Beet Greens with Bacon

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My last post showed how I roasted beets, now this post deals with the other half; the beet greens.  These greens are  probably the most beautiful greens because of the red veins running through each leaf.  Aren’t they pretty?

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If you have any reservations about eating beet greens, let me just say that bacon is involved!  Does that make it better?  Oh, and garlic takes it over the top.

Notice that I cut my bacon across the slices, right out of the package.  It’s a quick and easy way to cut bacon into even pieces.  Each cut comes out to about one slice of bacon.

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Start by sauteing the bacon until some fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy.  Then add in the chopped garlic.  After I took this picture, I added garlic chile sauce, cider vinegar, water and sugar.

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Add in the cleaned and chopped beet greens.  Saute with a spatula until the greens are wilted and tender.  Add salt to taste.

Sorry this shot is a little blurry.  I was so overcome with excitement over the smell that I couldn’t hold the camera still!

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The beet greens tasted more amazing than I expected.  The slight bitterness paired with the smokey bacon and robust garlic is a perfect mouthful!  This would make a great side dish to any beef or chicken entree.

Sauted Beet Greens with Bacon

1 pound beet greens

3 strips bacon, chopped (or a tablespoon of bacon fat)

1 large garlic clove, minced

3/4 cup of water

1 Tbsp granulated sugar

1 teaspoon garlic chile sauce

1/6 cup of cider vinegar

salt

Wash the greens in a sink filled with cold water. Drain greens and wash a second time. Drain greens and cut away any heavy stems. Cut leaves into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

In a large skillet or 3-qt saucepan, cook bacon until lightly browned on medium heat (or heat 1 Tbsp of bacon fat). Stir in garlic. Add water in a gentle stream to the hot pan, stirring to loosen any particles from bottom of pan. Stir in sugar and garlic chile sauce. Bring mixture to a boil.

Add the beet greens and gently toss in the garlic mixture so the greens are well coated. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for      5-10 minutes until the greens are tender. Stir in vinegar. Add salt to taste

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Roasted Beets

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I’m going to be honest, I’ve never eaten a beet that didn’t come out of a can.  Isn’t that terrible?  I had no idea what I was missing.  Beets are amazing!

I’ve never cooked beets before, but when I went to a local vegetable farm in my neighborhood and saw these beautiful babies and I just had to have them.

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Here’s what the true color of the beet looks like after you peel off the outer skin.  Isn’t that beautiful?

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And, they’re even more beautiful on the inside.  Those rings give the beets such a unique look.  After cutting these up, I’m glad that I wore an apron!  I can see why beets were used to dye fabric.

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After seeing the red mess, I decided the cleanest way to toss these in oil, salt and pepper was in a plastic big.

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After they’re well coated, toss them on a sheet pan and bake them until tender.

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I don’t know what happens to vegetables when they are roasted in the oven, but something amazing takes place in there.  These beets come out moist, tender and packed full of  concentrated sweet beet flavor.

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So, the next time you come across some beets that call out to you, please pick them up and treat yourself to fresh roasted beets that will change the way you think about this simple vegetable.

Roasted Beets

6 large beets

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Peel and cut beets into one-inch pieces.  Place cut beets into a plastic bag and add the oil, salt and pepper.  Toss in the bag until beets are well-coated.  Spread out onto a sheet pan and bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Apple and Bacon

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I know that I’ve already posted a brussed sprout recipe, but this one is soooooo much better.  This is the more mature, gourmet version of the simple roasted brussel sprout.  Basically, it was just too good to not post again.  I hope you think so too!

 

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The brussel sprout has got to be the coolest looking vegetable ever!  Doesn’t this remind you of some kind of Dr. Seuss creation?  Well, I think they’re pretty neat looking, but even better tasting, if you know how to treat them right.

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The cleaned sprouts are cut and waiting next to its friend, the green apple, both ready to be transformed into something wonderful!!

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You will be amazed at how the brussel sprout is transformed into a glorious creamy and crunchy mouthful.  The apples add sweetness to balance the bitterness of the sprout.  The bacon of course gives the salty smokiness that we all love.  This is definitely a marriage made in brussel sprout heaven!!

 

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Apple and Bacon

3 pounds brussel sprouts

1 apple, diced

4 strips bacon, diced

3 tablespoons good olive oil

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

Start by cutting each brussel sprout off the stalk or trimming the ends if you buy them off the stalk.  Give them a good wash, peeling off any outer leaves that don’t look so great.  Cut them in half and place onto a large cookie sheet.  Then dice up your choice of apple and add to the sheet pan.  It could be green or red.  Also dice up the bacon into half inch strips.

Next, sprinkle olive oil, salt and pepper on the veggie and fruit.  Carefully, lay the pieces of diced bacon on top then roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes on the top rack of your oven until the sprouts are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.  Be sure to toss a few times during cooking.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

 

I know what you’re thinking!  I thought it too.  Why in the world would I want to eat brussel sprouts?  It’s every child’s nightmare to have to sit in front of a plate of brussel sprouts and be told you can’t get up until you clean your plate.

Well, these are not your mother’s yucky boiled sprouts.  These turn out amazingly buttery soft with a hint of cabbage flavor and smokiness from the charred outer leaves.

 

 

Are you ready for the world’s easiest recipe?  Four ingredients never tasted so good together;  brussel sprouts, olive oil, salt and pepper.  These basic steps work for any type of vegetable you would like to roast.

Clean and cut the vegetable,  sprinkle olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven.  I have roasted carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower in the same way.  They all turn out wonderfully because it brings out the natural flavors and sweetness of any vegetable.

 

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

20 large brussel sprouts

3 tablespoons good olive oil

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

Peel off limp outer leaves of brussel sprouts.  Cut the stem a bit and cut them in half lengthwise.  Place them on a sheet pan in 1 layer and drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss to combine.  Roast in the oven on the top rack for 25-30 minutes, until browned and tender.

 

 

Roasted Carrots

There are a few vegetables that I always keep in my fridge, one of which is carrots.  I love eating them raw with homemade hummus, but I also love them cooked.  This is my new favorite way to eat cooked carrots.

First peel and cut the carrots into bite-sized pieces on the bias.  Toss them in a bowl with olive oil, dried dill, salt and pepper.

Place them on a sheet pan and put it in the oven to get them on the road to deliciousness.

Here they are just out of the oven.  You can see they’ve caramelized and gotten nice and soft.

These carrots deserve a close-up shot.  They turn out juicy and the balance of sweet-to-salty is just perfect!  Enjoy with any type of meat and starch of your choice.

Roasted Carrots

From Ina Garten

12 carrots

3 tablespoons good olive oil

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill or parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

If the carrots are thick, cut them in half lengthwise; if not, leave whole. Slice the carrots diagonally in 1 1/2-inch-thick slices. (The carrots will shrink while cooking so make the slices big.) Toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a sheet pan in 1 layer and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until browned and tender.

Toss the carrots with minced dill or parsley, season to taste, and serve.

The Year of the Dragon

Happy Chinese New Year!  Supposedly, the year of the dragon is the luckiest year in the Chinese zodiac.  So, if you’re a dragon, live it up this year.

Here are a few of my favorite Chinese dishes I’ve shared with you before.  Hope this inspires you to try making and eating some new Chinese food this year.

Click on the name of each dish to take you to the recipe.

Green Onion Pancake

Pork Potstickers

Chicken and Shrimp Chow Fun

Lion Head Meatballs

Spicy Tofu and Edamame Beans


Pork and Prawn Dumplings

Hummus Three Ways

Hummus one way is good, but hummus three ways is three times as good!

This weekend I had 25 college girls from my Christian Fellowship over at my house for a weekend retreat.  When you get that many girls in one place, there’s lots of candy, chocolate and junk food to be found.  What better way to balance that out than with some healthy and tasty hummus?  Is was good to see the girls digging in with their carrots and celery.

Of course they all still had ice cream and brownies afterwards, but I felt good that they at least had some veggies in them too.

I must give you a word of warning about eating this much hummus at once.  Make sure you are around people who love you even with the garlic breath you’ll have after this.

Here’s the beginning of the avocado hummus.  Combine the garbanzo beans, garlic, lemon juice and avocado.  Process with salt, pepper and olive oil until………..

You get this lovely mixture.  I know it’s not much to look at, but it makes it up in flavor.

This is the rosemary and garlic hummus.  The rosemary came from my backyard, so it was super fresh tasting.  I love fresh herbs in my cooking.  It just makes for a homey and rich taste in my opinion.

If you like guacamole, you will love this.  It’s got all the delectable flavor of avocado, but the scrumptious texture of hummus.  I found that I used less olive oil with this one because the avocado has plenty of oil in it.

A side note about this mini avocado: This baby hass avocado fell off my tree in the backyard as I was reaching for it.  It had completely black skin and felt ripe to the touch.  I opened it up and it was a normal looking avocado, but just 3 inches in length.  It was the cutest thing.  I had to use it in the picture.

This is the fresh rosemary and garlic hummus with it’s rich woodsy flavor.

With food this tasty and beautiful , it’s easy to forget that it’s good for you.  This roasted red pepper hummus has a beautiful color and the flavor is mild.  The red pepper lends its moisture and vibrant color to an otherwise plain looking hummus.

So, the next time you find yourself  having way too much sugar and junk food, think HUMMUS!

Hummus Three Ways

2 15-oz cans of garbanzo beans, drained

1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

For avocado hummus: add one whole avocado, diced and juice of half a lemon.

For rosemary hummus: add 1 tablespoon minced rosemary

For red pepper hummus: add 12 oz jar of roasted red peppers, drained and pieces patted dry and diced

In a food processor, combine the garlic, garbanzo beans, and olive oil and your additional ingredients of choice.  Process until smooth. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Spoon into serving dish and serve with crackers, raw dip vegetables such as carrots or celery, or with pita bread.

Makes about 3 cups.

Red Corn…………Yes I said RED Corn!

Yes, this is a real edible ear of corn.  I was surprised when I saw red corn for the first time.  For the last 35 years of my life I’ve only eaten yellow or white corn.  This red corn really rocked my normal corn-eating world!

I wanted to make some kind of fancy recipe with it, but I stopped myself.  I really just wanted to taste the true flavor of this oddly-colored corn.  I simply boiled it and rolled it on my stick of butter with some salt.  The difference in taste is very subtle.  It’s a bit more woodsy and creamier than regular corn.  To be honest, in a blind taste test I don’t think I could pick out the red corn.

Where was this corn on the 4th of July?!  I could have made a really cool looking corn salad to match the holiday colors.  I guess I’ll have to wait til next year.

Here is a better picture of the corn with a truer color.  I had the midday sun in the kitchen and it threw off the hue.

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

I’ll shout it from the rooftop any day, “I am a comfort-food lover!”  Except if it’s raining, or if I don’t happen to have a ladder handy.  There’s just something about comfort-food that is just so……..well…….comforting.

Sorry if that’s redundant.  For me, it’s the equivalent of coming home from a long day and slipping on your cozy sweat pants, soft cotton tee and fuzzy pink slippers with the bunny ears on them.  Who can say no to that, right?!

Well, my good friend Katie is a whiz with comfort foods.  She grew up in rural Iowa on a ranch, so you can imagine the wonderfully comforting family recipes that came out of her house.  She shared this one with me and it’s been a favorite in my family ever since.  This is a great side dish to serve with any type of beef or pork or chicken dish.  I chose to serve it along side pan-seared sirloin steak and roasted broccoli spears.

My favorite part of it is the crusty edge, with the charred cheese bits.

 

 

I sliced these potatoes thinly by hand, but it would be a lot faster if you have a mandoline slicer.

Sprinkle green onions on top.

 

 

Add in the cheddar cheese to your bechamel sauce.  Bechamel is French for a white sauce made from butter, flour and milk.

 

 

Here’s the resulting cheese sauce.

 

 

Pour the lovely creamy cheese sauce over the whole thing and pop into the oven until bubbly, gooey and oh so good!

The next time you have one of those long days, come home and do the sweats, tee and bunny slippers thing and then make this.  I guarantee you”ll feel better!

 

 

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

6 cups potatoes, sliced thin

2 green onions, chopped

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp flour

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

2 cups milk

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the thinly sliced potatoes in a greased 13×9 baking dish and sprinkle the green onions on top.

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat.  Whisk in flour and allow it to cook for one minute.  Add in the salt, pepper and milk.  Stir constantly until mixture has thickened.  Sprinkle in the cheese as you whisk, until all the cheese is melted.  Pour the cheese sauce over the potatoes.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil.  Bake for 1 hour.  Remove foil and continue baking for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

 

Sweet Corn Casserole

This dish is Exhibit A for why I want a set of double ovens.  It’s not often that I would need it, but on a very important cooking day like Thanksgiving, it would have come in very handy.

Because our lovely turkey was in the oven along with five side dishes, we had that thing packed to the gills.  I had no place to put this casserole in the oven except on the bottom rack, closest to the fire…….do you get where I’m going yet?

Yes, although the top is a beautiful golden brown, the bottom of this casserole was charred to a lovely black!  What’s Thanksgiving without a few mishaps in the kitchen?!

Luckily we were able to spoon pieces out, while avoiding the bottom.  This was otherwise a successful dish.  The creaminess and sweet taste of the corn and corn muffin mix was a great complement to the other savory items on the table.

Sweet Corn Casserole

1 can yellow whole corn with juice

1 can yellow creamed style corn

1 box Jiffy brand corn muffin mix

3 eggs slightly beaten

16 oz. sour cream

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 medium onion, chopped

paprika

In a medium bowl, mix together the two cans of corn, muffin mix, eggs, sour cream and cheese.  Sauté the chopped onion in oil until translucent, then add to the corn mixture.

Pour into a 9×13 glass dish sprayed with cooking spray, and bake for 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Sprinkle with more of the grated cheddar cheese and sprinkle just a bit of paprika for color as well.