Stew Leonard’s Brussels Sprouts – Product Review

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We are big into food shopping around here and one store I always love to shop at is Stew Leonard’s. If you’re looking for a weekend activity with your kids, this store is the place to be.

Walking into Stew Leonard’s is very much like walking into a casino. There’s so much going on you don’t’ know where to look first. Buttons to push, food to taste, cows mooing, singing chickens, and a great assortment of groceries stocked on the shelves.

Being asked to taste test one of their products was like winning the roulette wheel. And if going to a supermarket to pick up Brussels sprouts gets your kids excited how awesome is that? The minute we walked into the store the boys were anxious to hit every demo food station there was. They pushed every button and sampled every dish. We ended our shopping excursion with a picnic lunch at the Little Farm (yes, they even have a tiny petting zoo!) followed by some complimentary ice cream.

What makes Stew Leonard’s Brussels sprouts so different from any other market?

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I’ve cooked Brussels sprouts before but the difference in buying them at Stew Leonard’s versus another market is that they sell them washed, cleaned and shaved for you. Not only is most of the labor done for you they also provide a great Brussels sprout recipe on their website. I loved the convenience of this because there are many nights that I don’t have time to slice and dice.

The day we picked up our sample groceries there was also had a station demonstrating a Brussels sprouts recipe (different from the one featured on the website). And to make it even easier all the ingredients needed to cook the demo dish were stocked conveniently at the same station. You don’t have to run around the store looking for all the components, they are all in one spot, ready to go.

The recipe we followed was developed by the chefs at Stew Leonard’s and is featured below:

Not Your Mother’s Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

4 strips premium bacon, diced

1 Tbsp butter

½ red onion, diced

2 8oz pkgs Stew Leonard’s Shaved Brussels Sprouts

1 oz water

¼ cup maple syrup

Salt & Pepper

 

Method

Add bacon to a large saute pan (very large!), pre-heated at medium-high heat. Render bacon till crisp. Add butter. When melted, add onions and continue to cook until onions are translucent.

Add Brussels sprouts and water. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes. (Note: We needed to add a few more tablespoons of water. It also took a lot longer than 2-3 minutes to cook down)

Add maple syrup and cook an additional 2-3 minutes and serve.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “It looks disgusting but tastes pretty good”

Liam (age 5): “How many do we have to eat?”

Dylan (age 5): “Brussels sprouts are good but where’s the bacon?”

Would we buy prepackaged, prewashed Brussels sprouts in the future?

Besides the recipe above, there are so many ways to use this product. Simply sauté with olive oil, garlic and salt. Add them to a pasta sauce. Toss them in a salad. Use them as a healthy pizza topping. To be honest, the recipe we made was a little too sweet and rich to eat on a frequent basis but I would definitely stock these in our fridge, especially since my kids did eat them! The convenience factor is always welcome at our house and this product definitely fits the bill. Priced at 3.99 for an 8oz. package.

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Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I did receive complimentary products to sample.

O Is For Oatmeal

Has this every happened to you? You’re shopping in Costco or BJ’s and you see something that you don’t need but the price is so good you can’t resist? So you flex your muscles, lift the 20lb bag, and dump it in your double wide shopping cart. For a split second you think “How will I ever use this all up?” but the thought is fleeting as you spy another amazing bargain!

On my last trip to Costco I had oatmeal on my mind since I had just used the last bit. Arriving at the cereal aisle I spotted an enormous box and calculated the savings of buying the bulk size vs. the small canister at our local market. The cost difference was huge, how could I pass it up? I hefted the box off the shelf and placed it my double wide, proud of my purchasing savvy.

Oatmeal is something we always have in our pantry; the 18oz canister from the supermarket lasts an average of six months in our house. I’ve tried to make breakfast oatmeal with all sorts of toppings but it’s a mutiny every time. So the canister usually sits in the cupboard until it’s needed for cookies or muffins.

Arriving home with my purchase I was faced with a dilemma – what to do with all of this oatmeal– there are only so many cookies a girl can make. I needed to think outside of the oatmeal box and come up with some new ideas. Starting with breakfast made sense so I combined oatmeal with a meal I know my kids love, cheesy eggs. And you know I am adding bacon to this one!

Cheesy Egg Oatmeal Muffins (recipe yields: 16 small muffins)

Ingredients

2 ½ cups oats (not instant)

1 ½ cup whole or 2% milk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

4 bacon strips, cooked and finely diced, divided

½ tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp black pepper

 

Method

Place oats and milk in medium mixing bowl. Combine and cover with plastic wrap. Soak the oats overnight in the refrigerator. (See note below on soaking oats)

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin with paper cups, non-stick cooking oil, or some butter.

Add eggs, cheddar cheese, half of the bacon, salt and pepper to the oatmeal mixture. Mix until well combined. Fill muffin tins to top (the muffins are not going to rise). Add the remaining bacon on the top.

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Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until muffins are crispy on top and spring back when you touch them. I used a small muffin tin, you will need to adjust cooking time for larger muffins. Serve warm.

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Note about soaking oats: “Soaking” whole grains can make them more digestible and help your system obtain all the nutrients in the food. However, there are lots of people who believe you should and just as many people who say it’s a waste of time. I’m not a nutritionist so I can’t say one way or another. I chose to soak the oats in milk overnight because our muffins came out moister, with better flavor and texture, than without soaking them.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “You’re the best muffin omelet maker ever!”

Liam (age 5): “I want the one with the most bacon”

Dylan (age 5): “It’s too hot, but really good”

I made four batches of these and barely put a dent in my oatmeal supply. Anyone have any oatmeal recipes to share!? Please!

What do Superheroes eat?

The other night at dinner, one of the boys brought up an interesting question – What does Batman eat? Well, as you can imagine this sparked quite a philosophical debate. Matthew insisted that superheroes eat “regular” food, Dylan thought Spiderman only ate spiders, and Liam was adamant that Superman eats soup, all kinds of soup, but ONLY soup.

There were a few things they did agree on. Superheroes eat A LOT and they like to eat in restaurants. Although they were not sure where these restaurants were, you know the ones that serve spiders…

Growing up I preferred Barbie to Batman but who doesn’t remember Popeye and his spinach. I am not even sure my kids would know who Popeye is BTW. Wow, that makes me feel old! I remember my mother used to make a dish with potatoes (from a box) mixed with spinach (from a can) – and I loved it. I wanted to update the dish here using fresh ingredients. Here is our version:

Superhero Spuds

Ingredients:

2 large russet potatoes

Olive oil

Kosher salt & black pepper

2 strips bacon

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups fresh spinach, rough chopped

2 oz. Mascarpone cheese

1/4-cup milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub potatoes clean under cold running water. Poke potatoes with a fork several times. (This is important! If you don’t poke hole, potatoes will explode in oven.) Rub each potato with olive oil and season with salt. Place on a baking sheet and cook for approx. 1 hour 15 minutes. They will crisp on the outside and should give a little when pressed.

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Meanwhile cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet and drain on paper towels.  Leave about 1 tbsp of bacon drippings in the skillet and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes and then add the chopped spinach. Sauté until spinach is completely wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.

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When potatoes are cooked allow them to cool and then slice in 1/2 and scoop out the centers, leaving about 1/4” border.

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Place the scooped out potato, mascarpone cheese and milk in large bowl and mash together. Add in spinach and bacon, reserving some bacon to sprinkle on top. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Fill the scooped out potatoes with the spinach/potato mixture and top with the reserved bacon. Heat oven to 350 degrees, place potatoes on baking sheet and cook until heated through and browned in spots, about 25-30 minutes.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 5): “Bacon makes everyone big and strong – more bacon next time”

Liam (age 4): “I am only eating the bacon and I like the skin, it tastes like chocolate”

Dylan (age 4): “Mommy made a BAD dinner tonight…”

Ouch, I guess I was too overzealous with the spinach in Dylan’s opinion. Everyone tried some so I would definitely make these again. Maybe cut down on the spinach and put almost all the bacon on top so they will think I added a lot more. Sneaky I know….

ABC’s of BLT’s

Even though we live in close proximity to Manhattan, our little village has a small town feel. Nestled among the backstreets is a little café that screams small town and that is why we love going there. It is the type of place that makes you think of that song from Cheers, (Where everybody knows your name…). It was here that the boys found nirvana. Sitting at the counter, they tasted their first piece of bacon, and fell in love. Henceforth, whenever we walk in they scream BACON! And it doesn’t hurt that there is a wall of candy to peruse while their food is cooking. Personally, I go for the ice coffee (my addiction).

Bacon is a rarity in our household; so when it is on the menu, the boys practically knock each other down trying to get to the kitchen table.  I am not sure why I didn’t think of it sooner but I realized a BLT might be a great segue into getting them to eat “salad.” I fully anticipate that they will dissect the sandwich and just eat the bacon but maybe, just maybe they will eat it the LT part too….

There is not much you can do to make a classic BLT any better than the original but I gave it a shot. The bacon is dusted with brown sugar and the mayonnaise has a hint of cayenne pepper (totally optional – my kids like spicy sometimes). I also removed all the crust of the bread using a round cookie cutter. This created a perfect platform for the tomato and made the sandwich small enough for little fingers. It was a BLT work of art!

Brown Sugar BLT

Ingredients:

8 slices thick-cut bacon

1/4-cup brown sugar

3 Tbsp mayonnaise

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

8 slices whole wheat or white bread

4 slices of tomato, 1/4” thick

Handful of lettuce leaves, (arugula is what we used but iceberg is the traditional choice)

Salt & Pepper

 

Directions:

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Set a cooling rack inside the pan and set aside.

Place the brown sugar on a plate and dredge the bacon slices, shaking off excess sugar.

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Arrange the bacon on the rack (do not overlap). Place in cold oven and set to 375 degrees. Bake until crisp, about 20 minutes. Keep in mind the bacon will crisp as it cools.

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Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and cayenne pepper. Set aside until bacon has cooled.

Toast the bread.

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To assemble: Spread the cayenne mayonnaise on both top and bottom of toast. Cut two bacon slices in 1/2 and place on the bottom toast round. Top with lettuce and then tomato. Season the tomato with salt and pepper.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 5): It is hard to eat a round sandwich; not sure I like this ULA

Liam (age 3): I like the bacon (big surprise!)

Dylan (age 3): This bacon tastes funny, I only like the bread!

It must have been a full moon because this BLT was sooooooooooooo goooooooood!

East Ave. Cafe

East Ave. Cafe

Hanging with the locals

Hanging with the locals