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Maple Bacon Walnut Oatmeal

First of all, I wanted to apologize again for falling off of the grid. My passion for food has not gone away, though I have had to make a few adjustments in my diet which I will get to shortly. Mostly, it’s been a time issue, but it’s been a bit more than that. Without going into gory details, let’s just say my cholesterol, blood pressure and weight have been far less than ideal and my doctors suggested some changes to not only help with those issues but to help with my lower back disc issues. So I did something I thought I may never do–I saw a nutritionist. Granted, I know a lot about food and maybe you do too. But you can always learn more about anything and you certainly should do that when it comes to food.

I thought that overall my diet was not horrible, until I started a diary and recognized that while I’m currently not drinking alcohol and mostly stick to coffee and carbonated water/seltzer, I was compensating by eating tons of empty calories. And even when I thought a light lunch of a baked potato and tomato soup was good, little did I know that it was a double whammy of bad–because of the carbs in the potato coupled with the sugar in the soup (more carbs)….but the thing my nutritionist pointed out about this lunch made a light bulb go off in my head. “You’re not eating enough protein,” she said. That lunch had zero protein (or maybe a negligent amount), and because of that it explained why I was often hungry an hour later.

When she started to plot out some good choices for me, it started to make sense. Would you consider a breakfast of cottage cheese and fruit, two slices of whole wheat toast each with a tablespoon of peanut butter, and a small glass of tomato juice part of a “diet?” Trust me, it’s not. That breakfast is filling as hell. Which of course means no mid morning blood sugar spike leading to pretzel or doughnut gorging. The plan is now to have 30 grams (or more) of protein AND up to 45 grams of carbs, with some vegetables–at breakfast, lunch and dinner. And to have 7-14 grams of protein plus 15 grams of carbs as a snack (example apple and cheese or greek yogurt and nuts or an orange and some jerky). The magic words I heard are that I CAN have carbs. I’m also allowed to have one treat per day–ice cream after dinner or cookies or jelly beans. If I have the treat during the day, I have no treat after dinner. It’s a fair trade and way of deal-making with myself.

Look, I know you don’t come here for health and nutrition advice. But I think it’s important enough that you should consider looking at your own eating habits, especially if you need to lose a few pounds (oh yeah, I lost 3 pounds this past week and I’m just starting) and are getting up there in age. So I’ll offer hints and suggestions where I can, starting with my breakfast this morning–Maple Bacon Walnut Oatmeal. Yes, I’m serious.

I told my wife the other day that I had a single serving of oatmeal (I like to make it from scratch, which only takes 10 minutes or so), with walnuts and maple syrup, and bacon on the side. She suggested taking it one step further and crumbling bacon on the oatmeal. That’s one of the many reasons I married her–she is simply brilliant (and hilarious, I may add). So I tried that this morning. I made the oats the same way (with a splash of half and half too) and crumbled two slices of bacon on top. As good as it sounds, this particular version was not a home run. The bacon was overpowering because it was all on top. But as I got deeper and had more spoonfuls of oats with bacon accents, it was, then, a home run. A touchdown. A three-pointer at the buzzer. You get the idea, sports fans. I also need to try this with bacon that crumbles better without burning quickly as I used today. You’ll notice that frosty glass of milk on the side. I have always had milk with my oatmeal, and now even more so since I need that extra protein to balance the carbs in the oats. But I like to also put the milk in the freezer before I cook the oats, making it ice cold in a frosty glass. It’s the little things, I tell you.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Trader Joe’s does it again with Black Forest Bacon

It seems like every week when we visit Trader Joe’s for a family grocery shopping experience, there are new products that catch my attention and somehow become pulled by gravity into the shopping cart. This can be good and bad–good because more often than not, it’s something delicious and unique or both. Bad because it’s typically something we want to eat and not stop eating.

Such is the case with Trader Joe’s Black Forest Bacon. You know what’s crazy though? There is almost no information on this stuff online. It’s like they are sort of trying to keep it top-secret. Which is fine, because that means more for me and for my wife. But mostly for me (shhhhh). I did find this contest on Food & Wine and while there are some TJ’s bacons on here, I don’t have to try anything on this list to know that the Black Label will whip their bacon asses all up and down that page.

Why is it so good? Well, it crisps up beautifully, meaning it’s tender and the fat becomes something of a liquid pork rind (which is, well, what it is), and the bacon slice itself is bursting with flavor and crispness. It also has no fake taste whatsoever, as it’s real smoked and uncured and has a nice dry rub, but it’s even more remarkable that even if you slightly burn it (which you almost have to to get it crisp), it doesn’t even taste burnt. I don’t know how they do it, but they do, and they do so in my house almost every day lately. We now buy two packs at a time, and might ramp up to three this weekend. I mean, you never know when you will have a bacon emergency, right?

Bacon and egg torpedo

Sometimes you just gotta eat a pile of bacon. I didn’t know what I wanted for breakfast this morning, and pulled out some bacon. I took four thick slices out and cut them in half, and put them on the bacon tray. So that meant 8 short slices of delicious bacon. Now what? I spotted some hot dog rolls, and then it came to me–a little sub of sorts…..a torpedo. Of course, sometimes you have to accent the bacon with a scrambled egg, and you have to then accent that with cheese. So I stacked the bacon on the bun, put the egg on top and the cheese on top of that, and closed it up.

Bam–the bacon and egg torpedo. If I would have thought about it, and if I wasn’t so hungry that I didn’t have time to look for them, I would have thinly sliced up some jalapeno too for some good, clean heat. But hey, it was still pretty good.

Nick Offerman’s Slam Poem to Bacon

This is hilarious. I don’t watch Parks and Recreaction, but I do eat bacon. And I love bacon. I also love funny videos, and funny poetry videos. Funny poetry videos about bacon are even funnier. Anyway, watch Nick Offerman’s “Slam Poem to Bacon” and see if you don’t want to go “slam” some bacon immediately afterward.

Easy Awesomeness: Trader Joe’s Bacon Wrapped Dates

You are likely getting tired of hearing me pimp Trader Joe’s, but their awesomeness became even more awesome when my wife got me a Trader Joe’s Companion Cookbook for my birthday. Then last week we got the Trader Joe’s cookbook, the bigger one. And the recipes are insanely good. We tried a few already but one that is truly great and easy is the bacon wrapped dates.

I found a link to the recipe at a gluten free website, which is interesting because we are researching a gluten free diet as a possibility for our son with autism. And hey, he loves bacon too, so maybe he would like this recipe, as picky of an eater as he is.

Seriously though, I made some of these the other day and they are as good as they look and as good as they sound. Make sure you have foil under the rack so that the grease drips down onto something disposable. And you don’t have to shop at Trader Joe’s to make these, although the dates they sell are perfect for this recipe.

Sometimes ya gotta love the French

Sometimes the French get a bad rap. Even sometimes in our American minds, when the stereotype of skinny, stuck up wine-drinking cheese eaters conflicts with the vision of our core audience on Bullz-Eye.com, which is more chubby, loud, beer-swilling, bratwurst and Velveeta folks.

But let’s face it–the French make some damn good food, and we sometimes need to give them some love for it.

Such an instance reared its head in my world this past Saturday, as I was heading to the eye doctor. I’d never been to this doctor, and his offices are located in a strip mall here in Madison. Before I walked in, I noticed a French bakery next door, and it was hopping. So as I’m having flashing lights shone in my eyes, and puffs of air shot at my eyes, and having to read these tiny letters on a chart, and picking out glasses (by the way, when did the price of eyeglasses become akin to buying a television?)–all the while I’m thinking about that bakery and wondering what they might have. It didn’t help that my eye appointment was at noon and I was starving.

I went into the bakery and literally the women behind the counter all had thick French accents. This place was REAL. It’s called La Baguette, by the way. First I noticed some fruit tarts….something I don’t normally eat, but they looked amazing. Then I noticed these croissants…real ones, not the thin grocery store croissants. But next to those were something sort of round and croissant looking. I asked one of the ladies behind the counter what they were and she replied in her French accent, “chocolate croissant.” Are you kidding me? Count me in. I bought one of those, two plain croissants and a pear tart. Then I noticed the row of baguettes, and had to have one. It was warm and right out of the oven. Wow. I told the lady I would buy more if I stood there longer, and she said, “Please take your time!”

Needless to say, the baked goods from La Baguette were amazing. I managed to not eat all of it on the ride home, so my wife and I made a nice sandwich with the baguette, and we ate the chocolate croissant for dessert. The next morning we split the pear tart, and then while my wife ran out to an appointment, I made a fantastic breakfast sandwich using a croissant (see photo). I made some bacon, and cooked an overeasy egg and put those right on the croissant, and it was amazing. It helped that I had the perfect vehicle, but the bacon and egg came out perfectly, and that doesn’t always happen.

So hey, for right now anyway, I salute the French and their food. I also salute La Baguette, where I will return when I pick up my glasses next week.

Maple cheddar

Okay, so if you don’t live in Wisconsin, this might be a bit more difficult to relate to. But on a recent visit to the most awesome Brennan’s Market, I came across a new flavor of cheddar–maple cheddar. It’s cheddar cheese literally infused with maple syrup. I was a bit skeptical but when one of the employees asked me if I needed help and then saw the maple cheddar in my basket, she said that was her favorite. Okay, if I was ambivalent before, now I was sold. And I was already imagining what to do with this cheese.

I had also picked up some thick cut bacon at Brennan’s, and so my breakfast the next morning was an open faced bacon/cheese melt using the bacon and the maple cheddar. And as you might expect, it was awesome. Of course, you can make this with any type of cheese, but this maple cheese gave it that hint of sweetness, and it was subtle, as if you were eating pancakes and some of the syrup slid onto your sandwich. Yum.

And it’s simple–just cook 2-3 slices of bacon. Cut a thick slice or two of crusty Italian bread, top with the bacon and some shredded cheese, and broil or toast for about 2-3 minutes or until the cheese melts and is bubbly.

Quick breakfast frito pie

Don’t tell your cardiologist about this one. Also, don’t tell my doctor, either. But I whipped this up this past weekend and it was too delicious not to share with you. And it’s real easy. It also was the perfect breakfast after I had a few beers Friday night.

First, take a generous handful of Frito’s and put then in a shallow bowl. Cook 2 slices of bacon in the microwave (or as you would normally cook bacon) for about 2 minutes or until crisp. Cut 3-4 slabs of Velveeta off a hunk and cut that into smaller cubes. Sprinkle over the Fritos and nuke for about 30 seconds. Crumble bacon on top of Frito mixture. Meanwhile, spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and warm over medium heat. Crack an egg (or two) into the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the whites are set and yolk is still runny. Slide egg(s) onto the top of the Frito mixture and sprinkle with hot sauce. Serve with a big glass of OJ or big mug of coffee, and enjoy (trust me, you will!).

Bacon woes

I had good intentions with another bacon recipe to post this past weekend, but lo and behold, not every recipe I develop is any good. My plan was to take refrigerated crescent rolls, and fill them with bacon and sausage and cheese. Mmmmm, breakfast-y goodness, right? Well, not really, and this makes me wonder how many recipes out there that are really good actually fail sometimes and fail as miserably as my breakfast sandwich.

I cooked a bunch of bacon, and our 4-year old son ate more of it than I needed. That’s my boy. I was left with two slices. I cooked a link of turkey breakfast sausage. Then I took the rolls out or should I say, Mrs. Mike and I (mostly her) had to fight to open the package, which should have been our first sign. I won’t say the brand, because I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus here, but I will say this–the crescent rolls I bought were butter flavored. Now, you’d think that anything’s better with butter, right? The catch here is I don’t think it’s real butter we’re talking about.

Anyway, I assembled the roll by pinching two triangles together to make a rectangle, and then I laid down some cheese, bacon and the sausage link and rolled that sucker up. I baked it for a few minutes longer than what the recipe suggested, and took a bite. B-L-E-C-H. I took another bite. B-L-E-C-H. It was the butter flavored roll, not anything else that made it disgusting. I imagine that with normal crescent rolls or biscuits, this sandwich would taste really good. But I haven’t recovered from that vile butter taste to give it a go.

I will say this, though…..it’s been fun writing about bacon and coming up with recipes, so why not extend bacon week for another little while? I’ll be preoccupied for a few days but will deliver more bacon posts next week and into the following week before turning our attention to Halloween candy. Sound good? I thought so.

Maple-y bacon breakfast sandwich

Psst, don’t tell your cardiologist about this one.

Last week, I saw Eggo French Toast Waffles, which are more of a waffle and less like French toast (the key is there is maple syrup baked in), in the freezer case at the grocery store. I thought our 4-year old would like these, so I picked them up. Then of course, I realized it’s bacon week and anything goes.

So this morning, I toasted two of these “waffles,” and scrambled some eggs. I cooked up two slices of thick cut bacon in the microwave. When the pillows of maple goodness were toasted, I put a slice of cheese down on one of them, then topped with the scrambled eggs and the bacon slices and put the other waffle on top. And there you have a breakfast sandwich that is every bit as tasty as it sounds, and looks (above).

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