The Subtle Bliss of Maple Bacon

Some of the best bacon I have sampled has been Oscar Meyer’s thick-cut maple bacon. I picked up a pack while going grocery shopping, fried it up and ate it on a hogie. The balance of sweet maple syrup is a delicate balance of flavor when paired up to with the salty and appetizing bacon flavor. The smell is fantastic; sweet maple, smokey bacon and a full-bodied finish on the nose.

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The bacon would be an amazing  to incorporate into sweet dishes (cakes, cupcakes, muffins, ice cream) and treats. Add spicy mayo, lettuce and tomatoes to make a unique BLT, or add it to a salad featuring fruit (mango, pineapples and nuts) for a fresh twist. Maple bacon can, of course, become a separate cooking venture constructed in any kitchen. Here is a link.

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Where Have I Been? Recipes and New Cooking Ventures

The last blog (aside) that I wrote was nearly two weeks ago. Instead of blogging, I have been using some time to get some things done, but most of all, I have been cooking more!!!! I have made scones from scratch, biscuits, dinners, a peach cobbler with fresh sliced peaches, cakes, and interesting drinks! I have a few pictures of them prepared items and will try my best to share the recipes. (Some are from an app on my phone, so I’m not sure if you all will be able to access the same recipes I have used.) (Actually, the app is powered by allthecooks.com) Although I use recipes, I also get creative and add my own ingredients to it to give the dishes originality. So the way they come out will be a tad different from the ways your may if you do follow the directions very closely. Let me know if you are interested in anything else I have listed. I plan on doing a smoothie blog full of recipes and drink ideas I frequently use. Enjoy the 4 or 5 recipes!!!

  • Fun smoothies (like Green tea, mango, orange juice and lime an original- Heavenly!!!) and classic ones, like mango strawberry yogurt smoothies.
  • As of late, I have made three cakes from scratch (green tea and coconut with a glaze, and a pink grapefruit yogurt cake, which I covered previously, and layered  carrot cake with a cream cheese icing), however I decided to make a box cake. This is a French Vanilla Box cake, (with a homemade buttercream icing), but baked in as a layer cake, adding fresh strawberries (which I soaked in sugar and vanilla extract for 2 days). I then assembled the berried in between the layers, and frosted the cake, adding fresh sliced strawberries atop the cake for a pretty garnish. The cake was great, but the recipe I used for the buttercream icing was too sweet!  I will NOT use that recipe again! There is no other recipe to link, so I will just post a pic, and say that you can make layered cakes from the box, and add whatever flavoring, fruits, or icing you want to make it more creative. So think of this as more if an idea, not a recipe.
  • The lovely inside. See the itty, bitty berries?

French vanilla layered cake with homemade buttercream icing and fresh strawberries.

  • Tropical French Toast with bananas and coconut (with a hint of rum which I incorporated in the french toast egg/milk wash) This recipe calls for flour to be used, which makes the french toast more decadent. I also added approx.1 teaspoon of vanilla pudding mix to made the toast more creamy (which I got from another recipe) I did not have any thick bread on hand, so I used plain old wheat. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/fluffy-french-toast/Detail.aspx For the fruit, I simply took some banana pieces, added butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cook it until it got soft to my preferred desire. I then took some shredded coconuts, and sprinkled it over the banana.

Tropical French Toast with slightly caramelized bananas. They weren't super ripe, and I probably didn't use enough brown sugar. Still good,though.

  • Peach Cobbler with fresh peaches, and a “special ingredient” not listed. I again made it my own by using 3/4 cup of vanilla soy milk, less than 1/4 cup of half and half (to make it a tad fluffy), water (I do that sometimes) and 1 service which is a teaspoon of french vanilla creamer. I added an ingredient that gave the sweet peaches depth, and also some apple pie spice to round the spicy and sweet flavors out. The crust was a bit more dense that other cobblers I have had, and slightly cakey, but I actually liked its richness.

Goodness this was divine!

Cobbler before I tore into it like an animal.

Buttermilk Biscuits From Scratch!!! Recipe and Review!

I have heard from biscuit enthusiasts that biscuit making was no joke. From the wide variety of methods to the variety of styles, biscuits are diverse, yet timeless. This essential food is one I often crave, and have been contemplating making. I searched from a biscuit recipe that I was not familiar with, offering my a sense of culinary innovation and a dash of a challenge/risk element. Would I even like these biscuits? Would this uncommon ingredients used in this recipe pay off, or disappoint?  Plus, it’s somewhat sweet! The recipe is adapted from P4  on food.com.  The link to the recipe will be available upon clicking on the 2nd biscuit photo below. I hope you enjoy it!

My biscuits. Not the best photo as it was taken on my phone. Sadly,I am *not* a phone photographer.

I made the biscuits today, and they came out fluffy, moist and provided my taste buds with an underlying richness that is not typical is the biscuits I have tried previously. They were slightly sweet as the recipe called for 2 tablespoons of sugar. (I suggest toning it down to one if you’d like to have a less sweet aftertaste)

Biscuits pictured on the site. Click photo for the recipe!

I also occasionally have an issue with the bottom of my stuff getting burnt, so I slapped some a thin layer of butter on the cookie sheet, and turned the oven down to 375 degrees, compared to the 400 degrees that the recipe called for. I’m not sure if you have that issue, but if you do, I recommend doing the same. Only thing is the baking time will change, (from 8-10 minutes, to almost 20!) but the inside will be done,baking evenly and the bottom a little darker than the top, but not burnt. More so of an average brown color. I also added some butter atop the hot biscuits, adding more flavor as it melted into the biscuits nooks and crannies.

Also, if you don’t have a jumbo size egg, I read you can substitute that with a regular sized egg and a tsp. of milk.  You can click the picture which should direct you to the site. Granted, mine don’t look as smooth, but the texture if fluffy and soft (and the darn things were delish!). Also, I’m not sure how much of a difference having a bicsuit cutter makes visually, but I didn’t have one. The glass I used was good enough, though. =)

I give these biscuits 4 tongues and a taste bud (4.5 out of 5) just because I’m not so used to sweet biscuits, however, the sweetness would make an excellent compliment to a savory dish. {TIP} Pair these beauties with savory meats like

  • sausage
  •  bacon
  •  turkey
  •  chicken
  • seafood based breakfast items (seafood grits,ect)
  • Savory seasoned eggs (like Southwest types) to balance the sweet undertone, giving the dish a nice balance.

Also, you can get creative and make a unique butter/spread for these biscuits. From Almond butters, to Honey butters (even with vanilla!) to garlic butters (which may be unflattering with this biscuit), or even a spicy cinnamon butter may be a nice touch! Even your tangy fruit, like blood orange jam, or cranberry relishes may bring out that depth you may want!

Vanilla Cupcake Goldfish Grahams:Because Sprinkles Always =Cupcakes (Even if you can’t taste it)

See the sprinkles on the little fishies?

Cute little gold fishes are always a great snack, and stepped out of their signature cheese varieties into the land of graham. Strolling down the aisles, you may now see goldfishes in s’mores flavors, graham, and even vanilla cupcake. The reason why I got this is not just because it’s new, but because it’s cupcakey! Aww, Pepperidge Farms knows how to be cute!!!

I expected this to not taste that much like a vanilla cupcake considering it has a graham cracker base.  Upon opening the bag, you’ll notice that there are sprinkles on your goldfish grahams to imply that is it indeed a cupcake. (Nothing spells a cupcake like sprinkles, and don’t you forget it :)) With the first bite, I was only able to taste a graham cracker and maybe a bit more butter? Then when the crackers were 75% dissolved into soggy crumbles, I swore I was able to taste a drop of vanilla. As far as the cupcake flavor itself is concerned, the sprinkles were the only thing to remind me of a cupcake. (Even the little vanilla cupcake they have on their packaging

Nothing says cupcake like sprinkles, however, it doesn't equal cupcake flavor, P.Farms

has sprinkley goodness on it) So basically, I’d have to say these snacks are pretty good, and do slightly deviate from the usual graham cracker flavor, (and by this, I mean a little more vanillaey than the typical graham cracker flavor)but I can’t guarantee everyone will taste it. Give them a try, and let me know what you think!

Pros– Overall yummy, and made with whole grain! Yes!! *Doing the bent elbow, up and down yes gesture*. Cute sprinkles. Goldfish that aren’t cheese flavored=variety. A slight vanilla aftertaste,(more vanilla than cupcake) but only when the graham is a liquefied puddle of sogginess.

Cons– No cupcakeness aside the visual aspect of the sprinkles. *Crosses arms and pouts*

Vanilla Cupcake Goldfish Grahams Yumfactor: 3 tongues and a taste bud (3.5 out of 5 stars) Because they are good, even though they don’t taste like a cupcake.

Copy Cat Gourmet: McDonald’s McGriddle (with Recipe)

I just made a low budget, copy cat McGriddle (for recipe, see below).  If you have not heard about the Mc Griddle by now, it’s a breakfast sandwich offered at Mc Donald’s composed of eggs, cheese, sausage (or in my case, just egg and cheese) and last but not least, 2 sweet mushy maple kissed “pancuits” (a word I created combining the words pancake and biscuits). When the item first emerged, many people were skeptical to taste it because of the traditional belief that eggs and meat should not be sweet.  Well, to them I say who wrote the rules on how eggs, cheese and meat should be eaten?  The product is sweetned with maple crystals which compliment the high sodium  in the sausage that so nicely decorates the breakfast sandwich.

I just so happen to love the cute little buggers and often crave them,only coming to a slow halt when I learned that: 1.) I do not want to continuously pay close to or slightly over $3 each time I want this sweet yet greasy delight; 2) the item has a very high sodium content.  Fine for you if you want to walk head high into a habit that can later result in high blood pressure if not properly watched.  Either way, I won’t judge.

Maple Syrup Crystals

Today, I frequented food sites and  I had come across many useful recipes that encourage saving time, gas, energy and not to mention money by recreating these products in your own kitchen.  I finally came across the recipe. Basically, the copy cat McGriddle recipe called for: flour, eggs, sugar, butter, cheese and meat for optional choices, with a somewhat  complex ingredient “maple syrup crystals”. Nearly sounding like a magical incantation of some sort, the author noted that it was available in a particular store I never heard of, which further lead me to my impulsive improvisation of this recipe. Who wants to drive some place on an empty stomach to find something like this? Not that it isn’t worth it, but will I actually find them?

*Warning! The following contains unorthodox ways of creating the classic dish, French Toast in unique manners.  If offended by the idea of eggs NOT being used in the French Toast mixture, I advise you to leave. Viewer discretion is advised.  🙂

I had a violently growling tummy,1 egg, wheat bread, maple crystals, an egg ring (an egg ring: a tuna can without a top or bottom, which when eggs are complete, results in a neat and circular fluffy, pretty little egg), sugar, milk and an idea. I was determined to make this McGriddle! I remember getting the idea after I remembered seeing Aunt Jemima’s French Toast in a store and thinking about eggs, cheese and the possibility of a turkey based meat being nestled in between two maple flavored, sticky pieces of wheat bread.

So, first things first, I complied my ingredients (Note: I do NOT actively measure out every ingredient, so please prepare some of the ingredients according to your taste. I have tried to be as approximate as I can).

This serves 1 person:

  • 1/4 c. Soy milk  (You can use whatever milk you have available)
  • 2 slices of  Honey wheat bread (Not Texas Toast)
  • 1/2 tsp or 3/4 tsp Cinnamon sugar
  • 1/2 tsp  Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • Butter (To spread in the pan)
  • 1 Eggs
  • Shredded cheese Enough to cover the finished egg.
  • Pinch of  salt
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp. Pancake syrup <–Take that maple crystals! Ha!

1. Preheat oven/ conventional over to 375. The first thing I did was create the meatless French Toast. (Yes, I know, you cannot officially have the F.T. without the eggs, but the purpose was to create bread that was similarly made with similar ingredients to yield a sweet, mapley taste. Plus, I only had 1 egg left. You can indeed make French Toast if you’d like.) I combined the milk, sugar, cinnamon sugar, and vanilla, mixing them together with a fork. I put aside so I would not get my ingredients mixed up.

2. I turned on my stove  to medium heat, adding a small enough amount of butter to coat the pan, and as it melted, I took a slice of bread, carefully dipping it in the mixture, coating both sides evenly. (I actually let one slice of bread sit in the mixture a little too long, and it got too soggy. Don’t make the same mistake I did!)

3. I allowed each slice to brown, flipping it so it would not get stuck to the pan.  Sadly, one of my slices were bogged down in mixture, so it became  little hard to do due to excessive moisture and sog.  (I will add that if you have never made French Toast, please consult a recipe now, because having that knowledge will help in the creation of this dish.)

4. When they were both somewhat firm, but  not fully cooked, I decided to bake/toast the slices of maple, cinnamon, vanilly bread in my toaster oven, so the sponginess would become crunchy.  (This is not necessary if your slices are firm, but chances are since there are no eggs in the mixture they will be slightly soggy.) *Also, if you do not have a conventional over, you can bake these slices at 375-400 until they get brown for at least 6 minutes.

5. I cooked the egg, first cracking it, and adding the pinch of salt. I mixed it with a fork, added more butter to the pan, and added the egg. I did not want to scramble it, so I just emptied the bowl and decided to let the egg cook.

6. When the egg cooked half way, I folded it in half, flipping in on the other side. (I figured if I flipped the egg while it was cooked, it may be harder to fold the egg.) Be sure to keep an eye on your toast so it will not burn!

7.  When the eggs finished cooking, I added some shredded cheese on the top, letting it melt. (We only had that available)

8. Add the egg/cheese (and meat if it applies) and place it inside the bread. Enjoy.

Optional:

  • Add turkey/ bacon or turkey/sausage to the sandwich.
  • Use Texas Toast bread for thicker slices.
  • Use an egg in the mixture to make French Toast slices.

Man! This was exceptionally good! My only drawback was that 1 slice was heavy, and still slightly soggy. I was too hungry to wait for it to firm so I took my chance and ate it.  The maple flavor really gave the sandwich the illusion of  the magic maple crystals, adding a nice amount of sweetness; the egg was aptly portioned and folded in between the bread and the cheese was the perfect accessory.  I added a piece of turkey sausage which made the mean taste more filling and added a nice complex taste compliment to the sweet bread.

I will say that this  is a deliciously healthy and comforting and low-budget method   not to mention, lower in sodium content because it’s prepared with less grease and fats.  While it does not taste 100% dead on to the McGriddle, it is very tasty in its own right and does mimic the original. Adding margarine versus butter also reduce the amount of fats in the sandwich.

You’ll get something like this.

Vegetarian French Toast McGriddle Yumfactor: 4 tongues out of 5 and a taste bud.