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If You Can’t Take the Heat… Turn off the Oven

We’re not sure what the weather’s doing over in your neck of the woods, but here in Ontario we just came out of a 2-week long heat wave.  We’re talking 107F.  And this is not a dry heat, this is a hair-frizzing pore-clogging kind of heat that basically renders sweating useless.  (Not that our bodies got that memo- every time we came in from a run we looked like we had just gone swimming fully clothed- how’s that for a pretty picture for ya?)

Anyways, we think it goes without saying that in that kind of heat turning on the oven is completely out of the question.  Even barbecuing seemed like a bad idea, so we were really at a loss as to what to make for dinner for our family.

We’d also like to take this moment to blame the heat wave for our decided lack of posts lately.  We’ve hardly been doing any cooking so we really haven’t had much to share with you guys.  Because you can only post so many salad recipes.

Anyways, we’ll stop making excuses for ourselves and continue on to the good part!

As we said in Tuesday’s post , we had a delicious recipe that uses our pesto coming your way, so here it is…

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Quinoa Salad!

Ok, so right after saying that we didn’t want to start throwing a whole bunch of salad recipes at you what’s the first thing we do?  Give you a salad recipe.  But this is a quinoa salad, so it’s a little different and doesn’t really count.

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We discovered quinoa for the first time a few years ago and basically become obsessed with it.  We started putting it in almost everything we made so it found its way onto the dinner table several times a week.  It became a running joke in our family that if you didn’t know what was in something, it was most likely quinoa.  It got to the point where every time we made anything everyone would ask if there was quinoa in it.

We suppose it was a tad excessive…

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So while the quinoa-craze of 3 summers ago has passed, we still do like to break it out every once in a while.  And it was the perfect thing in this heat wave because it’s a great source of protein that can be cooked in 10 minutes on the stove-top.  Minimal prep and minimal heat required.  Which means more time in the pool- the only suitable place to be during weather like that!

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We had a wicked storm last night that took some of the heat away, so we will most likely be turning on the barbecue again, but you can be sure that if another heat wave like that hits we will be making this salad again!  In fact, even if it doesn’t get so hot, we will probably make this tasty dish again anyways 🙂

Quinoa Pesto Tabouleh Salad

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Prep: 20 minutes
Rest Time: at least 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 c. quinoa (any colour)
2 c. water

1 recipe of Sage-Basil-Arugula-Walnut Pesto
1c. bell peppers (any colour), diced
1/2 large seedless cucumber, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 c. chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Directions:

Place the quinoa and water in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil, uncovered.  Once the water has started to boil, place the lid on top and turn the heat to low.  Allow the quinoa to simmer for 10 minutes.  Turn of the heat and allow to sit on the burner for another 6 minutes.  Remove from the burner, take off the lid and fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool.

Combine the veggies and chickpeas in a large bowl.  Add the quinoa and stir to make sure the vegetables are evenly distributed.  Add the pesto and stir well.  Place in the fridge and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, so the quinoa has a chance to cool and the flavours have the chance to mingle.

Optional: add some chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, or feta cheese to the salad.

~twosaucysisters

What kinds of things do you make when you’re in the middle of a heat wave?

Smokey Greens

So now you all have coleslaw marinating in your fridge, right? 😉

Before we continue, though, let’s remind ourselves of the feast meal our family enjoyed the other day…

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Yesterday we gave you our creamy coleslaw recipe, so today we’re moving on to the other side [of the plate] to talk about collard greens!

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We suppose now is as good a time as any to explain to you the inspiration behind this meal.  There’s a restaurant near our house called Memphis Fire Barbecue Company.  Our brothers and father discovered it sometime while we were away at school.  We came home one weekend and they were all excited about this great new place and couldn’t wait for us to try it!  We were a little skeptical because the whole “meat, meat and more meat” thing isn’t really our scene- not that we don’t like meat, just not in such large quantities, you know?  But when we got home late from work and really didn’t feel like cooking anything we caved and agreed to order-in some Memphis.

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So now you’re probably expecting us to say that we were blown away and couldn’t believe that we had ever thought we wouldn’t like it, aren’t you?  The truth is, we weren’t.  Like we said, large amounts of meat really aren’t our thing.  We liked it well enough, but we weren’t head-over-heals for it or anything.  Our brothers, of course, were in heaven!

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The funny thing is, though, is that while the pulled pork was definitely the star of the show, our brothers couldn’t stop raving about the collard greens!  We had to agree with them, they were pretty tasty!  Of course, they were cooked in a fairly large amount of butter, and there were salty bacon bits in them, so they weren’t exactly the healthiest greens we’ve ever eaten.

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But we knew that they could easily be healthified (yup-that’s a word) and still taste great!  How did we do it?  First off, we decreased the butter (confession: we had no butter left over in the house so we used margarine) and used low-sodium vegetable stock to help with the wilting process and give the greens a little more flavour.  Also, since we don’t really like bacon all that much (we know, we know, we’re crazy) we left it out and instead used some liquid smoke to achieve that coveted smokey flavour that bacon imparts on the collard greens.  Toss in some garlic et voila! You have healthy, tasty collard greens!

Collard Greens

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Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 large bunch of collard greens
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter (or margarine)
1/2 c. low-sodium vegetable stock
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
Pinch of salt

Directions:

Melt butter or margarine in a large pan over medium heat.

Chop the collard greens into thick strips.  Add the chopped greens and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring often, until slightly wilted (about 5 minutes).  Add the stock and liquid smoke and continue to cook until the greens are wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat and season with a dash of salt.

~twosaucysisters

What restaurants does your family love?  Have you ever had collard greens before?

On the Creamy Side

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This, friends, is the meal our family had the other night, and yes, it was just as awesome as it looks! Pulled pork, collard greens, creamy coleslaw and pumpkin corn bread- we truly feasted that night!  You see, whenever we come home for an extended period of time we like to start off the time with a bang and make a meal that wows the crowd.  This, of course, is sometimes a problem because with our busy schedules we obviously can’t keep this up on a daily basis. Then we’re left wondering what to make for dinner for the next few days because we can’t think of anything to top it!  And trust us, this one will be hard to beat!

In an attempt not to overwhelm you with awesomeness, we will be bringing you this meal in stages, starting with the coleslaw!

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We had half a head of green cabbage sitting in our fridge with the intention of using it for Heather’s Meatless Monday link-up, but then we ended up working for two days at 7:30 in the morning shoveling dirt clogs off golfing greens, so we just didn’t end up getting the recipe onto the blog in time.  Oops!

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Anyways, there’s really not a whole lot to say about this coleslaw, other than that it’s creamy, tangy, and delicious!  It’s a great side dish for and backyard summer barbecue (which are starting to happen all around the neighbourhood- we can’t walk out of the house without smelling someone’s grill-tastic dinner!) because it’s cool and creamy, which is exactly what you want in a summer salad!

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It’s also much healthier than a traditional coleslaw, thanks to some good ol’ plain yogurt!

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It may seem like an oxy-moron to say that this salad was both creamy and crunchy, but there really is no other way to describe it!  Add a little zing with some mustard and you’re on your way!

So today was coleslaw, tomorrow’s collard greens, and then we’re on to the grand finale!  Start gathering your ingredients now, folks, because by the time we’re finished you’ll have the makings for an a-maz-ing meal!

Creamy Coleslaw

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Prep Time: 20 min
Total time: 50 min
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

1/2 large head of green cabbage
1 large carrot

1 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. +2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp celery seed
pepper, to taste

Directions:

Shred cabbage using a grater or mandolin if you have one.  Peel and grate the carrot.  Toss both in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt, vinegar, honey, mustard, paprika, celery seed and pepper.  Add this to the cabbage and carrots and mix until fully incorporated and there are no dry spots.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.  This salad can be made a day in advance if you wish.

~twosaucysisters

Do you like coleslaw?  What do you make when you’re trying to create a memorable meal for loved ones?

A Warm Weather Welcome

Hey all! So we would like to apologize for our lack of posting over the last couple of days, we’re in final exams currently and had two in two days. We’ll be back posting a little more frequently over the next week until we have another two in a row – and then we’re FREE! 🙂

Anyways, the weather is finally getting warmer here, and it’s even been sunny for a couple of days – we were in sports bras on the outdoor track on Monday! We were all pretty excited about it, of course until our coach hit us up with 5k of some serious track work… yikes!

None the less, we decided that we needed to celebrate the warm weather with something bright, flavourful and colourful…

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Black Bean Mango Salsa!

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This stuff is the definition of bright and flavourful! It’s kind of like taking a mini-vacation to somewhere warm and sunny with every bite.

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The sweet, juicy mango and the fresh yet slightly citrus-y flavour of the cilantro balance the tangy tomatoes quite well, and the black beans add a heartiness to the salsa that make for a perfect side-dish or snack!

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We made some home-made pita-chips to dip in ours (we feel a Simple Sunday post coming on…), but any tortilla chips or crackers would work just fine! 🙂

So we hope that wherever you live, spring is starting to come out of hiding, and if it’s not… eat this salsa and head to mexico for a few bites! 😉

Mango and Black bean Salsa

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Total time: 10min
Makes: ~2 cups

Ingredients:

1 28oz can No Salr Added diced tomatoes, drained
1 mango, peeled and diced
1/3-1/2c. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 c. black beans (drained and rinsed if using canned)
1/2 c. diced white or red onion
2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
2 tbsp honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
pepper
optional – 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

Directions:

Drain the liquid from your diced tomatoes and add to a medium to large sized bowl.
Chop and peel mango, chop the cilantro and finely dice the onion. Mix into the tomatoes.
If using canned black beans, drain and rinse well. Mix black beans into the mixture.
Combine in a small dish honey, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over the salsa and stir thoroughly, until even mixed throughout the salsa.
Stir in jalapeno if desired.
Serve immediately with chips or crackers, or store in an airtight container in the fridge.

~twosaucysisters

What foods transport you to your favourite warm and sunny destination? For us, anything with tropical fruits and/or coconut! 

Empty Pantry, Open Mind

When we’re away at school, we get very used to the ingredients that we always have on hand, plus we have the ability to pick up something new or interesting on a whim while grocery shopping. When we go home for a weekend, it’s always a slightly awkward adjustment, because at home our family doesn’t keep nearly the variety of ingredients we do in their fridge and cupboard. Combine that with the inconvenient long-weekend grocery store hours of last weekend, and you’ve got yourself severely under-stocked pantries. Thankfully, our Dad is a forward-thinker and does his best to pick up some of the veggies and other items that he knows we like to have, however we never quite know what there will be until we get home, and we usually don’t know exactly what we’re going to make, so we can’t always give him the heads up!

This calls for some serious creativity!

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When we arrived on Easter weekend, we found chicken, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic and orange juice. Naturally, we decided to put them all together!

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In case you didn’t know, sweet-potato and orange is a fantastic combination! This sweet potato-carrot mash is quite reminiscent of one of our favourite sides  by one of our favourite bloggers, just with a citrus and sweet potato twist! Just as delicious, we assure you!

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It was a beautiful weekend, perfect weather to fire up the grill, so to go along with the citrus theme of the sweet potato-carrot mash, we made a honey-orange glaze and gave it to our Dad to spread on the chicken while barbeque-ing. It turned out fantastic, with that great off-the-grill taste mixed with the fresh sweetness of oranges.

Dinner-time perfection! 🙂

Orange-Glazed Chicken with Sweet Potato and Carrot Mash

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Prep time: 15min
Cook time: 45 min
Serves: 5

Ingredients:

For the Chicken:

5 medium sized boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 c. 100% orange juice
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp garlic salt
ground black pepper

For the Mash:

2 large sweet potatoes
5 medium sized carrots
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 white onion
1.5 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1 tbsp milk of choice
1 tbsp orange juice

Directions:

For the chicken:

In a small frying pan, combine the orange juice and honey. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until it reduces by half, about 10min. Stir in the rosemary, garlic salt and pepper.
Pre-heat the grill to medium-low, brush both sides of the chicken with the glaze and grill for approximately 30min, flipping every 10min, until cooked through.

For the mash: 

Pre-heat the oven to 375 F.
Chop the sweet potatoes and carrots into 1-inch peices. Toss the sweet potato, carrots and garlic cloves with 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1/4 tsp of salt. Spread onto a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 35-45 min or until soft and mash-able.

Meanwhile, heat 1.5 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Slice onion into thin strips and place in the pan. Cook for 20min, stirring frequently, until caramelized.
Once the vegetables are finished in the oven and the onions are caramelized, transfer to a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher until there are only a few large pieces left. Add the yogurt, milk and orange juice and whip with electric beaters until somewhat smooth with a few chunks.

Serve along side your favourite vegetables and enjoy.

~twosaucysisters

What do you do when your pantry or fridge is running low?

 

Bloggers and Bibles

One of our all-time favourite recipes we’ve ever made from another blogger is this:

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Roasted Parsnip and Caramelized Onion Puree.

This genius creation comes from Gina over at Running to the Kitchen.  If you have never been to her site before, you should make a point of paying her a visit ASAP.  Seriously, this women comes up with the most amazing meals and snacks, and she’s hilarious, too.  Even if you don’t like cooking, you’ll love her blog just for general reading!  She has a way of taking everyday situations and turning them into scenarios the likes of which you would find in a sitcom.

But we’ve gone a bit off track now, haven’t we?  We were talking about this parsnip puree!  It may look humble, but don’t let it’s outer appearance fool you- it is what food dreams are made of! (Hey now, hey now… ;))

Of course, after we made her recipe (with a few modifications- we don’t often have heavy cream lying around- cottage cheese and Greek yogurt to the rescue!) we decided it was about time we created our own version, but we decided to use the parsnip’s more well-known cousin… carrots!

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Not that we don’t absolutely LOVE parsnips (they just so happen to be one of our all-time favourite vegetables- partially thanks to Gina!!) but we just thought that the bright orange hue from the carrots might be kind of fun 🙂

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So we knew we wanted to use carrots, but as for what else we wanted to add to it?  That was a little tougher to decide.  So we’re going to let you in on a little secret here.  What do we do when we are stumped for flavour combination ideas?  We consult the Flavour Bible.

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This book is every cooks best friend! When your creativity well is running dry, this book will give you a million-and-one ideas for flavour pairings for every food you can possibly think of!

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After reading through the seemingly endless list of flavours and foods that go with carrots (who knew there were so many!?!) we finally decided on ginger.  It made sense, since we just so happened to have a knob of fresh ginger sitting in our fridge 🙂

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Then of course we hummed and hawed for a little while longer trying to decide what else we should put in this puree, because for some reason we always seem to think that just having one flavour add-in isn’t enough.  But we honestly couldn’t think of anything else to add, so we just left it as it was.  And you know what? It turned out to be just right.  Sometimes, simplicity is best!

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So now you’re probably thinking “well this is great- you’ve given me a bowl of orange mush- now what?”.  The simple answer to that is eat it!  If you’re starting to get tired of mashed potatoes, this is a great substitution.  Pair it with some grilled chicken (or tofu!) and a salad, maybe a warm piece of crusty bread and you’ve got yourself the makings of a fantastic meal 🙂

Carrot and Ginger Puree

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 1.5-2 cups

Ingredients:

2 large carrots
1 c. chickpeas
1/2 tbsp fresh ginger
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp Cottage Cheese
2 tbsp-1/4 c. milk of choice (unsweetened)
1/4 tsp salt
black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Peel the carrots and cut into chunks.  Place them in a microwave-safe bowl with about 2 tbsp of water.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 3-5 minutes, or until carrots are very soft.  (you could also steam the carrots on the stove top, we just went with the microwave because it’s quicker!) Add carrots (including the water), chickpeas, ginger, garlic, yogurt and cottage cheese to a food processor or high-powered blender and blend until smooth.  While the motor is running, add the milk, 1 tbsp at a time, until it reaches the texture/thickness you desire.  Add the salt and pepper, and continue blending until everything is fully incorporated, adjusting the seasonings to your taste.

~twosaucysisters

What do you do when you are stuck for flavour ideas?

Christmas Tradition Made-Over

Let’s talk brussel sprouts.

They have graced the table at every single Christmas since we can remember, always covered in cheese.  How many times have either of us actually eaten them?  Well that is an entirely different thing altogether!

You see, like beets, brussel sprouts were another one of those foods that scared us.  This time, though, it wasn’t so much what they looked like, it was more because of their name.  Brussel sprouts.  Something about that just didn’t sound right to our 8-year-old ears.  They provoked the same kind of reaction that liverworst and blood oranges would cause.

Ridiculous? Maybe, but are we really going to try to justify the logic of 2 little girls?

How about instead we just move ahead to the time when we finally decided to try them?  Eventually we both decided that how bad could something possibly be when it’s covered in cheese? 🙂

And guess what?  Surprise of the century, we both actually ended up really liking them- so much so that we even found ourselves choosing the ones with less cheese! 

That’s not to say that we don’t enjoy a good cheese sauce, though, which is why we have come up with this dish:

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No-Cheese Roasted Brussel Sprouts.

The thing is, brussel sprouts are incredibly good for you, but when you drown them in cheese you kind of negate any of the potential health benefits.  So we came up with this recipe for two reasons: Its much healthier, and if you or a family member is vegan, he/she can have it too! 🙂

And that’s perfect, because Christmas is a time for sharing, right? 😉

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Before we go any further, let’s give a quick run-down on brussel sprout nutrition:

We aren’t really into calorie counting, but for those that are, in one cup of brussel sprouts there is only 38 calories. With those 38 calories, you get about 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein. Not only that, but they also contain vitamins A, B6, E, folate, lutein and choline, and have especially high amounts of vitamin C (even more that oranges!) and vitamin K. Brussel Sprouts are also rich in calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, selenium and potassium. Pretty impressive, right?

Studies have also been done showing that brussel sprouts contain a compound that stops breast cancer cells from multiplying. (source) We think that’s pretty cool, and all of these benefits make brussel sprouts worth trying!

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So back to this so-called cheese sauce.  It doesn’t have any cheese in it, so we suppose that’s a bit of a misnomer, but “nutritional yeast sauce” doesn’t really have the same ring to it, so we’re gonna just going to let that one slide.

Despite the fact that this sauce is missing the “key” ingredient, though, we don’t think anyone would even notice!  Because this stuff really tastes just like cheese!  So you can happily sit at the table listening to your friends and family say things like “wow! this is delicious cheese sauce!” and “forget the sprouts- just gimme more of that cheese sauce!” and smile to yourself knowing that you’ve fooled them all 😉

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So at a table full of thick gravy, buttery rolls and candied yams, these brussel sprouts will be a nutritional star for your Christmas day meal – though no one will know it. 🙂

“Cheesy” Brussel Sprouts

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Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 25-30min
Serves: 8-10 people

Ingredients:

10 cups brussel sprouts, halved (measured after cutting)
1 tbsp olive oil
Dash of pepper

2 c. milk (or non-dairy milk, for vegans)
1/2 c. nutritional yeast
1 tbsp corn starch
2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 F.
Toss brussel sprout halves in oil and pepper, spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast for 25-30min, or until fork can be inserted with ease.
Meanwhile, combine milk, nutritional yeast, turmeric, salt and garlic powder in a pot and whisk in the corn starch until all clumps are gone. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to a medium low and simmer for about 10min, stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened slightly.
When the brussel sprouts are done, put them into the pot with the cheese sauce and stir until evenly coated.
Serve and enjoy!

-twosaucysisters

What other Christmas side-dishes would you like to see made over?