Category Archives: Bacon

Bacon Beer Cheese Mac and Cheese

bbcmcWe had freezing rain yesterday. Then it warmed up and all the ice melted. It was nice and warm for a few hours until the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. Clouds filled sky. Limbs crashed to the ground.

It’s time to consider comfort food. While I am not a big fan of pasta most of the time, occasionally I really want some. Tonight, I really wanted to make my Bacon Beer Cheese Orzo but I didn’t have any Orzo. Whoa is me. I had a wide variety of other pasta so it was just a matter of modifying my Homemade Macaroni and Cheese to include beer and add the bacon. Super easy.

Bacon Beer Cheese Mac and Cheese
1 pound prepared pasta
4 tbsp butter
half an onion, chopped
4 tbsp flour
1 cup of milk
1 cup of beer
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Start boiling the water for the noodles in a large pot.
2. Melt the butter on medium heat in a pan that will be large enough to hold all the sauce ingredients.
3. Add the chopped onion and saute until slightly translucent.
4. Check your water. If it’s boiling, add the noodles.
5. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and onion and let it sit for a bit so the flour absorbs some of the butter.
6. Add the milk and beer, stirring gently to dissolve the flour.
7. Lower the heat to medium low and allow to thicken. Keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the pan and burn.
8. Add your cheese and stir until it’s all melty and smooth. I used sharp cheddar. You could use sharp cheddar and something zingy like gorgonzola. So many choices!
9. Your noodles should be done by now. Drain them well, put them back in the pot and add the sauce stirring through until all the noodles are thoroughly covered with sauce.

My Faithful Assistant doesn’t usually love food prepared with alcohol of any kind but he came back for seconds. It felt good. Of course, it could be his never ending growth spurt that is feeding his insatiable hunger. But I can pretend it was so delicious he lost all self-control and ate until he couldn’t move. It’s Christmas time, after all.

Enjoy!

Chicken, Potato, and Leek Pie

cplp2Leeks were on sale or maybe they were just there in their green and white finery, beckoning to me. “Buy us! Buy us! We are so good with everything!”  Okay!! I really do love leeks.

That was about two weeks ago. Today the leeks were saying, “Use us soon or your $4 will be in the compost.”I’ve had so many ideas about what I could make with the leeks. Then I realized it had been quite some time since I’d made any sort of savory pie. It was time.

Chicken, Potato, and Leek Pie
1 leek, with all the white and a little green chopped and rinsed
3 medium potatoes, chopped
1 1/2 pounds chicken, cut in small pieces
6 slices of bacon, chopped
1/4 flour
1/3 cup milk or chicken broth
1/2 cup cheese
Salt and pepper
Pie crust

  1. Saute the leeks in a little olive oil until translucent. Add the bacon and cook thoroughly.
  2. Add the chopped potato, chicken, salt, and pepper. Cook until the chicken is just done.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the top and let it sit for a little bit, then stir.
  4. Add the milk and stir. The milk and flour will make the chicken mixture a little pasty.
  5. Add the cheese and stir again.
  6. Put a pie crust on the bottom of a 9″ pie plate. Add the chicken mixture, and top with the other crust.
  7. Cut some vents.
  8. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until crust is golden.
  9. Allow to sit for a few minutes before you cut and serve.

Because of the incredibly long time I made my people wait for a nice chicken pie, they were quite appreciative. Anything but chicken and rice in the pressure cooker again. Oh! It was also very tasty. And even though it was 76 today in Central Maryland, and hardly the weather for such a hearty dinner, we enjoyed it very much.

Perhaps the most exciting part of our meal was the fact that I was able to prepare it using a large burner on my stove. It took 14 years in my house with ill-fitting drip pans on my stove for me to realize I could CALL THE MANUFACTURER and order new drip pans. I have to admit I was a little ashamed. I am, after all, the daughter of the woman who called Gerber to find out what kind of apples they used in their baby food applesauce so I could make it for her precious grandson. (Golden Delicious, BTW.) And lets not forget all the times she called every maker of salad dressing to see if “seasonings” meant mustard to which she had a terrible allergy. I have so many more stories like this, but I’ll stop now. I’m sure there will be other times for these stories.

If you don’t have leeks, you can use onions I suppose, but I recommend that you pop right out and get some leeks.

Enjoy!

cplp1

Bonus Post – Brie and Pear Stuffed Puff Pastry and a Book Review

bpsppSeveral weeks ago, a friend forwarded me an email from a group of Indie book publishers offering books to review. Sounded like a pretty sweet deal to me and a great way to motivate me to read an actual book, as opposed to a bunch of random articles on FaceBook. (Don’t judge. You do it too.)

I selected a book by a man named Lowell Press called “The Kingdom of the Sun and Moon.” I contacted Lowell which was kind of thrill for me since I’ve never corresponded with an actual published author. Boom! Response in a few minutes and my book was in my hands a few days later.

I LOVED IT!!!

This book was Lowell’s first novel and it’s great. It’s a YA novel about a mouse kingdom in and around the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, where the author and his son had many of their own adventures. There are battles, intrigue, ruthless evil mice, brave and clever mice, scary cats, not scary cats and food.

As the story goes, garden mice are recruited to go on quests for “Goldessen” for the evil mouse leader, the König, to give as an offering to the Emperor Wolfsmilch or he will attack with his huge army of forest mice and destroy all the mice in and around the castle. Or will he???? It is up to two mice, Sommer and Nesbit to figure that out.

There are so many elements of this book that I loved. I enjoyed the concept of the story teller who pretty much brainwashes the recruits into completing their mission. I also liked the “Giver” and the “Taker”. One entity or two? Woodland God? And I was really drawn into how the mice perceived the humans in the story.

There were big gaps between my readings, but I did finish this book pretty fast. I expect I read it in about four hours total. The book has something for everyone. It has many aspects to keep very young readers engaged and the political intrigue will keep older readers interested and perhaps even seeing parallels to modern politics. I know I did!

Now let’s talk about the Goldessen. Described as “a piece of the golden Sun wrapped in a piece of the gray moon to protect it”, this special cheese sounded a lot like Brie to me! It seemed obvious that my book review should come with a recipe that used Brie. But it had to be something worthy of a palace that wouldn’t take too much time. Well thank goodness for frozen puff pastry!

Brie and Pear Stuff Puff Pastry
1 sheet of puff pastry
1 pear
A wedge of Brie
4 ounces of proscuitto

1. Thaw the puff pastry according to the instructions on the package.
2. Roll it out and mark it in thirds. I used a knife to mark a line on the pastry.
3. Cut the rind of the brie and slice it in long pieces and lay on the middle third of the pastry.
4. Cover the brie with prosciutto.
5. Top the prosciutto with slices of pear.
6. Slice each of the out thirds into pieces so you can fashion a sort of braid by folding one piece of pastry over the center, alternating sides.

photo (29)

 

 

 

 

 

7. Bake according to the instructions on the pastry package. Mine baked at 400 for 40 minutes.

I know I made it, but this dish was fit for a king. Or an emporer. But the König is not worthy of this really delectable treat. I loved the way the sweetness of the pears contrasted the saltiness of the Brie and prosciutto. And I really like that I managed to get a few European flavors into one very simple pastry.

This could be made so many ways. Apples, walnuts and Brie. Raspberries and Brie. Bacon! The possibilities are endless, as I probably say too much. Another good dish for the Easter Brunch crowd too!

I hope you’ll support this new author and read his book. It’s perfect for a spring break beach read.

Enjoy!

ksm

Valentine’s Day: Crazy Sexy Pasta

csp2Original Post – February 7, 2013

Valentine’s Day in our house is a bit of a big deal. It’s our oldest child’s birthday. While we don’t buy each other gifts, there really isn’t anything more loving for a couple to do than celebrate the birth of your child over a wonderful meal.

If you’re looking for something special to make your honey (and your family or even just yourself) on Valentine’s Day, this is the dish for you! It’s very quick and easy and incredibly tasty. This dish is so popular in my house, running out of it has been known to make family members cry. They hide leftovers, or in a more recent development, reserve them.

The combination of the salty pancetta with the creamy sauce will make you drool. I used to make this with the traditional three alfredo ingredients of butter, heavy cream and parmesan. I no longer use the heavy cream but start with the same milk sauce I use in my Mac and Cheese. I won’t call this dish light by any means. It’s fatty fat fattening. But it’s nice to indulge once in a while.

Crazy, Sexy Pasta
1- 16 oz box of interesting pasta like Farfalle or Gemelli
4 oz of pancetta or prosciutto
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 TBSP of olive oil
1/4 cup flour
4 TBSP butter
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 – 3/4 cup Parmesan
pepper to taste

1. Start the water boiling for your pasta. This sauce is so fast that you will have it ready in the time it takes your pasta to cook.
2. Combine oil, garlic and pancetta (or prosciutto) in a sauce pan that is big enough to hold the milk and everything else. Cook for 5 – 7 minutes on medium heat. Remove from pan, drain and set aside. Don’t forget your pasta water! You can probably add the pasta now!
3. Melt butter in the same pan.
4. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and let it soak in for a minute. Then gently mix it around.
5. Add the milk. Some people like to add milk in stages and let it thicken. You can do that or just put it all in at once. Reduce heat to medium – low. Stir frequently until it thickens.
6. When your milk sauce (I heard this term the one time I watched Rachael Ray) is the consistency of a thin pudding, add the cheese. Start with a half a cup and add more if desired. Your sauce should look like the picture below.

7. Add the pancetta and garlic into the sauce and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low.
8. Your pasta is probably done! Drain it well, return it to the pot and pour on the sauce and toss it around.
9. Allow people to pepper to taste.
Serve with a nice salad and a light white wine like a Pinot Grigio. You can toss in some steamed asparagus, too. We’ve done that and it’s fantastic!
I want to emphasize how easy this is to make. My 15 year old son has made this. I decided since it’s his favorite dish that he needed to know how to make it himself. So if you are looking for something really elegant to make for a first Valentine’s Day with your honey, and you don’t feel confident with your cooking, this is it!
Are you planning a less romantic Valentine’s Day? This will work for you, too! Just cut everything in half! You’ll have one serving for dinner and enough for one more meal. Or make the whole thing and have everyone over for an Anti-Valentine potluck!
Enjoy!
#HoCoFood

Eggs and Wilted Greens

ewgA couple of the egg sandwiches I was served at Whole Foods this week had greens on them. Fine with me! If you are a consistent follower of my blog, you know I am a huge fan of greens and I eat them pretty much daily in some form.

After having way too many treats over the holidays, and suffering a bout of the flu (I know I should stop talking about it), I was anxious to get back to a healthy eating routine. Protein, fiber, vitamins and other nutrients in their natural form were in order. So I combined some bacon, greens and egg and made…

Eggs and Wilted Greens (1 serving)
1 egg
A generous handful of your favorite greens – I used assorted baby greens
2 pieces of bacon – I used turkey bacon

1. Chop up your bacon and cook until it’s crisp. Feel free to cheat by putting it in the microwave.
2. Throw your greens in the pan with the bacon and heat until wilted, about five minutes.
3. Move the greens and bacon over and cook your egg however you prefer. I like mine over hard.
4. Serve the egg on top of the greens or next to it. Feel free to throw this all on an English Muffin.

Delicious, fast and nutritious. If you’ve been lured by those egg white sandwiches in the freezer case and at various coffee shops, I encourage you to try this instead. If the cooking time for the bacon is a deterrent, you can leave it out. Or you can pre-cook and have it ready to heat and eat. This took me about five minutes to make. You spend more time in line at the coffee shop.

Enjoy!