"It's better with bacon" was the topic of one of my kids class last week, so of course, all the food we made had bacon in it. I try to come up with a variety of topics that the kids will be excited about in my classes while also practicing different cooking techniques. Cooking with bacon turned out to be a very popular topic, as it was my first class to fill up this session. I wanted the kids to see that an ingredient like bacon could be used in a variety of recipes and to help them to think out of the box a little regarding mixing flavors. So, we made bacon chocolate chip cookies, bacon corn muffins with an apple-bacon chutney, and bacon cheddar meatballs with a barbecue sauce glaze.
To start the class off, my son Tristen, who was my kitchen assistant, made chili bacon popcorn for a snack while I went over some of the directions for the class. We demonstrated making the caramelized bacon for the popcorn. We basically cooked the bacon in a skillet, and before it got very crispy, we added brown sugar to coat and caramelize it. We cooked the popcorn in bacon grease in a pot on top of the stove. When the popcorn was popped we added the crumbled caramel bacon to it along with a few teaspoons of chili powder and salt. The kids definitely enjoyed it and having that for a snack gave them a lot of motivation to cook their own recipes.
We had 3 teams of kids making the different recipes which worked out well. I reminded the kids about a French culinary term "mis en place" meaning "everything in it's place," which when translated to the kitchen means measuring out all the ingredients and organizing the kitchen items needed before starting to actually cook.
All in all it was a very successful class. The kids really seemed to like what we cooked and took great joy in eating almost all of it. There weren't many leftovers for parents to taste at pick up time. I'd say bacon class was an A+!
Bacon corn muffins with apple-bacon chutney
(adapted from a Quaker corn bread recipe)
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup corn meal
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil from cooking bacon
1 cup cooked crumbled bacon (about 3-4 slices)
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat muffin pan with oil.
Combine dry ingredients. Stir in milk, oil, and eggs. Mix until combined. Scoop batter into prepared muffin pan. Bake about 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Serve with warm apple bacon chutney.
2 green apples peeled,cored, and chopped into small cubes
3-4 pieces of bacon cooked but not crispy
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple jelly
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
Saute apples in bacon grease over medium heat in a saucepan. When they soften add in the chopped bacon and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients and turn the heat to low. Cook for another 5-7 minutes until the apples are very soft and the liquid has reduced a bit to a syrup like consistency. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before eating.
Winter is the season of yummy citrus fruit and you really can't be mad at winter for that! My world has been brightened ever so slightly in the last few weeks by eating oranges. While it is possible that I need to get out more, I suggest that you not miss out on these citrus beauties!
The top photo is of the Cara Cara orange, my personal favorite. Below that is the lovely Moro orange, also known as the blood orange. They're both in season now and have been on sale at several places that I shop so I thought I'd share the good news! In addition to being extremely tasty, they're packed with fiber as well as vitamin C and A which are always great to increase in your diet to help fight off winter colds. Personally, I also feel like since I've recently been eating a wide variety of citrus fruits the way I feel about winter is a little less dismal; but maybe that's just my imagination.
In my opinion, the Cara Cara is the perfect blend of sweet with a just hint of tart. They are lower in acid than regular naval oranges and I find them to be just a little softer texture. Also, they don't have seeds, which make them quite wonderful to eat. Their pink flesh is a bit deceiving because they look more like a ruby red grapefruit, but when you taste a Cara Cara, it's much more delicious.
Blood oranges on the other hand, have a striking deep red jewel colored interior, and are also very good in a different way. You will notice the tart flavor first, followed by an almost berry like sweetness. They don't have seeds either and have an easy to peel skin.
These oranges are best eaten right off the peel, but they're also great incorporated into salads, salsas, desserts, and drinks as well. Here's a few simple ways to include them in recipes...
citrus & avocado salad- citrus rounds, avocado slices, red onion slivers with a citrus vinaigrette
citrus salsa to accompany pan seared fish
citrus pound cake- add a little fresh juice or zest into a pound cake recipe and/or mix the juice with powdered sugar for a citrus glaze topping
winter citrus salad- a variety of citrus fruits segments mixed with a few chopped mint leaves and a honey lime dressing.
and of course one of my favorites....
Blood orange martini/margarita- juice some blood oranges and use it with your favorite citrus martini or margarita recipe
The freezing weather always motivates me to bake delicious things. It was below zero outside a few mornings ago and school was canceled, so what else was there to do besides cook and eat ? When deciding what to make I realized that my ingredients were sparse, and I definitely wasn't motivated to head out and shop. Basically, we had just one stick of butter, no chocolate, no white sugar, and only a few eggs. However, we had plenty of flour, a lone lemon (from the gallons of lemon tea we consumed when sick the week before) and one of my new favorites, coconut oil.
I recently bought coconut oil after reading abut it's many health and beauty benefits. In addition to being a great deep conditioner for hair (yes it's true!), it's also a healthy substitute for butter or oil in recipes. This is primarily because it's a type of saturated fat that is composed mostly of medium chain triglycerides which are associated with major health benefits including being easily digested and converted into energy in the body.
I definitely recommend looking it up to read more about all of the great ways it can be used.
I've begun experimenting with using non-hydrogenated coconut oil as a replacement for the oil or butter in some of my baking recipes and I've been happy with the results. So that's what I decided to use when making these lemon cookies. Assessing my ingredients (or lack of ingredients), I also decided to substitute the white sugar with the turbinado sugar (large crystal brown sugar), which would give the cookies a nice crunchy texture.
These cookies are super easy to make. You can probably have a warm cookie on your plate about 20 minutes after you start. Although they are a somewhat nondescript looking, they are actually really delicious, especially you love the flavor of lemon as I do. There are two important things to remember when making these. First, do NOT over cook them. Let me repeat, do NOT over cook them. When you take them out of the oven they should be very blond not brown, and a little soft on top. The second thing is to let them cool for about 10 or more minutes before drizzling the glaze on top. If the cookies are cool enough you'll be able to see the glaze sitting on top of the cookies instead of it just soaking in. Even if you don't see the glaze, it adds the perfect bite of tart and sweet to these cookies. Try them out and let me know what you think!
Lemon turbinado sugar cookies - Adapted from Martha Stewart glazed Lemon cookies recipe
2 Cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 stick unsalted room tempurature butter
1/2 cup organic non-hydrogenated coconut oil
1 cup turbinado sugar (plus a few tablesppons extra for sprinkling on top)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixer, beat together butter, coconut oil, and sugar until well combined. Add egg, vanilla, lemon juice, and zest. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to wet ingrediets on low speed and mix until just combined.
Scoop dough by the tablespoonful onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle a little sugar on top of each cookie before baking. Bake until just lightly golden, about 10-12 minutes, and still soft on top. Remove from sheet tray and cool for 10-15 minutes before drizzling on glaze.
Glaze- Whisk together sifted powdered and lemon juice until it has a smooth consistency.