Cranberry Cole Slaw

cranberry cole slaw

cranberry cole slaw photo by vsimon

Are you craving crunchy freshness right about now? When meltingly tender slow-cooked stews and soups predominate. They are welcome, but sometimes you want some bite-y food. 

And make that simple, quick, healthy, and low cal too, please.

I like this lightly dressed and fat free. But you can easily add oil if you want to increase the calories.

Mix it in a minute, then stash it in the fridge. Some say it is better made ahead, and it does change over time. The dressing magically multiplies, the cranberries swell and soften. Everything turns a pretty pale pink.

We like it all ways, in any stage of the lifecycle. Right away, the next day, and a few days later.  It’s all fresh, all crunchy.

cabbage (9)

the fresh close up photo by vsimon

Cranberry Cole Slaw

Yield 6-7 cups  
1 tablespoon honey 15 ml
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 30 ml
14 oz shredded cabbage and carrot blend 700 gm
1 cup dried cranberries 160 gm
1 teaspoon celery seeds 1 gm

Put honey and cider in the bottom of a large bowl, stir until well mixed.

Add everything else and stir to combine.

Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

*Please don’t skip the celery seeds. They add fragrance, flavor, and a bit more crunch. Personally, I don’t think it is possible to make cole slaw without celery seeds.

How do you like cole slaw?

Make Ahead Pesto Polenta Lasagna

pesto-polenta-lasagna

pesto polenta lasagna photo by vsimon

This recipe is from allrecipes.com, submitted by Fiffen. It is a super simple do ahead dish. All it requires is layering purchased ingredients, packaging, and baking.

Sometimes you just need a plop and drop dinner. This one is rich and satisfying, a small serving is filling.  Serve with a green salad and vinaigrette on a meatless Monday.

Simplify your life with make ahead meals

Prep the lasagna and freeze some for later. Layer in small ceramic or glass containers with tight fitting lids. Package just one or two portions per container. This is what personal chefs do for clients everyday.

Proper containers are one of the secrets to successful make ahead meals.

Reusable, stackable containers

We use mostly small Pyrex rectangles that hold 3 1/2 cups. They hold 1-2 portions, have tight fitting lids, and stack well. There is an example of these containers on Amazon.

If you have a Wal-Mart nearby, you can buy these small rectangles individually, no need to buy an assortment. Wal-Mart is not my favorite store, but we have not found this size in singles anywhere else.

The lasagna in the photo is made in a CorningWare container. This style makes a nice presentation, oven to plate. Make sure to get ones with tight fitting lids, not the loose glass lids.

Small containers make thawing and heating quicker. Pull your dish from the freezer and thaw overnight in the fridge. Meals can be refrigerated for several days. So it isn’t critical if you need to change your dinner plans.

Gluten free ingredients

I use Frieda’s prepared polenta. It comes in many flavors, and several work here. I like  mushroom and onion, basil and garlic, even dried tomato and garlic. I get whatever the store has. Look for it in the refrigerated produce section.

Classico marinara is the brand I by. All flavors are gluten free. I usually buy the roasted garlic flavor because it is lower in calories and sodium than the other flavors. But choose what you like.

Roland Pesto is my purchased pesto of choice. It is smooth, flavorful, and deep green. Classico pesto is leafy and unappealingly brownish. 🙁

Shredded cheese makes prepping this recipe quick. I like Sargento brand 6 Cheese Italian for the flavor. It is a handy mix of mozzarella, smoked provolone, asiago, romano, parmesan and fontina cheeses. Simple shredded mozzarella works too.

Sometimes you will see warnings on the internet that shredded cheese may be dusted with wheat flour to prevent clumping. Most often, it is not. And if it is, wheat must be printed on the label.

Pesto Polenta Lasagna

allrecipes.com submitted by fiffen

serves 8 metric measures
2 -8 oz tubes of prepared polenta total 500 gm
3 cups of marinara sauce 720 gm
1/2 cup pesto 120 ml
1/2 cup pine nuts 70 gm
2 cups shredded cheese (8 oz) 225 gm

Cut polenta into 1/2” slices.

Put a tablespoon or two of marinara on the bottom of an oven safe baking dish, or several small dishes.

Layer half of the polenta slices, marinara sauce, pesto, pine nuts and cheese.

Repeat layers.

Bake right away, refrigerate or freeze for later.

Bake it

Thaw overnight if previously frozen.

Remove any plastic lids.

If it is in one or two portion containers, bake in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes.

In a 9×13” pan? Cover with foil and bake for about an hour. 

Microwave it

Remove any plastic lids. The manufacturers say the lids are microwave safe, but it makes me uneasy. I don’t like cooked plastic, so I take the lids off.

Microwave one or two portions for 10 to 15 minutes.

I don’t even try to microwave a big pan of lasagna. The pan would keep hitting the sides of my microwave. And the turntable scrapes against the bottom of the pan. That is really annoying.

Enticing Embellishments

Sauté 8-16 ounces of slice mushrooms and add to the layers.

Sauté 16 ounces of fresh spinach and add to the layers.

Do both. 🙂

What would you like to make ahead?

Enter timtana flour giveaway

Don’t miss out on a chance to win whole-grain gluten free timtana flour. Simply leave a comment by January 6, 2009. Three winners will be announced January 7, 2009.

Simple and Quick Wild Rice Chicken Soup

wild-rice-chicken-soup

wild rice chicken soup photo by vsimon

A client requested Wild Rice Soup, please. I responded “sure”. Then I searched some of my favorite online recipe sites. Allrecipes.com had a likely candidate, Wild Rice Soup III, submitted by Diane.

It is quick

I adapted it for a pressure cooker, as I often do. Why take an hour to cook something delicious and healthful, when it can be done in 15 minutes?

That is all the time it takes to produce tender wild rice, and really tender chicken breast. To finish the soup, cube the chicken and add more liquid.

It is inexpensive

Bone-in chicken is very budget friendly, as is cooking quickly in a pressure cooker. This is a very useful skill to know. For other recipes, you can shred it (enchiladas), or dice it (salad or casseroles). I am sure you have many other ideas for cooked chicken.

I remove the skin before cooking so the finished dish is less oily. And I still enjoy a few yellow globules of rich chicken fat, just enough for my tastes.

It is simple

Cooking a whole grain and veggies with the chicken streamlines your efforts.

And I often use a frozen blend of onion, celery, and pepper. It goes straight into the pot frozen, no dicing required. You still have to dice the carrots though.

Or you can use any combo of these veggies fresh, to total 4 cups.

Dairy free if need be

This can make a fine broth based soup. Omit the milk and add more water and gluten free flavoring base, or packaged broth. Be sure to read the labels.

Un-pressured soup

Of course, this soup is successful from scratch on the stove top. Those notes are below.

And it is also a good way to use up leftover chicken or wild rice. *chuckle* Most people probably do not have extra cooked wild rice in the fridge. But if you do, you are half way to a steaming bowl of soup.

Cook it once, serve twice, or more

This soup freezes well. So make a big batch, to enjoy now and later.

Wild Rice Chicken Soup in a Pressure Cooker

serves 6 metric measures
1 1/4 pound bone in chicken about .5 kg
10 ounces frozen onion, celery, and pepper blend 280 gm
3/4 cup raw wild rice 135 gm
1 cup diced carrots 130 gm
3 cups water 720 ml
3 cups milk, or more water 720 ml
chicken base, such as Better than Bouillon, optional  

salt and pepper to taste

Remove skin from chicken and discard. Place chicken in the pressure cooker. Add onion blend, raw wild rice, carrots, and 3 cups water.

Lock the top on the pressure cooker and bring to pressure. Cook for 15 minutes.

Cool the cooker by slow release, or under running water to quickly release the pressure if you are in a hurry to eat.

Remove chicken from the cooker. Allow to cool enough to handle. Remove bones and dice chicken.

Add diced chicken back into the cooker. Add milk or water to desired consistency.

Add some chicken base if you want more chicken flavor. I usually add about a tablespoon.

Serve. 🙂

Stovetop directions

Simply put all the ingredients, except the milk in a stock-pot and simmer for about an hour. You will have to babysit it a bit, and add more water. When the chicken and rice are tender, proceed as above.

Please help me choose a pressure cooker

See Make Friends with a Pressure Cooker. Don’t you want a pressure cooker now?

1-5-10 This recipe was submitted to Amy Green’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. This recipe roundup celebrates fabulous healthy food with many tempting entry’s.