Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Mushrooms, & Shallots

I was feeling a little guilty for revealing in yesterday’s post that I used to think that brussels sprouts were the work of the devil.  To atone, I am dedicating this post to the little green fellas (and to Wade Jennings who claims that not even bacon can make brussels sprouts appealing).  On their own they are still not my favorite veggie so a little something something is necessary to give them a boost.  The special somethings in this case are sautéed mushrooms and shallots and a little bacon.  Bacon makes everything better (this is a proven fact) and there are few things that I like better in this world than sautéed mushrooms.  How can adding both be anything less than fab?  Although I may never enthusiastically embrace brussels sprouts like a long-lost relative in a tear jerking Folgers Coffee commercial,  it is good enough to make me want to give them a hearty whack on the back like an old college drinking pal I don’t mind seeing every now and then.  Seriously, this is pretty darn good.  For those that don’t care for the taste of sprouts, cutting them into smaller pieces lets more of the other flavors permeate and you get less brussel sproutiness.   And yes, sproutiness is a word.

Without further ado…

Ingredients:

5 – 6 slices bacon

2 Tbsp Grass-fed butter

8 oz. white mushrooms – quartered or thick slices

4 medium shallots

2 cloves garlic – chopped

16 oz. Brussels sprouts – ends trimmed and quartered (halved if they are tiny)

Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook bacon to the desired degree of doneness (I like mine crispy).  When done, remove from pan and set aside to cool.  When cool, break bacon into smaller pieces.

Remove all but 1 Tbsp of the bacon grease from the pan.  Add 1 Tbsp of the butter, shallots, mushrooms, and garlic to pan and saute on  medium high heat until shallots become translucent and mushrooms start to brown.

Mushrooms & Shallots

Ready for the sprouts!

Add remaining 1 Tbsp of butter and brussels sprouts.

w/ sprouts added

Cook, stirring occasionally,  until sprouts are tender (about 8 to 10 minutes).  When tender, add bacon, stir to mix, and heat for a few more minutes to spread flavor.  Salt and pepper to taste & serve.

All Done! Doesn't it look yummy?

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Roasted Sweet Dumpling Squash with Turkey Sausage, Cabbage, & Bell Peppers

I find breakfast to be the hardest meal to eat paleo — or perhaps just the most boring.  Somehow I always seem to fall back on eggs and/or bacon.  While I love to eat me some bacon, a woman can not live on bacon and eggs alone.  Consequently, I have been looking for a good recipe I could use for breakfast that incorporated more veggies and isn’t egg based.

The concept of vegetables for breakfast is relatively new for me. When I was a kid the only vegetables I liked were broccoli, corn, and the occasional iceberg lettuce salad.  Beans and carrots were yucky, and brussel sprouts were surely the work of the devil.  In hind sight, part of the lack of appeal may have been that the only vegetables that were ever prepared at home were dumped from a can or boiled/steamed to the point of mushiness.  My grandma may have been an excellent cook, but veggies were boring afterthoughts.

Not too surprisingly many of my vegetable prejudices carried into adulthood.  It’s really only been in the last 5 or 6 years, as I’ve tried to eat healthier, that I’ve begun exploring the wide world of produce.  Some things I liked right away.  Other tastes took a while to grow on me.  Squash has been one of the latter for me.  Everyone seemed to like acorn squash— except me.  If anyone tries to convince you that spaghetti squash works well in place of spaghetti, they are lying to you.

Then one day, a light shone down from heaven, angels sang, and I discovered the Sweet Dumpling squash.  It’s super sweet and creamy flesh made it the perfect “gateway” squash for me.  Although I must confess, it’s really not such a good gateway since I still usually tend to grab a Sweet Dumpling rather than other varieties.

Sweet Dumpling Squash

Well, that was a bit of a long segue to get to today’s squash recipe.  I found my current inspiration while flipping past the Food Network the other day.  Guy Fieri, the spiky haired host of about 27 Food Network shows, was making a stuffed acorn squash that sounded totally yummy — and oddly breakfast appropriate.  The squash, cabbage, onions, and bell peppers gave my breakfast a dose of veggies that I had been missing, and the turkey sausage gave it the necessary protein plus some zip and a little traditional breakfast appeal.

My Finished Squash

I substituted Sweet Dumplings for the acorn squash (of course).  Your favorite squash would work also, however, if you’ve never tried these little gems, I strongly suggest you give them a go.  This dish reheats well in the microwave, so, if you are like me, you could make a batch and enjoy them for several days.  While I am making this as a breakfast entrée, you could clearly enjoy it for any other meal.

This dish takes a little bit of pre-planning because you need to make the sausage 8 to 24 hours ahead of time, but it’s worth it.  The results were super!  I’m not typically a fan of turkey used as anything other than plain old turkey, but this homemade sausage was totally tasty and is something I am going to incorporate in other recipes as well.  For the time challenged, you could probably substitute your favorite pre-made paleo-friendly turkey, chicken, or pork sausage with good results.

One additional thought — Although I kept them in the recipe, the toasted squash seeds didn’t really add much for me (and tended to get stuck in my teeth) so I’ll probably omit them in the future unless I’m making them for guests and want them to look fancy-schmancy.  They do taste good on their own though, so roast them up and enjoy!  If you want a little extra crunch or nuttiness, some toasted pecans might be a good alternate.  I plan to try that next time.

Below is my modified version of Guy Fieri’s recipe to make it more paleo friendly and incorporate a few personal changes.  You can link to his original recipe above.

Ingredients:

For the turkey sausage:

2 tsp. thyme leaves (dry)

2 tsp. rubbed sage (dry)

2 tsp. fennel seeds (This was my addition.  I couldn’t imagine sausage without fennel.  It tastes fabulous, but you could omit it if you aren’t a fennel fan.)

2 tsp. sea salt , plus more to taste

1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper, plus more to taste

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 lb. lean ground turkey

For the squash and vegetables:

3 squash, cut in half  (I used sweet dumpling, but acorn or your favorite squash would work too)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt, plus more for seasoning

1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper, plus more for seasoning

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1 Tbsp. grass-fed butter (you could use coconut oil if you don’t eat butter)

2 c. 1-inch-sliced green cabbage

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut in 1/4-inch-wide strips

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut in 1/4-inch-wide strips

1/2 large sweet onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 tbsp. minced garlic

2 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley (for garnish)

Directions:

To make the turkey sausage, combine the thyme, sage, fennel, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a medium bowl.   Add the turkey and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.

To prepare the squash , preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Trim the ends off the squash so that it will sit flat.  Scrape the seeds and membranes from inside the squash halves (if you go through the end, don’t worry).  Set the seeds aside.   Place the squash halves cut side up on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tbsp. olive oil, and sprinkle with 1 tsp. of the salt and the pepper.  Next time I’m also going to grate a little fresh nutmeg on them too.

Separate the seeds from the membranes and rinse well.  Dry the seeds with a paper towel.  Place the seeds on a separate baking sheet or prepare a separate foil sheet for them to roast on.

Place the squash in the oven.  Roast the squash for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden around the edges and a knife can be inserted easily into the flesh.  Remove from the oven but leave the squash on the baking sheet.

Roasted Squash Halves

Place the seeds in the oven.  Stir the seeds every 5 minutes and check them for doneness after 10 to 20 minutes (mine were done in 10 minutes); you want them to be crisp and golden brown.   Be warned that seeds started popping everywhere in my oven.  Never having roasted seeds before, I’m not sure how to combat that problem.  Watch for flying seeds when you open the oven.  Always remember, safety glasses are your friend!  Oven mitts and a large spatula can be used for defense in a pinch.  Now where was I?  Oh yes —  remove the seeds from the oven and sprinkle them with the remaining 1/2 tsp. salt.  Turn the oven off, but leave the  door closed to keep the heat in — if necessary, we’ll slide the squash back in to re-warm it later.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp. coconut oil. When hot, add the turkey, making sure to leave large chunks, about 1 inch across. Let the chunks brown, then turn and cook through, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Cooked Turkey Sausage

(While everything is cooking in this next step, you may want to slip the pan of squash back into the still warm oven to warm them a smidge before stuffing.  It’s not necessary to turn the oven back on if it’s still warm. Careful not to over cook the squash.)

In the same pan, melt the grass-fed butter over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage and cook until it starts to color and wilt, about 4 minutes. Add the peppers and onion and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onions are soft and the peppers are still a little al dente.  Add the turkey sausage and the garlic. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes more to blend the flavors. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.

Sauteed Veggies & Sausage Ready to Fill the Squash

Divide the turkey mixture among the squash halves.  Sprinkle with the roasted squash seeds, garnish with a bit of parsley, serve, and enjoy!

Makes 6 servings

Herb Roasted Rotisserie Chicken & R2 My Kitchen Droid

I’ve been wanting to try something in my “new” rotisserie, so I thought I’d start with an easy roasted chicken.  I recently received this awesome vintage Sunbeam carousel rotisserie on Free-cycle.  I love mid-century design in general, but this one looks like something out of Star Wars to boot.  It’s like having my own personal kitchen droid!  I have been affectionately calling it R2 (yes, I am a geek).  Not only is he cute as a button, but R2 makes damn good chicken!

Vintage Sunbeam carousel rotisserie a.k.a R2 my kitchen droid

The drip pan doesn’t detach from this rotisserie and I was afraid it was going to be a pain in the butt to clean, but it wasn’t too bad. The drippings didn’t burn at all.  They just poured right out and cleaned up nicely with a sponge.   I saved the juices because I’m going to attempt to make Paleo Herb Gravy from the Nom Nom Paleo site using some of the drippings —- plus I paid a small fortune for an organic free-range chicken and I’m not about to waste any part of it!   If you don’t have a rotisserie, check to see if your mom or grandma has one sitting around in the basement and give it a whirl.  You might even get lucky and find a vintage R2 of your own!  If you prefer, you could just roast it in the oven, but that’s not nearly as much fun.

Here’s how the magic happened:

Ingredients: 

1 whole chicken (Make sure it will fit in your machine!  Mine was 4.25 lbs)

1.5 – 2 Tbsp coconut oil

2 tsp oregano (dry)

2 tsp basil (dry)

2 tsp thyme (dry)

2 tsp rubbed sage (dry)

1 small onion – peeled and cut in half

1 garlic clove – peeled and cut in half

Directions:

Remove the giblet bag if there is one.  If you like giblets, more power to you; enjoy them however you like.  I can’t stand organ meat, but I save them to add to my next batch of chicken stock or to cook up for the dog.  He thinks they are the bee’s knees.

Rinse chicken and pat dry, inside and out, with a paper towel.  Set chicken aside on a plate.

In a small bowl combine the coconut oil and dry herbs. Moosh it together with the back of a spoon (or your fingers) to break apart the coconut oil and fully mix in the herbs. Rub the herb mix all over the chicken.  Be sure to rub some under the skin on the breast as well.  If you are using a bigger bird, you may need more herbs and oil.

Place the onion and garlic inside of the chicken and place chicken in your rotisserie or roasting pan and adjust roasting time and temp for your bird size and cooking method.  R2 cooked my 4.25 pound chicken in about 1 hour.  Based on Sunbeam’s cooking chart I set my timer for about 1 hour 10 minutes, but that was just a smidge too long.  The chicken was still juicy but starting to dry a touch.  One hour would have been perfect.

Overall, the flavor was fabulous and the chicken practically fell off the bones. The skin on the breast was nice and crispy — probably from the herb/oil mix I put under the skin.  I definitely rate my first rotisserie chicken as a success!  I’m sure this is just the beginning of a long, beautiful relationship between me and R2.  I’d rather be starting a long, beautiful relationship with Harrison Ford, but that’s a story for a different blog.

Finished product! Golden brown & yummy!

Happy Birthday!

Grab your noise maker and party hat because it’s my blog’s birthday!  Woo hoo!  O.K.  that’s enough partying, let’s get down to business…

My name is Trish and I’m a paleo lifestyle newbie.  That sounds a little like I should be standing up in front of a support group or a 12 step program of some sort.  Although, I suppose blogging is a little like creating your own support group —- so welcome aboard!  Coffee and kale chips are in the back of the room, feel free to stand up and comment as the spirit moves you.

The goal of my blog is to document my experiences in paleo cooking and share my recipes and results with you.  I love to cook and experiment with new recipes.  Who knows where I’ll end up from day-to-day.  You will see a variety of influences in my cooking.  I mostly learned to cook by watching my grandmother.  She was your traditional meat and potatoes sort of lady.  Her kitchen yielded lots of  hearty dishes like beef stew, pork and sauerkraut, stuffed cabbage, and chicken paprikas —- most of which lend themselves very well to paleo, so you will likely see me transform her recipes into total paleo versions.   In recent years I’ve also become very interested in Indian and Middle-Eastern cooking.  The aroma of the herbs and spice blends in Indian cooking are so complex and sexy I can’t resist!  I have been trying to incorporate them into my more traditional cooking as well.  Sometimes my fusion experiments go well.  Other times…

Thanks for joining me on this journey.  Stay tuned for more!