Honey Glazed Carrots

Today’s post/recipe is short, sweet and easy – in every sense of the word.

Carrots are good.  Carrots are tasty.  Carrots are naturally sweet.

Carrots are even better when smothered in something that will make them sweeter.  Unless, of course, you’re a picky 15-year-old boy who will only eat carrots raw.  But does that surprise anyone who reads my recipes?  I didn’t think so.

But I digress.

The secret to good glazed carrots is not to overcook them.  Actually, that’s the secret to cooking any vegetable, but it’s particularly bad for glazed carrots.  Overcook glazed carrots and you’re stuck with a pot full of expensive baby food, depending on how much you paid for the carrots and what you glazed them with.

For this recipe I glazed them with honey, mostly because I had some Tupelo honey on hand (Tupelo honey has a strong, distinctive flavor that marries well with the carrots without overwhelming them) but you can substitute plain clover honey, an equal amount of pure maple syrup or even brown sugar, although I find brown sugar makes them a little too sweet.

At any rate, this a nice, quick side dish not only for those nights when you’re peering into the refrigerator thinking, “Egads, what am I going to make with the meatloaf this time??” but when you’re serving a main course that’s little more elegant/involved and don’t want to have to spend too much time on the sides.

Note: You can glaze the carrots in the same pan you cooked them in if you want to cut down on the cleanup, but the honey and butter will form a glaze more quickly if the second step is done in a wide, shallow skillet where the carrots won’t be crowded, which will help keep them from overcooking.

Honey Glazed Carrots

serves 6

1 pound baby carrots

OR

1 pound mature carrots, scraped and sliced thickly on the bias

1 teaspoon salt

1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons Tupelo honey (increase the amount by a tablespoon or two if using a milder honey such as clover)

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring a quart of water to boil over high heat; add the salt and then the carrots.  Lower the heat slightly and cook for 3 – 5 minutes, until tender crisp.  Drain.

In a wide, heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the carrots; stir to coat.  Drizzle the carrots with the honey and increase the heat slightly and continue to cook for another 3 – 5 minutes until the honey and butter thickens and the carrots are nicely glazed.   Season to taste with the pepper.

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Zucchini Pancakes

I was going to write a review of a local restaurant today for Travel Tip Thursday, but the unbloggable continues, along with overwhelming amounts of work and the stressful situation with my nephew (good news and bad news there – fortunately, the good news outweighs the bad but I’ll go into that later), so I’m rerunning a very old recipe; again, from a time before I had any readers to speak of.

No original photography for this one, I’m afraid – other than the pictures I took of Little Guy over the weekend, my camera has been sadly neglected.  Which means I’ve already bombed out of Project365.  Of course, there’s nothing that dictates you have to begin on January 1st or any other day so I can restart at any time, but until we get the unbloggable resolved in some fashion I can’t see trying to begin again.  It’s all rather sucky, and I’m stuck with some stock photography for this one.

Anyhoo, I love squash of all kinds, and Beloved is particularly fond of zucchini.  You might not think to make a pancake, or blini, out of squash, but they are surprisingly good – I get frequent requests for them from all of the kids (The Young One excepted, of course).  These are super easy to make and are a great way to use up surplus zucchini in the summer.  Or even yellow summer squash, which works well too.  This can be made low carb/gluten-free by substituting the all-purpose flour with a nut or soy flour.

Zucchini Pancakes

2 – 3 medium zucchini

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Vegetable oil

Coarsely shred the zucchini; place it in a paper towel lined colander and press out as much moisture as you can.

Mix the zucchini with the rest of the ingredients except the vegetable oil in a large mixing bowl. Heat a large skillet over high heat until it nearly smokes; add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom. Drop the zucchini mixture into the hot skillet by heaping spoonfuls, flattening them slightly with the back of the spoon; they should be about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Fry them until brown, about 3 – 5 minutes per side, using care when flipping them. Drain briefly on paper towels, then serve immediately.

Makes 6 – 7 pancakes.

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Roasted Beets with Wilted Greens

You don’t see many recipes out there for beets, which is kind of sad.  Beets are good for you and when properly cooked, they taste great, too.

I never really ate beets growing up, although when I became an adult I found that I liked pickled beets in salads.  Other than that, I’d only had them canned and I’d never eaten the greens – too bad, because they’re fairly high in fiber, are a good source of vitamins A and C, help your body absorb calcium (important when you’re staring menopause and osteoporosis in the face) and, like I said, are really good when prepared well.

Beloved loves beets, so I picked some up at the grocery store this weekend; since they’re a winter root vegetable they’re fairly inexpensive this time of year.  I got a bundle of three organically grown beets with their greens for $3 – $1 apiece.  Cooked together in this recipe, that’s 6 servings (as a side dish) at 50 cents each.  Economical and very, very tasty.

It’s also really easy – and pretty, too.

If you like beets, you’ll love this recipe.  If you don’t like beets, give it a try – it may just change your mind.

Roasted Beets with Wilted Greens

serves 6

3 large beets with greens

1/4 cup olive oil, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup onion, minced

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Wash the beets thoroughly, leaving the skins on, and remove the greens. Rinse greens, removing the large stems and tearing them away from any thick center veins, and set aside. Without peeling them, place the beets in a small baking dish or roasting pan, and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil; it is easier to peel the beets once they have been roasted.

Cover, and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until a knife can slide easily through the largest beet.  Set the beets aside until just cool enough to handle; rub the skins off under running water then slice about 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick.  Cut the slices in half.

Once the beets are sliced and halved, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften; add the garlic and cook for another minute. Tear the beet greens into 2 to 3 inch pieces, and add them to the skillet. Cook and stir until greens are wilted and tender. Season with salt and pepper; add the vinegar. Stir the beets into the greens; heat through.  Serve immediately.

Mustard Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots

Mustard Green Beans with Caramelized ShallotsEarlier this week, I talked about what I made for dinner Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  While Stacy’s Slow Cooker Ham was the centerpiece of our holiday meal (I will SO be making that again), I prepared some other very nice dishes.

This was one of them.

Being a wee bit tired of the usual green bean dishes, I came across the basis for this one while searching for “holiday green bean” recipes.  My variation isn’t much different from the recipe I eventually chose, except I doubled the shallots and took the time to caramelize them.  The result was a vegetable side dish that went surprisingly well with the fruity ham and creamy yet spicy sweet potatoes.

Extremely easy and full of subtle but complex flavors, this dish is best made with fresh green beans, although I imagine they would be fine with frozen or canned beans.  If you use frozen green beans, thaw them but don’t bother to steam; if using canned green beans, drain them and omit the salt – either way, simply make sure the beans are heated through before adding the sour cream.  Don’t scrimp on the tarragon or shallots, and don’t leave out the sour cream; this is a really nice and tasty way to serve green beans.

Mustard Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots

serves 6

2 ½ tablespoons dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon dried tarragon

1½ pounds fresh, frozen or canned green beans, trimmed

3 tablespoons butter

1½ cups thinly sliced shallots

¼ cup sour cream

Mix the mustard, salt, pepper and tarragon together well in a small bowl; set aside.

Over medium-high heat, melt the butter in a heavy skillet. When the foaming subsides, add the shallots and reduce the heat to low. Cook the shallots, stirring frequently so they do not burn, until they are soft, brown and caramelized, 20 – 30 minutes.

While the shallots are cooking, steam the green beans (if using fresh), covered, until tender-crisp; keep warm.

Add the steamed green beans to the caramelized shallots; add the mustard mixture and stir until well combined. Heat through and stir in the sour cream. Serve immediately.