Sunday, October 28, 2012

Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Lemon

Photo credit:

My nephew Ricky has it in his head that he should like Brussels sprouts, but unfortunately he has only been exposed to mushy, overcooked sprouts so far, definitely not something any adult, much less a nine-year old, would enjoy!  So, I am determined to give him the opportunity to try some tastier versions.  He wasn't sure he liked these, but he finished his plate, a sign to me that we were making progress.  :)

3 c. Brussels sprouts, halved
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 T. butter
1 T. lemon juice
Pinch of lemon zest
1/4 c. breadcrumbs, toasted
salt & pepper, to taste

Peel off any marked outer leaves of the sprouts and trim the bottoms; slice in half.  Boil for 3-4 minutes.  Drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water; this will stop the cooking and maintain the sprouts' vibrant color.

To toast the breadcrumbs, place in a dry skillet over medium-low heat.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, while giving the pan handle a few shakes to toast the breadcrumbs evenly.  Once they begin to turn golden, remove them from the heat and place in a bowl, as the heat from the pan will continue to toast them.

Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat, saute the garlic in the butter.  Once the butter begins to bubble up and the garlic starts to jump a little, add the sprouts.  Cook about 5 minutes, turning occasionally, until brown spots start to appear on the sprouts.  Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Add the toasted breadcrumbs into the skillet and toss gently.  Add more breadcrumbs on top before serving; sprinkle with lemon zest if desired.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cream of Green Bean Soup

This recipe works great with fresh green beans that are a little on the mature side.

Source:  adapted from

1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 T. butter, melted
4 c. chicken broth
2 lbs. fresh green beans, cut into 2" pieces
2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2-1 c. heavy cream
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. dried tarragon
1/4 t. pepper

Saute the onions and garlic in butter in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly until tender.  Set aside.

Bring the chicken broth and green beans to a boil in a large saucepan.  After about 15 min., add potatoes.  Cook until tender.  Add the reserved onion and garlic mixture.  Stir well.

Transfer mixture into blender jar; cover and process until smooth.  Repeat with remaining mixture, if necessary.  Return pureed mixture to the saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir in cream, and lemon juice and tarragon.  Cook until thoroughly heated.  Garnish with a dollop of cream and freshly ground black pepper.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Baked Sweet Potato "Fries"

Source:  Ina Garten's Back to Basics

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
2 T. good olive oil
1 T. light brown sugar
1/2 t. coarse sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise and cut each half into 3 long spears.  Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil.  Spread the potatoes in one layer.  Combine the brown sugar, salt, and pepper and sprinkle on the potatoes.  Bake for 15 min. and then turn with a spatula.  Bake for another 5-10 min., until lightly browned.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve hot.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Caprese-Salad-Inspired Eggplant Rounds

I found this baby eggplant when I was cleaning out my garden over the weekend.  It was just the right size for some Caprese-Salad-Inspired Eggplant rounds - I simply used a slice of roasted eggplant on the bottom, then added slices of tomato and mozzarella cheese, topped with fresh basil and drizzled with my favorite Chef Tim's Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette.  Or, you can layer ingredients on a platter and turn it into the Eggplant, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad as directed in the recipe below.  (The frost last weekend ended my fresh basil for the season, but thankfully I had smipped a few stems and stuck them in a vase of water to hold me over as I finish up some of my fresh produce.)

Source:  Everyday Food magazine, July/August 2009

6 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/4"-thick slices
Coarse sea salt and ground pepper
1 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 lb. sliced tomatoes
1/4 c. loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn
2 T. balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Brush two rimmed baking sheets with 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil each.  Arrange eggplant slices on sheets.  Brush tops with 2 T. oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast until eggplant is golden and tender, about 20 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature.

On a serving platter, layer eggplant and sliced mozzarella and tomatoes.  Top with basil leaves and drizzle with remaining 2 T. oil and balsamic vinegar.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chicken, Rice and Black-Bean Salad

Ooooh, this was yummy with a freshly roasted chicken, the last of the tomatoes and jalapeno peppers from the garden, and brown rice cooked using the method I just discovered that was featured in the September issue of the Martha Stewart Living magazine.  If I had closed my eyes, I would have thought I was at Chipotle's!!

Source:  adapted from Everyday Food magazine, June 2005

1 c. brown rice
1 cooked chicken (about 2 1/2 lbs.), shredded (about 4 c.)
1 can (15 1/2 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
6 plum tomatoes, quartered lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 jalapeno chile (seeds and ribs removed for less heat, if desired), minced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
cilantro, chopped
1/4 c. white-wine vinegar
3 T. olive oil
1/2 t. ground cumin
sea salt & ground pepper

Cook rice according to package instructions or Martha Stewart's food editors' "Better Brown Rice" method.  Spread on a baking sheet; refrigerate until cool.

Place cooled rice in a large bowl; add chicken, beans, tomatoes, jalapeno, scallions and cilantro.  Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, cumin, sea salt and pepper and pour over ingredients in bowl.  Toss to combine.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Butternut Squash and Sage Pizza

I had this pizza at Julia and Alan's house for dinner this evening - yumm!!

Source:  Epicurean Mom

1 small onion, peeled and sliced
13 fresh sage leaves, chopped plus a few whole leaves for a garnish
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1" squares
1 t. fresh garlic, minced
3 1/2 T. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. Monterey Jack cheese
sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lay diced butternut squash onto a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil.  Toss to coat.  Bake for 10-15 min., or until just tender.  Let cool slightly.

Heat 1 1/2 T. olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until browning and caramelized, about 10-15 min.  Set aside.

On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, pat out dough to form a 10" circle.  Make sure the sides are slightly thicker to form a crust.  Set aside until ready to assemble.

Heat 1 T. olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat, add chopped sage leaves.  Stirring constantly, cook until fragrant and starting to crisp, about 3 min.  Immediately take off heat and add 1 t. minced garlic, stir until well combined.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  If using a pizza stone, preheat the stone in the oven for about 20-25 min.

Pour sage mixture into a small cup, add 1 T. olive oil and spread over the pizza dough with a basting brush.  Generously sprinkle dough with salt and pepper.  Add the caramelized onions, mozzarella and Monterey Jack cheese.  Evenly spread the butternut squash on top of the cheese and sprinkle with a few whole sage leaves.

Bake for 7-10 min., or until a golden brown.  Let cool for 5 min. before serving.