Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bacon & Sausage Breakfast Tacos....Fuck I'm Hungry!!

Izzy's Breakfast Taco-notice the excess of Bacon
 Dammit, why do I do this to myself? I start looking through food blogs and recipes before lunch and of course I'm starving, so it all looks sooooo goooood and I can't wait to get home and try a new recipe....then I look at the sad sack of food I brought for lunch (home made soup and a bun); it's OK, but not what I want after reading about bacon inspired dishes for hours...I mean just a few minutes...I am at work.
There was one that I had seen before, the bacon weave wrapped around cheese which had a link to another site where there was a bacon weave rolled up around scrambled eggs, which kinda reminded me of the bacon and egg tacos I make....oh internet, what a tangled web of bacon you weave....hhhmmm bacon weave webs for Halloween treats??? Hhhmmm...loosely weaved and covered in chocolate, maybe some white chocolate highlights to enhance a web-ish design? Sweet Jebus I am a genius! Remind me about that idea, I will most likely forget in the morning...

And once again I digress. So after all that I was hungry for bacon...sigh...and none to be found here in the office....with just a natural food store next door, which I can tell you does NOT sell bacon in any way shape or form...damm hippies can go die in a hole.

So ANYWAYS....The point is I thought I should share this recipe with my whopping 8 lucky little devils, this is THE BEST breakfast taco you will ever eat. FOR REAL.

Bacon, Sausage and Egg Breakfast Tacos...Ok Brunch because breakfast is never served before 11am in my house.

You Will Need...Serves 4, get more if you are feeding more people...der.

- 1 package soft small corn tortillas
- 8 eggs
- a few splashes of cream or milk
- 1 pound of bacon
- 8 breakfast or 4 chorizo sausages
- 1/2 cup cheddar & mozza cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup salsa-homemade or store bought, I really don't care
- several dashes of green Tabasco - because it is so much better than the red.
- 8-10 pickled jalapeno slices (optional for the kids I guess...wimps)

1. Cook your bacon and sausage in whichever way you prefer - I like to bake my bacon in the oven as you all know. Sausage I would assume most, if not all, people would do it in a frying pan. If you're smart like me, I bbq my chorizo when it's not pouring fucking rain outside.

2. Crack eggs into a large-ish bowl and beat gently. If you beat the crap out your eggs before you scramble them that is why they turn out watery and gross. Do it just enough to break up the yolks and breakdown some of that really slimy slug like white part  (which is called the CHALAZAE,
it's like the egg's umbilical cord...once again I say, nature is gross...thanks Google). Heat your egg scrambling pan with a good amount of butter on medium high, like about 6. Once the butter is foamy pour in the eggs. Using a flat wooden spatula, stir the eggs every 10 seconds or so, moving the cooked bits off the bottom of the pan, Do this gently as well, we're not mashing potatoes here people. When the eggs are about half way cooked but still runny, remove the pan from the heat and add a few big splashes of cream or milk. Gently fold and stir in all the cream/milk, then put back on the heat to finish cooking. We like our eggs soft and creamy so after I add the milk I do another 30-45 seconds on the heat,  then off and keep folding till they are perfect. Izbot will only eat eggs cooked this way, my dad made her scrambled eggs one morning and she wouldn't eat them because he put the milk in with the raw eggs. I wanted to smack her for being so rude, but hey, the kid has high standards. Grampa's eggs come in a very close second thought cuz he knows how to not over cook them. OK seriously, I did not intend this to turn out as a lesson on how to scramble eggs, but I can't help myself, I'm a dork.

3. Heat a frying pan on high till very hot, not quite smoking. Once it's REALLY  hot, you can warm the tortillas one at at time. I used to do it straight on the burner, but they get kinda burned tasting. Apparently it works well with a gas stove on low, but since I don't have one I can't tell you how well that turns out.

4. Assemble as follows... in the warm tortilla...1 sausage ( if using chorizo, slice in half lengthwise), 2 pieces of bacon, some eggs, Tabasco, cheese, salsa, jalapenos. You could throw on some sour cream, avocado, squeeze of lime as well if you're feeling fancy. I usually use my homemade salsa with has lots of lime and cilantro in it, so if you're just using store bought, try that. Or make a quick salsa lazy-ass, it's pretty simple and quick.

We do have this quite often for breakfast on the weekends, the Izbot and Minellynator both like it because they add whatever they like JUST LIKE WHEN IT'S TACO NIGHT. And The Man will eat anything I cook cuz he hearts me. Amazing. Simple. Bacony. Delicious.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A bit O' Rage from a BSMNT dweller

Ok so yes, this has nothing to do with bacon, but, come on kids, you know the words, this is my blog and I will talk about whatever the hell I want.

So I'm looking for a new place to live, it's annoying and to help me get out some of my anger, I posted this to CL to make me feel a bit better...

Dear Landlords of BSMNT suites

To all of the nice landlords, let me say thank you for opening your home to renters. We appreciate the opportunity to live in a house rather than an apartment or condo. But not all suites are created equal, so here are a few pointers for those less than stellar landlords…

First of all, your after market “renovations” are a joke. The 5’X4’ bedroom you crammed into the corner will not fit a bed, let alone a dresser…a dresser is required because of course, there is no closet. And when designing the kitchen, please keep in mind that it is customary to have all of the appliances in the same room. Placing the fridge in the hallway renders the kitchen just a room with a stove and sink, for of course there is no dishwasher and barely any cupboards, and greatly impedes access to the “bedroom”. I will say only this about the bathroom “reno’s”; are you kidding me?

Secondly, unless you want a dirty, smelly tenant, some sort of access to laundry should be available. I cannot fathom why you think it unnecessary for us to wash our clothes, bedding, towels etc in a timely fashion. Consider the emergency washing needs, like when a child vomits on the sheets in the middle of the night, or having to wash all the towels I own after your toilet upstairs flows over and drains through the airs ducts, through what is my ceiling downstairs, and pours possibly contaminated water all over my floors….Yes, I know there are Laundromats, but honestly, after working 2 jobs just to make ends meet and pay a portion or your mortgage, I am a bit tired, and the last thing I want to do in the evening is pack up my dirty laundry, haul it half way across town and sit there for hours watching a washing machine spin. Although I suppose I could get a third job to fill the time wasted sitting around waiting for the clothes to dry.

And to keep this short, my third point. I would appreciate the luxury of having a small pet. I understand your previous tenant, the crazy lady with 7 cats, destroyed your home, but please believe me when I tell you that I only have one small cat and she has never pissed or shit on the floor, or shredded walls. I understand that replacing flooring can be quite an expense and a lot of work on your part because you refuse to hire a professional to do any of the work on your pain in the ass mortgage helper…I mean suite. What I don’t understand is how you could possibly have the balls to request a $1500 damage deposit because you stupidly spent $3800 to replace the flooring in your 387 sq ft suite. Not only is this totally asinine, it is also against the Residential Tenancy act….you may want to pick up a copy.

So once again, thank you to all the great homeowners out there who provide lovely, reasonable places for us bsmnt dwellers to live…and to those money grubbing slumlords… you sirs and madams can kindly suck it.
Yes I know, totally juvenile and probably a bit hurtful, but whatever, it's my opinion and that's the only one that counts right? RIGHT? Right.
Have a pleasant day.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Should Bottle This Shit And Sell It!

So yeah, here we are again, it's been how long since my last post? Quite a while me thinks, so this is seriously overdue. Thanks Miguel for the reminder, team Grizzlecorn works in magical ways....

Oh summer, beautiful warm hot sunny summer. I love it, it makes me feel strong and whole, being outside in the nature, sitting in clean, crisp creeks surrounded by happy children, great friends and ice cold beer. It really doesn't get much better - Life.Is.Good. Our provincial motto is "The Most Beautiful Place on Earth", totally corny but absolutely true. We are so blessed to live here, I really do thank my Dad every day for driving me so crazy as a teenager that I needed to leave Saskatchewan and get as far away from him as humanly possible....Love you Daddy! Full of teenage angst, anger, and bitchiness, I packed up my belongings and with all the drama of a 15 year old, stormed off in a huff to have a"better" life. HA! Was I in for a surprise!! I have done a lot of struggling to survive over the last 20 years, but have learned so many mountainously ( real word?) powerful lessons about strength, character, friendship, family and love that it has all been worth it, and I truly do thank you Dad for letting me go, as hard as I know it was, to make my own way. And to my Mom for all the lessons she has given me about the strength of one's soul and determination, and for letting me make my own choices and decisions and supporting the outcome of the more unfortunate ones. And now, as I sit here writing this as the mother of an almost 15 year old extremely dramatic teenage girl full of angst and defiance, I see that it is mixed with strength and confidence. I realize that if it hadn't been for the long tough journey I've been on, she would not be the amazingly powerful young person she is today and will continue to grow into. I am so excited for her future I could almost puke. Really, it give me butterflies and stuff. Now to work on the Izbot....sigh...oh my dear sweet unicorn child :)

I suppose you're thinking, given the title, what, does she think she can bottle this happiness shit for a rainy day? Nope, not that is actually an indirect quote from my daughter, yes the 15 year old Minellynator, who COMPLIMENTED me on how good the last batch of BBQ sauce turned out. I guess we really do love each other and shit. I originally started to blog about the best barbeque sauce on the planet -mine, and got to thinking...there is a disclaimer on the top of the page, not my fault if you failed to read the part about rambling.
So now dear blog readers, I am going to give this gift to you, and since I only know of about 10 people (half of them family of some sort) who bother to read this thing, I assume the recipe is fairly safe and in good hands. Enjoy with your burger, chicken, ribs, any kind of dead creature will do...rabbit...porcupine...squirrel...hey I'm from Mission, this place is riddled with dirty hippy rednecks.

So you will need, in approximate measures....
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 small onion, about 2-3 tbs minced
***you can skip the fresh and use 1 tbs garlic powder and 1 tbs onion powder, it actually keeps better. But use fresh if you're making a small batch
- 2 cups Ketchup
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 - 1/2 cups water
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp coriander
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 2 tbsp chili power
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp dried mustard
- fresh ground pepper
- about 3- 4 shakes liquid smoke
- about 5-6 Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp tamarind or soy sauce
- 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
- 2 bay leaves

1. Saute the onion and garlic in a tbsp of oil till soft, just a minute or two.
2. Mix all the other ingredients in a bowl and stir it all up...duh, what else would you do?
3. Add to pot and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or so, adding water if it's too thick. Remove the bay leaves before you use it or you could choke to death on them....if you were to drink it. Anyways you can add delete whatever you like to this recipe, I'm sure I've forgotten something. Basically I just grab my spice basket and start dumping shit in and it turns out awesome...cuz I'm cool like that....and I've been doing this cooking thing for a ling time. I will re-post if I've forgotten something important.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Road Trip That Saved My Life By Almost Killing Me...

So OK, remember how I was all doom and gloom last week? Well, I'm feeling much better now. And all it took was a road trip with some of my favorite people in the world , The MNE Family.... these are the best bunch of friends a bacon lover could possibly ask for, we had the time of our lives....well most of us I think. I guess I can only speak for myself and the people that were immediately around me...and there may be some forgotten moments that are lost forever due to over consumption of Jager.

So without further ado, here is my simple recipe for Eggs Benny, made my bacon way. Mostly it's just tips about how to poach eggs and cook the bacon, but I must share something of that trip here to induct the weekend into the annals of the world wide web history....annnals...A.P.!!!
Wild Cow Breakfast
Enough to feed 4 wild cows after a long night of ass porn.

- 4 English Muffins
- 1 1/2 lbs of thick sliced bacon
- 8 Eggs
- 2-3 Tbsp white vinegar, one extra large splash
- Salt
- Hollandaise Sauce- you can either try and make it or use a package. When we showed up at Dawn's house all hung over and scruffy to take over her kitchen, there was already a pot made so I just used that.

- Paprika

1. Place as much bacon as you can fit on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake in the oven on 325 ish for about 25-30 minutes. I find that overlapping when you have a large amount of bacon works just fine, in fact it works better because the bacon kind of braises in it's own fatty goodness. I usually flip it once about half way through. Keep it in longer if you like it crispy, but I find soft bacon works best for the Benny.

2. Bring a shallow pot of water to the boil. Add a large pinch of salt and the vinegar. Turn down to a medium simmer.

3. Crack 1 egg into a small bowl, making sure not to break the yolk. If you do, throw it out, it's useless now.

4. At water level, gently tip the egg into the pot allowing a small amount of water into the bowl. This gives the egg a gentle entry (OMG Serena...just a little bit, I'll be gentle, I promise I won't hurt you...) into the hot water. Let it sink a bit and turn white for about 15 seconds, and gently move it around the pan, folding the white over itself. Keep the egg floating until it is set so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan, it should firm up a bit in about another 15-20 seconds. Repeat the same process with each egg, swirling the water as you go to keep them separated. If you use a large enough pan you should be able to do all 8. But if you're not a cool as me, you may only want to do 4 at a time. Cooking time will vary depending on how runny/hard you like your eggs. Keep the water at a very gentle simmer on low.

So the vinegar is key here. Vinegar is what stops it from spreading out into the water and becoming a white cloudy mess. Don't worry about putting too much in, I dumped about a 1/2 a cup in once and didn't notice any difference int the taste...although the whites were a bit tougher, but still good.

5. Toast and butter the english muffins.

Once everything is cooked, assemble as follows: spread a spoonful of hollandaise over each english muffin-yes it does already have butter on it, you got a problem with that? Layer on 3 slices of bacon, the poached egg, more hollandaise and dust with paprika.

That's about it, pretty simple once you get the hang of poaching the eggs...and taming wild cows.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

*Sigh* Oh Bacon, where art thou???

I'm tired, just bloody bone weary and have just about had enough....not just about, I have had enough. Day in day out struggle struggle struggle just to get through each dreary moment. Some days there are only a few things that make it possible to drag my sorry ass through the day----the Izbot, the Minellynator, and the possibility of Bacon. Yes, this is one sad bacon girl/lady/bitch today - the weather, the boredom of this soul sucking job, the life stress, it is all a-piling up on these narrow little shoulders, threatening to crush my spirit to the Wile E. Coyote waiting for the rocks to come crashing is it I always manage to find the exact picture I'm thinking about? Weird....

For a while now I have been discontent with life in general, which is really not like me. To say my life is challenging is a fair assessment - single Mom, 2 kids, no support, well paying job that has tanked into a low paying job, which is in an industry that is the antitheses of my morals and quasi-socialist values, with little opportunity to make significant change - but despite all of this I have for the most part in the past been able to maintain a positive and upbeat outlook. "The sun will come up tomorrow and line the clouds with silver, while unicorns prance in the meadows full of pots of gold and rainbows" has been my attitude for the most part. For without that optimism I would be dragged across that thin line that we toe between happiness and despair. I don't really know why things are suddenly getting too me, maybe just too much weighing on the old brain...maybe it's because I have a milestone birthday is coming up? Maybe it's because I feel like being a gigantic whiny baby? Ahhhh, who knows...OK, ugh, yuck this is gross, I have turned into that type of person that I despise for their weakness and pissy, pathetic, "oh woe is me" attitude. Jesus Christ on a cracker that's enough, at this rate I'm gonna have to bitch slap myself silly.

So, what does a girl turn to in times of sadness and self pity? Well typically it's chocolate, but hey, this is me we're talking about here, so bacon it is...covered in chocolate and topping some fluffy delicious chocolate cupcakes. Now I just may have a reason to go on....

Chocolate Covered Bacon Bits

- 8 slices thick bacon - cook till crisp but not burnt
- 1 ½ cups milk chocolate chips, melt over double boiler

1. Dice the bacon into about 1/2 inch pieces and dip into milk chocolate, creating savory/sweet chocolate bacon chips.

2.Rest each small piece on a wire rack covered with parchment paper.

3. You will notice after you have chopped the bacon into pieces that there are crumbs left over. Grind them up fine - you have just made your own real bacon salt, not that garbage that contains no real bacon and is vegan friendly-and sprinkle over the chocolate covered pieces while the chocolate is still hot- You can refrigerate to cool.

The Ultimate Bacon Chocolate Cupcakes:
Makes around 20-22 small cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes

•1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
•1/2 cup boiling water and 1/2 cup cold water
•1 1/3 cups flour
•2 tsp baking powder
•1/2 tsp salt
•1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temp ****
•1 cup white sugar
•2 eggs – room temp
•2 tsp vanilla extract
•1/2 cup Bacon Chocolate Chips
•Fleur de sel
****The original recipe called for 1/4 cup butter, and 1/4 cup hard bacon fat. I chose to forgo the bacon fat, I just thought they would turn out greasy...but try it if you like.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.

1.Combine boiling water and cocoa in a heatproof bowl. Whisk until smooth then add 1/2 cup cold water or it will take forever to cool to room tempureature. DO NOT ADD THIS HOT OR IT WILL RUIN YOUR BATTER.

2.In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

3.In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy -this is key for light fluffy cupcakes, beat them till they cry... it can actually take quite a while, since it's cold and disgustingly rainy outside, my room temp butter takes a while to fluff up-like about 10 minutes in the Kitchenaid.

4. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly in between. Mix in vanilla extract.

5. Add flour mixture and beat until just combined. Add room temperature cocoa mixture and mix until smooth. Stir in about 3/4 of the bacon chocolate chips if desired. I just put them on top.

6. Fill each lined cupcake tin 2/3 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until cupcakes are springy to touch and a toothpick insert in the middle comes out clean. Let cool before applying frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Icing

•4 oz unsweetened chocolate
•2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
•1 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
•1 1/2 t vanilla extract
•Fleur de sel

1.Set up a double boiler: heat water in a saucepan over high heat. Chop chocolate and place into a heatproof bowl set on top of the saucepan of simmering water. Stir gently until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

2.In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy.

3. Add powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and melted chocolate. Beat on high speed until frosting is smooth.

4. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes and sprinkle the top of each with a pinch of fleur de sel.

5. Top with 3 chocolate covered bacon pieces.

As you can probably imagine, these are the best cupcakes you will ever eat. Seriously. And make extra Bacon Chocolate Chips, probably about a pounds worth of bacon, because you will want to eat them all...if this don't cure a shitty attitude, nothing will.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Pork Roast

Whoa, hey there what's going on??? Where have I been? Well I'd like to say I've been really busy doing some super cool stuff, but we all know that's not entirely true....just been doing life and things and haven't gotten around to posting anything lately, but that DOES NOT mean I haven't been busy makin' bacon. Oh no, since my last post I have done a mean pork stuffed and bacon wrapped roast, made Chocolate Cupcakes with Bacon Chocolate Chips, I have deep fried bacon two ways....the list is long people so I better get on it eh!

So for an MNE Family bbq I of course had to make a pork dish, because if you think I like the pork products, look out! This bunch are pork fanatics....might have something to do with how awesome I can cook, or maybe they're just a bunch of swine loving misfits...perhaps we will never know the truth....anyhow.....on to the recipe.

I had this pork shoulder roast, it was all nice and evenly dressed with string, all pink and fatty and lovely and juicy...Ok, calming down now. So I says to myself, "Bacon Bitch, what are we gonna do to make this an even more porky dish?" Why of course, we'll stuff it with pork and wrap it pork...but wait, we've heard this one before....oh no no no not quite. If you recall the last pork on pork on pork trifecta was LOIN wrapped in PROSCIUTTO....this my dears is a full on pork butt wrapped in a bacon weave, stuffed with pork sausage...that's right, say it again, butt, bacon, sausage...and it went a little somethin' like this.....

I think I used....

1, 5-6 lb boneless pork shoulder (butt)
2 sprigs rosemary
butcher's twine.

...for the stuffing

butter and olive oil for sautee-ing
-2 Italian sausages, casing removed
-1 small onion, diced
-1 clove garlic, minced
-2 slices of bacon, diced
-3/4 -1 cup chicken broth
-2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
-2-3 cups of dried bread cut into about 1/2 inch square pieces
-1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped fine
-1 spring fresh thyme, chopped fine
-1/2 tsp of dried cumin

This is how I do it...

1. Heat about 1 tbsp of oil in pan, crumble in sausage meat and cook till brown and lovely. Remove from pan and put it on a plate for now.

2. In the same pan as the sausage, without cleaning it, add bacon and cook till bacon is done but still soft, if needed add each butter and oil and saute onion and garlic till fragrant (ooohhh big word!).

3. Add the apples, cook for a few minutes till they're a bit soft. Add the sausage back in, then the herbs, cumin and a small bit of salt if you think it needs it, depends on how salty your bacon is, and lots of cracked pepper.

4. Add bread, stir to mix in, then chicken broth. Stir well till the bread is moistened. Let cool....while you make your bacon weave!

The Weave

Now I don't think I've been over this, but I'm going to try and explain it without pictures. You will need 12-14 strips of bacon for this. I choose the longest and most uniform in width from the butcher's case...yes they do look at me like I 'm a loser until I explain what I am doing. Then they look at me with raptured awe...that's OK, I'm getting used to it.

**Side note, there's one girl there who still looks at me like I'm crazy, but for fuck's sake, if you do not love meat and eating meat then you have no business working in a butcher shop. So there, screw you lady.

On a large piece of parchment paper, lay out 6-7 strips side by side vertically, so they are just touching.

Staring at the top left, lay one strip horizontally across, begin weaving on top of the first vertical strip, under the second, over the third, etc till you get to the end.

Repeat this process with the second horizontal strip starting under the first vertical strip, and continue along with each strip, alternating over under over. Continue with all the strips of bacon. The end result should be a square "bacon mat"

Does this sound complicated, or, condescending? It's like in Kindergarten when you learned to weave Easter baskets out of construction paper.

Anyways moving on...set the weave aside for now.

Take your roast and if it's all tied up, well snip those strings off. It should open up, lay it out a flat as possible. Now we get a layer of stuffing over the whole inside, fold back up and re-tie with butcher's twine. Where to tie should be fairly straight forward as there will be lines left over from the original dressings...der.

Once you have it all secure and as much of the stuffing crammed in there as possible, you are going to wrap that bad boy in the bacon weave.

Place the roast with the seam to the side facing you, you dont want in on the bottom or the stuffing will just fall out and burn.

Using the parchment papers as leverage, lay the weave over top of the roast, covering the seam. It will probably not fit all the way around the bottom, but this is good, the bacon on the bottom would just burn as well. Tuck the weave in towards the bottom as much as possible, securing with toothpicks so it stays in place. Place in a disposable tin roasting pan, you will most likely never be able to use the pan again....Stick a few rosemary sprigs in under the weave before it goes on the bbq. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE PLACE THE ROAST DIRECTLY ON THE RACK!! SEE Warning...The Hazrds of bbqing Bacon! FOR A FULL DESCRIPTION OF WHY....

I did this low and slow on the bbq, about 300 degrees max. Cover with tinfoil for the first 2 hours, then uncover for the last 1 /2 to 2 hours. Use your meat thermometre that you have had plenty of time to buy to check for done-ness. Take it off the heat when you read about 145-150 and lest rest tented End temp goal is 160, end result looks like a giant ball of bacon all weaved together, golden, crispy and beautiful.

This was enjoyed by my favourite group of people, in my beautiful back yard and topped off with a fire and marshmallow roast. Another perfect MNE Family event.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Cheesy Jalapeno Goodness...

Ok, I know this recipe is all over the web, but this is MY blog and I'm going to write about it if I damm well want to....

I came across it one day while looking for a dish to bring to Thursday night dinner. I have these fabulous friends Tex (of the band
My New Enemy) and Sarah who put on an open house style dinner every Thursday night. The food in absolutely amazing. Texas is an incredible cook, very creative with solid skills, and Sarah is the sweetest, warmest metal wife you could ever imagine. Basically Tex cooks, whoever shows up, shows up, and we eat, drink and have a very merry time. There are lots of kids running around, playing in the yard, watching movies, screaming, crying and carrying on in that blissfully happy way that little friends do.
We're like a family that actually likes each other. I feel very lucky to part of this event, and even though it is not required, I do like to bring something, only because I love to cook and share good food with great people.

Since I have come to be known as the bacon girl, I thought I'd better represent and bring some sort of bacon dish...and because I have a constant supply of the magical pork product it's an easy decision. I have to admit though that I'm not really that big on spicy foods and the use of hot peppers. But I do love the flavour of jalapenos and they're not really that hot compared to others, so I thought what the hell, lets give it a go, at the very least I think most people would at least try them. Boy was I right, they were devoured in minutes, all the bacon grease sopped up by a bunch of happy looking misfits :)

So here is MY version, most likely the best one out there....

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Jalapenos

Here is what you will need...

- 12-16 large jalapenos
- 1 brick of cream cheese
- 1/2 cup grated mozzarella
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 lime
- chopped cilantro, about a handful
- S&P
- 6-8 slices bacon, cut in half
- lots of tooth picks

And this is how you do it...

Preheat oven or bbq to 350 degrees.

1. Slice jalapenos in half lengthwise, scooping out the seeds and ribs.

2. Place in a large bowl, or if you're lucky like me the bowl of your Kitchen Aid mixer, the cheeses, garlic, squeeze in the lime juice and a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Mix well till smooth.

3. Spoon the mixture into the patiently waiting jalapeno boats, leveling off at the top...or if you're Karen, overflowing to the point of obscenity.

4. Wrap each filled jalapeno in a half slice of bacon, securing with a tooth pick. 4. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or so, if bbqing on LOW for as long as it takes for the bacon to be cooked. You want it still a bit soft, not crispy.

5. Let cool a bit before inhaling! The next week that Karen made these, I ate one pretty much straight out of the oven and my tongue was burnt for days.

This is a super easy appy idea, and very versatile, you can put whatever else you like in with the cheese mixture, I think Karen used like 5 different cheeses, but I recommend you DO NOT use cheddar cheese, I tried this with the bit of leftover mixture and the cheese leaked out and was still good, but the cheddar didn't add anything to it. I think maybe some crab or shrimp meat would be good, smoked salmon, more bacon....

I saw it on a cooking show where they topped the jalapeno, scooped out the insides, piped in plain cream cheese, stuffed in a marinated water chestnut, more cream cheese, wrapped it in bacon a baked them in a cool holder that held them upright. Sounds simple, but the way that eejit Guy Fieri was going on about it you'd think it was filled with liquid gold...he's such a douche... but anyways, the point is that you can get creative, try whatever you like because I can't imagine there is any way you could screw up a jalapeno wrapped in bacon...unless you forgot the bacon...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spaghetti Carbonara....doing it my bacon way...

By this time you've figured it out that, yes, I do eat bacon pretty much every day. Not just whole slabs cooked up and eaten on it's own, but in some way. I use bacon as a flavouring for soups and stews, topping potatoes or salad, or adding to a pasta dish. Really the possibilities are endless, just try and think of a food that bacon would NOT taste good with I will convince you it would...go ahead, try me...

Carbonara is a classic pasta recipe that typically calls for Pancetta, which is a lovely pork product, but because I always have bacon on hand, that's what I use. I have adapted this from Rachel Ray, yes I know, but she has been a great source for simple, family friendly, easy meals. Ray Ray is not a trained chef and has become extremely successful (if not a sellout with her daytime TV show - ooohhh, yeah I went there!) by being herself and sharing her love of food. I'd say she's a bit of an inspiration to cooks like me...except for the selling out part...I'm just kidding, that's just the green eyed monster rearing it's ugly head...I don't want to EVER be on TV, can't stand even having my picture taken, which is odd because I am quite lovely...but I digress...

So this is the Jen adapted recipe, it's very easy on ingredients, takes a bit of timing, but is relatively quick. I've added the spinach because the Izbot loves it, and it makes me feel like I'm getting some veg.

Spaghetti Carbonara with Spinach

You will need...

- 1 pound spaghetti

- 5-6 slices bacon - chopped

- pinch red pepper flakes

- 3 cloves garlic, minced

- 1/2 cup chicken stock or white wine

- 1/2 pound fresh spinach

- 2 large egg yolks

- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

- Handful of finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

- Fresh Roma tomato - chopped, for garnish

- A large deep sautee pan, big enough to toss the ingredients with the pasta.

How you do it...

1. In a large pot, boil lots of water, add a fair amount of salt, a bit of oil, and cook the pasta till al dente, about 8 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook till tender, not quite crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain off most of the fat, keeping about a tablespoon or so in the pan. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add stock/wine and stir, scraping up the bits of goodness off the bottom of the pan. Add spinach and cook about a minute till it's wilted. Turn the heat down a bit while you do the next step...things move very quickly at this point, so you want to have everything ready to go.

3. In a separate bowl, beat yolks, then slowly while whisking gently add 1 large ladleful (about 1/2 cup) of the pasta cooking water. This tempers the eggs and keeps them from scrambling when added to the pasta.

4. Drain pasta well and add it directly to the pan with the bacony mixture. Increase heat back to medium

5. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta. Toss rapidly to coat the pasta, and so the egg does not cook. At this point you may need add a bit more of the pasta water if it's looking too sticky and dry.

6. Remove pan from heat and add a handful of Parmesan, plenty of fresh cracked pepper, and a little salt. Continue to toss and turn the pasta until it soaks up egg mixture and thickens, 1 to 2 minutes.

7. Garnish with parsley, tomato and extra grated Parmesan. Serve and devour immediately

I don't think I need to tell you how delicious this is, what could be better than bacon, cheese and pasta all mixed together? It comes out nice and creamy, similar to a cream sauce, but with out the fattiness...and since bacon is naturally fat free this is a nice healthy dish...that's right, I said fat free, you wanna challenge me? Hmm do ya, do ya ?? I thought not....

As always I serve this with a salad, keeping it lightly dressed with just lemon, lime, olive oil and S&P. And of course mass amount of garlic I said, a nice light dish...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Heart attack in a bowl AKA Seafood Chowder with Dill

As often happens, I was home for lunch watching Chef at Home with giant Chef Michael Smith, and was sucked in to re-creating the dish he was making on the show for our dinner.

He has a way of making everything sound so tasty and simple, throwing out random bits of info that make me go hmm. His food philosophy is cooking without a recipe, just grab the flavour you like or have on hand and see what happens, which I think is a great way to get comfortable in the kitchen when moving up your own culinary ladder.

I have jotted down many of his recipes over the years and use them regularly in one form or another, as I have added and tweaked to my liking. I used to be a total recipe hound, followed all recipes to the letter, which I think is what helped me learn technique, and timing, but I have now evolved into making my own creations, throwing it all into the pot and seeing what jumps out at me...not literally jumping out of the pot, although there was the time I grabbed the handle of a frying pan that had just been in oven...I held on to it for about three seconds, thought 'oh shit that's hot!", and very purposely let go, not over a counter or sink, heavens no, dropping it square onto the floor which sent the contents straight up into the air, splattering and splashing their way back down...I have done this far more than I care to admit, so I have finally devised a system to remind me of hot handle, whereby immediately after taking the hot pan out of the oven, I turn the oven mitt around a place it on the handle like it's own mitt, this is working quote well so far...oh come on now, of course you've done it, don't try and lie to me, you get busy pulling everything together at the end and just grab the handle, it's happens to the best of us...

So seeing as I had a half pound of prawns in the freezer and a fridge full of dill, I went ahead with the Seafood Chowder with Dill...sounds tasty right? But not for those watching calories or fat, this recipes contains whipping cream and a half pound of bacon...yum.

Seafood Chowder with Dill


½-pound bacon - chopped

1 onion - chopped

2 stalks celery - chopped

2 cups milk

1 cup 35% heavy whipping cream

1 cup half and half***
**the original called for just heavy cream and milk but I couldn't bring myself to use that much 35% cream so I switched it up with 1/2 and 1/2....I wouldn't go much less that that or it will be too runny.

3-4 tbsp Chinese cooking wine, or you could use 1 cup of any regular white wine, but lets be honest here people, unless I buy it specifically for a dish, if there's wine in my fridge it ain't gettin' saved for cooking

3/4 cup chicken broth - you can skip this if using a full cup of regular white wine

1 baking potato, peeled and grated

2 or 3 bay leaves

1/2 pound of fresh salmon, halibut or any other fresh fish

1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and de-veined

pinch of fresh ground nutmeg

1 bunch of dill, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

How to do it...

1. Brown the bacon until crisp in a soup pot or large saucepan.

2. Drain off most of the fat, then add the onions and celery. Sauté until the veg till soft, about 5-7 mins.

3. Add the milk, cream, wine/broth, grated potato and bay leaves. Stir and cook over medium heat until the potato has dissolved and thickened the soup, about 20 minutes. At this point, depending on how much time you have or how much cream vs. milk you used, you may want to thicken it with a roux. I take 2 tbs butter melt it the microwave and add 2 tbs flour. Add this to the pot and whisk to avoid lumps. Make sure you cook the soup after for about 3-4 minutes to cook off the flour.

4. Add the fish and nutmeg, season with salt and pepper and continue simmering just long enough to cook the fish through, about five minutes more. Just before serving, stir in the dill.

Serve this with a plain salad, no creamy dressing, as it may just push your heart over the edge, and a toasted grainy baguette - white bread is the devil's pillow when combined with high fat dishes.

Oddly enough, the day I made this dish I had been on the Nova Scotia tourism sight just taking a look around, and thought "how fitting, I'm making a Maritime style fish chowder tonight", and when dinner was ready and we sat down to eat, what was playing on CBC Radio2? That's right, Celtic music, straight from Cape Breton...ooohh spooky!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tree Hugging Granola Cruncher....

I am so not! Not that there's anything wrong with that, it just doesn't match my bacon loving lifestyle. But I do appreciate making much of our food from sue me...

The Izbot is very sensitive to sugar and food colouring, it makes her super hyper and I think it is what causes her migraines. She was addicted to those nasty soft chewy granola bars, the ones that claim to be made of nutritious grains that taste like cardboard dipped in corn syrup, so I figured I'd source out a recipe for home made ones, if not only for her health, but also the sanity of her teachers.

I have altered this quite a bit from the original and it gets better every time I make it. You can play with it quite a bit in terms of flavours, we have tried using Craisins, works great, adding sesame seeds on top- Izbot thought it was too crunchy, so it's a great place to start.

This one is dedicated to my fellow blogger Little T, the fabulous woman who made my bacon scarf. She is making her first forays into baking and though I'm not really much of a baker, I wanted to pass this along to her in thanks for the beautiful creation she made just for me!

Healthy But Great Tasting Granola Bars

Dry Ingredients

- 2 cups quick oats

- 3/4 cup packed Best Brown sugar - I prefer the flavour over the golden, Demerera is too crunch for this recipe

- 1/2 cup wheat germ

- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

- 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger-I freeze my ginger whole so when you grate it with the microplane it comes out as a fine power and is way easier to handle. And of course it keeps for along time.

- 1 healthy pinch of fresh grated nutmeg- I switched over from the pre- ground stuff about 3 months ago and will never go back. A healthy pinch is about 10 swipes across the microplane.

- 3 tbsp flax seeds - about a handful

- 3 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds - about a handful

- 1 cup all-purpose flour - you could use whole wheat

- 3/4 cup raisins

- 3/4 teaspoon salt - not Kosher, I tried that once and it was gross.


1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup honey

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

1. Grease and line with parchment paper a 9x13 inch baking pan. This is important, I highly recommend using the parchment or else I don't know how you will get the finished product out of the pan. Greasing it lightly first helps it stick to the pan.

2. In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center.

3. In a smaller bowl, beat the egg lightly. In your 1/2 cup measure start with the oil, (it will help the honey release from the measuring cup) then honey and vanilla. Mix this all together with a whisk until well combined.

4. Pour wet into dry and mix well using your hands. It feels kinda nasty, but just go with it, we're pretending to be tree hugging granola eaters here people!

5. With lightly oiled hands, press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. You will want to push the edges down around the "lump" so it's a even thickness at the edges.

6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then lift the whole thing out, USING THE PARCHMENT PAPER, and let cool a bit more on a wire rack. Cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.

I get probably about 16 out of a batch and put them in small snack size ziplock bags, which all go into a large ziplock bag, then into the freezer. They keep well for about 2 weeks.

Mix and match your favorite flavours (peanut butter?) and let me know how they turn out for you!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

WARNING!!! The Hazards of BBQing Bacon...

Mmmm bbq'd bacon, that extra smoky flavour, perfectly crisp caramelized fat, oh it's a beautiful sight to see, taste and smell...Ok so yes it was delicious and everything, but it can be a bit of a hazard.

I was baking Tin Foil Potatoes & Peppers on the bbq this weekend, days after bbq'ing the bacon, and was in the house preparing more goodies to go on the grill. My daughter pipes up and says "Mommy the bbq's on fire" and I was like "yeah it's fine, I just put the potatoes on, they can't be burning yet"...pffft kids, what do they know about bbqing? So not more than 2 minutes later I go out there and HOLY CRAP THE BBQ'S ON FIRE!!! The needle was buried at 800 degrees, smoke billowing out the sides and back in large black clouds, so of course I whip open the lid, just in time to see my entire bbq in massive flamage.

God dammit!

So like a genius, a very lucky genius, I reach underneath the bbq, turn off the propane, and let the fire burn itself out. Holy Christ on a cracker I have never seen a fire that big. The bbq wasn't exactly clean before I cooked the bacon, so I really should have know better and cleaned it out before doing any other cooking. But for the love of Jebus, what a mess! Needless to say I turned the bbq back on after the flames had gone out and kept a very close eye on I did not clean it at that point, but I think all the fat/grease/rocket fuel had burned off.

Anyways, we're all adults here and we know that bbqing high fat content foods is dangerous, but I just wanted to share my experience because although it is very funny, it could have gone very sideways.

So here is what I was cooking that night when hell showed up on my patio.

Grilled Lemony Chicken Thighs, Tin Foil Roasted Potatoes & Peppers and Tomato Cucumber Salad

Chicken Marinade:

- 2 lemons zested and quartered
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 1 small onion quartered
- 2 cloves garlic smashed & rough chopped
- 1 whole dried chili pepper chopped & seeded
- about 3tbs olive oil
- fresh cracked pepper
- kosher salt
- Chicken thighs - boneless, skin on
** If you can't find them de-boned, it's very easy to remove it yourself. Just pull the meat away from the bone till you can get your knife right along side and with small strokes cut meat away, or as I do, just pretty much rip it off with your hands. There's only one straight bone, it's very easy to find and remove. You can use skinless, but I love crispy chicken skin almost as mush as I love bacon so I almost always use skin on. Plus it keeps the meat from drying out when bbqing. Another little nugget o' wisdom, I'm feeling generous today...

Layer a few sheets plastic wrap over your work surface and place the chicken pieces on it, spaced out a bit, top with more plastic wrap and gently pound the meat to even out the thickness...good God Paco, your mind is disgusting...ok fine, gently pound the chicken with a meat mallet to even out the that better?

Throw chicken, rosemary, onion, garlic, chillies and lemon zest into a large ziploc bag. Squeeze in lemons and throw them in too, drizzle olive oil over top and grind in some fresh pepper. Close the bag and mix all together well, squeezing and massaging through the bag...really Paco, what are you, like 12? DO NOT ADD SALT AT THIS POINT. It can make the meat chewy if marinating for a long time. Let sit in fridge for as long as you can, overnight at most.

Remove from fridge and let the chicken come to about room temp before grilling. Remove from bag and salt front and back just before grilling. Since there is skin on you need to watch it carefully, turning often.

Tin Foil Potatoes & Peppers

- 8-10 Red potatoes sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 3 carrots peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- about a dozen pearl onions - peeled but left whole
- 1/2 of each - red, yellow and orange peppers, seeded and sliced
- 5-6 cloves garlic - separated but skins on and left whole
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp butter
- S&P
- cottage cheese
- 2-3 green onions chopped fine
- fresh parsley - chopped
- bacon bits ***WARNING since you are bbqing anyways, why not try bbqing the bacon! But please be very careful and keep your eyes on it at all times.

Lay out your tinfoil in an X shape, overlapping in the middle to make it extra thick. Place potatoes, carrot, peppers, pearl onions, garlic and rosemary in the centre, drizzle olive oil over top and dot with chopped up butter. Add a generous amount of salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Wrap this all up tight, starting with the sides of the bottom piece of the X. Place on top rack if you have one if not over low heat, you can have the empty side of the bbq a bit higher, you want about 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes depending on how large your package is....ummm yeah...shut up Paco!

Serve this with more butter, cottage cheese, fresh chopped parsley and bacon bits on top...why cottage cheese? Well, I was grocery shopping for this dinner and was at the checkout and realized I had forgotten the sour cream so I asked Izbot to go grab me some, describing the look and colours of the container to her. She's a super fast runner so she was back in a flash with my sour cream...what a good kid! So at dinner I go to get the sour cream out of the fridge and...hey this is cottage cheese! Exact same colour and look as the sour cream package, neither of us noticed. So not wanting to hurt the Izbot's feelings I thought "meh, this will work", and you know what, it was delicious! Still got that creamy dairy goodness that you need on bbq'd potatoes, and actually a lot less fat! So from now on we will be using cottage cheese in place of sour cream, try it, it is seriously tasty!

Tomato Cucumber Salad - Izbot's favourite

- 6 Roma tomatoes, chopped and seeded
- 1 long English cucumber, chopped and seeded ...Paco! Stop it....
- 1 small red onion sliced very thin
- pinch of dried oregano
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 handful flat leaf parsley
- S&P
- 1/4 cup Feta cheese crumbled

In a medium bowl combine, tomatoes, cucumber and onion. Add oregano, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, parsley and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well to combine. Top with feta cheese when serving.
**This is a great salad to add to couscous**

Well there you go, another fabulous dinner at my place, well received by the guests and the Izbot. Let me know how it turns out for you, any questions, comments from the peanut it Paco!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Bacon Scarf.

It's ready!!

I had been following The Scarf Shop By Tehlia through my cousin Megan's blog and came across a lovely pink scarf that looked a bit like bacon, all pretty and pink and beautiful.

Along with the lovely scarfs readily available, I read that she also creates custom designs and jumped on the idea right away asking if she could re-create my beloved bacon in scarf form.

Tehlia immediately responded with an array of questions that really helped me get an idea of what I wanted. After exchanging several messages she had a plan and began work on it right away, keeping in touch throughout, showing me the work in progress and commenting on how she was enjoying the project.

It was cool being invloved in the artistict part of the process, I've only ever created with food and I felt like I was getting a small glimpse into the world of working with yarn. I love the idea of wearing an original piece of art that was created especially for me, and can't wait to have it in my hot little hands...Thank you Tehlia!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pork, wrapped in pork, stuffed with pork.

My Dad's nickname is Pork. I'm not shitting you, it really is, and this did not occur to me as odd until quite recently.

A couple of months ago I was out at a My New Enemy show and was being introduced to some guy and he said to me, "Oh yeah, you're the bacon girl!" Yeah, that's me all right big boy....I thought about this later on with a little laugh and a smirk, how funny to be called the bacon girl, maybe I should change my NAME to...HOLD ON A SECOND, MY DAD'S NAME IS PORK! The clouds opened up, the planets aligned and everything suddenly became clear to me - I was destined to become a bacon worshipper with parentage such as this. As strange as it sounds though, having a dad named Pork is not one of those things I ever really questioned. It just seemed like a perfectly normal thing to call someone. Like Uncle Jack, his real name was John; Uncle Bob, more common, was christened Robert; cousin Tinker, well of course his name is actually Donald. So then it just makes sense that Ronald would become Pork...hhhmmm, maybe you have to be from Saskatchewan to understand. Since my Dad is a fan of bacon, and meat in general, I'd like to dedicate this recipe to him, the one and only (as far as I know) man named Pork.

Prosciutto Wrapped Roast Pork Tenderloin with Apple, Sausage & Herb stuffing

1 pork tenderloin
4-5 slices prosciutto


1 Italian pork sausage - you could use ground pork, in fact I have, but then use your judgement on the herbs and salt, you may need to add a bit more
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 small clove garlic minced
1 apple peeled, cored and chopped - you could use any kind, I just happen to buy gala
1 slice of bread broken into chunks
1/4 cup chicken broth
Fresh Herbs, sage, thyme, rosemary, and flat leaf parsley, about 1 tsp of each when chopped fine,

Pre-heat oven to 350.

In an oven proof frying pan...

1. If using sausage remove from casing. Over medium heat, cook your pork meat with the onion and garlic, breaking it up into small chunks as you go along. You don't want to brown it. If there is a lot of grease, drain that off.

2. Add the apple and bread, stir together. Cook only for a minute or two so apples soften slightly.

3. Add enough chicken broth to moisten bread but not too much so it turns out all soggy and glue-ey.

4. Add the herbs. Season lightly with S&P. Cook on medium for a minute until all the liquid is absorbed. Set this aside and clean out your open proof pan.

5. Remove silver skin from the tenderloin. With a sharp knife, make a slit down the length of the meat, about 1 inch from the ends and "back". Season the whole tenderloin with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Stuff with prepared stuffing mix. Now this is likely going to be very messy, since a tenderloin is quite narrow. Press all together firmly till the overflowing stuffing keeps its shape and is mostly inside the meat. This is why I chose to use prosciutto instead of bacon. The wide slices are easier to handle and hold the stuffing in better.

6. Lay the slices of prosciutto on your work space, overlapping slightly till they are about the length of your now stuffed roast. Tenderloins always have that skinny narrow end, fold that under so the roast is of an even thickness. Lay the stuffed roast along the edge and roll that baby up nice and tight folding in the edges to keep all the stuffing inside. Lightly season with S&P.

7. In your oven proof pan, heat about 1 tbsp of oil on high ( 7 ) until very hot. Place wrapped roast in hot oil SEAM SIDE DOWN. This will seal the prosciutto and keep everything inside...hopefully. Sear on all sides until nice and brown then pop into the oven.

This should take only 15-20 mins to cook through, depending on how long you seared it for....use that meat thermometre I told you to buy so you know when it's done. Remove from oven and let rest.

I want to mention that I am usually cooking for two. If the recipes seem a bit small, they are. Just go ahead and alter the portions to feed your brood. I used to cook meals like I was feeding an army and realized so much was going to waste that I very purposely have cut back on the grocery shops.

So that's the porky goodness for the day, post your attempts and let me know how they turn out!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

P-P-P-PARDON? Do I stutter? I said Panko Parmesan Poultry and Potato Panckes

There is nothing to eat in this house!!! How many times have you said that when you're thinking about what to make for dinner? You open the fridge, arrgg, some veggies, a tub of sour cream, eggs, bleck...nothing looks appealing. Look in the cupboards...who the hell lives here, Mother frickin' Hubbard? God what am I gonna make? Better decide soon, kids are looking like they're gonna eat ME if I don't get moving...I have this chicken all thawed out but blaaand...hey, Panko bread crumbs, I could make a shake n bake chicken, oh and I have a bit of parmesan in the fridge, OK, that'll the starch...hhmmm...roasted potatoes? Ugh, not again...but potato pancakes, yes, I think I've got a few eggs left, Ok, this could work....

The joys of having a well stocked pantry-not! I buy mostly fresh because I like to grocery shop on the weekends (Ok I do have a hobby!) so I tend to buy what I need for the week. But there are a few key things I always make sure I have, one of them is a block of Parmesan cheese. No I'm not a millionaire, I know the stuff is expensive, but truly, it's worth it. I buy a $15 triangle and it lasts me probably a month or more. I use it for all sorts of things, salads, potatoes, pasta sauce, etc, but with such a strong flavour you only need a little bit. I use one of those micro-plane thingys (Ok there's another hobby, collecting kitchen tools, but that's another blog for another day) so you get a nice fine grating and very little waste. So there's your little nugget of wisdom, now let's get to the recipes.

Panko Parmesan Poultry

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup regular bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
good pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper
handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped.
2 tbsp of mayo - you could use a beaten egg, but I only had three eggs left and needed them for the next dish. This is a little trick I learned from my Mom so, here I pass along the wisdom, it's makes your chicken nice and juicy.
6-8 chicken thighs/drumsticks, whatever you have.

Heat oven to 350 and grease a baking dish.

1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large ziplock or other bag.

2. Rinse and dry the chicken pieces then brush with mayo. Seriously, you'll know why if you try and skip it - the crumbs won't stick. Once all of your pieces are slathered in the mayo, shake one piece at a time in the bag till coated. I press the crumb mixture on really good so they end up with a nice crust when done.

3. Place in greased baking dish. Bake for about 30- 40 mins. I always use a meat thermometre, if you don't have one get one, it will save you ruining your meat by over cooking. There's another little nugget for you.

While that is in the oven....get out your electric frying pan. If you don't have one, the largest frying pan you have, you might need two if they're average size.

I cant believe I'm doing this so soon, but I feel like I know you already so I'm going to share one of my most prized potato pancakes. What's the big deal you may ask, but have you ever had really good potato pancakes (aka Latkes), better yet have you ever tried to make them? HHmm, well, if you have made them then you know what I'm getting at...if you haven't, then...well just read on and you'll see....

Potato Pancakes (Latkes)

3 eggs
2 tbsp four
1 tbsp grated onion- not minced, you must grate it with a cheese grater!
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 small, 3 medium or 2 large potatoes peeled - you need a good 2 cups when grated, once again, use your brain here...

1/4 cup veg oil for frying

2 apples - they can be the ones floating around the bottom of your crisper, you're just making apple sauce with them.

sour cream

cheese cloth or a very clean dish towel

1. Peel, core and chop the apples. Place in a small pot with a bit of water and a small pinch of salt. Bring to a boil then cover and turn down to a simmer on low. Watch that they don't burn dry, add a bit of water if you need to.

2.In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the flour and whisk till the lumps are gone. Add the GRATED onion and salt, whisk all to combine.

3. With a regular old, large hole cheese grater, grate the peeled potatoes as quickly as you can- they oxidize quickly. Like I said, you will need a full 2 cups, I use a Pyrex 2 cup measure almost full to the top then packed down Now this is the most important part.PLACE THE GRATED POTATOES ONTO THE CHEESE CLOTH/DISH TOWEL AND WRING THOSE FUCKERS OUT LIKE YOU WANT THEM DEAD. You want to get as much of the liquid out as possible (This is the one time I could use a man around the house, but that another blog for another day) Please tell me you're doing this over the sink. If you don't squeeze well, they will turn out all soggy and oily and have been warned. When you're sure you've got all the water out, dump them in the bowl with the egg mixture and stir it all together well.

3. Heat the oil over medium high, 325 if using an electric pan, and drop 2-3tbsp portions of the potato mixture and flatten a bit with your spoon. You want them to be about 2-3 inches across, and about 1/2 an inch thick. Cook on the first side about 8-10 mins till nice and brown, then turn and do the other side about half that time. If they're really brown in only a few minutes, turn the heat down and chill. You can smell it when they're ready to turn, like a nice hot french fry. They're done when most of the oil has evaporated...that's right, I said evaporated, if I let myself think that all of the oil has soaked up into the pancakes it ruins it for me. Should be nice and brown on both sides.

4.The best part - when ready to serve, top with sour cream and apple sauce. But you MUST do it in order- potato pancake, dollop of sour cream, dollop of apple sauce on top of the sour cream, sprinkle with s&p. Do this and post a comment and tell me what it looks like!!

While these are cooking check the chicken. If it looks dry on top, baste with the juices or sprinkle with a bit of oil. Should be fine though, thanks to that MAYO.

Your apple sauce should be ready by now, please don't tell me you forgot about it!! If there's a lot of water, drain most of it off. Mash with a potato masher or blend with a hand blender. Again, use your...? Good, you're catching on.

By this point the chicken should be about done. Check the temp and let rest.

I served this tonight with a salad. Ok here's one more little nugget of wisdom for you, but this is it for one blog!

THE Salad

lettuce - I always buy a variety so use what you like.
purple cabbage, finely sliced
1/2 carrot grated
1/4 of a cucumber peeled and sliced
1 pear, peeled cored and sliced.
handful of pea sprouts - they seriously taste like peas.
2 tbs of capers, chopped
1/2 lime
1/2 lemon
olive oil
maple syrup
bit o' grated Parmesan

Put all the veg, fruit, capers in a large salad bowl. Squeeze the lemon and lime over top. Drizzle about 1 tbs of maple syrup and and 2 tbs of olive oil over top. Add s&p. Toss very well. Finish on the plate with Parmesan. See, no need for a bottle of salad dressing, no measuring 1 part acid to 3 parts oil and whisking till emulsified just pour on and toss, I promise you will like it. As long as you do it right ;)

So that was dinner when I had nothing to make for dinner. See what I was talking about, taking a pre-packaged product like Shake n' Bake and making it yourself, only waaaayyy better. And the salad dressing, don't even get me started...that's another blog for another day...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Taco Seasoning...throw out that package..eerrrr...I mean recycle it...redneck...

For my first recipe I thought I'd start with something really exciting and new!!!

But I left my notes at work so I will have to just tell you about my home made taco seasoning. Not pure rocket science yes, but it's one of the first packaged seasoning product replacements I made.

We are a big fan of "Mexican" night (sorry Rick Bayless) in this house, usually once a week we have some form or taco, hard or soft, burrito, enchilada, or nachos.

Now this is one of those recipes that I had seen in passing, but never paid much attention to because hey, no-one does it better than Old Elpaso right?

Wrong! Michael Smith, that gentle Food Network giant (seriously the guy's like 6'8" or something) provided me the base and it has evolved from there.

I use this to "Mexicanize" beef, chicken, fish, rice, black beans, and I have been known to sprinkle it on top of a plate of cheese covered nachos...who doesn't need an evening snack of taco chips covered in cheese? Well I do, and I'm lazy at 10:00pm so I sprinkle this stuff over the chips, cheese and onions, pop the plate in the microwave for 2 minutes and BAM! El Nacho Libre...

Taco Seasoning
*All spices are dried & ground unless otherwise noted

2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp cinnamon-yes cinnamon, trust me....
1/2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp kosher salt or a seasoning salt blend-your choice, sometimes I use a seasoning salt just to mix things up
1 tsp dried (not ground) oregano

Mix all the spices together and set aside.

Next you will need

1 small clove garlic minced
2 tbsp onion minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 minced jalapeño
1/2- 1 cup of water
1/2 of a lime

1. Grab a pan large enough to cook your required amount of meat. In about 2 tbsp veg oil saute the garlic & onion till soft about 2-3 mins.

2. Add your meat-hamburger, chopped chicken meat, fish, or beans, for you poor deprived vegetarians, and cook till done.

3. Add about HALF the spice mix and stir well to combine. You will need to use your brain here**, add more if you like, a bit more salt if you think it needs it.

**Sidebar - I am assuming if you are reading this you have some sort of idea about how to cook. Always use your personal taste when spicing foods-don't blame me if it's too spicy or not enough or whatever...It's all about personal responsibility people...

4. At this point cook it dry for a few minutes to bring out the flavours, but keep stirring or you'll burn it for Christ's sake.

5. Add the tomato paste, jalapeños and water. You want enough water to about half way cover the meat...UNLESS IT'S FISH-SKIP THIS STEP AND THE NEXT IF YOU ARE USING FISH. That would be gross...the fish wouldn't stand up well to simmering. If using beans, mash them up a bit as they cook for a refried kinda look.

6. Simmer on low till the liquid is gone and the meat is all saucy and yummy looking, you can keep going till it's a bit dry if you prefer, drier = a bit less messy.

7. Right before dispensing above meat onto tortilla style of choice, squeeze the lime over the meat and stir. This brightens up the flavour a bit, cuts the heat from the spice, really nice...don't make me say it twice....

Obvious - top with shredded cheese, lettuce, diced tomatoes, avocado, sour cream, salsa, fresh chopped cilantro, and of course more fresh squeezed sho it makes your taco taste so good.

This a great recipe to double, triple, quadruple, I make a big batch of the dried spices to have on hand.

A good alternative to ground beef is Chicken and Black Bean together. For some reason it works best in a soft tortilla, all wrapped up like a burrito. I think it's because those black bean can't go all Mexican jumping bean out of the tortilla...did you ever have those as a kid? It was a small plastic container and when you put in near a heat source it would jump all over the place...wonder what the hell those things actually were...anyways....enjoy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The beginning...

I grew up surrounded by great cooks and food as local as it comes, though of course did not fully appreciate it as a child. I look back now and am thankful for what I learned / experienced...watching Granny cook a huge family dinner like it was nothing, never sitting down until all was done and everyone served...despising weeding the garden- such a hardship! But the joy of sneaking down the row of peas and stealing a few off the vine, sitting in the dry, hot prairie dirt, feeling the sweet pop of a sun-warmed baby pea in my mouth...watching dad fillet the fish that were moments ago flopping around in the kitchen sink (don't even get me started on the skinning that took place in the garage) picking choke cherries along grassy dirt roads to make jelly...such warm, dust filled memories that have shaped my vision of food and where it should come from.

This whole business of "sustainable eating" that people have "discovered" irks me. We've become so far removed from our food sources because of various trends like this that it's ironic to me that people are discovering this "new" way of eating and "finding" new sources of's always been there, they were just too busy trying to one-up each other with the newest craze-"Oh has you tried Sadza? Oh dear you must, it is all the rage..blah blah blah...

When I look at a product I see at it as more of a process: how many steps/processes did it take to get to my plate? If I can't easily imagine how the product got on the shelf, I don't really want to ingest it...Can I easily make this myself with whole foods? Damn straight I can, and do, make it much as possible. I'm not a purist, I do eat processed foods and will never claim not could anyone give up a beautiful Kitkat, or turn their nose up at a perfectly stacked Whopper with cheese? It's all about balancing out the whole with processed, the good fat with the bad, the daring with the traditional etc etc etc...I feel that food is to be enjoyed, not over analyzed and judged based on current foodie trends.

Well then....for me this blog is about recording my recipes and attempts, sharing ideas with anyone who is interested in just plain old good food...If you are looking for good recipes, unpretentious banter about food and life, some random musical interludes, and a little bit of humour now and then, you've come to the right place...please feel free to comment, I appreciate your feedback...just don't dare call me a "foodie"...