Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yummy Recipes - Best Broccoli ... EVER

I handed hubby his dinner plate last week along with a disclaimer. I said, "I know the broccoli looks a little burnt, but trust me, it's really delicious." Luckily, hubby is an adventurous eater - there's not much he won't try. He took one bite, his eyes lit up, and he said, "WOW! This is the best broccoli ever." He then proceeded to finish his generous serving of broccoli before even moving on to his main meat course.

I started roasting vegetables about seven months ago when our beloved steamer broke. I used to steam veggies almost every night. I took this as a challenge to get more creative with preparing veggies and I was also being cheap and didn't want to buy a new steamer. So I turned to my favorite recipe blog, For the Love of Cooking, where Pam introduced me to veggie roasting. I roast almost all veggies now. I have adapted her roasted broccoli recipe (which was already delicious), and came up with this:

Roasted Broccoli

2 large bunches of broccoli
Olive oil
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Fresh garlic, minced
Lemon juice (optional)
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425*. Line a baking sheet with foil. IF you wash your broccoli first, make sure that you dry it thoroughly. Not everyone thinks it's necessary to wash produce or even meats before cooking in a high temperature oven. In theory, that kind of heat should kill any harmful bacteria. But if it makes you nervous, just dry it obsessively.

Cut the broccoli into florets and place in a single layer on the lined baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sorry, no exact measurements ... I just eyeball it. If I had to guesstimate, I'd say 4-5 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 tsp. each salt and pepper. Make sure the broccoli is coated with oil, but not dripping. Now add about 5 minced garlic cloves evenly.

Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and some of the tips are browned. When done, remove from oven and squeeze a little lemon juice on top, and sprinkle with some parmesan cheese. Sometimes I skip the lemon and cheese, because I'm so anxious to dig in, and it still tastes so yummy.

Broccoli can often get squishy when you cook it. Not this broccoli. It develops an amazing brown crust in some spots. The key is roasting at a high temperature until it caramelizes.

I find myself craving this during the day. I want to throw each little floret in my mouth like popcorn, and just snack on them. If my mom had prepared broccoli this way when we were growing up, I guarantee that there wouldn't have been a struggle at the dinner table. In fact, I would have begged for more!

Try it. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Five years ago today ...

... Kent proposed. We had gone tubing that day, and sun + water always wears me out, so I took a nap at his apartment afterwards. It was almost dark when Kent woke me up and asked if I still wanted to go to the fireworks show at the park. I did, so we headed out.

He brought a blanket and some sparklers, and we found a nice spot under a big tree. We lit some sparklers while we were waiting for the show to begin. Kent was having some trouble lighting them with the lighter that he'd brought. I told him not to worry about it, but he was persistent! The fireworks display started, and Kent was still messing with the sparklers. I told him that they weren't a big deal and to just enjoy the fireworks with me. He eventually did, but I could tell that he was still annoyed about the sparklers.

When the finale was over, I started packing up our stuff to go, and he said, "Do you want to stay and finish the sparklers?" I was thinking, 'Geez, what is UP with him and these sparklers?!?,' but I said, "OK, sure." We were successful in lighting the remaining sparklers. When my final sparkler burnt out, I turned to look at Kent who still had one burning. At the base of the sparkler, I noticed something shiny. It was a ring! He told me that this was the REAL finale, and asked me to be his wife.

The next year, some friends threw us an engagement party over the July 4th weekend, complete with a personal fireworks show on the lake.

And for our wedding send-off, all of our guests held extra-long sparklers while we ran under them to our getaway car. (Our photographer holds the rights to that photo, darn!)

So today is very special to us! Happy 4th everyone!