Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

When I was growing up, there were always TV shows were kids were like, “Ugh, Brussels sprouts! Why are you trying to kill me Mom?!”

I can’t recall if my mother ever made us Brussels sprouts, but I’m sure if she ever did I protested it. I’m sure I explained to her that t.v. had taught me that this was an evil green vegetable and was probably Jolly Green Giant’s mortal enemy.

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He’s probably just a double agent, right?

As I got older and more open, refining my taste for vegetables, I discovered that not only did I not hate Brussels sprouts, but that I freakin love them.

As I’ve stated in previous posts, this love of Brussels sprouts is not as passionate and as deep as my love for spice and cheese, but every once in awhile that green eyed beauty of a vegetable gives me a little wink and I can’t help myself. It’s an on and off again torrid affair, I’m telling you.

My first encounter with Brussels was when I was working at a pizza place that had seasonal menus and pizzas with toppings from local farmers. Every time we changed the menu, we had a special meeting where we would test out the food so we could give the proper recommendations to customers. That’s when I was introduced to Brussells sprouts and bacon pizza.

Yes, you read that right.

I know it sounds weird, but it was amazing.

We also had a side dish of Brussel sprouts sautéed in garlic with this slightly peppery ranch dressing that was to die for. Sometimes for my lunch meal, I’d get that and a side of meatballs.

Best perk working there was the food, let me tell ya.

If you reside in LA, that place is called Pitfire Pizza and you should definitely check it out.

Anyway, thanks to Pitfire, I developed a love for Brussels sprouts and this meal below, from Portlandia is similar to Pitfire’s Brussels sprouts and bacon pizza. It’s got bacon, Brussels sprouts, and it’s heavenly.

What you’ll need

  • 1/2 cup of hazelnuts
  • 1 pound of medium-sized Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 ounces of thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large shallot, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar

The first step is my favorite step. Pre-heating the oven to 350. If it was 400, it’d be my second favorite step.

Next step is to spread the hazelnuts on a pan and toast them for about 12 minutes. You’ll know they’re ready when the shells are cracking a bit. Allow them to cool after the toasting and then rub them with a towel to peel off the shell skin completely. After this step, you will chop them into itty bitty bits.

Next, you will coat your sprouts with oil, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss this mixture until they are evenly glazed.

Meanwhile, place a skillet on your stove top and set that sucker to some high heat. Once the skillet is hotter than a Texas summer, place the sprouts in the skillet with the cut side down. After about 5 minutes, the sprouts should be sufficiently browned and flipped over. Once flipped, cover and cook until they are crisp, yet tender. This should take about 3 minutes.

Remove the sprouts from the pan and replace with bacon. Scale back to a California summer heat setting (medium in case you don’t know) and cook for about 5 minutes.

The shallots are the next item to add to the pan. Cook those puppies while stirring for another 5 minutes.

We are now ready to tag back-in the Brussels sprouts. Toss and combine a couple of times and then add the vinegar. Cook the vinegar until it just about evaporates and then add the nuts and serve right away!

Or…..

You can add an egg, over easy or over medium, however you prefer on top. I did and I highly recommend it.

It’ll probably come to no surprise that I loved this recipe. As I mentioned, bacon and Brussels sprouts pair nicely together. They are both crisp and crunchy but in different ways that compliment each other.

The hazelnuts give it even more texture and add a bit of a salty taste which settles in nicely with the vinegar.

Then there’s the egg. You can’t go wrong with an egg in a skillet dish. At least for me anyway.

Since I’m plugging LA restaurants, I might as well add that this recipe is almost exactly like a breakfast item at The Brite Spot in Echo Park. It’s called the Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Hash and it is to die for!

The major difference is that this dish has potatoes. It’s basically a high end version of Denny’s breakfast skillets. I’m telling you, it’s a simple dish, but there is something they are doing that I can’t figure out and I need to, sorely.

For now, I am more than content with this recipe from Portlandia. 

How could anyone ever hate you Brussels sprouts?

 

 

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I am Bob’s Stuffed Meat Loaf

This stuffed beefy meat loaf concoction comes from Taste of Home Cooking for 2, but all I can think about when I read the words meat loaf and stuffed is this guy.

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Meat Loaf as Bob from Fight Club

Why specifically do I think of Meat Loaf as Bob and not Eddie from Rocky Horror? There’s even that time he played a mobster in A Hole in One with Michelle Williams.  Why does that not come readily to mind?

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Meat Loaf’s a good fella. 

I don’t know dear readers. I just know that my mind works in mysterious ways.

What you’ll need.

  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, divided
  • 1/4 cup of hot water
  • 1 tablespoon of butter, melted.
  • 1 cup of stuffing
  • 2/3 a pound of lean ground beef

The first step in making this stuffed meat loaf is to combine 1/4 of the barbecue sauce with the water and butter in a small bowl. When that mixture has been mixed well, add the stuffing.

Next, shove the mixture aside to form your meat patties. You will make four patties out of the 2/3 a pound of beef. Try to make them as even as possible because you are basically going to make a sandwich with the stuffing mixture as the inside. Do this by dividing the stuffing mixture into half and scooping each half on one patty. Then, place a plain patty on top of the one with stuffing and seal the edges so that the stuffing remains intact.

In case you got confused, there should only be two servings or two stuffed patties. If you’re still confused, don’t fret.  I have pictures.

The next step will be to bake the patties in the oven by placing them on a baking pan, naturally. Before you put them in the oven, do pour the remaining barbecue sauce on top. Once that’s done, bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Uncooked patties for demonstrative purposes.

These turned out real well! I love it when a recipe is not only delicious, but easy to make.

The taste is what you’d expect. It’s meatloaf as a burger. I ate mine without a bun or extra toppings, but I could see some trendy burger food truck making this into a thing.

Feel free to save $12 and do it yourself, though. That’s my recommendation anyway.

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Bob’s Meat Loaf

Sandra Lee’s Semi Pad Thai

This recipe from Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade Meals is actually called Spicy Peanut Noodles, but it’s basically a variation on Pad Thai.

As usual, Sandra’s recipes are a breeze to make. I failed miserably at trying to make a custard pudding recently and writing about this recipe renews my self-confidence in the world of cooking.

My custard still tasted ok, but it would have been delicious if the consistency was right.

Sandra, thankfully, gives you little room to fail. She gently holds your hand through every recipe in this book. I haven’t failed a recipe of hers yet.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed though. You never know.

What you’ll need

  • 8 ounces of soba noodles
  • 3/4 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup of reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of dark sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of Thai seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup of peanuts, chopped
  • 1 scallion, sliced diagonally

The first step is to boil the soba noodles. This isn’t hard. Just boil some water and cook the noodles for 4-5 minutes. Drain the water when it’s ready, cool the noodles, and set aside.

The next step is to prepare your peanut butter sauce by whisking the peanut butter with the chicken broth, honey, sesame oil, soy sauce, Thai seasoning, and the red pepper flakes.

When everything is whisked together, just pour on top of the noodles, sprinkle some peanuts and scallions and you’re good to go!

This was so much easier to make than my custard pudding dish, let me tell you! I feel slightly redeemed. Don’t feel sorry for me though. I’m not down for the count. I’m gonna get right back up and knock that pudding senseless.

When I do, you’ll all hear about it.

For now though, look at this deliciousness.

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Peanut Butter and Noodles

 

Somen Noodles and Sugar Snap Peas

Sandra Lee does it again with her so not meh noodles. This chicken teriyaki goodness with a side of snap peas is getting  a favorite recipe mark for sure. A previous owner agrees with me. I know this because they wrote good on the recipe.

As I’ve mentioned before, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Meals is a cookbook sent from heaven, wrapped neatly with a bow and hand delivered for those of you who struggle in the culinary arts.

In other words, she makes recipes that are idiot-proof as well as scrumptious.

This is mostly due to the fact that she finds shortcuts. I’m ok with this, because in this day in age people are either too busy and let’s get real with ourselves, lazy, to make food completely from scratch.

I’m pleased to have another successful recipe, but I’m also sad. I have no more puns or rambling stories to add and that does make me sad. So, let’s get to it then.

For the Chicken Noodles

  • 6 ounces of somen noodles
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds of chicken tenders, but into bite sized pieces
  • 6 ounces of baby spinach
  • 1 cup of carrot slices
  • 1/2 cup of teriyaki sauce
  • 1/2 cup of reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon of bottled crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of bottled minced ginger

The first step in making the noodles is to prepare for the ceremony known as The Boiling of the Noodles. Tradition states that you place the noodles in water that has been blessed with salt for three minutes. Drain the noodles afterwards and then set aside

While this ceremony is taking place, you may heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the skillet and stir for about 7 minutes.

Once the chicken is cooked, add the spinach, carrots, sauce, chicken broth, garlic, and ginger. Stir this mixture until well combined and then allow it to simmer for 5 minutes. Add the noodles right before you are ready to serve. When you do, toss and cook until the they are hot.

For the Sugar Snap Peas with Red Pepper

  • 14 ounces of sugar snap peas
  • 1/4 cup of roasted red bell pepper cut into thin strips
  • 1 teaspoon of dark sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds

Get a microwave safe bowl, unless you want to add melted chemicals to your meal. I’m not going to judge. It’s your body, your choice.

Anyway, get a bowl and add all the ingredients except the sesame seeds. Mix them all up and then heat for 6-7 minutes. Stir halfway through to ensure the mixing has been properly done. If you are a classy classical person like myself and don’t own a microwave I suggest you heat your oven to 350 and cook for 10-15 minutes.

When this mixture has been properly heated you may add the sesame seeds. I added black ones because they were left over from a previous recipe.

They taste the same to me, so I believe it doesn’t matter what color you get.

As I said before, this meal was a success. It was easy to make and satisfying.

I love you Sandra Lee. Why are you so perfect? You’re probably a real blonde too.

Nevermind, I hate you.

Just kidding. I hate myself.

Just kidding. I’m trying to be funny and this is the only way I know how.

….now I’ve confused myself.

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Somen noodles of goodness

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Snap peas!

 

 

Salmon Salad with Roasted Tomatoes

My next recipe was sent to me, via my mother years ago. She found it in a magazine. I can’t recall which one she got it from, but she thought it looked healthy and tasty. She wasn’t wrong.

This simple salad is filling and yet lite. It’s a healthy slab of salmon that doesn’t require a heavy dressing to be tasty.The tomatoes compliment the salmon and add a light juicy flavor. It’s the perfect salad to ween yourself off of heavy dressings like ranch and blue cheese, because it teaches you how tasty a salad can be without all the fatty bells and whistles. Trust me, I loved ranch dressing in my youth, but now I crave balsamic dressings with oregano because they compliment as opposed to overwhelming the taste of a salad.

So to make this healthy protein salad, you’ll need 16 cherry tomatoes, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, plus a 1/4 cup for later, 4 6 oz. salmon fillets with skin, 1/2 cup of fresh lime juice, 1/4 cup of grapeseed oil, and 4 oz. of mixed baby green lettuce.

The first step is to pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Once it’s heated you will place the tomatoes inside to roast, but before you do so, drizzle two teaspoons of oil on top. They will roast for about 8 minutes.

While they are roasting, you will cut a couple of diagonal lines into each salmon fillet and sprinkle salt and pepper on top. This technique is called scoring and is done to open up the meat so it absorbs ingredients more deeply. Once you are done scoring, place the salmon on a saute pan with the salmon skin facing down. Set the heat to medium-low and then finally to high. I admittedly do not understand this, since there are no instructions as to how long you are supposed to keep it on medium-low, but I’m assuming it’s so the salmon can be a bit slow cooked. Anyway, you will cook the skin side for 2-3 minutes and then flip and cook for 1-2 minutes. The goal is for the salmon to have a slight pink color in the middle.

Once that’s done, you might as well make your dressing. To do so, you will slowly whisk and pour, the grapeseed oil and 1/4 cup of olive oil into a bowl with the lime juice already inside. Season with salt and pepper to your liking as well.

The final step is to put everything together! So, get your lettuce out, place a salmon fillet on top with some tomatoes, and drizzle with oil.

The final result, as I said at the top of this entry, is quite good! I feel it’s versatile as well. Meaning, that you could just keep the recipe for the tomatoes and salmon, add rice, and just sprinkle a bit of lime juice for flavor.

That’s the beauty of salmon, though. It’s simple to cook and doesn’t require a lot of dressing up. It’s a low maintenance kind of gal.

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Flaky, crispy, tasty, and healthy!

Tortilla Española

This recipe comes from Portlandia, which is proving to be a marvelous little cookbook. Portlandia is the only cookbook I own based on a show, but I did cook from a Sopranos cookbook with a past boyfriend of mine. We were both big fans of the show and only a quarter Italian. We hoped that somehow we could become more Italian American if we received consultation from a Sopranos cookbook. We ended up cooking several recipes from it and all were quite good. We did not become more Italian, however. He’s married with a kid and lives in Minnesota now. I dare say he became less Italian over the years.

Oh my god……I WON! Take that! Who cares if I’m single and unable to fully support myself!? I’m more Italian now!

Who need responsibility, kids, and cold climates anyway?

If by some strange miracle that ex reads this, I’m being my usual goofy self, so please don’t take offense. I’m happy that you are happy. Also, being that you are a writer, please don’t be too cruel about my lack of writing skills.

Let us move on.

As I’ve mentioned several times, I’m just a white girl from a small town in Indiana. I’m getting more Italian and gentrified in general, but I had never heard of Tortilla Española. I looked it up before writing this entry and discovered that it’s the Spanish version of an omelette. I say it’s more like a quiche than an omelette, though.

Also,according to my research, tortilla’s origin meaning is small cake. I found that quite interesting and it made me feel better about when I first moved to California. I used to call tortillas, tortilla shells. My California friends would look at me funny  every time and say, “It’s just a tortilla, you don’t need to add an extra word in there.”

If I had known what I know now, I could have quipped back. “It is not a small cake! Ok?! It’s a shell, a tortilla shell!”

Anyway, the authentic version of this dish consists of potatoes and frying oil, but our Portlandia version is mostly scallions and chorizo. This is fine with me, though. I love chorizo. It is a meat I was missing out on until I moved here. 20 some years without the knowledge of chorizo is a sad thing to admit.

So to make this, you’ll need 12 large eggs, 1 5 ounce bag of flavored chips, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 large scallions, and 3 ounces of chorizo.

Guess what the first step is?! Pre-heat the broiler! Don’t you love it when the first step is so simple?

The next step is monkey easy as well. All you do is beat all of your eggs, lightly crush your chips, and soak for ten minutes. By the way, feel free to pick whatever flavor you want. I went with jalapeno myself. Lay’s has a biscuits and gravy flavor at the moment if you want to live dangerously. Maybe that’s what they are good for, because they certainly aren’t tasty on their own.

While the chips soak, get a large skillet out and pre-heat with your oil. Once heated up, add the scallions and chorizo. I should mention that I always buy the “crumbled” version of chorizo, but if you decide to get a link, you will want to finely chop it before cooking. I recommend getting the version I buy. I mean it’s already finely chopped and it’s delicious. Why make things harder for yourself?

You will cook the chorizo and scallions for about three minutes over high heat too. Basically you are just waiting for all the fat to sizzle out in this step. Once it’s sizzled away, add your egg mix to the skillet and mix away. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about three minutes again. This time, you are wanting the egg to settle on the side of the pan.

Once it has settled, you place the skillet in the oven and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the tortilla is lightly browned.

After that, you should have a lovely small cake of egg and chorizo! Mine turned out really well! I was extremely pleased with this recipe. It was simple, effortless, and delicious! I will certainly make this again and highly recommend it.

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Spanish egg cake

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It’s not the most classy food picture, but trust me it’s good.

Sausage and Mushroom Pasta

This recipe is from Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade Meals. I used to make this pasta back in college all the time. It was one of my favorites. As far as my tastes go, I can’t go wrong with linguine, sausage, and mushrooms.

This cookbook is perfect for beginner cooks too. They should re-name it, Cooking for Dummies. I’ve managed to not screw up any recipe from here yet. We all know I’m a bit of a cooking dummy, so that’s saying something.

What you’ll need to make this, is one box of linguine, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 links of spicy Italian sausage, 2 garlic cloves, 2 sliced portobello mushrooms, 1 10 ounce can of diced Italian tomatoes,  and one 7 ounce container of pesto with basil.

The first step, as with most pasta dishes, is to boil a large pot of water to cook your pasta with.

This is an easy step and admittedly my pasta has been sticking to my pot lately. This wasn’t a problem for me in the past, so I was irritated by this new problem of mine. I mentioned this to my mother and asked if I should put oil or butter next time, but she said that wasn’t necessary. She thinks I’m not putting enough water in my pot. That is a possibility I’m wanting to test out for next time.

Anyway, while your pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet with olive oil over medium heat. Once heated, add the sausage and garlic. Cook this and stir for 5 minutes, eventually breaking up the sausage as it cooks along. I was having a hard time breaking up my sausage and I recommend purchasing and using cooking scissors to make this step easier.

After the sausage is cooked, add the mushrooms for another 5 minutes of cooking. Then add your drained tomatoes and the pesto. Bring that to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

That’s all there is to it! You don’t even have to add any additional spices. It’s so easy and not too expensive either.

It’s surprising how well tomatoes pair with pesto too. It’s not something I would normally put together, but it adds a slightly juicy texture to the sauce and compliments the mushrooms and sausage as well.

So go ahead and try this one out! It’s scrumptious and delicious, but not malicious.

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