Curried Couscous Salad


I love church potlucks–they encourage me to both make new dishes and sample new dishes. I made this couscous salad for last night’s dinner at Redeemer. (I doubled this recipe.)

3/4 C water
1/2 C uncooked couscous
1 C frozen peas, thawed
3/4 C diced cucumber
1 large carrot, shredded
1/4 C crumbled cooked bacon
2 green onions, chopped
1 t minced fresh parsley


1/4 C olive oil
1 T cider vinegar
1 T soy sauce
1 t sugar
1 t curry powder

In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in couscous. Cover pan, remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

In a large bowl, combine the couscous, peas, cucumber, carrot, bacon, onions and parsley. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the dressing ingredients; shake well. Just before serving, drizzle over salad and toss to coat. Yield: 4 servings

Esther Bolick’s Orange Marmalade Layer Cake

Fans of Jan Karon’s Mitford series will appreciate this recipe. (And yes, I am a huge fan of the series. Loved those books and read them voraciously. Didn’t want to even open the first one, but that’s another topic for another day.) After reading about Esther’s famous Orange-Marmalade cake for so long, my mom got a hankering for it and asked me to make it for her birthday. I did and we all enjoyed it.

3 C cake flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 C (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
2 C granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten lightly
1 T grated orange zest
1.5 t vanilla
1 C buttermilk, at room temperature

For the Orange Syrup:
1 C freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 C granulated sugar

For the Filling:
1-12oz jar orange marmalade

For the Frosting:
3/4 C well-chilled heavy cream
3 T sugar
3/4 C well-chilled sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 325. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment or wax paper, and butter and flour the paper, shaking out the excess.
2. In a bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. In another bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar, a little at a time, and beat the mixture until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, orange zest, and vanilla. Beat in 1/3 of the dry ingredients alternately with 1/2 of the buttermilk until combined well. Add half the remaining dry ingredients and the remaining buttermilk and beat until combined well. Finally, beat in the remaining dry ingredients until mixture is smooth.
4. Evenly divide batter between pans; smooth the surface, rap each pan on the counter to expel any air pockets or bubbles, then transfer to oven. Bake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes back clean. Transfer to racks and cool in pans for 20 minutes.

To Make the Orange Syrup:
5. Meanwhile, make the orange syrup: in a bowl, stir together the orange juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved.

6. With a toothpick or wooden skewer, poke holes at 1/2-inch intervals in the cake layers. Spoon the syrup over each layer, allowing the syrup to absorb completely before adding the remainder. Let layers cool completely.

To Make the Filling:
7. In a small saucepan set over moderate heat, heat the marmalade until just melted. Let cool 5 minutes.

To Make the Frosting:
8. In a bowl, whisk the heavy cream with the sugar until it forms firm peaks. Add the sour cream, a little at a time, and whisk until the mixture is of spreading consistency.

To Assemble the Cake:
9. Arrange one of the layers on a cake plate and carefully peel off the wax paper. Spread 2/3 of the marmalade over the top, smoothing it into an even layer. Invert the remaining layer onto the top of the first layer, peel off the wax paper and spoon remaining marmalade onto the center of it, leaving a 1.25 inch border around the edge. Frost the sides and the top border with frosting, leaving the marmalade on top of the cake exposed. Or, if you prefer, frost the entire cake, adding the marmalade as a garnish on top. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

**See photos View from the Prairie Box or on my Flickr site.

Chicken and Rice Soup

I made a ton (and I do mean a ton) of this soup for our small group on Monday night. The recipe is from Everyday Food, and I should know by now that even when the recipe doesn’t look that complicated, that Martha’s recipes are always too fussy if I’m in a hurry. It was the deboning the chicken that did me in this time. And I think I may have added too much water .


Serves 8

  • 1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds), skin removed
  • 1 1/2 pounds (9 to 10 medium) carrots, peeled and halved crosswise
  • 1 pound (5 to 6 medium) parsnips, peeled and halved crosswise
  • 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 large onions (about 1 pound), , halved and sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 6 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced


  1. In a large soup pot, combine chicken, carrots, parsnips, celery, onions, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, and 1 teaspoon coarse salt. Add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Simmer partly covered, occasionally skimming and discarding fat from surface, about 1 hour.
  2. With a slotted spoon or tongs, remove chicken, carrots, and parsnips from pot; set aside. Pour remaining contents of pot through a fine-mesh sieve into another large pot; discard solids, and bring broth to a boil. Add rice and white part of scallions. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, remove chicken from bones, and shred into bite-size pieces (discard any fatty or discolored parts). Cut carrots and parsnips into bite-size pieces. When rice is cooked, return chicken, carrots, and parsnips to broth in pot; add green part of scallions. Season generously with 5 to 6 teaspoons coarse salt.

Apple Cranberry Bread

Sarah made this recipe years ago and I fell in love with it instantly. I’ve made it so many times that I was forced to take a year off. Fortunately, the tradition resumes in 2009. Thanks, Sarah, for this delicious recipe. I almost always double my batch.


  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 T. canola or vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups chopped, peeled tart apples
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and oil.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; add to egg mixture just until combined. (Note: Batter will be very thick!)
  4. Stir in the apples, cranberries and walnuts. **
  5. Transfer to an 8-in. x 4-in. x 2 in. loaf pan coated with non-stick spray.
  6. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 1 loaf

** Sarah’s note: Fresh cranberries can be frozen if you don’t plan on using them shortly after purchasing. I do believe they’ll stay good in the freezer for up to 1 or 2 months. Also, this bread freezes very well. Place them in heavy-duty freezer bags, or double wrap in plastic, before freezing. Allow them to thaw completely in the bag (I don’t recommend attempting to thaw in the microwave) before serving.

Always Good Breakfast Casserole

Served at numerous Mom-to-Mom gatherings, Community Dinners and Champagne Breakfasts. For Brook in particular.


  • 1/2-1 lb pork sausage, browned & drained
  • 1 pkg (8oz) crescent rolls
  • 10 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 C milk
  • 1 C mozzerella
  • 1 C cheddar
  • 1 t dried oregano


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Lightly grease a 9×13″ pan.
  3. Unroll crescents and place on bottom of pan, bake for 5-7 minutes, then remove from oven.
  4. Place sausage evenly over crescent rolls.
  5. In a large bowl, mix beaten eggs, milk, cheeses and oregano; pour over sausage and rolls.
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes or until the center is set.

This recipe is easily adaptable for different tastes. Add veggies, change cheese and meats and voila! A breakfast dish for everyone. The crescent roll base adds a nice flavor.

Butternut Squash Soup

This is another recipe I picked up from Shelli last weekend. It is easy, easy, easy and so tasty. It was a gigantic hit with Simon (the first time he’s ever asked for seconds!)


  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 apples, peeled and quartered (or eighthed)
  • 1 onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 5 or so cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • chili powder (to taste)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • pine nuts (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Arrange the squash, apples, onion, and garlic in a 9 x 13 pan and drizzle with olive oil and season with chili powder, salt, and pepper.
  3. Roast until fork tender (about 40 minutes).
  4. Puree in blender or food processor with broth (I had to do it in two batches).
  5. Garnish with pine nuts.