Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Naughty or nice

He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!

Dangit, Santa! Way to ruin all the fun. It's no fun to be only good, and I certainly don't want to be only bad.

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Of course, I don't think you have to be only nice or naughty. Sometimes you can be both. Sort of like the Brussels sprout dish that I brought to Christmas dinner.

My friend had waxed on poetically about a Brussels sprout gratin he had made for his Thanksgiving meal. It had a board of artisan cheeses, heavy cream and the delightful vegetable people love to hate. It seemed a bit odd that he was so enamored with the dish - Brussels sprouts and cheese. Really? And then I realized that I am guilty of eating Green Giants Brussels sprouts in a processed cheese sauce and loving it.

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I decided that I would make my own version, minus some of the fat and adding some of my mystery box goodies from The Laughing Cow. When I shared what seemed like a great idea with my mother-in-law, I was informed that she did not eat Brussels sprouts. Not even with cheese. But I could bring a dessert.

I whined for a bit and threatened to bring a box of Oreos until I realized it wouldn't be very nice. And I wanted to be good, good for goodness sake. So I'd make dessert ... and my Brussels sprouts gratin.

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Made with fresh Brussels sprouts, center cut bacon and a cheese sauce of milk, Laughing Cow French Onion and Swiss cheese, the gratin is a dish that is just as good as it looks. The smokiness of the bacon and the flavor of the French Onion wedges complement the fresh, bright flavor of the Brussels sprouts. It seems decadent and a bit naughty but with a punch of good stuff like minerals and fiber.

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Leaving room for something that's definitely naughty.

Lightened Up Brussels Sprouts Gratin


2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed
Kosher salt
6 pieces center cut bacon
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk of choice (I used half almond, half 2%)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
5 wedges The Laughing Cow French Onion
1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese

In boiling salted water, cook Brussels sprouts in 1-pound batches for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and roughly chop.

Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat, cook bacon until just barely crisp. Remove from pan; drain. In the same skillet, add flour, whisking to combine with bacon grease. Allow to cook for 1 minute. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly, until combined. Continue to whisk occasionally as the mixture begins to thicken. Add in garlic powder, salt and pepper. Remove the skillet from the heat and add The Laughing Cow wedges and Swiss cheese, continuing to whisk until the cheese is melted and well combined.

In a 9-by-13 baking dish, toss together the Brussels sprouts, bacon and cheese sauce. Bake for 15 minutes in a 400-degree oven or until the sauce is bubbly.

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