Week 33 – Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry and Quinoa Salad, Creamy Pasta with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes , and Flourless Fudge Cookies

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I am so ready for Spring!  And it’s not because of the cold or the snow.  I grew up in Syracuse New York and lived in Chicago for the first 6 years of my adult life, I can do snow and cold.  It’s the fact that the DC area cannot handle snow.  At all.  I am so sick of having a 10 minute walk take 15 minutes because I have to go so slow because nobody understands the importance of putting salt on the darn sidewalks!  Again,  I lived in Chicago, I know it is possible for me to not feel like I’m going to wipe out with every step I take on the way to the train.  And then it snowed a whole 6 inches during the day on Thursday, was done by dinner, and somehow people still had nightmare commutes on Friday morning? I don’t get it.  I hope today’s 50 degree weather sticks around because the DC area NEEDS Spring.  For the safety of walkers everywhere.

We tried a few new recipes this week, and dang all of them were so so good!  We made the cookies because our small group had a dessert night this Wednesday and on Tuesday night we realized we needed to make something for it and this was the only recipe on my pinterest dessert board that we had all of the ingredients for.  These cookies are delicious, but SO rich.  And who knew that gluten free just means a buttload of powdered sugar?!  Not us… The salad and pasta were Saturday night’s dinner.  Pure deliciousness.  Matt looked in the bowl of the salad when I was making it and goes “that looks like a nightmare!”  But he tried it and then had some of the leftovers today, and I think this is another instance where he didn’t think he liked brussels sprouts, quinoa, or some other weirder healthier food, but he just needed to have it prepared deliciously (see the blue apron side salad here, the roasted chicken with veggies here, and the breakfast quinoa here).  The pasta was sooooo good and the cream sauce being made with almond milk instead of cream is healthy genius!  We didn’t even notice, and trust me, we’re the type of people who would notice.  In summary, all three of these recipes will definitely be made again and are highly recommended!

Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry and Quinoa Salad (recipe from here)

Makes: 4-8 servings, depending on size

Ingredients:

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, rinsed and ends trimmed, then halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • orange vinaigrette (see below)

Orange Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Mix the dressing ingredients in a container until combined.
  2. Toss the dressing and all salad ingredients together until combined.

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Creamy Pasta with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes (recipe from here)

Makes: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

Pasta Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces pasta
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 (6-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped or julienned fresh basil, loosely-packed
  • creamy garlic sauce (ingredients below)
  • optional toppings: crushed red pepper flakes, extra Parmesan, toasted pine nuts

Creamy Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups Almond Breeze original unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta in a large stockpot of (generously) salted water according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. While the pasta water is heating, begin making your cream sauce – Heat olive oil (or butter) in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.
  3. Stir in the flour, and saute for an additional minute, stirring occasionally.
  4. Slowly add in the almond milk, whisking to combine until smooth. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a simmer and thickens.
  5. Stir in Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until the cheese is melted.
  6. Reduce heat to low until pasta reaches al dente and you are ready to toss the sauce with the pasta.
  7. Once the sauce and pasta are cooked, toss them together with the chopped chicken breasts, sun-dried tomatoes and half of the fresh basil until evenly combined. Serve immediately, garnished with the remaining fresh basil and optional toppings (if desired).

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Flourless Fudge Cookies (recipe from here)

Makes: 20-30 cookies, depending on size

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional but good
  • 1 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-process preferred*
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets. Or line with parchment, and grease the parchment.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients, then stir in the egg whites and vanilla. Or, to save time, simply stir together all of the ingredients until smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and stir again until smooth.
  3. Drop the soft, batter-like dough onto the prepared baking sheets in 3″ circles (for large cookies), or 2″ circles (for smaller cookies).
  4. Bake the cookies for 6 minutes (for smaller cookies), 8 minutes for the larger cookies. They should spread slightly, become somewhat shiny, and develop faintly crackly tops.

Remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool right on the pan. When they’re nearly cool, carefully loosen them from the pan with a spatula.

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