The Brussel Sprout Files!

Below is a formula sure to make your Brussel sprouts are a success no matter what flavor profile you’re after. Sweet, salty, or tangy!

Brussel sprouts are aggressive in flavor. You either love them or hate them. So many ways to cook them too– from baked chips to chopped salads. At my home we love our sprouts pan-fried with crisp pancetta– caramelized with lots of butter and my homemade infused olive oil, & lots of crispy fried garlic cloves.

Brussel sprouts caramelize naturally. On special occasions we make a few variations. Addition of maple syrup, or a sprinkling of brown sugar with a handful of candied walnuts will make your family roar! Sometimes we like to add crispy bacon, a nice citrus finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and lot of lemon zest– then an good dousing of parmesan cheese. I add a fair amount of fresh cracked black peppercorns!

Here’s How : 

To properly sauté brussels sprouts, you’ll need a fair amount of fat in the skillet. While bacon is a classic pairing, use your families favorite flavor. Ground pork sausage,  Italian sausage, apple sausage, duck fat, or –If you’re a vegetarian, good quality olive oil is perfect. As mentioned, I use pancetta. So delicious and I love the little crispy, crunchy salty nuggets. How much to use is up to you- I personally like a lot of Pancetta floating around in my dish- so I use a least a pound or two ( shhhh) per stock/stem of Brussel sprout! about 40- 50 spouts.

If using something like bacon or sausage, start by browning the meat in a very large skillet  – I use two of my largest skillets, and split the recipe between them. (Brussel sprouts contain lots of water– so, if you over-crowd the Brussel spouts in the pan, they will steam not caramelize. Tragic.)  Always halve the sprouts and trim the root-end clean.

Sauté the pancetta or your choice of fat, over medium-high heat. Render the fat. Once the meat is cooked, remove it with a slotted spoon set it aside for later addition. Add the halved brussels sprouts to the fat, shaking the skillet so that as many as possible landing cut side down or use tongs to ensure the sprout is positioned for optimum caramelization. Now, step away from the pan. Resist the urge to move them around. Distribution will prevent them from cooking through and becoming crispy golden brown  and delicious. They need to stay in contact directly with the surface heat. Cook until they have a nice  brown sear on one side, about 8 to 10 minutes. If a knife runs easily through, they are done.

Just before removing from the heat, add in  your favorite seasonings–like chopped garlic, sliced onions, fresh thyme, sprinkling of brown sugar, maple syrup, honey  or lemon juice  with lots of zest. Return the sautéed meat you rendered the fat from and toss to coat nicely. Cook for an additional 1- 2 minutes. If making an addition of candied nuts, now is the time to do so. Toss well and serve. (The candies nuts will remain crunchy if not added to the cooking process.)

Salt and pepper. Serve!

Steaming Method: 

Clean Brussels sprouts and slice in half lengthwise. Fill a large stock pot with about 2 inches of flavored stock and water combination– place a metal steamer basket on top. Bring the water to a simmer, add the brussels sprouts to the basket, season with salt and pepper and cover. Steam until the brussels sprouts are bright green and just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the lid from pot and let them cool slightly before removing. I like to shock my sprouts in cool ice water so they retain a bright green color. Then right before serving I dunk in hot boiling water or toss quickly in a pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper until warmed trough. About two minutes. See my method here for retaining color and nutrition in steamed veggies.

Baking Method:

Halve brussels sprouts (or quarter them, if they are especially large), making sure to hold on to any leaves that fall away (these get the crispest) and toss with plenty of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and scatter them onto a rimmed baking sheet, making use of every inch. Brussels sprouts contain a good bit of water, and if they’re too crowded on the tray, they’ll steam instead of brown. If you need to use two or three sheet pans, do it.

Roast in a hot pre heated 450’F degrees oven, tossing every 10 minutes or so, until the outer leaves have begun to almost char, and the innermost part of the sprout is just tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Finish growing by making sure the cut side of the sprint is face down on the baking sheets surface so they get nicely caramelized. While they caramelize well on their own, tossing the sprouts with a tablespoon or two of maple syrup, honey or light brown sugar will give them a bit of holiday flavor. Remove from oven– add your favor flavors to finish, like lemon zest and fresh thyme, or fresh rosemary, or pine nuts with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese — toss well and return to the oven for an additional five minutes. Remove, set aside to cool. You can even toss with a bit of reduced balsamic reduction –. Whatever flavors you’ve decided on — enjoy– it’s all you!

I’d love to hear about your favorite way to make Brussel sprouts. Leave me a message and tell me how.

Happy Holiday!

Grilled Pizza! Get Your Pie Out-of-the-Oven and onto the Grill!

The trick to a perfect grilled pizza is all the preparations. Roast, sauté, cook, slice, and grate whatever toppings you like before you begin your grilled pizza journey. Adding those pre-cooked toppings to the pizza as it is grilling is the trick.

The dough will only require a 3-5 minutes cook time per side.

Making the Dough

Keep in mind, yeast is a living organism, so don’t kill it by burning it with hot water or salt. I add sugar to my recipe to feed the yeast. Why? Honestly – I’m in a hurry. Shhhh.

The yeast will reconstitute in the water, wake up and be really hungry. The yeast eats- then it quickly begins to digest its food and yes, creats gas. Yes, I know it’s funny, and trust me when I say the kids will LOVE this Science lesson on C02 and so will you ! This step actually helps accelerate the dough’s rise faster! Definitely a win-win.

The important part about the end of the day, is also being with your family so– It’s also okay to use uncooked-prepared store bought pizza dough if you are short on time. Many grocers carry great organic uncooked pizza doughs today without tons of preservatives. The pizza police wont come for you, I promise!

You’ll Need

6 cups all-purpose flour plus more for shaping dough
1 teaspoon active dry yeast ( rapid rise yeast if you are in a big hurry )
1/4 teaspoon sugar or honey
1-2 cups room temp water, as needed
2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt


Here’s How

Whisk sugar or honey with the yeast in a medium bowl with 1 cup of the water. Set aside for about 5-10 minutes until foaming with bubbles. Make sure the water temperature is not above 105’F degrees or you will kill the yeast.

In a large gallon sized food storage bag or bowl of your stand mixer with dough hook attached, add the flour and the salt. Combine to distribute the salt throughout the flour. Make a well in the center of the flour if using the bag method.


Add the water with the yeast mixture, 1/2 of the remaining cup of water, and all of the olive oil. Close food storage bag by removing air and sealing all but a 1/2 inch up at the zip. Massage from the bottom of the bag up and incorporate well. Mix dough gently to form a nice dough ball. Add more of the 1/2 cup remaining water if water if needed. or, start the mixer on medium speed and mix until dough hook forms and ball.

If using a stand mixer continue to knead the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. About 5 minutes. Remove into a lightly oiled bowl.

If using the food storage bag method – knead well until it all comes together and forms a ball. Open the food storage bag, and transfer the dough ball to a large clean lightly floured surface.

Hand knead about 10 minutes until dough seems smooth. Resting in-between if it becomes unmanageable. This is actually the gluten forming which is rubber-band like. Just let it relax and return after a minute or two once dough seems smooth- place in a lightly oiled bowl.

Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature (about 72° F degrees) in a draft-free area until surface until dough has doubled in size, about 1.5 hours. Use rapid rise yeast instead of regular dried yeast if you are in a hurry- the rise will happen faster.

When dough has risen, transfer on to a floured work surface. Gently shape into a rough rectangle. Divide and cut into 6 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to center to create 4 folds. Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball. Dust dough with flour and set it aside on work surface or a floured baking sheet.

Repeat with remaining portions. Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, an additional hour.

Planning Ahead

The dough can be made 3 days ahead. Wrap each dough ball separately in a gallon sized plastic food storage bag with rolled in a little bit of flour and chill in fridge until ready to use. When ready to use, unwrap and let rest at room temperature on a lightly floured work surface, covered with plastic wrap for about 15-20 minutes before shaping.

To Make The Pizza
During the last hour of dough’s resting, heat your sauce, sauté your vegetables and grate the cheeses.

With one dough ball at a time, dust dough generously with floured hands stretch the dough into a rectangle or triangular form the best you can. Free form is the way to go with grilled pizzas.

Oil both sides lightly with a good quality cooking oil. Set on a clean baking sheet.

Prepare the grill by oiling. Once the grate is well oiled, place your raw dough on hot cooking grates and resist the urge to move it.

Grill the dough for about 3-5 minutes. Flip the dough when it releases from the grates when given a nudge. Look for deep colored grill marks and some crispy edges before tuning over. Repeat on each side.

When both side are cooked, move pizza crust to indirect heat choose a side of the grill where the heat element is turned off below, or to a side of the grill where there are no burning coals.

Top the rustic pizza dough with warmed pesto or pizza sauce if desired — then add your choice of pre-cooked toppings. Top with cheese, melt by closing lid or covering with a foil tent. Finish with flavored oil ( see my recipe here ) and serve. So delicious!

Variations : Add fresh chopped herbs to your dough or fresh chopped garlic for an additional favor layer.

Fresh Summer Cherry Vinaigrette

It’s easy to speed through the Central Valley of California or roll along the farm-bounded country roads less traveled, and find some great fresh fruits, nuts and delicious vegetables, especially during summer.  

If you find yourself in the heart of some of the world’s most productive farmland, grab yourself  some fresh delicious cherries,– season is closing – ( although some might argue- you can find cherries year round here ) Touring California you can see some familiar classics, like garnet-colored, ultra-juicy California Bings & others types less well known, like Coral Champagne cherries, a sweet and firm cherry that ripens a little earlier in the year.

I “can” a bushel of cherries every June. I love to made cherries in brandy for holiday gift giving– and now– I’m focused on making delicious, sweet, yet tart cherry vinaigrette.

So scrumcious on crisp summer salads and spectacular with grilled foods. Enjoy!

You’ll Need

1 cup dark red ripe cherries, pitted and de-stemmed

2 Tablespoons local organic honey

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup good quality aged balsamic vinegar

1 shallot, peeled and rough chopped

1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and root trimmed

1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

Scant cinnamon ( optional )

Kosher salt to taste

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Heres How: 

In a stand blender or the bowl of your food processor— add the cherries, honey, lemon juice, vinegar, shallot and garlic clove. Cover and process until the cherries look like a smooth puree.

With the mixer running, gradually add the oil in a slow steady stream until the combination has become emulsified and creamy.

Season with salt and pepper as needed. Immediately dress a salad, or something fun like smokey grilled pork chops. The dressing thickens over time, so add a touch of warm water to reconstitute. Keep up to a week refrigerated air-tight.

photo credit: chefs resource

Earthy Egg Embellishment

Searching for eggs around the yard is an annual tradition for many families in the Spring, but first there is decorating to be done. Dyes are easy enough to find in stores this time of year. No special trip to the store is necessary this year. All the things you need are in or around your house.

Decorating eggs has various historical roots. Eggs are a symbol of Springtime, and new life. The ancient Zoroastrians painted eggs for their new year’s celebration, which falls on the spring equinox. Sculptures on the walls of Persepolis, capital of the Achaemenid Empire, show people carrying eggs to the king. Jewish Passover Sedar calls for hard-boiled eggs called Beitzah dipped in salt. Thanks to craft.com, we have a homemade recipe for your own beautiful eggs.

This year start a new tradition at home by playing with flowers, clovers and pretty leafs as the inspiration for your beautiful eggs. So many things can be used as dye like berries and veggies – yep, a fun way to play with your veggies!

You’ll Need
White eggs
Flowers and leaves to decorate eggs
Pot of water
Dye (onion skins, blueberries, asparagus / spinach…)
1 tablespoon white vinegar to intensify the dye
One pair old nylon stockings (in a color that won’t bleed)
Thread

Here’s How
Cut up your stockings into 4-5″ sections. Tie off one end.

Wash the eggs in mildly soapy water to clean off any oils or residue that might keep the dye from being absorbed.

Dry off the eggs and place them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use.
Choose leaves and flowers carefully, looking for interesting and distinctive shapes. Plants that can be pressed flat create interesting two-dimensional graphics.

Carefully place the egg in the stocking pouch. Be careful, your plant could move around. This will get easier with practice.

Tie off the other end of the stocking, making sure the stocking is stretched tightly as possible around the egg to hold your natural inspiration in place.

Add the dye material – blueberries, raspberries, spinach, asparagus – with vinegar and eggs to the water. Boil for 20 minutes. Remember to do the dyes separately. Or, mix blueberries and strawberries and see what happens.

Remove the eggs, cut off the stocking and leaves. Then rinse your eggs. Rub vegetable oil on for a nice finish.

Lastly, share any really special designs with me in the comment section below!

Spring has Sprung in California! Try my Recipe for Oven Roasted Asparagus with Garlic Lemon & Crunchy Toasted Almonds

aspargus

LOVE.. LOVE… LOVE…. Asparagus. Spring time is right around the corner, and asparagus season is closer than we think. Best measure is to always source  young fresh stalks of asparagus but if  you are using very thick stalks of asparagus, peel away the tough outer layers.

The easiest way is to grasp the base of the asparagus in one hand and use a vegetable peeler in the other, carefully peeling toward while stopping short of  your hand and rotating the asparagus as you peel. You’ll wind up with a short piece of stalk with the peelings attached; you can easily snap it off at the point where the peeling stops.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus spears, cleaned and tough ends snapped off

2 – 3 cloves garlic, cleaned and smashed to puree

2 – 3 Tablespoons good quality olive oil

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1 Meyer lemon zested and juiced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 -2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves

Method:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Prepare a sheet pan sprayed with good quality cooking spray or, for easy clean up– line your baking sheet with foil and spray foil. Set aside.

Snap off and discard woody bases from asparagus or peel if necessary. Place asparagus and garlic in a 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan. Drizzle with oil, lemon juice and thyme leaves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Remove from casserole dish and lay single layer on prepared baking sheet.

Roast for 10 to 15 minutes or until asparagus is crispy and tender, rolling once halfway through roasting. Remove from oven and toss with toasted almond slivers and lemon zest. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately with my home made mayonnaise recipe at 30 second mom.

Makes approximately 6 servings.

Vegan Baked Apple Pastry Roses

I wrote this recipe for my friends over at #30SecondMom. Thought I’d share with you too if you don’t follow me there.

You’ll need:

  • 6 red apples, cored, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup melted vegan butter or regular butter
  • 1 package phyllo dough
  • nonstick spray
  • water or nut milk, to seal
  • equal parts cinnamon and sugar
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • powdered sugar

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Saute the apples in the vegan butter until soft.
  3. Lay 4 phyllo sheets flat and spread butter in between each sheet.
  4. Cut four 3-inch by 6-inch strips.
  5. Sprinkle the strips with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  6. Place apple slices overlapping along the long side of the dough. Use about half an apple per strip. Top with the almonds.
  7. Fold the bottom half of the dough up to meet the other side of the dough, enclosing about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the apple slices to form one long ruler-like pocket. Now roll from the right to the left to form the rose. Use water or nut milk to seal the edges.
  8. Bake in the muffin tins for about 10-12 minutes, or until brown.
  9. Cool and top with powdered sugar before serving.

High Protein, Low Carb Almond Crepes- Have your Crepe, & Eat it too! 

If you are watching your macros, and counting carbs while increasing fats – this is definitely the crepe recipe for you! These are so yummy! I usually double the recipe. 

Ingredients:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature 

4 large eggs

3/4 cup almond flour

2 tbsp granulated coconut sugar or sugar substitute 

1/4 -1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 Tablespoon melted coconut oil or butter 

Few drops of almond or vanilla extract or your favorite essential oil 

Pinch Hymalayan salt

Grape seed oil cooking spray or butter for the pan

Method:

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. 

In a a stand mixer, food processor, or standing blender – combine the cream cheese, the eggs, almond flour, sweetener, nut milk, oil, salt, and extract. Puree or mix until smooth and well combined. Should have the  consistency of a  melted milkshake. Add more nut milk if necessary. If lumpy, strain thru a seive. 

Set a 10-inch non stick skillet over medium-low heat. Add just enough oil or butter to lightly coat the pan. 

Once hot, add a ping-pong ball size ladle of batter to the pan and swirl or spread into a thin layer that reaches the edges, carefully not to roll up on the sides on the pan. 

Cook until edges are browning and the crepe is non stick to the shaking of the pan. Loosened with a spatula. Loosen all the way around and then lift one edge gently and work spatula underneath and flip it. Or, if you are brave, flip it in the air. Trust me – it’s fun and easy. Might take a few practice runs, but it’s worth it. Give it a go! 

Flip and cook on the other side until lightly browned. Remove and lay on prepared baking sheet, then continue with remaining batter. 

Continue to layer on top of the previous  crepe or on an additional piece of parchment on top of the first set of crepes as more come off the pan.

Fill with you favorite nut butters and homemade jams –top with fresh fruit. 
Whooo hoooo! Eat em’ up! 

Makes approximately 8 to 10 crepes. Each crepe has 3.06g of carbs and 1.16g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 1.90grams per Crepe. 6.30 grams of protein!!!! 160 calories each. 13 grams of delicious fat. 
Photo credit: Julia from, Julia’s kitchen 

No Artificial Color- Empress Red Sugar Beet Cupcakes ! 

Ingredients:

1 cup puréed fresh red sugar-beets, (fresh cooked not canned)

1/3 cup coconut oil, slightly heated to pourable state

1 1/4 cup granulated organic sugar

2 teaspoons Madagascar vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons natural cocoa powder ( do not use Dutch processed cocoa for this batter) 

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup almond milk or substitute 

Method

Preheat oven to 350′ F Degrees. 

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. 

In the bowl of your stand mixer, or large mixing bowl – add the beet purée. 

Fitted with the whip attachment, whisk on medium high speed and slowly begin to combine the beet purée with the oil by adding the oil in slow, yet steady steam hitting the interior side of the bowl- while whipping. Continue until all the oil is incorporated. If added too fast he after will delegate. We call this ” breaking” – so take your time adding the oil. 

Next, add the sugar and the vanilla extract. Beat an additional minute. 

Alternate adding the flour mixture and nut milk until incorporated into the batter. Continue to beat until combined. 

Divide among cupcake liners, filling them 3/4 full, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when poked in the middle.

Cool and keep airtight in cooler. 

Storing airtight is an important step to retain moisture and the natural red color. Only remove 30 minutes prior to serving to frost. 

Spicy Turkey Zucchini Boats! Like a Taco without a Shell. Whatever Floats Your Boat, Right? 

Ingredients:

8 medium zucchini

1 cup chicken stick

1 pound ground turkey, chicken, beef or Italian sausage 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped small dice 

1 cup mushrooms, quartered ( optional) 

2-3 cloves garlic, minced fine

3 cups pasta sauce

1 Tablespoon oregano, minced fine

1 Tablespoon fresh marjoram, minced fine 

1/2 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced fine  

¼ teaspoon Himalayan or Kosher salt

¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste

1/2 -1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground ancho Chili

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/2 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese 

1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

2 Tablespoons Italian style panko bread crumbs

1/4 bunch of flat leaf Italian parsley for garnish 

Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Measure out 1 cup of the pasta sauce and set aside.
Set aside a 13×9 glass baking dish 
Trim ends from zucchini and slice in half, lengthwise. With the tip of your knife score crosshatches on the inside of the zucchini flesh. Use the tip of a small spoon to scrape out the flesh. Chop the zucchini flesh into medium dice and set aside. 

Place the scooped out zucchini boats into a 13″ x 9″ baking dish and add about one cup of chicken or vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper.

Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, until just slightly fork-tender. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool slightly.

While the boats are baking, add olive oil to a large high sided skillet and place over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender and browning about 4-5 minutes. Add onions, and sauté until translucent an additional 2-3 minutes. 

Add the fresh garlic, cook for an additional 1 minute. 
Add the meat and begin constantly stirring to break up the ground meat as it cooks. Continue to cook and stir until meat is thoroughly cooked and veggies have softened. Drain off as much oil if any and return the pan to the heat.

Add the chopped zucchini flesh, 2 cups of the pasta sauce, parsley, fresh herbs, salt, fresh ground black pepper, crushed red pepper and remaining spices. Stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and allow to simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes. 

While sauce is simmering remove partially cooked zucchini from baking dish and pour off any liquid remaining. 

Pour the 1 cup of reserved pasta sauce into the empty baking dish and place zucchini boats on top of the sauce.

Divide the warm filling between the zucchini boats. If you have extra filling, spoon it into the dish around the zucchini boats. Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 20 minutes, or until zucchini is fork tender. 

Remove from oven . Remove the foil and set the oven to broil.

Sprinkle the zucchini boats with Mozzarella, Parmesan and the Panko bread crumbs. Place dish back in the oven, watching closely, and cook for just a couple of minutes until cheese has melted and bread crumbs are golden brown. 

Top with fresh chopped parsley. Serve hot.

Variations

Add 1/2 cup cooked black forbidden rice 

Add Quinoa 

Add red or green bell peppers.

Add mini tomatoes 

Use left over cooked chicken

Top with fresh pesto or rough chopped basil 

Non-Dairy Hot Chocolate Chai 

Ahhhhh, comforting ! A nice warm cup of drinking chocolate with chai spice! Perfect for a cozy fall,  or winter evening!!

Ingredients:

2 cups organic, vanilla almond milk, sweetened. (Or my nut milk recipe here- plus adding 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract – or, one vanilla bean-sliced open, and seeds removed into milk. And 2 Tablespoons of cane or coconut sugar per quart )

2 Tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder 

1 teaspoon DYI chai spice (see recipe below)

Method:

Place all ingredients in a medium size sauce pan. Bring to a rolling boil and whisk until spices and cocoa powder have dissolved. 

Reduce heat and let simmer for 3-5 minutes until flavors have combine. 

Serve hot  

Homemade Chai Mix

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground allspice

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons ground ginger

Combine spices together. Mix well to combine. Store in an airtight spice container.