Cranberry Walnut Sweet Potatoes from Taste of Home Magazine, November 2013

Yesterday I spent $12 on a magazine that has nothing to do with food. While that amount of money is no big deal to some, for a budget-watching family, it’s a chunk out of some line item; it’s gotta come from somewhere (sorry, Honey, no new underwear for you this month).

You see, I also bought Family Circle. It was a whopping $1.99. If you don’t have it, pick it up because I’ll be going through it in January.  The Baked Ravioli on the cover made that one an easy decision. That price tag, in my view, is how much magazines should cost, especially considering the amount of advertisements in them. $12 is a bit extravagant.

This magazine, though, I don’t care how much it was. I don’t care that there isn’t a single recipe in it or that there aren’t any tips on how we can save money (funny how they never say not to buy magazines).

I don’t care about any of that stuff because every single one of the 98 pages is about Pink Floyd. At this point, if you tell me that you have no idea who they are, well, we just can’t be friends anymore.

I found Pink Floyd during my first year in nursing school and was hooked from the first few chords. It’s a long story, one for another time, but I met Hubby because of them and their album Meddle. It’s his favorite band as well.

They’re not just a band. I mean, that’s pretty obvious, right? Rolling Stone did reserve an entire ad-free issue to them, after all.

The Process

No, Pink Floyd has absolutely nothing to do with sweet potatoes. I am simply so excited to dive into the magazine that I had to share my find with you. But, since we are here to talk about food, we should get on with it.

There really isn’t much to say about this because it’s so easy, which is why it might just show up on my Christmas table next week. Seriously, look at that plate. It’s gorgeous and healthy. And all kinds of Christmasy.

What I love is that the topping can be made a day in advance so all that’s needed is to heat it up (hello microwave) just before serving.

The Verdict

I’m not a fan of the sickeningly sweet sweet potato casseroles that are full of brown sugar and marshmallows, so I’m always on the look-out for other ways to cook them. This one is perfect. The potatoes and maple syrup provide the sweetness, and the cranberry relish topping does the rest. It’s a gorgeous, delicious meal. I’m hooked.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

Nothing.

Cranberry Walnut Sweet Potatoes from Taste of Home Magazine, November 2013
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup cranberry juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ cup Diamond of California Chopped Walnuts, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Scrub sweet potatoes; pierce several times with a fork. Bake 1 hour or until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir until tender. Stir in cranberries, syrup, cranberry juice and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 10-15 minutes or until berries pop, stirring occasionally. Stir in walnuts and mustard; heat through.
  3. When cool enough to handle, cut each potato lengthwise in half; sprinkle with pepper and remaining salt. Top with cranberry mixture; sprinkle with chives.

 

I mentioned Family Circle will be one of January’s magazines, did you see that? I don’t have any others picked out yet so if there’s one you’d like me to wander through, let me know.

Polish Kraut and Apples from Taste of Home's Slow Cooker Recipe Cards Magazine 2013

It’s hard to come up with something to say about sauerkraut. It’s fermented cabbage. Where does one go from there?

I could talk about the health benefits of it, I guess. It’s loaded with Vitamin C and K, fiber and iron. It has tons of fiber, and not just any fiber. The fiber in cabbage binds with fat and cholesterol. That means that when it, um, ‘evacuates,’ it takes those bad things with it. All that’s needed is six cups of the stuff. I’ll get the forks.

Sauerkraut is also every middle school boy’s dream come true. In the same way that drinking a can of soda enables them to belch the alphabet at will, a little sauerkraut works its magic at the other end because of the healthy bacteria it puts in the stomach. Just give the young guys a bowl and a lighter and they’ll be occupied for hours. The house will stink to high heaven and the fire department may visit, but they’ll be happy as clams.

Overactive bacteria aside, I happen to love the stuff. Of course, I’m the one that would tiptoe into the kitchen and sneak sips of vinegar from the bottle as a child, so it’s not really surprising. Well made sauerkraut is simply a vehicle for vinegar and salt.

So, I ask, why add brown sugar?

The Process

My dad was the one who made this meal come together. We were at the grocery store together and he saw the kielbasa on the shelves. As soon as he picked it up, I remembered Taste of Home’s slow cooker card that I had bypassed because I knew Dudette and Hubby wouldn’t be fond of it. So, I guided the cart to the sauerkraut and suggested that we eat a meal of the two items that night. Since he loves sauerkraut as well, he heartily agreed. Poor Hubby. Poor Dudette.

The prep is easy. All I had to do was rinse the kraut, cut up the kielbasa and peel and cut apples. Those items, as well as brown sugar, caraway seeds, pepper and apple juice, were layered in the slow cooker and it was turned on. That’s it. Five hours later, dinner was ready.

The Verdict

Dad’s first comment was, ‘Why isn’t it sour? Sauerkraut means sour cabbage. Where’s the sour?’ Another way of phrasing what he said is that the brown sugar and apple juice overpower the sauerkraut flavor. For someone that doesn’t really care for that taste, it’s a good thing. For those (like Hubby Dad and me) who love sauerkraut, it’s easy to feel robbed. And we did. This dish isn’t bad, but for those who really love sauerkraut and kielbasa, it’s too sweet.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I’d replace the apple juice with beer and cut out the sugar.

Polish Kraut and Apples from Taste of Home's Slow Cooker Recipe Cards Magazine 2013
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: German
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sauerkraut, rinsed and well drained
  • 1 pound smoked Polish sausage or kielbasa, cut up
  • 3 medium tart apples, peeled and cut into eighths
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds, optional
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • ¾ cup apple juice
Instructions
  1. Place half of the sauerkraut in an ungreased 3-qt. slow cooker. Top with sausage, apples, brown sugar, caraway seeds if desired and pepper. Top with remaining sauerkraut. Pour apple juice over all.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until apples are tender. Yield: 4 servings.
Notes
I'd replace the apple juice with beer and cut out the sugar.

 

It was a bit funny that the three adults had such preconceived ideas of what the meal should taste like. We might have enjoyed it more if we weren’t all expecting (and looking forward to) something else. Dudette wasn’t a fan, which is pretty much normal for kids here age. Right?

Everything Bread from Taste Of Home Magazine, November 2010

I am the queen of biting off more than I can chew. I am usually drawn to start something, be it a hobby, book or other activity, because I’ve seen it done with excellence. After all, if a thing is done poorly, why would anyone be attracted to it.

When I see The Nutcracker, I want to sign up for ballet lessons, even though I’d look like a giant sausage in a leotard and I have two left feet.

Even though I’ve enjoyed counted cross stitch for years, I definitely overreached when I bought the pattern for Michelangelo’s Pieta. Ten years and still plugging along.

And then there’s cooking. Remember the great Croqembouche debacle? That was an epic fail. The photo was so gorgeous it convinced me that I could easily throw together light as air cream puffs and spin sugar into fine threads. Not.

Luckily, it’s the successes, like Bon Appetit’s Spiced Chocolate Torte Wrapped in Chocolate Ribbons that encourage me to keep trying. That dessert came out gorgeous and delicious.

When I saw the loaf of Everything Bread on page 93 of The old Taste of Home magazine I was paging through, I fell in love and knew I had to make it. It didn’t hit me until I was standing in front of the three strands of dough that I had never braided bread before.

Luckily, I have a daughter with very thick, long hair. Braiding the dough wasn’t much different than that.

The Process

I continue to be fascinated by the many ways that people proof the yeast in bread goods. This recipe calls for the yeast to be dissolved in warm water for just a minute or two, then for all the bread ingredients to be added in and mixed, and beaten, and kneaded. It’s really very easy, even for a beginner baker.

Braiding the three strands of dough is actually easier than braiding Dudette’s hair because the dough doesn’t squirm and complain about the process.

After a final rise, I brushed the loaf with egg white and sprinkled the various topping over the whole loaf. I didn’t realize that I was out of poppy seeds until I went looking for them, so I couldn’t include them on the loaf. It’s sad, but at least none of us will test positive in a random drug test now.

I baked my bread for the full 28 minutes, after checking it at the 22-minute mark.

The Verdict

Dudette wasn’t fond of the bread, but with the onions on top, I didn’t expect her to like it so anything else would have been a surprise. Hubby, my father (who’s visiting this week) and I loved it. True, it’s a basic bread, but the braid and topping turn it into something beautiful and delicious. I may even make a loaf for the Christmas table.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

Not a thing.

Everything Bread from Taste Of Home Magazine, November 2010
 
Prep time
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from Taste Of Home Magazine, November 2010
Author:
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1 loaf
Ingredients
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1 cup warm 2% milk (110° to 115°)
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon each sesame, caraway and poppy seeds
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add milk, butter, sugar, egg yolk, salt and 2 cups flour. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough.
  2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide dough into thirds. Shape each into a 20-in. rope. Place ropes on a large greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°. Combine egg white and water; brush over dough. Combine salt, onion and seeds; sprinkle over bread. Bake 22-28 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool. Yield: 1 loaf (25 slices).