Makin’ Bacon

Our household loves bacon. A lot.  Thankfully we have access to local bacon that we purchase regularly. I buy it in one pound increments and typically freeze it right away until I’m ready to use it.

The trouble is that when I thaw it, obviously I now have a whole pound of bacon at the ready.

We might love bacon but we won’t eat a pound of it in one sitting.

No worries though because I just cook it all and then freeze whatever doesn’t get used.

That’s right, you can precook your bacon and then freeze it so that it’s ready when you need some smoky goodness in your life.

I cook my bacon in the oven on top of a cooling rack.  This saves me from having to stand guard over a hot skillet with flying grease. Cooking it in the oven is so much easier! Plus you have the benefit of even cooking and taking that bacon as far as you want it to go.  I like my bacon extra super crispy pretty please.

How OHC Handles Makin’ The Bacon

What you need:

  • 1lb Fresh Bacon
  • 1 Large Baking Sheet
  • Foil
  • Metal Cooling Rack
  • Oven

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Line the baking sheet with foil and place the metal rack on top.  Place bacon slices in a single layer, on top of the metal rack. The entire amount of bacon might not fit and you make have to do this twice. I always have to do two batches.

Place baking sheet in oven and cook until the bacon is as crisp as you like it.  Be careful it doesn’t burn or that the grease doesn’t smoke too much.

Once it’s at your desired crispness, remove from oven VERY CAREFULLY so that you don’t spill hot bacon grease.

Place cooked bacon on paper towel.

Repeat with the next batch.  If you have a lot of bacon grease, drain into a heat proof glass container and then proceed with making the next batch.

Use as much bacon as you need for whatever you’re using it for and just freeze the leftovers in a freezer bag.  The bacon takes no time to thaw and you can pull out as many slices as you need for your next meal or recipe.  The bacon will thaw as you prep ingredients.  If you want it warm, just heat in the microwave for about 10 seconds.

Ta-da! Easy! Not only do you now have a grease free stove-top, you have successfully made some bacon including leftovers for future uses.

Like for sandwiches or salads.

Or just eating. Whichever comes first.

Maple Bacon Pancakes

Bacon is popular. And with good reason, it is mighty fine eats.  It’s crispy (unless you like limp bacon, which if you do, let’s not discuss that), salty, and smoky. Bacon has seen a new popularity though popping up in things like cupcakes and ice cream.

Or maybe that’s always been the case but now it’s getting more press.  Regardless it was time to jump on the train and do something with bacon.  We love bacon at the HQ and Scott is always tossing hints my way about putting more bacon on top of things.

I took the challenge.

As I was assembling things in the kitchen you could hear him muttering, “What’s going on Rocks?” (He always pretends to be talking to Rocky when he’s trying to work something out.) “She’s got bacon out but it looks like she’s making pancakes.”

All he had to do was put two and two together which would have given him maple bacon pancakes!

Andrea’s Maple Bacon Pancakes

  • 1/2C Cornmeal
  • 1 1/2C White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1tsp Baking Soda
  • 1tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 4 Slices of Cooked Bacon, chopped (the bacon needs to be crispy)
  • 2C Apple Cider
  • 1TBSP Maple Syrup
  • 1tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat griddle on medium.  In a large mixing bowl combine cornmeal, flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Whisk together.  In a smaller bowl, combine the cider, syrup, and vanilla.  Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and gently stir until everything is combined.

Drop by the spoonful on a greased griddle (I use olive oil) and cook until you see bubbles popping up in the middle of the pancake.  About 2 minutes.  Flip and finish cooking on the other side.  Roughly 1-2 minutes. Remove from griddle and serve warm.

These pancakes turned out way better than I anticipated! They are fluffy and full of flavor making them perfect for a very cold and blustery winter morning.  The bacon and maple flavor is very subtle.  You get hints of smokiness and saltiness throughout the pancake.  The maple syrup on top helps keep everything balanced out.

The bacon softens a bit during cooking so there isn’t any hard crunchy pieces that catch you by surprise.  These are creamy and fluffy pancakes.

When I make pancakes my philosophy is the same as when I make soup or stews.  Go big or go home.  This batch makes a good bit of pancakes which can be frozen and toasted up later.  I reheat pancakes in the toaster oven this way they get a little crispy around the outside edges.

If you don’t have cider, you can use water.  You might have to add in a touch more syrup through to give some extra sweetness to the mix.  I find that milk, both dairy and nondairy, make pancakes heavy.  However if you want to use those instead of cider or water, go for it!

I can’t wait to toast up the leftovers and have them all over again! My first bacon inspired dish was a success!

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food! Enjoy!

This recipe was featured on Maple Syrup World.

Holiday Party Foods 2010 Edition

Tis the season! Now is the time when everyone is out and attending holiday parties left and right.  Heck perhaps you are even hosting one!  If you need some ideas on what to make for your next gathering, OHC is here to help you out!

Just out of the oven

You can’t really go wrong with bacon and cheese right?  Bacon wrapped jalapenos are the answer! Very portable and can be made ahead of time.  Just heat right before serving!

Ham and Cheddar Potato Puff

Got leftover mashed potatoes?  Quick and easy potato puffs are great for appetizers! Even if you don’t have leftover mashed, use fresh!  These also can be made ahead of time and just need to be heated up before serving.

Pear and Brie Crostini

Maybe you’re going to a fancier party? Or maybe you just want to wow your friends? Pear and Brie Crostini is a great combo and a perfect way to put that cranberry sauce to use.  It looks gorgeous and tastes just as amazing.

Salsa is always a winner! And super easy to transport! Black bean and corn salsa will bring a fresh twist and taste to the party table.

Switch up pasta salad with some Orzo and Roasted tomato. Can be served warm or room temperature.  This also transports easily and can be made ahead of time!

These are just a few ideas for your next party or gathering but feel free to search OHC for even more ideas.

Happy Holidays from OHC!

Pumpkin Polenta

Polenta is a “new to me” dish.  It wasn’t something I grew up with and the first time I came across it was watching Food TV.  I’m also not from the south, so grits never crossed my path either.

Whenever I saw it mentioned though, it was always very creamy with lots of cheese.  It looked amazing and people talked about it like it was a dish from the heavens.  I finally found some in the store and decided to make my own.

What a horrible experience!  The polenta smelled like dirty feet and it wasn’t creamy at all but gritty.  Perhaps why the term grits came about?  I really disliked the experience, so much so, that I tossed it all and pushed the idea of polenta aside.

With my food knowledge and experience growing, polenta came back to the forefront again.  Because I try to be fair with foods, I decided to give it another try.  I played around with it and became more familiar with it.  This time there was success!

Polenta still smells like dirty feet as it cooks but once you add in the cream base, some cheese, and butter if you’re feeling punchy, that smell turns into something very tempting and enticing.

Polenta can be made to take on lots of different flavors so I thought, why not use pumpkin?  It’s creamy and I bet it would provide a creamy texture to the dish.  I tested the waters and it took me a bit of experimenting, but I finally got a great pumpkin polenta dish!

Andrea’s Pumpkin Polenta

  • 1C Polenta (Regular, not quick cooking)
  • 3C Chicken Stock
  • 1/2C Pumpkin puree
  • 4 Green onions, chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno, chopped
  • 5-6 Slices of crispy bacon, crumbled
  • 1C Chipotle Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Olive Oil for sauteeing (about 2 tsp)

In a medium sized sauce pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, and add in the jalapeno.  Sautee for about two minutes, then add in the chicken stock.  Bring stock to a boil and add in the polenta. Reduce your heat down to medium at this point.  Stir continually until the polenta starts to thicken up.  It should resemble the consistency of a hot cereal, like cream of wheat.  Add in the salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder and stir.  Once you have the right consistency, turn the heat down to low and add in the pumpkin.  Stir until well incorporated.  Add in the cheese and stir.  Now add in the bacon and green onion.  Mix to combine, and serve!  Sprinkle a little extra cheese on top for added flavor.

You can see that this is not a sweet or dessert type polenta.  But one with some spiciness and a touch of salty sass from the bacon.  The pumpkin gives the polenta it’s trademark orange color while making the dish extra creamy.  Using more than 1/2 a cup of pumpkin will result in a polenta that is too runny and it will not set up nice for you.

I used Cabot Chipotle Cheddar but if you can’t find that or don’t want to use that, you can sub in some pepperjack for kick or regular cheddar.

This can easily be made veggie friendly by using a vegetable stock and omitting the bacon.

I wouldn’t have minded if this actually had a bit more spice to it, next time I might use a chipotle pepper plus some sauce instead of the jalapeno.

This dish makes a nice fall inspired side dish that’s full of flavor and I bet would surprise many that it contains pumpkin.

Keep in mind that this makes a lot of polenta!  Great for a party!  If you have leftovers, place it in a shallow baking dish.  The next day, cut into squares and sautee up in a bit of oil.  That will give the polenta a nice crispy outside and make leftovers a little more exciting.

Do you like polenta?   When was the first time you had it?

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!