A Brunch Recipe that explodes with flavor: Bacon Bombs

Da Bomb for Football Brunches -- or any brunchy brunch for that matter.

Da Bomb for Football Brunches — or any brunchy brunch for that matter.

So because I live on the West Coast and our favorite NFL team, the Seattle Seahawks often play on East Coast time, we do a lot of Sunday Morning Football Brunch gatherings. I stumbled on this recipe for Bacon Bombs, and of course I had to put my own spin on it. There wasn’t a bomb left after the first quarter. Total hit. I will make these again. Next time I’ll probably do all pepper-jack cheese. That was everyone’s favorite. Sorry, Dad (he doesn’t like spicy).

Here’s my spin on the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 tubes refrigerator “Crescent Rolls”

Cubed extra sharp cheese (1-1″ cube per Bomb)

Cubed Pepper Jack Cheese Optional for kick (I have a couple of guests that don’t do spicy, so we did ½ and ½)

Frozen cubed hashbrown “O’Brien” potatoes (the ones with peppers and onions in them)

2 lbs. of Bacon (1 slice per Bomb, so about 16 slices)

5 or so long skewers

9 x 13 baking dish

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Instructions:

Preheat oven at 375 F. Pour a little bit of O’Brien hashbrown mix in a bowl for easy access to individual potato pieces with peppers and onions. Cube up the cheese. Separate the pieces of crescent dough into individual pieces. Place one piece of cheese inside a crescent triangle along with a couple of hashbrowns along with one or two pieces of peppers and onions. Roll the dough up around the filling nice and tight, pinching and holes closed. Wrap each rolled Bomb in a slice of Bacon, and secure it with a skewer. Fill each skewer with three bombs per and put skewer across a 9/13 baking dish and let it hang over the end of the baking dish (see photo). Bake for 45 minutes, rotating halfway through cooking time.

DIY Bacon Bomb rotisserie.

DIY Bacon Bomb rotisserie.

Let the bombs set for at least 5 minutes, then push off onto a paper-towel lined serving dish. Serve and enjoy!

You can keep these warm in a 170-190 F oven if need be. I think these could be made ahead of time and frozen. Just only cook half way, then freeze. When you reheat for your gathering, cook the rest of the way plus a few minutes for the frozen factor.

There will be a little leakage – even wrapping the bombs super tight. The oozy cheesy goodness just makes it that much yummier.

Go ‘Hawks!
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I’m ruining my children; I’m not alone

Remembering the sweeter times to get you through the rougher times.

Remembering the sweeter times to get you through the rougher times.

Every once in a while I have to step out of the write-life, micro-farming, foodie-being, book-hoarding, and talk about my life as a mother. I wrote the below in another forum. A month away from it, I’m calmer (I started Yoga at the beginning of November) and can appreciate how I was feeling and the article that began to calm me down in the first place.

If you’re a mother who still tries to have a life outside of that role, I gather you’ll greatly appreciate this. Also, many of you who have been following me from the beginning of this blog or followed me over from Livejournal know that I have an Autistic son. I don’t talk about it much, but over the course of the next months I’ll be opening up more about that. In the meantime, here’s the piece following an epic mommy meltdown:

I felt it coming. It was a giant wave of dread and doom building up in the vast ocean of my psyche. I tried to avoid it, to circumvent it, to even try to make it not so bad. But, it came anyway, the mid-October blood-moon rage-filled meltdown tsunami. Blame it on a too-late football game in the middle of the week, or the fact that my husband has been out of town on business for a week, which the three teenagers in the house seem to think means the rules are suddenly gone or, at minimum, changed; or, that the daily trials of ‪#‎LifewithAutism‬ is turning my strength to mush. It came all the same. The house walls rumbled this morning, bringing soaking rage at the 14-year-old who seems to think that he’s the only one that had a late night and it’s somehow harder for him to get out of bed than anyone else at this god-awful hour. Anger that ‪#‎AspyKid‬ makes messes like that of six 4-year-olds and eats like a Platoon of Huns. Frustration with the 16-year-old that she can’t let me know her plans and schedule until JUST before anything is supposed to go down. That the dog trips me at every turn as I try to be a decent housekeeper (bwauahahahaha). Or that hubby is sending me photos of a paid-for business dinner of all of my favorites, while I scoffed down leftovers before racing off for a football game for my youngest. Or, or, or…..anything and everything.

Now here I sit with my first proper cup of coffee for the morning wanting to do nothing but hole myself away from all these responsibilities, or maybe get in the car and drive and never come back. Instead, I did the dishes, started the laundry, made my bed, and sat down to write, when my friend shared this article with me. There is solace in knowing that some of the outcome for my kids will be the same. I’m going to get blamed. Mom did something wrong. I went from being a soldier with a target on my back, to being a mother, with a target, too. Obviously, they are different, but a target just the same.

They will blame me. But, the hope that maybe that I’m setting a good enough example of how to live graciously despite challenges will remain with them and they can blame me for their optimistic attitude, for their ability to never give up, for their passion to fight for what is right, and try to laugh in the process. My sister said yesterday that I needed to remember that I’m human. To concentrate on what I can do. I can’t make my son happy in the morning when he wakes up; but, I can be the cheerful voice that tells him it’s time to get ready for school. I can’t make my other son’s Autism go away; but, I can sure as hell do what I can do to make his life as fulfilling as possible. I can’t organize my daughter’s life, but I can demonstrate how to keep a calendar and manage my time wisely. That I can stop and give my dog the attention she needs for a moment so she stops following me waiting for that moment.

My Oma said that children need very little discipline if they are watching good examples. I’m a human example. Like the woman in the article, I’m ruining my kids. But, I am choosing to concentrate on what I can do, regardless of the outcome. Some days it means I wear my slippers to the grocery store, or dinner is McChicken sandwiches, or that the kitchen floor spends another day unswept. But they’ll get hugs, words of encouragement, homework help, and can feel safe and secure in the knowledge that mom was the real deal. How did you ruin your kids today? Read the following. You’re not alone.  http://www.unexpected.org/…/10/were-ruining-our-kids-for-l…/

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Harvest Creations: MamaCasz’s Slow-Roasted Zesty Salsa

Waiting for the tomatoes to ripen this summer was painful, but now that they are here, it was worth the wait.

Waiting for the tomatoes to ripen this summer was painful, but now that they are here, it was worth the wait.

The very first garden I had all on my own was a container garden I had while living in military housing. My kids loved eating salsa – they still do. So we had a few containers to grow tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions, cilantro, and jalapenos.  In fact, when people email me, or stop me at the farmer’s market and talk to me about wanting to start a garden, I tell them to have something in mind they can make fresh, as well as preserve, like my aforementioned salsa garden, or a spaghetti sauce garden, etc.

This year was a year of waiting for the tomatoes to turn. It was weird since the heat was good and lots of sunshine. But it just took forever for them to ripen. Next year I’ll move where the tomatoes are and see if that helps. But once they came in, there was a ton of salsa to can.

Prepping the tomatoes is the hardest part. However, I’ve discovered that if you slow roast the tomatoes, you don’t need to worry about the fuss of blanching, cooling, and that messy water bath boiling. The recipe calls for about six pounds of tomatoes. I like to have a variety. Alright, truth is the garden determines what kind of tomatoes you have – Earliana, Roma, Goldenboy, Indigo Rose…the list of tomato varieties is long (look for a blog post later on how to decide what you should plant next year). But, the taste of the salsa is always a bit of surprise because of the combination of tomatoes. That does not mean you can’t have one kind of tomato in your batch.

Much like tomatoes, what kind of peppers go in the salsa is decided by the garden, too. My latest batch had a combination of Poblano, Ancho, and green Bell peppers. You just need to make sure that you have about two pounds. Many folks like to peel the skins off of the peppers. I have found that I pick my peppers kind of quickly and the skins don’t get too tough. However, you may peel after roasting very easily, if you so desire. Again, I don’t bother with this. Those who get my salsa haven’t complained.

Many folks seed the hot pepper portion of their salsa – not liking how the seed either make it too hot, or gum up how the salsa looks in your mason jar. We’re all about the seeds in our family. They make it extra spicy and we love spicy around here.

Roasting tomatoes is easier way to peel them.

Roasting tomatoes is easier way to peel them.

Ingredients:

6 pounds of tomatoes, washed and cored

2 pounds of sweet peppers, stemmed

1 ½ pounds of onions, peeled, quartered

1 pound of hot peppers, stemmed

1 Cup fine chopped fresh cilantro

6 cloves garlic

3 tsp salt

½ cup lime juice

¾ cup Apple Cider Vinegar

Cooking spray or oil for roasting pan

Tools:

Two shallow roasting pans

Food Processor or Blender

Big non-reactive pot

Water Canner

7 pint jars with lids and rings

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Measuring pounds of produce can be hard. So, for your ease, you should have 10 cups of tomatoes, 5 cups of onions, 5 cups of sweet peppers, and 2 1/2 cups of hot peppers, for this batch. Do note this image is from a non-roasted recipe, but demonstrates how much ingredients you should have.

Directions:

Heat the oven to 450° degrees. You’ll need to low roasting pans (cookie sheets with edges works well, too). Spray the pan with cooking spray or lightly grease with your favorite oil. Wash your tomatoes and remove any blemishes and the core.  Do note that if part of your tomato harvest is tomatillos, they don’t need to be peeled or cored; just take the dry husk off of them. Put all the tomatoes on one roasting pan.

Roasting tomatoes is easier way to peel them.

Roasting tomatoes is easier way to peel them.

Put the sweet and hot peppers, garlic cloves, and onion on another prepared roasting pan. Roast until all the vegetables have browned and the juices from their slow roasting flow in the pan. I have found this is about 20 to 30 minutes, although, sometimes the peppers take a bit longer. Don’t be afraid to have them get brown. I sometimes turn the veggies half way between, but this is not necessary and sometimes can be messy. Your choice. While the veggies roast, prep your jars and water canner. When the vegetables are done roasting, remove from oven and let the cool a bit. If you choose to peel your tomatoes and peppers, do so now after they are able to be handled safely.

After pulsing gently, part of my sheet of roasted peppers, onions, and garlic looks like.

After pulsing gently, part of my sheet of roasted peppers, onions, and garlic looks like.

Then pulse to desired consistency in blender or food processor. We like our salsa a bit chunkier, so I don’t blend it too much. Just a dozen pulses or so. Put the pulsed veggies into a big pot (non-reactive). Add the cilantro, salt, lime juice and ACV. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Scoop the salsa into the hot jars until you’ve filled them with just a 1/4 inch of headspace. Fit on the lids, hand-tightening the rings (don’t over tighten) and process in the water bath canner for 15 minutes. Remember the timer starts only after the water is fully boiling. When the time’s up, remove the jars and place them on a cooling rack or towel with at least one inch space between them so they can cool off.

Everything in the pot, it looks so good.

Everything in the pot, it looks so good.

I like to make sure that my salsa sits in the pantry for a month before eating. Sometimes, my measurements are off and I have excess from this recipe (as you get used to making it, you’ll experiment with combinations of tomatoes, peppers, onions and the like), and the family gets some right away. Any excess I put in a fridge storage container – but it never lasts long. Use this in recipes or for eating with chips. It’s so flavorful and colorful, you’ll want to make sure your pantry is stocked to the breaking point with this yummy item.

Slow-Roasted Zesty Salsa. Yummy!

Slow-Roasted Zesty Salsa. Yummy!

What’s your favorite salsa recipe? How do you use your salsa?

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Harvest Creations: Gardening To Do for October

Things are still growing, but they are slowing down mightily.

Things are still growing, but they are slowing down mightily.

A little more on time this month – but not much because the past two days have all about tomatoes. The tomato plants have done their time. I got four buckets of green tomatoes that have been wrapped in newspaper and stored in the larder. Of course, this is after three or four harvests of ripe tomatoes that went in our bellies or made into tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, bbq sauce, and salsa.

I'm apparently keeping Ball Mason in business this year.

I’m apparently keeping Ball Mason in business this year.

This weekend will be devoted to harvesting and processing sunflower seeds. This upcoming baseball season we won’t need to buy seeds at all. They will all be from our harvest. We’re very excited about that.

Farewell tomatoes; hello sunflowers and brussel sprouts.

Farewell tomatoes; hello sunflowers and brussel sprouts.

 

The month of September saw a renewed battle between farmer and pest. I lost an entire broccoli plant to cabbage worms, as I also lost one cabbage plant, too. This despite treating diligently with Bacillus thuringiensis (known at your garden center simply by Bt). They also took out two of my collard greens. But I have as many collard greens in my freezer as my family can handle. So I’ve been using the mature leaves of the remaining collard greens to feed my chickens or share with neighbors and friends.

 

Finishing the new flower bed will finally happen this weekend. As our neighbor sold their house, we’d like this bordering project done before the new people move in. Radishes, parsnips, and winter lettuces have been planted. Winter cabbage crop is being tended.

 

Propigating will also happen this weekend, as we had to aquire some coir for our proigation pots. Funny thing, they didn’t have it at the nurseries or garden center. We had to find it at the pet store in the lizard section.

 

Six entire shelves are filled with goodies I've preserved (canned) from my little microfarm.  Shelves hold 6-deep pints and 5-deep quarts.

Six entire shelves are filled with goodies I’ve preserved (canned) from my little microfarm. Shelves hold 6-deep pints and 5-deep quarts.

My October list looks much like my September one, but will include more “clearing” of done plants, for sure. So glad the weather forecast looks like it will cooperate for this weekend. Lots to do; lots to do.

 

October to do:

 

  • Continue to harvest, preserve harvest
  • Pest Control (as necessary)
  • Weed (this is important so that the spring we have less weeds)
  • Mulching with fallen leaves as available
  • Tend to new growth of winter plants (cover when temps drop too cold)
  • Continue pulling “done” plants and put compost down
  • Finish Propagating plants (strawberries, blueberries, honeysuckle, lavender, and cuttings from neighbor’s fruit trees)
  • Finish shade plant bed along south-side, north-facing fence
  • Firewood moved
  • Greenhouse plans
  • Plant successive spinach to overwinter, cover with mulch
  • Prune Roses, Blueberries
  • Plant spring-time bulbs in between lillies, irises, and peonies bed (new bed along driveway).
  • Plant garlic
  • Go through and find volunteer plants and move to appropriate spot (I have volunteer pansies, snapdragons, lupine, and other stuff I need to move to appropriate places).
  • Compost, compost, compost

What I’ve learned:

  1. Less collards, more broccoli
  2. No Russian Red Kale. I’m the only one in the family that enjoys it, the chickens aren’t too keen on it, neither are the ducks, and the neighbors don’t really want it either
  3. Better trellis system for peas and beans
  4. More artichokes; one less zucchini (three plants are plenty)
  5. One pumpkin vine was perfect
More artichokes, less zucchini

Artichoke flower as a reminder: More artichokes, less zucchini

 

How is your garden faring at the end of the high growing season? Have these little blog posts been helpful for you?

Not to be forgotten, the brace and the flock are still busy producing yummy eggs.

Not to be forgotten, the brace and the flock are still busy producing yummy eggs.

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Book Review: SHOTGUN GRAVY by Chuck Wendig

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Like a blast of pellet in the face, SHOTGUN GRAVY explodes right from the get go and you want to follow around Atlanta Burns as if she’s the Bonnie to your Clyde. This book is a 4-star thriller on my virtual shelf.

This novella has been out for a long time (since 2011, to be exact), and I’ve read it twice now – my first foray into the ebook world. So, I blame that for making me take so dang long (my slow reading pace aside), as my reading time normally involves a hard-copy book. I’m not a luddite, I just prefer it the old-fashioned way. Regardless, once I did read SHOTGUN GRAVY, I sped through it; turning pages faster than Ms. Burns shotgun of justice.

There’s something darkly satisfying in this story – your inner dorky teen exalts the protagonist for doing the things you sometimes wish you could have done when you were a teen. If you’ve somehow forgotten your teen years, read this so you understand that it’s hard to tell a teenager “It Gets Better” when they are in the midst of a bad bully culture. If you’re the parent of a teen, reading this may well help you understand well why your kid is so frustrated with the hierarchy of high school culture and the ignorant parents that allow it to endure.

Don’t be scared that SHOTGUN GRAVY is all doom and gloom, though. Wendig has a great way with words (if you don’t follow his blog TerribleMinds this might be news to you), so there’s humor and a true-to-reality glimmer of hope. I would say that teachers of teens, parents of teens, as well as every teen and adult around should read this book.

Without giving it away, the ending leaves you not only wanting more, but knowing that blasting back at bullies is just as hard as taking it. You decide if Atlanta and her cohorts pick the right path. Regardless, this is a YA as YA books should be – dealing with real issues and not sugar-coating it or downplaying just how bad it can be to be an outcast in the realm of teenage-hood.

As I said, the ending leaves you wanting more. Not to leave you dissatisfied, Wendig followed up with Bait Dog, a full-length novel for the return of Atlanta Burns. I’m warming up my Nook now. He made reading on the e-reader enjoyable, so I’m betting Wendig’s Burns in Bait Dog will do it again. You would be wise to do the same.

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Reviewer’s Note:  I don’t write a review unless I’ve read the book at least twice. I may give some stars to a once-read book, but an in-depth review means I’ve read it at least twice.

I use the system of 1 to 5 stars. Here’s how that plays out in my scale:

Five Stars: this is a work that will grace my bibliophile shelves, for which I will likely read other books by the author, and for which I’ll read again, and will likely become part of my “comfort reads.” These are books that have wrecked, changed, inspired, or otherwise rewarded me doubly for spending time with them.

Four Stars:  means I’ll likely read it again, as well as recommend it to others.

Three Stars: is a book I’d recommend people read.

Two Stars: means that I found pleasure in reading it to the end, but I likely wouldn’t recommend it to someone else – and I likely list what that reason is.

One Star: are typically books I can’t finish. But, they get one star because every reader is an individual. What I can’t finish, you may love. Also, the author put the story out there and that is brave and incredible and I give them props for that. Typically I will denote why I believe I can’t finish the story.

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