12 asparagus spears
6 slices bacon
1 can Pillsbury breadsticks

  • Snap off bottoms of asparagus spears.
  • Wash and dry 12 spears of asparagus.
  • Wrap bacon around bottom of each stem and place on cookie sheet.
  • Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees until bacon is cooked through.
  • Wrap 1 breadstick around each stalk.
  • Bake according to package directions.

Snap off bottoms of asparagus spears.
Wash and dry 12 spears of asparagus.

Wrap bacon around bottom of each stem and place on cookie sheet.
Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees until bacon is cooked through.

Wrap 1 breadstick around each stalk.
Bake according to package directions.

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Sesame Garlic Green Beans

Sesame Garlic Green Beans

1½ pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
1 bunch green onions, finely sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons minced garlic (jar)

Cook the green beans for 5 minutes in boiling water.

While the beans are cooking, combine the soy sauce, sugar and oil, set aside. Spray a sauté pan with PURE. Over a medium heat sauté green onions and garlic until soft. Add the beans. Stir several minutes until well coated. Add soy sauce mixture, stirring constantly until most of the liquid is absorbed.
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Grams made this as a broccoli casserole for years and I recently converted it to include carrots (I love the color combo), remove the yucky for you condensed soup and then I also discovered Joanne at Eats well with Others who is hosting BSI for this month – talk about perfect timing!

4 medium carrots
2/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons butter
pinch cinnamon

  • Wash, peel and slice carrots diagonally.
  • In a saucepan combine the water, salt and sugar.
  • Add carrots. Bring to a boil.
  • Turn down heat to simmer and cook until JUST tender crisp.
  • Drain.
  • Toss with butter and cinnamon.

6 broccoli crowns, washed and trimmed into 2 inch pieces (stalks also)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Jumbo egg
1 small Vidalia onion, chopped
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/3 cups ritz cracker crumbs**
4 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cook broccoli in boiling, salted water or steam until JUST tender.
  • Drain well, cool slightly and toss with carrots and onions.
  • Layer into a greased 9×9 baking dish.
  • Top with cracker crumbs.
  • Melt butter in bottom of saucepan. Whisk in the flour until smooth.
  • Add the chicken broth, milk, mayonnaise and egg, whisking until smooth.
  • Pour over broccoli mixture.
  • Cover and bake 40 minutes.
  • Top with cheese and bake uncovered an additional 10 minutes.
  • Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

**I love to substitute Keebler buttery garlic club crackers and add garlic!
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4 medium carrots
2/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons butter

pinch cinnamon

  • Wash, peel and slice carrots diagonally.
  • In a saucepan combine the water, salt and sugar.
  • Add carrots. Bring to a boil.
  • Turn down heat to simmer and cook until JUST tender crisp.
  • Drain.
  • Toss with butter and cinnamon.
  • Garnish with a pinch of parsley.

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6-12 heirloom cauliflower
2 cups grated aged white cheddar cheese

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 small bunch green onions

  • Steam cauliflower until tender.
  • Toss cheese mixture together in a large saucepan and add cream.
  • Heat over low heat , stirring occasionally, until mixture is smooth and melted, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Stir in onion until well combined and heat through.

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In my mind I have this vision of a dish grams made with okra, stewed tomatoes and toast. I wanted to recreate it. It doesn’t appear to have been written down anywhere. I’m sure she used stale white bread too, but since I can’t find a copy anywhere, I’m writing my own version. Do you know how hard it is to find okra here in the west?

1 can stewed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, sliced thin
1 handful snap peas
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Spray casserole dish with PURE.
  • Layer shallots on bottom, then sugar snap peas and garlic.
  • Pour stewed tomatoes over top.
  • Generously salt and pepper.
  • Sprinkle cheese even;y over the tomatoes.
  • Butter both sides of the bread and cut into chunks.
  • Layer the chunks of bread randomly on top of cheese.
  • Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

The best thing about the leftovers is you can top it all over again with cheese and toast pieces and it tastes just like the first time!

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1 cucumber, chopped
1 large firm tomato, chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced
6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar

  • Toss chopped vegetables together in a tuuperware bowl.
  • Whisk together vinegar and sugar until well blended and sugar is dissolved.
  • Pour over vegetables.
  • Chill several hours or overnight.
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Cheesy Onion, Broccoli, Mushroom, Red Pepper, and Barley Bake

Cheesy Onion, Broccoli, Mushroom, Pepper, and Barley Bake
Serves 4, adapted from Joanne at Eats Well with Others

2/3 cup barley
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 large broccoli crown
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 chili pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 egg
1 lb part-skim ricotta
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
salt & pepper

  • Cook the barley in the water and salt until tender.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Quarter onions. Mince garlic. Wash and chop mushrooms and broccoli into bite side pieces. Wash the peppers, core them, and cut them into small dice. Mince the chili pepper.
  • Mix the ricotta with the egg.
  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic, onions, broccoli and peppers until soft.
  • Add mushrooms and continue cooking just until mushrooms are slightly sauteed. Add salt along the way. Salt at the beginning and at the end and at every step in-between. Just a little bit each time. It brings out the best flavor in things.
  • Add the basil, oregano, and white pepper.
  • Mix together the barley, onion, mushroom & pepper mix with the ricotta & egg mix. Spread into an 11×7 pan. Sprinkle with the cheeses.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the egg is set and cheese has melted.
  • Let stand for 5 minutes to set. Cut and eat.


Mushrooms and Immunity

In cold and flu season, it is important to eat a balanced diet, including foods that can naturally maintain the immune system. While the science on mushrooms and immunity continues to evolve, we already know mushrooms offer a variety of nutrients associated with immunity. Popular mushroom varieties are a rich source of selenium, a mineral that works as an antioxidant critical for the immune system; and also have ergothioneine, an antioxidant that may help protect the body’s cells.

Mushrooms are low in calories, have no cholesterol and are virtually free of fat and sodium. Mushrooms also contain other essential minerals like Selenium, which works with Vitamin E to produce antioxidants that neutralize “free radicals” which can cause cell damage. Studies have suggested that selenium may reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, may slow the progress of HIV disease and may aid in symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatitis and asthma. Studies show men who eat selenium rich foods may lower their risk of prostate cancer.

Potassium (good for the heart) is also found in mushrooms. It has been suggested a diet with potassium may help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Copper is another essential mineral found in mushrooms. Copper aids iron (also found in mushrooms) in making red blood cells and delivers oxygen to the body. Mushrooms also contain three B-complex vitamins; riboflavin for healthy skin and vision, niacin aids the digestive and nervous systems, and pantothenic acid helps with the nervous system and hormone production. These vitamins are found in every cell and help to release energy from fat, protein and carbohydrates in food. Vegetarians should know that mushrooms are one of the best sources of niacin. The vitamin content of mushrooms is actually similar to the vitamin content found in meat.

Early Greeks and Romans are thought to be among the first cultivators of mushrooms, using them in a wide array of dishes. Today there are literally thousands of varieties of this fleshy fungus. Sizes and shapes vary tremendously and colors can range from white to black with a full gamut of colors in between.

The cap’s texture can be smooth, pitted, honeycombed or ruffled and flavors range from bland to rich, nutty and earthy. The cultivated mushroom is what’s commonly found in most U.S. Supermarkets today. However, those that more readily excite the palate are the more exotic wild mushrooms such as cepe, chanterelle, enoki, morel, puffball, shiitake and wood ear.

Because so many wild mushrooms are poisonous, it’s vitally important to know which species are edible and which are not. Extreme caution should be taken when picking them yourself.

Fresh mushrooms should be stored with cool air circulating around them. Therefore, they should be placed on a tray in a single layer, covered with a damp paper towel and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Before use, they should be wiped with a damp paper towel or, if necessary, rinsed with cold water and dried thoroughly.

Alternatively, store mushrooms unwashed and covered with a damp paper towel, then place inside a brown paper bag.

Mushrooms should never be soaked because they absorb water and will become mushy. Trim the stem ends and prepare according to directions.

Canned mushrooms are available in several forms including whole, chopped, sliced and caps only. Frozen or freeze-dried mushrooms are also available. Dried mushrooms are available either whole or in slices, bits or pieces. They should be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. Mushrooms are one of nature’s most versatile foods and can be used in hundreds of ways and cooked in almost any way imaginable.

Mushrooms are available all year round. They are best November through March. Caps should be closed around the stems. Avoid black or brown gills as this is a sign of old age. The tops are more tender than the stems. Refrigerate after purchase and use as soon as possible.

Never immerse mushrooms in a pan of cold water when cleaning, since they will absorb too much water. This will also make it more difficult to cook them, without losing flavor.

Mushrooms contain the same flavor enhancing substance found in MSG, glutamic acid.

Mushrooms are 90 percent water and do contain some natural toxins. It is best not to eat too many raw ones; cooking tends to kill the toxins.

There are 38,000 varieties of mushrooms, some edible, some very poisonous.

Truffles grow underground, are an oak or hazel tree fungus and are found by pig or dog sniffing truffellors. There are two types, black and white. They have a distinctive taste and are prized by many chefs in France and Italy. They are very expensive.

A chemical compound extracted from shiitake mushrooms has been approved as an anticancer drug in Japan after it was proven to repress cancer cells in laboratory studies.

To keep mushrooms white and firm when sauteing them, add a teaspoon of lemon juice to each quarter pound of butter.

If you are not sure of the safety of a mushroom, do not eat it regardless of the following test. However, the experts use the method of sprinkling salt on the spongy part, or the gills. If they turn yellow, they are poisonous, if they turn black they are safe.

Fact: The first mushrooms were thought to be cultivated in Southeast Asia, but it is not known why for sure. It is possible that someone discovered that mushrooms grew by accident or perhaps there was a demand and someone sought out a growing method.*

Fact: Whether mushrooms are wild or cultivated they continue to grow after they are picked. People sometimes mistake a thin white material called mycelium for mold, but rest assured it probably is the mycelium growing!

Fact: French farmers grew garden beds in the 1700’s which ended up being too small and too expensive. They later moved their crops to caves created when the stone for building Paris was quarried – this is where the name champignon de Paris originated. American farmers followed the same method.*

Fact: While mushrooms are canned, pickled and frozen, drying mushrooms is the oldest and most commonly used way to preserve mushrooms.

Fact: Mushroom compost can range from being manure or wood based (sawdust, wood chips) to utilizing materials like cocoa bean or cotton seed hulls, brewers grains , even exotic items like banana leaves as substrate.

Fact: One Portabella mushroom generally has more potassium than a banana.

Fact: Mushrooms continue to gain popularity, especially the specialty mushrooms such as Portabella, wild Morels, Oysters and Shiitake. Mushrooms, particularly the Portbella are often used in place of meat in many dishes.

Fact: Commercial mushroom farming began in the early 20th century. Pennsylvania and California are the largest mushroom producers.

Fact: Mushroom “farms” are climate controlled buildings; airflow, temperature and light are all constantly monitored.

Fact: Wild mushrooms can range in price for reasons such as taste, historical significance and availability. European truffles can sell for over $1,600 per pound!

Fact: Wild mushrooms can be found in many wooded areas. If you do choose to harvest wild mushrooms, make certain you have a professional identify your pick. Many mushrooms may resemble safe mushrooms (they are called false mushrooms) and can be poisonous.

*Facts from The Edible Mushroom A Gourmet Cook’s Guide by Margaret Leibenstein


Brussels Sprouts

Recently there has been some good natured kidding with Dave from My Year On The Grill over at OUR KrAzY kitchen. LOL He’s been a good sport about it all. But I thought maybe it was time for a little education for those other naysayers out there. Brussels sprouts can be GOOD!



Wikipedia history of Brussels Sprouts

From Like all members of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts are moderately low-carb and highly nutritious. A half-cup contains 7 grams of carbohydrate and 2 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 5 grams. It also has 2 grams of protein, a decent amount for a green vegetable. They’re a good source of potassium (247 mgs) and vitamin A (561 International Units). They have respectable amounts of vitamin C and folate, too.

Season: Peak season for Brussels sprouts is October through March.


Selection: Look for firm sprouts with tight, green leaves. Avoid puffy or soft sprouts with loose leaves. Wilted or yellow leaves indicate overripe sprouts.


Storing: Place in sealed container; store in refrigerator. Do not wash until ready to use. Use as soon as possible.


Preparation: Wash, remove loose leaves, trim stems. Cut a cross in each to speed cooking. Or slice into roughly 1/4-inch slices, if sautéing.


Seasonings: basil, caraway seed, dill, mustard seed, sage, thyme, curry powder, nutmeg, garlic, onions, garlic salt, pepper, cumin, marjoram, or savory.


For more information about Brussels:

The following information is from




Before cooking, drop the sprouts into a basin of lukewarm water and leave them there for 10 minutes as this step will eliminate any insects hidden in the leaves. Then rinse the sprouts in fresh water. Trim the stem ends, but not quite flush with the bottoms of the sprouts, or the outer leaves will fall off during cooking.


Many cooks cut an X in the base of each sprout. This nick helps the heat penetrate the solid core so that it cooks as quickly as the leaves.


Whichever cooking method you choose, test for doneness by inserting a knife tip into the stem end, which should be barely tender.


Boiling: Use 1 cup of water for every cup of Brussels sprouts. Bring the water to a rapid boil in a large pot, add the sprouts, and quickly return the water to a boil. Cook the sprouts uncovered just until tender. Drain them, return them to the warm pot, and shake for a few seconds until dry. A little parsley added to the cooking water can reduce the cabbage flavor. Cooking time: seven to 10 minutes.


Braising: If you cook sprouts slowly in stock, you can reduce the liquid after the vegetable is done and use it as a sauce, thereby conserving nutrients. You can braise the sprouts on the stovetop in a heavy covered skillet, or in the oven. For oven-braising, place the sprouts in a casserole or baking dish and pour in enough stock to cover them. Cover and bake in a 350°F oven. Cooking time: 25 to 35 minutes.


Microwaving: Place 1/2 to 1 pound of Brussels sprouts in a microwavable dish; add 1/4 cup of liquid, cover, and cook. Cooking times: for medium sprouts, four minutes; for large ones, eight minutes.


Steaming: Sprouts can be steamed in a vegetable steamer or steam-boiled in a small amount of water. These methods have the advantage of keeping the sprouts intact, minimizing the chemical interactions that cause the sprouts to develop a strong flavor, and maximizing the retention of nutrients. To steam-boil, add the sprouts to 1″ of already-boiling water and cover. Steam or steam-boil for one to two minutes, uncover the pot for 10 to 15 seconds to disperse the strong-tasting sulfurous compounds that form when sprouts (and other members of the cabbage family) are cooking. Cover and finish cooking. Cooking times: steam-boiling, five to 10 minutes; in a steamer, six to 12 minutes, depending on size.

Here’s one of our favorite recipes – Garlic Lemon Brussels Sprouts

Microwaved Brussels Sprouts

Four servings. Quick and easy basic recipe.


1 pound Brussels sprouts (4 cups)

1/4 cup water


Wash sprouts, remove loose leaves, trim stems. Cut a cross in the core of each, if desired, to speed cooking time. Place in a 1 1/2 quart casserole. Cover and microwave at High until fork tender, from 4 to 8 minutes, stirring once. Let stand, covered, 3 minutes.


Season as desired.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan

Two servings.


2 cups small Brussels sprouts (25 to 30 sprouts)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash sprouts, remove loose leaves, trim stems. Cut a cross in the core of each, if desired, to speed cooking time. Place in a medium-size roasting pan.


Sprinkle with olive oil, and season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 20 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Braised Brussels Sprouts with Vinegar and Dill

Twelve servings. From


3 lb Brussels sprouts

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons wine vinegar

Salt and pepper


Trim sprouts; cut in half if desired. In large pot of boiling salted water, cook Brussels sprouts for 8 minutes if whole, 6 minutes if halved, or until barely tender. Drain, refresh under cold running water and drain again.


In well-greased 13×9 inch casserole, combine sprouts, dill, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste; mix well. Bake, covered, in 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 minutes longer. Makes 12 servings.

Brussels Sprouts for People Who Think They Hate Brussels Sprouts

From Healthy Cooking with Dr. Andrew Weil.


1 pound Brussels sprouts

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to taste

5 cloves garlic, finely minced (or equivalent minced garlic in jar)

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, or to taste (preferably freshly grated)

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Trim the ends off the Brussels sprouts and remove and discard any discolored outer leaves. If sprouts are large (more than 1 inch in diameter), cut them in quarters lengthwise through the stem end. If smaller, cut them in half.


Bring 2 quarts of water to boil, add salt and the sprouts. Boil the sprouts uncovered until they are just crunchy-tender, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook them. Drain the sprouts well.


Wipe and dry the pot and heat the olive oil in it. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the sprouts and nutmeg and sauté for another minute. Mix in the Parmesan cheese and toss the sprouts until the cheese melts.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts


12 fresh Brussels sprouts, sliced 1/4-inch thick (do NOT use frozen)

1/2 of a large yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup or or 3 to 4 ounces)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth (or chicken-flavored vegetarian broth)

1 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 tablespoon fresh)

Freshly ground pepper to taste


Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet; add Brussels sprouts and onion, and stir-fry 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup broth and simmer about 5 minutes, or until Brussels sprouts are done, adding more broth if necessary.

Nutty Brussels Sprouts

Four servings. Source: Light & Easy Diabetes Cuisine by Betty Marks


1 lb Brussels sprouts

1 teaspoon virgin olive oil

8 toasted hazelnuts or toasted almonds

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom


Wash Brussels sprouts and trim off bottoms of stems and loose leaves. Steam sprouts over boiling water until tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove sprouts to a serving bowl and stir in olive oil, nuts, and cardamon.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts

Six servings. Source: McCall’s Magazine, November 1992


1 1/2 lb Brussels sprouts

1/4 cup trans fat free margarine (Brummel & Brown is good)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

2 teaspoons water

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice


In large bowl of cold, salted water, soak Brussels sprouts for 10 minutes. Drain; trim ends and discard any bitter outside leaves. Cut each sprout in half lengthwise; thinly slice crosswise.


In a large skillet, over medium high heat, melt butter. Add sprouts, salt and pepper; over high heat; sauté 5 minutes or until sprouts start to brown. Add the water; cook, stirring 2 to 3 minutes, until sprouts are crisp-tender. Stir in lime juice.

Brussels Sprouts Casserole



1 1/2 lb Brussels sprouts

1 medium onion, sliced

Olive oil

5 medium tomatoes, sliced

1/2 cup water

1 cup shredded soy cheese


Sauté onion in olive oil until transparent. Arrange Brussels sprouts in casserole with onions and tomatoes. Cover with water. Cover and bake at 325 degrees F for about 45 minutes. When sprouts are tender, remove from oven, sprinkle with the cheese, and brown under the broiler.

Browned Brussels Sprouts

Adjust amounts as desired. Very tasty.


1 lb Brussels sprouts

1/4 cup olive oil (or more)

2 garlic cloves, crushed


Prepare sprouts: wash, remove loose leaves, trim stems. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet (iron skillet is good). Add Brussels sprouts and “fry” them until they are dark brown all over. At the last moment, just before serving, stir in 2 crushed garlic cloves (or use 1 teaspoon crushed garlic from jar, or more to taste).


Lift them out with a slotted spoon, drain well (can put on paper towels to absorb excess oil). Salt lightly.

Stir-fried Brussels Sprouts with Carrots and Fresh Ginger

Four servings. From chef Maria Scanlon.


1 tablespoon oil (canola, light olive, or other on the approved SBD list)

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 large carrot, grated

1 large clove garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped

12 medium-sized fresh Brussels sprouts, sliced

1 to 2 tablespoons reduced salt soy sauce

1/4 to 1/2 cup water


Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan, add the onion and cook over a high heat until the onion begins to soften and turn golden.


Add the carrot, garlic, and ginger and cook a further few minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and continue stir-frying until they soften a little. Add the soy sauce and the water and mix well.


Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and allow the vegetables to steam until they are cooked to your liking.

Sunny Brussels Sprouts

Four servings. This recipe uses frozen Brussels sprouts. From


1/2 cup sliced celery

1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots

1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen Brussels sprouts

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup boiling water

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

2 tablespoons trans-fat-free margarine (I use Brummel & Brown)


Freshly ground pepper

Dash of cayenne pepper


Cook celery, carrots, and Brussels sprouts, and salt in boiling water in saucepan until crisp-tender. Drain. Combine mustard and butter. Spoon mixture over vegetables. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.



One of the many things I miss most about the west coast is all of the available produce and the ability to grill ANY time of year without getting hypothermia while doing it!! I just can’t wait until we’re back home. In the meantime I’m taking advantage of ANY and all produce I can get.

A lot of people find artichokes intimidating. When artichokes are prepared well they are to die for. I even had a cream of Artichoke soup at a little cafe in Carmel a year or so ago that was excellent. I’m still trying to duplicate it.

There are more than 50 varieties of Artichokes. The most common type in the United States is the Green Globe. The mini versions you may see, known as baby artichokes are ideal for sautes and stir frying AND are as flavorful, if not more so than the larger ones. The size difference is due to where they grow on the stalk. The higher on the stalk, the bigger the artichoke.

Choosing an Artichoke:

  • You want an artichoke with a large heart and tender leaves.
  • Artichokes tend to have larger hearts if they are rounder.
  • They also have more tender leaves the smaller they get.
  • Look for deep-green, tight-leafed globes that feels heavy for its size.
  • When you squeeze the artichoke’s leaves together and it squeaks, it’s a fresh one.
  • Discoloration, bruising or split leaves are signs of age. Fresh artichokes may have purple-tinged leaves in late summer and fall.
  • It’s best to choose the smallest and roundest artichoke you can find.
  • I personally find large (grapefruit sized) Artichokes to be less tender and more fibrous. The small (egg sized) and medium (orange sized) ones are much more tender and easier to work with.

There are a few key secrets to preparing a great Artichoke:

  • Wash your Artichoke in cold running water and leave upside down to drain a few minutes.
  • Artichokes cannot be rushed – allow enough time for proper preparation. If you are going to be short on time, plan to prepare it the day before and then reheat.
  • You MUST trim the bottom stem and top leaves. Trimming the bottom rough part of the stem allows flavor to flow into the artichoke as it cooks. Trimming the top leaves (about 3/4 – 1 inch) does the same thing as well as removing the sticker part that WILL cut you if you’re not careful. Depending on how they look trim the very bottom leaves off the stem. Don’t be afraid to trim the tops as necessary. Remember that only about the bottom third of each leaf is actually edible.
  • Immediately rub any cut surface with lemon juice to prevent browning. You can also use flavored vinegars, but lemon juice is the most neutral.
  • Don’t forget even the stems are edible.
  • Never use a cast iron or aluminum pot to cook them in! The will discolor the pot AND the artichoke too! Use enamel or stainless steel.

Preparing your Artichoke:
There are as many ways to prepare an Artichoke as you have imagination. I’ll just list a few of the basic ones. Remember too that your seasoning and liquid all add flavor, so be creative. For example trade the water for chicken broth or add a touch of olive oil and garlic or flavored vinegars or juices…

You can also buy one of those baskets to stand your Artichoke in, but I prefer to use thick sliced onion rings in order to add a bit of flavor and have less mess when it’s all done. Despite most instructions you can cook an artichoke upside down too. I like this if I’m using many flavors. The flavors are being infused into the leaves and then the leaves are constantly draining back down into the base. This works much the same way as the drip knobs on the lid of a roasting pan. The onion rings work also either way.

  • Boiling: This is done with plain old water with a bit of salt. It has been determined that this is the least healthy way to prepare most vegetables since you are boiling the nutrients out of the vegetable itself. You add the Artichokes to rapidly boiling water. They take between 25-40 minutes until tender based on size.
  • Braising: This is the best method for using your flavored oils, vinegars and seasonings. Prepare your flavor combo and then add 2 cups water. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer before adding the onion rings and Artichokes. Cover tightly and simmer 25-40 minutes until tender.
  • DeepFrying: This is good for the hearts only.Dip them in the batter of your choice and fry until golden.
  • Grilling: Yep, you read right. Artichokes can be grilled and are EXCELLENT done that way. You do need to pre-cook them by steaming or microwaving until tender, but then it’s up to you. I then cut them right down the middle so I’ll have a flat side for the grill. I then like to soak them overnight in a lemon juice and garlic butter mixture before grilling. A Tupperware marinader that can be turned frequently without leaking works well. They don’t take long on the grill so just before you meat is finished grilling add the artichokes, turning frequently to prevent burning until the desired charring has been reached. Hubby has been known to add BBQ sauce and they are pretty tastey.
  • Microwaving: This is the fastest way, but not necessarily the tastiest. Stand Artichoke in a microwave safe bowl and add 1-2 inches of water. Cover bowl with a plate. Cooking on high a medium Artichoke will take 7-10 minutes while a large Artichoke will take 12-15 minutes. If cooking more than one at a time, you will need to add 2-3 minutes per additional each Artichoke. Let stand for 5 minutes in the covered bowl before serving.
  • Roasting: Roasting Artichokes will bring out their nutty flavor. This method also requires pre-cooking but reduce the precooking method time by 10 minutes. I like to dip each leaf into a combination of olive oil and garlic rice wine vinegar. I then let them drain a bit on a paper towel. Arrange the leaves on a stainless steel cookie sheet coated with a thin layer of PURE. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Roast in a 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until tender and and edges are just crisp. Start with the concave side of leaf down and turn mid way.
  • Sauteing: This method is also just for the hearts. Season with your favorite seasoning and then saute’ 3-5 minutes in your favorite oil.
  • Steaming: This is the most ideal method for maintaining the nutrients. Stand the Artichoke in the basket or onion rings. Add enough liquid that the pan won’t boil dry (you might have to add water so keep an eye on it), but make sure the Artichoke is above the water level. Cover and steam over the rapidly boiling water for 30-50 minutes until Artichokes are tender. Time depends on size.
  • Stuffed and Baked: This is one of my very most favorite ways to prepare an Artichoke. Pre-cook but reduce the precooking method time by 10 minutes. Halve the Artichokes. Mix together olive oil, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper with a clove of garlic. Pulse into a thick paste. Using a spoon coat the inside of each leaf. Place on a stainless steel baking sheet sprayed with a thin layer of PURE. Bake at 400 degrees until tender. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice and butter immediately out of the oven. Serve with roast chicken or pork chops. YUMMY!



4 tablespoons salted butter
3 medium Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
3 medium hot house tomatoes
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon minced garlic, jar
6 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon Better than Beef Bouillon
1 tablespoon kitchen bouquet
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
4 thin slices french or sourdough bread, toasted
4 slices Gruyere cheese*

  • Melt butter in bottom of stock pot.
  • Separate onions into rings and add to butter. Cook until tender and golden.
  • Add flour and blend well with butter mixture and onions.
  • Add broth, beef bouillon, kitchen bouquet, paprika, onion powder, celery salt, sea salt and pepper and stir well.
  • Simmer 15-20 minutes.
  • Toast bread and then butter it.
  • Ladle soup into 4 oven proof bowls that have been put on a cookie sheet for easier handling.
  • Place 1 slice of toast over top of soup.
  • Lay 1 slice of cheese on top of toast.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 7 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Another great option is to use these cheesy baked croutons to top the soup. Both ways are super yummy!

6 slices thick sourdough bread
butter, melted, enough to coat bread
½ cup Fontina Cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place bread slices on oven rack and bake until dry and golden. Melt butter in flat bowl. Combine cheeses in flat bowl. Dip first in butter and the cheese mixture. Bake on cookie sheet 8-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly and melted. Float croutons on top of soup bowls just before serving.

Yields: 6 BOWLS
Time to make: 1½ hr

*you’d think living close to Wisconsin, the cheese state, I could get all sorts of flavors of cheese, but alas I still can’t find gruyere and have been substituting provolone.