Brussels…Love ’em? Hate ’em? Try them!

I find that many people are divided about their likes and dislikes with food.  Texture is a big deal.  Some prefer more or less spice.  But one food seems to really divide people and that’s brussels sprouts.  People seem to love them, hate them or won’t try them.  This is definitely a case of depends on how you prepare them.  No one likes anything cooked to bitter mush, which is what some people remember them tasting like as a kid.  They are overcooked or boiled and lifeless.

I’ve shared a favorite brussels sprouts recipe before for brussel leaves.  However you don;t always have time to peel.  This year I’ve been making a quick roasted brussels sprouts recipes that are enticing people not ask for an actually try (and enjoy) brussels sprouts.

First there was a “feast” at my son’s school.  This was very cute as each child brought in a favorite recipe to share with the class.  They each got up and told why they brought the dish, when they usually eat the dish and if there was any significance to their family.  They are next making a poster with the written recipe with a photo of them with their dish.  Recipes had to be approved by the teacher first because otherwise we would have all been eating our favorite family desserts only.  My son asked me to make stuffed grape leaves and while I loved the suggestion I was short on time.  Next he asked for brussels sprouts.  I loved this idea because I am always asking people to try them.  And in the class there were a few kids (and adults) who tried them for the first time.  Especially cooking for babies, getting to be there for a first bite is so fun.  It’s still fun for me if it isn’t babies.

The sprouts were eaten, with the exception of about 5 pieces, and my daughter polished those off in the car on the way home from school.  We had a potluck for my son’s tae kwon do that night and wasn’t sure what to bring.  It’s always a lot of pizza and desserts.  We decided to head to the store for more brussels sprouts and I made them again for that night.  It is not even the holiday yet and I made two batches in one day.  I thought my kids would be burned out on these, but my daughter asked yesterday, “Can you make brussels sprouts for Christmas?”  Sure I will.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Choose small firm compact heads with tight fitting leaves that are bright green in color for the freshest taste.

1 lb. brussels sprouts

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon rosemary sea salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Trim bottoms of brussels sprouts, but keep leaves intact.  Cut each sprout in half lengthwise.  Place sprouts in a plastic bag or bowl with oil and toss to coat.  Place sprouts on baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and bake for 12 – 15 minutes, turning halfway through.  Bake until outside leaves begin to brown and crisp, and inside is fork tender.  Sprinkle with cheese and serve warm.

 

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The Apple Feast

Because of all the apples we’d harvested at the u-pick, I was inspired.  And admittedly a little over the top with my obsession with making an apple meal.  By this I mean, using apple as an ingredient in each food.  Also I also must admit, it was tasty and fun, and we now have only about a dozen apples left.

 

Note: I suggest if you have an abundance of apples – make applesauce of course.   This was great for my son who can’t enjoy raw apples easily with his new mouth hardware.  It can be swirled into yogurt, oatmeal and ice cream.  And also is a great way to create moist and nutritious baked goods.  This week I made apple banana bran muffins for my kids’ school snack.

 

Anyways… we invited our friends over for dinner, who we picked apples with.  Luckily they weren’t too burned out on apples (or just too polite) to go with my theme.  Over the course of a few days of planning and prepping we were ready for our apple feast.  Our guests were creative and brought two wonderful sides that went perfectly.  (No really.  I can’t say how much I appreciate it when someone offers and actually brings something that goes with the meal, rather than just bringing something because they think they should.  Your host doesn’t want extra food for that meal, unless you’re assigned.  O.K. so yes, that it a pet peeve of mine.).

Here was the menu…

Butternut-Apple Soup

Mini Grilled Cheese and Sliced Apple Sandwiches on Raisin Toast

Corriander Spiced Pork Chops (Sunset mag Oct. 2011) with Applesauce (very Brady Bunch)

Apple Slaw with yogurt dressing – thanks Anne

Mixed Greens with apple slices, candied peacans and blue cheese – thanks again Anne

Apple Pie with caramel drizzle and vanilla ice cream

We started the evening with apple bobbing.  This was a great activity to use those little tiny apples we picked.  The kids had fun coming up with ways to get the apple (nope, the stem is cheating) and finally dunking in head first (my son had seen this in a contest at school last year).

As far as the kids were concerned they were most excited about the first course (soup and sand) and dessert course.  No surprises there.  I was quite happy with the pork chops (thanks Sunet and Lee for grilling) and ate more than my share.  I can’t remember the last time we made them at home.  But I will again. (Note: the recipe has the chops with plum chutney, which I skipped due to the applesaue)

soup and sand
pork, apple sauce and salads
mmm....pie

Here’s the soup recipe because it is so easy and perfect on a chilly autumn night.  I like to roast a halved butternut squash in the oven a day or two ahead, then scrape out flesh to make this soup even quicker.

Butternut-Apple Soup

(adapted from Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry)

This is a simple, sweet and aromatic soup that only requires a few ingredients.  It can be enjoyed with a salad and bread for a nutritious lunch or dinner, or as a comforting autumn snack on a chilly day after playing outdoors.

Makes 7 cups; 7 servings

1 tablespoon expeller-pressed canola oil or other vegetable oil

1/3 cup chopped onion

1 pound peeled, cut cooked squash (can buy prepackaged in produce section) or 2 pounds whole butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 medium organic Fuji apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped

1 (14-ounce) can organic low-sodium vegetable broth

1 cup water

1 teaspoon fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup organic milk

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in squash, apples, broth, water, thyme, salt, and pepper. Heat over high heat until boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring often until squash and apples are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (If not using precooked
squash, you’ll need to increase cooking time by 15 to 20 minutes.)

Spoon one-third of squash mixture into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Be careful: Mixture is hot and steam can burn when processing. Pour puree into bowl and continue processing remainder of squash mixture. Soup can be made
ahead at this point.

When ready to eat, return puree to saucepan and stir in milk. Heat through over medium heat until hot.

(Babes and Soup. Just remember many children do not like foods too
warm, so serve at room temperature for the youngest. Because this recipe has
cow’s milk, it should not be served to those under one year.)

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A Tale of Two Feasts

Both my daughter and my son had “feasts” at school today.  My daughter is in preschool and I volunteered to do the food for the feast.  As the preschool classes get older, the teachers allow the children to choose what they’d like for their feast.  They usually pick pizza.  Not exactly what I picture in thinking of the pilgrims and native americans sharing on the original day.   However at age 3, the feast is traditional (somewhat) and there is no voting on the main menu.  I like the idea of the traditional food and so I supplied all the food for the feast.  (I won’t when it’s pizza).  The menu consisted of:

mini turkey and cheese sandwiches and roll-ups

fruit salad – some balked at the orange stuff…persimon

canberry sauce

sweet potato chips

steamed veggies and carrots with dip

oatmeal-chocolate chips cookes – which the kids made

Here’s what it looked like:

mini turkey cheese

sweet potato chips

cranberry sauce

preschool feast

I have to say it went over well.  Most kids ate something, and some even asked for seconds of fruit and sandwiches.  The kids were very proud of their handmade tablecloth, which was painted butcher paper.  So cute. 

The second “feast” of the day was at my son’s kindergarten friendship feast.  This was a clever idea.  The kids in each kindergarten class were each asked to bring an ingredient, such as onion (ours), tomatoes, stock, noodles, zucchini, etc.  Then one mom went home and made soup from the ingredients and returned with it the following day.  I knew making all the other items for feast number 1, I couldn’t make soup too.  Luckily someone else volunteered, but I did offer to make pumpkin muffins to accompany.  Here they are:

pumpkin ginger muffins

 

All four kindergarten classes ate soup together with teachers and some families and siblings.  Each class had made their own version of turkey hats and leaf placemats, which they were proud to bring home after.  The soup and muffins were appreciated and eaten.  Here’s a picure of my son and daughter sitting together.  The teacher is so sweet and treats her like one of the kindergartners.  After just coming from her feast, I was surpirsed to see she ate more than some of my son’s friends.

kindergarten feast

I must say with all these feast preparations, shopping, cooking, packing and clean up, I’m going to need to find some energy for the real feast on Thurs.  I’ll keep you posted…

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