Baby Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts

If you read the title of this post and were turned off by the idea of brussel sprouts, you’re probably not alone. But wait, let me convince you to try them!

For some reason a lot of people have this idea that brussel sprouts are really disgusting. And they can be — if they’re overcooked. If you overcook them, they release a nasty sulphurous odor, and I assume, don’t taste very good. Oh, and according to Wikipedia, they’re actually called “brussels sprouts” not brussel sprouts. Who knew?

Anyway, if you’ve never actually tried brussels sprouts, you really should! I tried them for the first time last year, and I love them. They have this delicious, nutty flavor, and taste good cooked a number of different ways. Also, they contain something called sulforaphane, which is supposed to have anti-cancer properties. Bonus!

A couple months ago Ric concocted a little somethin’ somethin’ using fingerling potatoes and b-sprouts. Trader Joe’s actually calls the potatoes “teeny-tiny potatoes,” and they are! They’re so cute. This recipe is so yummy and easy, and all you need are 3 main ingredients.

If you’re at the store looking for brussels sprouts, check to see if they have them available on the stalk. This is a crazy-looking alien-like beast of a vegetable (Google “brussels sprout stalk” and you’ll see what I’m talking about), but don’t be scared. The sprouts that come on a stalk are so much fresher and yummier. Look for tight, bright-green heads. Avoid yellowing or loose-leafed sprouts.

If you can’t find them on the stalk, don’t worry about it. You can buy them in a bag, too. But make sure you buy fresh, not frozen!

Before I get to the recipe, let me say that I don’t have exact amounts for how many potatoes or sprouts you should use. When we make this, it’s just for the two of us, so we probably use about 10-12 sprouts cut in half, and maybe 15-20 potatoes cut in half. Use as many or as little as you think you’ll need.

Baby Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts
Fingerling potatoes, cut in half lengthwise
Brussels sprouts, stemmed and cut in half
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. light-colored oil (canola, olive oil, grapeseed – whatever you’ve got)
Salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the brussels sprouts, cut off the stem, and remove outer/bruised leaves. Once you cut the stem, the outer leaves will fall off pretty easily on their own.

Once you’ve de-stemmed them, rinse the sprouts in cold water, drain, and set aside.

Now rinse your potatoes and chop them up.

Pour oil in a large sauté pan and arrange potatoes face down. Set heat to medium and cover the pan. Cook until golden brown. (About 3–5 minutes)

Once your potatoes are nice and golden brown, push them to the side and set your brussels sprouts face down in the middle. You might want to add a bit more oil to the pan at this point, but remove the pan from the heat before doing this! Otherwise it will splatter, and this is not fun. Trust me.

Cover the pan. You might want to turn your heat down a bit. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until browned. Be careful not to burn them! As you can see, some of mine got a little bit charred. Oops.

Once they’re cooked, add in the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly and cook for one or two more minutes on low heat.

Serve hot from the pan, and enjoy your brussels sprouts experience! I hope you like them as much as I do!

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Tom’s Tacos

When I was in college my friend Lauri (Hi, Lauri!) introduced me to her Dad’s delicious taco recipe. At the time I was skeptical, because I saw as she was making it that she put raisins into the mix. I’m not a huge fan of raisins, so I was doubtful that this would taste any good. But let me tell you something, it was more than good. It was delicious. The raisins plump up when you cook them and add a sweetness to the taco mix that you’re not expecting. Once you try it, you’ll never go back to raisin-less tacos.

I love this recipe because it is so quick and easy. It’s great for when you don’t have a lot of time, or don’t feel like spending forever in the kitchen prepping a meal.

The original recipe calls for ground beef, but I use Morningstar Farm’s grillers recipe crumbles. If you’re looking for it in the store, head to the frozen section. Here’s a picture so you know what to look for. You can buy these at Target and most major grocery stores.

Normally I don’t do the fake meat thing. I have committed to the vegetarian diet, and I don’t think I need to be eating fake meat every day to supplement my lack of real meat. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I also like to try to stick to Michael Pollan’s food rules, one being, “avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry.” Unfortunately a lot of the meat alternatives have scary ingredients list a mile long with things I don’t recognize.

Anyway, that being said, once in a while I will buy something like these soy crumbles to use in a recipe. Hey, sometimes the fake meat just tastes good. Everything in moderation, right?

On to the recipe!

Tom’s Tacos (6-8 servings)
1 bag meal starters crumbles
1/2 cup raisins (do not skip these or you will regret it!)
1 medium onion, chopped (optional)
1 medium green pepper, chopped (optional)
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 16 oz. jar salsa
1/4 cup water
1 dozen flour tortillas or crisp corn taco shells

Toppings:
1 bag shredded cheddar cheese
1 small head iceberg lettuce, shredded
2 large tomatoes, diced
Salsa for garnish

FYI — To cut preparation time and simplify the recipe, I usually just stick with the crumbles, raisins, garlic, and salsa. I don’t add onion or pepper just because those things are already in the salsa, and it’s definitely flavorful enough without them. But it’s up to you. Maybe one day I’ll actually put in some effort and try the original recipe.

In a large skillet, cook the soy crumbles over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes until they soften up and are heated through.

Add raisins, onion, pepper, garlic, salsa, and water. Simmer until onions and peppers are tender, and sauce has reduced to a thick consistency.


Yum!

Once it’s all heated and thickened up, you’re done! Serve them up the way you like them! Thanks to Tom and Lauri for the recipe! 🙂

Penne with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

One of my favorite cheeses of all is goat cheese. I love it. So creamy, tangy, and delicious. Mmmm… yummy.

So when I saw this recipe from Giada at home, I knew I was in for a treat. A friend requested that I post a recipe with sweet potatoes and goat cheese, and this is not that, but it’s close, right? Sweet potatoes, butternut squash — same diff. Kind of. I’ll have to think up a recipe involving sweet potatoes and goat cheese later. Any excuse to incorporate goat cheese into a recipe!

This was an easy recipe to put together, but it is a bit time consuming. The squash takes a while to roast, so make sure you give yourself about an hour and 15 minutes of prep. and cooking time, or more if you’re peeling and cutting the squash yourself. (I bought pre-peeled and cut squash to save some time.)

Penne with butternut squash and goat cheese (4 to 6 servings)
Cooking spray – vegetable oil or olive oil
2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 onion, diced
Olive oil for drizzling
Freshly ground salt and pepper
1 lb. penne pasta
8 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted (chop walnuts after toasting)
1 packed cup chopped, fresh basil
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan

Put an oven rack in the top third of the oven, and set your oven at 425° F.

Spray a baking sheet liberally with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the squash and onion. Drizzle with olive oil and mix thoroughly so that everything is coated in oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on the baking sheet and cook for 40-45 minutes until squash is tender. Keep an eye on the onions — I wound up with a few burnt pieces because they were in the oven for a bit too long (Confession: I got distracted watching the Vampire Diaries on Netflix. Hey, what can I say? I’m a sucker for trashy TV shows). Once the veggies are done cooking, remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool.

While the squash and onions are cooling, toast the walnuts. This can be done in the oven or on the stovetop. I prefer the stovetop so I can keep an eye on them. Heat walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for one two minutes, tossing or stirring frequently, until golden brown and fragrant. Set aside.

Make pasta in a large pot, following the directions on the package. When it’s done, reserve about a cup of the pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta.

In a large serving bowl add pasta, goat cheese, and about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the pasta water. Toss until the cheese has melted and formed a creamy sauce. The original recipe calls for 1 cup of water but I thought this would be too much. You can add as little or as much water as you like, depending how thin you want the cheese sauce.

Add squash and onions, walnuts, and basil. Toss well, and season with salt and pepper. Top it off with parmesan and you’re good to go. The end result is a creamy, flavorful, and filling pasta dish packed with veggies. Enjoy!

2011 in review

Thanks for all your support in 2011! I’m looking forward to a new year full of delicious, seasonal, vegetarian & vegan recipes.

Here is a link to my 2011 year in review, from the lovely people of wordpress.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 30 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.