Bourbon Bacon Brownies

If the title doesn’t make you excited, I don’t even know what to tell you.

I have a friend who is vegan… and he decided to celebrate his birthday with a BBQ. A non-vegan barbecue. So naturally, if you are going to be un-vegan for the day, bacon is a necessity. I feel like bacon is the ultimate non-vegan food.

I love any excuse to make elaborate desserts. So naturally, I love it when people have birthdays and let me make treats for them. It’s really not too hard to make that happen. Plus, I have an office full of taste-testers again, so I can make all kinds of experiments and not be stuck eating it all myself, for better or worse. I am all for eating whatever, but “healthy” or not, a pan of brownies is still a pan of brownies. Usually sugar is involved and I think sugar is best in moderation. Bacon, on the other hand….

I based this recipe off of my current go-to for gluten free brownies that don’t taste like crumbly cardboard. They got a stamp of approval from gluten-eaters in my life, so I had to add that to the rotation. Plus I covered them in bacon – there’s no way that can end badly. The only change I made was omitting the vanilla extract and adding 1/8 cup of bourbon whiskey. They have a strong whiskey flavor, so if whiskey isn’t your thing, feel free to reduce the amount. Or omit entirely. Or use some other liquor – tequila, rum, Bailey’s, or Kahlua would be great in these!

Bacon Salted Caramel

3 strips bacon (I like Niman Ranch)
~1/2 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar (maple syrup might also be awesome here)
~1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk (from a can)
1/2 tsp sea salt

Chop up your bacon and cook in a small sauce pan for 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly.

Add your brown sugar, coconut milk, and salt. Bring to a boil for a minute or two and then reduce the heat. Allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will thicken as it cooks and even more as it cools.

For a smoother texture and smaller bacon bits, I used my immersion blender to puree the caramel while the mixture was still warm. I didn’t make it silky-smooth because I still wanted that bite of bacon-y goodness.

 

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An Ode to my Slow Cooker

I adore my slow cooker. It’s also a pressure cooker, but the slow cook function gets used way more often. It’s great for long days, it’s a nice way to avoid using the oven and heating up the house, and there are usually fewer dished to wash.

I’m not actually going to write an ode to my slow cooker. I’m not totally crazy. But it has been a life saver. I love coming home to dinner and there are few things as delicious as a slow-cooked roast or pulled pork.

I have this model. It was a birthday gift from my boyfriend and I don’t think he has ever gotten as much out of a gift that he bought for someone else.

Our lives will start getting more insane in a few weeks when school starts and I start my new big kid job and commute a little bit more. So it will be a lot more slow cooking and less time in the kitchen. Which is not a bad thing. I love being in the kitchen and cooking and being creative, but it’s also really nice to have those hours.

Here are my top 10 favorite slow cooker recipes that are always in rotation at my house:

  1. Braised Beef Ragu with Polenta
  2. Crockpot Pulled Pork 
  3. Crockpot Coffee Ancho Chile Short Ribs
  4. Lemon Pepper Chicken
  5. Honey Ginger Apple Shredded Pork
  6. Slow Cooker Pork with Noodles (I use tamari or coconut aminos instead of the soy sauce and sometimes chicken instead of pork)
  7. Crockpot Chicken with Thai Peanut Sauce (Vegetarian/Vegan option)
  8. Slow Cooked BBQ Ribs
  9. Jambalaya
  10. Crockpot Sesame Honey Chicken

What is your favorite slow cooker recipe?

 

Things you learn when you start running

I have only been running for the last 5 years. Prior to that, I only ran if I absolutely had to. Sports practices, mainly. And I was definitely one of the slow ones. I still am one of the slow ones, but now I can run that slow for hours. My forte is a moderate pace for a long time. I’m sure I could get faster if I worked at it… but I don’t like it.

Anyway, I have spent a lot of time on the road in the last 5 years and I have learned a lot about exercise and myself and training and the cities I’ve lived in. I’ve learned important things and trivial things and everything in between.

And then there are things that you only learn when you are a runner:

1. Your own clothing can make you bleed. Seriously, chafing is a nightmare. If you have never heard of BodyGlide, I strongly suggest you look into it.

2. Toenails are overrated. But the people at my nail salon are awesome. I currently have an acrylic toenail to replace one that fell off. It looks real, my feet look slightly less horrible, and I think it is absolutely hilarious to have an acrylic toenail.

3. Some foods and exercise don’t mix. Some people can eat whatever they want before/while they run and it is totally fine. I am not one of those people. I’ll spare you the details.

4. The location of gas stations within a 10 mile radius. And parks with nice bathrooms.

5. Exactly one mile from your house in every direction.

6. Exact distances between arbitrary landmarks. “Hey, it’s only 2.7 miles from here to [insert random location here]!” “This intersection means I’m only 1.35 miles from home!” 

7. You also learn how many people actually have no idea how far a marathon is. I cringe every time someone asks me how long my marathon is. Well, you know, marathon distance. Or when people tell me their sister ran a 5K marathon. With her unicorn, because that exists too.

8.  You learn that you do, in fact, have a favorite flavor of gel. Montana Huckleberry for this girl.

9. How many muscles you use when you walk down the stairs. Because all of them hurt after a race. Especially when that race is a downhill marathon.

10. Weird things you do when you run – according to my latest race photos, my right thumb likes to stay in a “thumbs-up” position. I also like to think about food (imagine that!). For a long time, I only felt comfortable holding my water bottle in my left hand. My ipod always gets clipped to my left hip.

11. More than you ever wanted to know about your training partners – how happy or unhappy they are at 6:30 am, their bathroom habits, and their chafing problems, among others.
On the other hand, some of the best conversations I have had were on the run. I have rarely found better listeners than my running partners.

12. That you will have to learn to evade small (and large) animals. Cats, dogs, snakes, geese, prairie dogs, turkeys… normal things.

 

What totally random things have you learned on the road?