bacon-wrapped chicken thighs

Okay…so who doesn’t love pretty much anything bacon-wrapped?!  If you don’t then we probably aren’t friends and never will be…and you should stop reading this blog right now!  (Just kidding (not really)  Anyhoo…we are def bacon lovers over here.   Having said that…I am not a huge fan or promoter of eating crappy quality bacon.  Perhaps a bacon snob of sorts!  I fully admit it!  Hehe!!!  Trust me though…once you do away with the low-grade grocery store variety…you will taste and notice such a HUGE difference.

If you are able to make the change to bacon that is sourced from a local farm near you….DO IT!!!  This is what we do.  Sure it may cost a little bit more…or take a little more digging around to find a high-quality standard…but in our opinion it matters.  Worth every penny!!!  Check out the ‘Eat Wild‘ site for a farm near YOU!  Your source for safe, healthy, natural and nutritious grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork, dairy and other wild edibles.  If you frequent farmer’s markets, this is also a great opportunity to pick up some delicious swine.  Check out Evergreen Brick Works and the St. Lawrence Market if you are in the Toronto area.  We also buy some of our meat from The Healthy Butcher, Rowe Farms, Cumbrae’sFresh From the Farm and occasionally Fiesta Farms.

Happy bacon shopping!!!  If you haven’t yet tried wild boar bacon…I highly recommend you do!!!  OINK…OINK…

5.0 from 5 reviews
bacon-wrapped chicken thighs
appetizer, main
2-4
 
Ingredients
  • coconut/olive oil - a couple splashes (I eyeballed it!)
  • balsamic vinegar (good quality) - several splashes (again...I eyeballed it!!)
  • 9-12 chicken thighs or you could use 3-4 chicken breasts
  • 1 large onion - chopped
  • 6-8 cloves garlic - minced/crushed
  • 1 package of white mushrooms (approx. 10-12) - chopped
  • bacon slices - quantity is dependent on number of chicken pieces used
  • sea salt and ground pepper - to taste
Instructions
  1. prepare the above ingredients and place everything into a large glass mixing bowl
  2. then add chicken thighs into the mix as well
  3. in the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  4. use your hands to combine and ‘massage’ the mixture into the chicken pieces
  5. one-by-one, remove chicken pieces from the bowl and wrap with a slice of bacon (I stretch the slice of bacon a little bit before doing so, to make it wrap more easily around the poultry)
  6. place the bacon-wrapped chicken thighs in a single layer, in an oven-proof dish (Corningware) or on a foil-lined baking sheet
  7. before placing in the oven, top with any of the extra marinade mixture that may be left behind in the bowl
  8. bake for approx. 45-60 minutes, until juices run clear and bacon is cooked (watch them, as you don’t want to overcook/dry-out)
  9. broil for an additional 3-5 minutes if you want the outside crispy (optional)
  10. remove, set aside and serve
  11. enjoy!
Notes
• The combination of the crispy bacon, onions and mushrooms is delightful!!!

 

squash & sweet potato soup

We love soup over here in this house.  In all honesty, we could eat it and enjoy any night of the week…and any season for that matter.  Homemade soups are probably one of the easiest and yummiest meals to make.  What it boils down to (pun intended) is basically choosing your veggies of choice…washing, peeling and chopping them up, and then throwing them in a pot.  Next, add in some liquid goodness, a couple herbs/spices…puree and voila.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezey.  This simplification isn’t far off.  Super quick to make, yet filled with comfort.  With a few simple ingredients, you can create a warm and soothing dish that your family will love any day of the year.

squash & sweet potato soup
Appetizer, Side
4 +
 
Ingredients
  • 1 butternut squash – skin removed and cubed
  • 2-3 large sweet potatoes/yams – cubed
  • 2 small- medium onions - finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 cups or 1 tetra container of vegetable stock (homemade or store-bought)
  • coconut oil
  • a pinch or two of ground nutmeg and cinnamon
  • ground pepper and sea salt
  • a few dashes of hot sauce (optional)
  • fresh chives - chopped for garnish
  • bacon – chopped for garnish
Instructions
  1. begin by taking your cubed butternut squash and sweet potato and roast in the oven at 350 degrees until slightly browned (toss in coconut/olive oil and fresh rosemary, in a large bowl and then spread out cubes on a baking sheet)
  2. in the meantime, sauté the onion and garlic in coconut oil on low-medium heat on the stove-top, in a LE CREUSET/dutch oven, until softened and translucent
  3. when done roasting, take your butternut squash and sweet potato and add them into the dutch oven/pot
  4. next, pour in your vegetable broth and bring to a boil
  5. reduce heat and season with a few teaspoons of ground nutmeg and/or cinnamon (sorry, I didn’t measure the amounts here, but I wasn’t shy)
  6. then, take an immersion blender and puree the soup until smooth
  7. at the same time, add in the coconut milk slowly, and continue blending until desired consistency is reached (if too thick...add in some broth or water)
  8. allow time to simmer on low/medium heat for flavours to meld together - stirring occasionally
  9. serve it up in a bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and ground pepper
  10. finish with a few dashes of hot sauce if you want a little bite!
  11. finally, garnish with some freshly chopped chives and crumbled bacon (sweet vs. salty flavouring = wickedness)
  12. enjoy!
Notes
• I am using onion, garlic, chopped up squash and sweet potatoes…but you can basically choose any veggies you like…add in some broth and coconut milk (if you want it creamy) and grab a handy immersion blender to mix it up and you are laughing. You can also play around with different spices and fresh herbs if you like as well. If you aren't into 'creamy' type soups - skip the coconut milk step and ditch the pureeing business. • Also, you can modify the consistency of your soup by adding in a little bit more broth or water, if you find it's too thick. Have fun with this one…choose some veggies that are in-season and you are off to the races. Any type of squash is always a good bet as well!!! Oh ya…when re-heating the leftovers (this makes a ton), I also added in some more liquid to even things out.

Time-saver: • If you want to save time, you can do without the roasting of the veggies...and pretty much chop them up and cook them in the dutch oven on the stove-top as you go. The choice is yours, although I find roasting them add more flavour to the dish. YUM!

loaded beef & bacon chili

We made this concoction up last night for dins.  Slightly similar to a previous chili recipe of mine, HOWEVER def jazzed up with more flavour and bacon!  I have to say…the bacon was a solid addition.  Today, it has served me very well as a breakfast, lunch AND dinner.  I kid you not!  Some people get all weirded out my eating the same kinds of meals several times in a row and making use of their leftovers.  Not this gal.   More specifically, when it comes to stews, chilies and soups…sometimes they are even better the next day.  Anyhoo, I am keeping in short and sweet tonight.  Hitting the hay…and off to the states tomorrow to do a little shoppy shops!!!  LE CREUSET outlet store…here we come!  TA TA for now…

loaded beef & bacon chili
Main
4 +
 
Ingredients
  • coconut/olive oil- for cooking veggies
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 8-10 slices of bacon - or more if desired!
  • 1 can diced tomatoes- organic (just tomatoes- look at ingredients)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes- same as above
  • 2 package mushroom- quartered into chunks
  • 3-4 large carrots- coined
  • 3 stalks celery - chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion- thickly diced
  • 3 zucchini- diced into chunks
  • 2 red pepper- chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 tbsp ground smoked chipotle chilies
  • loads of chili powder - add and taste - repeat (to reach desired flavour and colour richness)
  • fresh cilantro- chopped for garnish
Instructions
  1. start by browning the ground beef, on medium heat in a frying pan- set aside
  2. in the meantime, bake the bacon in the oven at 325 degrees, until fully cooked - set aside to cool, then break into chunks
  3. in a separate dutch oven (large), sautee all the veggies in coconut/olive oil on medium heat, until cooked (softened)
  4. drain most of the liquid from the veggies, as you don't want it too watered down
  5. then take the ground beef and bacon pieces and add both to the veggies in the dutch oven
  6. next, add in both cans of tomatoes and stir throughly
  7. then, sprinkle in desired amounts of spices (taste test as you go - we put in lots as that is the way we prefer it!)
  8. let cook on low-medium heat- stirring occasionally
  9. dish and garnish with fresh cilantro
  10. enjoy!
Notes
• The above recipe is wonderful for freezing smaller portions, because of it's size. I also enjoy using the leftovers as a yummy topping on eggs or over greens. • One of my 'readers' the other day, suggested that it may be a tasty topping for my twice baked chipotle sweet potato. Good call!

twice baked chipotle sweet potato

Well hello there.  It has been awhile.  I have missed you.  Hope you all have been enjoying some quality family and friend time over this holiday season!  We had a wonderful Christmas filled with loads of laughs, wicked eats and special moments with our loved ones.  The Duster and I are both feeling very fortunate to be surrounded by such incredible people. Infectiously, we wish the same to you and yours!!

Since opening up my stocking on Christmas morn, I have been dying to try out this new wee kitchen gadget that I received as a gift from my mother-in-law.  It is the Joseph Joseph Rocker Garlic Press.  I had never before seen this sweet little tool and was pumped to give it a go!  Coincidentally, in my mind I had been conjuring up this idea for a twice baked sweet potato recipe for some time now.  I knew lots of crushed garlic, bacon and chorizo were all ‘musts’ in this one…so it was the perfect opportunity to put ‘The Rocker’ to the test!

Let’s just say…I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest.  This quirky kitchen gadget is better than any garlic press I have ever tried before!  I highly recommend that it finds it’s way into your utensil drawer as well.  Super sturdy, a breeze to clean…and crushes the garlic in it’s entirety – sans mess!  This product was also a main player and motivation for me to create a new and very garlicky guacamole recipe that is ADDICTIVE!  I created a big batch on Boxing Day for a fam dins and other one today for us here at home.  It is some serious business.  I just can’t get enough!  YUM!!!  Stay tuned for my upcoming recipe blog post on this.

I am presently off on holidays for two weeks, so I have been a busy bee in the kitchen creating new recipes and making some of the visions that have been twirling around in my head, come to life!  I have to be honest, this recipe isn’t a ‘quick paleo’ or ‘on-the-go’ style recipe, but extremely fabulous for a special occasion or weekend dins, when you have a little more time on your hands.  The end product is def worth the wait.  I really enjoyed my time in the kitchen, cheffin’ up this bad boy.  A total meal onto itself…the combo of flavours and ingredients are guaranteed to make your mouth water and your belly smile.

Alright…signing off for today!  Sending huge amounts of love & goodness to you for 2012!!!  Keep an eye on my website, as I am currently working on some new projects…

twice baked chipotle sweet potato
Appetizer, Side
4 +
 
Ingredients
  • 2 large sweet potatoes - halved
  • 2 hot chorizo sausages (pre-cooked) - diced
  • .5 lb bacon - baked and chopped into pieces (I used back bacon ends from my local butcher shop)
  • 1 large package of white mushroom - diced
  • 3 small white onions - thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic - crushed
  • 1-2 tbsp of smoked chipotle
  • fresh chives - chopped
  • sea salt and ground pepper
  • butter (from grass-fed cow) - optional
Instructions
  1. start by cooking bacon in oven on a tin foil-lined pan
  2. bake at 325 degrees, until bacon has achieved desired crispiness, set aside to cool
  3. next, slice sweet potatoes evenly in half
  4. take some of the leftover bacon fat and brush on the flesh side of the sweet potato
  5. place the halves face down on another foil-lined baking pan
  6. bake at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until inside is tender (time may vary depending on size of sweet potato - can check using a fork to press on skin side)
  7. when done, set aside and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes
  8. in the meantime, on medium, heat all leftover bacon fat in a skillet
  9. add in onion and garlic and cook until translucent
  10. then, add in mushrooms and smoked chipotle
  11. cook until softened and slightly browned
  12. then, add in chopped bacon and chorizo sausage (pre-cooked) to the mixture and cook for another 5 minutes - stirring occasionally
  13. when finished, take baked sweet potatoes and remove insides into a bowl using a spoon
  14. take the mixture that you created in the skillet and combine with the softened sweet potato insides - mix well
  15. take the empty skins and fill them up with the mixture from the bowl
  16. place stuffed skins back on the foil-lined pan and broil for 5 minutes or so, until they are slightly browned and crispy on top (keep a close eye on them, as you don't want them to burn!)
  17. remove from oven and garnish with some sea salt, ground pepper and chopped chives
  18. top with some butter (if desired - optional)
  19. enjoy!

bacon crusted chicken strips

Okay…well this is how my brain works.  Home from the gym and bum is fully parked on the couch.  ‘The Duster’ utters the classic line…’what do you want for dinner?’  I responded….’hmm let’s see!?!’  We could make those ‘breaded chicken strips!?’  Ya…that’s a possibility…

I peeled myself off the couch to take a peakeroo in fridge to see what else we could throw in the mix.  With a slight notion of something ‘shake and bake(ish)’ floating through my mind…the pound of bacon jumped out at me and gave me the following idea!  Why not take a similar version of our original ‘breaded chicken strips’ and make ‘em extra fancy schmancy by grinding up some farm fresh pork bacon in there.  What is not to love, right?  I thought the flavour of the chicken-bacon combo would be to die for…and I was right (although my husband was someone reluctant to trying this idea in the beginning).  To be honest, I was a little skeptical myself.  I wondered if the mixture would stick properly and fry up to a nice and palatable consistency.  Everything worked out fabulously in the end.  This recipe is a definite keeper for us.  It will serve as a yummy treat every once in a while.

5.0 from 1 reviews
bacon crusted chicken strips
main, appetizer
2
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb bacon (good quality)
  • 2 chicken breasts - flattened and sliced into strips
  • a few shakes (sorry, don't remember exact amount) almond flour
  • 1-2 eggs - whisked (for dipping)
  • assorted spices (optional)
  • sea salt and ground pepper
Instructions
  1. start by lining 1 or 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil
  2. place bacon strips by laying them out flat on the sheet(s)
  3. put in oven (separately) and cook at 325 degrees, until desired crispiness (do not overcook)
  4. remove from pan, and set aside to cool
  5. when cooled, put strips of bacon in a 'magic bullet' style device and grind
  6. pour this mixture into a separate bowl
  7. add in some almond flour and desired spices (optional) to create the 'crust' mixture
  8. meanwhile, flatten chicken breast, using a meat mallet
  9. cut chicken breasts into even(ish) strips
  10. re-add some leftover bacon fat back into a frying pan and heat on medium
  11. take each chicken strip and dip in in egg and roll is 'crust' mixture, making sure they are fully coated
  12. arrange in the frying pan and cook for approx. 3 minutes or so on each side (depending on thickness)
  13. using tongs, flip when ready and repeat on the other side (keep a close eye, as you do not want to overcook them)
  14. served with a side garden salad and sliced avocado
  15. dip in homemade sauces or mayo for added pizzazz
  16. enjoy!
Notes
• if you do not wish to use bacon in your recipe, follow the above steps while just omitting this ingredient and adding in a little extra almond flour to create the 'breaded' effect • play around with different spices such as, cumin, paprika, cayenne, cajun etc • also, feel free to fry them in a pan, using coconut oil, as an alternative

spicy meat ‘cupcakes’ & ‘loaf’

When talking about meatloaf…I think there are two distinct camps.  You either loved it or you hated it growing up as a kid!  I am most def a huge fan. I remember that smell so clealy as a walked in the door from figure skating. Ohhhhh…that is such an unforgettable aroma. Toally warm and comforting, as I remember. During my childhood, I LOVED it when my my mom would make this comforting dish.  I never got tired of it…and looked forward to our weekly dinner of meatloaf with a sidekick of baked potato.  Her version was simple, yet amazing.  I have tried to re-create her recipe many times, but could never do it justice.  What an incredible cook she was…rest her soul.

Up until last year, I had not had ‘homemade’ meatloaf in several YEARS, until I discovered it at Rowe Farms.  I think we basically bought one of their store-made babies almost every week this past fall/winter.  Sadly, I was in there a couple weeks ago and ‘the dude’ told me they are no longer carrying them!  WHHHHATTTT!?!  So…with inspiration from their version, along with my mom’s…I decided to ‘wing it’ and make my own, with ‘the flair of Cyn’.  Of course I had to add some bacon in there for some extra flav!!! ;)  Kicking it up with some spice was my modus operandi…and topping it with my love of avocado was a purposeful touch.

WARNING…HIGHLY ADDICTIVE!  I CUT MYSELF OFF after 13 meat ‘cupcakes’…well maybe not that many, but you get my point.  Hope you love them!!

PS – I have used the same mixture for the meat ‘cupcakes’ and the ‘loaf’ alike.  Both turned out wicked.  A full-on meal or some scrumptious little appetizers…whatever your heart desires!

spicy meat 'cupcakes' & 'loaf'
main
4 +
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb of ground beef
  • 1 lb of ground pork
  • 6 slices of bacon - cut into small pieces
  • 1 large carrot - shredded
  • 1 beet - shredded
  • 1 medium onion - chopped
  • .5 package of mushrooms - diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper - finely diced (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp 'grainy' mustard
  • 4 cloves of garlic - crushed or finely chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp dried mixed herbs (Italian)
  • 1 tbsp of cayenne pepper (optional )
  • a few dashes of sea salt and ground pepper
  • toppings - guacamole (can spoon on or use a corner-cut ziplock to 'ice' them.
  • hot sauce (optional)
Instructions
  1. in a large bowl, combine ground pork, beef and bacon
  2. add in all veggies to the mix
  3. crack and whisk eggs in a separate bowl and add into the large bowl
  4. next, add in all the herbs and spices
  5. using your hands (get in there), thoroughly fold all the ingredients together
  6. take picture and press firmly into a greased 'loaf pan' or 'muffin cups'
  7. preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for approx 45 minutes (this is the time for the loaf, meat cupcakes bake quicker
  8. finally, broil for 5-10 minutes (watching carefully)
  9. remove from oven and let cool a little
  10. plate and serve with a dollop or two...or three of guac and hot sauce (optional)
  11. enjoy!
Notes
• if you aren't a fan of super spicy dishes, omit the jalapeno and ground cayenne pepper. • btw - aren't those wee meat 'cupcakes too adorable to resist?!? Try them at your next dinner party...