Plenty of ingredients, short on time

I don’t typically cook at home at all, so having to prepare two recipes was a good way to jump in. My husband does all of the cooking in our house and is practically a gourmet chef, so that means we have a fully stocked fridge and pantry nearly all the time and every kitchen gadget available. That also means I don’t do any meal planning myself on a regular basis. I had tons of ingredients to choose from, almost all of which I’d never actually cooked before. The challenge for me, then, was figuring out what would be easy and quick to make since I’m always running short on time. I am a big fan of America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) since they make everything seem so straightforward and intuitive, so I pulled out their cookbook to get started.

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I turned to the veggie side dish section, since part of the reason I’m taking this class is to add more veggies to my diet. I chose to try to make brussels sprouts since I have never prepared them. ATK is great because they tell you how to prepare roasted brussels sprouts in the most basic way, but then they give you ideas for variations on the recipe to (literally) spice things up. I chose a roasted brussels sprouts dish with oil, garlic, red chili pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese. I assembled my mise en place, as Bill taught us and got to put those knife skills to good use preparing the brussels sprouts. We’ve had the 8″ Wustoff knife that was mentioned in class for about 15 years…yesterday was the first time I’d used it! I’d always thought that I would be very likely to cut myself with it, but it turns out that Bill was right – if you keep the tip down on the cutting board and you hold the handle so you have control of the blade, it’s much easier (and faster) than using a tiny paring knife (which is what I would normally use).

This recipe was easy to follow and the sprouts were in the oven in no time. While they were in the oven, I prepared the spice/oil/garlic mixture on the stove top.

We didn’t have Parmesan, so I substituted pecorino romano. ATK suggested a different way of roasting (covering with foil for the first 10 minutes) that my husband does not usually do. We both thought the brussels sprouts tasted better this way.

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I had been planning to also make a pizza since we had some dough from Trader Joe’s, but I didn’t get started on the second dish until after I’d finished the sprouts and had gotten hungry in the meantime…so I started flipping through the cookbook for something quicker. Ta-da! I came upon a recipe for avocado toast. We do eat avocado smooshed on toast for breakfast sometimes, but this recipe added a few other ingredients so I thought I’d try it to see if it was any better. I got the ingredients together and I was on my way.

This was a super easy dish – right up my alley – and it took only a few minutes to make. I realized part way in that I should assemble the kitchen tools while I’m gathering the ingredients so that everything is ready to go before I get started. I also could have used a smaller bowl here:

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The avocado toast turned out well, was very lemony with the lemon zest, and was done in no time. I am always looking for recipes that I can prepare quickly and that will add more greens to my diet, so these are definitely both keepers.

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