Pomegranate isn’t in season for very long. There’s just something about feeling those tart seeds pop in my mouth that takes me back. Maybe it was only a thing in my small town, but in middle school, pomegranates were all the rage. Seemed like you were only cool if your fingers were stained red from trying to free those tasty jewels from their tightly packed homes. Who knew that by the time I was an adult people would be touting this precious fruit for a myriad of health benefits? But I digress. This super healthy, seasonal side is also tasty and can be served hot, room temperature or cold.
Because my rinsing/toasting process takes a while, I usually do this the morning of the day I plan to make quinoa. Start by rinsing the quinoa. This helps get rid of some of the bitterness. Then, toast it. I find it very hard to toast wet quinoa on the stovetop, so I toast it in the oven. I set my oven at 200* and let it go until the color is nice and the seed is fragrant. Takes about 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so.
Simmer the toasted quinoa in a mix of broth and water until tender. I used half broth/half water because I like what some chicken broth does to the quinoa, but don’t want to overpower this dish with a brothy flavor. You could use all broth or all water and be just fine. When the quinoa is tender, put half of your diced apple on top and put the lid back on for about 10 minutes. This is going to give some of your apple a nice soft texture while keeping some crisp. While that is sitting, remove the seeds from your pomegranate. Start by removing the crown and scoring the skin in quarters. This should allow you to pull the pomegranate into quarters without cutting any of the seeds. The quarters will look something like this.
Hold the pomegranate seed side down over a bowl. Use a wooden spoon to whack the pomegranate. This will cause the seeds to fall out. Much cleaner and quicker that picking them out by hand. You may have a couple of stubborn seeds left in the skin. Just gently remove those with your fingers.
Stir the other half of the apples and the pomegranate seeds into the quinoa. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and toasted
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup water
1 apple, diced
1 pomegranate, seeded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Add quinoa, broth and water to a small pot. Heat until boiling. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until quinoa is tender. Add half the diced apple to the quinoa and replace the lid. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Stir in the remaining apple and the pomegranate. Season with salt and pepper.
The weather has been getting progressively cooler here. And that means soup season is upon us. Also, somehow, my schedule seems to be filling up, which means that I use my crock pot more often. This recipe is adapted from my grandma’s taco soup. It’s easy, feeds a crowd inexpensively, and just plain tastes good. If chicken isn’t your thing, feel free to use hamburger. No crock pot? You can easily make this recipe on the stove top, but in that case I’d definitely used canned beans instead of dry.
To start, add a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes and a can of corn kernels into your crock.
Then add dry or canned pinto beans and chicken breasts (I used whole, frozen). Also stir in a package of low sodium taco seasoning (or a tablespoon of your favorite homemade taco seasoning) and enough water to cover everything well. Turn your crock pot on low and walk away for 6-8 hours. Just before serving, remove the chicken and shred or dice it. Put it back in the soup, give it a stir and serve with crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheese. Yes, it really is that simple and so delicious.
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 can whole kernel corn
1 cup dried pinto beans (or one can pinto beans)
1 package low-sodium taco seasoning
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
water to cover
tortilla chips for serving
shredded cheese for serving
Place first 5 ingredients in a crock pot. Stir. Add enough water to cover. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high 4-6 hours.
Before serving, remove chicken from crock pot and dice or shred. Return to crock. Stir.
Serve with crumbled tortilla chips and shredded cheese.
Earlier this week, I had a friend request that I post a recipe for yeast rolls. I have several different recipes I use for yeast bread, depending on what I’m looking for. I talked with her a little more and she said she wanted a roll that was a little sweet and yeasty. I paired that with knowing that she lives quite a ways outside of town and is busy. I knew I had a recipe that would be simple and tasty. One problem. It wasn’t mine. It was my Aunt Linda’s. And they’ve been a favorite holiday and everyday dinner roll ever since she shared the recipe with us when I was young. I grabbed my phone, shot off a text message and she generously offered to let me share it with you all.
Start by mixing the yeast with some warm water to let it bloom. Then, melt some butter and stir in the sugar until it looks a bit like wet sand covered in oil.
Add the egg and mix well. Then add the bloomed yeast and water.
Stir in the flour. The dough will be really wet. You’re going to think it is too think and want to add some flour. Don’t. I promise it will be ok.
Cover this tightly with a lid, plastic wrap or just scrape the whole thing into a zip top bag. Put it in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours. It really is better if you let it sit overnight. Even two nights. But, no longer than that or your yeast will ferment and your rolls will taste like beer (and not the good beer bread either). We only made that mistake once. When you take it out of the fridge after 20 or so hours, the dough will have risen and thickened. It will also be bubble and super stretchy.
Spoon this dough into greased muffin tins. The recipe makes 24 rolls. I made 12 today and I’ll bake the other 12 tomorrow.
They’re not perfect, and that’s just fine. They’ll still bake up beautiful and golden and people will know they are home made.
Oh, you want to see what they look like on the inside. Go ahead. Twist my arm a little harder. It’s going to take a lot of convincing to get me to tear one of them open. Yeah right. Who am I kidding. It’s gonna take a monumental effort to keep me from eating the whole dozen before dinner.
I’m betting you’ve guessed by now that I love this bread basket. It’s got a secret. There’s a pocket in that beautiful daisy fabric that holds a microwavable rice sack. So, not only does it look beautiful, it keeps your bread products toasty warm (and, I bought it from a girl who was raising money for a school trip to sing at Carnegie Hall – BONUS!!).
1 package active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups flour
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside to bloom.
Melt butter in the microwave. Stir in sugar and stir until sugar looks like wet sand. Add egg and mix well. Stir in yeast and water mixture. Stir in all 4 cups of flour. Mixture will be very wet and sticky.
Cover tightly or transfer to a zip top bag and refrigerate a minimum of 3 hours. Overnight is better. Do not exceed 2 nights.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350*. Grease 12 muffin cups. Remove bread dough from fridge and spoon into muffin tins. This recipe makes 24 rolls, so you should have about half your dough left. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from tins. Loosen any stuck edges with a butter knife. Serve warm with butter if desired (though, they are nice and buttery without any extra).
The last few days have been unusually busy and exhausting. Even with no Friday night practice or Saturday game this weekend, I came to tonight feeling drained. Dinner had to be filling and simple. And, for my sanity, it had to be something no one would complain about. This recipe fits the bill. There are seldom any leftovers, but when there are, they make a great breakfast – just cook up an egg to your preference and voila! Or, you could toss in some green chile, scrambled egg and cheese and roll it all up in a tortilla (which is what my husband prefers). Anyway, for dinner, start by cubing up a large sweet potato (you could use two or three smaller ones, but I hate peeling the dang things). Then toss them into a hot skillet with some butter.
Turn the heat down to medium low or low (depending on how hot your burner is). Lid them and let them cook for a few minutes until they start to get brown. Stir them around and add 1/4-1/2 cup water to the pan and lid it again. When the water cooks off and the potatoes are mostly tender, add the sausage (which you can cut up before you start cooking or while the potatoes are cooking).My usual grocery store has stopped carrying full sized links of the smoked sausage brand I like best. Thankfully they still carry it in bratwurst-size links and they work just fine for this recipe.
Season with salt, pepper, onion powder and chile powder. Cook until the sausage starts to brown and the potatoes are completely tender.
Before anyone asks, yes, those are canned green beans on the plate. Yes, I ate them AND served them to my family. No, I am not ashamed. They’re convenient, quick and reminiscent of my childhood. Of course, they taste distinctly better if you add a little bacon grease, grated garlic (on my microplane so it is superfine) and black pepper to the pan and let it get toasty before you add the green beans. Which just happens to be exactly what I did.
1 large or 2-3 small sweet potatoes
14-16 oz of your favorite smoked sausage
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
Peel sweet potato and dice into 1/4″ cubes. Split sausage down the middle and cut into half moon shapes.
Heat non-stick skillet and butter over medium heat until hot. Add sweet potatoes, reduce heat and cover. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until potatoes start to brown. Stir, add water and replace lid. Cook until all water is gone and potatoes are mostly tender (5-10 minutes). Remove lid. Add sausage, salt, pepper, onion powder and chile. Continue cooking over medium low heat until sausage is brown and potatoes are tender.