Friday, July 24, 2015

Bacon, Potato, and Cheddar Skillet

My friend Danni posted this tantalizing video on her Facebook timeline the other night. Since it was evident that bacon was involved, I took the time to watch it - and then show it to my husband - and then text it to my friends/family - and then share it on my wall. You get the idea.

Last night, my husband and I decided to give it a try and OH MAN was it worth it!

Some of you have been chomping on the bit, waiting for the details - because I posted a tempting photo last night (ahem, Emily and Lisa) - and so, with no further adieu, here is the blog you've anticipated with mouth watering impatience.

Bacon Skillet


  • Potatoes - thinly sliced. We used Yukon Gold, because that's what we had in the pantry.
  • Bacon - we used a pound or more. You'll need enough to completely cover your skillet.
  • Onion - this was something we added to the recipe, so take it or leave it, according to your taste preferences. Ours we cut into 'petal' sized pieces.
  • Cheddar cheese - we buy the blocks and grate our own, you can use shredded if you prefer.
  • Lawry's Seasoned salt - don't use too much, the bacon and cheese are already salty
  • Pepper to taste
  • Garlic powder - a light dusting on one of the layers will do. This was something we added to the original recipe as well. We love garlic!

Bacon Skillet Essentials:

  • Skillet of your choice - this depends on how many people you want to serve.
  • Olive oil
  • Parchment paper
  • Scissors
  • Cookie sheet

Building your Bacon Skillet:

Grab your favorite skillet in the size you'd like to make. We went with a 10" cast iron skillet while the original video showed the chef using a 12" stainless.

Pour a small amount of olive oil into the bottom of the skillet and spread. This will hold your parchment paper in place.

Take a piece of parchment paper, slightly larger than your skillet, and fold in half. Then fold it in half again, in the other direction. You'll now have a square. Continue to fold from the center point, until you have a small cone shape. Lay down in skillet (pointed end at the center), pressing into the edge, and cut off excess. When you open it up, you should have a circle of parchment paper. Lay in skillet and press along perimeter, until it makes a molded interior surface. This will help tremendously when it's time to remove and serve.

Now bring on the bacon!

Starting from the center, build a carpet of bacon on the inside of your skillet. Be sure to alternate lengths so that not too much of the bacon overlaps in the middle - we don't want a clump of bacon in the middle. Continue around the skillet until every surface is covered and you have bacon hanging far over the edges - you'll see why in a minute.

Spuds are next!

Beginning at the outer edge, lay potato slices in a tart-like pattern - one layer. Sprinkle lightly with Lawry's, pepper, and garlic powder.

Next, add some of your onion petals (optional).

Then sprinkle with a generous cover of shredded cheddar cheese.

Continue to add layers until the skillet is mounded up - decreasing the circumference of the layers, to build a pyramid of sorts. Remember that potatoes will shrink when they cook.

When you've reached the desired height of goodness, fold the bacon over your potatoes until all you can see is bacon. Yum!

Top with something heavy, like a our Lodge bacon press. Place skillet on a large cookie sheet - there will be spillage as the bacon cooks. Now the whole scrumptious thing goes into a pre-heated 350 degree oven. Bake for 2 1/2 hours.

TIP: I removed our skillet/cookie sheet after an hour or so, and poured out the drippings. Between the bacon grease and the liquid from the potatoes, there was probably about a cup or so.

A glorious aroma of Bacon Skillet goodness will be wafting through your house by now - tempting you to speed up the process. Believe me, you'll want to bacon to thoroughly cook for this to turn out just right!

After 2 1/2 hours have passed, remove from oven, take off the press (you might need to nudge the bacon a bit with a spatula, to keep it from sticking), and pour off the excess liquid. Then simply remove your meal, using the edges of the parchment paper, and place on a large serving plate. I was sure happy with how easy the parchment paper made this.

Then I simply lifted, first one side and then the other, to remove the parchment paper.

Let rest for 10 minutes and then slice and serve. I used a meat cleaver, which served to both cut and serve (cake style). 

Servings: Following this recipe using a 10" skillet should net about 8 servings - I'll not comment on nutrition facts, but hey, it's bacon!

Let me know what you think, if you try this. Share your photos at Designs by Birgit!

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Friday, July 10, 2015

That Despicable New Minion Movie

As is our habit for July birthdays, my adult daughter and I go to a movie to celebrate. This is a decades long tradition for us and often the only movie we see at a theater all year. Now that she has children, they inevitably tag along for a fun family outing. We make a day of it – noon Mass at the Cathedral, lunch at a favorite restaurant, and then a movie. Our tastes are simple and tame, so it isn’t a problem for the kids to join us – usually that is.

Although our birthdays fall on July 1 and 2, we waited for the Minion movie to come out today – July 10. Who wouldn’t enjoy the harmless fun of yucking it up with those cute little pill-shaped protagonists, right? Why I even have priest friends who sport a biretta-wearing minion as their Facebook profile photo. They’re everywhere – spokes models for several brands from yogurt to cereal. With their penchant for bananas, unique language, and silly antics minions are the epitome of harmless fun – or so I thought.

Yes, I do realize that the first movie, Despicable Me, found the minions seeking a villain to follow as well but, in the end, Felonious Gru found redemption and became a good guy after all.

Spoiler alert: In the latest Minions we wait throughout the entire movie for a redemptive quality that never comes. There is a heartbreaking lack of morality in the entire film. You'd hope those little yellow capsule fellows would at least contain a conscience. But, in their quest to follow one villain after another, our little yellow chuckle-heads never find anyone respectable to whom they want to attach themselves – not even the Queen of England.

Equally distressing for our young companions, are the risqué scenes mingled in with the dark humor. We see a minion drop his pants to reveal a thong and a trio of hypnotized guards who strip to their boxers to gyrate, twerking-style.

I’ve forgiven or chosen to ignore the gratuitous bathroom humor, injected in many movies for kids these days – ostensibly to keep the boys and teens interested – but I draw the line at a character who says, ‘It’s just feels so good to be bad’ and then never changes her tone.

Sadly, the only thing I found enjoyable was the excellent Beatles soundtrack and the minions’ version of a walk across Abbey Road. My $7.50 matinee fee was badly spent money indeed.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Cancer: Heartfelt Gratitude Among Tears

Has it really been 21 years (May 4) since our dear, faithful mother died of BRAC1 breast cancer at age 58? It seems so long ago, yet so recent too. When someone has such an impact on the lives of those around her, the hole left by her loss is enormous and forever present.

The world goes on, however, and so did we. The years passed and our children grew into adults. Then their marriages were celebrated and soon gifted with children - 9 of them so far (with 5 little saints in Heaven). We've been immeasurably blessed!

Yet cancer struck again! First I was diagnosed at age 48 - the same demon BRAC1. Though there were trials, times of fear, a temporary sense of hopelessness, and a resurgence of trust in Almighty God - I've survived for almost 10 years now.

Six years ago, against the normally accepted odds, our daughter was also diagnosed - at age 28! That she was also 20 weeks pregnant was an unfathomable horror. When local doctors told her that she had only two choices - 1. Wait to give birth and then undergo treatment or 2. Terminate the pregnancy (abort) and undergo treatment - she balked at either choice. Instead, our scientifically trained daughter began her own research.

What she found was both amazingly encouraging and appallingly horrible.

The encouraging aspect was finding that doctors had been treating cancers in pregnant women for over 20 years - with great success and zero harm to their babies.

The appalling part was that so few doctors across the country seem to share this information or even appear to know about it. How many woman have killed their unborn children through abortion in order to survive? How many other women have forgone treatment for themselves because they sincerely thought it was their only option for saving their child?

As our daughter, and her daughter, celebrate their 6 year cancer-versary today, I'd like to share this information with the public. Consider it my public service announcement for the day. If this information reaches even one woman who is tragically faced with what she thinks is a choice between her own life or the life of her baby, these few words will have been blessed! In your charity, you might even consider sharing this information with others. The Holy Spirit has lead our daughter to share her story publicly and it has touched those who needed it.

In the mean time, I praise and thank Almighty God, the Great Physician, for allowing us the priviledge of these past 6 years. The vast numbers of people across the country and even the world, who prayed for both mother and child, cannot be ignored. If ever we have seen the power of prayer, it was during those months of cancer treatment. We even witnessed a miracle at one point.

Erika and Rachel, you are truly loved and are our miracle in this world. That you are such faithful souls and give so selflessly to others is a blessing to all who know you and even to some of those who don't!

+   +   +

Links to past posts about Erika and her Miracle Journey (please consider sharing):

Bald Pregnant and Living

Evangelizing for Life - Chemo While Pregnant

Erika's Miracle Journey - Erika's blog

Erika's Miracle Journey Continues - Facebook fan page

Cancer While Pregnant - Facebook fan page

Cancer is no excuse for abortion.

Then and now! Praise the Lord!

Friday, July 3, 2015

May Our Doubt Turn into Faith

“My Lord, and my God!”

Saint Thomas famously said those words when he was finally able to see the Risen Jesus for himself. As we celebrate this great martyr’s feast day, let us remember the words Jesus spoke right after Thomas’ exclamation of faith, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe." John 20:24-29

It always amazes me when the daily Mass readings at a particular time are so relevant to current times. Earlier this week we read about Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:15-29) and today we are encouraged to live on faith. Hopefully, we are among those who believe – even though we have not seen. With the societal trending toward ungodly lifestyles, this becomes even more important to remember.

How does that translate into a useful message for our everyday life?

Sure, we attend Mass and believe in the Divine Presence (John 6:53-55). But how does that belief manifest itself into the world in which we live? Are we people of faith when it comes to standing up for what is right – even when it isn’t popular? If we are to be faithful followers of Christ, the answer should be a resounding yes!

How we deal with the trials and tribulations of our society illustrates our faithfulness. It isn’t enough to only pray, or only evangelize, or only witness. A faithful servant will do it all.

Faith in Action

I saw this faith in action today as I attended Mass at our local Cathedral. A friend of a friend had sent out a call to others – come join us at noon Mass today so that we can pray for our country. Mindful of the travesty of the Supreme Court decision (an invented legal right to homosexual ‘marriage’) she wanted to gather for prayer, in solidarity. The result was amazing!

The usually lightly attended daily Mass was filled with families, mothers with children, and older faithful. The vibrant echo of our united prayers resonated with faith – exclaiming our conviction of the sanctity of natural, sacramental marriage. Today we joined together to pray, evangelize, and witness to the family as God created it. It was a blessing to be with so many others whose faith took action.

Keep the Faith No Matter What

As the attacks on our religious freedom continue, it will become more and more difficult to swim against the tide. Yet having seen the many faithful who gathered today, I feel ready to put on the Armor of God and be faithful – no matter the cost.

As wonderfully encouraging as it was to be among such a large gathering, it is necessary to remember that we must stand for what is right, even if we wind up standing along. Of course, we won’t be alone at all, because God will be ever at the side of His faithful ones!

Go out to all the world and tell the Good News! Mark 16:15

And God almighty bless thee, and make thee to increase,
and multiply thee: that thou mayst be a multitude of people. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Birthday Cakes and Faith

For her birthday today, I decided to bake my daughter's favorite - Chess Cake. It's an old recipe, from a great-aunt who died 30 years ago - in her late 90's. As with the German recipes left by my mother, God rest her soul, this one is simple. So simple, in fact, that it consists of ingredients and baking time. There are no instructions. Do I cream the butter or melt it? Are the eggs slightly beaten or do they go into the batter one at a time, as is?

As I was working through the nuances of baking, and not wanting disappointing results, I searched the internet for similar recipes. There, I would find the missing details.

I'm not flustered by those great cooks who came before me. They were alive in a time when the details were so well known that one didn't need to write them down. Much like the bread recipe I bake, the actions were automatic, because this was something they did on a regular basis. And, after all, I had the means to easily find instructions. All I had to do was look.

This brought me to the currents events through which we are now struggling. Sure, most people have a basic understanding of right and wrong. Yet, they don't know the details. The how and why simply escapes them. There's so much indignation about contrived 'fairness' and 'equality' because their morality has been formed without any instructions.

Once we fail to build up our faith by continued research and learning, we become slaves of the passing tides of society. The one, most glaring indication I am seeing is that most individuals now want to rule their conscience with feelings rather than truth.

Truth is concrete; it doesn't sway with the times or with emotions. Truth just is. That's a difficult concept for many to grasp these days. It's also the reason our Catholic faith is so important. God didn't give His Word to the masses for interpretation. When Jesus called Peter the rock on which He would build His Church, He intended Peter to represent Him - not himself, Peter. Jesus instructed those who passed His litmus test as disciples to go out and inform the nations. What He didn't say was, go and interpret my Word as you will.

The hierarchy of the Church is vital for gaining the understanding behind the concept - the instructions that go with the ingredients, if you will. Yes, we have the laity, who are tasked with living and proclaiming the Gospel. But we also have priests at the parish level, bishops, cardinals, and a pope.

All of these steps up toward Jesus provide an unbroken line of knowledge that originates with Jesus. If an individual or a cleric fails in proclaiming the word correctly, we can still go to the top - Jesus. He handed down the ingredients and instructions. The Deposit of Faith held by the Church, from its very beginning, cannot be denied. Since it stems from Jesus - God - it's infallible. Those tasked with sharing it may display their feet of clay at times - yet the Stone that the builders rejected, the Corner Stone Jesus, is always there to secure His Church.

Princess LaLa, Mini LaLa, Cuckoo Lala, and Piper Lala
Happy birthday, Kicker!

May you always take the trouble to acquire both the ingredients and the instructions!

Love, Mom