Too School for Cool: A former vegetarian’s best burgers

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Mar 082013

Author: Allison LeCain

Burger and fries at Larkburger. Photo by John Sheesley.

Burger and fries at Larkburger. Photo by John Sheesley.

A wise man once said that bacon is the number one killer of vegetarians. He spoke the truth, as bacon was the first meat I ate after being a vegetarian for five years.

As I ate that deliciously crunchy strip of bacon, served to me on a white, cracked plate at IHOP, I thought to myself, “Oh holy god of meat, what have I been missing all these years? This has to be the best thing I’ve ever tasted!” That is, until I tried a bacon burger.

Whoever thought of the magnificent combination that is bacon and a beef patty on a bun must have been a genius. At first it seemed overwhelming for me, a former veg-head, to be consuming two types of meat at once, but when I let go of my worries and took that first bight, it was like reliving my first bacon strip all over again.

Where did I get this burger you may ask? Stuft Burger Bar. Located on College Avenue in Old Town Fort Collins, you can get any combination of amazing burger toppings that you can imagine. You even get to pick from 15 sauces and six types of buns.

The topping choices are what make each burger at Stuft the best burger you’ve ever had, but the burger itself also tastes great. This makes Stuft a tough burger to beat, and my number one burger choice in town.

Coming in second is Larkburger. While they may not have the topping selection of their competitor, their burgers are seasoned to perfection. They also serve truffle burgers and fries, making them unique.

When I’m in the mood for some meat and peanuts, I go to Five Guys Burgers and Fries. I don’t think the quality or selection of burgers are as good as its competitors, but its funky vibe and peanut gallery still makes it my third choice for burgers.

Bacon will always be my first love as an omnivore, but I find that it’s consumed best with its friend – the cow.


The first time you’ll ever say no to bacon

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Feb 262013

Author: Jack Krause

Backpacking in the Grand Teton National Park, ...

Backpacking in the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we anticipate warmer weather while we brace ourselves and loved ones in these cold months, camping season is approaching. We all know what we normally pack, but when you actually look at what you bring for food and the nutritional values associated, its plain to see we just aren’t eating right while around the campfire. CSU Recreational Centers Outdoor Club’s Leif Mattern explained some healthier food choices to make while packing for an adventure.

“For breakfast foods, I would say plain oatmeal with a little brown sugar or dried fruits would be great,” Mattern said. These foods are easier to pack and are definitely filling, giving you energy for your entire adventure. For dinner, Mattern says rice with any kind of sauce and vegetables are great for you, and the rice can be substituted with quinoa.

“A lot of people think that just because you’re camping, that you are restricted to dried packaged foods. The truth is you can be pretty creative with meals, just like you are at home,” Mattern said. He also explained that you can stick with diets but remember to remain conscious of the weight of materials, as you will be carrying them around with you. Canned foods are better than jars because they weigh less and you can bring vegetables and fruit with you.

One food group to stay away from is meat. Bacon and other meats attract bears and other animals to your camp. “Always remember to practice bear safety. Storing food properly in bear proof containers away from where you sleep. Bacon is tasty, but it stinks to high heaven and the smell will remain on your clothes.” Definitely not a good idea if you’re camping in backcountry.

With these tips, you should be well on your way to surviving and thriving while having a great time travelling and camping.


Cooking with bacon

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Sep 082012

Author: John Sheesley

Bacon, or its non-meat substitute for our vegan, vegetarian and non-pork loving friends, is a salty, sometimes crispy, treat craved by all bacon-lovers. It is incredibly versatile in the kitchen and can be added to almost any dish. From appetizer to dessert, here are a few dishes featuring bacon.

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates 4of4

Bacon-wrapped Stuffed Dates

Bacon-wrapped Dates
1 16-ounce package of bacon cut into thirds
1 8-ounce package of pitted dates
1 small brick of bleu cheese (or goat cheese)
1 bottle of balsamic vinaigrette
1 package toothpicks

A date is a soft, sweet fruit that grows on some species of palm trees, and they go wonderfully with bacon and cheese. First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. For the dates to cook evenly, place the rack in the center of the oven. Take your dates and stuff them (where the pit used to be) with cheese, then wrap a piece of bacon around the stuffed date and secure it with a toothpick. For easy cleanup, cover a cookie sheet with tinfoil before placing the the wrapped dates on the cookie sheet; position them far enough apart so they will not touch. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the bacon is crispy, then remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Place the dates on a plate and sprinkle cheese around them, then drizzle lightly with balsamic vinaigrette.

Kabobs with bacon wrapped zucchini, chicken, mushrooms, and onions. Photo by John Sheesley

Bacon Shish Kabobs
1 package of bamboo skewers
3 6-ounce chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 package mushrooms
1 zucchini, sliced into ½ inch wide pieces
1 red bell pepper, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 package of bacon cut in half
Note: Any vegetables can be used for this recipe.

First, start soaking the skewers in water. They need to soak for about 30 minutes so they don’t catch fire on the grill. While they are soaking, cut up the veggies and meat. Once cut, slide each piece onto a skewer, alternating between veggies and meat. Try wrapping some of the veggies in bacon; make sure to skewer both sides of the bacon so it stays on. Leave an inch or two at either end of the skewers to allow for easy handling. Also, leave space between each item so they cook evenly. Grill the kabobs on a barbeque grill until the chicken and bacon are fully cooked. Allow time to cool, and enjoy.

Candying the bacon

Candying the bacon

Candied Bacon Ice Cream (not for the feint of heart)
8 strips thin cut bacon, preferably hickory smoked
1 package golden brown sugar
1 carton vanilla ice cream

We are going to bake the bacon first, so preheat your oven to  350° Fahrenheit with the rack in the middle. Cover a cookie sheet with tin foil. Lay the bacon on a cookie cooling rack and place it on the cookie sheet. Cover each slice of bacon with an even layer of brown sugar, thick enough so that you cannot see the bacon underneath. Bake for about ten minutes until the sugar is caramelized and the bacon is almost crispy. Flip the bacon over and coat the other side with brown sugar as well. Bake for another 4-6 minutes until the bacon is fully cooked. Let the bacon cool for 10-15 minutes to let the sugar harden. Then, cut or crumble the bacon into small pieces and sprinkle over vanilla ice cream with some more brown sugar. Enjoy!