Bacon Bites

Every year I try to think of things I can make in advance that will simplify the days leading up to our annual after-the-holidays holiday party. This recipe certainly fits in that category. It can be made up to 6 weeks in advance and stashed in the freezer to unexpected guests or a planned gathering. Plus it includes one of the current “it” ingredients, bacon.

One added bonus of this recipe is that you can substitute to your hearts content and produce a new variant of bacon bites with whatever you have on hand. Replace the cream cheese with any spreadable medium, switch up the cheese, replace the peppers with salami, or black olives, or gummy bears. Well maybe not gummy bears. Make them your own.

Bacon Bites
Servings: 60 pieces
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup drained and diced Peppadew peppers
  • 3/4 cup sliced scallions, white and green
  • 20 slices soft white bread
  • 20 pieces uncooked bacon (avoid the temptation of thick-cut)

Directions:

  1. Mix together the cheeses until smooth. Stir in the peppers and scallions until evenly distributed; set aside.
  2. Trim the crusts from the slices of bread. Gently flatten the bread slices with a pastry roller or rolling pin.
  3. Once the bread is trimmed and flattened, spread the slices with the filling, covering it completely.
  4. Roll the bread up from the short side, pressing down just enough to make it stick to itself.
  5. Take a slice of bacon and wrap it around the roll diagonally, overlapping the bacon to cover the bread completely. If you need more than one bacon slice, tuck the end of the second bacon slice under the end of the first. Trim the bacon when you get to the end of the roll.
  6. Place completed roll on a parchment lined rimmed baking pan. When all rolls are completed freeze them for 30 minutes to firm them up.
  7. If making for consumption at this time then preheat the oven to 350°F and line a second rimmed baking pan with parchment. If making for later enjoyment, transfer to a large ziptop bag and return to the freezer.
  8. When ready to enjoy, slice the rolls in thirds and place on the baking sheet, cut side down. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the bacon is crisp and the tops are golden brown. If fully frozen bake an extra 5 minutes.
  9. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes:
There’s no need to thaw these if you are pulling them from the freezer after they are fully frozen. Just bake an extra 5 minutes or so and they should be good to go.

I usually bake these in 2 batches so that the folks who come later in the evening are able to enjoy the bacony goodness. You might want to bake them all off at once though to encourage your guests to arrive in a timely manner. 🙂

As best I can remember the original recipe I used came from King Arthur Flour’s website.

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Bread that is not a king cake

A few weeks back my husband Ted, who is in charge of the bread baking in our home, made a delicious braided bread that was flecked with golden raisins and dried sour cherries, with sesame seeds and finishing sugar too. It was a slightly odd addition to the dinner menu however the taste was excellent and, honestly, just look at it.
[bread that is not a king cake]
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Grilled Bread

My dad made this for me a dozen or more years back. For a while it was a staple at family gatherings at my parent’s house. He would serve it with pesto or hummus.

Grilled Bread

My version is a bit thicket than what he produced. I suspect he was more patient in shaping the dough. I’m usually in a hurry, making this as part of a weeknight meal and not very patient. I finish with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Grilled Bread
Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 20 oz. store-bought pizza dough
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • corn meal
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme (optional)

Directions:

  1. Open the bag of pizza dough and place it on the kitchen counter for 30 minutes to a hour. This will allow the dough to warm up a bit and make it easier to shape.
  2. Light your grill, close the cover and let it heat up for 10-15 minutes. Scrape the grill grates.
  3. While the grill heats shape the dough. I use a pizza peel; the back of a sheet pan will work too. Start by scattering a generous pinch of corn meal over the surface of whatever you are using. Next empty the pizza dough from the bag into your hands and stretch it into a flat shape. Place it on the corn meal covered surface and let it rest for 5 minutes. After the rest gently stretch the edges to expand the dough. Rest again if it starts to pull back in a frustrating manner. In the end I aim for a generally squarish shape.
  4. Once the grill is heated and scraped, lubricate the grill grates using the vegetable oil. Turn the grill burners to low. Using your grill tongs dunk a wad of paper towels in the oil and apply the oil to the grate. There will be some smoke; don’t worry about it. Repeat until you’ve used up the oil.
  5. Make sure the dough moves on the peel/sheet pan when you give it a little shake. Better to fix that before you get to the grill. A little extra corn meal won’t hurt anyone.
  6. Transfer the bread to the grill by placing the lead edge of the peel/sheet pan at the back of the grill. Give the peel/pan a shake to move the edge of dough onto the grill. Once it catches the dough should slide off the peel/pan as you pull it back.
  7. Close the grill and cook for 2 minutes.
  8. Using the grill tongs grab the front edge of the dough and flip it over. Brush the cooked side of the bread with a teaspoon of olive oil. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  9. Remove the grilled bread from the grill, flipping it over so the most recently grilled side is up. Brush with the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add fresh chopped or ripped herbs at this time as well.
  10. Cut into pieces and consume. I use a pizza cutter however a sharp knife would work well.

Notes:
I used store-bought dough for convenience. I buy it at the grocery store, leave it in the fridge, pull it out when I get home from work and am ready to go in an hour or so. Some day I’ll try it with a homemade pizza dough.

The technique I used for lubricating the grill grates is explained much better by Cook’s Illustrated. Catch an episode of America’s Test Kitchen where they grill something and you see a good demo. This online episode shows the cleaning and lubricating method starting around 9 minutes and 30 seconds.

Herb Beer Bread

We decided quite late in the day that we wanted to add some bread to the Saturday night dinner menu. My first thought was corn bread however we lacked sufficient milk to make it work. So we turned to beer bread. Beer bread uses leavening agents (such as baking powder) instead of yeast. This recipe produces a fairly dense bread.

Herb Beer Bread

This recipe is based on one I originally found on the Hannaford Supermarket website. Their link no longer works; this one appears to be a similar recipe. Really it was useful for the ratios of ingredients since we didn’t use onions or rosemary.

Recipe under the cut