Bacon Wrapped Crackers

Bacon Wrapped Crackers_1 on Whisk Together

 

**Recipe Update 12/2/14**  After a thorough study of these addictive things, I have found a few ways to make them good and bad.  One, use a thin cut bacon.  The thick cut gets mushy instead of crispy and turns the appetizer to mush.  Two, use center cut bacon if possible.  Again, the excess fat around the crackers turns the appetizer to mush.  The center cut did the best!

SUPER DUPER easy awesome kids could do it tasty treats!!!

The ultimate food in sweet-salt appetizers.  These are so stinking easy to put together.  I don’t even prep them except for cutting the bacon in half!

I know… they aren’t paleo, or low carb, or low sugar, or whatever.  But, they do have protein! 🙂  So, that makes it a health food, right?  Just like when people blog about how their recipe is SOOOOO awesome when it contains two WHOLE cups of sugar, 3 pounds of butter and some other stuff.  Of course it tastes AMAZING!  The whole thing is loaded with fat and sugar!  Two of the three things our bodies love to crave.  But anyway.  I digress.  I can hear my 11th grade English teacher now in the background shouting, “Digression!”

 

Speaking of digression, wouldn’t it be awesome to write a novel just the way it is?  Start out with “Hello.  This is the introduction.  I am going to set the scene for you using time and place to inform you the setting of this story.  Next, we will introduce the main character.  The main character named Protagonist will have a want.  Protagonist will have a large want and a few small wants perhaps.  Later on in the story, the enemy Antagonist will be the obstacle or set up the obstacle.  Naturally, Protagonist will have to use tactics to overcome the external obstacle that Antagonist has put up.  All of this will get rather tedious and boring without Urgency.  Urgency will drive the pressure and create a timeframe by which Protagonist must obtain his want.  But wait!  There’s more!  Any good writer will include an internal obstacle and an alternate internal “want” that the Protagonist must obtain in the end.  Without this internal want, destroying the Death Star becomes rather boring.  But, become a cool Jedi knight that discovers the force and his own inner strength becomes quite meaningful.  So now we have characters + want + obstacle + tactics + urgency = DRAMA!   Oh, and don’t forget your setting!

Bacon Wrapped Crackers_2 on Whisk Together

Recipe:  Back to the recipe… just make these alright?  You’ll thank me later.  We munched on these and made them in batches throughout the day on Thanksgiving.  It was awesome.  The turkey roasted while these bacon wrapped babies sat in the small convection oven on the counter top.  The down side (or I see as an upside) is that these can take 1-2 hours in the oven depending on how hot you set the oven.  But this is cool!  I just make them about a half hour before the guests are supposed to arrive and then plate them nice and hot as they arrive.

Bacon Wrapped Crackers

Ingredients

  • 12 ounce package bacon (I like center cut)
  • 1 sleeve of Club crackers
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar per cracker

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees or 300 degrees. 250 degrees will cook them in 1 hour to 1 and 1/2 hours. 300 degrees will cook them in 30-45 minutes.
  2. Put foil down on your jelly roll pan or drip pan. Then, place a wire rack or broiling tray on top. I learned the hard way to make sure you include the foil on the bottom.
  3. Cut the bacon in half - not length wise. I do this with my kitchen scissors.
  4. Place club cracker down. Place a teaspoon of brown sugar in the middle. Then, wrap the bacon around the cracker and sugar. Place the appetizer with the seam side down.
  5. Repeat and bake at 250 for 60-90 minutes. Bake at 300 for 30-45 minutes. The bacon will be cooked through and browned when finished.
  6. Allow to cool 5 minutes and serve. They tastes MUCH better if you wait 5 minutes.
  7. Recipe adapted from Food Network
http://www.whisktogether.com/2014/12/13/bacon-wrapped-crackers/

Bacon Wrapped Crackers
serves 12

12 ounce package bacon (I like center cut  You want to use center cut!  This is a must for crispy!)
1 sleeve of Club crackers
1 tsp. brown sugar per cracker

1.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees or 300 degrees.  250 degrees will cook them in 1 hour to 1 and 1/2 hours.  300 degrees will cook them in 30-45 minutes.
2.  Put foil down on your jelly roll pan or drip pan.  Then, place a wire rack or broiling tray on top.  I learned the hard way to make sure you include the foil on the bottom.
3.  Cut the bacon in half – not length wise.  I do this with my kitchen scissors.
4.  Place club cracker down.  Place a teaspoon of brown sugar in the middle.  Then, wrap the bacon around the cracker and sugar.  Place the appetizer with the seam side down.
5.  Repeat and bake at 250 for 60-90 minutes.  Bake at 300 for 30-45 minutes.  The bacon will be cooked through and browned when finished.
6.  Allow to cool 5 minutes and serve.  They tastes MUCH better if you wait 5 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Food Network

1 Tortilla = 3 Different Chips!

Three Tortilla Chip Recipes

Book Update:  “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers” by Robert Sapolsky continues to astound me.  He goes into great detail how stress suppresses the immune system.  Something about B cells and T cells and all that jazz.  Basically, you get stressed the more likely you may get sick.  He brings up an interesting point that this fact is not to our evolutionary advantage… but never elaborates on that insight.

Another chapter in the book is how stress suppresses reproduction.  Many of you may have already heard this before in sayings like, “You can’t get pregnant when you’re stressed.”  He goes on to find examples in a hunter-gatherer tribe in Africa who have only 8 children per family on average.  But, they aren’t stressed.  This is because the women constantly breastfeed and have prolactin in their system.  How does their breastfeeding differ from our Western culture?  They breastfeed until age 4.  And they breastfeed for 1-2 minutes every 15 minutes all … day … long.  So, that is why their prolactin never goes down and it is the prolactin in the system that inhibits reproduction. Seems to me that if the baby is nursing all day and night long for 4 years, you probably don’t have time for other activities…. but what do I know?  I’m not a professor of Biology at Stanford University.

Recipe Update:  These tortillas were awesome!  Costco sells them at their stores for $6.97 for a package of 50.  I wonder if I would spend even more than that making my own… I doubt it.  But pretty close.  Anyway, the ones by TortillaLand I used in these recipes were UNcooked tortillas.  However, you can use regular, already cooked tortillas as well.  Why use uncooked?  Because they last a really long time – about 2 months in the fridge.  And they are much cheaper.  And they only have FIVE real ingredients in them.  They are made the way I would make them at home with water, salt, fat, flour and sugar.  These recipes also work with whole wheat tortillas as well.  They actually taste really well with the spicy cajun version.

Our favorite out of all 3 recipes is the spicy cajun.  You don’t have to make it that spicy.  Just a little sprinkle makes your tortilla chips look pretty, but without the heat.  I love the savory chips with guac, salsa, cheese, beef, chicken, tomatoes, or plain.  The sweet tortilla chip can be served alone or with fruit salsa.

Baked Tortilla Chips_3 on Whisk Together

**If you make these recipes using homemade or store-bought Tortillaland Tortillas that are NOT cooked, then simply follow these additional instructions for each recipe:
1.  “Dock” or poke each tortilla with a fork before slicing with the pizza cutter.  This will help keep the tortilla chip to bake flat.  The “poofy” tortilla chips you see below were part of my first round of experiments which didn’t go so well until I figured out I should poke them with a fork to release the steam.
2.  Increase your bake time 1-2 minutes.

Baked Tortilla Chips on Whisk Together

Salty Baked Tortilla Chips
4 servings

4 tortillas
salt, preferably sea salt or kosher salt
cooking spray

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Using a pizza cutter, cut the tortillas into 8 wedges.  (Prick with fork if using raw/uncooked tortillas.)
Baked Tortilla Chips_4 on Whisk Together

Baked Tortilla Chips_5 on Whisk Together

Baked Tortilla Chips_6 on Whisk Together

2.  Lay the tortillas on a baking sheet lined with parchment, silicone or cooking spray.
3.  Now, spray your tortillas with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with salt.
4.  Bake for 6-10 minutes.  Watch carefully towards the end.  Sometimes, they can go from pale to burnt quickly.  Why the large timeframe?  Because tortillas come in all shapes and sizes, I can’t predict how long that particular one will take to bake in the oven.
Baked Tortilla Chips_11 on Whisk Together

Spicy Cajun Tortilla Chips
4 servings

4 tortillas
salt, preferably kosher or sea salt
cooking spray
Creole seasoning or homemade cajun seasoning (my recipe here)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Using a pizza cutter, cut the tortillas into 8 wedges.  (Prick with fork if using raw/uncooked tortillas.)
2.  Lay the tortillas on a baking sheet lined with parchment, silicone or cooking spray.
3.  Now, spray your tortillas with cooking spray.   Sprinkle with salt.  Sprinkle with cajun seasoning.  The more seasoning, the spicier the chip.
4.  Bake for 6-10 minutes.  Watch carefully towards the end.  Sometimes, they can go from pale to burnt quickly.  Why the large timeframe?  Because tortillas come in all shapes and sizes, I can’t predict how long that particular one will take to bake in the oven.

Baked Tortilla Chips_7 on Whisk Together

Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips
4 servings

4 tortillas
cooking spray or melted butter
1 Tb. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (or use your own premade cinnamon sugar mixture.  I use 1 cup sugar to 1 Tb. cinnamon)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Using a pizza cutter, cut the tortillas into 8 wedges.  (Prick with fork if using raw/uncooked tortillas.)
2.  Lay the tortillas on a baking sheet lined with parchment, silicone or cooking spray.
3.  Now, spray your tortillas with cooking spray or brush them with melted butter.   Sprinkle with salt.  Sprinkle with cajun seasoning.  The more seasoning, the spicier the chip.
4.  Bake for 6-10 minutes.  Watch carefully towards the end.  Sometimes, they can go from pale to burnt quickly.  Why the large timeframe?  Because tortillas come in all shapes and sizes, I can’t predict how long that particular one will take to bake in the oven.

Use cinnamon sugar tortillas for ice cream, for fruit salsa, decoration, with honey, with whipped cream, with apple/cherry pie filling, etc.

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Baked Mozzerella Sticks

Book Update:  I finally finished all of “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.  It is really a must read for parents and teachers.  Magazines have been referring to it for 20 years.  The Boston Globe calls it, “The Parenting Bible.”

Recipe Update: I just realized I have made these a ton of times and never posted them!  I found this photo in my old folder from a year ago.  This version isn’t deep fried at all, but still tastes like the comfort food we know and love as mozz sticks.  Both children and parents approved these!

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

12 mozzarella string cheese sticks (full fat or part skim; Sargento sticks together well)
1 egg, beaten
2 Tb. flour
5 Tb. Italian seasoned breadcrumbs*
5 Tb. panko crumbs
2 tsp. Parmesan cheese
1 Tb. dried parsley

*I rarely keep Italian seasoned breadcrumbs on hand.   Instead, I just threw some toast in the toaster until medium to dark brown.  Throw it into the food processor with some Italian seasoning and you have instant breadcrumbs!

1.  Prepare your cookie sheet with foil to keep the cheese from sticking.  Using a sharp paring knife, divide each stick in half.  This will give you 24 mozzarella sticks.  Throw them onto the cookie sheet and pop into the freezer for 15-30 minutes or until frozen.

2.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  You will need to prep three bowls:  Bowl #1 – add your beaten egg.  Bowl #2 – add your flour.  Bowl #3 – Add your Italian breadcrumbs, panko crumbs, Parmesan cheese and parsley.

3.  Now, to keep my hands from going crazy with egg and flour, I try to use the same hand for the dry ingredients and same hand for the liquid (egg) ingredients.  First, Dip your stick in the flour.  Second, dip the stick in the egg.  Last, dip your stick in the breadcrumbs and pat them on.  Put those sticks onto the cookie sheet you have already covered in foil that you had in the freezer.

4.  Bake them for 4-5 minutes.  Turn.  Bake another 4-5 minutes.  Serve with some marinara sauce and enjoy!

Recipe from Skinny Taste

Queso Blanco Dip (White Cheese Dip)

Queso Blanco on Whisk Together

Book Update:  I finished my Positive Psychology class 3 hours ago.  After working off and on writing the final today, I finally submitted it.  Woo hoo!  Now, I have no show to perform and no graduate class.  What am I supposed to do?  Oh I did read some of “Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics” by Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim.  Some of the interesting things I learned that I had always wondered are:
1.  Why do we lose water weight when dieting?  During sleep, fasting occurs when the enzymes break down the glycogen in your liver into glucose (the fuel for your brain).  Because glycogen binds up to four times its weight in water, this breakdown releases the water. Now weight loss occurs when the body needs more glycogen and starts the break down from body proteins and fatty acids.  After a few days, the body starts to break these down faster and faster and the body also tells the kidneys to release salt – which as we all know releases the water as well.  — This is also why we lose weight fast at first.  All the excess water.
2.  Fidgeting may account for how some people can eat more than you and still be skinny.  Scientists concluded some fidgetors burn anywhere from 100-690 calories per day just fidgeting.
3.  I had read in several holocaust books about how some survivors of starvation would actually die or almost die when given food.  This didn’t make any sense to me, but the book explains starvation and what happens.  Since the digestive tract has nothing to do, the villi in the small intestine slough off.  Since there are no villi in the intestinal tract to digest the food, then the food creates horrible pains or death.  Recovery from near starvation takes weeks of recuperating.
4.  There was a professor that went on the Twinkie Diet.  Yes, he ate twinkies and junk food for 2 months and lost 27 pounds.

Recipe:  My friend Jackie makes this recipe almost every time she comes over and we all LOVE it.  It tastes like a queso in a restaurant.  The reviews of the original recipe all rave about it.  The only downside is that it solidifies if you let it sit too long.  But a few seconds in the microwave solve that problem.

Queso Blanco Dip
serves 8 (double for a large crowd)

.75 (3/4) pound white American cheese (I had to get this at the deli counter)
1/8 cup diced green chilies
1 pickled jalapeno, chopped (my jar was all pre-chopped, so I just picked 3-4 slices)
1 Tb. pickled jalapeno juice (from the same jar as the pickled jalapeno)
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup cold water
cumin (optional)

1.  Have the cheese cut up into cubes.  Mix it all up in one large microwave bowl.
2.  Microwave until melted.  Stir up and eat!    Store any leftovers in the fridge and reheat as needed.

Recipe from www.seededatthetable.com

Cool Veggie Pizza

Cool Vegge Pizza on Whisk Together

 

I was so excited to find out that this pizza uses cream cheese instead of ranch or mayo.  Everyone at the meeting LOVED it.  It is a Pampered Chef recipe, so of course it is super easy and delicious!

Cool Veggie Pizza
serves 10-20 (depending on how big the cuts are)

1 package (8 oz.) crescent rolls
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, soft
1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
1 tsp. dried dill
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of chopped fresh veggies: broccoli, cauliflower and carrots are used here, or whatever you like!

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Take out your crescent dough and separate out the triangles.  Then, lay them in a circle and using a rolling pin or roller, flatten them onto a pizza pan.  Make sure the seams get sealed together.  Bake 12-15 minutes and cool.
2.  In a large bowl:  beat cream cheese, garlic and dill.  Spread that on the crust.
3.  Sprinkle your toppings.

Recipe adapted from Pampered Chef

Homemade Potstickers and Potsticker Soup

potsticker soup on Whisk Together 1

 

Book Update:  I found “The Giver”!  I’m so excited that I found it!  I knew I had that book somewhere.  Beginning to read a book you read so long ago is nostalgic.  It is such a classic.  Ordering soon are “Love Trumps Grief” by Kristin Akin and “Comfort Food Makeovers” by America’s Test Kitchen.  Kristin Akin came to our MOPS group to tell her testimony of how she had two boys, and the second one went into liver failure at 10 weeks.  Years bouncing through children’s hospitals, torn between her first son and dying son only to find out that the rare HLH disease that the second son had could also be found in the first son.  The first son also received a bone marrow transplant and died as well.  You should really read her book.  The paperback is slightly more expensive than a typical paperback, but all the proceeds go to the Matthew and Andrew Akin Foundation.  The 90-minute speech left the entire room in tears.  Go read it!

Recipe:  I never had potstickers growing up.  I mainly remember eating Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup from the can and Chef Boyardee.  Potstickers?  What was that?  Then, Alton Brown started this fun show called “Good Eats” and taught his audience how to make potstickers.  It was quite easy actually.  You don’t NEED to make your own potstickers for potstickers soup.   Pleasantly surprised, Trader Joe’s makes a great potsticker in a variety of fillings.  Costco also offers potstickers, but I found these were too spicy even for me.  My spice tolerance is medium heat.  Pineapple salsa, peach salsa and all the other ones that say “medium heat” – I ‘m good.  Above that and I’m saying, “Hey, honey?  You can have the rest of those.”

The soup was much better than I expected and really fast if you use frozen potstickers.  I love sneaking spinach in when I can!

Homemade potstickers are time consuming, but these were really good.  Surprisingly, these are one of those items I made a lot more before kids.

The title of the recipe from Alton Brown is “Perfect Potstickers.”  Normally, I would roll my eyes anytime someone includes absolute adjectives in their recipe titles.  (Nerd Alert:  absolute adjectives like “unique”, “perfect”, etc.) However, I make an exception in this case.

Perfect Potstickers
yield 35-40 potstickers

1/2 lb. ground pork
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
2 Tb. finely chopped red bell pepper (freeze the leftovers for later!)
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. ketchup
1 tsp. mustard (I hate mustard, but it just adds to the flavor profile.  You won’t taste it.)
2 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp. light brown sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
35-40 wonton wrappers (the small ones.  I find mine in the produce section)
water
3-4 Tb. vegetable or canola oil
1 and 1/3 cup chicken stock

1.  Preheat oven 200 degrees.

2.  In a big bowl, mix up pork, scallions, bell pepper, egg, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, light brown sugar, salt, pepper and cayenne.

3.  Now, take your wonton wrapper and lay it flat.  Keep the others under a wet towel to keep them from drying out.  Brush 2 edges of the wonton with water.  Put about 1/2-1 tsp. of the meat in the center.  Seal edge.  Place on a cookie sheet under a damp towel.

4.  Do that about 35-40 times.

5.  Heat up a large skillet to medium.  Brush the bottom with some oil.  Add 8-10 potstickers. Cook 2 minutes.  Add about 1/3 cup stock.  Turn to low.  Cover.  Cook 2 minutes.  Put potstickers in a roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet that can keep warm in the oven.

Deglaze the pan with water and start over:  Brush with oil, add potstickers, add stock, turn down to low, Cover, cook 2 minutes, put in oven.  Repeat.

I love to eat these plain with soy sauce!!!

Recipe by Alton Brown

potsticker soup on whisk together

Potsticker Soup
servings: 4-6

2 Tb. olive oil, divided
16 oz. potstickers (Trader Joe’s calls them Gyoza)
2 carrots, chopped small
1 celery, chopped small
1/2 onion, diced
32 oz. chicken broth (I prefer low sodium)
16 oz. fresh or frozen spinach (Use as much or as little as you like!!)
1 Tb. soy sauce
Options: cilantro, salt, soy sauce, etc.

1.  Take your frying pan and 1 Tb. oil and heat to medium-high.  Fry those potstickers on both sides for 10 minutes.
2.  In the meantime, add another 1 Tb. of oil to the 5 or 6 qt. pot.  Put over medium heat.  Toss in the carrots, celery and onion.  Cook until the onion is translucent.
3.  Add your chicken stock.  Cook until it begins to simmer.
4.  Add in your spinach and soy sauce.  Cook until it is really simmering.
5.  Toss in those cooked potstickers.  They should be done by now.  Serve with cilantro, soy sauce (I love soy sauce!), etc.

Recipe adapted from Trader Joe’s

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