Bacon Ranch Mac & Cheese

The ingredients say it all. Bacon, check. Ranch, check. Mac & cheese, check. Ohh my deliciousness. This mac and cheese was awesome. It is orange and amazing. Whip it up and enjoy between trick or treaters!

The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Ranch Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

6 strips of thick cut bacon
1 box jumbo shells
¼ cup butter
⅔ cup flour
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz shredded cheddar melting blend
1 packet ranch dressing mix

Directions:

Boil pasta according to box.
Fry bacon until crisp, then chop into pieces.
Melt butter over medium and add the flour to the melted butter.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Ranch Mac & Cheese
Stir butter-flour paste mix for about 5 minutes. The roux needs to cook through so there isn’t any flour flavor.
Slowly add the cream while whisking to get any lumps out.
Slowly add the cheese until melted before adding the ranch mix.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Ranch Mac & Cheese
Mix cheese sauce and pasta.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Ranch Mac & CheeseAdd the bacon last before into ramekins or baking dish so it doesn’t get too broken up.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Ranch Mac & Cheese
Top with shredded cheese and bake for 10 minutes at 375-degrees.

This was amazing. I loved the flavor. I used ¾ of a pound of pasta and I think it was too little. There was plenty of cheese sauce and tons of ranch flavor. It was almost too much.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Ranch Mac & Cheese
I’ll definitely make this again. I wanted a fall pasta dish that wasn’t just thrown together when I didn’t know what else would be for dinner. I think this fit the bill. It isn’t light by any means. It was heavy, warm, and comforting. I thought it was good for a crisp October night!

Bacon Jam Becomes BLT Pizza

I had all this bacon jam and didn’t know what to do with it.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Jam

Well, that’s a lie. I could eat it out of the jar.

I just wanted to highlight its amazingness. So I created this BLT pizza. I won’t win any photographic awards with this one, but man, this was great pizza.

Ingredients:

pizza dough
8 oz shredded mozzarella
4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 medium – large tomato, sliced
¼ cup bacon jam (recipe found here)
2 cups spinach or greens of your choice
1- 2 tbs ranch dressing (or dressing of choice)

Directions:

Spread pizza dough out onto a pizza stone or baking sheet. Bake for 10-20 minutes at 400-degrees to get it preliminarily crispy.
Top with shredded mozzarella then tomato slices, then fresh mozzarella. Add dollops of bacon jam.
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Pizza
Bake for 20 minutes at 400-degrees.
Let the pizza rest for 5 minutes (cheese needs to solidify before you cut).The Three Bite Rule - BLT Pizza
Mix the greens with some salad dressing of choice.
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Pizza
Top slices with lettuce and dressing.

I only had a little basil so I threw that on. If lettuce on your pizza isn’t your thing, throw on more fresh basil.

This was so cheesy. The bacon jam has a sticky brown sugary flavor so I thought the tang of the dressing was perfect. I used spinach but any greens would do, and spinach could have easily been cooked onto the pizza. I like the warm vs. cool and alternating textures.
The Three Bite Rule - BLT Pizza

It was a great use of the bacon jam. That stuff is just. so. good.

I have one more use to drag out my love for bacon jam. Stay tuned!

Bacon Jam

Two words. BACON JAM.

Yes, I jumped on the band-wagon and now I’m pretty much the band-leader. Love at first sight. Why didn’t I know I needed to be able to spread bacon. I’ve seen recipes all over and just needed long enough to whip it up.

I adapted Closet Cooking’s recipe to fit my tastes to avoid it being too spicy and added some red wine…because why not?!

Ingredients:

1 ½ -2 pounds of bacon
1 large (or 2 small) onions, sliced
1 tbs garlic, chopped
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 cup coffee
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup red wine
1 pinch red pepper flakes

Directions:

Crisp bacon in shifts, removing when crispy at medium high heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Jam
Leave a tablespoon of bacon drippings to sauté the onions. When they start to get translucent, add the garlic.
Deglaze the pan with the cider vinegar, then add the coffee, brown sugar, maple syrup, and wine. Add in the bacon.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Jam
Reduce the temperature to low and cook covered for an hour.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Jam
When cooled slightly and syrupy, process in a food processor until crumbled and spreadable.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Jam
Try not to eat it all in one sitting.

This stuff is seriously addictive. As in, it might disappear if you have a spoon too close to the jar.

Sis wasn’t a fan, but Mr. J liked it. It has some big time flavor.
The Three Bite Rule - Bacon Jam

Picture it: I made it late one afternoon on a Sunday. It was a beautiful day and sis came over for dinner. We grilled some cheese burgers and spread some bacon jam on them. Then I took one magical bite and time stood still. It was that good.

Ohh yeah, we ate some potato salad and a corn and tomato salad, but all I cared about were vehicles to be able to eat more bacon jam.

Hash Brown Crust Bfast Pizza

Wayyy back when, I was making breakfast pizza I was also thinking what else I could do with breakfast pizza. There’s nothing cheaper or easier than bfast. I always have eggs and bacon around so poof! It became pizza topped with “fried” egg. I was wondering about scrambled egg too. My mind then went to crispy hash browns. I know, you don’t want to know where my food-brain goes.

What if the hash brown cakes were the CRUST. I’m a genius. Or this might exist somewhere. I’m not sure. All I know is that I’ve never seen it on a menu and I’ve been to quite a few diners and breakfast spots and I’ve never seen this. Come on people!
The Three Bite Rule - Bfast Pizza

Mr. A recreated the egg one and tweeted it to me. Love it! It got my butt in gear to adapt it for another method.
bfast pizza

Ingredients:

½ bag shredded potato hash browns
1/3 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz shredded cheddar
4 slices of bacon
3 eggs, scrambled

Directions:

Mix shredded potatoes and soup together.
Then spread it out onto a pan and bake for 30 minutes at 400-degrees.
The Three Bite Rule - Bfast Pizza
Cook bacon while crust is crisping.
When the potato has formed a crispy crust, top with cheddar and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes.
The Three Bite Rule - Bfast Pizza
Cook the scrambled egg (in the pan you cooked the bacon in for some extra bacon flavor!)
Cook the crust until the cheese melts into a delicious melty layer.
The Three Bite Rule - Bfast Pizza
Remove and top with scrambled egg and bacon.
The Three Bite Rule - Bfast Pizza

This was definitely a good pizza! I would have liked the crust to crisp a bit more but I really feared I’d burn the edges. I would recommend being mindful of the thickness. I could have spread it out then squished the edges back in to form the edge/barrier. It also might work better to make individual ones! Smaller ones could be pan fried if potatoes, eggs, and bacon isn’t too much for you to manage at the same time.

If you’re cooking for a crowd or for kids it might be fun to make individual ones that people can top as they like. I’ll make it again, and maybe I’ll even pan-fry the potato cakes…oooo!
The Three Bite Rule - Bfast Pizza

It isn’t a dinner that produces leftovers for lunch the next day. That’s usually a considering factor in my meal planning but hash brown cakes with cheese and bacon would still be good even if the eggs don’t reheat well!

A biscuit crust would be good if hash browns aren’t your thing either! I’d love it as potato crust, topped with cheese, and bacon and finished with a poached egg the very last second. Yum!

Which is your idea of a great start to the day?
The Three Bite Rule - Bfast Pizzaeggpizza_baked_290_200

Chicken Bacon Ranch Wraps, aka Everything Good In a Sandwich

We don’t eat a ton of sandwiches at our house but I’m working on changing that. I know, I know, I’ve said I don’t love sandwiches. I actually love them when they’re made-to-order. I adore breakfast sandwiches too. I only dislike sandwiches that have been sitting around sogging all day inside a high school locker or if I can’t tell what’s inside the sandwich.

I had a lengthy discussion at work about hummus on a sandwich…or hummus in general. Did you know the USA has a dried bean and lentil council? This is my worklife. Anywho, back to the sandwich subject at hand.

I made Chicken Bacon Ranch Wraps and they were really tasty.
ranch_chick_plate_590_390

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup milk
¼ cup ranch dressing
1 tbs dried ranch dressing powder mix
1/3 cup panko & 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg + 1 tbs water, whisked
Wheat tortillas
Lettuce
Tomato
Shredded cheddar
¼ cup ranch dressing
4 strips of bacon

Directions:

Marinate the chicken in the milk, ¼ cup of the ranch dressing, and dried ranch powder for a few hours.
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Remove from the marinade and dredge in eggwash then breadcrumbs and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
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Cook the bacon, then crumble it.
Assemble the wraps with lettuce, tomato, chicken, bacon, cheddar, and ranch.
ranch_chick_filling_590_390

You don’t really need a recipe for this but I thought the marinade and breading was spot-on so I wanted to share it. I liked that these were filling and fresh but not fried. I have an aversion to frying foods. The wheat wrap and real lettuce (iceburg = not real) make this slightly healthier than your local pizza place’s version of the same thing since my chicken isn’t fried either.

Like most things I cook, the chicken could be prepped in advance and popped in to speed up the dinner, or prepped and frozen for next time.

If you’re lucky like me, when your sis comes to have these for dinner she’ll also bring treats from her favorite bakery!
ranch_chick_dessert_590_390

Bacon Caramel Corn

Last time I made caramel corn I was really impressed, this time it was a bit off. The idea was on, but I’ve included some tweaks and will give it another go. I used a bit too little caramel for so much popcorn so I’ve upped the liquid quantities below.

Ingredients:

3 cups popped popcorn
1/2 cup salted cashews
4 slices of thick cut bacon cooked, and chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
3 tbs maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat.
In a large bowl mix the popped popcorn, nuts, and bacon.
popcorn_popped_590_390
Over medium heat stir the butter, brown sugar, and honey until butter melts. Stir in syrup. Bring to boiling over medium heat. Boil at a moderate, steady rate for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and baking soda (mixture will foam up).
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Pour the liquid mixture over the popcorn mixture in bowl; stir to coat well.
Transfer to a large baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
popcorn_mixed_590_390
Remove from the oven and let it cool. If you want clusters leave it; if you want bite sized pieces then spread it out to cool.

The maple + caramel + smokey bacon was great. I liked the flavors but think too little caramel left too many pieces barely covered so it was a bit too sticky and soggy.
popcorn_bowl_590_390

Multiple Christmas Dinners

Christmas probably seems like a long time ago for you, but for Mr. J and I, it was a whirlwind and feels like it just happened. We really tried not to wish Christmas away while awaiting our closing date and moving day. Christmas is a multi-day, multi-state, multi-family celebration for Mr. J and me. We coordinate our travel plans to spend time with his family in Maine and with my family in Greater Boston. It’s so fun, quite tiring, and there’s many meals. Here’s my recap of how those days were enjoyed through the meals.

At my family’s holiday, we are all about the traditional foods year after year. Apparently we cannot (or will not) break a few of these food traditions. On Christmas eve the R family has soup (clam chowder)
xmas_ran_din_soup_590_390
My dad madee an amazing antipasto salad. He’s not really the cook in our family so we were impressed!
xmas_ran_din_salad_590_390
My mum made the cutest cheese ball I’ve ever seen.
xmas_ran_din_snowman390_590
On Christmas morning, we have coffee and a cheesecake-like coffee cake while we start gifts. It had apricot jelly and almonds on it.
xmas_ran_bfast_cofcake_590_390
During a gift break, we have brunch with this casserole assembled the night before. It has rice, ham, cheese, eggs, and asparagus. It’s creamy and delicious.
xmas_ran_bfast_egg_590_390
Christmas dinner was a surprise this year. Turducken! I was sooo excited to try it. We weren’t overly impressed and I think their suggested cooking time was way too much.
xmas_ran_din_turduck_590_390
We weren’t sure it would feed the 7 adults attending so we had a few heftier sides like this awesome shrimp dish (just shrimp, butter, and ritz).
xmas_ran_din_shrimp_590_390
We had a Yule Log since it’s Dad’s favorite.
xmas_ran_din_youle
In Maine Mrs. S recreated my failed apple bacon stuffed French toast. Amazing. It was so thick, sticky, and had plenty of crunchy bacon. I loved it and I knew somebody else could do it right.
xmas_chi_bfast_390_590
For lunch/dinner we had a cool ramen and cabbage salad. I’ve never had one with grapes and I loved it.
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We had some crockpot dishes that were good for feasting throughout the afternoon. The turkey meatballs we delicious.
xmas_chi_din_balls_590_390
I wish I got a shot of the cake balls. I mean I ate enough of them there really wasn’t an excuse not to get a photo.

Christmas was really fun and we are always so grateful to make it to both families.

Mashed Potato Pizza Pie

I had to! I’ve been remembering the Pizzaria Uno’s “Pizza Skins” aka deep dish pizza with mashed potatoes and all the fixings ever since I first made a sliced potato pizza last year.
potato_slice_590_390

All my stars aligned when I was thinking what I could make for dinner without having to grocery shop. I live to avoid grocery shopping. I had a frozen ball of dough, a scant amount of cheddar cheese, a bag of potatoes, and of course I always have bacon!

Ingredients

1 ball of pizza dough (I used wheat here)
2 large potatoes
2 tbs butter
2 tbs cream cheese
1 cup cheddar, shredded
2 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled

Directions

Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
Prepare mashed potatoes (I mix mine with butter and cream cheese and I left some chunks).
potato_whipped_590_390
Spread pizza dough into a circular cake pan or deep dish pizza pan. (I spread some jarred pesto, but it’s not crucial.)
potato_crust_590_390
Layer with half the cheddar cheese and half the bacon.
potato_filling_590_390
Carefully spread mashed potatoes.
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Bake for 40 minutes until edges of dough are crisping.
Immediately after removing from oven, top with remaining cheese and bacon.
potato_pie_590_390

I liked this one. I thought it was fun and different with comforting flavors. I would have used more cheese if I had it. Sour cream, ranch dressing, or scallions would have been fun additions as well.

Since Mr. J and I would easily consume more bacon than our bodies neeeeeed, I freeze it in 2 strip packets (2 strips = 1 serving) and usually label it as maple, thick cut, etc. If I don’t, a lot seems to disappear between the pan and our plates. Unfortunately I hadn’t labeled my bacon so it was a gamble coming out of the freezer and turns out it was maple. That made it a tiny bit weird. Whatev…we ate it anyway.

You could make itty bitty ones in muffin tins for single size portions! These would be so cute for a tailgating party etc. You could also stretch it a lot further if you made a regular flat pizza, rather than a deep dish.
potato_slice_590_390

Cost (be prepared to be amazed)

Mashed Potato Pizza

pizza dough: $1.50
2 potatoes: $1.58
1 cup shredded cheddar: $0.93
2 slices of bacon: $0.49
total = $4.50 for the pizza (=$1.12 per serving)

Yes, folks, $1.12 per serving (I assumed you had butter and cream cheese is optional). Can’t beat that Uno’s can ya?! (Ha! Theirs half the size is $9.49 near me!)

 

 

60-degree “Winter” in New England Food

It’s been so warm here and then quickly got cold. I wasn’t about to be thankful for global warming or join the bandwagon of ladies I hear in the gym locker room who are thankful they aren’t shoveling. Do they know they live in New England? It snows here. Here we are, mid December and it’s just now getting cold. It’s been too hot for real winter food! Anywho, moving on…

I rarely make interesting salads so you wouldn’t have seen them. Lettuce is my least favorite part of a salad. Give me the fun stuff! At age 7 my sis horrified my aunt by saying she only liked salad for the dressing. It’s the heavy stuff at the salad bar that makes it good. Sorry for my poor choice of plate color!
winter_salad_plate_590_390
Well, I have an interesting salad for you! I love chopped salads because then you get some fun stuff in each bite. I saw this salad on Pinterest, obviously ;) It was on a blog called Espresso and Cream but I’ve seen variations all over the place.Autumn Chopped salad (single serving)

Ingredients:

1 head of Romaine lettuce
½ English cucumber
1 cup grape tomatoes
¼ red onion
½ cup crumbled feta
2 strips of bacon (or omit making this vegetarian)
½ pear
¼ cup balsamic vinager
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp spicy brown mustard

Directions:

While bacon is cooking, chop all the veggies.
winter_salad_cuke_590_390
Whisk vinegar, oil, and mustard (or shake in a jar).
winter_salad_dressing_590_390
Toss well and enjoy!
winter_salad_saladdressed_590_390

Seriously, I know you don’t need instructions. I think sometimes it’s easier to make your shopping list for this one if it’s written down!

The original has dried cranberries but I was thinking I wanted more savory and the pear was my sweet bit. Goat cheese could easily replace feta but I prefer feta. I didn’t put chicken in but some recipes do.
winter_salad_bowl_590_390
Chopping everything takes the longest when prepping this but it is worth it. I chose English cucumber because you can eat the peel without the bitterness and the have fewer seeds so it doesn’t make salad as soggy as regular cukes. I also always chose grape tomatoes because I like their sweetness and they stay fresher longer. They also are never as disappointingly mealy.

break it down now:

Autumn Chopped Salad

(serves 4 as sides/starter or 2 for an entree)
1 head of romaine: $1.50
½ cucumber: $0.94
8 oz. grape tomatoes: $1.49
¼ of a red onion: $0.32
4 oz. feta: $2.24
2 strips of bacon: $0.32
½ of a pear: $0.29
total = $7.10/4 servings = $1.77 per serving as 4 side/starter salads or $3.55 for 2 lighter main entree salads (neither includes dressing costs)