Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Huh…Brussels sprouts.  Now there is something not everybody gets excited about!  🙂  There are some of us whose only experience with Brussels sprouts comes from the Swedish Chef.  (You know, from the Muppets?  I can’t help but think of his little routine to make Brussels Sprouts every time I fix them!  What?  You’ve never seen it?  Well, by all means, click here!  It’s worth the snicker!)

I used to run the other way when someone mentioned Brussels sprouts.  Granted, I’d only had very sad, nasty boiled, versions of these little power houses.  When I learned that you could roast them for an entirely different flavor, as well as texture ~ well, I was willing to try them one more time.  (Especially since they wouldn’t go to waste, as J loves them ~ even boiled ~ and would eat them all even if nobody else liked them!)  Think of the difference between boiled potatoes vs. roasted potatoes, or boiled vs. roasted carrots or beets.  Roasting just brings out an incredible flavor in most veggies.

Have you ever seen Brussels sprouts in their natural state?  By the way, that isn’t in a little mesh baggie at the supermarket!  😀  They come on a great big stalk!  They are a challenge for the people at the check-out to bag for you (because I certainly don’t have any ecologically-friendly bags big enough for them, either.)  I wish, wish, wish I’d thought to take a picture of them before I plucked them off and prepared them.  I went back and bought yet another stalk this week just so I could take a picture…and to make J happy ~ and, apparently, the cat, who went nuts and ‘mugged’ me when I brought the pan out of the oven.  ;D  I purchased mine at Trader Joe’s.  They were/are the freshest Brussels sprouts I’d ever seen.  Of course, you have to keep an eye on them, because one week they might not appear quite as hearty ~ last week they didn’t.  Look for tight, healthy, mini-cabbage-like sprouts.

I encourage you to try this method of preparing a much-maligned veggie.  🙂

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  • a stalk or a bag of Brussels sprouts
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt ~ coarse sea salt is the best here (the amount in the picture was a little much…oooo, salty!)

 

Preheat your oven to 425°.  Pick sprouts off of the stalk, or out of the bag, and rinse.  Remove any beat-up leaves.  From ones on the stalk, trim any stem ends off that seem long; trim all ends from the bagged ones to leave fresh stems ends.  If your sprouts are not tiny ones, cut them carefully in half so that you don’t lose a lot of little leaves.  Toss all of them together in a mixing bowl, with generously drizzled olive oil, and salt.  Place them on a cookie sheet or, if absolutely necessary, a cake pan (remember ~ if you were generous with the oil, they won’t stick very much later!)  You can use parchment paper, but that tends to hold the moisture and doesn’t allow for the browning you want.  Here is the secret to doing this the right way so that you don’t end up with steamed sprouts (bleh, bleh, nasty!) ~ make certain that the sprouts do not touch each other as much as possible.  (See the picture above.)  They need room to put off moisture.  Bake them until they are beginning to blacken (I know, I know…that doesn’t sound tasty, but trust me on this one.) ~ about 20-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve immediately with extra salt and lemon juice, if desired, to taste.

 

Baked Sweet Potato

  • (My promised post about the Vegetarian Tasting Extravaganza will have to wait.  Alas, my son’s memory card with all of the pictures he took is at his friend’s house.  They do a professional-quality video of the event, and his video clips are being uploaded for integration.)

Okay, so this is hardly a recipe.  But sometimes isn’t it nice to be reminded of a simple thing to make?  I love sweet potatoes anyway they are prepared, but this is a great hands-off way to make them while you are busy with something else.  Plus, it makes your house smell amazing!

Because a sweet potato has so many nutrients in it (I’ve read you could subsist on it alone on a desert island and remain healthy), it can be your whole meal if you aren’t very hungry, or it can be the main dish, especially if you sprinkle it with chopped pecans, or just a simple side dish.  If you drizzle it with maple syrup, it’s a lot like dessert, too!  😀  What a versatile little thing the baked sweet potato is.

Baked Sweet Potatoes

  • 1 large sweet potato for each person
  • Vegan “butter”
  • maple syrup
  • salt, if desired
  • chopped pecans, optional

Preheat oven to 350-425° depending on how fast you want them to get done, or how large/fat your potatoes are.  Scrub the sweet potatoes and place them on a foil-covered cookie sheet so that they don’t touch each other.  Stab them a few times with a fork or sharp knife.  Bake for 1-2 hours (again, it depends on how hot your oven is and how big your potatoes are.) What you want is juices bubbling out of those stabs you gave them and crystalizing, or even blackening, as it drizzles down the potatoes and onto the foil.  They will be intensely sweet if the juices have blackened and you might not even need any maple syrup.  (Nah, you’re right…put the maple syrup on it anyway!  Yum!)  Poke them with a knife to make sure they are soft in the middle.

To serve, place on individual plates and split open.  Add vegan butter and drizzle maple syrup over them to taste, mashing it all together with your fork.  Sprinkle with salt and/or chopped pecans, if desired.

Another option is to remove the skins altogether and toss them onto the foil-covered pan, which allows you to wrap them all up in that foil and dispose of it in one big heap.  There.  Pan cleaned.  😀

Sunrise Cereal

Okay ~ you know breakfast is an important meal, and you know you should be eating it consistently.  But if you have to open a boring box of cold cereal one more time you are going to scream.  Not to mention that it would be nice to eat something hot on cold mornings.  But who in this day and age has time to fix such a luxury?  It’s all you can do to get out the door on time.  And please don’t mention crock pots, because cleaning those is no picnic, either!

Relax.  I have the solution for you.  It’s quick ~ the clean-up is easy ~ what more could you ask for?

Sunrise Cereal originally came to me from hubby’s Aunt Ann.  It was designed to be baked for an hour in the morning!  Yikes!  I was never ahead of the game to pull that one off.  Hungry children demanded food much faster.  Then someone told me about baking cooked cereals overnight in the oven.  What a marvelous plan!  You wake up to breakfast finished and waiting for you.  And it’s very forgiving – baking for 8-12 hours with little change in the finished product.  (The full 12 hours will give you a slightly crispy outer layer and a harder-to-clean casserole dish, though.)  I needed to adjust the amount of water from the original recipe and add some vanilla and, perhaps, sweetener – that was all.  Perfect.

My hungriest teen son is very happy when he sees I’ve made this.  My food-fussy youngest son isn’t impressed by it.  Each person is so very different in their tastes!  If you like cooked grains, you’ll enjoy this cereal.  And don’t be afraid to play with your food.  🙂  Try making it more than just “cooked cereal.”  When you add your non-dairy milk, use dark chocolate almond milk instead!  Or coconut (my favorite thus far is Silk’s brand)…or BOTH for a Mounds bar flavor.  Make some sweetened raspberry sauce, or use jam, with coconut milk for a taste treat.  When Silk’s eggnog or Pumpkin Spice are in season, use those in place of the other milk – but you might not need sweetener with those.  Or drizzle some natural peanut butter over it all…and maybe a sprinkling of chocolate chips and chopped bananas?  Maybe plain berries and/or nuts.  I’m sure you can think of other interesting combinations.  Who says breakfast can’t be fun?  🙂

This recipe calls for specific grains, but I’ve found you can mix and match if you don’t happen to have certain ones on hand.  Each dish then becomes individualized – complete with different textures dependent on the grains you choose.  You can also vary the amount of water if you like a different consistency for your cooked grains – creamier or chewier.  The last picture shows the creamy texture I got with the full amount of water and substituting steel-cut oats for the bulger wheat.  (Please note – you may used pearled barley instead of the hulled barley, but it’s the refined version – like white rice instead of brown.)

Sunrise Cereal

  • 1/4 c. each – brown rice, oatmeal/rolled oats, millet, hulled barley, and bulger wheat (or other grain)   ***Please note
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 1/2 c. water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. stevia or 1/2 c. other sweetener (optional)

Rinse and drain in a fine mesh strainer the barley and millet.  Combine all ingredients in a 2-qt. casserole dish the night before.  Cover with foil, or use the lid of the casserole if it has one.  Bake at 200° overnight.  Fluffy and nice as soon as you wake up! 

You may add raisins – if so, add a bit more water.  Serve with non-dairy milk, sweetener as desired, and any add-ins you like.

Optional – mix everything the night before, decreasing water to 3 1/2 c.  Pop into a 350° oven in the morning for 1 hour.

Any leftovers can be refrigerated and microwaved the next day with good results.  Mash in your bowl and serve with non-dairy milk and any sweetener you wish.  If you prefer not using a microwave, put the amount desired in a pan with some non-dairy milk (and optional sweetener) and use a potato masher to thoroughly mix things and reheat on the stove.  I regularly prepare a double batch of this for J and I to eat for several days.

***Note:  My family doesn’t care for bulger, so we substitute steel-cut oats for texture and extra creaminess.  You could just add extra rolled oats if you don’t want the chewier texture.  If you aren’t looking for a creamier version, use the bulger, or just increase one of the other grains, or all of them to make up the extra 1/4 c. – or throw in a different grain completely.  This recipe is very flexible.

For a gluten-free version ~ Omit bulger and barley.  Substitute 1/4 c. steel-cut oats for the bulger and an extra 1/4 c. millet for the barley.