Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Best Ever Brussel Sprouts

Well I have a new toy: a cast iron skillet.

In the matter of two weeks, myself and this skillet have become inseperable.  It seems to make everything taste so much better!  Fried potatoes and onions have been reborn for me!  But that is something for another post...  Continuing with the the topic at hand... I have been making just about anything and everything I can think of in my new friend, putting him to good use.  Today, it was time for the rebirth of an old and trusty standby: brussel sprouts.

Now I know that a LOT of people can't stand brussel sprouts.  Let me just say now, I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS!  It is only the best vegetable known to man!  Considering that I feel so strongly about my beloved sprout, it should be no surprise that I decided to introduce them to the new skillet.  Man oh man!  I didn't think it was possible for me to love brussel sprouts any more than I already do, but apparently I was wrong!  Today was a delicious feast - and so I thought I would share.

The Best Brussel Sprouts You'll Ever Eat
(can you tell I REALLY like them?!?)

1.5 lb fresh brussel sprouts, cut up how you prefer (I like mine whole)
1/4 C raw pumpkin seeds
2.5 tbsp unsalted butter
2-3 tbsp water
2 tsp minced dried onion
2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp Spanish paprika
1/2 tsp McCormick Montreal Steak seasoning ( I am very fond of this seasoning, but if you do not have this on hand, I would imagine that fresh cracked pepper would be alright)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
                                                                CAST IRON SKILLET

1. Heat skillet over medium high heat, until hot.  Add butter, and brown.
2. Once butter is browned, add sprouts.  Saute for 1 minute (until the green color begins to deepen).
3. Add pumpkin seeds, saute for another minute.
4. Add water, cooking uncovered for 5 minutes.  Then cover sprouts, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
5. Add seasonings, mixing well.  Cover again, and cook for a final 5 minutes.  Season with salt as desired.
6. Done!

Final note:  I paired the sprouts with amaranth because the nuttiness of the grain pairs well with the browned butter in my opinion.  For the amaranth, I prepared as normal and cooled completely (actually it was in the refrigerator overnight).  Then I spread out the serving size I wanted on tin foil, and broiled in the oven until the top began to blacken around the edges.  This was the bed for the sprouts.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Vegan Soul Kitchen : Terry Bryant

Well....I know...its been a minute since my last post.  Shameful!  I've been a busy bee lately.  Many apologies!

I have (no surprise) been reading some great new cookbooks.  My favorite by far has been Vegan Soul Kitchen from Terry Bryant.  THIS COOKBOOK IS PHENOMENAL! 

When I first picked it up at the library, it was on a whim.  I was thinking that it might be interesting, but didn't really expect to like it that much.  Boy - I was wrong!  The ingredients are accessable and up to my whole, natural food standards, and even though I am not vegan, I love that I now have an arsenal of recipes to go to that do not use dairy or eggs.  These recipes are such a far cry from your traditional "soul food" dishes - but in a VERY good way.  I will be buying this book from Amazon - and I suggest you do the same (or at least go get it from your library!).

As I said before, I've been crazy busy, and haven't had time to bake like I would like.  So I unfortunately do not have any recipes or stories to share.  I plan on making several dishes, though, from Vegan Soul Kitchen, and will post my triumphs (or failures) as they come. 

Happy Eating! 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sinful Sweet Potato Brownies

Sundays are usually a day for getting together among my clan, so I like to try to have something baked to bring along with me wherever I end up.  Usually I have some ideas about what I'd like to bake up by the middle of the week, and so by the time that Saturday rolls in I'm raring at the bit to get into the kitchen.  This week was no exception.  I'd been feeling an inclination to make chocolate shortbread for some odd reason.  Unlike my normal routine, I didn't really browse around for the recipe that I wanted to use, or recipes I wanted to combine.  I've been so rushed for time, that I just found one and went with it.  BIG mistake.  Just about everything that could have gone wrong, did.  Needless to say, those got acquainted with my trashcan real quick.

By this time, I was feeling frustrated, irritated, and pushed for time.  Frantically, I searched the cupboard and cookbooks for what to whip up quick.  Sadly, I just wasn't finding anything, until it dawned on me.  Brownies!  I had everything that I needed on hand.  As I was pulling the ingredients, I came across two cans of sweet potato puree that I had been wanting to use up.  Well I don't know what came over me, but I made the snap decision to add them in too!  I am glad that I did.  The result was a very moist, dense yummy brownie that really hit my chocolate-craving spot.


Sinful Sweet Potato Brownies

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/4 C butter

2 C (16 oz) sweet potato puree (or mashed sweet potatoes)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp vinegar

3/4 C mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (I was on a chocolate binge, what can I say) 

2 C all purpose flour
1 C sugar (I used white, but I think that brown would have been better)
3 tbsp baking cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease either 9 x 13 or two 11 x7 pans. 
1. Sift dry ingredients together in large mixing bowl.  
2. In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients.
3. Melt butter and baking chocolate together in a double broiler on the stove.  When halfway melted, remove from heat, and stir continuously until melted through.  Stir melted chocolate into the wet mixture until thoroughly combined.  Next, incorporate the mini chocolate chips into your sweet potato mixture.
4.  Gradually add wet mixture into the flour mixture, stirring until evenly moistened. 
5.  Spread mixture into pan(s), wetting spatula if needed.  Bake for 40-45 minutes for the 9 x 13 pan or 20-25 minutes for the two 11 x 7 pans.  (I used the two smaller pans because I was short on time, but I was glad that I did.  I took the second pan with me to work the next day).