Homemade Bacon-Maple Butter

Delicious on just about anything including a good grilled steak. Love this on my recipe for homemade pumpkin spiced flap-jacks, or extra toasty waffles. The best part about making this homemade bacon-maple butter, is that your entire house will smell like holiday ( Insert big, happy sigh.)

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Ingredients:

1/2 lb. unsalted butter, cut into approximately 1 inch pieces and frozen

4 strips of bacon, cooked crispy. (1 Tablespoon of fat reserved)

1 Tablespoon bacon fat ( optional )

1-1/2 cups grade A medium maple syrup

1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

Method: 

In a medium sized, 3-4 quart heavy bottomed,stainless-steel saucepan,rub the inside rim with 1/2 teaspoon of the butter. (This will help prevent the maple syrup from boiling over.) Add the Maple syrup to the sauce pan and cook without stirring on medium high heat until the syrup reaches 235”F Degrees on a candy thermometer. About 8 to 10 minutes. When the syrup begins to boil gently tilt the pan so the syrup covers the thermometer bulb to get an accurate reading.

Once syrup comes to temperature, remove from heat and add the frozen butter 1-2 pieces at a time. Make sure to stir constantly with a wooden spoon until each addition of butter has melted before incorporating more. Repeat until all the butter has been added.

Once all the butter has been incorporated, add the salt and the bacon fat.Stir to combine.

Pour the syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer, or use and electric hand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until cooled and lighter in color and about 10-15 minutes. Gently crumble, and fold in bacon bits until just combine or add before pressing for a smoother bacon texture.

Pour the bacon maple butter into clean mason jars, recycled food safe jars, or BPF free plastic containers. Allow to cool to room temperature. Seal air-tight and refrigerate. Can be stored up to, two weeks in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.

 

Makes approximately 1 pint.

Variation : Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and for a spicy finish– add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Or both! You decide.

 

 

Planning healthy habits

Did you ever notice how difficult it is to eat healthy when hunger strikes? Your little one wants a snack; you go to the kitchen and start looking around. Often we find ourselves in this situation. The key to keeping it healthy is planning. I know! We’re all busy. In the spirit of spring cleaning and getting organized, consider organizing snacks with a snack station.

Inspired by Realsimple.com, today’s idea is a grab-and-go snack stashes.

Using a larger bin – consider Tupperware, something that can be cleaned easily – place a variety of snacks that can be mixed and matched for treats. You can use snack size sandwich bags to portion out orange slice, baby carrots, celery sticks, pepper slices. You can even rotate these treats to showcase whatever is seasonal, like berries. Include grapes, lunch meat roll-ups (like turkey and Swiss of ham and cheddar), yogurt, string cheese and, for dipping, a jar of peanut butter and hummus.

Make a habit of refilling your snack station one day a week, say Sunday night. Once it’s ready, you can tell your kids to grab something when you’re busy without worry. And, you can pick up a small bag on your way out to the many baseball and soccer games going on. Those chips are tempting, but not the best option for your little one – or you.

How will you personalize your snack station?

Pumpkin breakfast treat

Let’s use pumpkins for a healthy breakfast this time.

Pumpkins are wonderful! First, the flavor is quintessential fall. But more importantly it is chock-full of vitamin A, which is good for your eyes. These gorgeous gourds also offer the ability to supply ingredients for multiple cooking or craft adventures!

Let’s start with breakfast using a baked pumpkin oatmeal recipe courtesy of CookingWithMyKid.com. Be warned, the prep time is limited but cooking will take 40 minutes to an hour.

It all starts with two cantaloupe-sized pumpkins called sugar pumpkins. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then, carefully cut the top off your pumpkin and clean the inside out. Keep the seeds in a bowl. These will come in handy for other possible tasks!

In a large bowl combine 1 tablespoon of melted butter or canola oil, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 cups of old fashioned oats and 1 egg. Stir well and divide evenly between the two pumpkins. Sprinkle the tops lightly with brown sugar. Place both pumpkins on a cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes to one hour or until the pumpkins are soft enough to scoop and the oatmeal is cooked.

Once finished, you can add a bit or milk or a splash more sugar to get the desired taste. This should be enough to serve four. When serving, be sure to scrape some of the baked pumpkin deliciousness in with the spiced oatmeal.

After enjoying a fall-filled breakfast, you have pumpkin seeds to play with. Pumpkin seeds are edible but can also be used for crafting. Regardless of your chosen activity, you’ll need to clean the seeds first. This is easy but messy!

With clean hands, slowly separate seeds from pumpkin innards. (By the way, this is way easier while the insides are still wet. Maybe it’s better to do this while breakfast cooks!) Clean the seeds in cold water. Sometimes I half fill a bowl with cool water so the seeds soak as I separate.

If you’re going to bake them, place the seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Stir the seeds around to coat. Then sprinkle salt and bake at 325 degrees until toasted, about 25 minutes. Check after 10. Or try making a bunch of different kinds.

Do you like cayenne pepper? Add a little in one corner. Sprinkle some lemon garlic on another. What flavors does your family like? Try different spices. If you don’t like it, you’ve got something new to try also baking.

The seeds can also be used for crafting. Start by preparing the seeds. If you want colorful seeds you can use markers, paint or colored nail polish. Alternatively, you can dye seeds by boiling them for about five minutes in a mixture of water and 1 teaspoon of food coloring. Do not remove seeds until the color is a little darker than you want. Then rinse the seeds in cold water and let them air dry.

Colorful seeds can be used to decorate picture frames or a mirror. Alternatively, you can string a bunch together using a needle and thread to make a necklace or bracelet.