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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Cranberry Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts

Cranberry maple bacon brussels sprouts_menumusings.com
As you all know by now, we are big fans of playing with our food over here.  It's one of the joys of life that I somehow never outgrew.  I'm one of those people that gets a lot of enjoyment out of putting together new flavors and textures and seeing what will happen... sort of like that rat in the movie Ratatouille.  Ha!  I also like having multiple flavors and textures in the same dish.  Like this one one here.  My daughter and I just adore roasted Brussels sprouts.  I usually roast them with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and top them with Parmesan cheese; but I thought that this close to the holidays, I would try something a bit more festive.  

Full disclosure - we enjoyed these so much that she and I grabbed two forks and ate the entire batch for dinner.  Bam!  That's it.  To heck with anything else.  First of all, roasting the sprouts brings out that little crunchy caramelization on the edges.  Yummm.  So you have the savory sprouts, sweet  chewy cranberries, smoky bacon, tangy creamy goat cheese, sweet caramelized roasted onions... how delicious can one bite get?!  Did I mention they were so easy?

Cranberry maple bacon brussels sprouts_menumusings.com#glutenfree #sidedish #easy #lowcarb #healthy 
option for #dairyfree #paleo #whole30 
#brusselssprouts #thanksgiving #holidaymeals

Print this Recipe!

Ingredients: (4-6 servings as a side)

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 6 strips maple bacon
    • You may not need all the bacon, but will need the bacon grease
  • 1 small onion (baseball sized)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1oz box dried cranberries or small handful 
  • 1 handful of crumbled goat cheese (chevre) 
    • omit for #dairyfree #paleo #whole30
Step-by-Step:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut bacon into half inch lardons (thin pieces).  Fry the bacon in a skillet until desired amount of crispiness then remove with a slotted spoon to paper towel to drain.  Reserve the bacon drippings as you will need this to put over the Brussels sprouts.  
6 slices maple bacon cut into 1/2" pices
remember to reserve bacon grease!
don't worry.  The extra won't go to waste.  I have bacon thieves at my house.
Cut Brussels sprouts in half through the stem.  In a medium bowl, pour the warm bacon drippings over the sprouts and mix to coat.  Pour the coated spouts out onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet with cut sides up.  (This makes cleanup so much easier.  Trust me.)  While bacon grease is still "wet,"  season generously with salt and pepper.
1 pound of Brussels sprouts cut through the stem.
Cut the onion into thick rings.  If you cut them too thin, they will burn.  Separate the rings and place them over the sprouts.  Roast the sprouts in preheated 400F oven for about 40 minutes.  You may want to shake them around and turn them over midway through cooking.  
1 small onion cut into thick rings, then in half.

roast 400F x 40 minutes
Remove from oven.  Add roasted vegetables to serving dish.  Add handful of dried cranberries and crumbled goat cheese.  *I find that the pre-crumbled goat cheese stays together better, and looks prettier for serving, than the one you crumble yourself (which melts faster and just becomes a puddle).  Serve immediately.

Dried cranberries
Here's where you get to add a nice handful of that crispy bacon.  Sorry, I forgot the picture.  You probably won't need it all... but hey, that's more to munch on! 
Cranberry maple bacon brussels sprouts_menumusings.com
crumbled goat cheese (omit for #dairyfree #paleo #whole30)
Cranberry maple bacon brussels sprouts_menumusings.com

Cranberry maple bacon brussels sprouts_menumusings.com

Bonus Recipes:
Carrot Souffle
Toffee Pumpkin Cheesecake
Pumpkin Upside Down Cake
Maple Bacon Green Beans
Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes
Written Method:


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut bacon into half inch lardons (thin pieces).  Fry the bacon in a skillet until desired amount of crispiness then remove with a slotted spoon to paper towel to drain.  Reserve the bacon drippings as you will need this to put over the Brussels sprouts.  

Cut Brussels sprouts in half through the stem.  In a medium bowl, pour the warm bacon drippings over the sprouts and mix to coat.  Pour the coated spouts out onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet with cut sides up.  (This makes cleanup so much easier.  Trust me.)  While bacon grease is still "wet,"  season generously with salt and pepper.  

Cut the onion into thick rings.  If you cut them too thin, they will burn.  Separate the rings and place them over the sprouts.  Roast the sprouts in preheated 400F oven for about 40 minutes.  You may want to shake them around and turn them over midway through cooking.  

Remove from oven.  Add roasted vegetables to serving dish.  Add handful of dried cranberries, crispy bacon and crumbled goat cheese.  *I find that the pre-crumbled goat cheese stays together better, and looks prettier for serving, than the one you crumble yourself (which melts faster and just becomes a puddle).  Serve immediately.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Mango Avocado Caribbean Jerk Chicken Meal Prep

Jerk Chicken Meal Prep_menumusings.com
Hi my friendlies!  Sooo... I'm back at work now at the university!  I would by tempted to carry around a sign saying "I have ARRIVED!!!!"  But for those of you who know me, that's really not necessary.  Believe me, they know it already.  Ha!  I have sort of a big personality (read that as - I am NOT a quiet little mouse who sits in the corner).   But with my old position comes the familiar challenges of getting dinners planned out again (eek!) and definitely planning my lunches.  I'm just going to have to tell you that I've never been one to appreciate the nuances of cafeteria food.  Anyway, the other day the kids and I were talking about Jamaican Jerk Chicken and I seriously got a craving for some.  I love all those sweet, savory, tangy flavors all playing together in the same flavor profile.  The problem for my family though, is that every time we've bought a "kit" or ordered it anywhere, it's just been too intolerably hot for them.  Most of them just don't have an appreciation for spicy foods.  Hmmm.  That does present a dilemma, right?  So I decided recently to scour the internet, poll my friends, look through cookbooks and pool my resources to basically cobble together a jerk recipe that would have the flavor profile I wanted without the heat.  

My little girl (who does not like anything spicy) gave this dish glowing reviews and said it was "perfect!"  That probably means you could add more heat.  HaHa!!  It also means it's super kid friendly.  This is usually NOT the case with jerk chicken.  Typically your mouth is on fire and you are sweating and looking for a glass of milk.  You can use that as a barometer for how much heat you may want to add depending on whom you are cooking for - children vs. adults.  **I do fully realize this is not "authentic" jerk chicken as it is supposed to be "challengingly spicy" and typically relies on scotch bonnet or habanero chiles.  My entire goal was to make this friendly for my family.  Feel free to substitute these chiles in your recipe as you wish.  

#mealprep #glutenfree #dairyfree #easy #familyfriendly
Options for #paleo #whole30 

Ingredients (4 servings)

Jerk Chicken (mild)
Jerk Chicken Meal Prep_menumusings.com
  • 4 chicken breasts
    • boneless, skinless, trimmed of fat
  • 6 green onions
    • green tops and tender part of whites, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, stemmed and rough chopped
    • seeded for milder marinade
    • keep the seeds for spicier marinade
  • 1 Tbsp ginger paste (or equivalent amount of minced ginger)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic paste (or equivalent amount of minced garlic)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
    • use coconut aminos for #glutenfree #paleo #whole30
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
    • use date paste for #paleo #whole30
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar 
Mango Avocado Salsa
  • 1 large mango, peeled and diced
    • about 1 1/2 cups jarred mango 
  • 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 large avocado, peeled and diced
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • Optional - add a bit of diced jalapeno if you'd like heat
Coconut Rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups canned coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
    • use cauliflower rice for #paleo #whole30
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Step-by-Step:
Let's get this marinade started.  Yes, it looks like an insanely long list of stuff, but all you are doing is dumping it into the food processor.  I think maybe the Caribbean people were in a battle with the people from India and the people from the Arab speaking countries when they came up with this recipe.  You basically get to pull out all those little-used spices you have in the cabinet and have a party with them!
6 green onions
1 jalapeno (seeded or not.  Your choice)
1 Tbsp ginger paste
1 Tbsp garlic paste
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp brown sugar (or date paste)
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar 
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 -1/2  tsp red pepper flakes
 Blend well to combine.
Now just pop your meat into the marinade.  Allow it to marinade for 3 - 8 hours.  The longer you allow this, the more flavorful the chicken.  I had my daughter pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness before putting them in the bag to allow for even cooking.  This also helps tenderize the meat.  (You can use chicken thighs if you wish, just allow for extra cooking time.)  I like to use these ziptop bags for marinating my meat because I can push all the air out, allowing the marinade to come in contact with all of the meat.  It's also easier to squish a bag into a tight spot in the refrigerator.  

The Coconut Rice
I'm not going to lie, y'all.  I just threw all the ingredients into the rice pot, gave them a stir and hit the COOK button.   This will cook for about the standard 20 minutes for regular jasmine rice.
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
(Use cauliflower rice for #paleo and #whole30)
1 1/4 cups canned coconut milk 
1 1/2 cups water
healthy pinch of kosher salt
 *For cauliflower rice, cook according to package directions with coconut milk and salt.   

For the black beans.
I didn't use a recipe.  Sorry.  I just drained and rinsed my canned black beans and put them in the pot.  Added some chicken broth, salt, pepper, garlic powder and fresh cilantro.  I cooked them only until a little soft.  I did not want them to get mushy!
Black beans, chicken broth, salt, pepper, garlic powder, cilantro
For the mango-avocado salsa.
Chop everything and mix it up.  No special tricks.  I would probably advise you to add the lime juice after the avocado to prevent oxidation (browning), but other than that, have at it.  You can easily adjust the flavors to make it spicier if you want more heat, etc.  Also, my choices of avocados were pretty slim and mine was a bit over ripe, but sometimes "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit." 
1 large mango (~ 1 1/2 cups chopped)
1/3 cup
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of one large lime
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 large avocado, peeled, cut into chunks
1/3 cup red bell pepper
Season to taste with kosher salt
Season to taste with black pepper

Cook the chicken.
So, we just moved and I don't have a grill here.  Womp womp....  perhaps you don't either.  So what?  Let's just throw it in a pan.  If you DO have a grill, throw those chickies on there and grill them up.  Either way, you need your internal temperature to be the standard 165 F.   I used a black iron skillet.  They have great heat distribution, are perfect for searing, do not give off toxic fumes while you're cooking and are able to withstand high heat.
Grill or pan saute marinated chicken until cooked through to 165F and golden brown.
Assemble your jerk bowls. 
Lay down a bed of jasmine or cauliflower rice.  Brown rice would also work great.  Arrange your chicken, salsa and black beans in the meal prep containers.  Add some lime wedges for squeezing over the meals later when you reheat them, and a bit of cilantro if desired.   I really liked the salsa warm when I reheated my meals; but you could also put the salsa in a separate container if you are certain that you want to eat it cold.  
Jerk Chicken Meal Prep_menumusings.com
You could feel free to pre-slice the chicken into strips or even bite sized pieces if you wish.  That may work great if you are sending them as a lunchbox option for one of your teens.  
Jerk Chicken Meal Prep_menumusings.com
Another option would be to use shrimp as your protein - just to switch things up a bit.  
Jerk Chicken Meal Prep_menumusings.com
Aren't these super cute!  A bit of the Caribbean right on your office desk!  I bet they aren't serving this in your workroom cafeteria! 
Jerk Chicken Meal Prep_menumusings.com
Tell me your honey (friends, coworkers, kidlets, neighbors, workout partners) wouldn't be super excited to get these for lunch?! 
Jerk Chicken Meal Prep_menumusings.com
I'm not sure if you know, but beans and rice together makes a complete protein, so we have a protein there that also contains tons of fiber, then the super flavorful chicken, and all that beautiful fresh fruit.
Jerk Chicken Meal Prep_menumusings.com
I hope you enjoy this recipe.  It's so fun to eat different things and not "the same old thing" all the time, right?  My kids love picking stuff from around the world and having new things to eat.
Jerk Chicken Meal Prep_menumusings.com
Mmmm.... I'm ready to make this again already.   

Check out my cookbook - Menu Musings.  A great gift for the people on your Christmas list!

Bonus Recipes -  
Orzo Artichoke Pasta Salad - picnic perfect!
Korean BBQ Shish Kabobs - so kid friendly!
Secret Ingredient Mac and Cheese - vegetables?  What?
Pickle Brined Fried Chicken - just like Chick-fil-A!
Beefy Crunch Wrap Supreme - move over TacoBell!
Brady's Brussels Sprouts Hash - perfect low carb side dish!


Written Method:
Let's get this marinade started.  Yes, it looks like an insanely long list of stuff, but all you are doing is dumping it into the food processor.  I think maybe the Caribbean people were in a battle with the people from India and the people from the Arab speaking countries when they came up with this recipe.  You basically get to pull out all those little-used spices you have in the cabinet and have a party with them! Blend well to combine.

Now just pop your meat into the marinade.  Allow it to marinade for 3 - 8 hours.  The longer you allow this, the more flavorful the chicken.  I had my daughter pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness before putting them in the bag to allow for even cooking.  This also helps tenderize the meat.  (You can use chicken thighs if you wish, just allow for extra cooking time.)  I like to use these ziptop bags for marinating my meat because I can push all the air out, allowing the marinade to come in contact with all of the meat.  It's also easier to squish a bag into a tight spot in the refrigerator.  

The Coconut Rice
I'm not going to lie, y'all.  I just threw all the ingredients into the rice pot, gave them a stir and hit the COOK button.   This will cook for about the standard 20 minutes for regular jasmine rice.  
 *For cauliflower rice, cook according to package directions with coconut milk and salt.   

For the black beans.
I didn't use a recipe.  Sorry.  I just drained and rinsed my canned black beans and put them in the pot.  Added some chicken broth, salt, pepper, garlic powder and fresh cilantro.  I cooked them only until a little soft.  I did not want them to get mushy! 

For the mango-avocado salsa.
Chop everything and mix it up.  No special tricks.  I would probably advise you to add the lime juice after the avocado to prevent oxidation (browning), but other than that, have at it.  You can easily adjust the flavors to make it spicier if you want more heat, etc.  Also, my choices of avocados were pretty slim and mine was a bit over ripe, but sometimes "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit."  

Cook the chicken.
So, we just moved and I don't have a grill here.  Womp womp....  perhaps you don't either.  So what?  Let's just throw it in a pan.  If you DO have a grill, throw those chickies on there and grill them up.  Either way, you need your internal temperature to be the standard 165 F.   I used a black iron skillet.  They have great heat distribution, are perfect for searing, do not give off toxic fumes while you're cooking and are able to withstand high heat.


Assemble your jerk bowls. 
Lay down a bed of jasmine or cauliflower rice.  Brown rice would also work great.  Arrange your chicken, salsa and black beans in the meal prep containers.  Add some lime wedges for squeezing over the meals later when you reheat them, and a bit of cilantro if desired.   I really liked the salsa warm when I reheated my meals; but you could also put the salsa in a separate container if you are certain that you want to eat it cold.  

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