(f)ood – Paleo Pen Pal part IV

22 01 2013

This first month of Paleo Pen Pals has been so much fun!  I think next month I’ll stick to doing one recipe, but with an ingredient as great as Benton’s Country Smoked Bacon, I just couldn’t resist.

My last recipe for the month is indulgent and not a treat you’d have every day.  But it sure is good!

I don’t have a name for this, so we’ll go with


Chocolate Bacon Bliss Bites

3 slices country smoked bacon cut into small pieces

1 bar Theo 85% dark chocolate (I particularly like Theo because their products are organic, fair trade, and soy free)

1 T fennel seed

1/8 cup goji berries

1/4 cup pecans

sea salt


This recipe is EXTREMELY flexible as long as you include the chocolate and bacon, you can add in goodies of your choosing.  I particularly like the combination of chocolate and fennel and thought the bacon would play well off those two.  The pecans and goji berries were an afterthought, but a good one!

Toast the fennel seed in one pan while toasting the pecans in another.


While both cool, cook the bacon until just crispy.  Remove from the pan and drain.


Put a small amount of bacon, pecans, goji berries, and fennel seed in  small chocolate molds.  (If I didn’t have a mold, I’d just make little mounds on parchment paper.)


Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.  Pour a small amount in each mold or over each mound.  Let cool just a bit and sprinkle with a touch of sea salt.


You can put these in the fridge to set, but they will also set just fine with time on the counter.


Try to eat just one!

Now for the saddest part of this post…


Yes, that is an empty Benton’s Country Smoked Bacon package.  What a wonderfully versatile ingredient.  Thanks again Liz – it was a blast!


(f)ood – Paleo Pen Pal part III

21 01 2013

Want to know about Paleo Pen Pals?  Check out my posts here and here.  For this third recipe, I wanted to try to recreate a wonderful recipe from a tiny little Italian restaurant in Clermont-Ferrand, France.  When we lived in France, we loved the Pasta Carbonara there.  It took forever to get to the table, but was always worth the wait.

Pasta Carbonara Primal Style

4 thick slices country smoked bacon

2 large zucchini

1 small onion finely diced

2 cloves garlic minced

2 pastured egg yolks beaten

1/4 cup pine nuts

salt and pepper to taste


Cut bacon strips into matchstick sized lardons.  Saute in skillet until crispy.  Toast the pine nuts in another skillet.  Watch them carefully as they go from brown to black very quickly!  Remove the pine nuts from the pan and allow to cool.  Give them a quick whir in the food processor.  Not too long or you will end up with pine nut meal.


While the bacon is cooking, use a julienne peeler to make “noodles” from the zucchini.  If you do not have a julienne peeler, use a regular peeler.  You will get slightly wider ribbons which will still work great!  Lightly salt the zucchini to draw out the moisture.


After removing the bacon to drain, add the onion and garlic to the same pan.  If there is a lot of fat, remove a bit until there is about 2 T left in the skillet.  Saute the onion and garlic until it begins to brown.  Remove from the pan.

Squeeze the residual moisture from the zucchini and add to skillet.  Turn the heat up to high to flash saute the zucchini.  You do not want to cook until mushy, just get it hot and maybe a little crispy quickly.


Remove the zucchini from the pan and immediately into a larger bowl.  Quickly drizzle the egg yolks over the zucchini while stirring the zucchini in the bowl.  Tricky process, I learned, to do this well!  The purpose is to allow the egg yolks to coat the strands of zucchini with their creamy goodness without becoming scrambled eggs.  I’d give myself a 5 out of 10 on this step!

Once the egg yolks have been incorporated, top with bacon, onions and garlic, and then the pine nuts.


It sure wasn’t pretty, but the taste was really, really good.

If you eat/tolerate cheese, by all means use a good quality parmesan or pecorino romano.  I wanted to keep this strictly paleo, so I used pine nuts to try to replicate the deep, nutty taste of the cheese.  It was a great substitute, but the cheese would definitely add to this dish.

I also think I’d try the separated strands of spaghetti squash next time.  They don’t seem to have as much moisture as “zoodles” do.  Maybe I’d have better luck with that egg step!  If you do use zucchini, add at least one more.  Squeezing out the moisture in the zucchini and sauteing it significantly reduced the volume of zoodles.

Overall, I’d say this is a keeper recipe that I will continue to tweak each time I give it a go.  Thanks again Liz, for the bacon.  I will be sad to see it go!

(f)ood – Paleo Pen Pal part II

21 01 2013

You remember the wonderful mystery ingredient from my paleo pen pal, Liz.  If not you can read about it here.  Hoping to make this ingredient stretch as far as possible, I’m using some of it in 4 different recipes.  I found this recipe on the epicurious site and have adapted it.  Here is my version:

Eggs with Cream, Chard, and Country Bacon

4 thick slices country smoked bacon cut into lardons

3/4 cup coconut milk – just the thick milk that rises to the top (reserve 4 T for final assembly) (try to get a tetra pak or BPA free can though that can be difficult to find!)

1/2 small onion finely diced

1 clove garlic minced

1 bunch Swiss chard washed and cut into ribbons (or use your green of choice)

4 large pastured eggs

1 T pastured, organic ghee (I use this brand)

salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350°F

Cook bacon until crispy and remove from pan.  Combine the bacon and coconut milk in another pan and simmer over medium-low heat.  Add onions to the bacon fat and saute until soft. Add garlic and chard along with a pinch of salt (more or less depending on the saltiness of the bacon) and pepper and cook until chard is wilted and somewhat dry.


Divide chard, then bacon and cream, among 4 ramekins. Crack eggs into ramekins and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spoon 1 tablespoon cream over each egg. Dot each egg with the divided ghee.


Put ramekins on a baking pan and bake, rotating pan halfway through baking, until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 15 to 20 minutes, removing from oven as cooked.


I am so pleased with the result.  The smokiness of the bacon permeates, but does not overpower the other ingredients.   A perfect portion of deliciousness!  *You will not taste coconut from the coconut milk.  Simmering the bacon in the coconut milk made sure that the milk could offer its creamy goodness without imparting a coconut flavor.


I chose to use 1 cup glass Pyrex ramekins for my baking vessels because I have lids for them and it made storage in the fridge so easy!


Perfectly portioned and easy to grab for a quick breakfast, brunch or lunch!  I warmed mine in the microwave (I know…gasp!) for 1 minute on 50% power because I did not want the yolk to continue to cook, and it was perfect.

I can see putting this recipe in my Saturday cooking for the week rotation!  Thanks again to Liz for the yummy inspiration!

Side note – yes that is my empty cast iron skillet you see in the oven. What you may not have seen were my other two skillets on the bottom rack.  A quick clean and swipe with coconut oil and my skillets go in the oven often when I’m baking other things to keep them perfectly seasoned and non-stick!

(f)ood – Paleo Pen Pal

13 01 2013

For my first Paleo Pen Pal, I was paired with Liz; a lovely lady from Tennessee.  She participated in Paleo Pen Pals last month and created this yummy recipe from the dried mushrooms she received.

I anxiously awaited the mystery ingredient from Tennessee and happily found this in my mailbox!


That’s right – hickory smoked country BACON!  I mean who doesn’t love bacon, but country smoked bacon is in a class of its own!  Now for the paleo purists, I know the label states “sugar” as one of its ingredients, but even Robb Wolf says not to worry about the small amount of sugar in bacon and sausage.

Because bacon is a weekly staple in my house, I wanted to stretch my thinking a bit beyond the typical bacon and eggs or vegetable wrapped in bacon.  So, I’ve come up with four different recipes to try with this beautiful bacon based on what I had already purchased at the market this week.  These are all new recipes to me, so let’s see how it goes! Here’s the first:

At Soda City, our all local market, I spied this enormous Savoy cabbage and just couldn’t resist buying it, but had no ideas on how it would be used.


I found several different ideas for braising cabbage and decided to go with these ingredients


Then I remembered I had these beauties from the market and decided to add them in as well


Country Smoked Bacon with Braised Savoy Cabbage

4 slices Country Smoked Bacon!

1/2 large head Savoy cabbage thinly sliced

1 medium onion diced

2 large cloves garlic finely diced

2 carrots julienned

3/4 cup chicken broth (I used homemade bone broth)

1/4 tsp red chili flakes (or to taste – I used a little more because I like the heat)

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)

*I did not add salt at all because the smoked bacon tends to be salty enough on its own but you can certainly add salt if needed

While I began cooking the bacon on medium heat in my trusty iron skillet passed down from my husband’s grandmother,


I sliced the cabbage thinly, diced the onion and garlic,


and using my julienne peeler, made perfect little slices of the carrots.

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When the bacon was crispy, I removed it from the pan (leaving the fat) and tossed in the onion, garlic, and carrots to saute for about 4 minutes.


I added the cabbage and bone broth, gave it a quick stir and let it happily braise away until the most of the liquid was gone and the cabbage was tender, but still had a bite.


I added the bacon, which I’d crumbled, back to the pan and couldn’t wait to dig in!

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I had to eat a bowl full right away!  The smoky, salty bacon was the perfect star.  The veggies wore the subtle taste of the bacon, but biting into one of the crunchy bits was wonderful!  I had another serving for dinner with leftover crispy carnitas and finished it off this morning with a sunny side up egg for breakfast.  This recipe is a keeper for me.  Thanks, Liz, for the inspiration and the wonderful ingredient!

Stay tuned for more recipes to come…