Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Candied Bacon the Ultimate Holiday Appetizer

I published this post in 2008 on my personal blog...but lately I have had several people ask for it so I am converting it to my RMR blog.  What is genius about this recipe is you can serve it for breakfast, brunch or cocktails.  Everyone loves it!  Enjoy:)

I've had more people than I can count ask for this recipe. If you have been to my house for any family or social occasion this "appetizer" was probably served. I made 7 pounds (oh yeah, that's right SEVEN pounds) for Thanksgiving last year and it was gone within 15 minutes - GONE!! Tad and I first ate it at a millionaire's home cocktail party last fall (these people had a butler, a lady of the house who runs everything and a chef). It was so popular at the party I came straight home and googled it. The following recipe is adapted from Emeril's. In the spirit of the pioneer woman, I tried to photograph making it (but I don't have the kick but camera or mad skills she has so you will have to bear with me). So, if you'd like to eat like the rich and famous, if you want your friends and family to flock to your house and tell you your the best woman in the WORLD you should try it out...


Candied Bacon
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 pound thick sliced bacon
NOTE - Yes, I know that putting organic sugar on bacon probably negates the fact that you are eating organic - but a girl has to try. And in my house Tad would count this as eating organic - not that he cares.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place a metal rack on top of a DISPOSABLE cookie sheet. Trust me you DO NOT want to use your own pan - you want to just throw the pan away once you are done. (The metal racks come clean in the dishwasher.) Combine the brown sugar and chili powder in a shallow dish, stirring to mix well.

Press 1 side of each slice of bacon firmly into the spiced sugar to coat well, moving all the way down the slice to make sure the slice is coated well.


Arrange the slices of bacon on top of the broiler rack in a single layer, sugared-side up. See the gunk on the bottom? That is the result of the bacon fat and the sugar burning on the bottom while the bacon is cooking, YUCK. Again, I can't stress enough D-I-S-P-O-S-A-B-L-E cookie sheets - they are at every grocery store and the dollar store and they are so worth it.

After prepping/coating every few slices of bacon you need to "rake" the sugar with a fork to make it easier for the sugar to stick to the bacon.
Bake for 15 - 25 minutes (until browned and crisp). Drain briefly on a paper towel and then move to a serving dish. CAUTION: I know this may look so tempting when it comes out of the oven but you MUST wait at least 2 minutes before eating. Otherwise, the the sugar tends to adhere the bacon to your teeth like super glue and the grease in the bacon will scald your mouth and lips while you try to pry the piece off your teeth. I'm just saying - take it from someone with experience.
Note: You can make this a few hours ahead of time and keep warm in a 150 degree oven until ready to serve (the bacon will continue to get darker when you do this so you may want to decrease the cooking time if you plan to keep warm). Below is what the end result looks like - see the gorgeous glaze? See how this isn't a whole piece? Either Tad or my sister snapped a piece off while my back was turned - I am telling you this recipe turns humans into animals.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Holiday Lunch 2013 Sneek Peek!

It's beginning to look a lot like Holiday Lunch!  This year's theme is SHINE (there will be lots of gold and silver with accents of burlap and greenery and......pallets).  While the majority of our decor is under wraps...I just couldn't keep these little gems a secret!  If you are responsible for decorating your school cafeteria on a tight budget here are some LOW cost items.

The green trees are bay leaf trees and I plan to make a few (or 20;) for my house.  The poster board was purchased from the Dollar Store (green poster board is $0.69 a sheet and I was able to get 2 cones out of each sheet of poster board).  I used this tutorial to make the poster board into a cone shape.  And then we hot glued bay leaves onto the trees.  If you live anywhere but the southeast they sell these in bulk at Costco.  Word on the street is you can buy them at Sam's.  Or you could raid your neighbor's yard or the local Farmer's Market like I did:)  I purchased bulk bags of bay leaves that cost $0.74  a bag.  One bag made about 2 trees depending on how crushed the leaves were in the bag.  Which makes this little project a whopping $0.72 a tree!

For the pine cone "trees" we just used a die cutter to cut out little stars from glitter paper and we hot glued them to the tips.  

Check back in December for a complete post of our holiday lunch with pictures and instructions!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Boo to YOU!

Happy October Everyone!  It's fall y'all, time for football and bonfires and pumpkins and the fun tradition of Boo'ing or Ghosting your friends and neighbors!  I picked up a few items to "Boo" our teacher with tomorrow.  A cute cup that says "You're a HOOT" I bought from Walmart for $5, embellished soap I made and her favorite candy.  


I embellished the soap bottle.  This can be done for any holiday and it's inexpensive to "make".  Here's what you need.  Bedazzled stickers - I purchased mine from Hobby Lobby.  You can usually find these in the scrapbook section or among the holiday theme items.  These stickers are currently on sale 40% off.  A bottle of soap I purchased at Kroger (they currently have lots of fall themed scented hand soaps on sale for $1). And you will need Goo Gone (I prefer the spray bottle as opposed to the squirt bottle).

 

Peel the clear label off the front of the bottle.  It comes off pretty easily in one piece as you can see below.  You can take the paper label off the back of the bottle but it is way more cumbersome and I like to keep that label on so the recipient knows what is in the bottle and can easily see the list of ingredients.



You can not see from this picture but there is a sticky residue left behind from the label that you need to clean off the bottle.  Next you need to hold the bottle with a paper towel to cover the back label  and spray a little Goo Gone on sticky residue you are trying to remove.  Rub the Goo Gone all over the front of the bottle until you feel the sticky residue starting to come loose.  Then I use a little plastic scraper to scrape the residue off the bottle.



Once you think you have scraped most of the residue off, use a paper towel to wipe the front of the bottle clean and make sure there is no Goo Gone or sticky residue from the label left behind.  Then just add your stickers to embellish the bottle.  And voila!  You have a cute holiday themed soap that cost under $2 to make.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It's All Greek to Me!

My daughter's class is studying Greece and her teacher wanted to have a Greek Day.  She had centers where students could make paper crowns that looked like olive leaves and branches, potato sack races (as their "Olympic competition") and a food station where the students could have a taste of Greece.  Below are the dishes I made and the recipes.  This was a lot of fun and the children really enjoyed it.  Enjoy!



A Taste of Greece Recipes

Greek Salad on a Stick
2 English cucumbers (cut into 1/4inch slices)
1 pint grape tomatoes (sliced in half)
1lb block of feta cheese (sliced into 50 square cubes)
1 can sliced black olives drained and rinsed
Toothpicks
Directions:
Stack a black olive slice, a cube of feta cheese and ½ grape tomato (in that order) on top of a cucumber slice and secure with a toothpick.  Repeat until you make enough for your class.


Fresh Figs with Drizzled Honey (Served with Vanilla Greek Yogurt)
2 pints fresh figs (Publix now has Brown Turkey & Black Mission)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Honey (enough to drizzle over top)
Directions:
Rinse figs and pat dry.  Tear stems off the top of the figs.  Slice in half, sprinkle granulated sugar and drizzle with honey.

KOFTA - Lamb Meatballs 
(we served this with Tzatziki sauce we bought from Costco)
1 lb ground lamb
1lb ground beef
½ a red onion
1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
2 eggs

2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with non-stick parchment paper. In a food processor or food chopper chop red onion, parsley, eggs and all the spices together.  Dump the meat and the food processor mixture in a large mixing bowl. Work all the ingredients together with yours hands until the meat, onion, spices and parsley are all well combined.  Use a small 2in – 2 ¾ inch cookie scoop to scoop the meat into uniform size balls and place on sheet evenly. Bake 25 minutes or until set and no longer pink in the middle.

Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Baklava
1 16 oz package phyllo dough thawed (there are 2 rolls in each box and you will only need 1)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter melted
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees .  Butter a 9x13 baking dish.  Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.  Unroll 1 packgage of phyllo dough.  Cover phyllo with a damp paper towel to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, and brush melted butter over the top sheet thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered.  Sprinkle 2 - 3 tablespoons of the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, melted butter, brown sugar & cinnamon, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 - 8 sheets deep.

Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.

Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Remove baklava from oven and immediately pour sauce over it. Let cool. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.

Spanakopita Cups
3 boxes/packages Athens phyllo cups
10oz frozen chopped spinach (thawed and all watered squeezed out)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove phyllo cups from packaging and place cups on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Place spinach, ricotta cheese, feta cheese, garlic powder and salt in a mixer at low speed.  Mix until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.  Spoon a tablespoon into each phyllo cup.  Bake for 8-10 minutes until cheese has melted.  Serve immediately.

Olive Oil Lemon Cake (from Eat, Live Run website)
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Zest of 1 lemon
juice of 2 lemons
powdered sugar for serving
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in mini muffin tin.

Beat together the eggs and sugar until very pale and fluffy. For best results, use an electric mixer on high setting for five minutes. If you don’t have a mixer, beat by hand until very thick.

Slowly stream in the olive oil and lemon juice into the eggs and sugar mixture and fold in with a rubber spatula.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and zest. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, making sure you get down to the bottom of the bowl so everything is incorporated well.
Pour batter into prepared mini muffin tin and bake for 15 minutes. 

Let cupcakes cool in pan slightly before removing and dusting with powdered sugar.  Recipe makes about 60 mini cupcakes.



Saturday, August 24, 2013

Steals & Deals Target Edition

Hi everyone!  I was out shopping at Target*** yesterday (I can't help myself).  They had some great items on clearance if you need to make any themed baskets for school events.  Below are some basket themes that coordinate with the items I saw marked down.

  • Take Flight basket - they had lots of kites marked down from $2.08-$2.68, huge foam glider planes you can assemble marked down to $6.98, water balloon launchers, foam rocket launchers, bubbles and bubble machines on clearance as well.
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends - They had huge boxes of sidewalk chalk marked down, all kinds of bubbles, bubble machines, glow bubble solutions and balls on clearance.
  • Digging in the Dirt - Their entire line of Discovery items was marked down, from mini lanterns to butterfly kits, to bug vaccums and more ($2.08-$10.48) along with shovels, rakes and more.
  • Super Hero Basket - They had super hero kites, super here kickboards and TM Ninja Turtle bubbles on clearance.
  • Nerf Basket - They had their entire line Nerf water guns and super soakers on clearance.
Happy Shopping Everyone!!

***Target is Snellville




Thursday, August 22, 2013

Deals & Steals

Our school has a Bingo night each fall that every class (i.e. room parent) must create a basket for.  I have also been at schools who hold fundraising auctions at their events or festivals that each class had to make baskets for.  If you need a full list of ideas click here for a more extensive list.  Walmart** currently has lots of games, toys, crafts, outdoor activities and school supplies marked down. I have a list of basket themes below that you could incorporate the items they have marked down if you wanted to get started on yours. Target will be marking their school supplies down soon as well if you prefer to shop there.        
  • Super Hero Basket – they have lots of super hero games and puzzles marked down.
  • Outdoor “Backyard Again” basket – they have lots of outdoor items such as glow in the dark bubbles, balls, rolling buckets, water sprayers, slip and slides, sling shots, bow and arrow, etc.
  • Game Night Basket – they have lots of board games and card games on clearance.
  • Lego Basket – They have little micro Lego character sets on clearance for $2.50 each. 
  • Duck Tape Basket – Walmart has TONS of Duck tape and there are so many craft ideas for it now. Back in the sewing section they have sets Duck tape sheets on clearance for $7 and Duck tape craft activity sets (one makes a boy’s wallet and one makes a girl’s purse) on clearance for $7. 
  • "Let’s Get WILD” theme – There are tons of items on clearance that are zebra or cheetah print like straw cups, lap desks, mirrors, notebook and notepads, locker d├ęcor, pens, pencils, travel pillows, tape, etc.
  • Art Basket – they have markers, crayons, notebooks, scissors, glue, etc marked down in the school supply section. They also have sets of 9 art canvases for $9.97 in the craft/sewing section.
Here are some pictures of baskets I did last year with items I purchased on clearance. They are a good example of how things that might not normally "go together" work with the right theme title.  

The first one is a basket I made with a Dippin Dots set that was marked down for $11 and a set of ice cream shaped sidewalk chalk and a journal with an ice cream cone on the front.

The second one is a "Wild About Pink" basket I made from items I bought on clearance.  It had a zebra lap desk I bought on clearance at Walmart, a zebra travel pillow, a zebra journal, zebra Duck tape, pink slipper socks, black and white hair scrunchies, etc. and I bought the cute zebra cellow bag at Hobby Lobby.
**The Walmart I shopped at today is off Collins Hill Road if you are looking for specific items I noted in the basket ideas.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back to School 2013

It's that time of year again and I'm not sure if everyone else is back in session but we are and I have compiled a list of the Back to School ideas/links I used this year!!  I hope you enjoy!!  Best of luck this Back to School Season:)

Back to School First Day Printables
Thanks to Pinterest there are some adorable signs you can print for your child (or students) to hold to take that "first day" photo with.  My favorite is this one from ohsoprintable.com.


Back to School Notebook Printables
Want to make that plain notebook super cute?  Check out these FREE printables from TeachersPayTeachers.com!  Just set up a username and password and there are TONS of FREE printables for all occasions.


Getting to Know the Teacher
I'm a huge advocate of getting to know your teacher.  Nothing is worse as a "lead"room parent at a school as when you see a class spend money and time buying or creating something your teacher will not use.  So asking your teacher to fill out a "profile" or "favorites list" is always helpful.  You can use the one I always have posted on my blog under Documents OR you can check out this cute one from lifesweetlifeblog.com!

Curriculum Night
As always I strongly encourage ALL my room parents to utilize the time you have during Curriculum Night to ask for volunteers.  I place a sheet out with EVERY school event I am responsible for like winter and end of year party trays, tents and coolers of ice for Field Day, snacks for testing.  Parents who work are much more likely to sign up to send something in and they will often do it during the euphoria of Curriculum Night before the grinding schedule of fall sets in.  So grab them while they're hot...and then in April when you are dragging a little you can pull out that sign up sheet and see you already have volunteers (you'll just have to remind them:).  To help further this process I bring treats.  This year I made cake pops to look like apples.  I followed these directions and used red Wilton candy melts to dip them in, green striped straws I bought at Hobby Lobby and I cut green apple Rips candy to make the leaves.  I picked up those napkins in the background that look like notebook paper at Target (in the dollar section).


Teacher Treats
I like to bring a "Back to School survival kit" each year to open house.  This year I included chocolate,skittles, soda, aspirin, Shout wipes, lint brush, a sewing kit, breath mints and hand sanitizer.  I own a Silhouette and so this year I cut vinyl to embellish the hand sanitizer (and then I made a few extra for the other school administrators and staff).  If you don't own a cutting machine, Hobby Lobby has a great selection of pre-cut vinyl letters that you can just peel and stick onto any tote or bottle to embellish or personalize.  This is an insane time of year for teachers and showing them you are thinking of them with ANY little treat is very much appreciated.