« January 2014 | Main | March 2014 »

February 2014

Easy Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Lemon

Roasted Broccoli 

Roasting broccoli is probably my favorite method – it’s quick and easy to prepare. High heat roasting enhances the natural sweet and nutty flavor while creating a beautiful brown, caramelized exterior. People seem to either love or hate broccoli, which is a shame because few other vegetables are as naturally abundant in indole-3-carbinol, a powerful antioxidant. President George H.W. Bush apparently disliked it so much that he never, ever, wanted to see a sprig of broccoli on his plate. According to reports he proclaimed, “I'm President of the United States, and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli!''  It seems things have changed a bit at the White House, and broccoli is back on the menu. Last year at a Kids' State Dinner, President Obama told a kid reporter that broccoli is his favorite food. He may have been exaggerating a tad, but give this recipe a try, it might just change your mind about broccoli.

Download Easy Roasted Lemon Garlic Broccoli recipe

Serves 4

1 large head broccoli (about 1 ¾ pounds)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)

½ teaspoon table salt

½ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Lemon wedges for serving

1. Place large rimmed baking sheet on lowest level rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees.

2. Combine olive oil with garlic and red pepper flakes and set aside

2. Cut broccoli at juncture of florets and stems; discard stalk.  Cut broccoli into 8 equal wedges, keeping core and florets intact. Place broccoli pieces in large bowl; drizzle with oil mixture and toss well until evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt, sugar, and pepper and toss to combine.

3. Remove baking sheet from oven. Carefully transfer broccoli to baking sheet and quickly spread into even layer, keeping flat sides down (it should start to sizzle when it hits the pan). Return baking sheet to oven and roast until stalks are well browned and tender and florets are lightly browned, 9 to 11 minutes. Transfer to serving dish, drizzle with additional olive oil and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Roasted Broccoli cuts

Roasted Broccoli pre bake pan 

Roasted Broccoli pan

Roasted Broccoli pan charred

Traditional Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns3


There are many stories regarding the history of Hot Cross Buns. One interesting one comes from Alan Davidson's "The Oxford Companion to Food". He says that the Saxon invaders in Britain chomped on buns adorned with impressions of crosses in honor of the pagan goddess of light, Eostre, from whom the name Easter is derived. Today they are traditionally served at Easter and there is a superstition that Hot Cross Buns baked on Good Friday never became moldy and in the past, one Hot Cross Bun would be saved as a good luck charm until the next year's buns were made. Whatever the history, these sweet tender buttery buns are a delicious treat and should be enjoyed all year long. This is adapted from a Cook’s Country recipe for Sweet Dough.


Download Hot Cross Buns Recipe


3/4 cup buttermilk, warmed (around 110 degrees)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), melted and cooled until warm 

3 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten 

4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour  

2 teaspoons ground spices, optional (if using, try this mixture - 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg)

1/4 cup sugar  

1 envelope instant yeast or rapid-rise yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons) 

1 1/4 teaspoons table salt   

Extra flour for the counter 

1 large egg, lightly beaten 

1 tablespoon water  

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar  

1 tablespoon milk  

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract  



1.    Whisk the butter, buttermilk, and eggs together in a large liquid measuring cup. Mix 4 cups of the flour, the sugar, yeast, spices (if using) and salt in a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 1 minute.


2.    Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (If, after five minutes, more flour is needed, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clears the side of the bowl but sticks to the bottom.


3.    Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball, about 1 minute. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.


4.     Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and divide into 12 even pieces. Roll the pieces of dough into tight balls. Arrange the balls in a greased 9 by 13-inch metal baking dish and wrap tightly in greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until the rolls have nearly doubled in size and are pressed against one another, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.


5.    Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut an X through the top 1/4 inch of each bun. Whisk the egg and water together and brush over the buns. Bake until golden and puffed, 25 to 30 minutes.


6.    Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar, milk, and vanilla together and drizzle in an X into the cut grooves of the buns. Serve warm or let cool completely.

Hot cross dough

Hot cross dough balls
Hot cross dough rise
Hot cross buns baked 

Hot cross buns iced1

Perfect Oven Baked Brown Rice

Perfect brown rice 

Many recipes for brown rice can require special equipment (like a rice cooker) or time consuming stovetop methods that are not always foolproof. This recipe for baked brown rice is perfect every time and eliminates the risk of poorly cooked rice. While white rice many be more popular, brown rice clearly is the best choice in terms of health benefits. The process of creating white rice removes almost of all of its original nutrients, and according to the World’s Healthiest Foods website, “the complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids”. Brown rice has been shown to help lower cholesterol, has a low glycemic rating which helps reduce insulin spikes, and is rich in anti-oxidants and high in fiber. This recipe is probably the most basic, but you can add flavor by substituting chicken or vegetable broth for the water.  Once the rice is cooked, add fresh herbs like chopped parsley or basil, or sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan cheese. 


Download Perfect Oven Baked Brown Rice recipe

1 ½ cups long-grain brown rice, medium-grain brown rice, or short-grain brown rice ( I use Lundberg Family Farms brand)

2 ½ cups water

1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil

¾ teaspoons kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and set oven rack to middle position. Spread rice in 8-inch-square glass baking dish, or ceramic baking dish with tightly fitting lid.

2. Bring water and butter or oil to boil, covered, in medium saucepan over high heat; once boiling, immediately stir in salt and pour water over rice. Cover baking dish tightly with doubled layer of foil (or lid). Bake rice 1 hour, until tender.

3. Remove baking dish from oven and uncover. Fluff rice with dinner fork, then cover dish with clean kitchen towel; let rice stand 5 minutes. Fluff rice again and serve.

Brown rice dish

Brown rice water butter boil

Brown rice baking

Brown rice cooked