Friday, January 9, 2015

roasted cauliflower & broccoli with lemony parmesan breadcrumbs

Happy New Year!  Well folks, big things happening in ol' Chena Girl's world.  Surreal, life-altering, incredible things.  Like, "pinch-me-did-that-just-happen?!" stuff.  Still wrapping my head around it.
I better just tell you.  It's too exciting. 
It's like Where's Waldo.  You have to find me in the picture.
I mean, seriously, right?!  Sure, it was at a random casino in a forgettable town in Oregon (for reals, I could not tell you the name of the town).  And yeah, perhaps their musical peak happened more than 30 years ago.  Don't care.  I love them.  Wendy, Carnie, and Chynna still got it.  Hold on for one more day?  I sure will!  And my sister Holly confirmed that it's the best birthday present she could have ever received.
I feel like a new woman.  Life couldn't get any better!

Except it did.  I got a new job.  A pretty cool one. :)
You see, I loved my old job.  Adored it.  I had no intention of ever leaving.  But I'm learning  that life just sort of has a way of charting it's own course while you're busy making other plans.
It was a big month, indeed.  So big, in fact, that I needed the entire month of December just to take a collective breath!  Thanks for your patience as I waited for my head to stop spinning. 

Based on all of the questions and comments I've received about my new gig, two concerns have clearly emerged as the most pressing.
First: what are you going to do with Milo?
Answer: I needed a housesitter when I'm in Juneau.  Problem solved!
Answer: Well, this question kind of touched me.  You see, when I set out to start this blog nearly four years ago, I didn't really have any idea what kind of reception it would get.  I mean, I knew I was guaranteed four fans (mom, dad, sister, and brother, but he's sort of half-hearted about it if you ask me).  Beyond that, I didn't even know if anyone would read it, much less make any of the recipes I shared.   But you do, and the feedback I get from my readers and friends fills my heart. 
So Chena Girl ain't going anywhere!
At this point, many of you are thinking to yourselves...dude, lady, is this a food blog or a "wax poetic" blog?
Hey, man!  It's my blog!  Go get your own. 
Ok, ok.  Back to the food.  I've lost track of how many friends are resolving to drop a few pounds this year.  A little less candy, a few more carrots.  In that spirit, this dish of roasted cauliflower and broccoli, topped with crunchy, lemony, cheesy panko breadcrumbs is about as close as you get to wanting seconds when it comes to veggies.  I actually tested this theory when I brought the dish over to my friends Bill and Becky's house for dinner last Sunday.  We all agreed that next time, I should double the recipe.  The real prize is the crispy, golden panko crumbs.  I add a little lemon zest to the crumbs because I love the bright citrus note, but you could totally leave that out if you don't have a lemon on hand.  But the Parmesan cheese is essential. 
The only thing I will do differently next time is make more.
Serve this alongside grilled salmon, like we did, or a seared sirloin steak or roasted chicken.  Because healthy food shouldn't be boring.  It should be delicious!  


Roasted Cauliflower & Broccoli with Lemony Parmesan Breadcrumbs
(Adapted from Barefoot Contessa)
1/2 head of cauliflower and 1/2 head of broccoli, cored and cut into small florets (big florets should be sliced in half; as an alternative, use one full head of either cauliflower or broccoli, but I used what I had on hand)
olive oil
1/2 cup panko (Japaneese bread crumbs)
Zest of one lemon (about 2 teaspoons or so- optional)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place the cauliflower and broccoli on a large shallow baking sheet.  Toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and several grinds of black pepper.  Roast for 15 minutes.  Remove and toss with a spatula.
Toss the panko with the lemon zest and one tablespoon of olive oil.  Sprinkle on the cauliflower and broccoli and roast for another 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove from the oven, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and roast for another 1-2 minutes.  Toss and serve.  It's sooooo good!
xo h

Monday, November 24, 2014

roasted brussels sprouts with capers, walnuts, and anchovies

The Best.  It's a bold statement, right?  To say something is the BEST you've ever tasted.  People throw the phrase around too loosely and apply it to things that simply don't deserve such high praise.  "This is the best corn dog I have EVER tasted!" "Have you tried this burger! Best burger ever!" "OMG, this cheese may be the BEST CHEESE EVER."  And we all know that the chances of that corn dog, burger, or piece of cheese being the BEST EVER are pretty slim.

I feel like the word "best" is losing the grip on it's definition.  So when I say something is the best I've ever tasted, I really want to mean it.  So, here goes:
I'm pretty sure these are the best Brussels sprouts I've ever tasted.

My friend Karen introduced me to this recipe last year and it's the only way I ever want to eat Brussels sprouts anymore.  When I serve these to friends, they often approach the dish with reservation.  Brussels sprouts?  Anchovies?  Honey?  Say wha?!  But my FAVORITE part is watching them taste their first bite.  That's all it takes.  The flavor of the golden roasted Brussels sprouts paired with the salty, briny, slightly sweet vinaigrette and crunchy walnuts is genius.  It

Roasted Brussels sprouts has been at our family's holiday table for many years.  But this year, I'm going to introduce this new twist on the old family favorite.  And I can't wait to watch them take their first bite!
Happy Holidays everyone!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Capers, Anchovies, and Walnuts
(Recipe courtesy of Karen Wilken)
3 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or a grainy mustard)
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, mined
2 tablespoons anchovy paste (or one 2-ounce tin of anchovies, drained and minced)
(1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spread the walnuts on a shallow baking sheet or pie plate and toast in the oven for about 8 minutes, until golden and fragrant.  Once cool, coarsely chop and set aside.
(2) In a large bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Spread the Brussels sprouts on to large, shallow rimmed baking sheets and roast for 35-40 minutes, tossing with a spatula halfway through cooking.  They should be golden and charred in some spots. 
(3) In the same large bowl, whisk the vinegar, mustard, and honey.  Slowly whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil until the mixture is emulsified.  Add the capers, garlic, shallots, and anchovy paste.  Taste, then season with salt and pepper as necessary.  Add the sprouts and the walnuts, toss well and serve.

xo h