glazed goodness

With a title like that you’d expect for this post to be about donuts, right?  Nope.  Afraid not.  I’m talking about glazed vegetables, people.  Might not sound quite as exciting, but I can guarantee they are (nearly) as tasty.

I made this recipe for Thanksgiving a few years back and remember that it was quite the hit.  I believe one of the little kids at the meal referred to the parsnips as “white carrots.”  It was cute.  And parsnips kind of do look like white carrots but don’t so much taste like them.  Where carrots are sweet, parsnips are a little sharp.

The hardest part about this dish is cutting the carrots and parsnips up into little matchsticks but after that it is a breeze and is cooked entirely on the stove-top, thus freeing up space in your oven on T-day for other important dishes like stuffing and the turkey.

You simply cook down the carrots and parsnips in some olive oil with salt and pepper and then add butter, honey, and rosemary after they are tender for the glazing.  Sweet and hardy with a little bite from the parsnips and nice scent and flavor from the rosemary.  I highly recommend it for your Thanksgiving this year, or even just as part of a quick weeknight meal.

Sauteed Parsnips and Carrots with Honey and Rosemary (recipe found at www.epicurious.com)

Yield: Makes 8 servings

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound carrots (about 4 large), peeled, cut into 3×1/4×1/4-inch sticks
  • 1 pound large parsnips, peeled, halved lengthwise, cored, cut into 3×1/4×1/4-inch sticks
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey (such as heather, chestnut, or wildflower)

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots and parsnips. Sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to brown at edges, about 12 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Add butter, rosemary, and honey to vegetables. Toss over medium heat until heated through and vegetables are glazed, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired.

what’s up doc?

Sometimes I like to tell myself that incorporating healthy things like vegetables into baked goods makes them less bad for you.  Seems logical, right?

Well, maybe by the time you add the butter and the sugar that’s not always the case but it sure makes me feel better about stuffing myself with a treat such as these inside-out carrot cake cookie sandwiches.

That’s a mouthful in more ways than one.  The cookies have shredded carrots (obvi), raisins, and walnuts (if you so desire; I happen to think nuts [with few exceptions] ruin desserts).  They are hardy and cinnamon-y and make your kitchen smell like a cozy fall afternoon.  Guaranteed.

The filling is two simple ingredients: cream cheese and honey.  I substituted Mascarpone cheese for cream cheese as I have been wont to do lately.  It complimented the sweeter cookie quite nicely.

I have tagged these as being appropriate for Thanksgiving.  I made them a few years ago for the young ones in case they weren’t into pecan and pumpkin pie like I wasn’t when I was their age, and adults ate them just the same.  I mean, who doesn’t love carrot cake?

Inside-Out Carrot Cake Cookies (recipe found at www.epicurious.com)

Yield: Makes about 13 cookies

  • 1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup coarsely grated carrots (2 medium)
  • 1 scant cup walnuts (3 ounces), chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (I substituted Mascarpone cheese instead)
  • 1/4 cup honey

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 2 baking sheets.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in carrots, nuts, and raisins at low speed, then add flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Drop 1 1/2 tablespoons batter per cookie 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are lightly browned and springy to the touch, 12 to 16 minutes total. Cool cookies on sheets on racks 1 minute, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

While cookies are baking, blend cream cheese and honey in a food processor until smooth.

Sandwich flat sides of cookies together with a generous tablespoon of cream cheese filling in between.

frozen meals vs. good old home-cooking

Tonight I ate a frozen burrito for dinner.  It’s true.  The fact of the matter is that during the week I eat like a total bachelor most nights, heating up something from my freezer or piecing together a meal out of whatever I can scrape together from the fridge and pantry which usually means hard-boiled eggs on toast or crackers and smoked salmon spread.  Lately I’ve been juicing a lot of produce up and calling that dinner, but tonight I had no fresh fruit or juice-worthy vegetables (the thought of juiced Brussels sprouts is just not even remotely appetizing…) so that is where the frozen burrito came in.  At least it was of the spinach and tofu variety so I managed to get vegetables into my day somehow.

On the weekends, however, I eat like a queen.  (Most of the time.)  A few weeks ago I made a lovely pot roast with potatoes, carrots and onions.  The rub for the roast consisted of cumin, coriander, ginger, fresh black pepper, salt and a hint of cayenne.  That paired with thinly sliced garlic inserted into the roast made for a mighty tasty hunk of meat.  And you gotta love the way the meat flavors the vegetables when you cook them all together in one big pan…

The memory of it almost makes up for tonight’s microwaved meal… almost.

Roast Beef with Root Vegetables (from “Bon Appetit: Keep it Simple, Easy Techniques for Great Home Cooking”)

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • ¾ salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 ½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 8 medium carrots, peeled, cut diagonally into 2-inch lengths
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  3- to 3 ¼-pound beef eye of round roast
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place first 3 ingredients in heavy small plastic bag.  Using meat mallet or rolling pin, crush spices.  Transfer crushed spices to small bowl; mix in salt, ginger and cayenne.

Toss potatoes, carrots and 3 tablespoons olive oil in large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Arrange vegetables in single layer in large roasting pan.  Roast about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, using tip of knife, make several slits in roast; insert garlic slices into slits.  Brush roast with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Rub spice mixture over roast.

Push vegetables sides of pan, leaving space in center.  Place roast in center of pan.  Cook until meat thermometer inserted into
center of roast registers 125 degrees for medium-rare, about 1 hour.  Transfer roast to platter.  Foil to keep warm.  Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.  Spread vegetables in pan; continue roasting until vegetables are tender and brown, about 10 minutes.

Surround roast with vegetables.  Cut roast into thin slices and serve.

a meal Michelle Obama would approve of

I did a very bad thing last night.  For the first time in months I ate fast food.  I NEVER eat fast food but every now and again after a long week it just sounds good.  And even though yesterday was only Wednesday it had already been a long week and a few coworker/friends of mine and I decided that we needed to escape the office for a bit and indulge.  I’m feeling a little guilty (and tubby) this morning and decided to atone by posting on a very healthy meal I made over the weekend…

The healthy meal starts with lentils and you all know how I feel about lentils.  Delicious!

Then you add some carrots, garlic, and onions.  Sounds good so far!

While that was cooking I got started on a favorite side dish of mine that I learned from a friend who made it for a dinner she hosted years ago.  It involves spinach, raisins, pine nuts (I did not have any on-hand so substituted walnuts) and onions.  It’s tasty and healthy!

The combination is savory, sweet, salty, crunchy, and overall packed with things that are good for you.  I love it when things that are good for you actually taste good too!

Back to the lentil dish… it also involves pan-grilled salmon but this morning I realized that I did not get a photo of the actual salmon.  Oops.  The salmon is in the picture below but you can’t tell because I buried it with the cooked lentils and it turns out I was supposed to put the salmon on top of a bed of lentils.  I’m not running a restaurant here, people– it doesn’t always look pretty.  But it tasted pretty darn good and it almost makes me feel less bad about the chicken fingers, sweet potato fries, and custard/cookie dough concoction that I ate last night.  Almost.

Pan-Grilled Salmon Fillets with Lentils (adapted from recipe by Mark Bittman in “How to Cook Everything”)

Makes 2 servings

  • 1 cup green lentils, washed and picked over
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons mixed dry herbs (I used Herbs de Provence)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 center-cut salmon fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each, skin on (but scaled) or off, pin bones removed

Place lentils in a large, deep saucepan with water to cover.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 15 to 20 minutes, then add the carrots, onion, garlic, and herbs.

Continue to cook, adding water if necessary (keep this to a minimum), until lentils and vegetables are tender, 30 to 40 minutes total.  Season with salt and pepper, add the olive oil, and keep warm.

Heat a large non-stick skillet (I don’t own non-stick cookware so I put a little olive oil on a non non-stick skillet to coat the pan) over high heat for about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle the bottom of the skillet with coarse salt, then add the salmon, skin side down.  Cook over high heat until well browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes.  Flip the salmon and cook 1 additional minute.  Place about 1 cup of lentils in the center of each of four serving plate and top with a salmon fillet (I mistakenly did the opposite.  It will be much more attractive if the salmon is on top!)

Spinach with Pine Nuts and Raisins (found at www.epicurious.com, original recipe by Joyce Goldstein in “Cucina Ebraica: Flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen”)

6 servings

  • 2 1/2 pounds spinach
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small yellow onions or 6 green onions, minced
  • 4 tablespoons raisins, plumped in hot water and drained
  • 4 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (I did not have pine nuts on hand so substituted walnuts, I have also used pecans in the past and they were good too)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Rinse the spinach well and remove the stems. Place in a large sauté pan with only the rinsing water clinging to the leaves. Cook over medium heat, turning as needed until wilted, just a few minutes. Drain well and set aside. Add the olive oil to the now-empty pan and place over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the spinach, raisins, and pine nuts and sauté briefly to warm through. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm or at room temperature.