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Spicy Bacon Bloody Mary and Bacon-Infused Vodka

Spicy Bacon Bloody Mary + Bacon-infused Vodka #BaconMonth #putsomepiginit
So, do you remember a few days ago when I was all excited to wrap #BaconMonth up with a neat little bow? I told you that the 31st was International Bacon Day, making it the perfect close to a month-long bacon fest? Turns out, I lied. Not purposefully—it was due to a mistake on a website that lists food holidays (it was actually the 30th, and the Saturday before Labor Day). Consider my bubble burst.

Ultimately, though, even if my bow is a little crooked and wonky (believe me, that's nothing new), it was still an amazing month. I also mentioned a raising of glasses, and that is still on! This Bloody Mary was the majority of bacon month in-the-making. I know have a jar of vodka infused with the flavor of bacon sitting pretty in my fridge. I'm pretty sure that calls for a Bloody Mary a day all weekend long. How perfect is it that this is a long weekend, by the way!?

I like my Bloody Mary with a kick, so I start out with spicy tomato juice or V8. From there I add more spice. You can always tame it down if you don't like as much heat by using regular tomato juice and/or leaving out the horseradish and hot sauce. But that's no fun.

Dijon Mushrooms - Easy Gourmet Cookbook blog tour

Dijon Mushrooms - Easy Gourmet Cookbook blog tour
Piled atop crusty toast, these oven-roasted mushrooms with garlic, lemon, and dijon pack a major flavor-punch and they couldn't be simpler to make. These Dijon Mushrooms are just one of the numerous dishes I have dog-eared to try in the new cookbook by Stephanie Le of I am a Food Blog. Today the blog tour stops here for a tasty sneak peek at this cookbook that is set to be released this upcoming Tuesday, September 2nd!

I will start off by saying that I'd never visited I am a Food Blog before receiving my copy of this book. And now, I'm a wee bit hooked. Stephanie has amazing style and photos, and her food and drinks are inventive and fun while still be totally approachable (for example, her Filet 'O Fish and Fries Burger—love). Her cookbook follows suit.

When I mentioned her blog being approachable, the book is even more so. She still displays plenty of creativity in her food, but chose to go with "basic", unintimidating titles. For example, the recipe that I'm sharing today—Dijon Mushrooms. Totally unassuming. Or another recipe that high on my "to try" list, Maple-glazed Duck. Nothing scary about that. Flipping through the book, you'll see other names like Coddled Eggs, Seafood Pappardelle, Spaghetti and Meaballs, Baked Mac & Cheese; recipes that even an inexperienced cook probably wouldn't shy away from. And they shouldn't. Some of them are more involved than others, but none of them require formal culinary training to be successful.

Polenta Bread

Polenta Bread | allroadsleadtothe.kitchen
This beautifully rustic bread is speckled with bits of yellow polenta throughout, has a slight tang from preferment, and is surround with a thick and pleasantly chewy crust. It also happens to be this month's Bread Baking Babes bread of the month, as chosen by BBBabe Elizabeth of blog from OUR kitchen.

And I'm late. Thirteen days late. I blame it on school starting this month. I was so preoccupied with back-to-school shopping and preparation for the kids, that the 16th came and went without blip on the radar. But, I'm making up for it now. I actually took my time and went nice and slow on these loaves. Every thing about making them felt right, and I think that's because I didn't even glance in the direction of my bread machine.

What's a bread machine got to do with it (or rather, the lack of)? Well, I've become pretty dependent on mine. Here's the story: years ago, I discovered how convenient it was to let my bread machine do all of the mixing and kneading, and subsequently the first rise, for me when I was busy. So, during the holidays, the bread machine came out. It freed up time and precious counter space. Once the madness subsided, it was tucked back in its place on the basement shelf.

Bacon, Broccoli, and Garlic Fried Rice

Bacon, Broccoli, and Garlic Fried Rice
Can you believe that there are only 4 days left in #BaconMonth!? I honestly cannot; it has flown by at the speed of light! This being the final week, I have 2 more baconrific recipes to share with you. The first being today. Thank you Catherine Obvious (bonus points if you know what that's from). The second being on the very last day of the month.

Why am I waiting until the last day of the month? Two reasons - the first being that it's a very tidy way to wrap things up. I like tidiness...and closure. The second being that Sunday, the last day of Bacon Month, just so happens to be International Bacon Day this year! I say this year because it's always the Sunday before Labor Day, which means the date changes. Can you think of a more perfect way to ice the Bacon Month cake? I cannot. *Turns out, the 30th is actually International Bacon Day this year, and it's the Saturday before Labor Day, not Sunday. So, let's just pretend, okay?

So, please come back for that and we'll raise our glasses to an awesome month of bacon goodness.

Boozy Bananas Foster Milkshakes

Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum Giveaway + Boozy Bananas Foster Milkshakes | allroadsleadtothe.kitchen
Happy Banana Lover's Day! No, really, it is. And I can think of no better way to celebrate this self-packaging, potassium-rich fruit (botanically considered a berry, but I'm not even going to go there today) than with rum.

Why celebrate Banana Lover's Day with rum, you ask? Because it's not just any old rum, it's Blue Chair Bay's Banana Rum! It all makes sense now, wouldn't you say. When Blue Chair Bay asked if I'd like to try a bottle of their newest rum, I didn't hesitate. Mainly because I'd already been eyeing it, imagining the possibilities.

If you're not familiar with Blue Chair Bay Rum, I wrote a post celebrating International Pineapple Day with them back in April. I used their Coconut Rum to create a Drunken Hummingbird Cocktail. If you click through, you can catch a glimpse of this company founded by Kenny Chesney (there's a video at the bottom). You can also connect with Blue Chair Bay Rum on Facebook.

Secret Ingredient Sliders

Secret Ingredient Bacon Cheeseburger Sliders
While you'll never hear me complain about a simple, delicious steak thrown on the grill or in a sizzling hot skillet, there are so many other speedy solutions. Case-in-point, these sliders. The majority of the time it takes to make them is in the oven; aside from that, it's only a matter of mixing up a few ingredients.

Now, you may notice that they contain a secret ingredient - so please, go into this meal-making venture with an open mind. And assuming you don't have any family or friends with a nut allergy, try sliding the finished product in front of them at dinner time and have them try to guess what the secret ingredient is. A few sly palates may detect it, but most will be left guessing.

I've been making these sliders for over four years, all thanks to another blogger. This blogger no longer has a blog, but these are based on a recipe shared once by her brother-in-law. So, you may have guessed the ingredient by now; I gave a little hint above, or maybe you scrolled down and saw the photo. But for those who weren't really paying that close attention, it's peanut butter!

Giant Evil Gummy Bears inspired by Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs | #FoodnFlix

Easy Homemade Gummy Bears (inspired by Cloudy with a Chance of Meaballs for Food 'n Flix) from allroadsleadtothe.kitchen
But they don't look evil! Looks can be deceiving, especially when you're in the middle of a giant food-storm that is threatening to wipe away the world as you know it! If you've seen Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, you know what I'm talking about.

In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Flint Lockwood is an inventor living on the small island of Swallow Falls; an island that survives on its sardine industry. Since he knows that there has to be more to life than just sardines, he invents the FLDSMDFR (short for the Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator), a machine that converts water molecules into food molecules. And much to everybody's surprise - it works!

The FLDSMDFR causes food to rain from the sky, to the delight of the whole town. From cheeseburgers to enormous jello molds to mountains of ice cream (snow day!) to bacon and eggs, everybody's request was met. But soon, food waste started to build, and people turned greedy, and that all-out giant food-storm that I mentioned threatened to wipe out the recently renamed Chewandswallow (formerly Swallow Falls). Giant spaghetti twisters, giant walking roast chickens, dangerous ears of corn, and of course - GIANT EVIL GUMMY BEARS!

Peach Riesling Buckle

Peach Riesling Buckle
This summer has absolutely flown by. It's so hard to believe that Labor Day is lingering just around the corner. Although it's not the official end of summer, it's always been a marker of sorts to signal that the long lazy days we've been relishing are coming to a close. When I was a kid, we didn't head back to school until after Labor Day, so I'm sure that plays into my mindset. Of course, by the time it rolls around these days, my kids have already been back in school for a few weeks.

School or no school, we try to enjoy one last hurrah over the long weekend. You can bet that grills are fired up; coals sizzling as fat melts down...smoke clinging to the humid air. But there is also tons of fresh produce on display, like tomatoes so ripe and flavorful that you can eat them like apples, to peaches that streak your chin and arms with sticky sweet juices, to corn so sweet it's like eating sugar from a cob. Those are some of my favorite things about the tail-end of summer.

Well, today the Sunday Supper crew is joining Gallo Family again, and we're bringing you a menu filled with Labor Day Entertaining recipes. So, of course, my mind was turning over all sorts of riffs on that produce that just screams summer in my ear. Both of the wines that we are featuring this month are sweet and light bodied. Either would compliment a Sunday Supper under the late-summer sun. The first is Sweet Red, and the second is Gallo's newest varietal, Riesling.

Peach Amaretto Jam + 106 Peach Recipes to celebrate EAT A PEACH DAY!

Peach Amaretto Jam (aka Eat A Peach Mountain Jam) plus 105 more peach recipes to celebrate EAT A PEACH DAY!
There are some (okay there are many) food holidays that I can't resist. One of those holidays falls today, August 21. Yes, it has to do with my love of the late summer that is soft and fuzzy on the outside, and sweet and juicy on the inside. HOWEVER, it's not "National Peach Day" or "Peach Pie Day", it's one better. It plays not only to my "foodie" side, but also to my affection for music, specifically The Allman Brothers. Today is EAT A PEACH DAY!

Eat A Peach is the name of my favorite Allman Brothers album. With classics like Melissa, Ain't Wasting Time No More, and Mountain Jam, just listening to the album conjurs up warm summer nights and peaches picked straight from a Georgia (or Michigan for me) tree.

So, in honor of Eat A Peach Day, I really wanted to make some peach jam and call it "Mountain Jam" (like the song). Now my local SW Michigan peaches aren't plucked from trees in mountain orchards, so I suppose I can't rightfully call it that. But secretly (or not so secretly), I'm still going to.

Snacking REINVENTED with Graze

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Graze.com. All opinions are 100% mine.
Snacking REINVENTED with Graze.com - a review
How many times have you stood in front of a vending machine waiting for something good to appear? Okay, now let me ask how many times you've stood in front of your fridge or pantry doing the same? If you're like everybody else I know, the answer is countless. Whether you work from home or at the "office", we all hit that midday (or mid-morning...or late afternoon...) slump. Well, step away from those vending machines because Graze has invented a better way to snack!

What is Graze, you ask? It's a company started by seven friends who were tired of the same old chip and candy routine. They quit their jobs, camped out in a friends' spare room, then brainstormed and worked hard until they came up with a better way to snack. Thanks to that, you (and I) can now have our choice of over 90 delicious and nutritious snack options delivered right to our doors! Well, our mailboxes.

Graze boxes are designed to fit inside a standard mailbox, eliminating the need to hang-out and wait for them to be delivered. No signing, no fuss, just a pleasant surprise tucked inside an unassuming brown box waiting for us when we pick up our mail. Of course, what's really cool is that you can actually have your boxes delivered to your workplace, if that works better for you.

Maple Bacon Doughnut Holes

Maple Bacon Doughnut Holes
It's official, school is back in session. I watch the cats suspiciously eye the hush that has settled over the house as I sip my coffee. Although I think it's too soon for school to be back in session (I'm an after-Labor-Day cheerleader), it is nice to fall back into a routine after a loose summer.

I would like to say that routine includes popping doughnut holes in my mouth while formulating recipes and writing stories to accompany them, but it doesn't. And truthfully, that's a good thing. One (me) can only handle doughnuts sporadically these days. So really, it's more likely that doughnuts will happen on the weekend when people besides me are home to eat them.

Case-in-point, these little fried dough balls of delight. Basically, they're raised doughnuts infused with real maple syrup and bacon. After you fry them, you drop them into a snow drift of powdered sugar and shake. The result is nothing short of dangerous.

Black Bean and Bacon Flautas

Black Bean and Bacon Flautas
Last month flew by so quickly that I wasn't able to hang out in the kitchen with my foodie bff, Leslie for she made, ella hace. But we're back this month, and you'll never guess what ingredient we decided to bring with us! Okay, maybe you will. I mean, I've only been using the same ingredient in full-force all month long. Mmm hmm, it's BACON!

Fortunately, when I asked Leslie if she'd mind if we chose bacon {as if} as our theme this month, she said that she was thinking the same thing. See, there's a reason why she and I get along so well.

When trying to decide what I wanted to share today, I knew I wanted it to be something with a Mexican twist. You may know that we eat Mexican food on a regular basis. We also eat bacon on a regular basis. But when thinking about it, I was hard-pressed to think of a time when the two were combined. Huh.

Chicken Scaloppine w/ Bacon

Chicken Scaloppine with Bacon
Juicy chicken infused with the flavors of bacon and garlic. The end.

Okay, not the end - but it would totally be enough said, don't you think? I mean, maybe I could just say...

Both this juicy chicken and the tender-crisp bed of green beans it is perched on are infused with the flavors of bacon, garlic, and white wine . The end.

I don't know about you, but either of those sentences would send me flying to the dinner table. The same is true for my family. This is such an incredibly simple meal. I mean, four ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper). Five ingredients if you count the green beans, which are a side dish and entirely optional. I recommend just thinking of them as part of the process. I mean, swirling them around in the bacony sauce that smothers everything is a blissful bit of magic all in itself.

Bacon-Wrapped Dates stuffed w/ Blue Cheese & Smoked Almonds

Bacon-Wrapped Dates stuffed w/ Blue Cheese & Smoked Almonds
In my family, we have a couple of favorite holiday appetizers and nibbles. Okay, maybe more than a couple, but let's just go with it. Those appetizers are both wrapped in bacon. I wonder why everybody loves them so?

The first are bacon-wrapped water chestnuts. Looking back over the last 5-1/2 years of recipes that I've shares here, I'm dumbfounded that I have never shared them before. The recipe is simple, and it's one of the longest-running recipes in my family. Generations upon generations have been clamoring around the oven for them to finish cooking during family holiday get togethers. Mental note - share them SOON.

The other bacon-wrapped nibble is one that I started making 12 years ago, give or take. They don't have the longevity of the water chestnuts (yet), but check back with me in 50 years. Again, they're so simple to make, and even simpler to pop in  your mouth.

Char Siu Duck Legs (Chinese Barbecue)

Char Siu Duck Legs (Chinese Barbecue)
It's hard to believe that we're already into the second half of summer. I know that I say it all the time, but even the kids are commenting on how quickly this year is passing by. It doesn't get light quite as early, and it doesn't get dark quite as late. Plus, the kids go back to school next week. Next week! That's far too soon, in my opinion. Growing up, we never went back until after Labor Day, when the days were crisp and fall jackets were in order. Now, I'm searching for shorts and short-sleeved shirts to send them back in.

But my original point was the speed with which summer is flying by. We've blazed through an impressive amount of charcoal this year so far; the grill has definitely been earning its keep. I've had these duck legs on the backburner for more than a month now, waiting patiently for their turn in the spotlight.

This was actually my first time cooking duck on the grill. I know, crazy! I was in the mood for a little barbecue, but instead of traditional (to us), I went a little off the beaten path and chose an addictive Chinese barbecue called Char Siu. Well, Char Siu actually means "fork roast" or "fork burn" (not literally barbecue) - a way to flavor roast pork (or traditionally any available meats, especially wild boar).

Bean, Bacon, and Tomato Bake

Bean, Bacon, and Tomato Bake #BaconMonth #PutSomePigInIt
This is not the prettiest dish on the shelf. At least not after it's baked. It's pretty gorgeous beforehand, actually. At a glance, the pan straight from the oven is rustic and humble. But, you know what? Those are actually my favorite kind of dishes. You could serve this atop some nice crusty sourdough, perhaps that's been charred a bit on the grill. But since I had just pulled a warm loaf of Ciabatta from the oven, I sliced it to go alongside.

I wound up scooping spoonfuls of the mixture onto slices of the Ciabatta. It was a messy job, but somebody had to do it. Seriously, even though warm tomato juices escaped through the holes, the textures and flavors played so perfectly together. You know how something is so good that you are confident you won't stop eating until every last morsel is gone? These beans baked with tomatoes, garlic, and bacon are just like that.

Though you may not be able to tell by the photos, the beans are beautifully creamy, and laced with the smokiness of bacon. Whole garlic cloves turn spreadable. Soft green sprigs of oregano whisper tales of the fertile earth from which they sprung. Bright tomatoes burst with a warmth that mimics the steamy summer evenings that currently envelop us.

Raising My Glass with Gallo Family and the Food and Wine Conference

Compensation was provided by Gallo Family Vineyards via Sunday Supper, LLC. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Gallo Family Vineyards. 
Raising My Glass with @GalloFamily and #FWCon
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was heading back to the Food and Wine Conference in Orlando, Florida. This was my second year attending the conference, this time with huge thanks to Gallo Family Vineyards for sponsoring my trip! I wrote another recap post telling about my favorite sessions, and what I took away from the weekend, but I wanted to write this post in order to highlight some of the fantastic moments we enjoyed with Gallo.

I thought one of the highlights of the weekend was the Blogger Blend put on by Gallo Family on opening night. The Sunday Supper family has been working with Gallo on an ongoing basis since the beginning of this year, and this event was a chance for all of us to finally raise a toast to our times around the family table together - in person!

Become YOUR Brand at The Food and Wine Conference

Become YOUR Brand, a recap of the 2014 Food and Wine Conference through my eyes #fwcon
The theme for this year's Food and Wine Conference was From Blog to Brand. I went in armed with pen, paper, and my phone (for pictures and social media).

"The minute you go one step out of your comfort zone, miracles happen." ~Michele Northrup

location:
This was my second year attending the conference in hot and sticky Orlando, Florida. It was once again held at the jaw-dropping Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. It rises in the distance and beckons visitors from the moment they turn off of Universal Blvd. to the long, winding drive. The scope of it all sort of takes your breath away. From the four lanes of cars, vans, and shuttles dropping off and picking up in front of the hotel, to the bustling lobby hidden just behind a tinted bank of doors, the feeling that "you've arrived" awaits you as you roll your bags inside.
Become YOUR Brand, a recap of the 2014 Food and Wine Conference through my eyes #fwcon

Flourless Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies

Flourless Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies #BaconMonth
So, a few days ago I mentioned that I'll be taking part in a bacon hijinks, a celebration of all that is bacon, otherwise known as Bacon Month! My goal is to share at least two recipes that highlight bacon each week. I thought I'd start with dessert. Afterall, one can make the argument that with bacon in it, it's sort of like eating breakfast.

Since my childhood, warm peanut butter cookies fresh from the oven have been a favorite of mine. I've always loved making them...rolling the dough into balls, cross-hatching them with a fork, biting into the warm, tender cookie and washing it down with some cold milk. Mmmm!

Although I really do prefer a peanut butter cookie made with flour, I'm always amazed by how quickly the flourless variety like the one I'm sharing today (or this one) come together. I find that the thing with flourless cookies are, they have a bit more of a sandy texture, and they fall apart quicker (storing well for less time) than their with-flour counterparts.

Pull-Apart Bread w/ Cheese, Herbs, & Seeds

Pull-Apart Bread with Cheese, Herbs, and Seeds
There's something so irresistible about bread that is pieced together like a patchwork quilt, beckoning you to pick off a hunk of golden bread and pop it into your mouth. Whether you call it pull-apart bread or monkey bread, the theory is the same. Dunking bread in a fat of some sort, and then rolling it in any sort of toppings.

In my house, we all love a sticky-sweet ring of monkey bread. We probably like it far too much. The bread that my youngest son requests the most is cinnamon-sugar pull-apart bread. One has dough balls that you can pluck off one by one, the other has dough sheets that can be peeled and enjoyed. Both are entirely irresistible.

Occasionally I'll make a savory pull-apart like I did today to fit this month's #TwelveLoaves theme, HERBS. But to make it even more fun, I wanted to use more than just herbs, so I added seeds and a couple of different kinds of cheese for interest.

Shredded Beef Wet Burritos

Shredded Beef Wet Burritos
I'm pretty thrilled that for today's edition of Sunday Supper, the movement has partnered with The Beef Checkoff to share 20 different recipe highlighting the versatility of beef. And versatile, it is. The hardest part of working with beef was narrowing down what I wanted to make! I do love a good steak - filet mignon, NY Strip, T-bone. But I don't eat them all that often, mainly because they run on the higher end of the pricing scale. But that's good, it keeps them "special", and reminds me to savor each bite. Plus, you don't  have to do much to them besides cook them properly, and maybe serve a good Bearnaise or compound butter alongside them.

I also favor fattier, unctuous cuts like oxtail or short ribs. There's just something about the way they melt in your mouth. And then there's ground beef, I mean, who doesn't love a juicy burger? Or a super-sloppy sloppy joe?

But two cuts of beef that I find myself buying quite often are a but less expensive, skirt steak or chuck (roast or steak). I marinate tenderized skirt steak in lime juice, garlic, and salt before giving it some crispy edges on the grill, and slapping it into a tortilla. If you ever hear my kids say they want "chewy steak", this is the one they're talking about.

Bacon Month 2014!

It's August, and that means it's BACON MONTH!

Bacon Month 2014
I know what you're thinking (because when I mentioned Bacon Month on social media a couple of weeks ago, I received all sorts of replies of the sort) - Isn't every month Bacon Month!? That's a sentiment that I can't argue with. But let's just call this a "more prominent month of bacon", mkay?

I mean, it's not every month that can you see almost 20 bloggers unite to share 2...3...even 4 bacon-centered posts each during a week. Right!? And that is exactly what will be happening during the month of August. Hence, BACON MONTH!

So yes, my goal is to share at least 2 baconrific posts each week, all month long. Each post will contain a "linky" at the bottom, so that you can see, progressively, all of the bacon recipes coming together throughout the month.  Plus, each week we'll be holding a new giveaway in which a cookbook centered around bacon will be up for grabs! If you're doing the math, that means we're giving away 4 Baconlicious cookbooks. Each giveaway will be open for only 1 week. The giveaway widgets are located at the bottom of this post, with the first one open at the top, and so forth. Be sure to come back each week to enter (don't worry, I'll give a reminder and the link to this post in each of my weekly bacon posts). A huge thanks goes out to our host, Julie from White Lights on Wednesday for bringing us all together and taking care of the nitty-gritty.