Tag Archives: Cranberries

Sorry, honey, I’m busy exploding dinner.

Have you read this Consumer Reports article about Pyrex dishes? To sum up: Newer glass cookware is made from a different (cheaper) type of glass that doesn’t withstand thermal shock as well as Grandma’s Pyrex dishes did. Also? Using damaged glass dishes, (meaning scratched or chipped) increases the danger of failure. (And by failure, they mean KERBLOOEY.)

I had never been told (or had completely forgotten) that you should never, ever, ever use Pyrex that is scratched or chipped to cook with. (I’m not sure what else one would use it for… paint palette? Paperweight? It’s not recyclable, so I guess someone is going to have to come up with a brilliant idea. Is it you? Please share.)

Look at what I’ve been using to cook dinner for my family for about… oh, the entire time I’ve had a family.Damaged glass baking dishes are not safe Joy Makin Mamas

I know. This (or worse) could totally have happened to me:

exploding pyrex Flickr Shane Ede
Let’s order pizza. And buy a new oven.

So when KitchenAid sent me these ceramic casseroles (the Streamline Ceramic 1.9 quart, and the Nesting Ceramic 4 piece set) to test out in exchange for my honest and explosion-free feedback, I breathed a sigh of relief. Because one recommendation for avoiding the danger of glass failure is to use ceramic casseroles instead. So they are safer, number one. Number two: they are so pretty! And- guess what? These five dishes take up less room than my three old ones in my cabinets. Since I have a small, mid-century kitchen and two very destructive boys, shelf space is at a premium- especially up high for breakables. I know, we’re only a little way into this and I’ve already detailed at least two precautions I’ve taken against my children being injured by shattered cookery. The world is a dangerous place.Kitchenaid ceramic casserole dishes review Joy Makin Mamas
Since I’ve seen first hand how long-lived KitchenAid products are, I expect that these will outstrip their five year warranty by a lot. After all, the KitchenAid stand mixer that my mother bought when I was a kid- and which inspired the purchase of my own, beloved stand mixer- is still chugging along without a single hiccup. And considering how much my mother uses it, I’ve basically just told you that it will never die. I really like that the handle with the recessed bottom makes it easy to hang onto these casseroles. I have (soon will have to say, “used to have”) a set of ceramic casseroles that have two sizes with no handles and one size with very small, smooth handles. I am constantly afraid I will drop them on the way out of the oven. It’s just awkward to lift them when they are full of heavy food, and the last thing I want to do after I’ve prepared a delicious dish for my family is drop it and splatter it all over the kitchen. If I just want to get takeout, I don’t have to work that hard.

Now. You know I cannot just show you some pretty casserole dishes and call it a day. That would be like returning a borrowed plate without any cookies on it. (I’m not a complete barbarian. I may cut corners on party planning, but there are certain things that just don’t call for compromises.)

I was a vegetarian for over eight years, and I still have close family members who are vegetarian. All our family dinners go both ways- with vegetarian options and omnivorous ones. One of my biggest frustrations as a vegetarian cook is the fact that once you take Canned Cream of Something soup out of the equation, your easy, one dish, comfort meal options disappear. I personally like to create vegetarian casseroles that do well as the center dish or that coordinate with traditional holiday dishes, and this Cranberry Barley Casserole (with a vegan variation for my dairy free friends) would be delicious alongside your Thanksgiving feast.

barley casserole recipe Joy Makin Mamas

Cranberry Barley Vegetarian Casserole
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
This vegetarian casserole with vegan variations can be the star of the show next to a green vegetable or salad, or join a buffet of options for every dietary preference. The tart cranberries make a nice contrast to the other flavors, and the barley and lentils give plenty of texture. (No mushy casseroles for us!)
  • 2 shallots sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • ½ cup lentils rinsed and picked over
  • 2½ cups vegetable stock
  • ½ cup unsweetened or low sugar dried cranberries
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease the inside of a 1.9 quart casserole dish with lid.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the shallots, fennel, sesame seeds, paprika, and garlic to the pan and sautee until the shallots are translucent. This only takes a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the barley and lentils. Stir until the contents are well mixed.
  5. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a low boil.
  6. Stir in cranberries and transfer to the casserole.
  7. Bake covered for 30 mintues.
  8. Remove cover, top with cheese, and bake for 15 more minutes.
To make this dish vegan, use canola oil and a pinch of salt in place of the butter. Instead of cheddar cheese, pulse ⅓ cup raw sunflower seeds and ¼ cup nutritional yeast together in your food processor until the texture looks like coarse crumbs, and use as a topping.

Cranberry Barley Casserole Recipe Joy Makin Mamas

Crockpot Cranberries (and tips for pleasing a veg*an at Thanksgiving!)

Slow Cooker Roast CranberriesHold the phone! This recipe is so easy that it’s actually not too late to add it to your holiday list! And let me give you a little tip if you are expecting vegetarians to dinner this week. Make this and some plain quinoa (BE SURE to wash it first. Here’s why.), and add a green salad and a dish of toasted almond slivers to the table. (That sounds really good, doesn’t it? Ask about nut allergies, of course, and if you are using a bottled dressing, check the ingredients for things like anchovy paste. Yes, really, they like to sneak that one in there.) When you look forward to hosting a big meal, part of what makes all the effort feel worth it is knowing that everyone is looking forward to eating. If you also make traditional favorites like sweet potatoes, squash, or (vegetarian) dressing, these additions will round out the meal for the veg folk and make sure everyone feels that excitement when they sit down at the table.

NOTE: To be absolutely certain that your veg friends and family can eat something, you want to make it vegan. That means, no animal products at all. If they eat eggs or dairy products they will have no trouble adding those foods, but a great deal of difficulty removing them if they don’t. If you are worried about the salad dressing, offering oil and vinegar and letting each diner dress their own is a safe bet.

I found the original recipe at Bon Apetit and adapted it for the slow cooker. (There are some other really good cranberry recipes in that article! You should check it out. Om nom nom…) Please note that this does cook down by about 50%, so if you’re making it for guests, you may want to double or even triple it. A triple recipe will still fit in a “regular” size slow cooker. If you cook these too long, the sugar WILL scorch, so if you increase the recipe watch your cook time.

Crockpot Cranberries (and tips for pleasing a veg*an at Thanksgiving!)
Super easy, super fast, and it won't even take up room on your stove or in your oven! NOM.
  • 1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ Tablespoon olive oil
  1. Wash the cranberries and pick out any damaged or spoiled berries. Drain them and put them in a mini-crock.
  2. Add sugar, oil, and thyme (just pinch the leaves off the stems with your fingers) and mix well.
  3. Cook on high for 1 hour, or low 2-3 hours.
I am really going to miss my fresh herbs when the last of my garden is gone this year! If you don't have fresh, you can use ⅓ the measure of dried herbs. (In this case, 1 teaspoon.) If you are expecting a Vegan, use turbinado sugar or another unbleached, cane sugar. You can find them in the baking section next to the kind you're used to!

And if you are looking for an entertaining* holiday read, may I recommend the Famous Black Turkey Recipe of Morton Thompson? It so happens that the bird itself (which I have made many times, to much delight) is delicious, but so is the recipe. *The dish is not vegan in the slightest. In case the word “turkey” didn’t clear that up for you… 😉

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