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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Apple crumb pie

-- or--
Christmas Pie #3 we never ate

My kids are little. At ages 5, 7, and 10, I realize they are still pretty small in the grand scheme of things. I realize they will get a lot bigger (and a lot more complicated). At this point, though, I am happy to have kids who are not so big yet.

When they were even littler, I thought it was so difficult to have kids. What with the diaper changing, and baby-proofing, and spoon-feeding. I was constantly watching for choking hazards, chasing toddlers, and buckling car seats and buckling Baby Bjorns and buckling strollers. If I wasn't rocking someone to sleep, I was picking someone else back up out of a crib, or listening to someone else "cry it out." At times, I thought I might go insane. So, I joined a mom's group. There were about 70 women who met twice a month. We had a potluck breakfast, sometimes invited a guest speaker, sometimes did a craft together, sometimes just chatted. We tucked all those little babies of ours safely away in a nursery with some wonderful babysitters, and we relaxed together. We enjoyed the break from baby tending, we commiserated and advised and hugged and cried and laughed.

My good friend was in charge of coming up with the craft ideas and implementing them within the group. It is no small feat to design a craft that 70 women (with a wide range of crafting ability and interests) can do in the general-purpose building of a church, on a very limited budget and even more limited time frame.  In the past there had been such crafts as candle holders, picture frames, and laminated babysitter instructions. There had been such dust-collectors as chalkboards and spoon rests.

This friend of mine wanted to make sure that we had more useful, universally appealing crafts. To this end, she had the brilliant idea one day of helping us all learn to make an apple pie. It seemed like the perfect thing! It could be done quickly and easily while seated at folding tables. And who doesn't want to take home an apple pie?

Well, unfortunately that day there was a guest speaker as well, who had gone well beyond her appointed time to speak. Being as she was kindly volunteering her time for us, no one wanted to cut her off, and we were running very late. Ordinarily we might have held the craft until our next meeting, but we didn't want the ingredients for 70 pies to go bad, and so we went ahead and made pie in the 10 minutes we had left.

It was chaos for those 10 minutes, with apple peelers and measuring cups flying around. People were tutoring each other in how to use a pastry blender, and people were borrowing a cup of sugar left and right. The recipe came to be known as "Panic Pie" for those 70 of us, but no one could deny that it worked, and it worked well. Seventy families had a delicious dinner that night. Not a single one of those women looked around at bedtime, and amid the piles of laundry and teething toys and dirty dishes,  had to wonder what the heck she had accomplished that day.

All of this is to say that 70 women (some of whom had never ever made a pie before in their lives) can make 70 apple pies, without even a kitchen, in only 10 minutes. This pie is easy and quick (once you have the apples peeled and chopped, there isn't much to it). It never fails. It is delicious. And even if you have never ever made pie before, you will be able to do this quickly, and it will taste delicious. I promise.

I try to use at least three varieties of apples when I make a pie, but you don't have to. I heard a pastry chef recommend this on a radio show once, and I took it to heart. She said that it works out the best to have the combination of different flavors and crispnesses together. I used Granny Smith (the stand-by baking apple) as well as pippins and fujis. Almost any tart apple will work well.

Apple Crumb Pie
(otherwise known as Panic Pie)

crust for a 9" pie (make your own or buy one), unbaked

4-6 large apples, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 c. sugar, divided
1 tsp. Cinnamon, ground
¾ c. flour
1/3 c. butter, cut in pieces

Preheat oven to 400.

In a large bowl, toss the apples with 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Arrange in the pie shell.

Mix flour and remaining ½ cup sugar. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut buter in until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (This can be done in a food processor, if you prefer.)

Sprinkle over apples.

 Bake 40 minutes or until apples are tender. Cool on a wire rack.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Persimmon Pie

The Second Pie we didn't eat on Christmas

As you may or may not have realized lately, I have had a few persimmons languishing on my counter. I am pleased to say that we have gone from 3 full bowls of persimmons down to a half a bowl... and nary a persimmon has been tossed out. Having had persimmon margaritas, persimmon bread, persimmon muffins, persimmon cookies, and persimmon leather, it seemed like the only thing left to do was to make a persimmon pie. (As it turns out, that won't be the only thing left... see "half a bowl" of persimmons still, above).

Speaking of more persimmons... any suggestions? What can I do with the rest of them? help!?

Anyway, I set out to make a persimmon pie for Christmas dessert. As it turns out, it was probably just as well that there was extra dessert on Christmas. While there is nothing wrong with persimmon pie, there is nothing particularly exciting about it, either. It just tastes like... sweet. There is no real special flavor to it. Unless you (a) just love persimmons, or (b) have a bunch of ripened persimmons laying around and you need a pie, I would say go ahead and spend your time and energy on something else. However, I fit the (b) category to a "T," so I went for it.

If I were to do a persimmon pie again (and I might... who knows?), I would probably go for a regular pastry crust. The recipe I found here had me make a graham cracker crust. At the time, I was glad (having already a rolled out three pie crusts that day) to make a simpler crust. However, when it came to eating time, there was just so much sweetness in the pie that a plainer crust might have evened things out a bit.

Just in case you are a persimmon lover, or you have a persimmon tree that you need to make use of (or the unwitting neighbor of a persimmon tree), or, like me, you got a bunch of persimmons in your CSA box and you need a pie, I'll give you the recipe.

Persimmon Pie
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

pie filling:
2 cups persimmon pulp
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter
2 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix the crust ingredients in a large bowl, and pat firmly into a pie pan. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Mix persimmon pulp in a stand mixer. Beat in all other ingredients in the order given.

Pour pie filling into prepared crust, and bake at 325, until set (a knife inserted int eh middle should come out clean).

It will come out of the oven looking like a swollen behemoth, but don't get your hopes up. By the time you serve it, it will look much less impressive.

Persimmon pie fresh out of the oven
Persimmon pie after cooling for 1/2 hour

Monday, December 26, 2011

Butternut Squash Pie

Merry Christmas to you all! I realize I haven't posted anything in a while... because I have been too busy baking, wrapping, baking, unwrapping, eating, drinking, being merry, baking, hugging, thanking, and cooking.

I'm a bit exhausted and feeling a little bit Christmas hungover, but I would go back to two weeks ago and do it all again if I could. I can't begin to explain how much Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year! I could never sustain the frenzy of activity and energy that happens in December for another minute, but I do wish we could all hold on to the joy of thinking about others, giving thoughtful gifts, surprising those we love, and generally hoping and wondering and being amazed. I love to see what happens when we all put our best selves forward, try to do for each other, and enjoy the moments we have together.

For Christmas, we weren't sure if we should expect a crowd of 10 or a crowd of 20 at my parents' house. Of course, I had to bake for at least 30. Just in case, you know, Santa stuck around for dinner. Or accidentally left some elves behind.

As it turns out, there ended up being too much dessert. As in too much by about 3 pies or so. That's okay, though, because they will be well appreciated in the staff room at my mother's library this week.

First up, I thought I would make a pumpkin pie (inspired by the line from the Christmas carol "When they pass around the coffee And the pumpkin pie, It'll nearly be like a picture print, By Currier and Ives...")

I mean, who doesn't want their Christmas to look like this?

Okay, I see no pumpkin pie or coffee in this picture print. Nor could I even find a picture print by Currier and Ives that contains coffee or pumpkin pie. But if I were out ice skating, I would probably want some coffee. And some pumpkin pie. Mostly because that would be an excuse to sit on a sofa instead of falling all over the ice.

So anyway, since Currier and Ives didn't have any pumpkin pie, I guess it is fitting that we didn't either. We, on the other hand, had Butternut Squash Pie. I think butternut squash is a perfect substitute for 
pumpkin in most recipes, and in pie it particularly makes for creamier results.

This recipe is the one my grandmother used to use. In her cookbook, she had listed her preferred ingredients for the pie, with the note that the directions from the label on the can of Libby's pumpkin.

I know there are a million pumpkin pie recipes out there, but I think that this one has all I could ever want... just the right amount of sugar and spice, enough squash flavor, and ingredients I always have on hand.

Here you go!

Butternut Squash Pie

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 3/4 cup butternut squash puree
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Either make or defrost a pie crust and place into the pie pan. I use the recipe from the handy Better Homes and Gardens cookbook... you know the one with the red and white checkered cover that surely someone gave you as a wedding gift? That's the one! 

Preheat the oven to 425.

In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Mix together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and then combine with the eggs. Add the squash, butter, salt, and milk. Pour into the pie crust. 

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 350. Continue to bake it for another 50-60 minutes (until the entire pipe is set, and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

persimmon fruit leather

As I promised yesterday, here is one idea of what can be done with your leftover persimmon puree.

It's so easy your cat could do it. Plus, there is no ingredient other than the persimmon pulp... how great is that?!

Preheat the oven to 250 and cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spread the persimmon pulp in a very thin, even, layer on the baking sheet.

Place the cookie sheet in the oven for about an hour (it may take longer if your pulp is a thicker layer). It is done when it is dry to the touch. It will shrink as it dries, so the result will come out of the oven in a wrinkly, funny-looking form.

As soon as it is cool, it will quite easily peel from the paper.

Cut it into pieces and store in an airtight container. It doesn't last long around here, but it should be good for a couple of weeks.

I got this idea from eHow.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

persimmon cookies

My seven-year-old is a cub scout. Despite the fact that there are certain philosophical differences between myself and the Boy Scouts of America, I can't deny that it has been an amazing experience for him.

I am watching a group of boys learn to do new things -- cute cub-scouty things like tying ropes, folding the American flag, and building model cars, as well as things I never could have predicted like preserving a stamp collection and making ice cream with nitrogen.

All in all, this is a group of rough and tumble boys who much prefer running and shouting to sitting still. They will cooperate long enough to make a chore chart or a poster about how to protect nature, but before long they are back to wrestling, climbing, and tumbling over each other. At summer camp, almost all of them named BB gun shooting and rock climbing as their favorite activities, and I am pretty sure none of them claimed to love the craft center.

We had the chance to host the boys last Saturday night for a Christmas Caroling evening. I had my doubts as to how well it was all going to go, but I didn't need to. These guys were amazing! They remained calm, sang their little hearts out, and melted my neighbor's hearts. Other than some choice add-ons to "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer", I might have thought that somehow we had lost our boys and found angelic replacements.

My job for the evening was to supply the cookies and hot cocoa. Not knowing how many boys to expect exactly, I wasn't exactly sure how many cookies to bake. I basically went with the idea that each boy could eat about 2 dozen cookies (depending on how closely his mother or father was watching). I therefore decided to do 2 dozen cookies times up to 20 boys, which clearly equals: Bake as much as you can all week long, and then hope that it is enough.

Chocolate chip cookies-- one of about 8 platters of cookies I baked.These are my old favorite.

Of course, I couldn't let an opportunity like this go by... it was the perfect chance to share some of the AHO produce!

Since my persimmons are continuing to ripen a bit more each day, I had plenty that were ready to be used. I decided to make a double batch of persimmon cookies.

These cookies, like all persimmon recipes, use persimmon pulp. To get the pulp ready to bake, you just take a persimmon, cut the top off, and puree the fruit in a blender. You may need a couple of teaspoons of water to get the blender going, but then just let it puree until all of the fruit is smooth. Go ahead and puree all of your ripe persimmons. Even though the recipe only calls for 1 cup, the rest can be frozen to use later... or you can make persimmon fruit leather out of it. It's really easy, and I will show you how tomorrow.

Isn't that a beautiful orange color? It's amazingly sweet and yummy too!

Persimmon Cookies
This recipe makes 4-5 dozen small cookies. They are very cake-like, and taste like fall, what with all the cinnamon and whatnot. I based my recipe loosely on the one I found here.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup persimmon pulp

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture. Stir in the persimmon pulp; mix well. The batter is very soft, and a beautiful bright peach color.

  • Drop by the teaspoonful on a cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Monday, December 12, 2011

pumpkin (or squash) butter

Do you shop at Trader Joe's? I have heard stories that some people in our great nation don't live close enough to a Trader Joe's to make shopping there feasible. I give my deepest sympathies to any of you who don't have Joe in your neighborhood.

The greatest thing about Trader Joe's is not that they have great prices (although they do). It's not that they have a good selection of organic or gluten-free or nitrate-free or sugar-free (although they do). It's not that they have a whole bunch of convenience foods -- think frozen pizza or pre-made cheesecake -- that manage to still be made of real ingredients (although they do). The great thing about Trader Joe's is that they do all of these things, and they manage to have an absolutely astounding variety of products. Every time I am in the store, there is something I have never noticed before. And any time I talk about Trader Joe's with a friend, I learn about their favorite product, which also is quite often something I have never noticed before. I could spend hours in that place perusing the aisles, finding all manner of yummy treats I have never tried.

As a matter of fact, I would love to hear what is on your shopping list at Trader Joe's. I am always interested in hearing what else I need to look for there... leave a comment if you know of something I need to try! 

One of the favorite items that my family discovered in Trader Joe's is the pumpkin butter. It is a spread made out of pumpkin and spices, that is great on toast, English muffins, bagels, etc. My kids also love it in place on jam on their peanut butter sandwiches. I have used it to make a quick dessert (rolled into puff pastry and sliced into rounds before baking). It tastes like having a little bit of pumpkin pie with your morning coffee.

Trader Joe's only has the pumpkin butter available in the fall, and we used to stock up on about 10 jars of it when we found it on the shelves, in order to last us through to when it came back the following year.

And then I started to get the Abundant Harvest Organics box. In the AHO box, the fall brings pumpkins. And quite a few butternut squashes. And even a kabocha squash, which is something I had never heard of before. And, as it turns out, these three squashes can pretty much be substituted one for the other. They aren't exactly the same, of course, but they work the same way. The flavors are very slightly different, but I like them all. I have made "pumpkin" pie out of all three of them. I have made "pumpkin" cookies out of all three of them. And, to my great joy, I have found that I can make pumpkin butter out of all three of them as well. It is pretty easy to make, once you have pureed the squash. It just takes a few ingredients, and a little while standing at the stove, stirring and simmering.

A quick note about the kabocha squash... We got one in our box a few weeks ago, and it terrified me. It was big (the size of a medium pumpkin). It was ugly (a sort of odd green color). It was hard (hard like a gourd almost). I couldn't imagine that anything good would come of it. As a matter of fact, I added it to the fall porch decorations and left it there a couple of weeks, happily nesting amongst the pumpkins. But a friend assured me that her mother had gotten one in a CSA box in Colorado, and that she loved it. SO if a friend's out-of-state mother likes kabocha squash, who am I to turn up my nose? I brought in back inside, roasted it, pureed it, and became smitten. The kabocha squash is sweeter and more flavorful than pumpkin. It roasts into a wonderfully soft consistency, and the puree is amazingly smooth and creamy. As a matter of fact, give a choice between a pumpkin and a kabocha, I would now choose the kabocha every time. 

Anyway, I was sitting here with a pumpkin, a kabocha, and two large butternuts. That is a whole lot of squash. I roasted and pureed them all, and I made a kabocha pie and a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. However, I still had an immense amount of puree leftover. I combined it all and made "pumpkin" butter out of it. It made a whole bunch of pumpkin butter, so I was able to freeze several portions, and once again we will have enough to last us until squash season next year. 

I would say that this recipe works equally well for any one or any combination of these squashes. Use whatever you have on hand, or pick your favorite. Or, if you prefer, you can buy canned puree. About one large can of pumpkin is what is needed for this recipe.

Pumpkin Butter

         3 ½ cups pumpkin (or butternut or kabocha) puree
         3/4 cup apple juice
         1 1/2  teaspoons ground ginger
         1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
         1 1/2 cups white sugar
         2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
         1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine squash puree, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently. I am not sure about the acidity of this, so I can't recommend canning it. If you make a whole bunch, I suggest freezing it. It thaws quite nicely.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"Twas the night of the popcorn

Twas the month before Christmas,
On a Saturday Morn, 
When the boxes of produce
Brought small cobs of corn.

This wasn't for chomping 
 either boiled or grilled.
This corn needed to be popped
Before the kids would be thrilled.

It's not a tough thing
To get the corn ready to eat
Just in a bag in the micro,
Three minutes to a wonderful treat!

It comes out nice and fluffy
Cooked with nothing but air.
Eat it straight from the cob,
Or add salt and butter if you dare.

An even better idea
To make the holidays gay
Is to leave it all plain
And set out for a day.

Once it gets nice and stale
Fingers both large and small
Can take a needle and thread
And string it up all.

This task takes some patience,
And some time in a seat.
Start with small lengths,
It will stay nice and neat.

Anyone can string it,
It's certainly true.
But the boys in this house
Had more... active things to do.

As each section is finished,
Lay it out nice and straight.
Add pieces end-to-end,
The more popcorn, the more great!

Keep adding on lengths
of the white puffy treat.
The garland can only grow nicer...
With each addition it's more neat!

Keep adding and adding
Until you can't anymore.
The cobs will provide plenty,
But your fingers may grow sore!

It's only done when you quit.
You can choose one string or eight.
But heed this small warning:
Keep it untangled and straight!

When you're all out of corn,
Or the helpers to string it,
Or space on your table, 
To the tree you should bring it!

Wrap it around and around
The old tanenbaum tonight.
Your ornaments can only look better
With this garland so white.

Enjoy this little bit
Of an old Christmas tradition
And admire your tree
In it's newest rendition.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

persimmon margaritas

For about four weeks in a row, I got persimmons in my Abundant Harvest box. I also got a little information, too.

There are two types of persimmons, fuyu and hachiya. The hachiya is heart-shaped, and the fuyu is shorter and more squat, and kinda looks like an orange-ish tomato.

The hachiya persimmon is very astringent, which means that if you try to eat it, your mouth will feel really dry, or like there is suddenly fur all over the inside of your mouth. This can be helped by letting it really ripen. And by ripe, I mean it should become something that you would think is really rotten. It should be so soft and mushy that if you break the skin open, the fruit could literally come pouring out.

The fuyu persimmon isn't nearly so astringent, but it does need to be really ripe before you try it out. It can be eaten with some amount of firmness left.

At any rate, I am not a fan of having my mouth feel like it is furry (go figure), and I am also not a fan of eating fruit that is pure mush.

So for me, the challenge is to try to find ways to enjoy the persimmons in other forms. Considering the fact that I have four bowls of persimmons in different stages of ripening on my counter, I need to find some great uses for them. I baked persimmon bread and muffins (recipes to come later...), and I quite enjoyed persimmon margaritas.  Mmm. It's a great way to take a drink that's reminiscent of a lazy hot summer day, and to give it some flavor of the season.

Persimmon Margarita 
 (from Imbibe Magazine)

1 3/4 ounces tequila
2-3 very ripe persimmons (either kind is fine, as long as they are thoroughly ripened)
1/2 ounce simple syrup (equal parts water and dissolved sugar)
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
ground cinnamon

Put the flesh of the persimmons and the simple syrup into a blender and puree until smooth. In a cocktail shaker, combine the tequila, 1 1/2 ounces persimmon puree, and lime juice. Shake well with ice, and strain into a glass (rimmed with salt, if you prefer). Sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon on top.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Asian Chicken Salad

When I was little they called this Oriental Chicken Salad. Then they changed it to Chinese Chicken Salad, and these days I see it named Asian Chicken Salad as often as anything else. I am not sure if it was the salad or someone else who was offended by the names, but who am I to argue with political correctness?

At any rate, I got a big beautiful Napa cabbage in my box the other day. There isn't a cabbage that I dislike, and Napa happens to be high on the cabbage list. I rather enjoy it. It works very well in a stir-fry, but one thing I know from my past year of getting the box is that I am going to have plenty of chances to stir-fry many many dinners. Rather than burn myself out ahead of time, I decided to make a salad out of this cabbage. And I love love love that Oriental  Chinese  Asian salad.

This is one of those meals that I make so often, I don't always do such a great job of it. There are the usual ingredients (lettuce or cabbage of some sort, chicken, carrots, green onions, almonds), there are the bonus ingredients (mandarin oranges, chow mein noodles, sesame seeds), and there is dressing. Asian salad dressing can be found in a bottle in every price range, and there are definitely better ones and worse ones. It just depends on my mood as to which one I will buy. Since I do make this salad so often, I find myself not caring too much sometimes. If I'm out of a particular ingredient, I just omit it. I have gotten to the point where, if I have lettuce and chicken, that's enough. Anything else I can add is great, but I will go ahead without it.

Given all that, I decided that this time I would go ahead and look up a recipe, and make sure I had everything I needed before dinnertime. Novel idea, I know.

The recipe I used was this one, from Ellie Krieger on The Food Network. Of course, I made it my own with a little more of this and a little less of that. (I opted to use all Napa cabbage instead of part red cabbage, since... I am not about to go buy more cabbage, and I left out the water chestnuts, because, well, canned water chestnuts are nasty. They taste rather like, umm, cans.)

Anyway, I really like the way she brushes the chicken with a sort of marinade before cooking it (I have usually used... well, leftover chicken from something else), and I like her dressing. I beats the heck out of any bottle Asian dressing I have ever tried.

Also, I used chicken thighs instead of breasts. You may wonder why. The real truth of the matter is that  I was at the store, in the meat department, perusing all the chicken packages. I found the organic stuff, and I was reading the label. While noticing things like "Free-range" and "Organic" and "grain-fed" I sort of, umm, overlooked the fact that I was holding a package of thighs instead of breasts. I actually didn't even realize it until I was taking them out of their little styrofoam tray and laying them in my pan to bake. I would say that the juicier thighs work just fine in this salad. They may even be better.

Anyway, here is the version of the salad that I put together:


  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, divided
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs breasts thighs
  • 1 head napa cabbage, thinly shredded
  • 1 large carrot, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 3 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced, greens included
  • 1 (11-ounce) can Mandarin oranges in water, drained -- or -- 2 fresh mandarin oranges divided into segments
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce or chili sauce


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and brush onto chicken. Arrange in a baking dish and bake until juices run clear, about 13 to15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely, and cut into 1/4-inch slices.
In a large bowl, combine Napa cabbage, carrot, green onions, oranges and sliced chicken.
For the dressing, put all the ingredients into a small jar and shake well to combine. Pour dressing over salad and toss. Sprinkle almonds over the top.

Friday, November 25, 2011

grilled broccoli and lemons and parmesan roasted broccoli and onions

This week is "Broccoli Ten Ways in Five Days" where I am trying out all 10 recipe suggestions Real Simple Magazine highlighted for broccoli in their September 2011 issue. Today is day five. You can browse day onetwothree and four if you'd like.

 Yes, indeed, I woke up this morning, Black Friday, the day after I went to bed in a food stupor, and did I rush out to buy the latest and greatest for those I love? No, I did not. I got up and cooked broccoli. For breakfast. 

Do you see how much I love you people? I didn't want to disappoint you by not finishing off the tenth broccoli recipe from Real Simple Magazine.  That, and I hate to not finish what I started.

Anyway, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of family and fun, love and laughter. I know I did.

Grilled Broccoli and Lemons

This recipe was the last one I made (just 20 minutes ago). I was only avoiding it because the thought of getting the girl fired up seemed like so much work. As it turns out, I wouldn't get the grill fired up just for this broccoli probably, but if I were planning to grill dinner, this is an excellent side dish.

Cut 1 bunch broccoli into 8 large spears and cut 2 lemons into quarters. In a large bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill the broccoli and lemons over medium heat, turning occasionally, until tender and lightly charred, 10 to 15 minutes. Squeeze the lemons over the broccoli and drizzle with additional olive oil.

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli and Onions

This was the family favorite of the 10 broccoli recipes. As a matter of fact, my daughter asked "Can we have this a lot more often?" For something so simple, folks, we have a winner!

Toss 1 bunch broccoli (cut into florets, 6 cups) and 1 small red onion (cut into wedges) with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 cup grated parmesan on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast at 425 F, tossing once, until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

broccoli and pepper stir-fry and broccoli, orange and olive salad

This week is "Broccoli Ten Ways in Five Days" where I am trying out all 10 recipe suggestions Real Simple Magazine highlighted for broccoli in their September 2011 issue. Today is day four. You can browse day onetwo and three if you'd like.

Today, I have a main-ish dish, and a salad for you. I can't say that today is going to be our best broccoli day this week, sadly. Neither one of these was horrible, but neither one was super duper, either.

The first is Broccoli and Pepper Stir-Fry. It is actually pretty good. It's just not exciting. I do stir-frys a lot, and this one doesn't stand out. If you are not a stir-fryer, this is a good starter lesson. With just a couple of common vegetables and a fail-proof sauce (from a jar), you really can't go wrong. If you are desperate to get rid of some broccoli, this is a quick and serviceable way to do so. Just don't plan to be blown away.

Broccoli and Pepper Stir-Fry
Cook 1 chopped bell pepper, 1 bunch broccoli (cut into florets, 6 cups), 1 bunch scallions (sliced), and 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger in canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, tossing often, until the broccoli is tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup each water and hoisin sauce and cook, tossing, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

 Broccoli, Orange, and Olive Salad
This recipe is probably the one I was least interested in trying. As a matter of fact, if I hadn't had the hair brained idea (and an overabundance of bunches of broccoli), I never would have bothered with it. Somehow, reading the recipe didn't excite me too much. There are more ingredients than some of the others, but somehow they didn't seem like enough. The recipe uses all things that I love (broccoli, olives, oranges), but somehow the combination didn't feel like it was going to be so fabulous. And guess what? It may be that I set myself up to dislike it, but whether it was a self-fulfilling prophecy or not, I didn't love it. The flavors weren't strong enough, so I went back and added a bit more salt and pepper. All that gave me was a case of sneezing. Oy vey. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't... much.

Steam 1 bunch broccoli (cut into florets, 6 cups) until tender, 5 to 7 minutes; rinse with cold water to cool. In a large bowl, toss with 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives (chopped), 2 tablespoons olive oil, and the grated zest and cut-out segments from 1 orange (squeeze in any juice remaining in the membranes); season with salt and pepper.