Bacon and Veggie Hash

This is a really satisfying breakfast that is perfect for weekend mornings.  What makes it thoroughly satisfying is the blend of flavors lent from salty, smoky bacon paired with the sweet from the sweet potato, sweet and pungent onion set the stage for earthy shiitakes.  There is always room for spinach, so that goes in too.

2 slices bacon, cut into lardons.
1/4 of an onion, sliced thin
4 shiitake mushroom caps, sliced
1 small sweet potato, pre-cooked and diced
2 c. fresh spinach
sea salt

Slice bacon and place in a cool pan.  Put pan over low heat to render the fat slowly.  This will make the bacon crispy all the way through.  Stir occasionally until bacon becomes desired crispness.  Drain off excess fat, reserving about 1 T. in the pan for sauteing.  Add onion and sprinkle with a dash of sea salt, stir.  Let onion cook until translucent over low-medium heat stirring occasionally.  Now add shiitakes, a dash of sea salt, the sweet potatoes, a dash of sea salt and the spinach with a teeny bit of sea salt.  Do not stir yet, the order in which these veggies were added to the pan will allow them to cook just as is, in the pan for 3-5 minutes.  Now, stir until spinach is wilted and serve.  This would be good topped with an over easy egg or hollandaise sauce.  A breakfast fit for one, but can easily be doubled or quadrupled.

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Slow Cooker Whole Chicken and Easy Broth

3-4 lb whole chicken, preferably humanely raised and organic
1 large onion, cut in half with skin removed
4 potatoes
1/4 c. white wine (optional)
4 garlic cloves
1 T. each: savory, thyme, rosemary
2 bay leaves
sprinkling of salt, pepper garlic seasoning salt
2 T. butter
1 T. corn starch
sea salt

In a large slow cooker, place whole potatoes, onion, bay leaves, wine, and garlic cloves in bottom and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic seasoning.  In a separate bowl, combine savory, thyme, and rosemary, rub between fingers to break up the herbs and release their oils.  Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic seasoning on breast side of whole chicken then sprinkle herb mixture onto breast side of chicken.  Place chicken, breast side down, on top of potatoes and onions, into slow cooker.  Now sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic seasoning and herb mixture onto this side of the chicken that is facing up.  Place lid on and cook on high for 3-4 hours.

Remove chicken from slow cooker and place on a cutting board to rest.  Remove onions to separate bowl or plate.  Remove potatoes and garlic cloves along with about 1/2 c. of the liquid that has accumulated at the bottom of the cooker to a bowl and mash with 2 T. butter and a dash of sea salt.

To make a gluten free gravy:  Place 2 c. of liquid from bottom of slow cooker into a medium sauce pan and heat over medium heat.  Add corn starch to 1/4 c. cold water to make a slurry.  Add this slurry to the sauce pan along with 2 T. brown rice flour and 1 tsp sea salt  Whisk in.  Cook until mixture just boils and begins to thicken.  Remove from heat.

Section the chicken however you see fit.  I like to eat the thigh first while my husband likes the breast.  Serve with onion, mashed potatoes smothered in gravy alongside a simple arugula salad.

After dinner, section the chicken pieces, place pieces in a container for the fridge.  We can get about three meals plus chicken broth from one whole chicken, so this is an exceptional cost effective buy.  The remaining bones, skin and chicken bits not worth eating, I place back into the slow cooker with about 6 c. of water to cook on low for 10 hours.  This will make a broth with more depth of flavor than you can find in a box, more than worth the few minutes it takes separate the final broth into jars.  Use a sieve and fill each jar leaving 1 inch of head room.  To prevent the jar from breaking, keep the lid off, put jar and lid into freezer and in a day when the broth is frozen, twist on the cap.

Happy Birthday Cake to Me

cakeToday is my birthday, yeah me, and yeah, my mom.  Mom, thanks for bringing me into this world.

Growing up, I often made my own birthday cake. My mom encouraged my brother and I to cook, but mainly I enjoyed the process of creating this birthday treat myself.  Back then, birthday cake came from a box, which is a one-80 from how I view food, prepare, cook, create, and eat today.  Even though my kitchen skills started from a box, I am very thankful to my mother for encouraging me to get in the kitchen.

Due to my food intolerances and thus, enable myself to thoroughly enjoy my birthday cake, I will create it myself.  This cake is almost dairy free (a little bit from butter, which lends a depth of flavor not available from coconut oil), egg free, and gluten free.

Here is the recipe, which also makes an excellent brownie sans frosting:

1 c. water
2 T. organic butter
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 T. gelatin
1/4 c.unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 c. white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 c. almond flour
1/2 c. rice flour
1/4 c. arrowroot powder
1/4 c. coconut flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 7 inch x 11 inch brownie pan with butter and place a piece of parchment on the bottom of pan.  Heat 1 c. water over medium heat until hot, but not boiling.  Turn off heat.  Sprinkle gelatin over the top of the water evenly and let it soak up the water.  Once gelatin is dissolved, stir.  If not all of the gelatin is dissolving, pick out any clumps, so these do not end up in the final product.  Add butter and chocolate, stir until melted.  Add all other ingredients and stir until well combined.  Pour into the greased pan.  Bake for 27-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.

For the frosting, I was able to find an amazing tasting frosting in the store that was made with unrefined organic palm shortening (a healthy tropical fat) and cane sugar, called Dollop.  It was creamy and luscious.

For decorating: remove the cake from it’s pan once completely cooled.  Cut the entire cake in two equal pieces in order to make a layer cake.  Put one half of the cake on a large plate and frost the top of this piece then place the other half of the cake on top of that.  Continue to frost the top and sides.

I have to give credit to all of the cake decorators out there, this is a hard task, with making sure the frosting sticks without incorporating crumbs from the cake.  It was not the prettiest cake I have ever seen, but it was soft and sweet, chocolatey and creamy.  It was perfect for me and I wish I had more.

This cake serves about 8 people.

Parsnip and Potato Mash

4 large parsnips, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 c. small red potatoes
2 T. grass fed butter
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. dried rosemary
2 large cloves garlic, grated
2-4 grinds of black pepper
1 tsp. sea salt, plus more for boiling water

Place washed potatoes and parsnips in a large pot and cover with water.  Add a big pinch of sea salt.  Bring water to boil, remove lid and continue to cook parsnips and potatoes for 15 minutes or until tender.  Drain water from pot.  Return parsnips and potatoes to pot and let them release steam into the air.  By removing extra moisture this way, the parsnips and potatoes can soak up flavors better.  Now, add everything else to the pot and begin to mash with a potato masher or the back of a spoon.  (My masher broke and I keep forgetting to buy another one, so end up using this technique more often than I wish to.  This technique just takes a little bit more arm strength and perseverance.  Haha, such is life!)  Taste it, maybe it needs more salt or butter, add it, if that suits your taste.  Makes about 4 servings.

I served these mashers with a mixed baby greens salad tossed in a Preserved Lemon and Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette along with a chorizo sausage, nitrate free of course, and a little bit of dijon mustard.  This is a delicious early autumn meal and pairs well with hard cider.

Homemade Hot Sauce

3-4 chilies, any variety, stems removed, each cut into thirds
2 carrot sticks, diced
1 T. butter
1/2 c. basil leaves
1 c. water
3-4 cloves garlic, grated
2 tsp. sea salt
1 c. distilled white vinegar

In a medium sauce pan, over medium-low heat, melt butter.  Add carrot and a pinch of sea salt, saute for a couple minutes.  Add chilies, a pinch of sea salt and the water.  Place lid on pan and cook until carrots and chilies are tender, about 20 minutes.  Turn off heat, add basil to pan, and let cool slightly before moving onto the next step.  In a Vitamix or blender, add remaining sea salt, garlic, vinegar, and chilies’ mixture.  Blend on high until very smooth.  Yields about 2 cups.  This is excellent on chicken wings, roasted vegetables, eggs, potatoes, pretty much anything you want to add flavor to.  Depending on the chilies you choose, this hot sauce will range from mild to hot.

Herb Encrusted Pork Loin

1 pork loin, about 1-2 lbs
1 T. pastured lard or tallow
1 T. sea salt
1 tsp garlic granules
1/2 tsp dried lemon thyme
1/2 tsp dried summer savory
1/2 tsp dried pineapple sage
1/2 tsp black pepper

Heat an oven safe saute pan over medium-high heat.  Combine sea salt, granulated garlic, pepper, lemon thyme, summer savory, and pineapple sage on a dinner plate.  Mix spices with fingers, rubbing the herbs between your fingers to release oils and to make the mixture more coherent.  Spread this over the plate and then roll pork tenderloin in it to coat.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Add lard to saute pan and let it melt to coat pan.  Once pan is hot, place pork in it to sear.  Let the pork cook, undisturbed for 5-7 minutes until the pork has a  blackish-brown crust.  Turn tenderloin with tongs and let sear on the other side for a couple of minutes, then place pan in preheated oven.  Bake for 12-14 minutes.  The pork, when pressed upon will still be slightly squishy, that is okay, it means the meat will remain juicy once sliced.  Lest rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.

I served this tender pork tenderloin alongside a simple green salad with radish and chives topped with Stacey’s Salad Dressing for a weeknight meal.  This pork makes a nice holiday dish too!

Red Skinned Potato Salad

This potato salad is dairy free and egg free, but full of flavor lent from garlic, shallots, and a hint of lemon.  Makes a great summer side dish to pretty much anything.  🙂

about 16 red potatoes cooked in salted, boiling water until tender
1/4 c. minced shallot
5 garlic cloves, grated
1/2 c. chopped parsley
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
3 tsp sea salt
zest from half a lemon
juice from 1 lemon
dash black pepper

Clean red potatoes and place in a large pot.  Cover with water and a hefty pinch of sea salt.  Bring to boil and cook until tender, 10-15 minutes.  Drain and let cool, until cool enough to handle.  Meanwhile, prepare dressing by combining remaining ingredients into a bowl, mix thoroughly.  Cut potatoes into eighths and return to boiling pot.  Cover with dressing, stir to coat.  Refrigerate for 1 hour to overnight and serve.