Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans

Making brussels sprouts on a weekly basis in the winter has led to some innovation. My commitment to these tiny green cabbages has allowed me to perfect their preparation. The sprouts I served for Thanksgiving dinner were by far the best I have ever made! I was never a believer in roasting bacon in the oven but I have started doing it with this recipe. I don’t think it is any different from frying and it does save you some time caring for bacon on the stove. Roasting truly brings out the best flavor in these brussels and allows the most even cooking. This is another vegetable dish with simple ingredients where the fabulous flavor is in the choux de Bruxelles.

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During my recent visit to Asheville I went to a bunch of breweries. It was fantastic! I was honestly losing faith in craft beer for some time. It seems that everything is starting to taste the same – super hoppy. The breweries of Asheville have renewed my excitement! I brought home a growler of Catawba Brewing Hyper Monkey Java Stout and was sad to drink the last drop. I have always loved coffee inspired beers – since my first taste of Mccoy’s Broadway Porter in KC. I love getting some caffeine with my etoh; especially when it’s not in the form of the obligatory redbull vodka. I drank this Java Stout with my Thanksgiving dinner, where I ate mostly brussels sprouts, and it was insanely good.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans

1/2 cup pecans
6 slices bacon
2 lb brussels sprouts – halved, stems and loose outer leaves discarded
3 tbsp EVOO
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place pecans on foiled baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes until fragrant. (What them closely!) Chop coarsely.

Increase the oven to 400 degrees. Using the same foil lined baking sheet, lay out the strips of bacon, allowing space between the bacon strips. Roast for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through, until bacon is slightly crisp. Remove bacon from pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Save the rendered bacon fat in a bowl. Throw away the used aluminum foil. Finely chop bacon after it has cooled slightly.

Increase the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Toss the brussels sprouts with bacon fat, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread out over the baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring the sprouts and rotating the pan halfway through. The brussels sprouts should be fork tender and caramelized. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar – toss to coat. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Just prior to serving – top with the toasted pecans and bacon.

Pot Roast

I have been so lucky to have spent the last few months with a full schedule of travel and weekend trips. Spending time in Charleston and Asheville were excellent food experiences. I am so excited to try tons of new things and my brain is filled with ideas and inspirations. One thing that I have discovered is that the most simple dishes are often the most memorable. The perfect pot roast on a winter day will likely beat out any fancy or elaborate meal. Use fresh ingredients and perfect the simple preparation of the already wonderful vegetables or meat – that is my goal right now. I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving! Ours was excellent. My lovely husband even churned out Pecan Pie bars all by himself! Now that Thanksgiving is over, it is super cold in Eastern NC. Our 70 degree days are few and far between during December. There is nothing better on a cold rainy day than coming home to the smells of roasted meat and vegetables.

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Use good red wine – whatever your budget is, use a wine you love. Make sure half the bottle of wine is drunk before your husband comes home for dinner. The quality of the wine, and all the ingredients you cook with are what make your food fabulous. I recently had a wonderful wine experience and learning opportunity at the Biltmore Mansion. If you are in Asheville, do not miss this somewhat touristy experience. The mansion itself is a fun and educational tour. The wines are actually really delicious and you get to taste ALL of them. The tasting of over 20 wines is included in your tour ticket, you should probably take uber to your Biltmore excursion.

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This recipe is composed of basic ingredients, most of which should already be on a weekly shopping list, and it will never disappoint you. This roast is also nice enough to serve for guests and can easily be prepared on a busy week day. With a little preparation, you could probably even get your husband to throw this in the oven while you take a nap on Sunday afternoon. Getting a good sear and caramelization on the outside of the roast is important – don’t skip this step. Make sure your pan is hot enough but does not burn. You may be shocked to know that this pot roast comes in at about 350 calories per serving – a nice relief from the high cal holiday eating.

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Pot Roast
1 tsp olive oil
3 lb boneless chuck roast
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup dry red wine
4 springs thyme
14 oz beef broth
1 bay leaf
4 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 lb yukon gold potatoes, peeled, chopped into 1 inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high. Coat the chuck roast liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper, pushing the spices into the meat. Sear the chuck roast in the pan, cook for about 5 minutes. Turning the roast to brown on all sides.

Remove the meat from the pan and add in the onion. Saute onion for 8 minutes. During the last 1 minute when the onion is getting soft and translucent, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Place the browned meat back in the pan. Pour in the red wine, add the thyme sprigs, beef broth, and bay leaf. Bring this to a simmer. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove roast form the oven and add the carrots and potatoes to the pan. Replace cover and bake for 1 hour, until vegetables are tender. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf from the pan. Use two forks to shred the meat and serve.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Apple Slab Pie

I have been changing my mind constantly lately about where we should move when we land in Kansas City this summer. My most current dream is to get a little more space/land in the country, maybe on a lake. And we can raise mini pigs, mini horses, chickens… endless possibilities. And of course plant an insane garden – and apple trees! Because I have a love affair with apples right now. There are my constant classics that I have made time and time again – Apple Crisp  and Apple Oatmeal Cookies. And now my new favorite dessert, apple slab pie.

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There is something so rewarding and therapeutic about making your own pie crust. The funny thing is when people say, “You made this yourself?” Yes! And you can make it too! 1 out of every 20 recipes on this blog gets a “wow” response from my husband. This recipe is wow approved by him. This pie crust is so so so good and there is so much of it which makes this special. This slab pie is also easily served in squares making it ideal for pot-lucks, parties, and no-fuss Thanksgiving dessert.

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It may be apple overload to serve this apple pie with apple cider. But if you have not had Foggy Ridge Cider, you need to find it, immediately. Foggy Ridge is bringing back old style cider from the colonial days. It is not super sweet like most of the ciders you find in the grocery store today. It is closer to sparkling wine than hard cider. I have had a few varieties from Foggy Ridge and they are all excellent. A perfect alternative to wine for Thanksgiving.

Apple Slab Pie

Crust
3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp table salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, very cold
3/4 cup very cold water
1 egg for egg wash

Filling
4 pounds apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
Squeeze of lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice1/8 tsp table salt

Make the Crust

In the bowl of a food processor, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces and place in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse the mixture until the butter is mostly in pea sized pieces. Add the water and pulse for 15 seconds – until you have a loose mass of dough. Do not over mix.

Divide the dough in half, pat into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour minimum. You can make the dough a day ahead. You can freeze the dough for 1 month.

Make the Pie

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 10x15x1 inch pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, toss the chopped apples with lemon juice. Mix in the remaining filling ingredients.

Lightly flour a countertop surface. Roll out one of the dough halves into 18×13 inch rectangle. You can roll this out between sheets of floured parchment to make transfer easier. Roll the dough out quickly, do not let it warm up much. Transfer to the prepared pan and gently drape the dough into the corners. Trim the overhang of dough to 3/4 inch. (It is ok if it doesn’t reach the edges and you end up with a more freeform edge, don’t worry!)

Pour the apple mixture over the rolled out dough in the pan. Roll out the second half of dough into 16 x 11 inch rectangle. Drape this over the filling and fold the bottom dough over the edges, pinching to seal. Cut slits all over the top crust. Brush with egg wash.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.