Bacon Wrapped Pork Roast

A bright spot in our allergy struggles has been that we can all eat bacon. And so we eat bacon a lot. So when I was searching for a recipe for a pork roast I had bought, and came across a bacon wrapped pork roast, I was pretty excited. Turns out, it was for good reason. The roast was awesome and I’m already plotting how long I must wait to put this on the dinner menu again. Next week too soon?? Below is the whole dinner… it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and nut-free. I cooked it all in the same oven (once it went to 425), and there were very few dishes (because I lined 2 of the pans). Hope you enjoy!

Bacon Wrapped Pork Roast

1 pork loin roast (about 4 lbs)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp spicy mustard
1 tbsp soy sauce (gluten free)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (divided)
10-12 slice of bacon (nitrate free)

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking dish with foil and place roast in it. Sprinkle it with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
2.) In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, spicy mustard, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and 1/4 cup maple syrup. Pour over pork roast, making sure it is coated well.
3.) Lay bacon slices over top of roast, overlapping slightly. Tuck them under the roast. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
4.) Remove roast from oven, remove foil and baste the roast with the drippings. Turn the oven temp to 425 degrees and place the roast back in the oven. Bake for about 30 to 45 more minutes, or until internal temperature is at least 145 degrees.

Adapted from Sweet Tea and Corn Bread’s Bacon Wrapped Maple Glazed Pork Loin

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Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin

Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar, Bacon and Maple

1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed
3 slice of bacon, diced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
Salt and pepper

1.) In a small non-stick skillet, fry the bacon until almost crispy.
2.) Place asparagus in a casserole dish, and pour bacon and bacon grease on top. Add vinegar, syrup, salt and pepper and toss.
3.) Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.

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Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

1 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes, cut lengthwise
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried parsley

1.) Place all ingredients in a gallon Ziploc bag and toss until potatoes are evenly coated.
2.) Pour potatoes onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and make sure potatoes are in a single layer.
3.) Bake at 425 for 40 minutes

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Dealing with Our Food Allergies

A few weeks ago we received some test results that indicated Beckett, our almost three year old, has food allergies. This wasn’t the first time he had been tested – the first two times showed a mild allergy to milk and moderate allergy to eggs, and at the recommendation of our doctor, we limited his exposure but went on eating food like normal. But then a few months ago, his eczema started to get out of control. We tried changing detergents, soaps and lotions. We tried creams and oils, and while these things helped a little, the poor guy was just miserable. He wasn’t sleeping well, he was itching like crazy. At one point he asked for some scissors to cut his leg off it itched so bad. Heart. Breaking.

Back to the doctor we went, but this time we requested they test him for a gluten allergy on top of the others, and sure enough, it was positive. Non-celiac gluten intolerance to be exact – in the moderate to high range. And the milk and egg allergies were still there too. Combine that with the fact that Brogan, our almost five year old has a tree nut allergy… oh, and Berkley is also getting eczema, and seems to be reacting to the dairy in my diet – and it’s A LOT. Holy allergies, Batman.

Initially, I was in shock. What would we eat? We decided that in addition to cutting out gluten, we’d be more strict on limiting his diary and egg too. Anything to get his eczema under control.  But all I could think about were the foods that he loved. All the treats I loved to cook. All the things he could’t eat. How hard birthday parties and eating out would be. I was sad for him. Sad to think about telling him no more cheese sticks or goldfish or ice cream or yogurt or cupcakes with buttercream frosting. But on the other hand I was hopeful that maybe, just maybe we had figured out what his eczema trigger was and we could stop it.

The more I thought about it, the better my outlook became. It was a challenge, for sure, but I’ve always liked a challenge. I stopped thinking about what he couldn’t have and focused on what he could – he can eat fruit and veggies and meat… he can eat rice and potatoes and oats. That covers a lot, actually. So then I started thinking about meals. What would be our go-to for breakfast – for snacks – for lunch – for dinner? And then I went into planning mode and was on a mission. I was determined to make home-cooked allergy-free meals that didn’t taste like we (or he) was missing out on anything. And so that’s what I’ve been doing. So far, so good. I’ve tried a lot of new recipes, and many that I’ll continue to make.

I’m happy to report that it’s been working. His eczema is MUCH better. He’s still got a few spots in the notorious problem areas (knees, elbows, armpits) that he won’t stop messing with, but his eczema no longer covers his entire body. He’s no longer waking up three times a night scratching himself (no, now he’s waking up three times a night for no good reason – ha!). So far, all the sacrifice has been worth it.

I know we’re not the only family living a restricted diet, and so I’m hoping that through this I can help others with meal ideas and recipes. Dinner on it’s own is hard to pull off every night – add a bunch of things you can’t eat and it’s much harder.  So I plan to start sharing my successes. That is, if Berkley ever goes to sleep early enough for me to have 30 minutes to myself in the evenings to blog. One day… I hope.

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Chicken Tikka Masala

I have to admit that I’m no expert in Indian cuisine. But this dish is one that I’ve loved since the first time I tried it a couple of years ago, and so I finally decided to make a from-scratch version myself. Total success – despite the fact that new baby Berkley needed mommy’s attention about 58 times during this meal preparation. I persevered and 3 hours later I finally had the spices measured and the chicken marinating. Not to worry, while this recipe does contain a lot of ingredients, it’s really not too complicated to make, especially if you measure out the spices for the marinade and sauce at the same time and are able to do so without double digit interruptions. The whole family loved this, and so it’ll definitely make it into the dinner rotation occasionally. Hope you enjoy!

Chicken Tikka Masala

1 1/2 lbs chicken breast cutlets

Marinade
2/3 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp paprika

Sauce
4 tbsp butter
1 sweet onion, finely diced
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp paprika
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of nutmeg
8 ozs tomato sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream

Tip: There are many shared spices, so measure out for both the marinade and the sauce at the same time to save time and measuring spoons.

1.) Combine chicken and all ingredients for marinade in a gallon Ziploc bag, toss around and set aside. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2.) Place chicken cutlets on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove chicken and cut into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.
3.) While the chicken is cooking, melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add all the spices and sauté for a minute longer. Stir in the tomato sauce and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and heat throughly. Remove from heat and add in chicken. Serve over jasmine rice.

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My Thanksgiving All-Stars

I typically spend my Thanksgivings alternating between my grandma’s house and Blake’s family. And so while I haven’t hosted turkey day at my home but once or twice,  I’m usually making half a dozen sides to contribute to the meal and so I’ve acquired my favs over the years. My office also has an annual Thanksgiving lunch, and so I get another opportunity to try new recipes and perfect the tried and true.

Ever since I began eating cleaner and cutting out all the “cream of whatever” soups, I’ve been on a quest to find recipes that are just as flavorful, but truly made from scratch. So far so good. I’m still lacking a good green bean casserole, but I’ve got a couple of Pinterest ideas that I may just try next week – stay tuned.

So here’s the list… sorry don’t have pictures for all of them, but trust me, they look as good as they sound!

My Thanksgiving All-Stars:Butter and Bay Leaves Roasted Turkey (see below)

Sweet Potato Casserole

Squash casserole5

Creamed Spinach

Broccoli and blue cheese casserole2

  • Cauliflower Gratin with Gouda and Asiago (see below)

Cauliflower gratin

Mac n cheese

Green Beans

Pumpkin pie slice

  • Chocolate Pie (see below)

Recipes for some of the my unblogged dishes above:

Butter and Bay Leaves Roasted Turkey
Courtesy of my good friend, Glynis

1 turkey (any size)
2 sticks of softened butter
2 tsp salt
10 or more bay leaves

1.) Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towel and set aside.
2.) In a small bowl, mix softened butter and salt.
3.) Rub the exterior and underneath the skin with butter and salt mixture. (I suggest you wear gloves for this, and you will have to do some work to separate the skin from the bird – but do not give up!)
4.) Arrange bay leaves in a decorative pattern underneath the skin.
5.) Bake according to the size of the turkey, basting often.

Cornbread Dressing
Courtesy of my grandma

2 10-inch skillets of homemade buttermilk cornbread
1 tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 cups diced celery
2 or 3 hard boiled eggs, diced (optional)
2 tsp ground sage (or more to taste)
1 tsp ground pepper (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
6 to 8 cups turkey or chicken stock (enough to thoroughly moisten cornbread)
2 eggs

1.) In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium-high heat and add onion and celery. Sauté until onion is translucent. Set aside.
2.) In a large mixing bowl, crumble cornbread and add onion/celery mix, hard boiled eggs, sage, pepper, salt and stock until it is very moist (but not soupy). If you add too much liquid, you can always cook longer to dry out, but if you don’t add enough liquid your dressing will be dry! Do not add raw egg yet. Taste to make sure seasoning is good and adjust as needed. Once the taste is right, add raw egg.
3.) Pour into a greased 10″x13″ casserole dish and bake at 375 degrees until golden brown (about 45 to 60 minutes).

Cauliflower Gratin with Gouda and Asiago

2 lbs (or 1 large head) cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 cups milk, warmed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded gouda
1/2 cup shredded asiago
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup seasoned panko

1.) Steam cauliflower for 5 minutes, then allow to drain in a colander for at least another 5 minutes.
2.) In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter and add flour. Whisk continuously for 1 to 2 minutes and then gradually add warmed milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Continue whisking until sauce thickens.
3.) Remove pan for heat and add gouda and asiago. Stir until cheese melts.
4.) In a large bowl, combine cauliflower with cheese sauce. Pour into a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with parmesan and then with panko.
5.) Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until top is brown and sides are bubbly.

Chocolate Pie
Courtesy of Cooking Chef’s Grandma’s Chocolate Pie

½ c. cocoa
¼ cup cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 ½ c. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix cocoa, cornstarch, beaten egg yolks; sugar and salt and vanilla, then add milk gradually, while stirring in a pot over med-high heat. Cook until thick, beating it smooth. Pour into a pre-baked pie shell (use this homemade version and bake it for 12-15 mins on 375). Put in the fridge to chill.

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

A couple of years ago I went through a crock pot phase. I got all excited about making freezer meals and cooking them in the crock pot while I was at work and thought I had solved all my weeknight cooking problems. It didn’t work out so well for me. First, I’m gone too long for most crock pot dishes and even on low with a timer (that turns it to warm), most of my meat was way over cooked. Second, the meat started to get a funny taste that I can’t really put my finger on, but I just didn’t like it. Seemed like everything I put in the crock pot had that same funny taste, and I so I retired it for a while.

I’ve been wanting to find a good red beans and rice recipe, and when I came across a slow cooker version, I figured I would give it a try. I’m happy to report that this dish turned out great – and no funny taste. Yay!

If you like some heat in your red beans and rice, you may want to add a little cayenne pepper at the beginning. My kiddos don’t love spicy foods yet, so I opted to stick with just paprika. I also didn’t presoak these beans… they spend so much time in the slow cooker that they are perfectly tender by the end. The whole family really liked this meal, and we benefited all day from the awesome smell coming from the crock pot. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

1 lb dried small red beans, sorted and rinsed
1 medium sweet onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
4 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
7 cups chicken stock
10-12 ozs. smoked pork chops, diced
12-14 ozs. kielbasa sausage, cut lengthwise then sliced
8 servings of cooked rice

1.) Place first 10 ingredients in a crock pot and stir to combine. Cook either on low for 9 hours, or on high for 7 hours.
2.) Half way through, add smoked pork chops and kielbasa sausage.
3.) Serve over rice.

Adapted from The Weary Chef’s Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice 

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This is how it looked half way through right after I added the meat:

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Finished product!

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Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

I finally decided to start making some new dishes this week and so I’m excited to share another Pinterest win!  Fresh on being infatuated with my recent Salisbury Steak Meatballs, when I saw this recipe with the mushroom gravy, I couldn’t wait to try it. This dish is pure comfort food. I served it over mashed potatoes and it was plate-licking good. Hope you enjoy!

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

Salisbury Steak
1 1/3 lb ground beef
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
1/3 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter (to fry up the beef)

Mushroom Gravy
1 tbsp butter
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 shallots, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp flour
2 cups beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste

1.) Add all salisbury steak ingredients (except butter) in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix all ingredients well. Form into 6 patties and set aside.
2.) In an electric skillet or large saute pan, heat 2 tbsp butter over medium-high heat. Add patties and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and place on a plate.
3.) In the skillet you cooked the meat in, add 1 tbsp butter, mushrooms, shallots and thyme and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes over medium-high heat. Sprinkle flour over mushrooms and stir to combine. Add in beef broth and stir well. Bring to simmer to allow sauce to thicken. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Place salisbury steak patties back in the skillet and cover them with gravy. Serve over mashed potatoes.

Adapted from Lemony Thyme’s Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

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Mushroom Asiago Chicken

Trying to get my husband to tell me what he wants for dinner is next to impossible. So yesterday morning when I got a Facebook notification that my husband had tagged me in a post, only to find it was recipe he was reposting, I was intrigued. And just to be clear, I replied, “Are you trying to tell me you want this for dinner?” and he responded, “Yes.” Hallelujah – at least we can communicate about dinner via Facebook.

So trying to seize this rare opportunity, I went to the store, got the all the needed ingredients and made his requested dish for dinner. I must say, he was spot on with thinking this would be good, because it really, really was. I was pretty true to the recipe, except I increased the mushroom asiago sauce by 1 1/2 (which is how I wrote the recipe below). I served this over simple buttered angel hair pasta, so I wanted enough sauce to flavor the pasta sufficiently. I also opted to buy chicken cutlets versus butchering a plain ole chicken breast. Yes, it was a little more expensive, but it save me time and hassle, and so for a weeknight, it was money well spent. I cooked this in an electric skillet so that I could cook all of my chicken at once – would do fine in a dutch oven as well.

I will definitely make this dish again – the flavor was rich (but not too rich, thanks to the bite of the asiago), and very unique. Winner, winner, chicken dinner – thank you honey for the delicious request!

Mushroom Asiago Chicken

6 chicken cutlets
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
6 tbsp butter
1 1/2 lbs sliced mushrooms
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese

1.) Salt and pepper each chicken cutlet and dredge both sides in flour. Heat 2 tbsp butter in an electric skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat. Sauté the cutlets in the butter for 4-5 minutes on one side, flip, then cook for 1 more minute. Place cooked cutlets on a plate and cover with foil.
2.) Add remaining 4 tbsp butter to skillet. Add mushrooms and salt and sauté for about 10 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and sauté for a few minutes more. Add wine to deglaze and cook until it is nearly evaporated. Add chicken stock and simmer over medium heat until liquid is reduced by half, about 10 to 12 minutes. Reduce heat again to medium low and add heavy cream and Asiago cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and then add chicken back to pan, covering each one in the sauce. Allow the chicken to simmer for a few minutes until it is heated through.
3.) Serve over pasta or mashed potatoes.

Adapted from CherylStyle’s Savory Mushroom Asiago Chicken

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