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bourbon, bacon and pecan brownies

bourbon bacon pecan brownies

At first blush, the combination of bourbon, bacon and pecans might not make sense to the mind. But trust me, your taste buds will understand it all and thank you for it. Here’s what one reader wrote about this bourbon, bacon and pecan brownies recipe, which is featured in Baked Chicago’s Simply Decadent Brownies Cookbook:

“Love, love, love the Bourbon, Bacon and Pecan brownies! (Yes, bourbon and bacon!) These brownies were so moist and chocolatey with a hint of bourbon and a hit of salt from the bacon to finish off each bite. So delicious you’ll want to share these with friends and family!” JAStenzel review from

Bourbon, Bacon and Pecan Brownies

In a medium skillet, cook the bacon until crispy. Reserve 1/4 cup of the bacon fat and set aside. Let the bacon cool and chop roughly. Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350° F.  Lightly grease the bottom of a 9×9-inch baking pan with butter or shortening.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large heatproof bowl set on top of a small saucepan of simmering water, melt the dark chocolate and butter. Stir constantly, until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat the eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until frothy (about 1 minute). Beat in the melted chocolate mixture, bourbon and reserved bacon fat. Fold in the flour mixture and pecans, just until combined.

Spread the batter in the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the chopped bacon on top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out nearly clean. Cool the brownies completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 4 rows by 4 rows to make 16 brownies.



6 slices of bacon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
10 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter
4 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons bourbon


Number of servings: 16

Cooking time: 35 minutes


Game Day Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes (with Bacon!)

slow cooker sloppy joes with bacon

America, are you ready for some football? Hosting a Super Bowl viewing party doesn’t have to be stressful, if you plan ahead. This DIY sloppy joes recipe is easy to make and can be prepared in larger batches to serve a crowd.

This recipe uses a slow cooker, which also allows you to keep the food warm and makes it easy for guests to serve themselves. But you can also stir this up in a single skillet in less than 20 minutes for a quick dinner idea. Either way, it’s sure to be a touchdown with your family and guests.

sloopy joes in the skillet

I use ground turkey instead of ground beef in my recipes, but you can use whichever you prefer. And for an added crunch, I’ve included crispy bacon as a last minute ingredient. The bacon adds a nice depth to the flavor, but remember that the longer it’s in the sloppy joes, the more it will lose its crunch. So I suggest adding in just a few minutes before you’re ready to begin serving.

Get your ingredients ready. 13 – 62 – 50 – Hike!

sloppy joes ingredients mise en place

Game Day Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes (with bacon!)

In a large skillet on medium-high heat, add the olive oil and minced onion. Add in the ground turkey and begin to cook until brown. Break up the ground turkey and stir often to ensure the onions are evenly cooked. When the ground turkey is no longer pink, transfer everything to a 3-quart slow cooker.

Stir in the chili sauce, brown sugar, relish, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low heat for 3 hours. Stir occasionally to blend the flavors. About five minutes before you’re ready to begin serving, add in the crispy bacon and stir.

Spoon about 1/2 cup of sloppy joes mixture on a toasted bun. Toasting the buns will add another crunchy texture to each bite, plus keep the bun from getting soggy too quickly.



1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
1/2 cup fresh minced onion (or 1/4 cup dried)
12 ounces chili sauce
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet pickle relist
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup crispy bacon, chopped (roughly 6 thick-cut or 8 regular-cut slices)
6 burger buns, split (toasted buns optional but recommended)


Number of servings: 6

Cooking time: 3 hours


black pepper bacon popovers

black pepper and bacon popovers

Black pepper. Bacon. Butter. Hmm… I can just imagine how good these Black Pepper Bacon Popovers are going to be right out of the oven. The challenge will be leaving some for my guests!

Most people have gotten away from break baking, so any time you make home-baked carb-loaded goodness of any kind, it feels extra special. But these popovers REALLY ARE special. And that’s because of decadent ingredients like real butter, whole milk and crispy bacon.

Black Pepper Bacon Popovers

Preheat your oven to 425° F. Generously butter a standard muffin tin with 12 cups, and set aside.

Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and let cool. Coarsely chop the bacon into small bacon bits and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt and black pepper in a medium bowl. In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together until well blended. Gently whisk in the flour mixture, followed by 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Gently fold in the crispy, chopped bacon. Do not overmix.

Pour batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling about 3/4 full and dividing equally. Bake the popovers for 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. The popovers should be crispy around the edges. Using a spatula, remove popovers from the pan and serve immediately. Pairing these black pepper bacon popovers with a honey butter would be my recommendation!



2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted


Number of servings: 12

Cooking time: 30 minutes


cacao (king of the) jungle cookies

Happy birthday to Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ‘N ‘ Roll®. Elvis was known to love his peanut butter, bananas and bacon. All three of those flavors are rolled up into this sandwich cookie that I’ve named Cacao Jungle Cookies. I’ve thrown in some roasted cacao nibs for a deep chocolate crunch.

While the recipe calls for using semisweet chocolate in the brownie sandwich cookie base (it balances well with the banana-bacon cream filling), I also recommend trying a more decadent version of the cookie by substituting the semisweet chocolate with Scharffen Berger’s 82% Cacao Extra Dark Chocolate which gives a stronger flavor contrast.

Cacao Jungle Cookies

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and let cool. Finely chop the bacon and set aside.

Place the semisweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until melted; set aside and let cool. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, use a mixer to beat together the butter and sugars (about 2 minutes). Add the eggs and vanilla, beating until combined. With mixer on low speed, alternately beat in the chocolate and flour mixtures. Mix just until combined. Fold in the cacao nibs by hand.

Drop the dough by heaping tablespoons, about 2 inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack and cool completely. Yields about 32 cookies, which makes 16 sandwich cookies.

While the cookies are baking, beat the softened butter, peanut butter, mashed banana and cream cheese in a medium bowl, until just mixed. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt, mixing until combined. Fold in the bacon by hand.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. When ready to assemble the cookies, put 1 tablespoon of filling on the bottom of one cookie. Then place another cookie on top.



Sandwich Cookie Ingredients:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate (62% cacao), chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup roasted cacao nibs

Filling Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
pinch of kosher salt
4 slices of bacon, crispy and finely chopped


Number of servings: 8 (2 sandwich cookies per person)

Cooking time: 14 minutes


black-eyed peas with bacon-cornbread dumplings

black-eyed peas

Happy New Year! Baked Chicago wishes everyone a new year – 2013 – filled with health and prosperity. Eating black-eyed peas (the food, not the band) is a long-time Southern tradition for bringing good luck in the year ahead. This black-eyed peas recipe shares the spotlight with some bacon-cornbread dumplings that make this a hearty, satisfying meal.

Black-eyed Peas with Bacon-Cornbread Dumplings

Cook the bacon in a large, heavy cooking pot over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and let cool. Rough chop the bacon and set aside. Remove 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings from the pan and set that aside.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the chopped onion with the remaining drippings. Saute the chopped onion for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Add the chicken stock, water, salt, pepper and black-eyed peas. Bring the entire pot to a boil. Partially cover the pot, reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until black-eyed peas are tender. Stir occasionally.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, green onion, corn meal and baking soda. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the chopped bacon, reserved tablespoon of pan drippings and buttermilk. Stir until just combined and a moist dough is formed. With slightly wet hands, divide the mixture into 12 equal portions. Drop the dumplings, one at a time, into the pan. Cover the pan and cook for 8 minutes or until dumplings are done. Stir occasionally.



8 slices applewood-smoked bacon (thick cut), chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
3 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
16 ounces black-eyed peas
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup corn meal
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk


Number of servings: 4

Cooking time: 38 minutes



sweet potato-bacon biscuits

Sweet potato-bacon biscuits are perfect for pairing with a hot bowl of soup, and special enough to serve with any holiday or celebratory meal.

Preheat oven to 450° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, brown sugar, kosher salt, cream of tartar and cayenne pepper. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cheddar cheese and bacon. Make a well in the center of flour mixture.

In small bowl, combine milk and sweet potato. Add sweet potato mixture to flour mixture. Using a fork, stir just until combined. Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface. Knead gently for 12 strokes. Roll dough to a 3/4-inch thick rectangle. Cut into 8 square pieces.

Place biscuits one inch apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm with honey butter or your favorite fruit preserves. Makes 8 sweet potato-bacon biscuits (2 biscuits per serving).



3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup butter
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sweet potato, cooked and mashed
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and coarsely chopped


Number of servings: 4

Cooking time: 12 minutes

Desserts/ Snacks & Candies

bacon candy

bacon candy

My motto is “everything’s better with bacon.” And in the case, everything’s better with bacon candy!

Bacon Candy

Preheat your oven to 400° F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the dark brown sugar with the cayenne pepper and hickory smoked sea salt. Arrange the bacon strips on the foil and coat the tops with the brown sugar mixture. [I recommend that you sample the brown sugar mixture first to see if the heat level is to your liking. Remember, during the cooking process the sugar and pepper will caramelize with the bacon. The ratio in this bacon candy recipe will deliver a mild heat. You can add more heat (if you like) by increasing the amount of the cayenne pepper in proportion to the brown sugar.]

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until caramelized and crisp. Transfer the bacon candy to a wire rack set on top of a sheet of aluminum foil and let cool completely. Makes approximately 10 servings (2 slices per person).

Adapted from Bacon Candy Recipe – Bronson Van Wyck | Food & Wine.

Hickory smoked salt can sometimes be hard to find in your local store. In the Midwest, Hy-Vee usually carries it and Williams-Sonoma has a house brand of their own hickory smoked sea salt. Bacon candy can be made ahead of time. If made on the day of consumption, store at room temperature. Or you can store it in an air-tight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Best enjoyed slightly warm or at room temperature.



1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon hickory smoked sea salt
20 slices thick-cut bacon


Number of servings: 10

Cooking time: 20 minutes


Soups, Salads & Sides

german potato soup

This is hands-down the easiest potato soup recipe ever. German potato soup is hearty and provides the perfect warm-up for a cold winter day.

Using prepared hash browns for the potato base makes it a no-muss, no-fuss recipe with very little kitchen clean up. And canned sauerkraut is much easier and (usually) as good – but if you want to make the entire recipe from scratch, get out the potato peeler and here’s a sauerkraut recipe from (my food icon) Alton Brown.

This German potato soup also freezes well, so make a double batch to have on hand for that Sunday dinner when you don’t feel like cooking.

German Potato Soup

In a 5-quart slow cooker, place sausage, potatoes, sauerkraut and mustard. Pour chicken broth over all and gently stir. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 8 hours (or 2 to 4 hours on high-heat setting).

Garnish with crispy bacon and shredded Cheddar cheese. Serve with warm, buttered bread to experience total carb-induced euphoria.



1 pound cooked smoked sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices
28 ounces diced hash brown potatoes with onion and peppers (if utilizing prepared frozen hashbrowns, defrost in refrigerator for about 3 hours before using)
16 ounces sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
5 1/4 cups chicken broth
crispy bacon bits and shredded Cheddar cheese, for garnish


Number of servings: 8

Cooking time: 2 hours to 6 hours


maple brown sugar bacon cookies

Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add butter, dark brown sugar, granulated sugar and maple syrup. Cream with paddle in a stand mixer for 2 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, and mix thoroughly. Fold in bacon with spatula. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, about 14 to 18 minutes.

Remove from oven and transfer cookies to wiring racks. As the cookies cool, they will become very crunchy on the outside.



3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
16 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 eggs
1 pound bacon, cooked slightly crispy and minced


Number of servings: 2 dozen (24)

Cooking time: 18 minutes