Brussel Sprouts

I love veggies, however there are some which I steer clear from when it comes to cooking for fear of cooking a disaster.  This was the case with brussel sprouts for quite some time.  I signed up for the Farm Fresh To You delivery, and in my last box was a pound of brussel sprouts.  In my quest to not throw out any veggies and learn how to cook new ones, I finally summed up the courage to roast brussel sprouts.  I am every so happy I did!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1lb brussel sprouts
  • 1lb sweet potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • Salt, pepper (to taste)
  • Dash of cumin
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Clean your brussel sprouts, cut the bottom stem and peel away the first layer.  Cut in half or quarters depending on how big they are.  Wash very well to remove any dirt. In a baking dish add the brussel sprouts, cubed sweet potatoes, garlic and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and an every so light sprinkling of cumin.

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Roast for 30-40 min or until all the veggies are tender.  As soon as you bring it out of the oven drizzle with the balsamic vinegar.  My mouth is watering just typing this!  The cumin adds another dimension of flavor and the balsamic adds a sweet & tangy finish.

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Buen Provecho!

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Sweet Potatoes (Baby Food)

After feeding our twins organic bottled baby food I decided I’d simply make my own. I buy organic veggies, bake or steam and smash. Place in container, label and store. It’s easy, quick, and oh so healthy for those little tummies!  The first attempt was sweet potatoes, here goes nothing!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1-2 organic sweet potatoes
  • Foil
  • Food processor

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wash your potato, with a fork poke a few holes then wrap in foil.  Place potatoes on a baking sheet and into the oven.

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Let the potatoes bake for 30-60 minutes (time varies based on size and quantity).  Once done, allow to cool.  Remove skin from potatoes and place into food processor, blend to desired consistency.

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Store in airtight containers, I’m using the OXO tot containers, which I love! They were $9.99 for 6, 2.5oz containers. This food will keep for 3 days in the fridge or you can freeze for a longer time.

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Side Note:  I purchased the food processor as an impulse buy at the Del Mar Fair a couple years ago, I used it once before now.  It so far has been the BEST $10 I’ve ever spent. There is not one fancy thing about it, but it gets the job done and best of all it’s manual therefore…NO NOISE!  I can prep the food as the babes sleep.  The OXO Tot blocks are so far my favorite, I also have the Sage Spoonfuls but the container feels flimsy compared to this one.  I recently purchased labels in order to name/date the foods I prep.

Sweet Potato Cupcakes

I had the pleasure of tasting sweet potato cupcakes on my first visit to Washington, DC last year (the picture below was my first sweet potato cupcake).  The food truck was Cupcake Joy (www.cupcakejoy.com) and WOW what I had been missing out on!  They were the perfect combination of flavor and not at all what I had in mind; although I’m not sure what I was expecting.  One of the gals in my training class decided to research a recipe and recreate that delectable treat.  The recipe she found was from the Food Network website.  As I tend to do, I tweaked an ingredient here and there but mainly followed the recipe, given that it was the first time I was making these.  I made these delicious cupcakes for Thanksgiving last year and our guests couldn’t get enough.  You must make these delectable treats this fall, you will not be disappointed!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • One 16-ounce can sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups cake flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows
  • Candied Pecans, recipe follows

 DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cupcake pan with paper liners, this recipe makes 18 but I made 12 regular sized cupcakes and mini cupcakes with the remaining batter. 

Make the sweet potato puree by processing the sweet potatoes in a food processor. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg.  

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and eggs. Add the dry ingredients. Whisk in the sweet potato puree. Fill each cupcake in the prepared pan three-quarters full of batter.

Bake until the tops spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool.

Assembly: Frost the cupcakes with the Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting. Sprinkle with the Candied Pecans.

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BROWN SUGAR CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

  • One 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 sticks butter, at room temperature (original recipe calls for 3 but I used 2)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 6 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until creamy. Add the butter and beat until well incorporated. Add the light brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until well incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

CANDIED PECANS:

  • Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Beat the egg white in a bowl until frothy; whisk 4 teaspoons water and the vanilla extract into the egg. Stir the sugar, cinnamon and salt into the egg mixture. Add the chopped pecans, stir to coat completely. Spread the pecans onto the baking sheet. Bake the pecans, stirring about every 20 minutes, until the coating forms a glaze, about 1 hour. Allow to cool on the baking sheet.  Pay attention while you’re baking from personal experience they can go from done to burned, in an instant.

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Sweet Tips: Feel free to use a regular cream cheese or vanilla frosting.  For your topping add a sprinkle of nutmeg, or utilize crystalized/candied ginger.  The pecans added a nice crunch, but you can modify as you like.  This recipe would make a wonderful bundt cake for Thanksgiving or any fall occassion, you can also make mini bundt cakes as favors for your party guests.  Remember recipes are a guide; allow your imagination to flow!

Original recipe courtesy of The Food Network: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sweet-potato-cupcakes-brown-sugar-cream-cheese-frosting-candied-pecans-recipe/index.html

Sally’s On The Water

Sally’s Seafood on the Water located at One Market Place, San Diego, California; can be found in Seaport Village across from the many boat rental vendors. Sally’s has a new Chef-de-Cuisine, Laura De Martin from Bressanone, Italy and sushi master Chef Ilyuk “Kaz” Kim.  The view is wonderful if you’re sitting outside or even at the bar.  Look towards the left you see the Coronado Bridge, to the right the San Diego bay and boats galore!

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I decided to appease my palette and join Sally’s Seafood on the Water while attending a conference at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. The restaurant is a good size and has a large outdoor area. Their bar section is also large and there’s a painting of a face hanging in the middle of the bar area.  It’s rather intriguing, mysterious…truly catches your eye. There was a bit of dust on the table, which could simply be due to the fact that all the windows/walls/doors are open all day long.  There was a dead cockroach on my way inside which almost made me turn around however, I decided to keep moving forward and remind myself that it was outside and it’s part of nature, a rather nasty part but a part nonetheless. 

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The staff at Sally’s was very pleasant and courteous. They brought my beverage along with a wooden platter holding two rosemary ciabatta buns with a side of butter and sea salt. The ciabatta was warm, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The butter slowly melted inside creating a silky bite.

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I asked the waiter what he recommended and instantly he mentioned the Fish and Chips. Not wanting a plate of fried goodness I moved on to the second option which was the Baja Crab Club Sandwich. The meal is served as follows; stone crab, pancetta, tomato and avocado served on brioche with choice of sweet potato fries or house salad.  Apparently I wasn’t aiming for a “healthy” lunch so I opted for the sweet potato fries.  My meal arrives and it’s nicely displayed.  The sweet potato fries arrived in a small tin pail with two side of dipping sauces the traditional ketchup and a chipotle mayonnaise.  The sandwich was very well proportioned, honestly big enough to share (at least in my opinion).  I proceeded to cut my sandwich in half and took the first bite. It was tasty but overall not what I was expecting.  The pancetta was not pancetta, it was traditional American bacon.  The pieces could have been thicker the saltiness seemed to disappear between the crab and avocado which would have been a wonderful crunchy balance between all the creaminess.  The bread was delicious; in case you can’t tell I seem to have an underlying fascination with bread!  It was a traditional egg bun; buttered and toasted, of course.   

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All in all I wasn’t overly excited with my meal, but I would definitely return to give other items on the menu a try. The service and view are worth a visit. Possibly next time I’ll take the waiter’s recommendation; the table next to mine ordered the Fish and Chips and they did look absolutely amazing!

P.S. Sally’s is doggie friendly!

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