Brrrr…it’s officially fall over here in Oklahoma which means Thanksgiving is right around the corner. This weekend we cleaned up the garden and tilled the valuable compost bin matter into the beds. I had separated garlic cloves to plant but never quite got to it.
Oh for more time in a day!
As I get older, I realize just how much I cannot deviate from our Thanksgiving traditional dishes. I would be strung up if I didn’t have all the usuals, like Sweet Potato Crunch and Green Bean Casserole, but shhhhh…..can I share with you that I am kind of overcasseroles and all the cream of soup dishes that I long ago loved?
I much prefer a giant pan of roasted root vegetables over casseroles these days, as does my hips and thights, so I have been letting the kids make their favorites and I’ve branched out over the years to trying some new things.
This appetizer is sure to please anyone who is standing around waiting for the turkey timer to chime. It marries together flavors like the sweetness of butternut squash and maple, the salty smokiness of bacon and chipotle pepper, and the tang of dried cranberries and it all comes along with the satisfying crunch of baked puff pastry.
Prep the separate ingredients days ahead and assemble and bake these just before your Thanksgiving gathering and everyone will be happy and mighty, mighty thankful!
Autumn Butternut Mini Tarts
1 package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets, thawed
1 egg, beaten
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1 medium butternut squash, cubed (about 4 cups)
2 T. olive oil
1 t. salt
1/4 c. pure maple syrup
1 t. chipotle pepper powder
2/3 c. dried cranberries
1 c. grated fontina cheese
1/4 c. chopped pistachios
Optional: 1/4 c. pomegranate arils
Preheat oven to 400º
Unroll puff pastry until flat and cut into 2-inch squares and place on parchment lined baking sheets (or Silpat lined)
Using a small paring knife, cut a square inside of each puff pastry square about 1/4 inch in from edge. When puff pastry bakes, this will form the center of the tart.
Brush egg over each puff pastry square
Bake for 20-25 minutes in oven until golden brown.
Remove and retrace the cuts on the squares and pop out center of tarts.
Cook bacon until crisp and crumble in a bowl (I bake the bacon on a separate lined baking sheet and put in with the tart shells for 20 minutes. It’s perfect!)
Cube butternut squash into 1/2 inch cubes
Add olive oil to skillet, sprinkle salt over squash and toss and saute squash over medium-high heat until fork tender, about 20 minutes
Add dried cranberries and bacon into squash in pan after squash is fork tender
Mix together maple syrup and chipotle powder and add to squash/cranberry/bacon mixture.
Stir often, letting squash caramelize in the syrup, about 3 minutes.
Grate Fontina into a a bowl
Add about 1-2 t. fontina shreds into center of each square
Add about 1 T. of butternut/cranberry mixture on top of cheese (which will melt the cheese underneath)
Sprinkle with pistachios and pomegranate arils if desired.
Let me just apologize for this recipe right off the bat.
Bacon crack is all over the internet and anything has the two words “bacon” and “crack” has to be really good right? I’m assuming, that is, that the word “crack” has to do with being addictive.
And merciful heavens is it EVER!
Think salty cracker crust, a caramel that bakes up from butter, brown sugar and maple syrup and just a sprinkle of chipotle powder to make things interesting.
And it’s super easy to make. What more can you ask for?
How about an entire platter for yourself on your Body For Life cheat day? YES!
Stick with me (literally, it’s sticky) through the process that follows!
Pre-heat your oven to 400º.
My preferred method of making bacon is in the oven, but you can opt to cut your pound of bacon crosswise in 1/2 inch pieces and fry it up in a skillet if you’d rather.
Here is how I do it -Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and layer out in a single layer your bacon slices. Bake for 15 minutes then check it. You want it lightly browned and almost done, not dark because it will cook again on the crackers.
While that’s baking, let’s make the rest of the recipe!
Line another baking sheet (11 x 16) with parchment paper (best method) or tin foil and lightly spray it with baking spray.
Take one sleeve of saltine crackers plus ten more crackers and line the sheet with them. Keep the edges touching to make a solid sheet of saltine crackers.
In a small saucepan, add a stick of butter plus three-fourths cup each of brown sugar and maple syrup (i used pure maple syrup). Also, if you want a little sweet and hot kick to your bacon crack, add 1/4 teaspoon of chipotle powder.
Heat this over medium-high heat until the butter melts and it begins to bubble, then adjust your heat to a low simmer and let it go for three minutes. It should thicken up.
Drizzle this over your crackers. Be careful because it’s REALLY HOT!
Take a spoon or rubber spatula and try to evenly spread this around onto all crackers.
After you’ve removed your bacon and let it cool, crumble it up and sprinkle it evenly over top of the caramel topped crackers.
Take your hand and kind of smooth the bacon out over the crackers.
And please lick your fingers off afterwards…it’s like the best taste test ever!
Then pop your crack into the oven and bake it for seven minutes.
Remove it and let it cool (about thirty minutes).
Optional – I was really going for the sweet salty play of salted caramel here, so I sprinkled about a teaspoon of sea salt over the entire thing.
Then I kind of lifted one end up with a spatula to get a hold of it.
And then get your hands in there and break it apart onto a platter. It might be a little gooey still but that’s pure bliss, trust me!
Bacon Chipotle Caramel Crack
1 sleeve plus 10 crackers, Saltine crackers
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. maple syrup
1 stick butter
1/4 t. chipotle pepper
1 lb. bacon
1 t. sea salt (optional)
Preheat oven to 400º
Line a 16 X 11 baking sheet with parchment (works better) or foil
Lightly spray parchment or foil with baking spray
Line another 16 X 11 baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and lay out bacon, in a single layer (may require two pans).
Bake bacon after 15 minutes to see how it’s cooking. You want the bacon slightly under-cooked because you will bake it again on the crackers
Alternately you can chop the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces by slicing across the pieces and fry up in a pan until almost crispy.
Layer out all the crackers onto the sprayed, lined baking sheet, sides touching
In a small saucepan melt butter with sugar and syrup and bring to slight boil.
Boil for three minutes then remove from heat
Syrup should be thick like maple syrup, maybe even thicker
Pour it over all the crackers then use spatula to evenly spread over all crackers
Sprinkle bacon evenly over top all and bake for 7 minutes
If desired sprinkle sea salt over top evenly
Allow to cook then life ends with spatula and use hands to pull pieces apart and stack on platter.