Brussels Sprouts with Apple, Dates, and Bacon

Brussels-Sprouts-with-Bacon-Dates-Apples.jpgI would not call myself a huge brussels sprouts, but this recipe has made me a convert.  It was the perfect balance of salty/sweet, crunchy/chewy. The recipe recommended a reduced balsamic glaze, but I left it off. I even went back for seconds, so if you are on the fence about brussels sprouts, give this recipe a try.  I promise you won’t be disappointed. Recipe and photo courtesy of arismenu.com

  • 2 cup brussels sprouts, halved and stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped, with grease reserved
  • 6 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 apple, chopped
  • 1/2-1 cup good quality balsamic vinegar (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Set aside any leaves that fell off during halving as you will add them later. Add the brussels sprouts flat side down and season generously with salt and pepper.  I fried my bacon before hand and added the grease to the pan to help sear the sprouts. After about 5-7 minutes, flip the sprouts and let them cook a couple minutes longer.  Add the bacon, chopped dates and extra leaves, toss to combine.  Let cook for another 5 minutes or so, then remove from the heat.  Right before serving, add the chopped apples and give it a quick toss.

If you are using the balsamic glaze, place in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally until it has reached the desired thickness.

Cranberry Jelly

cranberry jellyMy husband saw this in the Food Network magazine and requested it especially this year because he missed the canned jelly and I was so happy with how it turned out.  It was so much better than the stuff that comes out of the can.

  • 1 pound cranberries, thawed if frozen
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the cranberries in a sauce pan.  Remove wide strips of zest from 1/2 an orange with a peeler; add to the saucepan with the juice of both oranges (about 1/2 cup).  Add the sugar, coriander, pinch of salt, and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries burst and the sauce thickens, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and remove the orange zest; stir in the vanilla extract.  Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.  Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a serving dish (I put mine in a mason jar), pushing the sauce through with a spatula.  Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.

Island Pork Tenderloin

The thing I loved most about this recipe was it only took about an hour, so you don’t have to prep it in the morning before leaving for work.  A lot of times with pork tenderloins they need to be cooked low and slow, but this recipe is just as flavorful, with a lot less time. Recipe and picture courtesy of littlebcooks.blogspot.com.

  • 2 lb. pork tenderloin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

For Glaze:

  • 3/4 dark (or light ) brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco

Stir the spice rub ingredients together in a small bowl and rub all over the pork.  Heat oil in ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over medium high heat.  Brown pork, turning occasionally, about 4-5 minutes total.  Remove from heat, but leave pork in skillet. Stir together brown sugar, garlic and Tabasco in a small bowl.  Pat the mixture on top of the pork.  Place skillet in the oven at 350.  Roast until thermometer inserted diagonally into the center of each tenderloin registers 140* degrees, about 20 minutes.  Let pork stand in skillet, loosely covered with foil for 10 minutes.

*Despite the USDA saying 140 degrees is the proper temp, it left the roast a little too pink for my tastes.  Next time I will get it to 150 at least.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites

I first made this recipe for the Super Bowl and it was a huge hit.  It is great for a crowd and will please even the pickiest of eaters.

  • 1 1/4 lb chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 1/2 lb of thin sliced bacon
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the dark brown sugar, chili powder and cumin. Mix well.  Clean and trim about 1 1/4 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast and cut into 1 inch cubes.  Cut the bacon into thirds, roll around the chicken cubes and secure with a toothpick.  If making ahead, put in the fridge until you are ready to bake. Prep a jelly roll pan with aluminum and rack, then spray with PAM.  Roll the pieces in the brown sugar mixture, making sure to pack some in the ends.  Place on the rack.  Bake for about 35 mins, or until golden brown and the bacon is crispy.  You can then put them in a heavy dish and cover with foil, or keep them in a crockpot until ready to serve.

Korean Beef

This recipe is another 15 minute meal that is so easy, and so delicious.  My older boy asked for seconds so I knew it was a winner.  Recipe and photo courtesy of sixsistersstuff.com.

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red peppers
  • salt
  • pepper
  • rice, cooked

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown hamburger with garlic in the sesame oil. Drain most of the fat and add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper and red peppers. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Serve over steamed rice and top with chopped green onions if desired.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

For years my go-to spaghetti sauce was Prego with some ground beef and extra seasoning thrown in.  I have since gotten a little more adventurous and started making my sauce from scratch.  I really liked this recipe because while simple, it had really good flavor, and made a ton so I could freeze it for next time. Recipe and photo courtesy of damndelicious.net.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb italian sausage
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add ground beef, sausage, onion and garlic.  Cook until browned, making sure to crumble the beef and sausage.  Drain excess fat.  Place meat in the slow cooker.  Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaves, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  Stir well and serve immediately. Don’t forget to make some noodles and garlic bread!

Homemade Taco Seasoning

I found this taco seasoning on Pinterest. I love how simple it is, using ingredients I always have on-hand. Definitely recommend this over store-bought packets. I would recommend doubling, or even tripling the recipe. Recipe and photo courtesy of thehumbledhomemaker.com.

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • dash of cayenne

Combine all ingredients until well mixed.  Keep in a mason jar, or airtight container. The recipe as is is 3 tablespoons, or 1 equivalent packet of store bought seasoning.

Potato Wedges

I made these wedges for a football party we were having and they were a big hit.  I put the ranch dressing on the side because my husband doesn’t like it, but I will put the recipe here as it was when I found it on Pinterest. There are so many different topping combinations so be creative. Recipe and photo courtesy of yummy-recipezz.blogspot.com.

Fries:

  • 4-6 potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • sea salt, black pepper, and seasoning salt

Ranch sauce:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 1/4 cup milk

Toppings:

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup bacon bits
  • 1/4 chopped green onion (optional)

Cut potatoes into wedges.  Place on foiled, greased baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and lightly toss with tongs.  Sprinkle the seasonings over the potatoes and bake at 400 for 40 min or until fork tender. In a separate bowl mix sour cream, ranch dressing and milk.  Whisk together. On a separate platter smooth out 3/4 of the sour cream sauce. Place hot potatoes on sour cream sauce.  Drizzle remaining sour cream sauce on potatoes and add your desired toppings.  Place under the broiler for a few seconds to melt the cheese.

Cranberry Apricot Chutney

I got the recipe from my brother.  It isn’t a Thanksgiving meal without this cranberry sauce on the table.  I could eat it with a spoon.  It is very simple to make, and I would recommend doubling the batch because it’ll go fast.

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1 orange, zested

Boil the water and sugar together for 5 minutes. Add the cranberries and apricots. Simmer until the cranberry skins burst, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the orange zest and cool.

Candied Walnuts

These walnuts are perfect for garnishing salads, or just eating straight.  I added them to a salad with cranberries, gorgonzola and balsamic vinaigrette and it was restaurant quality.  Having a thermometer is pretty important for this recipe, doesn’t matter what kind, as long as it can tell you when the sugar mixture reaches 236 degrees. Recipe and photo courtesy of intimateweddings.com.

  • 1 lb. walnuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven. Stir sugar, cinnamon, salt and milk in a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium high heat for 8 minutes, or until mixture reaches soft ball stage of 236 degrees.  Remove from heat and add vanilla. Add mixture to walnuts and stir to coat. Spoon walnuts onto parchment or wax paper and use a fork to separate. Cool and store in airtight containers.