Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Spinach Salad with Bosc Pears, Cranberries, Red Onion, and Toasted Hazelnuts

I have mixed feelings about discovering I can search my Google history and come up with what we were looking for a year ago. I'm thankful to have found the following recipe link and yet . . . 
Okay, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, I'll stop at thankful.
This one is a keeper and now we have it for next year:

Spinach Salad with Bosc Pears, Cranberries, Red Onion, and Toasted Hazelnuts
Epicurious | November 2009
by Diane Morgan
The New Thanksgiving Table

Serves 8
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
8 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach leaves, stemmed if needed
2 firm but ripe Bosc pears (do not peel), quartered lengthwise, cored, and cut into long, thin slices
2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted (see Cook's Notes) and chopped
To make the dressing, in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Cover tightly and shake vigorously to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
Place the onions in a medium bowl and cover with cold water. Let stand for 30 minutes. This crisps the onion and takes away the raw onion taste. Drain well and pat dry on paper towels.
In a small bowl, toss the cranberries with 2 tablespoons of the dressing to soften them. Set aside for at least 20 minutes or until ready to serve the salad.
To assemble the salad, place the spinach, onions, and pears in a large bowl. Give the remaining dressing a last-minute shake and pour over the salad. Toss to coat evenly. Arrange the salad in a large serving bowl or divide it evenly among 8 salad plates. Scatter the cranberries and hazelnuts over the top(s). Serve immediately.

Cook's Notes
Try to buy shelled hazelnuts (also called filberts) with the brown, papery skins removed as well. To toast, spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and place in a preheated 375°F oven. Toast for about 12 minutes until lightly browned. If the nuts still have the skins on, transfer them while they’re hot to a clean kitchen towel. (Use a clean towel that is old or you don’t mind washing with bleach, because the skins tend to discolor the fabric.) Rub the nuts to remove most of the skins (they never come completely off).
You can substitute unsalted cashews for the hazelnuts. Toast cashews, as directed above for hazelnuts, for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned.

Source Information
Reprinted with permission from The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan, (C) October 2009, Chronicle Books
Do Ahead The dressing can be made up to 1 day in advance, covered tightly, and refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before serving. The nuts can be toasted up to 1 day in advance; store at room temperature in an airtight container. The onions and cranberries can be prepared up to up to 4 hours in advance. Set aside at room temperature. © Condé Nast Digital, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Sausage & Rice Stuffing -- Oregonian Food Day 1984?

Thanks to a local tweep's question this morning, I was reminded of an old scrap of newspaper I keep in a recipe binder. It's been a few years since I've made this stuffing recipe. No reason other than forgetfulness.
Just be warned, it's not easy to resist seconds.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Who Else We Saw at RadioLab's Live Show

This was the first time I had heard of Reggie Watts. His improvised songs about our damp climate and obsession with fine coffee, had the crowd laughing. But with RadioLab we were already laughing.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

On Being Respectful

{Really?! It was two years ago? Link to previous post}

I like Christmas and all of the other end of the year holidays. But, and I don't talk about this often, I'm not religious. Never was. My mother tried, bless her heart, but it didn't take. I suppose it didn't help matters that I asked too many questions that the people around me couldn't answer.

Strangely enough, my own lack of religion didn't stop me from promoting Christmas with the students at school. Until last fall-- something clicked for me during a school holiday discussion with @SalemRebekah. I realized that by reading Christmas stories to the wee folk that I was being disrespectful of the different beliefs of the children and their families. That I was promoting the mindset that "my way is the only way". Thanks to @SalemRebekah I began a search for children's books about sharing, caring and giving, because that is the central core at the heart of the holiday season. Plus, sharing, caring and giving, are cross cultural and (hopefully) not offensive to anyone's beliefs.

Here I am, another holiday season and yet another new-to-me teacher to work with. I'm struggling with whether to share my year old epiphany with her, or to just roll with it. I tried to discuss it with another friend/coworker last year, but ended up running head long into the attitude that some people are trying to destroy Christmas. {sigh}

Is it wrong to roll with it or does it make me complicit with the very attitudes I'm trying to escape?
Oh, and are gingerbread men generic enough for all?

Book list I have to date:
One Smile
Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed
The Mitten Tree
Ribbon Rescue
A Circle of Friends
My Most Favorite Thing
The Giant Hug
Nico and Lola
The Carpenter's Gift

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Taco Tuesday!

I was looking for dinner inspiration, after hearing a story about a cookbook that embraces the kids for family dinner night. During my search for the book, I ended up stumbling across a blog called, "Once Upon a Chef", and their recipe for chicken tacos. The recipe reminded me of how Franny cooks, so of course I decided that would be the next day's dinner. Those were some of the best tacos I've ever had.

We only made a few changes:

  1. ground turkey, instead of chicken
  2. only red pepper--we rarely use green
  3. soft artisan shells, not hard

Chicken Tacos
Makes 12 tacos


For Filling
¼ cup olive oil
¾ cup diced red bell pepper (you'll need one small pepper)
¾ cup diced green bell pepper (you'll need one small pepper)
2 medium yellow onions, diced (about 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds ground chicken (not extra-lean all breast meat)
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy)
1-3/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (you'll need one small bunch)
12 hard taco shells (I like Old El Paso Stand 'n Stuff)

Suggestions for Garnish
Shredded lettuce or purple cabbage
Shredded Mexican blend cheese


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions, red peppers and green peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and just starting to brown, about 10-12 minutes. Add garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add ground chicken, paprika, ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne, and salt. Turn heat to high; use wooden spoon to stir and break chicken into small clumps until chicken is partially cooked, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, then turn heat down to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking chicken into smaller clumps, for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

3. Meanwhile, remove taco shells from package and lay sideways on baking sheet. Pull stack apart, overlapping edges slighly. Bake 6 to 7 minutes, or until crisp. Spoon chicken into shells and serve with suggested toppings.