Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Pecans and Blue Cheese

If I could face plant into a pile of all things Fall, I would. I know, I know – just living up to all of the internet memes out there. But I have my reasons…

Overhead_SproutsSalad

It’s not because of Starbucks…although their Salted Caramel Mocha does make a good case for itself.

It’s not because of scarves. Because no matter how many times I pin it, I still don’t actually believe there are 12 ways to tie a scarf cause they all turn out the same when I do it. I just get frustrated and give up.

It’s not because of the boots. Okay, I love boots – but I love looking at them in stores more than I actually love buying and wearing them. I’d rather a fancy pair of heels any day…I know, totally going against the grain here.

What I CAN (and do) get behind in the Fall are the colors (reds, yellows, jewel tones!), the smells (cinnamon, fires, pumpkin!) and the flavors (all of them!)…and yes, smells and flavors are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!

Well here, we’re all about the flavors. Enter a delicious side salad that screams Fall. Roasted brussels sprouts? Toasted pecans? Bring it on!

Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Pecans and Blue Cheese (2 servings/4 WW points per serving)

Ingredients_SproutsSalad

½ pound uncooked Brussels sprouts
1 Tbsp. minced shallot
½ Tbsp. olive oil
1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. minced garlic
Dash cracked black pepper & kosher salt
2 Tbsp. chopped/halved pecans
2 Tbsp. reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles

Whisk together shallot, olive oil, mustard, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat oven to 350. Thinly slice sprouts and arrange on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Arrange pecans on baking sheet. Bake (both) for 5 minutes to soften sprouts and toast pecans.

SlicedandDressedSprouts

Add sprouts to a small bowl and drizzle with dressing, stir to coat. Divide and top with 1 Tbsp. each pecans and blue cheese.

BrusselsSproutSalad_cookingonthebrightside

Note that this is a small portion to be enjoyed as a side. We enjoyed it with some Orange Mustard Glazed Pork Chops and green beans for a delicious meal. I’m pretty sure red wine was involved as well, so there’s that.

On that note, hope y’all have a great weekend!

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Pesto Orecchiette with Sausage and Brussel Sprouts

Y’all, I was such a big girl this week.

I mean, almost a grown-up. And that says a lot being that I’m 29 and 1.

I have confessed to y’all that I have a bizarre perfectly normal fear of balloons. And needles.

This week – I faced both.

Wednesday we celebrated Baby Way’s (my youngest nephew) first birthday. So my 3 older nephews decided to put on a balloon show – which involved them throwing the balloons off of their 2nd floor into the entry way, with various spins and tosses. That part I handled like a champ.

However, you know that screechy sound balloons make when they have hands and feet on them? Like they are about to burst any minute? I heard that one a lot – because they didn’t want to put their balloons down and lose them. But you know what, Aunt Mary kept her cool. I survived!

Then, the next morning, I had my annual check-up and had to get my blood taken. Yes, as in with a needle. The past 2 times I’ve had this done, I’ve apparently gotten inept or brand new nurses who don’t know what they heck they are doing – so they’ve had to stab me with a needle twice. Which is one more time than I can handle without losing the blood in my face and my eyes rolling back in my head as I endured the torture. (I’d make a terrible spy – clearly I’m not to be trusted with government secrets). Thankfully, I had a pro this time around. I warned her I was a huge baby and she was nice. I still didn’t enjoy it, but at least I wasn’t reduced to a crumpled heap of Mary.

I know, I’m so mature.

So weeks like this one call for one thing – comfort food. For me, pasta is a great comfort food – it’s warm, usually has some form of cheese included and it’s super easy to throw together. Honestly, what good is comfort food if it takes forever to make and leaves a giant mess?

I discovered this dish on Pinterest (love) and it’s definitely in my comfort food rotation from now on! It’s easy, doesn’t make a giant mess, and it’s like a nice, big, warm hug that’s perfect for enjoying in your stretchy pants curled up on your couch – but also fancy enough that you can serve it to guests.

Pesto Orecchiette with Sausage and Brussel Sprouts (Serves 4 / 11 WW points per serving)

Adapted from original recipe found here.

Ingredients

8 oz. whole wheat orecchiette

2 1/2 links Chicken Sausage, Italian style (I used Archer Farms brand)

1/2 pound brussel sprouts, peeled and halved

4 Tbsp. store-bought Pesto sauce

1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

4 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan

Preheat your oven to 400.

To prep your brussel sprouts, cut off the bottom “stem” and peel away exterior leaves. Then cut in half. Toss in a small baking pan with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 or so minutes.

While the brussel sprouts are cooking, heat remaining olive oil in a medium skillet. Slice sausage into 1/8-1/4 inch thick slices. Saute in olive oil over medium for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until chicken is browned and cooked through.

Step by Step Collage

Boil the water for your pasta and cook according to directions.

When everything has cooked, drain pasta and stir in pesto. Add cooked sausage and roasted brussel sprouts, stir until incorporated.

Plate and top each serving with 1 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan.

Plated

All we needed with this dish was some yummy garlic bread and a glass of red wine. Perfect way to enjoy a James Bond movie night with my husband…

Pesto Orecchiette

Hope y’all have a great weekend!