If you’re looking for the perfect, easy bread to complement nearly any meal, I’ve got you covered with my new Bacon Cheddar Muffins. These slightly sweet and smoky muffins are a fun twist on the cheese biscuits at one of my favorite barbecue restaurants – Jim ‘N Nicks. I could literally eat my weight in those things so I thought it might be cool to add a little bacon to them as well.
These do have a little sugar in them, but you won’t find them super sweet and while the vanilla extract might seem like a weird addition, trust me… you don’t want to leave it out. I tested them both with and without it and MUCH preferred the vanilla in there. But they don’t end up tasting anything like cake. Promise.
To make things even easier, this recipe calls for a pouch of cooked, chopped bacon – you know, the kind that you usually find over by the salad dressings in the grocery store. It’s a great way to add tons of bacony flavor without having to cook, and more importantly clean up after cooking, bacon. Just make sure it’s real bacon – not the fake stuff – and I like to use the chopped bacon rather than the bacon bits. If you’re feeling industrious, you can certainly cook your own though, or use some leftover from breakfast, too. You’ll need 8 to 10 slices of real bacon that has been cooked and crumbled. Y’all enjoy!
Bacon Cheddar Muffins
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 (3.5-ounce) package chopped real bacon ((or about 8 to 10 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled))
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 400°F and lightly spray a 12-well muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, stir ingredients together until just combined – do not over mix. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until cooked though.
To make these look pretty, I saved out about a tablespoon of bacon and a few tablespoons of cheese and sprinkled it on top of the batter once I scooped it in into the muffin pan right before baking.
Roasted Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Fair warning. Sort of like shrimp sauce picante, just by virtue of the name, this sauce is fiery!! I ain't lying y'all. Let's just say I didn't need any lip plumper after eating this.
Now I made it exactly as I have written it, but if you prefer things a bit more on the mild side, simply eliminate the Cajun seasoning on the shrimp and reduce the red pepper flakes. Take note too though, that with any leftovers, heat will be intensified even further!
I think of this as a sheet pan sandwich recipe. You roast a bunch of mushrooms and scallions in a hot oven as your main components. And you whip up a simple poblano yogurt while those are roasting. Pile everything high on top of hearty slices of well-toasted bread, and you’re set.
The poblano yogurt is a key component here, but I totally understand if you want to skip out on it because of time, lack of poblanos, or you’re anti-chile. No problem, just about any flavor-forward yogurt slather will do in its place. You could simply crush a clove of garlic into some paste with a pinch of salt, and stir that in your favorite plain yogurt – also delicious. Or, whisk a tablespoon of harissa paste into your yogurt.
These destination restaurants have folks trekking out of the Big City to get their fine-dining fix
Vaudeville Bistro and Supper Club
Fredericksburg, Texas, Closest big city: San Antonio (71 miles)
“Texans are well traveled, so we kept upping our culinary game,” chef-owner Jordan Muraglia says of the boundary-pushing supper club held three times a week at Vaudeville Bistro, which he opened in 2012 with his partner, artist Richard Boprae, in the Texas Hill Country. “We didn’t dumb it down at all.” Diners from near and far descend on the supper club for seasonal fusion plates like flash-smoked toro tartare.
The Barn at Blackberry Farm
Walland, Tennessee, Closest big city: Knoxville (21 miles)
Blackberry Farm has charmed guests with its Smoky Mountains setting since 1976, but it didn’t have a food-and-drink program to match its picturesque estate until the late proprietor, Sam Beall, built a massive wine cellar and used his training at the French Laundry in Napa Valley, California, to turn the barn into a restaurant. Three James Beard Awards later, people come for the food (think fermented squash with green tomato consommé) and stay for the not-too-shabby backdrop.
Winters, California, Closest big city: Sacramento (31 miles)
Throw open the doors of the barn on this Yolo County farm and you won’t find hay barrels. Instead, you’ll find a rustic-swank dining room where chef Gabriel Glasier hosts seven-course tasting menus that spotlight produce grown in the small NorCal town. We’re talking strawberry-chamomile caprese and a dish of carrots and radishes plated to look like the sweetest little garden. Take that, Napa!
Earlton, New York, Closest big city: Albany (28 miles)
Simple math led Damon Baehrel to open his namesake restaurant in the 1980s. “This was the only property we could afford!” he says of the 12-acre farm, where he hand-makes every single component (pine flour, acorn oil) in his 20-plus-course dinners. Word of mouth and high-quality eats, such as Scottish salmon brined in sycamore sap, have kept his doors open for 30 years.
The High Lonesome Ranch
De Beque, Colorado, Closest big city: Denver (212 miles)
Matt Chasseur, the former chef at Michelin-starred Alinea in Chicago, wanted to raise his kids outside of the city—way outside. So his family moved to the High Lonesome Ranch, where his monthly dinners—with dishes like lobster pudding—have a yearlong wait list.