Orzo and Cauliflower Casserole

Ok.  I'll be honest with you.  It doesn't happen very often to me but this is one of those dishes that we all found much less appealing as leftovers.  I won't say 'gross' or 'disgusting' or 'made me want to hurl'... but it's not 'good'.  That being said, if you can down most of it the day of and maybe finish it off the day after then you might be ok.  I'm not going to blame the recipe because I tweaked and changed it so much that it bears almost no resemblance to the recipe on the pages of the hallowed 'Supernatural Everyday'.
With that disclaimer out of the way I'm going to move on.

I came home and curled up in my bed for a few blessed minutes today.  That's another thing that doesn't happen very often.  Why.  Why.  Why did we ever grow out of naps?  I'll never understand that.  The world would be a different place.  In any case, the reason I was so tired today is that all week, part of last week and some of the week to come as well, I have been going to various schools throughout downtown Toronto.  My task?  To listen to and recruit as many Gr. 2 and 3 boys as possible for my school.  It's got it's ups and downs.  I get to meet great people but I also have to hear up to 50 boys depending on the size of the school.  I make a little music class out of it with games and all that but honestly it gets a little mind numbing after the third or fourth group of boys.  I get a lot of time outside walking from place to place.  I also get to some parts of town that I don't make it to any other time.  I also get to try some lunch spots that I don't normally get to either.  Like this one or this one or this one.  Those lunches are a real treat for me.  Of course, even with all the walking and trekking from place to place I'm still keeping up with my running and yoga... except for today when I just plain flaked out.  I could hardly keep my head up on the street car.  So I'm giving myself the rest of the day off.

Before I sign off from the world in general I just had to get this off.  It's been a bare week and I apologize both to you and to my family.  Like I said, this is great the first day and deteriorates significantly after that.  It wasn't my best this week that's for sure.  However, I made this kick-ass cabbage soup (I know one hardly ever sees 'kick-ass' and 'cabbage soup' in the same sentance) that is a riff on this one posted by Louisa (just because I use her first name doesn't mean I know her).  This cabbage soup was amazing and I'm totally going to make it again because it needs to be posted.  The week wasn't a total bust.

The pictures bite... it's winter, what more can I say.
Orzo and Cauliflower Casserole inspired by 'Supernatural Everyday' by Heidi Swanson
serves 6 - 8

1 1/2 cups orzo
1 bouillon cube
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups cremini or button mushrooms, quartered
4 cups of cauliflower broken into large florets
4 lg leaves of chard, kale or collards, coarsely chopped
1 cup sour cream
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cream
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tbsp dijon
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
2 tsp thyme
salt to taste
dash of pepper sauce (optional)
1/2 tsp nutmeg and paprika
parmesan for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Get a large baking dish ready (you could butter it if you liked)
In a large pot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil, add the bouillon cube and the orzo.  Simmer for 6 minutes and then add the cauliflower to the orzo pot.  Cover and simmer for another 6 minutes.  Stir and set aside.
Heat another large pot over med. heat.  Add some oil (about 3 - 4 tbsp. because the mushrooms absorb a lot) and then add in the onion.  Stir around briefly and then add the garlic and mushrooms.  Stir and heat for about 5 minutes.  Throw the greens after that - just long enough to wilt.
Meanwhile, combine the sour cream, lightly beaten eggs and cream.  Stir to combine.  Add in about 3/4's of the cheddar and stir.  Add the dijon, worcestershire, soy sauce, thyme, salt, pepper sauce, nutmeg and paprika.  Mix.
In the baking dish combine the orzo, cauliflower, veggies and the egg mixture.  Stir well to combine and smooth out the top in the baking dish.  Sprinkle the rest of the cheddar on the top and dust over with some parmesan.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden on the top.
Cool for about 15 minutes before eating.

My Life and Times...

This is blooming in my front hallway.  Gorgeous.  I've got a weird plant thing. This is a plant that my grandmother had.  I finally got a piece of it from my Mom.  I think that it's really cool to get a plant when someone dies (that really does sound weird).  I have 3 plants in my house that have come to us when there has been a funeral in the family.  Each one of those plants represents that loved one who died.  It's like a part of them is still living with me... weird.

I ate this today... please don't tell.  I was out and bought it on a whim because I thought it was so small that it just needed to be loved.  But guess what?  I didn't eat all of it.  It wasn't as tasty as my own and I feel like life is too short to eat food just because it's there.  It should be relished and enjoyed.  Especially if it's a brownie.  So I took two bites and then moved on.  It did inspire me to make chocolate cake though.

I also ate this today... it's a quesadilla.  Just plain cheese.  With my own canned green tomato salsa.  Bliss.
I've also been eating my beet pickles and damn (!) they're good.

I'm super proud of Kid #1 right now.  She has just gotten through to the final round of a nation-wide short story competition.  She's going to be published.  Wow.
I'm cooking right now and getting a post ready to send out but I just had to fill you in on my life.

Lime Cupcakes for my girl.

It's not a good day.
Kid #1 is not having a good day.  She hasn't been having a good day for a while now but this day is particularly bad.  Let me explain.
Kid #1 has just turned 11.  Her birthday is on December 31st - that last day of the year here in Canada - making her the youngest kid in her class... every single class she's ever been in.  Birthday parties are a constant sore point for us because having your birthday on Old Year's Night is much like having your birthday on Christmas Day.  You're always sharing.  What we usually do is bypass it entirely.  We have a little family thing on the day of her birthday and then she can have a few friends over later in January.  This has typically worked fine... until this year.  This year we've had conflicts every single weekend so far.  We finally were able to settle on the last weekend in the month and low and behold everyone she invited couldn't make it... save one.  Yeah for one friend!!!  Sometimes (most of the time) that's all you need.  
We decide to make the best of it and go ahead with the 'party'.  They can hang out a home for a while then they can go to a movie... just be friends and have fun.  Only problem is that this morning Kid #1 wakes up with a terrible sore throat.  She went to dance class but had to leave early because she felt wretched.  At the moment she is in her bed resting, feeling horrible and very sad.  I'm left with trying to figure out whether to go ahead with things or put it off (since it's only one friend coming) for yet another week, all the while feeling terrible for my poor girl.
She's determined to forge ahead and do this.  She needs it.

I've decided that if she's determined then I'm going to do my damnedest to help her.  I'm busy making some chicken soup - full of vegetables that will boost her immune system and hopefully counteract all the crap she will down at the movies (sick or not treats must be had at the movies).  I also thought that some yummy cupcakes might boost her spirits and make it feel a little more like a party.  Truth is though that I think I made them as much for me as I did for her.  I had some sad little limes that needed help and some lemon curd leftover from christmas gifting (yeah - I know that was a long time ago but it still smelled ok).  So my intentions weren't completely altruistic.  However, I figure that nothing soothes the soul quite like homemade chicken soup and a beautiful little cupcake packed with sunshine.

I have said many times on this blog that I am far from the ideal Mom - I hate parks, play groups, labour and delivery discussions and trading potty training tips.  I think that most of the time our kids would have a much better time without us all hovering over their shoulders making sure they didn't hurt themselves when little johnny pushed them down.  But it still kills me when my baby is sick and feeling down in the dumps. Of course I can't make her better but these cupcakes really went a long way.

Lime Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Icing adapted from 'Food and Drink Magazine' (LCBO)
makes about 12 med/large cupcakes

2 cups cake and pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs (at room temperature)
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 milk
1/4 cup lime juice (fresh) - about 3 limes
1 tbsp (at least) lime zest

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line about 12 muffin tin cups.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
In another bowl beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat until fluffy.   Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.
Combine the milk and lime juice.
Alternate adding the flour and milk mixture to the butter mixture.  Alternate by about 2 or 3 batches mixing well after each addition.
Divide the batter between the cupcake cups piling each up just below the top of the cup.   (My last one was a small one)
Bake for about 18 - 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool completely before icing.

Lemon Curd Icing

1/3 cup cream cheese
4 tbsp good quality lemon curd
2 cups icing sugar (sifted)

Mix together the cream cheese and the lemon curd until the mixture is creamy.  Gradually add in the icing sugar until it's a thick consistency.  Ice the cupcakes.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

My Favourite Cookbooks

  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
  • The Silver Palate Cookbook
  • More-with-Less Cookbook
  • Moosewood Cookbook

About Me

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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