Brussel Sprout Challenge

Let me just say there is no picture that could ever capture how yummy these are!

Okay people….I know this may sound crazy, but I think brussel sprouts my officially be my favourite vegetable! A few weeks ago, I went out to Original Joe’s for dinner with friends. I ordered their brussel sprouts and was blown away by the flavour of this dish. When cooked properly, I like brussel sprouts, but I can’t honestly imagine anyone not absolutely loving them after tasting this recipe. Of course, I went home and searched for a copy cat, but couldn’t find one. Luckily I had taken a photo of the description on the menu, so had something to work from. I looked up recipes containing similar ingredients and after combining several different recipes….I think I came up with something pretty awesome. I won’t go so far as to say that I nailed the “copy cat”, but the flavours are spectacular and if you like the Originals Joe’s version….I think you’ll love this recipe too. Now don’t be scared of the steps, as there are several. The best part is that you really don’t need much more to make it a meal as there is already protein in it. We had them last night with some breaded fish and were left feeling very full….probably because the brussel sprouts are so good, I couldn’t stop eating them.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Warm Honey Glaze, Candied Bacon & Cilantro-Lime Crema

That title really says it all!! I know there are several steps, but some of the steps can be done at the same time like juicing and zesting the limes and chopping the cilantro. Also, both the Candied Bacon and Cilantro-Lime Crema can be made ahead of time. If you do them first, it is really just the prepping the brussel sprouts and making the glaze.

1. Candied Bacon

  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon

I make my bacon first….even the day before. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and add cooking spray. Stir sugar and cinnamon together. Dip bacon in the sugar mixture to coat. Place bacon on foil lined sheet. Sprinkle any remaining sugar on top. Cook in hot oven for 6 to 10 minutes. Check every minute or so once it hits the 6 minute mark. Remove from oven. Let cool and chop into small pieces.

2. Cilantro-Lime Crema

Mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. This can be made ahead.

  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (*chop enough for step 4 as well)
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • juice from one lime (about 2 T) (*Juice/zest enough for step 4 as well)
  • 1 tsp of lime zest (grated rind)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 clove minced garlic (or 1/2 tsp garlic puree).

3. Roasted Brussel Sprouts

  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. of brussel sprouts, trimmed, halved and washed
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Place a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack of oven (I often line mine with foil for easy clean-up). Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. You want the pan to get nice and hot so that brussel sprouts will sizzle when you place them on top.

Toss the brussel sprouts and oil in a large bowl. Once they are coated in oil, season with salt and pepper. Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven and dump the brussel spouts on the pan and quickly arrange cut side down (you can use tongs, but I just use clean hands). Roast on the bottom rack until softened and deeply browned …about 20-25 minutes. Do not overcook.

4. Honey-Lime Glaze and Toppings

  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 T. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • finely grated lime zest (1tsp – 2 tsp)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup finely grated fresh parmesan cheese
  • 6 slices of chopped candied bacon (see recipe)

Bring honey to a boil in a small sauce pan over medium heat…stirring often. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the honey is a deep amber colour (3-4 minutes). Stir often to prevent burning. Remove from heat and add the lime juice and red pepper flakes. Stir and then return to heat. Add butter and salt. Whisk constantly until glaze is glossy and slightly thickened. When brussel sprouts are cooked, transfer them back to the original bowl to toss with the honey glaze. Add cilantro and lime zest, toss. Finally, top with parmesan cheese and candied bacon.

I challenge you to try this recipe! Not only will your family love them, but they are a sure crowd pleaser for any dinner party or potluck. Original Joe’s served them as an appetizer. You could do this as well, just serve the crema as a dip and provide toothpicks and/or little plates. Soooo delicious!

Mystery Box Riddle #10

Happy solving! Don’t forget to LIKE and SHARE with friends and family…the mystery riddles are geared to 5 to 8 year olds. I’m hoping some will be inspired to make their own. One of my students just sent me a video yesterday. He made his own Mystery Box video and shared his own riddle with me…so cute!

Olive Garden Soup & Salad

copy cat olive garden salad

I have to admit that Olive Garden isn’t actually a favourite restaurant of mine. I try to stay away from pasta as much as possible. However, if you’re like me the Olive Garden house salad and potato soup will leave a lasting impression! It took me many years, but I do believe that I have found great copy cats for both recipes. The next time you’re craving soup and salad, this combo is sure to impress. I love the added heat in both recipes….hope you enjoy them as much as my family does!

Copy Cat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup

I found this recipe several years ago on Tuscan Recipes. I follow the recipe exactly as presented with the exception of using cartoned chicken broth in lieu of the water/bouillon combo. This is mostly because I can be lazy in the kitchen. Sometimes I have my own chicken bone broth on hand and will use it as an alternate as well. Otherwise, I follow it just as it is written. This soup is absolutely delicious and works every single time!


  • 1 lb. of ground Italian Sausage
  • 1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (1 tsp may be enough for you)
  • 1 large diced white onion
  • 4 T. bacon pieces (or more…you can never have too much bacon)
  • 2 tsp. garlic purée
  • 10 cups of water and 5 cubes of chicken bouillon (or 10 cups of broth)
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 lb of sliced Russet potatoes (approximately 3 large potatoes)
  • 1/4 of a bunch of chopped fresh kale (I I usually add about 2-3 cups)


  1. Sauté the sausage and pepper flakes in a large soup pot. Drain the fat. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. In the same pot, sauté the bacon, onions and garlic.
  3. Add water/broth and heat to a boil.
  4. Add potatoes and cook about half an hour on low heat.
  5. Add the cream, sausage and kale. Stir and heat through.

Serves 6-8.

Copy Cat Olive Garden House Salad

I came across this recipe a few years back and make it regularly for my family to enjoy. The recipe was found on Family Fresh Meals and is absolutely delicious!

Famous House Salad Dressing:

1 packet Italian Dressing Mix
3/4 cup oil (vegetable/canola)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Mix all of the ingredients in a glass jar. Shake well…until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate for at least an hour to marinate flavours.

*It can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks.

Salad Ingredients:

  • combination of romaine and iceberg lettuce (or greens of your choice)
  • pitted black olives
  • 6 mild pepperoncici peppers (found near the pickles)
  • 1-2 wedged roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup croutons
  • freshly grated Romano and/or Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top of your salad
  • thinly sliced red onion

Give this classic Olive Garden soup and salad combo a try and let me know what you think. These are two of my “go to” recipes for sure!

Mystery Box Riddle #9

Remember to LIKE and SHARE the riddle of the day!

Mystery Box Riddle #7

Have fun solving today’s riddle. Remember to LIKE and SHARE!

Just realized that I forgot to push the PUBLISH button! Guess you get two today!!

Mystery Box Riddle #6

Quick Mystery Box Riddle post before getting ready for online church!

Mystery Box Riddle #5

Happy solving!

Mystery Box Riddles #4

Something fun for all the kids at home during school closures.

Remember to SHARE with any children you think might have fun with this!

Mystery Box Riddles #2 and #3

I was having trouble deciding if I should share my Mystery Box Riddles every day or not. In the end, I guess that you’ll either be interested or not. I will share them every day during the school closures due to Covid19, but just as a stand alone without any explanation or introduction. I’m hoping that most of my readers have some children in their life that might like the daily challenge of solving the riddles. Be sure to SHARE if that’s the case! Here are the riddles from days 2 and 3.

Mystery Box Riddles

I’ve been struggling to pump out gift wrapping videos lately in lieu of what is happening in the world. I just feel like it might be in poor taste with everything that is going on.

However, I came up with an idea to help out teacher’s looking to facilitate a home school program and parents that are going crazy trying to implement it! I used to love riddles and word problems when I was a kid. I was thinking back to when I taught grade two and this fun activity that we used to do with paper bags. We called them “Mystery Bags” and the kids loved to write and solve each others riddles by trying to guess what was in their friend’s bag. I decided that I could use the same concept but develop a “Mystery Box” that I could share on my YouTube channel. I will use clues/riddles to describe something that is hidden in my “Mystery Box”. Students (probably 5 to 8 years old I’m guessing) can use the clues to try and solve the riddle. I will only give a few moments to solve on the video, but participants are encouraged to pause the video and take all the time they need to solve it. They can work on their own or with a parent or older sibling to help them.

I will then reveal what is hidden in the box. My hope is that the kids will be engaged and find it fun to solve the riddles. The idea is to promote critical thinking, problem solving, listening skills and some vocabulary development. The videos are short and I hope to release one a day during the school closure. Please feel free to SHARE the videos.

Below is Mystery Box Riddle #1.

I will be back with more great gift wrapping tutorials when things have settled down and there is at least some state of normalacy.

Stay home and stay safe!