Sriracha Brown Sugar Bacon Wrapped Onion Rings.

Oh god yeah.

Oh god yeah.

My friend Kevin is gleefully married to Brenna (who bakes). Together, they make all sorts of delicious foods. When Kevin posted a photo of this recipe on Facebook, I kind of lost my mind and immediately asked my husband (who was out grocery shopping) to please bring home some onions and some bacon.

The original recipe called for Vidalia onions – which, for those unaware, are a trademarked onion. This is why it’s hard to find them at some stores, or at various points in the year. Whenever you see a recipe that specifies Vidalias, you can pretty much always substitute a “sweet onion” (of whatever type).  The only caveat is that Vidalias are usually very large, so you may need to pick up an extra sweet onion to compensate for them being smaller.

Enough talking, let’s make these delicious onion rings!

Sriracha Brown Sugar Bacon Wrapped Onion Rings.

Ingredients:

2 large sweet onions
3 tablespoons sriracha garlic sauce
1 1/2 cups of light brown sugar
16 slices of bacon (thin cut – NOT thick)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F and make sure the rack is in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil, place a cooling rack on top, and lightly spray the cooling rack with non-stick spray.
  2. Peel the onions and cut them into 1/2 inch rings. Do not separate the rings. Set aside.
  3. Place the brown sugar in a shallow pan (pie plate, brownie pan) and break up any chunks.
  4. Place the Sriracha in a bowl. Find a basting brush. If you’re an organized person, you’ll know where that brush is. For everyone else, look through all of your drawers until you find one shoved into the back behind the turkey baster.
  5. Separate the onion rings into double slices (two rings that fit together). Keep only the larger sizes of rings – you can use the smaller rings For this dish you want the larger rings. The smaller, inner rings you can set aside and use in another dish or compost or put in your sandwich. Whatever works for you.
  6. Take 2 strips of bacon and dredge them through the brown sugar, making sure to coat both sides. Here’s hint number one: the more brown sugar, the sweeter and gooey these will be – and the more likely your oven will start to billow smoke halfway through cooking. We all make choices and we live with them.
  7. Using your basting brush, paint the sriracha sauce all over the onion ring. Make sure you’re still keeping the two rings together – no need to get between them with the sriracha!
  8. Wrap the bacon around the onion – overlap slightly and keep it snug (but not too tight). The bacon will shrink a bit during cooking. It will take two slices to go around the ring fully. Don’t overlap too much because the bacon underneath won’t cook as well if you layer it.
  9. Set each wrapped-up onion onto the rack. Space them out nicely. Admire them. Note how they look a lot like bacon-wrapped donuts. Appreciate that fact.
  10. Place the tray into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. When the timer dings, gently flip each ring over.
  11. Cook for another 15-20 minutes. You know how bacon looks when it’s cooked perfectly? That’s how you’ll know when these are ready to come out of the oven.
  12. When they’re ready, take them off of the trays and put them onto a plate. They will be super soft and gooey (very gooey, if you used a lot of brown sugar). The bacon will get crispier as it sits, assuming you don’t just burn the hell out of your hands and mouth by eating these as soon as they hit the plate.

Notes:

We basically created a room full of smoke by using a pretty substantial amount of brown sugar (that subsequently dripped down onto the tray and burned). To prevent this, you can either use less brown sugar (what?!) or you could switch out the lower tray for a clean one after the first 20 minutes of cooking.

Here’s a photo of my husband in our smoke-filled kitchen.

A teensy bit of smoke. No biggie.

A teensy bit of smoke. No biggie.

Cowgirl Candy.

Doesn't look too fancy, right?

Doesn’t look too fancy, right?

There are recipes all over the internet for something called “Cowboy Candy”. This recipe is pretty much the same thing – it’s just that I’m a lady, I’m the one who makes these, and I love these sweet and spicy jalapenos.

So, y’know, that makes them Cowgirl Candy in my books.

Cowgirl Candy is delicious in nachos, on burgers, on their own, with cream cheese on a cracker, on their own, in soups or casseroles, on their own.. you can find plenty of uses for them if you like spicy sweet foods.  It is not actually candy. This will not fool your kids.

This recipe makes approximately 7 (250mL) jars of candy, depending how tightly you pack ’em, and will also leave you with approximately one jar of delicious jalapeno syrup to add to mashed potatoes, swirl into your quinoa bake, or to use as a marinade for meat.  As you can see (sorta’) in the photo, I don’t pack them very tightly – I like each jar to have a bit of extra syrup in there – but that means the peppers will float a bit.

Cowgirl Candy

Ingredients:

3 pounds jalapeno peppers, washed
2 cups cider vinegar
6 cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoons turmeric
½ teaspoons celery seed
3 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. I highly recommend that you wear gloves while working with any hot peppers – but I can’t force you to be sensible.
  2. Slice off the stems and tips from all of the peppers. Toss these into your compost bucket.
  3. Slice the peppers into uniform 1/4 inch rounds. I like to use my mandoline because I enjoy taking my life into my own hands around sharp blades. Also, it makes the slices very neat and tidy. But you can totally do this with a knife. Set the pepper slices aside.
  4. In a large pot, combine the cider vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic, and cayenne pepper. Over medium-high heat, bring this mixture to a boil while stirring.
  5. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the pepper slices and simmer for exactly 4 minutes. For real. Time it. You don’t want them to get mushy and they’re going to get softer later when you process them.
  7. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the peppers into clean jars. Fill to about 1/4 inch line and pack them as tightly as you want them to be.
  8. Turn heat up in the pot and bring the syrup to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes. Time it. For real!
  9. Spoon or pour or ladle the boiling syrup into the jars – covering the pepper slices. Fill each jar to the 1/4 inch line.
  10. If you want to keep a jar or two of syrup, fill those up too!
  11. Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel – get all the goopy sticky seeds and whatnot off.
  12. Put on your lids and bands. Process for the usual 10-15 minutes (depending on your altitude)
  13. Set aside to cool overnight and look for the happy ping’ed lids that mean everything has sealed up properly. If they haven’t sealed, put the jars in the fridge and eat ’em soon (I recommend nachos.)

Spicy Scalloped Potatoes.

There is no photo to accompany this post because, well, this was not an attractive recipe. My shoddy photography skills would have made it even worse.  And since these turned out to be really delicious, I don’t want to scare you off with a hideous photo.

At the age of 39, I realized that I have never made scalloped potatoes. I skimmed through a bunch of recipes, settled on one that didn’t sound bland, and decided to make it – with a few changes along the way.

This came out delightfully spicy (which I like!) but you may want to adjust your ingredients to make it more, or less, spicy. If you don’t like any spice whatsoever, well, you may want to look for a different recipe.

Spicy Scalloped Potatoes

Ingredients:

4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 tbsp  all-purpose flour
4 1/2 cups warm milk
2 cup shredded habanero cheese (or other spicy, melty cheese!)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground pepper
3 lb white potatoes
2 cups chunky salsa (hot!)
1/2 cup drained pickled or marinated jalapeno pepper slices (like Cowgirl Candy!)

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  2. Whisk in the warm milk and continue whisking constantly for 3 to 5 minutes – or until beginning to boil and thicken. Add more flour, slowly, if needed to thicken.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the cheese, salt, oregano, cumin and pepper. Set the pot aside for a bit.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  5. Peel and thinly slice potatoes. Use a mandoline if you’re afraid of losing a finger.
  6. Arrange about one third of the slices into a thin layer in the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking dish.
  7. Spread half of the salsa on top of the potatoes.
  8. Repeat steps 5 and 6, making happy potato and salsa layers, then layer the remaining potato slices on top.
  9. Pour the cheese sauce over top to cover evenly and reach the sides and bottom of dish.
  10. Sprinkle with jalapeno pepper slices.
  11. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes or until lightly browned. The potatoes should be tender.
  12. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Notes:

You can make this more, or less, spicy by choosing cheeses and salsas that are more or less spicy. You can also skip the jalapeno slices on top for less kick. I have no idea why you would want to make it LESS spicy, but, hey, it’s your dinner.

Small Batch Sauerkraut.

Wannabe Sauerkraut

Wannabe Sauerkraut

 

There are times when you want to get out your giant ceramic fermenting crock – and then there are (more) times when you really don’t.  Over the holidays I was reading up on small batch fermentation and the pros and cons of doing it in mason jars. I have a lot of mason jars.

One of the suggestions that kept coming up was to use an air lock, the same kind used in various homebrew applications, to make sure that you weren’t letting any gross stuff get into the mason jar. Apparently some people find that the shape of the mason jar makes it hard to keep contents fully submerged – and leaving food stuffs exposed to air isn’t a great idea if you don’t want to dry out and/or get mould on everything you’re making.

I went online and ordered two 2-piece air locks and two #13 bungs. (*tee hee*) The #13 fits nicely into the top of a standard mason jar (not wide mouth).

Since I just started this batch today, I have no idea how well it’ll turn out, so I’ll write another post in the future when I get to taste it. In the meantime, I kept it nice and simple and here’s how I did it.

Small Batch Fermented Sauerkraut

Ingredients:

A small green cabbage
1.8-ish teaspoons of plain salt – no iodine added (kosher salt is good!)

Directions:

  1. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage. Chop or shred the inner portion into the size you want.
  2. Weigh 1 pound of shredded cabbage, put it into a bowl, and add the salt.
  3. With clean hands, squish the salt into the cabbage. Grind it! Crunch it up! You want the salt to get into the cabbage and start pulling out the water – this is not the time to be gentle and delicate. Show that cabbage who’s in charge!
  4. Put the cabbage, and any juice that you made during your squishing of it, into a 1 quart mason jar. Using anything you have handy (like the handle of a spatula), press the cabbage down firmly into the jar. Pack it in there!
  5. Wipe the rim and put the bung (*tee hee*) in place. Add water to the air lock and put it in the bung hole (oh, come on).
  6. The cabbage will start to make its own brine overnight (if not, see below). Your job is to watch the bubbles start as the fermentation process gets going. In 2 or 3 days, taste it – use a clean utensil (people seem to prefer chopsticks) and don’t double-dip.
  7. If it’s yummy, and you’re satisfied with it, remove the bung (ha!), put a normal lid on, and store it in the fridge.  If it’s not ready yet, put the bung back in and give it another day. Or two, or three..   It’s a matter of personal taste.

Plenty of Notes:

If your cabbage doesn’t make enough brine to be mostly submerged, you can add brine by dissolving 1 tablespoon of salt into 1 cup of water.  The important difference between fermentation with an air lock vs without  is that you do not need to keep your food fully submerged with an air lock (you do need to keep it fully covered with brine in the regular fermentation process.) Airborne bacteria or moulds or whatever can’t get into the closed-up jar – so you can cheerfully thank your bung for making this entire process easier. Ha!

Also, I am clearly five years old. My apologies.

Double-also, you can also refer to the bungs as “drilled stoppers”. Y’know, if you’re not 5.

While most recipes note that the sauerkraut is ‘ready’ in a few days, inasmuch as it tastes good, there is research showing that the probiotic cultures aren’t fully active and happy for at least 4 weeks.  If you are making the sauerkraut solely because you want to toss some on a grilled-up Reuben sandwich, well, 4-5 days is okay (if the taste is good to you)! If you’re more interested in eating it ‘raw’ because you want more of the health benefits, leave it longer.

To learn more about fermentation and other good things, you should visit Well Preserved.

I ordered my supplies (other than the mason jars) from Canuck Homebrew Supply. They are not paying me to write this post – I was just really impressed with how quickly they got my package to me, and how fast they replied to my email inquiry. So, if you’re looking to buy online, they’re my recommendation!

Let’s Get Paleo.

Mighty tasty.

Mighty tasty.

If it hasn’t become wildly apparent, we don’t follow any particular eating plan around here. We eat meat and veggies. We eat breads and fruits. We’re not followers of low carb or paleo or .. whatever. If it’s food, chances are good one of us likes it.

I’m not afraid to check out recipes that are from a particular style of eating, though, especially if it sounds delicious and won’t require an investment in a huge number of ingredients that we won’t regularly use.

Over on Nom Nom Paleo, I found a recipe for Egg Foo Young-ish – it sounded like something my husband would like and the only ingredient we didn’t have on hand was the coconut flour. I picked that up at the grocery store.

I am not a fan of Egg Foo Young but these turned out to be SO GOOD!  I tweaked the recipe somewhat for our tastes and that’s what’s transcribed below. If I were in your shoes, I’d go check out the original recipe and see if it would work for you as-is.

Modified Egg Foo Young-ish

Ingredients:

4 large eggs
3/4 tablespoon dried minced chives
1 teaspoon dried onion powder
¼ cup coconut flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (you end up with about 1/3 cup of spinach)
2/3 cup diced ham (or any leftover cooked meat)
1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
coconut oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add in the minced chives and onion powder. Allow the chives to rehydrate.
  2. Stir in the coconut flour and baking soda. If you’ve never used coconut flour before, marvel at how rapidly is soaks up the eggs. Worry that you’ve ruined the recipe (you haven’t) and carry on anyway.
  3. Stir in the spinach, ham, vinegar, and black pepper.
  4. Heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a cast-iron pan (or on a griddle, if that’s what you’ve got).
  5. Divide the batter into 6 (I just used a spoon and shoved it around in the bowl a bit ’til it was divided a bit).
  6. Put one of those 6 blobs of batter into the pan. Press down gently to flatten – then cook for about 2 minutes. Flip and cook for another minute. The end result should be crispy on the outside!
  7. Cool ’til it reaches eating temperature.
  8. Repeat until you’ve used up all the batter.

Spinach Quiche Casserole.

In theory, this could have been a healthy meal – after all, it does contain plenty of spinach and a few eggs. But no, this is not a healthy dinner.

It is, however, very tasty.

Like many foods that taste really, really good, this does not look remotely appealing in photographs. I strongly suggest that you overlook that fault and make it anyway.

Spinach! Cheese! Mmmm!

Spinach! Cheese! Mmmm!

Spinach Quiche Casserole

See the picture above? This recipe made 8 servings that size. 

Ingredients:
2 blocks of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
500 ml container of cottage cheese (2% or higher)
1 1/2 cups of cubed old cheddar cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup of butter, cut into about 12 chunks
3 tablespoons of flour
salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a bowl, mix the spinach, cottage cheese, old cheddar cheese, eggs, flour, salt and pepper, and half of the butter chunks.
  3. Pour into a glass casserole dish.
  4. Top with the remaining chunks of butter, randomly.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is slightly crisp and everything is gooey and melty.

Notes:
No need to grease the casserole dish ahead of time, trust me. We didn’t use salt or pepper – this turned out perfectly tasty. It is not health-food – it’s full of melted cheese.  I like to think that it’s possible for the huge amount of spinach to somehow negate the melted cheese – but I’m not a scientist.  This should probably be a side-dish but man, we just ATE IT.

Super Easy Sweet Pea Salad.

I have been known to eat an entire can of peas, drained and lightly rinsed, in place of an actual meal. I love snowpeas and sugar snap peas. I like peas that are cold and I like peas that are warm.

It surprises no one, then, that I really enjoyed eating this pea salad.

20131126_194029

Mmmmm.. pea salad!

The recipe for this is similar to one that my mother used to make – but hers involved broccoli and raisins and cider vinegar and red onions. This one is much lighter tasting and didn’t involve chopping broccoli. I hate chopping broccoli.

Super Easy Sweet Pea Salad

Ingredients:
20 oz. frozen peas, thawed, rinsed, and drained
1 cup of craisins
1 cup of unsalted peanuts
1/2 cup of chopped green onions
1/2 cup of crumbled bacon (I cheated and used pre-cooked and pre-crumbled from Costco)
1 cup of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of white sugar
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, sugar, pepper, worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce.
  2. In a larger bowl, combine peas, craisings, peanuts, green onions, and bacon.
  3. Pour the mayo mixture over the pea mixture. Stir to coat.
  4. Put it in the fridge for at least an hour, but preferably a few hours (to let flavours combine).
  5. Eat it. Exclaim about how it tastes SO GOOD.