Tag Archives: bacon

Bacon Shrimp Linguine

pasta 1

 

In the past months, I finished illustrating two books, some magazine pieces, a promo piece, and some pieces for two gallery shows.  Oh, and I took two online courses.  Now that I finally have a moment to breathe, I have enjoyed cooking and experimenting again!  It’s so nice to spend time in the kitchen and try different things outside of our usual rotation of dinners of late…

I made this delicious shrimp and bacon dish last night and wanted to share it.  Also, I want to remember how I made it as I will definitely have to make it again!  My inspiration came from part of a package of bacon and frozen shrimp in our freezer that I had to use up.  The base of the recipe is similar to a All’Amatriciana dish I used to make often.  I omitted the red pepper flakes because my son and husband don’t like them, but it would be a great addition to my version.  I used smoked bacon instead of pancetta and added shrimp.  It is easy to make and perfect for a week night dinner.

Prep involves deveining and cleaning shrimp, so make sure you’ve done this beforehand:

shrimp

After sauteing bacon pieces until crunchy, drain and set aside for a nice garnish!

bacon

 

When it all comes together, the smokiness of the bacon, the acidity of the tomatoes, and the creaminess of the cheese goes so well with the shrimp!

pasta 3

Shrimp Bacon Pasta

4 slices of bacon

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced finely

3 gloves of garlic, crushed and minced

1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes

kosher salt to taste

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried basil

About 1 pound of shrimp, cleaned and deveined, chopped

1/2 pound of linguine

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Boil 4 quarts of water in a large pot.

2.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add oil and fry bacon until crispy.  Remove bacon to drain on paper toweled lined plates.  When it is cooled and crispy, break into little bits.

3.  Saute onion and garlic in remaining oil and bacon fat until soft.  Add crushed tomatoes, salt, sugar, oregano, and basil.  Let simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.

4.  Add salt to boiling water in large pot and cook linguine according to package instructions after sauce has been simmering for about 10 minutes.

5.  Drain pasta and return to large pot.  Add shrimp to tomato sauce.  Cook another minute or so until it becomes opaque.  Be careful not to overcook the shrimp.

6.  Pour shrimp sauce on top of pasta in pot, add cheese and stir.

7.  Serve pasta with crispy bacon and more grated cheese on top.

Makes about 4 servings

Enjoy!

pasta 2 bacon

 

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Filed under Dinner, Pork, Shrimp

Low Carb Cauliflower Crust Bacon Zucchini Quiche

quiche side 1

I procrastinated today and instead of doing my work, I did some experimenting and cooking in the kitchen!  We had a frozen pie crust I needed to use (it kept threatening to fall out of the freezer in an annoying way), so I decided to make a quiche.  I try to keep my processed foods on the low side (with the occasional lapse of salty snacks that sometimes make their way in our house…).  So I made one quiche with the Pilsbury pie crust and one quiche for myself with cauliflower crust (my husband and son hate cauliflower, so that’s why there was no sharing).

I based the filling on this Cooking Light recipe.  I doubled it because I was making two quiches.  The recipe below is for one quiche.  I used onion instead of shallot since that’s what we had. I lessened the oil to 1/2 tablespoon, used only half of the zucchini, and added parmesan cheese.  The results were yummy!  This quiche is also gluten free. 🙂

quiche top

Low Carb Cauliflower Crust Bacon Zucchini Quiche

For crust:

Non-stick spray

1/2 head cauliflower, about 18 oz., chopped

6 tablespoons liquid egg whites (or 2 whites)

salt and pepper

1/4 cup almond meal

For filling:

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 small zucchini, sliced (about 2 cups)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

3 eggs

9 tablespoons liquid egg whites (or 3 whites)

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1 1/2 oz. shredded part skim mozzarella (about 1/4 cup)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray pie pan with non-stick spray.  Set aside

2.  Finely process cauliflower in food processor.  Transfer to a bowl, cover with saran, and steam in microwave for 4 minutes.

3.  Mix cooked cauliflower, 6 tablespoons egg whites, salt and pepper, and almond meal together in the bowl.  Pour into the pie pan and shape crust with a spoon, pushing sides up the edges.

4.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and turn heat down to 350 degrees.

5.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet, add onion, zucchini, thyme, salt, and pepper and saute on medium heat for about 5 minutes until softened.  Let cool a bit.

6.  Beat eggs, egg whites, milk, parmesan cheese, and bacon together in a bowl.  Set aside.

7.  Spoon cooked onion and zucchini mixture into cauliflower crust and spread evenly.  Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.

Then pour egg/bacon mixture on top.

8.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until center is set.

Serves 8.

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Filed under Dinner, Eggs, Gluten Free

Cauliflower Fried “Rice” with Bacon and Shrimp

Cauliflower fried rice with bacon and shrimp

Cauliflower fried rice with bacon and shrimp


Just yesterday I was listening to a podcast on super foods, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that cauliflower is one of them.  I love it and eat it all the time.  So I was happy to hear that there are so many benefits to incorporating this lovely vegetable into one’s diet.

The other night, I made a huge batch of Cauliflower Fried Rice for myself (Denis and Jamie don’t eat cauliflower… 😦   They don’t know what they are missing!).

I had thought I had already done a fried rice post here, but it turns out I haven’t!  Fried rice is a favorite in our household.  I don’t make it the traditional way — I always add bacon.  We love the smoky flavor it imparts.  And you don’t have to use as much oil — everything gets mostly cooked in the bacon fat.  I add a bit of water later on and steam/braise the fried rice until everything comes together.  Then I season it all with sesame oil (a must!) and soy sauce.  When the kitchen begins to smell like smoky bacon and nutty sesame oil, people will come wandering in, mouths watering.

Since I didn’t feel like eating a ton of rice, and because there wasn’t enough anyway, I made mine with cauliflower rice recently.  It was really delicious and much lighter, but filled with as much flavor.  This is a perfect alternative for people who are reducing their starch intake.  Half a head of cauliflower makes a lot of “rice”!  You can eat tons of it with abandon, knowing you are getting a ton of nutrients, fiber, and protein.

cauliflower fried rice 3

Cauliflower Fried Rice

1/2 head of cauliflower

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 medium onion, diced

2 slices of bacon

2 sprigs of green onion, sliced finely

2 cups of veggies (I used zucchini, steamed broccoli, and frozen corn and peas)

1 cup of shrimp (deveined and cleaned), or cooked chicken, ham, cubed tofu, or other protein of choice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

water

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1.  Process cauliflower in a food processor until it has the consistency of rice.  Set aside.

2.  Cook egg in a small skillet on stove.  Remove to cutting board and chop coarsely. Set aside.

3.  Cut bacon into small pieces using kitchen shears.  Heat a large cast iron skillet or non-stick pan.  Add bacon.

4.  When a bit of fat has rendered from the bacon, add the chopped onion.  Saute until almost translucent.  Add other vegetables and meat if you are using it.  When softened, add cauliflower.  Drizzle with sesame oil. If pan seems dry, add a bit of water and cover pan with a lid.  Turn down low and braise until vegetables are cooked to your liking.

5.  Add soy sauce, chopped egg, and scallions.  Stir to incorporate.  Serve immediately.

Makes 2-4 servings.

 

Note:  You can also use about 2-3 cups of leftover cooked rice in place of the cauliflower (or a combination!) to make regular fried rice.

My regular fried rice with bacon

My regular fried rice with bacon

 

 

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Fun Holiday Activites for Kids and Green Beans with Bacon and Shallots

J painting

It’s the holiday season, and we’ve been doing a lot of baking and crafts to give as gifts.  J is doing a “Grab Bag” (like Secret Santa but minus the Christmas slant) in his class that I’ve been helping him with all week.  I will post later when it’s not a secret anymore!  I really proud of him because he came up with the concept entirely on his own and designed everything. I just helped him execute it, which involved a lot of cutting. I’ll leave it at that for now!

Another fun holiday craft we do is make cake decorations with fondant or gum paste.  The gum paste is a lot harder in texture and you can make very thin, solid objects with it.  You can make both at home and color as you wish, or you can buy them.

Last year, we made decorations for a dual faith cake with gingerbread men and a Christmas tree and Chanukah dreidls.

luster dust

The fun thing about the gum paste decorations is that you can paint them with a clear alcohol (it will evaporate as it dries and you only use a scant amount) and decorate with luster dust.

Gum paste snowflakes and angels with brushes, alcohol and luster dust

Gum paste snowflakes and angels with brushes, alcohol and luster dust

Last year I made this beautiful snowflake cake that was featured on Chef Dennis’ blog, and we decorated it with these shimmery gum paste snowflakes using leftover paste from the aforementioned dual faith cake.

My bad photography isn't quite capturing the beautiful shiny quality of the luster dust -- sorry!

My bad photography isn’t quite capturing the beautiful shiny quality of the luster dust — sorry!

We’re very much looking forward to spending Christmas with Denis’ family in Long Island like we do every year.  We usually bring a dessert, a side dish, and snack-y things to munch on.  We all hang out in the kitchen, talking, nibbling, and having a good time.  This year, we’re hoping to introduce everyone on our New York side to our FAVORITE family game which we play every year during Thanksgiving at my brother’s house in Illinois.  My nephew introduced it to us I think during his first year of college several years back, and it’s become a family tradition to play every Thanksgiving.  It is AWESOME!  The more people the better too!  Later we saw a ripped off version that was a board game in Barnes and Noble, but trust me people, it is better when you make it yourself.

What it is called:  Teledraw

What you need:  A group of people, a stack of small plain paper (like post-its), writing utensils.  So if you have seven people, you need seven stacks of seven pieces of paper. If you have twelve people, you need twelve stacks of twelve pieces and paper, and so forth.

Ages:  6-100! (When J was younger, he used to play as a partner to Denis who would do the writing– for kids doing this on their own, they just need to be able to read, write, and draw)

Basically, the game is like Telephone, but instead of whispering a sentence to the person next to you, you write a sentence.  Then pass it to the person next to you — and you get a sentence passed to you from the person on your other side.  Then for the next round, you draw a picture of whatever sentence was passed to you.  Then you pass this on, then you get another picture, and you write whatever you like the picture is showing.  It is hilarious how much your original sentence changes after a few rounds!  When you get your original stack back to you, the game is over, and you take turns reading it to everyone.  When we played at Thanksgiving, we were crying, laughing so hard!

My brother and mom cracking up

My brother and mom cracking up

I scanned my stack (minus the last sheet — sorry Nick!  It was a great drawing too!  Somehow it got lost in transit…  ) which had twelve panels — but showing eleven here.  I typed out the written segments so it would be easier to read here:

1.  (My sentence)  “I ate some cake.”

2.  Which my mother drew:

For some reason, my mom decided to make it like a "rebus"!

For some reason, my mom decided to make it like a “rebus”!

3.   My brother described this as:  “I see a little 3 year old running to a birthday cake.”

4.  Which my sister-in-law drew:

4

5. Denis then described:  “A smiling unshaven man watches as a child rushes toward a rocking chair-shaped menorah perched on a fireplace mantle. ”

6. Which my nephew’s friend drew:

6

7.  Which my nephew described as:  “A little boy says the blessings over the menorah during Chanukah as Sirium Black watches.”

8.  Which Jamie drew:

8

9.  Which my niece described as:  “Harry Potter is putting a wand to his head.  In another room, Ron Weasley is begging him not to.”

10.  Which her boyfriend drew as:

1011.  Which my other nephew’s girlfriend described as:  “A man stabbed his head with a stick but ended up running happily away.”

12. Then my nephew drew an amazingly detailed picture of man stabbing himself in the head and then running away with a smile on his face (lost in transit!)

So that is how “I ate cake” evolved into something slightly dark.  I love that the Harry Potter theme was continued for awhile!

Writing and drawing!

Writing and drawing!

So if you have to time and energy– play this game with your family over the holidays!  It is guaranteed to make you howl (in a good way)!

******************************************************************

To end with a recipe….

Here is a quick recipe for a side dish we love that would be a perfect side at your holiday table if you have bacon eaters.

green beans

Holiday Green Beans with Bacon and Shallots

1 lb. green beans (I buy the frozen ones at Trader Joes, because I am lazy!)

2 slices of smoked, thick sliced bacon, chopped into pieces

1/2 large shallot, diced

salt and pepper to taste

chopped parsley for festive garnish (optional)

1.  Steam green beans in steamer until cooked but crispy.  For frozen, this is about 8 minutes. For fresh, I think 6 minutes would work, but test a bean and see.

2.  Meanwhile, saute bacon in skillet.  When it is cooked, remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and let drain and crisp up.

3.  Add diced shallots to bacon fat in pan and saute until softened a bit, about 1 minute.  Then add steamed green beans and saute for about 2-3 minutes.  Add in reserved bacon and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish if desired with chopped parsley.  Serve.

Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday Season!

Melissa Iwai 2012

Melissa Iwai 2012

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Filed under Art Related, Desserts, Sides

Pea Soup Andersen’s Inspired Slow Cooker Pea Soup


It’s getting colder each day here in New York — you know what that means:  Perfect soup weather!  It’s our favorite thing to eat this time of year.

Jamie’s favorite soup – vegetable soup with alphabet pasta – inspired me to write and illustrate Soup Day.

The recipe is at the end of the story.

Other tasty soups to warm you in cold weather:

French Onion Soup

Roasted Tomato Soup

Creamy Green Soup

Butternut Squash Harvest Soup

Last week I was going through our pantry to collect food to donate to areas in our neighborhood which had been had been hit hard by the hurricane.  Among the things I came across was a half filled container of dried peas. I had no idea which presidential administration they were from– perhaps the Clinton era?  I decided to risk it and try to make some pea soup in my slow cooker.
A lot of recipes I came across called for a ham hock thrown in, but I was too busy to go on a hunt for one, so I used 1/2 cup chopped apple smoked cured nitrite free bacon from Trader Joe’s.  It was about 4 slices, and I trimmed off the excess fat.

I based my recipe on this one, because it mentioned Pea Soup Andersen’s – a beloved roadside restaurant in the Central Coast of California where I am from.

Jamie and I posing as Happea and Pea-wee in the parking lot.

It didn’t call for ham hock or bacon, but I decided to throw in some bacon just the same.  I also used 4 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of water instead of all water, and I decided to cook it in my slow cooker instead of on the stove.

The resulting soup was smoky, flavorful, and creamy — just as good as its inspiration!  The amount of dried peas I used cost about $.75, so the whole batch cost about $3.25!  It made about ten generous portions, half of which I have stored in our freezer for future winter days.

If you are ever on the Central Coast, though, tootling along the 101, do stop by and check out Pea Soup Andersen’s.  It’s not just the soup and sharp cheddar sold there that are  great — the whole atmosphere of the restaurant and gift shop is unique.  Just a few miles away is Solvang, a town filled with restaurants, toy stores, bakeries, and gift shops built in the traditional Danish style of architecture.  It is kind of like walking into part of an amusement park–kitschy but cute.  (I think it is the reason why I never had a phobia of dentists — my childhood dentist had a practice there and I loved visiting all the gift stores and eating Ebleskevers afterwards!)  🙂


Pea Soup Andersen’s Inspired Slow Cooker Pea Soup

4 slices smoked bacon trimmed of fat and chopped up, about ½ cup

2 cups dried peas, rinsed and cleared of debris

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

1 celery rib, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 bay leaf

¼  teaspoon dried thyme

salt

pepper to taste

  1. Pour everything into slow cooker.  Cook on low for about 8-10 hours or high for about 6-8 hours.  Check to see how soft the peas are.  I cooked mine for low on 2 hours, but they didn’t seem to be getting soft and I knew they were really old!  So I cooked them on high for the next 4 hours.
  2. Remove bay leaf.  Puree soup in batches in blender until smooth (only fill blender half-way and leave an open vent at the top, either covering with a towel or using a lid with a vent – alternatively, use an immersion blender instead!).  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Reheat and serve.

Makes at least 10 generous servings.
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Man v. Food Inspired Baby Moose Omelet

Copyright: Travel Channel

Have you ever seen something so over the top, disgusting, and groan inducing you are just riveted to the spot by the sheer ostentatious display of vulgarity?

I’m not talking about the media’s coverage of the Kardashians either.  THAT I can walk away from or turn the channel.  I’m talking about the Travel Channel’s show, Man v. Food, hosted by Adam Richman.  We have witnessed him eating Habanero fritters with Habanero salsa made from ten pounds of Habanero chilis in twenty five minutes (he won).  We also saw the episode where he attempted to drink 15 (yes, FIFTEEN) large, thick, rich milkshakes in one sitting (he lost that challenge, and it wasn’t pretty!)

A spin off of Man v. Food is Man v. Food Nation.  The basic premise is that now Adam Richman is finding local people to attempt food challenges in their neighborhoods.  A recent episode, shot in Oahu, featured a tiny mom who looks to be my height (under five feet) except she must weigh 90 pounds and have 10-12% body fat.  Her challenge was to eat a ginormous Moose Omelet within an hour at Moose McGillycuddy’s Pub and Cafe.

The behemoth omelet is made of one dozen eggs (!), four different kinds of meats, four different kinds of cheeses, plus a boatload of sauteed vegetables over a layer of home fries.  It weighs 5 pounds.  In a country with skyrocketing obesity rates and all the diseases that accompanying it, and in a world where people are still facing starvation and malnutrition, it is pretty sick to see one person attempt to eat something that could easily feed at least ten people.

She ate about three quarters of it and had to call it a day, so her name wasn’t placed on their “Wall of Fame”.

I can’t say if it’s the sheer abundance of food (mostly fattening) or the anthropormorphizing of said food (it must be conquered by man) that I find so wrong.  Regardless, I can’t help watching it when it’s on.  I guess a redeeming factor amid all the grossness is that the restaurants featured are family owned and they actually seem to have delicious and interesting food, so if we are ever in the region in the future, we might search some of them out.

And days later, I was still thinking about the Moose Omelet–which really should have been called a “Monster Omelet”.  I decided to create a mini version for a brunch for four people.  I used four eggs instead of twelve, and scaled everything else back in turn.  The result was a really delicious omelet full of wonderful flavors and textures.  We all loved it and decided it was a “success”.  There is some prep work involved but it’s worth it.  And it is perfect to serve for a brunch because everything can be cooked ahead of time except the eggs.  Then when it’s time to eat, you can cook the eggs and broil the omelet and it’s ready within five minutes!

All the ingredients minus oil, butter, and seasonings

The next time we’re in Oahu visiting my family, we might just have to go to Moose McGillycuddy’s to try the original Moose Omelet (to share and bring home!), but until then, we’re happy to eat my “baby moose” sized version.

Mini version

Baby Moose Omelet

1 medium potato, washed but unpeeled

3 slices of bacon cut in half

1 medium shallot, chopped (about 2 tablespoons or so)

Dash of dried thyme, kosher salt, and pepper

¾ cup cubed zucchini (about ½ of a medium sized zucchini or a very small zucchini)

2 Italian sweet sausages, casings removed, chopped up

1 teaspoon olive oil

½ medium onion, chopped

1 plum tomato, cored and seeded and chopped

4 eggs and two egg whites (or use 5 eggs instead)

1 teaspoon butter

2 tablespoons grated parmesan reggiano

¼ cup grated mozzarella

¼ cup lite shredded cheese mix

(note:  Or you can just use about 3/4 cup of whatever cheese you have in your refrigerator instead of these cheeses)

  1. The night before making omelet, pierce whole potato with fork a few times and microwave for about 4 minutes.  Let cool a bit and refrigerate overnight.  The next morning, before making omelet, cut potato into bite-sized cubes, leaving skin on.  Set aside.
  2. In an ovenproof skillet, lightly cook bacon until lightly browned.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain, cool, and crisp up.
  3. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from skillet.  Add chopped shallot to skillet and sauté for about 1 minute over medium heat.  Add cubed potatoes to pan.  Season with thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Stir to incorporate, then leave it for about 5 minutes without stirring – this gives the potato a nice crust.  While potato is cooking, microwave zucchini for about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir potatoes again and cook until done, remove to a bowl and set aside.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon oil to same skillet and add onions.  Saute for about one minute, then add sausage.  Continue to break up sausage as it browns with a wooden spoon.  When half cooked, add zucchini and continue to brown sausage.  Add chopped tomato to pan and continue to sauté until everything is cooked and vegetables are softened.  Remove to a bowl. Crumble bacon on top and set aside.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and egg whites (if using) together until fluffy.
  7. Preheat broiler and heat a clean non-stick skillet on stove.  Melt butter, swirl to coat, and then add egg mixture.  Push sides in as eggs cook, letting uncooked eggs fill in the spaces.  Cook until bottom is set, but top looks slightly wet and underdone.  Turn off heat.

    Still wet on top

  8. Assemble Baby Moose Omelet. Reheat original ovenproof skillet used to cook potatoes and sausage mixture.  Return potatoes to skillet.  Spread out into one layer.  Cover this layer with sausage and vegetable mixture.  Let warm up a bit on stove, but don’t stir.  Then slide cooked eggs on top of this layer with the uncooked side up.  Cover with cheeses and broil in oven.  Check after 2 minutes.  Omelet is done when cheese is melted and starting to brown.
  9. Cut into slices and serve out of skillet like a pie.

Makes about 4 generous servings.

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