Tag Archives: bacon

Baked Cajun Seafood and Rice

Instead of more traditional ground beef lasagna, try this shrimp and crabmeat casserole from Better Homes & Garden. Pair it with a side salad for a satisfying and vegetable-rich dinner.

With the cost of fresh lump carb meat sky-high, refrigerated pasteurized lump crabmeat is an excellent choice over the traditional canned crabmeat or more expensive fresh crab. Look for it at the meat and seafood counter of your supermarket.

When it comes to the rice, measure out 3 cups AFTER it is cooked. The Hubs had an off-moment and cooked too much rice and we used all of it. Although it did not alter the flavor of the dish, it did make it a bit too rice-forward. If you do have extra rice, save it for another meal.

Purchasing a 1-pound bag of frozen salad shrimp made prepping a lot easier because they didn’t need to be peeled and deveined; plus the small size was perfect in the casserole. This is an ideal dish when hosting/attending a potluck lunch or dinner, just make sure to keep it warm until serving time.

Baked Cajun Seafood and Rice

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen small shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 medium green sweet pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme, crushed
  • 3 cup cooked long grain white rice, (1 cup uncooked)
  • 4 strips thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 8 cups fresh baby kale or spinach, stems removed
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning
  • 2 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (8 oz.)
  • 16 oz. cooked crabmeat, flaked
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (2 oz.)
  • ½ cup chopped green onions (4)


  1. Make rice according to package directions.
  2. Thaw shrimp, if frozen; set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large skillet cook the green pepper, onion, celery, and garlic in 1 tablespoon hot butter over medium heat about 4-5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Stir in thyme; cook and stir for 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl. Add cooked rice; stir to combine. Set aside.
  4. In the same skillet cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Add the kale; cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes or until wilted and tender. Remove from heat. Set aside.
  5. In a medium saucepan melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and Cajun seasoning; cook and stir for 1 minute.
  6. Stir in milk; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Reduce heat to low. Add Monterey Jack cheese; stir until cheese melts.
  7. Lightly grease a 4-quart rectangular baking dish. Spread half of the rice mixture over bottom of dish. Layer with half of the kale mixture, half of the shrimp, half of the crabmeat, and half of the cheese sauce. Repeat layers. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese.
  8. Bake, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly and lightly golden. Sprinkle with green onions.


Roughly adapted from a recipe for Better Homes & Garden

Braised Leeks; Two Options

In the allium family, leeks are the tallest and offer the sweet taste of onion but with an earthier, grassy herbal character, and we love them! This first Braised Leeks with Bacon and Thyme recipe hailing from Molly Stevens “All About Braising” cookbook braises the leeks slowly in chicken broth until they collapse into blessed tenderness.

As Molly describes, braising reveals all of their goodness and brings out a complexity of flavor that would be lost by boiling or steaming. They are infinitely versatile and made a perfect accompaniment to our roasted chicken dinner. Serve them hot, warm, at room temperature or even a little chilled. They’ll keep for several days in the refrigerator.

Option number two is a vegetarian dish from Milk Street. Braised Leeks with Balsamic Glaze are meltingly tender. They are poached in olive oil and water then drizzled with a tangy-sweet balsamic glaze. The vegetable retains its mild spring onion flavor with none of the raw allium pungency—a wonderful example of letting the natural flavor of an ingredient shine through!

Leeks are at their best in the fall and winter. Shop for leeks that feel solid at the base, not at all squishy. The green top portion should be dark, not dried out. Inspect the white portion to see that it’s smooth and bright, not split or slimy. Late-season leeks may have developed solid woody cores, an indication it is way past their prime, and shouldn’t be purchased.

Braised Leeks with Bacon and Thyme

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 4 to 5 lbs. medium to large leeks
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut lengthwise in half
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme (do not substitute dried)
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 lemon


  1. Place the bacon in a medium skillet, set over medium heat, and fry, stirring often with a slotted spoon, until mostly crisp but with some softness remaining, 8-10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain, and set the skillet aside.
  2. Preheat the over to 325°F. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. (We didn’t have as many leeks so we used a 9×9 square dish.)
  3. With a large knife trim off the root end of each leek, but leave the base intact. Get rid of the heaviest green part and any tough white parts. Cut off the tops at the point where the green turns from pale and smooth to dark and leathery.
  4. Cut the leeks lengthwise in half, without cutting completely through the root end, Wash the leeks thoroughly, holding them upside down under cold running water and flaring the layers to let the water run through to remove all the sand.
  5. Shake off the excess water and place them in one layer in the prepared baking dish. Tuck the garlic halves in the dish and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Sprinkle on the thyme.
  6. Pour off as much fat from the reserved bacon skillet, without discarding the bacon drippings. Place over high heat, add the stock, and bring to a boil to deglaze the pan, scraping with a wooden spoon. Pour the hot stock over the leeks.
  7. Cover the dish tightly with foil and place on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Braise for 30 minutes.
  8. Turn the leeks over with tongs, and continue braising uncovered until the leeks are fork tender, another 15-25 minutes. Scatter the reserved bacon over the leeks and continue braising for an additional 15 minutes, or until the leeks are soft enough to be easily pierced with the tip of a knife.
  9. With tongs and a slotted spoon, transfer the leeks and bacon to a platter, and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour any remaining juices, along with those from the platter, into a skillet and reduce down to 1/4 cup. Add a generous squeeze of lemon, taste for salt and pepper, and simply pour over the leeks. Serve warm or room temperature.


Braised Leeks with Balsamic Glaze

You want to make sure not to stir the leeks too vigorously or too often when browning them. Stir gently just once or twice, without flipping them, so they color evenly. And once the water goes into the pan and the cover goes on, it’s best to simply shake the skillet, not stir its contents, so the leeks hold together.

These leeks just melted in the mouth! We omitted the sliced almonds for this meal; and next time we would cut the glaze in half. Although it was very good, we didn’t even use all of it and it was still a lot.

Braised Leeks with Basamic Glaze

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 lb. leeks, white and light green parts only, outer layers removed
  • 2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into 2 pieces
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 6 thyme sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 3 Tbsp. sliced almonds, toasted (optional)


  1. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise. Fill a large bowl with water, submerge the leek halves and swish them around to remove the grit between the layers. Pour off the water and repeat until the leeks are clean, then pat dry. Cut the leeks on the diagonal into 2-inch sections, keeping the layers intact as much as possible.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet, combine the oil, butter and leeks, adding them to the pan cut side down. Set the pan over medium-high and cook, gently stirring only once or twice so the layers do not separate, until the leeks are lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes.
  3. Add ¼ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, then slowly add ⅔ cup water. Add the thyme sprigs, cover and reduce to medium-low. Cook, occasionally shaking the skillet, until a knife inserted into the leeks meets no resistance and most of the water has evaporated, about 20 minutes.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the leeks to a platter, leaving the oil in the skillet. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Add the vinegar and honey to the pan, then cook over medium, stirring often, until the mixture is syrupy, 2 to 4 minutes.
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then pour over the leeks. Sprinkle with the chopped thyme and the almonds, if using.


Red Cabbage Glazed with Maple Syrup

This recipe, published in The Times in 1991, was adapted from Yves Labbé, the chef at Le Cheval d’Or, a restaurant in Jeffersonville, Vt., that showcased French country cooking. Mr. Labbé was known to serve this side dish alongside quail in a red-wine sauce, and its simple instructions belie depths of flavor. The cabbage cooks down, braising in its own juices, while the sweetness of the apples and maple syrup, a Vermont staple, tones down the bitterness of the cabbage. The result has broad appeal. —Marialisa Calta

We decided to pair it with a tasty and moist Sous Vide Pork Loin which came out of it’s immersion bath at just the right temperature, then was seared on all sides to achieve a golden crust…. but I’m getting ahead of myself… now about this cabbage dish.

It’s quite easy actually. Spend a bit of prep time chopping or mincing the first four ingredients. Next several minutes are spent sautéing the bacon and onion. Everything else now goes in the Dutch oven, the pot is covered and put in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

The dish was incredibly good. We did notice however quite a bit of liquid in the bottom of the pot and thought perhaps next time we’d reduce the amount of maple syrup by half, using only a 1/4 cup instead of a 1/2 cup. Which would appeal to our preference for more savory than sweet.

Red Cabbage Glazed with Maple Syrup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 5 slices bacon, minced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 medium firm, tart apple, peeled, quartered, cored and sliced
  • 1 lb. red cabbage (about 1/2 head), cored, outer leaves removed and shredded
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • Salt and black pepper


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In an ovenproof saucepan or Dutch oven large enough to hold all of the ingredients, sauté the bacon over medium until crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 more minutes.
  2. Add the apple, cabbage, bay leaf, maple syrup, and season with salt and pepper, cover, and transfer to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
  3. Serve hot.


Recipe by Yves Labbé for NY Times Cooking

Goat-Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

These bite-sized appetizers are a perfect addition to your finger food array. The original recipe from Martha Stewart was altered to streamline the process and add more depth of flavor with the addition of bacon, and swapping out rosemary and thyme for the parsley.

Martha instructs to create breadcrumbs using 3 slices of white sandwich bread. We had some already made from focaccia which not only saved time but added even more flavor. It is not recommended to make them ahead of time as the bread will turn gummy.

Goat-Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

  • Servings: 3 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • Olive oil, for baking sheet
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 1 log (5 oz.) soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary and thyme, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red-pepper flakes
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked and roughly chopped
  • Coarse salt
  • 24 oz. white button mushrooms, stems removed


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Reserve 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs.
  3. In a food processor, add garlic, goat cheese, bacon, thyme and rosemary, red-pepper flakes and remaining bread crumbs. Season with salt, and pulse filling until combined.
  4. Spoon filling into each mushroom, pressing down with fingers to firm up. Roll filled side in reserved breadcrumbs. Place on prepared baking sheet; bake until mushrooms are tender and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.


Roughly adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart

Honey Garlic Shrimp, Corn and Avocado Bacon Salad

The love affair begins with the dressing, which is the key to adding unforgettable flavor. Just like a romance, it is sweet, spicy, tangy—with a jolt of garlic thrown in. Although I had to laugh at the notion that this Honey Garlic Shrimp, Corn, and Avocado Bacon Salad recipe from Half-Baked Harvest was supposed to feed six. Including daughter Julia who was in for a visit, the three of us polished it off entirely—yes, it was THAT good!

While there is not much cooking, you do need to char the ears of corn, crisp the bacon and sear the shrimp. Afterward, it comes together in minutes. Honey garlic seared shrimp cooked together with the bacon drippings is then tossed up in a fresh salad of romaine, grilled corn, salty feta, and creamy avocado. The herby dressing is so deliciously flavorful and pulls it altogether. You will be pining for more 💜…

To simplify things on dinner night, pre-prep by making the crispy bacon pieces and charred corn ahead of time, let cool, and store until ready to use.

Honey Garlic Shrimp, Corn and Avocado Bacon Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. grainy dijon mustard
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. champagne vinegar
  • 1/3 cup mixed herbs, chopped (rosemary and basil)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper


  • 1 1/2 lbs. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 slices thick bacon, chopped after cooking
  • 6 cups regular or baby romaine, chopped
  • 3 ears grilled corn, kernels removed from the cob
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1-2 avocados, sliced
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled (don’t buy the pre-crumbled variety)


  1. To make the dressing. Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper.
  2. In another bowl, toss the shrimp with 1/3 of the dressing. Let sit 10 minutes.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan. Roughly chop when cooled.
  4. Add the shrimp to the hot bacon fat and cook on both sides until seared, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the heat. You will need to do this in two batches.
  5. To make the salad, combine the greens, corn, and tomatoes in a salad bowl and toss with a little dressing. Add the shrimp, bacon, and avocados. Spoon the dressing overtop. Top with feta. Season with freshly cracked pepper and salt. Serve warm or cold.


Adapted from a recipe by Half-Baked Harvest