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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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.

Emeril Lagasse’s Steen’s Cane Vinaigrette

Steen’s Cane Vinaigrette

One of the ingredients we brought back from our New Orleans trip was Steen’s Cane Vinegar. We’ve used it in a few dishes and it makes a huge flavor difference from any other vinegar. This is the salad dressing that converted me from dry rabbit food to a salad with dressing.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Steen’s cane vinegar
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon plus a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup canola oil (we used olive oil)

Directions:
In a medium nonreactive mixing bowl, combine the vinegar, honey, shallot, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine. Allow to sit 5 to 10 minutes, then little by little whisk in the canola oil until completely incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

My opinion:
This dressing is just the right amount sweet and tangy. It’s lovely on a chicken breast and a bacon salad. There’s almost always a jar of this in our refrigerator.

Steen’s Cane Vinaigrette

Toddler Approved: Honey Soy Salmon

Honey-Soy Salmon with Zucchini

This was a surprise win for our family. Even before Miss A’s arrival, we made it a point to eat more fish. Salmon is hard one because done well, it’s amazing. Done poorly, it’s terrible.

On a whim, I tried this Honey-Soy Salmon dish from Parents magazine. It was so easy and even better, Miss A kept asking for more! She wasn’t really a fan of the zucchini, but she also hadn’t had it with the skin still on before.

Ingredients:
4-6 salmon fillets (we get the frozen ones that still have the skin on, the number of fillets depends on the number of people eating)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce (we used regular)
Nonstick cooking spray (or just some of your favorite oil)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or olive)
2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch thick half-moons
1 onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Note: if using frozen fillets, be sure to allow to defrost before you marinate. It makes a difference.

Add honey and soy into a zip top bag, squish to mix. Add the fish and seal the zip top. Turn to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours (we marinated for about an hour). Drain and discard marinade. Preheat broiler. If you have the option of low or high, choose high. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat foil with cooking spray or lightly drizzle oil. Place fish on foil. Broil 5 to 7 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness of fish, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. We broiled for about 7 minutes total. While the fish is broiling, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and onions. Cook about 3 minutes or until just tender; season with salt. Serve 4 fish fillets with the zucchini. Reserve 2 fish fillets.

My opinion:
The addition of lightly caramelized onions made the salmon even tastier. We will absolutely be making this dish again. Plus it was so easy, we could make it even on the busiest weeknight!

Toddler Approved: Honey-Soy Salmon with Zucchini

Toddler approved: Chicken “parm”

Toddler approved Chicken Parm
Miss A is continuing to learn to use toddler forks and spoons and loves practicing. She also loves Italian inspired dishes and eating dinner with us. That means J and I are regularly trying to come up with dinner recipes that work for all three of us. We had success once with this pork dish (probably because it contained A’s beloved apples), but not with much else since. On a whim, I whipped together this baked chicken and orzo dish. She couldn’t get enough and kept asking for more!

Ingredients:

  • Frozen chicken breast (we use at least two to feed the three of us)
  • Olive oil (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  • Your favorite marinara sauce (we usually use Bertolli Marinara and Burgundy wine or Lucky’s Market Roasted Garlic)
  • Mozzarella slices (at least three)
  • Orzo pasta

Directions:
Yes, yes you can bake from frozen! I was thrilled to discover this after reading the back of the bag of frozen chicken. First, preheat the over to 350 degrees. Then put the olive oil in the bottom of the pan. We’ve used everything from a pie plate to a baking dish. What you use doesn’t matter as much as making sure the bottom is mostly coated in olive oil. Put the chicken breasts on top of the oil and add pasta sauce.

Toddler approved Chicken Parm pre-bake
Bake for at least 45 to 50 minutes. Check for done-ness by cutting the largest chicken breast to see if it is still pink. If it is, put it back in the over for 10-15 minute minutes and check again. Since we baked from frozen, it usually takes about an hour of total baking. Since the chicken in topped with sauce and resting on olive oil, we haven’t had any issues with drying it out even the one time I accidentally cooked it for almost an hour and a half. When there’s about 15 minutes left in baking, cook the orzo per the package directions. We also like sauce, so we heat up about a cup and a half of the remaining pasta sauce in a sauce pot on the stovetop.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove from oven and place mozzarella slices on top. It should melt. Serve over top the orzo and sauce with your favorite vegetable. Miss A is partial to peas.

My opinion:
Truthfully, it’s a bit bland for our palates, but a little salt and pepper after go a long way. As A gets better at chewing and using utensils, we will season and then brown the chicken before baking. This dish is super easy and very simple to get going before we pick Miss A up in the evening from school.