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.

Crock Pot Refried Beans

We have been making these beans for about a year now and I cannot get enough of them. They couldn’t be easier to start first thing in the morning, let cook all day, and enjoy for a simple but delicious dinner. These beans go hand-in-hand with the Whole Wheat Tortillas, Erin’s Pulled Pork, and my husband’s homemade guacamole (recipe coming soon). Add some shredded cheddar, sour cream, and dinner is set! Also, this makes a ton – the beans freeze beautifully in a freezer-safe container for another day. Enjoy!

crock pot refried beans

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups dried pinto beans, thoroughly rinsed (you can also use black beans if you’d like)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 onion, chopped roughly
  • 1 jalapeño, diced (If you like a bit of heat like we do, we sometimes add a jalapeño and a serrano or a poblano… you can’t mess this up. If you aren’t so into spice, either omit the pepper entirely or seed it and just use half.)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 2-4 crushed cloves of garlic
METHOD:
  1. Dump your rinsed pinto beans into the crock-pot, pour in the water. Add your chopped onion, garlic, pepper, and spices. Give it a stir and cover.
  2. Let this cook on high for 8-10 hours.
  3. Remove the biggest chunks of onion and the excess liquid. With a potato masher, mash the beans until they are the consistency you’d like them to be. If you want them extra smooth, save some of the excess liquid to add back in while mashing.
  4. These are SO delicious and taste like restaurant quality beans.  Enjoy!
*Use organic ingredients whenever possible
**Adapted from 100 Days of Real Food.

Granola Bars (grain, gluten, dairy free, paleo)

These are for sure one of our favorite new snack items.  All four of us love them.  They are grain-free, gluten-free, salty and sweet, and couldn’t be easier to make.  They are crunchy and chewy at the same time, too… which really is the way a granola bar should be.  These are almost vegan…. replace honey with maple syrup if you need a yummy vegan snack!

granola bars (grain, gluten, dairy free, paleo)

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup almond butter
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons 100% pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (I like “Enjoy Life” brand)
METHOD:
  1. Combine nuts and seeds in food processor, and pulse until roughly chopped.  You can use any combination of nuts and seeds you want, as long as it totals 2 1/2 cups.
  2. Pour nut/seed mixture into a large bowl.
  3. Add shredded coconut and cocoa nibs and stir to combine.
  4. Add dried fruit, and stir again.  You can use any type of dried fruit as well, as long as it totals 1 cup.
  5. In a medium saucepan over low heat melt coconut oil, almond butter, honey, vanilla, and spices.  Simmer for 3-5 minutes once combined, until thick and bubbly.
  6. Pour mixture into nuts / seeds and stir until everything is evenly coated.
  7. Pour into 8×8 baking dish, lined with parchment paper and press down firmly.
  8. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top, and press into bars.  If you mix these in, they will melt and creat a gooey mess.  Trust me, I’ve tried.  So just save them for the last step and press them on top.  
  9. Put in freezer for 1-2 hours to harden.
  10. Cut into desired size bars, store in refrigerator.
*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Seasonal Family.

Artichoke Chicken with Mustard Vinaigrette (grain / gluten / dairy free, paleo)

I am always on the look-out for weeknight dinner recipes that are quick and easy but also delicious enough to serve to company on the weekend if I wanted to. This one fits the bill. It’s also a one pan dinner which equals quick and easy clean-up as well.

This dish has great flavor. I love the combination of the artichoke and mushroom with the mustard vinaigrette. I hope you enjoy it, too!

artichoke chicken with mustard vinaigrette, gluten grain dairy free, paleo

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 organic chicken breasts (thighs/legs would do great, too)
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1 onion roughly chopped
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of brown mustard 
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute (If you aren’t familiar with this, it’s basically just a fabulous blend of spices – I use it for practically everything.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
METHOD:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. Line a 13 x 9 baking dish with parchment paper. Arrange the artichokes on the bottom of the pan, place the onions next, then the mushrooms.
  3. Lay the chicken on top of the veggies.
  4. In a mixing bowl combine and mix the mustard, garlic, oil, vinegar, wine and spices. Pour this mixture over your chicken. I let mine marinate in this for about an hour before placing it in the oven, but you certainly can skip that step.
  5. Cook for about 45 minutes. *If your chicken pieces are on the thinner side, check your chicken for doneness around the 30 minute point, you definitely don’t want to overcook it. However, the thicker pieces may need to cook for as long as an hour.
  6. Serve hot and pile all the veggie goodness on top of your chicken. Hope you like it!
*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from The Chew.

Cinnamon Raisin + Almond Cookies (grain / gluten / dairy / egg free, paleo, vegan)

This post is dedicated to my super amazing friend, Nicole.  Today is her 40th birthday!! She is the kindest, most thoughtful friend and I am super thankful for her in my life!  She is also a vegan, thus the dedication.  I brought her a dozen of these cookies this morning at the gym.  She thinks they are delicious, and I bet you will too!  I had a cookie like this the other day at my friend Jen made, so I tried to recreate… after quite a few test batches (too bad, we had more cookies to eat) I’m super happy with the results.  We ate them all really fast here in my house.  I usually go for chocolate, so the raisins were a welcomed break from all the chocolate!  Enjoy!

Cinnamon Raisin + Almond Cookies (grain, gluten, dairy, egg free.  vegan.  paleo)
INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon almond extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
METHOD:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients (almond flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt) and mix until combined.  
  3. In a small sauce pan over low heat, melt coconut oil.  Add wet ingredients (syrup, almond extract, vanilla extract).  Stir to combine.  
  4. Pour wet into dry, and mix until batter thickens.  I do this step in my mixer, and I let it mix for about a minute.  The almond flour absorbs as it stirs, so give it a good stir.  
  5. Fold in raisins and sliced almonds.  
  6. Roll into balls, about ping-pong ball size.  Place on parchment lined cookie sheets, bake 8-10 minutes.  
  7. NOTE:  Makes 24 cookies.
*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Pulled Pork Tacos with Mexican Cauliflower “rice” (gluten / grain / dairy free, paleo)

This has become one of our favorite meals.  One thing I’ve learned since taking on this Paleo challenge is how to be creative in the kitchen.  I’ve trashed all the ideas I used to have about the way food was “supposed to be” and am learning how to cook differently. Take these tacos for example.  The shell is lettuce, the rice is cauliflower, and there are no beans or cheese.  Ok fine, there is a little tiny bit of raw goat cheese.  Couldn’t resist it. But still. My point.  Thinking outside the box has resulted in the best food ever to come out of my kitchen. As long as my spice drawer is fully stocked, and my fridge is full of meat and veggies I’m good to go. And any meal that starts with sizzling garlic and onion is gonna be good. That is just simple truth.

Bear with me a little on this recipe.  Or at least use your own creative cooking freedom. There are a lot of components to this.  They are all hard to mess up – so just go with it. Add a little more of this, a little less of that.  It will be good.  Promise.

pulled pork tacos with mexican cauliflower %22rice%22

INGREDIENTS: (pulled pork)
METHOD: (pulled pork)
  1. Put onion in the bottom of slow cooker.  Add pork roast.  Top with garlic and spices.  Fill with water until pork is submerged about half way.  Cover, turn on high, and let cook for 4-6 hours until pork is fork tender and pulls apart easily.
INGREDIENTS: (mexican cauliflower “rice”)
METHOD: (mexican cauliflower “rice”)
  1. Grate raw cauliflower either in food processor, or with handheld cheese grater.  It should be coarsely grated, like long grain rice, and not overly fine – like couscous.  If you grate it too small, it will be soggy.
  2. Heat olive oil in large sautée pan.  Throw in onion and garlic and sautée until golden and fragrant.
  3. Add cauliflower “rice” and ssautée over high heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add in remaining ingredients.  Sautée on high for another 2 minutes until fully incorporated.  You may have to pour off a little extra moisture from cauliflower and tomato.
  5. Done!  Make sure not to over cook, will become too mushy rather quick.  High heat, short period of time is the way to go.  Almost like flash frying it real fast.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:
  1. Set up assembly line with all your fixin’s – some options:  lettuce for shells, sautéed onions and peppers, guacamole or sliced avocado, salsa, fresh cilantro, lime slices… and don’t forget your “rice” and pork.
  2. Assemble tacos.  Consume.  I like my “rice” on the side.  Husband and bro-in-law prefer it inside the taco lettuce shell.  Doesn’t matter what you do as long as you like it.
*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
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Brownies

Remember how I said awhile back that part of our whole food journey as a family has been to not eliminate treats completely, but to reinforce to our kiddos that treats are just that, treats? We don’t get them on a daily basis and we don’t eat them from packages much anymore, but that being said, I don’t feel one bit guilty about making a batch of delicious brownies from good, quality ingredients for my family. These brownies. I cannot quit making these brownies. In December, I even made them two days in a row. The first days batch got crumbled and put into our vanilla ice cream mixture and became Brownie Ice Cream… so of course I had to make them the next day to eat with our Brownie Ice Cream… right?!

These guys are super easy to make and they are wheat-free. If you have oatmeal on hand, just blend up 1/4 cup of oats to use or you can buy oat flour in the bulk section of your grocery store.

Delicious, friends. I am warning you. Now you are going to have a brownie problem. Oh, and this is another Sprouted Kitchen inspired recipe. She is awesome.

oat flour brownies

INGREDIENTS:
  • 5 tablespoons Kerrygold Butter – Unsalted
  • 9 ounces good quality dark chocolate, like Theo Chocolate Bar, chopped (I use 3 of these bars)
  • 1/4 organic natural cane sugar (Next time I am going to try to substitute 100% Pure Maple Syrup and see how that works.)
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon 100% pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup oat flour, or ground oats (be sure to select gluten-free oats if you need GF brownies)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Maldon Smoked Sea Salt, to sprinkle on top once cooked
  • Optional add-in: 1 cup of your choice of lightly toasted diced nuts, our favorite is pecans
METHOD:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat and stir in the chocolate. Stir constantly until mixture is melted and remove from heat.
3. Add in the vanilla and sugar and mix.
4. Whisk in one egg at a time.
5. Add the oat flour and salt and stir vigorously for one whole minute. This step is important to ensure everything is incorporated well.
6. If adding nuts, go ahead and add these next.
7. Pour brownie mixture into a  8 inch glass pan lined with greased parchment paper and bake for 25-30 minutes or until brownies appear set, but be careful not to over cook.
8. Let these guys cool completely before you cut them. Sprinkle with salt.  Enjoy!
*Use organic ingredients whenever possible
**Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen.
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Homemade Ketchup (gluten / sugar free, paleo)

I used to by the Costco pack of ketchup.  Yep.  The one with high fructose corn syrup, GMO sugar, corn syrup, and “natural flavors” – what does that even mean, “natural flavors”?  Then, about a year ago we switched to an organic brand, thus eliminating a few of the above ingredients, but still containing sugar.  We just did a really, really strict Paleo challenge through our gym, and weren’t able to eat any sugar.  Like none.  Not even naturally occurring fruit sugar.  Welp, husband loooooves ketchup, so I started making my own.  Everytime we ran out, I’d google ‘ketchup’ and ended up trying all different recipes. Some were good, some were so bad.  Now, I’ve taken bits and pieces from the 7 different recipes I tried and came up with my own.  It is perfect for us.  Made to taste just the way we like it.  Husband loves it still, the one kid that likes ketchup loves it, and it has converted me into a ketchup consumer.  Didn’t use to care for the stuff, but as long as it is this recipe, I like it.  Hope you like it too!

homemade ketchup, gluten free, paleo

INGREDIENTS:
  • 24 oz strained tomatoes (we use Bionature Organic brand)
  • 7 oz tomato paste (we use Bionature Organic brand)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked hot paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or maple, or honey…. or completely omit like us)
METHOD:
1.  Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan, and simmer for 20 minutes over low heat.
2.  Allow to cool, store in air tight container in refrigerator.
3.  This recipe fills almost 2 mason jars.  It makes quite a bit.  Not sure how long it keeps because we eat it so fast, but if you are worried about it, 1/2 the recipe.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Lemon Bars (grain / gluten / dairy / sugar free, paleo)

Soooooo… my awesome girl Noelle (yes, the same one who introduced me to the most amazing dessert ever), challenged me to create the best lemon bars of life.  I think the text went something like “if I know you at all, you won’t stop until you find it – I challenge you to create for me the best paleo lemon bars ever”.  And she does know me – it is crazy what you can learn about someone by the way they CrossFit. Because I texted back “challenge accepted” (duh), and immediately starting thinking, researching, preparing.  And now, behold. The best (paleo) lemon bars of life.
lemon bars (grain gluten dairy free, paleo)

INGREDIENTS: (crust)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 cups unsweetened, finely shredded coconut
  • 1 egg white (save yolk for lemon filling)
  • Pinch sea salt
INGREDIENTS: (filling)
  • 3 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks (you are going to have one extra egg white – just save it, and throw it in your next batch of scrambled eggs)
  • 6 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
METHOD:
1.  Turn oven on to 350F.
2.  Melt coconut oil over low heat on the stove.  Add maple, coconut, almond flour, and sea salt.  Stir until combined.  Remove from heat.
3.  Add 1 egg white, and stir vigorously for 1 minute.  Crust dough will be very sticky.
4.  Line a 9×9 baking dish with parchment paper, and pour crust dough into dish.  Using hands, press dough down in dish until compact, and evenly spread throughout.
5.  Poke a few holes in the crust using a toothpick.  Maybe 10.  To prevent it from bubbling up when cooking.  This step is important.  Don’t skip it.
6.  Bake crust for 10 minutes, remove from oven.
7.  While crust is cooking, whisk the eggs plus the egg yolks in electric mixer until light and frothy.
8.  Add the rest of the filling ingredients, and whisk for 2 minutes.  Set your timer.  2 minutes, people.
9.  Pour the mixture over the crust, which you already baked for 10 minutes.
10.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges are slightly brown and center is set.
11.  Let it cool.  No really, don’t eat it yet.  Let it cool.  It is important for it to set.  Give it 30 minutes.
12.  Dust with coconut flour – looks just as beautiful as powdered sugar, and nobody will be able to tell the difference.  Promise.
13.  Cut, and consume.

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories.

Sweet Potato + Leek Cakes, with Yogurt Sauce

Erin brought these delicious cakes to my house for dinner over the summer and I believe I have made them three times since. They are so yummy and so beautiful. The first time I made them we just ate them by themselves with the yogurt sauce drizzled over the top. The second and third times, we have placed the cakes on a bed of mixed greens, topped with a fried egg and then drizzled the yogurt sauce on top… our favorite way to eat them, for sure.

The recipe is from Sprouted Kitchen – if you haven’t checked out her blog yet, we strongly recommend it. Her new cookbook is a beautiful piece of art, too. She cooks mostly vegetarian, whole, real foods and the photos of her food are breathtaking. I followed this recipe of hers step-by-step, so she gets all the praise for this one!

I doubled the recipe so we could have leftovers through the week and it made about 20 smallish cakes. The ingredients below need to be doubled if you wish to do the same.

sweet potato + leek cakes with yogurt sauce

INGREDIENTS: (sweet potato cakes)
  • 1 3/4 lbs sweet potatoes (I baked mine, then peeled them and set aside to cool)
  • 2 teaspoons butter or coconut oil, plus more for cooking
  • 1 leek, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons tamari
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup oat flour (gluten-free oat flour if you need it to be GF)
  • 1 egg, whisked
METHOD: (sweet potato cakes)
  1. Either bake or boil your sweet potatoes until softened and set aside to cool.
  2. While your potatoes are cooking/cooling, in a large pan melt your coconut oil or butter and cook the chopped leeks over medium heat until softened, about 4 or 5 minutes. Once they are ready, set them aside and let them cool.
  3. In a large bowl, add the sweet potatoes, tamari, garlic, red pepper flakes, whisked egg, and flour and mix together with the cooled leeks until combined.
  4. Over medium to medium high heat in a large pan, melt enough coconut oil/ butter to completely coat the pan. Form your patties from 2 tablespoons of the sweet potato-leek mixture and flatten a bit with a spoon once in the pan. If your patties are too wet/sticky to work with, add a bit more flour until they are only “tacky” feeling and not wet. You don’t want them to fall apart in the pan.
  5. Keep an eye on the oil in your pan, if it gets too dry your patties will stick to the pan and most likely scorch – but they’ll be beautifully crisped if you keep up with the oil/butter. Let each patty cook for about 7-8 minutes or until they look nice and browned.
  6. Place cooked cakes on a paper towel lined plate to blot off excess oil while you finish cooking the rest. Serve the cakes warm with the yogurt sauce drizzled on top or on the side. These are amazing on a bed of lettuce with a fried egg! But they are just as yummy on their own! Enjoy.
INGREDIENTS: (yogurt sauce)
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt, or plain whole milk yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro or basil
  • 2 tablespoons shallot, minced
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
METHOD: (yogurt sauce)
  1. Add the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a food processor or blender and pulse a few times until combined.
  2. Add the herbs and chopped shallot to the yogurt mixture and pulse until the mixed.
  3. Can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge!

 

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
**Taken from Sprouted Kitchen.