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Well ya’ll…. I think I’m back.


After a 7 month hiatus (can I even call it a hiatus??) I’ve been getting the itch to start blogging again.  But who knows, I could write this post and then take another 7 months off.  Let’s hope that’s not the case though. . .   

Originally, I took a break because, let’s be honest, we were living in a horrible tiny apartment with a horrible tiny kitchen that I hated to be in every second… both the kitchen and the apartment.  There was nothing even remotely inspiring about that kitchen and for that, I blame my hiatus.  Also…. sometimes I really wonder how many people even read this thing, but after looking at the numbers today, apparently people DO read this!  So… no time like the present!

Some things have definitely changed since my last post.  Brad and I bought a house in November and moved in the weekend before Thanksgiving.  It’s an absolute dream come true.  We now live about an hour south of Nashville in a small town called Columbia.  They have a day called “Mule Day”.  Yea, we live in a country town that has a day devoted to mules and it’s sort of the greatest thing ever.  Our house sits on just under 2 acres of wooded land.  It feels more out in the middle of nowhere than it actually is, which is perfect for us.  It’s super quiet, we only have a few neighbors and on any given night, we can see more stars than you could ever imagine.  We are slowly but surely making our home, well… our home.  We built a fence in the backyard (yea, you read that right, we BUILT one), we’ve gotten most of our stuff unpacked and settled into position, and just yesterday and the day before, we painted the dining room and living room and finally got to hang up our wedding photo collage that we have missed so dearly.  This weekend we plan to tackle painting the kitchen which I am beyond excited about and over the next few weeks, we hope to get all the other rooms painted.  

Yes, we’ve been very busy.  But that’s how we like it!

The holidays were nice but very chaotic for us.  We had pretty much the same schedule we always do around the holidays, but this year it just felt more crazy because of the whole driving 5 hours thing.  We were so glad we got to see all of our family.  Unfortunately, Indianapolis didn’t get any snow while we were up there, so we have yet to see snow this winter.  But that’s probably a good thing, I’m just missing it.  


For New Years this year, I decided I wanted to approach the menu a little differently than I have in the past.  See, we didn’t have the best luck in 2013, what with having to move unexpectedly among a list of other things, so I was determined to do everything I could to bring us some better luck with 2014.  So I made Hoppin John!  It’s a southern thing I guess.  But it has black eye peas and collard greens which are both supposed to bring you good luck in the new year.  Also, I heard something somewhere about it being good to eat things in the shape of circles, so I made donuts the next day.  Or maybe I just wanted to make donuts, who knows.  Anyway, I had never made Hoppin John or ate it for that matter, so I was really going out on a limb.  I got on Pinterest and searched for Hoppin John recipes and settled on a combination of a few different ones.  One was to be made in a crockpot with sausage links, which I didn’t want to do either of and the other I didn’t feel had enough to it.  So I combined the two to make, what I think, was a really freaking good Hoppin John!

It’s got a little kick to it from the jalapeno and the can of Rotel.  But if you wanted to, I’m sure you could skip the jalapeno and sub regular diced tomatoes for the Rotel.  But really- the spiciness makes it for me.  However, I am a lover of all things spicy, so I have a biased opinion.  Either way, it’s served over rice (I went with brown rice to make it a little healthier) and a couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce.  I know it’s past New Years, but I am pretty sure this is a recipe I’ll make again any time of the year!

Happy New Year!  I hope 2014 is a great year for everyone!

Hoppin John
Makes 4-6 servings
Adapted from This Mama Cooks and Holley Grainger 

2 slices of bacon, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can of Rotel Original Recipe
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
About 2 cups of collard greens, ribs removed, roughly chopped 
2 cans of black eye peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup uncooked rice
Hot Sauce

Cook the rice according to directions on package.  When done, set aside.

In a large pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until a little bit crispy.  Add the onion and jalapeno and saute until soft.  Add the tomato paste and Rotel and stir until the tomato paste is mixed in.  Add the black eye peas and chicken broth.  Stir.  Then add the collard greens.  I didn’t measure how much I used, I just sort of eyeballed it.  When it looked like there was enough in there, I was done.  Simmer on the stove for about 15 minutes until it starts to thicken.  

Spoon the rice onto a plate and pour the black eye pea mixture over it.  Serve with hot sauce if desired.

That’s it!!  I forgot to tell you how easy it is!!

Well, I’ve spent most of my week trying to NOT be sick.  Nothing is more stressful and upsetting than starting to have symptoms of being sick less than TWO WEEKS before TOUGH MUDDER.  I have been freaking out on the inside, while trying to hold it together on the outside.  I’ve been drinking more Kombucha than what is probably good for me, I’ve been gargling down Airborne like my life depends on it and I’ve been drinking more water than I think my bladder can handle.  Along with blowing my nose non-stop.

And after all of that… I have still manged to wake up this morning with green stuff coming out of my nose, achey joints and back and literally sounding like I’ve been smoking since I was a baby.  However… I am DETERMINED to power through this.  I’ve been training for months for the damn Tough Mudder and I’m not going to let some silly cold get in my way!

See?  I’ve gotten tougher since we started this whole training process!  But I wanted everyone to know that I was sick, so that’s mainly why I wrote about it.  I’ll be fine.  Once I get some proper (stupid) medicine in me, I’ll be good to go.  I have to be because I have some serious baking to do today that you’ll all learn about in about a week!  Hhmmmm

I promise, I didn’t just make this post to write about being sick.  I want to tell you about my first time making and eating Pasta Carbonara!  Yep!  Never made it, never had it!  I was skeptical of it, definitely had my doubts… but I am here to say that it turns out, pasta carbonara is pretty good!  The whole raw egg thing freaks me out.  No wait, it’s not raw, the egg is cooked by the heat of the pasta, but either way, I have been scared to try it due to that factor.

We went to the Zionsville Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning (we drug Cash along with us, he was quite a hit) and stocked up on fresh, homemade pasta and bacon straight from the farm.  I was hoping to find peas, but I didn’t want to have to mess with taking them out of their shell (plus we had a bag of frozen peas at home), so I didn’t get any of those and we already had a dozen brown eggs in our fridge.  So what I had hoped to be an all farmer’s market meal, turned into a half farmer’s market meal.  But that’s ok.  The important stuff came from the farmer’s market, so I was able to come to terms with it.

For those of you who don’t know what pasta carbonara is, allow me to enlighten you.  It’s pasta (wow!) with bacon and peas and then a cream sauce made of, well, cream and eggs.  But you don’t cook the sauce.  You simply pour it over the hot, cooked pasta and let that heat cook the eggs.  I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious it was.  It’s a very creamy pasta dish with wonderful saltiness from the bacon (don’t even bother adding any extra salt) and a teeny hit of sweet from the peas (I love peas).

Remember how in my welcome post I said there are some healthy recipes and some not so healthy recipes?  Weeeelllll…. this will be one of those not-so-healthy ones.  But it’s ok.  We’re all allowed to eat heavy cream and bacon every once and awhile.  But I did try to lighten this up by using half cream and half skim milk and it still turned out delicious.  I felt a little better after eating an entire plate of it, knowing that I only used half of the heavy cream.  Yea… I focus on the little things.

Anyway, go make this dish sometime.  It’s a really great pasta dish and even better with fresh pasta.  I can’t wait to go back to the market and buy all the different kinds they have!  Enjoy!

Pasta Carbonara
Makes about 4 servings
Adapted from Pioneer Woman

12 ounces pasta
8 pieces of bacon, chopped
1/2 of an onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 eggs
3/4 cups parmesan cheese, grated
3/4 cups heavy cream (to make it healthy, do half of that cream, half of that milk)
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup peas

Fry up the bacon in a skillet until crispy.  Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Pour out all of the bacon grease, but don’t wipe out the pan.  Return the skillet to the stove and reheat.  Add the garlic and onion and saute until golden brown.

Cook your pasta according to the directions.

In a bowl, mix together the eggs, heavy cream (and hopefully milk), parmesan and salt and pepper.

When the pasta is finished, drain (but reserve about 1 cup of pasta water, just in case) and pour into a bowl.  Slowly add the egg mixture while constantly mixing (you need to do this otherwise the heat of the pasta might scramble the eggs).  Sauce should be thick and coat the pasta, but if you want it a little thinner, add a little bit of pasta water at a time.

Stir in the cooked bacon, peas and cooked garlic and onion and you are done!!  Serve immediately… however I did find that it’s pretty good the next day!

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