Brussels Sprouts with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
1 pound of Brussels sprouts, halved and trimmed
5 slices of nitrate-free bacon, sliced (I like to use the pre-cooked bacon from Trader Joe’s – see below)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup chicken broth
Trim and halve Brussels and set aside. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add bacon. Cook until the bacon starts to brown and render. Add shallots and cook until translucent. Off heat, whisk in red wine vinegar and mustard. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Clean out the pan and add remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Over medium high heat, cook Brussels in the olive oil until browned and caramelized. De-glaze the pan with the chicken broth and cover until Brussels are cooked through (about 5 minutes). When the chicken broth has evaporated, add reserved bacon mixture and cook for an additional five to eight minutes. Serve warm. Enjoy!
The inspiration came from the local Italian restaurant where the owner’s wife whips up something similar every week. Love her, but she wouldn’t share the recipe with me so I had to come up with my own.
Almost No Bake Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake
For the crust –
3/4 of a bag of Nilla Wafers
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1 pinch of salt
For the filling –
2 8oz. containers of mascarpone cheese
1 cup of Kefir (you can use lowfat plain yogurt)
1 envelope of gelatin
1/2-3/4 cup water
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 pound dark chocolate, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crush the cookies into fine crumbs, preferably with a food processor and pulse in the melted butter until well combined. Press the mixture into a pie plate and bake for 10-15 minutes or until it’s golden brown. Set aside to cool.
To make the filling, clean out the inside of the food processor, and add the mascarpone. Whirl it for 30 seconds to fluff up the cheese. Measure the Kefir and mix in the envelope of gelatin until well combined. Add the Kefir, gelatin, sugar, and vanilla and whirl until well combined. Add 1/2 cup of water and pulse until it becomes less stiff, add more as needed. Add the melted and cooled chocolate and turn the food processor on for 1-2 minutes to whip some more air into the mixture. Pour into the prepared crust, slap it in the fridge for 2-3 hours, and enjoy!
A batch of this will last for at least a week in the fridge. My friends from the south grew up eating this sharp and cheesy delight at cocktail parties and holidays, and my peeps from the north are captivated by its bright orangey/pink hue. You have to try it on burgers, straight up, no ketchup needed.
Pink ‘n Juicy
8oz sharp white cheddar, shredded
8oz yellow cheddar, shredded
7 oz. jar of Pimentos, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup mayo
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
Combine all ingredients in the food processor and pulse to combine. You will want the consistency to be somewhere between chunky and smooth. Taste for seasoning. Store in an airtight container for one week in the fridge.
This is the perfect crowd pleaser side dish to bring to a dinner party or cookout. Once baked off and cooled, it travels well, and if you lack confidence in the chef’s skills, crack ‘n cheese is a filling and reliable back up plan.
Take your lactose pills
Crack ‘n Cheese
1 box large shells pasta
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup flour
5 cups milk, heated lightly
5 cups shredded cheese (parm, pecorino, aged cheddar, and gruyere are my faves, but it’s a great way to clean out the cheese drawer)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne (or more to taste)
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup bread crumbs
Cook shells al dente. Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 13 x 9 inch pan.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat and melt butter. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook until the flour and butter mixture until the roux becomes caramel colored. Add warm milk, whisk to combine, and stirring frequently, bright to a boil. Let the sauce thicken, approx 3-5 mins, and add the cheese off heat. Taste for seasoning. Add the pasta and toss to coat. Put the mixture into the greased pan, and top with extra cheese and bread crumbs. Bake 30 minutes until bubbly and brown on top.
Serves 10-12 goons.
Cooks Illustrated is my favorite place to start for new recipes in general, but particularly for desserts.There are too many ingredients and techniques in this recipe to post the whole thing, but basically, you make the crust, make the lemon custard, and top it off with the meringue.
I have made these twice over the last week and they are sure to rock any meat heavy dinner menu. Your guests will like these so much that they won’t clean you out of meat and home. I can’t wait to experiment with different spices and cheeses.
Feeds two goons and a couple goon-ettes…
– 2 LBS red taters
– 1/3 cup olive oil
– 2 T butter
– Generous mix of spices to taste (salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, etc.)
– 1-2 cups grated Parmesan
– Handful chopped parsley
– Preheat oven to 400.
– Boil taters for approximately 10 minutes until slightly tender but with some bite.
– On a greased cookie sheet, lightly smash each tater to break the skin.
– Toss taters with olive oil, butter, spices, and 1/2 the cheese.
– Bake on greased cookie sheet for 20 minutes or until crispy.
Toss with parsley and remaining Parm. Enjoy with steak tips, lamb, sausage, or any grilling meats!