Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta

7cdfaeff-e9d3-4cce-817b-7511f6217ac7

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.

014-29

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!

022-28

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

  026-21

Advertisements

Chorizo Chicken Burgers

31218e35-513f-480a-b863-c55948f68568

Can I just say, this burger may not be made from angus or kobe beef, but it is so good! By far the best chicken burger I’ve ever had! I took the original recipe from my favorite food blog annie’s-eats. I added a few more ingredients to make it my own, and to give it more flavor and spice! What I love about burgers is you can make so many unique flavors, for this recipe if you want more heat you can add more jalapeño, or leave it out for a more mellow taste. The chorizo and green chilies I added produce a lot of heat and flavor! I also mixed things up and used a pretzel bun. I found them in the bread aisle, it’s aunt millie’s brand and they turned out great! There’s also a cheese and buffalo brand i will try soon.

DSC_00342

To get started, mix together all of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Be careful not to over mix and make sure the ingredients are mixed evenly. The chorizo tends to stick together in clumps so try to get those separated. I find it’s best to use your hands! It may be gross, but it’s the best way to mix the ingredients!

Take a grill pan or non stick skillet and spray lightly with PAM. You do not need to use any oil, the chorizo is oily enough for the burgers to not get stuck in the pan. Cook on medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes on each side. Flipping once to prevent any loss of juices and flavor. With a few minutes left of cooking, add your sliced cheddar cheese and place a lid over top to melt the cheese. I found my burgers to be a bit on the oily side when they were done cooking, so I laid them on paper towels to soak up some of the oil.

DSC_0057

Assemble with toasted pretzel bun, homemade guacamole (here is the link for my holy guacamole! recipe), and salsa! Serve and let your tastebuds go to a happy place!

This recipe makes 4-5 burgers.

What you’ll need:
1 lb. ground chicken
2 links of chorizo, casing removed
½ yellow onion, diced small
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 jalapeño, seeded, cored and minced well
2 oz.(half a 4oz. can) mild green chilies (I like La Preferida brand comes roasted, peeled, and diced)
1 tsp. cajun seasoning 
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
Juice of ½ lime
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. pepper
Assembly:
Pretzel bun, or your bun of choice
Sliced cheddar cheese
Holy Guacamole!
Salsa

DSC_0062-1

Holy Guacamole!

DSC_00402

Guacamole, you either love it or hate it… in my case, I love it! I think for most people it’s a consistency thing. I personally like to add diced tomatoes in mine to give it some texture. Guac is good with so many foods, chips, tacos, burgers, salads, the list could go on and on. Some say it has no flavor to it, but I guarantee this recipe will have lots of flavor! Give it a try, you will be surprised how your taste buds will react 😉

Take a medium sized bowl. Grip the avocado gently on one side with one hand. With a large, sharp knife in the other hand, cut the avocado lengthwise around the seed. Open the two halves to expose the pit. Take a spoon and scoop out the pit. Then scoop inside of the skin with your spoon and place into the bowl. Mash with a fork. Mince the following: garlic, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro. Dice up your tomatoes. Add the lime juice, green chilies, vegetables, herbs, and spices. Mix well. Serve!

What you’ll need:
4-5 ripe avocados

1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 onion, minced
1/2-1 jalapeño, seeded and minced well (1/2 for less spicy)
1/2 tomato diced 
1/3 cup (or handful) of cilantro, minced
Juice of half a lime
2 tbsp canned mild green chilies
Salt & pepper

DSC_00392

Chicken Salad from Scratch!!

chxsalad8

When I think of summertime, I think of sun, pools, beach and always having fresh lemonade, fruit, and cold sandwiches on hand! This chicken salad is perfect after a long day in the sun and you cannot beat how fresh it tastes! You can put it on bread to make a sandwich, you can spoon it on top of a salad, you can make lettuce cups with it (definitely recommended!). This recipe makes a lot of chicken salad so leftovers leave room for a variety of options to use with it.

chxsalad3

To get started, boil your chicken in a large pot for 20-25 minutes or until the middle is no longer pink. Drain and set aside to cool. The longest part of this meal is the prepping! Chop up your celery (i like to add the leaves), onion, grapes, chicken, and fresh herbs. I mixed them up prior to adding my wet ingredients.

chxsalad2

In a separate bowl, mix together your yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, spicy dijon mustard, brown sugar, salt and pepper, cajun and cayenne pepper spices. You can substitute sour cream or buttermilk instead of yogurt if you wish. Whisk together well, then taste it before mixing in the large bowl. Mine was too bitter for me so i added lots more brown sugar until I was content with what I tasted.

When mixing the wet ingredients to the dry, do a folding technique to prevent the mixture from falling apart and being over mixed.

chxsalad4

If you prefer your chicken salad as a sandwich I would highly recommend toasting your bread and adding some spinach or spring greens on there!! Of course you don’t ever want to deny any extra vegetables! Enjoy with some chips or fresh fruit.

chxsalad7

What you’ll need:

  • 1lb boneless skinless chicken breast, boiled and cubed
  • 2 stalks (to 3 Stalks) Celery, Chopped
  • 3 whole Green Onions, Chopped
  • 2 cups (to 3 Cups) Grapes, Halved (green and purple)
  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Plain Yogurt Or Sour Cream
  • 1/2 cup Half-and-half
  •  A Small Handful Of Fresh Dill and Parsley, Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon (to 4 Tablespoons) Brown Sugar
  •  Juice Of One Lemon
  •  Kosher Salt  and Black Pepper To Taste
  •  Cayenne and Cajun Seasonings To Taste

chxsalad6

Shrimp & Pork Spring Rolls

008-18_zps8df84c88

I decided to have a Christmas party with a White Elephant gift exchange, so I wanted to make a lot of yummy and different appetizers! You get tired of the same old dips and crock pot foods at these gatherings so I decided to branch out a little and serve some tasty foods you don’t tend to see very often. I ended up finding myself looking at the Martha Stewart recipes (she’s one of those people I wish I didn’t like, but I can’t help but love everything she makes!). These spring rolls were seriously gone as soon as they were set on the table! I was lucky enough to have a piece before it was all gone and it was so good! Next time I make these, I’ll be sure to leave a few pieces for myself 🙂

To get started, heat a small amount of oil on the pan and cook the sausage and break up into crumbles, cook until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add onion, cook until soft, then add the celery, carrot, garlic, and fish sauce. Cook until soft about 2 minutes. Add the cabbage, snap peas, and shrimp until it’s pink and cooked through (about another 2 minutes.) Add the pork and salt and pepper. Set aside off heat and let cool for a bit for easier rolling.

Take your wrappers and if they are a bigger size you can pre-cut them, or you can do what I did and cut the spring rolls after they’re cooked.

Whisk the yolk and water in a small bowl. Place one wrapper on a cutting board or flat surface and take one wrapper with a corner facing you. Keep the rest of the wrappers covered with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying out. Place a tbsp or so of the filling in the middle of a wrapper and fold the bottom corner over the filling and fold the sides in halfway. Roll the wrapper to form a tight cylinder, leaving the top corner exposed. Brush the top corner with the egg wash and press to seal. Cover with a damp kitchen towel. Repeat until done.

Martha’s recipe calls for frying, but I chose the healthier route by baking.

To fry: heat 1/2 inch of oil in a deep skillet until it reaches 350°. Fry in batches until golden brown about 2-3 minutes rolling each side. Add more oil if needed, drain on paper towels.

To bake: Turn oven on 425°. Bake on baking sheets turning once halfway through baking. Bake until golden brown on all sides, about 30 minutes.

Serve with Sweet Chili Sauce, you can buy this in the international section at local grocery stores.

001-29_zps2d16254f

What you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more as needed and for frying (or not needed if baking)
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup minced celery
  • 1/4 cup finely grated carrot
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup grated cabbage (3 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup sugar snap peas (2 ounces), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined, thinly sliced crosswise
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 10 spring-roll wrappers (8-inch square)
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water

Italian Meatball Sliders

Football time is here! This calls for some hearty warm soups, cheesy fattening dips, and yummy appetizers! I made these sliders for a perfect addition on a Sunday filled with football. Messy, cheesy goodness that you eat with your hands, nothing gets any better! I basically took a favorite meatball recipe and added a cube of fresh mozz in the middle. Made the meatballs super large and turned them into sliders! I was able to use my favorite sauce, LaRosas! This meal is super easy to make, and for a lighter finish serve with an italian salad with some feta cheese, tomatoes, and italian dressing.

To get started preheat your oven to 400°. Take a large bowl and combine the onion, seasonings, Worcestershire, egg, parsley, ketchup,  and bread crumbs. Mix together well (i like to use my hands, washed of course!) and form into large fist sized meatballs. Once formed, take a cube of mozz and place in the middle, then form the meat around the cheese placing the cheese in the center. Repeat this until all of your meatballs are formed. Take a  baking sheet and place parchment paper on top. Place the meatballs on the parchment paper. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until browned on the outside and cheese is melting out.

While the meatballs are baking, place your favorite sauce in a saucepan and heat on med-low. Prevent boiling because it will make a mess! Stir occasionally. Take your slider buns and brush with some olive oil. Sprinkle garlic powder and parsley flakes on both sides. At the last 5 minutes of baking place the buns in the oven to toast them.

Assembly is super easy! Take your bun, add your meatball, top with sauce, then a slice of mozz, then a piece of basil and top with the other side of the bun! And it’s that easy, and sooo good! You’re going to need a whole lot of napkins with this meal! But I find that the messiest  sandwiches are always the yummiest! So next football game, sit back, relax, grab a beer and chow down!

What you’ll need:

1 small (6-ounce) onion, grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2/3 cup grated Parmensean cheese
1/3 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
1 large egg
2 tablespoons ketchup
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
16 ounces ground beef
2 ounces smoked mozzerella cheese, cut into 16 (1/2-inch) cubes
slider buns
your favorite spaghetti sauce
basil leaves

(*beer and football is optional)

Flank Steak with Herb Chimichurri & Tomato Galette

So you’re thinking..”What’s a Galette??”

I have no idea, but the picture looked good, so I made it! And let me tell you, it was better than good, more like amazing! But because I am curious too: Per Wikipedia: Galette is a term used in the French Cuisine to designate various types of flat, round or freeform crusty cakes.

This particular galette is made with cornmeal, giving it a buttery cornbread-like taste. Add the tomatoes, goat cheese, and basil and you’ve got yourself a tasty side dish! I went with flank steak because my husband loves steak and I thought I could bargain with him, he tries my galette and I make him steak! I think it turned out pretty well!

I started with the galette because you have to chill the dough for 30 minutes, then bake it. First bring out your food processor and add the flour, cornmeal, butter, and salt. Then, process until it resembles coarse meal. Slowly add the ice water until just combined, do not let it turn into a ball. Take out and gently press into a 4 inch circle onto a plastic wrap, cover and chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. 

Next preheat your oven to 425°. After chilling, take the dough out and cover a rolling pin with flour, as well as your flat surface. Then take the dough and place it over the flour to prevent from sticking. Roll the pin until about 13 in or so circle and about an inch to 1/2 inch in thickness.

Carefully place the dough on parchment paper and place the tomatoes evenly cut side up, on the dough leaving a 1-1/2 in border. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Gently fold the edges of the border over top of the tomatoes and place in the oven on a baking sheet for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with cheese and place back in the oven for another 5 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with basil leaves.

The original recipe called for feta, but I love goat cheese, and I thought it would taste better with tomatoes and steak! You know I’ll always have to add my own little touches 😉

This flank steak is so easy to make! Just rub with spices and slap on the grill pan! For a medium rare steak, it grills for 4 minutes on each side. But before you grill, go ahead and make your chimichurri sauce. I received this mortar hand made from Afghanistan, a gift from RJ’s dad when he went overseas to serve our country, such a cool gift!! Roughly chop your parsley, rosemary, and garlic. Add your salt and garlic to the mortar. Grind and mash for a few minutes until you start to make a paste. Add your herbs and mash for a minute or two. Lastly, add your lemon juice, pepper, and olive oil. Mash and grind for another minute, or until desired consistency. You will need to taste to make sure it is what you like, you may need to add more seasoning or juice. This is supposed to taste very strong by itself, but with the steak it tastes great!

Take your steak and combine all of your spices in a bowl, brush the steak with olive oil, then rub spices on both sides of the steak. Turn on your burner to medium-high and do not place the steak on the grill pan until it’s hot. Coat with cooking spray, then grill 4 minutes on each side.

Let stand for 5 minutes to let the juices marinate the steak. You’ll want to cut thin diagonally along the grain of the steak. Serve with the chimichurri sauce (I added goat cheese as well!) and galette.

What you’ll need:
For the Galette:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3 1/2 tbsp chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3/4 tsp salt, divided
3 tbsp ice water
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
Ground black pepper
Herb flavored goat cheese (I use Chevre)
Small basil leaves
For the Chimichurri:
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 bunch of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, stem removed, coarsely chopped
Juice of half a lemon, or more to taste
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Black pepper, ground
Goat cheese over top, on steak, if desired
For the Flank Steak
1-1 1/2 lbs flank steak
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp chipotle
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Ground black pepper and salt
Extra virgin olive oil
Cooking spray 

Some of these recipes are adapted from Cooking Light.

Lightened-Up Paella

Paella is a traditional Spanish dish that combines a mouthwatering combination of sausage, chicken, and seafood accompanied with rice. This dish is similar except I substituted turkey sausage, skinless chicken thighs, and shrimp!! If you are cooking for two, you may want to cut this recipe in half (unless you like leftovers! It tastes great heated up the next day!)

Let’s get cooking!! Place chicken broth in a saucepan over medium heat. Rub saffron threads with your fingers crushing them as you sprinkle in the broth. If you don’t have saffron threads, you can use some turmeric powder (Just a dash). Whisk the broth. Bring to a low simmer, reducing the heat to low and keep warm.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a paella pan (or a large wide skillet) on medium heat. Add the turkey sausage and cook stirring occasionally about 2 minutes. Next add the chicken and saute until lightly browned for about 3-4 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add another tbsp of olive oil in the same skillet, add onions and bell peppers stirring occasionally until they soften. Add garlic and paprika. Cook for another minute. Add the rice, stir to coat with oil and lightly toast.

Gently add the chicken broth, stirring well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes being sure to stir occasionally.

Raise the heat to medium and add your sausage and chicken. Mix well. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. If you are running short on liquid, add more broth or water. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in the peas, shrimp, and parsley. Simmer until the rice is tender and the liquid has been mostly absorbed, the bottom of the pan should be lightly crusted (not burned).

What you’ll need:

4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
Pinch of saffron threads (you can also substitute a dash of turmeric powder)
3 tbsp olive oil-divided
8 ounces of mild or hot Italian turkey sausage, halved length-wise, sliced crosswise.
6-8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, fat cut off and cubed
Salt and black pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1 large red and yellow bell pepper, seeded quartered and sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp smoked sweet paprika (regular also works well!)
2 cups of paella or arborio rice
1 can (14.5 oz) fire-roasted tomatoes
2 cups of fresh or frozen peas
8 ounces of medium sized shrimp