Crispy Dijon Brussel Sprouts

For all the thinking and planning I’ve been doing the last couple weeks regarding a Thanksgiving menu, the holiday sure snuck up on me. I can’t believe it’s next week! I have a few more recipes to share this month, so check back to see what else I have planned.

If you happened to catch the new Yakima Magazine, which came out last week, I shared two recipes for pie that are literally fail-proof. No fussy crust and ingredient lists a mile long. Pick up a copy when you’re out an about this week (or just scroll down from this post) and bookmark those recipes if you’re looking for something new and different for dessert this year. Bonus, there’s a great local gift guide and so much more included in the magazine.

But let’s get down to business, this week it’s all about Brussel sprouts. I love Brussel sprouts. I make them all the time at home but often struggle to cook them perfectly. They are easy to overcook and the resulting mushy sprout is disappointing while an undercooked tough bitter sprout is even worse.

I watched a tutorial online about how to sear Brussel sprouts starting with a cold pan. You cook the sprouts in a generous amount of olive oil with the lid on. The vegetables sear and steam at the same time, giving the vegetable a deeply brown and crispy outside while softening and cooking the sprout all the way through. In literally five minutes, your pan of Brussel sprouts is finished cooking. I don’t think I’ll ever cook them any other way going forward.

This also means while your turkey is resting and your oven is warming up the rest of your Thanksgiving dishes, you can throw this Brussel sprout dish together quickly and easily. Adding a bright, tasty vegetable is a nice balance to all the rich decadent must-have dishes already at the table. Even better, this easy recipe can be made year-around and pulls double duty as a quick weeknight dish as well.

Crispy Dijon Brussel Sprouts   (recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

• 1-2 pounds small Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

• 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

• 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

• 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

• 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

• ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

• kosher salt

Look for Brussels sprouts similar in size, with small, tight heads, as they’re likely to be sweeter and more tender than larger sprouts. For a large batch, you may have to do two batches, simply follow the instructions, transfer sprouts to a plate and start the process over.

Arrange Brussels sprouts in single layer, cut sides down, in a large nonstick skillet. Drizzle oil evenly over sprouts. Cover skillet, place over medium-high heat, and cook until sprouts are bright green and cut sides have started to brown, about 4 minutes.

Uncover and continue to cook until cut sides of sprouts are deeply and evenly browned and paring knife slides in with little to no resistance, 2 to 3 minutes longer, adjusting heat and moving sprouts as necessary to prevent them from overbrowning. While sprouts cook, combine mustard, sugar, vinegar, cayenne, and ¼ teaspoon salt in small bowl.

Off heat, transfer sprouts to shallow serving dish. Coat them with mustard sauce and sprinkle with coarse salt. Serve immedietly.

Pie Anyone Can Make

With the holidays just around the corner, I thought I would offer a couple of desserts you can easily make for the holidays. I have a little confession to make. I am terrible with pie crust. The ability to form the crust and make it look even halfway decent is seriously out of my wheelhouse. So instead of fighting what seems impossible, I’ve learned to improvise. Instead of a perfectly shaped pie, I make crostatas or galettes which is simply pie dough rolled out, and then piled high with fruit. The edges are folded rustically around the fruit and then baked. No pie dish, no edging. Simple, delicious, and pretty in its own way. The other way I get around pie crust is to make a cookie crust. There’s something special about this pumpkin pie recipe. The crushed gingersnap cookie crust is a lovely compliment to the creamy and sweet pumpkin custard.


Pumpkin Spiced Apple Crostata

• 2 cups flour

• ¼ cup granulated sugar

• ½ teaspoon kosher salt

• 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed

• 6 tablespoons ice water (3 ounces)

• 6 cups thinly sliced apples (mix of sweet and tart)

• 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

• 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

• 2/3 cup brown sugar

• Juice of 1 lemon

• ¼ cup pumpkin puree

• Pinch of salt

• 1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water

In the bowl of a food processor with a metal blade combine flour, sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter to the flour mixture and pulse 12-15 times until the butter is the size of small peas. Do not overmix! You want chunks of butter. Turn the food processor back on and slowly pour the ice water in, stopping the machine as soon as the dough forms. Take the dough out of the food processor and place on a heavily floured cutting board. Form the dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator while you prep the apples. (You can make the dough a day or two in advance. When you’re ready, take the dough from the fridge and allow it to rest on the counter for about 30 minutes until it warms up enough to be workable.) I have long trusted Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame with my pie crust needs. This is her recipe, which I’ve made for years and it’s never failed me.

Cut apples into thin even pieces. No need to peel the skins but go ahead if you would prefer. In a large bowl gently mix the lemon juice with the apples. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, spices, salt and pumpkin. Pour over apples and mix until the apples are evenly coated.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll pie dough out into a ½-inch thick rectangle (don’t worry too much about shape, just get it as close as you can). Place dough on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Spread the apple mixture evenly over the dough leaving a 1-inch border of dough all around the perimeter. Fold and seal the edges of the dough over the fruit. In a small cup whisk together one egg with a splash of water and brush the edges of the crust with the egg wash. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the apples are cooked through and the sauce is bubbly. Use a toothpick to make sure the apples are soft.

Let the crostata cool on the counter. Serve with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.


Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust with Spiced Whipped Cream

• 8 ounces store bought gingersnap cookies

• 6 tablespoons melted butter

• 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

  • 2 eggs

• 1 cup canned pumpkin purée

• 1 cup brown sugar

• 1 cup heavy cream

• ½ teaspoon cinnamon

• ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

• ½ teaspoon nutmeg

• 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

• Pinch of salt

In a food processor, pulse the gingersnap cookies until they are broken into a fine crumb. With the food processor on, pour in the melted butter until a dough ball starts to form. Sprinkle in pumpkin pie spice and pulse three more times.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray. Press the gingersnap dough evenly into the pan forming a crust. In a large bowl mix the brown sugar, pumpkin and spices together until well-mixed. Stir in heavy cream. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pie crust. Bake the pie for about 40 minutes, rotating it in the oven halfway through. Use a toothpick to check doneness. When the custard does not wiggle anymore and the toothpick comes out clean, the pie is done.

To make the whipped cream, place 2 cups of cold heavy cream in the bowl of a mixer. Add two tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and ½ teaspoon nutmeg. Turn the mixer on high, mixing for about 5 minutes until peaks form in the cream. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Allow the pie to cool on the counter. Store in the refrigerator covered until ready to serve. Slice pieces and garnish with a dollop of spiced cream.

Bourbon Maple Pork Chops with Apples

I don’t mean to brag but this is the first time in nine-ish years Daylight Savings time hasn’t royally screwed my family’s sleep schedule over for days (weeks?) at a time. My sister-in-law mentioned she was getting up at 4:30am with her 1-year-old and a wave of deja vu flooded my system as I immediately felt like I needed a giant cup of coffee and maybe a nap as she was talking.

But then the realization hit that my kids were sleeping like normal human beings. Granted a couple of them have a cold right now so that might have something to do with it, but I’m not asking questions. I’m just over here in my warm cozy bed, feeling slightly smug and supremely grateful to not be awake with toddlers/babies at 4:30am anymore.

Jackson literally crouched on the floor next to my bed this morning and yelled ‘Boo’ to wake me up. Thankfully his father was right behind him with a cup of coffee to hand me as I sat straight up out of a dead sleep. That coffee probably saved his life in the moment but I’ve been chuckling about it all morning. Big kids are so funny and weird and wonderful.

Enough about sleep, let’s talk about pork chops shall we? My only experience with pork chops were the chewy and tough ones my mother made as a kid, cooked in cream of mushroom soup. Chops can be hard, especially boneless ones because they cook quickly and don’t have a ton of fat to help with moisture.

Because we buy a whole pig each year and have it butchered locally, I have cuts of meat that I wouldn’t necessarily buy at the grocery store. It’s a good exercise though and while I’ve clearly had many failures, when I have a win, I feel like I need to share it because maybe you need a new recipe too.

My pork chops were quite thick, so I cut them in half length-wise so they were about an inch thick. I made a marinade of bourbon (you could also use a light beer or chicken stock if you don’t want to cook with alcohol) soy sauce, ginger,maple syrup and Worcestershire sauce. The marinade made the chops super flavorful and tender and the apples and onions sautéed in all that pork goodness gave the dish a subtle sweet and rich finish without being heavy. I roasted some sweet potatoes and cauliflower and called it dinner. Aaron LOVED this dinner, the kids gave mixed reviews but that probably had more to do with the cauliflower than the meat.

Bourbon Maple Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

  • 4-6 boneless pork chops trimmed to 1-inch thickness
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger (about a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium or 1 large Fuji apple, thinly sliced

In a bowl, whisk together the bourbon (or beer or chicken stock), olive oil, maple syrup, ginger, soy and Worcestershire sauce. Salt and pepper pork chops, then submerge them in marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on the counter for up two hours or in the refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours.

In a large sauté pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium-low heat. Cook pork chops for about 3 minutes on each side so they have crisp edges and are golden brown on each side. (Don’t worry about them being cooked through yet). Remove the chops from the pan and set aside. Pour the remaining marinade into a small pot and simmer on low until it reduces by a third.

In the same pan, sauté onions and apples over medium-low heat for 5-6 minutes until the onions are translucent and the apples begin to soften. Put the chops back in the pan with the apples and onions and drizzle the pan with a couple tablespoons of the reduced marinade. Turn the heat to low and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until the chops are cooked through. To serve, place a pork chop on a dinner plate and spoon apples and onions over it. Drizzle with the pan sauce and serve immediately.

 

Pumpkin Muffins

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It just wouldn’t be fall without a batch of pumpkin muffins. I went on not one but two pumpkin patch field trips last week, traversing the corn maze with a group of preschoolers, herding them through the pumpkin patch until they found just the right pumpkin. Two days later, my first grader got his turn and we had a blast riding the tractor, eating lunch with friends and of course, picking out the perfect pumpkin.

We are in the idyllic couple of weeks when everywhere you look is quintessential fall. The Poplar trees I look at out the windows of my house are brilliantly yellow and I find myself stopping to marvel at their beauty several times a day. The apple and pear orchards bordering my house boast deep red and golden orange leaves, waving in the wind, almost as if they’re showing off. The backdrop of blue sky and green grass with the desert hills beyond is breathtaking and a scene I don’t want to take for granted.

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And when fall is this beautiful, it seems not only right but downright necessary to make something pumpkin. I’m the first to roll my eyes at all the pumpkin spice hype. I get it, the saying ‘too much of a good thing,’ is very real. But these pumpkin muffins will bring you right back around again — light and chewy with a crunchy cinnamon-sugar crust along the top — you’ll make batch after batch of these all fall long.

Sometimes I throw a handful of chocolate chips into the batter for my kids and the other week, I skipped the cinnamon and sugar on top and instead sprinkled granola on the muffins. They were delicious! Whatever you decide to do, you can’t go wrong. And if you’re local and can carve out a little time this weekend, go for a walk on the Cowiche trails or along the Greenway and enjoy the beauty of the Valley before it’s blanketed in snow.

Pumpkin Muffins (recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar (if you don’t have any, just use regular granulated sugar)

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put liners in 12 standard-sized muffin cups.

Stir or whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spice in medium bowl.

In a larger bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs and 1 cup sugar. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until just combined. Divide batter among muffin cups (each about 3/4 full). If you want to add chocolate chips, stir in one cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter before spooning into muffin cups.

Stir together tablespoon of raw sugar and teaspoon of cinnamon. Sprinkle over each muffin.

Bake until puffed and golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool in pan on a rack five minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

Kimchi Fried Rice

Scarlet and I decided to play hooky today. The weather is dreary and rainy and my poor girl just didn’t seem like herself. When I asked her if she wanted to stay home with me today, she burst into tears and clung to me. I’ll take that as a yes.

So we’ve made bead necklaces and pumpkin muffins and now we’re watching a movie. I think I needed a down day as much as she did without even realizing it.

I wanted to share this quick recipe for fried rice with you in case you’re in the same camp as I am: you love BIG flavor and you aren’t afraid of a little heat. If that’s you, this lunch will guaranteed be one of your favorites.

Kimchi fried rice is perfect because it incorporates easy protein, some veggies, brown rice and in literally 10 minutes you can have a big old pan for lunch that will last for several days. If I can remember to, I make this on a Sunday or Monday and save leftovers in the fridge all the next couple days.

For me, I’m always looking for quick and easy ways to incorporate more vegetables into my daily life and kimchi is supposed to have all kinds of probiotic benefits. Pickled and spicy cabbage combined with a little bacon, fried egg, and hearty brown rice seriously hit all the right notes in a spicy, savory filling but not heavy meal.

If you happen to follow me on Instagram (thesaltandstone), I made a version of this dish several months ago. The recipe was from Small Victories, which if you haven’t noticed seems to be one of my favorite cookbooks lately. But this recipe is all my own, inspired by the original but doctored up just the way I like it. This is my favorite thing about cooking, there’s rarely any rules and you can add or tweak or change any way you like.

Kimchi Fried Rice

  • 8 ounces spicy kimchi
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 3 pieces center-cut bacon, diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

In a large sauté pan, cook bacon over medium heat until browned on both sides. Chop up the kimchi into bite-sized pieces while the bacon cooks. Add the kimchi to the pan and stir in with the bacon. Add rice to the pan and mix everything together. Crack the eggs into the rice and stir until the egg is just cooked through. Stir in the soy sauce and mix one last time. Remove from heat, spoon into a bowl and enjoy. Store leftovers covered in the fridge for the rest of the week.

Broccoli with Lemon, Garlic and Red Pepper Flakes


In keeping with this month’s theme of easy and quick dishes to feed your loved ones, I’ve got a side dish that start to finish can be on your table in 15 minutes. Broccoli florets are tossed in a little olive oil and sprinkled with minced garlic, lemon zest and a dash of red pepper flakes. Roasted in the oven for ten minutes, the broccoli comes out crispy but tender and so full of flavor. We’ve eaten this dish so many times in the last couple weeks when I just need dinner to be fast. Our days feel full and a little chaotic as we figure out new school routines and find our groove.

Ironically, I chose September, one of the busiest months of the year to start a new book about family life and the need to simplify. The book talks about creating margins for rest and playtime and the importance of reducing unnecessary stress and activities in family life. I’ve chuckled out loud a few times as I’ve snuck chapters in here and there between back-to-school open houses, orthodontist appointments, soccer practice and gymnastics. And that was just last Thursday.

In all seriousness, the book is called Simplicity Parenting, and it’s giving me good food for thought. I can’t eliminate our busyness, but I can look for small ways to connect as a family throughout the day. I am doubling down on my efforts to sit down to dinner as a family. Even when it’s just 10 minutes crammed between practices, homework battles and late work meetings, it’s still 10 minutes at the table together.

If you happened to catch my column last week, you read a little about how I prep meals for the week. I wash and cut up fruits and vegetables, storing them in plain sight in my refrigerator so that meals are easy to prepare and made from healthy ingredients. I roast a big pan of broccoli and we eat it for dinner and if there happens to be leftovers, I save them in the fridge to use in salads, stirred into scrambled eggs or my personal favorite; in a grilled cheese sandwich.


Roasted Broccoli with Lemon, Garlic and Red Pepper Flakes

• 1 large head of broccoli, broken into florets

• 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated

• Zest of 1 lemon

• ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• ½ teaspoon Kosher salt

• ¼ teaspoon black pepper

This dish is one of those that can be adjusted easily to your specific tastes. If you like a strong lemon flavor, add more zest. If you don’t like any heat at all, skip the red pepper flakes altogether (although I don’t recommend it, the little bit of heat from the red pepper goes so well with the lemon and garlic).

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash broccoli and break into florets. The larger the pieces, the longer they will take to cook, so cut them into small pieces for quick turnaround.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. In a bowl, drizzle oil over the broccoli and using a wooden spoon mix lemon zest, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper with the broccoli until they are well-coated. Spread the broccoli evenly on the baking sheet and cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the broccoli is bright green and crispy brown on the edges. Stir once halfway through cooking to make sure the vegetable cooks evenly.

To make a delicious grilled cheese sandwich with leftovers, take two slices of sourdough bread and layer grated fontina cheese with the leftover broccoli. Top with the other slice of bread. Butter the outside of both pieces of bread and cook in a large sauté pan over medium heat until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly on the inside.

Meal Planning and Steel Cut Oats

Today is a little departure from the usual. My column in the Yakima Herald today is about basic meal planning. Do you meal plan? My version is fairly informal but it’s a system that works pretty well for us. At the bottom of the post is a recipe for our favorite steel cut oats. I make a big batch on Sundays and keep it in the fridge all week for easy breakfasts. We’re almost to the weekend friends.


I have a friend who is an excellent meal planner. She sits down every week with her husband and they decide on dinners for the week. They make a grocery list of the items they need and one of them goes to the store. They assign dinners to each night based on their weekly schedule and then cook their meals according to the schedule. It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? But for so many of us, it’s not that simple at all.

For the left-brained creative-types and the flustered, busy, over-tired parents, for those that aren’t sure they even like to cook, and everyone in between, planning an entire week’s worth of meals is more than a little intimidating; it’s downright daunting. At least that’s how I feel most weeks.

But I also know that to make healthy fresh food for my family, I need a plan. Daily trips to the grocery store with three young kids is out of the question and I don’t want to rely too heavily on take-out and frozen pizzas.

What works for me is to spend a few hours on the weekend preparing foods I want my family to eat during the week. I’ve found that having produce readily available, washed, cut-up and in plain view ensures we all have an easier time reaching for a fruit or vegetable first.

Each week I hit my local fruit stand. Right now I’m buying bags of plums and nectarines, peaches, bell peppers, corn on the cob, potatoes, onions, cucumbers, melons, zucchini and green beans. This is where I start with planning meals for the week. After I’ve made my haul in the produce department, I head to the grocery store, list in hand with the remaining items I need.

On Sundays, when I typically have more time to putter in the kitchen, I do the bulk of my prep for the week. I wash and chop fruits and vegetables. I usually make some kind of salad for easy lunches and muffins or a quick bread for easy breakfast for my kids. Sometimes I make an egg dish and roast a pan of vegetables but mostly it depends on what looked good at the store and what I’m in the mood to cook.

Breakfasts and lunches get exponentially easier on busy weekday mornings. The kids choose between cereal and whatever I’ve prepped for the week and they help themselves. It’s the same for packing lunches; they choose from the fruits and vegetables I’ve already prepared, we throw a sandwich together and they fill their water bottles.

This week I made a loaf of pumpkin bread and a big pot of steel cut oats. I also made tuna salad and chicken salad and some whole-wheat couscous. I cut up cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, bell peppers and washed and trimmed grapes. When I open my fridge, these are the items I see first and what I build meals around all week.

Everyone in my family loves oatmeal, so I thought I would share my recipe for steel cut oats. Hearty and delicious, the only downside to steel-cut oats is the time it takes to make them. I get around this by making a big pot on the weekend and storing it in the fridge. On weekday mornings, we spoon portions into individual bowls and pop them in the microwave. We top ours with a spoonful of peanut butter and a handful of frozen blueberries but raisins and cinnamon or a fresh sliced peach and a drizzle of honey is lovely too.


Creamy Steel-Cut Oats with Chia Seeds

  • 2 cups steel-cut oats
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds

In a pot combine water, milk, salt and oats. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. As soon as the liquid begins to boil, turn the heat to low. Cook oats at a simmer for 20 to 30 minutes stirring frequently. When oats are finished cooking, gently stir in maple syrup, cinnamon and chia seeds. Spoon oats into individual bowls and top with favorite toppings. Save remaining oats in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.