brussels sprouts

lunchbox life: kale confetti salad

image1(21)School’s back in session, and so am I!

Welcome back to lunchbox life, my series of meal planning as a high school teacher. If you’re just joining us, I create five refrigerated meals for my school lunches each week. Sometimes I use a microwave to reheat the meal, sometimes I don’t; it depends on what I’ve prepared. My goal is to create a healthy, substantive lunch to help me power through teaching and the rest of my day, all while being mindful of using local produce when possible, focusing on protein and fiber, and fueling up for exercise.

I’m really excited about this school year. It’s year five for me, and while I know I have so much left to learn, I actually feel like I might know what I’m doing (shhh…at least I think I do). If you know any first year teachers, please be nice to them–their worlds are about to be rocked. Alex and I were engaged most of my first year of teaching (we married in late March), and he is a saint for listening to all of my tear-filled moments of agony and defeat. This year, I’ll be teaching US History (an old stand by that I love) and a new prep for me: Humanities. I moved classrooms, too, and now I’m across the hall from one of my work besties, Rachel, so I’m happy to have quips and convos during class changes with one of my favorites.

This week, I’m going to a couple of my go-to ingredients: kale and brussels sprouts. I wanted to avoid the microwave this week since the first week of school can get super busy, plus the oppressive heat has me craving cool salads in the middle of the day. The key to a kale salad is the quick massage with olive oil and salt: thirty seconds, tops. This allows the kale to slightly break down and become more palatable as a salad green. By now, I know how worn out I get during the first week of school, so I wanted to fuel up on my greens, folic acid, fiber, and Vitamins A and K. The combination of kale and shredded brussels sprouts is a great base for a hearty salad, and you can add whatever you like. I love adding raw sugar snap peas to salads for crunch and a natural sweetness. I’ve also added garlic stuffed green olives for a briny touch and organic sliced roast beef for protein (no added gross stuff–read your labels!). I’ll be topping my salad with Lemon Garlic dressing by Tessamae’s. I usually make my own salad dressing, but I started using this brand when I did Whole30 this summer at GHP where kitchen access was scarce. This family company focuses on all natural ingredients, and their salad dressings and sauces are pretty great. I spotted a few of the salad dressings in the produce section of Kroger in my neighborhood, but you can also order from the website.

I hope everyone has a fantastic Monday. For some of us, it’s the start of a brand new year–good luck!

Kale Confetti Salad

1 bunch kale (I used dino kale from my CSA box)

1 Tbsp. olive oil + pinch of kosher salt

1 lb. raw brussels sprouts

8 oz. raw sugar snap peas

1 jar green olives (I used garlic stuffed)

12 oz. all natural, deli sliced roast beef (I used Simple Truth from Kroger–no sugar or carageenan added)

Salad dressing of choice

Slice the kale into thin ribbons (about 1/2 inch in width) and remove the woodsy stems. Place all kale ribbons in a mixing bowl and pour in the olive oil and salt. Using your hands, gently massage the kale for about 30 seconds to break down some of the strong fibers of the greens. Keep on the counter. Next, slice the tough stems off of the brussels sprouts and either slice them thinly or use the slicer function on your food processor. When complete, add the shreds of brussels sprouts to the kale and thoroughly combine. Divide the greens mixture between five bowls. Slice all of the sugar snap peas in half and distribute equally between bowls. Slice all of the green olives in half and distribute equally between bowls. Slice all of the roast beef into 1/4 inch ribbons and distribute equally between bowls. Pack your salad each day with the salad dressing separate and add just before eating.

tasty tuesday: pan roasted pork tenderloin, barley and mushroom braise, roasted brussels, spinach, onions

Pork barley

Man, it feels like it has been a minute since I’ve been here. Since my last post, we’ve had lots of great food, from authentic Latin American fair to farm-to-table classics and the best of Charleston. Through all of that, I found some inspiration to make tonight’s dish, combining flavors and techniques I’ve experienced from both Sean Brock’s Husk and Hugh Acheson’s Five and Ten. But really, its not much more that good ingredients, nicely seasoned, and simply prepared. That combination goes a lot further than you make think.

I love pasta dishes. I can’t escape it. And for some reason pairing barley or farro with pork and Brussels just stuck out in my mind. It is very similar to a dish at Five and Ten I had about a year ago and it just popped in my head as a very memorable dish. It goes well with the mushrooms I had at Husk, braised with broth and greens. Fantastic all.

As this blog turns two, we thank you for staying with us and helping us grow. Let us know what else you want to see!

On to the food.

Pan roasted pork with braised barley and mushrooms, spinach and onions, roasted brussels

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of any fat and connective tissue
1 cup pearled barley
1 quart chicken stock
5 portabella mushrooms
1 sweet onion, chopped into thin slices, 1/4 finely chopped
2 tbsb butter
1/4 cup spinach
10 sage leaves
8 brussels sprouts, stems removed and halved.
1/8 cup cider vinegar
1 clove garlic
salt, pepper, white pepper
Olive oil to coat pan twice

Start with the barley. In a deep pan, melt butter over medium and add the grains of barley and two pinches of salt. Toast for 2 minutes. Add the fine onions and vinegar. Heat 4 minutes, or until vinegar is absorbed. Add 2 cups chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and cover 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chop mushrooms into thin slices. Add to barley and add 1/2 the remaining stock and sage. Simmer additional 20 minutes, until barley is tender.

Season the pork with a heavy coating of salt, pepper and white pepper.

Heat a large pan to medium high and coat with olive oil. Heat oven to 300. Place the sprouts in the hot oil insides down and sear for 3 minutes. Turn and heat for 2 minutes. Place sprouts on a cookie sheet lined with foil and place in oven for 20 minutes.

In same large pan, add more oil to coat. Place the pork in the oil and sear 5 minutes per side (three sides). Reduce heat to low and cover pan for 2 minutes. Remove pork from pan.

In same pan, add more oil and remaining onions. Press garlic and add to onion. Add spinach and stir 1 minute. Add remaining stock and cook until spinach is wilted. Remove mixture from pan.

Cut the pork into very thin pieces. Return to pan with remaining pork and chicken stock mixtures. Baste with jus for 2 minutes, until pieces reach desired doneness.

Plate with spinach and onions in center of plate. Top with barley and mushroom mixture then pork. Place sprouts around the side and top with rogue brussels crispies and sage.


lunchbox life: chicken, black bean, and brussels sprouts nachos

image1(13)Healthy nachos…oxymoron?

Not necessarily. I had two agendas with this week’s lunches: consume more protein and not in a boring way (chicken breast and broccoli). This is what I came up with, and after having it today, I’m digging it.

So, here’s the deal: everyone knows that when you go on vacation, you eat rich food, and not in small quantities. Then you return to the real world and feel like you need to detox. For me, this usually means bumping up lean protein and leafy greens, so I went looking in my refrigerator for inspiration. I had six boneless skinless chicken thighs and half of a package of brussels sprouts. I also had some enchilada sauce in my pantry. Enchiladas? Tacos? I’ve had several variations of those before. What about nachos? No, nachos are too unhealthy, I thought.

And then I decided to make it work. I went to the store, picked out some cilantro, black beans, and organic tortilla chips, and made a game plan. While the chicken thighs and enchilada sauce simmered away in the slow cooker, I devised a plan to count out an actual serving size of chips (for this package, it was 14 chips) for each day, then place the other ingredients in a separate container to mix together just before eating. The stewed chicken has tons of flavor from the enchilada sauce, and this and the cilantro flavor the other ingredients. You can use the chip to dip the chicken mixture, break up the chips and toss them in with the other ingredients, or heat the ingredients over the chips on a plate.

I know what you’re thinking–where’s the cheese?

You could certainly add some cheese here, but you really don’t need it. Again, my goal for the week was to reset my system from overindulging last week, so I thought I’d leave the cheese out…this one time.

Chicken, Black Bean, and Brussels Sprouts Nachos

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 19 oz. can enchilada sauce

1/2 lb. brussels sprouts

1 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

56 corn tortilla chips, separated out into groups of 14

Cook the chicken thighs and enchilada sauce in a slow cooker for 4 hours on high (or you could bake them and shred the chicken). Thinly slice the brussels sprouts, disposing of the woodsy stems. In five bowls, set up your four quadrants: chicken, brussels, black beans, and cilantro. Pair each bowl with one set of chips.

meatless monday: warm brussels sprouts salad with persimmon, pomegranate, blue cheese, celery, and almonds

image1(3)Are you ready for the next great salad in your life? What about one with so many of my favorite things that I just had to name them all in the title?

This. salad. though.

The best part? I didn’t even have to go to the grocery store today. The brussels, persimmon, pomegranate, and orange were in my Dirt Farmers CSA box, and I already had the rosemary, celery, blue cheese, and almonds on hand. This is an excellent cold weather salad because of its use of hearty brussels sprouts, plus they’re lightly sauteed to give you a warm bite on a chilly night.

Can we talk about persimmons for a second? Where have they been all my life? They taste like firmer plums that have been marinating in mulling spices. They’re my new favorite.

Let’s also chat about pomegranates. These juicy morsels of fuchsia are a beauty of nature, and their tartness and sweetness serve as a great contrast to the smoky almonds and pungent blue cheese. The celery is added for freshness and crunch.

This needs to go on your “Want to Try” short list for Meatless Monday, or any night, for that matter. Dig in!

Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad with Persimmon, Pomegranate, Blue Cheese, Celery, and Almonds

Serves 2 as a dinner salad or 4-6 as a starter

1 lb. brussels sprouts

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary (about three sprigs)

2/3 cup pomegranate seeds

2 persimmons, tops removed and cut into dice-sized cubes

3 celery stalks, split down the middle and thinly sliced

2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup smoked almonds, roughly chopped

salt and pepper

Orange-Dijon dressing: Juice and zest of one navel orange, 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Shake in a jar.

For each sprout, cut off the bottom stem and slice each one lengthwise about three or four times. Discard the stems. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil and rosemary over medium heat in a large pan, then add the brussels and toss to coat in the oil. Turn the heat up to medium high and saute for about 3 minutes, tossing throughout the cooking process. After the three minutes are up, Place the warm brussels in a mixing bowl. Add the persimmon, pomegranate seeds, chopped almonds, blue cheese crumbles, and celery. Toss to combine, then drizzle with about half of the dressing. Toss to combine, then serve.

meatless monday: caprese pizza with Brussels sprouts slaw topping

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Happy Labor Day, y’all. It was a nice day of partying and racing– the type of day that needs Pizza. We both got the hankering for Pizza while hanging in the pool today, so I decided to do something quick, easy and delicious for meatless monday instead of dialing up the local joints (which were likely resting anyway). We had some leftover Brussels sprout slaw (a Bungalow Favorite), so I thought of something that could work well with it, too. Caprese flavors caught my attention and eventually my taste buds with this tasty concoction.

It is also good to be back to the blog after my European adventure. To anyone from Toronto, Miami, Lexington, St Paul, Charlotte, or San Jose reading, welcome to the Bungalow, come visit anytime. (Same to you Gehl team!). You’ll all be happy to know I biked to the store to get necessary ingredients.

How can you go wrong with these guys?

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Caprese Pizza with Brussels Slaw

1 Pizza dough per Smitten Kitchen and other posts here
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 bulb garlic
1 lb mozzarella, sliced to medallions.
10-12 leaves basil
Olive oil and salt
Balsamic glaze, to top
Leftover Brussels sprouts slaw to cover (many posts here include it)

Heat the oven to 400. Cut the top of the bulb of garlic and coat with olive oil and salt. Wrap in aluminum foil and roast about 30-40 minutes, until browned and soft. Raise the oven heat to 500 and throw in a pizza stone.

Make the dough, Roll it out on a flowered surface by hand. Squeeze the roasted garlic into a bowl and mash. Spread olive oil on the dough and then smear on the mashed garlic. Transfer to a peel covered with corn meal. Heat the dough 4 minutes.

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Remove the dough and add the tomato. Dot the balsamic glaze on the tomatoes and then add a basil leaf to each tomato slice. Top each quadrant with 2 medallions of cheese and cover with basil shreds and some more balsamic.

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Return the dish to oven with the peel onto the stone. Cook 8 minutes. Add the salad and cook 3 more minutes. Make sure the cheese is beginning to brown. Cut into four pieces and share it up.

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Happy four day work week! Enjoy a slice and sleep well tonight.

lunchbox life: BBQ shower leftovers, part two


We meet again, Sunday! This weekend has been another great one for Macon: two successful Saturday events, Macon Beer Festival and Weaver’s Weekend, were excellently executed and tons of fun. I was especially proud to show off my town to a few of my GHP girlfriends who came into town for a visit! Since I dropped Alex off at the airport for a week in Copenhagen (no, I’m fine…really…not jealous at all…why do you ask?), I was glad to have some company to enjoy a day on the town. After the GHP gals and I parted ways,  I got to work on food prep for a BBQ baby shower for two of our dearest friends, Adam and Lauren Ragusea. Alex (in absentia) and I co-hosted the shower with our friends Tim and Leila Regan-Porter at their house, and I like to think that it was the opposite of a typical baby shower: no tiny sandwiches or punch, frilly decorations, or games. Instead, we had barbecue, hearty sides, beer, and men along with women! We did a similar setup for Tim and Leila before they had their precious Rosemary June in the spring of 2013, and I spent the rest of the week happily eating leftovers for lunch. This week is a repeat of that, but I’m also going to include the recipe for brussels sprouts salad, a crowd-pleaser and healthy alternative to coleslaw. This recipe is our go-to when we take a side dish to a barbecue, and we were introduced to it by today’s guests of honor, Adam and Lauren!

This week, I’m having some leftover beer can chicken that was cooked by Tim on the Big Green Egg, a healthy portion of brussels sprouts salad, a spoonful of Fresh Air coleslaw (because why would you make your own when you can pick up the best at Fresh Air?), and a 1/2 cup of baked beans.

Brussels Sprouts Salad

1 lb. brussels sprouts

1 shallot

1/2 cup chopped cashews

for the dressing: juice of two lemons, 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard, 1 tsp. honey, 1/4 cup canola oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper

Cut off the stems of the brussels sprouts, then either thinly slice them or use the shred function your food processor to thinly shred the sprouts, then place them in a bowl.  Cut the shallot into paper-thin rings and sprinkle on top of the sprouts.  Top the salad with the cashews. Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar, shake vigorously, then pour over the salad and toss to combine.

tasty tuesday: barbacoa grilled cheese with cumin-lime Brussels sprouts slaw


Let’s be clear from the start. What follows is not actually barbacoa–a pit smoked whole animal wrapped in banana leaves or some sort. This is a quicker, more Chipotle or Loco’s style braise. That speaks nothing to the deliciousness of the dish- it is real and it is spectacular.

My return to tasty tuesday comes with a basic meal turned on its head. This is a sandwich and salad, but it is has nicely meshed flavors that have some tex-mex sensibilities. The salad is a take on our now-standby Brussels spout salad changed up with a cumin-lime dressing instead of the dijon vinaigrette.

All told, a wonderful weeknight meal, but it takes a little time.

Barbacoa Grilled Cheese

1 lb flaken style beef short ribs
Salt, Pepper, Paprika, Red Pepper to Cover ribs
1 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, pressed
1 bomber beer (I used Sierra Nevada Torpedo)
1/4 Vidalia onion
2 tbsp butter

4 slices sourdough bread
2 tbsp butter
1/2 lb queso blanco
1/2 Vidalia onion cut into strips

Start by heating a cast iron dutch over to medium high heat and preheating the oven to 325. Coat the ribs in the spices. Add the oil and 4 cloves of the garlic to the pan. Sear the ribs on both sides, just a few seconds on each side and remove. Pour the beer into the pan to deglaze. Place the meat back into the mixture with the onions and butter. Cover and place in the over for about an hour and a half to braise.

Heat 1 tbsp butter on a griddle and add the onions. Heat until the onions soften and brown in places.

Once the meat is able to be pulled apart with a fork, remove from the oven. Pull the meat into tiny morsels. Place the meat on in a single layer. Leave about 3 minutes until a crust forms. Flip the meat and heat for 2 minutes and add the grilled onions. Ladle about 1/4 of the cooking liquid on to the meat and remove.

Scrape the griddle. Butter one side of each of the pieces of bread and place on the griddle. Lower the heat to medium low and cover the top side of bread with the cheese and cover all with a pan lid. Add the meat to one side once the bread begins to crisp and cheese starts melting. Complete the sandwich by topping the meat with the other cheesy bread. Nom. You can also make an au jus sauce by heating the cooking liquid over medium high heat and add some turbinado sugar and flour. Mmm.

Cumin Lime Brussels Sprouts Salad

1/2 lb Brussels sprouts
1 tsp fresh oregano
1 tbsp fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chipotle almonds, finely chopped
Juice of 2 limes
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp turbinado sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Finley chop the sprouts and add the oregano and cilantro. Top with the almonds. Shake the remaining ingredients in a large sealable container and add to the green mix. Mix well and let sit at least 10 minutes before serving.

Welcome back, you guys!