Falled Over

Oh friends. Its Fall. Leaves are brilliant colors, there is pumpkin coffee is in my coffeemaker and my fleece jacket is wrapped me.

This weekend was delightfully fall-rific. Happy hour pumpkin beers on Friday, Findlay Market shopping and a Washington Park Apple Fest (without apples, which was confusing) on Saturday and newspaper reading and coffee drinking on Sunday. I cozied next to a fire pit at Coffee Emporium, nibbling a pumpkin muffin and drinking Autumn Blend coffee for most of Sunday morning. Delightful.

Then I came home on Sunday and cooked my face off. Booyah.

I had this amazing Baked Brie Strata at my friend Lisa’s house several months ago and I’ve been wanting to make it ever since. I followed the recipe exactly and so should you.(bonus? its only ~200 calories per piece) .
photo-4Breakfast at my house every day this week? Ok, come on over. I’ve got pumpkin coffee.

As you know, I’m no fan of chili. HOWEVER, this Apple, Cheddar & Chicken Chili sounded incredible. I love anything with apples and cheese.  My only recipe adjustment was using boneless chicken thighs. They’re cheaper and have more flavor;  WIN!
photo-5
(It tasted better than my awesome photography is leading you to believe)

Finally, I had bought some gorgeous Brussels Sprouts and Pecan Wood Smoked Bacon at Finday Market on Saturday. I wanted to put these two fall favorites together into some marriage of deliciousness. I thought about just doing my favorite Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Bacon; but I decided to go one step further and make it into a pasta bake. I know, I’m crazy like that. Normally, for any type of Macaroni and Cheese type dish, I would make a roux, white sauce and then add copious amounts of cheese. I decided to try another method that didn’t require a laborious white sauce and created a slightly lighter, gluten-free version that I really liked.  Warning: This is NOT ooey-gooey baked pasta. This really lets the Brussels and Bacon shine through with their crisp, bacon-y deliciousness, with the background of the smoked gouda in there. Umami heaven.

Smokey Gouda, Bacon and Brussels Sprouts Pasta Bake 
4 slices center-cut bacon, diced
1/2 lb (about 2 cups) fresh brussels sprouts, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
8oz Brown Rice pasta (I used rotini)
1 tsp olive oil
3 tbs Roasted Garlic Vegenaise*
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4c. Whipped cream cheese
1/2c. evaporated skim milk (leftover from the Strata above 🙂
6 oz Smoked Gouda cheese (reduced fat), shredded
Sea Salt, Black Pepper
*Note: I don’t like mayonnaise. However, I tried roasted garlic Vegenaise a few weeks ago in a Scallion Chicken Salad and really liked it. It acts a binder with great flavor. If you don’t want to use vegenaise, regular mayonnaise will probably do!

photo-3The goods: Brown Rice & Quinoa Pasta, Fresh Brussels Sprouts, Smoked Gouda Cheese and Roasted Garlic Vegenaise (plus a few other things…)

Pre-heat oven to 350. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Set aside and cover, keeping warm (you may want to add a tsp of olive oil to keep the pasta moist).IMG_0019
In a deep skillet, saute bacon over medium heat. Once bacon is starting to crisp (about 7 minutes), remove to a plate. Drain all but 1 tbs of fat from the pan.  Add brussels sprouts to the bacon fat and return the bacon to the pan. Stir in a pinch of salt and black pepper here. Toss here for about 10 minutes till brussels are crisp-tender and bacon has crisped up gorgeously. Remove from heat and cover. Try not to devour this just standing up with a fork in the pan. 

IMG_0020In a large bowl, whisk together Vegenaise, garlic powder and cream cheese; slowly adding the milk. Whisk in 4oz of the cheese, until the sauce thickens (you may want to add a bit more milk if its looking too thick). IMG_0021To this bowl, add the warmed pasta, stir thoroughly coating the pasta in sauce. Add the brussels sprouts/bacon mixture and combine well. Taste here; add a pinch more salt/pepper as needed.IMG_0022Pour pasta mix into a greased 9×11 pan. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.  Bake uncovered for 5-7 minutes, really we’re just warming everything through, and you do not want to overbake this. You could also fire it under the broiler for 30-45 seconds to brown the cheese. Serves 4.   IMG_0025

Hello Fall, I love you.

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