brought to nearly all of our family gatherings in the summer months.  I just never got the appeal and I’m sure there were plenty of heads being shook at my countless refusals.

So along comes bacon ranch potato salad.  I’ll admit, I was completely turned off the by the idea of it…until I realized that it wasn’t a gloppy mayonnaise-based potato salad, but one made with ranch dressing.  Yes indeed, this low-fat homemade ranch dressing.  With the addition of crispy bacon bits, this potato salad is a match made in heaven.  Rather than completely chilled, I served it while the potatoes were still slightly warm, while the dressing still had a chance to soak into the potatoes.  And I loved it..as did Kyle who could eat potato salad any day of the week.  I will not likely ever be a traditional potato salad eater, but this bacon-ranch version is one I can definitely get behind.

Bacon Ranch Potato Salad

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs baby red potatoes, unpeeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 batch of homemade ranch dressing (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced and cooked crisp
  • Chives or scallions (green parts only), chopped, for garnish

Instructions

  1. In an 8-quart stock pot, cover the potatoes with cold water by 1-inch and add the salt. Bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat then reduce to the heat to medium and cook the potatoes until fork-tender, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool down until they are very warm, about 5-10 minutes; transfer potatoes to a large bowl.
  2. Pour half of the dressing over the potatoes and stir to coat the potatoes well; refrigerate for 1-2 hours. When ready to serve, stir in the remainder of the ranch dressing and bacon. Garnish with chives or scallions, if using.

Source

source: adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

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http://www.smells-like-home.com/2012/06/bacon-ranch-potato-salad/

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Pizza
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In 1988, my parents bought a boat.  Overall, the boat served us well (in spite of all the money they sunk into it, no pun intended – you know how having a boat goes) and we spent many a weekend for the better part of 10 or 12 summers crammed into my parents’ 25-footer at our favorite little beach on Fire Island.  Like camping, feeding a family on a small boat requires a good bit of planning; refrigeration is limited (think dorm-size fridge) or sometimes non-existent except for ice in coolers and if the beach/marina you’re staying at even has water available, your hook-up is done through a garden-like marine hose plugged into the side of the boat.  Our showers were made possible by a sun shower that we’d let heat up on the dock all day then hang up on a nail in one of the stalls of the public bathroom to wash away the sand, salt, and sunscreen.

In a semi-distant but totally comforting way, this bacon, egg, and cheese pizza reminds me of Sunday mornings at the beach.  For the most part, my mom packed food for breakfast – our electric griddle was king – but on a rare Sunday, after giving in to our pleading and whiny voices (dad included), she would allow my dad (as we were always on a budget) to hit up the snack bar for freshly made-to-order egg sandwiches.  He practically floated down the dock on the smell of cooking bacon and sausage wafting over the marina like a cartoon character drawn to his favorite food.  Those sandwiches were rare, special, and so satisfying.

This breakfast pizza, being all of those sentiments, admittedly was Kyle’s idea.  He gets me.  He knows that I find it virtually impossible to find a decent freshly made egg sandwich sandwich (i.e., not microwaved – gross) anywhere near our home.  This pizza idea is the brainchild of observing my frustrations all these years and it encompasses all that I [we] love in an excellent egg sandwich.  Plus?  It’s pizza.  So yeah, two of my favorite foods wrapped up in one little package.  Like I said, he gets me.

As with any pizza or egg sandwich, feel free to add whatever toppings you want.  We went for bacon, Monterey Jack, sautéed onions and peppers, and a whole bunch of fresh herbs.  The key to this pizza is to make sure you push the pizza dough up the sides of a baking sheet so that the beaten eggs have a place to stay.  It’s almost like making a quiche in that you don’t want the eggs leaking under the crust, else they will make it soft and difficult to remove from the baking sheet.  Use a well-seasoned baking sheet if you have one and sprinkle on a little cornmeal before you put the dough down – don’t skip this step.  The end result is a something magical: fluffy eggs, salty bacon, tons of freshness from the herbs, crispy pizza crust.  It’s pretty much the perfect breakfast pizza and because we made a whole sheet pan of it, we had plenty of leftovers for breakfasts later in the week.  I can see this being a great Mother’s Day breakfast project with a kitchen full of kids or even a quick through-together breakfast-for-dinner kind of meal during the week.  Either way, this breakfast pizza is a big winner here: it evokes great memories for me and fills our bellies at the same time.

Maple Bacon Mini Quiche
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maple bacon quiche 1

What seems like ages ago, I hosted a French-inspired maple-themed luxury dinner party.  Each of the 5 courses included at least one dish that highlighted maple as the main ingredient and while this dinner was delightfully successful, time completely escaped me and I never had the chance to blog about all of the dishes I made.  And now we find ourselves heading back into Fall where maple continues to be a star ingredient so I’m taking the opportunity these next few weeks to share the recipes with you.  Are you excited or what?!

These maple bacon mini quiche started off my dinner party but made as a full-size quiche, it would be the perfect addition to any buffet or breakfast menu.  A delicately sweet and boldly savory quiche, this is a great all-around recipe. To amp up the maple flavor, I used maple-cured bacon – use it if you can find it!  A little bit of fresh thyme rounds out these quiche with an “herby” background flavor and I think it’s the thyme, not the bacon, that makes these mini quiche so addicting…or maybe it’s the buttery homemade crust…it’s really a tough choice!  Either way, put these on your next party menu – you and your guests will appreciate it.

Bacon-Cheddar Scones
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Bacon-Cheddar Scones

When I think of breakfast pastries, a savory item usually isn’t what I think about.  Muffins – yes. Cheese Danish – oh yeah.  Cinnamon buns – gimme gimme gimme!  And though I love so many varieties, scones aren’t usually what I reach for…but I think my mind is changing now after making these bacon-cheddar scones.  How could anything with bacon, cheddar, and scallions not be amazing?  Quick and simple to put together, I think what’s so great about them (aside from the guaranteed amazing flavor), is that you can make them for any meal.  I served them with some cheesy scrambled eggs but making them to serve with a roast chicken for dinner or a pot of soup for lunch would be totally acceptable and I’m sure very well-received, also.  If you know you’ll be in a pinch for time, I suggest cooking your bacon earlier in the week when you have the time and pulling it out of the fridge when you’re ready to make the scones.  Alternatively, you can make the dough in advance, cut and freeze it…then bake the scones off when you’re ready for them.

Bacon-Cheddar Scones

Many thanks to Mariana of Food Junky for choosing these scones for this week’s Project Pastry Queen task.  I knew they would well-worth the 3+ years I’ve been waiting to make them!

DIY: Refried Beans with Bacon
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DIY: Refried Beans with Bacon

Mexican food has got to be my favorite type of ethnic food to eat out!  Fresh tortilla chips and salsa, tableside guacamole, and refried beans always make me giddy.  I know – refried beans??  Most people pass on them…even turn their noses up at the blob of brown goop on their plates but I love, love, love refried beans!  I’m not sure I can explain why but they are definitely a side dish I’ve been wanting to make at home for a long time, especially since I love making bean and cheese burritos on high fiber tortillas for my work lunches with the leftovers from the canned refried beans we buy from time to time.  I guess I never really knew how incredibly easy they are to make at home until I tried them out recently.

And I’ll tell you right now, I swear I’ll never, ever go back to buying the canned stuff again after trying this recipe.  The amount of chopping of ingredients is minimal and essentially, in about 15 minutes, you’ll have yourself a pan of your very own homemade refried beans.  These beans are fully of bacony goodness but you can pull out some or all of the cooked bacon before adding the beans to the pan if you want to cut down on some of the calories and I’ll likely do this the next time I make this recipe.  The important thing about these beans, though, is that they are cooked in the bacon drippings…that is, after all, what makes them refried.  Either way, if you’re as big of a fan of Mexican food (authentic or other) and beans of all types like I am, you’ll love these refried beans just as much as I do.

Irish Bangers and Colcannon
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::: Before I dive into this post, let me first thank everyone who voted to help me move into Round 2 of Foodbuzz’s Project Food Blog. I was so humbled by the awesome comments left in my Round 1 post that I actually teared up at some of them. It was a nerve-wracking week while voting was going on but I made it safe and sound.  That said, I truly hope you enjoy my Round 2 post: The Classics. :::

Many have heard of Bangers and Mash but few have heard of colcannon.  While Bangers and Mash is traditional English pub food served with fried onions or onion gravy (or for Americans, sausages and mashed potatoes), Bangers and Colcannon put simply, is classic Irish pub food of sausages and mashed potatoes with cabbage. Or kale. And some versions have scallions.  Some call for ham or bacon while others do not.  On the surface, sausages and mashed potatoes with cabbage sounded straightforward but with all the variables for colcannon, I could see that this dish wouldn’t be easy.  Though, it shouldn’t be easy if the Foodbuzz Challenge Details say to go outside your comfort zone with a classic ethnic dish.

And go outside my comfort zone I did.  Here are the top 3 reasons why I was crazy for choosing this classic Irish dish:

1. First and foremost, I’ve never eaten it. Kyle has ordered it on the two occasions we’ve eaten at this great Irish pub in Portland, ME, called Bull Feeney’s. He raved and raved about Bangers and Colcannon for over a year until we made it back up to Portland this summer. So his love for this dish was my motivation for this challenge.

2. The thought of an Irish dish involving cabbage makes me shudder since I’ve never liked cabbage in almost any form.

3. And to wrap up this growing list of reasons: I didn’t have a recipe. Sure, Googling “colcannon” brings up a bunch of recipes but none of them passed Kyle’s test.  Apparently, they didn’t sound enough like the description on the menu at Bull Feeney’s.

So I was faced with making a dish at his request begging that I’ve never eaten involving an ingredient that I detest and without a recipe.  Great.

My first step in recreating this classic Irish dish was to go to the source.  Yeah sure, a trip to Ireland would have been nice but not practical of course.  I called Bull Feeney’s and asked for some pointers on making the dish.  The woman explained that it was traditional bangers with a brown sugar gravy served with colcannon.  I inquired further about the colcannon, probing about how to work the bacon into the dish, as we had seen on the menu, and she explained that the cabbage was sautéed in bacon and drippings with some added butter. I thanked her profusely for her help and hung up the phone.  Kyle was surprised to hear about the brown sugar gravy and asked how to make it. ::Crickets:: I never asked the woman about the gravy. He literally did a forehead slap.  I couldn’t well enough call her back so I told him I’d wing it.  Seriously though, I was winging this whole meal so what was another piece of it?

Yesterday, I got to work…picked up the ingredients, including authentic Irish bangers from Whole Foods (my regular grocery store doesn’t carry them), and got started in the kitchen in the mid-afternoon so that I didn’t miss the early waning natural light of late September. (So what if dinner would be at 5 instead of 6? I needed photos!) With all of the ingredients prepped in advance and with three pans working simultaneously on the stove, I methodically moved through how I envisioned the dish in my brain.  Boil potatoes. Sauté bacon. Brown bangers. Add cabbage and butter to bacon.  Add beer to bangers. Make gravy. Mash potatoes and add cabbage. And then…all of a sudden…the dish was finished!

The end result of this classic Irish dish is something I am truly proud of.  Recreating Bangers and Colcannon from the ground – up without a recipe was one thing.  It was another to make it great enough to pass Kyle’s test (which, by far, it did).  And it’s entirely another thing to fully and wholeheartedly say that I love this dish. I couldn’t get enough of it for dinner last night and will ashamedly admit, as only a food blogger could to an audience of people I don’t really know, that I overstuffed myself.  The colcannon was awesome, though how could it not be with bacon in it?  The dreaded cabbage was unassuming, ever so slightly crisp, and its contrast in texture with the mashed potatoes was perfect.  I never dreamed that a beer reduction cooked with brown sugar could be so amazing and it was the brown sugar gravy that completely put the whole dish over the edge.

I hope that you’ll try this classic dish in your own home and let me know how it turns out for you!  

Ina Garten’s Ultimate Grilled Cheese
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Does grilled cheese ever get old?  Not in this house!

And evidently, not for the Barefoot Contessa either since the Ultimate Grilled Cheese is one of the recipes from her upcoming new book, How Easy Is That?

I’m still swooning over this simple sandwich on steroids. It’s Bread + Cheese + Butter x 10.  Plus some bacon and mayo.  No joke, this was a fabulous sandwich.  How could it not be with a line-up like that one? Though I suppose it isn’t a sandwich for lightweights.  You have to be all or nothing.  Do this sandwich justice.  And if your conscience nags you about eating this, you can always eat two meals of fruit for the day.  Like I did.  ‘Cause lots of fruit totally negates the butter, cheese, and bacon.  Totally.

When you make this…and you will want to…head over to Ezra Pound Cake and thank Rebecca for choosing this recipe for the Barefoot Bloggers to make this month.  She didn’t have much to go off of because she doesn’t have a copy of the book yet but went on a hunch after seeing the recipe mentioned on the Amazon.com write-up of How Easy Is That? I love her hunches.

Chicken Caesar Club Sandwich
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While I’m always up for a hearty sandwich, I just wasn’t feeling the big hunk of bread this week so I took the liberty of adapting this sandwich into a nice hearty chicken Caesar club salad.  It was easy enough to do but I went a step further in lightening up the this meal by using equal parts light mayo and nonfat Greek yogurt.  The bacon, of course, stayed and added the perfect amount of bacon-y flavor to this light and crisp salad.  You’ll see my changes below but if you’re not up for a salad, I’m sure the club sandwich would be fantastic with nice fresh piece of crusty ciabatta.

Many thanks to Karen of Shortbread for choosing the perfect recipe to welcome in Spring!  If you haven’t been there in a while, be sure to check out the Barefoot Bloggers!