Girl + Fire = Food



Thursday, May 30, 2013

Un-Yucked Brussels Sprouts

I'm a grown woman and still as disgusted by Brussels sprouts as any child. There are just some things that to this day remain, for lack of a better term, yucky.

But Brussels sprouts, like other vegetables, are good for you. I've been trying to find ways to make them more palatable. There are actually people who LOVE Brussels sprouts. Some of these people are ones I know and even love.
I still think they're weird.

Friends suggested sautéing with garlic, roasting, steaming...the more like-minded suggesting throwing them away. This was, by far, the best idea.

But one lone comrade introduced the idea of brown sugar and bacon. Well, duh. Bacon makes everything better! And maybe caramelizing and candying (is that a word?) these icky little vegetables was the one way to make them appealing.

It ALMOST worked. Brown sugar is delicious. Bacon is delicious. But Brussels sprouts still taste like dirt.

At least they looked pretty.

print recipe

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
Sugar and bacon can help make vegetables more palatable.
  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
1. Fry the bacon in a skillet. Remove to paper towel and allow to cool before chopping into half-inch pieces. Reserve 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings.2. In the same skillet with the bacon drippings, melt the butter over medium heat. Sauté the sprouts until the edges begin to blacken.3. Add in the brown sugar and chopped bacon. Mix to coat evenly. Remove from heat as soon as sugar melts completely. Serve warm.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 servings

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Vegan-esque Fluffy Pancakes

Ever wake up craving pancakes and bacon, only to find out you're out eggs AND bacon? It's like waking up on in a bizarro world. I don't know how I managed to allow my fridge to become devoid of these foods. And I'd promised such meal to the boyfriend, so what's a girl to do?

Vegans sometimes use soaked chia seeds as egg replacement, and that I did have. So while he slept in, I experimented...

The recipe stayed the same, but I used one tablespoon of chia seeds soaked in three tablespoons of water. Let that sit for 15-20 minutes and you get a gelatin-like substance that binds the mixture appropriately. 

Vegan-esque pancakes look like they have black freckles. I giggled while I cooked.

When the man woke up, he had breakfast! Sure, it wasn't what he was expecting, but he's a REALLY good sport. Plus, I promised him if they were really terrible, I'd take him to a decent diner for breakfast.

He ate it all, but said he prefers the original recipe. I did, at least, serve them with real butter and maple syrup.

Interesting. And passable. But I probably wouldn't make them again.

Monday, April 8, 2013

FAIL: Tequila Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I nearly ruined the birthday dinner with this cake. I should have known this wasn't going to work when I couldn't find a real recipe for tequila-spiked pineapple upside down cake, aside from one blog post about a group of people who got drunk making the cake.

Why did I ignore the signs?

Things were going well. I'd found not one but TWO recipes for miniature, single-serving pineapple upside down cake. It's my dad's favorite, and my mom makes it for him every year for his birthday. Here I was, making it for just me and the boy for his birthday because it's also his favorite, and I didn't want to have a bunch of leftover cake that we'd be stuck eating for days. Especially if it didn't work out.

That was the one smart move I made.

I used half a bottle of $10 Zapoppan tequila reposado, which is actually quite tasty for a cheap bottle (gotta love Trader Joe's) and soaked a whole can of pineapple rings in it for just a few hours. I baked the little cakes in their ramekins, popped them out to cool as we enjoyed his birthday dinner, then lit a candle and sang him a little off-key rendition of Happy Birthday. I took the first bite, and rushed to stop him before he could make the same mistake.

And then apologized profusely for completely ruining his favorite cake. I'd also ruined the Guinness brownies I'd attempted to make him just a month earlier. Remember how I don't bake?

He was very sweet about the entire ordeal. Apparently the deck was stacked against me because he did mention that my pineapple upside down cake was never going to be a good as his mother's...well, at least I make kick ass carnitas.

Next time, instead of messing with the pineapples, I'll just put some spirits in a caramel topping that goes on AFTER baking. Because this was an absolute and total FAIL. L'sigh.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Carnitas Americano

Carnitas. Until recently, I never really indulged in the succulent pork product. When it comes to Mexican food, I'm a die-hard lover of carne asada. But when I found Pinch of Yum's Easy Crockpot Carnitas, it was really too easy not to make it.

On first look, carnitas and pulled pork look very similar. They both become shredded pork. But pulled pork is smoked and carnitas are usually braised in lard. This dish is neither, it's braised in orange juice and beer. You know, good stuff.

Actually, there was a thin layer of fat on the pork shoulder (or butt, if you will) and I didn't bother trimming it, so it was braised in some fat. Just not a bucket's worth! So carnitas lite, or what I'm terming carnitas Americano. Because it seems like crockpot cooking is very much a middle America way of life.

Not to spoil the story, but I do have to establish this one thing: this was the best thing I have ever made. Ever. I amazed myself.

It was perfectly juicy and crispy. And all I did was rub a hunk of pork with salt and spices then let it cook on low for 8 hours in orange juice and Hoegaarden. Oh, I'm sure you could use a Mexican beer, but we like our Belgian wheat beers here in the G+F kitchen. When I shredded it, broiled for a few minutes its own jelly, stuffed it in a taco with sour cream, cilantro, salsa, and avocado, it was divine.

Scratch that: it was the BEST DAMN THING I ever ate. Better than truffles. Yeah, that good.

I get a little hot under the collar just thinking about it.

Get the recipe at Pinch of Yum. It halves easily (ours was only 2 pounds, bought at Sprouts Farmers Market), but you will want to go for the full 4-5 pounds. This disappears quickly!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Girl+Fire Turns 3!

Three years ago, after being laid up from foot surgery, I came up with the crazy idea to start a blog. And fiery orange one at that.

Three years later, my foot works again. And Girl+Fire is still burning orange. Somewhere along the way, I even learned to cook!

The way I've celebrated this milestone the last two years was to compile a top five list. When going through the posts from the last year, I noticed a distinct trend: alcohol.

Well, I've never been shy about my love for certain spirits. And what better way to commemorate a third anniversary than to pull out the best alcohol-laden posts? Because it's not a celebration without a good drinky-drink!

5. The only non-alcoholic item on this list is the Semi-Raw Kale Experiment. One should blog responsibly, after all. And eat your greens!

4. And then we delve right in to the whiskey posts with Lemon Whiskey Apple Butter. The best way to enjoy a comfort food like homemade applesauce is to cook in some whiskey while making it.

3. Then came the making of Red Wine Sangria. I've since made this for several parties and it always disappears. We'll call that a win.

2. But we always return to whiskey, especially when paired with bacon! The Bacon Whiskey Milkshake was really the best way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

1. Hands down, my favorite meal all year long was the Fluffy Homemade Spiced Pancakes. Made for grown men and young children, they have all become fans of the pancakes. Of course, these pancakes are even more excellent when paired with a lovely champagne. Which is what I actually put in them when making up a batch this last weekend. Champagne pancakes. It's one of the best things about being an adult. And this here blog!

Thanks to all the fans and readers for the last three years. A toast to all of you!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Persimmon Chutney

I just realized, 3 days shy of our 3rd blogiversary, that this post from 2012 hadn't yet seen the light of day. Oops! Let's travel back a few months, to the Thanksgiving holidays...

I was convinced that I had never seen nor tasted a persimmon prior to two years ago, when Cheryl Lee of Black Girl Chef's Whites made cookies with them and we noshed on them at Mudtown Farms. But my mother swears we had a persimmon tree  in our backyard growing up.

And that she hates them.

How could I have blocked that out of my memory? I remember the two lemon trees (we always tied our birthday piñatas to them), the pomegranate bush (and the many clothes I stained trying to eat the seeds), the water feature smack in the middle of the yard, and my tetherball setup. But no persimmons.

Despite not being as foreign as I thought they were, they suddenly started showing up in our weekly fruit delivery at work. Lots and lots of persimmons. They're great in cookies, but 'tis the season for LOTS of cookies, so what else can be done with them?

Make a chutney, take it to Thanksgiving dinner along with the roasted squash puree, and watch it become the first dish to completely disappear. Everyone assumed it was a sweet potato dish. They were wrong, and still devoured it.

Guess what they're all getting for Christmas? Even mom, who actually loved this dish. Yay, we converted her!

The original recipe comes from Epicurious. The only change was to use a few tablespoons of the menjurje tea combination of honey and lemons instead of sugar. It worked really well.