I thought the bacon hype would die down, but I was very wrong.
In the past couple weeks, there has been much bacon talk in my
Two weekends ago, I decided that the secret to a good sausage
gravy is bacon grease, and a little bit of cooked bacon. Yep, heart
attack in progress. I’m still refining the recipe a bit, and will
share it when I’m happy with it.
Apparently in tune with bacon on the brain, the folks at
Seattle’s Cook Local posted
this picture on twitter: Chocolate chip cookies with candied
bacon. Think what you will, but this sounds pretty good to me.
They promised a recipe, but suggested using regular chocolate chip
cookie dough and mixing in candied bacon. They offered me these
instructions to candy bacon on Twitter: take two strips, and
in a ziploc bag with brown sugar, shake, then bake at 350-degrees
for 15 minutes. Cool and chop.
And adding to the bacon front, today I saw this upcoming event
mentioned in Seattle
Magazine: Baconopolis from 6-8 p.m. Feb. 25. Cost is $30 and
includes boutique bacon tastings and bacon-enhanced dishes and
desserts with Seattle celebrity chef Tom Douglas. To buy tickets
contact Christie at 206.448.2001 or email her at:
When I went to look up more information on the event, I also
found a bacon bun recipe from Tom Douglas. Read it
I think all this means that Kitsap needs to have its own bacon
festival, a Kitsap Bacconalia, if you will.
This summer we had another in a long line of great interns. But
one of the things that set Mandy Simpson apart was that she plied
us with treats while she was here. (Note to all future interns:
baking is a bonus skill.) She made us strawberry pie, and some
going-away goodies called bourbon balls.
They were an instant hit, and I knew this summer that I’d be
making them for Christmas. I mean, how can you go wrong combining
holidays and chocolate-y, little, boozy balls?
The recipe came by way of Mandy’s mom in the form of a copied
newspaper clipping from a Judy Cunningham of Roanoke, Virginia. So
thank you all to Mandy, her mom and Mrs. Cunningham, wherever you
I made them and some adaptations for a recent cookie exchange
and will be giving some soon as Christmas gifts.
Yeah, there’s the turkey or the ham, but the thing I look
forward to every year is that belt-notch dropper, dinner topper
For me, it has to be some sort of pie, and as we head into
tomorrow, I thought I’d share a few.
It also happens to be what I’m focusing on this year, since
cooking dinner has been taken off my plate as we head out to family
gatherings instead of hosting. I’ll make a few apple and a couple
of from-scratch pumpkin pies. Dough and all. (Well, at least that’s
what I’m assuming at 4 p.m. Wednesday. We’ll see if I’m frantically
running out to Safeway at midnight tonight.)
Food Life readers offered up some great recipes for the recipe
contest, and I wanted to highlight a couple desserts that sounded
like they’d be relatively quick (one is incredibly quick) and
The first one comes from Colleen Smidt and uses
flour and whipping cream and sugar mix that adds an extra layer of
richness to the apple pie.
Apple Cream Pie
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream (liquid)
4 tablespoon Flour (heaping)
3/4 Cup Sugar (organic tastes best)
Cinnamon to taste ( I like a lot but that is just me)
4 to 5 Golden Delicious Apples (do NOT substitute any other apple
1 Deep Dish Pie Shell (I use pre-made frozen)
Mix everything, except apples, together in a big mixing bowl and
set aside for 1 hour. Ingredients will have a slight reaction and
some rising will occur. This is ok.
Peel and core apples. Cut length wise into quarters. Slice
length wise into thin slices between approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inch
thick. Fill pie shell with apple slices to determine correct amount
to be used. I make sure it is full and has a nice mound. Once the
apple slices are mixed with the liquid a significant amount of
settling will occur.
Mix apples and liquid together in the bowl. Pour into the pie
shell. Sprinkle additional cinnamon sparingly on top for taste and
Bake 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Let pie cool and serve room
temp or chilled. This is a great pie to make up the day before and
travels really well once it is chilled.
The next recipe came from Shellie Cohagan, and
would be a pretty good bet for something to whip up on Thursday
since it’s quick and oven-free.
No Bake Punkin’ Cheesecake Pie
20 min prep
Serves 6 -8 8 inches prepared graham cracker crusts
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese , softened
2 1/2 cups whipped topping, divided
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (3 1/2 ounce) package vanilla instant pudding mix
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups 100% pumpkin puree (not the pie mix)
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
In a medium-mixing bowl combine cream cheese, 1 cups of the
whipped topping, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat
Spread evenly over crust.
In a large mixing bowl combine: pudding, milk, pumpkin puree,
pumpkin pie spice, and 1 more cups of whipped topping.
Stir until thoroughly combined.
Spoon mixture over cream cheese layer.
Top with remaining 1/2 cup of whip topping. Shellie puts it in
a pastry bag and decorates the top with the whip cream.
The great thing about summertime desserts are that many tend to
be simple. Grilled fruit is one of my favorites whether it be
slices of grilled pineapple drizzled with coconut milk and
macadamia nuts or apples or stone fruit.
Here’s a recipe I tried out a couple weeks ago:
Grilled Nectarines with Blackberry Sauce
1 cup sugar, divided
1 pound fresh blackberries
4 nectarines, cut into 1/2-inch slices
Juice from 1 lemon, divided
Vanilla ice cream
In a medium saucepan, mix blackberries, half the lemon juice and
sugar over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook about 10
minutes, making sure all the sugar is dissolved. Strain through a
Lightly oil the grill and heat to high. Brush nectarine slices
with olive oil, drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with sugar.
Place on grill and cook until edges start to brown, about two or
three minutes on each side.
Serve slices with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and pour sauce
over it. Use leftover sauce for ice cream or waffles later.
Last week, into my home came a zucchini the size of a football.
While I love the stuff, my husband hates it. Loathes it, in fact.
And just as I was dreaming up creative ways to use it — should I
stuff a chicken? core it and bake it like a boat with a cargo of
meats and marinara? — out fell one of those food-zine newspaper
What initially caught my eye was a recipe for
watermelon gazpacho with herb oil (which I vow to try
despite the disgusted looks I get when I string together
“watermelon” and “gazpacho” in a sentence). But as I flipped
through it, Ii found their zucchini special and a recipe for that
standard zucchini overabundance user upper ubiquitous to potlucks
and garden gatherings everywhere.
Everyone has their own zucchini bread recipe, each with slight
variations, nuts, other fruits, different portions of this and
I’ve made zucchini bread before, but it was a long time ago and
it came out way too bitter. But I’ve had some good zucchini bread
courtesy of our arts and
entertainment reporter, and figured I’d give it another
try. The magazine’s recipe looked pretty simple and pulled in
plenty of sugar.
I made it twice, turning the second batch into muffins (which I
cooked for 25 minutes instead of the load time of 1 hour). It
turned out cakey and moist and sugary, so here, tested and
approved, it is to share.
What’s your favorite zucchini (or other vegetable) bread
Preheat oven to 325-degres. Spray a 9X5 loaf pan with cooking
spray and dust with flour.
Combine oil, sugar, eggs and zucchini in a large bowl. In a
seperate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Gradually add to
zucchini mix. Beat 3 minutes with a mixer on medium speed. Scrape
batter into a prepared pan.
Bake 1 hour or until inserted knife comes out clean. Serves
The Relish link above has calorie and nutritional
All I can think about today is being outside. I’ve been taking a
look again at
suggestions of best places to head after work on a sunny
And I’ve been craving ice cream, gelato, sorbet and the like
since I woke up. I’ve been particularly wanting to try out a recipe
I ran across yesterday on Foodista, the Seattle-based food
encyclopedia. It was a Watermelon
Ice recipe that was really basic using only sugar,
watermelon, water and some lime leaves. Best part was it didn’t
require an ice-cream maker, just some patience and ability to stir
up the mix over the course of half a day. Because of that last
part, I didn’t quite have time to make it last night, but it will
definitely be tried out soon. I’ll leave a comment here letting you
know how it went. Or if you try it, let me know how it goes.
I’m going to try a raspberry fruit ice, a strawberry and, taking
an idea from a drink I saw at Bremerton’s Hi-Fidelity
Lounge and combining strawberry with basil.
But since my interest in fruit ice was piqued, I looked up and
found a couple other interesting recipes.
So in all that talk of high fiber
foods, I tried to go beyond the beans and looked for
something tasty and dessert-like. I found a recipe in one of my
gifted cookbooks, “Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Healthful
Cooking.” The book had a whole section of foods based on properties
like high in fiber or lowfat, etc. and a table of recipes and
stats. I keyed in on the dessert that said 7 grams of fiber per
I initially bought all the ingredients for a dinner with
friends, but when I started making it, I realized that the clock
I’d been timing my day by had not yet been reset for the season.
So, rather than be 45 minutes late, I cooked it later. Then we ate
it for dessert, and breakfast, and snacks for the next few
Even after all that, I still liked it. That’s gotta say
My few complaints were these: As I started cutting up the
berries and placing them in the bowl, they was way more than the
suggested 8X8 pan would hold and not nearly enough crust. Also,
there is no way I found that you can smooth out the crust over the
berries. I tried oiling a clean spoon and being very careful until
I lost my patience. My solution the second time around was to drop
smaller half-spoonfulls all over. The crust gets mushy pretty fast.
I prefer something a little crispier on my cobbler, but managed to
get a little of that back by popping servings back in the oven
under the broiler.
This weekend I made it again for a family dinner. I abandoned
most of the high-fiber, healthy part of it because I really needed
to eat something new. For the filling, I replaced the berries in
the recipe with a couple cups of frozen marionberries and most of a
bag of frozen peaches. Instead of raspberry jam, I used apricot
preserves left in my refrigerator from another recipe, a touch of
honey and I was out of instant tapioca so used about 1 1/2
tablespoons of corn starch. I also used regular buttermilk.
I liked the berry version better, but then again, I’m a pretty
big fan of berries.
Triple Berry Cobbler
(from “Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Healthful
Filling 2 cups blueberries
4 cups raspberries
4 cups strawberries, stemmed and sliced in half
1/4 cup raspberry jam
1 Tbs instant tapioca
Crust 1 cup unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together berries and carefully fold in jam and tapioca. (I
heated up the jam a bit to make it runny and mixed the tapioca in
before pouring it over the berries.)
Mix flour, baking soda and baking powder together. In a separate
bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy and pale. Add
half the buttermilk and half the dry ingredients and combine until
getting sticky. Add remaining buttermilk and dry ingredients and
mix just until it’s a sticky mass. Don’t overmix.
Drop spoonfuls of crust over the berries. Smooth it out a little
(if you can), but don’t worry about gaps.
Bake 40 minutes or until top is golden and filling bubbles up on
the sides and through the gaps.
Here’s the really simple recipe for the peanut butter cookies I
briefly fretted over last night. I believe I got it out of a
Weight Watchers magazine, but I’ve been making them by heart, so
the proportions may be off from the original.
Quick Peanut Butter Cookies 1 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar plus extra for dusting
About 2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix all ingredients together. Add a
little more powdered sugar if the mix is too soft, but be careful
not to make it too crumbly.
Roll about a teaspoon at a time into small balls (I can fit
about 16 on a regular baking sheet) and flatten gently with your
thumb or a fork. Bake for 12 minutes.
Remove from oven and let them sit on a baking sheet for about
two minutes. Place on wire racks to finish cooling.
No, I’m not really keeping count, but sometimes I feel like some
ghost consortium of departed award-winning chefs is checking off
the three-hundreth failure mark along a list of my cooking (and
food photo) attempts.
I could feel it when I once went chasing after my cat and left a
pot of water boiling on the stove so long that the non-stick layer
smoked and peeled right off. Felt it when I had to step away from a
dish-in-progress to look up the word “julienne” while onions and
garlic burned away in a skillet on the stove.
A few months before, I’d had my first little test with a poached
pear after eating a delicious dessert at Seattle’s Le
Pichet: a delicate little pear poached in white wine
with a dollop of an airy cream sauce. We had gone to the restaurant
as part of a book club excursion after reading “My Life in France,” a posthumously
published autobiography about Julia Child’s introduction to the
country, cuisine and cooking.
After a little trial and error, I got down a passable piece of
poached fruit. There is not a whole lot to poached fruit except
sugar, water, spices and maybe wine or liqueur. Which is how I got
all confident about the poached pear tart.
The rest of the tart requires a sugar crust and a custard bed
for the red-wine-poached pears and a currant jelly glaze. The
original recipe calls for an almond custard, but since I was
bringing the dessert to a friend who is allergic to almonds, I went
for a more standard custard recipe offered on the previous
Well, it seems that everything I touched for that recipe started
This weekend was cooking madness at my house. I cooked up
goodies for a party on Saturday and a cookie exchange on
Knowing that I’d be having people over and a cookie exchange the
next day, I set out making a ton of cookies. In planning, I wanted
to do at least a couple little fancy cookies and some things that
were far simpler. So when I started baking Friday night, it was
with a recipe I knew I could make a lot of, and I wanted it to be
fairly simple and freezable so 1) I could make extra and freeze
them to put in Christmas cookie plates for other friends and 2)
just in case no one ate them.
So I hit up the basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, but decided
to liven it up a bit for the holidays. I took a basic cookie recipe
and swapped out the semi-sweet chips with white chocolate chips,
added pecans and dried cherries.
They turned out OK, but I realized after the fact (always after
the fact) that I should have bought more pecans to really bulk up
the cookie (which I accounted for in the recipe below) and
shouldn’t have tried to make the batch all at once.
My new cooking lesson is that the baking soda reaction is only
good for so long. It apparently starts reacting soon after it mixes
with the other wet ingredients, and if you wait too long, like when
you’re baking 7 dozen cookies, the cookies get kind of flat and
What these cookies did do right, however, was jazz up a basic
recipe in a way that made it a little different from the norm. I’d
love to hear some of your suggestions for ways to make a basic
Cherry, White Chocolate Pecan Cookies
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cup dried unsweetened cherries, chopped
2 cups white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 375-degrees.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugars with a mixer. Add
eggs and vanilla, and beat until well-mised. Gradually beat in as
much of the dry mix as you can, and stir the rest until
well-combined. Fold in cherries, pecans and chips.
Drop by spoonfulls onto nonstick cookie sheets or sheets lined
with parchment paper. Bake a dozen at a time for 10-12
minutes. Cool on sheet for two minutes and finish cooling
completely on wire racks.