As I park the brussels in the oven, my mind goes to what I can do while they cook. I could start the laundry, do the dishes, plan next week’s Thanksgiving table decor… Dishes first. Then laundry. Then some quick pics of the dish before it inevitably becomes my lunch. Such is the life of a food writer who works from home. I’m constantly torn between the work and home to-do lists.
I can’t imagine that this is uncommon, for those who work from home. I have a dedicated office space. But, it’s in our house. So, I will hear the washer stop washing and know it’s time to change the load. I will see the full dishwasher and empty it.
This isn’t a complaint. I love working from home. I just need to be better at prioritizing work during work time, and home stuff during home time. I’m getting there. Slowly.
This dish is a mish mash of work and home. It may end up on our Thanksgiving table. But, I wanted to share it here in case you need some help with your menu. It’ll be great alongside the turkey and stuffing. But, it will also make a great, easy weeknight dinner. I might serve it alongside some polenta, or with a big salad and some cornbread.
If you’re gonna make it for Thanksgiving, it may be the easiest Thanksgiving side dish. Ever. Unless you’re a can of cranberry sauce lover. Are you? I’m not, but I’ll eat it gladly if it’s served to me.
I tossed some halved brussels sprouts with oil and salt. Then I added some chopped bacon. Optional, but delicious. If you don’t eat bacon, you could throw in some tempeh bacon at the end.
My brussles were a little old. Read: farty smelling. Opt for the freshest brussels possible.
I roasted them on high heat for a bit, then tossed them with some balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and garlic.
After their tossing, they roasted for a bit longer. Then, done. I added a bit more balsamic, some spicy pepitas, and a bit of Maldon salt. It made for an easy, sweet and savory dish.
Roasted Brussels and Bacon
1.5 pounds brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, halved
1 tablespoon oil (I used grapeseed)
1 teaspoon salt
4 strips bacon, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon minced garlic
topping: more balsamic vinegar, Maldon salt, spicy pepitas
Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.
Toss the brussels sprouts with the oil and salt. Lay them cut-side down on a baking sheet and sprinkle the bacon around the pan. Roast until they’re beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.
Whisk the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and garlic. Pour over the brussels sprouts and toss so they’re evenly coated and spaced out. Return to the oven and bake until sprouts and bacon are crispy, about 10 minutes more.
Serve topped with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of Maldon salt, and some spicy pepitas.
This is going to be easy. Like, not as easy as making toast from store bought, pre-sliced bread. But, not as difficult as making toast from homemade bread. More like making toast from store bought not sliced bread.
The only difficult thing is waiting for the oven to heat up (ours takes twelve years) and making sure the chicken isn’t still frozen (ugh, mine is).
So while I wait for both of those things to correct themselves, I’m gonna halve some brussels sprouts and think about whether or not I could write a cookbook.
It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. Just recently it’s been on my mind a little more. I was talking to Maggie Green about it last week and she asked “Why not you?” Yeah, why not me?!
So I’m putting this out there. Not for any reason but to tell you, so you can know first. “I’m gonna do the thing that scares me. Let my dreams be big enough to scare me.” –Arielle Estoria (paraphrase)
Ok, I think the oven’s ready. Remember, this is easy. You can swap out the veggies if you want to. I’m using brussels sprouts and broccoli, because it’s what I have on hand. I’d also like to make it with cauliflower, carrots, or even just a simple chicken and potatoes dinner. You could try rutabagas or parsnips, beets (chioggia beets would be super pretty), maybe even some cabbage wedges?? You’re the boss of your dinner, so make it how you want, use what you have on hand, and use this recipe as a guide, not something you have to follow exactly.
Leave a comment on the @De_Ma_Cuisine Instagram post announcing the giveaway or on this blog post. You can comment about sheet pan dinners, whether or not you’d buy my cookbook, what Sir Kensington’s products you love the most, or anything else you find interesting.
Giveaway is open to residents of the United States.
Using two baking sheets, toss the chicken and all veggies in 1 cup of Sir Kensington’s dressing. Spread everything out evenly. It’s good if it touches. I like to keep the chicken skin side up, keeping the bottom in contact with the baking sheet. Bake, turning sheets once and stirring the veggies, until the chicken is fully cooked and the veggies are tender inside and browned and crispy outside, about 50-60 minutes (depending on your oven).
While everything roasts, whisk together the remaining vinaigrette and the mayo to make a sauce.
Top veggies with Maldon salt. Serve the veggies and chicken with the sauce poured overtop or on the side for dipping.
This morning started with laying in bed for an hour trying to convince myself to get up. After a week of vacation, where the only worries were which chips to eat with lunch and which movie to watch next, the to dos and weight of real life have come crashing back down. It’s enough to make me want to stay in bed until noon. Like last week.
I haven’t slept in until noon in years.
I took the week off from everything but cooking and the dishes. I didn’t work, I didn’t workout, I didn’t go to bed early. I needed a mental and physical break. I had our week’s meals planned, so all I had to do was follow along, or just eat the twelve bags of chips that we’d bought.
I’d planned to make Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon on Sunday, to eat while we watched Julie and Julia. It was perfection. Not just the dish, which is always the best meal I’ve ever made, but the movie itself.
It reminded me that I’m passionate about food. That I want more than drudgery, whatever that means. It’s easy to get caught up in the everyday, every week, exhausted race to eat and go to bed so I can do it all again tomorrow. I was reminded that I want more than this.
I don’t know what that looks like. But, I was inspired to figure it out. And then I woke up this morning. A bit depressed, with a headache, not wanting to start the day well, with a workout and some quiet coffee and journaling time.
Vacation is good. It’s necessary. We take lots of breaks throughout the year. We’re not go go go people. We live a slow and meaningful, simple life. But even that feels exhausting after vacation.
I got up. An hour late. I worked out. I wrote this post on my phone while I did. I had coffee and I journaled. I got stuff from the to do list done. I made turkey and white bean chili. But, still, my anxieties remain. I have all these ideas that make me feel like I’m staring into a murky pond at something that might be glimmering at the bottom. It could be a beautiful copper pot (who needs a treasure chest of gold anyways?!), or just a piece of glass that’s gonna cut my foot when I wade in. Will the waters part so I can see before I step? Probably not. It’s that thin line between irresponsibility and faith.
Maybe it’s time to jump.
(Uh, I told you I made chili. Here’s the recipe.)
Turkey and White Bean Chili
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pounds ground turkey
1 sweet/Vidalia, or yellow onion, chopped
2 cups chopped butternut squash (or carrot and squash)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced hot pepper (I’m using cayenne, because I grew it in my garden), ribs and seeds removed (optional – keep for more heat)
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 quart chicken broth
2-14 oz. cans cannellini/white kidney beans, drained
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
for serving: sour cream, and 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions (green part only)
Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Once it’s hot, add the turkey, onion, butternut squash, and salt (start with 1 teaspoon). Cook covered until turkey is cooked and veggies have started to soften, about 10-15 minutes (a bit longer if the turkey is still frozen), stirring occasionally. Add garlic, chile, and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. The butternut squash will kinda mash into everything. Good. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer about 5 minutes. Add the beans and cook until beans are heated through, about 3-5 minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir in parsley, 1 Tablespoon of butter, and the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and add 1 teaspoon more salt if desired. Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of scallions, with a warmed baguette slathered with herb butter.
To make this meal vegan, use vegan butter or just stick with olive oil, replace the meat with 1 ½ pounds of shiitakes or half tempeh and half shiitakes, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, use vegan sour cream.
Today didn’t go as I’d planned. I had some work that I was supposed to do. It didn’t happen. Not by choice. But then, I got to choose to not be frustrated. Do you hate the expression “It is what it is”? I know some people do. But, sometimes, it’s really the only thing that works. I could be mad that things didn’t go as I’d planned. I’d organized my week accordingly. Instead, I got to have a low key day. I watered the garden and gave the dog a long drink from the hose without hurry. I listened to the sound of food cooking in the skillet. I had a glass of wine at 4pm while I washed the dishes. It was a good day.
I had intended to make these enchiladas for dinner tomorrow. But, they looked too good to wait. I have our meals planned for the rest of the month. For tomorrow, now I have no idea. It might be tater tots dipped in chipotle mayo. Or sushi from the grocery store (our chef is amazing). Maybe cereal. I’ll worry about that tomorrow. For now, I’m here, and this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.
I always want to hurry into the future, only to get there and want to move on to the next thing. Ever since I was a kid… I don’t know that I’ve enjoyed as much of the present as I could have. Until this summer. For the first time, maybe ever, I’ve been here, in the now.
I don’t like summer. I hate hate hate being hot. Sweaty is for workouts, but not for regular living. Humidity could leave forever and I’d be glad. I’m sure it’s great for my skin. Whatev. I don’t like that so many tourists come to here. I mean, I get it, it’s important for the economy blah blah blah… Many of them are quite lovely yada yada yada. But, it’s busy, it’s loud, it’s claustrophobic. I like quiet and cold. I like the hibernating times more than the big, busy, social events. I like a small, but meaningful life… And, I don’t like summer.
Everyone likes summer. Especially around here. But, every once in a while I’ll come across a kindred spirit who can’t wait for the chill of autumn.
This year, I’ve embraced it. Summer and I became friends-ish. It could be that it’s easier now that we live somewhere with seasons. I know it’s not going to be hot forever. So I can enjoy it while it lasts. There’s something to be said for weekends spent in the garden, glass of rosé in hand, nose in a book. For watering the garden, and then pointing the hose heavenward and gasping as the freezing water hits my skin. I found joy in summer this year. I’m glad it’s feeling more like fall, but summer was more than ok.
When we lived in Burbank, I missed things like soup in the summer. Because summer lasted for like ten months. This year, I didn’t think about it at all. I was too busy eating green beans in the garden. This summer we discovered pizza on the grill. We don’t want to turn the oven on, but who can go three months without pizza?! Solved that one. But, then I made an amazing potato chowder the other day. And I was ruined. Summer can be over. I’ve made soup again.
Today, I wanted enchiladas. I had a jar of salsa verde in the pantry that needed to not be in there anymore and a frozen plomp of ground turkey taking up the bacon’s space in the freezer. Seemed like it was time. The oven, alas, was ready to turn back on.
Enchiladas start with humble ingredients: onion, bell pepper that has seen better days, white beans, and salsa verde from Arcadia’s Kitchen.
The salsa is delicious. And sooooo spicy. I used only two tablespoons in the filling and I could feel the heat. I was originally going to make just salsa verde enchiladas. But, I wasn’t sure if our faces would burn off if I added enough to make a sauce. So I added some tomato sauce to balance it out. It was perfect. Spicy, but not too.
We’ve discovered a company called TortillaLand that makes fresh tortillas. They contain five ingredients and are ready to cook. We haven’t bought regular tortillas since we found these.
Enchilada assembly isn’t difficult. Scoop some filling on a tortilla. Fold in the ends and then roll it up. Or don’t fold in the ends and just roll it. I did a pan of each. I poured some of the tomato-salsa verde mixture into the bottom of the pan, added the rolled enchiladas, then poured the rest of the sauce overtop.
Once I topped everything with cheese, they went into the oven. It’s just the cheese that needs to melt and the sauce that needs to bubble. The filling is already hot, so twenty minutes was perfect.
I had two problems with this dinner. I finished cooking at like 3:30pm, because I wanted to photograph with the natural light. So I took a bite, cooled them down, then reheated them for later dinner. Second problem, I’d eaten all the sour cream a few days ago. I’d def add some to this. It would help with the heat from the salsa verde, and it just tastes good. Tim thinks I use a weird amount of sour cream on tacos and enchiladas. But, I like it. So I use what I use, and sometimes then I don’t have enough for my spontaneous blog post. But, it is what it is. Right?
Red and Green Enchiladas
2 T oil
1 pound ground meat (I used turkey)
2 1/2 C bell peppers (about 2), chopped
1 C onion, chopped
1-15 oz. can white beans
2 T salsa verde
8 fresh tortillas
1/4 C salsa verde
1 C tomato sauce
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t salt
stock or water
1-2 C grated colby jack cheese
toppings: avocado and sour cream
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil. Add the meat and cook until it’s cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Add the salt, bell pepper, and onion. Cook until the veggies are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the beans and 2 tablespoons of salsa verde. Cook until the beans are hot, about 2-3 minutes more.
While the filling is cooking, cook the tortillas in a separate skillet, keeping them warm once they’re done in a clean tea towel. In a 2 cup measuring cup, stir together 1/4 cup salsa verde, 1 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Then fill with stock or water up to the 2 cup line.
Taste the filling and add more salt if needed. Pour a few scoops of the salsa verde-tomato mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 (or around that size) pan. Divide the filling between 8 tortillas. Roll them up and place them into the pan. Top with the remaining filling and sprinkle with cheese.* Bake until sauce is hot and cheese is bubbly and browned, about 20 minutes. Let them cool and set for a few minutes, then serve topped with avocado and sour cream.
*(The enchiladas can be cooled, covered, and frozen at this point. I prefer to use a metal pan if freezing. It can go right into the oven from the freezer – take plastic wrap off and cover the pan with tinfoil. From frozen will obviously take longer to bake than the original. Give it an hour-ish and check it on your instant read thermometer to make sure it’s come to a safe temp. If not, bake it some more.)
Do you ever have one of those days where it feels like all the things are piled on your shoulders? Where the budget doesn’t balance, there are spiders in the kitchen, and you need a haircut, but remember that budget? It means you’re gonna DIY that summer do. But then you look outside and take a breath (you don’t actually go out because bugs, plus it’s hot). You scratch the dog’s chin and have a moment of clarity. It frees you to be here, typing away, not worrying about whether the sourdough bread will rise, or if the tomatoes will ever sprout (why even haven’t they?!), or why the wasps like your yard so much. Those things will be dealt with, in time. But, they don’t all need attention right now.
This is what I’m learning these days.
If I’m too far ahead, I’m not in the now. I’m missing out on the good, while I try to muddle through the mediocre and sometimes bad stuff. But, sometimes, out of the bad comes something sweet. Not always. But, often.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed I get caught up in my worry and spin into an endless cycle of too many quesadillas (ok, there can never really be too many) and not enough solid and nutritious meals. I get stuck in remembering the work it takes to put a meal on the table, especially if I’ve just finished an 8 hour day dealing with tourists. Sometimes I just need someone to make food for my face hole so I can eat it while watching Heartland or Schitt’s Creek. But, if I can take a step back once in a while, and this summer is affording me the time to be able to do so, I can remember how much I love to cook. How much joy I find in the monotony of slicing veggies the mandoline. How good cooked food smells. How a well paired beverage completes a meal.
This Shaved Kohlrabi Salad and Thai Sausage is just perfect for this. It’s quick enough to not be a burden. But, there’s a bit of prep required. Barely any, but enough to make you take a second to quiet your brain and just slice for a minute. Then enjoy the shock as you submerge your hands in the ice water to swish the veggies around. It’s hot out. The cold feels good.
This is one of those meals that can be adapted and made a thousand different ways. I was in the mood for Mazzeo’s Spicy Thai Sausage and it paired perfectly with the crispy veggies and their citrusy dressing. Switch things up if you have something different growing in your garden or if you have a favorite kind of sausage. Grill the sausage if you want to get outside. When tomatoes are in season, serve them still warm from the sun, drizzled with dressing. In the colder months, roast some veggies (like carrots, beets, and broccoli) and toss them with the same dressing. You could add a pilaf or quinoa salad on the side. You could serve warm fruit crisp for dessert.
This dish is a reminder to be present, to live simply, and to breathe deeply as you savor the aroma of a good meal.
Shaved Kohlrabi Salad and Thai Sausage – Serves 4
1 T canola oil
1 pound Mazzeo’s Spicy Thai Sausage
1 carrot, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 Armenian cucumbers, very thinly sliced
3 kohlrabi, peeled and very thinly sliced
juice of 1 lemon
1 T dijon mustard
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t maple syrup
1/4 C chopped chives
Maldon salt, for serving
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot add the sausage, cut side down. Cook, turning once or twice, until it’s a bit browned and is cooked through and reaches a safe temperature, about 4-5 minutes on each side.
Submerge the cut veggies in ice water and let stand for about 15 minutes.
Whisk together the lemon juice, dijon mustard, olive oil, and maple syrup until it has emulsified, then stir in the chives. Toss the veggies with the dressing, using your clean hands.
Serve the salad topped with Maldon salt, alongside the sausage.