Winter Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Winter-brussels-sprouts

Winter just began 3 weeks ago and after all the holidays are over I’m still celebrating winter veggies and their leafy, hardy deliciousness– starting with Brussels sprouts. Roasted, steamed, seared, and fried- Brussels sprouts can be sharp and savory or caramelized and sweet. I prefer my Brussels sprouts to be crisp and seared on the outside or roasted to perfection.

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There are so many combinations possible for these tiny cruciferous cabbage heads. I’ve braised them in balsamic and topped with creamy goat cheese, roasted them and added crispy bacon, or shaved them for a winter slaw. Ever since I had Trader Joe’s Blue Cheese and Pecan Spread (don’t worry Publix you’re still #1 in my book), I have wanted to replicate some of those flavors with roasted Brussels sprouts.

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Oven-roasted Brussels sprouts with red onions are tossed in lemon and maple syrup and topped with blue cheese and toasted pecans. You can add guanciale or pancetta as great alternatives to bacon (or just use bacon) if you like or dried cranberries for a sweeter approach. I served the roasted Brussels sprouts with Blue Cheese and Pecans with maple rosemary pork tenderloin.

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Great-for-hoildays-or-cold-winters

Winter Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • ½ large red onion sliced
  • ½ cup toasted pecan halves and pieces
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Add crisp pancetta, guanciale, bacon, dried cranberries, or orange segments (optional

Salt a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Once boiling blanch the Brussels sprouts for 3 minutes or so. Rinse under cool water or place in an ice bath to stop them from cooking. Preheat the oven to 400F. Trim and halve the Brussels sprouts. Slice the onion and toss with the olive oil, maple syrup, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Allow the sprouts and onions to sit marinating for 15-30 minutes. Drain the excess marinade and save for drizzling later.

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Roast the Brussels sprouts and red onions until golden and caramelized about 25-30 minutes. Serve the roasted Brussels sprouts warm topped with the toasted pecans and crumbled blue cheese (or any other additions you choose). Squeeze a little fresh lemon on top to garnish the roasted brussels sprouts and add some of the marinade on top.

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Mise-for-sprouts

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Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

baked-butternut-squash-mac-and-cheese

Butternut squash mac and cheese topped with golden crunchy panko bread crumbs and rich aromatic rosemary makes for a creamy, nutty, and healthy(ier) Thanksgiving side- or just a nice fall dish. One that makes you feel cozy and comfy as nights become cooler and forgotten warm winter coats are reluctantly remembered. Since I was a kid I have been making the macaroni and cheese recipe from Betty Crocker’s Cook Book for Boys and Girls. I have mentioned this tattered and loved cookbook before, whose recipes I still use in modified extent.

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For the butternut squash mac and cheese I replaced the macaroni for roasted butternut squash, added a bit of depth with spices and rosemary, and crunch with the toasted panko bread crumbs. The butternut squash was perfectly tender and well-coated in the sharp cheddar cheese sauce. I like to use a shallow dish to maximize surface area for lots of crisp rosemary panko. Roasted butternut squash mac and cheese is fitting for a feast like Thanksgiving or if you’re feeling fancy, just a nice Tuesday night dinner.

butternut-squash-mac-and-cheese

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

  • 2 lb butternut squash peeled, cored, and diced
  • 2 tsp melted butter or ghee
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 small diced white onion
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp dried ground mustard
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 12 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese, 2 oz set aside for topping
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 sprig rosemary chopped

Preheat the oven to 400F. Peel the butternut squash, cut it in half, and core out the seeds. Dice the squash into nice little cubes for your butternut squash mac and cheese. Toss the diced butternut squash with the butter or ghee and sea salt. Roast the butternut squash for about 20 minutes or until almost done through. I opened the oven at 10 minutes and stirred the squash so it wouldn’t stick to the cast iron skillet. I like to use the skillet for aesthetics, but this would be easily done in a glass pyrex dish 9×13 would probably work best.

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While the squash is roasting make the cheddar cheese sauce starting with the roux. I didn’t get to take great pictures of this step because my kitchen lighting is dismal. Melt the butter on medium to low heat and cook the onion until soft and tender. Add the flour and stir well, add the spices and allow the roux base to toast slightly for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. Stir in the zebra white and yellow shredded cheddar and cook over low heat until sauce is thickened. Grate the nutmeg into the sauce and stir.

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Add the butternut squash to the cheese sauce and gently stir. You want to keep the squash in neat little cubes. Add the butternut squash and cheese back into the cast iron skillet (or pyrex you roasted the squash in). I hate doing dishes so I try to use as few as possible! Mix the panko bread crumbs, rosemary, and the extra side of cheddar cheese. Top the butternut squash with the bread crumb mixture and bake for an extra 10 minutes until nice and golden brown on top. Butternut squash macaroni and cheese is a great Thanksgiving side dish.

delicious-butternut-squash-mac-and-cheese

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Yuca Frita with Cilantro Garlic Sauce Recipe

Yuca-FritaYuca-with-CIlantro-Garlic-Sauce

Crispy yuca frita is another Cuban favorite that is great fried or boiled and served with garlic. The boiled yuca is called yuca hervida, and I’ll make that another time. This time I made yuca frita. Delicious crispy fried yuca frita with a tangy lime cilantro garlic dipping sauce. This is the perfect side item or afternoon snack. Yuca have a distinct flavor and are wonderfully crispy on the outside, and creamy soft on the inside. Yuca frita are pretty much Cuban french fries.

Cilantro-Garlic-Sauce Finished-sauce

Any Miami native has had delicious varieties of cilantro garlic sauce, but everyone knows Pollo Tropical‘s is the best. Cilantro garlic dipping sauce is the perfect condiment for this starchy root vegetable.  I love yuca in every which way, Versailles also makes yuca encrusted picadillo that looks like a croqueta, drizzled with cilantro garlic sauce. It. Is. Amazing. I’m telling you, do not be intimidated by yuca’s rough bark exterior, you can always take a short cut and buy the frozen yuca in your local supermarket.

        Yuca-Frita

Crispy Yuca Frita

1 large Yuca (the one pictured served yielded 22 pieces enough to feed 4-5)
Oil for frying (I used vegetable oil)
Sea salt and lime for garnish

Cilantro Garlic Sauce**********

***********I now use a new recipe. This is the original recipe I posted, but I have now perfected the recipe after trial and error the link is here.

1 container Fage Greek Yogurt
4 roasted garlic cloves
1 bunch cilantro
1 tbsp green Tabasco
3 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lime (or more to taste)
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp cayenne
Salt to taste

Begin to prep the yuca and cilantro garlic sauce. First, set a large pot of salted water to boil. Peel the outside of the yucca well with a peeler, clean thoroughly and pat dry. Cut the yuca into 2 inch by ½ inch thick rectangles. When the water is boiling add the yuca and boil for 20 minutes or until fork tender. Take the yuca out and lightly dry. Now is your opportunity to remove the fibrous center, gently remove this with a fork and discard. Cut the thick pieces in quarters.

Unpeeled-Yuca Chop-Yuca Stacked-Yuca

Heat 2 inches of canola oil in a pan to fry the yuca. The yuca took surprisingly long to get nice and crispy, but it is worth the wait. In my opinion the crispier the better! Squeeze a lime wedge over the yuca and sprinkle with sea salt. I plated both dishes with five yuca frita.  If you are cooking for more people then cook the yuca in batches and place in the oven to keep hot and crispy.

Fry-the-YucaUp-Close-Fried-Yuca

Now make the cilantro garlic sauce. Add the roughly torn cilantro, lime juice, garlic, onion powder, sugar, olive oil, cayenne, salt and pepper, and Greek yogurt to the Cuisinart food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.

                     Hot-and-Crispy

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