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1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp plus 1 Tbsp olive oil
4 slices bacon, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, small dice
4 medium carrots, small dice
5 medium stalks celery, small dice
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups green lentils
3 1/2 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock or water would also work)
Soft goat cheese, at room temperature, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss cauliflower florets with 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread out on a baking sheet.
2. Roast cauliflower for 15 minutes until dark brown in spots, stirring halfway. Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees F and roast for another 15 minutes to finish cooking through. Set aside.
3. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tsp olive oil. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.
4. Add onion, carrots, and celery to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and cook until vegetables are tender, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
6. Add lentils and stock to the pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 30 minutes, or until lentils are cooked through. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
7. Spoon lentils into bowls and top with roasted cauliflower. Top with goat’s cheese, if desired.

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Man-o-Meter*: 8/10
Man Comment: “There’s bacon in it.”

*A new tool in which my S.S. rates each dish based on its appeal to the general male audience. He is a Midwestern, salt-of-the-earth type, and is easy to please while, at the same time, provides polite feedback. Though not a chef or cook, but an eater of most everything (less mushrooms, calamari, raw onions, and offal), his opinions matter because, well, they do to me (awWwWwWw).

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4 slices bacon, cut into lardons
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
1 onion, medium dice
5 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz white wine (I used Pinot Grigio, from a box. Don’t judge)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 15-oz cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
15 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves

1. In a large pot, over medium heat, saute the bacon lardons until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from pot and drain on paper towels.
2. Combine flour with salt and pepper and dredge the chicken thighs in the flour mixture.
3. Working in batches, add chicken thighs to bacon fat and cook 2-3 minutes each side. Remove from pot and drain on paper towels.
4. Add onion and garlic to the remaining bacon fat and saute until soft and translucent, about 6-7 minutes.
5. Pour in white wine and reduce by 2/3.
6. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, beans, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves.
7. Bring to a boil, reduce to a low simmer and stir in the reserved bacon lardons.
8. Nestle the chicken thighs into the pot and cook for 45 minutes, or until cooked through and tender.
9. Serve alone or over brown rice.

Notes: flour became very very dark (just shy of burnt, really, but thankfully the end result did not taste carcinogenic!), next time omit the flour step and simply season the chicken and sear on both sides. Flour is nice for thickening, but I think, given the length of cooking time, the stew will still thicken nicely. Also, no flour will make this dish gluten-free.

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(Wish this happened this morning, but a couple of months ago…) I was awoken with “Eat this. Now,” as my S.S. plopped on the pillow a plate with his favorite childhood sandwich: bacon and peanut butter on whole wheat toast. He added sliced bananas because “the peanut butter isn’t sweet enough”. If only every morning could be this sweet.

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Perfect as is, but I also think this would also be great without banana and with candied bacon.

Luckily my cheesy dinner doesn’t stop at broccoli cheddar soup. A twice baked, loaded potato compliments the soup and rounds out the meal.

Roast the potatoes whole in a 375-degree oven until tender, or easily pierced with a sharp knife, which will seem like an eternity. Once cool enough to handle, scoop put the flesh and mash with cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped chives and crumbled cooked bacon. Season with S & P.

Next, fill the potato skins with the mashed potatoes, top with a bit more cheese and bake just until warmed through and the cheese on top melts.

I guess I should mention what I’m thankful for, since it’s Thangsiving and all. In reality, the basis of this holiday is gruesome and not something that should be celebrated. That being said, what it now represents is what I’m all about: good food, lots of drinks, all with the people you love.

I am thankful for my parents, because of their love, support and friendship, and because they gave me my brother, my best friend and partner in crime. I am thankful for my S.S., who actually tolerates me, and I think even likes me. I am thankful for my friends, both new and old. I am thankful to be on the path to pursuing my life goals.

And, of course, I am thankful for salt, bacon and butter.

Happy and healthy Thanksgiving to all my faithful readers.

I recently began formulating a menu for a project at The FCI. Instead of starting from the beginning, I went backwards and made dessert. Everyone, meet Apple-Bacon Pie.

I won’t go on and on about how incredibly the savory bits of bacon melded with the sweet apple filling and the spice of the gingersnap crust, I’ll just direct you to the recipe and encourage you to make it yourself. We can all thank (or curse) Mims Bledsoe of The Pie Shop in Atlanta, Georgia, for her genius.

The candied bacon made in the previous post is as versatile as regular bacon. My friend and culinary classmate Sonia suggested making a cake ball of corn bread, rolled in maple frosting and topped with said candied bacon. She is a genius.

I did something a little simpler, but definitely worth trying. Make popcorn (the real way, on the stove. Or if you can find micrwave popcorn with no salt or flavorings, that’s fine, too) and toss with finely chopped fresh rosemary, melted butter and crumbled or diced candied bacon. Season with S&P to taste.