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I’ll be the first to say I become a bit of a hermit this time of year. Particularly at the beginning of the week, the biggest dates I have are with the treadmill or the grocery store. And yet, there’s nothing more therapeutic for my nerdy self than taking the time to make a fancy meal.

When I discuss said fancy meal with coworkers the next day, they say, ‘Oh, that sounds delicious, where’d you go?’ When I respond that I made it myself, they respond, ‘Oh that sounds delicious, did you have friends over for dinner?’ When I say no, they look at me blankly, confused as to why I would spend that much time on a meal for one… What can I say? I find it soothing, and this dinner round wasn’t even all that hard.

Oven-Roasted Salmon with Plum Glaze

Salmon Marinade
3/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1/2 cup white wine
4 8-ounce salmon fillets

Combine first four ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Put salmon fillets in a plastic bag and pour marinade over the salmon. Seal bags and marinade in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until it can be flecked with a fork.

Plum Glaze
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 ripe plums

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine ingredients. Simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until plums have softened. Remove the mixture from heat, allow to cool slightly, and purée in a food processor. Pour glaze over salmon and serve immediately.

I prepared this meal for one — to break down the servings, I would suggest cooking the salmon fillets you’ll be ready to eat immediately. The rest of the salmon can remain in the marinade overnight if you’d like leftovers the next day — just pop out of the bag and cook a fresh serving.

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This was my first encounter with preparing Brussels sprouts myself, and I can safely say I’ve been converted. I’ve been shopping at Trader Joe’s more often, and I’m gradually adjusting to making my produce purchases according to what looks good, rather than coming into the store with recipes in mind — when it comes to Trader Joe’s, that approach almost always ends in heartbreak. What doesn’t end in heartbreak? Anything involving balsamic reduction. I could drink this stuff from the pan.

Maple Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
2 pounds uncooked Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a large nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray. Slice Brussels sprouts in half. Toss with oil, salt, and pepper until evenly coated. Roast, stirring and rotating pan halfway through cooking, until cooked through and crisped up at the edges, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine vinegar, maple syrup and a dash of extra salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring frequently, until thick and syrupy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Spoon Brussels sprouts into a serving dish and drizzle with syrup just before serving.

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Have you tried preparing Brussels sprouts before? Do you go in to Trader Joe’s looking for some sort of vegetable and come out with Brie and fancy crackers? Gets me every time…

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