Friday, February 5, 2010

Shells and Cheese...and Sprouts and Nuts

Fun fact: I only began eating Brussels sprouts a few years ago. My mom never made them, so I had never had them. And they're stereotypically one of those foods that people hate, and I'm a picky eater, and, well, let's not get into my food issues today.

This pasta is comforting and super-easy to make. It also re-heats well for the next couple of days (just don't tell your co-workers I gave you the recipe...those little cabbages can be stinky!).

Brussels Sprouts Pasta

12-16 oz. medium shell pasta (or orechiette or something similarly-shaped)
1-1.5 lbs. Brussels sprouts (I think...I didn't actually weigh them), rinsed and sliced in halves
1/2-1C. roughly chopped nuts (I used walnuts and pecans)
1/4 C. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher or sea salt
Black pepper
2 Tbs. butter
1/4 Parmesan cheese (or more)

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss sprouts on a jelly roll pan with the nuts, oil, and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 18 minutes, tossing the sprouts about midway through cooking.

Did You Know? I think raw Brussels sprouts resemble the heads of the aliens in Mars Attacks.

Anyone else see a resemblance? Now that I'm watching these clips, that statement seems less true.

And this is what they look like post-roasting, all caramelized and fabulous.

While the sprouts and nuts are roasting, cook the shells in some generously salted water. Drain the shells when they're just finished, reserving about 3/4 C. of cooking liquid.

Toss the pasta into a big bowl with the roasted sprouts and nuts, adding the butter, Parmesan, and 1/2 C. of the reserved cooking liquid. Add more cooking liquid if the pasta seems too dry.

Those are not my hands/arms moving so quickly they blur. Hubs has mad pasta-mixing skillz.

Quick, tasty, and full of sweet, delicious, cruciferous Brussels sprouts!

Shells and cheese. All growed up!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

French Toast!

I <3 french toast. It's quick and easy to make, it uses up stale bread, and it's delicious-- what's not to like? I subbed out the vanilla extract in the original recipe for Angostura bitters, which gives the toast a spicier flavor. I love sweets for breakfast, and paired with crispy bacon, this recipe is a comforting way to start the day. Or get through the middle of it. Or end it.

French Toast
adapted from Martha Stewart's "Classic French Toast" recipe

6 eggs
1 1/2 C. milk, half-and-half, or cream (or any mixture of the three)
1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. Angostura bitters
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (I don't know if I ever use this amount-- I just sprinkle it on until it looks right)
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
At least 6 slices of day-old or stale bread (I like to use baguettes for this, but other dense-er breads work well, too)
4 Tbs. butter
4 Tbs. vegetable oil

Slice up your bread, and arrange in a shallow dish.

Looks like a skeleton ribcage. Made of bread.

Crack the eggs into a medium bowl.

They arranged themselves like this on their own-- French toast even makes eggs smile.

Whisk in the milk, bitters, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

This stuff tastes sort of like eggnog. I mean, uh. I never ingest anything containing raw eggs.

Pour the egg/milk/spice mix over the bread slices. Soak on each side for 10 minutes.

A little less neatly organized since that last picture.

Heat 2 Tbs. butter and 2 Tbs. oil in a skillet over medium-low to medium heat. Arrange half the bread slices in the skillet (or as many as you fit without them being stuffed in there). Fry until lovely and toasty-looking. Flip over and do the same to the other side.

Pretty and golden and toasty and delicious.

Remove fried slices to a plate. Toss the rest of the butter and oil in the pan and let it heat up. Fry the rest of the bread slices.

Not as pretty when they're not yet finished.

You could sprinkle some powdered sugar over the top, or serve with butter and syrup, whatever floats your boat. I was making these to put into the refrigerator for breakfasts this week, so I didn't top them at all.

So good. So, so good.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

My favorite kind of classic cookie is an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. But since I have tons of cranberries left over from making Cranberry Pecan Muffins, I decided to mix in some of those beautiful, tart berries. I received a ton of compliments on these from people at my workplace and my husband's.

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

adapted from bakingsheet

2 sticks of butter, softened
1 C. sugar
1 C. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 C. quick oats
1 12 oz. package of chocolate chips
1 1/2 C. cranberries, roughly chopped (I only used 1 cup, but I wish I would have used 1 1/2, so that's what I'm going to tell you to use)

Huh. I haven't seen my dining table look this organized in a long time.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars (you could use a stand mixer, but as I've mentioned before, I try not to use mine unless absolutely necessary).

This stuff tastes awesome all by itself.

Beat one egg in at a time until mixed.

Getting there.

Add milk and vanilla, and mix until combined.

It looks a little curdled at this point. Don't let that bother you.

In a separate, medium bowl, whisk or sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

I love whisks.

Add flour mixture to butter and sugar mixture in two batches until combined.

That looks a little better.

Gently mix in the chocolate chips and cranberries.

Why yes, yes, I could just dig into this bowl as is.

It might look even tastier up-close.

Using a cookie scoop or a spoon, drop cookie dough onto baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes (or longer if you like your cookies crispy).

Pretty little cookies, all in a row.

Rest baking sheets on wire racks for a few minutes before using a spatula to transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.

Melty chocolate. :sigh: