Victory Spinach

[image: baked spinach]
[image: baked spinach]

This past weekend, I basically begged an invitation from Lydia for something, ANYTHING, to keep my mind off tomorrow’s election. She very kindly invited me over for dinner on Sunday. She and her husband were making miso-marinated flat iron steak, so she asked me to bring a side. I decided on spinach, because creamed spinach is one of the classic sides at old school steakhouses. I didn’t end up using a cream-based recipe, but this was a really pleasant surprise. Using frozen spinach made it much easier. I squished the defrosted spinach in a colander using my hands to get out all the liquid. Wrapping it all in a black kitchen towel and wringing it out would also work (my dad’s recommendation) (otherwise you’ll dye the towel green).

There’s no reason behind the recipe name. I’m just hopeful for tomorrow.


2 lbs frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
4 Tbsp butter, divided (2+1+1)
1 1/2 Tbsp AP flour
1/2 tsp table salt
pepper, to taste
2/3 cup stock
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp assorted chopped herbs (thyme, basil, oregano, parsley—whatever’s lying around) or 1/2 tsp dried Italian herb mix

Butter a 9×9 baking dish (or use nonstick spray) and heat the oven to 375.

In a large saucepan or pot, melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium-high heat. When foaming, add spinach. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the residual moisture from the spinach has evaporated. You can tell when this happens by when the spinach starts to stick (if you’re using not a nonstick pan) or by the sound of the sizzle—it will start to sound noticeably different.

Sprinkle the flour on top and turn the heat to low. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly (in a trickle) stir in the stock. Once added, simmer for 1 minute and stir in an additional 1 Tbsp of butter. If you think the mixture seems too thick, add up to an additional 1/3 cup stock. Stir in salt and add pepper to taste (I put in like 8 grinds).

Transfer the spinach from the pan to the baking dish. Carefully mix in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. In the now-empty pan, melt the remaining 1 Tbsp butter. Add the panko breadcrumbs and herbs. Stir until just barely toasted. Sprinkle on top of the spinach along with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 375 until heated through and browned on top, about 30-35 minutes.

Chipotle-Maple Sweet Potatoes with Spiced Pecans

This is what I ended up putting together as our sweet potato dish for Thanksgiving. One word of advice: if you have leftovers, I wouldn’t recommend keeping the pecans on top. They get soft and sad. Scrape them off and just eat them. Then the next time you serve them, chop up some more and re-top.

between 3 and 3.5 pounds sweet potatoes/garnet yams, peeled and cubed
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup cream
1 Tbsp maple syrup, grade B
1 tsp chipotle powder (or 1 canned chipotle pepper, minced + 1 tsp adobo sauce from the can)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 to 1 cup Spiced Pecans, chopped (depends on the surface area on top of your serving dish how much you’ll need to cover it)

First, make the Spiced Pecans (it says you can use any mixture of nuts in that recipe—for this application, just use pecans).

Steam sweet potatoes in a steamer basket over simmering water for 20 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. (This took me two rounds, but you might be better at fitting in all the sweet potato cubes.)

Empty into a bowl and add the butter and cream. Mash with a potato masher. With a large spatula or spoon, fold in the maple syrup, chipotle, and salt. Taste and adjust for seasonings (not just salt, but the chipotle as well—these aren’t super-spicy, so you can totally add more).

Transfer the sweet potatoes to a serving dish and sprinkle an even layer of pecans on top.

Brussels Sprouts and Pearl Onions with Bacon

[image: mess of brussels sprouts, pearl onions, and bacon]
[image: mess of brussels sprouts, pearl onions, and bacon]

This was a “find a use for the leftovers” dish. I went digging around in the freezer and found a partially used bag of pearl onions. In the fridge there were two pieces of bacon and half a bag of Brussels sprouts. The results were delicious!

Today’s experiment was more successful than yesterday’s. I made a pea pesto with two half-bags of frozen peas. I’ll eat it, but I’m not going to post the recipe. It turned out way too sweet. I’m not quite sure how to cut it yet. Might throw in a chili pepper or two.

8 oz. brussels sprouts
8 oz. frozen pearl onions (thawed)
2 slices bacon
2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper

Trim and halve the brussels sprouts. Trim and squeeze out the pearl onions, halving them if they’re large (mine weren’t). Slice the bacon into 1/2-inch pieces. Slice the garlic thinly.

Heat oven to 450.

In an oven safe dish (I used a cast iron skillet), arrange the sprouts cut side down. If you’ve halved the onions, put them cut side down as well, otherwise just scatter them. Sprinkle the garlic pieces on top. Lay the bacon pieces on top evenly.

[image: uncooked mess of brussels sprouts, pearl onions, and bacon]
[image: uncooked mess of brussels sprouts, pearl onions, and bacon]

Like that, more or less. Roast for 20–25 minutes until things are well browned and gorgeous. I didn’t stir the mess until it came out of the oven—top photo, right before I crammed it all in my mouth.

Death By Broccoli

A recipe from Karen F.

6-7 heads of broccoli, florets only, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb. Velveeta
8 oz. Ritz crackers, crushed
2 sticks butter, melted and separated

Unwrap the Velveeta and freeze. This is the most important step. Once frozen, shred.

Blanch the broccoli for 60-90 seconds in boiling water, then plunge into ice water. Dry thoroughly. This is the second most important step.

Heat the oven to 350. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, Velveeta, and half of the butter (it’s a little tricky stirring it in the baking dish, but if you don’t want to dirty another bowl, go ahead). Empty the broccoli mixture into the baking dish. In the same bowl, mix the crushed Ritz crackers with the other half of the butter. Spread evenly over the top of the broccoli.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until brown and bubbly. You’ll hate yourself by loving it.