Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf, and a verrrryyy quiet weekend

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf with mushroomsI was totally lazy yesterday afternoon while The Bug was napping.  And all evening, after he went to sleep.  I should have been folding laundry.  Or cleaning up the kitchen.  But instead I started writing a blog post, perusing Facebook, and catching up on My Fair Wedding and Sweet Genius on my DVR.  And why was I feel totally OK with this?  Well, The Bug was napping.  My tummy was full from gobbling up some leftovers of Friday night’s dinner (after I had already had lunch.  And a cake pop.) while I was photographing it for this blog entry.  And The Hubby was away until Sunday afternoon, so I knew I had all night and a good portion of Sunday to do the piddly tasks.  Other than the sound of The Bug snoring over the monitor, the house was very quiet.  Almost unnerving how quiet it was.  Today, for some reason, the quiet is nice and appealing.  Maybe because now the chores are done, and it is a damp, dreary day, perfect for staying inside.

So anyway, dinner Friday night.  So good!  As I mentioned, I was picked at more of it straight out of the fridge.  And, since The Hubby wasn’t home, I just finished it off for dinner.  The Bug happily devoured a broccoli and cheese omelet (with ketchup naturally).  I’m wasn’t sharing my leftovers.

I love Jessica’s How Sweet It Is blog.  Her photos are amazing (something I aspire to), and she cracks me up regularly.  You would think by the name that her blog would be all about desserts.  Well, she does have some A-MAZ-ING desserts.  But oftentimes, it is her savory recipes that catch my attention.  Like this Springtime Jasmine Rice Salad.  Mushrooms, asparagus…  mmmmm!!!!  My favorites.

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf from top

I scoured my grocery store and could not find the jasmine brown rice.  I guess I could have bought regular jasmine rice, but I bought a bag of millet on a whim awhile ago.  Millet is a grain that looks similar to couscous or maybe even kinda like barley, but it is gluten-free.  I have been trying to figure out a way to make it that wouldn’t freak out The Hubby.  Put a new dessert or a new meat dish in front of him, and he is all over it.  A new vegetable or grain – well, that is usually perceived as me trying to force “crunchy” health foods on him.  But this was good.  Real good.

Asparagus and mushroom miillet pilaf leftoversI used some dried cranberries instead of the dried cherries, and tweaked the amounts of other ingredients, since I was making a larger portion.  And I used vegetable broth instead of chicken.  I’m sure either way would be great, but with the veggie broth, this is a nice vegan meal.  And if you aren’t vegan, try it with some shrimp, like we did on Friday night, or sprinkled with a little goat cheese, as I did on Saturday night.  Or eat it straight out of the fridge, cold.

The Hubby liked it, despite his lack of love for asparagus and mushrooms, and The Bug ate his portion.  Though honestly, he was more interested in devouring seven or eight shrimp – go figure, normally he won’t touch shrimp.  Ugh, the eating habits of toddlers!

I definitely want to try it with the brown jasmine rice, just as Jessica made it.  But I think that’ll require a drive to Whole Foods, which, sadly, is not too convenient.  And I still have that bag of millet, or I am thinking it would be good with quinoa, to, to amp up the protein.  Mom, can’t wait for you to try it – this is what I am making on Good Friday!

And since it is so quiet, I need some conversation, even if it is “virtual”.  So tell me what you think of this recipe, answer the questions below, or just say Hi.  I’d love to hear from everyone who is reading, so we can get to know each other!

Are you lazy or productive when your significant other is away?  What are you favorite spring vegetables or fruits?

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf (serves 4)

Adapted from Springtime Jasmine Rice Salad at How Sweet It Is

Ingredients

about 1 lb asparagus spears, woody stems removed, cut into 1-1 1/2 in pieces

Asparaugs and Mushroom Millet Pilaf Collage2 T olive oil, divided

1 c  millet

1 t kosher salt

2 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock

1 shallot, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 pint white or baby bella mushrooms, quartered

1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a sauvignon blanc)

1/3 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

Directions

1.  Prepare the millet as per the package directions, using stock instead of water.  I cooked mine in my rice cooker.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Toss the asparagus with 1 T olive oil, 1 t salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  Lay in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast until tender, about 20-25 minutes.

3.  Heat 1 T olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

4.  Add shallot and a little salt, and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes.

5.  Add mushrooms to the pan, and cook until nicely browned and soft, about 5-7 minutes.

6.  Add the garlic and dried cranberries, and cook for another minutes or so.

7.  Add the wine, and cook for a couple of minutes to reduce the liquid a bit.

8.  Toss the mushroom mixture with the roasted asparagus and millet, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf Close-up

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March Improv Challenge: Potato Goat Cheese Gratin

So I was perusing the foodie blogoshpere, and stumbled upon The Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker.  I thought the name of her blog was hysterical, and then I saw her Improv challenge.  This sounded like too much fun.  Basically a theme is given, which is two assigned ingredients, then it is up to the bloggers to let the creative juices flow, and see what they can come up with.  Then on the third Thursday of the month, we will all publish our new recipes based on the theme.  I decided I had to get in on the action.

Improv Challenge

So I will say, this recipe is really improv.  I had a sweet potato and some white potatoes laying around, and I was really in the mood for goat cheese.  So after digging around for some sort of scalloped, au gratin potato recipe idea for inspiration, I found Gratin Dauphinois (Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese) from Cooking Light.  I did a little tweaking, and this is what I threw together.

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin

It was yummy – a little sweet, a little salty, creamy, tangy.  We all ate the leftovers with dinner the next night, and I had the last little bit the following day for lunch.  The Bug was a fan, too.

Slice of Potato Goat Cheese Gratin

Since I really did pull this together off the cuff (I didn’t have much time, since I only recently found out about the challenge), it could still use a tweak or two.  I think next time I would not put the goat cheese in the milk, and would instead just crumble it on top of each potato layer, in order to get pockets of the tangy goat cheese.  If I try this and update it (and get some better photos – I had two hungry boys and a steak getting cold, so was in a rush), I will let you know.  But it was really good as-is, especially with a steak perfectly grilled by The Hubby.

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin with Steak and Asparagus

If you like what you see here, I’d love for you to subscribe to updates by email, “Like” me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.  Also, make sure you check out the links below to see what the other Improvers came up with.

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin

Based on Gratin Dauphinois (Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese) from Cooking Light.

Ingredients

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin vertical1 garlic clove, halved

4 ounces goat cheese

1 cup milk (I used 2% because that is what I had)

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

About 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lbs white potatoes and/or sweet potatoes (I used one large sweet potato, and the rest white potatoes), sliced 1/8 in. thick

1 1/2 T olive oil

3/4 t kosher salt

black pepper

Directions

1.  Preheat your oven to 450°F.  Spray a 9 inch round glass pie plate with olive oil or cooking spray.  Rub with the cut sides of the garlic. Discard the garlic.

2.  In a pan, combine 2 oz. of the goat cheese, the milk and the thyme, and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.

3. While the milk is heating, layer one-third of the potato slices in the pie plate, drizzle with 1/2 T olive oil, 1/4 t. salt, and black pepper.  Repeat with two more layers of potatoes (I uses half of the white potatoes for my first layer, then the sweet potatoes, and finally another layer of white potatoes).

4.  Pour the milk mixture over the top of the potatoes, and lay the thyme sprigs on top.

5.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.

6.  Uncover, crumble the remaining 2 oz. of goat cheese and sprinkle on the top.

7.  Bake uncovered for another 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and the cheese starts to brown.

Enjoy!

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin Closeup



Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli – Best Supporting Actor (Simple Side Dish)

Like the Oscar acceptance speeches, I am going to keep this one short.  The past few days, I have posted the pot roast and mashed potatoes from my Oscar Night meal for some of my leading men.  I made them happy, but being a good granddaughter, daughter, wife, and mother, I also want to keep them all healthy.  So I knew that I had to work a green vegetable into the meal.  Since they were being my guinea pigs for the other parts of the meal, I figured I would stick with a tried and true recipe.  I’ll call this the Best Supporting Actor of the evening, since it complemented, but didn’t but didn’t stand in the way of the Lead Actor and Actress.  And, for The Bug, it was a scene stealer.  He loves broccoli, and usually eats it like it is candy, especially when it is roasted.  I think it has something to do with my insane cravings for Wendy’s Broccoli Cheese Baked Potatoes and Panera’s Broccoli Cheese Soup when I was pregnant.

The Bug and The Hubby (and most of my family), like their broccoli fairly soft, so you’ll see that I steam it a bit before roasting it.  If you like it a little firmer, you can just skip the steaming part, and maybe just roast it a bit longer.  Mmm, the browned cheese and edges of the broccoli give it a toasty, nutty flavor, and the lemon adds a bit of tang.  It is simple enough veggie side dish to make any day of the week, but special enough for a Sunday dinner.  And it is one of our faves, so I hope you like it too.

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Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Ingredients

5-6 cups fresh broccoli florets (about 3 heads, a little less than a pound)Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli Prep

1 lemon

1/2 T olive oil

1/2 t salt

freshly ground pepper

3 T parmesan cheese (I like to use a good parmigiano reggiano – ugh!  I sound like the Barefoot Contessa!)

Directions

1.  Preheat the oven to 450ºF.  Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

2.  Steam the broccoli until it is slightly tender.

3.  Zest the lemon and set aside about 1/2 T of the zest.

4.  Toss the broccoli with the juice from the lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and put in a glass or ceramic baking dish that has been sprayed with olive oil or cooking spray.

5.  Sprinkle the parmesan and lemon zest over the broccoli.

6.  Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the broccoli is as soft as you like it, and the cheese and edges of the broccoli are browned and crispy.

7.  Enjoy!

Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli Close-Up

Parmesan Balsamic-Caramelized Onion Smashed Potatoes and Sunday Dinners

When I was a kid, Sundays always went the same way.  I got dressed in my Sunday best, which, much to my displeasure, usually involved tights and patent leather Mary Janes.  Then we were off to church at 9am, followed by an Entenmann’s chocolate frosted mini-donut from the church basement and a ride across town for CCD (a.k.a. Catechism or Sunday School).

Religious education complete, the whole family then congregated at Grandma & Grandpa’s house for Sunday Dinner.  The cousins all played while the adults sat in the dining room reading the newspaper and chatting.  I was typically in the backyard losing a game of one-on-one baseball (we had a very complex set of rules in order to do this) or H-O-R-S-E to my cousin, Nathaniel.  At some point in the afternoon, I would crawl in Grandpa’s lap to read the comics.

Then we would all gather around the table for one of my Grandma’s wonderful Sunday dinners.  Sometimes it was spaghetti or chicken noodle soup, or stuffed cabbage (which I always ate without the cabbage), but more often than not, it was some sort of roast or chicken with a side of mashed potatoes.  I would have a huge pile of mashed potatoes, usually with my corn mixed into it – those were pretty much the only two vegetables I ate as a kid.  Probably too many mashed potatoes, since now I don’t really love them.  On Thanksgiving, with all of the other awesome side dishes, I don’t feel that they are worthy of any of the valuable real estate on my plate.  Then I found a recipe for Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes, and I was a fan again.  I’ve made them several times, and thought it was time to put my own spin on them.

Caramelized onions

During The Bug’s nap, I cooked the onions till they were all browned and caramelized, added some balsamic vinegar and water, then let them cook a little more, until they were all gooey. Then I put them in the fridge till it was time to finish up dinner, and folded them into the potatoes right at the end.

Caramelized onion mashed potatoes on my plate

They were sweet, salty, tangy, and tasty, and went perfectly with the flavors in the gravy from the crockpot roast and Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli (future posts to come on these recipes – dinner was delish!).  I hope you like them, too!

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My Bizzy Kitchen‘s Blogger Secret Ingredient: Potatoes

The Nourishing Gourmet‘s Pennywise Platter Thursday 3/1

Recipes for My BoysThursday’s Treasures

Did you have family Sunday Dinners as a kid?  Do you now?  What are some of your favorite Sunday Dinner meals?

Parmesan Balsamic-Caramelized Onion Smashed Potatoes (serves 6-8)

Adapted from Cooking Light’s Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

1 T olive oilBowl of caramelized onion mashed potatoes

1/2 of a large or 1 medium sweet onion (Vidalia, Maui, etc.), chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 T balsamic vinegar

1 T water

2 lbs white potatoes, peeled and cut into about 1 inch chunks

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 grated parmesan cheese

1 T olive oil

1/2 t salt

a few grinds of pepper

Directions

Prepare the caramelized onions (can be done ahead, and kept in the fridge):

1.  Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat, and add onions.

2.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.  You may have to lower the heat a little as they start to brown.

3.  Add balsamic vinegar and water, cover and lower heat.

4.  Cook until soft and sticky.

5.  Set aside until potatoes are ready.

Prepare the potatoes:

1.  Cover potatoes in a pot with water, and bring to a boil.

2.  Cook for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.  Drain.

3.  Add the buttermilk and mash with a hand potato masher.  I like to leave it a little chunky.

4.  Stir in the reserved caramelized onions, parmesan, salt, and pepper.

5.  Enjoy!

Bowl of caramelized onion mashed potatoes from top