Oven Cooked Bacon

This is another one of those duh posts, but seriously people – if you eat bacon (which you should), then this is the best way to prepare it.  I’ve tried all kinds of bacon cooking methods, and for the last year or so, this is the only way I cook it.  I used to get so annoyed at the messy bacon splatter all over my cooktop, and this way is completely mess free… Anyways, hope this simple little method helps you guys out – I like to make a whole pack and then stick whatever we don’t eat in the fridge…. Just about 20 seconds in a fry pan on the stove over medium heat and it is hot and ready to go for the next time.  Clean up is so easy.  Throw away parchment paper, and put cookie sheet back in cupboard.  And lastly, this post is for my super awesome brother, whom I adore, but who has asked me no less than 100 times how to cook bacon in the oven.  Here you go, bro!

oven cooked bacon

INGREDIENTS:
  • Approx 10-12 slices of organic, pastured bacon
METHOD:
  1. Preheat oven to 360F.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Spread out bacon on cookie sheet, taking care that none of the pieces overlap.
  4. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until desired crispness is achieved.  Bacon preference is a very personal thing, you know.  
  5. Take out of the oven, pour off grease into mason jar to be kept in refrigerator for later use (See Fats + Oils for reasons why we cook with bacon fat on a regular basis). 
  6. Eat.  
*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
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Creamy Potato Soup, with Bacon, Green Onions, + Cheese

Our household rang in 2013 with the stomach bug. There hasn’t been a whole lot of magic happening in our kitchen. But once our tummies started feeling a bit stronger, I knew I had to try this potato soup recipe. It’s like a loaded baked potato in a soup. Comfort food in a bowl. It may be my new most favorite soup to come out of my kitchen. It totally hit the spot and is full of good, wholesome ingredients and it gets better and better each time you reheat it for leftovers. I hope you enjoy it as much!

creamy potato soup

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound cubed baking potato
  • 1 pound cubed Yukon gold potato
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup chopped green onions, divided
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
METHOD:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Heat a large, heavy bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil to pan. Add onion, thyme and garlic; saute 5 minutes or until tender, stirring often.
3. Add potatoes, broth, salt, and bay leaves and bring to a boil.
4. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for at least 35 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; take out bay leaves.
5. While the potatoes simmer, toss the cauliflower with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper until each floret is coated in oil. Arrange in one single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet, making sure the cauliflower isn’t too crowded but has space to roast evenly. Roast at 450 degrees for 30 minutes or until browned, turning once.
6. Once cauliflower is finished, place roasted cauliflower in a food processor or blender with the milk and blend until smooth. Pour cauliflower mixture into a large bowl.
7. Add half of the potato mixture in the food processor or blender and pulse 5 to 6 times until coarsely chopped. Pour into the large bowl with cauliflower mixture and repeat with the second half of potato mixture.
8. Once everything has been processed/blended, pour back into the stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
9. Stir in salt, pepper, 1/2 cup green onions, most of the bacon (but save some for toppings) and sour cream. Stir until the sour cream melts and the soup is heated through.
10. Ladle soup into serving bowls and top with remaining bacon crumbles, freshly grated cheddar cheese and green onion. Cozy up and enjoy!

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine (Jan/Feb 2013)

Fried Brown Rice with Chicken, Bacon, + Veggies

Who doesn’t love fried rice?  I was craving the stuff, and texted my lovely friend, Sarah for some inspiration.  She suggested adding chicken into the rice, and it was so yummy.  I’d never done that before, always had chicken on the side, but I will definitely do it again. And the leftovers were soooo yummy the next day.

fried brown rice, with chicken, bacon, and veggies

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 – 1 1/2 lb organic, dark chicken meat
  • 6 slices pastured bacon, diced
  • 2 cups whole grain brown rice
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic, about 4 cloves
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut aminos (or 100% organic tamari sauce), divided
  • 6 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
METHOD:
1.  Dice chicken into 1″ cubes.  Marinate chicken in 2 tablespoons garlic and 2 tablespoons coconut aminos for an hour or so.
2.  While chicken is marinating, cook your brown rice according to package instructions.  Mine was 2 cups rice, 4 cups water, simmering for 40 minutes or until cooked and all liquid was absorbed.
3.  Cook chicken in large skillet (I used my cast iron) over medium to high heat for 10 minutes, or until there is no pink in chicken.  Place chicken on a clean plate, and set aside.
4.  In the same skillet, add bacon and cook over medium to high heat for about 7 minutes, or until bacon is cooked and crispy.  Do not discard grease.
5.  Add cooked rice, chicken, and all veggies (green onion, peas, carrots), back into the same skillet with the bacon and bacon grease.  Stir to combine and continue stirring over medium heat until veggies are hot, and softened a bit.
6.  Stir in the rest of the coconut aminos, or tamari sauce… 1/4 cup.  Feel free to add more,  to taste.  Add crushed red pepper flakes, stir to combine.
7.  Using a wooden spoon, push aside rice mixture to create 3 “wells” or holes, exposing the skillet at the bottom.  Crack one egg into each hole and lightly scramble the eggs with a fork.  You want the eggs to scramble in their little holes until they are about 90% cooked, then stir them into the rest of the rice.  If you simply combine them without cooking them individually a bit, you’ll just end up with a sticky egg coating over everything, and not chunks of eggs throughout, which you want.
8.  That’s it.  DInner is ready, and you only used one pan.  Amazing.  This made PLENTY of fried rice for us for dinner, and two sizeable adult lunches later in the week.  We re-heated ours back in the skillet, over the stove top.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Butternut Squash Risotto, with Bacon + Sage

A couple of Sundays ago the kids and I ran by Erin’s house to do a farmer’s market smoked salmon drop off. She ran out to the car and gave us a taste test of this delicious risotto. I had fully intended to eat the whole sample, but it was quickly confiscated by Jonah. He ate the whole cup. In seconds.

This is such an amazing seasonal dish. It has so much flavor and tons of depth to it. The fried sage, the bacon, the wintry butternut squash taste, and the cheesy risotto all meld together perfectly. I have always been intimidated by risotto, believing it to be too time-consuming for me to be able to tackle on a weeknight. I was pleasantly surprised by how non-challenging it was. It can also be done in steps ahead of time, too. For example, I do not peel and dice raw squash. It’s too much work and it does strange things to my fingers (does anyone else have this problem?!), so if a recipe calls for any kind of winter squash, I always roast it beforehand (I slice in half, remove the seeds and strings, drizzle it in olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper and place it cut side down in a parchment lined baking dish for 45 minutes or so in a 375 degree oven).  Also, the bacon and the sage can be cooked ahead of time (in my case, during the kid’s naps). So, go get your ingredients and make this for dinner. You won’t regret it. Husband and children approved!

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 1/2 cups organic chicken broth; more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 large fresh sage leaves
  • 8 slices organic bacon, diced (We get ours at Skagit River Ranch)
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 2 cups (1/4-inch-diced) fresh butternut squash (mine was leftover and worked perfectly)
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice (or a short grain brown rice, for the whole grain version)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Splash of white wine
 METHOD:
1. Put the chicken broth in a saucepan over low heat on a back-burner just to keep warm, this will be added to the rice when you’re ready for it.
2. In another medium to large saucepan, add your olive oil over medium heat and add the fresh sage leaves. Cook for about a minute and then flip each leaf over, be careful to not let them burn. Place them on a paper towel once they are done to save for later. While sage is cooking, fry your bacon – place bacon along with the sage on the paper towel for later.
 3. In the same saucepan you fried the sage, add some leftover bacon grease and saute the shallots for a couple of minutes. Add the squash and the rice to this pan and ladle in enough of the broth you’ve been warming to just cover the rice. The rice will absorb this broth and you will keep topping it off, while stirring continuously until the rice is soft, about 25 minutes. You may use all of your broth, feel free to add more. As far as heat goes, you don’t want the broth to ever be rapidly boiling, but more like softly bubbling.
4. Once your rice is nice and soft (I did lots of taste tests… once it felt right to me, I called it done), stir in your crumbled bacon, your crumbled sage leaves (set aside some bacon crumbles and your prettiest sage leaves for garnish), and your cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Serve nice and hot. Top your bowl off with some of the remaining crumbled bacon and pretty sage leaves.
6. Go eat! Don’t forget to let us know how you liked it!

 

*Use organic indredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.

Quiche, with Whole Wheat Crust

This is one of those rare dishes that I always have the ingredients for on-hand without actually planning for it. I love this recipe. I take zero credit for it, it’s Lisa Leake, from 100 Days of Real Food, again. Pie crust is one of the things I always bought rolled up in a package. But one of those things that I will not buy anymore. This pie crust is ridiculously easy to make. Its 4 ingredients, you dump them in your pie dish, mix with a fork and shape the dough into your dish. Done. The first time I made it, I just knew it wouldn’t taste good because of how easy it was – I was wrong. Now, it’s a go-to. And it freezes well*. Today I filled ours with farmers’ market bacon, sautéed spinach, and goat cheese.  After cooking the bacon, I poured out the majority of the grease and threw about 4 big handfuls of baby spinach in the same pan and sautéed it in the remaining bacon grease until wilted. I let that cool, crumbled the bacon tossed it and the spinach into the egg mixture and topped it off with a sprinkle of salt, pepper and parmesan. It was yummy.

INGREDIENTS:
(for the crust)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour (I like King Arthur’s organic white whole-wheat flour, but used Trader Joe’s whole wheat flour this time)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
INGREDIENTS:
(for the Quiche filling)
  • 1.5 cups whole milk
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Optional: parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top
  • Quiche ingredients of your choice!  Our favorite add-ins are: farmer’s market bacon, goat cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic, sautéed spinach, sautéed mushrooms, roasted red peppers, grated zucchini or squash.
METHOD:
1.  Preheat oven to 375.
2.  In a pie dish, mix the flour and salt, then pour in the milk and butter and stir everything together with a fork.
3.  Once your ingredients are mixed, I find it easiest to make a ball of dough and just flatten it with your hands to fit the pie dish, working it gently up the sides of the dish and crimping the edges with your finger or a fork. Definitely the easiest way I have ever made a pie crust!
4.  Whisk together the milk, eggs, salt, pepper and then pour into crust. Add your favorite additional ingredients to the dish and top with extra salt and pepper and parmesan cheese.
5.  Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until filling is set.
*This is a great dish to freeze! Sometimes I will make two at a time, bake them both with the intention of freezing one and saving it for a busy night or a weekend breakfast. Once you’ve baked it though, make sure you let it cool completely before putting it in the freezer. It should be thawed before re-heating. Just pull it out of the freezer the night before you want to eat it, let it thaw in the fridge overnight and bake at 375 for 30-40 mins, you might want to put foil around the crust edges though to be sure they don’t burn.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from 100 Days of Real Food.

Whole Wheat Macaroni + Cheese (with cauliflower + bacon)

Macaroni and cheese is one of those foods that I can totally go overboard on. (Meaning: I have no self-control when it comes to macaroni and cheese.) My neighbor Kelly makes the yummiest homemade mac and cheese with jalapenos and bacon. I knew my kids wouldn’t touch it if it were spicy so I omitted the jalapenos and added cauliflower. Maybe cauliflower is a strange thing to add, but it’s white, it blends in, it’s delicious smothered in cheese – and I thought I could trick my kids into eating hidden veggies. Yep. That’s why.

It was delicious. If you’re a mac and cheese enthusiast like me, I strongly suggest you try it, too!

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 package of whole-wheat shell noodles, boiled according to package instructions
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups grated cheese (I use sharp white cheddar)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 head of cauliflower cut into florets and steamed
  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • Optional toppings: grated cheddar cheese and whole-wheat breadcrumbs
METHOD:
1.  Pre-heat oven to 350.
2.  Steam your cauliflower until tender, and set aside to cool. While cauliflower is steaming, cook your bacon slices. Once cooked, crumble bacon and set aside.
3.  Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat add your garlic and cook until browned.
4.  Whisk in the flour and continue stirring for 1 – 2 minutes until the roux (which is equal parts flour and butter or oil) starts to darken. Be careful not to let the roux burn.
5.  Add the milk to the pan on low heat, stirring continuously. Turn the heat back up to medium and keep whisking until the mixture starts thickening and all lumps of flour are dissolved.
6.  Stir in the grated cheese until melted, then mix in the cooked noodles, steamed cauliflower and bacon. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
7.  Dump everything into an 8 x 10 baking dish, sprinkle with extra grated cheese and whole wheat breadcrumbs (optional) and bake until the top starts browning (about 30 minutes).
8.  Serve while nice and hot!

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from 100 Days of Real Food.