Bacon & Blue Cheese Dressing
My all-time favorite dressing is Bacon & Blue Cheese. We use it as a salad dressing, with wings, and even on burgers and steak. This is another recipe that’s easy to adjust to your tastes. One cup each of blue cheese and bacon crumbles makes a chunky, thick dressing. Blue cheese can be quite tangy, especially if it’s aged so adjust the strength of the blue cheese flavor by adding a smaller amount. Add more after a few hours if the flavor isn’t strong enough.
Watch the bacon. If you have a bacon with little or no flavor, skip it. It’s going to be completely lost here. A good bacon will hold its own and add flavor to this Bacon & Blue Cheese recipe.
Bacon & Blue Cheese Goes With…
As I type this I have Baked Beans in the oven, bread almost ready for the oven, and venison and pastured chicken thawing in a sink of cold water. It’s a cooking day so I’ll nibble all day as I taste the beans, have a bite or two of venison, and a cup of chicken and rice soup. I’ll cut up broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers and celery for a veggie tray and use this dressing for the dip. As dip, I like this thinned with a little milk. For steak, chops, burgers and baked potatoes, I leave it thick. The veggies will help balance everything on my plates today.
Lower Fat & Calories
This recipe for Bacon & Blue Cheese dressing isn’t low fat by any means. You can lower the fat by using low fat mayonnaise and sour cream.
You can chop partially frozen bacon into quarter-inch cubes and pan fry it to lose a little more fat. You’ll still have all the meat and flavor.
No matter what you do, it’s still a high-calorie food but moderation makes a difference.
Mac n Cheddar Cheese
Baked Mac n Cheddar Cheese is a favorite for lots of us. I never tire of it. This is nothing like the bright orange powdered cheese mac that comes in a box. I used Clothbound Chedder from Grace Hill Farm in Cummington, MA. I found the cheese at Boston Public Market on a weekend trip with Taylor to visit Kristin. You should use your favorite cheddar. Or, use Gouda. If a cheese melts well and you like it, use it. You could add a little Mozzarella to make it stringy. I wouldn’t use all Mozzarella but maybe 25% of the total cheese would be great.
Changing it Up
If you want to change up your mac and cheese you can add two teaspoons of dry mustard, or a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. I like to saute mushrooms and onions and add them to the cheese sauce. Remember those “helper” boxed meals you add a pound of ground burger to? You can fry your burger and add it to mac and cheese. Or, how about some slightly steamed broccoli? Variety is good!
Hot Chocolate Recipes
I came across a recipe for hot chocolate and red wine – combined – while looking for a variety in hot chocolate recipes. Dark chocolate and red wine. Together. I had to try it immediately. All you need is milk, a dark chocolate candy bar or chips, and red wine. Add whipping cream to the list if you want whipped cream. If you don’t happen to have dark chocolate in the house you can substitute any hot chocolate you do have. A few curls of chocolate or a sprinkling of spice at the end adds to the decadence.
A note to On The Fire listeners – I’ve added the vanilla to the recipe. That little extra flavor makes a difference.
Another Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
4 cups milk (cow, goat, almond, whatever you like)
1 tsp vanilla
Bring the cocoa, sugar and water to a boil, stirring continually. Carefully mix in the milk, continuing to stir. Continue to heat until the milk is hot but not boiling, remove from heat, and then stir in the vanilla.
I enjoy a glass of wine before dinner if I’m still writing. On the coldest days of winter I’ll switch to Dark Red Hot Chocolate. Take note of the garnishing in the recipe, and if you have suggestions of your own, please leave them in the comments.
With these hot chocolate recipes there’s a nice way to unwind at the end of the day before turning in for a long winter night’s nap. Enjoy!
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
I use the recipe for soft pumpkin cookies for Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, and then use a cream cheese frosting recipe to make the filling for the pies. This filling recipe is very, very sweet. You might want to use almond extract instead of vanilla (did you know that lessens sweet taste?) and eight cups of powered sugar instead of nine. It’s not a huge difference but it does help.
Gundy has a great suggestion. Make these for Halloween and double the batch. Freeze leftover whoopie pies for Thanksgiving, and eat frozen. I’m doing it!
And another suggestion – replace the milk in the filling with Bailey’s Irish Cream and make sure the kids don’t get into the adult batch of whoopie pies.
This isn’t your mom or nana’s pumpkin pie. Oh sure, they make great pie, no doubt. This pumpkin pie is different. It’s untraditional. What’s an untraditional pumpkin pie, you ask? Yogurt, extra spice, half the traditional amount of sugar, and if you have them, duck eggs. Want to shake up the universe? Okay, not the universe but your pie? Use squash. I’ll pause here while the cheering and head scratching subside. Did you know a lot of commercial canned pumpkin is winter squash? If you don’t tell anyone they probably won’t know the difference.
If you’ve grown or purchased pie pumpkins now’s the time to bake them, remove the flesh from the peel, and use it in this pie! When using commercially canned (I do as soon as our stored pumpkins are gone) you’ll need one can. If it isn’t exactly 16 ounces but it’s close, use it. It’s close enough.
How to Cook Fresh Pumpkin and Squash
You can use any pumpkin but pie varieties are so because they aren’t stringy and tend to be drier. You cook fresh pumpkin by cutting it into quarters or thirds, whatever fits in your pan. If the pumpkin is rock solid you can break it by dragging a kitchen chair out to the road, climbing on the chair and dropping your pumpkin to the pavement. Please have someone take photos and then send them to me to share here. You may send your pie pics as well. I’m not kidding. 🙂
Scrape out the seeds, place in a baking dish with an inch of water, and cover with foil. You can also use the slow cooker. Roast the pumpkin or squash in the oven at 350° for 45 to 60 minutes. A knife slides through easily when the pumpkin is cooked. Scrape flesh from the peel. Simmer the flesh until excess moisture is removed.
Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie
Gluten is a protein found in cereal grains including wheat, the traditional grain used for flour. If you’d like a gluten free option you can simply bake the filling as you would a custard.
Five on Friday!