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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving, Post Mortem

We finally put away the leftovers.

We started a tradition last year, that we will likely keep for years to come. Since there are only two of us, we don't prepare the full-on turkey dinner more than once a year. But we both really like the traditional Thanksgiving foods. So, we made enough food this year to feed 20 people...20 large people ! We had a 20 pound turkey, some of the recipes you see below (the stuffing and sweet potato recipe we doubled), 10 pounds of mashed potatoes, and 2 quarts of gravy.

We have now eaten turkey for three days, and this morning we put togther 15 turkey dinners, consisting of the leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and sweet potatoes. Each dinner is enough for Ray and I to share, so at any point in the coming year we can defrost one, warm it up in the microwave and revisit Thanksgiving. We also have 4 containers of just stuffing and mashed potatoes, which we can put along side a small pork roast or chicken. And one container of sweet potatoes that tastes enough like dessert that I might just use it for one !

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We'll be enjoying ours all year long.

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Kitchen Sink" Turkey Stuffing

When we had our first Thanksgiving together, we had a VERY lengthy discussion about what we thought the perfect stuffing should be. We each had very distinctive memories of what we thought had to be included to make it like the stuffing of our respective childhoods.

So, this creation is a combination of those things, and yes, it has a LOT of ingredients. But the result is a very complex and flavorful stuffing. We like to stuff the bird, because I love the juicy, melty stuffing from inside the turkey. This is very controversial these days, but you just have to remember that it adds on cooking time to your turkey.

Kitchen Sink Turkey Stuffing
1 pound pork sausage
1/2 cup butter
2 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped celery
6 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped, roasted chestnuts
2 Granny Smith apples, chopped
6 cups dried bread cubes

Brown sausage in a large pot, add butter, onions and celery and cook until onions are translucent. Pour in chicken stock, and stir in spices, and cook over low heat until celery is soft. While this is cooking, place remaining ingredients in a large bowl. When stock mixture is cooked, pour over bread mixture and stir together. Stuff turkey, or place in a large casserole dish and bake, covered at 350 for 1 hour. You may want to remove the cover for the last 20 minutes if you like the stuffing crunchy on top.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cranberry Orange Relish

I love cranberry orange relish, and I have been trying to replicate a flavor from my childhood, that has cranberries, orange and ginger. I think I have come close here. I like the addition of just a little bit of pepper at the end.

Cranberry Orange Relish

2 oranges
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspooons fresh ginger, peeled cut in fine julienne
12 ounces fresh cranberries
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Zest oranges and add to the ginger. Then juice the oranges and set aside.

In a large saute pan, combine the lemon juice and sugar. Heat up slowly over low heat until the sugar starts to carmelize. When the sugar is carmel in color, add the ginger and orange zest. Stir and cook for one minute. Then add the orange juice, cranberries and pepper. Increase heat to medium, and cook until the cranberries have all burst, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool. Refrigerate.

Ray's Sweet Potato Pie

There will be several postings this weekend, since it is Thanksgiving, and since the first thing I usually make is dessert, this will be the first post !

Ray requested Sweet Potato Pie. I have only made one previously, and my aunt Betty always used to make them, but I didn't know what his memory of the taste was: should it be like pumpkin ? Is it more citrus, more like molasses ? I scoured my cook books, and invented this version. We haven't cut into it yet, but Ray pulled a little taste off the top, and declared it delicious !

Sweet Potato Pie

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3 eggs, separated
3/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk
Zest of 1 orange
2 teaspoons Grand Marnier
Unbaked 9 inch pie shell

Place sweet potatoes in mixing bowl, add butter, egg yolks, honey, salt, and spices, and mix until smooth and creamy. Stir in milk, orange zest and Grand Marnier. Pour into pie shell (it will be very thick). Bake at 450 for 15 minutes, then lower oven to 300 and bake 50 minutes, or until pie is set. Cool.

The original recipe I patterned this after had a meringue topping, and once you see the way the pie looks, you will understand why. It isn't smooth like a pumpkin pie. But, we like whipped cream better, so we plan to top it with whipped cream, sweetened with vanilla and a little powdered sugar.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cookies for My Dad

It has become a tradition everytime my parents visit, that I bake some cookies for my dad. His favorites are just the basic frosted sugar cookies (he swears the different colors of frosting taste different), and ice box cookies from my grandma's recipe.

I try to switch it up for him, you know, to expand his horizons. So last night I baked some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with dried cranberries. These are a different texture than the cookies I usually make. They are thinner, and chewy, almost like a granola bar. They had to bake longer than I thought, so now you can benefit from my trial and error ! I hope they enjoy these on their visit to Minneapolis this weekend.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Dried Cranberries
1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon (yes, tablespoon) vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cup flour
1 3/4 cup oatmeal
1 12 oz package semi sweet chocolate chips
6 oz dried cranberries

Cream together butter and brown sugar. Add eggs and beat until fluffy, then add vanilla. Combine flour, soda and salt and mix until thoroughly combined, but don't over mix. Then add in oatmeal, and mix until thoroughly combined. Gently stir in chocolate chips and cranberries. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cookies will look dark, because of all the butter and brown sugar. Let rest on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing to rack to cool.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lemon Ginger Thyme Chicken

As a wedding gift, we received 12 bottles of beer from Three Floyds Brewery in Munster, Indiana. They are all very interesting, and amazing beers (well, I think so anyway). Once a month I am trying to do a food pairing with one of the beers, and this month's selection was Apocalypse Cow. It is a hoppy beer with some citrus overtones, so I decided on chicken with lemon and ginger.

I added thyme because I thought it sounded good ! Thyme and chicken reminds me of something my grandma used to make when I was younger, although I am not sure what, just the flavor combination says "Grandma!"

And I added some wine, because, well, wine goes with everything, right ? We have a ginger-lime metheglin (mead) that we made that I used for this recipe, but you can use any dry white wine for the recipe.

Lemon Ginger Thyme Chicken

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 cup dry white wine
1 large lemon, cut in half
1/2 onion, sliced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil. Saute garlic and ginger until soft, be careful not to brown or the garlic will be bitter. Add thyme and wine, and simmer for 5 minutes. Squeeze lemon juice into sauce, and remove from heat.

Place onions in a small baking dish (you can spray with olive oil beforehand if you like). Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breast and place on top of the onions. Put lemon halves in the pan, and pour the sauce over the chicken breast. Bake for 30 minutes, basting with the sauce in the pan every 10 minutes or so.

I served this with some cheesy sour cream smashed potatoes, and it was a perfect match for the Apocalypse Cow !

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Garam Masala Sugar Cookies

It was deer hunting opener, and we were without heat for a couple of days, so what do you do to keep the house warm ? You BAKE ! Realize, of course, that this keeps the kitchen warm, but makes the rest of the house freezing ! No matter, these cookies turned out great !

I just used a basic sugar cookie recipe. I believe these are traditionally called Amish sugar cookies, although I am not certain why. They are very delicate. I could have actually used a bit more of the garam masala in the coating, but that would be whatever your individual tastes would prefer. Either way, they are YUMMY!

Garam Masala Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter (always used salted butter for cookies)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
5 1/2 cups flour

For rolling, combine:
1/3 cup fine baking sugar
1 tablespoon (or more) garam masala

Cream butter and sugars together. Add oil, and vanilla, and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat until well combined. Add dry ingredients slowly. Roll into balls, about 1 teaspoon each, and roll in the sugar/garam masala mixture. Flatten with a glass. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes until they just start to turn golden. Let sit on cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes then let cool. This makes 7-8 dozen small cookies.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper and Potato Soup

I bought a soup magazine at the grocery store a couple of years ago, and every recipe I have made from it turns out well.

This soup was the first one I tried, and I like it because it is vegetarian. I have a few vegetarian people on my staff at work, so I made this as a special treat for them yesterday. I have switched it up a bit from the original recipe by adding some extra seasoning (really ? ME?).

Roasted Red Pepper and Potato Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine
3 serrano peppers, chopped fine
1 jar (12 ounces) roasted red peppers
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups vegetable stock
4 cups peeled, chopped potatoes
1/2 cup cream cheese
Sour cream and cilantro, for garnish

Heat olive oil in large pot. Saute onions and peppers until onions are translucent. Chopped the red peppers and add, including juice from the jar. Add spices and cook on low heat for 3-4 minutes. Add vegetable stock and potatoes, and simmer until potatoes are tender, 30-40 minutes. Add cream cheese, and use immersion blender or regular blender and blend soup until smooth. Serve with sour cream and chopped cilantro, and a nice crusty bread.