Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad with Dijon Maple Vinaigrette

We are on the road and it is cold! I forgot how cold the mainland can be. I also forgot how seriously the mainland takes the holidays.  There are lights everywhere with north pole trains and hot chocolate and Santa’s workshops and ice skating! It’s very exciting for my kids. And for me!

Since I’m not in my own kitchen for Thanksgiving this year I have been giving the task of making a side. Which totally means that I get to hang out with family and friends outside of the kitchen! Sounds very relaxing!

There’s been a whole lot of talk about Brussel sprouts going on in my family. Who’s going to make them? Is there going to be enough? Some people want them whole and roasted, some fried with the leaves peeled! It makes me very happy to see my family take the matter of brussel sprouts so seriously. It gives me a sense of belonging to know there are other people like me in this world!

The only reasonable thing to do is to have brussel sprouts done 5 different ways. Here’s how I’m making mine. A shaved raw salad with smokey bacon, nutty broccoli, toasted coconut and a maple Dijon vinaigrette to tie it all together.


10 brussel sprouts, trimmed and washed

2 carrots, peeled

2 cups chopped broccoli

1/4 cup marcona almonds

1/3 cup coconut chips

4 thick slices of bacon (optional, but a very good idea)

1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries

2oz goat cheese

For the Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

2 tb whole grain mustard

3 tb apple cider vinager

2 1/2 tb maple syrup

1/3 cup olive oil


And we’re off!

Get out your cusinart and fit it with the slicer blade. You could totally do this by hand, it will just take longer. Since we are eating the brussel sprouts raw you want to make sure you trim the stem and peel away any yucky looking leaves. Into the cusinart they go and ta-da!

Into a nice, large salad bowl the shaved brussel sprouts go.

Let’s start building this epic holiday salad.  Peel 2 carrots and throw them through the slicer, easy.  Heat up a large pan with a little bit of olive oil and toss in the chopped broccoli. Cook over medium heat until nice and toasty. You want to bring out the nutty flavor of the broccoli.

In the same pan, dry toast your Marcona almonds. Now this salad is starting to look good.

Would my Grandpa eat it? Not quite yet… Let’s keep building.

In the same pan toast your coconut chips. Keep a close on them cause they toast up real fast. Your should be able to smell a little bit of Hawaii coming through all those fabulous Thanksgiving aromas. Put these toasted coconut chips off to the side and add them to the salad just before serving.

In the same pan (like how I’m saving you from extra dirty dishes, yeah, I got your back) crisp up the bacon. Obviously, adding bacon is optional but I found it to be a very good idea. I’m also pretty sure it is the only way I will get my Grandpa to enjoy a raw brussel sprout salad.

Let the bacon cool down on paper towels.

Full disclosure- I had a very strong desire to go rouge and dump the whole salad in that pan and fry the shaved brussel sprouts in the leftover sizzling bacon fat. I stopped myself but it’s probably going to happen sometime between now and Christmas. Just so you know….

Crumble or chop up the bacon if it isn’t crumbling according to plan.

Bacon, goat cheese, dried cherries and coconut chips top the salad.

Haha, every picture I take the salad suspiciously has less bacon.

For the salad dressing add the dijon, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and olive oil to a mason jar and shake, shake, shake.  Be generous with the dressing and toss this salad before serving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

On the first day of Chirstmas… Pistachio Cherry Hand Pies

I love Christmas. Really, I do. The acts of kindness and generosity. The warm fuzzy feeling you get from embracing the true spirit of Christmas. The warm fuzzy feeling you get from the only day of the year where it is acceptable to put peppermint schnapps in your coffee. I love it! But if I’m being totally honest, there is also a side to Christmas that makes me feel inadequate.  Inadequate as an adult and inadequate as a mother.

At the playground the other day I listened to a bunch of moms talk about how their houses were such a mess, there were boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations everywhere! Isn’t that what adults and parents are supposed to do? The Dad’s put up lights, the moms carefully preserve and store each homemade ornament made by each child. That’s what’s going on in all our kids storybooks. Even Fancy Nancy’s plain Jane mom steps it up for the holidays.

As of right now our family does not own one Christmas decoration. I take that back, after the playground I went straight to the store and bought Elf on the Shelf. So we own one elf. Anyone else’s Elf have a strange sense of humor and a fondness for Barbies clothes?

The thing is we have moved so many times in the last 3 years that in an attempt to get light for the fight we shed all those boxes of clutter sitting in the garage. Christmas decor included, sentimental or not. The truth is out.

So now I have to start from scratch which sounds fun in theory but is quite overwhelming in reality. I went into Pier One two days ago to buy tree ornaments and nearly had a panic attack. I was totally unprepared for the task ahead of me. You have to have a game plan and the right attitude. And by that I mean a color scheme, a theme, and a hearty breakfast. You need to know what kind of Christmas person you are. Are you into Santas, or nutcrackers, or snowman’s, or sleighs?

I left empty-handed. [Read more…]

Smokey Black Beans, Goat Cheese Polenta and Red Chili Tomato Sauce

Smokey Black Beans with Goat Cheese PolentaI am very proud of myself for making this dish. This is one of those “O-WOW” dinners. Why? Because the first time someone bites into this dish they will say “O-WOW!”

This dish came to me at the perfect time, I was having a week of cooking low self esteem. But I’m back now and spicier than ever!

Here’s what happened. It’s pet week at my daughters preschool. If you have a pet you can bring him in for show and tell. We only have fish, and there is not a day that goes by where my daughter doesn’t let me know that we only have fish and don’t have a dog. (I know, I know…)

So a bunch of moms were huddled around a table admiring something. I figured it was another hamster on a wheel, then I heard the words that stopped me in my tracks. “And you made them out of strawberries, that’s sooooo cute!”

Hmmm, I thought, what do we have here? Am I being challenged to a preschool snack day throw down? [Read more…]