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Monday, December 12, 2016

Recipe Review from 12/5/2016

Winter has arrived with temps reaching a balmy 10* during the day, and from what the weather reports are predicting, things are going to continue to be a mite bit chilly this coming week.  It's definitely the season for soups and stews. 

The Meal Plan:
Sun (L) Coconut Thai Butternut Soup     (S)  Chicken Dinner with fixin's
Mon (yoga)  leftover chicken
Tues - leftover chicken
Wed -leftover soup
Thurs (yoga) - leftover soup
Fri -  Slow cooked Beef and barley stew
Sat (Craft fair/Early Christmas with the Sis)

Classic Cranberry Sauce (Ckng Lght, Nov 2008)  vegetarian, gluten free
I'm pretty sure I've variations on this "classic", and in all likely hood may have made this recipe, but there were no notes in my cookbook so I thought what the heck?

My recipe alterations included dropping the sugar down to 1 cup and adding 2 tbsp triple sec (Grand Mariner would also work).  I skipped the orange rind because I didn't have any on hand.

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1 1/2 scant 1 cups sugar
3/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 3 oranges)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Dash of ground cloves
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon grated orange rind 
1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook 12 minutes or until cranberries pop. Remove from heat; stir in rind. Cool completely. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Slow Cooker Sausage Cassoulet (Ckng Lght Nov 2016)   gluten free option**
I do love me a hearty cassoulet, and I like them even more when it's more bean and veggie based than meat.  Add in the simplicity of a slow cooker and we had a winning recipe!

I only had two substitutions - I used 6 oz kielbasa for the sweet Italian chicken sausage because I had it on hand, and I used dried beans (pre-cooked) instead of canned.   And one modification - I skipped the breadcrumbs.

This was perfect for a week of dropping temperatures -  it made enough for about 6 meals total (four lunches and supper for two).  It's hearty, warming, and flavorful.  Recommended. 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
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1 1/2 cups (3/4-in.-thick) diagonally cut carrot
1 cup chopped peeled turnip
1/2 cup diced celery
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 (15-oz.) cans unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 (4-oz.) links fully cooked sweet Italian chicken sausage, chopped
1 (28-oz.) can unsalted diced tomatoes, undrained
3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon unsalted butter **
1/2 cup whole-grain breadcrumbs
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 
  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, carrot, turnip, celery, and garlic; cook 5 minutes or until just tender.
  2. Place vegetable mixture in a 5-quart slow cooker. Add cannellini beans, sausage, tomatoes, chicken stock, thyme, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Cover and cook on LOW 8 hours or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium. Add breadcrumbs; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat; stir in cheese. Stir half of breadcrumb mixture into cassoulet in slow cooker; sprinkle remaining breadcrumb mixture and parsley evenly over each serving.
 Thai Coconut [Squash] Soup (Ckng Lght, Oct 2016) vegetarian
This is fairly quick to pull together, though best done on a weekend if planning for a week night meal.   I found this to be incredibly liquidy - we prefer our squash soup to be nice and thick.  As in stand up a spoon thick.  So I basically doubled the squash.  Probably should have doubled the seasonings.... oh well.
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2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups (1/2-in.) cubed peeled fresh pumpkin or butternut squash (about 1 lb. 2 oz.)
1 large Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/2-in. cubes
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red curry paste
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups unsalted vegetable stock (such as Swanson)
3/4 cup light coconut milk
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons cilantro
Lime wedges
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes. Add pumpkin, apples, curry paste, ginger, and salt; cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Add stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 25 minutes or until pumpkin and apples are tender.
  2. Place half of pumpkin mixture in a blender, remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape). Secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters); blend until smooth. Place soup in a bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining pumpkin mixture. Pour in coconut milk and lime juice, and reheat in pan if needed. Divide soup evenly among 8 bowls; sprinkle evenly with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Slow cooker [Pork] and Barley Stew (Ckng Lght, Nov 2016)
This recipe received positive reviews in the magazine. less than positive about my results.  I followed the recipe with one exception - I subbed pork for the beef.  OH! Wait, two exceptions.  I ended up using 2 tbsp dried onion flakes for the onion because I ran out of onion.  WHO the heck runs out of onion!?!   Everything else is as directed.

By the time this was done and cooked - this was more casserole like in its consistency than stew like.  Thick...very thick.  I have to add extra water when re-heating to get it stir-able.   It also turned out incredibly bland which surprised me.  I expected a nice heartiness from the beef broth, thyme and tomato paste.  What I got was almost tasteless - I'm adding siracha sauce for a little extra kick.

So, not my favorite by any means.  Not a colossal fail, just not what I anticipated.  Recommended with reservations.
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4 cups unsalted beef stock
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup uncooked hulled (whole-grain) barley
1 cup water
1 cup sliced celery
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 large thyme sprigs, plus leaves for garnish
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup unsalted tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pounds beef stew meat, divided
2 1/2 cups (1-in.) pieces carrot
  1. Stir together first 8 ingredients in a 6-quart slow cooker. Add thyme sprigs and bay leaves; dollop tomato paste on top.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add half of beef; cook until well browned, about 6 minutes, turning once. Add beef to slow cooker. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and beef. Scatter carrots over beef. Cover and cook on LOW until meat and grains are tender, about 8 hours. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Ladle stew into 8 bowls; sprinkle with thyme leaves.

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