Sweet Corn, Bacon and Cheddar Risotto

I went and took a fancy Italian dish and trashed it up. Or Americanized it. Whichever phrase you prefer. But seriously though, who doesn’t love bacon, cheddar and corn? And creamy rice. Duh.
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I made this Saturday night for an impromptu date night at home after we got the kids to bed. We love to cook up a big, non-kid friendly dinner together at home every once and awhile since it’s so hard to get out on our own. We usually turn on some music, grill steaks the kids wouldn’t eat and make something fancy to go with it. Joel requested risotto this time so I looked around the fridge and pantry to see what we had and this is what I came up with.

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This hits on all those delicious taste buds and leaves you full and happy. The corn is sweet, the cheddar is sharp, the bacon is salty and smoky. Pretty much perfection in a pan. And it’s a fun and different way to use up that sweet corn before it’s gone for the season.
Sweet Corn, Bacon and Cheddar Risotto 1

This is obviously amazing with fresh corn cut from the cob, but you can also substitute with frozen corn (thawed first) when fresh isn’t available.

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If you want to serve it to the kids and are worried about the wine, just sub in additional chicken broth. This made a huge batch so the kids had it leftover for lunch with us the next day and they totally loved it too. “Like a fancy mac-n-cheese” said Noah.
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Because as you all should know by now, carbs and cheese are our favorites around here.

Sweet Corn, Bacon and Cheddar Risotto

2 cups water
32 oz. low sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, finely minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sweet corn, cut from cob or thawed from frozen
6 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1. Combine water and broth in a saucepan and warm over medium-low heat.

2. Melt butter in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add onion and saute for about 3 minutes, or until softened and translucent. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, uncovered, stirring constantly. Stir in wine and cook 30 seconds or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the risotto.

3. Add broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total) until broth is gone or rice is cooked through. About 10 minutes in, stir in the corn. Once the rice is done, remove from heat and stir in cheddar.

Meat Lovers Skillet

If there is a major carnivore in your life, stop everything you are doing and make this. They will pretty much love you forever and request it on any occasion celebrating them. Trust me, I know from experience.
Meat Lovers Skillet 6This skillet is inspired by a diner that we used to frequent often when we lived in Fargo. It was a total hole-in-the-wall joint but don’t those always end up being the best? The “Lotsa Meat Skillet” was the first and only item Joel ever ordered there and he misses it dearly. So this year for Father’s Day, I attempted a copycat version with much success. Meat Lovers Skillet 5
As any good skillet should, it starts with a base of potatoes, shredded hashbrowns in this case. Then you top it with three different varieties of pig. See.
Meat Lovers Skillet 1This isn’t for the faint of heart…or those with high cholesterol. Meat Lovers Skillet 2
It’s then sprinkle with cheese and put under the broiler until it reaches melty perfection. Top it with a few over easy eggs and hollandaise sauce to complete the meat masterpiece. It’s seriously intense and only for special occasions but oh so delicious.
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Meat Lovers Skillet

15 oz. frozen shredded hashbrowns
2 Tbsp. olive oil 1
Tbsp. butter
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
6 breakfast sausage links, cut into bite size chunks
5 slices Canadian bacon, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
4 eggs

for the hollandaise sauce:
recipe from Tyler Florence
4 egg yolks
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
Pinch salt

1. Preheat broiler. Heat large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium high heat. Add olive oil and butter. Pour hashbrowns into pan and press down. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until golden and crispy. Carefully flip and cook until other side is golden.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the hollandaise sauce. Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl). Continue to whisk rapidly. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. Remove from heat and whisk in the salt. Cover and place in a warm spot until ready to use. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.

3. Layer the hashbrowns with bacon, sausage and Canadian bacon. Sprinkle with cheese. Place under broiler until cheese has melted. Meanwhile, cook 4 eggs over easy (or to your preference). Top skillet with eggs and drizzle with desired amount of hollandaise sauce. Cut into wedges and serve. Meat Lovers Skillet 3

Maple and Brown Sugar Bacon and Egg Biscuits

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It seems like people either love or hate breakfast. I, unfortunately, fall in the second category. I just don’t feel like eating right when I wake up and if I don’t, the kids wake up, chaos ensues and there is no longer time because they like to eat the second their eyes open. Plus, I don’t love most breakfast foods, especially sweets. I mean, I wouldn’t ever turn down a doughnut, we’re not talking crazy here, but I don’t love sugary sweet in the morning.
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So when I do eat breakfast, if I’m not sucking down a smoothie, I usually reach for something more on the savory side. Like this biscuit of deliciousness. I would eat it everyday if I could but a) I want to see my kids get married someday and b) ain’t nobody got time for that.
Maple and Brown Sugar Bacon and Egg Biscuits 1
They aren’t too complicated, especially if you use frozen biscuits like I did, but the bacon takes a bit of time (that I just don’t have most mornings with my children). If you have the bacon made up already then they are pretty quick and simple.
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I know I’m gushing about this bacon, but it just brings this biscuit sandwich to a new level. Plus, the runny yolk. It all combines to elevate the ordinary bacon and egg biscuit to something a little bit fancy.
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And just FYI, this bacon isn’t just for breakfast. It converts from breakfast sandwich delight to dinner star on a burger, just saying.

Maple Brown Sugar Bacon and Egg Biscuits
serves 4

4 biscuits (I used these, but if you want homemade try these)
4 eggs
4-8 slices Maple Brown Sugar Bacon*

1. Prepare biscuits. While they are baking, heat a skillet to medium heat. Lightly butter the pan and cook the eggs to your preference. We like ours over easy (and the runny yolks keeps them from getting too dry).

2. Slice the biscuits in half and place an egg and slice of bacon on the bottom half. Top with the other biscuit half and enjoy.

*I only used 1 slice of bacon on mine but if you want them extra meaty, use two.

Maple Brown Sugar Bacon

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Are you ready for your life to be changed? I know that’s a pretty big statement but it involves bacon so it’s pretty believable. I didn’t think bacon could get any better but when you add a sweet element to salty bacon? Yep. It does. I seem to be on some kind of sweet and salty kick lately. Who am I kidding? Sweet and salty for life.
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When I gave up meat for Lent, bacon was by far what I missed most. I even cooked it a few times for my family and it was almost impossible to not eat it. I had a piece in my hand at one point and it was almost to my lips before I even realized what I was doing. It’s second nature to eat a piece while it’s cooking. Am I right?

This bacon is first brushed with a mixture of brown sugar and maple syrup before it’s baked in the oven to crispy perfection.
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I’ve never baked bacon before this but had heard good things. It doesn’t make a huge mess, all gets done at the same time and is cooked evenly. I’m definitely sold on the process.
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And if you think this bacon is amazing, just wait until you see what I did with it. But that will be revealed on Wednesday. I’m such a tease.
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Maple Brown Sugar Bacon

1 lb. bacon
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a rack on top.

2. Place bacon on the rack in a single layer. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and maple syrup. Brush the mixture evenly over the bacon. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until crispy and caramelized.

 

Loaded Broccoli Cheese Soup

Loaded Broccoli Cheese Soup 1
It seems like people fall into two categories when it comes to soup, love it or hate it. My boys both moan and groan when they find out we’re having soup for dinner. It doesn’t matter what kind, they still complain. The grown one says it’s not filling enough. The little says it’s too hot (even when I ladle it out 15 minutes before everyone else’s).

Hannah and myself on the other hand love soup. But Hannah will eat anything so I guess that’s not too much of a feat. Seriously, anything. She was begging for a snitch when I was preparing this so I gave her a bit of raw onion to see what she would do. She ate it and opened her mouth for more. Do you guys know what “snitch” means when in the kitchen? It’s a little bite or sample of something while you’re cooking. I was talking to one of the babysitters where I work out and was telling her how if we ask Hannah if she wants a snitch she comes running to the kitchen with her mouth open. She’s really starting to understand what we’re telling her and reacting so I thought it was really funny that one of the first things she truly understands is related to eating. She just looked at me, confused. I thought this was a common thing but maybe it just was in my family. I don’t know, it should totally be a thing if it’s not.
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Broccoli cheese soup and potato soup are my two favorites and this recipe combines the two into perfection. Cheese, broccoli, potatoes, bacon, can’t get much better than that. This soup is loaded with veggies which makes it super filling but if your people are still complaining, give them a pretzel stick to carb load. They are pretty heavenly when dipped in this soup.

Loaded Broccoli Cheese Soup
recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Café

3 cups chicken stock
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots, diced small
3 cups potatoes, diced small
1/2 cup finely minced onion
4-5 cups broccoli crowns, diced small (about 2 heads of broccoli)
4-6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
3 cups milk (I used half Vitamin D, half skim)
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 16 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried mustard

1. In a dutch oven, combine the chicken broth, carrots, potatoes and onions. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until veggies are starting to soften. Add the broccoli and cook another 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile in a separate saucepan, melt the butter then sprinkle in the flour. Stir and cook for a minute then slowly add in the milk, whisking the whole time. Simmer until it thickens. Take off the heat and stir in the cheese until melted. Season with salt, pepper and dried mustard.

3. Slowly stir and incorporate the cheese sauce into the broth/veggie mixture. Make sure it is combined well then stir in the bacon. If you prefer a thinner soup, you may stir in a bit more broth or milk until you reach the desired consistency.
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Bacon and Bleu Hot Corn Dip

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I have a thing for dips. Chips and dip are my nemesis, my inner fat kid’s favorite snack. Seriously, I would eat them everyday if I could. We were playing a game recently called Truth Be Told and each round you have to answer a question about the reader of the card. Then they are read aloud and everyone tries to guess what the reader said. So, you come up with an answer that is fitting to the reader since you get points if they guess your answer. Does that make sense? Anyway, one of the questions was “what’s one food you wish was healthy?” CHIPS. Chips are always the answer. Chips for life. Sweets I can take or leave most of the time but savory snacks get me every time.
Bacon and Bleu Hot Corn Dip 1
So when I started thinking about something yummy to share with you all for the Super Bowl, my brain naturally went to a dip that I could dunk chips into. Sorry I was a little self-centered but I figured you guys wouldn’t argue. I’ve been really digging bleu cheese lately and was enjoying it in a Cobb salad with some bacon and roasted corn a few days ago and thought it would make an amazing sweet, smoky and tangy combination for a hot dip. With tortilla chips of course. I guess if you want to be healthy you could use celery, but it’s the Super Bowl, why would you want to do that?
Bacon and Bleu Hot Corn Dip 3
This dip is mixed and cooked in a crock pot for easy prep and clean up. I love a set it and forget it kind of appetizer especially for football games since I usually have a lot of snack-y type things to prepare. This could even be mixed up the night before and refrigerated. Just add another half hour or so to the cooking time to ensure it warms through and the cheeses melt.
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The super sweet corn and strong, stinky bleu cheese create a nice contrast. And bacon makes everything better. I may have eaten half the batch for lunch yesterday. Maybe. This would be perfect for snacking on while waiting hours for the pizza to be delivered on Super Bowl night. Not that we would know from experience.
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Bacon and Bleu Hot Corn Dip

3 1/3 cups frozen corn, thawed
8 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese, cubed
1/3 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled*
Salt and pepper to taste

Dump all ingredients into a crockpot and mix. Cook for 2 hours on low, stirring occasionally. Serve with tortillas chips or raw veggies for dipping.

*Before cooking, partially freeze bacon then slice very thinly. Cook in a skillet and it’s recipe ready.
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Cheeseburger Quesadillas

Cheeseburger Quesadillas 1
Besides cooking and photography, one of my big hobbies is crafting. I guess I have a love for creating and capturing. Recently I have been working on a quilt that I have grown to love; every time I pick it up to work on it, I adore it even more. I know quilting is an uncommon hobby for a 20-something but I am kind of addicted and I’m not afraid to say it. Call me granny if you wish but I’m creating awesomeness around here. The concept of this quilt started at Christmas when Joel’s mom was given 12 quilt squares made by her grandma and great grandma. She wasn’t planning on doing anything with them so she offered them to me to create something with them. After several months of brainstorming, I came up with a concept and created 18 of my own quilt blocks to go along with the vintage ones. Each and every square has a different fabric yet they look like they were made for each other. Along the border are names, places, dates and special family jokes quilted to evoke memories each time it’s used. It’s a quilt decades in the making and something I am so proud to have had a part of creating.
heritage quilt
Just like this quilt, I love dreaming up and creating in my kitchen. The quilt nourishes my soul and these cheeseburger quesadillas nourish our bellies. They come together in less than 30 minutes and will definitely be a crowd pleaser. Even my impossible 4 year old ate these without complaint and he almost never eats meat. I’m telling you, tortillas are magic makers in getting your kids to eat. The fact that they taste like a rich, meaty cheeseburger helps too.
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Cheeseburger Quesadillas

8-12 whole wheat tortillas
1 lb. lean ground beef
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. mustard
1 Tbsp. worchestershire
S&P
1-1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar (1/4 cup per quesadilla)

1. In a skillet over medium heat, cook ground beef until cooked through. Drain grease then stir in ketchup, mustard and worchestershire.

2. Meanwhile, preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Lay a tortilla in the skillet then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese, desired amount of ground beef (we divided this to make 6 quesadillas but if you want yours a bit meatier, add 1/4 of the ground beef mixture), bacon and another 2 tablespoons of cheese then top with another tortilla. Cook until brown and crisp then flip and cook other side until golden. Remove from skillet and cut with a pizza wheel. Serve with pickles on the side.
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