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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Quick Yellow Shrimp Curry

Easy Yellow Shrimp Curry Sometimes I really want a good curry, but I don’t have time to toast the spices or wait for it to come together. This super simple curry from Nadia’s Healthy Kitchen is even quicker with our favorite Penzey’s Curry spice blend. Plus the best part is you can add any vegetables you have. I’ve used carrots, zucchini, broccoli and peppers with just as delicious results.

Ingredients
Bag of frozen shrimp, medium shelled and deveined works best.
1/2 cup frozen peas
1l can coconut milk
1 tbsp coconut oil (or any oil)
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Penzey’s Curry Spice mix*
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
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Instructions:
In a frying pan, sautee the onions over a medium heat for about 5 minutes or until they become transparent.
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Add the spices and garlic and cook for a further 1 minute.
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Add the shrimp and lemon juice. Stir to coat in with the spices, then pour in the coconut milk.
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Add the peas and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes.
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Mix in the chopped parsley just before serving. Serve with rice, couscous or quinoa

My opinion:
This takes less than 15 minutes, 20 if your vegetables aren’t already chopped. It’s simple, delicious and extremely delicious. I only wish there was a little more leftover for lunch the next day, there never is enough!

*If you don’t have the Penzey’s Curry spice mix, the original recipe called for: 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon coriander and optional 1 teaspoon mustard seeds and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds.

p.s. even our toddler loves this dish!

Best Gazpacho

Gazpacho
I know I said this was the best gazpacho recipe and I promise I still really like that one. This one is a teensy bit better and reminds me of a bowl of gazpacho from a restaurant in my hometown that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s the perfect HOT summer dinner. We found this gem hidden in a Mexican cookbook that we bought years ago:
Perfect Mexican
Ingredients:
1 cucumber (the original recipe says small, we just got an average size one) peeled and chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves (we really like garlic so we used about two tablespoons minced garlic)
1 fresh basil sprig (we have this growing in the kitchen and used about a quarter cup of leaves)
2 1/2 cups strained tomatoes (we had a heck of a time finding strained tomatoes in our Mid-Missouri town, so we used tomato puree)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (splurge and use the good stuff. We have some wonderful EVOO from C’s trip to Spain!)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (splurge and use the good stuff)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (splurge and use the good stuff)
1 and 1/4 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Now the serving suggestions include:
Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 3.00.04 PMBut truthfully, we don’t bother because the model didn’t include the garnishes and it’s just as good.

Directions:
Put the cucumber, bell peppers, garlic and basil into your food processor (don’t try this with a regular blender, I promise it just makes a mess!). Process until the consistency of salsa. Add the strained or pureed tomatoes, olive oil and both kinds of vinegar and blend until smooth. (You might have to do this in two batches, we do!)
Pour in the vegetable stock and lemon juice and stir. (If you’d rather just pulse the food processor a few more times, we find it helps it to blend together a bit better.)
Transfer to a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap (or a lid!) and refrigerate for at least two hours.

My opinion:
Some people keep this extra chilly by serving an ice cube at the bottom.
Best Gazpacho
Instead of crusty bread (because I’m still limited in my wheat and gluten intake) we served it with corn quesadillas! Delicious!
Enjoy!
Corn Quesadillas

p.s. Summer 2016 update: even our toddler loves this gazpacho, which she calls “sauca!” She’s been practicing using a spoon on her own and if we keep this a bit on the chunkier side, she’s 90 percent successful! 

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!

Shakshuka (Eggs in purgatory)

Shakshuka

During the last few months of my pregnancy, I had to increase my protein intake. Lucky for me, J found several recipes that tasted good, included several servings of vegetables and had lots of protein. This one from Tori Avey with a few modifications quickly became one of our favorites.

You can modify the spice level based on your tastes. If you want to add more eggs, feel free! It’s just as good the next morning on toast like huevos rancheros.

Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium brown or white onion, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, minced (we use more!)
1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped
4 cups ripe diced tomatoes, or 2 cans (14 oz. each) diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp chili powder (mild)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
Pinch of sugar (optional, to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
5-6 eggs
1 container plain feta
1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)

Directions:
Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium (we use our cast iron skillet for this). Heat olive oil in the pan. Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is fragrant. Add the bell pepper, sauté for 5 to 7 minutes over medium heat until softened. Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stir to blend. Add spices and sugar, stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for another 5 to 7 minutes until it starts to reduce. Taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences. At a minimum, add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add more sugar for a sweeter sauce, or more cayenne pepper for a spicier shakshuka. Sprinkle the feta over the dish, or mix it in if you like. Then crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. In our cast iron skillet, we can get about five eggs around the outer edge and one in the center.

Shakshuka (just added eggs)

The eggs will cook over easy on top of the tomato sauce. If you prefer more done eggs, you can heat the oven to 350 degrees and cook in the oven until set (when the skillet is jiggled, the eggs don’t jiggle back). We leave the mixture uncovered and let simmer for between 5 and 15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced. Be careful at this point, because the mixture can go from reducing to burning quickly. Serve in a bowl alone, over rice or with some french bread.

My opinion:
This dish is delicious hot or cold. With sides or alone. It’s easy, filling and perfect for a late fall evening.

p.s. Summer 2016 update: without the cayenne pepper and the chili powder, our toddler loves this dish. We just add the extra spices onto our own plates.