Candied Bacon Bouquet & Bacon Bourbon - A Bday Post

A bacon-licious man bouquet and libation for my babe's birthday <3

  • Candied Bacon Bouquet
    • 4 tsp vegetable oil 
    • 1 to 1.5 cups brown sugar (packed)
    • 12 strips bacon (thinly sliced)
    • Toppings
      • Semi-sweet chocolate
      • Caramels
      • Maple syrup
      • Walnuts
      • Sea salt
      • (etc.)
    • Misc.
      • 2 disposable muffin tins (makes 6 muffins each)
      • 12 fake rose flowers w/ stems
      • 1 vase
      • Some marbles, glass beads or beans (for vase base)
      • Optional: fresh greenery/flowers (whatever's in your yard)
  • Bacon Bourbon 
    • 12 ounces bourbon (I used Elijah Craig)
    • 4-6 thick slices of bacon
    • A jar of some sort with a tight lid
    • 1 or 2 paper coffee filters
The bacon bourbon takes a day, so plan ahead!
  1. Candied Bacon Bouquet
    1. Read directions for bacon roses to get the idea (note: it's easier to use disposable muffin tins).
    2. Preheat the oven to 375 F. 
    3. Line a broiler pan with aluminum foil. For the 2 muffin tins, poke a single hole in the bottoms of each muffin tin. Coat the bottoms of each muffin tin with 2 tsp of vegetable oil (the other 2 tsp of oil is used later).
    4. On a flat surface (cutting board, plate, whatever), drizzle 2 tsp of vegetable oil and spread evenly. Lay your strips of bacon on this. Then, you'll cover the bacon strips with the brown sugar, firmly pressing to make sure the sugar has stuck to the top sides (only) of the bacon strips. Next, you'll roll the bacon strip, bigger end first and at a slight angle, to make a rose shape. Place each rose bud in the muffin tin and bake until the bacon is crisp and the sugar is bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. 
    5. While the bacon cooks, prepare the rose stems, as directed here. If you don't have fake flowers to work with, as I didn't, you can use aluminum foil + wooden skewers/toothpicks, though it's not as pretty looking.
    6. When the bacon is done, set them aside to cool. In the mean time, get the fun toppings ready! Melt some chocolate/caramels, chop some nuts, find some fancy sea salts...get creative. Also, get the vase ready by placing the marbles/beans in the bottom of the vase.
    7. When ready to be decorated, move the roses from the tins to the prepared stems. Optional: stuff some nuts in the wider rose buds. "Paint" your rose buds with chocolate/caramel, drizzle with maple syrup...whatever you like, but sprinkle a touch of sea salt on each (it definitely completes them). Arrange the bacon roses evenly in the vase. If you chose to add some fresh greenery to your bouquet, do so now. The smallest greens I had available were large leaves, so I "ribboned" them through toothpicks to downsize them a little and to give the leaf some strength to stand. 
    8. Share with your bacon-loving friends/loved ones. It can be stored in the refrigerator for some time, but don't forget that your fresh greens may wilt (so add water). Always serve the bacon roses at room temperature (or warmer)!
  2. Bacon Bourbon
    1. In a frying pan, cook the strips of bacon on low heat for as long as you can to render the fat, which is what you want in making bacon bourbon (20 minutes). Do not burn the bacon or you'll have a burnt-tasting bourbon!
    2. Pour bourbon in to a jar. Dispose of your bacon (nom nom nom) and pour the fat in to the bourbon jar (ideally, you want a few, 4-6, of bacon fat). Close the lid and let sit at room temperature for at least half a day (I do 24 hrs and add the bacon strips). 
    3. Now to remove the fat! Place the jar in the freezer for at least an hour and the fat will solidify. When solidified, you'll be able to scoop the bulk of the fat out. To get the rest out, let your bourbon filter through a coffee filter, which goes pretty slowly (20 minutes). When done, put your bacon bourbon back in it's bottle and slap an additional "BACON" sticker on it! (Lets admire the flying pig unicorn in the top photo...)

Happy Birthday, BF! I <3 you

Adapted (ever so slightly) from:,,


Slow Roasted Butter Beans w/ Andouille, Kickin' Collard Greens w/ Okra and Molasses-Bourbon Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Slow-Roasted Butter (Lima) Beans w/ Smoky Andouille Sausage
Kickin' Collard Greens w/ Okra
Molasses & Bourbon Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Wow, it's been a long time since posting! We've since moved to the south in beautiful, ol' New Orleans :) We've been dining out a fair bit, soaking up the amazing, Southern foods! Now that we're settled in and have a whole new range of goodies in the grocery stores, we can really get creative with some tasty, Southern dishes - yum!!!

Starting with: a Southern meal for the bf's bday <3

Serves: 6 peeps.

  • Slow-Roasted Large Lima (Large Butter) Beans 
    • 1 lb Large Lima (Butter) Beans 
    • 6 cups water
    • 1/2 lb smoked ham hock
    • 1/2 lb tasso, chopped 
    • 1 large onion, chopped 
    • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 3 tbsp parsley (dried), chopped 
    • 4 stalks celery, chopped 
    • 1 large bay leaf 
    • 2 tsp Cajun Seasoning (Tony Chachere), or to taste
    • 1 tsp smoked paprika, or to taste
    • Fresh ground pepper, to taste 
    • 1 lb Andouille Sausage (3 large links)
  • Molasses & Bourbon Glazed Sweet Potatoes 
    • 1 stick butter (unsalted), quartered 
    • 3/4 cup molasses 
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
    • 1 cup bourbon 
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
    • 8 large sweet potatoes, cut into 2-inch cubes 
    • 3/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • Kickin' Collard Greens w/ Okra
    • 1 tbsp olive oil 
    • 3 slices bacon 
    • 1 large onion, chopped 
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
    • 15-20 okra spears, chopped
    • 3 cups chicken broth 
    • 1 tsp salt 
    • 1 tsp pepper 
    • 1 pinch red pepper flakes 
    • 1 lb fresh collard greens, cut into 2-inch pieces
Start with the lima beans and once they're set to simmer for 1.5 hrs, move on to the sweet potatoes recipe. Once those are in the oven, (check the lima beans and then) start the collard greens. Overall, it'll take 2 hours to go from ingredients to a tasty, Southern dish, ready to eat!
  1. Slow-Roasted Large Lima (Large Butter) Beans (1 hr, 45 mins)
    1. Rinse and sort beans. In a large pan, combine lima beans and water and set to low heat. 
    2. Render ham hock and tasso in skillet, remove meat and set aside. 
    3. In same skillet, sauté onion, garlic, parsley and celery in meat drippings until browned.
    4. Add vegetables, meat, bay leaf, and spices to beans. Boil gently, stirring occasionally for about 1-1/2 hours, or until tender. Add water while cooking if necessary. 
    5. In the last 15 minutes of lima beans simmering, add the andouille sausage (whole or cut in to pieces). 
  2. Molasses & Bourbon Glazed Sweet Potatoes (45 mins)
    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Roast the cubed sweet potatoes on a raised broiler pan for 20 minutes to "par-cook."
      In a medium saucepan, combine butter, molasses, and brown sugar and cook over medium heat until smooth (about 5 minutes).
      Increase the heat to high, add the bourbon, and cook for 2 minutes to allow alcohol to burn out. Season with salt and pepper.
      Put the par-cooked potatoes in a large baking dish, pour the molasses mixture over and toss to coat. Roast in the oven, stirring a few times, until the potatoes are cooked through and glazed (about 20 minutes). Remove to a platter and top with the pecans. 
  3. Kickin' Collard Greens w/ Okra (55 mins)
    1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon, and cook until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, crumble and return to the pan. 
    2. Add onion, and cook until tender (about 5 minutes). 
    3. Add garlic and okra, and cook until garlic is fragrant. 
    4. Add collard greens, and fry until they start to wilt. 
    5. Pour in chicken broth, and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, or until greens are tender.  
Dessert option: mini apple pies, a la mode...oo la la (that's how my New Orleans French sounds)!

Adapted (ever so slightly) from:,,


Macadamia Banana Bread

Never ever toss out a banana if it starts to get brown/black....just toss it in the freezer! They keep for a long time and are perfect for banana breads. We had 2 that had been sitting in our freezer for a few months (~5 months) and they were overripe perfection :) 

Banana bread was one of the first things my Mom taught me how to make and it's still one of my favorite comfort foods. This has been my favorite recipe for a long time, so enjoy!
Serves: 4 (4 ramekin sizes); double this recipe for (1) standard 9x5-inch pan.

  • 1 cup All-purpose flour  
  • 1/2 tsp Baking soda  
  • 1 dash of Salt (1/8 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Butter
  • 3/8 (0.375) cup Brown sugar 
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 2/3 (0.667) cup Bananas (overripe), mashed (1-2 bananas, preferrably 2)
  • 1/2 cup (or to your preferences) Macadamia nuts, crushed
  • Optional
    • 6oz (1/2 of 12oz bag) Milk chocolate chips
    • 1/3 cup shredded Coconut, toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Lightly grease (4) ramekin dishes. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Add the macadamia nuts (save a handful to sprinkle on top), and optional items if desirable (chocolate chips, shredded coconut). Pour batter into ramekin dishes. Sprinkle some of the crushed macadamia nuts and brown sugar on the top of each for a toasty, sweet crunch!

  3. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 mins (60-65 mins for the 9x5 loaf), or until a toothpick inserted into center of the bread comes out clean. Let bread cool in ramekins for 10 minutes before turning out or serving.

  4. Slice some up then toast and butter (my fav). If you have ice cream, serve warm with some vanilla ice cream and enjoy! An easy trick is to scoop out some banana bread in the middle, leaving the bread in the ramekin dish, and filling with ice cream :)

How to melt some butter and toast at the same time ;)
Then it's ready for ice cream or by it's toasty self!


Filipino Chicken Adobo

This is an easy recipe that makes some juicy, flavourful chicken that falls off the bone! Filipino adobo is very different from Mexican, as it's tangy, sticky and sweet! 

  • 4 lbs. Chicken (skin-on, bone-in)
  • 1/2 cup Soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp Honey
  • 2 whole Bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp Garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Black peppercorns
  • Optional: top with fresh chopped green onion
  1. Arrange the chicken pieces in a large pot in one layer. Remove the skin if desired.
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients (soy sauce, vinegar, honey, oil, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns) in a bowl and whisk until the honey is dissolved. Partially crush the peppercorns if desired. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or over night.  
  3. When you're ready to make the chicken, add just enough water so that the liquid comes just up to the top of the chicken (about 1/2 cup). Cover the pot with a lid, place the pot over a high flame, and bring it up to a rolling boil. When it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium/low and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat your broiler on high. Remove the chicken from the pot and place it on a broiler pan (or a sheet pan with wire cooling racks placed on top). Place the chicken under the broiler until it is brown and crispy on top (5-10 minutes), depending on your broiler). 
  5. While the chicken is broiling, turn pot with the soy/vinegar liquid up to high and bring up to a rapid boil. Allow the liquid to boil heavily until it is reduced in volume by approximately one half. You may need to boil it for 5-10 minutes longer than the chicken is in the oven to get it to this point.
  6. Use a soft brush to baste a few layers of the reduced soy/vinegar liquid onto the browned chicken. Serve over rice or noodles and spoon more of the reduced liquid over top.
 BudgetBytes finished version looks a little better than mine, ha ha.


Hkatenkwan (Ghanaian Groundnut Stew)

I stumbled across this on tastespotting and was curious about this African "peanut butter" stew. I love the individual ingredients...peanut butter, sweet potato, chickpeas, chili flakes...but all together in a peppery, tomato-based stew? I've never had anything like this, so I figured I'd either love or hate this. Challenge: accepted. 

I found a few recommended and traditional recipes, keeping the traditional and most common ingredients. I added a little fennel and Thai fish sauce to add some flavour twists and swapped out the cayenne pepper for chili flakes for a nice heat (we like it spicy)! Well, an hour of simmering chili flakes made for a lingering burn, so I blended up a fruit lassi to take away the sting and it was perfect.

The final result: a spicy, peanut buttery heaven that is going in my all-time favorite recipes.

Groundnut is the common African word for peanut. This chicken groundnut stew is the Western African (Ghanaian) version of the groundnut/tomato stew eaten all over sub-Saharan Africa. The Western African style is usually more elaborate, with more ingredients and garnishes, which is noted in the optional ingredients. Suggested serving sides include ginger beer or green tea w/ mint with or after the meal to drink, followed with a fruit salad. 

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 45 minutes 
Yield: Serves 6-8 

  • 2-3 pounds Chicken legs, thighs and/or wings
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp Peanut oil
  • 1 large Onion (yellow), sliced
  • 3-inch piece of Ginger, peeled and minced
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
  • 2-3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 15-oz can of crushed Tomatoes 
  • 1 quart Chicken stock 
  • 1 cup Peanut butter 
  • 1 cup roasted Peanuts
  • 1 can Chickpeas 
  • 1 tbsp ground Coriander 
  • 1 (heaping) tbsp Fennel, to taste 
  • ~1.5 tbsp Thai Fish Sauce 
  • 1 tsp dried Chili flakes
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste (skip the salt if using salted peanuts; lots of cracked black pepper) 
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro (didn't have) 
  • Optional additions: green chile peppers/habanero, bell pepper, pumpkin, squash, carrot, okra, eggplant, boiled egg.
  • Optional sides: steamed rice and (it's not African, but serve with) a fruit lassi to cool the heat ;)

  1. Heat the vegetable and peanut oil in a large soup pot set over medium-high heat. Salt the chicken pieces well, pat them dry and brown them in the oil. Don't crowd the pot, so do this in batches. Set the chicken pieces aside as they brown. 
  2. Sauté the onions in the oil for 3-4 minutes, stirring often and scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes and stir well to combine. 
  3. Add the chicken, chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, peanut butter, peanuts, chickpeas, coriander, fennel, fish sauce, and chili flakes and stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer and taste for salt, adding if needed (depends if you use salted peanuts and salted peanut butter - you may not need to add any salt). Cover the pot and simmer gently for 90 minutes (check after an hour), or until the chicken meat easily falls off the bone and the sweet potatoes are tender. 
  4. Remove the chicken pieces and set them in a bowl to cool, until cool enough to touch. Remove and discard the skin if you want, or chop it and put it back into the pot. Shred the meat off the bones and put the meat back in the pot. 
  5. Adjust the seasonings if needed, then add as much black pepper as you think you can stand—the stew should be peppery. Stir in the cilantro and serve with a cool drink (ginger beer, green tea w/ mint, or my fav for spicy foods: fruit lassi)!