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Posts Tagged ‘bacon’

Gluten-free Mac & Cheese

For me this time of year was always about indulgence, eating, drinking and then more eating. Since I have changed the way I eat, I have cut back on all major indulging. It serves no purpose and both the guilt and the gross heavy, toxic feelings you have afterward, aren’t worth it. All that being said, sometimes you need something rich and decadent. This is about as indulgent as it gets for me these days! Homemade mac and cheese!

I have never cared for most mac and cheese until I started making my own gluten-free version, I found most to be way to heavy and dense. Made with a good quality organic brown rice pasta, organic butter and milk, high quality cheeses (organic if you can find them) and smoked pasture-fed bacon from our wonderful farmer, there is little that can compare. Though this is a bit extreme compared to what I normally eat, there is no reason you can’t enjoy things like this from time to time. The key to everything in life is moderation. I learned that after many years of extreme diets and extreme rules. Should I eat mac and cheese every week or even every month for that matter? Absolutely not. But, I make it a point to make this once or twice a year, I enjoy it so much more and I look forward to it. If made totally from scratch with high quality, organic and fresh ingredients, I believe eating things like this, once in a while, is still better than loading yourself up with those disgusting processed diet foods all the time! I am sure of that. I am able to maintain my 30 lb weight loss and still enjoy decadent things like this from time to time. This is what life is all about, don’t deprive yourself.

Originally I hadn’t planned to add the bacon as this was meant to be a side dish to a delicious roast chicken. However, when I went to pull the chicken out of the fridge, it was still very frozen so I decided we would just eat the mac and cheese as our main course with a bit of bacon on top and a side of sautéed spinach with garlic, and save the chicken for the next night. And we could still enjoy the leftovers later in the week as sides to other meals or for lunch. Bacon is another indulgent item that I don’t partake in very often, but since we bought our 1/2 pig from Sojourner Farms, I find myself cooking with it more than I ever have in my life. I think bacon is wonderful as an accent in dishes and in moderation. It has such a wonderful flavor and that crunch is perfect on top of a homemade mac and cheese like this. Obviously if you aren’t a meat eater or don’t care for meat on your mac and cheese, the bacon can be left off on this. That being said, if you are a meat eater, you can experiment with ham or prosciutto instead. Also, you can certainly play around with different cheeses, I have found that cheddar and Manchego are my favorite, but you can really use any combination that you like.

Gluten-free Mac & Cheese with Bacon
Serves 6-8

1 pound organic gluten-free brown rice pasta
1 stick (1/4 cup) organic unsalted butter
1/2 cup white rice flour
4 cups organic 2% milk
1 onion, peeled and chopped
Pinch or two of fresh nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup Manchego cheese, grated (you can use 2 1/2 cups of any cheese or cheeses you like)
1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
3 slices of farm fresh smoked bacon (pasture-raised), cooked until nicely brown, crumbled or roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 425º F.

Boil, rinse & drain pasta according to directions, cooking until al dente.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat, add chopped onion, cook until tender about 7-10 minutes. Add rice flour, stir to form roux. Slowly add milk while stirring, heat until warm and thick. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

Add 2 cups of your cheese combination, stir until melted. Set aside the other 1/2 cup. Add your pasta to the cheese and milk mixture, stir until well coated.

Pour the pasta and cheese mixture into a 9″ x 13″ pan, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, bacon and breadcrumbs. Add some fresh ground nutmeg. Bake for 20 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.

Gluten-free Mac & Cheese

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Pasta with Kale, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Bacon

Last weekend, we took the drive out to Olean to visit our farmer (I love the sound of that). We were picking up our pork share for the winter, as well as our Thanksgiving turkey. We are so lucky to have found Pierre and Sojourner Farms. The fact that every animal on the farm is pasture-raised and not pumped full of antibiotics and hormones means so much to us. I am so happy to support a wonderful place like that. It’s truly the only meat we buy.

After making the drive, it seemed wrong not to at least cook up a quick dinner with some of the delicious food we picked up. It was pretty late by the time we were ready to make dinner, so I decided to whip up a quick pasta dish for us (yeh, I know, more pasta!). The kale in my garden was still holding on and I had everything else on hand, so I thought this would be perfect. It was so perfect and delicious. Light but still hearty, it was a great quick dinner. The smokey bacon flavor was delicious and cooking the kale in the same pan as the bacon gave some of the edges that nice crisp as well. There are so many great flavors in this dish that you really don’t need much more than a pinch of Parmigiano-Reggiano on each serving, it’s that good. I am really going to miss my kale this winter, it is such a versatile green that really stands up to so many dishes. Here’s to next year’s gardening season!

Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
serves 4

16 ounces organic gluten-free brown rice pasta
4 cups kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
3 slices pasture-raised farm fresh bacon (we get ours from Sojourner Farms)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup of freshly shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cook pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain.

While pasta cooks, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, 4-5 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, set aside. Crumble when cooled. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add kale to the pan and cook 3-5 minutes until tender and a bit crisp around the edges.

In a large serving bowl, add the cooked pasta, bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, kale, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. The little bit of grease from the bacon should be enough for the pasta, if it isn’t, add a drizzle or two of olive oil. Top the pasta with the shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Serve.

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This is a lovely Spring/Summer pasta dish that was the perfect way to use some of the delicious bacon we got from Sojourner Farms last week. The bacon from Sojourner is the tastiest bacon I can ever recall eating, there is a sweetness to it that I have never tasted before and the perfect amount of smokiness. Since there is a very small amount included in this recipe, it isn’t overpowering or greasy in the least (which is something I dislike sometimes about bacon).

I bought some beautiful bunches of asparagus at the market as well as some fresh sugar snap peas. When I got to shelling the peas, I noticed the peas inside were super tiny and delicate and there just wasn’t enough considering I needed 2 cups for the recipe. So, I decided to go ahead and use some frozen organic peas I had on hand, instead. They worked out perfect, though I really would have preferred the fresh, had they been a bit bigger.

This dish has the perfect amount of creaminess without being heavy and the crunch from the fresh asparagus and bacon is wonderful. The brightness from the lemon is really a great compliment to the salty bacon and creamy sauce. I did however, realize after we ate, that the original recipe called for 3 tablespoons of olive oil when mixing the pasta at the end, I accidentally omitted it. I didn’t miss it a bit and honestly, I personally don’t think it needs it. It definitely needed a decent amount of black pepper when serving to give it a bit more punch, so I think next time I may consider adding crushed red pepper as well.

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Pasta with Peas, Asparagus and Bacon
adapted from Bon Appétit, May 2010
serves 4

12 ounces gluten-free organic brown rice penne (any pasta will do however)
3 ounces bacon, chopped (we prefer fresh from the farm, humanely raised, hormone and antibiotic free)
1 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
2 cups shelled fresh green peas, blanched 1 minute in boiling water, drained, or organic frozen peas (do not thaw)
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, white and pale green parts separated from dark green parts
2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons of olive oil (I omitted this)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided
salt
fresh ground black pepper

Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon drippings from skillet. Add asparagus to drippings in skillet; sauté 3 minutes. Add peas, white and pale green parts of green onions, and garlic; sprinkle with a bit of salt and black pepper; sauté until vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add vegetable mixture, 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid, dark green parts of green onions, 1/2 cup Parmesan, cream, olive oil (if you wish), lemon juice, lemon peel, half of parsley, and half of basil to pasta. Toss, adding more cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls if needed. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle bacon, remaining parsley, and basil over. Serve, topped with additional Parmesan cheese, and freshly ground black pepper.

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