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Shaved Brussells Sprouts, Bacon, and Potato Hash

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Physicists define entropy as: a measure of the disorder or randomness in a closed system; inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society.

Sometimes my home feels like a case study in entropy.

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Ingredients prepped in gorgeous glass nesting bowls from Avon

 

A few years ago, I returned home from a grocery shopping trip with the three boys to find that our senile labrosaurus rex (aka: enormous 11-year-old yellow lab) had emptied the entire contents of the trash, chewed it to smithereens, and scattered the remains throughout the main floor of the house.

It was a true masterpiece of canine art; the grand finale of his life’s work.

And there I stood, arms full of groceries, three small people whirling around me, surrounded by millions of filthy bits of trash.

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So, I stuck the baby in his highchair with a nutritious pre-dinner amuse bouche of oreo cookies. Then I enlisted the older boys’ help in picking up the living room, while I handled unpacking the perishable groceries and picking up the kitchen mess. Under the circumstances, we were all handling the situation with impressive zen.

And then, as I began loading the gallon of milk into the fridge, I lost my grip and it began to fall towards the floor. I reacted with ninja-like reflexes and caught the milk before it crashed to the trash-covered floor. A momentary triumph, until I realized that in the process of catching the milk, I’d knocked one of the fridge door shelves with my elbow, sending the shelf and its contents crashing to the floor to mingle with the dog’s trash mess.

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I took a deep breath, then grabbed some paper towels and got down on the ground to begin cleaning up the broken glass, sticky hoisin sauce, and olives, which had married themselves with the kitchen mess.

Once most of the trash was picked up and the floor dry, I ran the vacuum to ensure no bits of glass remained to injure small bare feet. Then, I finished unpacking the groceries, fed the boys, and sat down to take a breath. It was then that I noticed the piercing pain coming from my toe, which had been impaled by a bit of glass.

I cleaned up my toe, then poured myself a glass of wine. A very big glass of wine.

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At the time, it seemed like such a noteworthy series of chaotic events. Little did I know that such series of entropic events would become so normal they’d barely merit any attention at all. In my almost 9 years as a parent, I’ve come to realize that chaos ebbs and flows. There are periods of time where the demands of family life feel so impossibly insurmountable, no super hero could possibly win this war. And then, just when I’m ready to waive the white flag, things magically return to some semblance of normal, even if chaos is the new normal.

I’d be lying if I said that experience has taught me to thrive on chaos or to go with the flow. I rarely go with the flow. What I have learned though is that the roaring flow of chaos is always peppered with islands of blissful peace. You just have to hang on until you can get yourself onto one of those islands for a brief reprieve.

And in between the islands of peace, there is wine.

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The final dish, served in Italian-Inspired Serving Bowl from Avon

This brussels sprouts recipe is inspired by a side dish which accompanied a pan-roasted chicken recipe from Plated. Combined with potatoes, it makes an easy all-in-one veggie and starch side dish for just about any meal. I served it alongside a simple halibut piccata. Heck, I could eat a bowl of this on its own. This recipe has a high likelihood of turning just about anyone into a raving brussels sprouts fan.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, and Potato Hash

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fingerling potatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups brussels sprouts, very thinly sliced or shaved
  • Olive oil, about 1 tablespoon
  • Salt and pepper

Procedure

Place potatoes in a medium sized pot. Cover with cold, generously salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, under just fork tender. Drain and set aside. In a large pan, cook bacon over medium/medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon using a slotted spoon and set aside. Leave the rendered bacon fat in the pan. Add the shallot to the pan with the bacon fat. Cook for 4-5 minutes, over medium heat, until tender and golden. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, if little bacon fat remains. Add the brussels sprouts and potatoes. Cook over medium high heat for about 5-7 minutes, until the potatoes begin to brown. Return bacon to the pan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

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The beautiful Serafina Glass Cutting Board, 7″ Santoku knife (part of a pleasantly sharp, 16-Piece Multi-Pattern Collection), brightly colored glass nesting bowls, and Italian-Inspired Serving bowl are all from Avon, and can be purchased through my web store HERE. (FYI – Avon also happens to offer an oversized 25 ounce Stained Glass Wine Goblet.) Interested in buying or selling Avon? Let me know!

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Tequila-Braised Chicken

It seems that I blinked and almost two years went by since I’ve written.

A lot has happened in two years.  We renovated and sold our old house, then bought another house, packed and moved.

We took the boys to Disney World, Myrtle Beach and assorted other weekend adventures. We took ourselves to Barbados.

We adopted the most perfectly precious puppy.

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The kids got bigger and busier. We got older (and also busier).

My little Avon hobby flourished into a unexpected thriving business, with hundreds of other representatives on my team. (That’s me in the red sweater below.)

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We celebrated and we suffered. We gained and we lost. We laughed and we cried.

Basically, we’ve spent the past two years doing the whole life thing, with all of the celebrations and sorrows that brings.

And somewhere in the midst of all of that living, this little ol’ blog lost its place. Quite honestly, I was having a hard enough time garnering the mental energy to even figure out what to cook, let alone gathering the necessary ingredients, cooking it, photographing it, and then writing about it!

As our days became busier and our attention more scattered, we regretfully found ourselves in a routine of easy, not-typically-so-healthy convenience food.

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Enter “meal kit delivery” sites.

My lovely sister-in-law has been using a site called Plated for awhile now. Plated offers a weekly menu of meals to choose from. You select your meals a week ahead of time, then they ship you exact portions of the fresh ingredients you need to cook the meals, along with  bright, easy-to-follow recipe cards. On your delivery day, everything you need arrives on your doorstep, fresh and ready to be cooked.

After drooling over the pictures of the crave-worthy meals my sister-in-law was cooking with her husband, I decided to give it a try.

My one and only disappointment after receiving our first Plated box was that I didn’t have another box waiting on my doorstep, containing everything I needed to cook a delicious meal on all of the other nights that week! And the next week. And the week after that.

Turns out that there are a number of other sites that offer the same service as Plated. In the past couple months, we’ve also ordered from Blue Apron and become bigs fans of Home Chef, which has proven to be the best fit for feeding our whole family.

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Aside from the major convenience factor that Plated and other meal delivery kit sites offer, it’s also become much-needed fodder for food inspiration. Cooking each of the meals we’ve ordered through Plated, Blue Apron, or Home Chef, has stirred the culinary juices in my mind.

One delicious dish leads to an idea for another delicious dish. Change a bit here, add a bit over there, omit a bit over here, and voilá! You’ve got a new dish perfectly suited to your tastes.

One of our favorite Plated meals so far was a recipe for Beer-Braised Chicken. The following recipe is my modified twist on the immensely flavorful dish. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are coated in a fragrant blend of spices, then braised in a smokey chorizo-tomato based sauce, until tender and drenched with deliciousness.

Top with a Mexican cheese, like queso fresco, and enjoy over rice. This chicken would also work well in a sandwich or as filling for quesadillas.

Make a double batch for freezable leftovers!

Tequila-Braised Chicken

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8)
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chorizo, diced*
  • 1 medium cooking onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, rough-chopped
  • 1 ounce tequila (optional)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Mexican cheese (such as queso fresco), crumbled

*You can use sweet chorizo (dulce) or spicy (picante), depending on your preference for spiciness.

Procedure

Combine the paprika, cayenne, chili powder and salt in a small bowl. Pat the chicken thighs dry, then generously coat with the spice mixture. Heat the olive oil over medium-high in a wide saucepan. Once hot, add the chicken in a single layer. Sear for 1-2 minutes per side, until lightly-browned. Sear in batches, if necessary. Remove from the pan and set aside. (The chicken will not be fully cooked at this point.)

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the chorizo to the same pan you seared the chicken in. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add the onion and cilantro. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until the onion is tender.

Carefully add the tequila (optional). Allow to cook for a minute, then add the lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, tomato paste, and chicken stock. Stir to combine, then raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil.

Once boiling, return all of the chicken to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pan, then allow it to cook for approximately 8 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside to cool slightly.

Raise the heat to medium-high and allow the braising liquid to cook uncovered for about 3-5 minutes, until it’s reduced by about 1/2. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, use a fork or your fingers to tear the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Return the shredded chicken to the braising liquid. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper, as desired.

Serve over rice. Garnish with green onion and Mexican cheese.

Serves about 4.

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