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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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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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
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Recipe type: Appetizer, Side
Serves: 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!
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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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