so this is christmas… what have you done?

Lordy, lordy, lordy. Christmas in less than a week. You know, every year I try to start my preparations early. And yet every year, it seems I am still scrambling to get everything done! However, the vast majority of shopping is done. Only waiting on one more item to ship. Most of the decor is up– all three of the trees are decorated. Cards are sent. Cookies and other goodies are started. Wrapping is mostly complete. Lights are twinkling. And so it continues.

It’s been rough getting going this year though, I will admit.  The husband has been traveling a lot this year (more than usual, and that’s saying a lot for those of you who know!) and I think that even though I am used to his work schedule and the fact that we’ve often had a “long-distance” relationship in the 11 or so years that we’ve known each other, for some reason, it’s hit me harder this year.  But it’s been a rough year in other ways too. And some day, I will learn that while some people in my life may need some serious psychological help, there’s nothing I can do about their needs. And I shouldn’t take to heart or worry so much about the things that they say, because I know that they desperately do need this help and without it are floundering like some of us sometimes do. Still it can be hard to deal with.  As much of a judgmental bitch as I can be, I really am a sensitive soul at my core, which makes it hard. … But now I’m just getting depressing. Let’s not do that! Let’s move on to something more important and more fun.

How about a nice winter recipe?

brussels sprouts we can all enjoy!

Yes! It’s Brussels sprouts! Now I know what you’re thinking— “Erm, Brussels sprouts?! EWWW… those suckers are nasty!”  Which I will grant you, is exactly what I used to say about them too.  Growing up, I only ever had them boiled until they were mush and those really are not good at all.  But if you roast these little guys to caramelized perfection, then they really can be delish!

To begin, you will need:

  • a half pound of Brussels sprouts
  • olive oil (about an 1/8 of a cup, give or take)
  • salt (a few good sprinkles, a Tablespoon, maybe?)
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped (but you could always do two for good measure!)
  • 2 T. of shredded Parmesan cheese (again, more or less to taste)

Can you tell I never measure anything when I make these??!  Anyhoo. Start by cutting off the bottoms of the sprouts and then slice them in half.  In a bowl, mix them with all of the ingredients.  Spread them onto a baking sheet and place in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Half way through, stir them up to get as much caramelization as possible.  You can also add in your favorite chopped nuts or maybe even some pomegranate seeds to liven up the dish with another layer of flavor.  And there you have the perfect winter veggie side to whatever meal you are making!
There, that’s more the spirit, yes? I think this week will bring some more Christmas cheer, so stick around and see what we’ve got to come.

maple roasted winter vegetables

roasted winter vegetables

maple roasted winter veggies!

I saw this recipe in Food and Wine last November and knew I had to give it a try!  I made a couple of small adjustments, but this is a great recipe for cold winter evenings when you need a nice homestyle vegetable dish to accompany a roast, a turkey, a chicken, or a game hen.   Do be careful of your cooking times.  The original recipe has them roasting for 30 minutes and then another 25.  I thought that seemed like a lot the first time I made the dish but followed the directions anyway— of course, ending up with charred veggies!  So I’ve cut the cooking times down quite a bit, but use your judgment as far how well your oven heats and cooks. 

To begin, you’ll need:

  • 1 c. pecans
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and either sliced or largely chopped
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced or largely chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into about 1 inch squares
  • 1/2 lb. brussels sprouts
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • a heaping 1/8 t. of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 T. plus 1 t. of ginger
  • about 1/4 c. maple syrup

Start by preheating your oven to 450 and roasting the pecans in a shallow dish for about 5 minutes.  As the pecans cool, toss the carrots, parsnips, squash, and brussels sprouts in a large bowl.  Coat them with the olive oil, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.   Then spread the vegetables onto one or two rimmed baking sheets.  (This recipe makes a pretty large batch and this is not as large as the original, so you may be able to use one large baking sheet or you may need two smaller ones.)  Roast the vegetables for about 15 minutes.  Then take them out of the oven and add the pecans, ginger, and maple syrup.  Toss gently to coat.  Continue to roast for another 15 minutes or until the veggies are a nice golden color.   Use a spatula or slotted spoon to remove the vegetables and place in a serving bowl.  Your kitchen will smell incredible and your delicious winter veggies are ready to enjoy!