Little bacon bits bring big flavor

While bacon bits may have a permanent home on salad bars everywhere, their use doesn’t stop there. They are a tasty addition to everything from scrambled eggs to spinach to pizza.

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Cheddar Ranch Dip

1 16-ounce container sour cream
1 1-ounce package dry Ranch-style dressing mix
1 3-ounce can bacon bits
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the sour cream and ranch-style dressing mix. Mix in the bacon bits and Cheddar cheese. Chill in the refrigerator until flavors blend, at least 20 minutes. Makes 24 servings.

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Potato Skins

6 potatoes
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons bacon bits
1 16-ounce container sour cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan. Pierce potatoes with a fork. Microwave the potatoes on high until they are soft; approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Cut the potatoes in half vertically. Scoop the inside out of the potatoes, until 1/4 inch of the potato shell remains. Arrange shells in the prepared baking pan. Bake until crispy, about 45 minutes. Fill the shells with cheese and bacon bits; bake until cheese melts, about 5 additional minutes. Serve hot with sour cream. Makes 6 servings.

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Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 cup barbeque sauce
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 4.3-ounce package real bacon bits
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs, or as needed
4 ounces sliced processed cheese food, such as Velveeta
2 tablespoons barbeque sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 5×9-inch loaf pan. Mix ground beef, 1/2 cup barbeque sauce, milk, egg, bacon bits, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and black pepper in a bowl; stir in bread crumbs to desired consistency. Place half the ground beef mixture into the prepared loaf pan and press an indentation into the meat mixture, leaving a 1-inch rim of meat all around the indentation. Fill the indentation with processed cheese and top with remaining meat mixture. Press lightly to seal. Brush 2 tablespoons barbeque sauce over the meatloaf. Bake until juices run clear and a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads at least 160 degrees, about 60 to 80 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

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Pantry Pointers

To make your own bacon bits, partially freeze bacon to make it easier to slice. Cut it into 1/4-inch squares and fry over medium-high heat until done. Store leftovers in the freezer.