Tag Archives: bacon

Sauteed Kale with Bacon & Onion

kale close-up

Like any good Millennial, I frequently hate-read trend pieces about Millennials. One of my favorite facts about our generation, besides the fact that we are all lazy and entitled, is that 21.6 million of us live at home. And while I understand the larger social implications of such a staggering statistic, I have a confession to make.

I love it.

My parents make great landlords. They mostly charge in homemade meals, which I am more than happy to provide. In exchange, I get a cozy bed, a live-in accountant (dad) and a conveniently-located business partner/fellow crafter (mom).

Home is all the more comfortable when you’ve experienced what it’s like out there. I will not pretend the decision to come back was an easy one — it felt like admitting defeat after living two years on my own in THE big city.

But the best thing I could’ve done for myself was pressing restart. Trying again. This time in a space that always smells faintly of chocolate chip cookies and offers frequent warm embraces.

With every passing day I feel more like myself, once again bursting with enthusiasm and optimism. I can’t say exactly why those qualities felt so suppressed by city life, but I know that soon they will be the very qualities that lead me, eagerly, back into the great unknown.

For now, I close my eyes and allow the familiarity of home to cover me like a blanket.

kale

Speaking of cooking for my parents, I made this meal as a delayed birthday present for my dad. I won’t reveal his age, but let’s just say that it now ends in 0.

I loathe raw kale, but we have an inordinate amount of fresh produce right now from our CSA; I had to do something with at least a few of our greens. Besides the dreadful, inedible texture of raw kale, it feels like the most self-righteous of vegetables, like it’s somehow my problem that I can’t eat it without a 30-minute lemon juice massage.

The best way to spite kale is to rob it of its healthy reputation, so I added bacon and butter and called it a day. The fact that I was serving the kale with buttermilk fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits probably contributed to my inspiration.

Sauteed Kale with Bacon & Onions
Serves 4

2 strips bacon, chopped (I cut them with kitchen shears)
2 tablespoons butter
1 sweet onion, diced
1 – 1.5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
6 cups kale
Pepper, to taste

1) Heat a high-sided pan to medium-high. Add the chopped bacon and cook for about one minute. Add the butter and cook until melted. Stir in the onion and cook until softened, about five minutes.
2) Pour in the stock to deglaze the pan and add the kale. If it doesn’t all fit, stir in a few cups at a time. It will cook down quickly. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook with the lid on for five minutes.
3) Remove the lid and raise the heat, adding the pepper and stirring constantly until all of the liquid has cooked off, which should only take another minute or two. Serve immediately.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Apple

roasted brussel sprouts

plated roasted brussel sprouts

As any writer or English major knows, finding oneself lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood with less-than-welcoming surroundings is an experience rife with opportunities for a story of transformation and self-discovery.

This story is one such example.

Several months ago, while I was still living in NYC, I exited the subway, walked the stairs onto the street, and stopped cold at a nearby intersection. I had no idea where I was. Instead of turning around and getting back on the subway, I stood on that street corner and cried. And cried. Self-pity shaken with alcohol makes for one pathetic cocktail. And wasn’t I entitled to feel sad? I was sure, so sure, that by that point in my life I wouldn’t be the kind of person who a) got absurdly lost (by any meaning of the word) and b) didn’t immediately know how to be found again.

If my high school Xanga posts — saved on my computer for posterity — are any indication, there were few things in life I looked forward to more than adulthood.

Adulthood, I surmised, afforded a certain level of clout and respect that would, among other things, no longer cause people to question why I needed to go to bed by 11. (As it turns out, this question still arose frequently when I lived in NYC. As an adult.)

Most importantly, I would be able to get things done.

These “things” are only slightly less vague now than they were when I was 16. Back then, I wanted to save the world. Today, I think I can content myself with improving a small pocket of it. (How is another story for another day.)

I was not really pursuing that particular goal the day I found myself at a literal and figurative intersection in east New York. The plan was to enjoy a boozy brunch followed by the Manhattan Pride Parade. The brunch part was easy enough: drink mimosas, punctuate that drinking with eggs Benedict. What followed was an emotional encounter that left me depressed and distracted.

Lost, and then really lost.

It took me a few minutes to notice that people were coming out of their houses to stare at the sad girl being sad for reasons that extended far beyond the booze and the earlier discussion and the loss of control. Even then, I saw myself with the eyes of those watchful neighbors and I wanted to roll my eyes at her, too. Oh, to be young and privileged. Instead, I called a cab, where I left behind the last of my cash and a decent amount of my dignity.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, that day signified the beginning of the end of my time in the city. Somehow, the trajectory I had planned to follow — it all started with post-college city living — left me feeling suddenly and irrevocably stuck.

Moving back to North Carolina was one way I could imagine regaining momentum.

Being an un(der)employed 25-year-old living with my parents again isn’t so bad, really. I’ve been pleased to discover that you really can go home again, and the people there (i.e. parents) will even feed you until you regain enough emotional strength to (hopefully) fight battles for those who don’t have the time or luxury of contemplating how to live their lives to the fullest.

Since ’tis the season for such things, anyway, I’d like to take a moment to say how thankful I am for such luxuries. I hope I can lead a life that proves it.

Like how sometimes I feed my parents, too. I recently made them these roasted Brussels sprouts that would, incidentally, make for a great Thanksgiving side dish. The original recipe can be found here. I adapted it to include more bacon because of this classic video and also because I felt like it.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Apple:
Serves 4 or so
6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 cups Brussels sprouts, peeled, ends trimmed, and halved or quartered
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 apples, cored and diced
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange bacon in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until browned (about 10 minutes).
2) Add Brussels sprouts in a single layer, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until the Brussels sprouts begin to brown lightly (about 15 minutes).
3) Add the apple as the final layer. Roast until Brussels sprouts are browned and tender and apple has softened (about 15 minutes).
4) Toss the finished roasted dish with vinegar and serve immediately.

Bacon Cheddar Muffins

I’ll let my roommate’s reaction speak on this recipe’s behalf.

Reaction 1:
(gasp) These might actually be better than ABC sandwiches.

Reaction 2, one minute later:
These are the best muffins I’ve ever eaten.

Don’t even pretend you’ll just be eating these for breakfast. I know better.

Recipe adapted from this one. (These folks called for a tablespoon of salt. A TABLESPOON. I’m not tryna’ give you all hypertension.)

Bacon Cheddar Muffins:
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
6 slices bacon, cooked and broken into small pieces

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 standard-size muffin cups. (I greased mine with leftover bacon grease. TMI?)
2) Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in medium size bowl.
3) Combine milk, butter and egg in a separate bowl. Combine wet and dry ingredients.
4) Gently stir in cheese and bacon. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full.
5) Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centers come out clean. Cool in pan for 2 minutes; remove to wire rack or plate.

Next time, I think I’ll press a chunk of cheddar cheese into the center of each muffin. And maybe add a few more slices of bacon.

Apple Bacon Cheddar (ABC) Sandwich

Is it possible to crave a food you’ve never eaten?

That’s a rhetorical question, really, because I’ve been craving this sandwich for weeks. I mean weeks. And yet I can’t remember ever eating one.

But what’s to understand? I like apples. I love cheese. And I rarely eat bacon, but that might change now.

Yes, you could say that this recipe is as easy as A.B.C.

Apple Bacon Cheddar Sandwich:
Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
cheddar cheese, shredded
bacon (I used maple-smoked)
rustic bread, like ciabatta or French bread
salt & pepper, to taste
mayo (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut bread at preferred width, then split in half. Lay pieces open-faced on a cookie sheet.
2) Sprinkle both sides of the bread with cheese, salt and pepper. Top one half of each sandwich with apple slices.
3) Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and apple slices are softened.
4) Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp.
5) Once bread is removed from oven, top apple-covered bread slice with bacon. Spread on mayo to other side of sandwich as desired. Place slices together.