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02/02/2015

~ Bacon & Jalapeno-Cheddar French Bread Snacks ~

IMG_2329This ends 'super-easy week' on Kitchen Encounters -- a week of super-easy recipes for your Superbowl party.  Surely you've noticed everyone serves easy snacks for the Superbowl -- I am no exception.  What I like least about the Superbowl is that it is played on a Sunday.  The NFL gives no consideration to people like me who are obligated to entertain, then, get up and face the workweek the next morning.  I've often wondered what the absentee rates at workplaces are the Monday after Superbowl Sunday.  If anyone "knows someone that knows someone" would you please make arrangements to declare the day after this football game a holiday!

IMG_2275My 2015 game day menu stuck strickly to the ever-popular Tex-Mex theme:

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c731cfc4970b IMG_1879I posted ~ January "White Out" White Chicken 'n Corn Chili ~ and ~ Super-Sunday Spud Skins of the Taco Tater Type ~.  One is chicken, one is beef, both are hearty.  As a dessert option, I even shared the easiest cake recipe known to mankind ~ A Sweet Cream Cake: A Dream of an Easy Cake ~!

IMG_0325I planned to stop there, until I opened my refrigerator -- full of odds-and-ends  ingredients:  green onions, jalapenos, sour cream, and, lots of cheddar.  I even had a loaf of leftover French bread from my weekly KE & WHVL-TV shoot on Thursday.  I made ~ Pan-Seared Flat-Iron Steak Slider-Sandwiches ~, it aired yesterday, and, it too was about the Superbowl.  Just click on the Related Article links below to get all of these recipes!

1261b1c4eb2e83eb_fbp2French bread pizza is one of the newest oldest tricks in the KISS Book of Entertaining (Keep It Simple Stupid). Making pizza on French bread was made famous in the 1960's by Bob Petrillose, the founder of the legendary Hot Truck on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. His experiment not only spread like wildfire, it was eventually licensed to Stouffer's. After that, it quickly made its way into home kitchens nationwide -- mine being one of them.

Using other breads to make this type of super-easy snack pizza (bagels, English muffins, pita and naan) was a hop, skip and a very short jump for me.  My husband and sons loved pizza made on all of them.  It wasn't long before I started topping French and other breads with ingredients that, while pizza-esque in theory, had nothing to do with classic-type pizza at all.

 This version was one of my family's favorites, and, on more than one occasion we five feasted on them them for dinner.  They go great with a salad and/or a bowl of chili!  

6a0120a8551282970b017c3857ab10970bThat said, my favorite bread to use for pizza-bread and pizza-bread-type snacks (crostini too), is the French batard.  The batard, the first cousin to the baguette, weighs about 8-ounces, is shorter, plumper, and, slightly denser than Italian loaves (like ciabatta), so, it provides the best texture for all sorts of toppings.  Use what you like as long as it is rustic and firm textured. Soft breads and soft-textured hoagie or sub rolls ?  Don't do it!

Our family calls these bread snacks "Texican Pizza Bread"!

IMG_21892, 8-ounce, 12" long French batards, sliced in half lengthwise.  (Note:  When baked and sliced, each half will yield 6 snacks, for a total of 24, 4-5-bite snack breads.)

8  strips crisply-fried bacon, fried and chopped into bits and small pieces (about 1 cup)

1  12-ounce jar sliced, pickled jalapeno peppers, well-drained and diced (about 1 cup, split into two 1/2 cup portions, reserve 1/2 cup for garnish)

1  pound grated jalapeno Jack cheddar cheese, or your favorite cheddar (about 6 cups)

1-1 1/4  cups thinly-sliced green onion, white and light green parts only, reserve green tops for garnish

1/2  cup salted butter, at room temperature, very soft (1 stick)

1/2  cup mayonnaise

1/2  cup sour cream

1 1/2  teaspoons garlic powder (Note:  I do not use fresh garlic in recipes such as this because once put in the oven, these snack breads do not bake at a high enough temperature to cook the garlic to a softened state, rendering it raw-ish and harsh tasting in the finished product.)

1/4-1/2 cup additional sour cream, for garnish

1/4-1/2  cup diced pickled jalapenos, reserved from above, for garnish 

1/4-1/2  cup thinly-sliced green onion tops, reserved from above, for garnish

IMG_2243 IMG_2195~ Step 1. Place a sheet of parchment paper in the bottom of a large baking pan and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place the half loaves on the pan.

IMG_2198~ Step 2.  In a large bowl, using a large rubber spatula, thoroughly combine the butter, mayonnaise, sour cream and garlic powder.

IMG_2205~ Step 3. Add bacon bits, 1/2 cup jalapenos and green onions.  Fold until thoroughly combined.

IMG_2251 IMG_2217~ Step 4. Add all of the cheese and fold again, until thoroughly combined.  Take a moment or two to do a good job with this step.

IMG_2241~ Step 5. Using an ordinary tablespoon dollop topping evenly over the top of all, mounding it towards the center and leaving a small edge of the perimeter of each loaf untopped.

~ Step 6.  Bake on center rack of 325 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling, tops are golden, and, bread is crispy. Remove from oven.

Rest about 5-10 minutes... 

IMG_2259... prior to slicing and serving warm...

IMG_2273... w/a dollop of sour cream, jalapeno & green onion on each!

IMG_2312Bacon & Jalapeno-Cheddar French Bread Snacks:  Recipe yields 2 dozen 4-5-bite snack breads.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; cheese grater; serrated bread knife; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; large rubber spatula; ordinary tablespoon

6a0120a8551282970b01a3fd04644f970bCook's Note:  If I had been in need of one more appetizer, I would have choosen one that  complements my menu and contains seafood.  That would be ~ Jesse's Bacon-Wrapped Dijon-Shrimp Appetizers ~.  You can find the recipe in Categories 1, 11, 14 or 17!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)

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