We’re 5 Today!! Plus Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy Grits and a $100 AmEx® GiftCard GIVEAWAY!!

Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy GritsMan, oh man!

We’re F-I-V-E today!!! For real, for real— as in, I’ve been rambling about food, family, and absolutely random things for 5 YEARS!

Holy Moly!!!

Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy GritsThese past five years have been filled with quite the Foodventures and every foray into the kitchen still brings surprising successes, utter failures and always new takeaways. It’s never a dull moment!

And I kind of dig how my palette has changed over the years. Dishes I used to despise are now the ones I crave and are obsessed with making. Things I used to think I couldn’t live without are now nowhere to be found in my kitchen.

Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy GritsWhich is why for our 5th blogiversary, I opted to make this utterly decadent, stick-to-your-ribs Bacon & Cheesy Grits. Because believe it or not, I used to hate grits. Well…anything of that similar texture. Oatmeal, porridge, cream of wheat— all of it. Bleh!

But then one day, I woke up and the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the forest animals were frolicking and a bowl of shrimp & grits somehow magically appeared in front of me.

And my life was changed. Luscious, cheesy, goodness. Mind blown.

So I’m pretty certain you’ll love them too. Not to mention it’s super easy to make.

Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy GritsAnd because y’all have stuck with me throughout these past few years and have followed my random musings, we’re having a fantabulous (did I just use that word??) $100 American Express® GiftCard GIVEAWAY for one of our lucky readers. I don’t know about you but it may come in handy with the holidays coming up.

Want to know how to win?

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There are six (6) different ways for you to enter!  Please be sure to leave a separate comment for each indicating which of the below you did: This Giveaway has ended- THANKS!

  1. Leave a comment sharing what dish do you now love but didn’t like before;
  2. Subscribe to The Culinary Chronicles & get automatic emails when new posts are published (If you already Subscribe, leave a comment indicating so);
  3. Like our Facebook Fan Page (If you already “Like” us, leave a comment indicating so); or
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The deadline to enter is Monday, November 17th at 5pm (PST) and the winner will be notified the next day. This Giveaway has ended- THANKS!

And with that dear friends, thanks again for all of your support and here’s to another five years of delicious and entertaining Foodventures!!!

Alohas <3

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Bacon & Shrimp Cheesy Grits
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1 tablespoon hot sauce
½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (or other Cajun spice blend)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon garlic salt
black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 scallions, chopped, more to garnish
3¼ cups low sodium chicken stock
kosher salt
1 cup grits
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, more to garnish
3 slices bacon, diced
½ cup minced shallots
1 cup finely diced bell peppers (assorted colors)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ cup dry white wine
3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a bowl, mix the shrimp with the hot sauce, Old Bay Seasoning, cayenne pepper, garlic salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, olive oil and chopped scallions. Set aside.

In a heavy bottom pot, bring the chicken stock to a rolling boil with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Slowly whisk in the grits and cook until the grits have thickened and become tender. For quick grits, this will take about 5-7 minutes over medium heat. For regular grits, simmer for about 25 minutes. Once done, stir in 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Cover and keep warm.

In a cast iron skillet or other heavy bottom skillet. Slowly sauté the bacon until it becomes crispy and the fat has rendered down—about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the bacon bits to a plate covered with paper towels. Reserve one tablespoon of bacon drippings in the pan and discard the rest. Sauté shallots in the bacon drippings until translucent. Add the diced bell peppers and cook for an additional two minutes. Add the garlic and shrimp and cook until the shrimp just begins to turn pink—about 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the skillet. Turn the heat to medium high and pour in the white wine. Use a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the skillet to release all the brown bits. Allow the wine to come to a boil and reduce the liquid for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the remaining butter, Worcestershire sauce, and red chili flakes. Add the shrimp back into the skillet and allow the items to cook for an additional minute. Taste and season as needed.

Divide the cheesy grits amongst four bowls and top each mound with the shrimp mixture. Sprinkle each bowl with the additional cheddar cheese, scallions and crispy bacon. Serve immediately.

Cobb Salad – Taste the Rainbow

Cobb Salad

I made a Rainbow.

Well….a huge salad that looked like a Rainbow.

Cobb Salad

And the thing is….I wasn’t intending to write about it but after I assembled everything, I said to myself:

“Damn. That is a good-looking bowl o’ goodness.”

Cobb Salad

So here it is.

My Cobb Salad.

Nothing crazy, nothing shocking but darn delicious. And like all great Foodies and Nutritionists will tell ya –each meal should cover the Rainbow.

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Cobb Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients:

Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon finely minced shallots
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Salad
5 cups roughly chopped Romaine lettuce
1 cup arugula leaves
1/2 cup diced cucumbers
1 small avocado, diced
1/2 cup diced bell peppers (I like to use orange and yellow peppers)
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cup diced grilled chicken
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
3 crispy bacon strips, roughly chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced

In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients of the vinaigrette. Taste and add more kosher salt and black pepper as needed. (I also like to add the ingredients into a mason jar and shake it up–it’s a wonderful alternative to emulsify the vinaigrette but it serves as the perfect storage vessel for the remaining dressing.)

In a large bowl, add the Romaine lettuce and arugula. Add enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat the greens. Toss to evenly cover and plate between two bowls.

Divide the remaining ingredients between the two bowls. Serve additional vinaigrette alongside each bowl. Enjoy!

Crunchy Jalapeno-Bacon wrapped Avocado Fries

Crunchy Jalapeno-Bacon wrapped Avocado Fries

Remember when I made the Double Jalapeno-Bacon Cheeseburgers using Farmer John Jalapeno Bacon? The burgers were so baconlicious that plain ol’ fries just wouldn’t cut it.

Because once you decide to go big, you’ve got to go all in.

Crunchy Jalapeno-Bacon wrapped Avocado Fries

And in this case, going “all in” comes in the form of crunchy avocado “fries” that are wrapped with bacon. I know it sounds like a food stand at the summer fair but before you totally nix it, you’ve got to give them a try.

It’s the only Bacon thing to do, after all.

Crunchy Jalapeno-Bacon wrapped Avocado Fries

These “fries” have a great play on textures. Super crunchy from the panko breadcrumbs & crispy bacon balanced by the buttery avocado. Dunk them in a Roasted Poblano Aioli or a cool Cilantro Ranch Dressing and you have a perfect appetizer or side.

Have a Baconriffic Day!

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Crunchy Jalapeno-Bacon wrapped Avocado Fries
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 large avocado
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
kosher salt and pepper
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
4 slices jalapeno bacon, cut in half
vegetable oil

Slice the avocado into 8 equal wedges. Place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 20 minutes.

In a shallow dish, whisk together the egg and water. Place the Panko breadcrumbs and flour into two separate shallow dishes. Season the flour with cayenne pepper, kosher salt and black pepper.

Once the avocados have chilled, take one wedge and dredge it into the flour. Gently shake off the excess flour before dipping it in the egg wash. Roll the avocado wedge in the Panko and gently shake off the excess. Set aside. Continue dredging the remaining avocados.

Take a 1/2 slice of bacon, wrap around each wedge of avocado using toothpicks to secure them together. Place back into the freezer for another 10 minutes.

Fill a heavy bottom pot with 2 inches of vegetable oil. Heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees F.

Fry the avocado fries for 4-5 minutes, turning them from time to time until they become golden brown. Remove the fries and drain them on a wire rack or plates lined with paper towels. Season with additional kosher salt immediately when they come out of the oil and carefully remove & discard the toothpicks. Serve warm with Roasted Poblano Aioli or condiments of your choice.

 **Disclosure: I did receive products from Farmer John, but as always, my opinions are my own.**

Double Jalapeno-Bacon Cheeseburgers with Roasted Poblano Aioli

Double Jalapeno Bacon Cheeseburgers

Summer has been beating down my door lately with gorgeous sunny days and warm weather. And of course, what’s better to do in the summer than grilling up some delicious eats?

So when this glorious box of Farmer John Jalapeno Bacon showed up at the doorstep, it was a no brainer what had to be done.

Jalapeno Bacon

Burgers.

Ultimate, jalapeno bacon loaded burgers.

With a bit of heat.

Awwww yea….

Double Jalapeno Bacon Cheeseburgers

These decadent burgers are not only topped with a pile of crispy jalapeno bacon but there’s also chopped up bacon INSIDE the patty!!

Yea, I totally went there.

Poblano

And because burgers are the perfect canvas to go BIG, I dressed these bad boys up with spicy pepper cheese, crispy cornmeal onion strings, peppery arugula and a creamy roasted poblano aioli.

Double Jalapeno Bacon Cheeseburgers

These burgers not only have a ton of great textures, a balanced level of heat, but were ultimately bacon-licious! The jalapeno component to the bacon was not at all overpowering but rather mild. Perfect for folks who just want a tad of heat.

And if you think these burgers are bacon-riffic, just wait for my upcoming post on Jalapeño-Bacon wrapped Avocado Fries!

Have a fantastic weekend folks!!
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Double Jalapeño-Bacon Cheeseburgers with Roasted Poblano Aioli
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 large poblano pepper
½ tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup mayonnaise
½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
kosher salt
black pepper
1 pound ground beef (80/20 blend)
½ tablespoon garlic salt
½ tablespoon garlic powder
½ tablespoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 pound cooked jalapeno bacon
vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced into rings
½ cup flour
½ cup yellow corn meal
4 slices pepper jack cheese
1½ cups fresh arugula
4 burger buns, split and toasted

Prepare the aioli. On your stovetop range, char the poblano pepper on all sides. This can also be done under your oven broiler. Once charred, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes. This will help the skin loosen from the pepper. Once cooled, peel the skin from the pepper and discard along with the stem and seeds. Finely chop up the pepper and transfer to a clean bowl. Whisk in the garlic, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice and cilantro. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, garlic salt, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne and Worcestershire. Season generously with kosher salt and pepper. Take ½ of the bacon and roughly chop into small pieces. Add the bacon to the beef and mix until just combined. Form the meat into 4 patties and create a small indentation in the center of each patty. This is to help the patties from puffing up. Transfer them to a plate and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Prepare the onion strings. Fill a heavy bottomed pot with 2 inches of oil. Heat to 375 degrees F. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. In batches, place the onions into the dry ingredients, tossing well to coat. Gently shake out the excess and carefully lower into the oil. Fry the onions for about 5-6 minutes, stirring every so often until golden brown. Drain the onions on a plate lined with paper towels and season immediately with additional salt. Repeat until all the onions have been fried. Transfer the onion strings to a large baking sheet. Keep warm in a 200 degree F oven while you grill the patties.

Remove the patties from the refrigerator and lightly brush them with vegetable oil. Light your grill (or preheat grill pan). Place the patties over medium heat and grill on each side for about 4-5 minutes. About 1-2 minutes before the second side is done, lay one slice of cheese over each patty. Cover the grill and cook until the cheese has melted. Remove the patties and tent with aluminum foil while you’re assembling the burgers.

On a toasted bun, place a small mound of the arugula and then lay a patty on top. Spread a few spoonfuls of the aioli on top of the patty before adding a few strips of the remaining bacon. Next, add a small pile of the crispy onion strings and then top off with the other side of the bun. Serve immediately.

 **Disclosure: I did receive products from Farmer John, but as always, my opinions are my own.**

The Ultimate Baked Potato Dip for Game Day!!

The Ultimate Baked Potato Dip

Man, oh man—I’m ready for some football!

And pizza….and hoagies…and dip…and nachos…and wings…and cocktails…and……..

Yea…I’m ready for a lot of goodness!!!

The Ultimate Baked Potato Dip

If you’re looking for some ehr-my-gawd deliciousness to whip up for Game Day, you’re going to LOVE this Ultimate Baked Potato Dip.

This crowd pleaser is jammed pack with your classic baked potato toppings and is just begging for a crunchy ‘tater chip to scoop it all up. And once your peeps take a bite, they will be so overcome by your awesomeness that they’ll be wearing jerseys with your name on it and cheering you on for days. True Story.

Need some more ideas for game day? Check out these goodies here

Laters, Taters!

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The Ultimate Baked Potato Dip

Ingredients:

24 ounces sour cream
1 packet ranch dressing mix
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
1-2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 heaping cup chopped scallions
1½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1½ heaping cups chopped crispy bacon

In a large bowl, stir together the sour cream, ranch dressing mix, pepper, paprika, cayenne and hot sauce until combined. Fold in the scallions, cheeses, and bacon. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours.

15 minutes before serving, remove from the refrigerator and stir to take off some of the chill. Garnish with additional cheese, scallions and serve with your choice of chips. Enjoy!

Bacon Egg Cups—Oh Me, Oh My!

Bacon Egg Cups

I absolutely ADORE breakfast foods but I am the grumpiest person in the morning. Which is why brunch is so fantabulous!

Check out my guest post here for our friends at Safest Choice® Eggs where I sing the praises of easy Brunch Entertaining. And the bonus? I share this delicious and no-fuss recipe for Bacon Egg Cups.

Trust me. Your guests will love you.

Happy Brunching!

Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Bacon-Herb Butter

Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Bacon-Herb Butter

I have vivid memories waking up when I was a kid to the smell of turkey roasting on Thanksgiving morning.

Our clan would arrive to my folks house around lunchtime and we would begin enjoying several delicious Vietnamese dishes, courtesy of mom and the aunties. While waiting for the turkey, we would watch movies, play games, snack, and catch up with the latest gossip.

We would then feast again once the turkey came out of the oven—a turkey with Asian flavors that Mom created with five-spice and tons of garlic. To this day, Mom’s turkey is still the juiciest and most flavorful I’ve ever had.

After the turkey and sides were devoured, we would continue with the chatting and games. And hours later, believe it or not, the family would have one last meal. Usually Cháo (Vietnamese rice porridge) or Bún Bò Huế (Spicy Beef Noodle Soup)–something warm and comforting to close out the night.

Needless to say, it was among my favorite times of the year. Not just because of the incredible food (and trust me, it was incredible) but because of the memories that surrounded these feasts.

Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Bacon-Herb Butter

But if prepping a turkey appears too daunting for you, opt for roasting a chicken or a few Cornish game hens. Either will provide a succulent alternative and can be roasted in a fraction of the time.

And because I subscribe to the belief that bacon makes EVERYTHING better, try out this compound butter filled with fresh herbs and smoked bacon I used on game hens I made for dinner for some friends. The smokiness from the bacon and bright herbs were wonderful with the hens.

With that Friends, stay tuned for Wednesday’s post as I share a scrumptious and easy dessert that could be appreciated at any Thanksgiving feast. And because I love y’all, I’ll be announcing a gorgeous giveaway, too. True Story!

Happy Monday and here’s to a short work week! Yippee!!!

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Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Bacon-Herb Butter
Serves 4

Ingredients:

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 strips thick-sliced smoked bacon, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
½ tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
kosher salt
black pepper
2 Cornish game hens, cleaned and dried
1 small yellow onion, quartered
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a food processor, pulse together the butter, bacon, and herbs until combined. Season the mixture with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper.

Take each hen and slide your fingers between the skin and breast meat to loosen. Be careful not to tear the skin. Gently rub 2-3 tablespoons of the butter mixture underneath the skin. Inside the cavity, heavily salt and pepper the hen. Stuff the cavity with the remaining butter mixture and quartered onion. Rub the exterior of the hens with olive oil and generously season with kosher salt and black pepper. Truss the hens with kitchen twine.

Place the hens on a large, rimmed baking sheet or shallow roasting pan. Rotating the pan halfway through cooking, roast the hens until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh registers 170 degrees–about 45-50 minutes. Carefully remove the hens and rest on a cutting board. Loosely tent with aluminum foil and allow hens to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.