Friday, February 27, 2009


This week's ingredient.... Cinnamon! I love cinnamon. Of course, I also like a bit of sweetness with it. Even in my Peanut Chicken recipe, I like to add some honey or brown sugar to mellow the taste of this lovely spice.
Cinnamon buns would be the perfect choice...but, as some of you may know I am on a workout and strengthening kick right can't make those sinful treat...only because I just know I would absolutely feel compelled to eat more than one...okay...probably chose this recipe instead. I can hold back with just a loaf...although this loaf is very tasty too!!
Guess who sent me this recipe? My financial advisor. What do you suppose that means?

The recipe says it is Cranberry Pumpkin Bread.... but, as usual, ...... to me it is not bread without yeast. Yeh, yeah..I know... many loaves are referred to as breads....but, not by me. Using frozen cranberries adds a little zing of tartness to the light sweetness of the loaf... I liked it. My brother baked it as well..(said it was too cold outside to do much else and the stove was helping keep the house warm).. .but he used Craisins...he figured they were cheaper, but I can't vouch for that and did enjoy the little tart surprises of non sweetened frozen berries. I never use the full amount of berries in any recipe either..... usually overkill in my guess-timation. I just toss in a handful that looks good to my eye. Remember my usual admonition.... a recipe is just a guideline... add or subtract as you like. Maybe you like more cinnamon...less clovers (yeah, right clovers...ahahha... as if... but, you know I meant cloves didn't ya?) anyway... always your own personal preference. I usually make a recipe to the letter the fist time...then, if it's what I call a "keeper", I tweak it in subsequent attempts... to perfect it for the enjoyment of my very own gustatory receptors....(my taste buds).... . is my nod to cinnamon for Diana's challenge this week....and I'm darn well referring to mine as a loaf ... so there.

Cranberry Pumpkin "Loaf"

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup orange juice
zest from an orange
1 1/2 tsps. vanilla
1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

Stir together flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, cloves and ginger in large bowl.

In another bowl, (or mixer bowl) cream together butter and sugar til light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix well. Add pumpkin puree, orange juice, orange zest and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix just until moist. Fold in cranberries.
Pour batter into a large greased loaf pan and bake on centre reack for 60 to 80 minutes or til a toothpick comes out clean. (mine took almost the full 80 mins)
Cool completely before slicing and serving. (the loaf is sort of soft feeling..and you will make a mess if you slice early..... .... yep..I had to taste it as soon as I could without burning my tongue...and crushed one end of it..... )

This definitely needs a large loaf pan or go for two smaller ones... perhaps check the times after 60 if you use smaller pans. I used my biggest loaf tin which is 9 X 5... and it was full. I do have to say it is a rather dense crumb to this loaf... it is not light and fluffy and really doesn't rise too much, As a matter of fact... the first one I made almost looked like it was not fully cooked ..but around the bottom and outside to halfway up the side...not in the middle where it would normally be if it was undercooked..... .weird... but, it definitely was baked right through. Maybe because it is so huge... it just weighed the lower part of the loaf down ... I'm not sure. Second batch (because I bought a large tin of pumpkin and had enough for seconds) I used two smaller loaf tins...and still there was a slight recurrence of that... but not as bad....don't know what it is.
However, this is still a very tasty loaf.... I'll make this one again sometime down the road....

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cabbage Challenge

This week's ingredient for Chic Life's challenge is cabbage. Sky's the limit on dishes for that simple ingredient.... and so many of them are soooo tasty. I decided to do a soup, because when I looked in my 'fridge I spied some perfect little leftovers. Soups are such a great way to use them up and at the same time get plenty of nutrition.

A handful of parsley, a small half head of cabbage, one silly sausage .... .. some sprout water that I saved just for this...I added it to the chicken stock because I only had about two cups of stock ...all needed to be used ..... and soon. A big part of being frugal with food is never wasting it. Never leaving things in your fridge 'til they resemble school science experiments...

don't forget.... a recipe is not a code... "it's more like yer guidelines" .....
where have we heard that one? oh, yeh.... Pirates.... the code.... one of my fav lines.. soooo,,, along those lines....this is my soup adapted from Cabbage Soup in the Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking. I call it....

(More than) Cabbage Soup

1/2 to 1 cup cabbage (I shred and dice mine into about 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces)
2 slices bacon (chopped) or a large spicy sausage (or two) diced
1 small onion (or to taste)
1 or 2 carrots
1 stick celery
1 medium potato
1 tablespoon flour
4 cups stock ( I used chicken)
1 or 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper or (I used a small red pepper instead of black)
pinch of nutmeg
can of creamed corn (optional)
cup of milk (optional)

Heat bacon for some fat or use 2 tablespoons of butter, or..... a tablespoon of each of butter and vegetable oil (I prefer this as the veggies are less inclined to brown too quickly and I'm always trying for less butter anyway because of cholesterol) Add onion, celery, carrot and potato..... ... cook gently. Add cabbage and continue to cook gently. Don't let cabbage get brown. After about 10 minutes, sprinkle on a big tablespoon flour and mix well. Pour in about 4 cups stock. Mix well, add diced sausage, bay leaf, parsley, (salt if using) pepper, any other spices of your choosing and bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes or so til veggies are tender but not mushy. Adjust seasoning; add nutmeg and tin of creamed corn. Simmer for about half an hour. Add a cup of milk and continue to heat, but be careful not to let come to boil after adding milk. ( It may separate if boiled ..and even if it tastes does not look as nice.)

If it has to sit longer than the times stated ...not to worry... .mine was ready and re-heated several times.... it just gets better..... though some of the potatoes get a bit less firm. We had it with some fresh home made bread, toasted.....oh, YUM! .... And, today....leftover soup for lunch.... mmmmmm......

Saturday, February 7, 2009


The special ingredient for the weekly fun food thing at Chick Life.. whoops.... Chic Life.... lol.... I call you "the chick" behind your back all the time Diana.

We call this recipe Peanutty Chicken... and I usually use a dollop of hot curry paste as my seasoning ingredient... which makes it a bit less fiddly. However, this is similar... and to get some heat I used dried red peppers from my friend Stan's garden. These little things are pretty potent...

 a matter of fact, may I remind you that after cutting peppers, please remember to wash your hands several times before licking your fingers when cleaning honey off the knife with them.... whoa! that gave whole new meaning to hot lips!!

Peanutty Chicken

Portions are entirely up to you...this is just a guideline ... rely upon your own preferences for taste and amounts.

Brown some chicken in large skillet. I like thighs... Use a small amount of oil if it is not a stick free pan.

Turn chicken to brown other side and add some onions.... sprinkle all with liberal amount of turmeric and whatever other spices you like. I used Herbes de Provence and some fresh basil (which I added much later) Turmeric imparts a lovely colour right away... today it gave me an idea to make it an orange-y chicken and that was what I decided to add once the onions were slightly cooked.. orange juice.
Don't let the onions get brown...just nice and soft..... Simmer with lid on for 20 minutes or til chicken is nicely cooked. During the cooking I also added some celery.
Add some diced tomatoes.. I used a whole large tin. When tomatoes have simmered with turmeric and chicken for a bit..taste and add more spice if necessary. At this point, I also add a small red pepper, a few dollops of honey, a small handful of dried cranberries and several large spoonfuls of chunky peanut butter. Mix well.
Simmer for at least an hour... stirring every so often....

I decided to continue the orange theme and used chicken broth and orange juice for the liquid in a panful of couscous. Chopped up fresh parsley and tossed it with the couscous after it had been sitting for about 5 minutes.

I had a spaghetti squash already baked, so, we used that for a veg and served the chicken in sauce over that ...very tasty..

A few green peas for some colour... a salad on the voila..... YUM! Peanutty Turmeric Chicken.