Bacon-Onion Spiral Bread and Vermont Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Does this sound delicious, or what? I mean a bacon and onion filling inside  bread, then the bread is paired with delicious Vermont cheddar and bread and butter pickles for a special grilled cheese. I could not resist making this – my kind of ingredients and it was easy to make in a 9×5-inch loaf pan. From just the aroma in my kitchen while I put it together and then baked it, I knew this would become a favorite.

Then I made sandwiches – oh my what a perfect combination of flavors! You can taste the bacon and onions, the crunch of the pickles and the creamy smoothness of the melted Vermont cheddar. Not to mention the final touch of grilling this sandwich full of delicious ingredients.

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This recipe was in the latest issue of “Sift” a publication by King Arthur Flour (KAF) which I have adapted slightly.

Bacon-Onion Spiral Bread

  • 12 oz. thinly sliced bacon, cooked and finely chopped (about 10-11 slices)
  • 1 tbsp. bacon fat
  • 1-1/2 cups onions, finely diced (but not to the point of making juice)
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. paprika

Cook the bacon until crisp, reserving 1 tbsp. of fat. Allow the bacon to cool, finely chop and set aside.

Add the 1 tbsp. of bacon fat and  onions to a heavy skillet set over medium-low heat. This is when  I like to use one of my heavy copper skillets. Cook, stirring frequently for 10 to 15 minutes until the onions are translucent and just starting to brown; allow to cool. Add the onions to the bacon and stir in the flour, pepper and paprika; set aside.

  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk (I did use whole) (98° to 105°F)
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened
  • 1 tbsp. bacon fat
  • 1 large egg
  • 2-3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. instant or active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp water, for brushing the dough before adding the bacon mixture and also to brush on top of the loaf prior to baking

Combine the dough in the order listed. Mix and knead the dough until soft and supple – this took me about 10 minutes by hand.  Cover and let rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled.

After its first rise, pat the dough into an 8×18-inch rectangle. Brush with the beaten egg mixture and spread with the bacon mixture, leaving 1″ at the short end uncovered. Save the beaten egg mixture to brush on top of the loaf before baking. Roll the bread up from the short end, pinch the seam closed, and place seam-side down in a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and let rise until it domes 1/2-1-inch above the pan, about 40 minutes. For me it took a little over 60 minutes. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Once risen, brush the top of the loaf with the remaining beaten egg mixture, slash the top, and bake for 30 minutes. Tent with foil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, until the inside of the bread reads 190°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven and turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Recipe by Cooking with Aunt Juju

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The magazine suggested the following sandwich using this delicious homemade bread.

Bacon Onion Spiral Vermont Cheddar Grilled Cheese

  • 2 slices bacon onion spiral bread
  • Vermont Farmstead’s Governor’s Cheddar, grated (melts faster if it is grated)
  • bread and butter pickles or apple butter
  • melted butter for brushing the top and bottom of the sandwich

Now, this is a much different version of the typical sandwich I would make with American cheese. The cheese has a subtle honey and fruit notes that balances the cheddar’s bite. Then paired with the Bacon Onion Spiral bread really takes this sandwich over the top.

Slice the bread into 1/2-inch thickness. Layer the grated cheese on 1 slice and top with bread and butter pickles. Add another layer of cheese and then top with another slice of bread. If desired you could brush the top and bottom slices with melted butter (which I did) or I even heard mayonnaise was good to use. I like to grill this in my panini maker. Be sure to grill it long enough to thoroughly melt the cheese.

Recipe by Cooking with Aunt Juju

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Linking this to Fiesta Friday.

Here are three kitchen gadgets which made these recipes easier.

This cherry cutting board helps me to cut straight slices of bread for sandwiches; the salad shooter is a necessity when you have a lot of cheese to grate and then of course my panini maker which always makes beautiful sandwiches or as Oprah calls them her “love sandwiches”.

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Bacon, Beer and Pecan Toffee Sundaes

Ice Cream in the winter? Sure if the toppings are bacon bits, toasted pecans and a smooth and delicious bacon infused toffee sauce. Oh, and then there is the stout beer  infused with vanilla beans and a sprinkling of sea salt to finish.

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This is definitely not part of my New Year’s resolution diet but it was a recipe I have been saving and wanting to make for some time. It’s a cinch to make the sauce ahead of time, fry up the bacon and toast the pecans. Then when you are ready to enjoy this scrumptious dessert just assemble and enjoy.

I live in “bacon country” –  home of Camp Bacon which is an annual festival held every year in June, the world famous Zingerman Deli is located here where you can find all kinds of bacon such as juniper and thyme, cherrywood (in addition to applewood) and peppered bacon to name a few. Zingerman’s also offers a cooking class using this very indulgent ingredient called bacon which I have yet to sign up for. They also published a book “Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon“.

Bacon, Beer and Pecan Toffee Sundaes

  • 1/2 cup bacon, diced or about 4 slices (I prefer the smokiness of Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Bacon but how about a maple-flavored bacon?)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup (Karo)
  • 1/2 cup stout beer (I used a stout brewed with vanilla beans)
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped or use candied pecans
  • sea salt for sprinkling

Cook the bacon until very crisp, remove and reserve the fat. You can remove the bacon fat if desired and use a clean pan. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, beer, butter, heavy cream and a dash of salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. I strained the mixture (if you used the bacon fat) through a sieve removing any bacon pieces. Place in a container and refrigerate until ready to serve. The mixture will separate but just stir together and serve at room temperature.

Scoop the frozen yogurt or ice cream into bowls and spoon the toffee sauce on top. Garnish with the bacon, pecans and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Toasted Pecans:

  • 1 cup pecan halves

I prefer to toast my pecans in a dry skillet. Cook on a low heat until you smell the nuttiness of the pecans, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Roughly chop and set aside.

Candied Pecans:

  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 tbsp. light corn syrup (Karo)
  • 1 tbsp. honey

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the pecans on a foil lined baking sheet and heat the nuts for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, pick up the foil and pour the pecans into a small bowl; add the honey and corn syrup. Stir well to coat.

Place back on the baking sheet while separating the nuts as much as possible and cook another 5 minutes. Separate the nuts as much as you can and cool completely on a sheet of waxed paper.

Recipe by Cooking With Aunt Juju

This recipe is adapted from Michael Symon of “The Chew”.

I’m sharing this sinfully rich ice cream sundae with Angie @ Fiesta Friday #153 and the two co-hosts this week, Quinn and  Monika.  Next week begins a “healthy challenge” and I better get out my Weight Watcher’s recipes.

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Red Velvet Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

For a long time I have been wanting to make a “red velvet” dessert. I’ve collected recipes for cupcakes, cakes, brownies, cookies and bundt cakes. Even though I love to bake all kinds of things a bundt cake has always been a favorite as they are attractive for entertaining and they always freeze well.

Keeping with the holiday season a red dessert seemed very appropriate and festive. Happy New Year to Everyone and the Best in 2017!

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This recipe comes from the Food Network which I have adapted. I have indicated where I changed the recipe.

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Bundt Cake, Adapted

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 2 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp. sour cream (I used low-fat)
  • 3 tbsp. heavy cream (I will add less for a thicker filling)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the above ingredients in a food processor until smooth; set aside. You really do need  a food processor to get all the ingredients incorporated well. I found the filling was a little too thin and would adjust the ingredients to get it thicker.

Cake:

  • cooking spray(I always like to use Crisco instead) and dusting of flour for pan
  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1-3/4 sugar
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (I omitted the cocoa powder for a more vibrant red color – it did not affect the taste)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable oil (I used 1 cup oil and 8 tbsp. (1 stick) of unsalted butter, softened)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream (I used low-fat)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 tsp. red gel food coloring (I used 2 tbsp. of red velvet cake flavor from KAF – see comment)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350°F and position a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Cover a 10-15 cup Bundt pan with Crisco and then flour, tapping out the excess. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder (if using), baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a medium bowl whisk the vegetable oil, (butter if using), sour cream, eggs, food coloring, vanilla, vinegar and 1/4 cup water. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Spread 3 cups (next time I will use 2 to 2-1/2 cups) of the batter into the prepared pan. Carefully add the cream cheese mixture and spread out. Finally add the remaining cake batter evenly over the top. Bake until the top is cracked and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack and  cool for 20 minutes, then invert onto a plate and let cool completely, for at least 2 hours before adding the glaze.

The cake did overflow a bit and I cut off the excess once it was baked.

Glaze:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar (I always sift this kind of sugar to prevent lumps)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I did use low-fat)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • I added shimmer gold sugar (edible glitter would also be decorative)

Combine the above ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Spread over the cooled cake.

Comment: King Arthur Flour sells a product called Red Velvet Cake Flavor which I used instead of the red gel food coloring. It has a deeper and darker red velvet flavor with bright citrus notes.  I also omitted the cocoa powder which can darken the brightness of the red color.

Recipe by Cooking With Aunt Juju

This is my last recipe to share with Fiesta Friday in 2016. A special thanks to the two co-hosts Jhuls and Ginger.

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Decorating Gingerbread Men

Gingerbread cookies probably are at the top of my list of favorite Holiday cookies. There are so many ways to decorate gingerbread men but I thought these three were really cute ideas.

How about a gingerbread man hugging a tiny graham teddy bear? What a great idea coming from Christmas Cookies by Better Homes and Gardens. Are these ever cute!!!

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The second idea is using edible wafer paper which I purchased from Fancy Flours. I don’t necessarily like to promote different companies but bloggers ask where they can buy things. The vests are adorable and can be used on snowmen or any cookie cutter where they would fit, even Santa! See Gingerbread Men and Royal Icing for Cookies

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Using crushed candy and baking it within cookies is a good idea as they make great ornaments as well as being edible. The light shines through and really makes them special. I have used my biggest gingerbread man and cut out a heart and filled it with crushed red candy.

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Over the years I have collected many different cookie cutters; as of today only 35!

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Here are a few pictures of other gingerbread men.

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I also have different cake pans made out of this traditional fellow. See Gingerbread Man Cake and Old-Fashioned Gingerbread Cake for some recipes.

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I have not included the many gingerbread house cookie cutters and cake pans but I have shared a picture of one of the gingerbread houses we made.

If you have been following my blog you also know I made gingerbread houses with my family for 20 years – this is one of them and I always include a couple of small gingerbread cookies. See Family Traditions for more pictures.

gingerbread-house-doughMy big Christmas tree is full of gingerbread related ornaments including my most valuable ornament, a Steuben gingerbread man. The picture also shows a Christopher Radko stocking ornament decorated with gingerbread men if you are a collector.

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A small kitchen tree filled with gingerbread and baking ornaments:

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I’m taking these cute ways to decorate gingerbread men to Fiesta Friday.

Best Chicken Fingers

Chicken fingers are a great recipe to serve your family or friends. They are easy to make (especially if you buy chicken tenderloins) and always a crowd pleaser from children to adults. I would even go so far as to call them “comfort” food.

As I have been helping to care for a special sister who just had serious surgery these were a welcome dish to help perk her up. I have tried to keep my cooking/baking low-key and make her favorite recipes or dishes I knew she would like. Get well soon Marna <3.

I have adapted this recipe from a Food 52 cookbook contributed by Merrill who grew up with these chicken fingers. I have indicated where I made changes. Leftovers are great eaten cold, added to a salad or even in a sandwich.

Best Chicken Fingers

  • 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into strips (I used chicken tenderloins)
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups panko (you could also use Italian bread crumbs)
  • 1 cup Parmesan (I probably added 1/4 to 1/2 cup more – I love my cheese)
  • 3 tsp. oregano (I used Italian seasoning)
  • 6 eggs
  • vegetable oil and 4-6 tbsp. butter
  • optional finish of a few squirts of fresh lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 450°F. Spray 2 baking trays with oil, otherwise the chicken will stick. Scatter 2-3 tbsp. butter and heat the tray(s).

Combine the flour, salt and pepper to taste in one bowl. In another bowl beat the eggs lightly. In a third bowl mix the panko, oregano and Parmesan.

Dip the strips first into the flour and coat well; shake off any excess. Next, dip them in the beaten eggs and coat well. Finally, press them into the panko mixture covering well. Place on prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 10 minutes per side until nicely browned. I probably did 15 minutes per side based on the size and thickness of the chicken.

You can make these ahead of time and reheat in a 300°F oven.

Recipe by Cooking With Aunt Juju

I am a little late to Fiesta Friday #150 but I know Angie, Caroline and Tania as well as the other party goers will love these delicious, crispy chicken fingers.

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Roasted Maple Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes

Yummy sweet potatoes roasted with a maple syrup/cinnamon coating which are crispy on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. These were a big hit as a perfect side for a pork roast – everyone loved them!

The inspiration for these potatoes comes from pumpkinnspice.com and I basically used the same ingredients but added no salt and pepper and adjusted the seasonings to taste as I cooked 4 large potatoes.

Roasted Maple Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes

  • large sweet potatoes (the maple syrup mixture coats 3 large potatoes) peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-1/2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste (optional – I did not add)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Place the potatoes in a large bowl and toss with the maple syrup mixture. Spread the potatoes on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes or so, or until they are nicely browned and crispy.

Recipe by Cooking With Aunt Juju

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I am sharing these very yummy sweet potatoes with Angie at Fiesta Friday #149 and the two co-hosts this week; Sandhya @ indfused.com and yours truly, Judi @cookingwithauntjujucom.

The Gandy Dancer’s Rice Pilaf

I have found a new rice and a delicious recipe to use it in. Parboiled rice was brought to my attention with Chef Larry’s recipe, a former chef at The Gandy Dancer. I did not quite understand what parboiled rice was so once again I searched the internet for answers to my questions. I used the article from http://www.healthyindiandiet.com/blog/healthy-basmati-rice for a lot of my information. I was very interested in reading about this.

I absolutely love rice, except for the rice you get in Chinese restaurants and I still struggle with the nuttiness of brown rice.  White basmati rice was my preferred type of rice which has a lower GI value than other varieties of rice. There is also brown basmati rice which can have the same and sometimes lower GI values than white rice and recently I learned of a third; parboiled basmati rice which has variable GI values. What this means is that basmati rice is healthier than other rice. Then I have minute rice and also sushi rice – I mean 5 kinds of rice – no wonder my pantry is full!

Parboiled rice in this sense is not a means of cooking – it is processed quite differently from other types of rice. Because of the special processing, parboiled rice is a better source of fiber, calcium, potasium and vitamin B-6 than regular white rice. It is also called converted rice, made by partially boiling brown rice so that the starchy endosperm (the white rice) absorbs some nutrients like thiamine from the bran and germ.

The brand I bought from Yummy, Pure Indian Basmati Rice is suitable for diabetics due to a low GI Index (between 50 and 70). Glycemic Index  is an index that measures the ability of a food substance to raise blood sugar level.The carbs in parboiled rice do not cause a large spike in blood sugar. It is kosher certified, premium aged Indian Sella rice, low in fat, cholesterol free, gluten free, GMO free and vegan.

After the rice is harvested, its hull is removed to produce brown rice. If there is a second step of processing to remove the bran, it then becomes white rice. The process for parboiled rice begins before the hull is removed. The rice is soaked, steamed and dried, then the hull is removed to make parboiled rice. The process of steaming allows the rice to absorb nutrients and changes the starch so that it cooks into a firmer, less sticky dish of rice than regular white rice. It still needs to be cooked for 12 to 14 minutes.

I have been wanting to try this recipe for some time as there is a mixture of beef and chicken stock, plus a little butter. Butter always makes things a little better! I did not realize I would be learning something new about a different rice. You can see the difference in colors below. White is white, brown is brown and parboiled is yellow.

Parboiled rice is a compromise between  brown and white and I like it a lot. A healthier alternative which is always a good thing. I also would use oil to saute the onions and  would probably forget about the 2 tbsp. of butter on top.

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Chef Larry also mentions you can add other ingredients such as black or red beans, sauteed squash or peppers, or even 1/2 cup of cracked wheat.

By the way, The Gandy Dancer is a popular restaurant here in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Great seafood, great salads, great everything! Plus, the building was once a train station in my beautiful city before it was transformed into a restaurant.

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For other rice recipes on my blog see Rice Pilaf and Ginger and Jasmine Tea Sushi Rice.

The Gandy Dancer's Rice Pilaf

  • 2 tbsp. butter for sautéing, could use oil instead
  • 1/4 cup onions, finely diced (I might be tempted to add another 1/4 cup as I love onions)
  • 1-1/2 cups long grain rice, parboiled (converted)
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth (I used low-sodium)
  • 1-1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. cold butter to finish (optional)
  • other ingredients as desired such as veggies

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and saute onions for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the rice and toss to coat until the rice glistens. Add both broths and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer on the lowest flame for 12 to 14 minutes or until the broth is absorbed and the rice is tender.

Immediately place rice in a serving bowl and toss with 2 tbsp. of butter to coat the rice and prevent sticking. Did you know that cold butter halts the cooking process as it coats each grain? Well, you do now!

Recipe by Cooking With Aunt Juju

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Isn’t this parboiled rice beautiful? It does not stick together and  is perfect as a side, fried rice or with a stir-fry. The flavor is enhanced in this recipe by using chicken and beef broth and then of course a little butter never hurts.

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Linking to Fiesta Friday and Antonia and Petra.