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…

bacon-wrapped chicken thighs
5.0 from 5 reviews
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Recipe type: appetizer, main
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 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!!!

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akuri (spicy scrambled eggs)

I woke up Sunday morning…to a sweet ping on my blackberry.  Yes…okay…it was nearly 11:00 am…and maybe we should have been up and at it, but we were still fully nestled under the sheets!  After all, many of you folks know how much we love our sleep around these parts.  Sleep-ins on the week-end are very much cherished and something we adore!  Coziest of cozies!!!  Anyhoo…my dear friend and co-worker Jasmine made me smile by emailing and sharing with me one of her favourite recipes.  Akuri…a spicy egg dish, commonly eaten in Parsi culture.

Jasmine had been speaking about it’s wicked-awesomeness at work…and it sounded truly incredible.  I couldn’t wait to try this new little number.  Sunday is typically our big ‘grocery shop’, so I was able to pick everything up for the dish when we were out and about.  We made this ‘scrambled egg concoction’ Sunday for dins…and again on Monday night, because we loved it like crazy!  Jokingly, we were literally arguing over who got more in their bowl.  When dins was done…both of us chuckled, as we still wanted more!! HA!

Thank-you SO much Jasmine for introducing us to this goodness.  A terrific alternative to reg scrambled eggs.  Try ‘em…give it a go and spice up your life a little.  A total game changer in our opinions.  Excellent solution to those looking for a quick, easy and delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner idea!  Hope you like…

akuri (spicy scrambled eggs)
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Recipe type: main
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 8 eggs – scrambled
  • butter, ghee, coconut oil
  • 1 medium white onion – diced
  • 2-3 tomatoes – diced
  • 4 cloves garlic – minced/crushed
  • 1 jalapeno pepper or 2 green chile peppers – finely chopped (remove seeds if you don’t want it too hot or add more if you like it really spicy!)
  • handful of fresh cilantro – chopped
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • a few pinches of sea salt – to taste
Instructions
  1. start by chopping up all your veggies and herbs
  2. in a pan, heat 1-2 tbsp of butter/ghee or coconut oil
  3. add in diced onion and sauté until translucent
  4. next, add in tomatoes, garlic, peppers and cilantro and cook on medium for a few minutes, until tomatoes soften
  5. add in your turmeric and season with salt, while stirring together
  6. meanwhile, get eggs ready by cracking them and whipping them together in a large bowl (I added in some cold water to the mixture, to make them more fluffy)
  7. turn up the heat a little, and add your scrambled eggs to the pan
  8. cook and keep stirring, until eggs are scrambled to your liking
  9. garnish with more chopped cilantro if you wish
  10. enjoy!
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garlic & ginger baby bok choi

Sooooooo…as many of you may know, we are pretty much hooked on our Saturday morning routine of grabbing an Americano, swinging over to Brickworks Farmer’s Market…then over to T & T (Asian Market)…home to drop of all the goodies and finally out for breakfast.  Such a relaxing and chill way to start the weekend.  Ahhhhhhh…I LOVE!  T-minus…3 days (not that I am counting or anything!)  Anyhoo…let’s get to how all this relates to this particular post.

A few weekends back, when we were at T & T (to pick up our weekly dose of coconut water), I was strolling through the produce section and decided it was time to try something new.  Trust me, when I say there are LOADS of foods at this market that we have not tried.  From different types of Chinese lettuce to quail eggs…this place is a haven for experimentation.  While being surrounded by many types of fish, fruit and meat, of which I have never tasted…I needed to keep my zoned-out being intact.  While regaining focus, like I said, cooking up an inaugural dish was my motive…so I picked up some baby bok choi.  Why this…you may ask?  Well…I figured similar to that of kale or spinach…it would be super easy to sauté in no time flat!  A good newbie, that was uncomplicated in nature to prepare.

I was right.  Yummy deliciousness with as few as 5 ingredients.  A simple side dish that is best when eaten right away (not ideal for leftovers).  Both of us really enjoyed the combo of flavours and actually made it again later that week.  Loosen up…give unfamiliar territory some time.  My advice to you is to move slowly into perhaps incorporating at least one new food item into your weekly meal schedule.  This doesn’t have to be something extreme…it could be as simple as using coconut oil for the first time to roast some veggies, rather than your usual olive oil.  Don’t limit yourself.  Eating Paleo def isn’t boring…and it blows my mind when people suggest such a notion.  Open your eyes…and your home and let something ‘different’ find it’s way to your plate!  It may just end up being one of your all-time favs!

Next up for me…BEEF CHEEKS!!!

garlic & ginger baby bok choi
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Recipe type: side
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • a few tbsp of coconut oil
  • a few handfuls of baby bok choi (we used probably 12 or so)
  • a fist of minced garlic (6-8 cloves)
  • freshly grated ginger (1-2 cm peeled chunk)
  • ground pepper and sea salt to taste
Instructions
  1. thoroughly wash your baby bok choi
  2. in the meantime, heat coconut oil in a heavy pan on medium heat
  3. when heated, add in garlic and ginger
  4. sauté until slightly browned
  5. then, add in your bok choi and sauté on low-medium heat
  6. cover and cook for approx 5 minutes (or until sauteed to your liking – keep a close eye, as you do not want to overcook)
  7. garnish with ground pepper and a sprinkle of sea salt
  8. enjoy!
Notes

• next time we make this dish, I think I am going to add in some chopped onion and maybe even some bacon too!!

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creamy, yet chunky garlicky guac

I have made guac many times before, but have recently updated my recipe with a couple sweet tweaks here and there. The ‘new & improved’ version, so to speak!  In my opinion, making that perfect guac, honestly has a lot to do with finding the perfect avocados.  Catching them at the right time, is key.  They need to be ripe and ready to go, but not starting to go brown inside.  Sidenote: how many times have you bought avocados and thrown them out???  They go fast!  There lies the fine line. The second point to securing amazing flavour is mincing your fresh garlic, rather than just chopping it up.  I find this makes a huge difference is giving it so much more flavour.  Garlic breath beware!

My new version of homemade guac is creamier, yet still a little on the chunky side.  You know…kinda like ‘crispy’ and ‘saucy’ wings…I like a happy combo of both.  The generous amounts of squeezed lime juice and cilantro make it so FRESH!  I love that guac is so filling and serves so many purposes.  Throw it on some meat, use it as a dip for veggies, top off your fav kind of eggs…or just gobble it up on it’s own!  Whatever the case may be, chances are you will be adding it to anything and everything in sight.  It is so good and highly addictive…I fully ate almost the entire batch (and it was a huge batch) all by my lonesome!  Okay…enough chit chat.  Here is is…

Note:  I have made changes/additions below that differ from my original recipe.

creamy, yet chunky garlicky guac
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Recipe type: Condiment, Side
Prep time: 20 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 4 +
Ingredients
  • 4 large avocados (ripe – soft, but not too soft to the touch)
  • 2-3 small white onions – finely diced
  • 6 plum tomatoes – finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic – minced
  • 2-3 limes – freshly squeezed juice
  • fresh cilantro – chopped (lots!)
  • coarse sea salt – several pinches (I used rosemary & lemon)
  • ground black pepper – generous amounts
  • ground cumin – a pinch or two
  • ground cayenne – a pinch or two
  • hot sauce or chopped jalapenos – to kick it up a notch (optional)
Instructions
  1. peel, cut and de-pit avocados, into a medium-sized bowl
  2. add in onions, tomatoes, garlic and lime juice
  3. using a fork, begin mashing all the ingredients together
  4. then, add in cilantro, sea salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne and hot sauce/jalapenos (optional)
  5. continue the mashing process until you have reached your desired consistency
  6. enjoy!
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roasted beet & brussel sprout salad

I need to preface by saying this is one yummy little number.  I decided to combine one of my all-time favs (beets), with something I have never EVER tried before (brussel sprouts).  This Saturday morn, we took another visit to the Evergreen Brickworks Farmer’s Market.  Something that has become an awaited weekend adventure.  I love the atmosphere.  I love the people.  I love chattin’.  Week after week, the icing on the gluten-free cake is when the vendors and farmers start to recognize your face and call you by name.  Really cool!

Amongst our market haul, were amazing organic heirloom beets, brussel sprouts and fresh perch.  To put this dish over the edge, I thought it would be ideal to cook up some bacon in the oven first and then roast the beets, onions, garlic and brussel sprouts in the fat afterwards.  Two words.  Fantastic decision.  It was so flavourful and delicious.  After slowly roasted in a big pan in the oven, everything caramelized together, to make one huge mound of goodness.  While still warm, we platted this on same mixed greens and drizzled with some really good quality olive oil.  Trust me…once you actually have a taste of what olive oil should really taste like, you will never want to go back to your other ‘cheapy’ brand.  I highly recommend paying the few extra bucks and getting something worthwhile if you are able.

roasted beet & brussel sprout salad
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Recipe type: side, appetizer
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 35 mins
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 6-8 beets – I used heirloom beets (different varieties) – cubed
  • 1 small basket of brussel sprouts – cleaned thoroughly
  • 1 medium white onion – thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic – chopped
  • .5 – 1 lb bacon
  • 3 tsp dried thyme
  • ground pepper
  • sea salt – I used coarse rosemary & lemon
  • chopped nuts – I used a mix of pecans, walnuts, almonds and cashews (optional)
  • handful or two of mixed greens
  • a splash of olive oil
Instructions
  1. on a tin foil-lined baking sheet, lay and cook bacon in oven until desired crispiness
  2. remove and set aside, keeping the bacon fat for cooking the vegetables
  3. in a large roasting pan, add beets, brussel sprouts, onion and garlic
  4. drizzle with leftover bacon fat
  5. add in a few dashes of ground dried thyme, ground pepper and sea salt
  6. roast in the oven at 350(ish), until softened and browned
  7. in last 5-7 minutes of roasting time, crumble in the bacon and set to broil (watch carefully)
  8. on a dish, plate a couple handfuls of mixed greens
  9. while warm, scoop out several spoonfuls of the roasted mixture
  10. top with a sprinkle of chopped nuts (optional, but they were a yummy touch!)
  11. finish by adding a drizzle of good quality olive oil (optional as well, but recommended)
  12. enjoy!
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warm mushroom and garlic salad

You either love ‘em or you hate ’em!  No silly, I am not talking about  the blackberry/iPhone, or the Vibrams/lifting shoes debate!  But, what I am actually referring to here is good ol’ MUSHROOMS.  I think so many people are too quick to judge…and say “oh ya, no I don’t like them!”.  They tend to automatically get a bad rap for some reason?!?  Please people, give them a chance.  You won’t be sorry with this recipe, as they are to die for!

Tonight, again I tried something new!  Roasted garlic…to go along with the main dish!  Who would have thought….?  To be honest, I am always a little hesitant when trying something new for the first time, but have recently adapted the attitude of “just going with the flow”.  Be inventive, don’t be shy and just enjoy the whole cooking process.  The roasted garlic turned out better than ever expected.  Vampires BEWARE!!! LOL!

Someone emailed my this week asking where they could find a resource pertaining to the basic foods that are recommended on the Paleo diet.  I referred them back to the principles outline in the book, The Paleo Diet, by Lorain Cordain.  Sure there is always room for change, growth and development, but please don’t lose sight of the basics.  They are actually speaking to you quite clearly, if you are willing to listen..check them out,  maybe again if you are struggling with sticking to the Paleo lifestyle.  There are so many options that are often forgotten about, so sometimes a refresher is just what you may need. If you don’t have the book mentioned above, check out the link in my “what is Paleo?” section of my blog.

A couple months ago on the radio, I heard the idea that “you need to change your thinking from seeing cooking as a CHORE, to viewing cooking as an EXPERIENCE.”  This shift is crucial I think!  We all dislike doing things that we see as laborious or onerous.  If you do not enjoy cooking (which was me once upon a time, believe it or not), find a way to spruce things up; to peak or re-spark that desire you once possessed.  Try a recipe that you have been admiring for a long time, cook for friends or buy a new/cute gadget to enhance the mood in the kitchen.  Sounds silly, but it does make a massive difference.  Trust me on this one, I know!  (more to come on this…)  Also, check out some of my “fav stuff’” when you have a minute!

warm mushroom and garlic salad
Recipe Type: main, side salad
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • olive oil (enough for dressing too!)
  • 1/2 box mixed greens
  • 2-3 packages of mushrooms- sliced (can use a variety here if you wish)
  • 3/4 red onion- thinly sliced
  • roasted garlic- 6 cloves
  • 4 slices bacon- crispy (ISH)
  • splash of balsamic vinegar (ISH)
  • fresh ground pepper or sea salt to taste
  • can add various types of meat here, such as chicken or beef (I splurged and added bacon)
Instructions
  1. wash spinach or mixed greens thoroughly
  2. in the meantime, or before, roast garlic in oven (see separate directions) and fry the bacon on the stove top on medium to high heat, until crispy
  3. also during this time, take chopped mushrooms and onions and and saute in frying pan over medium to high heat in olive/coconut oil
  4. cook until caramelized and /or golden brown (until done)
  5. next, add in roasted garlic into the mushroom mix
  6. the next part is easy: grab a handful of the lettuce mix and put it on the plate, next spoon out mushroom mix and top with bacon, chicken, beef or any other meat that you may prefer (this mixture is better warm!)
  7. pour over any aceess juices as the dressing
  8. enjoy!
Notes

Roasting garlic is simple— place peeled garlic bunches into a casserole dish or onto a baking sheet. Make certain that you cut off about 1/4 inch of the top to make it even. Pour olive oil over the garlic cloves and add lots of fresh ground peeper and sea salt (optional). Roast in the oven for 45-60 minutes @ 350-400. The leftover garlic can also be stored in the fridge and used later on in the week in other dishes or as a spread.

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