The old adage that everything is better with bacon holds true. In my quest for new bacon related recipes I stumbled upon this one from King Arthur Flour. Because it is made in a crock pot, the hands on time for this dish is minimal and your entire house will be filled with the sweet and salty aroma of this jam before you are done. I was initially taken aback by the ingredients, which individually I love but I just couldn’t fathom being put together as a single dish (maple syrup mixed with coffee???), but the results surprised me……..after all everything is better with bacon. Whether served on bread slices and paired with a salad for a light dinner or paired with bread and goat cheese as part of a buffet table, this jam is a hit.
Not having boiled cider on hand, and being unable to have it shipped to me, I improvised by making a reduction of apple juice cooked with a whole cinnamon stick and five whole cloves. The result isn’t quite the same but the resulting syrup seemed to do the trick.
1 1/2 pounds bacon
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup boiled cider
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
2 dried bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
- Slice the bacon into 1″ slices and cook in a large skillet until well browned. Drain the fat and reserve the bacon.
- Place the cooked bacon and all other ingredients into a 2 quart or larger crock pot. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours.
- Remove the cooked jam from the crock pot, remove the bay leaves, and carefully transfer to a food processor or blender. (I used a bowl and my trusty stick blender). Pulse until the consistency is to your liking, a soft, spreadable jam. You can leave the bacon in larger bits or pulse until very small, your choice.
- If you find the jam too liquid for your taste, transfer to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the liquid has evaporated and the jam is thick and syrupy. Adjust the seasonings and serve warm.
- Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Warm in the microwave before serving.
Yield: 2 cups
Its been a while (way too long in fact) since I’ve delved in the Yankee Kitchen Ninja website in search of dinner inspiration. Every time I check out this wonderfully creative site I come away with a whole list of dinner and baking ideas. And of course my recent foray wasn’t any different and one look had me breaking out my baking dishes and planning dinner.
This easy and delicious recipe for maple ginger chicken and apples actually comes from Maple by Katie Webster and is the perfect fall dinner. The ingredients are simple, yet when combined together, are delicious and turn ordinary chicken into anything but. Everything about this dish simply makes me homesick for New England.
For best results, marinate the chicken overnight before cooking. This requires a bit of planning but the results don’t disappoint.
MAPLE GINGER CHICKEN & APPLES
1 shallot, finely sliced
3/4 cup apple cider
1/2 cup dark pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus additional sprigs for the pan
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks–I like to use a combination of the two
3 medium apples, peeled, cored and quartered
- Combine the shallot, apple cider, maple syrup, ginger, vinegar, thyme leaves, salt and pepper in a large ziplock bag. Seal the bag and use your hands to massage all of the ingredients together.
- Place the bag on a large rimmed dish, add the chicken parts then reseal the bag.
- Ensure that as much of the chicken is covered in the marinade and let sit in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 12 hours, turning the bag occasionally to redistribute the chicken and the marinade.
- When you are ready to cook preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat it lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
- Take the chicken from the bag and arrange the pieces on the baking sheet.
- Nestle the apples around the chicken, add the reserved thyme sprigs and pour some of the marinade over the chicken.
- Bake, basting occasionally, for about an hour or until fully cooked.
- Serve, topped with the sauce, alongside noodles or potatoes.
It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.
Fresh salmon makes for a fast dinner since it cooks quickly under the broiler. I like to marinade the salmon for a few minutes while the broiler pre-heats so that the flavor penetrates the fish. Do not let the fish soak for too long otherwise the flavors will be too strong and the texture will become mealy. I served this alongside leftover cucumber salad and a cherry and pecan quinoa pilaf that I started before I made the marinade for the salmon. By the time the fish was done so was the quinoa.
MAPLE-SOY GLAZED SALMON
2 salmon steaks
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste
- Combine the maple syrup, soy sauce, and minced garlic in a shallow non-reactive dish.
- Remove any pin bones from the salmon steaks.
- Place the steaks in the marinade and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Pre-heat the broiler. Coat a broiler pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
- Place the salmon on the prepared broiler pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Place the pan in the oven and broil for 3 minutes; baste with marinade and broil for an additional 2 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven, turn the salmon over and baste with the marinade.
- Broil for an additional 3-4 minutes or until the salmon flakes with a fork and is cooked through.
Finding the right side dish is one of my biggest challenges when it comes to putting together a meal. This is especially true when I am entertaining. I don’t want the dish to be too complicated or time consuming yet I usually want it to be something more than a simple grain or starch. If it can be made ahead of time it is even better since that frees me up to spend time with my guests. Enter this roasted sweet potato salad from Williams Sonoma.
This salad is the perfect accompaniment to grilled meats and chicken. It can be made ahead of time or at the last minute. The combination of maple syrup, lime juice and cilantro is intriguing without being overpowering and the crunch pecans give the dish additional texture and complexity. Simply put, it is delicious and has become a new side dish staple in my house. Enjoy!
ROASTED SWEET POTATO SALAD
3 pounds sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more, to taste
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1/2 cup minced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Preheat an oven to 400°F.
- Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks.
- Place the potatoes on a large rimmed baking pan, drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil, sprinkle with the salt and stir to coat.
- Spread the potatoes in a single layer and roast, stirring occasionally, until tender when pierced, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the lime juice, maple syrup and the remaining olive oil.
- Add the hot roasted sweet potatoes to the lime juice mixture along with the pecans, green onions and cilantro.
- Stir well and season with additional salt and the pepper.
- Serve immediately, or let cool to room temperature and stir again just before serving.
Serves 4 to 6
If you’re from New England, the arrival of spring means it is maple syrup season. And despite a rather disheartening study that was recently published in the Washington Post, I for one prefer real maple. Whether it be poured over pancakes and waffles, eaten as candy or used in cooking, I love the taste of maple syrup. So if you are one of the Americans–or other internationals–who buck the trend of preferring real maple syrup over maple flavored corn syrup why not try this recipe for maple pecan shortbread bars?
The recipe is adapted from Cuisine At Home and brings together the rich buttery flavor of shortbread with toasty pecans and of course, maple syrup. With its sweet and nut filled filling, these bars are reminiscent of a maple flavored pecan pie. If you prefer and it is readily available, feel free to substitute maple sugar for either or both of the brown sugars. You can also use toasted walnuts instead of pecans. Regardless of which nut or sugar you use, be sure to use real maple syrup in the filling. Anything else is simply not acceptable. So bake up a batch of these tasty bars today and celebrate the start of a new season.
MAPLE PECAN SHORTBREAD BARS
For the crust:
12 sticks unsalted butter plus more for the pan, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling:
1 cup pure maple syrup
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Lightly coat an 8 inch square baking pan with softened butter; line the pan with parchment paper then coat the pan, sides and parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray. Dust the pan with flour, shake out the excess then set aside.
- To make the crust, using an electric mixer, cream the butter with the sugar in a medium sized bowl.
- Add the flour and salt and mix until completely incorporated.
- Press the dough into the prepared pan making sure the crust reaches the corners.
- Chill the pan in the refrigerator for 1/2 an hour.
- Bake the crust until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
- To make the filling, using an electric mixer, beat the syrup, sugar, eggs, bourbon, vanilla and salt in a medium sized bowl until frothy.
- Stir in the nuts until combined.
- Pour the filling over the crust and bake until brown and set, 35-40 minutes.
- Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes before running a knife around the edges and corners of the pan to loosen the bars.
- Cool completely before cutting into squares.
Yields: 9 bars