SCALLOP-SHRIMP-BACON KABOBS

Summer is coming, and that means the outdoor grill is coming into its own again. And since I prefer working the grill when it isn’t blazingly hot outside…kabobs for dinner! What makes them so tasty is the bacon, though I did use it sparingly so it wouldn’t overpower the seafood. A winner!

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp minced cilantro

8 slices turkey bacon, halved horizontally

32 medium-sized shrimp

16 large scallops

1 lemon, sliced into 8 wedges

1 lime, sliced into 8 wedges

8 skewers (I used bamboo)

1) Preheat outdoor grill to medium-high heat

2) In small bowl, mix olive oil, chili powder, salt, pepper, and cilantro; set aside

3) Wrap 16 shrimp (reserving 16) in bacon halves;

4) Assemble 8 kabobs on skewers as follows: lemon slice, bacon-wrapped shrimp, scallop, naked shrimp, bacon-wrapped shrimp, scallop, naked shrimp, lime slice; brush tops of kabobs with half the chili-cilantro oil

5) Place kabobs on grill, chili-cilantro oil side down; cook 5-7 minutes; brush tops of kabobs with remaining chili-cilantro oil and turn; grill 5-7 minutes until shrimp and scallops are just cooked through; serve with a nice salad

Serves: 4

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STUFFED FRENCH TOAST SANDWICH

No syrup for these tasty slices of french toast, although. . . Nah. Senior, Junior, Junior Too–not to mention the cook–liked this meal in all it’s non-syrup glory. Give it a try!

5 eggs

3/4 cup milk

sea salt

pepper

2 tbsp butter, divided

8 slices bread (I used country oatmeal, but sourdough…oh, that would be really good)

4 oz goat cheese (or cream cheese), softened (about 20 seconds in microwave)

1 large tomato, sliced thin

8 slices bacon (I used turkey bacon), fried to slightly crisp

8 slices thin deli ham

1 cup spinach, stems removed

1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees

2) In shallow bowl, beat eggs, milk, and pinch of salt and pepper

3) In large skillet (big enough to accommodate 4 slices of bread at a time) melt 1 tbsp butter (reserve 1 tbsp for second batch) over medium heat

4) Lightly dip 4 slices of bread in egg mixture, coating both sides; transfer to skillet and cook 2-3 minutes each side until golden brown; transfer from skillet to oven-safe plate and keep warm in oven while cooking 4 remaining pieces of french toast in reserved 1 tbsp butter

5) Assemble each sandwich as follows: 1 slice french toast spread with goat cheese, tomato, bacon, ham, spinach, 1 slice french toast; then feast!

Heartily serves: 4

BUFFALO-BACON-CHICKEN CHOPPED SALAD

Here’s a salad (and bacon) twist on hot wings at your favorite restaurant. Rather than a side of carrots, celery, and ranch dressing, it’s all in here–and then some. An enthusiast “Yeah!” from each of my guys 🙂

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6 oz turkey bacon, fried and cut into 1/4″ pieces

4 cups deli-roasted chicken, chopped

1-1/4 cup Buffalo Sauce (Frank’s brand is good)

8 cups chopped iceberg lettuce

2-1/2 cups coarsely chopped carrots (I used petite carrots)

2-1/2 cups celery, sliced thin

1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

1 cup croutons (I use Texas Toast brand)

1/4 cup ranch dressing

1) Place bacon and chicken in large ziploc bag; pour buffalo sauce over bacon and chicken; shake and refrigerate

2) To large salad bowl, add: lettuce, carrots, celery, and 1 cup mozzarella cheese (reserving 1/2 cup); toss to combine

3) Arrange bacon-chicken mixture on top of salad; scatter 1/2 cup reserved mozzarella cheese and croutons on top; stream ranch dressing over salad

4) When ready to serve, toss to combine; serve with extra ranch–or blue cheese–dressing

Serves: 6 dinner-sized potions

BACON-SPINACH SHIRRED EGGS

This was one of those breakfast-themed dinners of which my guys are so fond. And they were not at all disappointed with this recipe which is amazingly tasty–better yet, easy to put together. Though I served it in individual casserole dishes, it works equally well in a large casserole dish. Enjoy!

Bacon Spinach Shirred Eggs

spray olive oil

2 cups baby spinach

8 eggs

4 strips bacon, fried and chopped

1/4 cup half-and-half

sea salt

ground black pepper

paprika

1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees; lightly coat casserole dishes with spray olive oil

2) Assemble individual servings as follows, dividing ingredients equally between dishes; place spinach in bottom of dish, crack 2 eggs on top, scatter with bacon, drizzle with half-and-half, and lightly sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika

3) Bake eggs in oven 20-25 minutes until whites are firm and yolks are set to your preference; scatter Parmesan cheese over top and bake additional 2 minutes until cheese melts; remove from oven and serve (see…easy!)

Servings: 4

BLACK BEAN-BACON-CHIPOTLE SOUP

Who doesn’t like black beans? Who doesn’t like bacon? Who doesn’t like those hot little chipotle peppers? Okay, some people don’t, but I believe most do. Combine the two in a relatively light soup and top with a dollop of sour cream. Total yum!

Black Bean-Bacon Soup

8 slices bacon, chopped

2 medium-sized red onions, chopped

2 cups thinly-sliced carrots (I used peeled baby carrots)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

4 cups chicken broth

2-15 oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1-8 oz can tomato sauce

1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped

2 tsp dried oregano

1-1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried thyme

sea salt

ground black pepper

Optional toppings: chopped parsley, sour cream

1) To large soup pot over medium-high heat, add bacon and cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly crisp

2) Reduce heat to medium and add onion, carrot, and red bell pepper to soup pot; cook 5 minutes, stirring often; add chicken broth, black beans, tomato sauce, chipotle pepper, oregano, cumin, and thyme; cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally; season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with or without optional toppings

Servings: 4-6

BACON-SAGE STUFFED PORK CHOPS WITH MUSHROOMS

In savoring my Bacon Nation cookbook, I came across a recipe for “Saltimbacon” and took the cue to stuff pork chops with bacon and sage. Of course, I had to add cheese. And though I didn’t have fresh shallots, I had dried shallots. And, really, in cooking I can’t tell the difference between Marsala and Marsala cooking wine… This beautiful, tasty, and easy-to-prepare dish is a result of my tweaking. Only one thing: I used 1-1/2″ thick pork chops–a “no-no” that required a major cooking time adjustment, so do NOT go thicker than 1″. Delish!

Bacon-Sage Stuffed Pork Chops with Mushrooms

4 slices bacon

4-1″ thick boneless pork chops, butterflied (NOT over 1″ thick!)

4 slices provolone cheese

4 fresh sage leaves

1/3 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp dried minced shallots (or fresh–probably 1/4 cup)

8 oz mushrooms, sliced thick

1/2 cup Marsala cooking wine

1 cup chicken broth

1) To large skillet over medium-high heat, add bacon and cook 5-6 minutes until just crisp; transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate; cut each slice in half

2) On one side of each butterflied pork chop, place 1 slice provolone cheese, 2 bacon halves, and 1 sage leaf; fold opposite side of pork chop over, enclosing ingredients and pressing down to seal

3) In shallow bowl, mix bread crumbs and flour

4) In large skillet over medium-high, heat olive oil; dredge both sides of pork chops in bread crumb-flour mixture, place in skillet, and cook 4-5 minutes each side until pork is golden brown and just cooked through; transfer pork chops to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm

5) To same skillet over medium heat, add shallots (you may have to add a bit more olive oil); cook shallots 3 minutes, stirring often, until softened and fragrant; add mushrooms, Marsala cooking wine, and chicken broth and cook 3-4 minutes

6) Return pork chops to skillet and spoon sauce over top; cover skillet with lid and cook 3 minutes; remove from heat; place pork chops on plate, spoon sauce over top, and serve

Servings: 4

POTATO-POTATO-BACON TORTILLA

Potato-Potato being lovely little red potatoes and fabulously funky sweet potatoes. Then there’s the bacon–among other delicious ingredients that come together to make a wonderful meal. Many thanks to the Bacon Nation cookbook for the inspiring “Potato-Bacon Tortilla” that resulted in thumbs up all around. Lucky me, there’s a slice left over for my lunch tomorrow.

Potato-Potato-Bacon Tortilla

6 slices bacon

4 small red potatoes, cut into 1/2″ cubes

1 medium-sized sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes

1 tsp sea salt, divided

1/2 tsp ground black pepper, divided

1 small red onion, diced

1 tbsp diced jalapeno pepper

9 eggs

1 cup diced tomatoes (I used quartered grape tomatoes)

olive oil (may or may not need)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1) Place broiler rack 6″ from broiler and preheat broiler

2) To large ovenproof skillet (I used cast iron) over medium-high heat, add bacon and fry each side 2-3 minutes until crisp; remove skillet from stove top, place bacon on paper towel-lined plate, and spoon off all but 2 tbsp of bacon fat from skillet (reserve balance for use later)

3) Return skillet to stove top and heat over medium; add red and sweet potatoes and stir to coat in bacon fat; season with 1/2 tsp salt (reserving 1/2 tsp) and 1/4 tsp black pepper (reserving 1/4 tsp); cook, stirring every few minutes, 15-20 minutes until a fork easily pierces potatoes; transfer potatoes to medium-sized mixing bowl and set aside

4) Add 1 tbsp reserved bacon fat to skillet and heat over medium; add onion and jalapeno and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally; remove skillet from heat and transfer onion mixture to bowl containing potatoes; set aside

5) Crack eggs into large mixing bowl, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp reserved salt and 1/4 tsp reserved pepper, and beat; gently stir potato-onion mixture and tomatoes into eggs; chop bacon

6) Return skillet to stove top, add 1 tbsp reserved bacon fat (if you don’t have any left, substitute olive oil), and heat over medium; pour egg mixture into skillet, scatter bacon over top, and cook (no stirring) about 3 minutes; gently pull tortilla from sides of skillet with spatula while tilting skillet to allow uncooked egg to flow underneath; reduce heat to low, cover skillet with lid, and cook 8-10 minutes until top is nearly set

7) Remove lid from skillet, sprinkle tortilla with Parmesan cheese, and place under broiler; broil 1-2 minutes until top of tortilla is set and cheese melts; remove from oven, sprinkle with parsley, and serve with a green salad; chow down!

Servings: 4-6