Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Roasted Garlic and Lemon Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan Cheese

Do you remember when you were a kid and you used to hate almost all vegetables? I probably liked more vegetables than most kids when I was young, but there were definitely a few that I told myself I would never eat again, and brussels sprouts fit into that category. After trying one  with dinner some 20+ years ago, I didn't give them another chance until about three years ago. Somebody brought them as a side at a potluck, and I thought I would try them because they looked so good. And, they were pretty darn good. That was the turning point in my relationship with brussels sprouts, and I have made a couple different recipes with them at home since then. These roasted garlic and lemon brussels sprouts are one of my favorites since it is simple to make, and it makes a great side to many meals. If you were like me, and you rode off brussels sprouts a long time ago, I encourage you to give them another try. This time, you may like them! Enjoy.

Recipe for Garlic and Lemon Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan Cheese

 2 pounds of brussels sprouts, rinsed
3 - 4 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 tsp. of salt
1/8 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
A pinch or two of coarse sea salt
Grated Parmesan cheese, for topping

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut of the ends of the brussels sprouts and discard. Chop the brussels sprouts in half lengthwise. Put the brussels sprouts into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice. Add in the pressed garlic, 1 tsp. of salt, and crushed red pepper flakes and stir well to coat. Spread the brussels sprouts onto a baking pan and sprinkle with several grinds of freshly ground pepper and a pinch or two of coarse sea salt. Place baking pan into the oven and cook for 25 - 30 minutes, gently stirring halfway through the cooking. Once the brussels sprouts are cooked to desired crispiness (I like them a little blackened), take out of oven and divide amongst plates. Sprinkle each serving with some Parmesan cheese.

Recipe makes approximately 4 servings. 

Recipe Adapted from: Cooking Classy,  originally from Whole Foods 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Green Chile Chowder with Black Beans

This soup was like no other soup that I have ever  had before. I have to be honest, when I first saw the recipe, I wasn't so sure about how it would turn out, but the recipe comes from a blog that I have made many successful recipes from, so I decided to give it a try. The weather here in Maryland has been so cold for so long and this soup was just what Greg and I needed in the last week of February to warm ourselves (and our spirits) up. The soup was pretty easy to make (especially because I got Greg to chop the potatoes while I did some other prep work), and it made enough soup to eat for almost the entire week. This green chile chowder soup is comforting, filling, a bit spicy, and hearty. You only need a little bit of it to fill you up, especially if you add the toppings to it. You can choose to make the soup as smooth or chunky as you like. I pureed most of the soup but left some chunks of potato, much to the satisfaction of Greg, who prefers a chunkier soup. You can top it with sour cream, cheese, avocado, and tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Recipe for Green Chile Chowder with Black Beans

 4 Poblano peppers
1 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
1 small to medium yellow onion, chopped
1 - 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (I like spicy, so I threw some of the seeds in)
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp. of cumin powder
3/4 tsp. of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into equal-sized cubes
4 cups of chicken broth or vegetable broth*
2 cups of whole milk
1/3 cup of chopped cilantro
Juice of 1lime
2 15-ounce cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup of heavy cream

*Make this meal vegetarian by using the vegetable broth. 

Heat the oven broiler to high. Place the poblano peppers on a baking pan and place under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until one side is blackened. Then use tongs to flip the peppers over and place back into the oven until the entire skin of the peppers are blackened. Use the tongs to remove the peppers from the pan, put into a bowl, and cover. Let them sit for about 15 to 20 minutes.

While the peppers are cooling, cut the onion and jalapenos and peel and chop the potatoes, if you haven't already. Then put the butter into a large stockpot or Dutch oven and set over medium heat. Once the butter melts, add in the onion and jalapeno and saute until softened and they start to brown, about 7 minutes. Then add in the pressed garlic, cumin powder, salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Cook for about 1 minutes, then add the potatoes to the pot and pour in the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot so it is slightly cracked and cook until the potatoes are tender (about 15 minutes). Then remove from heat.

Now the roasted poblano peppers should be cool enough to handle. Peel away its skin and remove its stems and seeds. Throw away the skin, stems, and seeds. Roughly chop the roasted peppers and put into the soup. Add in the milk and cilantro to the soup, too. Then use an immersion blender to puree until the soup is almost smooth, leaving some chunks of potato if desired. Add in the lime juice, black beans, and cream.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with your favorite toppings. I used chopped avocado, grated cheddar cheese, Greek yogurt, and lightly toasted tortilla chips.

Recipe makes approximately 8 servings.

Recipe Adapted from: Annie's Eats, which was adapted from Cook Like a Champion and originally from Homesick Texan

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day 2015 Dinner & Dessert Ideas

My Little Valentine
Happy Valentine's Day! Are you doing anything fun? I have to admit, I have nothing planned so far. Greg, Wendy, and I were going to use our free breakfast coupons at Chick-Fil-A this morning (I know, we are fancy), but then Greg ended up taking a class to renew his CPR certification that he needs in order to be a sailing instructor. So Wendy, my little Valentine, and I are just taking it easy and hanging out. I will probably go out to the store later to grab some groceries for dinner, but I am not sure yet what I am going to make. I put together some dinner and dessert ideas for myself and for you, in case you are also wondering what to make for your special Valentine's Dinner. I never go out to dinner on Valentine's Day because I hate to fight the crowd (and because Greg never plans anything..haha). It is okay though, it is supposed to be in the single digits tonight and I'd much rather have a warm dinner at home with my family. Hope these dinner and dessert ideas help to inspire you today. Enjoy!

Valentine's Day 2015 Dinner & Dessert Ideas

Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken (only takes 5 hours in the slow cooker, so it'd still be ready for dinner tonight)!
The Best Cream of Crab Soup
Lemon Garlic Pasta with Sausage and Baby Spinach
Not So Sloppy Turkey Sloppy Joes (quick and easy)
The Best Cream of Crab Soup
Eggplant Parmesan Burgers
Delicious Cauliflower Burgers
Italian Wedding Soup
Maryland Lump Crab Cakes with a Lemon-Parsley Butter Sauce
Baked Chicken Taquitos
Restaurant Style Chicken Fajitas

Creamy Nutella Pie
Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes
Salted Caramel Brownies
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffles
Warm Chocolate Pudding Cakes with Whipped Cream & Cacao Nibs
Chocolate Pretzel Treats (more of a snack/fun treat but always a winner)

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffles
Salted Caramel Brownies
After putting these recipes together, I decided that I am probably going to make the Eggplant Parmesan Burgers. If I do dessert, I think I will do the warm chocolate pudding cakes. I haven't made them since last year and they were SO good!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Creamy Nutella Pie

World Nutella Day occurred last week! Did you know that such a day even existed? It seems like there are days to celebrate anything and everything, so of course Nutella would be on the list. February 5th was declared World Nutella Day and Nutella lovers united! I have to be honest, I think that every day should be World Nutella Day. I want you to know that if you missed it last week, it is definitely not too late to celebrate! I made this delicious pie made with an oatmeal crust and a filling of Nutella, whipped cream, and mascarpone. Yum yum yum yum - you know you want some. So go ahead, open up a jar of Nutella and make some Creamy Nutella pie. Enjoy!

*For less prep work, you can use a pre-made crust if you want. I made an oatmeal crust but a graham cracker crust would work well here too. You and I both know it is really all about the filling.

Recipe for Creamy Nutella Pie

For the crust
3/4 cup of quick oats (Quick oats are finer than rolled oats so you won't need the food processor)
5 Tbsp. of light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
8 Tbsp. of butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the rolled oats, brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, and salt into a mixing bowl and then pour the melted butter over. Then use your hands to gently incorporate all the ingredients and form into a ball. Press the mixture down onto a buttered glass pie pan so that the bottom is covered evenly and then use your hands to push the mixture up onto the sides so an edge is formed.  Put it in the oven and bake for 9 - 11 minutes. Remove from oven, place on wire rack, and let it cool completely. You don't want the crust to get too hard; so watch it carefully as it cooks. If any of it comes down from the edges while it cooks, you can push up after it cools a little.

For the Creamy Nutella Filling
1 cup of Nutella
1 Tbsp. of granulated sugar
7 ounces (about 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp.) of Mascarpone cheese
 1 cup of heavy whipping cream

Put the Nutella, sugar, Mascarpone and heavy whipping cream into a large bowl. Use an electric hand mixer set on medium speed to mix until ingredients are well incorporated. Then increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture is smooth and thickened. Then spoon the filling into the cooled pie crust. Put the pie in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set before serving. Serve chilled.

For serving: Top pie with fresh whipped cream and grated dark chocolate. 

Pie crust adapted from: Show Food Chef
Nutella filling inspired by: A Cup of Joe, originally by Alania Pouliot of Fabtastic Eats

Read about some handy dandy Nutella facts here!