Sunday, November 16, 2014

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Yummy note: Yes, the dreaded kitchen pantry, you know that closet that is often bare and I hear, "there's nothing to eat but random stuff..." Oh, someday I hope to have a larger one or perhaps one that is laid out a bit nicer, to achieve better harmony in my kitchen. :)  So this "random stuff" is what Feast on the Cheap calls a "well-stocked kitchen".  I was very excited to run across this "well-stocked kitchen" idea as it helps me justify better some of my odds and ends things in the cabinets. haha. so thanks to the mother-daughter duo of Mariel and Mary Anne from the Feast on the Cheap blog, as they were my feature for this month's Secret Recipe Club. Earlier this year, they featured my 3 ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe here with the SRC, so I was happy to finally return the favor back to them. 

 I had a few recipes in mind for this month's assignment, so I went rummaging through my pantry to see what I could do... I was making myself a quick lunch with the kiddo, so I wanted something small, quick, yet lunch worthy..  I went back and forth between the Gourmet Pizza and those Brussels Sprouts. It came down to time, and finally realizing, I don't think I have pizza dough in my freezer anymore, so the Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Garlic won. 

Mariel mentioned it would be a good Thanksgiving side dish with a healthier twist, and oh I'd totally agree... I thought it was good as a small lunch or meal just by itself,  however, my little guy was not as excited about them as I was. My youngest took one bite and was like "no thank you" - so we try, that was good, as hopefully the flavors and textures will grow on them the more and more they "just try a bite." So I guess, it's ok as it was more for me to enjoy!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Bacon and Garlic

2 pints (about a pound) of brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half
4 ounces of bacon or pancetta, diced
5 tbsp of olive oil (I used a roasted garlic grapeseed oil.)  
2 tbsp white wine (I used a Pinot Grigio.)
5 cloves garlic, sliced
pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare brussels sprouts by trimming of the bottom end of the sprout and then slicing each one in half. Next, in an oven-safe sauté pan, heat the oil until it is hot and then lay the brussels sprouts, cut side down in the pan. Reduce the heat slightly, and add in the diced bacon, sliced garlic, and white wine. Cook until they begin to brown slightly on the bottom, about 5-8 minutes. Next, transfer the oven-safe sauté pan to the oven. Roast for about another 15 minutes or until the bacon is nice and crispy and the sprouts have a nice brown coloring and are fork tender. Remove from the oven and enjoy!

Just a few ingredients needed to make some big flavors!

Everything getting all toasty in the sauté pan on the stove.

Next, it heads straight into the oven for more roasting. No extra dishes or pans to clean-up when you use an stove/oven-safe pan! 

Finished product of Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Bacon and Garlic 

A little dish of crispy, salty, savory deliciousness.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pumpkin bars

Yummy note:  I almost was able to grow enough pumpkins for us to carve this year, but fell short by one. I had three nice pumpkins to start. Two were perfect, but one smaller pumpkin appeared to be not quite jack-o-lantern ready. So instead, I ended up buying another to carve, but saved the other one for roasting. I made some nice pumpkin puree out of it and got about 2-3 cups, which was awesome for a pumpkin bar recipe I've been meaning to try out. I've wanted to lighten up this Paula Deen recipe, and try and make it dairy-free and this combination below worked perfect. The applesauce addition was used to eliminate some of the eggs and oil in the recipe, while not taking away from the pumpkin flavor. I am happy to say that it got rave reviews and I will be making this again for a Thanksgiving treat later this month. 

Pumpkin Bars 

Pumpkin bars:
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
about 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup oil (can use vegetable or coconut)
15-16 ounces (roughly 2 cups) of pumpkin puree
2 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice

8 ounce package cream cheese or non-dairy alternative, softened (The non-dairy brand, Tofutti, was preferred- as it set up well and tasted very close to regular cream cheese.)
1/2 cup butter or non-dairy alternative
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce, and pumpkin puree until it is mixed well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and combine until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter in a prepared greased 9x13 pan (or bigger) baking pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Next prepare the frosting, by combining the non-dairy softened cream cheese and butter and mix until smooth. Add in the sifted powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix until it is all incorporated, if it is too thick, you can add a few drops of water or if the frosting is too thin, you can add more powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency. Make sure the pumpkin bars have cooled completely before you frost them.

Add some festive candy to the top for a cute treat. 

I made these in a 9x13 pan, and got a very moist, cake-like pumpkin bar. The bars raised nicely, so I think next time, I will use a slightly larger pan and make a slightly thinner bar.