Tag Archives: bacon

Comfort Food

Okay.  So you all know that it’s cold here.  It’s about all I think about these days.  I think I may have found at least one comfort in these temps that don’t quite reach zero.  Food.  And not just any kind of food.  The kind of food that feeds your soul and wraps around you to give you a hug when you are cold and lonely (not to mention it will settle down around your hips, but I am choosing to think of that as insulation).

In this case, it centers around cheese and carbohydrates (my third favorite C, chocolate, will be featured in my next post).  Baked potato soup and garlic cheese breadsticks.

I am starting with the cheese bread.  Earlier in the week I attempted to make some cinnamon rolls and while they tasted pretty good, they failed to rise, and I was determined to master the art of yeast dough (after all, I have been using baker’s yeast in my laboratory experiments for years now).  I found a recipe in The Joy of Cooking.  I would have halved the recipe (as it makes a LOT of dough) but was unsure of how to split the one egg…

Garlic-cheese breadsticks

In a pot, add 1 1/2 cups of whole milk.

Warm up enough to dissolve 1/3 cup sugar.

And melt 1/4 cup of butter.

Add 1 T salt.

Let cool.

Meanwhile, dissolve 4 1/2 tsp. of active dry yeast in 1/2 cup of hot water (100 – 115 degrees) in a large bowl for 3-5 minutes.  I think this is were I went wrong with the cinnamon rolls – I don’t think I warmed my yeast enough.

Add the cooled milk mixture.

Beat in 1 egg.

And 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese.

Beat in 3 cups of flour until well blended.

Continue to add flour 1 cup at a time until dough leaves the sides of the bowl.  I added an additional 2 1/2 cups.

Knead dough for about 10 minutes.  (Thank you dough hook!)

Cover with a towel and let dough rise until it is doubled in size.

Punch down and roll out into ~1/2 inch strips.  Twist 2 strips together to form breadsticks*.

Cover and let rise again.

Brush with melted butter.  Sprinkle garlic salt and parmesan cheese.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

*This recipe makes way too much dough.  I only made one pan of breadsticks and formed the remaining dough into a loaf and baked for about half and hour.  I wrapped it up and stuck it away in my freezer).

Baked Potato Soup

I have been dreaming of baked potato soup for quite some time now.  I found this recipe in Cooking Light, but decided to use the full fat versions of milk, cheese and sour cream – because food is infinitely better in it’s full fat state.

Start with some potatoes.

Pierce them and bake for 45-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry up some bacon and set aside.

Once the potatoes are baked, peel and slightly mash them in a bowl.

Now, get a pot and add 1/2 cup flour.

Whisk in 4 cups whole milk until nice and smooth.

Cook on medium heat until nice and thick, about 8 minutes.

Add the mashed potatoes, and some cheddar cheese,

2/3 cup of chopped green onions,

and about 3/4 cup of sour cream.

Salt and pepper to taste. Combine and cook until heated through.

Top with more cheese, green onions and bacon.

Just about perfect.

Only Scott could warm my heart more.

 

Back in the Kitchen

It hasn’t been a secret that I have been less than thrilled with winter.  To add insult to injury, my stove was shut off for a week due to a gas leak.  While it was out of commission (during a record-breaking snowfall) all I could think about was all of the things that I wanted to cook and bake.  Due to all of the craziness from the last snow storm the public transit system has been crippled and it’s taking me on average about an hour to make a 4.5 mile commute.  Needless to say, when I finally get home, I am not in the mood to cook.  Until last night.  All day I had been craving some super-duper comfort food and decided that I would whip up one of my all time favorite (and easy) dinners.  Pasta with bacon and asparagus.

Now that a happy kitchen ...

Pasta with Bacon and Asparagus

It starts with bacon, as all amazing things do.  I went ahead and chopped up and fried an entire package, although you probably only need about half a package (as for the other half, I have plans for a baked potato soup).

While the bacon is cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta (I prefer penne).

Chop a onion and cut asparagus in 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces.

Once cooked, remove bacon and drain off some (but not all) of the fat.  Add the chopped onions to the remaining bacon fat and cook until soft.

Add asparagus to the pasta pot after the pasta is cooked halfway through and cook until asparagus is tender, about 5 minutes.

Drain noodles and asparagus and add to the onions.  Add about 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese and cook until cheese melts.

Top with bacon crumbles.

I enjoyed mine with a cranberry martini.  Add that to a Skype date with my beloved and it was a pretty fantastic end of the work week.

A Fall Favorite

Tonight I indulged in one of my favorite fall meals.  Butternut squash risotto.  The richness and creaminess of it is pure luxury.  The starchiness of the rice, the nuttiness of parmesan, the sweetness of the butternut squash and the saltiness of the bacon can warm the coldest of fall evenings.  I’ve spent the last several years perfecting my recipe and I think I am pretty close and felt the need to share with you what I’ve learned while I sit and enjoy the fruits of my labor and watch my not-so-secret pleasure, Dancing with the Stars. (Though, it may also be in part due to the glass (and a half) of wine I’ve consumed while cooking.)

Butternut Squash Risotto

1 small-medium butternut squash, peeled and diced

6-8 slices of bacon, chopped

1 small onion, diced

1 1/2 cups aborio rice

1/2 cup white wine

5 cups chicken stock

3/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated

3-4 tablespoons butter

Roast the butternut squash, drizzled in olive oil, salt and pepper, in a 450 degree oven for ~30 minutes.

Simmer chicken broth to keep warm.  Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large stockpot until crispy.  Remove bacon and add onion, cooking over medium heat until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add aborio rice and cook for 2 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup wine and cook until the liquid evaporates (DO NOT OMIT, however, white wine is not necessary.  All I had was a Rose in the fridge and that worked just as well).  Add chicken broth, 1 cup at a time until, stirring until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes total (or ~5 minutes/cup chicken stock).

Remove from heat.  Add butter and parmesan and stir until melted.  (If you have been drinking the wine that you just opened, be careful while grating the cheese, we don’t want any kitchen injuries).

Fold in roasted butternut squash and top with bacon pieces.  I would recommend keeping the bacon separate from the risotto, but then again, I prefer crispy bacon.  Enjoy!

Now to turn my attention back to Dancing with the Stars … and perhaps another glass of wine.