Rosemary Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Let’s keep this simple: I love Nigella Lawson.

I love her recipes. I love her witticisms. I love her energy.

My approach to cooking is strongly influenced by something she once said: “Don’t worry if bits of eggshell get into the bowl. It proves it’s homemade.”

So when I made her recipe for roasted brussels sprouts and discovered that a few lemon seeds had made their way into my final product, I wasn’t bothered in the least.

All is right with the world. Try these Rosemary Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprouts a la Nigellissima yourself, and just be sure to mind the pips!

Rosemary Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprouts | KellyintheKitchen | olive oil, lemon zest, 1 clove garlic, 1 sprig rosemary, 100 g brussels sprouts, 1 tbsp parmesan cheese, salt and pepper

INGREDIENTS

olive oil
1 lemon, zested to taste (I go lighter on lemon zest but Nigella’s recipe calls for the zest of a whole lemon)
1 clove garlic, grated or finely minced
1 sprig rosemary
a few handfuls of brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (you want enough to form a single layer on the bottom of a standard sized cast iron skillet)
1-2 tbsp parmesan cheese (to taste)
salt and pepper
NOTE: this recipe doubles and triples easily if you’re cooking for a bigger group!

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 F.

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Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of a pan (I used my cast-iron skillet). Grate the garlic and lemons zest into the pan and, tearing the rosemary leaves apart roughly, strew them about the pan. You can leave them large enough to remove at the end if you like. Add the brussels sprouts and toss to coat.

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Roast for about 15 minutes, until starting to become tender. Drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with parmesan and salt and pepper at pop back in the oven for another 5 minutes. They’re ready when they’re tender but still have a little bit of bite in them.

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Pull out the rosemary leaves and serve ’em up! These make a fantastic side dish to an herby roasted chicken, but we ate almost all of them straight out with our fingers. Yeah, they’re that good!

Spinach and Tomato Tart with Bleu Cheese.

Most of the time, I like recipes that are quick and easy, require minimum dish-washing, and have an ingredient list that’s more like a haiku than a novel. Most of the time. But every once in a while, I am overcome with a sort of culinary patience and concentration that allows me to make a recipe like this one. There are a few separate characters in this play: the tart shell, buttery and crumbly-good; the creamy filling, eggy and spicy; and the veggies themselves, that make this whole thing totally worth it. So if you’ve got a good 2 hours or so and you really want to spoil yourself with something rich and beautiful, this is your guy. Of course, you can always use a store-bought tart crust, which would cut the prep time down, well, a lot. Either way, this dish combines the best of the tart and quiche worlds into one mega-brunch food.

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for tart shell:
12 tbsp cold butter, cubed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
water, if needed

for filling:
4 cups fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
1/3 cup ham, cut into lardons, or strips
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp dried parlsey
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dry mustard powder
3 small tomatoes, de-seeded and sliced
crumbled bleu cheese, to taste, for sprinkling (feta or goat cheese would be delicious here, too)

Just the Recipe Link: Spinach and Tomato Tart with Bleu Cheese

DIRECTIONS

Get the crust going first. In a food processor, blitz together the butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper until the dough is the consistency of wet sand. You’re looking for the dough to just hold together, so check to see if it does. If it’s a bit too dry, add a splash or two of water at a time and pulse the food processor until the dough reaches the right consistency.

Turn the dough out on to a sheet of wax paper. Form it into a flat disc, wrap in the wax paper, and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

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While the dough chills, get the fillings going. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute, careful not to let it burn.

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Add spinach. It will look like a ton of spinach, but it will cook down a lot.

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Cook the spinach, stirring, until nearly wilted. Turn off the heat and continue to stir until completely wilted.

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Put spinach in a bowl lined with paper towels or a washcloth (it will stain green, so use one you don’t care about).

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When it’s cool enough to touch, squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the spinach. I usually start with my hands and then realize that I can get more liquid out if I squeeze it between two dishes. Once you’re satisfied that you’ve gotten enough water out, set aside.

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Heat the same pan over medium high and cook the ham, just to give it a bit of color on each side. Set aside.

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Finally, cook the onions. They’re best cooked last because they can soak up all that flavor goodness leftover in the pan after the ham! Add a bit of olive oil and cook until softened. Set aside.

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When 30 minutes have passed, take the tart dough out of the fridge. Let it sit 5 minutes before you roll it out on a floured surface. Then roll it to the general shape of the pie dish you’re using (I used a spring-form cake pan because I left my tart shell at my apartment – whoops).

Drape the dough over the pan and use your fingers to press it into shape. This step always take me a while because I’m not very good at getting the dough to stay in one piece while I’m moving it! Notice how I have no photos of this; I get distracted. A good trick is to roll the dough onto your rolling pin and move it that way, but even this doesn’t make my life much easier. Look at it this way – it’s food. Who cares if your tart shell is a little uneven?

After you’ve gotten the tart shell into the pan, put it back in the fridge for 15 more minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

When the shell is chilled, put a sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough and fill the shell with dried beans, or something else heavy. When I don’t have my baking beans on hand, I use another smaller pie pan.

Bake the crust for 20 minutes, until just starting to turn golden. Remove from oven and remove the beans and parchment paper.

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While the shell bakes, mix up the liquid part of the filling. Whisk together the yolks, egg, yogurt, and stock. Add parsley, paprika, mustard powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the onions and ham, and set aside.

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Pour the filling into the baked shell. Scatter the spinach evenly over the top.

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Lay the tomato slices on top in a circular fan pattern, and top with bleu cheese. Be careful not to use too much cheese; the other flavors are delicate, and too much bleu could easily overwhelm the tart. See this picture? I used just a bit too much, so learn from my mistake!

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Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil, season with a bit more salt and pepper if you like, and pop it back in the oven for about 25 minutes, until the filling has set. Serve immediately; also good at room temperature.

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100th recipe! and, Roasted Garlic Refried Black Beans.

Happy 100th recipe from KellyintheKitchen! And just in time before the new year. These humble yet flexible refried black beans perhaps aren’t high-brow enough to be deserving of posting-milestone glory, but look beyond their simplicity to see the awesome possibilities. They work great as enchilada or taco filling, a topping for rice, a spread on top of toast, omelet filling or a side for scrambled eggs…the list goes on. My recipe includes ham, but these also make great vegan beans, sans ham of course. They are incredibly versatile. I ate them with a scoop of Greek yogurt and scallions on top and it was great. These are smart to have around. Happy 100!

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INGREDIENTS

3 cloves garlic, with peels still on
olive oil
1/2 red pepper, diced
4 scallions
1 cup diced ham (optional)
2 cans of black beans (one can drained and rinsed, the other with the liquid)
dash of seasoning salt (I used Pilsen Latino Seasoning from the Spice House) – optional
salt and pepper

Just the Recipe link: Roasted Garlic Refried Black Beans

DIRECTIONS

First, dry roast the garlic in a pan over medium low heat. Once they’re tender and soft, set the cloves aside until they’re cool enough to peel.

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In another pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat and add the red pepper. Once it’s softened, add the peeled roasted garlic and scallions and, if you’re not doing vegan beans, the ham. Stir around to crisp it up a bit, cooking for about 3 minutes if you’re using ham, or about 1 minute if not.

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Add the black beans and go at the whole thing with a potato masher. Add a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and if you want, a pinch of seasoning salt.

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Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are heated through. Add a splash or two of water if you want a looser texture – I left mine as they were and they were great. Then serve them however you like! I gave ’em a good dollop of Greek yogurt and an extra sprinkle of scallions and was good to go. Enjoy!

Stuffed Potato Skins.

Mmmmm. I love when amazing recipes are born of leftovers. What to do with leftover Christmas ham? This is a totally sumptuous and indulgent use of that holiday bounty, and it’s worth it in every way. My stuffed skins are the lovechild of a twice-baked potato and a potato skin, with the best of each coming together in this dish. It’s the steamy meatiness of a twice-baked, with the crispiness and the magical fillings/toppings of potato skins. Make this now or forever regret missing a wonderful food opportunity!

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INGREDIENTS

8 medium baking potatoes, washed
canola oil
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 tbsp butter
3-5 tbsp milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp seasoning salt (I used Bridgeport seasoning from the Spice House)
1 1/2 cups ham, diced (great for any holiday’s leftovers!!)
salt and pepper to taste
5 scallions, chopped

Just the Recipe link: Stuffed Potato Skins

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Rub each potato lightly with oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake until fork-tender, about 40 minutes.

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While the potatoes cook, get the toppings/fillings ready. Shred the cheese, dice up the ham, and chop the garlic and scallions.

When the potatoes are done, slice them in half long-ways and use an oven mitt hold them while you scoop out the middles. You want each potato to have enough room to stuff with filling, but enough potato remaining inside so that it still holds its shape. Put the potato meat that you scoop out into a large mixing bowl. Place the empty potato skins back in the pan, drizzle with olive oil, and put back in the oven to crisp up a bit more, about 10-15 minutes (or longer, if you want the skins really nice and crispy. I didn’t have the patience to wait!).

Now, mix up the filling. Stir together the potatoes with the sour cream, milk, butter, garlic, seasoning salt, ham, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of the cheese.

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Take the skins out of the oven and stuff with the filling.

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Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.

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Bake until the cheese is melted and the skins are even crispier. Sprinkle with scallions. These go great with sour cream and/or ketchup. Enjoy!

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Lebanese Meatballs.

As with so many of the amazing recipes I find all over the internet, I’ve had this one saved in my “want to make” folder for at least a year. And for my family’s Christmas Eve party this year, I finally had an occasion to make it! Wow, are these good. Thanks to Chico’s Kitchen for the recipe, which I’ve used as the perfect base and altered a bit to include some of my favorite flavors (read: garlic garlic garlic). They were also very portable in my mama’s crock pot, but if I had had my Dutch oven handy, that would have done the trick as well. These meatballs are the perfect easy appetizer for mini-munching, and they’re relatively guilt free if you use lean meat. I definitely popped a few in my mouth while I stood at the stove, and stirred them in the crock pot, and walked them around the party….I defy you not to do the same!

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INGREDIENTS

for the meatballs:
1 1/2 large onions, finely chopped
2 1/2 tbsp salt
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp granulated garlic
4 lbs ground meat (I used half beef, half turkey, but if you can get your hands on anything fancy like veal sausage or ground lamb, they would be awesome here too)

for the sauce:
1 1/2 large onions, sliced
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 cans crushed tomato
1 1/2 cups stock or water (I used beef stock)

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients for meat in a large bowl.

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Form into balls and brown in a skillet with olive oil over medium high heat. Brown them in batches, careful not to crowd the pan; we don’t want the meatballs to braise or steam. They do not need to be cooked through at this point; we just want to get some color on ’em.
*NOTE: I HIGHLY recommend having a partner in crime to help with this. My mama rolled the meatballs while I browned them and it went so much faster!

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While the meatballs are browning, cook the onions for the sauce in a separate pan. Put them in a bowl and add the balsamic vinegar and the sugar and stir. Set aside.

When the meatballs are browned, put them in a crock pot or Dutch oven. In the pan where we cooked the meatballs, add the balsamic onions, the crushed tomato, and the stock or water. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Then pour the sauce over the meatballs and cook on low for 2-3 hours.

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Serve with toothpicks for easy munching. These also make amazing leftovers: serve a big scoop of the sauce and a couple meatballs over a bed of rice. Merry Christmas!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup.

File this one under “tons of flavor in less than 20 minutes.” Also file it under “food for when you’re pretending it’s snowing,” because that’s what I did yesterday. It’s been something like 300 days since Chicago has had any measurable snowfall, and despite a snow-optimistic forecast, it’s just not happening for us. I woke up Friday morning to a depressingly still-green backyard, and it’s hard to feel Christmasy with such balmy weather. Global climate change is really throwing a wrench into my Christmas spirit! So I made this tasty, toasty dish for lunch, and I’m crossing my fingers we’ll get a white Christmas in the next few days. Until then, broccoli cheddar soup is a good distraction.

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INGREDIENTS

olive oil
butter
1 tsp all-purpose flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup half and half
1 1/2 cups stock (I used leftover beef stock)
salt and pepper
pinch of nutmeg
a few handfuls of broccoli (I had some leftover cauliflower so I threw that in too)
about 1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese (don’t measure. Just add as much as you want.)

DIRECTIONS

In a saucepan over medium heat, heat a splash of olive oil and a bit of butter and add the flour, stirring constantly. Cook about a minute, then add the garlic and cook another minute.  Pour in the half and half, stock, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

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Bring to a low boil and add the broccoli. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is tender.

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Remove from heat and pour into a food processor or blender. Add the cheese and blitz to your liking.

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Serve with bread and butter and cross your fingers it will snow before Christmas.

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