The easiest Thanksgiving dinner side dish, ever: Roasted Brussels sprouts

Roasted Brussels sprouts

When Thanksgiving rolls around, I’m all about the… side dishes. I’ve never found turkey that appealing, but bring me dressing, dinner rolls, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie and I’m in heaven. Wow, that’s a lot of carbs–and a lot of preparation for the cook!

Nothing is easier than throwing some veggies on a cookie sheet and roasting them. Why not make your Thanksgiving dinner fancy (and help keep your guests out of a carb coma) by making roasted Brussels sprouts? I know, Brussels sprouts are controversial, but I promise roasting them makes them tasty. When you add some roasted walnuts and tangy blue cheese, I guarantee you won’t have leftovers. (Vegans, I’m not sure what a good substitute for the blue cheese would be; the options I found online didn’t look appealing. Maybe a sprinkle of nootch when you’re ready to serve? Please let me know your suggestions!)

I made this dish during the great cold of 2014, so I blame my stuffy head stupor for the lack of a decent picture. (If I’m being candid, I totally forgot to take a picture until I was almost done eating it. Luckily my phone was nearby and I was able to get one pic for you to enjoy!)

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Makes about 4 servings

16 oz. Brussels sprouts

1 T. ground coriander seed

1/3 c. chopped walnuts

1/3 c. crumbled blue cheese

1 T. extra virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper, to taste

Clean Brussels sprouts and cut in half. Add sprouts to a large bowl and toss with all ingredients except blue cheese. Spread mixture onto a cookie sheet. Cook in 450 degree oven for 20 minutes or until edges of the Brussels sprouts start to turn golden, turning sprouts occasionally. When sprouts are cooked transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle in blue cheese.

Great gift ideas: Tea lovers edition

Great gift ideas - Tea lovers edition

Baby, it’s cold outside! (At least it is here in the 216 area code.) When it’s cold out, nothing warms my soul faster than a hot bath followed by a nice cup of tea.

You can show someone you love how much you care about their physical and spiritual warmth by giving them the gift that does just that. It’s easy to put together a gift basket full of goodies that will mend their winter woes.

Here’s what you need:

  • A great basket (you can get these pretty affordably at your local craft store) or a sturdy gift bag
  • Shredded tissue paper to nestle your basket goodies in (I find my local “everything is only $1″ store to be a good source for this)
  • A selection of herbal teas and a shiny new mug
  • Fancy bath accessories such as a loofah, bath pouf or a bath pillow
  • Bath tea and any other of your favorite Emmet Street Creations products!

In no time at all, you’ll have the perfect gift to warm your loved one from their nose to their toes!

Know someone who dreads the winter chill? Why not share this post with them? It’s as easy as putting together a gift basket! Simply use one of the sharing buttons below (Note: If you’re reading this via e-mail or reader, you’ll need to link to our website to use the sharing buttons).

There’s nothing worse than a good book

 There's nothing worse than a good book!Image credit: Mr. Potato Head Has His Nose in a Good Book by Enokson on Flickr. CC by 2.0.

Recently I mourned the passing of autumn and declared I had started a mental list of the books I plan to read while I’m hunkered down indoors this winter.

Despite my love of libraries and books, I have a confession to make: I hate reading fiction.

More precisely, I hate reading engaging fiction. When I’m immersed in a good tale, I can think of nothing else until the book is done.

The best feeling in the world is sitting on the couch or in a comfy chair, tucked into a snuggly blanket with a warm beverage nearby and getting lost in the world before me on the printed page. I feel warm inside and out; all my woes melt away.

Immersed in the story, I AM the adventurer, the solver of mysteries, the seductress. I fly through the pages, ravenous to see how it turns out.

Then I get to the last chapters.

A feeling of dread comes over me. “Is it really almost over?” I ask myself. I slow down, reluctant to read the last word, on the last page. When I get there, I suffer a feeling of loss. I’ve gotten to know and love the characters. They’ve become real to me. Is this really the end? It’s not fair. I want to see your love grow, your children grow, your achievements to get achieveier, your mysteries to get mysterier. I’ve stuck by your side this whole time and now you’re leaving me?

Then I come to my senses, remind myself it’s just a book and I have a huge backlog of others I need to get to. And so it begins anew…

What about you? Am I the only one with these obsessive tendencies? (Please validate that I’m not!) What was the last book you read that took over your life like this?

WTF? (What’s this fruit?)

Rambutan fruit

So the other day I was strolling the produce stalls at Cleveland’s Westside Market and I saw these little gems. I had to ask the vendor, “What the heck is that?”

He kindly went into his spiel, even though he’s probably asked a million times a day. These spiky, ping-pong ball sized things–that look like they sprang from the pages of a book by Dr. Seuss–were rambutan fruit. Once I learned they were edible and not the eggs from some species of alien chicken, I knew I was going to buy some.

The vendor recounted all he knew about Rumspringa (that’s one of the many things that is great about the Westside Market, many vendors are very knowledgable about their products and are happy to share what they know). He told me what to expect from the Rasputin in terms of the taste, shared some of the nutritional benefits (they have a lot of vitamin C and calcium in the small amount of flesh each contains), told me they grow in tropical areas and are prolific like weeds. He told me so much that I forgot what the name of the fruit actually was.

One other thing the produce vendor told me before I departed with my spiky treasures was the Roomba was considered an aphrodisiac in some cultures. I thought this was odd, because they definitely didn’t look very sexy. Regardless, I couldn’t wait to get them home to try them!

Peeled rambutan fruitPeeled rambutan fruit

I don’t know if I got the “medicinal” effect from the Ramstein fruit, but I did fall in love with the taste! It’s hard to describe, but it’s a little grape-y, very sweet and something else I can’t quite describe. The closest I can get is maybe a bit of honeydew melon or vanilla flavor.

I gave a couple to Christine to try, to see if the Rambo had mass appeal. Here’s her review:

“I find ramentum very tasty. I don’t think rampallion are my new favorite fruit, though. Razzmatazz do not provide enough calories to make a meal. I would eat ramalamadingdong again.”

So, I call this a win in the “try something new” category! What weird food item have you tried (and were you glad you tried it)?

Great gift ideas: Spa Day Basket

Gift ideas from Emmet Street Creations - Spa Day Basket

Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. Are you going to a holiday dinner hosted by a friend or family member? Are you thinking about repaying their hospitality by bringing a hostess (or host) gift?

If so, why not bring something a little more interesting than a bottle of wine? I think wine is great, but the fun only lasts for a few glasses. With a small amount of effort, you can put together a gift that brings hours of joy and relaxation to its recipient: A spa day basket!

Here’s what you need:

  • A decorative basket (you can get these pretty affordably at your local craft store) or a sturdy gift bag
  • Shredded tissue paper to nestle your basket goodies in (I find my local “everything is only $1″ store to be a good source for this)
  • Fancy bath accessories such as a loofah, bath pouf, natural sponge and massaging tool
  • Your favorite Emmet Street Creations products! Our Revitalizing Rosemary Mint, Lemongrass and Green Tea and Citrus Clouds handcrafted soap are great scents to create spa day experience.

That’s it! You get the satisfaction of putting together a great gift and your recipient gets a ready-made way to relax after all the guests have gone home!

Know someone who is looking for some handcrafted gift ideas? Why not share this post with them? It’s a snap! Simply use one of the sharing buttons below (Note: If you’re reading this via e-mail or reader, you’ll need to link to our website to use the sharing buttons).

A farewell to autumn

Farewell autumn

A recent road trip to the Ozarks Mountains in Arkansas showed us some of fall’s finery

I know, I know–autumn doesn’t officially end until the winter solstice starts on Dec. 21. But, with the U.S. Election Day behind us, Veteran’s Day tomorrow and high school football championships coming upon us, it feels like autumn has come to an end.

The record low temperatures we’re expecting this week don’t help make the case that winter is still more than a month away. I’ve begun rotating my warmest sweaters and snuggliest slippers to the prime real estate in my closet, stocking up on my favorite teas and making a mental list of the books I want to cozy up with when the weather makes it unbearable to go outside.

While I’ve been making the mental transition to winter, I’ve been reminiscing about the things I’ll miss when I’m cooped up indoors, wrapped in a blanket. Before I got too weepy, I sorted through some pictures I took during the season to help me remember happier times.

Here are a few of the things I’ll miss seeing this winter…

Old barns and thriving corn fields

Corn field with an old barn in the background

Bright blue skies with happy, fluffy clouds

Blue sky over a corn field

Seeing old tractors out and about

Old Tractor - Ford 8N

Old tractor - A Farmall Cub

Stumbling upon interesting critters in the garden

Garden spider

Finding quirky fall festivals like the Kidron Beet Festival (this guy took the prize for the largest beet, 19 1/2 pounds)

Winner of Largest Beet at the Kidron Beet Festival

And avoiding scary things, like haunted houses.

Haunted house for sale

So, what will you miss about fall? Do you find anything good about winter? Inspire me to get excited about entering the arctic season!

For the love of… Pumpkin! (Pumpkin recipe roundup!)

For the love of... pumpkin! Pumpkin recipe roundupImage credit: Pumpkins by tibbygirl on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

All home cooks know what a tasty and versatile ingredient pumpkin is. You can use it in savory recipes or sweet recipes. You can roast a fresh pumpkin, or you can save some time and get it (pretty cheaply this time of year) in a can.

Now that pretty much everyone is going nuts for all things pumpkin at the moment, so I thought I’d share a few recipes that I’ve tried (or I am adding to my winter cooking wish list) to inspire you to try whipping some of this up for yourself.

On the light (healthy and tasty) side:

The dark (less healthy, but tasty) side:

Now it’s your turn! Share some of your favorites in the comments! I always love to hear new ways to add more (pumpkin pie) spice to my life!