We’ve got a little brussel obsession going on in our house. What? You don’t like brussels? Do you have traumatizing soggy-vegetable memories from childhood? Well friends, your life is about to change with this dish.
My children actually like this green vegetable. Actually they LOVE it.
It all began one evening in San Diego when brother Seth said, “let’s go out and eat the brussels.” Say what? Who goes out to dinner for brussel sprouts? Now we know why. We were served the most amazing appetizer that The Professor and I RAN HOME to recreate right here in cow-land.
So good. So easy. Bonus: brussels are GOOD for you! (and so is bacon…right?)
It’s easy-peasy and easily made right on the stove top. Balsamic glaze is different than balsamic vinegar, which would make this dish a bit too watery. Find the glaze next to the vinegar and you’ll be a happy brussel eater.
Hold ’em high, Nellie Mak! Hold ’em proud. We went outside for the good light. “Mom, you’re so weird. Can I go inside now?” (And yes, it’s too much to ask to look at the camera)
Let’s get a closer iPhone look.
With a little help from the local piggy (recently procured and man is homegrown pork incredible!), parmesan cheese, and balsamic glaze, brussel sprouts have risen to the top of my list. I crave them. I want them. must have them.So here you go. And may the love of brussels be ever in your favor…
Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Parmesan Shavings
1-2 pounds brussel sprouts, washed and halved
1/2 pound bacon, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmesan cheese shavings (good quality!)
Balsamic glaze to taste
On the stovetop, heat iron-cast or dutch oven pan/pot over medium heat. Add chopped bacon. Cook until halfway done.
Add washed and halved brussel sprouts, stirring frequently until brussels are dark green and you see some nice dark searing marks (about 10-15 minutes). Add a dash of salt and pepper to taste.
Remove from heat and slide brussels and bacon onto serving dish. Sprinkle parmesan cheese shavings on top of brussels.
Add balsamic glaze lightly, atop brussels and around dish for decoration.
The ingredient numbers are estimated. If you want to go with a full pound of bacon be my guest! If you like more parmesan, generously sprinkle.
This cake is brought to you just in time for Valentine’s. It’s special for three reasons:
It’s my Aunt Margie’s recipe, who is now gone, but I have her cake and think of her whenever I make it.
It has a very special ingredient that makes me laugh.
It represents so many things I love about my husband.
Sometimes we don’t want to share our favorite recipes because then they won’t be special, but boy am I glad Aunt Margie didn’t keep this one all to herself – life is so much better with this cake in it.
If you want only the recipe, skip to the end. If you’d like the love story, keep reading…
Aunt Margie and Uncle Warren raised my father after both his parents passed away when he was young. He grew up on a dairy farm in my most favorite place ever: Bear Lake, Idaho. When we visited in the summer Aunt Margie cooked, and boy was she a good cook!
Aunt Margie was a farmer’s wife and made everything from scratch which is why this cake’s very special ingredient makes me laugh. Are you ready for it…the very special ingredient is…a…cake mix! When I showed surprise she whispered, “you can make the cake by scratch if you want, but it’s just as good with the mix.” I had a new admiration for a busy woman who knew a good thing when she saw it. I have the original cake recipe, but Aunt Margie was right – the cake mix is just as good and so much easier!
As for my husband? Well, way back when I was going through a sad time in my romantic life. I wanted to make a very special cake for a boy who had kind of broken up with me. But he kept coming around. To show him what a catch I was, I figured all he needed was a bite of this very special cake that I had made from scratch (hey, I was young.)
I biked to the grocery store on my green Trek bike and discovered that I hadn’t brought the recipe with me. Did the frosting call for evaporated milk or condensed? Oh well! What’s the difference (said the clueless bakerella)? I bought the condensed milk.
I baked the cake mix (even I could do that) and began the frosting. Stirring it on the stove, I could not get it to thicken. Doubt began to fester. I stirred and stirred until I figured it was good enough – and dumped the frosting onto the cake. It vaguely occurred to me that maybe there was a difference between condensed and evaporated milk.
It was a soupy mess. But I optimistically hoped it would miraculously thicken and be as delicious as Aunt Margie’s cake.
Then I went and did my hair.
The boy was late, not showing up until 10 o’clock. I had grumpily gone to bed (party animal way back then, too). My roommates followed me as I ever-so-glamourously carried out my very special cake and presented it to the boy. (um, this is beginning to sound like an embarrassing 50’s story but I assure you I was a feminist in other ways 🙂
The boy took a look at my cake, put his hand on his stomach and said, “Oh, I’m so stuffed. I really couldn’t.”
Before I threw my cake AT the boy my roommates ushered me into the kitchen where they assured me it wasn’t me or my semi-disturbing-looking cake, it was him.
This moment, I sadly realized, was THE END of that boy.
The next day I was quite ill. I had a cold and a broken heart was miserably missing Anatomy class to go lay down thinking I was going to fail out of school for missing class, a baking failure and no one would ever marry me (not dramatic at all, not me.)
As I passed a condo out popped The Professor who I had just met. Rather than walk toward campus he surprised me by walking me home. There are many funny details to this story, but I’ll cut to the most important part: he walked into my apartment and saw my cake on the table.
The Professor you see, has always been a man who appreciates good food. “Mmmm,” he said, eyeing my cake.
“You can have some,” I said, feeling very sorry for myself. “No one else wants any” (boo hoo…)
“Thanks.” And then he did an audacious thing: he didn’t politely wait for me to open the utensil drawer and hand him a fork. He opened every drawer in the kitchen until he found a fork and then rather than wait for a plate, he stuck his fork in the middle of the cake and took a huge bite. Oh my. This professorial boy who used very big words, was excessively polite, and infuriatingly sparse with his compliments was eating my cake.
It was rather horrifying.
And then he said the only words I needed to hear: “Mmmm, tasty!” And proceeded to take another large bite.
Oh, I could have cried. Which I did. After he left.
And maybe it was then that I knew I had finally found the right boy.
It’s the small things, isn’t it?
And so, on the eve of this Valentine’s, I’d like to give you my very special, most favorite cake recipe. Passed down from my dear Aunt Margie who knew when to substitute, and has been made with love every since, all these years later.
I had to take the picture with my iPhone due to computer problems. My photography, as with my baking skills, is always a work in progress.
German Chocolate Cake by Aunt Margie
For the cake:
1 German Chocolate Cake Mix (devils food works fine, too).
Bake and cool
1 stick butter
3 egg yolk, whisked
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup white sugar
1-2 cups unsweetened coconut
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Mix and cook butter, eggs yolks, evaporated milk, and sugar on low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and coconut and walnuts. Spread on warm cake between layers or on top.
May you bake it with love, eat it with love, and enjoy it through the years, just as we have.
Want more energy? Want to feel good? Want to make your skin glow with goodness? Inspired by Laura at abeautifulplate.com, I jumped at the chance to blend me some orange ginger-splashed magic just in time for love day. Start with juicy oranges A beautiful yellow beet (much sweeter and more mild than red)
1 carrot plucked fresh from the garden…or the grocery store will do
1 Braeburn apple – yum!
A hunk of ginger, 2 inches thick
Orange Ginger Splashed Smoothie:
2 navel oranges
1 medium golden beet, peeled
1 carrot, scrubbed
1 Braeburn apple, cut
2-inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 to 1 cup water + handful of ice
Blend it all together and have a gulp of goodness (you know I fancy the vitamin for its superior blending capacity.) Who needs caffeine when you could have a smoothie to get going?
This recipe was inspired by pressed juice, meaning all the juice was squeezed out of the fruit and vegetables. But I prefer smoothies for several reasons: smoothies keep you full longer, they contain more nutrients especially fiber, there’s less waste, and they are much less time consuming to make than juicing. In addition, because of the fiber (the bulk), smoothies don’t hit your bloodstream so hard and fast like juices do, which means you have longer-lasting and more steady energy.
Convinced? Give it a try!
On Facebook, a friend asked, “isn’t that a lot of ginger?” Yes, it is! There is definitely a “zing” to this, which I like, but I’ve also acquired it. Ginger is terrific for gut health which is why I eat/drink so much of it. If you’re not a ginger fan, try less of it.
Looking for more valentine treats? You might like:
I’m quite particular about the sugar cookies I’ll eat. Most anything that comes in a box or tin? Pass.
I like to save my sugar cookie treats for the good stuff: soft and homemade. Offer me one of those and I might fight you for it. This gem of a recipe comes from my Aunt Naomi, from a small cookbook she compiled and entitled, “Good Food That Won’t Kill You.” Is that convincing or what?
Not too sweet, these sugar cookies are delicious even without the frosting. They’re perfection.
We make them once, maybe twice a year, at Christmas and Valentine’s.
Are you on our nice list? We might deliver!
Our decorating is top-notch, don’t you agree?
Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup shortening
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cups buttermilk
For the frosting:
Um, better Google that. I’m a Betty Crocker type of frosting girl 🙂
In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Add shortening with a fork (or electric mixer) until crumbly.
In a small bowl, beat together eggs, vanilla, soda, and buttermilk.
Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined (I like to do this right in my stand mixer, being careful not to overmix).
Chill one hour for better rolling.
Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into shapes. Yield: about 4 dozen cookies.
Bake at 350 degrees for 7-9 minutes. Take out of oven before they brown.
When cool, frost, sprinkle, dunk, devour, deliver.
The true story is that I have only recently become enamored with beets. When I was little we were served them microwaved from a can, and I detested everything about them. They were right up there with canned peas. Blech. We’ve come a long way baby. Now, our love affair is going strong. A great benefit to adding beets to your green smoothies (besides the nutrition!) is that it turns the smoothie a beautiful red, masking green things. Red is a much more palatable color to drink – who knows why? Beets are such a wonderful way to fool your children and other small creatures under your care. I have recently discovered the gorgeous orange beets in the supermarket. I had to buy them on principle, alone! Why, I’m practically giddy every time I enter the produce aisle. As I was trying to get a good photograph I looked outside at the fall leaves. Mother earth became the perfect backdrop for our fall smoothie.
A Fall Smoothie With Beautiful Beets
1-2 Cups Water
1 Red Beet, peeled, raw or cooked
1 Orange Beet, peeled, raw or cooked
1 Cup Frozen Spinach or Kale
1 Granny Smith apple, cut
1 Cups Frozen Blueberries
1 Avocado, skin off
1 Carrot, scrubbed
1-2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
Directions: Throw it in the blender and give it a whirl! For more smoothie recipes go HERE.
A concluding word: If you are new to smoothies, you’ll want to add more fruit than vegetables. If you stick with it, your palate will adjust and you won’t need so much fruit. For this smoothie you could use just one beet, rather than two. You could add a banana for taste and creamier texture. Chia seeds are a fantastic source of fiber, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and various micronutrients. They will thicken your smoothie considerably, especially if you let it sit.
Sometimes I use leftover beets from this salad for the next day’s smoothie. I’m all about easy.
Seen this book? I want it. In fact, I wish I had written it.
Happy Weekend! Drink a smoothie. Feel like a champ.
Hakuna Frittata – what a wonderful phrase. It’s quiche without a crust and a new family favorite…(which is anything tasty that mama can whip up super-fast). We discovered the frittata this summer. We’ve eaten it for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. We’ve tried many variations of cheeses, always coming back to swiss. The frittata is so tasty, it was gobbled up in mere seconds by the ravenous darlings.
And it’s so easy, I’m happy to keep making it – though even the ravenous darlings could handle making it themselves. As the weather turns colder, we start craving warmer breakfasts. With little time, you’ll want something quick, tasty, and comforting: que the frittata! It’s also incredibly healthy. Yes, my friends, we are WINNING at life! You’ll begin with some butter in a cast-iron pan (or oven-safe fry pan), chopped onions, and spinach (fresh or frozen both work well). Add whisked eggs, milk, cut tomatoes, shredded Swiss, salt and pepper – and you’re in frittata business. Let it cook on the stovetop until almost set – about 5 minutes. Finish off in the oven, set on broil. In about five minutes you’ll have a gorgeous egg dish with beautiful color. Don’t you love pretty food? Let’s admire the frittata for a moment. Very nice, very nice (and it happens to taste amazing!)
Spinach and Tomato Frittata:
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 Small Onion, finely chopped
2 Cups Baby Spinach
5 Large Eggs
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
Salt and Pepper
1 Cup Shredded Swiss Cheese
1 Cup Chopped Tomatoes
Preheat oven to broil. In a medium bow, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Fold in cheese and tomatoes. Set aside.
In a medium cast iron skillet (or oven-safe frying pan) over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Pour the egg mixture over the spinach and cook until almost set, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and broil until golden brown on top, about 5-7 minutes.
Eat your hakuna frittata – and make sure you sing!
Hello friends! After an unexpected (and very fun) trip to San Diego (much to tell!) I’m back in blogging action with a seasonal, easy, and delicious smoothie for you. It might give you so much energy you’ll want to go climb a mountain. Or at least be able to think about what to make for dinner.Here she is, the Blueberry Peach Smoothie. What a natural beauty.
After seven years of barren bushes our blueberries are finally bursting. Remember: good things come to those who wait. I time our vacations around blueberry season. I’m only kindof kidding.
We’ve eaten so many blueberries, our whole family is practically one fat blueberry. So that’s how we’ll start our smoothie – put ’em in the blender – especially the droopy and less desirable ones.
Now let us turn our attention to the peach, also in season at the moment. Is this a dreamy life we live or what? It makes me almost forget New Hampshire winters. One year I canned them and we enjoyed peaches in the middle of February, making New Hampshire life bearable. Alas, I have not been so ambitious since.
Cut peaches up, using white or golden varieties. I’m particularly obsessed with the white peach at the moment. Peaches are perfect in the smoothie because I cannot eat them with the skin on – to me, taking a bite of fuzz is akin to nails sliding down a chalkboard. You with me? But now, we need some protein and fat that won’t upset the peach and blueberry taste. I went for avocado. Don’t freak out, just do as I say. Avocados hardly have any taste in a smoothie except to make it creamy and delicious. How to get the avocado into the blender? Just squeeze it out – it’s so easy! You can add the pitt if you’re feeling super nutritious and your blender can handle it (but I’ve never added the avocado skins.)
We just need one more eensy-weensy vegetable. We have a lot of carrots at the moment. How about this one??? We grew funky carrots, but any old ones will do. We wash, but don’t peel. Throw carrots into blender and you’ve got yourself a smoothie!
Let me introduce you to my new obsession: the luscious lemon bar.I’m obsessed with lemons in general these days: lemon lotion, lemon dish soap, lemon smoothies (gut health!), lemon lemon lemon. It was only natural that these luscious lemon crumb bars entered into my existence.
I’ve fiddled and fiddled with the recipe, from the marvelous Annies-Eats blog, trying to whittle down the sugar and butter and to also use coconut flour. Let me tell you, it took several tries and multiple taste tests (poor me!) but by golly, I think we got it.
Does this luscious dessert still have sugar and butter? Yes. You will have share with your family and friends and not eat the whole thing yourself. As tempting as it is. Like, really is.
Start with lemons! 3-4 large, depending on size. Zest, zest, zest. My zester is a cheese grater so my zest is a little large. I happen to like the little bits, but you could vitamix it or chop into smaller pieces if you prefer. Add lemon zest to 3/4 cup sugar. Mix together Add 4 large eggs and 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice. Whisk! Using your double boiler (I make due by putting one heat proof pot on top of another) heat until it becomes a thick lemon pudding. From there you’ll add butter and a mixer. Don’t forget to compost!
For the dough: Sugar, baking powder, all-purpose flour, coconut flour, salt, butter, and egg. Roll 3/4 of the dough into a ball, then roll into a square (or skip this part and just press into pan.) Line an 8 x 8 pan with foil and press the rolled dough into it. Pour lemon pudding onto it, and top with remaining dough mix. Bake at 350, 35-40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, cover, place in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat, lift the foil out of the pan and cut into squares. So tart, so sweet, so buttery. So good.
Luscious Lemon Crumb Bars
Yield: 1 8×8 inch pan
Lemon cream filling:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 2 large lemons
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3-4 large lemons)
12 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup coconut flour (don’t have any? use regular flour)
Pinch of salt
10 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1 large egg
To make lemon cream, combine sugar and lemon zest in a heatproof bowl. Whisk in the eggs until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Whisk in the freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water to form a double boiler. Let the mixture cook, stirring frequently, until the cream thickens (around 175-180˚ F on an instant read thermometer). Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool to 140˚ F (about 10-15 minutes). Once cooled, add butter and whip on medium speed with a hand mixer (or stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment) until the mixture is thick and pale, about 3-4 minutes total.
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with foil. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, baking powder, flour, and salt, and stir together with a fork. Cut in the butter and egg with a pastry blender until the largest chunks are about pea-sized. The mixture should be crumbly without much loose flour.
Spread three-fourths of the dough mixture in an even layer over the bottom of the prepared pan and press down firmly to form the bottom crust. Pour the lemon cream filling over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the lemon cream.
Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the top is slightly browned and the center is just set. Let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Slice and serve. Yum!
This, my friends, is something you must try. When Lynne B. put this on my lap, it was almost too charming to eat! It looked like an omelette, but had the tell-tale signs of a panini grill. I thought it brilliant (and delicious!) Thus, the panomelette was born.The finished panomelette is just so perty, no?
How to make such a masterpiece? You’ll begin with the omelette basics: eggs, milk, and cheese. Aren’t you glad we have cows? Bacon is always a nice touch. Aren’t you glad we have pigs? Omelettes are wonderfully diverse. My husband would add onions and peppers. My kids would pick them out. I’d like hash browns. You see, add anything you’d like.
If I didn’t mention, you need a panini grill. Want to borrow? Make sure it’s nice and hot. Spray with something nicely organic and chemical-free like olive or coconut Oil. You’ll pour that omelette on the panini machine nice and slow. It will drip down into the gutter (probably gutter is a no-no word in the world of cooking enticements). Have a little bowl to catch eggies. You can pour it right back on the panini grill. Ta-da! Out of the gutter.It only takes a moment to cook before you have a fabulous panomelette. Exciting, no?
Is this not exactly what you’d like to eat in bed this Sunday for Mother’s Day breakfast surprise? I have a feeling more women are reading this post. No matter – forward this post to the man! Subtle hints are highly underrated.
So, when the panomelette is done, cut with a pizza cutter. I did three strips.
Then I rolled that panomelette up, sprinkled with cheese, and topped with tomatoes. And everyone ate it and cooed at its loveliness.
Omelette + Panini = the Scrumptious Panomelette.
For complete story details, including ingredients (uh, eggs, milk, cheese, and bacon), click here. (and then go make it 🙂
Here it is, my go-to homemade bread recipe passed down from the ancestors of old to me and now to you! Delicious, nutritious, easy to make, this bread winner is especially dreamy just out of the oven with a pat of melted butter…The finished product may remind you of the good earth.
You’ll begin with hot water, honey or maple syrup, and a dab of shortening. (Brown sugar works well too, but we’re veering toward more natural products.) Next, using the same measuring cup used for the honey/maple syrup, you’ll add warm water and yeast. This way the yeast flirts with the sugar on the bottom of the measuring cup to make the magic happen.
Add more water, a bit of salt, and white whole wheat flour and that’s it. The party has started.
The dough will rise twice for two super loaves. I like to bake bread on our baking stones, with a little corn meal laid down underneath. After the second coming rising, the dough looks like this beauty.
Bake at 400 for about 24-30 minutes. I mean, is that beauteous or what?
If you prefer more traditional loaves, you can plunk dough in bread pans. Could even sprinkle some oatmeal on top. Let rise until double in size like so:We are now ready for the oven!
Time? Yes, homemade bread takes time. It requires a morning, afternoon, or evening at home so bread can rise. The anticipation is part of the joy of baking, adding one ingredient at a time, letting dough rise, the smell of flour and gluten rising in the air and then baked bread filling the kitchen while children jump at your feet (drooling. always drooling.)
Honey Whole Wheat Bread
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup honey or pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup warm water
3 teaspoons yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoon salt
6 cups whole wheat white flour (OR 3 cups white flour and 3 cups whole wheat white)
1. Combine first three ingredients: 1/2 cup hot water, 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup, 3 tablespoons shortening. Mix until dissolved. (I use a kitchen aid mixer with dough attachment but this is optional – bread can be made completely by hand).
2. Combine *next two ingredients: 1/2 cup warm water and 3 teaspoons yeast. Let stand about 5-10 minutes until frothy/bubbly. *(Use the 1-cup measuring cup you used for the honey/maple so the yeast will rise in the water.)
3. Pour yeast mixture into mixer/bowl where the first three ingredients are waiting.
4. Add 1 1/2 cups warm water, 2 teaspoons salt, and 3 cups of the flour. Beat vigorously to make a sponge. Mix in remaining 3 cups flour (and 1/2 cup wheat germ or cracked wheat if you like). Knead or mix, adding more flour as needed. You want to be able to knead or mix until it no longer sticks to your hands.
5. Leave in mixer bowl and cover with a damp towel or saran wrap, preferably in a warm place. Let rise until double in bulk (45 min-1hour.) Punch down. Form into two loaves. Put on prepared pizza stones (sprinkled with corn meal) or in bread pans (with a non-stick spray). Let rise double in bulk again (30-45 min).
6. Bake on 400 for 24-30 minutes until the bread is toasty brown.