In celebration of football season, we are excited to share this guest blog post from Staci Perry, the culinary genius and cheesecake specialist behind the Random Sweetness blog. Staci is a home baker, writer, photographer and full-time corporate communications professional. She’s been to a few Hungry for Truth events and wanted to share what she’s learned and experienced connecting food to the farm.
We are a hockey family, but in order to get to our favorite season, we must first get through football season. This is the first fall in more than 10 years I’m not spending Friday nights freezing my toes off at a high school football stadium. My youngest nephew graduated in the spring so we are left to Saturday tailgating and Sunday house parties with a big screen, frosty beer and salty snacks.
I’ve become obsessed with serving cheesecake in mini jars, not only because they are adorable and people like having their very own dessert, but because they are easy to throw in the dishwasher once we lick them clean.
I’m an avid baker with abundant appreciation for farmers and the agricultural industry. The hundreds of cheesecakes that have come from my kitchen would not grace the tables of birthday parties, graduation celebrations, wedding receptions, fundraisers and family get-togethers without people who dedicate their lives to caring for animals and crops that produce the sugar, eggs, cream cheese, sour cream, butter, whipping cream and, in my newest creation, cheese and bacon in our favorite desserts and appetizers.
Hungry for Truth events have introduced me to several passionate, caring South Dakota farmers. Among them is my favorite pig farmer, Peggy Greenway from Greenway Pork. Don’t tell beef producers, but I would give up hamburgers before I could give up bacon, sausage links, ham and pork chops. I learned from Peggy the ways farmers take care of their pigs in stress-free environments and the responsible use of antibiotics to treat animals when they’re sick. Most importantly, as a consumer, I’ve learned to listen and research all aspects of the food on my table.
One TV commercial, a magazine ad, or the label on a package only tells a part of the story that the sponsor wants me to know or think about my food. The most notable for me is a “hormone-free” label on chicken. The FDA does not allow adding hormones to pigs or poultry, so writing “hormone free” on a package of chicken breasts is meaningless to me as a consumer.
Bring appetizer cheesecakes in mini jars to your next tailgate party by tossing the jars with their lids on in a bucket of ice until about an hour before serving so they come to spreadable, room temperature. Serve with sturdy crackers.
Smoky Bacon Cheesecake with Gouda and Gruyere
- 1-1/2 cups cracker crumbs fine (butter, wheat, cornbread, etc.)
- 5 tablespoons Butter melted
- 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
- 3 packages Cream Cheese 8 ounces each, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cups sour cream room temperature
- 1/4 cup liquid smoke
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1-1/2 pounds Bacon cooked, diced (reserve 1/2 cup)
- 1 cup gruyere shredded
- 1 cup gouda shredded
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Lightly grease 14, 4-ounce canning jars and place on a cookie sheet. Mix together cracker crumbs, melted butter and cornmeal. Evenly distribute crumb mix into jars. Bake 7 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Reduce oven to 300°.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth with no lumps. Whip in sour cream. Pour in liquid smoke and Worcestershire sauce. Beat until combined.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating gently and scraping sides of bowl.
- Gently stir in diced bacon, Gruyere and Gouda.
- Evenly distribute cheesecake batter into jars, leaving approximately 1/2 inch at the top. Bake 30 minutes or until tops are just set and the centers just barely jiggle. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate up to 8 hours before serving. Sprinkle tops with reserved bacon pieces. Serve at room temperature with crackers and chips.
- Keep jars refrigerated up to one week.