that's forking good

adventures in a culinary neophyte's kitchen

Posts Tagged ‘bacon’

Opening Day dip

Posted by culinaryneophyte on March 31, 2011

The wait is over. Five long, dark months have passed. It’s Opening Day. Baseball has returned.

From a few of the players’ mouths (Hunter Pence, B.J. Upton, James Shields), Opening Day has been described as reaching the top of a roller coaster, the first day of the school and, of course, Christmas. Yes. All of the above.

I usually like to tie in what’s going on outside my kitchen to what I post here, but I didn’t get a chance to make cute little baseball-themed cookies or anything of that ilk, so rather than stretch it make it work, I’m reluctantly shifting focus to today’s “food holiday” — National Tater Day — with loaded baked potato dip (from bakedbree).

I made this for a recent potluck, and while it was successful, it was a little overshadowed by all the more substantial dishes there. This is much more appropriate for a casual hangout — maybe one where you and your friends are sunk in the couch watching a handful of baseball games [via MLB Extra Innings free preview] and want to put as little effort as possible into what you’re eating?

The dip doesn’t actually contain any potatoes, so like baked bree, I would recommend using potato chips or fries as dippers to get the full baked potato effect. If you don’t have a deep fryer, go with the chips; without something strong enough to scoop, it’s a little frustrating to eat. McCain waffle fries + my new deep fryer = winning combination.

♦1/4 lb. bacon (I used about six slices of medium-cut)
16 oz. sour cream
2 c. cheddar cheese
1/3 c. chopped fresh chives (I bought a 1/4 oz. package and it sufficed)
2 tsp. hot sauce, plus little more for drizzling on top
dippers — waffle fries, potato chips, etc.

Cook bacon, and crumble when cooled. Place all ingredients (sans dippers) in bowl. Mix. Let chill in fridge for at least an hour. Check taste, and adjust with salt or hot sauce if desired. This really couldn’t be easier.

Total time? 15 minutes prep (bacon is most time-consuming part), 1 hour chill time.
Cost? $3 bacon, $1.50 sour cream, $1.74 chips, $1 chives, $1 hot sauce, $2 fries/potato chips.
Overall success relative to expect? 6 out of 10. I liked this dip, but I didn’t love it. I’m not really sure why, and I know that’s not helpful. It might be because I’m not the biggest sour cream fan. I would still recommend making it because it’s tasty, easy and seemed to be a crowd-pleaser (which may or may not have been because it came with freshly deep-fried waffle fries). Happy Opening Day, baseball fans!

time to dip!



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bacon taters

Posted by culinaryneophyte on March 18, 2011

Have you all recovered from your St. Patrick’s Day revelry? I’m not gung-ho about all that, so I thought I could “celebrate” in another way: by making some sort of Irish food staple and sharing it with friends; unfortunately, I discovered I don’t actually like many Irish dishes. Cabbage? Boiled sausage? Skirts and kidneys? I’ll pass. (I did get a laugh researching Irish food, though; the names of this stuff are ridiculous! Goody? BlaaBrown lemonade??)

I didn't take a photo of the finished product, so here's a nondescript potato because you probably don't know what one looks like.

The only Irish staple I’m a fan of is the potato. I know I’m a day late, but I’m hooking you up with an incredibly delicious way to use any leftover potatoes you might have around in wake of Everyone-Pretending-To-Be-Irish-Day: bacon roasted potatoes (adapted from Noob Cook).

The recipe calls for baby potatoes, but you could use any kind. (I used red.) You’ll first make bacon on the stove (and don’t use that pre-cooked stuff or you’ll miss out on a ton of flavor), and then use the residual bacon grease to prepare the potatoes. Sounds healthy, right?

♦8 slices of bacon (6 if using thick-cut bacon)
8 small potatoes — baby/red (4 if using Russet potatoes)
5 cloves of garlic
plenty of sea salt and black pepper

Partially boil potatoes in a pot of water for about 10 minutes. (Poke with a fork and make sure they’re relatively soft before removing from water.) While they’re boiling, cook bacon in frying pan until crisp. While bacon is cooling, cut softened potatoes into quarters (or the size of your liking). Place chunks in a baking dish, and cover with leftover bacon oil. Add garlic, plus generous amounts of sea salt and black pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Top with crumbled bacon bits.

Total time? 15 minutes prep, 20 minutes cook.
Cost? $1 potatoes, $3 bacon.
Overall success relative to expectations? 7 out of 10. My expectations going in weren’t very high, considering it’s just potatoes and bacon, but the use of the residual grease made a world of difference. I took off points for the fact that I employed a tad too much (use your best judgment) and the potatoes were a little greasy for my taste, but if you pair these with a healthy entrée, you’ll be fiiiine. Word of advice: Make sure to either distribute the entire lot in first helpings or keep the dish warm while you’re eating; as soon as these get cold, the congealed bacon grease makes them inedible.

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pop off

Posted by culinaryneophyte on February 1, 2011

Big food “holiday” coming up this weekend, and I’ve got a great little appetizer for you to whip up for any Super Bowl party. (Does that ‘not-allowed-to-say-Super-Bowl’ thing apply to blogs, too? Sure hope not.)

I made these cream cheese and bacon-stuffed jalapeño poppers for my Christmas party (adapted from Gonna Want Seconds), and they required very little effort for something so tasty; they’re also ideal because they don’t lose their appeal after sitting out over the course of the party.

In case you’re overlooking the “jalapeño” in the description, let me remind you that these can be pretty freaking spicy. This might also be a good time to [strongly] encourage the donning of gloves before deveining your jalapeños; I didn’t. My fingers were aflame the entire night — like, visibly crimsoned from my fingertips to my knuckles. Never felt anything like it. Some of my guests exclaimed, “How did you not know that?!” Uhh, because no told me it would be that bad? I didn’t think my hand would catch fire? Is that really common knowledge? Either way, you know I’m looking out for you and the thermal reading of your appendages.

♦10 fresh jalapeños
♦8 oz. of cream cheese
♦5-8 slices of bacon
♦1/2 c. plain panko bread crumbs

Cook bacon, drain on paper towel and crumble when slightly cooled. Combine bacon crumbs and cream cheese in bowl. In a separate bowl, pour out panko. Cut jalapeños in half lengthwise, remove seeds and veins (wearing gloves). Scoop bacon mixture into each jalapeño, then dip cream cheese side into panko. Bake on a lined sheet for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

Total time? 10 minutes for bacon, 7 minutes prep, 15 minutes bake
Cost? $2 for jalapeños, $1 cream cheese, $2 bacon, $2 panko bread crumbs
Overall success relative to expectations? 7 out of 10. My spiteful fingers wanted to take off points for the pain they endured during this, but I broke out some pretty nail polish to distract them. I skimped a little on the cream cheese mixture to make sure I had enough for all 20 poppers, and had too much left over in the end; next time, I’ll be sure to load ’em up — to not only avoid waste, but give guests more of a buffer from the crazy jalapeño kick.

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burger blitz at PYT

Posted by culinaryneophyte on January 23, 2011

Calibunga, dude!

When it comes to mechanics of business diffusion (yeah, I’m getting all Marketing 101 on you), I’m almost always in the “late majority” group, i.e. I don’t care about the latest trends, and I very rarely go out of my way to get the “it” thing until I deem it necessary, and by that time, something more “it” has come out. I was, however, in the “early adopter” group when it comes to PYT in the Piazza at Schmidt’s in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood. Or at least I’m going to tell myself that.

See, a few months ago, I suggested to a friend that we journey there for their Burger of the Week: the Krispy Kreme Burger. We rearranged our schedules to make it before the gluttonous creation’s stint on the menu was done, and could not have been more amazed by the two patties, two slices of cheese and pieces of chocolate-covered bacon between — yes — two halves of a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Turns out the burger was so popular that week, PYT put in on the menu to stay.

Fast forward to a few weeks later: I bring another handful of friends out to PYT, and they all fall in love with the place, too. We feasted on the awesome burgers and their special pumpkin cheesecake pierogies, and chatted with our super cool waitress, who revealed that the PYT acronym doesn’t actually stand for anything. And here we thought it was a shout out to Michael Jackson.

Suddenly, I’m seeing and hearing about PYT all over the place; on Jan. 13, the restaurant was featured on the Rachael Ray Show for “Rachael’s Burger Bash,” and killed it on Groupon this weekend with their $8 for $16 of food deal. I’m worried their little-to-no-wait style I’ve come to love is going to be out the window now that the place is blowing up. (Maybe I can dissuade people by telling them the bathroom is unisex; I know that freaked me out a little at first…)

Either way, if you live in the Philadelphia area, you need to check it out. And if you’re not carnivorous, they have plenty of vegetarian options; in fact, the last time I was there, I got the Calibunga burger — white beans, basil, garlic, tomato and breadcrumb patty topped with avocado, lettuce, tomato and caramelized onion “special sauce” (pictured above) — and it was awesome.

Oh, and don’t forget about their Adult Milkshakes, which their menu calls “a blend of premium ice cream and fine spirits.” Other than being a lightweight and needing to operate a vehicle within the next five hours, I opted out of the dessert beverage in favor of the neighboring gelato shop, Nana Petrillo’s. I recently had their Rosemary Honey Goat’s milk, and it was a sophisticated party in my mouth. If you’re not into the weird flavors that I am, they’ve got all sorts of crowd pleasers that change on a daily basis, as well as lattes, hot chocolate, etc.

Rosemary Honey Goat's Milk gelato from Nana Petrillo's

PYT on Urbanspoon

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bacon cheezza

Posted by culinaryneophyte on October 21, 2010

When it comes to my taste in food, the people in my life fall into one of two categories: those who encourage my sometimes strange pairings, and those who question those questionable pairings with a “What the hell is wrong with you?”

Last week, I tried cooking for someone who falls into the latter, and finding something to suit both of our tastes is pretty difficult; fortunately, pizza is the great equalizer. And October is National Pizza Month — bonus!

Prepping for our meal together, I ran down my list of recipes-in-waiting, searching for something with meat — a component he needs, but I more often than not avoid (you have to cater to the guest, after all). A good compromise, I figured, was a meat-tastic pizza that allowed us to exert control over our respective slices. Thus, I give you bacon cheeseburger pizza (adapted from Dishing Up Delights).

My go-to pizza dough was on sale last week (haven’t attempted making my own just yet), but — of course — the only thawed balls they had were whole wheat, which I was sure wouldn’t fly with my guest; he’s one of those ‘I-hate-anything-even-remotely-good-for-me-even-if-I’ve-never-tried-it’ kind of guys. Much to my surprise, though, he obliged and we forged on with our whole wheat pizza base.

We used about 3/4 lb. of 93% lean ground beef and five or six slices of bacon, but it’s obviously up to your liking, as is the variety and amount of barbecue sauce you employ. The original recipe calls for thinly sliced onions as an additional topping, which we nixed, but, hey — if you want to cry cutting them before you eat and make everyone cry by breathing on them after you eat, go for it.

This was super easy (especially because I had an extra set of hands in the kitchen) and we were both pretty pleased with the end result. Oh, except for the part where those extra hands I had in the kitchen burned themselves on violently erratic bacon grease; I told you guys that stuff is dangerous…

♦Store-bought pizza dough
Ground beef, cooked
Bacon, cooked
Barbecue sauce, any variety
Red pepper flakes
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Olive oil

Roll out dough on baking sheet. Mix barbecue sauce and red pepper flakes to taste, and slather (good word, right?) in an even layer across the dough. Spread a layer of cheese across, then add ground beef and bacon to your liking. Brush crust with olive oil. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Total time? 30 minutes (with pans of ground beef and bacon cooking simultaneously).
Cost? $1 pizza dough, $1.74 mozz cheese, $1.50 BBQ sauce, $2 ground beef, $2 bacon.
Overall success relative to expectations? 8 out of 10. I was happily surprised to taste very little difference between the whole wheat dough and traditional flour dough, but I wasn’t liberal enough with the barbecue sauce and lost some flavor points there. Probably could have used a less lean meat to add some more flavor, too. One of the slices I controlled got doused in extra mozzarella cheese after the meat layer (below) — definitely recommend it.

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Posted by culinaryneophyte on October 2, 2010

Lessons learned from this adventure:

  1. Cooking bacon is terrifying.
  2. Crescent roll containers are not foolproof.
  3. Dollar store clear wrap costs a dollar for a reason.

My friends, Scott and Christina, recently hosted a potluck dinner in Scott’s newly refurbished backyard. Feeling ambitious, I volunteered to make two dishes — one savory and one sweet. This post focuses on the former: mini BLT crescent sandwiches.

(Note: I’m not even sure which acronym to go with here — hence this entry’s title — as the finished product was devoid of lettuce, but replete with cheese and onion. Also, some of the sandwiches were sans tomato, at certain party-goers’ requests. Quite the conundrum.)

As with most of my adventures, this undertaking was motivated entirely by the weekly supermarket circulars. (My friends harass me for the joy flipping through the sales brings me.) A few weeks ago, I capitalized on a Pillsbury deal (3/$5), and hit the Pillsbury website, which has thousands of creative recipes centered around their products. I settled on this one because it looked fairly easy, but utilized the crescent dough in a different way.

First of all: Why did no one tell me that frying bacon is the single most dangerous thing you can do in your kitchen? Up until this point, I had cooked only the minimally unctuous and completely harmless turkey bacon. But this ‘normal’ bacon? Not so much. Sizzling, crackling, burning grease flying everywhere. I was utterly terrified with each strip I flipped.

pre-puncture wounds

In another shining moment of culinary acumen, I failed to follow the easy-to-open crescent roll directions, i.e. “expose line to open can.” Somehow, I pulled off the entire wrapper — exposing the line — and nothing happened. Ignoring the “contents under pressure” warning, I began stabbing the container with a fork, which brought the dough oozing out of the puncture wounds. Thankfully, my roommate came to the rescue.

Also important to note: There are certain things you can get away with buying from a dollar store, but plastic wrap is not one of them. Serving trays? Sure, but clear wrap? Steer clear. I literally needed Scotch tape to make this stuff work.

♦1 can Pillsbury crescent rolls
♦1/2 c. Monterrey-Jack shredded cheese
♦8 slices of crispy bacon
♦2 tbl. chopped green onions
♦1/3 c. mayonnaise
♦1/2 c. shredded lettuce
♦8 cherry tomatoes, sliced thin

Unroll crescent dough, and press into 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Cut into 24 squares. Bake according to package (8-10 minutes at 375 degrees).

In the meantime, mix together cheese, onions, mayo and crumbled bacon in a bowl. When dough is baked and cooled, place a little bit of lettuce (or if you’re doing what I did, don’t) on 12 “slices,” followed by a small helping of the bacon-etc. mix. Top with two thin slices of tomato (or don’t), then add a second bread rectangle (or, if you burned two like I did and/or prefer these open-face style, don’t).

sandwiches and pinwheels

These are great little hors d’œuvrs, and the mix has unexpectedly great flavor for something so simple. Because this recipe yields 12 sandwiches, I doubled it to have enough for the potluck, but I switched it up a bit to offer the guests a few iterations of my dish — hence the pinwheel BOCs, at left. (Break the dough into the traditional crescent strips, add a dollop of the bacon-etc. mix at the end and roll. They came out much better than I expected, and flew off the tray faster than the standard sandwiches.)

Total time? 55-ish minutes (includes dangerous bacon frying)
Cost? Wait for the Pillsbury sale so you don’t pay more than $2/tube. Green onions for $1, bacon for $2.50, cheese for $2, cherry tomato sack for $2.50, mayo from the fridge.
Overall success relative to expectations? 10 out of 10. I started feeling leery about this in the 11th hour of preparation, but these exceeded my expectations based on flavor and versatility. I would definitely make them again.

And the potluck? Great success. My friend Jay (at My Nose Knows) had his own wok station, we toasted s’mores over Scott’s fire pit and everyone left full and happy.

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