Wild Rice with Roasted Winter Squash

One of my friends has been working away on her dissertation big book report.  One weekend in December I was hoping we could get together, but she needed to focus on her writing.  I totally get it.  It’s an important part of the process and sometimes being in-process means saying no to everyone else.  But, I also wanted to help bring her some food to keep the writing momentum going.  In Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, which my nephews gave me for Christmas a couple years ago, I had flagged this recipe for wild rice with roasted winter squash.  After I made the wild rice, I wanted a little more flavor, so I added Penzey’s Fox Point seasoning to the dish.

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Wild Rice with Roasted Winter Squash

2 Tbsp butter
1 c wild rice
3 c chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley
1 c butternut squash, chopped

Roast the butternut squash with butter or olive oil.  Put the butter or oil in a deep skillet or saucepan with a lid over medium heat.  When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add the wild rice and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and glossy, just a couple minutes.  Stir in the stock, bay leaf, and some salt and pepper and bring to a boil.

Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook, undisturbed for 30 minutes.  Check the progress: The rice is done with the grains have puffed up and are quite tender, regardless of whether the liquid has been absorbed.  If the rice is not done, continue to cook, adding more fluid if necessary.  If it is done, drain if necessary (this is unlikely).  Taste and adjust the seasoning and fluff with a fork.  Stir the roasted squash into the rice.

Sweet Spiced Turkey Breast, Roasted on Onions and Raisins

My final Thanksgiving recipe is the most important — the turkey.  This year I decided to do a turkey breast instead of a full turkey.  It’s only the four of us and I decided to do the ultimate faux pas — no potatoes.  Not mashed potatoes. Not sweet potatoes.  No potatoes.  Instead, I had the turkey, dressing, cranberries, pie, buns from my dad, and salad.  This recipe, from Celebrating the Midwestern Table, was really good.  The only issue is that I didn’t debone the turkey, so it took a while longer to cook — and the onions and raisins burned onto the bottom of the pan.  When I took it out of the oven, the smoke detector went off!  Oops!  Oh well.  The turkey tasted good, it just didn’t have caramelized onions and raisins like I thought might be the case.

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Sweet-Spiced Turkey Breast, Roasted on Onions and Raisins

Spice Paste and Turkey
3 large cloves garlic, minced, about 1 1/2 Tbsp
2 large green onions, minced, about 1/2 c
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp coarsely cracked pepper
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp oil
1 large, boned, skinned turkey breast, about 2 1/4 lbs, flattened slightly between sheets of plastic wrap

Onion and raisins
1 large Spanish onion, thinly sliced, about 3 c
1/2 c golden raisins
2 Tbsp cider vinegar

Salt to taste
1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley

Put a rack in the center of the oven; preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Set aside a sheet of heavy-duty foil, large enough to enclose the turkey breast, and a shallow roasting pan.

For the spice paste and turkey, combine the garlic, green onions, spices, and oil in a small dish.  Wash the turkey breast and dry it with paper towels.  Rub the paste evenly onto the entire surface of the turkey.  The turkey can be roasted immediately or refrigerated overnight, covered airtight.

For the onions and raisins, place them in the center of the foil.  Sprinkle the vinegar over them.  Place the turkey breast on top of the onions and raisins.  Tent the turkey in an airtight foil package, leaving a small amount of space between the foil and the breast.  Place the turkey foil-pack in the reserved pan.

Roast until an instant reading thermometer inserted halfway through the thickest portion registers 160 degrees, about 30-35 minutes.  Don’t open the foil to test the temperature; just insert the thermometer right through the foil.

Carefully open the foil to release the steam.  Let the turkey rest 10 to 20 minutes, loosely covered, before cutting it into thin diagonal slices.  Arrange the slices on a warm platter.  Spoon the juices, onions, and raisins over the top.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and minced parsley.  Serve it hot, at room temperature, or chilled.

Cranberry Sauce

I’m always looking for some ways to spice up my cranberry sauce and this recipe from the Sundays at Moosewood cookbook looked to meet some of those expectations.  Cardamom, while being a spice that the Norwegian in me should love, is a taste that I’m continuing to acquire.  But, it seemed to be a background note and cut the tartness of the cranberries, so I appreciated it in here.  While I probably won’t make this every week, the recipe turned out pretty good.  Plus, with only natural sugars from maple syrup, the recipe was pretty real-food friendly and could meet almost any food needs that someone had for a holiday gathering.

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Cranberry Sauce

12 oz fresh cranberries
1/2 to 2/3 c maple syrup
grated rind and juice of one orange (about 1/2 c)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
dash of cinnamon

Wash and drain the cranberries.  Remove any soft or discolored cranberries and any leaves or stems.  Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook on medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring, until the cranberries have popped and the sauce is thick.  Serve hot or cold.

Corn Bread Dressing with Brussels Sprouts

Although I made this a month ago for Thanksgiving, I found this recipe to be slightly disappointing.  I had high hopes that a fresh cornbread dressing that had all of these different things I loved added to it would create a delicious all-in-one side for the holidays.  Instead, I found it to be dry, and missing some levels of flavor.  The recipe came from Food & Wine 2009 Cookbook and made two pans.  Perhaps I was mostly overwhelmed by the amount of food that it made and there only being 4 of us, but it didn’t quite hold up to what I was hoping for.  If anyone else has made the recipe and had greater luck, I’d love to hear about it.

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Cornbread Dressing with Brussels Sprouts

Corn Bread

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 1/2 c stone-ground yellow cornmeal
2 1/2 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
3 c buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted


4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 celery ribs, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 lb thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped
1 Tbsp chopped sage
1 c dry white wine
3 eggs
2 c chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lb brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise

Make the cornbread: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Pour the oil onto an 11×17 rimmed baking sheet and heat in the oven.  In a large bowl, whisk the cornmeal with the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the eggs.  Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients, add the melted butter and stir until just blended.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven and swirl to coat with the oil.  Scrape the batter onto the baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, until the cornbread is springy.  Transfer to a rack and let cool.  Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Prepare the dressing: Generously butter two 9-by-13 pans.  In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Add the celery, carrot, and onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the prosciutto and sage and cook until the prosciutto starts to crisp, about 8 minutes.  Stir in 1/2 cup of the white wine and let cool slightly.

Crumble the cooled cornbread into a large bowl in small chunks.  In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the stock, then pour over the cornbread.  Add the prosciutto mixture, season with the salt and pepper, and toss to combine.  Spread the cornbread dressing in the prepared baking pans.

Wipe out the skillet and melt the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter in the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the brussel sprout and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, 10 minutes.  Add the remaining 1/2 c of white wine and cook 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Tuck the brussels sprouts into the dressing.  Cover and bake for 20 minutes, until heated through.  Uncover and bake for 10 minutes, longer, until crisp on top.  Serve hot.

Apple Pear Cobbler with Lemon-Cornmeal Biscuits

I was looking through the Apple Lover’s Cookbook and came across this unique cobbler recipe.  I wanted to make it for Thanksgiving, but my mom decided to bring apple pie.  So, instead I made it for the night before Thanksgiving.  Might as well kick-off the holiday season with lots of desserts, right?  The cobbler had a nice mix of sweet, but not-too-sweet flavors to it.  The lemon-cornmeal biscuits on top were a great way to temper the sweetness.  Unlike some other cobblers that make a 8-inch square pan, this made a large cobbler and I was eating it all weekend long.  I warmed it and added a scoop of caramel ice cream to teh top, and that was a great combination.

Apple Pear Cobbler with Lemon Cornmeal Biscuits

Apple-Pear Cobbler with Lemon-Cornmeal Biscuits

2 1/2 lbs firm-tart apples
1 1/2 lbs ripe pears
1/3 c granulated sugar
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 Tbsp chilled salted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 c flour
1 c cornmeal
3 Tbsp plus 2 tsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 1/2 Tbsp chilled salted butter, cut into small pieces
1 c plus 2 Tbsp chilled heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and set a rack to the middle position.  Peel and core the apples and pears.  Cut the apples into 1/4 inch slices and the pears into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Put in a Dutch oven.  Add the sugar, lemon juice, flour, and butter, and toss to combine.  Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.  Can stop and refrigerate at this point overnight.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, the 3 Tbsp sugar, the baking powder, salt, and the lemon zest.  Sprinkle the butter on top and use fingers to work it in, forming thin flakes.  When the dough begins to look like cornmeal, add the 1 cup cream and stir with a fork until the dough just comes together.  Gently pat out on a well-floured surface to a 3/4 inch thickness.  Use a biscuit cutter or juice glass with a 2-3 inch diameter to cut out biscuits, scraping and re-rolling the dough as needed.  Chill the biscuits in the refrigerator while the fruit finishes the first round of cooking.

Remove the fruit mixture from the oven and give it a quick stir — it should look softer and a little glossy.  Arrange the biscuits on top, overlapping slightly in concentric circles, brush with the remaining 2 Tbsp cream, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tsp sugar.  Bake, uncovered, until the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling, about 35 minutes.  Cool on a rack at least 20 minutes, then serve warm.

Daim Cookie Bars

For our staff party I discussed in one of my recent brussels sprouts recipes, we have an annual theme where we try to center our gift exchange around the theme.  This year’s theme was hygge and when I learned that and needed to visit the Twin Cities, I took a trip to Ingebretsen’s in Minneapolis to get scandinavian gifts.  While I was there, I saw some Daim candybars and immediately thought of this recipe from ScandiKitchen.  I thought I had measured everything accurately, but clearly missed something because when it was time to bake the cookies, they spread so far apart it was awful.  Wanting to make it better, I ended up putting these in a bar pan and baking them.  Flavor was good.  But, I’m pretty sure there was too much butter.

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Daim Cookies

1 c butter
1 c brown sugar
2/3 c caster sugar
2 c plain flour
1 egg
1 egg yolk
½ tsp Bicarbonate of soda
2 tbs milk
¼ tsp Sea Salt
½ tsp vanilla sugar
5 Daim bars (28g), roughly chopped

Melt the butter and set aside to cool down a bit.

Combine flour, baking soda, vanilla sugar and salt in a bowl and set side.

Combine the sugars with the cooled, melted butter and stir until no lumps remain. Combine egg, egg yolk, and milk and mix with the sugar and butter until thoroughly combined.

Add the flour bit by bit until everything is incorporated, then add the Daim pieces and combine. Chill the dough for a few hours.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Line your baking trays with paper and add approx. 40 grams or 1/3 c of cookie dough in rough balls, about 5 cm apart. Cook for 8-10 minutes – or until just golden, then remove from the oven immediately and transfer to a cooling rack (the middle should still be slightly soft when you take them out of the oven – they will harden up after a while. The cookies will be best after about half an hour – slightly warm but chewy in the middle.

Honey Mustard Wedges With Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper

At some point earlier this year, when I was going through my recipes, I came across this recipe for potatoes.  It’s no doubt that I’m a big fan of honey mustard.  It’s my go-to condiment.  So, when I saw this, it seemed like a great recipe to try.  I really enjoyed it and it was a nice compliment to some of the other dishes I’ve made recently.

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Honey Mustard Wedges With Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper

6 potatoes, large, cut into wedges
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons honey mustard
ground sea salt
cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place wedges in a large bowl and add olive oil, mustard, sea salt and pepper.  Mix to coat.  Place wedges on baking paper lined baking tray.  Bake for 1 hour tossing about 4 times.  Remove when wedges are golden.