Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

This post could be called many things. Balsamic Brussels. Bed. The Bachelorette. Blogging again after a life-imposed hiatus. You know. But for now, let’s just stick with Brussels. Because they’re easy and delicious and I’m actively shoveling them into my maw like there is no tomorrow. Except, of course there is tomorrow. A day full of projects, work, the gym, on and on. And hopefully, likely, probably…Brussels.

My weird love for Brussels sprouts has already been discussed here, but it bears another look because of tonight’s addition to this tried and true recipe: balsamic vinegar. Most chefs, and even regular people who simply love to cook, all have a “secret ingredient” – that thing they reach for, again and again, that makes their dishes sing. Lemon juice, siracha, red wine, cayenne – the list is endless. For me, it’s balsamic vinegar. I put it in omelets, over pan roasted carrots, in bruschetta, in pasta salad, even over a plain hunk of warm bread, straight from the oven. I once put it over strawberry ice cream and I’ll tell you something: it was disgusting. But I don’t blame the balsamic, no. I blame the strawberry ice cream. I not so secretly really hate strawberry ice cream.

But let’s get back to balsamic Brussels sprouts. Something about the sweet, tangy blend that is balsamic vinegar dances a little duet with the nuttiness of the sprouts, and the result is an umami explosion, a flavor that is at once both complex and completely down home. I wish there were another, less cheesey way to describe what’s happening in this dish, but there isn’t, so there. As a pepper addict, I also lean very heavily on the freshly ground black pepper and a little bit of grated parmesan to pull it all together. You could also use grated pecorino, if you are a schvancy person who has pecorino on hand, but for we, the less schvancy, a few teaspoons of parm do this up right nicely.

If you have any questions or need me later, I’ll be here, with my giant bowl of Brussels sprouts, in bed (yes, I eat in my bed, THE HORROR!) and watch last night’s episode of The Bachelorette. My brain might be filled with junk, but my belly is full of warm veg goodness. For tonight, that’s more than good enough.

BALSAMIC BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Ingredients:

. One stalk of brussels

. EVOO

. Four tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, plus an extra splash for serving

. Kosher salt

. Ground pepper

. Freshly ground parmesan

Instructions:

1. Cut the sprouts free of the stalk, and then cut the rough bottoms off. Halve them longitudinally, or like you’d cut an avocado, not an orange.

2. Rub EVOO into the flat sides of the sprouts, while also heating a glug of EVOO in a big, flat skillet with a lid.

3.  Put the sprouts into a large bowl once they’ve been EVOO’ed and coat them with salt, pepper and four tablespoons of balsamic.

4. Once the skillet is nice and hot, put the sprouts flat side down in the pan, reserving any outer leaves that have come off in the EVOO process. You’ll definitely want to cook those too, just not at first, or they’ll get too crispy and black.

5. Lid the pan and let the sprouts roast anywhere from 5 – 10 minutes. Keep monitoring them and checking the undersides. Once they start carmelizing and turning golden brown on the bottoms, you can start to flip them over.

6. Lightly oil the leaves and add them to the pan, tossing everything up so the sprouts lightly brown on the outsides and start to pop.

7. Dump the whole mess into a bowl, add that extra splash of balsamic if you’d like, and top with the cheese of your choice. Eating in bed, watching crap reality TV, is optional.

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Iced Coffee

I love coffee. Like, a lot. I have a coffee pot, a French press, a single brew cup, and several blends on my counter top. If you ask me my favorite couple, it’s not Romeo and Juliet or Rhett and Scarlett, but hot coffee and a good book. And myself. Yes, a threesome. Heavenly.

But I had two problems with coffee, until recently. I didn’t tell anyone, because coffee problems are akin to what our friend Jo calls champagne problems, which means basically that you should shut the hell up about your problems because there are bigger fish to fry out there, like global warming or world hunger or AIDS. Which is true. But, you see, I was still having these coffee problems.

Problem One: I had no way to make great iced coffee, that perfect afternoon pick-me-up. I only have one coffee pot and I only make coffee in the morning. I don’t have time to cold brew (even though the New York Times makes it sound so awesome) and I also have zero interest in pouring hot coffee over ice and drinking the watery mess that would result.

Problem Two: I’m wasteful with my coffee, which I hate. I make a big pot, drink one cup, and then the rest sits all day, only to be dumped out that night.

But you guys! I got smart! I combined my problems, and instead of a bigger problem, I actually got a solution. I don’t think that’s how it normally works, but I’m not great at math, so I’m just going to revel in my problem-solving skills instead and hope that nobody asks me what grades I got in high school algebra.

Yep, I got smart, got a cute vintage bottle, and got around to recycling my coffee.

Now, instead of dumping my coffee down the drain, I pour my hot coffee into a cute vintage bottle and stash it in the fridge every morning. Then, on a work from home day or a sunny Saturday afternoon, I can easily pour a glass of iced coffee goodness in my own kitchen. I love Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend, with a swirl of vanilla soy milk and a pinch of sugar, sipped through an eco-friendly metal straw from West Elm. No waste, amazing taste. You don’t have to be a math genius to figure this out.

Put a bird on it!

Kids. It’s really nice to be talking to you. Since last we spoke I have:

– moved into my own apartment

– gotten a new job

– de-boned my first duck

All of those things are true. Except for the duck. Because eewww. Duck is slimy (sorry, France.)

Speaking of ducks, have you ever heard D‘s favorite joke? Here goes:

Q: How is a duck like a bicycle?

A: They both have handlebars. Except for the duck.

That one gets me every time.

So, now that I have a new and awesome job, and now that I have moved into a little tiny place all by my onesie, I’m very excited to share the details in the upcoming weeks. And to start, a little sneak peek of the newest residents of my apartment:

My little place has been christened The Treehouse by my friends, because it’s very high up, and it’s in the trees! Bonus points for the ocean view and the insane cardio workout I get going up the 75 stairs every day.

Do come over and visit won’t you? The birds, and the ducks, and the owls, and the raccoons, and possibly even my crazy landlords would really love it if you did.