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Kristen Douglass is a photgrapher, mother to three young children, and one of the best home chefs I know. Often inspired by a new ingredient or a favorite experience, Kristen loves to explore flavors and compositions with food for others to enjoy with her. Each month, she’ll be sharing one of her favorite whole food reicpes here with us. I hope you enjoy!


These brussel sprouts were inspired by a local restaurant in our hometown. The chef caramelized the honey, bacon, pickled red onions, and blue cheese. They were incredible, but on the day I wanted to try and recreate them at home, I didn’t have blue cheese or pickled onions. It was dinner time, and I had brussels, bacon, and a longing to eat those brussels again.

Enter dijon mustard, one of the most underappreciated condiments in my opinion. After trying this recipe, you might agree too. It offers just the right amount of tanginess to balance the other sweet and salty flavors.

I have never had to fight my kids off for vegetables until now. Our family of 5 devour 2lbs of these brussels during a meal. I love finding new ways to enjoy vegetables, and I hope you’re feeling inspired as well. Let me know how you like them!


THE BEST BRUSSEL SPROUTS serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1lb Brussel Sprouts, halved or quartered depending on the size

4-6 Bacon Strips, chopped

Salt + Pepper

2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup or Honey

1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard

  1. Preheat cast iron skillet on your grill, medium high. You can totally make these in your house, but they are so delicious on the grill. 
  2. Once pan is preheated, add your bacon and start rendering the fat.
  3. When bacon is about half rendered, though not completely, add your brussels with salt and pepper. Toss well with bacon and fat. 
  4. While brussel sprouts are cooking, mix maple syrup and mustard. 
  5. When brussels are golden brown and in the last minute of cooking, pour your sauce over and toss in pan until covered.
  6. Eat! And Repeat. 

Recipe and images by Kristen Douglass for Cloistered Away.

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I’ve always prioritized eating well and exercise, but somehow in the busyness and stress of this last year I’ve noticed a few poor eating habits sneaking into my (and the kids’) routine, the two biggest: eating more processed foods and standing/walking while we eat. The second sounds ridiculous to say aloud but the two habits partner easily. I take a handful of this and a nibble of that and keep moving. Naturally, the kids do the same. Even when they munch on quality foods (fruit/veggies), they’ll often walk around the table or kitchen or yard while they eat. Of course, I remind them to sit down at the table, and yet I continue eating my own meal standing at the counter. What is it — do what I say not what I do? Argh. The truth is eating well takes time. Time to prepare. Time to eat. Time to enjoy. In effort to slow down and enjoy simple whole foods, I’m sharing a few simple-ingredient salads showing up on our table these days, and this one took about as long to make as a PBJ sandwich. The kids added a little shredded cheddar and blue corn chips to their own.

{ingredients}

  1. tomatoes, cut in large chunks
  2. black beans, warmed
  3. sliced avocado
  4. chopped cilantro
  5. baby spinach
  6. chopped onion

Do you have any tricks or tips to help you/your family prioritize eating well (and seated)? I would love to hear.

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indoor bball

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We’ve moved into this new year like a sleep-deprived mother moves out of bed — slowly, bed-head and all. Although Mark did remove the Christmas tree to the fire pit area of our backyard, our ornaments and other accouterments lie waiting in piles to be nestled back in the attic until next November.  I’ll get to it soon. For now, we’ve started our school routine again, practicing having an agenda for the day beyond brushing your teeth and getting dressed and playing (because it takes practice, you know). We’ve had several days of cold, gloomy winter weather and heavy rain the last two — which I will never complain about after experiencing a year + of drought — so we’ve been spending more time indoors this week than usual. Here’s us lately:

1. bundling up in warm layers (Mark refers to this one as my “lumberjack”)

2. smothering the kitchen table with school work and projects again

3. reading in our beds

4. venturing (even in the rain) to our farmer’s market

5. enjoying the simple life (but also swooning over Swedish farmhouses)

6. playing ENDLESS amounts of indoor basketball in the boys’ room (thanks to a Christmas gift from Jordan + Christa)

7. waking up to “say cheese!”

1. soaking up tender moments with the kids.

2. keeping meals simple at home.

3. inspired by pink.

4. reading My Ántonia by Willa Cather.

5. pocketing advice from the walls of Jimmy John’s.

6. receiving gifts of wild spring flowers.

7. rolling through the streets with the kids.

8. taking my girls to eat in public places barefoot. (Yes, I’m that mom. The one forgetting to double-check before they hop in the car.)

9. snatching style tips from the ranch.

*to see more, you can now follow me on Instagram @cloisteredaway