Balsamic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

This recipe is from Ina Garten’s new cookbook, Foolproof. 

This cookbook is beautiful and has some amazing looking recipes.  I look forward making dishes from it.  She also has really great tips on entertaining that make it possible to enjoy your dinner party because you’re not frantically cooking while your guests are at the table.  This recipe is delicious and could easily be made without the pancetta for vegetarians.  It is amazing what happens when you roast vegetables at high heat.

My only experience with brussels sprouts growing up was seeing them at Luby’s and being too scared to order them (after all –the LuAnn platter of one main dish and two sides required me to have the 1/2 breaded fish filet, with mashed potatoes and corn!)

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half through the core

4 oz. pancetta, sliced ¼” thick (I used Columbus pancetta, that is already cut into ¼” dice)

1/4 Cup good olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon syrupy balsamic vinegar (see note)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan, including some of the leaves, which get crispy when they’re roasted.  Cut the pancetta into ½” dice and add to pan.  Add the olive oil, 1 ½ tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and toss with your hands.  Spread out the mixture in a single layer.

Roast the Brussels sprouts for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re tender and nicely browned and the pancetta is cooked.  Toss once during roasting.  Remove from oven, drizzle immediately with the balsamic vinegar and toss again.  Taste for seasonings and serve hot.

Note:  You can buy aged balsamic vinegar, which can be very expensive, or you can boil good balsamic vinegar until reduced to half its volume and it will be become syrupy as well.  (I bought the Kirkland Brand of Balsamic Vinegar from Modena and it is actually quite syrupy and quite reasonable.)

Brussels Sprouts Prior to Roasting

Roasted Brussels Sprouts


Sweet Potato Casserole

I made this combination for the first time on  Thanksgiving.  Cook’s has a fantastic recipe for “Smokehouse Sweet Potatoes” with an interesting (and easy) cooking technique for the sweet potatoes which makes them not soggy.  A friend gave me a recipe a few years ago for sweet potato casserole with a great crunchy topping that makes for a great contrast for the slightly spicy and not overly sweet, sweet potatoes.  In the happy chaos of getting Thanksgiving dinner ready, I forgot to take a picture.  I think you won’t mind.


Smokehouse Mashed Sweet Potatoes

From Cook’s Country

December/January 2007

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: While developing our Smokehouse Mashed Sweet Potatoes recipe, we found that the right temperature and the right slice were key. We thinly sliced the sweet potatoes and cooked them covered, on the stovetop, on low heat with a small amount of butter and cream. The low heat allowed the potatoes in our recipe to release their liquid, which produced the steam that cooked them.


Serves 4 to 6

Total time:

This recipe can be doubled and prepared in a Dutch oven, but the cooking time will need to be doubled as well.


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces (Plugra if you can find it.)

3 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon sugar  (I used brown sugar)

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or slightly more–to taste)

2 pounds sweet potatoes (2 large or 3 medium), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (I found it easier to cut them into 1/4″ thick slices and then to stack a few slices and cut them into quarters.)


  1. Combine butter, 2 tablespoons cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspooncayenne pepper, sugar, and sweet potatoes in large saucepan. (I used a large saute pan as well as a large electric skillet–when I triples the recipe on Thanksgiving). Cook, covered, over low heat until potatoes are fall-apart tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
  2. Off heat, add remaining tablespoon cream and mash sweet potatoes with potato masher. Serve—OR

Put into a casserole dish and top with the following:


Pecan Topping for Sweet Potato Souffle


1 Cup corn flakes, crushed slightly  (I really like Trader Joe’s Organic Corn Flakes, but any will be fine.)

1/2 Cup light brown sugar

1/3 Cup melted butter  (Plugra, if you can find it)

3/4 Cup chopped pecans  (If you don’t like nuts, or are allergic, you can leave them out.)

Put the cornflakes into a ziplock bag and crush slightly.  In a bowl, combine cornflakes, brown sugar, melted butter and pecans and mix with clean hands.  Put topping over sweet potatoes and bake in a 350 degree oven until topping is lightly browned, about 20-30 minutes (please keep an eye on it).

Pumpkin Muffins



 It is cold and rainy afternoon and I thought–hey–it’s been a little while since Thanksgiving–time for more pumpkin!  I used demerara sugar instead of white and I wish I had “white whole wheat flour” in the pantry, because I think they would be even better.  Making this recipe reminded me of another recipe for Sweet Potato Muffins from Southern Living magazine that my mother, sister and I first made about 15 or 20 years ago.  I will try to find the recipe and post it soon. 

Zabar’s Recipes


Fall Pumpkin Muffins by Tiffany Ludwig

Makes 12 muffins.


1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup pureed pumpkin

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


Preheat your oven to 350°F. Prepare a muffin tray with either muffin cup liners or cooking spray.

Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt) and blend with a whisk.

Next whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the vegetable oil, pumpkin and spices until smooth. Add the dry ingredients mixing just until combined.

Fill all the muffin cups to an equal height. Sprinkle a little sugar on the top of each muffin batter. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.

* Notes

1. You could alternatively use white flour or a mixture of whole wheat and white flour. I like white whole wheat flour because it has the lightness of white flour with more whole wheat,d…

Baked Pumpkin Muffins