Cranberry Nut Loaf – GUEST BLOGGER

NUTLOAFA huge thank you to Cathy at Cathy’s Kitchen Journey! Doesn’t this cranberry nut loaf look delish? After seeing some of these recipes reviewed and photographed by my fellow bloggers, I’m starting to despise this cranberry allergy of mine. Click on over to read her review!

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Roasted Cauliflower and Sprouts

romanescaFor this recipe, I used a romanesca cauliflower. It’s a fascinating looking vegetable, and DH couldn’t wait to try it. Since I still have brussels sprouts coming out of my ears, I decided to use it in this recipe.

The night before, cut the cauliflower into 1 inch florets, halve the brussels sprouts, drizzle with 2 T olive oil and mix. Then, add 3 cloves of thinly sliced garlic, 1/2 tsp of rosemary, and 1/2 tsp pepper.

The next evening, preheat the oven to 450F, sprinkle with salt, and bake in a single layer for 15-20 minutes (until they’re crisp-tender and beginning to brown at the edges). Stir occasionally (if you take the pan out to stir and close the door while stirring, you won’t lose the oven heat).

The verdict: The flavor is very light, but thorough – perhaps as a result of the “marinating” overnight? It went really well with a chicken that I threw in the crock pot this morning and drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with rosemary and garlic salt. I apologized to DH for not having a very fancy dinner tonight. He said “it doesn’t have to be fancy, this is good!”

For more info about romanesca, click here:
Broccoflower on Foodista

Broccoli Gratin

broccgratinToday I brought the ingredients to make Simply in Season’s Broccoli Gratin to my mom’s house for Sunday dinner. Imagine my surprise to arrive and discover that her main dish was very similar to this – she was making a broccoli/chicken bake. I decided to go ahead and make my side dish so that we could compare the two.

For my version:

5-6 C broccoli or cauliflower (I used broccoli). Steam until just crisp-tender and set aside. I did this in the microwave.

Thinly slice an onion and mince a clove of garlic, and saute’ in a small saucepan until fragrant and tender, about 5 minutes. Then, sprinkle 1/4 C f lour on the onions and garlic and cook for 3 minutes (you’ll want to stir constantly to keep from browning). Whisk in 2 C of milk and bring to a boil. Add in 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and a pinch each of nutmeg and ground red pepper, and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in 1 C shredded cheddar cheese and remove from heat. Combine with broccoli and put everything in a 2 qt casserole dish.

Combine 1 C bread crumbs, 1 T butter, 1/4 C Parmesan cheese, and 1 T dried parsley and sprinkle on top of the broccoli mixture. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, or until heated through.

The verdict: While everyone liked this version, some felt that my mom’s was creamier. She had used canned cream of chicken soup. Some did like my fresh topping better than her Stove Top topping, though. This led to an interesting discussion. Is it any cheaper to make things like cream of soup? Is it really any healthier? My sister thought that making the cream sauce from scratch was too much work, but I didn’t really mind it. One of the benefits I saw to making things from scratch is that I don’t have to keep things like Stove Top or canned cream of soups on hand. I’m sure that as I continue this project I’ll form more of an opinion. What’s yours?

Broccoli Salad

Potlucks are funny. You never know what you’re gonna get, which I guess is the point. There is a garbage disposal service in our area called “Potluck Pickup.” At my old church, which had lots of older ladies, the potlucks were divine. At my current church, which is mostly 20 & 30 somethings, chips and dip and potato salad from the deli are more common.

DH was invited to a party tonight, and he asked me to make the pumpkin bread from the other night. I will oblige, but I’ll also be taking this opportunity to make Simply in Season’s Broccoli Salad. There are a million versions of this out there, but I have never actually made it.

In a large bobroccsaladwl, mix 3 C broccoli florets, 1 C raisins, 10 slices cooked & crumbled bacon (ok, I cheated and used the option of 1/2 C bacon bits, sometimes ya gotta take shortcuts to keep your sanity), 1/2 C diced red onion, 1/2 C raw sunflower seeds, and 1/2 C cheese (the book says optional but who in the world turns down CHEESE?!?!).

In a small bowl, combine 2 T sugar and 1 T apple cider vinegar and dissolve; stir in 3/4 C plain yogurt or mayonnaise until well blended (I used lowfat yogurt). Pour over the broccoli and stir together.

The verdict: I’ll admit the photo looks like someone vomited bacon bits and broccoli. But the salad was as good as any version I’ve had over my many years of having broccoli salad at potlucks. For some reason it was a bit hidden at the food table. Not many people took it, so I was worried that maybe it wasn’t good. As we were leaving, someone noticed it and said “oh no, I didn’t even see that! And that looks great! Much better than the store bought salad crap!” So that made me feel better.

And when we got home, DH helped himself to a nice big bowl of it. Which made me wonder if he had placed it on an inconspicuous part of the buffet table on purpose. Ha!

Gingered Chicken Bok Bok: A Comedy of Errors

A funny thing happened on the way to making Simply in Season‘s Gingered Kale and Tofu.

I knew from the start that I wouldn’t be using tofu. DH (Dear Husband) originally insisted that “protein alternatives” be used to remain true to the cookbook, but he has since relented as he rediscovered his extreme aversion to tofu. So I knew I’d be using chicken.

Then, when I went to pick up the CSA share tonight,  lo and behold there was bok choy! DH and I LOVE bok choy. As soon as I saw it I said “oooh, bok choy!” And the lady in front of me laughed and said “I’m all about oooh, brussels sprouts. I’ve been loving those.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that bok choy beats brussels sprouts hands down.  On a side note, I was pretty excited about getting romanesca cauliflower and purple curly kale today. Needless to say, I decided then and there that I’d be adding bok choy to the kale in this recipe.

So what stayed the same? The marinade, for one. It’s a delicious combination of 1/2 C soy sauce, 1/2 C dry sherry or broth (I used chicken broth), 1/4 C rice vinegar or wine vinegar (I used white wine vinegar), 3 T brown sugar brought to a boil and simmered for one minute.

Then, instead of broiling tofu in the marinade as Simply in Season instructs (which, if you’re a tofu fan, you should check out because it does look like a pretty easy way of doing tofu), I stir fried chicken in sesame oil. Removed from the pan, then added 6 C of bok choy and kale to the pan and sauteed with 3 T ginger until wilted. When I added the jarred grated ginger, I thought to myself, hmmm, I wonder if I should have used a 1:1 ratio. I have no idea how jarred ginger compares to fresh. It seemed like a LOT of ginger.

At this point I wondered what was taking the marinade so long to boil, and DH was wondering what was burning. He came upstairs from doing laundry and noticed that the pot on the back burner was smoking. Let me add a disclaimer that I am not a clean freak but my kitchen is normally fairly clean. However, I have been in Canada for work the past two days so it’s in a hopefully temporary state of disarray. At that moment I realized that I turned the back burner (with an old pot on it) instead of the front burner (with the marinade) and quickly grabbed the old IMG_0376pot and put it in the sink At which point the smell of smoke was replaced with the smell of burning rubber. Oh crap, you know those Pampered Chef plastic spatulas that are supposed to be heat-resistant up to 500 degrees? Apparently a burning pot is more than 500 degrees.

While DH took care of the sink full of burning dishes, I suddenly realized that I was supposed to serve this over rice. Which I forgot to make. Which takes about half an hour because we don’t believe in instant or white rice (only basmati or brown). Luckily I remembered that I had bought some rice noodles at Saigon Market the other day when I was looking for persimmons. I put the chicken back in the pan with the kale and bok choy to simmer while the noodles boiled.

About 15 minutes later, DH and I were eating dinner. I must say, it was quite delicious and reminded me of something at a Chinese buffet (only much, much fresher) and I can’t place it. But it was gingery and sweet and sour all at the same time. The kale was  bit chewy but the crunch of the bok choy made up for it.

I guess I learned my lesson: don’t cook after a long day of driving.

Oh, one more thing. When I went to write this blog, when I was typing in the recipe I realized that I was supposed to have added 1/4 C of lime juice and 1/4 C of fresh cilantro and a pinch of ground red pepper. And top the whole thing with toasted cashews or peanuts. Oops. I didn’t miss it, but to be fair to the recipe I think I’ll be taking a mulligan.

Cranberry Coffee Cake – GUEST BLOGGER

Here’s another cranberry post baked for me by a guest blogger. I’m allergic to cranberries, so I’ve asked a few blogging friends to review the cranberry recipes in Simply in Season for my readers, so that the collection will be complete.

cranberry coffee cakeNote this GORGEOUS photo! Stephanie from Stephanie Cooks did an awesome job photographing this, and from what I read did an awesome job making the Cranberry Coffee Cake. Please visit her blog Stephanie Cooks to read her review!

Nutty Pumpkin Bread

pumpkinbreadThis was the only autumn bread recipe from Simply in Season that I can eat/make since I’m allergic to cranberries (keep an eye out for guest bloggers, though!)

Dry ingredients: 1 1/2 C flour, 1 1/2 C whole wheat flour, 1 C wheat germ, 1 C sugar (I ran out and used about 3/4 C sugar and 1/4 C stevia for baking), 1 C brown sugar, 2 tsp baking soda, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp each ginger, nutmeg, cloves (optinal). Mix together and make a well.

Wet ingredients: 2 1/2 C pumpkin, 4 eggs (slightly beaten), 1/2 C oil, 1/2 C pecans or other nuts, 1 C raisins or dates (chopped, optional). Add to the well and mix until just moistened. Pour into 2 greased 9×5 inch loaf pans and bake at 350F until toothpick inserted in center of loaves comes out clean, 50 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen edges and turn the loaf out onto the rack to cool completely before slicing.

The verdict: Seriously yummy. Couldn’t even tell that I used part stevia.