Archive | November, 2014

Wild Rice with Caramelized Onions and Cranberries

18 Nov

wild rice pilaf with caramelized onionsLast Sunday’s Detroit Free Press had a holiday food section called Feast, consisting of recipes from readers — including yours truly!

The Freep ran a contest of sorts, inviting readers to submit recipes via their Facebook page in various categories. I sent this one, and they printed my recipe in the Side Dishes category.

My prize was an invitation to the Freep’s Taste Fest at the Great Lakes Culinary Center, an interesting spot I’d read much about but never seen.

We enjoyed lots of yummy treats, including a bunch of tasty organic grain- and legume-based salads from a company called Gabby’s Garden. (Locals: they’re carried at Hiller’s, Westborn, Randazzo’s, Market Fresh, Papa Joe’s, Holiday and other local fancy grocery stores.) There was also a nice upgraded green bean casserole, with haricots verts, wild mushroom gravy and crispy shallots.

My winning recipe is one I got from the Ocean Spray Cranberries people, but they note that they got it from Vegetarian Times, November 1998.  I’ve adapted it slightly. It’s excellent as a side-dish for Thanksgiving or any other fall festive occasion.

Except for caramelizing the onions, it’s extremely easy. Caramelizing the onions isn’t difficult, I just find it takes a really long time – sometimes nearly an hour – to do it properly so that the onions are soft and completely golden brown. The recipes that tell you it takes 10 or 15 minutes are lying! It’s worth being patient because you will get soft, super-sweet onions! If you have more than you need you can save the extra to use on salads, burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, etc.(you may even want to consider making extra just to have leftovers!)

Before I get to the recipe, I want to let you know that the blog is taking a vacation for a couple of weeks, as I spend some time with my daughter following the birth this week of her daughter!

Ingredients:

2 cups vegetable broth
½ cup brown rice, uncooked
½ cup wild rice, uncooked
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
3 medium onions, sliced into thin wedges
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 cup dried cranberries
½ tsp. finely grated orange zest

Directions:

Combine broth and brown and wild rice in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes. (Or cook the rice and broth mixture in the microwave as you would cook brown rice; I do it at high for 6 minutes and then at medium for 40 minutes.)

While the rice is cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and brown sugar. When the onions start to soften, turn heat to low and cover the pan for about 5 minutes. Then uncover the pan and continue to cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until all the liquid is absorbed and the onions turn a caramel cover; this will take at least 20 minutes, maybe as much as an hour.

Stir in the cranberries. Cover and cook over low heat until the cranberries swell, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the rice to a large serving bowl. Gently fold in the cranberry mixture and the orange zest.

Serves 6

Crunchy onion chicken

11 Nov

crunchy onion chickenI got this recipe from my friend Mandy Garver, who said she got it from a French’s fried onions can. I couldn’t believe how easy it was!

Ingredients:

2 cups (4 oz.) canned French fried onions (e.g. French’s)
2 Tbs. flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Crush French fried onions with flour in a zip-lock bag.
Dip the chicken pieces in egg.  Coat with onion crumbs and press firmly to adhere.
Place the chicken pieces in a greased baking pan.
Bake 20 minutes.

Serves 4

Winter Squash, Spinach and Pine Nut Pasta

4 Nov

Butternut Squash and Spinach PastaButternut and other winter squashes are plentiful right now — and I think they are becoming increasingly popular, because I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes for them. I love butternut squash, and so I’ll probably be featuring a few recipes for it myself this winter.

This one is adapted from a good food blog I follow called MediterrAsian, which focuses on Mediterranean and Asian foods.

The original recipe called for pumpkin, but I used butternut squash instead. I’m sure the squash or pumpkin tastes fine boiled with the pasta as the recipe directs, but I roasted it ahead of time instead of boiling it, and just put it in with the pasta for a minute to get hot. I also increased the amount of spinach a bit from the original.

You can buy peeled and cubed butternut squash at Trader Joe and other upscale groceries. It’s pricey, but it makes the process much easier.

I used tri-color penne. You can use plain or a similar shaped pasta such as rotini or ziti.

It tasted really good and we had enough left after dinner (for the two of us) for a lunch.

Ingredients:

6 oz. penne pasta
12 oz. pumpkin or winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
3 Tbs. toasted pine nuts
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1½ tsp. fresh rosemary, or ½ tsp. dried
3 cups firmly packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese to serve, optional

Directions:

Cook the pasta and pumpkin in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water for 8 minutes, or according to package directions. Drain, reserving 3 Tbs. of the pasta water. You can start on some of the other steps while the pasta is cooking.

If the pine nuts aren’t already toasted, toast them in a large skillet over medium heat until lightly browned (shake the pan and watch them carefully so they don’t burn). Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same skillet heat 2 Tbs. olive oil and cook the onion for 6 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in the pine nuts, salt, pepper, remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and the 3 Tbs. of pasta water.

Toss the pasta and pumpkin with the spinach and onion mixture. Top with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Serves 3 as a main course or 4 to 6 as a side dish