cartoon by marc johns.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries, Almonds, and Balsamic Glaze

This recipe is simple and delicious.  It is also GORGEOUS.  The dark green of the brussels sprouts contrasts beautifully with the deep red of the cranberries and the light tan of the almonds.  The balsamic vinaigrette adds a lovely dark sheen to everything as well.  This is a great side dish for a holiday (Thanksgiving?) or any time you have guests you want to impress.  It tastes delicious too - the roasted brussels sprouts are tender and the balsamic goes really well with the tartness of the cranberries and the crunchiness of the almonds.  Just make this!  You'll love it, I swear.

1 1/2 pounds Brussels Sprouts
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
1/4 cup Sliced Almonds

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Clean and trim the brussels sprouts.  Cut each sprout in half and arrange on a baking sheet.  

Cleaned and Cut in Half.
2.  Toss the sprouts in olive oil and sprinkle with plenty of salt and pepper.  

Tossed in oil and sprinkled in S&P.
3.  Roast the brussels sprouts for 25-30 minutes, or until they are tender and begin to brown.  

All roasted.
4.  Combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and allow sauce to thicken.  Reduce sauce for about 15-20 minutes, or until it is thick like a glaze.

A horrible picture of the sauce thickening.
5.  Once the sauce has thickened, pour over the brussels sprouts.

6.  Finally, sprinkle the sprouts with the cranberries and almonds.  Makes about 8 side-servings.  Enjoy!!

Recipe adapted from the Pioneer Woman.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bourbon Chicken

Bourbon Chicken
This is a dish that can be found in Chinese restaurants.  I don't know why it's called "Bourbon" Chicken...there is no bourbon in the recipe.  In spite of that, this is a yummy chicken recipe.  I love chicken and am always looking for new ways to cook it, and this is definitely going to be added into the rotation.  This chicken has a kind of sweet/ salty flavor going on.  I recommend serving it with some rice because the sauce is delicious and I pour the extra on my rice.  The sauce is a little spicy, so if you don't like that, cut the red pepper flakes.  In spite of the large number of ingredients, this recipe is easy and is ready-to-eat in about 30 minutes.


2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 minced garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce (I used light sodium)
1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional - just thickens the sauce)

1.  Cut the chicken breast into bite-size pieces. 

Bite-size pieces.
2.  Heat oil in a large skillet.  Put the chicken pieces in and cook until lightly browned.  

In the skillet.

Starting to brown.  
3.  Once the chicken is browned, remove the chicken.  First, add the spices (garlic, ginger, crushed red pepper flakes) to the same pan over medium heat. (If you're using the corn starch, add it with the spices).  

4.  Then add the soy sauce, apple juice, apple cider vinegar, and water.

Sauce beginning construction.
5.  Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved.

Brown sugar.  
6.  Add the ketchup and whisk.

7.  Once the sauce is well-blended and fully dissolved, add the chicken back to the pan.

Sauce ready for the chicken.
Added Chicken.
8.  Bring the sauce and the chicken to a hard boil.

9.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Serves 2-4.  Enjoy!

The final product. 
Recipe adapted from MacaroniandCheesecake.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Apple Cheddar Cheese Cake

This may seem like an odd combination - apples and cheese?  But I saw a show on the Food Network - "Throw Down with Bobby Flay" - where he challenges cooks famous for one dish to a throw down to see if he can cook their dish better than they can.  (It's a good show).  Anyway, this episode was a throw down for apple pies, and the secret for the best apple pie was that the cook put cheddar cheese in the apple pie crust.  The mix of the salty with the sweet is what made their pie win.  So, when I saw this recipe, I thought I would give it a whirl and see what all the fuss was about.  Turns out - it's totally worth the fuss.  This cake is moist, with a wonderful crumb.  It is sweet because of the cornmeal, but not too sweet because of the cheese and the tart apple.  In fact, my family (who I made the cake for) was even saying that this could be served as a side dish of cornbread with chili or something.  I loved this cake as a light dessert after a big meal.  I think this would also be a great cake to have for brunch.  And...it's fairly healthy!  Whole wheat flour, cornmeal, and apples make for a cake that is not full of unnecessary sugar or fat.

Anyway, now that I have tried cheddar cheese with apple, next time I make an apple pie I am going to include cheese in my crust.  I hope you guys feel adventurous enough to try this delicious combo!


1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
6 tablespoons nonfat milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 large Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9-inch baking round with non-stick cooking spray.  Peel and chop the apples.  If they start to brown while you make the cake batter, put the apple pieces into a bowl of cold water with a squirt of lemon juice in it.  

Prepared Apple.
2.  Combine the dry ingredients - the flours, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt - in a medium bowl.  

Dry Ingredients.
3.  Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.

Butter and Sugar.
4.  Add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar and blend to combine.

Eggs into Creamed Butter and Sugar.
5.  Add half of the dry ingredients to the blended eggs, butter, and sugar.  Blend.

Half Dry.
6.  Add the milk and blend.

7.  Add the remainder of the dry ingredients and blend to combine.

Rest of Dry Ingredients. 
The Batter.
8.  Add the cheddar cheese and apples into the batter and stir until everything is fully mixed.

Cheese and Apple.
Ready to Bake.
9.  Put into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Makes 1 cake that serves 8-10 people.  Enjoy!!!

Finished Product.
Recipe adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Roasted Carrots with Thyme

This is a simple, rustic recipe that really allows the sweetness of carrots to shine.  It is also incredibly easy.  You don't even have to peel the carrots!  The carrots also look impressive and beautiful spread out on a platter sprinkled with thyme, so this is a great recipe to serve when you have guests you want to impress.  I made this recipe from organic fresh carrots I got from the farmers market - and if you can do that too, that's the way to go.  Because there are so few ingredients in this recipe, if the carrots are truly something special, then this dish will shine.  (By the way, I have made this recipe from grocery-store carrots, and it is still yummy).  This would also be delicious sliced into bite-sized pieces and put on top of a salad, or mixed into quinoa.

1 dozen carrots
1/4 cup fresh thyme
sea salt
black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

1.  As I said earlier, you don't even have to peel the carrots, but you do have to chop the ends off and clean them up.  If you want to peel them, you are welcome to, but if you don't make sure you really scrub them.  I use my potato brush.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  

2.  Cut all the carrots in half, lengthwise.  Try to make sure that each half carrot is about the same size so everything will roast evenly.  

In half, length-wise.
3.  Lay the carrot halves out on a baking tray.  Drizzle the carrots with olive oil.  Toss to make sure the carrots are completely coated.

On a baking pan.
Olive oil - drizzled.
4.  Pinch the tiny leaves off of the thyme.

5.  Sprinkle the thyme on the carrots, making sure all sides of the carrots have the herb on them.

Thyme Sprinkled.
6.  Sprinkle on sea salt and black pepper.
Ready for the oven.
7.  Roast for 35-40 minutes or until the carrots are tender with wrinkly skin.  Your kitchen will smell delicious.  Makes enough for a side dish for 6-8 people.  Enjoy!!

Beautiful and Simple.
Recipe Adapted from The Pioneer Woman.