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.

Beef and Pineapple Red Curry

Beef and Pineapple Red Curry

I was skeptical of this Martha Stewart dish and unsure of how the pineapple, beef and green beans would play together, but I shouldn’t have been. It was amazing! In fact, like so many of our dishes, I was sad there wasn’t any leftovers! Plus, as an extra bonus, it fit the no six diet restrictions!

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 cup red curry paste
1 pound sirloin steak, trimmed and cut against the grain into very thin strips
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
2 cups large diced pineapple (12 ounces – we just used a can drained of the juice)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
Cooked jasmine rice, for serving (or regular white rice, or go crazy and make coconut rice!)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

Directions:
In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high. Add curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant about 30 seconds. Add steak and cook, stirring, until browned, 2 minutes. Add green beans and pineapple and cook, stirring, until pineapple starts to release juices, about 1 minute. Add stock and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook at a rapid simmer until green beans are crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Serve over rice, topped with basil.

My opinion:
Like I said above, I wish there had been more of this dish. It was just enough to serve four adults.

Pan-Roasted Chicken With Leeks

Pan roasted chicken and leeks
Now that we’re getting more comfortable with the No Six Diet restrictions, we are also getting a little more adventurous with adapting recipes. J bought some leeks for another recipe we scrapped and we weren’t entirely sure what to do with them. Luckily, my mom was visiting and suggested a chicken and leeks dish that she’s made several times. It turned out perfectly!

Ingredients:
3 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4-6 chicken breasts, cut in half
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to season the chicken)
3 cloves garlic, smashed or a teaspoon and a half of minced garlic
1 bunch leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
6 ounces sliced button mushrooms
1/2 cup dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the bacon in a large heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet (we used out cast iron dutch oven) and cook over medium-high heat until some of the fat renders, about 5 minutes. Push the bacon to the side of the pan. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then add it to the pan and cook, turning once, until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan. Stir in the garlic and leeks, then arrange the chicken on top of the bacon-leek mixture. Whisk in the corn starch in the chicken stock. Add the stock and wine to the pot. Transfer to the oven. Set the timer for about 20 to 25 minutes. Check the chicken and if the broth has mostly evaporated, add more stock to keep everything moist. Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Serve over rice.

My opinion:
I couldn’t get enough of this dish! I wished there was more!

p.s. Summer 2016 update: Our toddler likes this dish! If we’re making it to eat with her, we use a little more chicken broth and a little less wine. 

French Lentil Soup

French Lentil Soup
Sometimes it’s a challenge to find foods that fit the No Six diet (no: dairy, wheat, eggs, fish, soy or peanuts) I’m on for Baby A. Luckily, I have a forever patient husband who is willing to search things out. He found this wonderful French Lentil Soup recipe, originally from Bon Appetit and with a few tweaks, it was wonderful.

Ingredients:
3-5 strips of bacon, roughly chopped
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onions (we used yellow)
1 cup chopped celery stalks
1 cup chopped carrots
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups (or more) chicken stock
1 1/4 cups lentils, rinsed, drained
1 14 1/2–ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
Balsamic vinegar, about 2 tablespoons (to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Heat bacon in heavy large saucepan over medium–high heat. Leave the bacon grease in the pan and add the olive oil. Add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. Sauté until vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Add 4 cups stock, lentils and tomatoes with juice and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium–low, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes. Using a stick blender, puree the soup until smooth. Season with salt, pepper and the Balsamic vinegar. Ladle soup into bowls.

My opinion:
Like any good soup, this isn’t much to look at, but it is delicious. It is hearty and filling and all around wonderful. I can’t wait to be able to eat warm pita with it!