Brussels Spouts, Cranberry Relish and Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce

Back in early November 2012, I was starting to test recipes for Thanksgiving and never got around to posting them. This dinner was a such a definite winner and perfect for the cold weather we’ve been having that I’ve decided to share it with you. The menu consisted of roasted Brussels sprouts, a raw cranberry relish and instead of turkey, sautéed chicken with a mustard cream sauce. I rounded out the meal with mashed potatoes from Costco.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Raw Cran Orange Relish Chick Mustard Cream SauceSimple Roasted Brussels Sprouts
The family (except Andy of course) LOVED the roasted Brussels sprouts. I had never served Brussels sprouts to my family but had seen several recipes for roasted sprouts and decided to try them. They came out deliciously crispy & caramelized and Nate was eating them like candy! Since then we’ve cooked them several more times with variations. I used the method described in my FineCooking Roasting magazine:

Trim sprouts and cut in half lengthwise, through the stem end. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt & pepper. Preheat oven to 475º. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sprouts cut side down on the parchment. Roast for 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of your Brussels sprouts).

Raw Cranberry-Orange Relish
I was looking for a low-sugar recipe for cranberries and came across this one from Epicurious.com. The fresh orange taste really complements the cranberries.

  • 1 12-oz. bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 navel orange
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅛ tsp cinnamon (which I omitted)

Raw Cranberry Orange Relish in Food ProcessorZest entire orange into food processor with a metal blade. Cut pith off orange & separate into sections. Place cranberries, orange sections, sugar & cinnamon in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Scrap into a bowl, cover & refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Raw Cranberry Orange RelishSautéed Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce
This was a really good stand-in for turkey with gravy and the mustard-cream sauce was delicious drizzled over the Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes in addition to the chicken. The recipe came from another favorite cookbook, EverydayFood Great Food Fast. I especially like this book because the recipes are divided into sections according to seasons, with soups, salad, main courses, sides & desserts for a particular season all grouped together.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup dry white wine or chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. dried tarragon (I used thyme for a more Thanksgiving-y feel).

Season each chicken breast with salt & pepper to taste. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and sauté until cooked through 10-15 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a warm serving plate & cover with foil.

Pour the wine into the hot skillet; cook, stirring, until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Whisk in the cream, mustard & herbs. Cook, whisking, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve chicken with sauce on the side (for my picky child) or drizzled over the chicken.

Baked Pasta with Sausage and Four Cheeses

I received three cookbooks for Hanukkah (I am easy to shop for). One of them, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, I cooked from in a previous post. Today, I’m sharing a recipe that I made from the second one, The Tuscan Sun Cookbook, by Frances Mayes & Edward Mayes, which my older son gave me for Hanukkah.

Tuscan Sun Baked PastaBaked Pasta with Sausage & Four Cheeses
From The Tuscan Sun Cookbook by Frances Mayes & Edward Mayes
(with my own modifications in italics)
Serves 4-6
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. fresh sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 2 tsp. fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 cup soffritto (recipe below)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes, juice included, chopped
  • 1 lb. rigatoni
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) whole milk ricotta
  • 8 oz. fontina, cubed
  • 8 oz. mozzarella, cubed
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs, toasted in dry sauté pan
Directions
Preheat oven to 375º. Bring the pasta water to a boil and add salt. Make the soffritto (recipe below). In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil over medium heat and cook the sausage, breaking it up as it browns, about 5 minutes. Add the red wine, turn the heat up to a boil, and cook until much of the liquid has reduced, about 10 minutes. Add the oregano, soffritto, seasonings, and tomatoes along with their juices. Simmer the sauce for at least 10 minutes, or until thick and savory.
Cook the rigatoni a minute less than the time required on the package (since it will continue cooking in the oven), then drain, reserving a bit of the pasta water.
In a large bowl, mix the ricotta with the fontina and a splash of the pasta water, then add the drained rigatoni and continue mixing. Add the sausage mixture and mozzarella, tossing to mix well.
Oil a 9×13″ baking dish, and then pour in the pasta. Sprinkle the Parmesan and breadcrumbs on top. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes or until golden flecked and hot.
This is my new favorite baked pasta, it is so yummy and comforting.
Soffritto
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, minced
1 carrot, minced
1 celery stalk, minced
1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, minced
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Sauté the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until they begin to color and turn tender, 5-7 minutes. Reserve until needed in the recipe above.

Asian-Inspired Turkey Lettuce Wraps

For quick weeknight dinners at home I like to create a meal with a buffet of choices – similar to a taco bar – so that each person can customize to their own tastes. I like mine with lots of extra vegetables; Andy likes just meat and carbs. Nate & Eric just like it all. So, this is an Asian-inspired spin on a taco bar. You cook up the meat mixture and then put out as many topping choices as you want.

Turkey Lettuce WrapsAsian Turkey Lettuce Wraps – meat filling
  • ¼ cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1½ lb. ground turkey (or chicken or pork)
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped raw mushrooms
  • 8 oz. can water chestnuts – finely chopped
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
Heat sesame oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook ground turkey and mushrooms until turkey is thoroughly cooked and mushrooms have lost their liquid. Meanwhile, mix together the brown sugar, soy sauce & rice vinegar. Add water chestnuts plus sauce mixture to turkey and cook for several minutes to completely coat the turkey. Serve with wrap and topping options.
Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps – wrap & topping options
  • Small flour tortillas (to make it kinda like Mu Shu Turkey)
  • Lettuce leaves – iceberg or Bibb lettuce work best
  • Carrots – shredded or buy the bags of julienned carrots
  • Peanuts – chopped
  • Cashews – chopped
  • Almonds – slivered or sliced
  • Red bell pepper – cut into small pieces
  • Cilantro
  • Mint
  • Cucumbers – cut into small dice
  • Plum sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Scallions – thinly sliced
  • Spinach – thinly sliced
  • Angel hair cabbage
  • Noodles – spaghetti or Somen noodles cooked, rinsed and tossed with equal amounts sesame oil and soy sauce
  • Cooked sushi-style  or other short grain rice (aka sticky rice)
  • Radishes – shredded
  • Sweet chile sauce

French Bistro Menu

Last month was Eric’s and mine 20th anniversary. We went on a cruise. Without the kids. It was fabulous.

Toes in the sandMy parents kept our boys. Before they left, I cooked a very nice dinner to thank them for watching Nate & Andy. My parents had given me the latest Barefoot Contessa cookbook, Foolproof, for Hanukkah, so I used that as my starting point, and pulled a few recipes from another Barefoot Contessa cookbook I own, Barefoot in Paris, to create a French Bistro menu to rival any restaurant. This is a menu to cook when you need to impress your dinner guests.
French Bistro DinnerFrench Bistro Menu
Scallops Provençal, from Barefoot in Paris
Scallops ProvencalGreen Beans Gremolata, from Foolproof
Green Beans GremolataProvençal Cherry Tomato Gratin, From Foolproof
Cherry Tomato GratinI also served plain white basmati rice.
All of the recipes that I used are available on the Internet (just click on the recipe), so I’m not going to type them all in here. I pretty much followed each recipe to the letter and they were all fabulous!
French Madeleines from Costco were the perfect ending.

Healthier Creamy Coleslaw

Years and years ago, I modified a recipe for coleslaw that I found on a jar of mayonnaise. I lightened it up without changing the flavor or consistency of a traditional creamy coleslaw. No one I serve it to can tell that it’s different.

Healthier Creamy Coleslaw

  • cup light mayo
  • cup fat-free plain yogurt
  • 1½ Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 16-oz. bags shredded coleslaw
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine mayo, yogurt, vinegar, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add coleslaw mix. Combine well. The mixture will look very dry. Cover and chill at least 4 hours before serving. The coleslaw will shrink and become moist. Add freshly ground pepper to taste and stir. We like to serve with a pepper grinder on the table for diners to add additional pepper to taste.

Healthier Creamy Coleslaw

Healthier Creamy Coleslaw

Notes:

  • I buy my mayo from Whole Foods because their 365 brand does not contain soy oil unlike most national brands.
  • I don’t use Greek yogurt as it’s much thicker & tarter than the regular yogurt.
  • If you prefer to chop your own vegetables instead of buying the preshredded coleslaw, use: 1 medium head cabbage, thinly sliced, ¼ small red cabbage, thinly sliced and 4 medium carrots, shredded.
  • Optional vegetables to add: thinly sliced sweet onions, thinly sliced green bell pepper or thinly sliced celery.

Menu for Atlanta Falcons Fans

I’m not a big football fan. I didn’t grow up in a football town – baseball & hockey are much bigger in St Louis than football; I didn’t go to a big football college either. However, my husband likes watching football & so does his family. So, today, the Atlanta Falcons are playing in the NFC championship game and Eric’s family is over to watch the game. Of course, I am cooking (it IS all about the food). I tried to create a menu based on some ingredients associated with Georgia – Vidalia onions, peaches and Coca-Cola. My menu for today is:

Munchies

  • Baked Vidalia Onion Dip served with Triscuits
  • Peach Salsa (purchased from Costco) served with tortilla chips
  • Palmetto brand Pimento Dip (purchased from Publix) served with Wheat Thins
Baked Vidalia Onion Dip

Baked Vidalia Onion Dip

Pimento Cheese Football

Pimento Cheese Football

I molded the pimento dip into a football-shaped cake pan and my older son decorated it with pimento strips to look like a football. 

Dinner

  • “Dirty Bird” Chicken Sandwiches (crock-pot Coca-Cola BBQ chicken)
  • Coleslaw (my own recipe)
  • Baked Beans – I buy the Bush’s brand Vegetarian Beans

The Baked Vidalia Onion dip recipe and BBQ chicken recipe both come from The Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook by Southern Living. The vidalia onion dip was fantastic but the BBQ chicken recipe was so-so. I put out some bottled BBQ sauce for people to add to their sandwiches.

 

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Coleslaw

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Coleslaw

Rise Up Falcons!! – edited: There’s Always Next Year

Israeli Salad

This is one of my many, many favorite salads. It is, of course, better in the summer with ripe, homegrown (or farmer’s market) produce. However, even in the winter it is still delicious and balances out the abundance of comfort food at this time of year. I like to serve it for Hanukkah to counter the fried latkes and heavy brisket. It’s also welcome at other Jewish holidays such as Yom Kippur Break the Fast. Whenever you serve it, it will be gobbled up.

Israeli SaladIsraeli Salad

  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 English cucumber, diced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (red, orange or green)
  • 1 large handful Italian parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Combine tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, peppers and parsley in a bowl. Add lemon juice and olive oil and mix gently. Season generously to taste. Serve at room temperature.