Thursday, December 30, 2010

Parsnips... no really, they're good!

I know, I know... what am I doing raving about root vegetables?  I hear you.  And honestly, I'm not even sure how this one ended up in my recipe box.  But it did. And it's amazing.  If you like carrots, that sort of spicy-earthy taste, you'll love parsnips.  Love.  I hope you'll give it a try. 

Creamy Rice with Parsnip Puree and Root Veggies
30-40 minutes, serves 8-10 as a side dish

1-1/4 c rice (I used a mix of brown basmati and my favorite calrose)
4 c chicken or vegetable stock (or broth, just taste before salting the dish)
2-3 medium parsnips, diced should equal 2 cups
2 turnips, diced should equal 1 cup
4 medium sized carrots, diced should equal 1 cup
1 T olive oil
3/4 t salt
Salt and pepper to taste.
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

If you don't already have one, I strongly suggest splurging on an electric rice cooker- one with a non-stick pot will run you $20-30 at Target.  Rinse the rice in the pot then fill with water - determine the right level by putting the tip of your middle finger at the rice level, the water level should be at the first crease on that same finger.  A sweet little trick I learned from my brother the chef, works every time!

Start the rice, then on to the puree:

Cut up enough parsnip to make 1 cup.  In a large saucepan or pot, heat 1 T olive oil. Add parsnips and toss to coat.  Sautee about 5 minutes, until softened but not browned.  Add 2 cups stock/broth and cook until reduced by about half.  Surface area is the trick here... the bigger the pot, the faster the evaporation.

While that's cooking:

Start a pot of water to boil with 3/4 t salt, then cut up the rest of your veggies.  Toss the cut-up veggies into the pot of water and cook 5 minutes.  When you do this, put a bowl into the sink and fill it with ice and cold water.  You'll drain the veggies then toss them into the ice water to blanch them (stops the cooking and keeps them nice and bright looking).

While the veggies are cooling:

Pour the parsnip and stock mix into a blender (or magic bullet) and puree.  If you need to add a little extra liquid, use some of the remaining stock.  Here comes the fun part.

Put the cooked rice, puree and blanched veggies all back into the large pot over low-medium heat.  Stir to combine, add the remaining stock and season to taste.  Serve hot with a little parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.  Yum! 

Modified from:

Sweet Potato and Sausage Stuffing

This amazing recipe is courtesy my sister-in-law, Lindsay.  She also contributed the Irish Soda Bread recipe (scrumptious)!  We enjoyed this on Christmas and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it - finally emailed her for the recipe and when I read it, couldn't believe how easy it is.  It just keeps getting better.  Thanks again Lindsay!

Sweet Potato and Sausage Stuffing
Makes a 9x13 pan. 

2 boxes cornbread stuffing mix
1 lb italian seasoned turkey sausage (from Walmart, it's $1.08 in the freezer section)
3 ribs celery, chopped
1/3 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
3-4 sweet potatoes, chopped
2 cans (about 32 oz) chicken stock
Salt, Pepper and Sage to taste.

Brown the sausage.  In large bowl mix with dry stuffing mix, veggies, salt, pepper, and sage to taste.  Put in baking pan and pour chicken stock over evenly. 

Bake at 350F until potatoes are cooked, 30-45 minutes.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A FlyLady Rally

FlyLady just annouced her new motto for 2011, had to share.  And a big thanks to FlyLady Katie for a quick response with their OK to share this in full with you!  For those of my friends unfamiliar with, take 7 minutes (set a timer, I mean it) and nose around their site - or just jump in and sign up for a daily digest of their emails like I get.  Their reminders help keep our home, our family (and yes, my office) on track.

Dear Friends,
Every year we debut a new motto the last week in December. Usually by December I know what that motto will be. I have asked everyone for suggestions because finding words to rhyme with eleven is not easy. 99.9% of the responses wanted to rhyme eleven with heaven. Last night I still had no clue what our motto was going to be for 2011. When I went to bed I handed it off to my Midnight Editor! This morning I woke up with it! I love it when my Midnight Editor works overtime to keep me from stressing out! Thank you God.

I felt that rhyming eleven with heaven would be putting a level of perfectionism in our motto that would not help us to get moving toward our goal of a peaceful home. You all know how I feel about the word perfect; that adjective is left for heaven alone. That perfectionism is what causes us to procrastinate.

When you look at my cartoon character; you will see that she has on a cheerleading uniform. She is your biggest cheerleader! This is the reason I have turned our annual motto into a rally cry!

Let's Go for Seven in 2011!

For eleven years we have motivated you to do 15 minutes. I have said you can do anything for 15 minutes. Many of you have become immune to 15 minutes; you were overwhelmed by just 15 minutes. I felt that it was time to make up a new game! With our new rally cry; Let's Go for Seven in 2011! I thought you could do lots of things.

1. Set your timer for seven minutes and focus on one thing.
2. Go pick up 7 items to put away.
3. Go pick up 7 items to throw away.
4. Go pick up 7 pieces of clutter to give away
5. Make a list of 7 things that need to be done and set your timer for the first 7 minutes.
6. Make up 7 menus for the next week.
7. Sit down and rest for 7 minutes or read 7 pages in your favorite book.

There are countless ways to use our rally cry; Let's Go for Seven in 2011! Seven is a doable number. Every week we already bless our homes with seven things that need to be done.

1. Vacuum
2. Dust
3. Quick Mop
4. Polish Mirrors and Doors
5. Purge magazines/catalogs
6. Change Sheets
7. Empty all trash cans

We already have seven days in a week, seven dishtowels and 27 Fling Boogie! Let's make it a 7 Fling Boogie! Our FlyBabies on Facebook are having fun with a 7 x 7. Check out what FlyBaby Emma has done with our new motto! 7 x 7 is complete! I must say it is a lot less painless then the 15 minute bingo and the rewards are still great. I think I'll make the 7 x 7 my every day routine after the kids have gone to bed.

7 minutes tidying loungeroom
7 minutes tidying kitchen and dining table
7 minutes washing dishes/shining sink
...7 minute rest
7 minutes rebooting laundry and folding a load
7 minutes laying out clothes/packing bags/making lunches for tomorrow
7 minutes writing a todo list for tomorrow

It will take a mere 49 minutes, then I can focus on me.

I love how creative you all are! Now it's your turn to take "Let's Go for Seven in 2011!" and make it work for you! We can use our sidetracked nature to our advantage. We only have to stay focused for seven.

Are you ready to FLY with Let's Go for Seven in 2011?


P.S. If you don't like our new motto; please don't whine.


You are not behind! I don't want you to try to catch up; I just want you to jump in where we are. O.K.?

Let's Go for Seven in 2011!

Copyright 2001-2011 FlyLady and Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved, No reprint to other email lists or websites without FlyLady's permission. You have permission to forward to a friend.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cranberry-Orange Chocolate Bread Pudding

As my friend Helen put it:  What do you do when life gives you overdone muffins?  Make bread pudding!

Yes, it all started when I overcooked a double batch of muffins.  I didn't trust my gut.  I'd been baking all day and knew the oven was retaining heat well, but I didn't set the timer at the low end of the recipe time.  The top two-thirds of them were still fantastic (but that doesn't make a very nice gift, bottomless muffins) so I needed to find something to do with them. Bread Pudding! Of course. Never made bread pudding before. Since they were cranberry-orange muffins, those flavors were in my search terms and this came up. And I already had a bowl full of orange-cranberry relish!

So I quickly chopped up the 23 day-old muffins (24, minus the one I ate, and the too-dark bottoms) and the rest is history.  Now, don't be turned off by all the from-scratch ingredients.  Everything can be made in advance, pace yourself.  The muffins are supposed to be a little dried out, so day old is good.  And you could make the relish a whole week ahead. 
Cranberry-Orange Chocolate Bread Pudding
Start with 2 batches (24) Orange-Cranberry Delicate Muffins and 1 batch Cranberry-Orange Relish

5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 c orange-cranberry relish
3/4 c chopped cranberries

6 eggs
2 c milk
1-1/2 c cream
3/4 c sugar
2 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
2 T unsalted butter
1-2 T orange liquer (optional)

Chocolate Sauce
4 oz chocolate - I used 2 oz chopped bittersweet and 2 oz regular semi-sweet chips
1/4 c cream or half and half
pinch salt

Lightly grease bottom of 9x13 glass pan.  Cut muffins into pieces, set aside. 

Chop chocolate, set aside. In a food processor chop cranberries with relish. Arrange half of chopped-up muffins in one layer in baking dish and sprinkle evenly with chocolate and all of cranberry relish mix. Top with remaining muffin pieces. 

In a bowl whisk together eggs, sugar, milk, cream, vanilla, and salt and pour slowly and evenly over bread. Cut butter into bits and dot pudding with it. Chill, covered, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. (I love make ahead recipes!)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake on middle rack, about 40 minutes.

Sauce (takes about 10 minutes):
In a double boiler (small metal bowl set over a small pot of not-quite simmering water) melt chocolate then whisk in 1/4 cup cream and a pinch of salt until combined well. Keep sauce warm, covered.

Serve pudding warm with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. Makes 12 generous servings.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Disappearing Oatmeal Cookies

Stan's favorite with chocolate chips - my favorite with tart cherries.  Adapted from the Quaker Oats recipe for oatmeal raisin (you could use raisins, but, why???)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip OR Oatmeal Tart Cherry Cookies
2 sticks salted butter, softened
3/4  cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2  cup granulated sugar
2  eggs
1-1/2  teaspoons vanilla

1-1/2  cups all-purpose flour
1  teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2  teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4  teaspoon salt 
3  cups oats, uncooked
1  cup chocolate chips (or coarsely chopped dried cherries)
Preheat oven to 350°F. 
In large bowl, or stand mixer, beat butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla until creamy.
In large bowl mix together all but chocolate chips.  Stir butter mix into flour and oats, then add chocolate chips or cherries, mix well.  I put the dry into my stand mixer and let it do the stirring, chips/cherries and all.
I use a small cookie dough scoop to form small balls and usually fit 8 at a time on my parchment paper lined cookie sheet.   Bake 10 minutes, allow to cool 3 minutes on cookie sheet, then remove to wire rack.  Cool completely, store tightly covered.  
** Holiday cookie tip: store crisp cookies separate from moist cookies, or your moist will dry out and your dry will get soggy.  I use disposable foil roasting pans purchased in bulk with foil or press-and-seal.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tracy's Orange Chicken

This is one of our favorite meals. All the ingredients keep in the pantry or freezer so I always have them on-hand!

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken, cut into pieces (breast or thigh, doesn't matter)
2 T olive oil

Combine in small bowl:
1 jar orange marmalade (8-12oz)
2 T soy sauce
2 T triple sec or other orange liquor (may be omitted)
1 T vinegar (I like rice vinegar)
salt & pepper to taste, sometimes I add some Chinese chili paste too!

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or wok (I love my non-stick wok!), cook the chicken, allowing it to brown.

When chicken is nearly cooked, add sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.

Serve over steamed rice with veggie of choice. Serves about 4.

** I won a Smart Chicken recipe contest with this recipe (week 5) and it will be published in a benefit cookbook for St. Jude Children's Hospital!