Last week, James and I had a slumber party at my mom's house. He loves seeing his Ya-Ya, her black lab, Yogi, and playing with the toys she has collected for him. James favorite thing to play with is the "kitchen" that I used to play with when I was a little girl.
My mom and dad actually found the little kitchen in an alley while they were driving around Seattle. They called the business in front of the alley and bought the kitchen for thirty five dollars. My parents brought it home, sanded it down, painted it white and put new "hardware" on it. The kitchen is made out of wood, with little china knobs, brass hinges, and glass doors. It is simple and pretty and, in my opinion, far superior than those expensive, huge, brightly colored plastic play kitchens that are now what you see on the shelves of Toys'R'Us.
I don't remember the specifics of the culinary masterpieces I used to imagine I was making in my sweet little kitchen, but I'm sure that, like James, I was always very busy mixing, pouring, and generally sorting through the food and dishes in the little kitchen. Of course, my mom had to stock the kitchen with all new dishes and "food" for James.
And, of course, I had to make mini-muffins for him to play with in the kitchen.
And, of course, he had to eat them.
We left Ya-Ya's house to go meet some new friends at Gabriel Park, and then had some lunch at Grand Central. By the time we made the trek back to our home, James and I were so exhausted that we both took two hour naps. We woke up around four, groggy and in a daze.
All I could think of was food when I woke up (apparently James as well, as he was bringing me his bib and trying to climb up into his high-chair). We attempted happy hour at McMenamins, but the line was so long that we gave up and went home. Luckily, I am the meal planning type, so I had all the ingredients to make this dish.
It was gooey and hearty and extremely comforting. In the end, none of us were upset that McMenamins didn't work out.
Brussels Sprout and Gryuere Bake
1 lb brussels sprouts
salt and pepper
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pasta shells
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/2 lb Gruyere cheese, grated
1/2 cup bread crumbs and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, mixed together
Preheat the oven to 425. Wash and half the sprouts. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil (1 to 2 tbsp). Toss and arrange in a single layer, then season with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, or until just beginning to brown.
While sprouts are roasting, fill a dutch oven about half way with water, and bring to a rolling boil. Season water with 1 tsp salt. Pour in shells and cook until al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain noodles in colander over the sink.
With noodles in colander, put dutch oven back on stove top and reduce heat to medium-high. Melt butter in dutch oven, stirring constantly. Add flour and whisk, whisk, whisk so that no lumps form. Add cheese and stir well as it melts. Add pasta and sprouts to the cheese sauce. Mix well. Top with parmesan and bread crumb mixture. Bake in dutch oven (or transfer to oven-safe dish, then top with parm/crumbs) for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is beginning to brown. Serve hot. Enjoy.