Ya know what it’s like when you’ve cooked the same things over-and-over-and-over?!? Of course, you do. We all do. It’s the infamous dinnertime rut.

It’s rather amazing that I am surrounded by food all day, have at least three cooking magazines delivered to my door every month, have a couple score of cook books, and an internet connection with access to several million – billion?!? – recipes – and the same things keep getting cooked.

The Dinnertime Rut.

I just broke it. Well… I put a snag in it, anyway…

I’ve been looking at the December/January issue of Fine Cooking magazine thinking there are easily a half a dozen recipes that could fill the rut holes – and that’s not counting the Italian cookies!

The first one I decided to try tonight was Butternut Squash with Kale, Cranberries, Hazelnuts, and Candied Bacon. The title had me at candied bacon, but, naturally, I had to take their idea and rearrange things to fit our tastes.

First off, I think kale sucks. I’ll eat it if I have to, but at best, I just tolerate it. And please don’t bother sending me your favorite you won’t believe it’s kale recipes. I’m over it. And second, I pretty much never have hazelnuts in the cupboard, but I always have pistachios. They’re pretty different, but I’m a rebel.

Substitute 1 = Spinach for kale
Substitute 2 = Pistachios for hazelnuts
Substitute 3 = Smoked Maple Syrup for brown sugar

Yeppers, boys and girls… In making the candied bacon, the recipe calls for brown sugar. I just happened to have a bit of Sugar Bob’s Smoked Maple Syrup left, so I used it. It was ridiculously good.


Candied Bacon

  • 12 oz thick-sliced bacon
  • 6oz smoked maple syrup, regular maple syrup, or brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400. Line a sheet pan with foil and place a rack on the pan. Dip the bacon in the maple syrup and lay out on the rack. Bake about 6 to 8 minutes. Brush with more syrup and continue to bake until the bacon is brown and glazed – another 10 or so minutes.

Put the sheet pan under the broiler and broil the bacon until the sugars bubble and you start drooling looking at it – another couple of minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Candied Bacon. I’ve seen it but I’ve never made it, and now I’m wondering why it took me so long. I had twice as much as I needed for dinner tonight, so the rest has gone into the ‘fridge. Victor will probably have it finished off before dinner tomorrow. It’s crazy-good.


The finished dish was spectacular. The flavors melded together perfectly, there was just enough crunch from the pistachios and sweetness from the cranberries and squash. And the smokey-chewy-sweet-bacon pieces sent it right into gastronomic heaven. It did take a little time but it was time well spent. The biggest surprise was that Nonna actually cleaned her plate. She’s not an adventurous eater, by nature, but she all but licked her plate clean!

So the rut is getting slowly filled in. Let’s see what tomorrow brings…

Oh… and I’m linking to the original recipe and not copying it, here…