Bacon, Bean, and Egg Skillet.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m eating a little bit differently now than I have in the past. One of the big changes I’ve made is cutting way down on grains and sugars, and completely eliminating them at breakfast time. It’s been kind of hard, given that a lot of the most delicious breakfasts in the world involve both of these things. So I’ve had to get a little bit creative, especially when I’m in the mood for something more dramatic than simple eggs or yogurt. That’s what this is. I don’t really have a story for this bacon, bean, and egg skillet, other than that it was delicious. I had been craving a recipe from Rachel Khoo that is similar but involves béchamel sauce and white bread, so I altered it a bit and created this dish. Yum. And if you’re making this, please see my note about bacon – it definitely makes an improvement on my original recipe.

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INGREDIENTS

3 slices of turkey bacon or regular bacon* (or however many it takes to line your skillet or baking dish)
1/4 cup refried beans (or, again, however much it takes to spread in the dish)
2 eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
shredded cheese, for sprinkling

*A note about bacon: Cook your bacon halfway before you use it in the recipe. I didn’t pre-cook mine, and when the whole thing was done, the bacon was just barely cooked. Still delicious, but it would have been even better if I had given it a few minutes on the stove or in the microwave. It just won’t get the cooking love it needs when it’s covered up by the beans and eggs. Do yourself a favor and pre-cook it.*

Just the Recipe link: Bacon, Bean, and Egg Skillet

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Cook your bacon about 50% of the way. Then lay your pre-cooked bacon in the bottom of the pan, forming a base for the beans.

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Watch out for little bacon-lovers, who may be drawn to you at this point.

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Spread the beans in a smooth layer all over the bacon, a little higher toward the sides of the pan and a little shallower in the center, where the eggs will go.

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Crack the eggs into the center of the dish.

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Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cheese.

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Bake until the eggs are set but the yolks are still runny. Watch them carefully so as not to overcook. Be sure to cut right into those yolks and let them run all over. Oh yeah.

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And watch out, in case the little bacon-lover returns to beg.

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Warm Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese and Roasted Beets.

The end of a bag of lentils sitting in my pantry, a great little beet stand at the farmers market, and a passionate and undying love of goat cheese contributed to my creation of this lentil salad. Goat cheese and lentils are fine and dandy, but I’m definitely not a beet lover. I do enjoy them from time to time, but I’m picky about how they’re prepared. Luckily, goat cheese is a beet’s best friend. Throw these two buddies over a well-dressed lentil salad and you’ve got yourself a dish that will make non-members of the beet chorus change their tune! Oh, and I forgot to mention, there’s bacon, too. Just in case you needed more convincing.

INGREDIENTS

3 small beets, scrubbed clean
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for the beets
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme, plus 3 sprigs
squeeze of honey
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 cup French lentils
bay leaf
3 sprigs parsley
4 cups chicken stock
4 strips bacon
2 shallots, minced
goat cheese

DIRECTIONS

First, get the beets a-roastin’.  Preheat oven to 375 F. Rub the beets with a bit of olive oil and wrap them in foil. Set them on a pan and roast for about 45 minutes, until fork tender.

When the beets have cooled enough to touch, slice them.

Next, the dressing. Whisk together 1/2 cup olive oil, vinegar, mustard, 1 tsp chopped thyme, honey, and salt and pepper. Let it sit a while so the flavors can marry.

To prepare the lentils, bring stock, bay leaf, and sprigs of thyme and parsley to a boil.

Stir in lentils, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.

In a large frying pan, cook bacon until browned to your liking and remove from pan. Don’t drain off the grease.

Turn off the heat and add shallots to pan with hot bacon grease. Cook for 1 minute, until they just start to brown.

Drain lentils and remove bay leaf, parsley, and thyme, and add lentils to warm pan with the shallot. Stir in most of the dressing and then taste, and add more dressing if you need it. Garnish with bacon bits, crumbled goat cheese, and sliced beets. Dig in!

Bacon and Egg Salad.

The French really know how to dress up a salad. I ate a dish just like this in Paris a few years ago, and I’m thrilled with how my recreation turned out! Thanks to Laura Calder for the recipe, which is really just an extravagant excuse to eat bacon and eggs for lunch. All the fatty, breakfast-y glory of the bacon and eggs, served atop a salad that helps you rationalize away all your nutritional doubts. One suggestion: to avoid wilting leaves and a hardening egg, this salad should be eaten immediately after it’s prepared. I’m betting you won’t have a problem with that.

INGREDIENTS

3 strips bacon
1 egg
2 tbsp white wine vinegar, plush a splash
olive oil
2 cups arugula, washed and dried
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Cook bacon to your liking and remove from pan.

Crumble into pieces and set aside.

On low heat, add 2 tbsp vinegar to bacon fat and boil to reduce to about a tbsp or two.

Then add enough olive oil to the pan to make a dressing for the arugula and stir. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, poach the egg: heat a pot of water with a splash of vinegar until it’s about to boil. Crack an egg into a ramekin. Stir the water gently so that it flows in a circle and gently pour in the egg. Poach until the white is cooked but the yolk is still runny. Remove from water with a slotted spoon.

Toss arugula in the pan of warm dressing.

Then, assemble! Arugula first, then bacon, then egg. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley. Make sure to break the yolk over the arugula so that it becomes a sort of dressing of its own. Mmmm.

Spaghetti Carbonara.

A friend studied abroad in Rome. She came back with tales of Italian adventures, a pair of gorgeous leather boots, and a love of pasta carbonara. But woe is her! She couldn’t find a decent carbonara in any stateside restaurant. One day I was watching the Cooking Channel and I saw one of my food idols, Nigella Lawson, whip up a gorgeous carbonara. I decided then that I would do my best to recreate my friend’s long lost Italian love, and this is that recipe. Simple but powerful, it’s a pasta experience good enough to satisfy a traveler’s nostalgia (hers) and even win over the pasta-ambivalent (yours truly).

INGREDIENTS

12 oz. whole wheat spaghetti or other pasta
7 strips of bacon, cut into lardons
splash of stock or white wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
3 eggs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup half and half
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup English peas, cooked

DIRECTIONS

Cook pasta until al dente. While the pasta cooks, brown bacon in a large pan. When browned but not crispy, remove bacon from pan and place on a paper towel to wick away fat.

Pour off some of the bacon grease, reserving about a teaspoon in the pan. Add garlic and shallot and cook until golden. Remove from pan and set aside.

Stir in wine or stock to deglaze.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, Parmesan, half and half, salt and pepper, and nutmeg.

Drain the al dente pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Over medium heat, add hot pasta to the deglazed pan, and pour in half of the egg mixture to create a sauce. Stir constantly. Sauce will become thick as you stir.

Add the bacon, garlic, shallots, and peas, and then pour in the rest of the egg mixture and continue to stir.

Add a splash or two of the pasta liquid to reach desired sauce consistency. Remove from heat. Season with more pepper, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve. Prego!

Coq au Vin.

Coq au vin, unlike revenge, is a dish best served hot. It’s a classic in French cuisine, with tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken in a rich, savory wine sauce with a hint of tomato, speckled with mushrooms and shallots and bacon. These flavors are just amazing! It’s a perfect dish for dinner parties, but this time, I’ve made it to have for lunch at work during the week. Lucky me. Totally impressive but actually very simple to execute, this recipe is definitely one worth mastering.

INGREDIENTS

3 lb chicken (I used 4 legs and 2 breasts)
salt and pepper to taste
1 pad butter
olive oil
4 strips bacon, cut into small strips or lardons
3 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
8 oz. mushrooms, rough chop
1 cup stock, plush a splash (I used homemade chicken stock)
1 cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1/2 cup canned crushed tomato
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp flour (thicken with potato flour for a gluten-free sauce)
chopped parsley for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Rinse and pat dry chicken, then season with salt and pepper.

Heat butter and olive oil in Dutch oven or other large soup pot. Working in batches, brown chicken on all sides and then transfer to a plate.

In the same pot, cook the bacon. When the bacon is crisp, add shallots and garlic and cook until soft.

In a separate pan, saute mushrooms in olive oil until soft. Set aside.

Deglaze the chicken pot with a splash or two of stock and stir.

Then place chicken back in the pot. Pour wine and the rest of the stock over the chicken and add mushrooms, crushed tomato, and bay leaves. Cover pot with lid and simmer for half an hour.

When chicken is fork-tender, remove from pot. Remove the bay leaves at this point, too. Place half a cup of the sauce into a small bowl and stir flour into it with a fork. Bring the pot of sauce/gravy to a low boil and whisk the flour-thickened portion into it. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Spoon sauce over chicken and serve with rice or potatoes, and garnish with parsley. Makes for luscious leftovers too!