Home-Made Chunky Dark Chocolate Butter


ChocolateButterDesert

UPC’s Crunchy Dark Chocolate Butter

I love indulging. Some of my favorite indulgences, as we’ve covered here in this blog, are life’s simple pleasures. This is obviously not a complete list, but certainly these items will make the top of my list: chocolate, bacon, chocolate bacon, smoked salmon, good wine, good tequila, good rum, sleeping soundly and waking up refreshed, and staying up all night just to watch the sun rise. As far as I’m concerned, the above list of indulgences should be on EVERYONE’S list! Ok, fine, I’ll give that some people just don’t like salmon. My wife doesn’t like salmon, and smoked salmon is even worse to her. While this is intriguing to me, particularly as a pleasantly munch down on some spicy smoked salmon, and she makes faces at me, I don’t particularly mind. That just means I get to keep it to myself! Fortunately, we share interest enough of our other indulgences that this has never been an issue. So, today’s recipe, hopefully, will become a regular indulgence for you all as it has become for me.

I’ve been working on this recipe for months now, and while you’ll see that it is quite simple, putting the pieces together has been a real challenge! Chocolate is amazing, in all it’s forms. It can be a real challenge to work with, though, because getting your recipe just a little bit wrong can result in it being quite bitter. While I love chocolate, and even really really dark chocolate (I eat the good baking chocolate bars straight – but only the good ones), I don’t love bitter. There are definitely some recipes that bring out the bitter in chocolate more than others. Not this one though. This recipe produces the kind of indulgent decadence that I can really look forward to!

UPC’s Crunchy Dark Chocolate Butter; What you’ll need:

  • ChocolateButterDesert_CocoaNibsAndChocolatePowder1 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Carob Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Cocoa Nibs
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 Storage Jar (a nut-butter jar?)

Serves: Umm… Only 1!!! πŸ™‚
Prep time: 10 minutes.

1. Mix the cocoa powder, carob powder, and cocoa nibs thoroughly.

2. Pour the mix into the jar, then add the coconut butter and the coconut oil on top, in that order.

ChocolateButterDesert_PreMixed

As the coconut oil melts, it will loosen up the coconut butter for stirring.

3. Close the jar and place it somewhere warm so that the coconut oil can melt, and the coconut butter will soften.
Note: If you can’t think of a good warm place to put it; you can easily just throw it in the oven on the lowest heat setting for 5-10 minutes.

4. Let it sit until the coconut oil has completely melted, then begin stirring.

ChocolateButterDesert_Mixing

Start to stir after the coconut oil has fully melted.

Serving:

Since it’s warmer now, it’s the optimal time to serve it over your favorite fruit! This will be amazing over nearly any fruit, but particularly strawberries, raspberries, mangoes, and pineapple.
If you’d prefer to eat it in a more solid state, just let it sit at room temperature for a while, then dig in! It will be thick, like coconut oil or macadamia nut butter, and perfect for eating with a spoon!

ChocolateButterDesert_Spread

Freshly made, still warm Crunchy Chocolate Butter over Starfruit!

Questions:

  • Do you like your indulgences?
  • What are your 3 favorite indulgences?
  • If you could take one of your non-food indulgences, and compare it to a food, which food would it be most comparable to?
  • Are there any indulgences that you used to enjoy but don’t anymore?
  • Why don’t you enjoy them anymore?
  • Do you miss them? Or have you replaced them?

What’s for Breakfast? Bacon Egg Cups


BaconEggCup

UPC’s Bacon Egg Cups

I’ve been mulling over how I want this recipe to come out for some time. I’ve seen various versions of this floating around the internet. It was hugely popular this past spring, and I think I saw it pop up on several of my frequent haunts in the same week! So I didn’t post my own version. I chose not to post a version mostly because I didn’t yet know how I wanted my version to look and taste, but being completely honest here, I just didn’t want to be jumping on the same train as everyone else! πŸ™‚ I didn’t want to just copy someone else’s ideas when I did this – I wanted to give the recipe time to really marinate in my creative space, so that I could add my own UPC slant to it.

Well, the wait is over. We all know that I love marinating things, and for this recipe, the marinade has had plenty of time to settle in. I made the recipe my own way, incorporating my own style and taste, this past weekend. In fact, as I often do, I made more than enough to bring leftovers for a day or two to work. Unless, of course, I want to share. My guess is that once I offer this out to a coworker, there won’t be enough left for me to get my own food!

UPC’s Bacon Egg Cups; What you’ll need:

  • 8 Eggs (Check my The Egg Project page for the best eggs)
  • 6 slices Bacon (I used my favorite: Vermont Smoke and Cure; find that and other great bacon choices here at my The Bacon Project page)
  • Spices: Garlic Powder, Turmeric, Fresh Ground Pepper, Sea Salt

Serves: 3-6 (depending on how much you want to share…)
Prep and cook time: 30 minutes
Note: Recipe is designed for a 6-muffin tin. May need to be modified for a 12-muffin tin or for shallow muffin tins.

BaconEggCup_BaconCup1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cook the bacon for about 90 seconds per side on medium heat.

3. Curl the bacon around the base of the muffin tin that you’re using, making the outside of the cup.
Note: If you’re worried about your Bacon Egg Cups sticking to the muffin tin, you can rub the bacon around on the tin to ensure that it’s well greased for the eggs.

BaconEggCup_BaconCup1

4. Thoroughly whip 2 eggs with the spices. I used a tablespoon of garlic powder, a teaspoon of turmeric and pepper, and just a pinch of sea salt.

5. Spoon the whipped eggs into the muffin tin, making sure that there is approximately the same amount of egg in each muffin container.
Note: the whipped egg should only reach part way up the bacon, leaving plenty of room for the cracked egg in step 6. below.

6. Crack one egg into each muffin cup.

BaconEggCup_PouredEgg1

7. Cook the Bacon Egg Cups for 20 minutes

8. Check your Bacon Egg Cups after 20 minutes of cook time – you need to see that the egg yolk has changed color from the pre-cooked color to a darker cooked color. This let’s you know that the eggs are full cooked and ready to be eaten.
And finally: Serve and enjoy!!

BaconEggCup1

Questions:

  • When you see a recipe that interests you, do you go and make it right away, or do you let it percolate in your creative mind for a while so that you can add your own flair to it?
  • Do you prefer to read other people’s recipes, or do you like to try and come up with your own?
  • Do you like to modify old recipes to match your current tastes?
  • How do you generally add your own style to a recipe? Spices? Different cooking/baking/slow-cooking style? Change ingredients?
  • Do you have any recipes that you’re working on right now, letting them slosh around in your creative mind to see what you’ll come up with?
  • Do you have any recipes that you’d like my, or some other readers, to comment on?

What’s For Dinner? – Basil, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Mushrooms


StuffedMushroom_Take7

UPC’s Basil, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Mushrooms

Inspiration can come from a lot of different places, for a lot of different things. I love it when inspiration strikes me, and I am most definitely the kind of guy who will pull over to the side of the road to take a picture or write something down. I’m not so much of a sing-in-the-shower person, but you shouldn’t be the least bit surprised if I were to break into song while standing on the subway platform, or walking down a crowded street. Why? I was inspired. Interestingly, most often when inspiration strikes me, I’ve completely forgotten what inspired me by the time the inspired action begins. It’s one of the reasons why I believe in inspiration so thoroughly. Fortunately, for those really life-changing events, the ones that have a lasting impact on my life, I usually remember the inspiration for those. For instance: I remember what inspired me and my wife to go Paleo. In fact, I can trace that particular decision through an interesting path of choices, all made possible by one single moment of inspiration (and not a terribly pleasant one, I might add) almost a year before we did finally make the decision. And, depending on how you look at it, that particular moment, that inspiration, may in fact be responsible for my blogging as well. Sometimes it’s amazing to consider the implications that one action may have such lasting impressions! If I could, I’d go Paleo AGAIN – though I’m certainly not willing to give it up first…

My inspiration, as small as it may seem, for today’s meal was a box of mushrooms. Some mushrooms just say to me “I want to be chopped up in little bits and eaten in a salad.” Some of them say “I want to be sliced thin and made into a soup.” And these mushrooms that you see here, they were jumping up and down, screaming to be made into stuffed mushrooms as loud as they could! Honestly, I don’t understand how everyone else in the grocery store wasn’t annoyed by all the ruckus.
On a slightly more serious note: I saw these mushrooms and was instantly and immediately inspired to make stuffed mushrooms with them. Unlike bursting in to song, stuffed mushrooms take some preparation, consideration, and planning. I knew that they wanted to be made in to stuffed mushrooms, but I still had to figure out what to stuff them with! Not to worry; it came to me. Or, rather, my wife and I spent an agonizing 30 minutes spit-balling ideas back and forth until one stuck. Like inspiration, I knew it once we had it. So, here it is!

UPC’s Basil, Bacon and CaramelizedΒ  Onion Stuffed Mushrooms; What you’ll need:

  • Large Mushrooms (I used 20 oz) – any large cup-mushroom (white button, crimini, etc.); or cake the stuffing on top of a cap-mushroom (portobello, shiitake, etc)
  • Mushroom Stems, diced
  • 1 lb Bacon, cooked and crumbled (Top-Quality only! πŸ™‚ )
  • 1 large Red Onion, diced and caramelized (also called “Spanish Onion”)
  • 1 medium Rutabaga, finely chopped.
  • 2 cloves Garlic, diced
  • 5-6 sprigs Fresh Basil, diced (including the stems – they add to the texture)
  • Several Fresh Basil Leaves, diced (keep separate from above)
  • Spices: Savory, Anise, Marjoram, Turmeric

Serves: 4-8
Cook and Prep Time: 60 minutes

2GarlicOnionBaconStuffedMushrooms-Bacon1. Cook and crumble the bacon. Drain the pan of most of the bacon grease (to be used in some other culinary creation!).

2. Add the onions and rutabaga to the remainder of the bacon grease and begin cooking on medium heat. Stir regularly (every 1-2 minutes).

1GarlicOnionBaconStuffedMushrooms-Mushrooms

Remove the stem, cut out the lip, and scrape out the gills.

3. Remove the stems of the mushrooms, cut out the lip of the cup, then scrape the gills off the inside of the cup (or cap, if you’re using caps) of the mushroom with a spoon. This makes more room for the stuffing.
Note: Don’t know what the gills are? Check here.

4. After about 10 minutes of cook time, add the garlic and mushroom stems to the onions and rutabaga and continue to cook and stir for another 5 minutes, or until the onions are thoroughly caramelized.

5. Turn off the heat, add the spices and diced basil and mix thoroughly.

5GarlicOnionBaconStuffedMushrooms-Stuffing-LastStir

Stir in the spices and basil with the caramelized onions and rutabaga.

6. Pre-heat the oven to 350.

7. Spoon some stuffing in to each mushroom, making sure that they’re filled to the top, but not over filled. The mushrooms will shrink while baking.

6GarlicOnionBaconStuffedMushrooms-PreBake

Don’t over-fill the mushrooms; they shrink while baking.

8. Grease the bottom of each mushroom thoroughly (yes, you can use the bacon grease πŸ™‚ ) and place the mushrooms in a baking pan with enough space between them so that they’re not touching.

9. Put the pan in the oven once it’s up to temperature; set the timer for 15 minutes.

10. When the timer dings, sprinkle the remaining diced basil on top of the mushrooms, and serve and enjoy!

Optional: If you’re a cheese person: you can add cheese to the recipe at the end, while you’re adding the basil and spices to the stuffing.

StuffedMushroom_Take6

Questions:

  • What kinds of inspiration strikes you?
  • Do you ever have inspiration that you can act on immediately? Do you?
  • Do you ever have food inspiration?
  • How would you use this stuffed mushroom recipe?
  • How might you change it to suit your needs?
  • Are there other stuffed mushroom recipes that you like?
  • Would you serve this as a meal, or an appetizer?
  • What would you serve this with?

Chicken Croquette


ChickenCroquette

UPC’s Crispy Chicken Croquette

I just reorganized my Recipes page. It’s looking fantastic, and I’ve got a huge number of amazing recipes there! It’s been months, literally months, since I last made any updates to theΒ Recipes page, so I really didn’t have any more than a passing notion of how many recipes I’ve actually posted! I’m really excited by what’s there, and I’ve been able to take a look at what you all really appreciate, and what more I need to supplement with. Take a quick peek over at the Recipes page when you get a chance and let me know what kinds of recipes you would like to see more of!

In my excitement at a job-well-done, I showed the update page to my wife. Thank god for her and her insights (you all should too), because she took one look at the page and said: “You don’t have very much chicken, soups, or appetizers there, do you.” I took a few moments to think about it. The unfortunate truth is: no, I really don’t have a lot of appetizers, chicken, or soups. Fortunately, Fall is the perfect time for all three!! Summer is, in my mind, meat and barbecue season. Fall is dinner-party season. And there’s nothing more appropriate for dinner-party season than chicken, appetizers, and soups! To kick it all off, take a look at the Crispy Chicken Croquette that I whipped up immediately after my wife pointed out a distinct lacking of chicken and appetizer recipes. Two birds with one stone!

ChickenCroquette-Ingredients

UPC’s Crispy Chicken Croquette; What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup Sweet Potatoes, mashed
  • 1 cup Chicken, cooked and chopped (I slow-cooked it in coconut oil)
  • 1/2 cup Green Onions, chopped
  • 1 Egg, beaten (Pastured Eggs)
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Cream
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Flour (or nut flour)
  • (Optional) Some finely chopped chives to enhance the green-onion flavor
  • 2 pinches each of Sea Salt and Ground Black Pepper
  • Refined Nut-Oil for frying (I used walnut oil)

ChickenCroquette-MixingServes: 4-6 (depending on the size of the croquettes)
Cook and Prep time: 60 minutes (add cooling time if you want to serve as finger-food)

1. Mix the coconut flour and coconut cream thoroughly. Make sure there are no clumps in the mixture.

2. Add the remaining ingredients, including the egg, salt and pepper, and continue to mix until you have a mostly homogeneous tan-looking thick paste.

ChickenCroquette-Patties3. Pinch a large chunk of the paste out of the mixing bowl and roll it in to a ball in your hands. Now pat that ball out to a flat patty; leave it on a plate while you create patties with the rest of the croquette paste.
Note: You should have enough croquette past to make 4-6 patties. As usual, it’s better to make them smaller than you think you need.

ChickenCroquette-FirstSide4. Heat the oil up in the pan on high. Once the pan is radiating heat, you can start cooking.
Note: This is what you use refined nut oils for; unrefined oils will degrade under high heat conditions.

5. Carefully place the patties in to the heated oil.

6. Let the patties cook for 2-4 minutes per side. After about 30-60 seconds of cook time, slide the spatula under the croquette patties to make sure that they’re not sticking to the pan.
Note: cook time depends on how large you made your patties – smaller patties cook for a shorter time while larger patties need longer.

ChickenCroquette-SecondSide7. After 2-4 minutes (depending on patty size) of cook time, flip the croquettes and cook the other side. The just-done patty should be a golden-brown color. Don’t be surprised if patches of the croquette are a darker color than the rest of it.

8. Remove the croquettes from the pan and place them on a plate.

9. Cover the plate and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat. Then serve and enjoy!