B is for Boys and Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts. Those little wild cabbage bulbs are everywhere this time of year and they're named after Belgium's capital. They kind of have a bad (undeservedly) reputation. I'm not sure when or why I convinced myself that I didn't like them, but that was a big mistake...
Last month we celebrated my birthday at Fruition, a great New-American eatery that focuses on local and seasonal ingredients. My entree had, among other things, Brussels sprouts. And they were delicious. 
I decided it was time to make them at home. I searched for a recipe but most of the ones that turned up contained bacon (no thanks). And then I stumbled upon this recipe from Smitten Kitchen that looked delicious and used a mustard sauce (yes please). The dish was really tasty and I almost ate a pound of sprouts in one sitting, not that that's a bad thing...Brussels sprouts are really good for you and anti-cancer properties are packed inside! 
Next I think I'll try Mollie Katzen's Braised Brussels Sprouts in Maple-Mustard Glaze, which I saw posted here
I have a feeling this is going to be my new go-to vegetable...at least while the season lasts. 

Dijon-Braised Brussels Sprouts (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Serves 4 as a side dish
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cup vegetable cup broth
3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
Trim sprouts and halve lengthwise. In a large, heavy 12-inch skillet heat butter and oil over moderate heat. Arrange halved sprouts in skillet, cut sides down, in one layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook sprouts, without turning until undersides are golden brown, about 5 minutes. {My Note: this step is really important because if the sprouts aren't browned on one side they tend to get mushy further along in the cooking process and the texture is compromised.}
Add the shallots and stock and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low (for a gentle simmer), cover the pot with a lid (foil works too, if your skillet lacks a lid) and cook the sprouts until they are tender can be pierced easily with the tip of a paring knife, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the lid, and scoop out Brussels. Add cream and simmer for two to three minutes, until slightly thickened. Whisk in mustard. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary with more salt, pepper or Dijon. Pour sauce over Brussels and serve immediately.
In addition to the Brussels sprouts, I've been doing a lot of cooking. I've made carrot curry soup, guacamole grilled cheese sandwiches, millet muffins, oatmeal pancakes, Swiss-chard omelettes, leek-and-yogurt soup with dried mint, and today we made some thin-crust pizza. Initially I thought I would use Jim Lahey's (Sullivan Street Bakery) dough recipe, but I decided to buy some pre-made dough, make a homemade sauce and then assemble the pizza using olive oil, fresh mozzarella, basil, salt, pepper and red chili flakes. Simple.
I took some pictures of my sous-chef and then experimented with fading/contrast effects once I uploaded them to my computer. Not too terrible considering these came from the camera on my cell phone and the lighting wasn't great. 
In addition to cooking, I've also been trying to work on my photography skills. Over the past year and a half since I started this blogging project, I think that my pictures have gotten better. Now I'm not saying that they're 'all-that.' But I think that I've improved from where I started. Now, however, I feel like I've plateaued. I still am not able to fix photos taken in non-optimal light and that is a pretty big weakness. I also don't know any editing software and I think it's time I learn. Lucky for me I have a husband who is constantly encouraging me to get better at something I really like doing. He got me the greatest tool (read: awesome desktop computer) and he installed Lightroom...so now's the time. I've procrastinated long enough.
I'm going to implement some big changes next week. "There's a new sheriff in town"-- and that sheriff is me! Since time is precious in my life (taking care of two little boys doesn't allow for much down-time), I'm going to limit my use of social media because, well, I'm addicted and I need to stop. I'm going to use the hour of free time that I do have to improve on my favorite hobby-- picture-taking! Hopefully I'll be able to update this blog semi-regularly and post my improvements :) Until then, happy eating!
This was taken at Sweet Action, one of the nation's best ice cream parlors  and located right here in Denver!