bacon cinnamon roll cookies

bacon cinnamon roll cookies

The word bacon used to strike fear into my heart. Not positive terror like the words pork chop, nor definite disinterest like hot dog, nor middling boredom like potato chips. Just good old fashioned fear. The announcement that BLTs were for dinner made me feel nauseous. Forget about a delicious fatty weekend breakfast – or breakfeast, more like it. My mum tried to trick me into thinking turkey bacon was the more awesome counterpart to the bacon I found gross and unpalatable (because less sodium and fewer calories equals better taste…?), forgetting that Thanksgiving turkey was #1 on my Foods Most Unwanted list.

Life as a picky eater has been a long and difficult road. While my journey isn’t quite over, my 20s has been all about coming to terms with the endless list of foods that I heretofore wrote off without a second thought. Chicken. Cookies. Cake. Butter on pancakes. Butter on toast. Hamburgers. Steak. Wild rice. Potatoes. Milk. Several kinds of cheese. Broccoli and cauliflower. And of course, the aforementioned bacon.

The day that I fell in love with bacon was the best day in the world.

bacon cinnamon roll cookies

It was Spring Semester 2008, my Junior year in college. Near the end of every scholastic year, the club that I was most involved with on campus held a blowout all-day celebration, beginning with a pancake breakfast, continuing on with timbersports (read: wannabe lumberjacks throwing axes, pushing about logs, spitting tobacco), and ending with a formal banquet. The pancake breakfast has long been cooked and served by the department faculty, in a delightful twist of duty. Backtracking to 2008, I had just taken over as Forestry Club president, having been elected upon an Obama spin-off campaign slogan of “Yes Tree Can!” My comparatively-painless presidential duties included overseeing the pancake breakfast. However, I had a Remote Sensing lecture that overlapped with a good portion of the breakfast.

And here is where I tell you that up until that day, I had never cut class. Not once. Sure, I had been absent for each and every class since the dawn of time for a variety of reasons, but each and every one was premeditated, and often based on some sort of illness. It had never even occurred to me to skip class. The closest I got was skipping a pep rally in high school (before my school outlawed pep rallies), and even then, I felt my blood pressure increase alarmingly and damn, but I felt guilty.

So here I am, 2008, crossing the threshold into my lecture, resigned that I will miss out on my first elected duty, when some mental switch flips. My eyebrows raise in alarm as my feet halt, then backtrack, and finally turn around and exit the classroom. I make my way to the pancake breakfast, feeling ridiculously giddy and also a mite peckish. The world suddenly seems more colorful, more alive. My senses are heightened, and all of a sudden, I smell something. Something savory, and fatty, and unmistakably caloric. I smell bacon. I come face to face with it. It sits there, sparkling with grease. I sidle up next to it, and take one piece. I nibble it. I grab a second piece, and chomp it down. I take a third, and a fourth, and devour them.

I must have eaten 20 pieces of bacon that morning. They tasted like freedom.

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Enter Bacon Week 2014. My pal Mary has been doing this Clogged Artery Week for a few years now, and I’ve enjoyed playing along, given that I came to my senses in 2008 and realized what’s up. In case you missed my lengthy preamble, it’s bacon, you guys. In 2012, I contributed Potato Bacon Breakfast Churros served in the world’s cutest bowl made of bacon. And last year, sticking with a theme of cuteness+calory overload, it was Deep Fried Waffles with Maple Bacon Buttercream served in ‘bacon muffinettes.’

This year I went with something a little easier to throw together, though equal in tastiness. A few weeks back I had sketched out several dessert ideas that seemed ingenious to my simple mind. One was for these bacon cinnamon roll cookies. About ten minutes after that life-altering moment, literally, I was cruising the internet and saw like nine different recipes for cinnamon roll cookies just like these. So while I may not be unique or on top of trends, at least I have bacon.

Bacon Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Will yield 24-28 cookies

++Ingredients:++

For the dough:
1/2 c. powdered sugar
3/4 c. unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 tbsp bacon fat
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour

For the filling:
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
5 strips candied bacon (Yummy Supper’s recipe will yield 8 strips, a perfect baking use: mouth use ratio)
1/2 tsp water

++Directions:++

In a mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, butter, bacon fat, salt and vanilla until light and fluffy, 2-4 minutes. Add in the flour and mix until the dough comes together. On a large piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap, flatten dough. Cover with a second large sheet of parchment or plastic wrap, and roll out into a 9 x 14″ rectangle. Freeze on a baking sheet until well chilled, 20 minutes.

In a food processor, grind the sugar and cinnamon together. Add in candied bacon, and pulse until combined and fine. Add 1/2 tsp water if mixture is too dry.

Remove dough from freezer and allow to warm up for 2-5 minutes. Slather dough with bacon mixture, evenly coating the dough’s surface. Starting with a long edge roll the dough carefully into a log, using the bottom piece of plastic wrap to encourage the log to roll. Smooth out any cracks that develop in the dough as you roll. Once in a log, roll back and forth over the seam several times to seal it. Re-wrap in plastic wrap or parchment and freeze until firm, 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 cookies sheets with parchment paper. Use a trustworthy knife to cut the log into just-under-1/2-inch slices. Transfer cookies to baking sheets and bake 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown on the undersides and edges. Remove from oven, and cool on wire racks.

bacon cinnamon roll cookies

It’s been an exciting few weeks! I got the chance to interact with a veneer (log) buyer, who taught me quite a bit about log valuation and what I can look for to maximize my wood utilization and timber values.

After a year of silence, we got a new record player up and running, for a total cost of 0 dollars. Now I can listen to Steely Dan and Morris Day each and every day, and my days are bright and sunny (though my vocabulary has seemingly suffered).

And it truly is sunny here from time to time, though we continue to be pummeled by snow. We managed to escape down to New Hampshire for a work conference this week, where we spent a few nights IN A CASTLE.

castle winter veneer

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deep fried waffles, maple bacon buttercream in bacon muffinettes

deep fried waffles, maple bacon buttercream in bacon muffinettes

Story time. The other weekend, I was trying my hand(s) at making French Butter Cookies, or Sablés. I wanted to press the cookies into thin pretty strips, so I broke out a spritz press that was patiently waiting, dejected and unused, for some love in my cupboard. Emphasis on broke. The first cookie pressed nicely, but by the second cookie, my frail plastic press cracked, and then full-on shattered. Attempting to keep on keeping on, I worked to make the press work with just my brute strength. Unfortunately, this meant giving myself a sizeable gash with the metal tube insert, thus bleeding all over the counter and down the side of the bowl. Into the trash went the spritz press.

Not feeling terribly deterred, I gently heated the dough, and transferred it into my pastry bag, to pipe the shortbread by hand. One tray of cookies was pressed and sent to the oven. On my second batch, mid-pipe, the dough suddenly shot out the side of my pastry bag, in a graceful arc, landing with a soft ploop on the counter. There was no keeping this pastry bag going with brute strength alone. Into the trash it went.

And the rest of the dough? It was shipped off to the freezer, to be dealt with some other day.

Following these disasters, I broke the already-chipped mixing bowl in the sink. To add insult to injury, we both spilled our dinners onto the floor shortly thereafter, mine upset by the cat, who pretended to be chill, only to shock me by freaking out and then stepping in my food.

Like the darling novel Tuck Everlasting, this is a bit of a long-lived story that comes with a moral (and akin to that epic tome, one which I hope generations of children will come to discover and cherish). Lesson learned: when making buttercream one week after annihilating your pastry bag, you will have to resort to wasting a plastic ziploc. Hmm.

deep fried waffles, maple bacon buttercream in bacon muffinettes

So, what do we have here? Well, just like this time last year, it’s my pal Mary’s favorite week of the year – Bacon Week! Always one to jump onto the bacon boat, I am so thrilled to join in on this virtual greasy-handed high five for my favorite source of fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

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Cruise on over to n00bcakes to see what Mary’s cooking up for Bacon Week this year! All I’ll say is…. I’m suddenly feeling very hungry.

I was so pleased with my bacon creation last year that I decided to revisit it here. Wheras last year I made a large woven bacon bowl to go with my Potato Bacon Churros, what you see here are sweet little bacon muffinettes – only two slices of bacon per muffin cup, which works out nicely when balanced with Deep Fried Waffles and a hefty portion of Maple Bacon Buttercream.

Is this dessert, or is it breakfast? With bacon week, you don’t have to choose – you can have it both ways! Dessert breakfast it is. And I would add that these waffles, un-deep-fried, are incredible. Eggy and cinnamony and really just excellent.

Deep Fried Waffles, Maple Bacon Buttercream, served in Bacon Muffinettes

{Recipe by myself}

Cinnamon + Nutmeg Buckwheat Waffles

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. buckwheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Heaping 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
2 c. whole milk
2 eggs
6 tbsp oil
1/3 c. chopped nuts, or more if desired

Mix all ingredients until combined. Let stand for five minutes, while preheating the waffle iron. Make waffles according to waffle-maker instructions. Set aside.

Maple Bacon Buttercream

1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
1 tbsp maple bacon fat

With a hand mixer or stand mixer or super strong arms, combine all ingredients and beat for several minutes. Set aside.

Bacon Muffinettes

Preheat oven to 410 F. For each muffinette, use two strips uncooked bacon. I used maple-flavored bacon, because it makes dessert breakfasts all the sweeter. Cut one strip in half, and lay strips in an ‘x’ in the base of a muffin tin. With the second whole strip, weave around the sides of the cut strips, to create a solid cup shape. Tuck excess woven strip behind the bacon wall/cup/side. Repeat as needed (and really, when are bacon muffinettes not needed?).

Place small paper dixie cups that are 3/4 filled with water into the center of each prepared muffinette. This will weigh down the bacon as it cooks – it needs something to keep it in place, or it will curl.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, checking them every five minutes after 15 minutes of cooking time. You will need to sop up some of the fat with a paper towel or napkin, otherwise these muffinettes will be fat city once they’ve cooled. Once cooked enough to hold their shape when cooled, remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Deep Fry Those Waffles!

Heat enough vegetable oil over medium-high heat for deep frying, and bring oil to 360-375F.

Cut out waffle circles by tracing the rim of a 1/4 c. or 1/3 c. measure with a knife.

When oil is hot, drop circles into the pan. They will be frying at a very high temperature, and thus will only require a few seconds (20-30) before needing to be flipped, and then a few more (10-20) before being removed from the pan.

Can I Play With Madness?: Assembly

Place each bacon muffinette on a square of parchment paper. With scissors, trim the first waffle circle until it fits into the bottom of the bacon muffin cup. Pipe enough maple bacon buttercream onto the waffle circle so that when the next circle is placed on top, the buttercream will show. Repeat with a second layer of each. Top with a third waffle circle, and a garnish of buttercream as desired. Serve, enjoy, and then go nap off the calories.

deep fried waffles, maple bacon buttercream in bacon muffinettes

I am baconless in the woods this week.

Thus I beg of you… please enjoy some bacon for me!

puffball, lobster mushroom + bacon frittata

Eight months after moving to what I consider to be the most beautiful-yet-desolate region that Maine has to offer, I have finally found a way to get out of the house every day. I have finally found employment.

Don’t get too excited, because it’s only temp work. But for the next few weeks, I am scouring the countryside daily as a Potato Inspector. I have a hat, so it’s official. I also carry dangerous chemicals in the trunk of my car – – wicked, I know. And most importantly, I’m making a bit of bank to help fund New Venture, which I will unveil to you within two weeks.

It’s a stunning time of year to be outside every day, and I’m so grateful that my temp work coincides with this time of showy fall foliage.

It is the season of woolly bear caterpillars. I spent much of today swerving to avoid these cute little things. I paused to let some bounding deer frolic across the road in front of me. I slowed to watch an orange house cat out on the prowl; as soon as he noticed me, he feigned innocence, leisurely stretching and simultaneously releasing a monster yawn.

I can’t help but smile as I make my way across this vibrant landscape. Occasionally, sights and sounds cross my path that remind me of the life that I had hoped to find up here – of the career I had pumped myself up to obtain – and I feel temporarily downtrodden. But the dark feelings only linger until the next turn in the road, when a new scenic vista opens up to me and I find myself smiling again.

This is a great place to be, for now.

One of the aspects of life in northern Maine that I have enjoyed the most is taking the time to learn about and discover edible mushrooms. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll know that I post pictures of the wild mushrooms I’m eating from time to time. Such was the case recently with puffballs.

You probably know of puffballs as the fungi that exude dark puffs of spores when you poke them. You are correct. But before reaching that stage, immature puffballs are white and edible, and especially tasty with eggs. If you look for puffballs, make sure to only eat the ones that are uniformly white when cut in cross-section. Avoid any that have started to change color.

When the mother-load of puffballs made their way into my fridge recently, I knew that they were bound for a savory breakfast spectacular. I decided to go all out and create a wild mushroom medley of a frittata, by including some lobster mushrooms as well. Lobster mushrooms (the orange fungus shown above) are actually not mushrooms, but are fungi that grow out of certain mushroom species. I find this fascinating, and could write pages upon pages, but I will instead direct you to read more if you’re interested. Suffice it to say that you can identify lobster mushrooms by their undersides, which look like they’re covered in minute pimples.

If you are cooking with wild mushrooms, cook them well: I thoroughly sautéed the lobster mushrooms and puffballs in butter and bacon fat with salt and Herbes de Provence until they turned a satisfying golden brown. I then combined them with bacon, onions, eggs and cheddar cheese to create the most lovely frittata I’ve ever tasted. If you’re looking for a savory weekend breakfast treat, this is the ticket.

Puffball, Lobster Mushroom + Bacon Frittata

{A recipe by myself and my cooking companion}

Serves 6-8

++Ingredients++

1 1/2 c. puffballs, halved or quartered if large
1 heaping c. lobster mushrooms, sliced (discard any brown-fleshed pieces)
1 tbsp bacon fat
1 tbsp butter
Salt
Several pinches Herbes de Provence

7 medium eggs (5-6 jumbo)
1/2 c. whole milk
1 c. cheddar cheese, grated
6 strips maple bacon, cooked until firm and roughly chopped
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp Herbes de Provence

++Directions++

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a frying pan on low medium heat, sauté puffballs and lobster mushrooms with bacon fat, butter, salt, and several pinches Herbes de Provence. Cook until mushrooms are soft throughout, and begin to turn a caramel golden brown, at least ten minutes. Set aside.

Heat an oiled cast iron skillet (9-10″) over low medium heat. Add additional butter, bacon fat, or olive oil to coat the pan if needed.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs and milk, two minutes. And the reserved mushrooms. Add cheese, bacon, onion, salt, pepper and Herbes de Provence, and mix well. Pour mixture into cast iron skillet when it is heated, and cook for 5-7 minutes. Occasionally run a spatula across the bottom of the pan in a figure-8 motion, to prevent the egg mixture from sticking, and to more quickly distribute heat. When mixture starts to bubble through to the top (about the same time that a turn of the spatula reveals a large chunk of cooked egg), transfer pan to the oven.

Bake for 12-16 minutes more, until frittata is cooked through. Remove from oven, and allow to cool slightly before serving.