Maple. Syrup. Ahh, luscious maple syrup. It has a rich, earthy caramel smell with woodsy hints of vanilla. One sniff, one taste, and I am sitting in a cozy log cabin in the snow-covered woods. Inside, the fire crackles and I take lazy sips of hot tea, snugly in soft slippers while fluffy pancakes sizzle on a hot grill in the kitchen, and a tall pitcher of maple syrup waits on the table.
I learned a long time ago that my love affair with maple syrup isn’t just limited to fresh pancakes, it’s so much bigger than that. Maple syrup can seriously make so many things that much better. For instance… carrots. These carrots, with the help of a little
time thyme, some syrup, and a little love become the perfect side to complement any Winter meal.
Maple-Thyme Roasted Carrots
recipe originally from Life Currents
6-8 large carrots, scrubbed and peeled
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
a generous pinch of salt
2 tbsp maple syrup
1. Depending on the size of your carrots, cut them in half lengthwise, and possibly in half or thirds width-wise. You want your carrot pieces to be roughly uniform in size so they all cook at about the same rate.
2. Heat oil in a heavy, oven proof skillet. Either cast-iron or a dutch oven should work well.
3. Once the oil is nice and hot add carrots, sauteing for 4-6 minutes until they begin to brown.
4. Don’t over-stir. The longer they’re touching the bottom of the skillet, the quicker they will brown.
5. Sprinkle with thyme and salt.
6. Pour maple syrup over the top and give the carrots a quick stir.
7. Place the pan in a 400 degree oven and roast for 8-9 minutes.
While I love all the flavors in a ‘loaded’ baked potato, I was craving something different. Any combination of broccoli and cheddar is always a hit here, especially when it’s accompanied by something extra crispy. In this case, the twice baked potato skin provided that perfect, accompanying crunch.
Did I mention that this is actually a relatively healthy side dish? I might have forgotten to share that with the boys. Accidentally, on purpose. Without that ‘it’s something good for you’ vegetable taint hanging over their heads, they dug in with relish and devoured every last bite.
As an added bonus, these lovely little potatoes can be frozen and pulled out as needed for meals or even for a light lunch. I just love freezer cooking. This potato recipe is definitely the whole kit and caboodle.
Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes
recipe adapted from SkinnyTaste
- 4 medium russet potatoes, washed and dried
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets, chopped
- 1/2 cup skim milk
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Pierce the cleaned potatoes several times with a fork. Bake for 1 hour in oven at 425 degrees. Optionally, you could instead place them in the microwave and use your baked potato setting until the potatoes are cooked through, turning half way. However, in my opinion, cooking them in the oven the entire time give them more a crispier skin when finished.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, add broccoli to a little salted water and cook, covered for about 3 minutes. Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Let the potatoes cool enough to comfortably handle them. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop the flesh out into a large bowl, leaving a ¼” shell. Place the potato shells on a baking sheet.
- Mash the flesh with a potato masher or puree with a hand blender. Add the milk, yogurt, and salt, mash until smooth. Fold in half of the shredded cheddar (and chives if desired).
- Spoon the potato mixture back into the shells. Top with the cooked broccoli and remaining cheese on top.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese is melted. (You can also microwave it for a few minutes if you prefer not to use the oven)
To Freeze: Follow directions above but do not bake a second time. Instead, wrap in saran wrap and place in a gallon freezer bag. To serve: Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or microwave for 2-3 minutes or until heated through.