Brussel Sprouts and Bacon

I’ve never liked brussel sprouts. I can recall once that I’ve eaten more than two in one sitting. It was at a local restaurant and the roasted brussel sprouts were covered in marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese and came as an accidental side to the dish I’d ordered. Then one day Miss A’s best friend’s mom introduced me to these magical, delectable, drool-worthy brussel sprouts. I’ve eaten them four times in the last two weeks. The leftovers are even good microwaved the next day!

Ingredients:
1 package brussel sprouts
4-6 slices of your favorite bacon
olive oil*
white wine or chicken stock (can also use vegetable stock)
maple syrup
salt and pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425. Cook the bacon until crisp in an oven proof pan. While the bacon is cooking, rinse the brussel sprouts under cool water. Chop off the ends and peel off the outer leaves. (I have no idea why you do this, you just do.) when the bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan leaving the drippings. Then crumble the bacon. If you don’t think you have enough drippings *add a bit of the olive oil. Over medium to medium-high heat, sautee the brussel sprouts until they start to caramelize, stirring occasionally. Use white wine or chicken stock to deglaze the pan. Add the brussle sprouts to the oven. Cook for about 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally. If you think the brussel sprouts are getting too done, add some more of the white wine or stock. Remove the brussel sprouts and while the pan is still hot drizzle maple syrup over the cooked brussel sprouts. Stir again. Salt and pepper the brussel sprouts. Stir. Add the crumbled bacon. Stir. Serve warm.

My opinion:
I really, really, really like this dish. It’s very hard not to eat the whole pan in one sitting.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

We’ve been using our crockpot quite a bit lately. We’ve also discovered the wonderful boneless skinless chicken thighs from one of our favorite grocery stores (or go-see store as our toddler calls them). The benefit of cooking the thighs in the crockpot is they dry out less and are more flavorful than the traditional chicken breasts. Cooking Light’s crockpot recipes have become a go-to source. I did not expect this recipe to be as good as it was. Even the toddler ate some of it!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
1/2 cup white wine (or chicken stock)
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano (we ended up using dried)
1/4 cup drained capers
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (we left this out because the toddler was eating with us)
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28-oz.) container diced tomatoes (such as Pomì) (I accidentally used only the 14.5 ounce can)
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cremini mushrooms, quartered (the grocery store was out of these, so we just left them out)
8 (6-oz.) bone-in chicken thighs, skinned (about 3 lb.) (we only had three boneless ones left, it worked fine)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken in half
5 ounces baby spinach
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)

Directions:
Combine 1/2 cup water and flour in your favorite crockpot, stirring with a whisk. (Note: You can also use corn starch, which we will do next time.) Stir in stock and next 8 ingredients (through mushrooms). Add chicken thighs to the stock mixture; submerge in liquid. Cover and cook on LOW 7 1/2 hours (ours cooked about 9). Remove chicken. Leave whole or chop if using boneless skinless. If using bone-in, wait for them to cool, then remove bones.
Add oil and pasta to slow cooker sauce; cover and cook on HIGH 15 minutes or until pasta is done to your liking. (It took a little longer than 15 minutes for us.) Stir in spinach until wilted. Divide pasta mixture and top evenly with chicken. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

My opinion:
I didn’t expect the capers to add so much to the dish. It was the right amount of salt and sweet from the tomatoes. The pasta cooked perfectly. Next time, I will use the corn starch and reduce the amount of liquid a little for the initial cooking phase. If we need more to cook the pasta, I’ll add more at that time. All in all a good, flavorful dish that is perfect for a weeknight.

Almond Torte Recipe

One of the best parts about holidays in my family is the abundance of once-a-year food. Everything from Passover brisket to a hazelnut chocolate loaf and bunny brioche bread make an appearance as we celebrate the spring holidays. This year my mom adapted a recipe for a new dessert and everyone agreed it’s a keeper.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • Vegetable-oil spray
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°. With vegetable-oil spray, lightly coat inside of a 10-in. pan (we used a pie pan). Sprinkle inside of dish with 1 tbsp. sugar, tilting and turning the dish to coat evenly. Discard any excess. Set dish aside. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks with remaining 1/2 cup sugar for several minutes until pale yellow and thick. Gently stir in almond flour and almond extract. Set aside.
In a large clean bowl, beat together egg whites and salt until firm peaks form. Stir 1/3 of the whites into yolk-almond mixture to combine thoroughly, then gently fold in remaining whites. Pour batter into prepared dish and bake until set and golden brown on top, about 30 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes, slice, and serve with raspberry sauce.

My opinion:
This light and airy dessert is the perfect addition to an Easter brunch or a Passover meal. The raspberry sauce absorbs into the sponge-like texture and is just delicious. The sugar crust adds a touch of sweetness but isn’t overwhelming.

Butternut Squash Soup

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We love love love love love this perfectly fall soup (even the toddler!)

Ingredients
1 butternut squash (roasted at 425 for about 45 minutes)
3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallots
1/2 yellow onion
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
4 Cup vegetable broth
2 Tbs butter

Directions:
Coat squash in olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast squash in the oven at 425 for about 45 minutes.

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Peel the squash and set aside.
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In a soup pot, heat up 1 tablespoon olive oil until simmering over medium heat. Add the chopped shallot, onion and salt. Cook, stirring often, until the shallot and onions have softened and are starting to turn golden, about 4-5 minutes.
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Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring frequently. DON’T LET THE GARLIC BURN.
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Add the reserved butternut squash, maple syrup, nutmeg and a few shakes of ground black pepper, plus half the butter.
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Pour in the broth and using your favorite stick blended, blend until smooth. Add the butter and blend again.

Ham and Cheese Loaf

 

Homemade Ham and Cheese LoafMy mom used to make this when my sister and I were little. It was one of our most favorite dishes. Apparently, it’s also pretty easy even if you make the bread from scratch, but let’s be honest the frozen works just as good and is so much less time-consuming!

Ingredients:
Frozen bread dough (thawed per package instructions and proofed)
sliced deli ham
cheddar cheese (we get a block and slice it ourselves)

Directions:
Roll out the bread dough flat. Visually divide it vertically into thirds. On the right hand third cut diagonal lines using a knife. Repeat on the left-hand side. Layer the ham about four slices thick and then layer the sliced cheese op top. Braid the alternating the diagonal pieces over the ham and cheese. Bake per the package instructions. Let cook and slice. IMG_2679

My opinion:
Just like mom used to make! Mine never looks as pretty as hers does, but it tastes just as good. I can’t wait to introduce this to my daughter for school lunches in her future. Some people like to add a little mustard, but I’m a purist and like it plain.