Creamy Salmon Carbonara with Mustard-Bourbon Candied Bacon {and a giveaway!}

I teamed up with my friends at Saucy Mama to bring you this recipe. They provided product for testing and are offering one lucky Life As A Strawberry reader their very own collection of Saucy Mama products to try! Read through the end of the post for giveaway details. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Creamy Salmon Carbonara with Bourbon & Mustard Candied Bacon

I could never ever ever ever ever live without pasta. (My next sentence was going to be a list of things I maybe COULD live without, but then I had a lot of trouble coming up with a food I could live without that wasn’t brussels sprouts, so we’ll leave it at I could never ever ever ever ever live without pasta but also without anything that is not brussels sprouts. Or gin. I really hate gin. But we’re getting off track here).

Creamy Salmon Carbonara with Bourbon & Mustard Candied Bacon

There are some days that I want pasta but don’t want to go overboard, so I do things like lighten up cream sauces or leave out the cheese or (GASP) eat it with a side of SALAD.

Today is not one of those days.

Creamy Salmon Carbonara with Bourbon & Mustard Candied BaconCould you lighten up this pasta recipe? Sure. Totally. But I prefer to reserve it in all its cheesy, creamy glory for those special days when you’re fancying something more decadent. Somethinggggggg…with cream. And bacon. And also salmon. And while we’re at it let’s mix it up with a little mustard and throw some bourbon on top. Today is pasta with a side of carbs with a side of cheese with a side of food coma. And I’m loving it.

Creamy Salmon Carbonara with Bourbon & Mustard Candied Bacon

This is a pretty simple creamy carbonara recipe when you get right down to it. Yes, I knooooooooow I added things that are not in a traditional carbonara, but I love the twist on this classic. The candied bacon adds a pop of sweetness to the dish, and the smoky, spicy flavor of mustard and bourbon comes through just enough to be interesting without overpowering the sauce. Basically, I am obsessed and ate almost all of it. By myself. For breakfast. Because I love you guys. #Sacrifice.

Creamy Salmon Carbonara with Bourbon & Mustard Candied Bacon

Now for the giveaway! One lucky reader will win a set of three Saucy Mama products – and the best part is that you get to choose which products (excluding olives) you want! I’ve worked with this company many times now, and I’m such a fan of their mustards/sauces/etc. – they’re delicious, sure, but you can also pronounce every ingredient in their sauces. EVERY SINGLE ONE. No piles of chemicals or questionable additives – just real, normal, find-them-in-your-own-pantry ingredients. Love love love.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post telling me about YOUR favorite decadent, indulgent recipe! You can gain extra entries by using the Rafflecopter box (below) to like/follow Life As A Strawberry and Saucy Mama on Twitter! Contest is open through 11:59pm on Friday, June 5  to adults 18 and older who are currently living in the U.S. Winner will be randomly selected and notified via e-mail.

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Creamy Salmon Carbonara with Mustard & Bourbon Candied Bacon

Creamy Salmon Carbonara with Mustard-Bourbon Candied Bacon
 
PREP TIME
COOK TIME
TOTAL TIME
 
YIELD: Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
FOR THE CANDIED BACON:
  • 4 strips thick cut bacon
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. bourbon
  • 2 tsp. dijon mustard
FOR THE SALMON:
  • 6 oz. wild salmon
  • 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. bourbon
  • salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE PASTA:
  • ½ lb. spaghetti
  • 1 cup peas
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped, for garnish
INSTRUCTIONS
FOR THE CANDIED BACON:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Toss bacon, brown sugar, bourbon, and dijon mustard together in a small bowl until all ingredients are combined and bacon strips are evenly coated with the mixture.
  3. Lay bacon in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment or aluminum foil.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes until bacon has caramelized and cooked through. Remove cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Once bacon has cooled a bit, give it a chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
FOR THE SALMON:
  1. Whisk dijon mustard, brown sugar, bourbon, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl.
  2. Brush mustard mixture over salmon and bake at 400 F for 12-15 minutes until cooked through. Halfway through the cooking time, brush an additional coat of mustard mixture over the salmon.
  3. When salmon has cooked, let it cool for a minute then remove any skin and cut salmon into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
FOR THE PASTA:
  1. Cook spaghetti in very salty water until al dente. Just before the spaghetti is done, add peas to the hot water so they cook as well.
  2. While the spaghetti cooks, whisk eggs, parmesan cheese, cream, salt, and pepper together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. When spaghetti is al dente, reserve ½ cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta. Whisk two tablespoons of the pasta water into egg mixture to loosen it a bit and start the cooking process, then return pasta to pot and slowly pour the egg mixture into pasta, stirring constantly. Work quickly - you want the pasta to still be hot as you add the egg mixture so it cooks the eggs! Keep stirring pasta for a minute or so to ensure eggs are cooked. If the sauce is too thick, toss in a bit more pasta water (I add a couple of tablespoons at a time) to loosen it up.
  4. Add chopped bacon and salmon to pasta and stir to combine. Serve immediately and top with parsley and extra parmesan cheese for garnish.
NOTES
If you're nervous about the eggs getting cooked, no worries! Leave the eggs out of the sauce but follow the rest of the directions as written, then top each serving of pasta with a poached egg. Break the egg and stir the pasta up when you eat it to get the same creaminess!

 

Balsamic Glazed Salmon with Strawberry Salsa

This post is sponsored by my friends at Driscoll’s. They provided product and compensation for this post. As always, all opinions are my own!

Balsamic Glazed Salmon with Strawberry Salsa

This recipe uses two of my most favorite things in the entire worldddddddd. Strawberries (umm, what blog are we on again?) and wild salmon are a) delicious and b) pair wonderfully with just about anything and c) are both currently in season!

Balsamic Glazed Salmon with Strawberry Salsa

 

 

May is the best time for strawberries – the sweetest, juiciest berries of the season hit right around this time each year, so it’s no surprise someone decided to dub May National Strawberry Month. May is also the kickoff for Alaskan Salmon season, which means that amazing King and Sockeye Salmon (*droooooool*) are now rolling into stores and fishery CSAs. When Driscoll’s asked me to create a Strawberry Month-themed recipe, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to celebrate both of these bonkers-delicious ingredients.

Balsamic Glazed Salmon with Strawberry Salsa

This recipe is sooooo simple – it comes together in less than half an hour and is packed with bright, summery flavor that doesn’t require a lot of time or energy. I’m frequently a fan of big, complicated, labor-intensive recipes, but there’s something about a lickety-split summer meal that I just love. PLUS, fast-healthy-flavorful meals mean more time for sleeping in and drinking beer outside being with friends and family and also getting lots of work done or whatever.

Balsamic Glazed Salmon with Strawberry Salsa

There’s some natural sweetness from the salmon in the berries, but it’s balanced out with a hint of spice from the salsa and a subtle tang of balsamic vinegar. Stuck in a heat wave and want to avoid the oven? Cook the salmon on a grill instead! You could also make extra strawberry salsa to serve with chips, chicken, other fish, or – y’know – to eat with a spoon. [Read more…]

Bourbon Vanilla Bacon Cupcakes

This post is sponsored by my friends at Four Roses Bourbon in honor of National Barbecue Month. They provided product and compensation for my time and ingredients. As always, all opinions are my own! 

Bourbon Vanilla Bacon Cupcakes

Guys…I put bacon on cupcakes.

Cupcakes made with bourbon. And then topped with vanilla bean frosting. And additional bourbon. And then the bacon. And then served with a side of bourbon. Are you hooked yet? Because I am hooked with a capital H-O-O-K-E-D.

Bourbon Vanilla Bacon Cupcakes

Cupcakes are my favorite things to share with a crowd. Which is excellent, because the warmer weather means we’re coming up on priiiiiime BBQ/potluck season. May is even National Barbecue Month (!!!), so when Four Roses asked me to create a bourbon dessert perfect for bringing to your next summer barbecue, I knew cupcakes were on the menu. (I’ll ignore the fact that we don’t actually have a barbecue and celebrate BBQ month by eating all of these cupcakes instead, cool? Cool).

Bourbon Vanilla Bacon Cupcakes

I was a little skeptical about adding bacon here (meat in dessert? I think Friends might have scarred me for life on that one) but I actually loved the way the salty, smoky flavor of the bacon compliments the sweetness of the cake and frosting. (Cupcakes? GOOD. Bourbon? GOOD. Bacon? GOOOOOOOOD. [Sorry-not-sorry. Had to be done]). Plus, the bacon addition means you could totally eat these cupcakes for breakfast…right?

Bourbon Vanilla Bacon Cupcakes

I topped these cupcakes with plain ol’ bacon, baked until crispy. But they would also be straight up deeee-lightful if you candied the bacon first (maybe with brown sugar and, umm, more bourbon?) The recipe as written here is simple enough that you can bust these out pretty quickly, but if you’re in an all-day baking mood you can dress them up with candied bacon and mayyyyybe even a bourbon caramel sauce? Just remember not to top the cupcakes with bacon until you’re ready to serve them, and don’t leave them out on the counter or on a table for long periods of time. Bacon is meat, after all – you’re going to want to keep that ish refrigerated. If you prefer, you can top the cupcakes with bacon early and keep the topped cupcakes in the fridge until you’re ready to eat them, but I prefer to eat my cupcakes and frosting at room temperature rather than chilled. No matter what temperature you eat them at, though, these cupcakes are happy-dance worthy. Bring on the potlucks and BBQ weather! Because we’ve got dessert covered.
Bourbon Vanilla Bacon Cupcakes [Read more…]

Boston Recap: SENA15 and Harvard’s Just Food Forum

How is it MAY already?! I swear it was just yesterday I was a Jessie popsicle trucking through the snow and making soup for every meal. Today, somehow, I’m turning in my thesis (WHOA) and running my air conditioner and avoiding the stove altogether because it turns our apartment into a sauna. Also, we’re only a MONTH away from The Sustainable Seafood Blog Conference – UNBELIEVABLE – and you should totally buy your tickets and join us in New Orleans because we have an INCREDIBLE lineup full of great sessions for bloggers and foodies alike! Ok. Shameless plug over. Let’s talk about Boston!

SENA15

A Piece of the Expo Floor at SENA15

I drove out to Boston twice in March, once to attend Seafood Expo North America (SENA15) for The SSBP and once to present a poster on my graduate research at Harvard’s Just Food Forum. (PS – curious about the results of my thesis survey? I’ll be posting a breakdown of our results on the blog in the next few weeks!)

SENA15

Curried mussels from the expo floor at SENA15.

This was my second time attending SENA15, and it was an incredible weekend. I roomed with the lovely Julie of In A Half Shell (side note: she’s teaching a can’t-miss Oyster Boot Camp Session at The Sustainable Seafood Blog Conference!) and spent my weekend soaking in sessions about sustainability and eating as much seafood as I could get my hands on. I spent most of the first day in conference sessions, catching up on sustainability issues and the latest seafood marketing trends (You can read a full recap of the sessions on The SSBP blog). Day 2 of SENA15 was more hands-on, and I got a chance to wander the expo floor, check in with SSBP partners, and attend a few meetings. SENA also hosts an annual Oyster Shucking competition, which is a ton of fun (and makes for some great photos!)

SENA15

A competitor prepares to head onstage at SENA15’s oyster shucking competition.

SENA15

Ready, set…

SENA15

…SHUCK!

We capped the day off with a Maine Lobster reception on the waterfront, catching up on their sustainability initiatives while we sampled a variety of dishes including lobster risotto, lobster chowder served in flaky biscuit cups, and lobster rolls.

SENA15

Walking in to a reception with Maine Lobster on the Boston Waterfront.

SENA15

A delicious lobster chowder at the Maine Lobster Reception.

Afterwards, we headed to a reception with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, which was filled with elaborate ice sculptures and piles upon PILES of fresh seafood. Simple crab legs and boiled shrimp were on the menu, which was perfect – the simplest food is always the best food, don’t you think? We ate a few (okay..maybe more than a few) plates of shrimp and crab and washed it down with some Alaskan beer (I LOVE that they worked other Alaskan companies into this event! Kudos to the planners for being awesome).

SENA15

Snapshots of the Alaska Seafood Reception.

We then headed to Row 34, a downtown oyster bar, so that Julie could serve as my personal Oyster Sommelier slash hand-holder slash friend-who-does-not-let-you-back-out-once-you’ve-agreed-to-do-something as I (GASP) ate my first ever raw oyster. It’s a little ridiculous that I’d never tried raw oysters (food blogger + SEAFOOD nonprofit director, helloooooo) but I’m happy to report that I came, I slurped, and I conquered. I even kind of liked it. Apparently, I’m hooked – we ordered another plate at lunch the next day at Union Oyster House. Fun Fact: Union Oyster House is America’s oldest restaurant! If you pay them a visit, ask to sit at the oyster bar – their shuckers are great and full of interesting stories.

SENA15

My very first raw oyster! You can’t tell from the faces I’m making, but I actually quite enjoyed it.

SENA15

Even more oysters! This plate is at the Oyster Bar at Union Oyster House.

Flash forward a week and I was back in Boston to present at the Harvard Just Food Forum. Oof with the traveling!

SENA15

The entryway at Harvard Law School, where I was presenting a poster.

SENA15

My poster! (And a sneak peek of the research results I’ll be sharing soon!)

I had more free time on this trip than I did at SENA15, which meant I and some grad school friends who were also in town got to explore the city and do very important things like tour the Sam Adams brewery and spend our afternoon sipping champagne at Top of the Hub at the Prudential Center.

Boston

View from the top of the Prudential Center.

Boston

View + Bubbly.

Other food highlights included Miracle of Science, a Cambridge restaurant whose menu is formatted to look like the periodic table. We stopped for brunch when I was done presenting at Harvard and snacked on some kabobs, corn salsa, and arugula salad.

Boston

Part of the menu at Miracle of Science.

SENA15

Brunch at Miracle of Science in Cambridge.

I was actually really impressed with the Sam Adams tour – if you’ve been on a lot of brewery tours, you know that they start sounding pretty similar. “Here’s what hops look like, here’s what a vat looks like, blah blah blah.” Their guide did a great job of mixing that standard information with new, Sam Adams-specific stories so that it didn’t feel like the same brewery tour I’d been on everywhere else. You also get to drink a lot of awesome beer, so, y’know, #winning. PLUS, after the tour, you can hop on the Sam Adams party trolley (it’s a real thing. There’s a disco ball) and head to Doyle’s Cafe for clam chowder and the best lobster roll we had during the whole trip.

Boston

Boston

Party Trolley. ‘Nuff said.

Myers + Chang was also a standout restaurant. Their tapas-style menu is perfect for sharing, and their Asian-inspired dishes were some of my favorites of the whole trip. The Cold Dan Dan Noodles were the bomb dot com. If you go, ask to sit at the food bar so you can watch the chefs work their magic!

Boston

Food Bar at Myers + Chang.

Boston

Cold Dan Dan Noodles at Myers + Chang

March was a whirlwind, but I’m glad I was able to spend so much time in Boston (and with such great people!) Do you have any favorite Boston restaurants or attractions? I’d love to explore some new places next time I’m there – and I’ll definitely be making another appearance at next year’s Seafood Expo!

Easy Arugula and Blistered Tomato Crostini

Easy Arugula Crostini with Blistered Tomatoes

Ahhhhh, crostini. How I love thee. So many options. So many choices. So many ways to put deliciousness on top of deliciousness on top of cheese on top of bread.

Easy Arugula Crostini with Blistered Tomatoes

I’ve been a big fan of this crostini since I had a similar version while in Boston for a conference last month. Generally, I’m one to stick with the good ol’ tomato-cheese-basil combo with a dash of balsamic. But I was surprised at how much I liked it with arugula instead – and that’s saying something, because tomato+basil+balsamic and I have a love affair for the ages.

Easy Arugula Crostini with Blistered Tomatoes

As soon as I got home, this was at the top of my make-for-lunch list. So I made it. And then I ate it. And then I made it again.

And again.

…And then another time after that.

Easy Arugula Crostini with Blistered Tomatoes

I think I’ve been compulsively eating this crostini for two reasons: one, it’s friggin’ delicious and I love it, and two, I’ve been so busy with Sustainable Seafood Blog Conference planning and that whole finishing-my-Master’s thing (pffft, how annoying) that finding time to eat anything at all is starting to feel like life’s greatest struggle. Also, this crostini is super simple, has minimal cleanup, and is ready faster than you can say “OMG I HAVE TIME TO MAKE FOOD TODAY I AM TOTALLY EATING CROSTINI.” (Not really. But you know. Still fast).

For the most part I’ve been living off Panera and Thai delivery and the occasional (ok…the not-so-occasional) bag of tater tots. So on days when I, like – have time to TOAST something? This lickety-split crostini. All the way.  [Read more…]