birthday parties & spiced maple roasted bacon

When I was a kid, I only remember being a guest at a handful of birthday parties. And, though my memories have faded, I only recall a few parties for my own birthdays. There was that one when I was in kindergarten or first grade – but I think I only remember the snapshot moment when a photo was taken, with me and my other 6 year old friends dressed in our 70s-era polyester. I can recall a birthday party at Burger King, either for me or my brother. Parties at the BK were in high demand. I mean, where else can you be crowned royalty for an hour?

Parties just were not something we did routinely. Money – or rather, the lack thereof – probably had a lot to do with the scarcity of parties, but it also just wasn’t the Thing To Do as it is now. This weekend it seemed the party circuit jumped into full swing here. Each of my children had a party to attend over the course of the two days, which means they both came home completely exhausted, crashing from their sugar-high.

The trend here is to have birthday parties at one of the gymnastics and sports centers in town. You know the kind of place – they have big gymnastics mats and equipment in one room, a rockwall in the back, a three-story jungle gym in one corner, a bouncy house room, and a series of rooms along the sides for the two dozen or so parties held each weekend day. Our center has even added a pool for pool parties and swim lessons.

I must confess, I don’t like going to these birthday parties. I try to send my husband whenever possible. While the children have a fantastic time with their school friends, the parents often stand around awkwardly, smiling politely at each other. The moms who know each other huddle in a corner, talking about people none of the rest of us know. Occasionally a dad will be there, but the dads stick with each other and don’t branch out too much. We hover around our children as they play in the jungle gym, holding their stray socks and hair bands, listening out for cries of pain from a fall or an accidental elbow to the nose.

The whole experience would be a lot better if the punch were spiked. Just a thought.

So, Saturday I sent my husband and Oliver to a 4-year old’s birthday party while I stayed home with Madeline. We only had an hour and a half to spend without the boys, so what did we do? We cooked. Well, we made bacon.

Pretty darn good bacon, I might add.

Yield: 4 servings

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Spiced Maple Roasted Bacon

If you like a bit of heat, use 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne. If you want to tone it a little, decrease the cayenne to 1/8 teaspoon.


8 slices center cut bacon
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place oven rack in center.

Lay the strips of bacon on a cooking rack placed inside a sheet pan. Roast for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, mix together in a small bowl the maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and ground cinnamon.

When the bacon has completed cooking, baste the slices with the maple syrup mixture. Roast for another 4 minutes.

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20 Responses to “birthday parties & spiced maple roasted bacon”

  1. 1
    julia — April 18, 2011 @ 10:29 am

    So you come to my kids’ birthday parties for the mimosas? Or because my kids refuse to have a birthday party in a gym (despite the fact that I keep begging them to…)? Thanks for letting us stop by on Saturday. I knew I should have stuck around. Mmmmm. Bacon. Looks delicious. How do you manage to even make a jar of cinnamon look delicious?

    • 1.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — April 18, 2011 @ 10:48 am

      I come to your kids’ parties for (1) the mimosas, (2) no gym with required socks that always get lost in the ball pits, and (3) to finally spend time with you outside of work. And, you are always free to use my toilets. 🙂

  2. 2
    Leigh — April 18, 2011 @ 10:34 am

    1. The bacon looks amazing. 2. This is why I served sangria at H’s party. 😉

    • 2.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — April 18, 2011 @ 10:48 am

      You always have the right beverage on hand. This is just one of the thousands of reasons we will always be great friends.

  3. 3
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — April 18, 2011 @ 10:51 am

    I definitely had a gymnastics party growing up. It was a lot of fun… but, yeah, it’s kind of weird.

    You deserved some time off… glad you enjoyed it!

  4. 4
    Macaroni Mama — April 18, 2011 @ 10:54 am

    Great looking bacon. What an original idea of something good to roast!

  5. 5
    Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. — April 18, 2011 @ 11:29 am

    yum! Sounds so good!

  6. 6
    Barbara | VinoLuciStyle — April 18, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

    Your story brought back memories…of just how much I hated those parties too. I was a real pain when my kids were little; we always had parties at our home with a cake I made and they were disappointed I would NEVER do one of those loud gym things. Until they grew up and now it seems their memories of those days are warmer and fuzzier; ah…one time Mother Knew Best.

    I have to try this bacon; I make an appetizer that I love which has bacon wrapped around a pretzel rod and adorned with sweet and hot components…but now I don’t have to mess with the excuse of a party; this sounds divine.

  7. 7
    Jenn S. — April 18, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

    Ugh, you and I hate kids’ parties for the exact same reasons!! Too bad our kids aren’t the same age. We could huddle in the corner, talk about people we know (and don’t know!), and drink spiked punch! LOL Now, tell me, what do you do with that dee-lish-us bacon? Just snack on it or put it in or on something?! I’d be fine just to snack on it, but I was wondering if you did other creative things with it. Hello to everyone @ your house! 🙂

    • 7.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — April 19, 2011 @ 10:08 am

      Jenn – I had the best BLT ever with that bacon. I also crumbled some and added it to baked eggs. But snacking is always a great idea. 🙂

  8. 8
    Maris (In Good Taste) — April 18, 2011 @ 8:22 pm

    That bacon looks exactly the way I like it. I think you and Madeline got the better end of the deal!

  9. 9
    Jim T — April 18, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

    That bacon looks amazing! The birthday parties I remember were always ice skating parties. They should’ve handed out pillows for our bums after falling so much.

    I LOVE your spice jars. Wherever did you get them?

    • 9.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — April 19, 2011 @ 10:09 am

      Jim – The spice jars are Libbey Vibe jars. I’ve found them at a place called the Jar Store (online) or at Amazon.

  10. 10
    Paula - bell'alimento — April 18, 2011 @ 9:19 pm

    Swoon. I loved baked bacon, and we are so in sync I just posted about my sweet & spicy bacon this past weekend…& yeah gym parties are NO fun ; )

  11. 11
    Gail — April 18, 2011 @ 9:29 pm

    MJ, you’re so on to something….boozy birthday parties. Happy parents make for happy kids!
    Oh, and the bacon looks delicious, too!

  12. 12
    Michelle Ledesma — April 18, 2011 @ 10:51 pm

    I always sent Hubby to “those” parties, too! He’s much better at “mingling” than I am. 😉
    Your description is spot on, and I appreciate your honesty.

    That bacon is drool worthy! I look forward to incorporating such dishes back into my cooking routine when the time comes…in moderation of course.

  13. 13
    Mauna — April 18, 2011 @ 10:58 pm

    I recently got to experience Chicago’s 2nd annual Baconfest. This recipe would have been the perfect way to start that morning!

    I, too, am in awe of the spice jars.

  14. 14
    Lana — April 19, 2011 @ 4:07 am

    The advantage of having a party at your home is that you can have a mimosa, or a cosmo, or a mojito, without worrying. There has to be something alcoholic to soften the shrieks and screeches of 22 and 12 year old girls:)
    I used to love “Discovery Zone” – they had a parent room, which was sound-proof:) That was my favorite place to be at kiddies’ B-Day parties:)

  15. 15
    Cookin' Canuck — April 19, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

    Plain old bacon is one of my weaknesses. I’m worried that if I tasted your version I might never stop eating it.

    I’m with you on the birthday party thing. The parties that I really dread are the ones in an arcade of some sort. Within a half-hour I have a headache and can’t get out of there fast enough.

  16. 16
    Jennifer (Savor) — April 20, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

    Funny reading this now as I am planning a was-not-supposed-to-have-one-this-year bday party for my daughter this Friday. A casual ‘spa’ them but still takes on a life of it’s own.

    I think some roasted bacon will help!

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