Time to Cook!

Inspiration for wholesome weeknight & weekend cooking.

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I love these shaved brussels sprouts (I found them raw in a bag at Trader Joe’s and I think Safeway now carries them too).  This would be a lot of work to cut these delicate sprouts up so thinly, so I love that the prep work is already done for you.  I should note that I hated brussels sprouts growing up (I think my Mom boiled them and added no seasoning) … but prepared this way (shaved and roasted), they are so tasty, delicate, salty and crispy — they are sure to turn any brussels sprout sceptic into an enthusiast.

Shaved Brussel Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Ingredients: Two (10 ounce) bags of shaved brussels sprouts 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper Directions: Spread the brussels sprouts onto 2 rimmed baking sheets, so they have plenty of room to roast (if they are too crowded, they will steam and stay too moist).  Toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until nicely browned and a bit crispy.  Season to taste with more salt.  Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 4-6.

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I’m always looking for new chicken recipes, so was excited when I found this one.  It’s super easy and tastes like “fresh”, flavorful Chinese food.  I’ve tried this with breasts (white meat) and thighs (dark meat) and liked both.  We serve with brown rice.  This was a hit with the entire family … I’ll be making this again and again.

Lemony Chicken Stir-Fry

Recipe from Food and Wine (contributed by Todd Porter and Diane Cu).

Lemony Chicken Stir-Fry

TOTAL TIME: 30 MIN
SERVINGS: 4

“Bright and lemony, this superfast chicken stir-fry makes an excellent weeknight dinner.”

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts or trimmed
thighs, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon
finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 scallion, thinly sliced
Steamed rice, for serving

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, 3 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce and sesame oil, season with salt and pepper and stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through, 3 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper and soy sauce. Transfer the chicken to a platter, top with the sliced scallion and serve with rice.

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My mother-in-law Patsy is from New Orleans and she is a great cook.  She can do all of the New Orleans specialties – homemade beignets, crawfish etouffee, shrimp creole, turkey and sausage gumbo, etc.  She serves dirty rice as a side dish at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner in place of stuffing or mashed potatoes.  This dish is so incredibly flavorful.  I sometimes serve it as our main course for dinner with a side salad.  Every Mardi Gras (this year it’s on Tues., March 4th), I cook something traditional for dinner (complete with colorful bead necklaces and silly hats) so the boys will be aware of their heritage.  Note: if the organ meat in the recipe grosses you out, try it without and I bet it would still be good.  The original recipe calls for all organ meat, but instead, I use mostly ground beef and add just a bit of organ meat, which gives the dish a complex and rich flavor.  Chicken livers and gizzards, although high in cholesterol, do offer a ton of vitamins and minerals (iron and zinc) and protein and are fine in moderation.  You can ask for chicken livers and gizzards at the meat counter at Whole Foods.

Dirty rice

Recipe adapted from The New Orleans Cookbook.

Dirty Rice

Serves 4.

“Dirty rice is a popular Cajun dish made with chicken livers and gizzards, vegetables, long grain rice and lots of pepper.  It is served as an accompaniment to poultry and meat.  If the main dish has a gravy, you pour some of it over the dirty rice.  Don’t use leftover rice warmed up; the dish will have an unpleasant texture.”

Ingredients:

1/4 pound chicken gizzards

1/4 pound chicken livers

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 pound ground beef

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 tablespoons finely minced garlic

1 2/3 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 cup finely minced fresh parsley

3 cups Boiled Rice (see below)

Directions:

Add chicken gizzards and chicken livers to a small pot of boiling water and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon and purée in blender (I use a Mini Prep Processor).  Set aside only 1 tablespoon of this puréed organ meat for the recipe; discard the rest.  Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet or Le Creuset and cook the ground meat until it begins to brown.  Add the flour, garlic, onion, celery, and green pepper and mix well.  Cook until the vegetables begin to turn soft and slightly brown.  Add 1 tablespoon of puréed organ meat to the skillet along with the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, most of the parsley, and 2 tablespoons of water.  Cook over low heat for a few more minutes, adding a bit more water during cooking if necessary.  Remove skillet from heat.  Toss in the cooked rice and stir; serve hot.  Garnish with a bit of parsley.

Boiled Rice

“Firm, fluffy, freshly prepared boiled rice is the essential accompaniment to so many of our dishes… Rice is served with gumbos, bean dishes, crawfish bisque, etoufees, and many other dishes.  Preparing it this way takes only 15 minutes, very little more than any pre-cooked convenience rice, and gives you the superb texture and flavor only freshly cooked rice has.  The tiny amount of butter keeps the grains from sticking together.”

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 cup long grain white rice

2 cups cold water

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon salted butter

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a heavy 3-quart saucepan with a tight-fitting cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Stir once with a fork, then cover tightly and reduce the heat to very low.  Cook covered for exactly 15 minutes.  Do not lift the cover during cooking.  Remove the pan from the heat, uncover, and fluff the rice gently with a fork.

Note: the rice will keep warm enough for serving second helpings if you use a heavy saucepan and keep it covered after serving.  Another way to keep the extra rice warm is to put the covered saucepan in a pre-heated 175 degree oven.  Do not keep it warm for more than 25 minutes.

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I love this veggie — it’s healthy and tasty (almond coating adds a nutty taste to the vegetables) and each bite offers a different flavor: carrot, parsnip or sweet potato.  Note: you can grind the almonds in a mini prep processor or I have an extra coffee grinder that I dedicate to grinding nuts and spices only.  I double this recipe (you’re going to want more!) and roast on two baking sheets (you don’t want to crowd the veggies).

Root Vegetable Fries

Recipe from cookbook “The Little Paris Kitchen.”

Baked Vegetable Fries

Ingredients:

3 1/2 tablespoons ground almonds

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 sweet potato, cut into thin strips

1 parsnip, cut into thin strips

1 large carrot, cut into thin strips

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix together the ground almonds, oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper.  Toss the vegetables in the mix and then spread them out on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp, shaking the sheet halfway through.

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Certain foods are supposed to bring you good luck for the year if eaten on New Year’s Day — cabbage, black eyed peas, etc.  Here is my favorite cabbage recipe that I plan to make.  Cabbage is so good for you (high in lots of nutrients, filled with antioxidants, can lower bad cholesterol, and is very low in calories and fat) and inexpensive, but often gets a bad rap.  It does have a strong, funky smell when you cook it (that’s how I remembered it growing up) — and it can give you gas!  Just don’t eat like three servings in one sitting!  This cabbage recipe is awesome though – it’s fresh and delicious.  You will want more than one serving!  Great served with pork chops, pork tenderloin, or grilled sausages.  Note: I lowered the amount of salt in the recipe below.

Sauteed cabbage and leeks

Recipe from blog Simple Bites.

Sautéed Cabbage & Leeks with Apples

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 whole leek
  • 1/2 green cabbage head
  • 1 large apple
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Prepare leeks by cleaning them, drying and chopping them into 1/2 inch rounds. Divide cabbage into two quarters, lay them on a flat, cut side and roughly chop them into chunks, avoiding the core. Separate the cabbage pieces slightly.
  2. Heat a 5 quart French oven or a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and butter and heat until butter is bubbling.
  3. Add leeks to melted butter and sauté for two minutes. Add the cabbage all at once and immediately stir thoroughly to coat the cabbage with butter. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Partially cover and cook on medium heat for about 7 minutes, stirring often, until cabbage has wilted significantly. During this time, quarter and core the apple and roughly dice.
  5. Add the apple to the cabbage as well as the apple cider vinegar. Sauté on medium heat for another three minutes, stirring often. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve hot.

Note: Chardonnay vinegar can be substituted for apple cider vinegar and the whole dish would be lovely with a sprinkling of caraway seeds sautéed in the mix.

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I’ve been curious about breakfast quinoa and tried a few recipes that really were not that good.  This is my favorite and it’s simple to make.  It’s a great high-protein alternative to warm oatmeal in the morning.  One of my two boys like this!  Top with fresh fruit and/or nuts or nothing at all.

Breakfast Quinoa

Recipe from Martha Stewart Living.

Breakfast Quinoa
 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole or low-fat milk, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons light-brown sugar, plus more for serving
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) fresh blueberries, plus more for serving

Directions

  1. Bring milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, until three-quarters of the milk has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.

  2. Stir in sugar and cinnamon. Cook, covered, until almost all the milk has been absorbed, about 8 minutes. Stir in blueberries, and cook for 30 seconds. Serve with additional milk, sugar, cinnamon, and blueberries.

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