Happy New Year!

Well, I suppose I could say that my hiatus from posting on the Bacon is a product of exhaustion, laziness, stress, and all kinds of other reasons I give for not doing the things I should – but that just isn’t fair.  I really just felt like the stress of the holidays was enough without trying to document every meal I cooked, and remember every success and failure along the way.

But for those of you who find your inspiration on E.J.’s blog, Paleo Marine, I know many look here for new and interesting recipes and ideas for cleaner eating.  And I feel like I’ve been letting some of you down by not sharing some of the amazing new recipes we’ve found and developed over the last several months.  Right now, E.J. and I are half-way through our 4th Whole30, and honestly, it’s been the easiest one yet.   With all of the great recipes on the Favorites page to start with and with some of the latest successes, it has hardly felt like much of a reset, save for the lack of cookies and chocolate in between and after meals. Of course those small sweets are my downfall any time of the year, and cutting that one bit out has eliminated my annual holiday inflammation and dropped me 7 lbs since New Years.

With that said, let me catch you all up.  After IMG_3004[1]Thanksgiving, E.J. and I tried to be really good for a few weeks because we went up to New York City to visit our daughter who moved up there last year.  It was always on my bucket list to visit NYC during the holidays to experience the snow,  Broadway, 5th avenue, the Rockettes, and all of the Christmas traditions, and this trip delivered on all of it.  As with most of our trips, E.J. and I gave ourselves a pass on the diet in order to experience all of the local fare, and then promptly went back to our standard paleo diet when we returned.  It’s fun to visit the land of “not caring what you’re eating” every so often, but I’ve decided I never want to live there again.

IMG_3014[1]Then we celebrated a quiet Christmas with the rest of the family at home, and this year I did prime rib and roasted duck for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – which both turned out fantastic.  I had never attempted a prime rib before, but I used my favorite new kitchen tool of 2017, my Anova precision cooker, doing a 6 hour sous vide and  finally finishing with an herb crust under the broiler.  The duck was slow roasted (nearly 5 hours) using the recipe from my favorites page, and our crew said it was the best one yet.  My favorite new side dishes from the holidays were a new Green Bean casserole recipe from A Girl Worth Saving and this Loaded Cauliflower recipe with lactose free sour cream and omitting the cheese.

IMG_3017[1]After Christmas, I took a week from work off and relaxed a bit, before gearing up for our annual New Year’s eve party and the big backyard polar plunge.  For party fare, I revisited some of my old favorites and had a few new ones thrown in as well.  Here are some of the new additions to the favorite party snacks list:

Sausage Cream Cheese Dip – OMG, this is officially the new hotness when it comes to my future party offerings.  I have to admit to having an unhealthy relationship with Chili con Queso prior to going Paleo.  I LOVE cheese dips, and really missed the old Velveeta mainstay at our parties, and now I have a new Primal substitute.  I made this with lactose free cream cheese to reduce the negative affects of dairy, and am hooked.  Again.

Bacon Meatballs with Mango Honey Mustard Sauce– This one had rave reviews also.  I made the meatballs and kept them on a warmer for the party and then offered this sauce and some Paleo BBQ sauce as a topper.

Spiced Paleo Apple Dip – E.J. raved about this one.  I have to say that it’s not the prettiest looking dip in the world, and since I did it in advance and refrigerated it, it thickened up a bit too much when I served it, but E.J. absolutely loved the flavor.

I also made a nut butter for the first time – with hazelnuts.  I admit to being lazy and just buying nut butters when I need them, but it turns out hazelnut butter is really hard to find.  The Ninja blender was up to the task though, and I was able to whip up some beautiful hazelnut butter after roasting the nuts I bought in bulk.  Out of that came 2 fantastic desserts: Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge and Hazelnut Brownies.  If you are a Nutella fan, these are totally for you.

And now that the holidays are over, it’s Whole30 time again, so I have a few new healthy recipes to offer on that front:

Paleo Fried Zucchini – I actually substituted the coconut flour for a 1/2 and 1/2 mix of Cassava and Almond flours, but otherwise kept this as-is.  The cool dill dip is really good, and this was a great addition to a weekend lunch with cabbage and sausages.

Sauteed Red Cabbage with Apples & Onion – I’ve made this twice now in the last 2 weeks and it’s still really good.  E.J. is a huge fan of cabbage slaw, and I think this one is a great balance of vinegar and a slight sweet from the apples.

Moroccan Lamb Casserole – This one is quite easy as a slow cooker recipe if you just throw everything in and turn it on.  The recipe calls for sauteeing ingredients before and after the main cooking phase, but it’s really not required.

I hope you’re able to try out some of these new recipes and enjoy them as much as my family has.  Happy New Year, everyone!

Just in Time for Thanksgiving!

Hey guys, I had to make a potluck offering this week for work, and decided to bring a Paleo dessert, since there are several others on my team who have been trying to follow in E.J. and my footsteps.

What I really wanted to bring was a pie, but I’ve had a number of misses when it comes to paleo pies – either the crusts are too crumbly, or their too hard, or they’re too soggy when refrigerated with the pie overnight.  My first attempt at a pumpkin pie was last year for my son (which is his favorite Thanksgiving treat), but it was a total flop and I ended up throwing away most of it.

But this year, I’ve found the gem.  Paleo Running Momma’s Pumpkin pie is the bomb!

Not only is the crust perfect, but the filling is velvety soft and perfectly sweet, and just right, even when prepared ahead of time and set in the fridge overnight.

The paleo peeps at work enjoyed it as much as I did, and I will definitely be making another one for my son for the big feast.  Oh, and it’s definitely earned a spot on the favorites page.

What is your favorite paleo treat?

 

New Favorites

Hey guys!  I have a couple of new favorite recipes you have to try.  Whether you’re new to Whole30 or Paleo, or you’re a seasoned veteran like us, both of these recipes are super yummy.

The first one is the Layered Taco Casserole from Living Loving Paleo.  If you use just-ripe plantains that are sweet but still firm, you end up with an amazing flavor paired with the spices in the ground beef.  I made guacamole on my Sunday cook-day to go along with this one and portioned it out in small plasticware cups so it could be added after the meals were heated.  We also added a dollop of lactose-free sour cream to it when we had it for dinner, which really took the flavor up another notch.  Spanish cauli-rice pairs nicely with this one too.

The second actually came about during one of my famous “E.J’s hungry, wants something different, and I didn’t prepare anything specific to eat” days.  We had pork chops and apples that needed to be used, and while I had originally intended to do something in the oven with them, I made Wiener Schnitzel instead.   It’s a bit messy in the kitchen, like all fried meals, but the flavors really shine, especially when I topped them with quick homemade applesauce:

{Super Cheating Quick Applesauce recipe:  peel and core 3-5 granny smith apples and chop into 1/2-ish chunks.  Put in microwave safe container and cover, microwave for 6 minutes.  Transfer to blender and blend.   If serving with savory dishes, nothing else is needed.  Otherwise you can add cinnamon and/or coconut sugar to ramp up the sweet factor.}

Served with a salad topped with oil and balsamic vinegar, this meal turned boring pork chops into restaurant-quality yum!

I’ve added these to the Favorites page, so be sure to check them out if you’re looking for something new to try!

Back to “Normal”

I apologize, dear readers, for the long hiatus.  I don’t really have any good excuses, other than the fact that I simply didn’t feel like I had much to share the last few weeks.

The weekend after E.J. was released from his active duty with the National Guard, he and I headed to Austin for a lovely couple of days enjoying a little adventure and a cozy bed & breakfast. While we thoroughly enjoyed our mini-vacation, I caught the cold/flu thing my mom had had the week before, and spent much of the weekend and the week after feeling very tired and sniffly.  E.J. of course caught it and came down with it the next weekend, so we spent last weekend being a bit lazy and just trying to rest so we could feel ourselves again.

Then yesterday I got to spend the day looking for the dress I’ll be wearing to the Marine Corps and Army balls in Nov & Dec, and came home after a relaxing pedicure to a belated surprise 40th birthday party for yours truly.  Thanks to the time that passed and my friends’ excellent deflection & distraction skills, I was thoroughly surprised.  Not only was there a full spread of party food, but it was all paleo-friendly…  I have some really awesome friends (and husband, of course, who continues to make me swoon with sweet gestures all of the time).

Due to all of the sick and lazy, and just plain tired I was feeling the last few weeks, I didn’t do a lot of experimenting with meals.  Instead I stuck to a handful of favorites from my recipes page and relied more than I should on restaurant fare.

But today is October 1 – the beginning of my favorite time of the year.  The weather is starting to cool off, pumpkin spices are everywhere, and all of my favorite holidays and activities are lined up through New Years.  I’m ready to snap back to “normal”, and looking forward to the foods and festivities of the season.

So here are some of the new recipes I’ve been playing with:

  • BBQ Chicken Casserole – this one is similar to another version I tried about a year ago, but was less than happy with.  This one was much tastier and will probably make it onto our favorites page.
  • Sauteed Red Cabbage with Apples – E.J. was craving red cabbage the other day, so I decided to see if I could find a paleo-friendly version that would work.  This one more than worked.  It was fantastic!  Hot or cold, this side dish is just a tiny bit sweet from the apples, and makes a lovely pairing with smoked or roasted meats.
  • Honey Ginger Apple Shredded Pork – Even though it’s still a bit warm outside, I couldn’t resist going for some of the flavors of the season.  The ginger, cinnamon, and apples made the house smell amazing while the crock pot was going.
  • “Cheesy” Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole – I adapted this recipe which uses quinoa and replaced it instead with sauteed cauliflower.  I don’t know if I’d really call it “cheesy”, but it tastes pretty good, and I think satisfies well enough as an alternative to simple roasted veggies.

Happy Fall, y’all!

More Keto Goodies

While Keto is treating me well from a meal planning and meal enjoyment perspective, I find I’m really struggling to stay in ketosis.  Our big system upgrade happened last weekend, and between the prep, the aftermath, and the one giant FUBAR that had me pulling an all-nighter Wednesday night, staying strict enough on the diet this week wasn’t really an option.  So, I compromised, sliding over to Paleo, and maybe a little beyond when a no-added-sugar hard cider sounded like a really good idea.  But all in all, I’m holding fairly steady, and that’s not bad, considering.

This week, I made some new keto friendly dishes and revisited the Quiche Lorraine from a few weeks ago, since E.J. didn’t get a chance to enjoy it the first time.  First we had some folks over for dinner last night and served sausage with keto coleslaw and this Loaded Cauliflower which got rave reviews.

Then for lunches this week, I made this Keto Meatloaf recipe that uses pork rinds as a binder… who would have guessed?  Then I made this Deconstructed Pizza Casserole recipe and this Easy Cashew Chicken.

I’m actually really looking forward to our lunches this week now, and hopefully I’ll be able to slide back into ketosis again when things calm down a bit.

Iron Chef: Freezer Edition

With E.J. off at Annual Training for the next 2 weeks, I am taking the opportunity to inventory my freezer this week so that I can do a massive defrosting next weekend.  We actually have 2 freezers, and the large one in the laundry room is not the kind that is frostless, so about twice a year, you have to go old school and pull everything out to thaw out the massive ice buildup.

While the project is always a massive pain, it’s a good opportunity to go through everything and throw out things that are too freezer burned, or otherwise undesirable to make room for the good stuff.  In order to minimize the amount of ice and ice chest space I need, I’m trying to “Iron Chef” it this week with whatever I can find.

On Friday, I did a version of these Paleo Enchiladas using some frozen pulled pork for the meat and some Siete tortillas.  The sauce was actually delicious, and I would like to try this full recipe someday.   Then on Saturday, I did I wanted to use the last of the cherries I had in the fridge and some beef and pork , so I made this Meatballs with Cherry Sauce dish.  Mom and Brendon really liked that one.

Last night, I pulled out an old favorite to use up some frozen salmon.  This one is always a winner.   And tonight I used up a couple of lbs of shrimp by sauteing them with onions and bell peppers in a Jamaican jerk rub with butter.  It was a little spicier than I had intended, but otherwise really good.

I’m about to go diving back into the freezer to figure out what we’re going to have tomorrow night…. your guess is as good as mine!

Paleo Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce

Our good friends Kenny & Elaine got a new smoker recently and were gracious enough to share their first bounty with us – some lovely smoked brisket.  As I was gathering produce for the side dishes I planned to make to accompany it, I couldn’t help grabbing another bag of fresh sweet cherries.  I know they won’t be in season for much longer, and I really enjoyed the chicken recipe this week for lunches.

I came across this recipe from The Joyful Foodie, and used it as a starting point.  The rest was inspired by an awesome cherry chipotle rub that E.J. and I used to use before we went Paleo. Enjoy!

Paleo Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Sweet and spicy BBQ sauce made with seasonal sweet cherries


Ingredients

  • 1 tsp coconut oil (or other friendly oil)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 small can tomato paste
  • 1 cup pitted sweet cherries
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • salt & pepper to taste


Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat,  add oil and saute onion until soft
  2. Add garlic and cook for a minute or so until fragrant
  3. Stir in tomato paste and cook 2-3 minutes
  4. Reduce heat and add cherries and paprika, breaking up the cherries as the soften. Cook for 10-12 minutes until cherries release their juice
  5. Add vinegar and cook 1-2 mins more
  6. Remove from heat and add honey, chipotle powder, salt & pepper
  7. Let the mixture cool, and then transfer to a blender.  Blend until smooth.