Friday, August 28, 2009

Candied Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Have you noticed bacon showing up in odd places lately? I mean, for years and years, bacon showed up beside some eggs in a breakfast, sometimes in a waffle or a pancake, and occasionally added to some kind of green bean dish. But that's about it in my recollection.

Now, however, it seems to be showing up everywhere. Check out the 3rd photo down at Voodoo Donuts. It's a huge maple bar covered with freshly cooked bacon slices! And people rave about it.

Or how about a fried breakfast served in a "dish" made out of cooked bacon? Click here.

Or maybe, bacon cupcakes, or chocolate covered bacon, bacon baklava, bacon pie, bacon candy or bacon fried bananas? See them and more here.

Anyway, being the cutting-edge kind of guy I am, I decided to jump on the bandwagon when I came across a recipe for bacon chocolate chip cookies. Yeah, bacon chocolate chip cookies.

And guess what? They were strangely addictive. That's all I can say. I took two dozen to work and they received rave reviews, after a moment or two of hesitation of course. So do give them a try if you want to be up on the cutting edge of bacon cooking-dom. (I made that up, can ya tell?)

Adapted from the peterandrewryan website.

Ingredients and Method:

10 slices thick cut smoked bacon
3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, room temperature
12 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips (I prefer Ghiradelli)
2 1/3 cups flour

Place bacon in an ovenproof pan. I use cast iron, and if you're using a different type pan to bake the bacon, you might want to use some parchment paper to ease on cleanup.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons brown sugar over bacon and place into 350 degree oven. Turn occasionally to spread the molten brown sugar over the cooking bacon. Let get dark brown and crisp. Remove from oven and place/drain on waxed paper. The bacon will be sticky, so be careful, don't just drain on paper towels, or you'll be starting over, believe me, unless you want paper towels in your cookies. It's strange enough we have bacon, huh?

Meanwhile, cream butter and sugars in a mixing bowl until well combined.

Add salt, baking soda, and vanilla and beat well.

Mix in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.

Add flour and mix well.

Add chocolate chips, and crushed and crumbled bacon into mixture. Mix briefly until just blended.

Chill dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Now, this dough will spread during baking. (One reason we're chilling it ahead of time) So place cookies with sufficient space on cookie sheet.

Drop by tablespoonfulls onto baking sheet. To retard the spreading of the cookies further, use parchment paper.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 12 - 15 minutes. I always bake for 15 minutes because I like them browned and crisp, but go for 12 if you like them softer.

Remove from oven, let sit for 10 minutes, and remove to cooling rack.

Convince your friends they'll love them if they try them, and then revel in their

These really are good. But hard to explain why.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cocoa Krispies Caramel Squares

I'm always on the lookout for recipes that I can send to my daughter in Iraq. And I know everyone seems to love Rice Krispie Bars. This recipe however is a bit different in that it uses Cocoa Krispies. Adapted from Annies Eats.

It's really easy to make and ships well. I understand Charlie Company 7/158 Aviation in Balad, Iraq enjoyed them. They didn't last long I hear.

3 Tbsp butter
1 10oz package Marshmallows
10 caramel squares
6 cups cocoa crispy rice cereal
12 candy caramel squares
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tablespoon half and half

Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with waxed paper or parchment paper

Pour cocoa krispies into a bowl. Melt butter and marshmallows in short bursts in the microwave and pour over cereal and mix well.

Melt caramel squares in microwave safe bowl, again in short 30 second microwave bursts until melted. Stir in half and half.

Sprinkle mini chips over the cereal mix and press in lightly. Pour the melted caramel mixture over the squares in a random fashion.

Let chill for about 20 minutes, remove from dish if you can (to make cutting easier) and cut into the size squares you would like.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A day in my daughter's life

Merissa returning from the mission.

My daughter, as some of you know, is serving in Iraq as a Flight Medic. Here's a mission she was on Wednesday of last week. God Bless her, and please bring her home safely.

Far from home, neighbors help Oregon

soldier who lost leg in Iraq

Far from home, neighbors help Oregon soldier who lost leg in Iraq

By Cali Bagby for

BALAD THEATER HOSPITAL, Iraq. -- Jeremy Pierce remembers a fellow soldier telling him to stay awake; he remembers that he was losing a lot of blood.

“I remember being put into the vehicle, looking at my left hand noticing that I had part of my finger missing," says Pierce, who lost his left leg, all the toes on his right foot and a part of that finger. "I knew I couldn’t stand up; my boot was in another spot.”

Now Pierce, 22, a longtime resident of Salem, Ore., serving in Iraq, is awake and surrounded by his fellow soldiers as he shivers beneath a patriotic blanket at the Balad Theater Hospital in Iraq, the first casualty from Oregon's 41st Infantry.

Pierce goes over the past few days.

On Aug. 12, 2009 -- close to 12 hours before Pierce was injured -- Oregon’s 41st Infantry Battalion held a ceremony commemorating the official transfer of authority -- to them.

The mission was now solely in their hands.

Late that night, Pierce, a gunner for Task Force Atlas, Alfa Battery 2-218 under the 41st Infantry Battalion, was performing convoy security when an Improvised Explosive Device ripped through his armored security vehicle.

The explosion left Pierce trapped in the turret, a roof compartment at the top of the vehicle.

Soldiers at the scene were unable to reach him.

“It happened so quick, it hit the vehicle, you don’t expect something like that,” Pierce says. “No one could get to me. I held my thigh so I wouldn’t bleed out, I started to pull myself out of the hatch.”

Once outside of the vehicle, soldiers stayed by his side until Pierce was evacuated on the ground to the nearest base.

Pierce attributes his survival to the soldiers on the ground and the Oregon Medevac unit that eventually transported him to Balad Theater Hospital.

Nearly 10 hours after the explosion, Pierce was transported by UH-60 Blackhawk from Baghdad to Balad by Charlie Company, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation, a Medevac unit based out of Salem, Ore.

Pierce is the first casualty the 41st has suffered since arriving in country a little over a month ago.

When Colonel Dan Hokanson, the 41st Infantry Brigade commander, discovered one of his soldiers was injured, he called Charlie Company inquiring about a flight that would transport him from a base in Al-Asad to Balad.

Hokanson wanted to be with his wounded soldier. Some of the soldier's neighbors from back home helped make it happen.

Neighbors helping neighbors half a world away

Major Geoff Vallee, Charlie Company’s commander immediately contacted Balad’s 449th Aviation Battalion in the hopes that a C12 would be available to pick up Hokanson. Due to a mission canceled earlier in the day, the 449th was able to offer a ride.

Meanwhile Sgt. Ben Sjullie, 30, wasn’t on duty, but when he heard a soldier serving with an Oregon unit needed an evacuation he instantly volunteered to serve as a second medic on the mission.

Sjullie, a paramedic with Springfield Fire and Life Safety, and Sgt. Merissa Merlin, 26, of West Linn, Ore., a registered nurse, flew to Baghdad to pick-up their patient.

“The main surgeon at the hospital said he’d never handed over care to a registered nurse and a paramedic on the same flight before,” said Sjullie.

“It’s quite odd to have a paramedic and a registered nurse on board, it’s a rarity, the doctors and nurses were surprised that we were able to offer the level of care that we did,” said Merlin, who still finds it hard to believe her title. “I’ve always wanted to be in the medical field since I was a little girl.”

After Pierce was loaded into the UH-60 Blackhawk, Sjullie monitored oxygen and pain medications as Merlin tended to the IV pump. “We see if we need to make any changes in the medications dose, do a quick assessment to see that his bandages are intact and not bleeding through, monitor his vital signs, blood pressure and pulse rate,” said Merlin.

Back in Balad, Powell notified Charlie Company soldiers that an Oregon soldier was being transported to the hospital. “We wanted to thank him for serving his country, can’t sum it all up in a salute, but its the best we can do for now,” said Powell.

As the aircraft landed on Balad’s helipad the medics assisted hospital volunteers who transferred the patient onto a gurney to transport him to the hospital.

As Sjullie followed the patient towards the Emergency Room he was not surprised to see at least 30 of his fellow soldiers lined up on the walkway to the hospital doors, but he hadn’t realized so many of his comrades would show up. As each Medevac soldier saluted the patient rolling by, Merlin had her own reaction.

“That shocked me," Merlin said. "It’s a feeling that you can’t describe when your walking to the ER and your Medevac Company is standing outside paying their respects to a soldier’s sacrifice. We were surprised that this had happened, but it feels good being able to help another soldier from Oregon.”

Sgt. Sjullie presents Spc. Pierce with a flag, flown on the same mission he was medevaced on, and a picture of Charlie Company soldiers from Oregon.

Over the next several days at Balad Theater Hospital, Col. Hokanson and about eight Oregon soldiers take shifts all through the night and day so Pierce is never alone.

His battle buddy, Spc. Scott Tyrrel, 26, of Calif., is by his side. Tyrrel will travel with Pierce to a hospital in Germany and most likely the two soldiers will have to part ways. Tyrrel will return to his base in Al-Asad and Pierce will be going home.

“He doesn’t want to get sent home," Tyrrel said. "Before this happened we were going to extend this deployment together here or to Afghanistan.”

Four years his friend's elder, Tyrrel could be Pierce's older brother.

“The kid’s got heart, got spirit," Tyrrel said.

Pierce will not be able to continue serving his country.

“I would (return) in a heartbeat, everybody outside the wire is like family,” says Pierce. “I just wanted to be a good soldier.”

In the afternoon of his second day at the hospital, Pierce received a Purple Heart decoration for his injuries sustained during combat.

The specialist already has a Bronze Star with Valor on his last deployment for receiving enemy contact and exchanging fire. Pierce finished a deployment in Iraq as a gunner and driver with the Alaskan National Guard in 2008 and jumped on the deployment with Oregon this summer.

Pierce’s fellow soldiers stand at the side of his bed as the Intensive Care Unit fills with over 40 nurses and doctors watching the ceremony.

General Paul Wentz, commander of 13 ESC (Sustainment Command Expeditionary) places the Purple Heart over Pierce’s chest and offers quiet words commending the young man’s service.

Pierce smiles for the camera and shakes hands.

“He hasn’t asked about himself, he’s been asking about the other soldiers, making sure the convoy got back to safety,” says Tyrrel. “He’s a true warrior, a patriot and an America hero.

"The enemy may have slowed him down but his determination and intestinal fortitude to get back into the fight, it’s unquestionable and un-wavering," Tyrrel said. "He’s a symbol of an American soldier."

As a soldier, Tyrreel is supposed to protect his battle buddy; he is also trained to expect the worst.

“The only way to deal is to do what he was trying to do and continue on the mission and drive on,” says Tyrrel. “That’s the only way to deal with anything, we all know the possibility of this happening when we enlist, this is what we train for.”

Despite all the years of training, the experience of a past deployment, everything could seem diminished under the recent events.

“You can’t really prepare yourself for this,” says Pierce, his bright green eyes illuminated by the fluorescent lights. “I knew what I was getting into.”

Pierce will celebrate his 23rd birthday on the 21st of August.

This is the entrance to the Hospital in Balad. It's called Hero's way and is draped inside with a huge American Flag.

As mentioned in the article, here's the Oregon Medevac unit lined up to salute the wounded soldier.

A Balad You Tube Video.... here

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Easy Flaky Biscuits

I love biscuits and make many different varieties. But I've got one recipe I go back to time and time again. It's so easy, simple, and makes a really light and layered biscuit.

I really like most that it's so quick. If you are making a big breakfast, or a large dinner or other meal, it's nice to be able to whip out some hot fresh delicious biscuits in no time.

Check it out.

2 cups self-rising flour
3 tablespoons shortening or 3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sugar
milk (add in 1/4 cup quantities)
1 teaspoon salt

Measure flour into a bowl and cut in shortening or butter until fully incorporated. Add sugar and salt and mix well.

Pour 1/4 cup milk, stir, and add milk in 1/4 cup increments until the dough is the consistency you would like.

On a lightly floured board, roll out dough and knead gently and briefly until formed into a ball.

Press or roll dough out to 3/4 inch thickness, and use biscuit cutter to cut biscuits and place on baking sheet.

Re-roll scraps to make additional biscuits.

Bake in 400 degree oven for 15 - 20 minutes until risen and well browned.

Notice how high they get? And the layering? That's how I roll, er biscuit.

Serve immediately.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Old Fashioned Raised Buttermilk Donuts

I love homemade donuts. Ever since as a small child I used to help my grandmother make them every time we visited. They were misshapen, never quite tasted exactly the same, sugared and plain old cake donuts, but they were delicious. In fact my very first post was my grandmothers donuts. If you want to laugh at first posts, horrible photography, etc. check it out here.

I've manage to improve a bit on that recipe I think, so here I'm providing you with a recipe for raised donuts, but they retain all the taste and goodness of those heavy old cake donuts of yore.

Check it out.

3 1/4 cups flour
1 package yeast
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons nutmeg
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Slightly warm buttermilk and pour into mixer bowl. Add sugar and yeast, stir, and let sit for 15 minutes until yeast begins to foam. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract and mix well. Add salt, baking soda, baking powder and flour and mix until thick dough forms.

Scrape out onto a floured surface, sprinkle with flour and gently knead for a minute or so. No need to overdo it.

Place into greased bowl, cover, and let rise in warm place for one hour. (I always turn the oven to 350 for ONE minute, turn it off, and let things rise in there)

Remove from bowl on floured surface, punch down, and form into a ball. Roll out dough until 3/4 to 1 inch thick and cut out donuts and donut holes and place on a plate or large container. Cover and let rise another hour. Don't be concerned if it doesn't look like they rose quite a bit, they'll puff up nicely when they hit the hot oil.

Meanwhile, in a heavy skilled heat vegetable oil (or canola oil or peanut oil) to medium heat. (It should be 350 to 375 degrees) If the oil is smoking it is TOO hot. If the donuts are getting too brown, turn down the heat slightly.

Carefully "slide" donuts into oil. Do not overcrowd. They will brown and be ready for turning in just one to two minutes so I suggest you fully tend them while frying for safety and so as not to burn them.

Remove with slotted spoon to paper towels and let cool.

I've never frosted a homemade donut in my life so if that's your thing, go ahead. I'm a simple sugar kinda guy when it comes to homemade donuts. Just take a freezer bag, throw in a half cup of sugar, toss in a donut or two, and shake around until fully coated. Add some cinnamon to the bag for cinnamon sugar donuts. You can also use powdered sugar to cover the donuts. And let's not forget, plain is purty darn good. (And there's nothing better with a cold glass of milk.)