Brussels Sprouts Sauté

For my 5th Birthday I choose the meal for my party, Hot Dogs & Brussels Sprouts. I remember being so excited to have the "Little Baby Cabbages" steamed and coated with one of my other favorite childhood foods- butter (who are we kidding- I still love both, but at least with butter I know how to use discretion). As my mother tells me, my young guests were less impressed (or seemingly mortified) by my selection.

But, I was blissful in my delicious selection.

Thanksgiving seems to be the one time of year that I can get my dinner guests to be fully on board with my Brussels Sprouts passion. Part of the reason being that sauteed in a bit of bacon is simply a heavenly way to pair the shredded, slightly bitter "Little Baby Cabbages".

I have yet to have a guest taste and dis this dish. Most people marvel at their new love of Brussels sprouts.

This dish is slightly salty & smokey from the Bacon balancing the bitter from the Brussels Sprouts, sweet & a touch tangy from the Cranberries and a lil' crunch from the Almonds. And it is as simple as can be to make.

If you are a vegetarian or wary of bacon, use a high-heat Almond Oil and add at least a 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt to taste. Other than sauteing the bacon the recipe follows the same. Double this recipe for a larger Thanksgiving Day crowd of 8-12 people

Brussels Sprouts Sauté

4-6 servings

1 pound Brussels Sprouts
2 strips of bacon or 2 tablespoons almond oil (high-heat preferred)
¼ cup dried cranberries
1/8 cup slivered almonds
1 teeny-tiny pinch of sea salt and ground pepper to taste OR at least ½ teaspoon sea salt and pepper- ONLY if using the almond oil instead of bacon

Trim the ends off the Brussels sprouts and cut in half through the stem-base. Lay on the flat side and thinly slice along through the stem end. Some pieces will remain together and most will become light cabbage-like threads. As if you are shredding a cabbage for coleslaw.

Next stack the strips of bacon and cut into rough pieces.

Heat a large skillet (the larger the better- to give everything enough room to get plenty of heat and color) over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in the bacon pieces. Allow the pieces to heat slightly for 1-2 minutes to sear and get a bit of crunch. Sauté the bacon, flip, turning over the strips to get color on the opposite side. Once they are just starting to turn into crunchy pieces add in the Brussels Sprout shreds and pieces. If using the almond oil, obviously skip cooking the bacon, add the oil, once hot add the Brussels sprouts.

Allow the Brussels sprouts to heat for a minute or so to gain color and sear slightly. Then begin to sauté lightly, flipping the pan if you are so inclined. Again allow the pieces to rest on the hot pan and gain color. Continue this until the Brussels sprouts are tender and slightly golden in places, about 8-10 minutes. Add in the dried cranberries and toss to incorporate. Season to taste with the sea salt and pepper. Place in an oven safe dish. It can be made a head and heated in a hot oven prior to serving. I typically stick it in the oven, covered with foil at whatever temperature everything else needs (usually the stuffing, sweet potatoes and other sides have more demanding heat requirements).

Just before serving sprinkle with the slivered almonds. And serve, piled high...

"Little Baby Cabbages"


Fruit & Nut Stuffing

Some people love stuffing and some people could care less. I fall somewhere in the middle but Thanksgiving dinner is unfathomable without stuffing. That being said, my traditional-ness ends there and I love to play with the flavors stuffing can bring to the table. Last year I come up with this idea of and this year I feel it has turned into a romantic deliciousness all on its own, with the main focus being the obvious addition of dried fruits and nuts. As you will see in the recipe I make suggestions for the fruit and nut addition rather than requirements. Pecans, Hazelnuts, Walnuts and Almonds all would make great additions. Peanuts and Cashews on the other hand- not so much.
For the dried fruits, I used dried Apricots, Dates, and there were Cranberries in the bread. Golden Raisins, Figs, and Cherries would also be lovely. While I love dried Mangos, Bananas and Strawberries, they really should be reserved for trail mix- in my humble opinion. But, beyond that- play- experiment- make this your own favorite combination!

The Harvest Bread from Whole Foods is my personal favorite to use because it is already full of the Hazelnuts, Cranberries and Dates- so even the bread is full of fruits & nuts for this stuffing! But, I realize not everyone has access to this bread- I would therefore recommend a Hearty Grain French Bread as a substitute or if you are looking for something a tad sweeter and dare I say ‘naughtier’ Panettone is generally available in boxes everywhere and could add an amazingly delicious element. Make sure you don’t pick up the Chocolate variety- just the fruit and nut one. Unless you enjoy chocolate in your turkey… ugh... that's not a pleasant thought.

Remember- make this your own and enjoy!

Fruit & Nut Stuffing
1 1/2 pounds Harvest Bread, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon high heat vegetable oil, such as safflower or coconut oil
2 cups celery, roughly chopped small
2 cups onions, roughly chopped small
1 apple, roughly chopped (leave the peels on)
1 ½ cups dried fruit, chopped small (dates, cranberries, apricots, figs, cherries &/or golden raisins)
3-5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 ½ cups nuts, broken into pieces (hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, sliced almonds)
¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, &/or thyme—sing with me now)

The bread cubes can be prepared several days ahead or at least a few hours prior to starting the stuffing. If preparing a few days ahead, spread the cubes out on a baking sheet and set out to dry for a couple days. If you are concerned about pets or family members mistaking the cubes for snacks cover them with brown paper bags or parchment paper. Some air holes will help as well. I live in Colorado which is seemingly one of the driest places ever, so if you live in a humid place I would recommend following the oven directions or if you wait until to the day of to start this project (which I so often do).

And here the oven directions are:

Preheat the oven to 300. Spread the cubes on a baking sheet in one layer. Place in the oven and reduce the temperature to the lowest setting, 180-200. Check these guys once an hour or so. The goal is to dry them out. Not dry on the outside and moist in the inside rather dried through as much as possible.

The rest of the recipe is much more simple:
Place a large sauté pan or saucepan over medium heat, actually just in between medium & medium-high heat is ideal. Add the butter and oil. Once melted and hot, add in the celery and onions, sauté, tossing frequently until they are wilted and just getting a touch of golden color. This will be about 8-12 minutes. Add in the chopped apple and saute for 3-5 more minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the dried fruit with 1-2 cups of the broth. Allow it to sit and absorb into the fruit- rehydrating them a tad bit. When the celery and onions are ready, add the fruit and broth to the pan, bring up to a simmer and simmer for 4-6 minutes.

If your saucepan is large enough you can add the cubes of bread to the pan- if not transfer to a large bowl. Toss the bread cubes with the veggies & dried fruit. Once well tossed add a few more splashes of broth until it is to your desired moistness. Toss in the nuts and fresh herbs. Combine well.

If you want to fill your bird with it- go for it. Just remember it will increase your turkey roasting time. Otherwise place it in a baking dish, cover with foil and bake alongside the turkey for the final 30-45 minutes.

I was a bit wordy in the directions- if you want to keep it simple, this recipe is actually easy-peesy, here you go:

1. Dry out the bread cubes
2. Sauté the onions, celery & apples, until tender
3. Soak the dried fruit in some of the chicken broth
4. Combine cooked stuff with bread cubes
5. Add more broth until moist enough.
6. Add in the nuts & herbs
7. Bake in the turkey or next to the turkey in casserole dish covered in foil

Happy Turkey Day!!!


Harvest Rice Salad

I have been making this dish for several years and to my clients and friends in San Luis Obispo, yes this is the dish from the Thanksgiving Special back in 2005.

This salad is earthy and pretty- perfect for Thanksgiving or Holiday parties, especially if you have any Gluten-Free or Vegan guests this year. Although please note, most Vegans would not eat the honey, so just substitute agave nectar. You could even stuff this in a baked squash.

I want to give a shout out of thanks to my friend Kelly who made this dish for the photo shoot! A few months ago she moved in to a great new house with a kitchen in desperate need of a remodel-- as in they could not use the oven or stove for months because of electrical scariness. They have become very savvy on their BBQ and a little electric two burner and hosted many a great meal for us. I roasted the butternut squash for this dish otherwise she did the rest and that is her pretty bowl as well. Thank you Kelly- can't wait to cook with you in your new kitchen!

Harvest Rice Salad
1 1/2 cups brown and wild rice mixture
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
2 green onions, sliced
3 celery ribs, diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pecans
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped fine

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sage, rubbed
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook rice in 3 cups of water until it is absorbed, about 45 minutes. Transfer to bowl, fluff and let cool.

Meanwhile, toss diced butternut squash with oil and place on a greased baking sheet.
Roast until soft and browned, about 30-40 minutes. Add to rice.

Add all the vegetables, the cranberries and the nuts to the rice. Toss.

Whisk the oil, vinegar, honey/agave nectar, salt and sage and pepper until well blended, pour over the salad and toss.


Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Dip

Tis' the season for gatherings, parties, fat, sugar, glutinous eating and more. This lovely dip is an alternative healthier than most options that will give reprieve to the appetizers and party food that we come to regret in January. It is also rich in flavor with the Seasonal Butternut Squash taking on the majority of the creaminess.

Butternut Squash-Goat Cheese Dip

1-2 lb butternut squash, cut in half, scrap out the seeds
1 head of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely minced
½ cup orange juice
4-8 ounces goat cheese
1 package whole wheat crackers, melba toasts, or slices of pumpernickel bread or a gluten-free rice cracker… or something that will accompany whatever way you want to dip, spread or love up your dip

Preheat oven to 375. Place the butternut squash skin side down on a baking sheet. Keep the head of garlic whole and slice off the top of the garlic to expose just the tops and place in between the two squash halves on the baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil on the squash and garlic. Sprinkle with the salt and half of the rosemary. Roast in the oven for 35-45 minutes until the squash is soft and almost mushy.

Squeeze out the garlic cloves, scrap out the squash from the skin place in a large bowl or food processor. Mash the squash, garlic, orange juice, and remaining rosemary. Mix in the goat cheese depending on the amount of squash to taste. Add salt to taste.

Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs. Serve with crackers or slices of toast.