Monday, March 12, 2012

Brussels Sprouts, Parsnips & Carrots! Oh My!

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Brussels sprouts.  To many, they are the things of childhood culinary nightmares.  I myself was never introduced to them as a child, growing up in the meat and potato belt.  I’d heard of them, but they seemed off limits.  A no no.  Seems silly though.  All this bad press towards a veggie?

Fast forward to this years past Thanksgiving dinner with my husband’s family.  There were many non-traditional offerings to feast on…including roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots.  What better time to try them?  They had already been prepared (not by me) and when there were other options if I wanted to come back for something else later.  I went for them.  And then went for them again.  DELISH!  Sweet and savory and a fresh yummy flavor that is kind of hard to describe.  I decided right there, much to the dismay of my husband, that I would have to give these a try at home.

On top of that, I’m an avid Martha Stewart Living reader.  Each fall/winter, the magazine features loads of yummy looking recipes for root vegetables that we rarely try, like parsnips.  So after trying the Brussels sprouts, I decided to toss in the parsnips.  Just to be safe, why not have carrots on stand-by so that my family would have some alternative veggie if they completely hated my new found love of not-so-typical veggies.


I Googled “Brussels sprouts, parsnips, carrots recipe” and easily found this recipe from the Food Networks Giada De Laurentiis…yes, my hubby’s fantasy girl.  Remember her from my past recipes?  Anywho, the recipe is super easy and I pretty much followed it minus excluding sweet potatoes.  Didn’t want to push my luck. 

Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, Parsnips and Brussels Sprouts (Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots (about 3/4 pound), cut into 1 1/2-inch thick circles
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 3 cups small red potatoes,halved
  • 3 medium parsnips (about 1 pound), cut into 1 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Coat a shallow baking sheet with extra-virgin olive oil. Place vegetables in baking sheet and add the dried herbs, salt and pepper. Toss well, evenly coating all the vegetables with the seasonings and oil. Add more oil if the vegetables seem dry.

Spread the vegetables evenly on a large baking sheet. Place on middle rack in oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

It turned out fabulous and the entire family enjoyed something old and something new.  Lanham has actually been asking for the Brussels sprouts weekly!  Lesson learned?  Always dive in a try something new with your kiddos.  They shock me daily with their changing taste buds.

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Getting The Most From Your Baguette

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Despite all warnings from carb-phobes, I still love my bread.  Granted, we eat whole grain versions most of the time.  However, sometimes…well, sometimes, I just want a big old hunk of baguette.  Little indulgences.

Our local Jewel often sells two baguettes at a very low price.  As much as we love our bread, that’s way too much for one meal.  So, I’ve found ways to use our baguettes without tossing them outside for bird food.

Day One:  Fresh bread, dipped in Olive Oil 

There is a little Italian restaurant that does this and the kids go ga-ga over it.  Why not do it at home?  We make each person a small plate and add salt, pepper and grated parmesan to the olive oil. 

This is a VERY old pic of B-boy doin’ the dip…


We keep a bottle of nicer extra virgin olive oil around for things like this.

Wrap up any leftover bread from Day 1 in plastic wrap.  Those little brown bags don’t really keep the bread soft. 

Day 2:  Roasted Garlic Spread

On day two, I warm the bread a bit in a 350 oven. That will give the outside a little crunch, but the inside should still be soft.  What better way to top this revived bread, than roasted garlic spread. 

Roasted Garlic Spread

Preheat oven to 425.  Take an entire head of garlic (two if you LOVE garlic like we do) and just cut the top off a little, exposing a some of the cloves.  I also remove a few of the outer white layers of the bulb, but not all of them.


Place the head of garlic into a muffin tin or small baking dish.  Drizzle with a good amount of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. 


Roast in the oven for 25-35 minutes, until cloves are soft. 


Carefully (they’re HOT) squeeze out all of the cloves onto a plate.


Mash the cloves (with a few pats of butter, if you like!) and spread directly onto slices of bread. 


This is SO yummy and easy enough to do any night of the week!

Day 3:  Bruschetta


If you’re actually lucky enough to have any bread left by day three, bruschetta is the way to go.  The bread is past its prime and already crusty.  Cut the baguette into 1/2 inch slices slightly on a diagonal.


Place on a baking sheet in a single layer, brushing each side lightly with olive oil.  Toast in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes per side, being careful not to burn.

My “recipe” here isn’t really exact. I basically mix my favorite bruschetta toppings together in a bowl, taste here, taste there and done. It’s a simple mixture of fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic and balsamic, etc. I’ve tried to remember approximate measurements below, but trust me. TASTE and re-taste. Add more of whatever you love and run with it.  Also, I’ve substituted canned tomatoes for this application as well. Just be sure to drain the canned tomatoes first.


Bruschetta topping:

  • 4 plum/Roma tomatoes, seeded, diced and drained of excess juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Mix all of the ingredients, minus the Parmesan in a medium bowl.  Top each baguette slice with the mixture and then sprinkle with cheese.  Enjoy immediately!

I’d love to hear back from any of you with your ideas for using banquettes over a few days.  The birds in my backyard can get their fill on birdseed…not my beloved baguette.

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