Magic Bacon

As the sun peaked over the Fox River, we were already admitting defeat to the day. We woke up in Appleton, WI feeling hazy and cursing our bodies for their recent programming to jolt awake anytime before 8 a.m. (#PGP, AMIRIGHT) With my boyfriend’s recent move to the state of beer, we took it upon ourselves to explore the downtown bar scene and proceeded to pay for it the next morning. Needing something to cleanse us and revive our souls, we looked to bacon: magic bacon.

The recipe title may be redundant, (because when isn’t bacon magical?) but this style of everyone’s favorite [breakfast] food actually has powers. Apart from healing your hangover and tasting mind-blowingly great, magic bacon is easy and affordable to cook.

What You Need:

Thick-cut bacon 

Brown sugar

Fresh-ground pepper

Cookie Sheet

Tinfoil

Start with covering the top of a cookie sheet with tinfoil. Then lay the bacon. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of each strip, and then gently rub it into the bacon. You don’t want to drown the bacon in sugar (because clogged arteries), so about a teaspoon spread haphazardly on each strip should do.

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Next, add the fresh pepper. Make sure to hit the fatty part of the bacon so it can really soak in the spice. Again, use the pepper sparingly (similar to the sugar). You can always add more.

*Disclaimer: this is Riley’s hairy manhand, not mine.

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Now comes the baking — read carefully! Put the bacon into a COLD oven, then turn the oven to 400 degrees. Set a timer for 17 minutes. Check on the bacon after this allotted time. You’ll want to pay careful attention after the 17 minute mark, as the sugar will burn quickly if the bacon is left in the oven for too long. Check on the bacon for about another two-three minutes, making sure the bacon is cooked through before removing it from the oven. It should look like this:

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Serve up and enjoy! Man approved.

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Cranberry Salsa

What is a better time to tell you one of my favorite holiday recipes than right between the holidays? Well, before Thanksgiving would’ve been helpful, probably. But just like you, I was experimenting different sleeping positions on the couch and keeping track of just how many things pair well with mashed potatoes. And after a weekend of feasting, I’m going to give it to you hard and straight – no one likes cranberries. I mean, they’re in everything (juice, smoothies, bread, yogurt, bagels, etc.) but have you ever seen someone eat a single cranberry and go, “Wow. This berry, man.” No. But you will get that reaction if you take a holiday staple and turn it into something way better – i.e., cranberry salsa.

You will need:

1 32-ounce bag fresh cranberries

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

4 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons grated onion

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Rinse the cranberries, tossing away any stems or weird looking berries. Put them into a medium saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook over medium-high heat for a quick 2 minutes.

Drain well and put them into a plastic container. (A glass container probably looks better but like, who owns glass tupperware?

Add the remaining ingredients and mix them with a wooden spoon. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

A really cool thing about this salsa is that your batch is good for a week, and it goes with pretty much any holiday food ever. (Turkey and stuffing are my favorites.) It’s got some spicy kick, but not until the end. (If you can handle spicy ketchup, you’ll be more than okay.) It’s an easy recipe. It’s salsa — all you have to do is mash things together. Plus it looks nice and people will once again mistake you for being a great cook.

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Caprese Salad

photoWhile I keep wanting to call it a Khaleesi salad (thanks a lot, Game of Thrones), the name is the toughest part of this dish. I’ve been on a fresh tomato kick and can’t get enough of this red vegetable…fruit? (They have commitment issues. Hey, tomatoes are just like us.) I love a caprese salad for lunch because there is literally no cooking involved so it’s super quick to make. Unless you have a hot date for lunch, you can follow this recipe that serves a table for one.

What you need:

2 ripe tomatoes

1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup of balsamic vinaigrette 

1/2 ball of fresh mozzarella (I’m not sure if 1/2 ball is the technical term, but that’s how I bought it at the grocery store. Mostly I just want to see if you have the balls to ask the 15-year-old Hy-Vee worker for 1/2 a ball of cheese.) 

Cut the cheese (lolz) into thin-ish slices. Do the same for the tomatoes. No need to cut the basil. Once these ingredients are plated, drizzle the balsamic over it. Traditionally, caprese is plated as the photo shows, but I really don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to plate this salad. Just make sure you don’t drown it in the balsamic vinaigrette. Feel free to offer this salad as an appetizer for dinner as well.

This post looks awkward to me because it’s so short, but there’s really no way to draw this recipe out. As always, it’s best served with a glass of wine (not that I condone that behavior over your lunch hour.) Have at it.

LGBT Pasta. Yep.

photo (11)So my dad was giving me all those cooking lessons, you know? And then I was like, “Hey Dad, I’m moving to Des Moines , so this is awkward.” While the Moines has its perks, I’m pretty much on my own for supplying any culinary creativity. But I think I’ve truly found/made up/conjured a recipe that any post-grad can make. It’s super delicious and incorporates one of my fav food groups – ahem, pasta – and it’s cheap. There’s also no need for any fancy kitchen utensils (which is great because I can’t even afford the gas to get me to Target right now.) Friends, get your mind fired up about LGBT Pasta.

A politically incorrect name for a pasta dish? Definitely. BUT, it brings some serious flavor, and it was the first thing that came to mind when I thought about the ingredients: Lemon, Garlic, Basil, Butter, Tomato.

I made two servings and used:

2 tomatoes

1 stick of butter

1 clove of garlic

1 cup of basil leaves

1 lemon

Optional 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (shredded)

Start with boiling a pot of water for your pasta. I used spaghetti, but you can use any type of pasta you’d like because this is America. Then I went to work on the sauce: I started by throwing that stick of butter in a pan on low heat. An entire stick of butter may seem like a lot…and it was. I mean, it tasted awesome, but I might’ve gotten a little pretentious about the Midwest’s favorite dairy product. I’ll probably go halfsies with butter and olive oil for next time. The next ingredient I added was the garlic. I minced it (similar to my guacamole recipe) and added it to the simmering butter. Seriously you guys, I think butter + garlic is one of the best smells in the entire world. I made this dinner at my boyfriend’s apartment, and he lives above Jeff’s Pizza – we gave them a run for their money. (Except not really because they have lots of money, and we have none.) Moving on.

I chopped the tomatoes into about dime-sized chunks. These tomatoes were super sweet and added a nice balance to the garlic. From there, I added the basil leaves and made sure my stove temp was still at a low setting. I sprinkled a little Parmesan cheese in the pan partly because I was bored, but more so because I thought it would taste really good. Lastly, I squeezed the lemon juice in with the rest of what was becoming my heavenly-scented sauce.

I started cooking the pasta while keeping my sauce at a low simmer. After straining the pasta, I put it back into the pot and poured in my sauce. I brought that to a low simmer and made sure each piece of pasta got a sauce bath. After the pasta and sauce are mixed to your liking, toss it on a plate (or bowl, if you’re into that kinda thing). I added fresh Parmesan to my pasta, which melted perfectly on top of the steaming plate.

Serve up and enjoy with your favorite bottle (or bag) of wine!