I've noticed that lately I'm in a rut when it comes to the evening meal. I love to cook, but I've just been falling back on the same old recipes, things that are fast, from ingredients I always have on hand.
I tried to look through cookbooks and cooking magazines for inspiration, but then I would be overwhelmed with all the various ideas. Plus, I'd find something to try, but it would call for a bunch of specialized, expensive things I don't have on hand. I'm cheap, so I'm not going to spend a bunch of money on something I'd probably never use for anything else.
So the idea I hit on to get out of my rut (without getting overwhelmed) is to focus on one new ingredient at a time. Using the alphabet for inspiration, I plan to go A to Z, finding foods I've never cooked before. Maybe I'll find some new go-to meal ideas.
For my first new dish, I cooked Brussels Sprouts. (OK, I'm starting with "B" but that's because Brussels sprouts were on sale this week. I told you, I'm cheap!)
Not only had I never cooked Brussels sprouts before, I have not eaten them voluntarily as an adult. I remember them as bitter, mushy and tasteless. But I found an article that said if you don't like Brussels sprouts, it's because you're not cooking them right. Boiling them into submission doesn't work, you have to roast them. So I got a simple recipe off the Food Network website - just trim the ends, dump them in a bowl with olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and mix together. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes. Here's a picture of the finished product:
The verdict: pretty darn good!
They were soft without being mushy, and the sea salt and roasting brought out a much richer flavor than I remember, while minimizing the bitterness. Even the boy ate one without complaint. (OK, I told him it was a zombie brain - but whatever works, right?)
I probably won't make these that often, but it's a good recipe to have on hand when I'm tired of the standard green beans/corn/carrots vegetable rotation.