Grilled Pheasant Kabobs

Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most popular grilling days of the year. In fact, it’s the seventh largest. And to top it off, it is the biggest outdoor cooking day of the winter months.

What’s the best part of grilling on Super Bowl Sunday? You can prepare most of the food in advance.

Appetizers are a perfect example of this school of thought, and for the big game Feb. 3, consider Pheasant Kabobs.

The following recipe, from MacFarlane Pheasants (located in Janesville, Wis.), the largest pheasant farm in North America, will provide some tasty eating at game time.

If you’re not a hunter and don’t have access to your own birds, whole pheasants and variety of pheasant breasts and strips are available at MacFarlane’s online retail store (www.pheasantfordinner.com) with convenient shipping coast-to-coast via UPS.

And that’s not to mention several recipes for entrees, soups, salads and more.

Grilled Pheasant Kabobs
1 to 1½ pounds pheasant breast cut into strips
1 4-ounce jar jalapeno peppers
12 slices bacon, cut into thirds
6 bamboo skewers, soaked in water
Cut pheasant breast into 36 pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Pour the juice from the jalapeno peppers over the pheasant and marinade for 20 minutes.
Preheat grill for medium heat; lightly oil the grate Drain the marinade from the pheasant. Place a slice of the jalapeno pepper onto each piece of pheasant breast, wrap with a bacon strip and slide onto skewer. Place 4 to 6 wraps on each skewer. Place kabobs on the grill, turning frequently for 15 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy. Remove skewers from the grill. Plate and serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 9.
Note: If using an oven, turn on the broiler; place skewers on baking pan. Keep pan 6 inches away from the heat source to avoid cooking too quickly. Broil each side for 10 minutes, or until bacon is crispy; turn and broil 10 additional minutes. Remove skewers from oven, plate and serve immediately.

Scrambled Eggs, Bacon and Tomato Panini

Everything is better with bacon. Whoever came up with that saying knows what they’re talking about. And it couldn’t be any more true than with eggs.

Bacon and eggs are the consummate breakfast combo. They are probably are ordered in tandem at cafes across the country more than any two other foods that go together.

And during the winter, when days are the shortest of the year and sunshine is at a minimum, the eggs in such a sandwich can be an important source of vitamin D. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently reviewed egg nutrient data and results showed that one large egg contains 41 IU (International Unit) of vitamin D, 64 percent higher than before.

Here’s a bacon and egg sandwich — in panini form —  from the American Egg Board, which is sure to help you get some added vitamin D.

Scrambled Eggs, Bacon and Tomato Panini
2 eggs
2  tablespoon water
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons butter, room temperature
4  slices whole wheat or white bread
4 slices fully cooked bacon
4 slices tomato
2 slices Swiss cheese
Heat panini press according to manufacturer’s directions. Beat eggs, water, salt and pepper in microwave-safe bowl until blended. Microwave on High 45 seconds; stir. Microwave until eggs are almost set, 30 to 45 seconds longer.
Spread butter evenly on one side of each bread slice. Layer bacon, tomato, scrambled eggs and cheese evenly on unbuttered side of 2 bread slices. Cove with remaining bread, buttered side up.
Grill sandwiches in panini press, on medium-high heat, until bread is toasted and cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.
Notes: Sandwiches can be grilled in a skillet over medium heat, turning once, until bread is toasted and cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Don’t overcook. Scrambled eggs will continue to cook and firm up after removed from microwave.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 386 calories, 21 grams fat (10 grams saturated), 229 milligrams cholesterol, 26 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams dietary fiber, 24 grams protein:, 273 milligrams calcium.

Homemade Maple-Bacon Crunch Ice Cream

July may be National Ice Cream Month, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best time to indulge yourself in one of America’s favorite pastimes. And that is especially true if it is August, the temperature is pushing 100 degrees and you’ve been standing outside watching youth baseball.

Without getting into too many specifics, I found myself slurping an ice cream cone today after watching my grandson’s team win its opening game in the Midwest Plains Regional Baseball Tournament for 13-year-olds. And as far as I’m concerned, anytime is a good time to eat an ice cream cone.

If you are like me, just about any kind of ice cream will do when it’s hot. But when you get right down to it, the best ice cream is homemade.

Here’s a recipe for some homemade ice cream that looks especially intriguing since it contains bacon brittle. (Who can resist bacon?) The recipe is adapted from one in Food Network magazine’s July/August 2012 issue.

Maple-Bacon Crunch Ice Cream
FOR ICE CREAM:
3 large egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup 2 percent or whole milk
1 cup maple syrup
2 cups heavy whipping cream
FOR BACON BRITTLE:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more for the baking sheet
3 strips thick-sliced smoked bacon
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon chipotle chile powder or a pinch of cayenne pepper
To make the ice cream: In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt until pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a saucepan and whisk in the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until almost simmering (the mixture should be thick enough to coat a spoon), about 5 minutes. Stir in the maple syrup. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until very cold, about 30 to 45 minutes.
To make the bacon brittle: Butter a rimmed baking sheet. Cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes per side; transfer to paper towels to drain. Let the bacon cool, then finely chop.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the sugar and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it melts and turns golden, about 4 minutes. (If lumps form, remove from the heat and continue stirring until melted.) Continue to cook, stirring, until light amber, about 2 more minutes.
Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the butter. Carefully stir in the baking soda, then stir in the bacon and chile powder. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and let cool until set, about 10 to 15 minutes. Break into bite-size pieces, then smash about one-third of the brittle into shards with a meat mallet or heavy skillet. Reserve the remaining brittle in a container for up to 3 days.
Stir the cream into the chilled custard. Churn in an ice cream maker. Stir in the bacon brittle shards. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm, about 2 hours or overnight. Serve sprinkled with some of the remaining bacon brittle, if desired.
Yield: About 1 quart.
Approximate nutritional analysis per ½ cup serving: 395 calories, 36 percent of calories from fat, 16 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 61 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 179 milligrams sodium, 127 milligrams cholesterol, no fiber.

Cheyenne Burger

A Fourth of July get-together without burgers would like Thanksgiving without turkey, St. Patrick’s Day without corned beef, syttende mai without lefse.

Here’s a recipe from the king of burgers himself, Bobby Flay. It’s adapted from a recipe in “Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries and Shakes” (Crown Publishing, $25.95).

The Cheyenne Burger has something for everyone. It is topped with two slices of crisp-cooked bacon, a slice of smoky Cheddar cheese, onion rings and some parsley and then is slathered with barbecue sauce.

Cheyenne Burger
1½ pounds ground chuck (or ground turkey)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1½ tablespoons canola oil
4 slices (½ ounce each) smoked sharp Cheddar cheese
4 hamburger buns
½ cup favorite barbecue sauce
8 slices crisp-cooked bacon
Fried onion rings (optional)
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Divide the meat into 4 equal portions. Form each portion loosely into a ¾-inch-thick burger; make a deep depression in the center of each with your thumb. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
Preheat the grill to high. Brush burgers with the oil. Grill them until nicely seared on the first side, about 3 minutes. Flip and sear them on the second side, about 4 minutes for medium-rare. During the last minute of cooking, top with cheese and cover to melt the cheese.
Place the burgers on the bun bottoms and slather each with barbecue sauce. Top with bacon, onion rings if using, parsley and bun tops. Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 4.

Bacon Lover’s Salad

Ask just about any meat lover and they’ll say it’s hard to go wrong with bacon. Combine it with some freshly picked spinach and two other seasonal bits of produce — strawberries and rhubarb — and you have the makings of a pretty delicious salad. And adding some cider vinegar and feta cheese really puts it over the top.

That’s what I thought after coming across the following recipe today, which also could be kicked up a couple of more notches by adding some hard-boiled eggs, Cheddar cheese and a little Dijon mustard.

Spinach Salad
10 cups young, tender spinach leaves, washed and dried
6 strips bacon
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 cup strawberries, stemmed and chopped
1 cup chopped rhubarb
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 ounces crumbled feta or goat cheese (optional)
Place spinach in a large bowl. Heat bacon in a skillet over medium-high until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to cool before crumbling.
Add shallot to skillet with bacon fat and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add strawberries, rhubarb, water and sugar, and bring to a boil. Stir in vinegar, lower heat and simmer until fruit is soft and falling apart, about five minutes. Puree in a blender or food processor and season with salt and pepper.
Toss about ½ cup of the warm dressing with spinach. Divide among serving plates and sprinkle with bacon and cheese, if desired. Serve immediately with extra dressing on the side.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

Lucky 32′s Meatloaf

Bacon always has been popular with the breakfast crowd, especially when combined with eggs. But these days, it’s showing up in a lot of places that were unimaginable just a few years ago.

There are bacon milkshakes, bacon doughnuts, bacon sticky buns, chocolate bread pudding with bacon sauce. You get the picture. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Well, I not too crazy about trying any of the aforementioned dishes, but another recipe for a meatloaf wrapped in bacon definitely tickled my taste buds.

The recipe, which is from Chef Jay Pierce of Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Cary and Greensboro, N.C., looks like it might have a little kick, Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper among its ingredients.

That sounds like my kind of meatloaf!

Lucky 32′s Meatloaf
4 tablespoons butter
¾ cup chopped yellow onion
½ cup finely chopped celery with stems and leaves
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
½ cup diced green bell pepper
¼ cup chopped green onion
2 eggs
½ cup half-and-half
½ pound ground pork
1½ pounds ground chuck
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon ground mustard
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1½ teaspoons salt or to taste
¾ teaspoon black pepper or to taste
1 cup panko bread crumbs
12 slices bacon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat and saute onions until golden. Add celery, garlic and bell pepper and saute until tender. Spread vegetables out on a cookie sheet to cool and allow some moisture to evaporate.
Combine eggs and half-and-half in a large bowl. Mix until combined. Add sauteed vegetables, pork, beef, Tabasco, Worcestershire, mustard, cayenne pepper, thyme, salt and black pepper. Mix well. Work bread crumbs into meat mixture by hand and set aside.
Line a loaf pan with 12 bacon strips, six on each side, so that the bacon will wrap the meat loaf. Place a strip at the joint where the bottom meets the side of the pan and bring the strip up the side of the pan and allow the excess to fold over the outside of the pan. Continue in this manner alternating from side to side . When bacon is all laid out, place meat mixture in pan. Fold the bacon strips over the top of the loaf, completely wrapping loaf with bacon.
Place  meatloaf in oven and bake until thermometer inserted in the center reads 160 degrees.
Yield: Serves 8.

Sweet and Spicy Bacon

Holidays are the perfect setting for a brunch. No matter if it’s Mother’s Day, Easter or Christmastime, late-morning meals that combine breakfast and lunch are a great way to eliminate the need to get up early and serve guests.

We’ve been kicking around the idea of hosting a brunch for some friends of ours during Therese’s school break, so I’ve been looking for some recipes that would be attractive as well as tasty.

Here’s one that features just about everyone’s favorite, bacon. The sweet and spicy version is topped with Nutella, a chocolate-hazelnut spread.

Sweet and Spicy Nutella-Coated Bacon
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 thick slices bacon (½ to ¾ pound)
3 tablespoons Nutella
Fleur de sel or another coarse salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine brown sugar, chili powder and black pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange bacon slices on baking sheet, making sure they do not overlap. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on desired doneness, then remove from oven and carefully flip bacon slices.
Sprinkle each slice liberally with sugar-pepper mixture. Return to oven and bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Cool bacon slices on paper towels until approximately room temperature.
When bacon has cooled, place Nutella into a small bowl and microwave on high for approximately 15 to 20 seconds, until softened. Transfer bacon slices to a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet or large plate. Using a silicon brush or icing spatula, lightly spread Nutella onto the top of each bacon slice. Place plate into refrigerator and allow Nutella to harden. Once coating is firm to the touch, sprinkle with fleur de sel and serve.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 150 calories, 10 grams fat (3.5 grams saturated), 15 milligrams cholesterol, 7 grams protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams sugar, no fiber, 355 milligrams sodium, 15 milligrams calcium.

Best BLT

I can’t wait for supper. That’s because I’m going to fix the best BLTs ever. That’s a pretty bold statement but one that I absolutely won’t reconsider. 

But before you start trying to figure out what might constitute the best bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, let me say that if you have the three aforementioned ingredients, as well as some nice bread and Miracle Whip, you have all the fixings. The only caveat is that your tomato must be the first of the season out of your garden.

I’ve been waiting about three or four days for this BLT, and everything seems to be in place. Not only is the tomato ripe and large enough for two BLTS (one for me and one for Therese), I have fresh lettuce from the garden as well as a vacuum-sealed package of smoked bacon made by my friend, Al Ekness, of Westby, Mont. The bacon is from pigs Al raised and butchered. He sells it at his store in Westby.

The final ingredients for the BLT are some fresh bread that Therese made over the weekend and Miracle Whip. And by using Miracle Whip, I’ll catch up to Therese in our contest to use some of it in a dish every day until we deplete nearly a gallon of it that we have in our refrigerator. (We’ve been calling it the Miracle Whip Challenge at home.)

Of course, a lot of people have their own version of a BLT. There are probably as many kinds as there are varieties of tomatoes. Here’s one (adapted from Mission Foods and vegetariantimes.com.) that’s a little off the wall. Instead of bread a wrap is used and it also includes an avocado spread.

It sounds good, but I’ll stick with my version. 

BLT Wrap with Avocado Spread
1 ripe avocado, diced
¼ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon hot red pepper sauce, or to taste
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash of salt
4 burrito-size flour tortillas, warmed (or wrapper of choice)
8 slices cooked bacon
4 large leaves red lettuce
2 large tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1 ripe mango, sliced
Combine avocado, sour cream, lime juice, pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce and salt. Blend with a fork until smooth.
Spread each tortilla with 3 tablespoons of the avocado spread. Place 2 bacon slices down center of each tortilla, overlapping slightly. Top with lettuce, then tomato, avocado and mango. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Fold bottom end of tortilla partially over filling, then roll into a bundle and serve.
Variation: Replace the avocado spread with a mango spread. In blender or food processor, combine 1 cup diced ripe mango, ¾ cup cream cheese, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon honey, a dash of ground cumin and a dash of ground coriander. Blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding salt and more lemon or lime juice as needed.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 410 calories, 11 grams protein, 33 grams carbohydrates, 28 grams fat (4.5 grams saturated), 17 milligrams cholesterol, 16 grams dietary fiber, 402 milligrams sodium.

Potato BLTs

One of the best things about having a garden is the opportunity it gives me to make fresh bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches.

BLTs always have been one of my summertime favorites. I remember as a kid when my dad would grab a couple of nice tomatoes out of his garden and give them to my mom, who proceeded to use them on some of the tastiest BLTs ever.

The smell of the bacon cooking when I entered the door and the sight of those tasty red orbs always had me smacking my lips.

Of course, it’s alway nice to have something else to go along with BLTs. I like potatoes. So,  I’m always looking for new ways to use them. The following recipe, courtesy of Sojouner Cafe in Santa Barbara, Calif., available at the Idaho Potato Commission website (www.idahopotato.com), caught my eye today. It’s a provides a nice twist to an old favorite.

Potato, Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich
1 potato
5 slices of slab bacon
1 cup canola oil
2 to 3 tomato slices
1 iceberg lettuce leaf
2 teaspoons mayonnaise (more if desired)
In a pre-heated 400-degree oven, bake potato for 45 minutes (slightly under done). Set aside. Take potato and cut top of potato, horizontally ½-inch thick. Do the same with the bottom of the potato. (Save middle for other menu items).
In frying pan, cook 5 slices of bacon until crispy. Put on paper towel to soak up excess fat. Set aside.
In frying pan, heat 1 cup canola oil until approximately 375 degrees. Quickly fry the potato top and bottom turning once until browned. Place on paper towel to soak up excess oil.
Place potato slices, skin down, on working surface. Put mayonnaise on 1 slice. Add sliced tomato, bacon, lettuce and other potato slice.
Carefully slice in half with serrated knife.
Serve with favorite side salad.
Yield: Serves 1.

Better Than BLTs

If you’ve been following the news the past couple of days, you’ve probably heard about how the frigid winter in the Sunshine State is bad news for tomato lovers.

During the lengthy cold spell in January, tomato growers in Florida lost 70 percent of their crop. And temps aren’t forecast to be so good the next few days, either.

Since that state is the main U.S. source of fresh winter tomatoes, people across the country are starting to see higher prices for salads or California burgers in restaurants, particularly at the smaller venues. In fact, some businesses are posting signs saying that tomatoes won’t be provided unless customers specifically ask for them.

I’m not sure how it will affect the price of canned tomato products, but you can be sure the price won’t be going down or that supermarket managers will be thinking twice about specials.

While not a big buyer of fresh tomatoes, I occasionally pick up a few to put on a salad or two. One of my favorite ways to eat fresh tomatoes (besides alone with a little salt and pepper) is on a BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato) sandwich. If you happen to get a hankering for a BLT, give the following recipe a try. It serves four and looks pretty tasty.

Better Than BLTs
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup minced fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 slices sturdy rustic bread
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ pound pancetta, coarsely diced
8 ounces baby arugula or baby lettuce
4 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced lengthwise
½ pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
Stir the mayonnaise, basil and garlic together in a small bowl until well combined; set aside.
Heat the broiler. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet; brush lightly with olive oil on both sides. Broil, turning once, to toast; set aside.
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta; cook, stirring often, until the pancetta is crisp and browned, about 3 minutes each side. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.
Place 4 slices of the toasted bread on each of 4 plates. Spread each with the mayonnaise mixture. Divide the arugula among the 4 slices. Layer tomatoes and mozzarella on the bread. Top each sandwich with remaining slices of the bread.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 669 calories, 65 percent of calories from fat, 48 grams fat (15 grams saturated), 75 milligrams cholesterol, 34 grams carbohydrates, 24 grams protein, 1,000 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.