Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta

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Now, before you get all “ew brussel sprouts” on me, just give them a try! I know they aren’t for everyone, but if you’ve never had them roasted you need to try it! I know a number of people who don’t like brussels when they are steamed, but love them roasted. This recipe kicks it up a few notches and adds balsamic vinegar, goat cheese, and pancetta. Because brussels can taste a bit bitter, the balsamic cuts through the bitterness and really brings out all of it’s wonderful flavors.

If you’ve never had pancetta before, it’s a lot like bacon, but thicker and has a peppery taste. It also tends to have less fat. I decided to add goat cheese crumbles to subside the saltiness of the pancetta and add a creamy touch to the dish. If you don’t like goat cheese, feel free to substitute your favorite kind of cheese, or no cheese at all!

To get started, preheat your oven to 450°. Take your brussels and using a perry knife, cut the buds off of the ends. Then peel away a few of the outer leafy layers until there are no holes or broken leaves. I like to place mine in a colander when I am finished. Once you are finished, rinse the brussels with cold water. Shake to rid any excess water. Then, cut them horizontally in half.

Take a baking sheet and drizzle the bottom with olive oil. Place your cut brussels on the sheet. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar and a little more olive oil and cracked pepper over top and take a spoon or spatula and toss them to evenly coat. Cut your pancetta into thick squares and place them on the sheet mixing them in with the brussels. Before placing your sheet in the oven, make sure your brussels are laying evenly and flat.

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Bake until brussels are slightly browned and crispy as pictured above, usually about 30 minutes. You want to take your baking sheet out every 10-15 minutes to mix up the brussels in order to evenly cook and brown all sides.

Once the brussels are roasted to your desired crispiness, place your roasted brussels and pancetta in a bowl and add your crumbled goat cheese, serve and devour!

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This dish will pair perfectly with some burgers off the grill or a nice steak. What I love most about roasted brussel sprouts are that they pair well with everything, even seafood! This recipe is good all by itself, so you be the judge!  You will never think the same about brussels once you give this a try!

What you’ll need:
1 bunch of brussel sprouts, buds cut, washed and cut lengthwise
6 thick slices of pancetta at your local deli counter, cut into square pieces
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Pepper
Goat cheese (I used garlic & herb), or your favorite cheese substitute

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Mediterranean Hummus Dip

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One word about this dip… amazing.

I found this recipe on, you could guess, annies-eats.com one of my favorite blog sites! It was my last day at work before leaving for my new job and we had a pot luck where everyone brings a dish whether it be entrees, appetizers, desserts, etc. I thought bringing an appetizer was a safe bet and it was very easy to carry with me! Hummus is very common to me, but some people don’t even know what it is, so I figured I could also introduce any first timers!

This dip is super easy to make, the most time i spent was making the pesto. Annie’s recipe called for homemade hummus, but I didn’t have time to make that and pesto so I used Sabra hummus instead.

To get started, make your cilantro pesto. In a food processor combine pesto, garlic, 2tbsp olive oil, pecans and pine nuts. Pulse until a paste-like consistency forms. Scrape the sides of the bowl and pulse again at the same time adding the rest of the olive oil. Place in a bowl and add the parmesan.

Next you assemble the rest of the layers together!! Spread a thick layer of hummus (I used the whole container of Sabra) Next you layer the pesto on top, then the cucumbers, onions, banana peppers, olives, feta cheese and dried tomatoes. Serve with Pita chips and Voila!!!

Simple right?? You would be amazed how fast this dip will disappear! And it’s so easy and relatively cheap to make!

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What you’ll need:

For the cilantro pesto:
1½ cups fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil, divided
2 tbsp. pecans
2 tbsp. pine nuts
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To assemble the dip:
Hummus
Cilantro pesto (above)
Cucumber, seeded and diced
Red onion, diced
Banana peppers, chopped
Sliced olives (black or Kalamata)
Crumbled feta cheese
Sun dried tomatoes

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Fresh Green Beans with Lemon Butter Sauce & Sun Dried Tomatoes

 I love vegetables! I think one of the easiest and best fresh-tasting veggies out there are green beans. Nothing beats that satisfying crunch when you bite into a crisp beautifully green bean. You may think it’s easier to just buy a can and pop it in the microwave, but I can guarantee that it will take you almost just as much time when making them fresh! And it tastes 100% better! Not to mention you don’t skimp out on those vitamins and minerals you may be missing out with the canned version.

I made this particular recipe with my Steak Involtini (ahhhmazing!) and I thought it went perfectly together!! But, you don’t have to make these with just Italian dishes, it would taste good with almost any dish! The lemon butter sauce really brings out that green bean flavor and the sun dried tomatoes give it that extra bite! I promise you will not be disappointed with this side dish!

First you want to rinse off all of your green beans well. Then, snap off the ends of each bean, almost like you would the ends of asparagus. Then, add salt to some water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a light boil. Add your green beans, being sure to stir often, and lightly boil for 4-5 minutes. (If you like your green beans on the softer side, just boil for an extra 2-3 minutes) Once it’s done, you will see that they turned a bright green color. Drain the green beans then place in a bowl of ice water, or run ice cold water over the beans for a few minutes. This is called blanching and it basically keeps the green beans bright color and also keeps it crisp

In the same saucepan, melt about 2 tbsp of butter on medium heat. Once melted, turn your heat down slightly (to med-low) and add your green beans, lemon zest, sun dried tomatoes, salt & pepper, and stir. Once stirred, add lemon juice. Stir constantly for about 1-2 minutes, or until the sauce is well mixed and the sun dried tomatoes are warm. Serve and enjoy!!

What you’ll need:
1 lb fresh green beans (or less depending on how many people you’re feeding)
2 tbsp butter
Zest of half of a lemon
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes (about a hand full)
Salt & pepper to taste