Archives for the month of: March, 2013

It is pretty clear that brussel sprouts are the vegetable de jour, as I see them featured as sides in many restaurants around town and a new recipe seems to pop up in the blogosphere about once a week. And why not? They are incredibly healthy, are extremely versatile, are readily available during the winter when we’re all craving something green.

I love the sprouts. Pretty amazing since I only started cooking them two years ago. Now DH and I eat them almost every week. And even with my obsession, I still make us order them when we’re out for dinner.

Want to hear one of the best complements DH has given me in a long time? He’s eaten those fancy sprouts, looks at me, and says “These are good, but I prefer yours.” Sometimes it’s the simple things.

So here is how I prep/roast mine. From here, you can do all sorts of dressings and flavors, but most of the time I find simple is best.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients
1-2 lbs brussel sprouts
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh black pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and put a rack on the second rack from the top.

Rinse off the sprouts and shake off extra water. Then, chop off the ends of the sprouts and quarter them.

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Place your sprouts on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) over the sprouts, then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Work the sprouts around on the cookie sheet until the oil is distributed.

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Place them in the oven and roast for 15-18 minutes, stopping halfway to stir them. Some of the stand-alone leaves should be getting dark at this point. I have had a few times when they have started to smoke and I’ve still loved them.

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Enjoy!

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File this one under "only attempt while on maternity leave"

File this one under “only attempt while on maternity leave”

This weekend we hosted the extended family for DB’s baptism. In our family, this is an extremely special day, so after the church service we gathered at our place for a lunch so all the grandparents and aunts could love on DB.

As I was planning this lunch, all of our family members all offered to bring something, specifically, a cake. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to fly with me as I refuse to waste my dessert calories on store-bought cake. Nor was I going to give up the opportunity to bake something for my little gal, even though she won’t ever know anything about it! Perhaps I’m just getting the baking bug out of my system now since I’m not going to want to tackle these kinds of baking projects once I get back into work mode (I’d rather spend my free time cuddling with DB!)

While I was flipping through Google and Pinterest for ideas, I realized that while I love love love the world of blogging, it’s gotten to a point where the novice like me is overwhelmed at the complexity of what all of these talented individuals can do! I got my “idea” from a professional baker, who used beautiful fondant to create these gorgeous flowers, crosses, and letters for her cupcakes. But, having never worked with fondant before, I decided to do sugar cookies, which I think turned out beautifully AND made for wonderful leftovers.

Since I don’t create my own baking recipes (yet!), here is the roundup of the recipes I used to create DB’s baptism cupcakes
Cookies and Icing – from Annie’s Eats
Vanilla Cupcakes and Vanilla Buttercream – from Cupcake Project
Chocolate Cupcakes – from Annie’s Eats
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All in all – I was thrilled with how everything tasted – and now, I just need to practice my piping skills! It’s a little too obvious that I got poor grades in art class growing up!

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Yes, I’m late in posting this one. It was not due to being late in making the recipe (in fact, I baked these cookies last Wednesday as I needed them prior to the onslaught of visitors who came for DB’s baptism this weekend. It’s just that I don’t have a whole lot to say about these.

They’re cookies. They’re good cookies, but I don’t think they are going to result in my heading towards the Baking with Julia book over the Toll House recipe. I grew up on the Toll House chocolate chip cookies, which were the only ones that my mother would allow me to help with growing up (and, eventually, the only ones that I was allowed to make on my own without special permission to make a mess in her kitchen). Our version followed the recipe with a few minor adjustments – an extra half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, no walnuts (to this day I don’t like nuts in my desserts), and for special occasions, making the cookies with half chocolate chips and half butterscotch chips.

Because the Baking With Julia recipe is fairly similar to the TH recipe, I was excited about making these as the book describes them as “the thinking person’s chocolate chip cookie.” And while I love coffee and chocolate, I found that the coffee flavoring here just made me confused. I modified the recipe to use chopped dried cherries in the cookies instead of the apricots – which I did like with the chocolate.

Visit Peggy’s site at Galettista for the full recipe and beautiful results!

Unfortunately, I think this is one instance where childhood memories trump a culinary pursuit.
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Forgive the photos – I didn’t realize how soft my butter was when I baked the cookies, so they spread out all over the place in the oven!

What was your opinion about this recipe? Am I not giving it enough credit?

Beth

It’s been a looong time since I’ve made something other than dessert where I’ve been thrilled with the outcome. Mostly this was due to being pregnant, as I not only had food aversions (hello spinach and cucumbers), but I also lost a lot of my sense of taste. To me, everything had a metallic undertone to it and I lost my ability to call out flavors in food when DH and I dined out.

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The other part is that since DB has been born, I have managed to screw up some part of every recipe I’ve tried. I do things in the wrong order (mostly salvageable), forget ingredients when I’m making my grocery list for the week (also workable), or put in the wrong thing altogether (don’t ask)! Some days, baby turns my orderly, analytical, actuarial brain to what feels like the consistency of mushy peas.

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DB gave me a bit of a break on Friday morning to put this delightful Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry together for lunch. (Well, she did her fair share of fussing still!) It takes a little bit of thought ahead of time to prepare, but it’s mostly hands off time. Serve with your favorite grain (rice, quinoa, etc.), yogurt, and cilantro (which would totally be included in the picture if I had such things on Fridays, which I don’t since I grocery shop on weekends).

I encourage the use of the dried chickpeas – they are meatier and more flavorful than the canned ones, and just require some time on the stove when you’re home watching TV.

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Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry
Adapted from Naturally Ella
Serves 4-6 as main dish
Total time: 50 mins (or overnight depending on your choice of beans)

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Ingredients
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (or 2 14.5 ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed)

Spice Mixture
2 tbsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground yellow mustard
1 tsp ground fennel seed
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Pinch of ground cloves

Other ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups cauliflower chunks (about one small head)
1 can lite coconut milk
1 can low sodium vegetable broth
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt to taste

Steps:

Combine spice mixture in a small bowl

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In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 5-6 minutes, or until soft. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add spice mixture and heat for another minute

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Add cauliflower, chickpeas, coconut milk, broth and red pepper. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes. Cauliflower and beans should be tender, but not mushy.

Serve over your grain and with your desired additions. Hope that you enjoy this as much as I did!

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Beth

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Ever notice how your pantry/cupboards/refrigerator seem to accumulate a lot of odds and ends leftover from previous recipes and the best of shopping intentions? I clean out my fridge about once a month and my dry pantries around once per year. That always spurs me to think about how I should use some of those items, but my efforts don’t survive much longer than a week or two, woefully inadequate to make much of a dent.

Ideally, I would keep this effort in mind each week when I plan meals. But right now, I find myself staring at the cupboards trying to figure out how to use items without the extra effort of picking up additional ingredients at the store (the weather hasn’t been conducive to packing up DB for a grocery run lately). So here is a quick recipe I came up with for dinner last night.

Italian White Bean Salad
Makes 3 Servings

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 of a sweet onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
5-6 sundried tomatoes, diced
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Parsley flakes for garnish if desired
Grated Parmesan Cheese

Heat olive oil in a small skillet. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes or until soft and tender. Turn off heat and stir in minced garlic.

In a small bowl, combine beans, onion mixture and remaining ingredients through parsley. Serve while onions are warm and top with grated Parmesan.

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Enjoy this healthy and delicious Italian White Bean Salad!
Beth