Cooking Tips & Recipes

Cooking Tips & Recipes

Make the New Year Better with Bacon

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(Family Features) New Year’s Day is the ultimate moment for connecting with friends and family to start 2017 off right, so treat them to something special with a mouthwatering feast. Add a new and delicious twist to entertaining with a celebratory bacon bar.

Mix things up with these easy-to-make – and even easier to eat – bacon recipes from Smithfield that can help create the perfect setting for your New Year’s gathering. Whether twisted with puff pastry or baked with bourbon and maple syrup, your guests can enjoy bacon in a variety of ways. The classic cut and versatility of Smithfield Hometown Original Bacon is ideal for the variety of dishes you can include in your bacon bar. You can also incorporate different bacon flavors; with more than 10 different Smithfield varieties to choose from, there truly is something for everyone.

Complete your spread with printed labels that identify the variety of bacon flavors, unique recipes and side dishes on display. Simply print templates onto thick card stock and cut to your desired shape. Use twine or other decor to tie the labels onto mason jars, bowls or baskets, or use a small clothespin to clip the labels onto your bacon creations.

Visit Smithfield.com/BaconBar for printable labels, more decor ideas and recipe inspiration to give your own bacon bar a personal touch.

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Crispy Bacon Twists with Gouda and Apricot Preserves
Cook time: 45 minutes
Serves: 15

  • Nonstick spray
  • flour, for dusting
  • 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup (12 ounces) apricot preserves
  • 2 cups (about 7 ounces) Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 pounds (about 25-30 slices) Smithfield Hometown Original Bacon
  1. Heat oven to 375 F. Line two rimmed baking pans with foil, set baking racks in pans and lightly spray racks with nonstick spray.
  2. On lightly floured surface, roll out one puff pastry sheet to roughly 8-by-12 inches. Brush top with egg and thinly spread 1/2 cup preserves over dough. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup shredded cheese and 1 tablespoon rosemary, lightly pressing cheese mixture into dough. Fold short end of dough over to enclose cheese mixture and lightly roll to seal. Cut into 15 1/2-inch strips. Repeat with remaining puff pastry and ingredients.
  3. Lay one slice bacon diagonally. Grab one strip of prepared dough by ends and place one end of dough strip horizontally at top end of bacon and roll bacon with dough downward, stretching dough strip while rolling. Place spiral-wrapped bacon twist on prepared rack and repeat.
  4. Bake twists 35-45 minutes, or until pastry is browned and bacon crisp, rotating pans as needed for even cooking.
  5. Let cool 5 minutes and gently use spatula to remove twists from racks. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tip: For a different flavor, try smoked or aged Gouda or fresh thyme instead of rosemary.

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Caramelized Bourbon Bacon
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 12

  • 2 packages (16 ounces each) Smithfield Thick Cut Bacon
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  1. Heat oven to 375 F. Line two baking pans with parchment paper.
  2. Remove bacon from package and space evenly on pans without overlapping slices.
    Place pans in oven and bake 15 minutes. Rotate pans halfway through baking time. Meanwhile, combine honey, bourbon and syrup.
  3. Remove bacon from oven. Carefully drain grease from pans. Brush bacon with bourbon mixture. Return to oven and bake 3-5 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve.
Add Some Pop to Your Party

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(Family Features) No matter the occasion, every celebration is better with snacks. Whether you’re hosting game day with the guys, catching up with girlfriends, gathering for family movie night or inviting your kids’ friends over for a grade school sleepover, you can’t go wrong with popcorn treats.

Popcorn is the perfect partner for a broad span of flavors, especially when they’re sweet or salty – or both. You can make each mouthwatering bite pop even more by adding texture with crunchy nuts or silky melted chocolate.

Even if you simply serve plain popcorn to your guests, you can feel good about serving healthy, whole grain, freshly popped popcorn, which is naturally low in fat and calories, non-GMO and gluten free.

Find more ways to pop up more fun for your next party at popcorn.org.

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Caramel-Nut Popcorn Crunch
Yield: 20 pieces

  • 10        cups freshly popped popcorn
  • 2          cups whole almonds
  • 1          cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2       cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4       cup light corn syrup
  • 2          teaspoons vanilla
  • 1          teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2       teaspoon baking soda
  1. Heat oven to 225° F. Spray 15-by-10-inch baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  2. In large bowl, mix popcorn and almonds.
  3. In medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Over low heat, stir mixture until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla, almond extract and baking soda.
  4. Pour over popcorn and almonds, immediately stirring gently to coat. Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet, spreading evenly.
  5. Bake 1 hour. Cool completely. Break into pieces and store in airtight container.

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Maple Bacon Popcorn Mix
Yield: 2 quarts

  • 6          slices thick-cut bacon
  • 1/4       cup pure maple syrup, divided
  • 8          cups popped popcorn
  • 2/3       cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3       cup dried cranberries
  • 2          tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4       teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/4       teaspoon maple extract
  1. Heat oven to 400° F.
  2. Line jelly roll pan with foil. Place wire rack in pan. Arrange bacon in single layer on rack. Bake 15 minutes, or until ends of bacon start to curl. Remove and reserve 2 tablespoons bacon drippings. Brush bacon with 2 tablespoons maple syrup; bake 15 minutes until browned. Cool then coarsely chop bacon.
  3. In large bowl, combine popcorn, pecans and cranberries.
  4. Combine butter, black pepper, maple extract, remaining maple syrup and reserved bacon drippings. Cook over low heat until butter is melted. Drizzle over popcorn mixture and mix thoroughly.
  5. Spread popcorn mixture in jelly roll or roasting pan. Bake 5 minutes. Toss in bacon pieces. Serve warm.

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Poppy Chow
Yield: 2 quarts

  • 2          quarts popped popcorn
  • 1/4       cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
  • 1/2       cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1          cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1          cup confectioners’ sugar
  1. Place popcorn in large bowl; set aside.
  2. In microwave safe bowl, combine butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips. Microwave 2 minutes; stir until smooth.
  3. Pour chocolate mixture over popcorn and stir until well coated. Sprinkle confectioners’ sugar over popcorn and stir until coated.
  4. Cool to room temperature before serving. Store in airtight container, refrigerated, up to 24 hours.

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English Toffee Popcorn Bars
Yield: 20 bars

  • 2 1/2    quarts popped popcorn
  • 1          cup peanuts
  • 1          cup flaked coconut, toasted

Toffee:

  • 1 1/2    cups butter or margarine
  • 1 1/2    cups sugar
  • 3          tablespoons water
  • 4 1/2    teaspoons light corn syrup

Chocolate Topping:

  • 1 1/2    cups (9 ounces) chocolate pieces
  • 1          tablespoon shortening
  1. Heat oven to 200° F.
  2. In large bowl, combine popcorn, peanuts and toasted coconut. Cover bottom of buttered 15 1/2-by-10 1/2-by-1-inch jelly roll pan with half of the popcorn mixture. Keep filled pan and remaining popcorn mixture warm in oven.
  3. To make toffee: In heavy 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add sugar and blend well.
    Continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches full boil. Add water and corn syrup; mix well.
  4. Wash down sides of pan with pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar granules.
  5. Cook and stir over low heat until mixture reaches soft-crack stage on candy thermometer (280° F). Immediately pour mixture over warm popcorn in jelly-roll pan, making certain all popcorn is covered. Quickly spread and press remaining popcorn mixture into hot toffee. Set aside to cool.
    For topping, melt chocolate and shortening over low heat. Spread over popcorn mixture, making certain any loose pieces are held in place.
  6. Cool. Cut into bars. If bars will not be served immediately, wrap in plastic wrap for storage.
Smart Start

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(Family Features) A commitment to health and wellness means taking care of yourself and your family, exercising and eating right. The New Year is the perfect time to refocus your goals and make better health a priority.

A nutrient-rich breakfast can set you up for success each and every day. Dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt are good sources of high-quality protein, which is an essential part of a healthy diet. Protein serves as the building block for cells throughout the body and may aid in managing weight by helping you feel full.

By adding protein to your day, health and wellness goals can become easier to achieve. Daily protein needs should be met by spreading intake throughout the day in every meal and snack you eat. Not only does protein help satisfy hunger, which may aid in weight management, but it also helps preserve muscle.

No matter your breakfast style, dairy foods can enhance your dish. These recipes show how, from sweet to savory and cold to hot, your breakfast can be unique while providing high-quality nutrition in each bite. Learn more about the role of dairy in a healthy diet at MilkMeansMore.org.

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White Pizza Frittata
Recipe created by Rachel Cooks on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Servings: 8

  • 1          tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1          large clove garlic, minced
  • 12        ounces frozen spinach, thawed and water pressed out
  • 12        large eggs
  • 1/4       cup skim milk
  • 1/4       teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2       teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 3/4       cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2       cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4       cup minced fresh basil
  • 1/2       cup shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese
  1. Heat oven to 325° F.
  2. In oven-safe skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Once garlic is fragrant, add spinach; break up to incorporate and heat.
  3. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, pepper, oregano, ricotta, Parmesan and basil.
  4. Add egg mixture to skillet, reduce heat to low and cook 1 minute, stirring gently. Move to oven and bake 25-30 minutes, or until eggs are almost completely set.
  5. Carefully remove from oven and add mozzarella. Return to oven and bake until mozzarella is melted, about 5 minutes.
  6. May be served hot, at room temperature or cold.

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Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes
Recipe created by The Chef Next Door on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

  • 3/4       cup buckwheat flour
  • 3/4       cup all-purpose flour
  • 2          tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2    teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2       teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2       teaspoon salt
  • 2          eggs
  • 1 3/4    cups lactose-free, 2 percent milk
  • 2          tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1          teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2          cups fresh blueberries, plus additional for topping (optional)
  • syrup (optional)
  1. In large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In small bowl, beat eggs then add milk, oil and vanilla; mix well. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix to combine.
  2. Heat griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Using 1/4 measuring cup, pour batter onto griddle. Gently place several blueberries all over surface of pancakes.
  3. Flip pancakes when bubbles start to form around edges and bottoms are golden brown. Cook on other side until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove to plate and cover to keep warm.
  4. Top pancakes with additional blueberries and syrup before serving, if desired.

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Huevos Rancheros Oats
Recipe created by Comfortably Domestic on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2

Oats

  • 1          cup 2 percent milk
  • 3/4       cup water
  • 1/8       teaspoon salt
  • 1          cup old-fashioned oats

Huevos Rancheros

  • 1/2       cup sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2    teaspoons light olive oil
  • 1          can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1/4       teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 2          eggs
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/4       cup sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
  1. In medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring milk, water and salt to boil. Stir in oats. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer oats, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes. Remove oats from heat and place lid on saucepan. Set aside.
  2. In nonstick skillet over medium heat, saute onion in olive oil until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir canned tomatoes with green chilies and chipotle chili powder into onions to combine. Continue to heat salsa to boil, about 1 minute. Make two wells in middle of tomato salsa. Crack eggs into wells. Season eggs with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover skillet and poach eggs in salsa to desired doneness; about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Divide oats evenly between two bowls. Spoon eggs and salsa over oats. Serve immediately with cheddar cheese.

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Ricotta and Fig Oatmeal
Recipe created by Foxes Love Lemons on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 3 minutes
Servings: 1

  • 3/4       cup milk
  • 1/2       cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/8       teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2          tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 2          dried figs, halved
  • 1          tablespoon sliced almonds
  • 1          tablespoon honey
  1. In microwave-safe bowl, stir together milk, oats and salt. Microwave on high 2 1/2 minutes, or until oats are tender and most liquid is absorbed.
  2. Remove bowl from microwave; stir in ricotta. To serve, top with figs and almonds, and drizzle with honey.
Make Healthy a Way of Life

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(Family Features) The start of a new year is the perfect time for new beginnings, including a fresh start on eating healthy. The trick to making this year’s resolution stick is introducing smart eating habits so tasty and easy that your eating plan becomes more a way of life than a short-lived commitment. One easy way to achieve that habit is by adding watermelon to your daily diet, giving your body a low-calorie option to curb an appetite for unhealthy snacks.Set reasonable goals. A deprivation diet is destined to fail because eventually your body will rebel. Instead, aim for well-rounded meals with moderate portions. If weight loss is your ultimate goal, know that losing two pounds a week is generally considered the maximum.

Satisfy your sweet tooth. Everyone, even the most dedicated health food fans, experience cravings from time to time. Most experts agree that it’s OK to answer your sweet tooth – in moderation of course. Before you take the plunge, think about whether there are other options that could be a good substitute. For example, instead of a sugary candy bar, consider a naturally sweet slice of watermelon for a cholesterol-free, fat-free way to satisfy cravings at only 80 calories per 2-cup serving. Watermelon contains fiber and water, and packs a wealth of health benefits, including strong levels of vitamins A, C and B6.

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Stay well hydrated. During the cooler winter months, it’s easy to let water consumption slide because you’re not feeling the heat and thirst you do in warmer weather. However, the dry winter air can also be hard on your body, so it’s important to keep that water flowing year-around. Most adults should aim for eight glasses of water each day, but you can also boost your water intake with foods that have a high water content, such as watermelon, which is 92 percent water and contains protein and fiber so you are satisfied on fewer calories while boosting your overall hydration.Make Water Mouthwatering
A simple infusion of flavor gives water an instant upgrade, whether you’re looking to add some variety to your daily water consumption or you’re hosting an event and want to offer guests a unique and nutritious beverage. Use your favorite herbs and fruits to create one-of-a-kind combinations that provide refreshing rehydration. Try these pairings:

  • Watermelon with basil, mint or lime
  • Strawberry with lime and basil
  • Cucumber and rosemary
  • Mixed berries and mint
  • Pineapple with coconut

Find more inspiration for health-conscious habits in the new year at watermelon.org.13452-island-fruit-salad

Island Fruit Salad
Servings: 2

  • 2          tablespoons water
  • 2          tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1/2       lime (1 tablespoon), juiced
  • 1 1/2    teaspoons rum extract
  • 2          kiwis, peeled and diced
  • 1          orange, sectioned and halved
  • 2          cups seedless watermelon, chopped
  • 2          teaspoons flaked, sweetened coconut
  1. In small bowl, combine water and coconut sugar; microwave 20 seconds. Stir to completely dissolve sugar. Let cool. Once cool, add lime juice and rum extract.
  2. In medium bowl, add kiwi, orange and watermelon. Pour rum juice over top and thoroughly toss. Let sit 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
  3. Divide fruit salad into two bowls and sprinkle with coconut.

13452-watermelon-protein-bitesWatermelon Protein Bites
Recipe courtesy of Anya Shinall of Anya’s Eats

  • 1          cup pitted dates, soaked
  • purified water
  • 1 1/2    cups sprouted watermelon seeds, divided, plus additional for garnish
  • 1          tablespoon coconut butter
  • 1          cup fresh watermelon, chopped
  • 1/8-1/4             cup roughly chopped beets (optional)
  1. Chop dates in half.
  2. Place dates in bowl of purified water and soak 1-2 hours.
  3. Remove dates from water bowl and place them into food processor.
  4. Pulse a few times then add 1 cup watermelon seeds, coconut butter and watermelon.
  5. Add chopped beets, if using.
  6. Blend until well combined, scraping sides of food processor as you go.
  7. Add remaining watermelon seeds and pulse, leaving some seeds chunky.
  8. For smoother texture, continue to blend.
  9. Remove mixture from food processor, place in small bowl and cover, allowing to cool in refrigerator 30 minutes.
  10. Remove mixture from fridge. With fingertips slightly wet, roll mixture into balls and place on a plate.
  11. Once done rolling, add watermelon seeds to top.
  12. Place watermelon bites in freezer 1-2 hours, or until frozen.

13452-steel-cut-oats-with-watermelonSteel-Cut Oats with Watermelon
Servings: 2

  • 1          cup 1 percent milk, plus additional (optional)
  • 1          cup water
  • 1/2       cup steel-cut oats
  • 3/4       cup diced seedless watermelon
  • 2          tablespoons dried tart cherries or cranberries
  • 2          tablespoons chopped pecans
  • 2          tablespoons maple syrup
  1. In medium saucepan over high heat, bring 1 cup milk and water to gentle boil. Pour in oats. Stir; return to gentle boil then reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, 20-30 minutes.
  2. While oats are cooking, in small bowl, combine watermelon, dried fruit, nuts and maple syrup.
  3. Portion out oats and top with watermelon mixture. Add additional milk, if desired.
Easy Cold-Weather Cooking

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(Family Features) As the chill settles in, comforting, warming, seasonal favorites like stews and soups become top of mind. However, with busy work schedules, there’s often not enough time to prepare them during the week.

When Carrot-Lentil Stew is on the menu, time isn’t an issue. It’s ready in under an hour, plus it’s packed with healthy ingredients and robust flavor. Start with quick-cooking lentils, add nutrient-rich vegetables, vegetable broth and the secret ingredient: a jar of Aunt Nellie’s Glazed Sliced Carrots. The perfectly cooked carrot slices and their flavorful sauce add texture, flavor and vibrant color to the stew, which needs only 10 minutes to cook.

Serve topped with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese for another splash of color and an extra layer of flavor. This vegetarian stew can easily be adjusted to include chicken sausage for even more protein.

For additional cold-weather cooking ideas, visit AuntNellies.com.

Carrot-Lentil Vegetable Stew
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4

  • 1          cup dry lentils
  • 3          cups fat-free, reduced-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • 1          cup water
  • 3/4       cup chopped onion
  • 3/4       cup sliced celery
  • 3/4       cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1          can (14 1/2 ounces) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1          jar (15 1/2 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Glazed Small Sliced Carrots
  • 1          large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2       cup chopped fresh parsley
  • shaved Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Rinse lentils and drain. Place in Dutch oven or other large saucepan. Add 2 cups broth and water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes (lentils should be slightly undercooked).
  2. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, remaining broth, tomatoes with liquid, carrots with liquid and garlic. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes, until liquid is reduced as desired and vegetables are just tender. Stir in parsley. Serve topped with Parmesan, if desired.

Note: If desired, 1/2 pound chicken sausage links, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces, can be added to stew during last 5 minutes of cooking.

Nutritional information per serving: 280 calories; 14 g protein; 54 g carbohydrate; <1 g fat; 390 mg sodium; 10 g dietary fiber; 5 mg iron; 0.46 mg thiamin; 5499 IU vitamin A; 36 mg vitamin C.