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Balsamic Brussels & Beets

March 25, 2011 Food 1 Comment

Brussels sprouts and beets. It sounds like punishment, doesn’t it? I’m a fan of eating fresh, healthy food — but it has to taste good. Regular ol’ cabbage is not a favorite of mine, so you can imagine that I didn’t instantly fall in love with the little cabbage heads that are brussels sprouts. I tried a lot of different preparations and all of them still tasted like cabbage. Short of frying them in butter, what’s a girl to do?

I needed a full-flavor, low-fat hero to save the day.

Balsamic vinegar is one of my favorite condiments. So when I got a package of both brussels sprouts and red beets in my CSA, I thought I’d turn two not-so-favorite vegetables into something palatable by adding this sweet and tangy miracle ingredient. I had no idea how it would turn out, but hoped that the sugars in the balsamic would caramelize a little bit and add some depth to the bitter sprouts and bland beets. Also critical: slicing the brussels sprouts thinly, thereby creating ample surface area to soak up the delicious other flavors.

I love being right! I played around with this recipe a couple of times before sharing it with you, just to make sure I have the right amounts. This has become a household favorite, even for Greg. So delicious! So healthy!

BALSAMIC BRUSSELS AND BEETS
1 lb. brussels sprouts
3 small raw red beets
2 shallots
1 glug extra virgin olive oil (for pan)
1/4 c + 1 T balsamic vinegar (more to taste)
1 T brown sugar
1/4 c chopped peans
Salt & pepper to taste
1 dab butter
Optional: 2 slices cooked bacon or pancetta, crumbled

1. Rinse brussels sprouts well and pull off any nasty-looking leaves.

2. Cut off greens at base. If yours aren’t wilted like mine are, you can use them in another recipe. Scrub beets with a veggie brush to clean them. Use a box or hand grater to grate them into a medium-sized bowl. Take care not to grate your fingers and nails.

NOTE: Beets stain! Take care with your clothes, countertops, and hands!

3. Slice sprouts into ~1/4″ slices. Some leaves will fall off – that’s okay.

4. Mince your shallots.

5. Heat a large skillet on the stove. Add a glug of EVOO and let it get warm. Add the shallots and cook for a minute or two until they start to brown.

6. Add the brussels + beets and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.

7. Add the brown sugar (1 T), balsamic vinegar (1/4 c + 1 T), and salt & pepper to taste. Stir to make sure everything is well-coated with the good stuff. Let the veggies saute for several minutes, softening as they absorb the liquid. You may want to put a lid on to steam them a bit.

8. Add the pecans (and bacon, if using) and stir to incorporate.

9. Just before serving, add a dot of butter and stir one last time. Enjoy!

Have you found a good way to eat brussels sprouts?

To Juice Or To Blend?

December 28, 2010 Food No Comments

Today I found myself with time on my hands and a crisper full of aging fruits and vegetables, so I decided to conduct an experiment. As my family and childhood friends can attest, I love kitchen experiments!

Especially ones that involve “power tools.”

Greg and I bought this high-end Omega juicer last year and we juice the shit out of things. Because we belong to a CSA, we often find ourselves with too much produce, and a quick way to get through a bunch of it is to juice it and drink it. We’ve tried everything! The best mixes contain a mixture of fruits and sweet vegetables like carrots, spinach, and beets. The worst ones contain mushy fruits like bananas and peaches. This baby was also instrumental in creating the best homemade margarita — fresh lime juice is key!

While fresh-squeezed juice is great, I know I’m grinding out a lot of the good stuff in the process. Did you know that OJ with pulp contains 30% more anti-inflammatory flavonoids & cancer-fighters than the pulp-free type? You can imagine our delight, then, when we stumbled upon the Ninja Professional blender. It’s almost as powerful as the Vita-Mix and a fraction of the cost (especially if you have a 20% off coupon at Bed Bath & Beyond!). Let the experiment begin!

I set out to disprove this hypothesis: simple juice is more desirable than blended whole food

Both the test and control group used the exact same amount of the exact same foods:

Control Group: The Juicer

Juicing alone netted 1.75 cups of juice and the waste you see in the right-hand bin. The juice tasted great!

Test Group: The Blender

Blending netted 3 cups of output and no waste, but the consistency was more like “relish” rather than anything you could drink. On the up-side, I was very impressed with the way the blender handled the job. I didn’t have to cut the fruit or vegetables into smaller pieces and everything was completely raw. Its blades worked to get everything into uniform consistency with very little effort on my part.

TEST RESULT: I could not disprove the hypothesis. Blending alone was not sufficient in producing a drinkable output. Boo.

Since both products tasted good on their own, I improvised! I added all of the juice to the “relish” to see if I could produce an overall consistency that was more palatable. It was still a little thick, but it would suffice in a pinch. It was like a thick smoothie. Pros: very little waste from all those fruits and vegetables and no sugar added!

For the final product, I added about a cup of 100% juice apple cider that I had on-hand. The final product netted a total of 6 cups of very healthy fruit/vegetable juice and very little waste. Greg and I are set for the rest of the week!

Cheers!

Not in a Better Place after all

July 23, 2009 Food No Comments

So, today I found out the bad news that I did not get the job at Better Place.

*sigh*

I am actually not entirely dejected by this:
#1: It’s not that someone else got the job. The req went away because of a department reorganization.
#2: It was specifically for the Marketing Ops position. I would actually prefer a strategic role.
#3: Enough time has passed that the momentum isn’t there and I am no longer DYING to have this job.

That said, things at my current gig are not exactly going swimmingly and it was a disappointment. I will look for new opportunities and continue to keep in touch with the Better Place folks as they figure themselves out (typical of a start-up). I really do believe in what they’re doing and I like the people there. It’s a bummer, but not the end of the world. Looking at the positive, it gives me the chance to figure out what I really want to do, not just what someone will pay me to do.

Onto more important topics now — FOOD! Last night’s dinner of “Stacked Ratatouille” was absolutely delicious. Granted, Mel did most of the prep work, but it didn’t seem like much. Mostly just slicing (which is oh-so-fun with my new knife). It was very simple and we added Trader Joes’ Cacciatore sauce right from the jar and it was to die for. The recipe also suggested doing a sauteed spinach, which we improvised as well. My CSA box had beet greens, and the preparation was perfect. C’est magnifique!!

Tonight, Greg and I had grilled chicken and creamy cauliflower. This was the second time making it and I made the appropriate modifications to really make this dish sing. I have never been much of a cauliflower fan, but I do what I can to use up the fresh veggies that come in my CSA box. So this time, I cut the recipe in half, used whole grain bread for crumbs, used plain soy milk, used fresh sweet onions and green onions in lieu of fresh leeks, and added cayenne pepper and several dashes of Tabasco to the mix before topping it with the breadcrumbs. Even Greg remarked how good it was this time.