Delicious Brussels Sprouts

Most of my kids love Brussels sprouts.  My family likes them and they are one of my very favorites.  When I was a kid I hated them, but most people over cook them and that makes them really really not yummy.  When they are lightly cooked and fresh tasting, they are amazing!

We planted some Brussels sprouts in the spring and it took forever for them to produce so we cut them down in the heat of the summer.  Any greens, or cole crops can become bitter when harvested in the heat.  For my Brussels sprouts, a quick blanch was all it took to take the bitterness out of them.  If your sprouts aren’t bitter, no need for that step.

I cut down four stalks of Brussels sprouts.  This is what they looked like piled in a wheel barrow.  Before I started growing them, I never knew how they grew.  I was amazed that the plant was this big!

I cut down four stalks of Brussels sprouts. This is what they looked like piled in a wheel barrow. Before I started growing them, I never knew how they grew. I was amazed that the plant was this big!

 

I cut the leaves off of the stalks.  This is how the little sprouts are growing down in there.  So cute.

I cut the leaves off of the stalks. This is how the little sprouts are growing down in there. So cute.

 

Then I used a sharp knife to cut them off the stalk.

Then I used a sharp knife to cut them off the stalk.

 

I washed the sprouts and prepared a pan of boiling water to blanch them in.  I added salt to the water which also helps remove bitterness from greens.  I blanched them for 3 minutes.

I washed the sprouts and prepared a pan of boiling water to blanch them in. I added salt to the water which also helps remove bitterness from greens. I blanched them for 3 minutes.

 

Then I plunged them into ice water.

Then I plunged them into ice water.

 

Once they had completely cooled in the ice water, I drained them.  They are delicious at this point.  You can make them into a salad or just eat them plain like this.

Once they had completely cooled in the ice water, I drained them. They are delicious at this point. You can make them into a salad or just eat them plain like this.

Next I cut one piece of bacon into small pieces and browned it in the skillet.  I added the Brussels sprouts and sautéed them in the skillet for about 2 minutes until they were just tender, but still bright green.  I use salt and pepper to taste.

sauteeing brussel sprouts

Brussels sprouts are delicious raw, boiled, sautéed, or roasted.  I have never tried them any way I didn’t like them except for over cooked.  I know some pretty picky eaters that enjoyed them with this bacon method.  I cook a lot of vegetables with a piece of bacon for flavor because it helps picky kids take interest in them.  But I cook them for my family and my kids without bacon and they still enjoy them.  Just salt, pepper and olive oil and throw them in the oven until they are lightly brown on the edge, or grate some parmesean cheese over the top as they finish roasting and that is delicious as well.  If you don’t like Brussels sprouts, try cooking fresh ones yourself and if you don’t over cook them, I’m willing to bet you will like them too.

Advertisements

Garden Glory-Cucumbers

This week my Little Sprouts harvested over 50 pounds of yummy produce from the garden.  We picked over 15 pounds of cantaloupe from the mystery vine that planted itself.  Our cucumbers are starting to slow down but we planted some more seeds to try to get a second crop to grow.  About a month ago we planted a second crop of a lot of things.  We’ll see if it pays off.  Somehow, I can’t find the pictures from Monday’s harvest, but total for the week besides the cantaloupe, we picked 8 pounds of cucumbers, 5 pounds of okra, 20 pounds of tomatoes, and tomatillos, hot peppers, and a few beans.  Our beans are doing terrible this year, hopefully we will get some more beans from our second crop.  We’ve been having to buy beans at the farmer’s market, oh the shame of it all! 

Harvesting-Gardening with Kids

harvesting vegetables with kids

Garden harvest

Harvest-Gardening with kids

Yesterday I had a vacation day, so I had to pick the harvest while the kids were gone.  The crusty things on the end are the drying beans.  We planted pinto, calypso, and black beans.  I’m not sure how long to leave them in the pods, so I just have them in a bowl right now.  I also found those two monster okras we missed, so I’m saving those for seed.

Garden Harvest-Gardening with Kids

What are you picking this week?

Homemade Pesto Sauce (without nuts!)

I am working on harvesting some of our garden surplus like the herbs that we haven’t used up and we had a ton of basil. I harvested two pounds of basil leaves from the walkways in the garden. Man did I smell good!

basil

I am allergic to nuts so I wanted to come up with a pesto I could eat too, so I decided to roast up some sunflower seeds to use in place of the pine nuts.  I used 1/4 a cup of seeds and toasted them lightly in a skillet.

I am allergic to nuts so I wanted to come up with a pesto I could eat too, so I decided to roast up some sunflower seeds to use in place of the pine nuts. I used 1/4 a cup of seeds and toasted them lightly in a skillet.

Toss the toasted seeds in the blender with 2 cups of basil leaves and we also added a couple of dried thai peppers for some kick.

Toss the toasted seeds in the blender with 2 cups of basil leaves and we also added a couple of dried thai peppers for some kick.

Add 1/4 cup grated parmesean cheese and two cloves of cut up garlic.

Add 1/4 cup grated parmesean cheese and two cloves of cut up garlic.

Blend until smooth.

Blend until smooth adding olive oil until sauce will blend. Approximately 1/4-1/2 cup.

We used some of the pesto as a topping for some cooked pasta and froze the rest in pint sized jars to use later.  It was delicious!

We used some of the pesto as a topping for some cooked pasta and froze the rest in pint sized jars to use later. It was delicious!

The kids loved this pasta and it was super healthy.

Garden Glory-Sunflowers!

My little sprouts and I harvested over 70 pounds of produce this week AND a table full of amazing sunflowers.  It’s been a very productive week in the garden.  Some of the tomato plants are turning brown and our cucumbers are dying.  I’m not exactly sure why, but it’s sad to see them go. 

On Saturday while the kids were gone I took the time to trim some things up in the garden that were out of control.  I harvested a bunch of herbs for drying.

On Saturday while the kids were gone I took the time to trim some things up in the garden that were out of control. I harvested a bunch of herbs for drying.  This is thyme and oregano.  I also harvested some lemon balm, bee balm, and tarragon.

This is a big CHAIR full of basil.  Even though it had flowered, I took it off the stems and ground it up into pesto and put it in the freezer.  I had over two pounds.  And I didn't even put a dent in what's out there, I just cut what was blocking the walkways.

This is a big CHAIR full of basil. Even though it had flowered, I took it off the stems and ground it up into pesto and put it in the freezer. I had over two pounds. And I didn’t even put a dent in what’s out there, I just cut what was blocking the walkways.

basil

I also harvested 8 pounds of greens including swiss chard, spinach, and this kale.  I washed and stemmed it and dried it in the dehydrator.  Then I ground it up finely in the blender to use as a nutritional enhancer in the kid's food.

I also harvested 8 pounds of greens including swiss chard, spinach, and this kale. I washed and stemmed it and dried it in the dehydrator. Then I ground it up finely in the blender to use as a nutritional enhancer in the kid’s food.

Brussels sprouts are tough to harvest WITH the kids because I had to saw the stalks down and cut the sprouts off with a knife.  They have helped me pick the sprouts off one stalk at a time, but with several, I thought it was safer to do it without them.  I harvested 4 stalks and got 3 pounds of sprouts.  They are one of my favorites.  The kids liked them too!

Brussels sprouts are tough to harvest WITH the kids because I had to saw the stalks down and cut the sprouts off with a knife. They have helped me pick the sprouts off one stalk at a time, but with several, I thought it was safer to do it without them. I harvested 4 stalks and got 3 pounds of sprouts. They are one of my favorites. The kids liked them too!

I harvested all of these beautiful hot peppers to make pickled peppers for Mr. Kent.

I harvested all of these beautiful hot peppers to make pickled peppers for Mr. Kent.

I found a few more tomatillos when I had more time to really look.

I found a few more tomatillos when I had more time to really look.

Monday's harvest included lots of tomatoes and cucumbers.

Monday’s harvest included lots of tomatoes and cucumbers.

We got okra and tomatillos as well.

We got okra and tomatillos as well.

And some cantaloupe and kohlrabi, and parsley.  Yum yum.

And some cantaloupe and kohlrabi, and parsley. Yum yum.

We were planning to let our sunflowers dry on the stalks, but the birds had other plans, so we cut them down, explored them a big and laid them on a screen to dry in the shed and harvest them from there.

Tuesday we harvested some of our sunflower heads.  We were planning to let our sunflowers dry on the stalks, but the birds had other plans, so we cut them down, explored them a bit and laid them on a screen to dry in the shed and harvest them from there.

Yesterday's harvest gave us more tomatoes, melons, okra, cucumbers, a few green beans, and some more tomatillos!

Yesterday’s harvest gave us more tomatoes, melons, okra, cucumbers, a few green beans, and some more tomatillos!  (And as usual, plenty of SMILES!)

Caprese Salad

These Little Sprouts have been picking 20-30 pounds of tomatoes a week for the past few weeks, so we have been coming up with all sorts of ways to use tomatoes. Here is a yummy grown up salad that is more for Mr. Kent and me. I haven’t tried it with the kids, but they may actually surprise me and like it if I did. 🙂 One of my favorite things about it is it’s super pretty.

Slice up some fresh mozzarella as thin as you can.

Slice up some fresh mozzarella as thin as you can.

Remove a couple of stems of basil from the stems and coarsely chop.

Remove a couple of stems of basil from the stems and coarsely chop.

Basil

Slice a perfectly ripe juicy tomato.

Slice a perfectly ripe juicy tomato.

Layer the mozzarella alternately with the tomato slices on a plate or platter.

Layer the mozzarella alternately with the tomato slices on a plate or platter.

Sprinkle with chopped basil, salt and pepper.  Then drizzle a little bit of balsamic vinegar and some olive oil over the top.  YUM!

Sprinkle with chopped basil, salt and pepper. Then drizzle a little bit of balsamic vinegar and some olive oil over the top. YUM!

Mr. Kent who claims he does not like tomatoes loves this salad. It’s time for us to try it with our picky eaters. 🙂 Enjoy!

Garden Glory-Cantaloupe

Me and my sprouts harvested over 52 pounds of food from the garden again this week. I’m amazed at how much the garden is producing right now. Tomorrow I plan to try to trim some wiley things back and open up the walkways so we can get to it easier if it’s not too hot in the morning. Wow, it’s a scorcher out there today! We picked almost 15 pounds of cucumbers this week, 20 pounds of tomatoes, 13 pounds of cantaloupe, and okra, tomatillos, peppers, and carrots. I’m amazed at what the kids have learned about growing this year, and what they have learned to like eating.

Monday's harvest.

Monday’s harvest.

Today's pickings.  We usually pick on Thursday but yesterday we got a lovely 2 1/2 inches of rain that kept us from working outside.

Today’s pickings. We usually pick on Thursday but yesterday we got a lovely 2 1/2 inches of rain that kept us from working outside.


The rest of today's score.

The rest of today’s score.

Today also marks the end of my time watching a very special young man. I’ve taught and taken care of him for over 10 years and it’s super hard to let him go. It’s always hard to say goodbye…

Saying goodbye to daycare kids.

saying goodbye to daycare kids

Easy Roasted Tomato Sauce

Last year during tomato season my friend Candy posted a picture on her Facebook page of some roasted tomato sauce she was making. It looked delicious so I checked out the recipe she was using and did a little tweaking. This is what I came up with. Roasting food somehow makes it so delicious. This sauce is thick and rich and so flavorful. I planted some paste tomatoes this year and have been using them to make my sauce. They have less liquid in them and it makes the sauce more smokey and a little thicker.

Slice your tomatoes in half and toss them on a sheet pan.

Slice your tomatoes in half and toss them on a sheet pan.


Chop some onion and a couple of cloves of garlic and toss it on the pan.  You don't need to worry about peels or seeds or anything since you will be passing your vegetables through the food mill.  It takes out all those parts.

Chop some onion and a couple of cloves of garlic and toss it on the pan. You don’t need to worry about peels or seeds or anything since you will be passing your vegetables through the food mill. It takes out all those parts.


Sprinkle the mixture with a tablespoon or two of olive oil.

Sprinkle the mixture with a tablespoon or two of olive oil.


Add a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Add a generous amount of salt and pepper.


Toss the vegetables well and spread them in a single layer with the tomatoes cut side up.  Roast them until the edges are just starting to turn brown.

Toss the vegetables well and spread them in a single layer with the tomatoes cut side up. Roast them at 400 degrees until the edges are just starting to turn brown.


Dump the mixture into your food mill and process until all the liquid passes through and you are left with the skins.

Dump the mixture into your food mill and process until all the liquid passes through and you are left with the skins.


DSCN6884 (2)
The sauce is thick and rich.

The sauce is thick and rich.


Now your sauce is ready to use, can or freeze.  You can add other ingredients you like as well.  Sometimes I add basil or other herbs to mine.  You could also use hot peppers, bell peppers, or anything you like in your tomato sauce.  What is your favorite way to make tomato sauce?

Now your sauce is ready to use, can or freeze. You can add other ingredients you like as well. Sometimes I add basil or other herbs to mine. You could also use hot peppers, bell peppers, or anything you like in your tomato sauce.

What is your favorite way to make tomato sauce?