Bacon, oh lovely bacon. It’s the only reason that I would never be a vegetarian. I love bacon. But we have all done the unthinkable and prepared bacon that was less than perfect. Maybe your bacon never gets crispy enough. Maybe it curls up on itself and won’t cook evenly. Maybe you burn it every time. I’m here to help and whatever you do, please don’t take the quick and easy way out and place it in the microwave – that will suck the life out of it!
Most of us have a pretty good idea of how to cook bacon. But we want great bacon. We all deserve great bacon. Let’s all agree to stop making these mistakes when we make bacon:
1.) Cooking cold bacon.
Bacon is meat — especially fatty meat. The secret to the meat and fat cooking evenly is for them to start out around the same temperature. Let your bacon sit at room temperature for five to fifteen minutes or so before you cook it. It will help the fat render more quickly, so it will be crispy and not burnt.
2.) Starting bacon in a hot pan.
It seems intuitive to heat up your pan, drop your bacon in and listen to it sizzle, so I understand why people make this mistake all the time. But again, the secret to perfectly-cooked bacon is slowly rendered fat, without burning the meat. Starting your bacon in a cold pan allows that to happen. Start the heat on medium low. When it starts to sizzle, bring it up just a bit to medium. Once enough of the fat has rendered down after the first flip (meaning there’s a lot of liquid fat in the pan and the white parts of the bacon have become translucent) you are very close to perfect bacon.
3.) Crowding the pan.
See the steam coming off that pan? That’s because there’s too many slices of bacon too close to each other and the bacon is steaming. Do you know what steamed bacon is like? It’s floppy. It’s not crispy. This is not the bacon you are looking for – like Canadian bacon, no, no.
4.) Piling your bacon on top of itself in the pan.
There is a chance that bacon cooked all jumbled up on itself will render and cook alright, but it will never get crispy, it will never be great. GIVE YOUR BACON THE SPACE IT NEEDS TO BE GREAT. You don’t want to steam it!
5.) Buying cheap, thin, sad bacon.
I think bacon is great, but I also know it’s not particularly healthful. We should treat it like an indulgence, not an everyday food. When you buy thinly sliced, watery, cheap bacon, you do yourself a disservice. Once you buy a thick cut, well-smoked, bacon made of pigs that ate well and were treated the same (like the bacon above), you’ll understand how great bacon can really be. A nice, slow cook to perfection is what we’re after. We like to eat a little less bacon in order to eat a little bit better bacon.
6. Burning it.
There is, however, a very fine line between extra crispy bacon and burnt, acrid bacon. Walk that line at your own peril, but we all know when we cross it. Keep in mind that the hot fat on your bacon will continue to cook it for a minute, even after it’s out of the pan.
7. Throwing out your bacon fat.
This is a cardinal sin. Bacon fat is one of earth’s greatest gifts to home cooks. It easily takes the place of butter for that added kick of smokey flavor and makes cornbread to another level entirely. Once your pan has cooled a bit, strain the fat into a mason jar and keep it in the fridge. You will not regret this.
You could also bake your bacon on a rack in the oven, if you want to enjoy less fat. We prefer the pan method because we can pay such explicit attention to each delicious strip.
Begin by placing the bacon in the freezer for approximately 15-20 minutes. Once chilled, remove the bacon from the freezer and dice it. Let it come to room temperature and cook over medium low heat in small handfuls to ensure even cooking. Set it aside to cool. Next mix the cooled bacon bits, granola, almonds, and chocolate chips in a bowl. Fold in the honey 1/4 of a cup at a time until the entire cup has been added. Make sure the honey is evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Use the spoon to break up any large chunks.
Place the mixture on a cookie sheet lined with enough parchment paper to cover the top. Once wrapped, push down to spread it in to an even 1 1/2 inch layer. Place it in the refrigerator for 4 hours to harden.
After the 4 hours has elapsed, remove the top layer of parchment paper and cut the granola block into whatever shape you’d like. Bars, circles, whatever. Then place them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Make sure they’re spread out. Next, cut and melt the chocolate block in a double boiler. Once tempered, drizzle a generous amount of chocolate to the tops of each bar. Place the sheet back in the refrigerator for approximately 2 hours to harden. Enjoy!
OK, I love a good, warm, gooey cinnamon roll, like from Cinnabon and also waffles. So why not combine the two and see what happens in the waffle maker. Dilute the icing that comes in the package to drizzle on top or make some cinnamon cream cheese spread for on top instead of maple syrup and Voila!
1 Pillsbury Grands Flaky Supreme Cinnabon Rolls
PAM cooking spray
1 tbsp water to dilute cream cheese topping
Spray waffles iron with PAM cooking spray and place 4 cinnamon rolls on a preheated waffle iron and close to cook.
Cook until light goes off ( WARNING!!! TIME DOES VARY FROM WAFFLE MAKER TO WAFFLE MAKER – WATCH THE WAFFLES – DON’T RELY ONLY ON THE LIGHT! YOURS MAY BE DONE BEFORE THE LIGHT GOES OFF!) and the waffles are cooked through. Make sure you close the waffle maker completely. I locked it closed so the waffle maker would smash the cinnamon rolls.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Butter Recipe
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1-1/2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Beat together the cream cheese and butter until well blended and creamy.
Add the cinnamon and confectioners’ sugar, beat until combined.
Spread over hot waffles!
Preheat oven to 400°. Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray.
1 box Puff Pastry (2 sheets), thawed
3 whole graham crackers, gently broken into fourths
1 Reese’s Giant Peanut Butter Bar
Mini marshmallows – 6 per turnover
1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp. water (to make egg wash)
Lay puff pastry on cutting board. Cut each piece of puff pastry on the three folds, creating 3 rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half making 6 rectangles per sheet of puff pastry. On one half of each rectangle layer a graham cracker, the Reese’s peanut butter bar and top with 6 mini marshmallows.
Working with one turnover at a time, fold puff pastry in half to meet opposite edges. Gently push edges together to stick; use fork to seal edges together and create ridged pattern. Repeat with each turnover until all are sealed up. Gently move turnovers to baking sheet with a spatula.
Brush turnovers lightly with egg wash, then use a sharp knife to cut two small slits into the top of each turnover. Bake 15 minutes, or until turnovers are golden. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
OK, I know it’s been awhile, but this should make up for it!
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup water
1 tablespoon salted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup chopped pecans
27 Tons of cooked bacon, drained on paper towel and diced
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cayenne
½ cup of your favorite caramel sauce
¼ cup bacon drippings
¼ cup salted butter (about 2 ½ tablespoons)
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
27 tons of cooked bacon, drained on paper towel and diced
For the Brittle:
In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the brown sugar, maple syrup, and water. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the syrupy liquid begins to boil. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, making sure the bulb is submerged without touching the bottom or sides of the pan. Turn the flame up to high, and cook the syrupy goo until it reaches 302 degrees F (hard break temperature). Note: the sugar mix will continue to foam and rise as it cooks. This is 100% normal. Immediately remove from heat. If the mixture gets much hotter, the sugar mix will start to smoke and give your brittle a bitter taste.
Using a wooden spoon, quickly stir in the butter, vanilla, baking soda, pecans, and bacon bits, mixing until thoroughly combined. While still piping hot, spread the mixture on to a greased sheet tray or non-stick surface so that it’s about ¼ inch thick. Season with a pinch of salt and cayenne pepper. Set aside and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before trying to break into pieces.
For the Brownies:
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and spray an 8×8 square baking pan with vegetable spray.
Combine your bacon drippings, butter, and unsweetened chocolate in a large pan and melt over low heat, stirring until mixed. Remove from heat and add your vanilla, sugar, and salt. Next stir in your eggs, beating until combined. Now, sift your flour into the mix and fold it into the batter until smooth.
Pour half of the brownie batter into your greased backing pan, and sprinkle half of the chocolate chips over top. Pour in the remaining amount of batter and then using a spoon, drizzle your caramel over the square pan making three equally spaced lines.
Bake until the top begins to crack and a knife slides out clean, about 30-35 minutes
Sprinkle with the bacon brittle crumble, remaining bacon bits, and remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate chips. Drizzle with more of the caramel. Season with a pinch of salt.
I find when making a quick stir fry with beef, it is always preferable to either buy the beef fresh and put it in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up, or to almost completely thaw out a frozen piece of flank to make it easier to slice. I slice the piece of meat down the middle lengthwise and then on the bias make thin slices at an angle. I also like to play with the way the vegetables are cut – from on the bias to using a wavey blade hand chopper to make them interesting and cook evenly.
1 flank steak
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp freshly cracked black pepper
3 tbsp oil
1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
1 clove crushed garlic
1 onion halved and sliced
2 cups chopped broccoli
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery stalks chopped
1 cup snap sugar peas, trimmed
1 buch Bok Choy, washed and chopped coarsely
1 cup beef broth
1 tbsp cornstarch
Slice the beef as described above and reserve in a bowl.
In another bowl mix the first four ingredients with 1 tablespoon of the oil, let stand at room temperature while chopping the vegetables.
In a hot wok put the remaining oil and red pepper flakes, cook until fragrant and add the beef. Stir quickly to sear and after several minutes remove from wok and set aside.
Add the vegetable to the wok and toss quickly to coat with beef juices and oil. Add the crushed garlic and cook for several minutes. In a small bowl mix the stock and cornstarch. Pour this over the vegetables and toss to coat, sauce with thicken after a few minutes. Add the beef back to the wok and quickly stir fry the dish to incorporate. Serve as is or over steamed rice.
Every year at the Del Mar Fair I get these flavored extracts and oil from a booth I can’t remember the name of, but the label says the company is Watkins Extracts. They are just incredible and the variety is amazing. I just mix some in with plain yogurt and Splenda and it makes the best topping for chopped fruit.
2 cups chopped strawberries
2 seeded and chopped papayas
2 cups plain yogurt
2 tsp Watkins Mango extract
In a mixing bowl add the yogurt, extract and Splenda and mix thoroughly with a whisk to incorporate completely. Let stand while you chop your favorite fruit. Toss to coat well and serve cold with a sprig of mint.
What to do with some leftover flank steak or even skirt steak? Well I either make sandwiches or this one particular idea came to mind. Make a savory, steak pie.
2 cups chopped leftover flank steak
1 can condensed Golden Mushroom soup
1 cup frozen peas
2 chopped carrots cooked
1 can sliced potatoes
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 garlic clove crushed and chopped
Pie Crust, thawed – top and bottom
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat over to pie crust directions. In a pie pan, or stone, lightly sprayed with Pam, place one layer of the pie crust in the bottom. Prick holes with a fork to prevent it from bubbling up. Cook for 10 minutes, remove from oven and set aside.
In a mixing bowl add all of the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour into pie shell and top with remaining pir crust. Tuck in the edges to seal and with a fork prick holes to vent the steam. Bake for 20 minutes and serve with a mixed green salad.
These are just the best combination to accompany any main course.
2 large carrots
2 large parsnips
1 large onion
4 ribs of celery
2 medium white potatoes
1 large red potato
1 package onion soup mix
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and crushed back pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450˚.
Chop all vegetables into 1 inch dice and set aside. In a mixing bowl combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and dry soup mix. Add the crushed black pepper and salt and toss with the chopped vegetables. Roast for 40 minutes.