Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sweet Potato Casserole

I know, some of you probably don't like sweet potatoes.  I wasn't a big fan either but then I tried this recipe and I'm a fan now - a big one.  Even my husband, who wouldn't get near them with a 10 foot pole before, will eat these.  The problem with this dish is that at Thanksgiving there is so much to eat and you never really get your fill of it.  I recommend you make this and enjoy a bowl of it just on it's own.  That's how good it is.  That's what I did for lunch today.  I enjoyed a nice helping of this casserole.  You could say it's almost like dessert and depending on how much sugar you add, it probably should be.  I cut back a bit on the sugar and didn't miss it.  In fact, I felt less guilty eating it now.  

This holiday we're headed to Southern California for Thanksgiving.  My parents live there and my brother and his family are visiting from Oregon so it will be a fun few days catching up and eating good food.  This casserole is usually on our table at Thanksgiving.  As with most families, we have our customary favorites and it just wouldn't be the same without them...especially the leftovers.

For the sweet potatoes, I baked them but you can boil them on the stove like you do when making mash potatoes.  If you bake them, just wash, poke some holes in them and place them on a baking sheet.  I set my oven at 375 degrees and tested them at an hour.  If the knife goes in really easily they're done.  If not, leave them in and check on them every 15 minutes or so.  I just think they come out even sweeter when baked.  Let them cool, peel the skin off and then mash them up with a fork or throw it all in the food processor (minus the skins). 

Sweet Potato Casserole

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (if you like it sweeter, add another 1/2 cup)
1/2 Cup Flour
1 Cup chopped pecans
1/3 Stick Butter, melted            
Sweet Potato Mixture:
3 Cups Mashed Sweet Potatoes (about 4 sweet potatoes)
1/2 cup sugar (add an extra 1/2 cup if like it sweeter)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup half and half (or evaporated milk)
4 tablespoons melted butter

For the topping, combine the brown sugar, flour, nuts and melted butter in a mixing bowl and mix until combined and crumbly.  

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs, milk and butter in a mixing bowl and mix well (You could also do this in the food processor instead of mashing your sweet potatoes).  Pour the sweet potato mixture into a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the nut mixture.  Bake for 30 minutes.  It's best if you let it sit for 30 minutes before serving.  Serves 8.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Easy Cheesy Brussel Sprouts

It 's been a busy week.  I'm back to work full time.  I'm lucky though as I'm working from home and commuting only two days a week.  It's working out great.  The only challenge right now is figuring out how to find time to clean, cook, do Christmas shopping, run errands, see friends and relax.  I think I was off work too long and now I'm struggling to figure out how to be the perfect woman and do it all - and I don't even have kids.  My hat's off to those of you who do.
Last weekend, my mom, the other half of Two True Foodies, came to visit.  We trekked into the city (San Francisco) for the annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival.  It was our first blogger experience and boy did we rough it - there was free food and drink everywhere!

We enjoyed tasting food from local restaurants in San Francisco, a cooking class with Mary Sue Milliken (who used to have a show on the food network called Two Hot Tamales), a photography class ... but the best part was meeting other food bloggers from all over the U.S.  I even met my blogger idol who inspired me to start this blog.  Her name is Heidi Swanson from 101 Cookbooks.  I was so excited to see her there that I'm sure I made a blubbering fool out of myself when I went running up to her and her man, Wayne.  Both were really, really nice and great to talk too.

My mom and I came home inspired to continue cooking, sharing and learning more so that we can share our cooking experiences with you in the best possible way.

On to my Easy Cheesy Brussel Sprouts!  I didn't grow up eating brussel sprouts, but as I got older I kept hearing about all the different ways people cooked them and curiosity got the better of me.  Of course, I don't cook them the usual way, which is by keeping them whole.  When I made them for the first time I figured that I'd be more likely to like them if I shredded them and added some yummy ingredients ... and guess what?  It worked!
If you're not a big fan of brussel sprouts, try this recipe.  It's really delicious and easy once you've done all the slicing.  They're similar to cabbage in that that they cook really quickly once you get them in the pan.  They also really cook down so get more than you think you need.  This recipe is full of flavor and it's a great vegetable side dish.  I think it will become one of your favorites.  Stay tuned though because next on my list is to try a similar recipe with pancetta.  How bad can that be? 
You need about 24 of these babies.

Slice them up.  Don't worry about being precise.  Just slice them any which way, but watch your fingers!

Add some olive oil (and butter if you like) and saute the brussel sprouts until you see a little browning occur and you start smelling a lovely aroma coming from them.  Add stock, put the lid on and  - voila!  In about 3-4 minutes, they're ready.  Just add the cheese and enjoy!

Easy Cheesy Brussel Sprouts

24 Brussel Sprouts or one package of Trader Joe's Brussel Sprouts, cleaned and sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (you can find it by the Parmesan cheese in the grocery store).  I get a big block of it at Costco, cut it into chunks and freeze it for when I need it.
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Fried Onions as garnish (optional)

In a saute pan over medium heat, melt butter and add olive oil.  When hot, add sprouts to pan.  Add salt and pepper, then stir to combine.  Saute about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When you smell them and see some browning occur, add stock and stir until combined.  Cover and turn down heat to medium/low.  After about 3-4 minutes, uncover and add cheese.  My favorite garnish is top them with some fried onions from Trader Joes.  Here's a picture of them.  You can get these at a regular grocery store too.  Serves 4.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Meatloaf with Feta and Sundried Tomatoes

I have been meaning to post this recipe for a while.  It's one of my favorites but I have to say it's hard to get a good picture of meatloaf.  I tried my best.  Trust me though - the picture doesn't do it justice.  It's really good.  This is one of the few meatloaf recipes I've had where I didn't reach for the ketchup.  It really holds its own with all of it's flavorful ingredients.  The feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes really pack a punch of flavor.  I have been going through recipes lately looking for some favorite dinner recipes to share with you.  I know how hard it is to come up with something good every night of the week.  This recipe is sure to become a favorite.

I got this recipe from the cookbook, Giada at Home by Giada De Laurentiis.  It's great because it will work with ground chicken, beef or turkey.  I have tried both turkey and beef and each turned out great.  The picture above is made with ground beef.  Just make sure you cook the chicken and turkey meatloaf thoroughly.  The only changes I made to this recipe is that I used seasoned breadcrumbs and added some onion.

Another great thing about meatloaf is that it's great for leftovers.  You can just heat it up again in the microwave or oven, or add a slice to a sandwich.  It's great with mash potatoes but any side works with it.  One tip is to not over mix the ingredients.  Add all the ingredients to the bowl and then mix it all together using your hands.  It's much easier and fun too!  Just mix until combined.  This will keep your meatloaf tender.

Meatloaf with Feta and Sun-dried Tomatoes

1 lb. ground meat - turkey, beef or chicken
1/2 cup seasoned dried bread crumbs
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped garlic and herb marinated sun-dried tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.  

In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients until just combined.  Place into loaf pan.  If you're using chicken or turkey, cook until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees 40-45 minutes.  My beef meatloaf took 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.  If there is any fat on top, use a paper towel to remove.  Slice and serve.  Serves 4.

Adapted from Giada at Home
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