Bacon is becoming popular in many dishes, and Jefferson County 4-H members took advantage of this to make and present all types of foods in the appetizer, entree and dessert categories for the Iron Chef Clinic contest.
Who would have thought that bacon would be appealing chopped and added to maple, applesauce cupcakes and to use some of the bacon grease in bar cookies that include pumpkin.
There were some interesting recipe names, such as Bliss on a Bacon Raft, cheesecake mixture on an Oreo crust and seated on a woven bacon raft. All clubs demonstrated great imagination with their recipes.
DOING THEIR PART — Rachel Jarman, left, and Bailey Ebright, members of the Warren Ridge Wranglers 4-H Club, chop green onions for their contribution to the Jefferson County 4-H Iron Chef Clinic. There were many interesting recipes that included bacon as the main ingredient. -- Esther McCoy
Stephanie Pethtel and I were judges for the dessert category, and it was pure heaven to sample them - with the many interesting cupcakes, bar cookies, peanut butter bars, brownies and more peanut butter cookies with crisp bacon, peanuts and covered with chocolate.
Other judges were the Ohio State Extension office's own Sarah Cross and Glenn Zalenski of Zalenski's Eatery and Pub; Greg Froehlich of Froehlich's Classic Corner; and Denise Frankhauser of Kuesters.
The OSU Extension staff put together a recipe book for the Bacon Cookbook. Here are some of the recipes. I wish I could include them all, but there is not enough space right now. I will throw in a few more recipes in other columns.
The first-place dessert recipe that Stephanie and I agreed upon was for Maple Bacon Cupcakes and was prepared by the Country Classics gang. It had a frosting rich with maple syrup, as well as maple syrup in the cupcakes.
6 strips bacon
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
3/4 tablespoon bacon drippings, left in the fridge to become solid
1/4 cup applesauce
5 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup minced bacon, cooked and drained
4 tablespoons maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
Cook bacon in a frying pan. Reserve drippings and place in fridge to solidfy. Mince bacon to make 1/4 cup. Beat butter, applesauce and butter until light and creamy. Add brown sugar and maple syrup and beat until combined. Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Sift flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together. Add some of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix. Add some milk, alternately adding the dry and wet ingredients, ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in the bacon. Scoop into cupcake papers and bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 22 minutes. In using mini-cupcake pans, bake for 10-12 minutes.
Maple Syrup Frosting
4 tablespoons, softened butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Turbinado sugar, optional
Combine butter and syrup. Add the sugar a little at a time and whip at high speed until smooth. Pipe onto the cupcakes and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Another first-place winner was the Lucky Leaf Livestock 4-H Club with BLT Bites, crescent roll cups filled with a creamy filling, layered with bacon.
1 tube crescent roll dough
2 tablespoons garden variety cream cheese
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
8 grape tomatoes
6 to 8 slices of bacon
Bag of shredded iceberg lettuce
In a bowl, mix the cream cheese and mayonnaise. Roll out the tube of crescent rolls and pinch seams together. With a cookie cutter, cut out eight round shapes.
Use a spatula and carefully place the shapes over the mini cupcake pan. Gently push the middle of the shape down into the cup of the pan. Push the middle of the dough down into the pan. Fry bacon and drain. Put the bacon in a plastic bag and crush it.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake cups for 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool. To assemble, put enough bacon at the bottom of the cup to cover the bottom. Fill the cup halfway up with lettuce. Put another layer of bacon on top of the lettuce. Drop a teaspoon of the creamy mixture on top. Cut the grape tomatoes into fourths, without cutting all the way through. Place the tomato on top. Sprinkle more bacon on top and place lettuce on top for garnish.
The Barshoe Wranglers 4-H Club had a first- place main dish called Bacon Bowls. This is a combination of potatoes, cheese and onions in bacon bowls that are made by wrapping bacon around the bottom of cupcake pans and baking until crisp.
9 red potatoes
4 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces Velveeta cheese
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
Thick cut bacon
Fresh chives for garnish
Cook or microwave potatoes until tender. Cool and chop them into a bowl. Add cream cheese and Velveeta and onions and mix until blended. Wrap the bacon around the bottom of cupcake pans and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until crisp. Remove and place on a plate and fill with the potato mixture.
The Country Rangers had a second-place appetizer that is reminiscent of a taco salad but with a bacon garnish.
Taco Bacon Bowl
1 pound ground beef
2 pounds bacon
2 diced tomatoes
5 cups lettuce
5 cups shredded Colby cheese
1 package taco seasoning
1 cup taco sauce
Brown ground beef in skillet on medium heat with taco seasoning. Place five slices of bacon on a special bacon bowl and cook in the microwave for 4 minutes. When bacon is done, remove from pan and set on serving dishes. Add 3 tablespoons ground beef to each bacon cup and top with Colby cheese, lettuce and diced tomatoes.
Note: I modified this recipe because it looks as if you could use the bottom of muffin tins to make the cups needed. And I changed it to topping the cups of meat with the tomato, lettuce and cheese.
The Friends and Neighbors 4-H Club had Macaroni Bacon Bowl for the second-place main dish. If in a hurry, use a box of macaroni and cheese mix instead.
Macaroni Bacon Bowls
7 slices bacon
Macaroni and cheese:
8 ounces Velveeta cheese
1 cup milk
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 ounces elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
For the bacon bowls: Cover the backside of muffin pan with aluminum foil. Cut the bacon in half, lengthwise. On the outside of one of the overturned muffin pans, make a plus sign with two pieces of bacon. Take another piece of bacon and go around the side, weaving the bacon in and out.
Add another piece of bacon to the top and weave another slice around the side. Trim bacon as needed and put in a 400 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until crisp.
For the mac and cheese: Cook macaroni as instructed on bowl. In separate pan, melt the butter and milk. Add both cheeses, warm milk and butter and mix until melted. Add to cooled bacon bowls and top with more crumbled bacon and serve.
Pumpkin, pecans and bacon were combined in the batter for these Pumpkin Caramel Bacon Bars by the Country Kids 4-H Club. They took second place with the bars covered with a rich caramel-type frosting.
Pumpkin Caramel Bacon Bars with Nuts
8 ounces bacon, diced
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups pumpkin
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup water
1 stick unsalted cubed butter
Sea or kosher salt
Cook bacon, drain and set aside. Reserve 2 tablespoons drippings. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Whisk together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg, melted butter, 2 tablespoons bacon drippings and vanilla until well blended. Stir in flour mixture and pecans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by- 13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.
For frosting: Boil brown sugar, water and salt for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching. Whisk in cream and butter. Mixture will bubble furiously; keep whisking. Boil 2 minutes more. Pour caramel in mixing bowl. Whip on high speed until bowl sides are cool and caramel is thick, about 10 minutes. Scrape bowl sides down. Add cream cheese, 1 cube at a time and beat until frosting is smooth. Frost cooled bars. Sprinkle with sea or kosher salt and crumbled bacon.
Note: To set the frosting put in the refrigerator for an hour before slicing.
I am adding Bacon Pheasant Wraps by the Lucky Leaf Livestock, as I thought this was unusual.
Bacon Pheasant Wraps
Half of a pheasant breast
Slice of bacon
Small piece of pineapple
Marinate pheasant breast in teriyaki sauce overnight. Remove and place the pineapple on top. Wrap it in a slice of bacon and pin with wooden toothpicks. Put on the grill on low heat and turn frequently until cooked through.
(McCoy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)