Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reading Recipients and Noteworthy News

I'll be announcing the winners of the book giveaway in a bit, but first I'm very excited that I've been given the opportunity to review another product from CSN Stores, the purveyors of such fine things as sling backpacks to pet beds.  I'm pretty sure my review will be involving something toasty!

So on with the winners!
There was some conjecture, suspicion even, by a certain (probably former) reader after my last giveaway that I was less than virtuous in the choosing of people who win anything from me here at The Sporadic Cook.  There was talk of elitism, and favoritism toward food bloggers.  I was aghast.  Taken aback.  I'll even go so far as to say I was dumb-founded!  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  If it seems as if only food bloggers win anything from me, MAYBE IT COULD BE BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE WHO VISIT MY SITE ARE FOOD BLOGGERS.  Just a thought.

So how, just how do I prove my innocence?  What's a girl to do?  All you have is my word.  All I have is your blind belief...or do I?  
So recorded here in a sequential image, uni-media event, the winner picking events exactly as they happened...

First I recorded the names of everyone who used the super secret codeword (or some form of it) on a piece of paper in my somewhat arthritic scrawl and cut each name into it's own strip.

 Nextly*, I folded each strip into exact thirds, placed them into a fine handcrafted porcelain (or clay) container, shook the snot out of them with my chubby little hand, then stirred them up with a blue Bic 'round stic' pen in medium point.

Lastly, I randomly chose two slips from said container and placed them on my scratched up side table, unfolded them to reveal the winners are:


Congratulations to both of you and thanks to everybody for playing! 

I'll be contacting you by email to get your addresses for your book to be sent to you, but first I have to rest.  All the big words and indignation have me completely exhausted!

*I do realize nextly is not a word


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Birthday Boy and a Giveaway

Happy Thanksgiving time to all you good people out there.  

Guess who's 12 today and likes to stand next to lobster tanks.

You'd be right if you said Simon.  He decided he wanted to go to Red Lobster for his birthday, so I plucked him out of school early and that's what we did.  Seriously, what's more important...seafood or education?  It's a no-brainer
 kiddos with Grandma and Grandpa at Red Lobster

So after we were completely stuffed full of cheesy biscuits and lobster pizza we went to grandma's for cake.  Yum :P

Simon kept giving me this silly little sideways smile, but we were able to overcome it.

In other news, I was contacted to be able to giveaway two copies of a new novel by Rachel Hauck called "Dining With Joy".  

I get a copy to read too, and I can't wait. I've been looking for a good read lately.  Here's a little synopsis from Publisher's Weekly:

Romance novelist Hauck (Love Starts with Elle) whips up a delectable and light tale of finding love amid everything edible, a story that goes down easy. Joy Ballard, a cooking show host who can't cook, inherited her television show from her father. Joy's executive producer sells Dining with Joy to success-hungry Allison Wild of Wild Woman Productions, who brings on hunky chef Luke Davis, owner of a failed Manhattan restaurant. When Joy and Luke mix it up on television, sparks fly and ratings soar. The only thing holding back Joy's career is the truth about her lack of cooking talent and her guilty conscience. Toss in some cooking rivals, old family wounds, and struggles with Christian faith, and readers will find themselves hankering for another serving of low country living from Joy's pantry. 

I'll leave the giveaway open through Monday night November 29th...10pm.
It's open to North America, and winners will be contacted by email, so be sure I have some way to contact you.  To enter just leave a comment on this post and use the code word "stuffing" to let me know you're interested! 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Comfort Food X's Two

You know those weeks where you don't really know which end is up?  This was one of those.  But a couple of yummy comfort foods helped me through it.  

Firstly was this White Bean and Sausage Soup I found at The Girl Who Ate Everything.  Although in the interest of full disclosure I need to confess I just used plain old ground beef, seasoned up quite a bit.  I'm sure the sausage would be lovely, but I already had the ground beef, so there ya go.

This soup is so easy and fuss-free, it's perfect for a busy day.  Especially with a warm piece of crusty bread.  Here's the recipe:

4 (15 oz) cans of white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 (32 oz) cans or boxes of chicken broth
2 (28 oz) cans Italian style diced tomatoes
2 lbs mild Italian sausage
2 oz fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook sausage in frying pan until cooked through. In large pot, add sausage and then add all other ingredients. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Secondly I made this beautiful Rice Pudding found at Lick The Bowl Good.  I've been thinking about it ever since I interviewed Monica for my last edition of Seven Sporadic Questions.

I feel sure there's not much out there that would be more comforting or soothing than this awesome rice pudding, except maybe xanax. But you don't need a prescription for the pudding.  Here's Monica's recipe...

1/2 cup arborio rice
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split*
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
1/2 pint raspberries (optional)

In a large saucepan, place all the ingredients, except the almond extract and raspberries. Bring it to a gentle boil and then turn it down to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom, for about 30 to 40 minutes. Taste the rice to check for oneness. The rice should be very soft and plump.

Take the pudding off the heat and stir in the extract. Pour into dessert bowls and stir in some fresh raspberries. Serve hot, warm, room temp or cold.
*Monica says she used vanilla extract after taking the pudding off the heat rather than a vanilla bean. That's what I did as well and it was just perfect. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Apple Cranberry Galette

I just spotted this yummy galette today at a lovely blog known as Anecdotes and Apple Cores. I knew I wanted to make it right away.  

It was thoroughly delicious, and filled the house with the aroma of fall.  
Here's Monet's recipe.  The only thing I did was substitute dried cranberries for the fresh ones, since I had some already.

1 recipe all butter pastry,
2 lb. Granny Smith apples (4 large), peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. orange juice
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cups fresh cranberries
1 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
Sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and a line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. Prepare your filling: In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, water, honey, orange juice and cinnamon. Heat, stirring often, until sugar has dissolved. Add apples and simmer until softened and opaque, about 5-7 minutes. Remove apples from pan with a slotted spoon, reserving juices in pan.

3. Add cranberries to pan and simmer until they begin to pop and the liquid thickens, about 2-3 minutes.

4. Combine apples and cranberries in a medium bowl, stir until berries are evenly distributed.

5. On a lightly floured, roll out your refrigerated pie dough to a 12 inch circle. Transfer your circle to your prepared baking sheet and spoon filling in the center, leaving a 1-2 inch border. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edges to form a broad rim. Lay the thin slices of butter over the fruit and dust the crust with raw sugar.

6. Bake in preheated oven until pastry is a light golden brown and the fruit has softened, about 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

 Today I also made some Stuffed Acorn Squash.

These were easy and quick since they are prepared in the microwave.  And I really enjoyed the combination of the sweet and savory stuffing with the squash.  Click here for the recipe.  

Last but not least I also tried a recipe I saw for some corn pudding.

I found it edible at best, but the kids seemed to like it.  Maybe it's because of the sweetness.  Here's the recipe if you're interested. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Granola Bars

I saw these granola bars yesterday at Evolving Mommy and went out and made them that very day.  It involved a trip to Sprouts, and when I go in there I always think things like "from now on I'm only buying organic everything and getting my flour out of bulk bins and where the hell are my birkenstocks?"  Then I leave and return to my normal carbon footprinting self.  (I know I'm not making sense, it's probably due to the build up of pesticides in my bloodstream)

Anyway, these granola bars...they're quick and easy, very yummy and crunchy.  They made the house smell wonderful, for a little while anyway.

Here's Catherine's recipe:

1 Tablespoon coconut oil
2/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1 cup flax seeds
1 cup puffed wheat
2 cups oats

Heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9×13 inch baking dish in aluminum foil and then lightly butter or grease the foil.

In a large sauce pan or wok heat coconut oil, honey, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg over medium heat until mixture is thin and watery. Add pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, puffed wheat and oats to the pan. Stir thoroughly to ensure that all the seeds and grains are covered in the honey mixture.

Pour the granola into the baking dish. Using a spatula or wet hands press the mixture into the pan. The mixture should be packed down and pressed evenly.

Bake the granola for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before cutting into bars. To cut into bars remove the whole sheet of granola from the pan using the aluminum foil and then cut the granola into your desired sizes.
 up close and personal

A word about the coconut oil: I'm not sure I would have really missed it if I hadn't put it in there, at just a  tablespoon.  If you're like me, that's not something you ordinarily have just sitting around.  But, I did use it when combing my daughter's hair last night and it took care of those gnarly tangles like nobody's business.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Seven Sporadic Questions: Lick The Bowl Good

Hope you are all having a wonderful November thus far, and it's filled with all things autumn-y.  No crunchy leaves or bonfires for me, still wearing shorts and flip flops, but am quite thankful for the break in the heat.  

This month's featured blogger for Seven Sporadic Questions is none other than Monica of Lick the Bowl Good. 

 Monica seems like a truly kind soul and her cakes are so beautiful they make me want to cry (in a good way).   So sit back, grab a beverage, and get to know Monica a little more.

1. What inspired you to start blogging?

I started blogging because I was going through a very difficult time in my life and I needed a distraction. Sharing my favorite recipes and photos through my blog became a much needed outlet. An added bonus is that I'm met some amazing people and have made lasting friendships over the past 3 years.

2. What's your favorite thing to make for a crowd? 

 Triple layer cake!

I like to bake cakes because it gives me an excuse to try different recipe combinations and I can practice decorating them, all the while feeding the whole family and still having leftovers. Who doesn't love cake?

3. What's your favorite thing to make for just you? 

When it comes to baking, I choose flavors that I like, but I usually aim at pleasing my husband first because if he doesn't like something then I'm left trying to eat it all before it goes bad. However, there is one thing that he doesn't like, that I love and that is rice pudding. I like to make a batch using vanilla beans, arborio rice and heavy cream and eat it right from the pan or the fridge. It's great for breakfast too!

4. If you could invite 3 famous people (living or dead) to dinner, who would they be? Any particular reason? 

I would love to dine with Oprah Winfrey, because I think she's fascinating and could tell some awesome stories. Paula Deen because she cracks me up and she thinks everything she eats is "out of this world" so there would be no complaints about food. And thirdly I'd invite Tom Selleck for eye candy and to keep my husband entertained. ha ha!

5. When you think of your childhood, do any favorite dishes come to mind?

My grandma's beef stew with cornbread crumbled into it. The epitome of comfort. I've never attempted to make beef stew because I know it wouldn't taste like I remember.

6. What do you have in your kitchen that you just couldn't do without? (besides your stove/oven of course) 

I have a few obsessions when it comes to the kitchen. Cake stands and bowls of all sizes are amongst them- I can't seem to get enough! But it's the spoonula from Williams-Sonoma that I use most often. A lot of people are attached to their KitchenAid stand mixers, but I believe in working for your food so I do a lot by hand and the spoonula is a wonderful kitchen tool I couldn't do without.

7. What's your favorite part of blogging?
Do you think you'll keep doing it for a while?

My favorite part of blogging has been all the opportunities and connections with people I've been able to be part of. The blogging community has been incredibly accepting and supportive and I plan to keep blogging and creating as long as I am having fun and feel like I am contributing something.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Halloween Pic and a Winner!

Just a little pic of our Halloween fun time.

 I swear the boy child was having more fun than he was letting on.

Now the winner of the CSN Stores gift code is....

chosen by the random number thingy

Congrats to Reeni, she's just about one of the nicest bloggers out there and it's because of one of her recipes I ever even tried polenta in the first place! 

Thank you, thank you very much. Elvis has left the...stroller?