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.

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Recipe Files: Rainbow Chard

rainbow chard

sauteed rainbow chard

This is a recipe that I’m still working on perfecting.  The first time I made this side dish, I used a bit too much oil, and while the flavor was good, the greens were more soggy than they should have been.  The second time, I didn’t bother separating the stems and leaves and as a result the stems didn’t cook quite long enough and were a bit too crunchy.  Hopefully next time, I’ll get it right, because this is a really great, light, summer side dish that incorporates healthy rainbow chard into any meal.  It’s even better when it’s fresh from the farmer’s market!

To begin, you’ll need:

  • 1 large bunch (slightly less than a pound is good) of rainbow chard
  • 1 T. of olive oil (and only 1! ;-))
  • about 3 T. of pine nuts
  • salt to taste
  • 1 – 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 T. of cold butter, cut into four pieces
  • 1/4 c. of Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 c. (about 5 large) fresh basil leaves, sliced

Start by separating the stems and leaves.  This was the step I omitted last time, and it does actually make a difference!  Then cut or hand shred the stems and leaves into a hearty dice.   In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add in the pine nuts, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.  Remove the pine nuts to a paper towel, but keep as much oil as possible in the pan.  Continuing on medium heat, first add in the stems from the chard along with a pinch of salt.  Cook until the stems have begun to brown, about 8 minutes.  Add in the garlic, the chard leaves, and another pinch or so of salt.  Stir until the leaves are wilted, about 3 minutes.  Turn off the burner and add in the butter.  Stir to incorporate.  Next, stir in the cheese, basil, and pine nuts.  Once everything is mixed together, sprinkle with a little more Parmesan and enjoy!

*based on a recipe from “fine Cooking,” June/July 2010