Monday, November 30, 2009

Turkey Day:Take Two

I had the pleasure of hosting Thanksgiving with my family Saturday. The food turned out wonderful, and company was even better. We had loads of leftovers, just the way I like it!

I came up with a few different recipes to use up my leftovers. I made traditional turkey noodle soup, but I also created some recipes for cranberry relish muffins and individual breakfast bake. My husband calls the breakfast bake a "mini feast in a bowl."

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Cranberry Relish Muffins
Makes 1 dozen

1/2 cup cranberry relish
1 3/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 C. sugar

Sift together the flour, 2 Tbsp sugar, baking powder and salt.

Combine the egg, milk and oil. Add to the dry ingredients, and stir until moistened.

Gently fold in cranberry relish. Do not mix in entirely. You want to have streaks of relish running through your muffins.

Spoon batter into greased muffin tins.

Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.

Remove from oven, dip tops into melted butter, and sprinkle with sugar.

Individual Breakfast Bake aka Mini Feast in a Bowl
Makes 4 servings

1 cup leftover stuffing*
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 eggs

Lightly spray 4 small ramekins with cooking spray.

Layer into each ramekin 1/4 cup of stuffing and 1/4 cup potatoes. Bake in an oven preheated to 375 until warmed through, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly fry eggs until over-easy.

Remove ramekins from oven.Top with cheese. Return to oven until cheese is melted. Serve with fried egg on top.

*I shred a small amount of turkey meat into my stuffing when I make it. Another option is to finely chop some turkey meat and layer it between your stuffing and potatoes.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mini Thanksgiving Bird

I spent my turkey day alone this year. My husband was taking care of his brother out of state for a few days following surgery to repair a hernia. So I did the next best thing to turkey, I made a Cornish game hen with homemade stuffing.

I have never had a more flavorful, moist bird in my life.

If you haven't ever made brined turkey or game hen before, you must give it a try. The breast meat is so tender you would think you are eating dark meat.

The following recipes make enough brine for 1 medium game hen or 1 small chicken and enough stuffing for the same. The brine can easily be doubled or tripled for turkey.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Brine for poultry
Makes 1/2 gallon

8 cups water
1/4 cup canning salt
3 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
2 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS dried Italian herbs
2 tsp liquid smoke
1/2-1 cup apple juice (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a zip top gallon bag. Shake to combine and dissolve salt. Rinse poultry of choice and submerge in brine. Refrigerate overnight. Rinse poultry, drain, and pat dry before cooking.

My preferred method of cooking: Pat the poultry dry. Loosen skin on breast. Gently push some small pats of butter under the skin on the breast. Tress your bird. Place in your roaster. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock to roaster, cover and cook according to package. Add 1 cup stock for larger birds such as chicken or turkey.

Why I like this method: chicken stock and a good fitting lid keep the bird moist, this completely eliminates the need to baste your poultry. This method works wonders even if you don't brine your meat.

Homemade stuffing

1/3 cup of celery, chopped fine
3 TBS onion, chopped fine
1 1/2 TBS melted butter
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp dry Italian seasoning
2 cups day old bread, cubed
2 TBS milk

Cook celery and onions in the melted butter until tender.

Mix celery and onion with remaining ingredients.

* If you don't have day old breadcrumbs, take fresh bread, cut into cubes. Toast in a hot oven to dry out slightly.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Sweet Melody

"Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out."-Oliver Wendell Holmes

Sometimes we need a reminder that life is meant to be lived. Don't let your music go unheard by the world.

Here's to you and your life adventures, friend. Cheers!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Holiday baking

I had a hankering to do some baking.

It's fall, it's holiday season, it's time to turn on the oven.

I had some bananas waiting in the freezer until I could find a proper use for them. I found the recipe I was looking for today, banana bars with a peanut butter-chocolate frosting. I have served them to some company before, they flew off the serving platter.

This holiday season I hope to keep any and all baking on a relatively healthy level. So, I will post as I bake to share a little healthier spin on my favorite tasty treats. For these bars, you replace half the butter traditionally in banana bars for applesauce.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend! Cheers!

Frosted Banana Bars

3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Dash salt

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the bananas, applesauce and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into butter mixture just until blended.

Transfer to a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Once cool, frost with chocolate-peanut butter frosting.

Chocolate Peanut Butter frosting

2 cups powdered sugar
2TBS cocoa
4TBS milk
2 TBS peanut butter
½ tsp vanilla

Beat together until creamy. You may need to add more milk to thin to preferred consistency.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sooie! Pig, pig, pig, pig!

Ham, I love you!

I love pork. Bacon, ham, pork chops, pork steaks, ham shanks, and the list goes on.

Jon also is a big fan of piggies and the meat we get from them. He asked me to make a brown sugar glazed ham last Easter. I did and he said it was an "instant classic". Ok, so file that one in the keep pile.... ;)

I got a hankering for that ham the other day so I pulled out the recipe. I decided to add some honey that I bought from my local farmer's market to the mix. It was better than the original. Jon and I agree, the honey makes the difference.

It's a bit sweet and a bit salty, the leftovers are amazing! Give it a whirl, you won't be disappointed.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Oven Baked Ham with Brown Sugar Rub

1/4 ready to cook ham (around 6-8 pounds)
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 TBS flour
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup honey
3 TBS cider vinegar or white vinegar
3 TBS coarse ground mustard
1/2 cup water or (ham or chicken) stock

Preheat oven to 275.

Place ham, cut side down, in a baking dish. Pour water into dish.

Combine sugar, flour, pepper, honey, vinegar, and mustard. Smear over ham.

Lightly tent with aluminum foil. Bake approximately 4 1/2 hours. Baste every hour. Remove foil for last 45 minutes.

-Most hams directions are to bake 22 min per pound at 325. I reduce the heat and increase the time to keep my ham juicy and tender.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Company Cupcakes

I love company. It's the Suzy Homemaker in me. I also love to cook for company.

We recently had some friends coming by so I made cupcakes. Yummy, chocolate filled cupcakes! They were super easy and quick to mix up. (Ms. Martha Stewart makes a variation of these but she makes everything from scratch)

When my company arrived, we had a great time frosting and decorating our own cupcakes. The best part, of course, was eating these little gems.

Baker's note: Tossing the chocolate pieces in the dry batter mix keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the cupcake. This same technique can be used with muffins to keep the fruit pieces from sinking.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend! Cheers!

Chocolate Filled Cupcakes
Makes 12

Duncan Hines 12 count cupcake mix, white or confetti
12 Hershey's kisses or similar mini chocolate candies, unwrapped
Frosting and sprinkles

Preheat oven.

Toss chocolate candies in dry cupcake mix. Remove each piece of chocolate and set aside.

Prepare cupcakes according to package directions. Fill 12 muffin tins with half the batter. Place one chocolate candy in each muffin tin. Cover with remaining batter.

Bake according to package directions.

Once slightly cooled, frost and decorate. Enjoy while still warm for a gooey center.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Winter snackin'

I am always in search of new snack mixes for entertaining, particularly in the winter when we have a lot of movie nights at our house.

I came across a great new cheesy chex mix on one of my many cooking sites. We taste tested this mix this past weekend- it was exactly what I was looking for. Not too salty, not too much cheese (although I am the cheese queen....) and just the right amount of ranch flavor. Bonus: it's only 100 calories per half cup serving!

It's a quick and easy snack. Mix, Microwave, Cool, and Share. :)

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Cheesy Ranch Snack Mix

9 cups rice and corn chex
2 cups broken pretzel sticks
2 cups cheese its or gold fish
3 TBS I can't believe its not butter
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Mix cereal, pretzels, and crackers together in a bowl. Sprinkle with dressing mix and Parmesan cheese.

Melt butter. Drizzle over cereal mix. Toss until well coated.

Microwave 3 1/2 minutes, stir every minute.

Spread out on paper towels to cool.

Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

China Town at my house

I loath when daylight savings time ends. Why? Because, that means the sun sets before 5pm. Not OK with me. It makes me sad to get up in the dark and about 30 minutes after I get home from work, it's dark again!

To brighten up our night, Jon and I decided to have a little Asian-American themed dinner. We set the table with red linens, black plates, and thew some music on. We cooked together, a rare occurrence at our house. Usually, I don't let Jon near my kitchen. Not that he's a bad cook, quite the opposite actually. It's just that cooking is like daily therapy for me. It's my alone time with God. :)

So, what did we make? Egg rolls! Now, we are both incredibly picky when it comes to egg rolls, but this one is a winner. Because they are baked they are much lower calorie (only 115 cal per roll!) and won't give you gut rot from all the grease. Give it a whirl for a fun new experience.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Egg Rolls
Makes approximately 10 rolls

1/2 lb ground turkey
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
1/4 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 TBS peanut butter
2 TBS light soy sauce
1/2 TBS teriyaki sauce
Egg roll skins
2 1/2 TBS melted butter

Stir fry together in a wok: turkey, onion, salt, and pepper to taste. Add remaining ingredients through soy sauce. Stir fry until veggies are limp.

Pour into a strainer, drain for hour.

Stir in teriyaki sauce.

Place 1 egg roll skin on the counter top with 1 point towards you. Lightly moisten the all four sides with water. Place generous amount of filling on the skin. Fold bottom corner up, the left corner up, then the right corner. Roll up and place seam side down on a cookie sheet. Repeat until all filling is used, about 10-11 rolls total.

Brush each egg roll with melted butter. Bake 12 minutes in a 500 degree oven until golden brown.

Serve warm with your favorite sweet and sour sauce.