the brussels sprouts that will make you like brussels sprouts

See that one that's missing? I couldn't even wait to take the picture to try one.

If you hate brussels sprouts or think there just "meh" then you clearly haven't had them cooked like this. I stumbled upon Mark Bittman's recipe a while back after making some lackluster sprouts, and it turns out I was cooking them all wrong. This way is not only easy, but they turn out so amazingly good I was eating them like candy before they even hit the plate. Mark said it best himself: "the crisp outside leaves and tender, almost artichoke-like interior cannot be beat."


  • 1 pint brussels sprouts (about a pound)
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to coat bottom of pan
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Trim bottom of brussels sprouts, and slice each in half top to bottom. Heat oil in cast-iron pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers; put sprouts cut side down in one layer in pan. Put in garlic, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook, undisturbed, until sprouts begin to brown on bottom, and transfer to oven. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until sprouts are quite brown and tender, about 1/2 hour.
  3. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in balsamic vinegar, and serve hot or warm.

Recipe from The New York Times.

turn it up: thanksgiving edition

(Lyrics by Edward Sharpe, design by me, but I'm not sure of the photo source so please only copy if it's for personal use. Thanks!)

Happy almost Thanksgiving! Dinner prep is in full swing and my mouth is already watering thinking about all of the delicious food we'll get to consume on Thursday. And the time I'll get to spend with my family while eating said delicious food. That's pretty nice, too. :)

Here are some Thanksgiving-ish tunes to get your groove on to while you're cooking up a storm this week...

our (secretly dairy-free) Thanksgiving

I was really (realllly) hoping Emma would be able to tolerate dairy in time for Thanksgiving, but it sadly wasn't meant to be. Jared and I debated our options - make everything as we normally would (chock full 'o dairy) and deplete my pumped reserves so Emma could still get dairy-free milk for a couple of days, or try to do Thanksgiving completely dairy-free. Neither option was all that appealing, and in the end we decided to chance it and have a dairy-free Thanksgiving. The only thing was that we had to be able to fool my dad - a man who for the past two years has scowled when we told him we got an organic turkey. Having to explain that he wouldn't be able to tell the difference thanks to "vegan buttery sticks" and almond milk would have gone over about as well as raisins on Halloween... so we decided it was best to just not tell him. And by some miracle, we actually managed to fool him! (Shhh!) Here's what we made:

  • The same turkey as last year but with Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (EBVBS) instead of butter
  • Whole berry cranberry sauce from Whole Foods (canned... yes, I'm a cheater)
  • Caramelized Onion and Cornbread Stuffing - I used this recipe for dairy-free cornbread, and substituted EBVBS for the butter and MimicCreme Almond & Cashew Cream for the heavy cream. It was a little on the dry side, so I added some more chicken stock and that did the trick.
  • Not Your Mama's Green Bean Casserole - This was easily my favorite dish of the whole meal. I wouldn't shut up about it. Dairy or no dairy, it's the best green been casserole I've ever had. Like most of the reviewers, I ended up using French's Fried Onions after burning the onions the way Alton says to cook them. Once again, I subbed EBVBS for the butter and MimicCreme Almond & Cashew Cream for the half and half. We definitely couldn't notice the lack of dairy in this one.
  • Creamy Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes - These were the real low point of our dairy-free Thanksgiving experiment. The recipe called for faux sour cream, and we used Wayfare "We Can't Say It's Sour Cream." It also called for white potatoes instead of russet, and ours were a little more green than white. The whole thing turned into a green, tangy mess. We told my dad that we had tried a new recipe and it didn't turn out so well (not a lie) and he was a sport and tried them anyway. Jared and I didn't even bother. That's how bad they were.
  • Pillsbury Crescent Rolls - Dairy-free! Who knew?!?
  • Vegan Pumpkin Pie - This was my first time making pumpkin pie from scratch (well the filling anyway) so my only comparison is store-bought, but it was really yummy. Vegan baked goods can sometimes have that "not quite right" taste or texture to them, but that wasn't the case with this recipe at all.
Hopefully that's the last time we ever have to have a dairy-free Thanksgiving, but it's good to know that it can be done and still be super tasty. Besides, this funny little one is totally worth it...

thanksgiving redux

If I had to score our Thanksgiving dinner this year I'd give it a solid B+.  There were a few things that could have been better, but I feel like we're getting much closer to a solid t-day lineup.  Here's the menu:

Bonnie's Cheese Ball...

I don't know if this is the real name of the recipe but we got it from my mom's friend Bonnie and that's what we've always called it.  It's so simple, yet so delicious.  I love any and all cheese, but this cheese in particular works really well as a Thanksgiving dinner warm-up act.

Basically all you do is mix together green pepper, onion, pineapple, and cream cheese then roll it in chopped pecans.  Easy peasy!

Here's the recipe:

  • Ingredients:
    • 2  8 oz packages of cream cheese
    • 8 ¼ oz can of crushed pineapple (drained really well, using paper towels or a potato ricer - this step is very important or the cheese will be watery)
    • ¼  cup chopped green pepper (chopped small)
    • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
    • ½  teaspoon salt
    • Chopped pecans
  1. Bring cream cheese to room temperature.
  2. Add all ingredients.
  3. Roll in chopped pecans.

Makes one big or two small balls.  Can be made up to 2 days in advance of serving.  Also freezes well.

Creamed spinach...

The mashed potatoes were kinda m'eh, so I won't bother writing about them.  We'll try again next year with those.  Onto the creamed spinach...

I've never been a big green bean casserole or brussel sprout fan, so I set out this year to find a good alternate green.  I hadn't really thought of spinach as an option, but we had creamed spinach during our amazing dinner at Lahaina Grill in Maui, and when I saw it listed under the Thanksgiving sides on Food Network I was sold.  The only thing I'd change about this recipe for next year is to use half of the red pepper flakes.  I like heat, but it overpowered the dish and left a pretty strong after burn.  Other than that, though, the dish was super tasty and I definitely plan to make it again next year.

Luby's Cornbread Dressing...

My friend Sarah is going to be disappointed to read this, but I wasn't crazy about this stuffing.  I prefer my stuffing to be more bread-like, with visible chunks of moist bread, and this was more like a casserole or egg bake (you add eggs to mixture before you pop it in the oven.)

Maybe I just didn't make it right, I don't know.  The flavor was really good, I just wasn't crazy about the texture.  I think for next year I'll go back to the last year's stuffing, Tyler Florence's Carmelized Onion and Cornbread Stuffing.

Cranberry Sauce...

I grew up eating canned cranberry sauce, so I wasn't quite sure what would be involved in making the real stuff from scratch.  Thankfully it was super easy.  The orange zest overpowered the cranberry flavor a bit more than I would have liked, so next year I'll probably reduce it to half an orange.

Parker House Rolls...

I loooove me some Flaky Grands, but when I saw this recipe in Food Network magazine for pull-apart dinner rolls from scratch I had to try them.

Oh man were these good.  They were so tasty and filling... like a little meal all by themselves.  The recipe made at least double the rolls we actually needed, so if you're not cooking for a lot of people I recommend halving the recipe.


Jared added a twist to his Simon & Garfunkel butter this year... bacon.  That's right - parsely, sage, rosemary, thyme, and bacon.  Yum!

After the butter was shoved under the skin, Jared popped it in the Big Easy for about an hour and a half... and voila!


Random Order Coffeehouse pies...

I know what you're thinking... store bought pies?  I have a blog about all things DIY and I went and bought pies instead of making them myself.  But I firmly believe that every good DIYer needs to know when to admit that something is over their head.  I don't know what it is about pie... I've made pies in the past and never been wowed.  Maybe it's the crust, maybe I'm just not patient enough.  I don't know.  But I do know that Random Order here in Portland makes a heck of a good pie.   In addition to ordering these bad boys for Thanksgiving day, we also stopped by earlier in the week to pick up a few pieces of their Oregon Cherry pie and man oh man... these people know their way around a pie.  If you're ever in Portland I highly recommend stopping by and getting a piece.  Of anything.  I don't think they make a bad pie.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh right, thanksgiving pies.  Here you go...

I had never actually had Pecan Pie before this Thanksgiving... crazy, huh?  Well I am a convert.  Holy moly was this pie good.

So there you have it.  Thanksgiving 2010.  I'm full all over again.

the bird is the word

Thanksgiving in our house this year was far less stressful due to one essential addition to our appliance arsenal: The Big Easy Infrared Turkey Fryer from Char-Broil.  I was skeptical when Jared first told me about it, but after he tested it out with a small chicken a couple weeks ago, I knew he was on to something.  In addition to cooking perfectly juicy poultry in half the time of a normal oven, using the fryer this year meant one important thing: a free oven ALL DAY.  All of you who've attempted the chaos of trying to perfectly time all of your Thanksgiving dishes without a double oven - put this fryer on your Christmas list.

And here's the delicious turkey Jared cooked:

The seasoning was his Simon & Garfunkel blend of parsely, sage, rosemary, and thyme whipped into butter with crumbled bacon

We tried a new stuffing this year, Tyler Florence's Carmelized Onion and Cornbread Stuffing, and it was a big hit! Easily one of the best stuffings I've ever had. We couldn't find cornbread muffins, so we used an 8x8 tin of cornbread from Whole Foods instead, and it worked great.  Some of the reviews on Food Network said the stuffing turned out too dry, so I added a few extra splashes of heavy cream and stock just in case.

For dessert we had Martha Stewart's Old Fashioned Apple Pie and Sarah brought down a couple dozen of her famous cupcakes as a belated b-day/thanksgiving treat.  The most popular were the carrot with cream cheese frosting, and classic yellow cake with chocolate fudge icing (honestly, if there's a better cupcake on earth I have yet to find it.)  Sarah even made custom cupcake picks for the occasion using paper punches and her own little bird template.  Let me know if you'd be interested in a tutorial and I'll ask her to put one together.

For more food pics from our yummy little Thanksgiving dinner click here.

Thanksgiving weekend coming to an end can only mean two things: 1) running, yoga, and pilates are all very much in order, and 2) I have less than a month to finish a long list of Christmas crafts. Ack!