Monthly Archives: July 2013

Not Your Mom’s Brussel Sprouts

IMG_5503I remember it like yesterday…. My mother poured brussel sprouts out of a freezer bag and into a steamer. She piled up a short stack next to my mashed potatoes and chicken. I remember digging in- to everything except the sprouts. I tried to drown them in mashed potatoes, but it didn’t always hide the hideous flavor.

Well, here I am 25+ years later and loving sprouts! I decided to try them, as usual, after watching numerous chefs use them in cooking shows. The first day I tried them, my husband was traveling. I was looking for something new to try and they had fresh sprouts in the produce section. I decided to buy enough to try a couple different ways.

At home, I cut my sprouts in half, or quarters for larger ones, and tossed them all in olive oil, salt and pepper. I put half in the oven and the rest in a sauté pan on the stove top. They seemed to take much longer in the oven than most of the veggies I roast, so I’ve just been cooking them stove top style. Either way, they were super delicious. I couldn’t believe I was eating brussel sprouts and loving them! What’s more, when my hubby came home I fed them to him and HE loved them.

I am always looking for great veggies to add to my repertoire. We are steak and potatoes people, but I make sure we have a veggie on the side. Brussel Sprouts don’t cost a ton of money. They are simple to cooking don’t take a lot of time or seasoning. It’s also easier to find fresh sprouts in the produce section, which allows you to hand pick the ones you want. I can get a bunch of tiny ones or fewer super large ones. As someone who’s admittedly OCD I like picking my own vegetables and not relying on a bag, when feasible.

So, here’s how I make my brussel sprouts. They’re making a serious veggie come back, and I hope you take a risk and give them a chance.

Just slice off brown bottoms and remove any bad leaves.

Just slice off brown bottoms and remove any bad leaves.

1. Examine fresh brussel sprouts for any worm holes or rotting at the bottom. Cut off stem area and remove any leaves that are not good.
2. Cut small sprouts in half and large sprouts in quarters so they are all about the same size and can cook at the same time.

IMG_5506
3. Put sprouts in a bowl. Drizzle with your favorite salt and pepper. I typically use kosher salt, but if you have sea salt, smoked sea salt, Fleur de Sel or any other kind, use it!
4. Drizzle a sauté pan with olive oil or spray a nonstick pan with olive oil flavored nonstick spray. You can also drizzle lightly with olive oil, but it’s already on the sprouts. Using a sauté pan is easy, but I like to use a grill pan. It makes great marks and is quick cleaning. Cook over medium heat.
5. Once you have a nice char on one side, regardless which type of pan you use, flip the sprouts. Cook on the other side. About 4-6 minutes per side. Remove and serve.

**Feel free to try these in the oven. Cut and season like above, and heat oven to 425 and roasting for about 15 minutes. Check and flip if not finished. Continue cooking until done. You can test them with a fork. They will still be sturdy, but able to pierce with a fork, just like carrots or broccoli or any other veggie you might roast.**

20130729-025111.jpg

I absolutely love green veggies with steak. First I only did broccoli, then, I found asparagus and fell head over heels. I actually grill and eat asparagus, on average, 3 times a week. I’m kind of addicted. Now that I’ve found brussel sprouts, though, they’ve kind of become my favorite for steak. I like their sturdiness. I think they hold up well and provide a heartiness and stiffness as well as an earthiness that other veggies may lack once cooked. I also think their flavor is such that they allow the meat to shine. I’m not even going to get into the iron and vitamins they contain.

20130729-020312.jpgIMG_5338

These are a tasty accompaniment to a beef or chicken or meaty fish. I really hope you give them a chance. Enjoy!

Advertisements

Making Home Made baby Food

20130725-150309.jpg

When I had my son I knew I wanted to make my own baby food. I did start with store-bought food first so I could gauge what he liked. Luckily for me, the kid likes everything I feed him. Bananas, peaches, apples, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, squash, he ate it all. The only thing he doesn’t like is the baby cereal. When I did get him yo eat the oatmeal and banana cereal it constipated him. So, no more of that. I will caution anyone buying store bought food that there is some great stuff and some not so great stuff. READ THE LABEL!!! I used the Gerber Natural food for my son. For many foods it had less than 3 or 4 ingredients and some only had 2, like the squash, made of squash and water. When visiting my parents, my mother set out to get some baby food for our arrival. She was momentarily caught up in the branding and wanted to get the Gerber Organic until I made her read the label. It included gelatin, tuna fish oil and other preservatives. Please read the label.

Once I was ready to start making his food I wanted to get a specific baby food processor. It’s not necessary, but a helpful tool. I asked a friend of mine, who has a son about 6 months older than mine, what she used and she sent me a link to the Baby Brezza. There are a few different types, but the one I bought is pictured above. It was $80, and I think I’ve about gotten my money’s worth.

The Baby Brezza is super easy to use and comes with a guide and recipe book in both English and Spanish. It is a built-in steamer and food pro all in one. Here’s how I use it:

1. Peel and chop your fruits or veggies as required.
2. Place in Baby Brezza food pro cup.
3. Fill steamer with water. Add some water to the food cup if necessary. (This makes a smoother purée for younger babies. )
4. Select desired steamer time (if steaming is necessary.)
5. Blend.
6. Store in container.
7. Feed the baby.
**Always be sure to read the steam times and all directions before using.

20130725-151352.jpg

20130725-142143.jpg

20130725-151405.jpg

20130725-151413.jpg

20130725-151420.jpg

20130725-151426.jpg

While you can easily lightly boil or steam and mash foods yourself, this tool makes it quick and easy to make your baby’s food. I have that baby that gets bored with any one activity after 10-15 minutes. I can peel and chop apples, banana, avocado, carrots, etc and toss them in the Brezza. The best part is I don’t have to be around while its steaming and blending. The timer takes care of it all and I can set just the steam timer, or the steam & blend timer so it does both. I like steaming because you don’t lose the nutrients like with boiling, and everything is still in the cup.

Be careful when it’s finished because the lid will be hot. I made an Apple-Cinnamon purée with Fig Jam. This was steamed for 20 minutes and I added about 1/4 cup of water to the apples before steaming. This made it pretty watery, but I wanted to add a banana to it after it blended. I’ll be posting the full recipe in the next day or so.

20130725-154709.jpg

For storage, I use a couple different things. I have some small, glass canning jars with lids and some plastic food storage containers with lids. Both are about 4 oz containers.

I like the plastic because they’re easy to clean and you can use a dry erase marker to label directly on the side of the container whether its hot or cold. The metal lids in the glass jars are a little tougher to write on when cold, but I tend to not have to rewrite every time I grab the jar and forget not to grab the labeled side.

20130725-160930.jpg

20130725-160937.jpg

At the end of the day, this product enables me to make healthy food for my little guy, and know exactly what’s in it. It also allows me to experiment with different flavors I can’t find on the shelf, and tailor food precisely to his tastes. Something I didn’t mention was that there are plastic suction cups on the bottom of the Brezza and only 3 removable pieces (the lid, blade and cup). These pieces remove and rinse easily. That, a cutting board and a knife are all the tools you need to make great, homemade foot for your baby. What are you waiting for?

 

20130725-160943.jpg