Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Garlic Roasted Broccoli is proof positive of what I have come to believe about vegetables: roasted is always the best way to go. We’ve never done the lemon wedges nor the parmesan cheese that it calls for and frankly, it doesn’t need it. The broccoli turns out sort of crisp-tender, and the roasting process intensifies its flavor, rather than watering it down like some cooking methods. It makes a tasty, healthy side dish to go with a wide variety of proteins. Even better, it’s simple to prepare and a quick fix from start to finish. Often, we stage the broccoli while our protein is cooking, and then the broccoli roasts in the oven while the protein rests on the counter, nestled under a sheet of aluminum foil.

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Baked Brie

Baked Brie is usually either baked covered in puff pastry dough, or baked naked and drizzled with honey. We cover ours in pie dough. It’s simple to do, we can make it ourselves, and if we’ve had the foresight to pick up a small wheel of brie (which we often do) this becomes party of a pantry meal. My 12-year-old insists that when she goes away to college, sometimes she can see this being her dinner (maybe with some fruit, hopefully). We like to do this occasionally as a part of our weekly Snack Plate tradition.

Baked Brie

Ingredients

1 4 – 6oz wheel of brie cheese
1/2 recipe of Wesson Oil Pie Crust

Directions

Make the Wesson Oil Pie Crust as directed. Roll out the resulting ball of dough between two sheets of wax paper. Keep rolling until the dough is as thin as you can get it.

With a sharp knife, cut off most of the rind from the cheese. Brie rind is edible, so you can skip this step, but leaving the rind on will prevent the cheese from getting as gooey as you might want it.

Remove the top layer of wax paper covering the dough. Place the entire wheel of cheese on one end of the dough. Using the wax paper to support the delicate dough, flip the other end of the dough over on top of the cheese. Gently press down from the top where the dough meets the cheese. Cut off the extra dough with a sharp knife. Using a fork, crimp the edges of the dough together to create a seal.

Bake in an oven-safe ramekin or on an oven-safe plate at 400 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes. Serve with crackers and fruit either as an appetizer, or as a part of Snack Plate.

Garlic Prawns in Hot Sauce

Garlic Prawns in Hot Sauce is a recipe that comes from a cookbook that I no longer have. I love this recipe, and yet, I didn’t want to make any of the other recipes in the book. When this happens, I make a copy of the recipe(s) that I want to keep, and give away the cookbook to make more room on my bookshelf. My copy of the book called for 2 pounds of shrimp, 1/3 cup of bamboo shoots, and the cornflour was listed as cornstarch, but everything else is the same. If I don’t have any fresh basil already growing in my garden, then I just leave it out; this recipe doesn’t really need it. We do love, however, to add asparagus: one bunch cut into 2 inch pieces and stir fried w/ the rest of the veggies is a fabulous addition.

Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate Pudding is one of those recipes that make me wonder at the existence of mixes. The ingredients are everything I have on hand anyway, and it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes from start to finish. I usually make this dairy-free, using vanilla almond milk, but you could totally just use regular milk if that’s what you prefer. It does call for a bit of margarine or butter, but if you are eating dairy-free, chances are you have some dairy-free margarine already on hand. The pudding just needs an extra bit of fat to make it creamy. For vanilla pudding, just leave out the cocoa and add an extra teaspoon of vanilla.

Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients

1 1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C cocoa powder
4 C milk (vanilla almond milk works well)
4 Tbs margarine or butter
2 tsp vanilla

Directions

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt and cocoa powder in a medium-sized saucepan. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the milk as one continuous stream. Place over medium heat and continue whisking. After the mixture comes to a boil, cook it until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the margarine and vanilla.

Chill before serving. Makes 8 servings.

Chicken and Bean Stuffed Burritos

Chicken and Bean Stuffed Burritos originally had black beans in the title, but since as a family we’re not crazy about black beans, we use pinto beans instead. Either way, this simple recipe is a handy one to have around. It uses “rotisserie chicken breast,” which at my house just means leftover roast chicken. I have one child who doesn’t like beans, but because the beans are added separately from the chicken, it’s easy enough to leave them off. The method, finishing the assembled burritos in a large skillet, with another skillet on top, takes practice. It’s easy to burn the burritos so you have to watch them carefully. Once you have mastered the technique, however, it works for any kind of burrito you want, producing a crispy outside crust reminiscent of fast-food deep-fried burritos, just homemade. The recipe says it makes just four burritos, but with the size of flour tortillas we buy, and my desire for them to fold up neatly, we consistently get eight.

Massaged Kale Salad

Massaged Kale Salad works best, in our opinion, with a lighter, less hearty variety of kale. We grow our own in our garden. Our favorite variety for salads is called Red Winter. If you are buying your kale in a grocery store or farmer’s market, look for delicate, tender leaves. The salad has mango in it, which gives it a sweet note. As a result, it pairs especially well with something a bit spicy, such as Seared Chipotle Shrimp.

Seared Chipotle Shrimp

Seared Chipotle Shrimp is actually a part of a larger recipe, called Chilled Avocado Soup with Seared Chipotle Shrimp. The soup really didn’t appeal to us, so we’ve never tried it, but the shrimp sounded really good. It is just on the edge of being too spicy for the kids, but they do like this shrimp. The shrimp gets sauteed with fresh corn cut off the cob, which the kids are less crazy about. Leftover sauteed corn goes nicely in a breakfast burrito with eggs for breakfast the next day. Since we don’t do the soup that the shrimp is supposed to go on top of, we like to eat it with a nice salad; something with a sweet note pairs nicely with the spice of the shrimp, such as Massaged Kale Salad.