Bringin’ Home the Bacon

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Fact.  Blogging about bacon when you have none in the fridge, is not advisable.

I’ve got to admit, I get a kick out of this hipster bacon revolution that seems to be happening on Food Network and all over the internet. Bacon milkshakes, bacon snacks, ground bacon burgers, bacon tee shirts, bacon boxer shorts.

So here you go bacon lovers.  A few things, you may have missed on your search for the perfect pork.

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Old Bay Bloody Marys

My sister in laws WP blog with her amazing recipes for delish food!

http://someoneleftthecakeoutintherain.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/touchdown-thursdays-old-bay-bloody-mary/

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Bakon Vodka

Perhaps a good addition to the Old Bloody Bay?!

http://bakonvodka.com

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Bacon Lollipops

Bacon Pops are hard candy lollipops that have successfully (and deliciously!) merged with bacon. These gourmet lollipops come in sets of six which feature two each of the following flavors: Maple, Honey, and BBQ.

The bacon strip shape is made from hard candy and then infused with bits of bacon to add a savory kick to these sweet treats.

If you love bacon, you’re going to love these tangy, candied lollipops. Each hand poured guilty pleasure is made in the USA.

http://www.vat19.com/dvds/bacon-lollipops-savory-candy-honey-maple-bbq.cfm

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Maple Bacon Cupcakes

Salty bacon perched on top of buttery, maple icing.  Oh yeah, baby!

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/maple-bacon-cupcakes-00420000006342/

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Periodic BaCoN Tee

Nutritionists tell you to get your vitamins and nutrients. Some of those nutritious foods taste gross. But there is an amazing chemical compound that makes just about any food taste amazing – it’s BACON. Get some.

http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/d4a0/?rkgid=275668648&cpg=ogpla&source=google_pla&gclid=CJ3-8ufIn7UCFQ2i4AodYR8AcQ

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Portrait of Kevin Bacon Made Out of Bacon

http://laughingsquid.com/portrait-of-kevin-bacon-made-out-of-bacon/

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Bacon of the Month Club

Featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the TV Food Network!

http://www.zingermans.com/Product.aspx?ProductID=G-BAC-3&crf=muumrk&gclid=CNmknK3Sn7UCFc2j4Aod9TEAgw

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Bacon Bourbon Caramel Corn

Truly the most amazing popcorn EVER!  Buy extra.

https://saltedcaramel.net/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=50

Dried Cherry Shortbread Heart Cookies

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Cute and delicious!  These little buttery, crispy cookies are a perfect little gift for your Valentine!

Just wrap a bunch and tuck them into a cellophane bag and tie with a pretty ribbon for a home baked and thoughtful Valentine’s gift.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dried  cherries

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.with a rack in center. Combine butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, flour, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Beat with a wooden spoon until combined but not too creamy. Stir in dried cranberries.
  2. Pat dough evenly into an 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan. Bake until just beginning to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Place pan on cooling rack until cool enough to touch, about 20 minutes. Run knife around edges, remove shortbread, and transfer, right side up, to work surface. Use 1 1/2- to 2-inch heart cookie cutter to cut out cookies. Use a paring knife to trim stray bits of cranberry from edges. Cookies will keep for 5 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

Needham Candy ~ A Maine Tradition

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Growing up in Maine with a grammy who always baked, one of my old favorites she would make were a delicious, creamy, coconut candy called Needhams.  Unlike a Mounds Bar, the difference is that Maine Needhams have potato in the recipe, which adds a lovely creaminess to the texture.

Ingredients

    • 3/4 cup mashed potatoes ( not seasoned)
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 (1 lb) packages confectioners’ sugar
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 2 (7 ounce) bags flaked coconut
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 1 (12 ounce) packages chocolate chips
    • 4 unsweetened chocolate squares
    • 1/2 paraffin wax block, the same paraffin you melt to use on top jam ( 2 1/2 by 2 1/2)

Directions

  1. Pare, cook, and mash potato to make three-quarters of a cup.
  2. Add salt.
  3. Using double boiler place butter in it and melt over boiling water.
  4. Add mashed potato, confectioners sugar, flaked coconut, and vanilla.
  5. Mix well and turn into a buttered jelly roll pan and spread evenly.
  6. Place in a cool place to harden.
  7. When hard, cut into small squares.
  8. For the dipping chocolate, again use a double boiler.
  9. Place paraffin in the top over boiling water to melt.
  10. Then add the two kinds of chocolate and allow to melt.
  11. Stir well to mix ingredients.
  12. Dip in the chocolate mixture (with a fork, toothpick, or cake tester–I use a fork and put the square on top of the tines and dip it, letting the excess chocolate drip off before I lay it on the waxed paper).
  13. Hold each square over the chocolate mixture after dipping so the square drains well (I usually will have to reheat the chocolate inbetween dippings so it is nice and thin and drips of easily).
  14. Place on waxed paper to harden.
  15. Should make about 66 good sized needhams.
  16. This halves easily.

Julehjerter ~ Danish Heart Baskets

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My dear grammy Kelly (maiden name of Jorgenson) was of Danish descent.  Apparently in her household growing up, the primary language spoken was Danish.  It’s unfortunate that by the time she got around to being married and raising her own kids, the language had been long tucked away and now lost.  I imagine caring for a husband, five children and a farm did not leave a lot of time to teach the wee ones a second language.

While I’ve always been very proud of my Irish heritage, I’ve recently become quite fond of discovering more about my other roots.  So I’ve been researching Denmark and Danish traditions.

I came across these lovely ornaments today and while I’ve seen them before, I did not realize until today that they are common in Danish households around the holidays

Here is a good tutorial I found on how to make Julehjerter.

http://gingerbreadsnowflakes.com/node/28

TO MAKE PAPER HEARTS YOU WILL NEED:

Wrapping paper or letter weight crafting paper in two colors

Scissors

Ruler

Pencil

Elmer’s or Aleene’s Tacky glue

Select two pieces of paper in contrasting colors. Although white and red is traditional in Norway, I am using colors that will show up better in photographs.

Measure and cut a strip 3″ wide and 9″ long from each piece of paper.

Fold each strip of paper exactly in half crosswise, as shown.

Place a 3″ diameter biscuit cutter on the OPEN end of the folded papers. Use a pencil to trace the outline of the biscuit cutter onto the paper to create a half circle. (Or, you can draw the half-circle freehand.)

Normally, I would draw my lines very lightly, but for this tutorial I am drawing them dark so you can see them! Cut along the curved lines you have drawn. Again, be sure you are cutting the curve on the open end of the paper.

In the steps that follow, you will be dividing each folded piece into three 1″ strips. You’ll be cutting these strips most of the way across each piece, leaving those rounded ends un-cut. To help you gauge how far in to cut your strips, place one piece over the other, as shown. The cut lines you’ll be making in the coming steps should be 3/8″ longer than the point where these two pieces overlap. (When you’ve read the rest of the steps, this should make more sense.)

So, as we just discussed, mark three 1″ strips on each piece of paper, and draw them on the paper. See how these lines begin at the fold and end in the curved edges? Now you are ready to cut! Reminder: The curved edge is on the OPEN end and the lines are drawn from the FOLDED end.

Cut through both layers of paper along the lines you drew, beginning at the fold and cutting toward the curve.

For your first basket, you may want to number the strips as shown above. (Once you have made your first basket, you will not need to number the strips again – it just helps you with learning the process.) Lay the two folded paper pieces in front of you on the work table in the position shown above. (Don’t worry if those numbers are hard to see here – they’ll be clearer in the coming photos.)

Slip strip #1 between the top and bottom layers of strip #4.

Now, slip strip #5 between the top and bottom layers of strip #1.

When you have completed the first two weaving steps, your “heart” will look like this.

Now slip strip #1 in between the two layers of strip #6.

Congratulations! You have completed the first row! And it should look like this!

To weave the second row, begin by slipping strip #4 between the top and bottom layers of strip #2. (See how I had to slide the two halves of the heart into different positions so that I could manuver my second row of weaving in?)

Now slip strip #2 between the top and bottom layers of strip #5.

Slip strip #6 between the layers of strip #2. Your “heart” will now look like this. (And the weaving pattern begins to emerge!)

Now that you have finished weaving the second row, slide the woven strips down toward the curved ends of the heart until they can go no further. This will give you some “wiggle room,” which you’ll need in order to weave the last row. Weaving the last row can be a little “fiddly,” but just go slowly and be patient while you get the feel of it.

Slip strip #3 between the layers of strip #4. You will need to gently bend the strip in order to do this. As you can see, the first two rows of weaving are being held in place by your other hand.

Pull strip #3 through strip #4 and flatten it back out. Your heart will now look like this.

Place strip #5 between the layers of strip #3. Stay with me! You’re almost done!

Finally, slip strip #3 between the layers of strip #6. This is probably the most fiddly step, so it may feel a little awkward. Keep working with it until it falls into place.

TaaaaaaDaaaaaaa! You did it! All the strips are woven together. A couple more little steps and you are done.

Holding the curved tops of each side of the heart, gently pull them outward so that the edges of the heart become nice and even.

Now to add a handle. Cut a strip of paper about 8″ long and between 3/4″ to 1″ wide. Glue each end of this strip to the inside of the woven heart, as shown. If you are thinking of putting little treats inside, then you may want to also tape down each end of the handle on the inside of the basket with some clear tape.

Make a couple more three-strip baskets to get the process down, and then you’re ready to make a four-strip basket, like the one on the right. It is constructed exactly the same way, except that you divide those initial pieces of folded paper into four strips instead of three.

You can make hearts that are smaller or larger by using a copier to enlarge or reduce the template in this tutorial.

Try making heart baskets with patterns and different colors if you wish. Craft stores and scrapbooking outlets have so much to offer as inspiration. (Just be sure to stick to lighter weight papers.) Embellish with whatever your heart desires – from sequins to buttons, to beads….. Fill your baskets with cookies, candy, small gifts, baubles, or even dried flowers.

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Creamy, Dreamy Corn and Chicken Chowder

Corn-Chowder

Corn Chowder

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

5 strips thick cut bacon; sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 sweet onion, diced
2 carrots peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon chipotle seasoning
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (add more if you like some heat)
6 cups vegetable stock
2 cups heavy cream
2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
6-8 ears corn
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken; I use rotisserie chicken from the local market
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
green onions; sliced for garnish

Directions:

1. In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium high heat until crisp; remove bacon with a slotted spoon and allow to drain and reserve for garnish.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, jalapeno and thyme to the bacon drippings and cook until the vegetables are soft; about 8 to 10 minutes. Dust the vegetables with flour, chipotle seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes and stir to coat well.

3. Cook vegetables, flour and seasonings for 2 minutes; stir frequently.

4. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add the cream and the potatoes, bring to a rapid boil. Allow soup to boil hard for about 7 minutes, until the potatoes break down. This process will help thicken the soup.

5. Cut the corn kernels off the cobs and add to the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add in the cooked chicken. Simmer until the corn is soft and chicken is heated through; about 10 to 12 minutes.

6. Stir in the parsley. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the reserved bacon and green onions.

Notes:

– If you are not a fan of heat, eliminate the jalapeno. Personally I would not omit the crushed red pepper or the chipotle seasoning. It adds a smokiness and depth of flavor that is truly magical in this soup.
– If you like heat, definitely toss some more spices in and even leave a few jalapeno seeds hanging around.
– This soup is perfectly delicious without the addition of the chicken, but is definitely more of a meal with it.

D.I.Y. Tile Coasters ~ Kid Friendly, Affordable Gifts

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The other day our two squirrels came home and decided they wanted to get crafting for the holidays.  Our oldest had been surfing around and found D.I.Y. tile coasters made from fancy paper napkins.  I decided that would be a huge waste of money to buy multiple packs of napkins to suit everyone’s different tastes.

After reading the instructions, I realized we could use any kind of flat paper and decided that scrapbook paper was plentiful these days.  So off to Hobby Lobby (queue church organ music and angels singing…) for our virgin trip.  First I need to say that Hobby Lobby is bananas!  I was a bit overwhelmed with their enormous selection, but I digress.

They had an entire aisle of paper to choose from, so the girls and I dove in and found 24 different papers (.56 each) so that we could make four sets of six coasters.  Each one unique and personal for the recipient of the gift.  I also bought felt (4 for $1.00). Mod Podge was about $4.00.  However, I can tell you you can also use diluted Elmers Glue.  That is what I did to save money.  The glue was $2.50.

We then headed next doors to Lowe’s and bought 24  – 4.25″ white square tiles.  (.17 each)

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Supplies:
4 square tiles from your local hardware store (4.25″ x 4.25″)
4 pieces of scrapbook paper
4 pieces of felt (cut to 4″ x 4″)
Mod Podge
Sponge brushes
Glue (i.e. Fabri-tac or other strong adhesive)
Clear acrylic sealer – waterbased poly

I started by cutting a template that measured 4″ square.  I cut all of my paper and felt into the squares.  I took my diluted Elmers Glue and painted the tiles with my sponge brush and laid the square of paper onto the glue surface.  I then smoothed it down with my sponge brush, until it was totally covered with glue on the surface.

I let them dry for two days to be sure the glue was set.

Then take a clean foam brush and paint the poly onto the surface covering the paper and edges to be sure it’s sealed up well.

Let them dry for one day. Do this 2x more.  So three total coats.  Let them totally dry before applying the felt backing.

Apply the felt backing once the tiles are completely dry and not tacky.  Again, let them dry for a couple of days.

You can apply a thin piece of ribbon on the edges.  We however are not doing this because I’m lazy!  LOL!