Brussels Sprout, Walnut & Pesto Pizza on Whole Wheat Crust

Our first daytrip as a married couple went awry when we found ourselves sitting in an empty restaurant somewhere in the Croatian countryside, starving, and staring at an indecipherable menu.

The drive through the top corner of Croatia and neighbouring Slovenia had been beautiful, but about two hours past lunchtime, we were desperate. We hadn’t bothered to pack anything to eat from our villa back in Lake Balaton region of Hungary, planning to stop along the way and sample the local fare. After all, half the fun of spontaneous travel is tasting the regional cuisine; the only trouble was, we hadn’t seen anything other than the occasional farmhouse.

As our rented Opel Astra bumped along the absurdly narrow roads, I kept busy looking for a roadside restaurant or any sign of food. We finally pulled into a gravel parking lot where a low building flashed a neon Pizza sign in the window. Pizza? That was unexpected, but to us at the time it sounded glorious.

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Preserved Lemon Quinoa with Shaved Brussels, Toasted Walnuts

So we find ourselves at the beginning of a new year, which is the time everyone resolves to eat better, get fit, improve their relationships and financial situations, and find an occupation with purpose.

Not one for resolutions myself, I am fond of the clean slate idea. A new year for a more intentional way of living. For me, while I do well feeding my family and friends – I even named my own website to that end – I find it more difficult to take care of myself.

I am more than capable of packing up four separate lunches for the kids and sending them out the door, but when it comes to tearing myself away from work and my to-do list at lunchtime, I am prone to simple snacking or skipping it altogether. It’s almost as if I associate the care and feeding of myself as a social activity best done with others.
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Brussels Sprouts Nachos

That’s quite a mouthful, don’t you think?

We had a little debate in our home. Do you say ‘Brussels Sprouts Nachos’ or ‘Brussels Sprout Nachos’? The latter rolls off the tongue a little easier, but I think the former is correct.

It’s hard to know for sure; I haven’t seen any recipes like this before. It came about one evening last week when Danny worked late and I fed ‘n bed the kids, then we convened for a bite of supper together. It was hardly a date night, with both of our laptops open, but the silence was blissful all the same.

Uninspired to cook, I scrounged for our dinner and came up with half a bag of black bean tortilla chips, extra sharp cheddar, the remains of a Thai pepper…and a basket of firm, young brussels sprouts.

Brussels sprouts nachos is now a thing in our house. Or rather, Zesty Lime Brussels Sprouts Nachos with Sharp Cheddar and Black Bean Tortilla Chips.

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Honey Pomegranate Glazed Brussels Sprouts

All of the Thanksgiving dinners we attend (three in total, the first happening back in October) are large, with the total mouths-to-feed count hovering around 25. As such, no one person is ever left with the sole responsibility of making a meal to feed the crowd. Instead, we communally share the job, signing up for dishes and drinks, each bringing the classics or surprising everyone with a bit of a twist and a deviation from the norm.

There will always be plenty of green bean casserole, and the hosting party provides a giant roast bird, possibly even a ham depending on the side of the family. Warmed bread is served slathered in soft butter, and a bright array of side salads and vegetables run down the center of the table. Potatoes are mashed and aunts and cousins argue over whether they should be laced with garlic or kept plain jane for their gravy river.

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Roasting Vegetables 101: Simple, Seasonal Side Dishes

We’ve been reveling in the recent fall weather; getting out for frequent walks, sitting around the fire down at the back of our property, and relishing the cooler temperatures and lack of bugs. When my husband and I think back to the stress of last fall – buying and selling a house, a sick child, and career shifts – we’re even more grateful for the calm that this season holds for us. Sure, it is busy, but there is a constant peace in our home life now that refuses to be ruffled, even as the bustle of the holidays approaches.

Now that it feels like the autumn chill is here to stay, I like nothing better than coming indoors from invigorating play and cranking up the oven to warm the kitchen – and roast vegetables for the night’s dinner.

Side dishes don’t get much simpler than roasted vegetables. Three ingredients – fresh produce, salt and olive oil – are all that is needed to transform the vegetables from crisper drawer contents to elegant side dish.

The other all-important element? High heat. It brings out the flavors of the vegetables, enhances their natural sweetness, and crisps up the edges into tantalizing bites.
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