Honeycrisp, Sage, & Bacon Shells and Cheese

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Northern Hemispherians! It’s fall, or more properly, autumn!

I always look forward to the change of seasons, but Autumn is my favorite. It’s the cool change in the air that demands I bring back my cardigans from the depths of my closet, warm beverages, nights that require a fire, oven-baked everything, pumpkins and crazy looking gourds at the market, and apples.

I’ve been preparing for the change of the season by buying Casper tiny-plaid shirts that make him look like a lumberjack-in-training, hats that make him look like a baby-bear, and lots of honeycrisp apples for me to eat. I LOVE honeycrisps. I really fell in love with them when we were living in Michigan–they were abundant there and I am pretty sure that I ate at least my weight in them late last fall after I found out I was pregnant. So, basically, Casper is at least 1/3 honeycrisp apple–the other 2/3 being a mix of strawberries and pizza.Anyway, let’s talk about the perfect fall-flavored mac and cheese. This dish combines my favorite sweet-tart-crisp apple with my favorite fall herb–sage–plus bacon, cheddar, goat cheese, and parm for good measure. Triple-cheese-threat!

And it’s so good, guys! It has all the cheesy goodness you’d expect from classic macaroni and cheese, complete with a crisp topping, plus tart apples, sweet onions, salty bacon, and earthy sage. UGH. It’s so good. Sean was a little skeptical, I think, but I assured him that cheese and apples are friends so it totes makes sense. It’s one of those dishes that made me want to high-five myself when it was done, because it’s good…like, really.

[recipe]

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Honeycrisp, Sage, & Bacon Shells and Cheese

You can use any firm, tart-sweet apple you like for this recipe.

Serves 6-8

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 tablespoon bacon grease reserved from cooking

2 honeycrisp apples, diced and peeled

1 medium onion, sliced

1 tablespoon fresh, chopped sage

1 lb. small to medium shell pasta

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon flour

3 cups milk

6 ounces shredded white cheddar cheese

4 ounces soft goat cheese

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, divided

1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon melted, unsalted butter

Garnish:

Sage leaves

Canola oil

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon grease over medium-high and cook the apples and onions with a pinch of salt until softened. Remove from the heat and toss with the chopped sage and most of the bacon (reserve a few tablespoons for the top of the pasta).

Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water and cook about 2 minutes less than the package instructs. Drain in a colander and set aside.

In the same pot you used to cook the pasta, melt the butter over medium heat and stir in the flour to create a roux. Cook the roux about 1 minute before gradually stirring in the milk. Bring the milk mixture to a simmer and cook until it thickens a bit. Gradually add in the cheddar, goat cheese, and 1/4 cup of the parmesan, stirring to melt and combine. Stir in the nutmeg and add salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat. Add the cooked pasta and bacon, apple, onion mixture to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Scrape the pasta into a 9×13 baking dish, or two smaller dishes (I used a 10-inch round dish and 4x4inch square dish). In bowl, toss the panko with the melted butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of parmesan, sprinkle over the top of the pasta evenly. Top the pasta with the reserved bacon and bake in the center of the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are browned and the edges of the pasta are bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to rest at least 5 minutes before serving.

To garnish with fried sage, heat about 1/2 inch of canola oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat and fry sage leaves until crisp. Drain on paper towels before adding to the baked pasta.[/recipe]

 

Blueberry Froyo Ice Pops

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Hey, there! While I am away snuggling this brand new babe and trying to navigate parenthood (aka keep him alive) I’ve asked a few friendly bloggers to share a recipe with you. Next up is my blog-pal-turned-real-life-pal Megan of Take a Megabite!

Blueberry Froyo Ice PopsI’m so excited about Cindy and Sean and Casper! I knew I wanted to make something with blueberries since there’s a boy happening, and stuff. I somehow made these ladylike with the gingham tray and the not-so-blue pops, but just believe that I had that little fella in mind for real!

So these ice pops are seriously blueberry goodness. I used two whole pints and kinda winged it with the mix-ins and yogurt amounts. Next thing I knew it filled up all 10 of my ice pop molds exactly! That’s the kind of thing that can only happen when you don’t try, I think. So just know these are dreamy, tart, and the blueberry-est.

Blueberry Froyo Ice Pops

So mostly, congrats, Cindy! And yay Sean! And I can’t wait to meet you, Casper! I can’t wait to visit and split a donut with that dude.

So freeze these up in honor of Cindy’s mad momming skills!

[recipe]

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Blueberry Fro-Yo Ice Pops (makes 10)

2 pints blueberries

1/2 cup + 2 T sugar

2 heaping T goat cheese

1 cup greek yogurt

2 T maple syrup

1 t vanilla extract

Place the blueberries and sugar in a saucepan. Cook until boiling and mash with a potato masher for 5 minutes. Puree and strain through fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Whisk in goat cheese.

In a separate bowl stir the greek yogurt, maple syrup and vanilla together. Layer the blueberry puree and yogurt in ice pop molds. Insert sticks. Freeze overnight! [/recipe]

Grilled Goat Cheese, Bacon, and Jam Breakfast Sandwich

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While it’s not the prettiest specimen, this sandwich is one of my all-time favorite, go-to breakfasts (and honestly, lunches). It’s a little weird with the bacon, cheese, egg, and jam all mingled together, but it’s weird in the most sensical way…I promise. It hits all of my cravings–salty, sweet, rich, tangy, and crisp–in each bite. Honestly, I can’t believe I’ve never shared this with you before because we have it ALL THE TIME.

A version of this sandwich often makes weekend appearances when we want something more than just cold cereal for breakfast. I almost always have the ingredients on hand and switch them up according to whatever is in the refrigerator. If I don’t have goat cheese, I will happily swap in cheddar, pepper jack, fontina, or whatever there is hanging out in the cheese drawer. If there isn’t any bacon–ham, proscuitto, or any pork product works just as well. An egg is always required, and if I weren’t pregnant, you’d better believe it’d be a runny one. The jam gets mixed up too–this time I used marionberry because–I live in Portlandia* now–and it’s was in the fridge. If I have some leaves of arugula wilting away in the crisper drawer, those go in there as well for some spicy-green bite. Really it’s an anything goes sandwich so long as you have a sweet, jammy spread, some sort of salty-cured pork situation, an egg, cheese, and some bread.

*Ps, when my brother-in-law and his gf were here visiting last week, we definitely waited in an out-the-door-long brunch line, walked by a store with birds on everything, and they saw Carrie and Fred handing out Voodoo donuts at Powell’s books. True life.

[recipe]

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Grilled Goat Cheese, Bacon, and Jam Breakfast Sandwich

I mean, I know you can make a sandwich without a recipe, but look at this as a guide to a deliciously weird breakfast.

2 slices bread

soft butter

jam of choice

goat cheese

2 slices crispy bacon, cut in half

fried egg, however you like

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Butter the bread on the sides that will make contact with the pan. Spread a thin layer of jam on the opposite sides of the bread that are buttered. Spread or sprinkle some goat cheese chunks on one piece of the bread on the jam side, lay the slices of bacon across the top and place the egg on top of that. Top it all with the second piece of bread, jam side on the inside, and grill in the heated pan until the goat cheese is melty and the bread is golden brown and crisp on both sides. EAT.

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