Tag Archives: bacon

Scintillating Chicken Salad Sliders on Arepas

When I was around twelve, I loved going to my best friend’s house.  Being ex-military and ex-CIA, his dad was strict, but kind.  He was the type of man who wouldn’t tolerate the sheninagans you see kids pull today.  We always showed respect to adults in his house.  It was always “yes sir” and “yes ma’am.”

His mom was great.  She was from Venezuela, and she was always making treats for us.  I still remember the creaminess of the hot chocolate she made with melted Venezuelan chocolate bars.  What I miss most are the arepas.

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Arepas are similar to hot water cornbread, but you use cooked corn flour, or masa harina.  I’ve only made them twice in my life.  They paled in comparison to the perfectly cooked corn discs of my youth.  Nonetheless, they are tasty and I think with enough practice, I can make these as light and fluffy as I remember.

Here is an excellent arepa recipe. I added garlic powder to mine. I especially like this recipe because there are many descriptive pictures to help you make your own arepas. I also decided to get a little creative with the chicken salad. Cooking the chicken was no sweat. All that’s needed are two boneless-skinless chicken breasts, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken to a small pot and cover with water. Add salt and pepper to taste. If I had chicken broth I would have used it instead of water. Then you cook the chicken in the boiling water until it is just done. Remove chicken and allow to cool. Once cooked, shred chicken by hand.

The “salad” portion of this is essentially a remoulade sauce I came across. The original recipe came from serious eats. I added minced sundried tomatoes in olive oil. I almost forgot about the star of the sandwich…bacon. I used thick cut bacon and sliced the strips into thirds before frying. Assembly is the best part. Slice arepas in half. Apply chicken salad. Top with a piece of bacon and add the top part of the arepa. It’s pretty straightforward. And delicious.

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Bacon Apple Fritter Strata With Oatmeal Crumble


For those that know me, it is commonplace for me to share potential recipe ideas. My wife tells me that all I think about is food. She’s right.

I’m always concerned about the next meal. I anguish over what I want to cook. It’s not that I’m some kind of culinary genius. I’m not. I just like variety and our meal plan is nothing like what my mom instituted when I was young.

She was driven by what was cheapest, as am I, but you had a pretty good idea that Sunday was fried chicken, roast beef on Saturday, and the other days of the week were filled with spaghetti, salmon patties, meatloaf, and boiled Eckrich sausage and white rice.

She instituted variety, but the rotation of dishes was very tight. My meal rotation is quite loose where it might be weeks before you repeat a meal, or I may become obsessed with a certain ingredient (like pasta or pinto beans), and we eat practically the same meal for eleven days straight.

In the meantime, I’m always seeking out new recipes or creating my own. My dad would call it concocting while I prefer the term, developing. His bologna pasta is a concoction (and a disgusting one at that). A one-off. Something you pray you never encounter again.

When I consider recipe development, I revisit a recipe to improve upon it.  One recipe that needs some tweaking is my maple cake with mocha frosting.  It tastes good as it is, but there are some characteristics I would like to improve upon.

I’m also reminded of my pinto bean recipe.  I know you may think that beans are beans, but they aren’t.  This is about the best pinto beans I’ve ever had, but that doesn’t keep me from trying to make these legumes better.

Well, I had similar sentiments from my family when I made that strawberry-jalapeño pie. I think I know where I went wrong, so I’m considering a attempt which will bring this creation from a concoction to a development. I just hope it isn’t an abomination.

I was feeling sweet strata, so after three days of scheming, I finally brought my idea into the kitchen. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did thinking about it.



6 Krispy Kreme apple fritters, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 dozen extra large Eggland’s Best Eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup Hormel Real Bacon Bits

For crumble topping:

2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
3/4 cup Country Crock spreadable butter with canola oil


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place chopped fritters onto a nonstick cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes so they are toasted.

Combine eggs, milk, sea salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a bowl with a fork or whisk.

Spray 9×11 pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with fritter cubes.

Pour egg mixture over fritter cubes and sprinkle bacon evenly over the top.

Combine ingredients for the crumble topping with your hand and spread mixture evenly over strata.

Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes or until done.

All photos courtesy of Stacy Crumpley.

Homemade Raw Vegan Chocolate


I have to admit that this is the first vegan recipe I have ever tried.  I had a recipe to test for a freelance piece and I decided to toy with it.  Normally, I’ll bite a hunk of dark chocolate and it has the ceraceous consistency of those wax lips you get around Halloween.  It takes forever for it to begin to melt which is when you can finally say Unleash the Kraken!!!  Um…I…I mean…flavor.  If you start screaming about krakens you might find yourself in a padded cell.  Without chocolate.


The chocolate here is about half cacao butter.  You can take a piece from the freezer and it immediately begins melting.  This is desirable as you are struck with the chocolate jolt and you don’t even have time to think about krakens.


  • 6 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup cacao butter
  • Celtic sea salt for sprinkling(you can use pink Himalayan salt or some large grained salt.  Just don’t use iodized salt.  It will make you cry.)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut palm sugar (I couldn’t find this so I used turbinado sugar.  I couldn’t get the chocolate warm enough to melt the sugar, though.  Well, I could have heated it enough, I was just concerned that I was going to irreparably damage my raw chocolate.  Why buy raw chocolate if you are just going to cook it?  This batch was grainy but delicious.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (I have some really nice extract from Honduras, but McCormick will do nicely)



The best way to render the cacao butter is to grate it so that it melts easily.  As you grate the cacao butter, heat a pot of water until it is steaming.  You don’t quite want it at the boiling point.  The cacao is cold pressed and the object is to keep the temperature as low as you can so you don’t destroy the nutrients with heat.

To be honest, my first notion was to microwave the cacao butter until I researched it.  Heat it slowly.  The heat destroys flavinoids or something.  Hey, I just scanned for the best way to heat cacao butter.  I never planned on learning.  If you are interested in the nuances of raw cacao, I’m sure Google will accommodate you.

Using a heat resistant bowl, like Pyrex or stainless steel, melt the butter by placing the container in or on top of the pot of hot water.  Or if you want to be fancy, a double boiler will do nicely.

Once melted, add all ingredients and mix thoroughly with a wire whisk.  When everything is fully incorporated, pour into molds like ice cube trays.  I poured my chocolate off into an aluminum pan.  Then you want to sprinkle some salt over the top.  Chocolate that is highlighted with sea salt is something you want to enjoy.

Place your container into the freezer for around 20 minutes or you can let it cool in the refrigerator for about two hours.  You do the math.  20 minutes or two hours.  I put mine in the freezer too.

All photos courtesy of Stacy Crumpley.
All photos courtesy of Stacy Crumpley.

Next time I’m not going to fool with vegan pretexts.  I’ll use honey to avoid the grainy texture and I’ll punch it up with a dose of sriracha.

Best. Meatloaf. Ever.


One of the preeminent comfort foods is meatloaf. It appears to be one of those dishes that is publicly jeered at, but secretly is coveted.

I have eaten meatloaf from many places. There certainly is awesome meatloaf and there is meatloaf that is only suitable for Gallagher’s Sledge-O-Matic. It’s still meatloaf and I hungrily shovel it in.

This particular meatloaf is an amalgamation of my experiences in trying different recipes, but it leans heavily on the freeform method that is typically in a mobile kitchen with Mercy Chefs. I just happened to write down the process today.

I look forward to your critique as I’d like to know where on the spectrum it belongs. Maybe Gallagher and I need to eat smashed meatloaf.

If you really want to enhance your experience, try serving with fresh remoulade sauce.




3 pounds ground chuck
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup dried parsley
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Sriracha
2 ounces Hormel crumbled bacon with black pepper


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix ingredients thoroughly, but do not over mix as it will make the meatloaf really dense.

Form into loaf on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Coat meatloaf with homemade sauce (or ketchup).

Cook for 75 minutes or until internal temperature is 150 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest. Internal temperature should rise to 160 at rest.


Images courtesy of Stacy Crumpley.




My First Crack at Field Peas


It’s nice to get settled back into my regular routine. The past two weeks involved a lot of travel and lots of sweat in the kitchen. All part of being a volunteer of Mercy Chefs. I was given an awesome chef coat, too. Does that make me a chef? Maybe not, but I look cool rockin’ it with a pair of plaid shorts.

Much of the time we eat beans and rice. When we get tired of beans and rice, we will vary our menu with rice and beans. This is part of our effort to extricate ourselves from debt bondage and I will be relieved when we are delivered from it.

I’ve eaten Glory Foods‘ field peas many times, but today I decided to make them myself. I find a lot of similarity between my bean recipes, but what more do you want than mirepoix and some meat for flavor?

I must warn you that I use Tony Chachere’s cajun seasoning a lot. I was reminded of this Friday in Louisville, MS. I had already made 200 pounds of meatloaf with the aid of two assistants and I was tasked with heating up some broccoli as our initial batch of vegetables ran out. I tossed the infernal crucifer into the pan to steam and liberally applied Tony Cachere’s. The chef comes in and spots the spices and said, “You and your cajun seasoning!” What can I say? I like it.

Based on the ingredients on hand I determined that the best course of action was to use the “seek and dump” method.

1 pound field peas, rinsed and sorted
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 smoked ham shank piece
1 12 ounce bag Pictsweet Seasoning Blend (I’d chop my own vegetables if I wasn’t feeling puny from my travels.)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon Tony Cachere’s
1 tablespoon beef base
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon oregano

Brown bacon and ham shank. Add seasoning blend and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent.

Dump remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Cover and summer on low, stirring occasionally for approximately 1 1/2 hours or until peas are tender.

Remove ham shank and remove and chop meat. Return to pot.

I don’t use a lot of salt as I use a lot of salty cajun seasoning and salty meat. Once done, season to taste.

Serve on rice. Or whatever.