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Holiday Recipes

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes with Bacon

Dear Diary,

I read an article recently that listed BACON as one of the ten foods Dietitians and Nutritionists NEVER eat. Wait…WHAT? We don’t eat bacon? When did that happen? I can understand the vegetarians and non-pork eaters saying no to bacon, but really…the rest of us don’t eat bacon? Or…maybe I’m one of the few that admit to eating bacon? One may never know…or care because let’s face it, it’s bacon!

While I might opt for uncured and nitrate free bacon, I embrace what a slice or three of bacon can add to a dish. It can bring the perfect balance of salty to compliment the sweet. Another recipe I have made for many years, Brunswick Stew with Smoked Paprika, calls for 2 slices of bacon for a recipe that creates 6 portions. If I’m doing my math correctly, that is 1/3 of a slice of bacon per serving. We can embrace moderation and gain a ton of flavor by using high fat, flavor filled foods in small amounts.

I am a lover of creating dishes that are packed with veggies and bursting with flavor all at the same time. This vegetable roast nails the sweet, savory, smokiness that a Fall inspired side dish is all about. Warning, it may put Aunt Ida’s canned yams to shame at the Thanksgiving table!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes with Bacon

15-20 Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and cut in half

2 medium Yams (aka Sweet Potatoes), scrubbed, not peeled, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 Granny Smith Apple, not peeled, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 medium Sweet Onion, thinly sliced

2-3 slices of Uncured Bacon, chopped

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tablespoon Honey or Maple Syrup

1/2 teaspoon each Salt, Black Pepper, Dried Thyme

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, except bacon, and toss to mix well. Spread out the mixture on the parchment paper and evenly distribute the bacon over the top. Roast for 15-18 minutes, mix so vegetables cook evenly, and roast for another 12-15 mins. If the bacon is crispy and the vegetables have some char the dish is ready. It may need 5-10 more mins depending on amount of vegetables.

Heirloom Tomato Goat Cheese Bruschetta
Holiday Recipes, Recipes, Uncategorized

Goat Cheese Bruschetta Two Ways

Dear Diary,

How do I love thee? I don’t need to count the ways like the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I simply feed you delicious morsels that I created from my heart. While I was in Michigan, I planned a kid-free evening to cook for a few close friends. We could have easily gone out, but I opted to sip wine, catch up, and cook for these lovely ladies. It was food for my soul both literally and figuratively. Three hours later we were full, relaxed, and still chit-chatting the night away.

One of the secrets I shared while I cooked was what I like to call my magic sauce. Balsamic Glaze can be made by reducing a good balsamic vinegar or you can purchase it in most major grocery stores. My favorite is from Trader Joe’s since it has less sugar and more flavor than others I’ve tried. Most major grocery stores have Balsamic Glaze or Balsamic Reduction available, usually found in the olive oil and vinegar aisle. A generous squeeze of this dark and delicious magic sauce over the bruschetta made all the flavors pop. Needless to say, both recipes got rave reviews in the form of ohhhing and ahhhing while reaching for another one.

Caramelized Onion Prosciutto Bruschetta

  • 2-4 sweet onions, carmelized (click below for recipe)
  • Cherry or Grape Tomatoes quartered, heirloom if available
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of Salt and Black PepperProsciuttoCarmelizedOnionBrucshetta2
  • French baguette, sliced 1 inch thick
  • Goat cheese
  • Fresh Spinach
  • Jalapeno Pepper Jelly
  • Prosciutto
  • Balsamic Glaze

First caramelize the onions, place in an oven safe bowl, cover with foil, and leave in a 250 degree oven or toaster oven until ready to use. I always make extra and use them the next day since they are a bit time consuming to make. In a bowl, combine tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper (to taste). Set tomato mixture aside. Slice baguette into 1 inch thick pieces and place on a cookie sheet covered in foil or parchment paper. Brush baguette slices with olive oil and place in 400 degree oven for 6-8 mins or until toasted to a golden brown on the edges. Spread goat cheese onto the baguette slices, layer 2-3 spinach leaves, add a 1 teaspoon of Jalapeno Pepper Jelly, 1/2 slice of prosciutto, 1 teaspoon of caramelized onions, and top with tomato mixture. Arrange on a plate and drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Heirloom Tomato Goat Cheese Bruschetta

  • French baguette, sliced 1 inch thick
  • Crumbled herb goat cheese
  • Cherry or Grape Tomato mixture
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Basil
  • Balsamic Glaze

Slice baguette into 1 inch thick pieces and place on a cookie sheet covered in foil or parchment paper. Brush baguette slices with olive oil and place in 400 degree oven for 6-8 mins or until toasted to a golden brown on the edges. Sprinkle each baguette slice with crumbled goat cheese, use tomato mixture from above recipe adding in crushed garlic (1-2 cloves) and chopped fresh basil. Drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Both bruschetta recipes are very versatile. Playing around with a different cheese like feta instead of goat or leaving out the jalapeno pepper jelly is part of the joy of creating a dish versus just cooking it. I purposely leave out some measurements because cooking and baking are not the same. In baking, measurements are very important. Cooking on the other hand is about experimenting, creating, and sometimes throwing the whole thing out. Have FUN with it!

Thanksgiving Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole
Holiday Recipes, Recipes, Uncategorized

Thanksgiving & Sweet Potato Casserole

Dear Diary,

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and it’s only four days away! This holiday is a perfect combination of comfort food, good friends, and family with freedom from the gift giving frenzy. The main attraction of this glorious holiday is usually the turkey. This year could be different with Cooking Light’s Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole. Could sweet potatoes really steal the limelight? You bet they could! Especially when you combine them with yummy ingredients like real maple syrup, vanilla, and pecans.

My childhood Thanksgiving feast did not have sweet potatoes present. I do have very fond memories of making dressing over the years with my Dad. One year we completely ruined the dressing by adding too much dried sage. We both thought the other had not added it and we both thought it needed a little more than the “recipe” (a loose word for our creations) called for. We laugh about that today and have not repeated that particular error since. That is the joy of cooking and creating wonderful memories around food and holidays.

I am so thankful for so many things during this holiday season. One of the things I am thankful for is knowing I will create wonderful memories for my own children around food and the holidays. I wish for all children to have the benefit of having people in their lives that show them how much they love them by providing healthy food. It not only nourishes the body, it also feeds the soul.


Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole

Sprinkle a buttery, brown sugar and pecan mixture over the top of the creamy potatoes in this sweet potato casserole that’s sweet enough to be dessert.
  • Yield: 18 servings (serving size: about 1/2 cup)


  • 14 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato (about 5 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 375°.

Place potato in a Dutch oven, and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 12 minutes or until tender. Drain.

Combine the half-and-half and next 4 ingredients (half-and-half through egg) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add potato to egg mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Spoon potato mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine flour and sugar in a food processor; pulse to combine. Add chilled butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in pecans; sprinkle over potato mixture.

Cover and bake at 375° for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 25 minutes or until the topping is browned and the potatoes are thoroughly heated.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories 250
  • Caloriesfromfat 23 %
  • Fat 6.3 g
  • Satfat 2.4 g
  • Monofat 2.5 g
  • Polyfat 1 g
  • Protein 3.3 g
  • Carbohydrate 46.1 g
  • Fiber 2.7 g
  • Cholesterol 22 mg
  • Iron 1.2 mg
  • Sodium 149 mg
  • Calcium 49 mg