Sunday, October 28, 2012

Brussel Sprouts with Clementines and Pecans AND a Balsamic Reduction

I recently made some awesome Brussel sprouts, and I can't not share my recipe with the world. These babies accompanied a rosemary and garlic rubbed pork tenderloin (yes, it was amazing). Yum in my tum. AND they were right off of the stalk. If you've never seen a Brussel sprout stalk before (I hadn't until Trader Joe's, bless their souls), it sort of looks like a jingle bells stick. Except green, edible, and a lot heavier. I also happened to have tons of little clementines, and thought, "HEY why not brighten up some sprouts with these citrus delights and see what magic happens?"

The Art of Cooking - with TealTheRealDeal


4 cups quartered sprouts (about half a stalk)
3 or so clementines, coarsely chopped, de-pitted, and (time for the pithy jokes...) piths removed
a handful or however many you want of pecans, toasted, please
1 1/4 cups balsamic vinegar
some olive oil


Rinse the sprouts and plop them into a large pan, around medium heat, with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Let those puppies get nice and tan. Add a little salt and pepper just to get crazy...and because either Alton Brown or Lynne Rosetto Kasper said salt brings out the flavors of the veg.

After they've bronzed up a bit (or as much as you want them to), invite the clementines and pecans to the sprouts party. Encourage them to mingle and dance it out. Turn off the heat.

As the sprouts are cooking, reduce the balsamic vinegar (boil until it becomes syrupy) in a small saucepan. This may take a little longer than you'd expect. I added a little pinch of sugar, just for kicks. Not sure if it actually did anything to help the process, though.

After the balsamic has reduced to liquid gold, pour it over the sprouts, clementines, and pecans. Everyone knows liquid goodness makes any party that much better.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dream Job = Godiva Taste Tester

I love all things chocolate, and I love dreams. Jobs are cool, too. Put 'em together and what do you get? Bippity boppity chocolate. Dream job = Godiva chocolate taste tester. Except white chocolate, which is just unnatural.

I signed up for the Godiva member rewards a few months ago ONLY because of the a) free membership, and b) free chocolate once a month. As I strolled into the Godiva store today, Auntie Anne pretzel in hand, I expected to receive a microscopic smidge of a chocolate sample.


I was allowed to choose from ANY truffle (except for the liquor-infused ones) or some other option that wasn't that impressive. No choco-covered strawberries or peanut butter cups, but HOLY SMOKES! I chose the Butterscotch Walnut Brownie Cake Truffle.

Butterscotch caramel flanked some sort of walnutty maple-y cream nucleus with a milk chocolate shell. It was delicious, and that's really all I have to say...except...


Monday, October 22, 2012

The Trouble with Coffee

I would not, by any means, call myself a coffee fanatic. I didn't drink it in college to help me stay up late to write term papers--I was usually "that girl" who handed it in a week before the due date. I'm a Type A anti-procrastinator, and I like it that way, thank you very much.

I'm also not at all a coffee addict. Some people inject the stuff into their veins to wake up before 9am, but I won't bite your head off if you try to talk to me before my cuppa Joe. If I haven't eaten a solid breakfast...that's another story.

I only started drinking coffee semi-regularly this past summer. Having to be at work by 7:45am was rough, and I started small, with only half a mug or so from the break room coffee pot. One day I made the mistake of drinking two cups of jet fuel after only a few weeks of building my tolerance, and that was a hot mess. I've had a few weird experiences with inadvertent caffeine overload (someone once slipped me two green tea teabags before a choir rehearsal - woof), and they're never pretty.

I love the smell of coffee though, and I don't even mind the taste so much. I actually prefer my coffee black (like my men? Airplane? Anyone?), but I can be persuaded to enjoy it with some Kahlua or Baileys. Otherwise, Trader Joe's has a great spiced pumpkin blend. I bought it a while ago, intending to make it myself with a hand-me-down coffee pot my parents gave me.

Now, I've never made coffee in a home coffee maker. I've made it with the industrial sized gallon bins at restaurants, where you open the packet, pour it in the filter, and click a button. When I was living at home, elves made it early in the morning before the sun even came up. But I always heard them grinding the beans, and suspected they poured water over the ground beans, which I assumed then magically heated up and turned the water into coffee. Which is the same path I followed when I tried to make my own java for the first time a few weeks ago.

I put the filter in, scooped out about 4 tablespoons (2 for every 6oz), and then poured water on top of the grounds. Because, why not? Isn't that how you make coffee? No, apparently it isn't. The ghost of coffee that could've been tasted and looked like pumpkin spiced tea. I didn't understand...where did I go wrong? It was barely even warm.

I tried the next day with SIX tablespoons, poured the water on top of the grounds, clicked on, and waited. No percolating sounds, nothing. Garbage! So I gave up on drinking coffee for a little, and then buckled and bought a new coffee pot. Because clearly that dinky hand-me-down was broken.

It wasn't.

I only learned TODAY that I actually should've poured the water BEHIND the filter. Seriously? How did I not figure that out? I am 23 1/2 years old, and I only just learned how to make coffee. It started with an innocent chat with my boss about my coffee-making problems, and then my world turned upside down. So I ran home, pulled out the old coffee maker I was about to chuck, and scooped out my 2 tablespoons for a little mug of the good stuff. Then I measured out 6oz, poured it BEHIND the filter, and voila! It's time for the percolator. And delicious hot coffee.

Thumbs up for penguins who drink coffee!