Warm Bacon and Cheese Dip

Here is a yummy dip recipe that I’ve made for parties!   Very simple and very delicious!  Who doesn’t love a combo of cheese, onions and BACON?  Mmmmmmmmmmmmm……….. All cooked together into melty goodness?    It’s sure to be a crowd pleaser!
Warm Bacon and Cheese Dip
1 block of cream cheese, softened
1 bag of shredded cheese, mild or sharp
1 16 oz. jar of sour cream
2 or 3 oz bacon pieces
-I buy the Hormel brand and the jar is exactly what you need, 2 or 3 oz, that is the way it comes — pieces not bits
1 cup of chopped green onions
**********************************************************************
Combine all ingredients
Put in oven safe dish
Cover in foil
Bake on 350* for 35-45 min
Serve with tortilla chips!
ENJOY!
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~gianna~

Kale and Bacon

So I tried to jump on the kale bandwagon, but failed miserably.  I liked it, but I didn’t love it.  I tried it in place of lettuce in a salad…..annnnnnd I’d rather just eat lettuce in my salad.  Anyone else agree?  Or am I alone?

Sooooo…I asked my cousin (yeah, we talk about food a lot) how else she makes kale and she said to just saute’ it with bacon!  Sounded easy enough!  I waited until Joe was away on business (because I knew he wouldn’t eat it) and my girls were already fed and in bed and started on this recipe…that I was kinda dreading, but wanted to try!   I was pleasantly surprised.   I don’t think I’ll make it again any time soon, but it wasn’t horrible……it was very flavorful and very simple!   Maybe for a side dish…..or if I’m feeling healthy (but not too healthy….since I love bacon!)

I didn’t have an actual recipe. Here’s what I did:

Kale and Bacon

olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

4 slices of bacon — chopped

1 bag of kale (I used almost the whole thing…it shrinks down A LOT!

fresh lemon juice

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In a pan saute’ oil and garlic.

Add chopped bacon and cook for about 5-10 minutes, until bacon is cooked and a bit crispy.

Add kale and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until it’s cooked thru and tender.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Squeeze fresh lemon on top.

Enjoy!

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~gianna~

Bacon And Mushroom Mac-N-Cheese

Recently I found out a friend of mine makes a pretty “slammin” (this word was used) Mac-N-Cheese……and who doesn’t love the sound of an amazing Mac -N-Cheese?   When I asked him for the recipe, he sent me a link to a blog I frequent and one that has been mentioned here a few times!  Fake Ginger!!   BUT he had put his own twist on it…tweaking her recipe…..and then I did some tweaking of my own with what I had on hand!  Needless to say…….the mac and cheese was really…..AMAZING!  Joe and I enjoyed it, the girls (after picking out the mushrooms)…Ava loved it, but Olivia couldn’t get past the mushrooms.  3 out 4 of us…not too shabby!!!   I’m not going to give it a “Kid Approved” rating because Olivia specifically said, “NOT KID APPROVED!” which eating it, but it’s really pretty tasty and if your kids like mushrooms….they’ll probably like it!

Here is the original from Fake Ginger.   Alan (“slammin” Mac-N-Cheese maker) used more bacon, a different variety of cheeses and topped it with crushed Cheez Its…..and I used less variety of cheeses,  topped it with Cheez Its and used more bacon!   So as you can see, you can really spin this  recipe any way you want….and it’ll still be a delicious spin off of your regular, every day Mac-N-Cheese!   Give it a shot!!

Bacon and Mushroom Mac-N-Cheese

1 pound small pasta

1 teaspoon olive oil

3/4 pound bacon, chopped

8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced thinly

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup light cream

salt & pepper to taste

4 cups extra sharp cheddar, shredded

1 cup Swiss, shredded

1 cup mozzarella, shredded

1/2-3/4C Cheez Its, crushed

spray olive oil

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Bring a lot pot of salted water to a boil.
Add pasta, stir, and let boil.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon is cooked and slightly crispy.
Remove bacon to a paper towel, using a slotted spoon…onto a lined plate to drain.
Pour off some of the bacon grease (or all & add a little more olive oil to the pan) and add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are browned and soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan make a roux by melting your butter and slowly adding your flour.  Whisking the whole time.
Slowly add in chicken broth and cream, continue whisking until sauce is thickened.
Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses until melted.
Preheat oven to 375.
Once pasta is al dente, drain and put in large bowl.
Add bacon, mushrooms, and cheese sauce and stir to combine.
Pour into prepared 9 x 13 pan.
Top with crushed Cheez Its,  over the entire pan and spray lightly with olive oil.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until pasta is bubbly.
Enjoy!
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~gianna~

Cheddar Ale Soup in Soft Pretzel Bowls

So a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a recipe on the Williams-Sonoma website for Cheddar Ale soup…it sounded delicious but I didn’t have all the ingredients….so I filed it on my computer for another day.     I recently got a Mac and I’m still (3+ months later) trying to figure it out.  I went to find the recipe and couldn’t remember where I filed it…..so I did a quick google search for Cheddar Ale Soup and not only did I find the original recipe (from Williams-Sonoma), but I found someone that made THAT soup served in a………..wait for it……………..

A pretzel bowl!   

It has all the makings of the perfect game day food (or any day food, really)!    I could probably poll 100 men (and women too) and 90% would say at least 3 of these ingredients are on their “Top 10 Favorite Foods” list!   Cheese…….Check!  Bacon…..Check!  Beer……Check!  Pretzels……CHECK!!!   Pure Genius!  

 All day my house smelled amazing, from the pretzel dough rising on the counter, to the soup simmering on the stove, to the pretzel bowls baking in the oven…..it was heaven!  And the taste was even better!  It was delicious and the best part….I didn’t have bowls to wash after because we got to eat them!

 I’m not going to lie or even try to minimize this meal…..it takes awhile to make and it’s pretty tedious and there are lots of pans and bowls to wash (but no soup bowls!!!).  I was in the kitchen a lot this morning, more than I like to be.   When I wasn’t actually standing at the stove, I was checking on things, but if you have some time and want to make a yummy meal DO IT..I dare you!  You won’t be disappointed!  File this one away for when you are home on a snowy day or a weekend when you have extra time to spend cooking!   I actually did most of the prep and cooking of this meal in the morning and then finished it up around dinner time, because I had time while my kids were in school.  It actually worked out nicely!  You don’t have to do the pretzel bowls either…you can serve the soup in regular bowls….but I highly suggest the edible ones!  My kids loved them, and I can’t lie…..I did too! 

Pretzel Bowls

(Thank You Fake Ginger)

Makes 4 Bowls

5 1/2 cups bread flour

2 envelopes of quick-rising yeast

2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

4 cups + another tablespoon or 2 of hot water (very hot, but not boiled)

Cornmeal

8 cups of water

1/4 cup baking soda

2 Tbsp sugar

1 egg white (beaten to blend)

Coarse Salt (I didn’t have this, so I left it out…I also don’t like salt on my pretzels — I’m weird

Combine bread flour, yeast, salt, sugar and water in stand mixer (or large bowl) and mix until dough comes together in a ball.   Switch stand mixer to kneading attachment and knead for 5 minutes.  Or put dough on floured surface and knead for 5 minutes (or until elastic and smooth.  Grease medium bowl.  Add dough to bowl, turning to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and a dishtowel. Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in volume (about 35 minutes).

Flour baking sheet.   Knead on lightly floured surface.   Diving into 4 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and place on floured baking sheet.  Cover with towel and let sit for approx. 20 minutes until balls double in volume.  

Preheat oven to 375°.   Grease another baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Bring 8 cups of water to boil in large sauce pan.   Add baking soda and sugar (it will foam — don’t panic).    Add one ball of dough to water with slotted spoon and let sit for 30 seconds.  Flip ball and let sit for another 30 seconds.   Transfer ball 9with slotted spoon) to prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining bowls.

Brush rolls with egg white.  Sprinkle generously with salt (or omit like I did).  Bake rolls until brown about 25-30 minutes.   Transfer to wire racks and let cool.  

Using a sharp knife, work on a diagonal in a circle to remove a hole in the top.  Remove top and then hollow out the middles of the rolls to make a bowl.  Do this gently so you don’t puncture a hole in the sides or bottom.  

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Cheddar Ale Soup

(adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

 Serves 6-8 bowls of soup

 6 slices of bacon

1 Tbsp butter

1 Vidalia onion — diced

2 carrots — peeled and diced

2 celery stalks — diced

3 cloves of garlic — minced

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cup pale ale (any flavor you like)

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

3 cups milk

3 cup chicken broth

1 pound of extra sharp cheddar cheese– shredded

 

In a frying pan, cook bacon until crisp.   

Remove bacon and drain on paper towel.

 

In a large stock pot add 2 pieces of the bacon and 2 Tbsp of the fat from the frying pan, cook on medium heat.  

Add and melt the butter.  

Add the onion, carrots and celery, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes. 

Add the ale and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. 

Add the Worcestershire, milk and broth, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. 

Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. 

Remove the pot from the heat and puree the soup (in small batches) in a blender.  You can also you an immersion blender.


Set the pot over medium-low heat and add the cheese by the handful, stirring constantly; do not allow the soup to boil. 

Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into warmed pretzel bowls. 

Garnish with leftover crumbled bacon.

 ENJOY!!!  I know you will!!!

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~gianna~

Super Bowl Time!!!

There has been a lot of talk around here about the Super Bowl….NOT because either of our local teams are in it…sadly, they are not, but because New Jersey is hosting it this year.  Neither the JETS (my team) nor the Giants will be playing, but we will still be watching.  We are a football liking family.  My husband is a football lover, but he has 2 daughters and a wife….therefore we like, we don’t love unless the JETS are playing.

Over the next few weeks I will be posting lots of recipes that would be perfect for any Super Bowl party or football Sunday!  My family and I love appetizers, dips and other fun finger foods….messy ones especially!  The messier, the better in my opinion.  You will find lots of great recipes over the next few weeks…all of which are tried and true.   Dips to hearty appetizers….lightened up recipes and sweets too!

Let’s start the party off right with this little number!  Someone made these for  my New Year’s Eve party this year and it was definitely the big winner that night!   People were raving about these hot dogs.  I even overheard a father pushing them on his 8 year old daughter…”You gotta try this….it’s the best thing you will ever eat!  It’s a HOT DOG..WRAPPED IN BACON!!!!!  (very enthusiastic!)   You really just have to try it, you won’t be disappointed!”  She took one bite and was hooked!  I heard another father say to his 13 year old, “It’s a hot dog wrapped in bacon…if you try it and don’t like…I will give you $5!”   Another one hooked!  Both True Stories.

It was the only food (and we had a lot of delicious food that night) that was completely GONE by the end of the night!   I have no idea where they got the recipe, but I’m so glad these landed in my kitchen!   They are FAR from healthy…in fact they might just be one of the most unhealthy things ever…..but who cares??   If you are still sticking to your “New Year’s Diet”….then just bookmark this page for a month from now…when you won’t give a damn and you’re looking for a great Super Bowl recipe to please everyone (even the ones still dieting)!

I’ve gone ahead and named this recipe “Jimmy’s Smokies” because  he and his wife recently told me they have named meatballs I make (recipe coming soon), “Gianna’s Meatballs.”  It felt like the right thing to do!  🙂  So without further ado….

Jimmy’s Smokies

1 package of hot dogs

1 package of bacon

Brown Sugar

Toothpicks

Preheat Oven to 350°

Cut hot dogs into quarters.

Wrap each piece of hot dog in 1/3 of a strip of bacon and secure with toothpick all the way thru (so you can easily pick it up and eat it later).

Place all wrapped hot dogs on baking sheet.

Sprinkle brown sugar all over hot dogs.

Cook for 25-30 minutes.

***Keep and eye on them from 20 minutes on….just to make sure they aren’t burning.  Oven times may vary***  

HEAVEN!!!!  

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~gianna~

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