Stuff and Nonsense: root vegetables

Showing posts with label root vegetables. Show all posts
Showing posts with label root vegetables. Show all posts


Roast Yer Roots

Roasted vegetables are the best! The sugars in the vegetables become caramelized, creating a layer of sweetness and depth of flavor that cannot be achieved with any other method. They're also easy to make and, roasted at high temperatures, take very little time to cook. Thee crispy, slightly charred bits that stick to the pan are the best part, I think, and I always go for them first. It's the vegetable equivalent of cracklings.

Saturday is usually my clean-out-the-fridge meal night. I go through our fridge, taking out anything that is nearing the end of its life or I'm simply tired of seeing and turn it a meal. A lot of the time, in winter, I end up making a soup or stew. Other times, like tonight, I chop all the veggies and roast them with whatever meat might be on hand. Tonight, I roasted almost all the root vegetables in the fridge (onions keep forever) and a pound of boneless chicken thighs.

I roasted the vegetables and chicken thighs separately as I didn't think there was enough room on the tray for everything and I wanted to make sure there was enough space on the veg tray to let everything "breathe" so they properly roasted and didn't steam themselves -- no mushy turnips for us!

Roasted Root Vegetables

Yield: 4 generous servings


  • 5 parsnips, halved lengthwise & quartered
  • 5 carrots, halved lengthwise & quartered
  • 3 turnips, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • Salt & pepper, as desired


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Place the parsnips, carrots, and turnips on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then toss the vegetables until they are evenly coated with oil. Roast for 20 minutes.
  3. Drizzle the vegetables with maple syrup, toss again to combine, and return them to the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are caramelized and yum.


Autumn's Bounty

While I'm not hosting Thanksgiving this year, that has not kept me from unrealistic fantasies of covering my kitchen counters with Brussels sprouts, carrots, turnips, parsnips, cranberries, winter squash, and potatoes. Fall is my favorite season and its harvest produces my favorite flavors. Food-wise there is nothing that makes me happier than a sheet pan packed edge-to-edge with roasted fall vegetables.

I first discovered how delicious roasted vegetables could be at a little restaurant in Montpelier, Vermont in the early naughts where I, in a fit of vegetarianism, ordered a platter of what turned out to be delicious vegetable candy. I have been hooked on roasting vegetables ever since.

Growing up, there were many vegetables my mother cooked that I insisted I did not like, but I've come to realize it was not the vegetables but the method of preparation that was off-putting. Boiled vegetables are, generally speaking, ick. Sautéed or lightly steamed vegetables are better. Roasted vegetables are the best. The sugars in the vegetables become caramelized, creating a layer of sweetness and depth of flavor that cannot be achieved with any other method. Also, I love the crispy, slightly charred bits that stick to the pan. Those are, for me, the cook's reward.

Also it's an easy/completely lazy way to cook. Put your chopped vegetables on a baking tray, toss with oil, season as needed, and roast in a 425°F oven for 20-30 minutes or until desired level of yumminess is achieved. If you want to be fancy, you can stir the vegetables and rotate the pan about halfway through the cooking time for more uniform roasting. Sometimes I do this, but I usually don't because I'm off doing Important Things like napping meditation or laundry.

Anyway, dreams of mounds of autumn vegetables led me to attend Gresczyk Farms' annual Fall Festival this past weekend. This family friendly event had touchable farm equipment (I know a tractor when I see one, but that's about it), a hay bale playscape, food trucks, tons of free samples of locally produced goods (including wine), live music, and so much produce. Tables and racks and carts of fruits and vegetables. And that doesn't even include what was already for sale in the farm store. I walked in with fifty dollars in my pocket and walked out with four dollars and So. Much. Stuff.

From Gresczyk, I bought Brussels sprouts, turnips, carrots, yellow onions, and yellow potatoes. I also purchased a wee perfect-for-two chocolate cream pie (The Husband loves chocolate cream pies) and wedge of strawberry rhubarb pie (ditto) from Granny's Pie Factory, a pie shop in East Hartford I have been meaning to visit since last Thanksgiving. Because pie wasn't enough for sweets, I picked up three six packs of Real Cookies Bakery -- cinnamon chip, ginger molasses, and triple chocolate. Operating out of Canton, Real Cookies' cookies are definitely very morish and I ate almost all the ginger molasses cookies while watching Doctor Who. (How many times can I use "cookies" in one sentence?)

You may be astonished I did not purchase any parsnips or winter squash. Gresczyk Farms, rather surprisingly considering the bounty of veg they were selling, did not have any parsnips. I was briefly excited by cream colored roots that, disappointingly, turned out to a variety of carrot. Soul? Crushed. That's when I decided to buy too many cookies. Or that's what I'm telling myself.

More likely, we just wanted cookies.

As for the squash ... my bag of holding was simply overloaded and could not accommodate squash without rupturing. I could probably have loaded The Husband up with squash, but he wouldn't have been happy about it and I'd already picked up so many other things he doesn't like to eat. The Husband, not liking vegetables (that aren't corn, peas, green beans, proper baked beans, tomatoes, or cucumber) since 1976.


Vegan Pumpkin Stew @ Buddha Bistro

The yoga studio I attend most often -- The OM Center for Yoga & Massage -- has a small cafe called The Buddha Bistro attached to it. The Bistro's seasonal "Pumpkin Love" smoothie with its strong pumpkin (not spice) flavor is a definite favorite and I keep meaning to try to make my own version at home, because there is simply not enough pumpkin in my life this autumn. Anyway, a few weeks back, the Bistro posted a flier for forthcoming cooking classes, including one for a vegan stew in a pumpkin. I've always wanted to try making a stuffed pumpkin, but I'd been intimidated by what I presumed was a huge amount of work. The class seemed like the perfect opportunity to find out just how hard it could be.

Turns out making a stuffed pumpkin is dead easy. Or, at least, the way we did it in class was dead easy. Yes, it's a bit time-consuming, but there's enough break between steps that you could go read a book or sort laundry or write another angry-yet-persuasive letter to your senator. You could even roast the vegetables and stuff the pumpkin well ahead of time, delaying the baking stage for days. Stuffed pumpkin doesn't necessarily look like a make ahead meal, but it definitely could be.

The only thing I would caution you about is seasoning. Season generously. Very generously. The amounts listed below are the bare minimum you should use. At the very least, heap your spoons. When you're prepping the pumpkin, you're going to think "Oh, my cake, that's too much!" and panic a little, but then you're going to start eating the pumpkin and find yourself reaching for the spice rack.

Buddha Bistro Vegan Pumpkin Stew
Serves 4-6

1 sweet (baking) pumpkin
2 medium white potatoes
2 small red potatoes
½ sweet potato, peeled
8 baby carrots
½ butternut squash, peeled and seeded
¼ head cored red cabbage
½ red onion, skinned
3 Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp sage
1 tsp + 1 tsp salt
1 tsp + 1 tsp pepper
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 Tbsp thyme
½ cup + 2 Tbsp neutral cooking oil
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 Tbsp corn starch
½ cup vegetable broth

Preheat oven to 435°F. Line a three quarter size sheet pan with foil.

Chop potatoes, carrots, and butternut squash into thumbnail-sized cubes. Slice or shred red cabbage, onion, and sprouts. Combine all vegetables together in a larger bowl with sage, salt, pepper, pie spice, thyme, and half a cup of oil. Spread evenly across sheet pan and roast for about 25 minutes or until vegetables are almost cooked.

While the vegetables are roasting, mix the vegetable broth and corn starch together. Set aside.

Scrub the pumpkin clean. Remove the seeds and guts. Prick all over the inside and outside of the pumpkin with a wooden skewer. Sprinkle the inside with remaining teaspoon salt, pepper, and dried sage. Set aside.

Reduce oven to 350°F.

Put your mostly-roasted vegetables in a large mixing bowl, add starch mixture, and stir until evenly coated. Pack it all inside your pumpkin. Place the top on the pumpkin and rub with the remaining oil.

Wrap pumpkin in aluminum foil and place on a quarter sheet pan. Bake at 350°F for 2-3 hours or until the inside of the pumpkin is easily pierced with a fork.

Carefully remove foil. Place pumpkin on serving platter and admire.

I'd love to try this again, with turnips and parsnips instead of the white potatoes. Also, maybe some mushrooms? Definitely more sprouts. Seriously, you could use whatever fall or winter vegetables you like.

While I ate this pumpkin without any accompaniments a little whole berry cranberry sauce or pickled red cabbage wouldn't go amiss.


Kohlrabi, Potato, & Leek Soup

As the fall has been so warm and mild, my weekly CSA share has been extended through to December. Unlike the summer, where I cruised the tables at the farmers market every Friday and selected whatever took my fancy, I now get a blind box of seasonal goodness. So far, I’ve received fennel, winter squash, tomatoes, peppers, pears, apples, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, eggplant, napa cabbage ... and a whole bunch of other good things I'm sure I'm forgetting. It’s been a little overwhelming, to be honest, but I’m doing my best to turn everything into tasty eats!

With ingredients from my first “extender” box, I made Betty Crocker's simply yumptious Tomato-Fennel Soup. I’d cooked fennel precisely once before and found it overwhelmingly licorice-y, so was prepared to be similarly disappointed, but -- maybe it is true that tomatoes and alliums make everything better -- this soup was probably one of the best tomato soups I have ever eaten and I really look forward to cooking with fresh fennel again.

Last week, I received two trimmed kohlrabi heads in my box and I was very “Huh. Kohlrabi. I made a slaw out of this last time ... ehhhh.” While the slaw had been fine, I don’t crave slaw in November and my ostomy’s been a bit iffy about raw vegetables so ... soup! Yes, more soup. Since I had leeks and some gnarly looking potatoes on hand, too, I thought I’d make a potato, leek, and kohlrabi soup. One of the cookbooks I’d skimmed at the library had said I could peel the kohlrabi bulbs and treat the flesh like that of a turnip, so that’s what I did. I don’t know if these kohlrabi were in some way physically superior to my previous kohlrabi or, maybe it was just that I already had experience, but peeling them was much easier than I remembered -- just like peeling an apple, really.

My soup spawned from a mishmash of recipes -- some from the internet, others from cookbooks -- so there are probably much better ways to do this than how I did. Also, it’s a very leek-y, turnip-y tasting soup, so you really need to like those flavors to enjoy this soup.

Kohlrabi, Potato, & Leek Soup

Yield: 6 (generously)


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek, white & light green parts only, sliced into thick coins
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled & cubed
  • 1 large kohlrabi, peeled & cubed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper, as desired


  1. Heat the olive in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, shallots, garlic, onion, crushed red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning. Cook gently for five minutes, stirring often, or until the alliums begin to soften and become fragrant.
  2. Add the potato, kohlrabi, vegetable broth, and bay leaf to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until kohlrabi and potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
  3. Remove pot from heat, discard the bay leaf, and let the soup cool for a few minutes.
  4. When the soup is no longer dangerously hot, blitz it with a stick blender or whathaveyou until smooth.
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.


Cookbook Club!

A few months ago, I started a cookbook club at my new library. My supervisor suggested I start a nonfiction book club and a cookbook club seemed like a natural fit, considering my own interests and the patron base I was working with. I'm not sure cookbook clubs are quite on trend, anymore, but registration has maxed out every month and everyone who actually turns up has been really happy to be there and shown great creativity with their dishes.

The requirements are simple:
  1. Make a dish fitting the month's theme using a library cookbook
  2. Make copies of your recipe to share
  3. On the appointed day, at the appointed time, bring your dish and copies to the library
  4. Discuss your dish and the cookbook you used with fellow club goers
  5. Eat
The club started in July and so far we've done "Fresh Cooking with Local Produce" in June, "Cool & Refreshing Summer Salads" in July, and "Picnic Foods: Dishes to Make & Take" in August. September is "Fall Flavors," but with the hot weather we've been having and the general weirdness of the growing season, I really think it's a bit early for fall flavors. Well, that's what I get for setting the schedule three months in advance!

"Spring Coleslaw" from Cooking from the Garden: Best Recipes from Kitchen Gardener

Since I'm working, I need dishes that can be prepared in advance and then happily left alone in the fridge or on the countertop until serving. So far, I've made a spring slaw, a Middle Eastern vegetable salad, and a tray of s'more brownies. I think the slaw was the best of the three, but the brownies did not last the evening so clearly dessert is something to bring more often.

"Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad" from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa, How Easy Is That?

However, I am not bringing dessert this month. No, I found the perfect way to use some of my scarily huge beets! I made beet hummus from Cara Mangini's The Vegetable Butcher. It's a really simple, straight-forward recipe with only five ingredients. Just wrap the beets in foil and roast them, scrape the skin off when they're cool enough to handle, and blend with salt, lemon juice, tahini, and olive oil until smooth. Adjust the seasoning to taste -- this is important as the recipe as published is a bit bland, imho. The finished hummus keeps in the fridge for five days and is simply beautiful to look at. If you like beets, I really recommend giving this recipe a try.

Roasted beet "hummus" from The Vegetable Butcher

Can't wait to see what everyone else brings to the meeting -- "Cool Weather Comfort: Soups, Stews, & Bread" in October!


Easy Carrot & Bok Choy Stir-Fry

It's nearly time to pick up this week's CSA share and there's a limit to how much more stuff I can get in the fridge so ... time to cook with bok choy! I hadn't cooked with full-grown bok choy (aka pak choi) before, but I figured it couldn't be that different from cooking baby bok choy -- probably just more chopping.

I decided to keep the dish simple because it was my first time (so why complicate things) and (more importantly) I was making it in the ROAWR! HUNGRY time between gym and work, when the longer I delay eating, the more likely I am to abruptly consume a whole bunch of (ultimately unfulfilling) random and then be very, very cranky with myself.

So. Bok choy stir-fry. With matchstick carrots, because why not? And lots of alliums, because alliums make everything (savory) better.

Easy Carrot & Bok Choy Stir-Fry

Yield: 2 generous servings


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 oz chopped sweet onion
  • ½ oz chopped garlic
  • 2 garlic scapes, chopped
  • 4 oz matchstick-cut carrots
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 large head bok choy, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp coconut aminos
  • Salt and red pepper flakes, as desired


  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring often, until pan is very fragrant.
  • Add bok choy, carrots, and soy sauce. Cook, stirring often, until greens are wilted and stalks are crisp-tender.
  • Season to taste.

Because I knew a big bowl of stir-fried vegetables was not enough to satisfy the ROAWR! HUNGRIES, I topped my bowl with grilled shrimp skewers. I'd never grilled shrimp before (today was a day of new things!) but the Internets told me to grill them 4 minutes per side or until pink so that's what I did and they were quite delish. A wee bit too peppery as I was heavy-handed with the seasoning blend I used, but definitely something I'd make again.

Now I just need to sort out the kohlrabi. It's just so weird looking, though. Like a mutant Pikmin.


Slow Cooker Ham & Split Pea Soup w/ Turnips

My lovely, generous coworker gave me another meaty hambone and, of course, I immediately turned it into soup. The recipe follows the same structure as my previous slow cooker ham and split pea soup, but this time I added chopped turnip, changed the seasonings up a bit, and used just water. It was still a magnificent pea soup -- extremely flavorful and hearty (but never stodgy). Good at any mealtime, including breakfast.

Slow Cooker Ham & Split Pea Soup With Turnip

Yield: 6


  • 6 oz dried split peas
  • 8 oz dried whole peas
  • 4 oz chopped onion
  • 4 oz chopped carrots
  • 4 oz chopped celery
  • 6 oz chopped turnip
  • 1 tsp crushed dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp roasted garlic flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 meaty ham bone
  • Water, as needed
  • Salt & pepper, as desired


  1. Combine peas, onion, carrots, celery, turnip, rosemary, thyme, garlic, and bay in slow cooker insert. Nestle in ham bone and add water until the pea mixture is covered.
  2. Cover and cook on Low 8-10 hours or until peas are tender.
  3. Remove ham bone from slow cooker. Pull meat from bone, discarding bone and other inedible/undesirable bits. Stir ham into soup.
  4. Add more water to soup, if too thick. Season with salt and pepper, as desired, and serve.

I've only recently "discovered" turnips. Probably because I was so resistant to rutabaga for so long -- I just lumped them in together as dreadful root vegetables. But rutabagas and turnips turn out to be delicious. Like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, turnips are in the cruciferous vegetable family and are a great source of minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber while being very low calorie. One of my friends uses them as a potato-substitute, as she is allergic to potatoes, and I'm kind-of tempted to try ricing a few, like cauliflower, to see what that's like.


Improv Challenge: Cinnamon & Honey

I know, for many cooks, this time of year is all about baking and December's Improv Cooking Challenge ingredients (cinnamon and honey) certainly lend themselves to baking, but I wanted something ... healthy and savory. So I made a salad! Hooray! I know salad in cold, dark December doesn't sound fabulous, but I promise you that this one is totally yum.

There are many versions of carrot and raisin salad in the world, but I strove to be An Original and made up my own. Cinnamon and honey, obviously, go into my salad, but so does cumin because I've been experimenting with "Moroccan" flavors and cinnamon + cumin seemed like a natural combination. Also, black currants instead of raisins, because black currants are brilliant. No mayonnaise, because carrots + mayonnaise = NOPE.

I have used the handful, an entirely unscientific unit of measurement, in my recipe. If you want to be more precise, use a ⅓ or ½ cup. Mostly, it's all about what flavors YOU like and how many currants or almonds YOU want to eat. Me, I love dried currants and almonds + carrots = ❤️ so I was generous with my handfuls. If you hate currants (but WHY?), feel free to use raisins.

Carrot & Currant Salad

Yield: 4


  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped fine
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Handful of dried currants
  • Handful of sliced almonds
  • Handful of dried parsley
  • Salt and black pepper, as desired


  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors to marry. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Best served at room temperature.

Personally, I love this salad. It's bright and sweet and ... carroty. Very aromatic with lots of tongue-pleasing textures. The blackcurrants plump up a bit as they sit overnight and become a like little chewy flavor bombs. While I ate it with salmon, it would also be good with roast or grilled chicken or pork. Or rolled up in rice paper with a bit of cilantro and pickled onion? Hmmm.

For anyone new to my blog, Improv Cooking Challenge is a monthly blog hop where two ingredients are assigned, participants must make a new-to-their-blog recipe using both ingredients, and publish a blog post about it on the third Thursday of the month. If you think that sounds like fun, click on the Improv Cooking Challenge logo below.

improv cooking challenge logo (aqua rolling pin, spatula, fork, whisk suspended from rack)


Improv Challenge: Carrots & Curry

I wanted to make something really fabulous with October's Improv Cooking Challenge ingredients (carrots and curry), but I left everything to the last minute (again) and so you're getting a simple salad. It's pretty, easy to assemble, keeps well, and tastes good -- both sweet and tangy with a gently kick from the sweet curry powder -- but I am still not 100% certain it is worthy of the challenge. Especially since I didn't even grate my own carrots, but bought a bag of pre-shredded rainbow carrots.

I used a medley of raisins in this salad -- Jumbo Golden, Crimson, Thompson, Flame, and Golden Flame raisins -- but the yellow ones kind-of disappear into the salad when you're looking at it, so next time I might stick with just dark Thompson and Crimson. Or maybe currants? Hmm.

Soaking the raisins helps them plump up a bit, making them tender and even more delicious than usual. The cider vinegar makes them a bit tangy, yes, but that works well with the honey and sweet curry flavors. Why sweet curry? I wanted something very fragrant and flavorful, but with only a little heat.

Curried Carrot & Raisin Salad

Yield: 4


  • ½ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp sweet curry powder [Penzeys Maharajah]
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 lb grated carrots
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. In a small mixing bowl bowl, soak raisins in vinegar for 20 minutes. Drain vinegar into another small mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk together vinegar, curry powder, and oil until combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine raisins and carrots. Pour vinegar mixture over and toss well. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

For anyone new to my blog, Improv Cooking Challenge is a monthly blog hop where two ingredients are assigned, participants must make a new-to-their-blog recipe using both ingredients, and publish a blog post about it on the third Thursday of the month. If you think that sounds like fun, click on the Improv Cooking Challenge logo below.

improv cooking challenge logo (aqua rolling pin, spatula, fork, whisk suspended from rack)


Ginger Carrots

Last time we stopped by the warehouse store -- ostensibly for toothbrush heads and batteries -- I espied a solitary double-pack of real baby carrots in the produce section. Not those whittled down carroty nubbins marketed as "baby" carrots, but proper "baby-as-in-young" carrots. Obviously, I snaffled them before anyone else got wind of the treasure in produce and tried to claim it for themselves.

The first half of the pack I steamed and served them my Grandma Anne's way with lots of butter, generous amounts of parsley and salt, and a pinch of sugar. Yes, sugar in carrots. She swore it brought out the carrot's inherent sweetness (mind you, she had a rapacious sweet tooth) and it does seem to work. Anyway, The Husband really enjoys them prepared this way and it's an easy way to keep him happy.

The second half ... I was a little experimental with. May's Improv Challenge was coming up and the ingredients were orange and ginger. These flavors go well with carrots, so I thought I'd try giving them an orange ginger glaze. They turned out okay -- not Improv worthy -- but good enough for supper, definitely, an worth repeating with a nice crackling pork roast as accompaniment, maybe.

However, I will say I used one tablespoon of ginger in this recipe, which made for some excessively gingery carrots, so you might want to start with half a tablespoon and then taste until you reach the right level of gingerness. They're still delicious as is, yes, but very gingery. (It's possible the ginger root I used as stronger than usual?)

Ginger & Orange Glazed Carrots


  • 1 lb baby carrots
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, peeled & grated
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • 6 Tbsp orange juice
  • Salt & pepper, as desired


  1. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the carrots. Simmer for 5 mins or until just tender, then drain.
  2. In a large skillet or wide pot, heat the butter until melted and foamy, then add the carrots, ginger, cilantro, orange zest and juice. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 mins, turning the carrots gently until they are thoroughly coated and juices are greatly reduced. Season with salt and pepper, as needed, and serve.


Improv Challenge: Orange & Ginger

May's Improv Challenge ingredients were orange and ginger. I toyed with the idea of orange and ginger nut cake, but I'm trying not to bake things The Husband won't eat because he seems ... unhappy ... that I seem to be doing more baking for other people than for him. Not that I blame him. I would be pretty cheesed off to wake up in the morning (too many mornings) to delicious smells, only to discover the source of those delicious smells is not meant for me.

So! Savory orange and ginger! Savory? A glaze? Marinade? An orange juice and ginger marinade? With ... honey? And ... red pepper? What about that unloved tin of five-spice powder? Oh! Don't forget the coconut aminos?!

And that's pretty much the entire thought process behind this dish. Throw a bunch of flavors together, taste, adjust flavors, taste again, then add some chicken and see what happens.

Usually found in Chinese cuisine, five-spice is just like it sounds -- a blend of five spices. I used Penzeys "Chinese Five Spice" which is a mix of cinnamon, star anise, aniseed, ginger and cloves. It's probably other manufacturer's use slightly different spices in their blends, so ymmv.

Because I was feeling a bit lazy, I used Gourmet Garden's lightly dried shredded ginger in the marinade. Like five-spice, it's exactly as it sounds -- lightly dried ginger shreddies. The container says one tablespoon of the lightly dried stuff is equivalent to two tablespoons of the freshly shredded stuff, so keep that in mind if you're planning on using fresh. If you want to try the Gourmet Garden ginger, I found it in with the fresh herbs in the produce section of my local Stop & Shop. (It works really well in carrot-raisin muffins, too).

I tested this recipe with drumsticks first, but roasted the drumsticks at too high a temperature so that the connective tissue riddling the drumsticks did not have time to break down much at all, leaving me with the kind of gristly drumsticks I loathe. The flavors were good, though, and the bits of meat that weren't horribly tendinous/cartilaginous/icky were quite tasty -- deep savory soy with a slight hint of sweet and robust ginger and garlic notes -- and I vowed to try again with a different cut of chicken.

The second time around, I marinated boneless skinless chicken breasts overnight and then cooked them in an oiled grill pan. Before marinating the chicken, I scored each breast in a crisscross pattern -- many articles I'd read told me that marinades never penetrate very far below the surface so I figured scoring the chicken would at least increase the surface area the marinade would be exposed to, hopefully creating a more flavorful chicken. Also, it looked rather pretty.

Simple 5-Spice Grilled Chicken Breasts

Yield: 2


  • 5 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 Tbsp orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp runny honey
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp lightly dried shredded ginger [Gourmet Garden]
  • ½ tsp Chinese five spice powder [Penzeys]
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes [Penzeys]
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts


  1. Pat the chicken breasts dry and score in a crisscross pattern with a sharp knife. Place in a food-safe storage containger
  2. Whisk together all remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Leave for 10 mins or refrigerate until needed, if making ahead. (If making ahead of time, try to shake the container occasionally during the day to redistribute the marinade).
  3. Heat your grill pan over medium-high heat. When hot, brush pan with a little neutral oil (like canola).
  4. Add chicken to pan. Cook 6 minutes per side or until meat has reached 165°F.
  5. Remove chicken from heat, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  6. While chicken is resting, pour marinade into a pot and boil, whisking often, until sauce becomes reduced and syrupy-looking.
  7. Slice chicken, drizzle with reduced marinade, and serve.

I served the boneless breasts over rice with steamed broccoli and it was very good, even if I do say so myself. The chicken was very tender and flavorful -- kind-of like teriyaki chicken but much less sweet or strongly flavored -- and the leftovers went really well on a salad.


Curried Cauliflower & Carrot Soup

This unending, bitterly cold winter has left me starved for color -- leading me to run amok in the produce and florist departments of the local grocery stores. Apparently, I was fixated on orange and red this week as I returned home one day with an armful of sunset-orange roses, garnet-red vegetable smoothies, and an orange cauliflower.

Seriously, why eat a plain ol' white cauliflower when you can have an orange one? Also, its label said orange cauliflower has 25% more beta-carotene than the white variety and, as eating fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene may reduce risk of heart disease, I'm all for orange cauliflower.

And then I thought, well, since it's freakin' cold outside and I'm doubtlessly going to turn the cauliflower into soup, why don't I combine it with that other beta-carotene power house, carrots? And what's extra warming on a day spent digging out Death Mountain for the umpty-umpth time? Curry.

So, "Curried Cauliflower & Carrot Soup" was born. It's really good, even if I do say so myself, and will definitely warm up your frozen insides. I use Penzeys Maharajah Style Curry Powder, which is wonderfully fragrant "sweet" mix that adds lots of rich flavor, but not a lot of heat. I figure, if I need more heat, then I'll stir in a little sriracha as the mood moves me at serving time. I frequently eat soup for breakfast, after all, and find flavorful but mild soups work best first thing in the morning. Bring on the heat at lunch time and supper!

I used plain unsweetened almond milk for this recipe, since the folks at the cardiovascular life-style modification clinic are quite keen on non-dairy milks like almond or soy. Obviously, you may use whatever kind of milk you like best.

Curried Cauliflower & Carrot Soup

Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped small
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped small
  • 1 tsp curry powder [Penzeys Maharajah Style]
  • 1 large head orange cauliflower, cut into chunks
  • 5 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 6 cups low sodium, low fat chicken broth [Pacific Foods Organic]
  • 1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk [Almond Breeze]


  1. In a large French/Dutch oven, heat olive oil. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent. Add curry powder and cook, stirring frequently, until it is very fragrant.
  2. Add cauliflower and carrots. Stir to scrape up any browned-to-the-bottom bits and. Add broth. Broil pan to a boil. Reduced to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Using an immersion ("stick") blender, puree until as smooth as you like. Stir in 1 cup of almond milk and cook for an additional minute or until hot. Season as needed with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder.

I say this recipe serves six, but I really mean it serves one hangry woman for two days. What that translates to regular folk is probably six cups.


P/F/G Challenge: Chicken Stew Stuff

Chicken Stew Stuff
Yes, that's my lap. Yes, eating in front of the television. No, we're not posh.

Supper was supposed to be "Baked marinated freezer chicken breasts with buttered peas-and-rice and steamed green beans," but I forgot to thaw the chicken breasts ahead of time so we had slow cooked chicken stew stuff, instead. It was pretty tasty, actually, even if it wasn't very pretty. And it kept me from going "Oh, the heck with it! I'm tired. Let's order in."
Slow Cooker Chicken Stew Stuff

2 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup frozen leftover turkey gravy
1 cup frozen chicken stock
½ cup frozen diced onion
2 cups diced peeled carrots
2 cups chopped fresh green beans
1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves and peeled
Salt-free Italian seasoning blend
Dried parsley
Black pepper

Put the carrots, onions, green beans and garlic at the bottom of the slow cooker insert. Add chicken breasts. Top with broth and gravy. Sprinkle with seasoning blend, parsley, and pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 9 hrs. Shred chicken. Stir everything together. Serve over rice.
We've eaten nearly all the garden carrots and I'm going to have to go back to buying them again, soon. Ridiculous.


Carrot Fest '13: Sad Chicken

Sometimes, I make something and it just makes my mouth sad. Such was my chicken and carrot disaster. From the beginning, I knew boneless skinless chicken breasts weren't meant for the slow cooker. Slow cooking makes them dry and mealy, oddly enough. Much better to throw bone-in thighs or legs in the slow cooker.

Chicken & Carrots

But boneless breasts are what I had and so what I used. Still, I could probably have saved this dish by cooking it on the stove top, but I was feeling lazy and just chucked everything in the slow cooker ... for six hours. Unsurprisingly, the poor chicken was flavorless and dry.

I tried to salvage the dish by making a gravy of the pot juices, but the broth was also rather flavorless and was no help to the chicken. A liberal seasoning of salt and freshly ground pepper did not improve things much.

The carrots were awesome, though. Tender and earthy.

Anyway, I've posted the recipe I made below with tentative improvements in brackets. Any recommendations would be welcome.
Sad Chicken
Serves 4

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
[2 bone-in turkey thighs]
1 cup turkey broth
1 Tbsp Bell's Seasoning
[2 tsp dried thyme, crushed]
1 1-lb carrot, peeled and diced
[3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces]
1 medium red onion, diced
1 cup frozen peas [omit]
[4 cloves garlic, pressed]
salt and pepper, to taste

Put carrots, onions, and garlic at bottom of slow cooker. Top with chicken breasts. Whisk Bell's and broth together. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on LOW 6 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Add back into slow cooker. Stir in peas. Let cook 10 minutes more or until peas are thawed.

[Put carrots, celery, and onion at bottom of slow cooker. Top with turkey thighs. Whisk broth, Bell's, thyme, and garlic together. Pour over thighs. Cook on LOW 6 hours. Remove turkey meat from bones and stir back into pot. Season with salt and pepper, as needed].


Carrot Fest '13: Mongolian Beef Stew

I was going through last year's peas and carrots Improv Challenge post, looking for yummy things to do with The Carrots of Doom, when I came upon Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips' recipe for "Slow-Cooker Mongolian Beef Stew." It seemed like the perfect early autumn supper ... and would let me use up an entire carrot.

Of course, I didn't have quite the right ingredients (do I ever?) so, being terminally lazy, I just winged it. Also, I didn't throw the frozen peas in until the very end, because I wanted firm peas and suspected six hours in the slow cooker would turn them into (the wrong kind of) mushy peas.

Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef

Regardless of my tweaks, this dish came out very well -- The Husband pointed out it was a wee bit peppery, but still willingly ate it two days running -- and I will be happy to make it again with another one of my weighty carrots.
Slow-Cooker Mongolian Beef Stew
Inspired by Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips who was inspired by Robin @Knead to Cook
Serves 6

¼ cup cornstarch
½ cup less-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup sherry [Taylor]
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp ground ginger [Penzeys Powdered China #1 Ginger]
¼ tsp pepper
1 Tbsp almond butter
½ tsp red pepper flakes
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, diced
1 1-lb carrot, peeled and cubed
12 oz bag frozen peas
2 lb beef chuck roast, trimmed of visible external fat

Whisk together the first nine ingredients (cornstarch through garlic).

Put the carrots and onions in the slow cooker insert and top with the beef. Pour the cornstarch mixture over everything. Cover and cook on Low for 6-8 hours.

Remove the beef and shred with a fork. Then put the shredded beef back in the slow cooker with the frozen peas and stir everything together. Let sit 5 minutes or until peas are hot.

Serve over rice.


Carrot Fest '13: Maplicious Carrots & Pork

Started out Carrot Fest '13 nice and simple with a roasted maple-glazed pork loin and carrots! I'm still not used to the new thinking that says pork can be served a little pink so I may have roasted mine "too long," but it was still tender, moist, and delicious.

Saturday Supper

Maple Glazed Pork and Carrots

1 lb carrots, cut into bite-size pieces
[that was one carrot!]
2 lb boneless pork loin [not tenderloin!]
⅓ cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350F°. Line a jelly roll pan with foil and place loin on top.

Whisk together cider vinegar, maple syrup, and Dijon mustard. Toss carrots with half of the glaze mixture and arrange around loin. Brush loin with some of the remaining glaze.

Roast for about an hour, brushing loin with glaze every twenty minutes or so. Remove from oven and allow roast to rest 10 minutes before serving.
I served the roast with potatoes and peas. Because I had white potatoes, not sweet, I didn't want to roast them like the carrots. Instead, I tossed them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them in a glass pie plate alongside the loin and carrots. (The peas were not really necessary, but I was worried The Husband wouldn't like the carrots and wanted a fallback vegetable. Turned out, he liked the carrots just fine).


Carrots of Unusual Size

I harvested all my monstrous carrots this weekend. I'd meant to leave them in the ground longer and keep digging them up as I needed them, but I then I noticed they seemed to be getting really big and worried they'd be woody. I don't know that carrots actually get woody, but then I didn't know carrots could get so big, either.

Monstrous Carrots

That's a two-pound carrot in my hand. And I dug up sixteen more like it. Crazy. Apparently, my compost is excellent compost? (And, maybe, I should listen to my dad and try succession planting? Rather than planting all my carrots at once?) For all their monstrousness, they are very good carrots -- crisp, crunchy, sweet, earthy.

It's safe to say you'll be seeing a lot of carrot recipes here on Savory Tart ...


Eating the Alphabet: R is for Rutabaga

For September's Eating the Alphabet, we're cooking with ingredients starting with the letter P, Q, or R. Since it's really starting to feel like autumn and autumn makes my little heart yearn for root vegetables, I decided to go with rutabaga. Or, as Stop and Shop labeled them, "yellow turnips." Or, as my British mother-in-law calls them, "swedes."

Our Friend, The Rutabaga

While I wanted to make something like the mashed rutabaga my mother serves at Thanksgiving, I also wanted to incorporate some of the monstrously huge carrots still lurking in my vegetable garden. I hoped the carrots would offset the rutabaga's distinctive flavor and make the vegetable more palatable for The Husband. For while I enjoy rutabaga, The Husband does not. Indeed, he seems to view my mother's Thanksgiving mashed rutabaga as some kind of trap, meant to misdirect him from the mashed potatoes.

Whipped Rutabaga & Carrot

While The Husband ate a small scoop of whipped rutabaga and carrots, he pronounced it "not his favorite." I nommed up two big scoops, so clearly I liked it. It's s simple dish with a mild, slightly sweet, flavor -- much milder than my mom's straight-forward mash, but still pretty strongly rutabaga for non-rutabaga lovin' folk.
Whipped Rutabaga & Carrots

2 pounds peeled and chopped carrots
2 pounds peeled and chopped rutabaga
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 oz can fat-free evaporated milk, warmed
Salt-free fat-free chicken broth, as needed
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Dried parsley, as desired.

Put vegetables in a slow cooker and just barely cover with broth. Cook on Low for 6-8 hours or until vegetables are tender. Drain well, reserving broth for a later use (soup). Whip in your stand mixer (or mash by hand) w/ melted butter, salt, pepper, warmed evaporated milk, and parsley.

Whipping the Rutabaga & Carrots

Or place rutabagas, carrots and enough broth to cover in French/Dutch oven. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer 30 to 35 minutes or until tender. Drain and whip as above.
If you want to eliminate the dairy, just mash the vegetables with their broth. I prefer the sweet creaminess dairy brings and, since I'm using fat-free evaporated milk, I'm not worried about the fat the butter adds.