The Quickest (and bestest) Roasted Brussel Sprouts 

I don’t often make brussel sprouts as I am the only person in my house who cares for them. I bought some at market the other day with intentions of a home made kale, cabbage and brussel sprout salad but then yesterday started considering alternatives that aren’t smothered creamy poppy seed dressing. I landed on wanting to roast the lovely little things, but I also wanted to eat within 10 minutes so I adapted a quick roasting method from The Kitchn to make it even easier (and smoke free). 

The result was perfectly charred brussels within 10 minutes of turning on the oven. They are so much better than the kind that is roasted into submission for 30-45min (sometimes even an hour!) in most recipes. The result here is an inside that is tender but still has some substance, just like with roasted brussel sprouts that you usually get in a high end resturant.  

Quick Roasted Brussel Sprouts

 

in only 10 min!

 

Fresh brussel sprouts

Oil (I used 1tb of grapeseed and 1tb olive)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Turn on broil and place cookie sheet on middle rack.

Meanwhile wash then cut the ends of the sprouts off and let the first few outer layer leaves fall away.

Cut sprouts in half, giant ones can be quartered. 

Dump on cookie sheet and toss in oil and salt and pepper, then arrange them so they are cut side down.

Cook 5 minutes or until lightly charred. 

Take cookie sheet out – if bottoms of sprouts aren’t nicely caramalized just leave them on the cookie sheet a few minutes (still out of the oven) to cook the bottoms a little more.

Serve warm or with a drizzle of balsamic or balsamic reduction. 

The best squash in the world!

Happy Thanksgiving y’all. Today I’d like to share something I’m thankful for, which is the discovery of the BEST kind of squash. I had never heard of or seen this type of squash until it showed up in my farm share last year, and the first time I tasted it I knew I was in love. The prep is SO quick as the skin is edible (and tasty!) and it cooks in about 20-25 minutes. It is so sweet you don’t even need brown sugar! 

What is this magical, earth shattering, life changing squash you ask ? Where can you find squash that is ready to go in the oven before it is done preheating and so tasty everyone will fight for the leftovers? 

One word folks: Delicata.

 

named for it’s delicate (edible) skin

 
Once I learned of their exsistance I began to notice them more and more at roadside stands and farmers markets. I buy 4 or 5 at a time as they are such a great addition to any dinner and cook in the same amount of time as many meats. 

So get your hands on some delicata today and let me know what you think! This isn’t so much of a recipe as a recommendation to try this delictable winter squash (pun intended) and then tell me how it changed your life.

 

a healthy alternative to onion rings!

 
Roasted Delicata Squash Rings

Use 1/2 delicata squash per person.

Preheat oven to 425f.

Line cookie sheet with parchment.

Scrub squash and cut in approximately 1/2″ rings.

Scoop or cut out seeds.

Toss in enough melted butter to coat and salt and pepper (nutmeg is nice too- not to much). You can do this in a bowl or on a cookie sheet. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes and then flip and cook for another 10 minutes or until nicely browned. 

Enjoy!

Alton Brown’s Baked Beans… Sort of

Anyone who is familiar with Alton Brown is aware how particular he is as a chef. He crafts his recipes very carefully with detailed measurements, urgings to weigh ingredients, and scientific mumbo-jumbo to explain how the whole thing works.

He probably would not be happy with me altering his recipe, but fate be damned I am doing it anyways!

I have been making these baked beans for nearly a decade and they always turn out well. In recent years I have made a few changes which seem to result in baked beans which me and my wide variety of food tasters seem to *gasp!* prefer to Alton’s original recipe. Simmer down Alton lovers; all I did was remove one jalapeño and add in some vinegar and maple syrup. Did you know that maple syrup is a flavour enhancer, much like vanilla? A little goes a long way! I also omit the bean water in favour of more flavourful broth and remove the lid for the last bit of cooking time for a deep browning. Plan on closer to 8 hours than 6.

So comforting and filling, baked beans are a great winter dish served with some Cornbread and a salad.

Also for anyone wanting to make less than what seems like a mountain of beans at the end, I have halved this recipe with great results!

Baked Beans

Adapted from Alton Brown’s Once and Future Baked Beans

1 pound dried Great Northern beans
1 pound bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
3 tablespoons of apple cider or other vinegar
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt

—–
Heat oven to 250 degrees F.

Soak beans in a plastic container overnight in just enough cold water to submerge them completely.

Place a Dutch oven over medium heat and stir in the bacon, onion, and jalapenos until enough fat has rendered from the bacon to soften the onions, about 5 minutes. If desired, remove some bacon fat with a few paper towels. Stir in the tomato paste, dark brown sugar, molasses, vinegar, and syrup. Cook for a few minutes.

Drain the beans and rinse. Add the drained beans to the Dutch oven. Add the vegetable broth to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Add in cayenne, black pepper and salt. Give them a stir and cover with the lid. Place the Dutch oven in the oven for 6 to 8 hours, or until the beans are tender. Remove lid for last 30-45 minutes of cooking.

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Buttermilk Honey Bread

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This is an easy and delicious recipe that yields a beautiful loaf with a soft inside and crisp crust. Very similar to the buttermilk bread available at my local bakery for $6. This bread is the feature of some amazing grilled cheese at our local grill and not only will this home made version only take mere minutes of actual cooking time and save you the hefty price tag, your house will smell like milk and honey for hours and hours.

Some bread storage research yielded suggestions of letting the bread sit out for a few hours (or 24 hours for rye bread!) after cooking before baking. and to maintain a crisp crust store cut side down on a cutting board.

*I’ve included instructions here for prepping the dough in a breadmaker and baking the bread in a loaf pan but you could just bake it in the breadmaker too as the original recipe I have adapted calls for.

*I warm my buttermilk in the microwave in a mug for 30 seconds, then stir, then 20 seconds more. You don’t want it too hot as it will kill the yeast or curdle the milk- just above room temperature.

Buttermilk Honey Bread

Makes one 2lb loaf

1 1/4 cup of warm buttermilk*

1 tablespoon of honey Continue reading

Dinosaur Kale Salad

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Finally – a post about kale. I am admittedly late to the game as the kale explosion has been going on for a few years and this leafy green is everywhere! A few things I have learned about kale recently through much research and experimentation:

*There are three common types of kale : curly (most common), red leaf, and dinosaur (aka lacinato/Tuscan) kale. They can be used interchangeably but in general red leaf is best for chips and dinosaur is best for raw salads (and converting so-called kale haters).

*Massage your dressing in and let the salad sit a few hours (or 24!) in the fridge to soften and flavour everything.

* Kale stays fresh SO much longer than lettuce ! Mine keeps for several weeks in the fridge (just in a bag or de- stemmed, torn, washed, dried and in a salad spinner or jar in the fridge). If you find your whole bunch has wilted, cut 1/2″ off the bottoms and place in a glass on cold water on the counter for a few hours – it will crisp right up! Once it is yellowing at the edges it is time to be sacrificed to the compost gods.

*Green smoothies aren’t worth it. We should only be having raw kale a few times a week to avoid thyroid issues (read more about why here). I would much rather enjoy a few kale salads each week than drink something concocted to mask the texture and flavour of my beloved green.

This salad started off with the common lemon-garlic-oil blend seem all over the blogosphere but has a bit of a twist (basil and tomatoes). Think of deconstructed caesar salad meets bruschetta. The gentle textured dinosaur kale and unique blend of flavours and will win over those previously claiming to “hate kale”.

This recipe is about a balance of flavours. Most of the lemon-garlic-oil kale salads I found looked like garlic salads to me – start off with just half or a whole clove – you can always add more.

Adapted significantly from Marin Mamma Cooks

Bruschetta Dinosaur Kale Salad or Kale Haters Salad

1 bunch of dinosaur kale , destemmed and cut in a chiffonade

1 pinch of salt

1/2-1 clove of garlic

Juice of 1 lemon or 3 tablespoons

3 tablespoons of olive or grapeseed oil

1 teaspoon of sugar

Fresh cracked black pepper

Two small handfuls of fresh Parmesan

5-10 grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced

1 tablespoon of fresh chives, minced

5 basil leaves, cut in chiffinade

Small handful of sunflower seeds, pine nuts, or butters breadcrumbs (opt.)

Mince the garlic then add salt and smash into paste with knife or pestle.

Put garlic and salt in jar and add lemon juice, oil, chives, and sugar and shake well

Massage into kale (rub into leaves with your hands until wilted)

Sprinkle pepper and one handful of cheese on salad and toss

Sprinkle the rest of cheese on top of salad and arrange tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with basil and refrigerate 1-24 hours or more before serving. If you are adding nuts or buttered breadcrumbs, add these just before serving.

Mango Salsa

mango salsa

Mangos are a revelation ! I have abandoned lettuce altogether and most nights make either a kale or mango salad to go with our main course. This was a twist on the mango salads I’ve been creating (recipes coming soon) and was fantastic on simple grilled pork chops.

Best if it sits for a few hours first but if all you have is 20 min it will get the job done!

Use a mango that is just barely ripe.

1 ripe mango ( I have tried this with both kinds of mango and both work)

1 green onion or some chives (if you use chives also add 1 tablespoon or so of diced red, white, or yellow onion)

1/4 sweet red pepper or tomato

1 small jalapeño (or half a large – seeds and membranes removed)

1 – 1.5 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

1 – 1.5 tablespoons of fresh lime juice

1 tsp of red chili flakes

Handful of parsley or cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

Dice mango and veggies and add other ingredients. Refrigerate.

Serve with tortilla chips, alongside fajitas, on top of any kind of grilled meat, or throw on top of a green salad for something special.

 

Best Ever Cucumber Sandwiches

I am getting ready to entertain, and trying out new recipes. My husband does not like cucumber sandwiches, apparently, but inhaled about 6 of these little guys in 2 min and went on and on about how delicious it was. So, even if you don’t see your crew as a tea sandwich kind of crowd, leave the crusts on and give it a go (I liked it better with the crusts off and did this for my own sandwiches) and I bet you will be pleasantly surprised. The cream cheese spread is very much like a super delicious and fresh version of Tim Horton’s garlic and herb cream cheese and would be good on anything carb based, really. Very light and satisfying meal paired with soup and cured meats (we ate it with Hungarian salami- so good!)

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Recipe adapted from Dayles Incredible Links.

  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2- 3/4 of a container of whipped cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of room temp. butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried dill
  • 1 loaf sliced, firm-textured bread
  • dash of paprika

Run a fork along the sides of the cucumber to ensure the marinade is absorbed. Slice thinly, but not so thin they are transparent, and place in a pie plate filled with the vinegar and water. Leave to marinate for 30 min or so.

Meanwhile, cream the butter in a small bowl with a fork or butter knife, and then add whipped cream cheese (Philly makes this- it is so good) salt and pepper, dill, paprika, and onion and garlic powders.

Spread cream cheese mix on both sides of bread (not too thick).

Drain cucumbers on paper towels or cloth.

Arrange cucumbers in one even layer over one side of prepared bread.

Cut sandwiches with a a nice bread knife diagonally and remove crusts (whipping knife often) for cute tea sandwiches, or leave the crusts on if you are looking for something heartier.

Hashbrown Casserole

I recently took this to a holiday breakfast and it was a big hit! Great anytime of the day and super easy, but not very healthy. I looked at dozens of recipes and tried a few out before perfecting this one, which is pretty damn good. You could add bacon but I don’t as I usually have a few vegetarians in my midst, and green onions or chives are almost as good as the leeks, but I find raw white onions are too much.
Any good melting cheese (or a combo) works – try mozzarella, jack, cheddar, or parmesan.
Kids love it, and great as a side dish to any meat and a salad in addition to breakfast.
A potluck hit! photo (4)

1 can of cream of chicken, cream of celery, or cream of mushroom soup
1/2 container of sour cream
1 cup of milk
1 cup of cheddar, mozz, or jack cheese
1 package of frozen hash browns, thawed
1/2 cup of melted butter
1 tsp. paprika
1.5 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1.5 tsp. cracked black pepper (or to taste)
2 fresh leeks, with top 3 outer layers peeled away and dark green top cut off
(or 3 green onions, fresh, diced or 1/2 cup of chives)
1 cup of mozz. jack, or cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350
Butter a large casserole dish (sometimes I make two small casseroles with this recipe and freeze one for a quick side dish)
In a large bowl, whisk together soup, milk and sour cream until smooth.
Add in cheese and stir.
Dump bag of hashbrowns on top of creamy mix in bowl, and pour melted butter overtop. Sprinkle on paprika, salt, and pepper.
Stir well
Pour into casserole dish and top with cheese
Bake uncovered for 30-40 min or until golden and bubbly like in photo.

No – Knead Bread

 

 

The trick to this bread is less work and more time. Time away from the kitchen though, so I can deal. Also, since you don’t need much yeast and very few ingredients, it is very cheap ( Frugal Living NW estimates around 80 cents a loaf, including electricity 😉

If you don’t own a dutch oven, this recipe is a great excuse to buy one. Along with baked beans, braised chicken, chili, stew, cornbread, and well, everything!

Basic No-Knead Bread
Adapted by Frugal Living NW from Jim Lahey’s My Bread

6 cups bread flour (recommended) or all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 t. instant or active-dry yeast
2 1/2 t. salt
2 2/3 c. cool water

In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated; the dough should be wet and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest 12-18 hours on the counter at room temperature. When surface of the risen dough has darkened slightly, smells yeasty, and is dotted with bubbles, it is ready.
Lightly flour your hands and a work surface. Place dough on work surface and sprinkle with more flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice and, using floured fingers, tuck the dough underneath to form a rough ball.
Generously dust a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with enough flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran to prevent the dough from sticking to the towel as it rises; place dough seam side down on the towel and dust with more flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran. Cover with the edges or a second cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
After about 1 1/2 hours, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot, such as a cast-iron Dutch oven, in the oven as it heats. When the dough has fully risen, carefully remove pot from oven. Remove top towel from dough and slide your hand under the bottom towel; flip the dough over into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough looks unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 10-15 more minutes, until the crust is a deep chestnut brown. The internal temperature of the bread should be around 200 degrees. You can check this with a meat thermometer, if desired.
Remove the bread from the pot and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Cheese Tortillini Soup

A light soup that is reminiscent of Italian wedding, but with much less work and calories. Make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth, and make it gluten free by using gluten free tortellini and omitting the parmesan.

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1/2 bag of frozen cheese tortellini

1/4 cup of white wine

1 box of chicken broth or vegetable broth

1 cup of cooked lentils or canned chickpeas, mixed beans, or Romano beans, drained

2 tablespoon of olive or grape seed oil

1 tablespoon of butter

2 cups of mixed fresh chopped vegetables, such as mushrooms, cauliflower, swiss chard, spinach, carrots, turnip, zucchini, or parsnips

1 stalk of celery, diced

1 onion, minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 can of stewed or chopped tomatoes, drained

2 teaspoons of thyme

1 teaspoon of dried basil

1 teaspoon of oregano

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup of grated Parmesan

Heat oil and butter and saute onions until soft and add celery and saute for another few minutes.

Add vegetables, herbs, and salt, and pepper and saute for 5 -7 minutes or until vegetables start to show some colour and soften a little.

Add garlic and beans and cook for another minute. Add wine and lemon juice and cook  until wine somewhat evaporated  3-5 minutes).

Add chicken stock and simmer, covered for 20 min.

Remove lid and simmer, uncovered for another 20 min. Add tortellini, simmer for another 5 min, and serve with grated parmesan on top.