Bacon, Bean, & Brussels Bowl

One of my yearly intentions is to use up the special and fun ingredients I have hoarded over the years. Much like gift cards, I enjoy the idea of using fancy things even more than actually doing so. Unfortunately, this results in a somewhat ridiculous amount of my cupboard space being filled with anything I consider rare, expensive, or difficult to replace. In an effort to not wait for a special occasion but instead to make every day a special occasion, I’m off on a journey of using what we have.

Brussels, Bacon, & Bean Bowl {{Baking Bytes}}

As such, when I rediscovered this delightful lemon dill mustard I started to put it on, well, everything. You may remember it from the meatloaf grilled cheese from two weeks ago. Wraps, sandwiches, scrambled eggs, burgers, bowls…you name it, I’ve done it. It’s a wonderful spring and summer condiment since it carries all the lightness of lemon with the heartiness of a mustard. I am nearing the end of the jar and after I make it through my remaining hoarded condiments, I will definitely be treating myself to another.

Brussels, Bacon, & Bean Bowl {{Baking Bytes}}

This bowl was born of needing to use up items in the fridge without making a trip to the store. In the current climate, not making unessential excursions outside the house is even more important, and it’s definitely cut back on our trips to the grocery store. Since it’s only about a 10-minute walk, I’m not usually opposed to heading over on a baking whim, but these days I am doing my best to avoid it.

Brussels, Bacon, & Bean Bowl {{Baking Bytes}}

As such, the Brussels sprouts, canned kidney beans and copious amounts of bacon ends called to me. Mixed with a scoop of rice and a handful of spinach, the lemon dill mustard compliments everything while making it a cohesive dish. It’s extremely filling and hearty and easily tailored to your macro preferences, but hits a number of lovely flavors with minimal effort. Crispy Brussels, salty bacon, creamy rice and beans, and a pop of color from the spinach are all pulled together with a light coating of mustard (or any sauce you like) and a generous crumble of goat cheese. For vegetarian/vegan options, sub the bacon in favor of a few extra beans, and ditch the cheese or use your favor non-dairy version.

Brussels, Bacon, & Bean Bowl {{Baking Bytes}}

If you’re making a single serving you can easily do it in a cast iron skillet, but for the full recipe I preferred to use the oven, which is the method outlined below. (Mostly for less bacon grease to clean up afterward.) This dish is and excellent way to use up leftover rice and beans from tacos, and it’s delicious both warm and cold if your weather also tends to flip-flop back and forth. Keeps well in the fridge for a few days (mine was all gone by then) and makes an excellent entree or side for whichever spot on the table you’re looking to fill.

Bacon, Bean, & Brussels Bowl

Serves 2 (entree) – 4 (side)


1 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut into halves or fourths
1/4 tsp salt
2-4 oz bacon

2/3 cup (about half a can) kidney beans
1 cup cooked rice
2-4 Tbsp (lemon dill) mustard or other sauce
2 oz spinach
2 oz goat cheese (or Parmesan)
fresh pepper and dill, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line 1/3 of the sheet with foil, with the ends turns up to form a mini tray. Arrange bacon on the foil.
  3. Drizzle olive oil on the remainder of the baking sheet and add sprouts and salt. Use your hands and toss until well coated. Spread evenly on the tray, cut side down, if possible.
  4. Roast for 18-20 minutes, or until bacon is to desired crispiness. Remove foil with bacon and continue to roast the sprouts for another 5-10 minutes or until crispy. Place the bacon on a paper towel to drain, then chop into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large bowl add the beans, rice, and 2 tablespoons mustard. Use a rubber scraper to gently toss until well coated.
  6. When the Brussels are done, add them and the bacon to the bowl and stir gently until evenly coated. Taste and add additional mustard, if desired.
  7. Stir in spinach, then top with goat cheese, pepper, and dill. Serve immediately for a warming entree, or cover and refrigerate until ready to eat. Great as leftovers either chilled or reheated in the microwave.




Meatloaf Grilled Cheese

I’m baaaaack.


The world is a vastly different place than when I made my sabbatical announcement a few short ridiculous months ago. I hope all of you are staying safe, healthy, and socially distanced in this unprecedented time. Like many of you, I’m sure, I am focusing some of my energy into the kitchen, treating myself to nice breakfasts and lunches I wouldn’t normally have time for when working in the office. I haven’t yet jumped on the sourdough bandwagon…but there’s still time. So much time.

Elkhorn Mountains, Montana

Amongst the creative endeavors I find myself craving soul comforts: long runs, blueberry pancakes, quiet mornings with coffee, ice cream for dessert, and post-dinner walks with M. Comfort food is an easy way to feel more grounded in times of turmoil and no better time than now to really cozy up your lunches and dinners. In light of that, in addition to it being National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m sharing one of my favorites.

Meatloaf Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

Meatloaf is a staple entree in our household and the reason I don’t have a recipe on here is because M is nearly always the one that makes it! Also, honestly, because it’s not that photogenic. If you don’t have a go-to recipe, I’ve put ours in the notes.2 In any case, this is an excellent way to use up leftovers but it’s also a sure-fire excuse for making one in the first place. Treat yourself to a delightful cozy experience and make one tonight.


Crispy bread and melty cheese envelope comforting meatloaf, lightly accented by your favorite condiments. I like to use a fancy mustard and a little mayo, but if you are a ketchup person I don’t judge. Switch it up by going fusion with different condiments and cheeses and you can make this meal as low-key or extravagant as you need right now. Sunday is National Grilled Cheese Day, in case you want to start a new Easter tradition. Either way, I promise it’ll make a cozy addition to your evening.

Meatloaf Grilled Cheese

Makes 1 sandwich


1 Tbsp olive oil (garlic infused, if you have it!)

2 slices bread (I like to use sourdough)
condiments, to taste
thinly sliced cheddar, enough for both bread slices
1-2 slices leftover meatloaf, thickness to taste

condiment ideas, optional but recommended
bbq sauce
smoked balsamic


  1. Add olive oil to a medium-large pan (big enough to fit bread side-by-side, and heat over medium-low.
  2. Spread bread slices with condiments of choice.1
  3. Arrange cheese atop your condiment-laden bread.
  4. If you don’t have a microwave, add your meatloaf to one slice.
  5. When the oil is hot, add both slices of bread to your pan and cover with a lid, then cook until cheese is melty and bread is golden. Reduce heat if bread is browning too fast.
  6. If you do have a microwave, heat your meatloaf separately now, then add to one slice.
  7. Top with the other slice, cheese side down (duh) then flip and cook for an additional 30-seconds.
  8. Enjoy immediately, sliced in half and served with a side of veggies, if you like.


1 I like to do mayo on one side and a fancy mustard on the other; M prefers a mayo/spicy mustard mix + ketchup. Also a great spot for a dash of chimichurri sauce, teriyaki sauce, or whatever fusion situation you can dream up.

2 In a medium bowl, combine: 1-1.5lbs ground venison (or beef), 1 egg, 3/4 cup oats, 1 cup canned tomato sauce, 1/4 cup finely diced onion, and herbs to taste. Coat a glass loaf pan with nonstick spray and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 55 minutes. Carefully pour off excess liquid and allow to cool 5-10 minutes before slicing.

BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches & Maple Walnut Brussels Slaw

(Long post incoming, but I promise the recipes are worth it!)

Week four already! Is October going by crazy fast for anyone else? After spending the first half of month in Europe I am now in Iowa for work and boy is my body confused. Here’s hoping my sleep and my stomach get back on track soon.

This week is entree week. Pulled pork is one of my absolute favorite meals and Pinterest piqued my curiosity of substituting jackfruit for the meat. I’ve seen it multiple times over the last few years but never actually got around to trying it. This menu was the perfect opportunity to give it a shot since it nicely fits the theme and is inherently vegetarian and lactose-free.

BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches {{Baking Bytes}}

I vaguely considered using fresh jackfruit until I saw the size of one and realized I didn’t want enough to feed the entire Mongol army. Feel free to go fresh if you like, or stick to canned if you want a slightly less exhausting adventure. Ensure you rinse your canned stuff thoroughly in order to remove as much of the “can” flavor as possible. I will fully admit canned jackfruit is not widely stocked nor cheap in my area, but it was definitely a fun recipe nonetheless.

Is it pork? No. Is it delicious? Yes. While it definitely won’t fool any meat eaters since the texture and flavor are both quite different, it’s still an awesome addition to your repertoire and a fun way to add a vegan option to a barbecue spread. And either way it was a perfect vessel for the most amazing barbecue sauce I’ve ever made.

Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce {{Baking Bytes}}

Smoky, sweet, and just enough spice, this barbecue sauce is definitely my go-to recipe. My mom actually sent me this recipe like six months ago and I completely forgot about it until I was considering the menu for this series. I am so glad I finally gave it a try because I personally think my slightly adapted version is just perfect. Easy, smooth, and a perfect balance of smoke and spice without the overload of sugar store-bought varieties typically employ. It comes together in about five minutes and keeps in the fridge for quite a while, so if you try nothing else about this recipe, definitely give the sauce a go! I’ll definitely be using it on everything from burgers to meatloaf to actual pulled pork going forward.

The last piece in this delightful sandwich is the slaw. Pulled pork sandwiches are nearly always accompanied by some kind of coleslaw and I wanted to include that element here as well. Inspired by an existing Olivelle recipe of which I’ve already posted another version, this one is simple but a perfect sweet and crunchy  addition to the barbecue flavor. An equal mix of barrel aged white balsamic and their new vanilla maple olive oil blend into a light and sweet dressing that compliments the crisp sprouts and cabbage without competing with the barbecue sauce. I added some walnuts for extra crunch and that slight nutty flavor adds just a little interest to the whole experience.

Maple Walnut Brussels Sprouts Slaw {{Baking Bytes}}

Sandwiched between your favorite lightly toasted bun with a spread of (mayo), the jackfruit and slaw combine into a sweet and spicy experience that’s not only delicious, but also pretty healthy. It’s inherently vegetarian and can be easily made vegan by subbing or ditching the mayo, making it appropriate for a wide variety of diet preferences. It’s a lovely cozy fall meal but would also be awesome for those summer potlucks, so keep it handy all year long.

BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches {{Baking Bytes}}

Whether you try one piece or the whole shebang, I hope you find a new go-to somewhere in the set!

BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches

Serves 4-6


Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce
6oz can tomato paste
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup Smoked Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 tsp liquid smoke, optional
2 Tbsp Sweet Smoked Chili Rub
1 Tbsp Applewood Smoked Sea Salt1
15 twists Bourbon Barrel Smoked Black Peppercorns1
1/4 tsp ground chipotle or cayenne pepper, optional

Maple Walnut Brussels Sprouts Slaw
1/2 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and shredded (about 3 cups)
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

3 Tbsp Barrel Aged White Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tbsp Vanilla Maple Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Vanilla Bean Sea Salt

BBQ Jackfruit
2 Tbsp Caramelized Garlic Olive Oil
3 (14oz) cans young jackfruit in water2
2 Tbsp Sweet Smoked Chili Rub
1 cup smoky sweet barbecue sauce
3/4 cup water

for each sandwich
1 burger bun, toasted
1/2 cup bbq jackfruit
1/4 vanilla maple slaw
mayo (or your favorite vegan substitute), to taste
additional barbecue sauce, to taste


  1. For the sauce: Blend all sauce ingredients until well combined; store in a pint jar and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 6 weeks.
  2. For the slaw: In a medium bowl, mix together Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and walnuts.
  3. In a pint glass or mason jar, whisk together Barrel Aged White Balsamic, Vanilla Maple Olive Oil, and Vanilla Bean Sea Salt until completely combined.
  4. Stir dressing into Brussels mixture until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 5 days.
  5. For the bbq sandwiches: Drain and thoroughly rinse jackfruit, then pat dry. Set aside.
  6. In a large frying pan or wok, heat the olive oil until shimmering.
  7. Stir in jackfruit and Sweet Smoked Chili Rub and toss until well coated.
  8. Stir in barbecue sauce and water, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until jackfruit is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
  9. Spread mayo on bottom half of a toasted bun; top with 1/2 cup jackfruit, 1/4 cup slaw, and additional barbecue sauce, to taste.
  10. Cover with the other half of the bun and enjoy immediately.


You can substitute plain salt and pepper with minimal taste difference, but the smoky versions add a lovely depth of flavor.

If you prefer meat, I harbor no judgement for substituting normal pulled pork!

Squashage Crustless Quiche

Happy fall, friends. Or if it’s not really fall where you are, you can either ignore completely or live vicariously through this post instead. Up to you.

Squashage Crustless Quiche {{Baking Bytes}}

Spicy sausage and sweet squash are a perfect match in my world, and this quiche is inspired by a lovely pizza at a local spot. Butternut squash is one of my favorites, and is a great way to autumnize a recipe if you’re not a fan of pumpkin or just not quite into “pumpkin season” yet. It’s a neutral flavor that lends a touch of sweetness to a recipe without overpowering it, and comes in conveniently pre-diced packages at Costco.

Squashage Crustless Quiche {{Baking Bytes}}

Paired with your preferred Italian sausage, the sweet and spicy notes complement each other perfectly. You can amp up the spicy aspect, as I did here, or amp up the sweetness aspect with a touch of maple and cinnamon if you prefer. Wilted kale generously adds a veggie boost and a color pop without overwhelming the flavor. I prefer kale here since it has more structural integrity than spinach and a more mild flavor than arugula, but you can substitute your favorite leafy green easily enough.

Squashage Crustless Quiche {{Baking Bytes}}

Perfect on its own or with a side of potatoes, pastry, or produce (depending on your mood), this quiche is an excellent meal to have stashed in the freezer or to meal prep for the week ahead. It keeps nicely in the fridge for at least a week or in the freezer for several months, so consider making a double batch if you have the storage space. It’s also lovely topped with some crumbled feta or chèvre if you’re interested in adding a creamy component.

This quiche is sure to be a new fall favorite, but it’s so easy you’ll want to make it all year round.

Squashage Crustless Quiche

Serves 6-8


1/2 lb Italian sausage of choice (I like spicy)
1 lbs butternut squash, peeled and diced
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
a few large handfuls kale, to taste1

8 large eggs
1 cup milk of choice (I used cow, almond should be fine)
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 – 1/2 tsp paprika, to taste

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray an 8×8″ baking dish (or deep-dish 9″ pie plate) with cooking spray.
  2. Layer a couple of paper towels on a plate and set aside.
  3. Add the sausage to a large frying pan and heat over medium. Cook, breaking into small pieces, until browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to paper towels to drain.
  4. Add onion to the same pan and sauté until translucent. Use slotted spoon to spread evenly into prepared baking dish.
  5. Briefly sauté the kale in the same pan until wilted (in batches if necessary) and add to prepared baking dish. Add squash and sausage.
  6. In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, milk, and Italian season.
  7. Pour gently into the baking dish, being careful not to overfill. (If you have extra space, you can always stir in some extra wilted kale here.)
  8. Top with additional paprika and crushed red pepper, if desired.
  9. Bake for about one hour, until the top is browned and the quiche is set. If necessary, cover with foil for the last 20 minutes to prevent the top from over browning.
  10. Let cool on the counter briefly before serving with your favorite toppings and sides.
  11. Store leftovers in the fridge or wrap completely cooled slices individually for a pre-portioned and freezer-safe breakfast.2


I did not actually measure, but it was probably most of one of the smaller sized clamshell packages. I just kept wilting kale until no more fit.

To reheat: unwrap and place in the microwave on a folded paper towel (to absorb excess moisture.) Defrost for 2-3 minutes then heat normally for 30-45 seconds. Enjoy!

Thai Peanut Zoodle Salad

A few months ago my favorite store announced a limited release of a Black Garlic Tamari Soy infused balsamic vinegar. I promptly went to the store for a taste and it quickly became one of my favorite products. The lovely umami flavor of soy paired with the tangy sweetness of balsamic and a light punch of garlic makes every mouthful interesting. I’ve used it in place of soy sauce in numerous dishes, from fried rice to scrambled eggs to this delightful Thai peanut salad I have here to share with you today.

Thai Peanut Zoodle Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

In my never-ending love affair with my spiralizer, I recently meal-prepped a super easy, healthy, and delicious salad for my weekly lunches. With very little knife work required, the vegetable prep happens quickly instead of feeling like you are standing in the kitchen chopping for nine hours. The sauce comes together even faster, made easily in a blender or food processor. Chopping some peanuts are all you have to do by hand, and I promise that takes less than a minute.

Thai Peanut Zoodle Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Inspired in part by last year’s cashew zoodle salad, I wanted to experiment with a peanut-based version. Peanut is far and above my favorite flavor of nut, and pairing it with soy and spice is nearly always delightful. Olivelle’s introduction of this soy-like balsamic sealed the deal in working on this creation.

Thai Peanut Sauce {{Baking Bytes}}

I opted to use peanut butter powder in the sauce because the oils already add plenty of fats, but you can certainly use regular peanut butter too. (Just start with half the amount to begin with as the peanut flavor often comes through much strong.) Complemented with tangy balsamic, nutty sesame oil, a hint of sweet maple, and the heat of crushed red pepper flakes, this sauce covers nearly all the taste profiles in every delicious bite. I made mine quite thick to blend nicely with all the water zoodles tend to release, but to use as a regular salad dressing you can thin it was additional water.

Thai Peanut Zoodle Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Crispy veggies and tangy dressing topped with crispy peanuts are a perfect summer side dish or entree. Round it out with steak, grilled chicken, or tofu, served either on top or alongside this tasty salad. As its sans lettuce this is a perfect meal prep option, and it keeps well in the fridge for up to a week with your dressing reserved in a separate container until ready to eat. It also lends itself well to additional garnishes, like mandarin orange, sesame seeds, scallions, or just a sprinkle of extra red pepper flakes.

Thai Peanut Zoodle Salad

Serves 4


2 medium zucchini
2 large carrots, peeled

2 medium bell peppers
1 medium red onion
1 small red cabbage
1 large cucumber
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
garnishes: mandarin, sesame seeds, scallion, red pepper flakes
optional: protein of choice (steak, chicken, tofu, chickpeas)

Thai Peanut Sauce
45g (1/3 cup) peanut butter powder1
60 mL (1/4 cup) (Toasted) sesame oil
60 mL (1/4 cup) water, to taste
30 mL (2 Tbsp) Black Garlic Tamari Balsamic Vinegar2
10 mL (2 tsp) maple syrup3
1/4 tsp (Roasted Garlic) salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, to taste


  1. Wash and spiralize all veggies: 5mm for zucchini, 2mm for carrot, and the flat blade for the remaining veggies. (Or chop them all, if you don’t have a spiralizer.)
  2. Combine all sauce ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Add extra red pepper flakes or water as desired, but remember the zucchini will release a lot of water and thin the sauce substantially.
  3. For meal prep: divide zucchini evenly among four 5-cup containers. Top each with 1/4th of the remaining veggies. Add 2 Tbsp chopped peanuts and 2-4 Tbsp sauce to separate small containers, and tuck them in with the veggies. Refrigerate until ready to eat, up to 1 week.
  4. To serve: layer the zucchini in a large serving dish, then top with remaining veggies. Add 1/2 cup dressing and toss until well coated. Taste and toss with additional dressing if you prefer a more generous coating.
  5. If desired, layer on protein of choice, then drizzle with a small amount of extra sauce.
  6. Top with crushed peanuts, and any other garnishes you like (mandarin orange, extra red pepper flakes, sesame seeds). Serve promptly.


You could also use regular peanut butter, but start with about 3 tablespoons and adjust after tasting.

If necessary, 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce should be an acceptable substitute.

If you use a sweetened peanut butter, like Jif, start without syrup and adjust after tasting.