Monday, November 30, 2009

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and fast food, my way!

Thank you so much for all the lovely comments on my One Year Blogoversary!

I made this recipe about a month ago. That's how far behind I am in blogging. I'm out the door at 6:45am every weekday, and home about 11 hours later.  I usually jump into making dinner right away, and if I have a little time to myself-- I try to catch up on what the rest of my food blogging friends have been posting.

This is a really quick post, tonight. So, I thought I'd share how I cook on a work night, with all of you.  That's why I won't have a recipe written out, like I usually do.  I think this is an easy dinner, that's more about technique and not being afraid to season your food. When I'm cooking fast, I don't measure. I taste... add a little seasoning at a time, and one final time before plating.

I'm not a fan of Brussel sprout, but my husband is.  I thought I'd try roasting them, with the attitude that I was going to work on eating more of these funny lookin' vegetables. I always thought of them as miniature cabbages, which I hated as a kid. For the record, I like cabbage, now.

I've blogged how I keep my bacon frozen. I sliced some and started to render the fat in my cast iron skillet.

I shoved the bacon off to the side, and placed the cut Brussel sprouts, face down. On medium-high heat, I let these brown for a minute or two...

I like to season with kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper. Just a sprinkle... and into a preheated oven at 400F they go. They take between 10-15 minutes to be cooked with a golden color.

On another burner, I've heated some olive oil.  I belong to the club, where I don't sear with extra virgin olive oil. I use EVOO more as a dressing or finishing oil. That's what I've heard a lot of reputable chefs say, and so that's what I do.  The oil is hot, so I put two pork chops in, seasoned with kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper only.  That goes into the oven, next to the Brussel sprouts.  How long? Oh, 7-8 minutes. I always cook by temperature. 140F is good for us.

I found some yams, which I peeled and cooked and mashed. No sugar. Just a splash of OJ and a pinch of salt.  The chops got removed, and covered in foil. On a whim, I quickly cooked some sliced apples with a little bit of apple cider and water, and a dash of cinnamon. Then I deglazed the pan with some apple cider, a splash of dry white wine (sauvignon blanc) for a simple pan sauce.

In less than 30 minutes, we had dinner. This is my idea of fast food-- not from a drive-thru, but by learning a few techniques like roasting veggies and searing meat.  Pan sauces, to me, are flavorful and an easy way to clean the pan-- that's what deglazing is all about! Overall, the meal was healthy-- well, the bacon might be negotiable.  In my world, bacon makes everything taste great. My husband loves bacon on and with anything!

I liked the Brussel sprouts, too!  They had a nice nutty flavor, with the bacon... yeah, I ate a healthy serving of them.   I think this would be a great way to convince someone to try Brussel sprouts. It's so much better than my childhood memories of boiled Brussel sprouts. How I used to dread it when my mother made them that way.

I'm signing off early, tonight. I still have two bread recipes and a few other meals I've made, that I've yet to share. My leftover turkey meat is frozen. I don't see me having much time to make the recipes that I have planned until this weekend.

Night all!

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

My One Year Anniversary as a Food Blogger. What fun!


It's amazing how fast one year can fly-- SNAP-- just like that! It was a year ago, today, that I sat with my laptop and created a blog called "A Feast for the Eyes".  I  thought that a blog would be an efficient way for me to store recipes, with photos, that I could share with friends and family members.  I also  remember handing my husband our digital camera and asking him to take some photos for me-- because I didn't feel confident that I could take a decent picture.  For the first few weeks, I copied other people's photos-- making sure to give them credit-- and I didn't really expect to receive a comment. In truth, I secretly hoped that someone would find my blog.

I began to find food blogs that I was impressed with, and I started to leave comments. Still, visitors to my blog were few and far  between-- and I was lucky to get just one comment. It was usually from a friend I had sent the link to. One of the first food blogger friends I ever met was Stacey, of Stacey Snacks. I was so surprised when she responded to one of my comments!  As the weeks rolled by, I began to chat with other food bloggers and the addiction took on a life of it's own. I was hooked on food blogging!

One day, my husband showed me  how to use the macro feature (so that's what that little flower icon is!), and I began to learn how to work with natural lighting and to get the hang of zooming in on the food-- not the darn plate, or kitchen counter!  For the record, Craig is lucky if I let him touch the camera, these days!

Here's the very first photo I ever took of a food dish-- talk about underexposed and flash photography! Yikes! It was for a shrimp fried rice recipe that remains at ZERO comments!  I had a lot to learn about photography, at this time.

Someday, I'll re-do this photo, because the recipe is quite tasty. I'm smiling to myself at how much I've learned about natural lighting-- and I never, EVER, use flash photography anymore.

I think this shot of a Sugar Bar Cookie was my "Aha" moment on using the macro lens and natural light. It took almost three months for me to get the hang of photographing food. 

My #1 most viewed recipe remains my "Blue plate Meatloaf Recipe". It amazes me how many people love meatloaf, because it's googled every single day!
My photography was beginning to improve, by now...

In the year that I've been blogging, I have been inspired by so many of you. I have conquered my fear of making new recipes for the very first time and it's been so much fun sharing my results.

I made my first souffle' ever, and that was a lot of fun for me to try, as part of the Barefoot Bloggers group, that I recently joined.

I made my first (and last) tomato puree, from our homegrown tomatoes. What a pain that was! But, at least I can say that I did it. The soup was great, though. 

One of my greatest accomplishments was teaching myself how to do my own canning. My garage has a cache of homemade strawberry jam, olallieberry jam, fig jam, apricot-pineapple and raspberry jam.  This is the one and only photo that made it to Tastespotting, by the way! I haven't had a single photo accepted by them,since!

Ah, yes! Here's the "never uploaded" photo of my Rainbow Cake at the Wilton Cake Decorating Class.  I flunked.  I couldn't make a Wilton rose that didn't look like a wilted cabbage. I ate most of my homework, literally. I learned to conquer the fear of a piping bag, and have an impressive assortment of decorator tips.  I'll leave the artwork photos to the better bakers in blogosphere. I can bake a moist cake, but mine would probably be featured on the hilarious blog, Cake Wrecks.

My one year Blogoversary is an important milestone for me, so I've decided that I wanted to give recognition to some of the many followers and friends I've made in one year.  In other words, I wanted to spotlight some of the people who have made my one year of food blogging so much fund and so rewarding--

"Food Bloggers I would love to be invited to their home for dinner".

I am mentioning these lovely people, because they consistently  cook in the style and with the ingredients that I love!

Stacey, of Stacey Snacks-- thanks for all your delightful emails and for inspiring me on what to to add, and to not add, to my recipes.  Thank you, too, for teaching me how to spell r-a-s-p-b-e-r-r-y, so that I could correct it when I posted about these beautiful berries. . My whole life, I always thought is was rasberries. Who knew?

Mary, of One Perfect Bite-- She's a master of recipes and photography. I would feel so honored to personally eat one of her meals-- let alone, follow her around in a kitchen. Love her blog!

George Gaston, of A nod is as good as a wink to blind horse".  If I wasn't so madly in-love with my husband, and so happily married, I'd be winking at you, George! You're an equestrian, like me, and I love your recipes.  One day, I'd love to know what made you choose the longest name for a food blog I've ever seen!

Phoo-D - Her photography is beautiful. She's so talented and diverse with her recipes. Her blog deserves more recognition and I hope that you will pay her a visit. I've made some of her recipes, and they're terrific.

Marie, of Proud Italian Cook - She's royalty, in my eyes, in Blogosphere. Beautiful photographs, and she's inspiring me to learn to make more Italian dishes. I feel so honored when she pops into my blog kitchen, and leaves such sweet comments.

Special acknowledgment and special hugs goes to: 

Monica, of Lick the Bowl Good.  This summer, when I had lots of time to blog and chat with friends, we exchanged a flurry of email.  She's young enough to be my daughter, and I'm so proud of her maturity and talent.  Like me, she doesn't have a fancy high-end camera. But her photos are always artistic and her desserts-- wow, she's so creative and talented!  I would love to be the recipient of one of her beautiful cakes.
She is very near and dear to my heart.

Food & Baking Blog that deserves to be noticed
Frieda, of "Lovin' From the Oven" - This lovely lady can bake. She has great tutorials and I hope to have her guest blogging on "A Feast for the Eyes" in the near future. She's very talented and friendly, too.

Funny, funny, food blogger:

The Kitchen Witch - I almost spit coffee reading her Thanksgiving food rant.  I warn you, though-- this is not G-Rated, but it's Erma Bombeck with some sass.  I'm addicted to her style of writing-- hilarious.

There are so many people whose blogs I love visiting, and who are such loyal visitors to mine-- Many of you are on my blog roll, because I don't want to miss a single posting. I wish I could list all of you!   I hope that each and every person, who takes the time to visit me and to leave a comments, realizes how appreciative I am of you.  I try to visit your blogs, if you're brand new to me. It's fun to see who you are and what you're cooking, or baking.

If I didn't mention your name-- Donna of My Tasty Treasures, Kim of Stirring the Pot, Kate of  A Spoonful of Thyme, Roz, Mattie, Ingrid, "Pie Oh My"...oh, I feel like I'm at the Academy Awards, and the music is starting to play!  Thank you for making this year so much fun.

I want to give a present to someone, as my way of saying "thanks" for making me feel so special. I wish I could send one to each of you, but I didn't win the lottery.  I wish I had the budget that Pioneer Woman does, and I could give away a fancy Kitchen Aid Stand...or a set of All-Clad pans. But, I want to share some of my favorite things. I want to giveaway something I think any "foodie" would appreciate.

I think I chose the perfect prize for a giveaway.  I want to give a $40.00 gift card to shop at one of my very favorite shopping websites-- King Arthur Flour!  This is a toy store for me-- I could go crazy buying so many things. I subscribe to their blog "Baker's Banter", which is very well done. They're customer service is excellent, as well as their baker's hotline. Have a question? They'll answer it, with courtesy.

I love this stoneware baking pan, that I bought from them.

I buy their parchment paper, perfect cut to fit my cookie sheets. So handy!

These white sugar sparkles make cookie and puff pastry baking so much fun.

I love their special ingredients for baking-- that really work! I can't find them in stores, and I just love them.

King Arthur Flour has generously offered to include one bag of their White Whole Wheat Flour with my giveaway.   If you have never tried King Arthur Flour products, then you are missing out! Honestly, this is the only brand that I buy, now.   

All you need to do to be entered to win the $40.00 King Arthur Flour Online Gift Card (pictured above) and a bag of White Whole Wheat Flour is to leave a comment and answer this one question:

Who is your favorite chef, and if they were coming to visit you-- what is the signature dish you would make for them?  As many of you know, I got to meet Tyler Florence last September-- seriously, I got to really meet him, as in talk to him and he said he'd been to my blog!  I even got to taste a plate of beautiful food he made, while he watched my trembling hands try to eat like a lady. My answer to my own question is-- if I was going to cook for Tyler Florence, I'd make my Austrian Goulash and all the side dishes to go with it. I think it's my comfort zone and signature dish. Sorry, Tyler, Ina Garten remains pretty high on my list of favorite chefs-- and Huber Keller, too. So, how about you?

I will announce the winner on Wednesday, December 2nd.  One entry per person, please. Valid to United States only, sorry.  If you TWEET my giveaway, or mention it on your blog (please email your permalink or TWITTER address; mine is @foodiewife) or to foodiewife (at), you'll get two entries.

Monday, November 30th, Muneeba and I will announce the two winners of a copy of "The Pioneer Woman Cooks" cookbook (even if you own a copy, this will make a great Christmas gift).  So, don't forget to enter by tomorrow!  See the Blog Badge on the left sidebar and click to JUMP to that new food blog. Oh, yes! Muneeba, of An Edible Symphony!  Here's another delightful and funny food blogger who is co-hosting "Foodie Fans of the Pioneer Woman Cooks".  Thanks, Muneeba, for your help.

Thanks again, for making food blogging so much fun! I still want to learn how to make German stollen, biscottti and to improve my cake decorating skills.  The inspiration to keep blogging about what I'm making for my husband-- and son, who visits us-- is to share my successes and new discoveries. My pictorial format is what I enjoy most-- if I can inspire a beginner cook to break free of processed foods and to try something new-- it's all worth the time and effort of photographing, editing and writing.

I have to thank my husband-- Craig-- for his support and patience with me and my food blog.  He has learned to patiently wait while I photograph his dinner. You're the best, Sweetie! XOXO

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Pioneer Woman's Sweet Potato Casserole or is it a Dessert Crisp? You be the judge...

It's no secret that I love sweet potatoes.  I've seen this casserole recipe in various cookbooks, but it was the Pioneer Woman's blog that finally convinced me to try this recipe.  I zeroed in on this sweet potato casserole for two reasons-- it looked simple, and I had lots of pecans (do you say PEE-CANS or PE-KAHNS?).  I wondered if my family would miss my Candied Yams (with melted marshmallows on half to appease the grownup kids) , but this year, I wanted to be different.  P-Dub always does a great tutorial, but once again-- let me show you how I did it:
Technically, these are Garnet Yams.  Wash 'em and I like to poke a few holes in the top.

In the meantime, let's make the topping. You can do this at any stage of making this, but I'm all about efficiency. It's the German in me, I think.

One cup of pecans, and 1 cup of brown sugar...

Chop the pecans-- fine, but not too fine (hence, I didn't use the food processor).

You need 3/4 of a stick of butter, and 1/2 cup of flour. You know the drill-- a pastry cutter, two knives, your fingers...whatever works for you. Mix it, till crumbly. Set it aside, or you can even make this a day ahead.

Roast these babies at 375F for 30-35 minutes, or until fork tender. I love to roast vegetables; they make everything taste so much better. Why would anyone buy canned Yams? I don't get it!

These are roasted perfectly. Let them cool long enough so you don't burn your hands.

Cut them in half and scoop out the "meat". I like to use an ice cream scoop. A spoon works fine, too.

I was "fasting" for dinner, but I ate some of the skins and pulp. Yams are good for you-- and it's guilt-free. Well, in this state it is-- I'm about to go down the road of sin, Pioneer Woman Style.

You need two eggs, whisked. Kosher salt. Vanilla. Not imitation stuff, but real vanilla, please. I decided to add just a teenie weenie bit of pumpkin pie spice-- less than 1/2 teaspoon. That's not in P-Dub's recipe.

 Now, for the white sugar. 1 cup of it.  NOTE: The next time I make this (and I shall), I will use half the white sugar, but it's up to you.

Now, let's talk about texture.  I don't like my yams to be like baby food puree'.  I like it a little chunky.  I'm also quick to take good shortcuts. Instead of a masher, I used a hand mixer. I broke it down just enough to be slightly chunky. Now add the eggs and the milk...

I decided to make these as individual ramekins. With the leftover yams, I poured it into a larger dish...just in case I needed it.

Green is my favorite color.  I found these ramekins at Kohl's Online and they're by Rachel Ray. Surfing the net, with my purse close by is a very dangerous thing.

Sprinkle the sweet potatoes/yams with the topping...

I made these in the morning, to I put them in the refrigerator until dinnertime which was at 5:30.
When you're ready, bake these at 400F for about 30 minutes.

These smell incredibly good. I wish I could describe it other than "yummy"!

A hush came over the dinner table when this was tasted.  Eyes lit up.  Who needs marshmallows?!

This is one of those side dishes that you want to devour all at once. The concensus was that this very sweet-- almost a dessert.  I think the white sugar could easily be decreased, without sacrificing good flavor. But, you decide yourself.  Is this a side dish or dessert?

I think it's both.  I had extra pecan topping.  Hmmmm, I have pears and cranberries. I think this would make a delicious crumble!  I have to give some credit to George Gaston of " A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse" for also inspiring me to make this recipe. You see, he posted his mother's version of this (pretty close) and he was the once who suggested serving this in individual ramekins. Thanks, George!

You can print the recipe, at the very bottom of this posting. If you're reading this via email/feed burner, you'll need to jump to my blog to do this.

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