I’m ready for 2013. Like ready ready. I stepped onto the bathroom scale this morning and it said “error.” It’s such a jerk sometimes. Like when it randomly tells me I weigh 10lbs less than I did the day before… and then 6lbs more 8 seconds later. But it does have a point.
So all of those wonderful Trade Joe’s goodies that Santa left in our stocking have an “Eat before Monday or get hidden on the top shelf that you can’t reach without getting a chair from the dining room – and we both know you’re far too lazy to go get a chair from the dining room” label on them and the pages of my new Cooking Light Cookbook are littered with post it tab bookmarks.
Our post-holiday detox starts Tuesday. But until then, there’s bacon. And biscuits.
And Trader Joe’s Sweet-Salty-Nutty Trek Mix that is like crack. Certifiable crack.
On a quiet Saturday morning when the not-so-little-anymore one is at Gia & PaPaw’s house for the weekend, we sat down to a quick & simple breakfast of peppery Maple Bacon Biscuits, eggs, and some grapefruit juice.
Crumbly, airy biscuits made with bacon grease and sweetened with maple syrup. And it was the first recipe I made from my new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Flipping through it for the first time, I spotted them on page 28. And then I ran to the kitchen to make them immediately.
And then I immediately ate two straight out of the oven, mostly in celebration that the first recipe from a new cookbook turned out to be such a huge homerun. And partly because it was 4:30pm and that’s when I kick myself every single day for not having a snack an hour earlier.
I added a healthy dose of black pepper to help balance the sweet & savory just enough to almost make them a meal in itself. (“Almost,” like eating 2 biscuits wasn’t all of the calories I had left for dinner the other day.) I also made a double batch to be able to make the biscuits bigger than the 2-inch originals. And just a note – the dough was softer than expected for the double batch and I ended up kneading in a bit more flour after cutting the first few biscuits and realizing that they would spread quite a bit (and they did). The “extra flour” biscuits baked up nicely.
Maple Bacon Biscuits
Make breakfast really count with these sweet, crumbly biscuits studded with crispy bacon and black pepper.
5 slices thick-cut bacon
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 1/4 cups flour, plus more for work surface
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
~8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter (see note below)
1/2 cup buttermilk (I whisked 1/4 cup 2% milk with 1/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt)
You want 12 Tbsp total between the butter and the grease reserved from cooking the bacon. If you end up with more bacon grease than 4 Tbsp, you can reduce the butter accordingly. And if you end up with less bacon grease, you can use more butter. Make sense? Good. Let's get started.
Preheat the oven to 425.
Fry the bacon until crisp and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to cool.
Turn off the heat and add several generous dashes/grinds of black pepper to the pan and stir, letting the pepper cook for ~10 seconds.
Pour the rendered bacon grease and pepper (scrape the peppery bits out if necessary) into a heat-safe measuring cup and stick it in the freezer to solidify.
Chop the bacon into chunks and transfer to a small bowl, pouring the maple syrup over top.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together and add the butter chunks and the bacon grease (use a spoon to scrape out the measuring cup).
Using a pastry cutter or your hands, cut the butter and bacon grease into the dry ingredients until well mixed (no large chunks) and the mixture is mealy.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk and maple-bacon mixture and stir/fold until your dough forms.
Turn your dough onto a generously floured surfaced and give it a few kneads to come together and then pat it to 1-inch thick .
Using a floured round cutter, cut as many rounds as you can and then pat the dough back together and repeat until the dough is gone - I got 10 biscuits using a 2.75-inch cutter.
Place biscuits on a lined baking sheet (sides just barely touching) and bake 12-14 minutes or until the tops are golden.
Serve warm. Leftovers reheated nicely for the 2-3 days they stuck around.
Yields: 10 biscuits
Slightly adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Instead, I’m watching a disappointing football game (spoil it and tell me it gets better – I’m an entire half behind), trying to relax after hitting 6 or 7 stores in what will forever be known as the Great Cranberry Clusterdebacle of 2012, and wearing a shirt that smells like I burned 4 pieces of bacon at breakfast.
And that’s because I burned the bacon at breakfast.
But I didn’t burn the bacon at lunch. And that was important because it was the last of the bacon in the house and there’s no way I’m stepping foot into another grocery store until December 26th. At least.
Bacon and Pea Macaroni & Cheese
Dress up homemade macaroni and cheese with crispy bacon and green peas.
8 oz penne or macaroni pasta (I use Dreamfields)
8 oz frozen peas
4 thick slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I use fat-free Greek)
Dash of hot sauce
4 oz cheddar, shredded
4 oz fontina, shredded (or other melt-friendly cheese - not more cheddar)
In a medium saute pan, cook the bacon to a crisp and then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions, until al dente.
Add the peas to the pasta water in the last minute of cooking.
Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining the pasta and peas.
Return the pasta and peas to pot.
Add 1/4 cup pasta water (it must be hot), the yogurt, a few dashes of hot sauce, and 1/3 of the grated cheese and stir until the cheese has melted.
Stir in remaining cheese, one small handful at a time to prevent clumping.
Add additional pasta water as necessary to thin and melt the cheese sauce.
*Your nutritional count may vary based on the brands you’ve used. I use Dreamfields Pasta (because my dad is diabetic and can eat it without too much of a noticeable spike) and it has reduced impact on digestible carbs and might account for larger discrepancies in fiber and carbs per serving.
For those of you who’ve stopped by here a time or two, or have seen me clog your Twitter feed on a non-bye-week Sunday, you know I’m a big Texans fan. So it’s always a bit awkward and confusing when I have to launch into the “I’ve actually been a Colts fan for the last 15 years” story.
But that magical division realignment pitted my new Texans and my old-ish Colts against each other twice a year (and maybe 3!) in one of the happiest football-related things to ever happen to me. I always (try) to root for the home team.
With the abundance of winter citrus, we picked up a mountain of 5/$1 tangerines and turned several of those into a fun, seasonal twist on the classic pulled pork to christen the new Crock-Pot. A pork roast is slow cooked with tangerine juice, soy sauce, and spices and then the cooking liquid is reduced with more tangerine juice for a citrusy glaze. It’s sweet meets savory meets easy gameday eats.
The Crock-Pot isn’t just a lifesaver during the week, but it’s perfect for tailgating – pulled pork, chili, queso, and fancy meatballs go from counter-to-tent super easily. You can snag a Crock-Pot with your favorite NFL logo and impress the heck out of your tailgate-mates. Or upload a custom design and create a one-of-a-kind Crock-Pot!
Tangerine Pulled Pork with Thai Plum Barbecue Sauce
Pulled pork gets a seasonal gameday makeover with fresh tangerines.
For the roast:
1 large pork shoulder or roast (~7-8 lbs for a crowd)
1/2 cup tangerine juice (3-4 tangerines, 1 rind reserved and sliced thinly)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 garlic clove, smashed
Pinch of crushed red pepper
For the glaze:
2 cups of cooking liquid
1/2 cup tangerine juice
1/2 tangerine rind, sliced thinly
Brown sugar (optional)
For the barbecue sauce:
1/4 cup purchased Thai Plum Sauce
1/2 cup purchased barbecue sauce
Place the roast in the crockpot with the tangerine juice, rind, soy sauce, brown sugar, red pepper, and garlic.
Cook on low 8-10 hours, until the meat is fall-apart tender.
Transfer 2 cups of cooking liquid (fat skimmed from top) to a medium saucepan and add the orange juice and tangerine rind.
Reduce for ~20 minutes over high heat until down to ~3/4 cup and then remove the rind.
Shred the pork roast and place in a large bowl or serving dish and pour the reduction over top, tossing to coat.
In a small bowl, mix the plum and barbecue sauces together and warm in the microwave.
For sandwiches, pile a generous scoop of pulled pork on top of a split roll and top with a spoonful of barbecue sauce.
Hey, look. It’s another super easy way to use up leftover cranberry sauce. And it only involves a little math:
1 part barbecue sauce
1 part cranberry sauce
3. Watch your husband dip a tester sweet potato fry in it and complain about it being too cranberry-y.
4. Add another part barbecue sauce.
7. Get approval from the barbecue sauce snob in the house.
8. Spoon it over pulled pork sandwiches. Or turkey sandwiches! And use the rest as a dipper for sweet potato fries.
9. Eat too much.
10. Declare the entire house a carb-free, lean-protein-only zone ’til Christmas.
11. Forget and eat a brownie for dessert.