Saturday, September 17, 2011

Baking up some Cranberry Orange Loaf

Cranberry Orange Loaf
Time: 1 hr 30 mins

2 cups Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Grated Orange zest
1 1/2 cup Fresh cranberries
1/2 cup Pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Margarine, softened
1 cup White sugar
1 Egg
3/4 cup Orange juice

  • I usually make a triple batch of the recipe because it is so yummy and because the bag of cranberries usually is enough to make more than one batch.
I also could not find fresh cranberries so I used frozen unsweetened cranberries and found that it worked just like normal.

I can say for making three loafs I usually use about 2-3 oranges per loaf to get enough zest and then I juice the oranges to use in the recipe. I will say that this is a really great arm work out :)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree
2. Grease and flour 9x5 inch loaf pan
3. First thing I do is zest my oranges.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in orange zest, cranberries, and pecans. Set aside.
5. In a large bowl cream together margarine, sugar and egg until smooth. Stir in orange juice. Beat in flour mixture until just moistened. pour into prepared Pam.
6. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until the bread springs back when lightly touched.
7. Let stand 10 minutes, then turn out Ono a wire rack to cool.

I usually don't care about mixing baking items separately (I know I know). However, in this recipe it is rather important to coat the cranberries evenly in flour before the loafs are baked to ensure that they stay properly in the mixture while baking. Also, given what it is being mixed the other components of the liquid mix are easier to mix together before adding to the flour mixture.

RR - Chicken and Corn Soup

Chicken and Corn Soup
Makes: 6 servings
Time: 6 hrs 30 mins

1 lb Yellow Potatoes, peeled and cut
1 lb Sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
4 lbs Chicken breasts, skinless and boneless (This was my modification because that's what I have)
4 cups Chicken Broth
4 Scallions, chopped
4 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
3 ears Corn, cut into 3 inch pieces
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped

Notes / Directions
1. Place the yellow and sweet potatoes into a slow cooker. Add the chicken, broth, scallions and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Add 4 cups water and tuck corn around the chicken. Cover and cook on low heat until the chicken is tender and instant read thermometer inserted into a thigh away from the bone registers 165 about 6 hours.

2. Transfer the chicken to a shallow bowl, leaving the slow cooker on.

3. Skim the fat from the cooking liquid. Smash some of the potatoes in the slow cooker. Add the chicken and stir in 1/4 cup cilantro. Top the soup with avocados and sour cream.

My Notes:
  1. This recipe originally called for the use of a chicken (whole or chicken parts I can't actually recall) but I don't keep that in my house on a regular basis so I used chicken breasts which I always have in my house.
  2. I know that this was suppose to be a soup. However, when I took the chicken breasts out of the slow cooker to mash them everything looked rather good on it's own without having to put it back in the broth so we ate them as is - chicken, corn and potatoes.
  3. I had forgotten to pick up scallions for this recipe and I could note that the potatoes and chicken were good but rather one note. I would make sure I either have the scallions next time to increase the flavour OR I would add some diced Onion and Garlic to the mix. Also I would likely add some poultry or italian seasoning to kick up the flavour.
  4. I also didn't have the corn and the chicken completely under water and it definitely affected how they turned out. Next time I would make sure that everything was under the water.
  5. I also found that the pound of each kind of potato was an awful lot (we had left overs for two other meals during the week).
Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures but I will be sure to take a picture next time :)

RR - Rabe and White Bean Stoup

Rabe and White Bean Stoup

Salt and pepper
1 bunch Broccoli rabe, cut into 2-inch pieces **
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 lb Spicy Italian sausage **
1 Onion, finely chopped
4 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
4 cups Chicken Broth
1 can (15 oz) Cannellini beans, rinsed **
1 can (14.5 oz) Diced Tomatoes
1 cup Orecchietti pasta **

Notes / Directions
1. In a soup pot, bring a few inches of water to a boil, salt it, add the broccoli rabe cook for 5 minutes. Brain and plunge into a bowl of ice water, drain again.

2. In the pot heat 2 tbsp EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, break up the meat and cook until browned. Add the onion and garlic and cook to softened, 5 minutes bass the stock, cannellini beans, tomatoes and 1 cup water, season with salt and pepper. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Stir in the pasta, lower the heat and simmer until al dente, 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the broccoli rabe. Top the Stoup with romano and a drizzle of EVOO.

Notes and Thoughts:
So one thing you should generally know is that I will usually make a recipe according to the directions the first time and thereafter I will make modifications that either are closer with my preferences or deal with availability of products or cost.

1) Broccoli Rabe -> is used this for the very first time an I actually had to google how to prepare the Broccoli Rabe. It was rather simple - treat it like asparagus, you have to break/cut off the bottom portion of the steam. I found that the steam would naturally break where after the tough part. I also found that generally you need to blanch it as the recipe calls for before using it. I have broccoli in my house routinely (my daughter loves her veggies particularly broccoli - so in the future I would skip buying broccoli rabe and use regular broccoli. This would help reduce the time it took to prep this meal and also on the extra ingredients that I need in my house.

So I would skip the first step of boiling the water and then in the last 5-8 minutes I would throw in the fresh broccoli heads into the stew.

2) This called for spicy sausage however, because I was already buying sweet sausage for another recipe this week I just used a mild Italian sausage for this recipe and I found it was great. I am not sure if I would have liked it with the spicy sausage and I am not sure that the short person would have eating it.

3) Cannellini beans - again I have to send my love to google and wikipedia - this is white kidney beans :) I used the PC Blue menu white kidney beans with no salt and then rinsed them well.

4) Orecchietti past - Apparently ear shaped pasta that I cannot find at my usual store. This is where I departed from my normal sticking to the entire recipe as written and just used the pasta I had at home (PC Blue Menu Whole Wheat Macaroni) and in the future I would only use what I had in the house than buy special pasta. That being said I will look for orecchietti pasta for fun :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

RR - Sausage and Lentil Stew


This takes about a good hour to make which can be intimidating when considering quick meals during the week. However, I would say that the hour for this recipe is well worth it. A good porti
on is just letting the stew cook . This also includes the time it took to prep the ingredients - mean
ing that while I was browning the meat I was able to prep the other parts and have everything together around the same time. I would make some modifications to the recipe which I will indicate below - cheers!

1 large Carrots, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 lb Swe
et Italian sausage, casing removed and crumbled8 oz Brown lentils, rinsed (** see note below)
4 cups Chicken Broth
1 tbsp
Rosemary, chopped
1 head Escarole, coarsely chopped (** see no
te below)
Salt and pepper

1. In a large dutch oven, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned; transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

2. Add the onion and carrot to the pot and cook until slightly softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lentils, broth and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

3. Stir in the escarole and sausage, cover the pot and cook until the escarole is wilted and the sausage is heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

So here are my thoughts on this globally:

1) I had no idea what Escarole was so I checked Wikipedia and found what it looked like and found that it also belonged to the endive family. I wasn't sure I was going go like the taste of it or now. I would say that I am a fan and would likely use it again in this recipe. However, I had some difficulty finding it at the store and would think that kale would be a good substitute in this case.

2) I could not find brown lentils at all so I got green lentils instead. I don't think that it made that big of difference. However, I have a sprouted bean trio made by Tru Roots and I would think that I would this instead next time because I have it and because that it has more colours to add to the mix.

3) I also found that it was rather soupy rather than stew like and I am not sure if that is because of the lentils I used or just the general recipe. Next time I would leave out the extra water called for and either just use the broth and 1 cup of water and experiment with how much is needed to keep it moist but more stew like.

Meal Planning and School

So the short person started school this month

Which means I am scrambling to control my work life which is massively crazy these days and trying to accommodate the short person's schedule is an interesting feet. This is particularly when you consider the fact that she has activities three nights a week and then has a new activity starting up on the weekend.

This mean that I have implemented a strict schedule and menu planning and so far it has been a success!

This weeks menu included the following:

Monday - Crockpot Chicken and Mushrooms with Quinoa and Lentils with Beans
Tuesday - Left overs

However, things didn't work out exactly as planned because I got home on Sunday and found that the mushrooms were no good :(

So we switched things up a bit but mostly stuck to the menu:
Wednesday - Crockpot Chicken and Mushrooms
Friday - out (only because I got invited to someones birthday)