Diamond in the Rough

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Now how many of you would put Brussels sprouts on your "never, never, never in a million years" list? 

Shame on you.  Don't be a hater.  These forlorn cabbages have been mistreated and abused for years.  Abandoned and left in the far corners of the freezer- only to be used in times of severe famine and under desperate measures.

What a sorry life they've had.

For their many years of ridicule and scorn they have been pining away, waiting for someone to realize their full potential- to recognize them for what they are.

Diamonds in the rough.

Yessir.  These bad boys have become my. favorite. veggie.  Not kidding.  Not even a smidge.

They have pushed aside broccoli and spinach (my other two toppies) and oddly became my new love.  In the kitchen, that is.  For all those of you who have had the mistreated, misused, misinterpreted version I apologize on behalf of all Brussels sprouts everywhere. 

You don't know what you're missin'. 

Quite frankly, if you've had a nasty sprout it is likely because you did not have it the proper way: fresh (not canned), slowly roasted (not overcooked), and sprinkled with cheese.

Did the cheese part spark your fancy?  Because, I mean really, anything with a good dose of cheese can't be bad right?  That's what gives children the incentive to eat the second most dreaded greenery, broccoli.

But only a dab'll do ya.  If the Brussels sprout is cooked properly, you only need a light sprinkling of cheese, preferably freshly grated Parmesan, to make it shine.

So let's get started redeeming these suckers, shall we?

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:
-1 to 1.5 lbs fresh Brussels sprouts
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 3/4 tsp salt
- ground pepper (to your liking)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cut off the ends of the sprouts and pull off dead or yellowed outer leaves.  Cut sprouts in half.  Place discarded ends & leaves in one bowl and halved sprouts in another.  Dump the discarded pieces in the garbage.  Mix halved sprouts with olive oil, salt, and pepper in their bowl, stir to combine.
3. Place sprouts halved side up on a greased cookie sheet and roast 35-40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside (take a taste test why dont ya??).
4.  During the last 5 minutes, take sprouts out of oven and sprinkle Parmesan over top, and a pinch more salt if needed.  Place back in oven for remaining 5 minutes.
5.  Take out and serve- YUM YUM YUM.

Here they are, cut and ready (I put them on a pan first to make them look nicer for your viewing pleasure but you will simply put them in a bowl to mix with oil, salt, and pepper.  It's all about presentation here folks.



Who could hate these cuties?  Adorable, I tell you.


Get your oil and either sprinkle it right onto the pan or mix them together in a bowl, your choice.


Sprinkle with salt and pepper.


Gorgeousness.


Bake at 400 for 40ish minutes- taking out just before serving to sprinkle with Parmesan.  Place back in oven to let the cheese melt a bit.  Take out again and serve it up.
Mmmmm.


Now really.  This is perfection on the plate and in the tummy.  Greenery doesn't get any better than this.


I triple dog dare you to try it.  You will be forever sorry you didn't discover their magnificence sooner.  But no worries, you can always make up for lost time.

And pssst, for the record, even my 21 month old son devours these.

Just sayin'.

My New Toy...

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Santa was very good to me this year.  Or rather, my husband was.  I didn't ask for anything but was blessed with more than I could have asked for- all things that will be put to good use in the kitchen!  Mr. K knows me well.

The loot?

Pyrex glass measuring cups- in multiple sizes.


A new glass 9x13 Pyrex dish with a carrying case



Some decaf Cafe Verona


Lindt's Chile Dark Chocolate Bar


A new Cuisinart coffee maker


And.....dun-dun-dun-dah!

A pristine Cuisinart 1.5 quart frozen yogurt and ice cream machine!


Ahh, yes.  Isn't she lovely?

As some of you may not know- I am currently 11 weeks pregnant with our second sweet little one.  Thus the decaf Verona (no caffeine for this gal) and the homemade ice cream maker.  My cravings have been quite random- but ice cream usually tops the list (along with pineapple, limes, and Taco Bell.  Yeah.). 

So this little contraption was the perfect accompaniment to my current state.  Perfect.

Thus to break it in and test it out- I made, of course, the original favorite: vanilla bean ice cream.

It was the perfect first test run- and it turned out beautifully.  Was it the cook or the machine?  We will never know...but as easy as it was I'm going with the machine.  All I did was stir, watch, wait, then dump.  It's quite the change from the old-school cranking ice cream makers that involved copious amounts of rock salt and lots of arm muscle.  This beauty fits on your countertop and involves nothing but some dumping and the flick of a switch.  Amazing. 

Thank you, Cuisinart.  Or rather, the engineer who designed it.

Vanilla Bean Custard-style Ice Cream
(courtesy of the Cuisinart manual)

Ingredients:

- 2 cups whole milk (or 2% if you want to lighten up- I wouldn't use skim though)
- 2 cups heavy cream (or half and half if you want to make it lighter)
- 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
- pinch salt
- 1 whole vanilla bean, halved and the seeds scraped (but save them!)
- 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
(note: because there are so few ingredients make sure that you use only the very best of everything!  It will make the ice cream taste incredible)

Instructions:

1. In a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, whisk together the milk, cream, half of the sugar, salt, and the scraped vanilla bean (including both the seeds and pod).  Bring the mixture just to a boil.

2. While the milk/cream mixture is heating, combine the yolks and remaining sugar in a medium bowl.  Using hand mixer on low speed or a whisk, beat until mixture is pale and thick.

3. One the milk/cream mixture has come to a slight boil, whisk about 1/3 of the hot mixture into the yolk/sugar mixture.  Add another 1/3 of the mixture, then return the combined mixture to the saucepan.  Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture constantly over low heat until it thickens slightly and coars the back of the spoon.  This mixture must NOT boil or the yolks with overcook- the process should only take a few minutes.

4. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer (discard the vanilla pod) and bring to room temperature.  Stir in the vanilla extract.  Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.

5. Turn on the ice cream maker; pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 20 minutes.  The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture.  If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours.  Serve or save in sealed containers:


Simply gaze upon her gloriousness:




Now please excuse me while I satisfy my afternoon craving for creamy, milky, vanilla-y goodness...