Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dish of the Day: Brussels n' Bacon

At our house we do love Brussels sprouts but not in the conventional way. We shred them or roast them until they carmelise. Tonight I decided to do something different. I added bacon. Here's how to try this at home

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Bacon:
- For two, chop about 12 medium-sized heads into strips (after removing the stem) and dice 1 piece of raw bacon.
- In a large frying pan, heat up 1 tsp of olive oil on medium low heat, and then place the sprouts and the bacon into the pan.
- Cover with a lid and wait for about 5 minutes before using a large spatula to turn everything in the pan over.
- Leave the cover on for the first 15 minutes of cooking, and turn every few minutes to prevent burning and evenly cook the contents of the pan. Leave the cover off after that so you can keep a close eye on the leaves so they don't burn.
- It will take about 25 minutes for the Brussels to fully cook, at which point they will be tender and you can pierce them easily with a fork. If you turn up the heat it will take less time but the leaves may brown too quickly, or burn.
- Remove from heat and add a sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste.

This is a great way to eat a very nutritious member of the cruciferous family. While most people think of Brussels sprouts as soggy vegetables with a strange texture, this recipe turns them into a savoury dish with a nutty, not mention, bacon-y, flavour.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dish of the Day: Stuffed chicken and potatoes

Lazy dinner
Lazy dinner,
originally uploaded by me.
Today's post is about making the process of cooking dinner easier and more efficient. This photo at left shows how I saved time preparing dinner tonight. I crammed 3 different things on the baking sheet, some for tonight and some for tomorrow's lunch.

The chicken breasts were sliced in half and stuffed with herbed feta cheese, and I rubbed the breasts in oil and rolled them in a mixture of corn bread crumbs and herbs. I chopped the potatoes and drizzled some olive oil on them and then topped them with chopped rosemary, salt and pepper. The potato on the right will be peeled and mashed tomorrow and added to leftover baked herbed salmon to make salmon patties for our lunch.

The point is, I used only one tray and the food was ready all at the same time, but for the whole potato which I left in the oven after I turned it off. The baking tray won't even need to be washed thanks to the aluminum foil, a baking aid which I try not to use too often.

On the side, we served up leftover boiled broccoli florets for our greens. All in all, a pretty easy meal!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Peanut Butter Separation Anxiety - Solved!

Do you like peanut butter? Mmm...I sure do. But wait - I'm not talking about that peanutty spread pictured above. That's just hydrogenated oil and icing sugar mixed with some crushed peanuts. Yeccccch!

I'm talking about ground peanuts in a jar. It's yummy stuff and it's one of my favourite treats, drizzled onto a banana, spread on toast with honey, on a cracker at night time. The problem is, there is a lot of separation of liquids and solids in a jar of peanut butter while it's sitting on a store shelf waiting for you to take it home. I have spent many collective hours wiping oily splotches off my counters made by an attempt to stir the PB oil and peanuts back together so that they become a homogenous spread. This has always been a tricky job, until now. I have discovered the secret to mixing natural peanut butter back into a lovely, smooth consistency.

Many people decide they'd rather buy the Kraft-type peanut spread pictured above because it's just so much easier to open the lid and spread away! Now you'll no longer be tempted by these horrible spreads because here is the solution you've been waiting for.

Buy a new jar of PB before your old one runs out. Place them side by side on the counter, lids removed. Using a fork, take out several forkfuls of peanut butter out of the new jar and place it into the "old" jar. Be careful not to let any of the oil drip onto the counter as you transfer the ground peanuts between jars. No focus on the new jar: use your fork to stir the oily, peanutty mass into a nicely blended spread. If it looks like you have too much in the new jar and the oil levels might seep out of the jar as you're stirring, simply take a bit more out of the new and place it in the old jar. Now put your newly-blended jar of PB and put it in the fridge. It will stay blended. And use up that old jar as quickly as can be. No mess, no fuss, no spills!