Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Bacon, it's "What's for Dessert?"

 Bacon, whether it is flavored with maple or honey, seasoned with hickory or apple wood, bacon is yummy goodness and ups the ante on taste for anything it is included in, even dessert. That's right, I said bacon for dessert; even I had my doubts about trying out dessert recipes with bacon in it, but had to try nonetheless. After seeing bacon cupcakes on a few cooking shows, I was curious to how they actually tasted.   I cannot believe how many hundreds of bacon dessert recipes were found on the internet! Which one to choose was a total mystery, so printed out a few, compared notes, and came up with my own concoctions.

Now Roy was not happy about the whole experiment thing at all.  Bacon is bacon and should not be made into candy, or added to cake. He still does not like the idea of it at all, but he did have to agree that my recipes came out pretty well, and he was impressed at my accomplishments. I likened the taste to French toast in syrup, but without the bread; and it was the perfect garnish for the cupcakes.

Hmm, first my Monte Cristo Sandwich mentioned French toast, now this article.  Seems to be a theme developing for a future article on, what else, French toast! 


Candied Bacon


1 lb. regular bacon

½ cup sugar

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon


In a large nonstick skillet, on high heat, cook the bacon until it is darkened in color, but still flexible; drain on paper towels.

Drain grease from skillet, set heat on low; place bacon, in one layer, into skillet. First sprinkle sugar over the bacon, then the vanilla and finally the cinnamon. Let the bacon cook for 10 minutes before turning over and let cook an additional 5 minutes.

Remove the bacon to a wire rack (paper towels under the rack to catch drippings) and let it air cool for 30 minutes before snacking on, or using for garnish on baked goods.

Alternative: instead of ground cinnamon, use ½ Tbsp. of ground chipotle powder.

Then came the cupcakes, the fat from the bacon gives the cake a moister and richer consistency. The meat of the bacon does cook during the baking process, and it is like a little chewy surprise within the cake...think bacon gummy bears! There is not an overpowering taste of bacon, you know it is there, but it all comes together well.


Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/8 tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

6 egg yolks

1 cup milk

½ lb. regular uncooked bacon, chopped


Preheat oven to 350F; line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and powder, cocoa powder and salt; set aside.

In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Mix in half the dry ingredients with half the milk; when well incorporated, repeat with remaining dry ingredients and milk.

Add in the bacon and mix well with spoon, not a mixer. Fill each paper liner 2/3 with the batter; bake for 20-25 minutes; check for doneness by inserting toothpick in center; cupcakes are done if it comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool before removing from tins and frosting.

Makes 16 cupcakes.


Alternative: divide batter in half between 2–8-inch cake pans which were sprayed with nonstick baking spray. Bake time will be the same as for the cupcakes.

Topping: Vanilla frosting works best with a garnish of candied bacon.

 Vanilla Frosting


1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

3 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbsp. cold milk


In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy; add in extract and milk, continue to beat until smooth and spreadable.

Makes enough for 12 - 16 cupcakes depending upon how much is spread on each cupcake. To make enough to cover the top, sides and in-between 2–8-inch cakes, double the recipe.

Dead set on not transforming bacon into a candy, but still curious on the concept?  There is more to Mr. or Ms. Piggy than bacon, let’s make “other white meat candy”!  Candied bacon becomes a hardened food product that can be eaten as a snack, or used as a garnish on a dessert. This main dish recipe I am giving you is a pork dish with a sauce as sweet as candy, and a perfect enhancement for the meat itself.

"Candied Pork Chops"   Yes, I admit it, I ended up licking any excess sauce off my plate; and while it is probably good for rice or noodles, we much prefer mashed potatoes with this dish. Another point is, while the recipe calls for pork chops, boneless ribs, roast or tenderloin would work very well also.   Hmmm, I wonder how it would be as a glaze and sauce for barbecued ribs?  Looks like another adventure in the making.  Also, this is a great dish for a potluck meal, and with holiday events being planned out, you might be seeing this sometime sooner, than later.

Candied Pork Chops


6 bone- in pork chops.

1 cup milk

1 large egg

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup Italian seasoned dried bread crumbs

1 tsp. garlic salt

1 tsp. onion powder

1 cup canola (my preference) for frying



2 cups brown sugar

1 and ½ cups ketchup

2 cups water


In a wide bowl, whisk together milk and egg; in a separate bowl, whisk together flour, bread crumbs, garlic salt and onion powder. Submerse each chop in liquid, then coat sides and edges, of each chop with dry mixture.  Set onto a plate to rest before frying.  

On medium-high heat, fry coated chops five minutes on each side.  They will not be cooked all the way through, but will finish up in the oven.  Drain on paper towels and place into a 9x13 baking pan, or casserole dish.  Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, ketchup, and water. Pour sauce over the chops; bake 30 minutes, uncovered.

Makes 6 servings. 

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Alexandre Dumas’ Count Becomes a Sandwich.

Ah, reading; a combination of eye stimulation leading upwards to the synapses of the brain, and creating, not just pleasure, but knowledge.  In my humble opinion, cellphones, tablets and computers should no longer be allowed for school usage.  Instead, let the children go back to using paper, pencils, notebooks and books, and do actual manual homework.  Let us bring back stimulation to the senses, and development of the synapses and nerve network of the brain.  Lecture over.

A classic in literature is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas (he also wrote The Three Musketeers).  Basic synopsis, Dantes (main character) is imprisoned on the island of Chateau d'If for 13 years, where he plots revenge against those who betrayed him. With help from another prisoner, he escapes the island and proceeds to transform himself into the wealthy Count of Monte Cristo as part of his plan to exact revenge.  There are elements of betrayal, mystery, suspense, vengeance, love, relief and justice; a constant barrage hitting the reader throughout the story.

There has been remake after remake of this novel in film; the best depends upon style, adherence to the story, actors/actresses, musical score and many other features.  Like The Three Musketeers, this novel is a popular classic.

So, how did it become a sandwich?  Around 1910, a popular sandwich, served in Parisian cafes, was called Croque Monsieur, a grilled cheese sandwich containing Gruyere cheese and lean ham, between two slices of crust-less bread, and fried in clarified butter.  In 1912, the first silent film of The Count of Monte Cristo came out.  What better way to honor a French classic (the novel), then to rename another French classic (the sandwich) after it? 

Of course, after the film came to the United States, cookbooks began featuring the sandwich, and chefs played with the ingredient content.  In the 1950s, the inclusion of sliced turkey made an appearance.  It was in 1966 that the Monte Cristo sandwich made its appearance, on the menus, at the Blue Bayou and Tahitian Terrace restaurants, in the New Orleans’s Square, of California’s Disneyland.

When explaining what the sandwich is, I usually say, “Think of it as a grilled cheese sandwich, loaded with meat, and cooked up like French toast.”  It is often served with a dusting of powdered sugar, plus a side of a berry jam, or maple syrup.  The bread often used is brioche or challah which are rich in butter, and have a sweet flavor.  Personally, I opt out of powdered sugar, jam and syrup, as the sandwich is buttery sweet as is; that does not mean you should not adventure with it yourself!

Make the sandwich, curl up with a copy of the novel, and give your senses, and brain, pure enjoyment.

Monte Cristo Sandwich


(brand names in parentheses are simply personal favorites)

2 eggs

1/4 cup whole milk or half n ’half

1/8 tsp. salt (optional – really don’t notice if it’s not added)

4 slices bread (brioche or challah are best, but Sara Lee Butter Bread is a good option)

2 Tbsp. mayonnaise

4 slices Swiss cheese (Sargento Ultra-Thin)

4 slices deli turkey (Hillshire Farms Oven Roasted Turkey Breast)

4 slices deli ham (Hillshire Farms Black Forest Ham)

2 Tbsp. butter

Powdered sugar (optional)

Berry jam such as strawberry, raspberry or currant (optional)

Maple syrup (optional)



In a wide bowl, 1-2 inches depth, whisk eggs, milk, and salt together.

Spread mayonnaise on one side of each slice of bread.  Place one slice of Swiss Cheese on each slice of bread.  Layer two slice of bread with 2 slices ham and 2 slices turkey; place other two slices of bread (Swiss cheese side down) on top to form two complete sandwiches.  Press down slightly to make sandwiches more compact.


Melt butter in a large skillet over medium low heat.  Dip each sandwich in the egg mixture; turning to coat both sides.  Add the sandwiches to the hot skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides.  Place lid on skillet, for one minute, to ensure cheese melts and any egg mixture cooks thoroughly.


Optional: sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with a side of berry jam, or maple syrup.

Makes 2 sandwiches.

Mary Cokenour 




Wednesday, October 12, 2022

The Ultimate Italian Snack.

 When you want to nosh, what kind of appetizer or snack is your must have? Basic home snacks could be anything from a bag of chips, bowl of popped corn, crackers with a topping, veggies and dip, even cookies or a cupcake. If you are out at a restaurant, you might see on the menu: mozzarella sticks, cheese fries, nachos, deep fried veggies or ravioli, or chicken fingers. Been there, done that; same old, same old? Now is the time to try something very different, romantic (hey, it is Italian), yummy and healthier (I know, I know, bad word, especially around kids, but not this snack!).  Bruschetta, and while it might be a little difficult to pronounce the first time; you will not forget after you have had it.

Bruschetta (Italian pronunciation: [brus-ket-a]; American pronunciation: [bu-shetta], ignoring the “c” altogether) is an appetizer from central Italy whose origin seems to date back to the 15th century, but possibly even older than that. It was a way to use stale bread by toasting or grilling it, then enhancing the flavor by rubbing with garlic and topping with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Variations may include toppings of spicy red pepper, tomato, vegetables, beans, cured meat, and/or cheese.  The most popular recipe, especially in America, involves basil, fresh tomato, garlic and onion, or mozzarella; similar to a snack version of Pizza Margherita.  Brushchetta can be served as an appetizer, simply enjoyed as a snack, or depending on the ingredients, and work put into it, a meal.


Bruschetta (Italian Style)


loaf of Italian bread, preferably day old, cut into ½” slices

2 cloves of garlic

olive oil



Grill both sides of the sliced bread; or place under a broiler for one minute, flip slices, place under broiler for another minute. Cut the cloves of garlic in half and rub cut sides over one side of bread; drizzle olive oil, sprinkle on salt.


Bruschetta Con Pomodori (Grilled Bread with Tomatoes)


half loaf of Italian bread, cut into ½ “slices

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

4 Tbsp. olive oil

6 Roma (plum) tomatoes cut into ¼” pieces

1/8 tsp. each of salt and ground black pepper

¼ cup minced fresh basil leaves

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar


Grill both sides of the sliced bread; or place under a broiler for one minute, flip slices, place under broiler for another minute. Smear one side of each slice with minced garlic.

In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, tomatoes, salt, black pepper, basil and vinegar. Top garlic side of each slice of bread with mixture.

Makes 6 servings.


1 – Shaved parmesan cheese can be placed on top of mixture.

2 – Thin slices of mozzarella can be placed on top of mixture; place under broiler for a minute to allow cheese to melt.


These are the two basic appetizer/snack recipes for making bruschetta.  Now let us get to the meal versions, or should I say, my experiments in bruschetta style meals.

This recipe was published in Taste of Home Magazine, September 2007 issue. I had sent it to them way back in 1997, and then suddenly they contacted me in 2007 to say that they were going to publish it. Imagine my surprise! (


Crab Bruschetta


1/2 cup finely chopped shallots

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp. plus 1/4 cup olive oil, divided

2 cans (6 ounces each) lump crabmeat, drained

1 cup chopped seeded plum tomatoes

1 and ½ tsp. minced fresh basil or 1/2 tsp. dried basil

3/4 tsp. minced fresh oregano or 1/4 tsp. dried oregano

8 slices Italian bread (1/2 inch thick)


In a large skillet, sauté’ shallots and garlic in 2 tablespoons oil until tender. Add the crab, tomatoes, basil and oregano; cook and stir for 5-6 minutes or until heated through. Remove from the heat.

Brush both sides of each slice of bread with remaining oil. In another large skillet, toast bread for 1-2 minutes on each side. Cut each slice in half; top with crab mixture.

Makes 16 appetizers, or 8 meals.

This next meal version I say is “bruschetta without the bread”.  Having received some eggplant, I figured I would make the same old, same old eggplant parmigiana.  Roy and I both do not like eggplant, so it gets distributed to his mom and brother, down in Moab; and Richard Watkins down in Blanding. However, a recipe that used eggplant as the top and bottom of a sandwich type appetizer/main course item, with spaghetti and sauce as the filling, appeared on my newsfeed.  While the photo looked pretty, I truly did not see the point of it; but it did get my mind going into a creative direction.

To the refrigerator I went to look for ingredients that would work with the eggplant; Roma tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, but then I spied the chicken cutlets defrosted for another recipe.  Suddenly the picture of a recipe came into my mind, like little photos, and I was off and cooking!  The eggplant would be the base ingredient, just as bread was for bruschetta; olive oil, garlic, Italian herbs, tomatoes and cheese were a given.  The chicken, however, would give the entire dish a new dimension in flavor and texture; this would be one of those recipes that could be an appetizer or a main meal.

Enough chit chat and let’s get to cooking...


Eggplant-Chicken Bruschetta


1 medium sized eggplant cut into 12 (1/4" thick) slices

3 tsp. salt

1 tsp. garlic powder

4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided in half

1 Tbsp. Italian herbal mix

6 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1/4" thick, cut to equal or slightly larger size than eggplant slices)

6 slices Roma tomatoes

6 slices mozzarella cheese

3 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese


Line a platter or baking sheet with paper towels; lay out eggplant slices, sprinkle with salt and cover with additional paper towels.  Wait a minimum of one hour before pressing the paper towels onto the eggplant to remove excess water that has been drawn out by the salt.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil, medium-high heat, in a large skillet; place eggplant into skillet, brown one side, turn to brown other side and sprinkle garlic powder over first browned side.  Remove to paper towels.

Put remaining oil into skillet plus herbal mix; place chicken into skillet and brown both sides; remove to paper towels.  Preheat oven to 375F; line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Build a stack: eggplant slice, chicken piece, tomato slice, cheese slice, eggplant slice.  When all stacks are made, place on the baking sheet and top with 1/2 teaspoon of grated cheese.  Bake in oven for 5 to 7 minutes to allow mozzarella cheese to melt.

Makes 6 servings for an appetizer; Makes 3 servings for a meal.

Mary Cokenor