Thursday, January 19, 2012

Balsamic Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Apples

Let's talk about brussel sprouts.

Love them?  Dislike them?  Intrigued by them?

Once upon a time, I would not have walked near them.  Just keeping it real.


I adore them!

In fact, left to my own devices, I've been known to binge on them.  During one said binge, I ate the whole batch.  In one evening.  Finger food at its finest, peeps.

There is something absolutely beautiful about sprouts that are roasted in olive oil until they are sweet-tender.  Add in some crisp bacon and sweet honeycrisp apples, drizzle a bit of aged balsamic vinegar over the whole pan of loveliness, and you've got yourself some pretty irresistible sprouts.

I'm telling you the truth.

You're going to either have to trust me on this or try it yourself.  The second option will be much more enjoyable for you.  Trust me.

{This "recipe" is simple.  Don't get freaked out at the lack of measurements.  You will do just fine without them!}

Balsamic Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Apples
A Karla favorite

1 package of fresh brussel sprouts, ends removed, and halved
generous drizzle of olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 honeycrisp apples, cored, sliced, and cubed
1/2 pound bacon, crisply fried and crumbled
generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

To prepare sprouts, slice off the end of each one, removing any wilted outside leaves.  Slice sprout in half; repeat with remaining sprouts.  Add to the prepared baking sheet.

Drizzle olive oil over the sprouts, tossing gently to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.

Roast in oven for 20 minutes, tossing sprouts halfway.

Add cubed apples to the baking sheet after 20 minutes and toss gently to incorporate.  Continue roasting 10-15 more minutes, until sprouts are fork-tender (undercooked sprouts will retain their bitterness, so roast completely to draw out their sweetness).

Remove from oven, add a generous amount of balsamic (but don't make your sprouts swim!) and top with crumbled bacon.

Serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chicken Taco Bowls

What is the prominent role of your slow cooker/crock pot in your kitchen?

Is it the star?  Or maybe it plays more of a supporting role?  Or maybe is makes more of a cameo appearance?

Mine is more like a cameo role.  Sometimes, occasionally it makes an appearance.

I'm not sure why, other than it seems like my crock pot generates meals that seems "mushy" and often overcooked.  Maybe I just haven't mastered the technique.  My crock pot most often cooks chicken, which usually ends up in another dish, like enchiladas or white chicken chili.  It rarely cooks an all-in-one dinner.

Enter this meal.  Chicken taco bowls.  All cooked together.  Served over rice.  Perfectly cooked and seasoned.  Easy AND delicious!  This recipe exemplifies what crock pot cooking should be, and I can totally get on board with that!

Chicken Taco Bowls
Adapted from BudgetBytes

4 frozen chicken breasts
1 cup frozen corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 jar salsa, your choice
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tbl. chili powder
1/2 tbl. cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To Serve:
rice, prepared according to above link
shredded cheddar cheese
fresh cilantro, chopped
sour cream

Place chicken, corn, black beans, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper in crock pot.  Place lid on top and cook on low 6-8 hours, until chicken is fork tender.

Remove chicken and shred (I love doing this is the bowl of my Kitchenaid stand mixer with the paddle attachment--so easy!).  Place shredded chicken back into crock pot bowl and gently mix to incorporate fully.

Serve over prepared rice, and top with cheddar cheese and sour cream.  Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Banana Cream Cheese Streusel Muffins

This muffin recipe comes to you courtesy of a surge of creativity I had recently.  The base is my favorite banana muffin, but made even yummier by the addition of a cream cheese center and a cinnamon-sugar streusel topping.  Even if you don't normally prefer muffins, you might find yourself really enjoying these as you linger over your morning (or afternoon!) coffee!

Banana Cream Cheese Streusel Muffins
Makes 24 muffins

For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar

For the muffin batter:

6 large, very ripe bananas
2 eggs
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup canola oil (or applesauce)

4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg

Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
5 tbl. flour
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 tbl. cold butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 muffin pans with liners or spray each well with non-stick cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, combine softened cream cheese and powdered sugar until fully combined.  Place in refrigerator until ready to use.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the peeled bananas until mashed.  Beat in the eggs, sugar, and oil.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients--flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg--and mix on low speed until just blended.

Add 1 tablespoon of muffin batter to each prepared muffin tin.  Using a regular spoon, add 1/2-1 spoonful of cream cheese mixture on top of each muffin well.  Top with remaining muffin batter, approximately a regular spoonful.

To make streusel, combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Cut in the cold butter using two forks or a pastry blender until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.

Top each muffin with a spoonful of streusel mixture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until tops are golden and they spring back when lightly touched.  Transfer to a rack to cool and store cooled muffins in an airtight container.