Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Cream

If you’re looking for a different, quick, and seasonal side dish to accompany your Christmas feast this year, I’d like to propose these Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Cream. And that proposition comes from one who is generally not a fan of Brussels sprouts. This is easy enough for a quick weeknight side, but special enough for a holiday table.

The other evening, my husband told me twice how much he enjoyed the Brussels sprouts I fixed for supper. Coming from him, that is a huge compliment! The idea for the recipe goes to The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day. But, as usual, I added my own twist.

These Brussels sprouts will definitely be gracing our dinner table again.

SAUTEED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH CREAM
(slightly adapted from The Bonne Femme Cookbook)
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1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 to 4 Tbsp heavy cream

Trim the stem ends of the Brussels sprouts and cut length-wise into 1/4-inch-wide slices. Place in a saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook for 4 minutes (do not overcook–you want the green color to sparkle). Drain, rinse under cold running water, and drain again.

Wipe the saucepan dry, and melt the butter with the olive oil in the same pan over medium-high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and sauté briefly, until nicely coated and just a little more tender, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle cream over the Brussels sprouts and gently toss to coat. Serve.

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Beverages: Hot Cocoa

This past weekend winter came in full force to my little part of the world. Snow pounded down and we stayed indoors. Well, except for a walk in the winter wonderland.

Snow makes me wish for hot cocoa. As a girl, Mom would often have a steaming pot of homemade hot cocoa on the stove when we came in pink-cheeked and sniffly-nosed from playing in the snow. Feeling a bit nostalgic, I mixed up some cocoa for Jeremy and I to sip. This takes some attention at first, but is well worth the effort, and honestly quite easy.

HOT COCOA
(from Mom J.)
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heavy 1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/2 c. sugar
dash of salt
1/3 c. hot water
1 qt milk
3/4 tsp vanilla

Combine the cocoa, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Blend in the hot water and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 2 minutes.

Add milk. Stir and heat through. Remove from heat; add vanilla. Whisk in pan until foamy. Top with marshmallows if desired.

Weekend Fare: Curried Lentil Soup

This delicious soup was featured in this month’s issue of Bon Appetit. I wished I had doubled the recipe – it was creamy, perfectly spiced, and great for a winter supper. I did not have green onions so we just enjoyed it without. This vegetarian soup would be a wonderful starter for meal or served as the main dish. You could omit the butter for a vegan dish but the addition of the butter took the flavor to a whole new place – so good!

CURRIED LENTIL SOUP – Bon Appetit, December 2010
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3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
2 tablespoons (or more) curry powder
1 cup French green lentils* (I used regular green) 
4 1/4 cups (or more) water, divided
1 15- to 16-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges

*French green lentils are small, dark green, and speckled with black; they can be found at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add half of chopped garlic; stir until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 4 minutes longer. Add 2 tablespoons curry powder; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add lentils and 4 cups water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree chickpeas, lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and remaining garlic in processor.

Add chickpea puree and butter to lentil soup. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder, if desired. Add water by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency. DO AHEAD Soup can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Rewarm before continuing.Divide soup among bowls. Sprinkle with thinly sliced green onions and serve with lemon wedges.

Appliance Cooking = Waffles

So, what do you do when your stove and oven are out? You make waffles, of course! With pancakes on Tuesday and waffles today, I guess it’s a bit of a breakfast theme this week. We all thoroughly enjoyed these waffles. I’m including a few ideas for customizing this recipe!

Let me also say, I’m a huge fan of breakfast for lunch or dinner. Perhaps, if I’m being completely honest, I should just say that I’m a fan of breakfast food in general! 

WAFFLES
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2 c. flour (I used part whole wheat)
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tb. sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 Tb. oil

Combine dry ingredients. Beat together eggs, milk, vanilla, and oil. Mix wet ingredients into dry stirring just until combined. Batter will be lumpy. Cook as directed on your waffle maker.

TO CUSTOMIZE:
–  Sweeter: Increase sugar to  3 Tb. or you could substitute honey.
– Fruit: Add 1/2 c. fresh or frozen fruit (blueberries, peaches, or raspberries would be especially good!)
– Spice: Add 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. ginger, 1/8 tsp. nutmeg.
– Buttery: Substitute melted butter for all or part of the oil. 

FOR SERVING:
– Top with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar
– Drizzle with maple syrup.
– Serve with a fruit syrup or fresh fruit.
– Top with yogurt or whipped cream.

You can freeze leftover waffles and re-heat them in your toaster for a quick breakfast or lunch or dinner. 🙂 Enjoy!

Lots of Snow = Lots of Cooking

Indiana finally got snow (of significance) this week! While there are always downsides to being stuck at home on snowy days, there are lots of benefits as well, one of the biggest being more time to cook! Years ago I had so much more time to spend hours on end baking in the kitchen. Nowadays it is rare that I spend more than the time necessary to make our meals. This week was different.

I was reminded this week of the wonders of homemade bread and how delightful it is to have it around all the time. Three days in a row I made bread and I’ve been trying to work out in my mind just how I could continue keeping homemade bread made when life gets back to normal (read busy). Where there’s a will, there’s a way….we’ll just have to see how strong my will is on this matter.

Another item made in quantity this week was soup — three different batches turned out in the space of 18 hours! And they were so good. We had White Chili from Food Network Magazine as well as their Vietnamese Soup and then a tried and true recipe for Italian Sausage and Red Lentil Soup. All were made in quantity and it was helpful to have freezing temperatures so I could use the back patio for extra cooling space!

I did have one moment of kitchen panic this week. After putting off starting supper until way beyond when I should have, I went down to have a look again at the recipe I had chosen only to read that I needed to allow 3 hours for simmering! Oooppps!! That wasn’t going to work in the less than 40 minutes I had. I whisked a few chicken breasts out of the freezer where they were just beginning to harden after a shopping trip and pulled out the Food Network magazine and opened to their white chili. And that’s how we tried that delicious recipe.

We’ve had little company this week other than family, a change from the past few months. New Year’s Day found me calmly sipping tea at 4:30 when my sister called to see if we could change our dinner plans from quiet family dinner to dinner party for 14. Why not? I decided on 10 more minutes to sip tea and then dived head first into the deep waters of a Chinese meal. The results were good, we all had a ton of fun, and the recipes will appear next month!!!

And now, I think I’ll pull some of that frozen soup out of the freezer for dinner. I’m just about baked and cooked out! I’m off to the knitting shop and an afternoon of quiet tea and knitting with a few friends. And maybe I should hope the snow sticks around for awhile….