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Today’s Theme: Turkey!

16 Nov
With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, I’m sure you’re all getting your brains and bellies ready for some turkey. Whether you’ll be cooking a turkey or just eating it, here are some recipes I’ve tried out that are definitely worth your time.
This was my first real turkey and I have to say it turned out really well! I think the brining made a huge difference in how moist the meat turned out, so don’t skip that part! There are a couple changes I think would make this recipe even better. I don’t know that I’d spend the money on the candied ginger the brining calls for as I don’t think it really affected the flavor. Also, the recipe has you start at 500°F then you cover the whole turkey with tin foil and finish it at 350°F. The only problem with finishing it out this way is the tin foil basically steamed the skin so it wasn’t crispy anymore. Next time I would remove the foil maybe 15-20 minutes at the end of cooking and bump the temp back up to 500 deg. to crisp up the skin and give it just a bit more color.

This was also the first time I’ve ever made my own stock. To do this, I picked the turkey carcass clean and saved it in the fridge until the next day when I could make this. I also saved the raw turkey neck from the turkey cavity. This was very simple to do and although it took a while to cook, it was something I didn’t have to sit there and watch. For those of you who have never made stock before, it will solidify (unlike the store-bought stuff), so don’t be all freaked out thinking you did it wrong. It’ll turn back into a liquid as soon as you heat it up again. This made approximately 6 cups, so not a ton, but definitely a great thing to have on hand!
I made this soup once before with Seth’s wild turkey. It was just as good this time around and maybe even better having used the fresh turkey stock I’d just made. The recipe says to add salt to taste… I added at least 2 tsp. This is one of my favorite soup recipes.
Ok I know I probably don’t need to say anything about this sandwich given the name of it (and hello, look at the picture…. Mmm) but this was so good! The recipe says to use apricot jam (or a couple other types), and I tried it that way. It was good with the apricot jam, but I thought it was even better using Dijon mustard. And don’t be stingy with the apple… cut nice thick slices or you won’t be able to taste it.
If you have any turkey left at this point I would be very surprised. If so, lucky you! You can eat more of this stuff! Now some of you are probably like, “Yeah this is great and all, but I don’t have to cook a dang turkey. I’m on pie duty.” What’s that you say? PIES? Pies just happen to be my specialty. Don’t believe me? Check these babies out.

Today’s Theme: Breakfast!

4 Nov
As a pre-cursor to this post, let me say that I do not make breakfast on weekdays. Seth is out the door by 4:30am and he’s lucky if I’m half-conscious when says ‘goodbye.’  My neighbors are lucky if I have my pants on when I rush out the door at 7:15am. However, I do try to make up for my lack of early morning meals by whipping up some good stuff on the weekends. Some of these are faster to make than others, but none of them require much skill. And according to Seth, you have to serve them all with bacon. Otherwise, it’s just not breakfast.

German Apple Pancake

A super easy and fairly quick breakfast option. I made this in my cast iron skillet and it worked perfectly. This is one of those breakfasts that seems a little special… I mean, you don’t get German Apple Pancakes everyday, right?

I love, love, love this French Toast. It’s not too eggy and always turns out so delicious. I think it’s the addition of flour to the batter that makes it so good. I like to use Texas Toast bread or even better, leftover French bread. Regular bread works too, just not nearly as delicious as the thicker stuff. This is definitely one of my favorite breakfasts.

Seriously the best waffles ever. They always turn out wonderful. I typically use 8 tbsp. of butter (the recipe gives an option as to how much you can use). I’ve also made these with half wheat and half white flour and they were great that way too. For some reason these tend to turn out better on waffle irons with the larger squares (think Belgian waffle) than the traditional smaller squares. But still good either way.
These are a great variation to traditional pancakes. I typically make these when I have a banana or two that are overly ripe. I like these because the banana flavor isn’t too overwhelming and the texture of the pancake is always nice and fluffy. Try these with Blueberry Breakfast Sauce (also works well with mixed berries) and you’ll probably die. Also, I have to call pancakes “pampcakes” because of this.
I’ve never been very good at making omelets, so this is a great alternative to the stove-top method. You can pretty much use any kind of filling you want… I’ve used cooked diced bacon instead of ham and I’m sure you could add onions, peppers, or mushrooms. This is VERY filling. I usually halve the recipe and there’s still leftovers.
(Uh… I made this today but sort of screwed up and even though it still tasted fine, it looked a little odd so imagine a delicious looking omelet… or look at the pictures in the recipe link. See, I mess up sometimes too!)
So the link to this one just goes to a basic white sauce, but that’s pretty much all you need for this recipe. I  hard-boil about 4 eggs, chop them up and add them to the white sauce. Grind in some fresh pepper and salt then throw the sauce onto a couple slices of toast and you’re done!

Today’s Special: Butternut Squash Apple Soup, Garlic Soup, Beef with Snow Peas, Sausage, Mushroom, & Spinach Lasagna, and Homestyle Macaroni & Cheese

31 Oct

New Recipe. A couple weeks ago I made some butternut squash gnocchi and had a ton of squash left over. So, I froze it. And used it for this recipe! I honestly just made this to use up the extra squash and didn’t have super high hopes for it. BUT, I really liked this a lot! The recipe says to use salt, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg to “season to taste.” I HATE IT when recipes say that without giving you a starting point as to recommended amounts. But, I delved in and seasoned and tasted away and the final product was just what I was hoping for… a nicely seasoned soup that didn’t taste sweet. I think it’s hard to use cinnamon and nutmeg as a savory ingredient… usually they give more of a dessert quality to a dish. So, in order to help you make this, I will give you the amounts I used for the seasonings: 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 2 1/2 tsp. salt. You may want to start with 2 tsp. salt, just to be safe. So anyway, this recipe was definitely a winner and it’s ORANGE! Perfect for Halloween dinner! (I totally didn’t plan that.)

New Recipe. I didn’t realize how much time this was going to take to make… at least an hour I think. But, the end product was really good. I think I like this more than the garlic soup I’ve made in the past… more flavor and a thicker consistency. I used half and half instead of the heavy cream and it was still really delicious. This was good as a light dinner with salad and french bread. It didn’t make a whole lot… maybe enough for 4 people… maybe. This would also be good in place of a dinner salad… if you are one of those ambitious people who have several courses to a meal (I’m not). Oh, I also used Jarlsberg cheese instead of Gruyere because I couldn’t find any of that.

New Recipe. If you’re looking for a fast recipe this week, this is your winner! It took me maybe a half hour and that included all the prep work and cooking the brown rice (pressure cookers are awesome!). The sauce was perfect and the beef and snow peas were so delicious! The extra addition of crushed red pepper made it that much better. This is the first Asian-y beef  recipe I’ve made that has turned out to my liking. I really haven’t had much success with this category of food… it’s very rare for me to make something and actually like it as much as the stuff I get at restaurants. It’s nice to have found another winner!

New Recipe. Now, I am really picky with my lasagna. Usually I only like the kind I make with my sauce recipe and my mom’s lasagna recipe from when I was a kid. But I thought I’d try this one out because #1 It looked a lot healthier and #2 Who doesn’t love sausage, mushrooms, and spinach? I made this exactly as written using the Italian flavored ground turkey, but I also used an oven-ready pasta. I was a little worried about the pasta not getting cooked through and/or the lasagna being too dry. Oh, I also added 2 cloves of garlic to the turkey mixture. So, this actually turned out really good. I didn’t think it tasted healthy at all and the oven-ready pasta worked just fine. It wasn’t the fastest meal ever because of the hour long bake time, but it was well worth the effort.

Old Favorite. Have I said how much I love this stuff? Seriously the best homemade mac and cheese I’ve had by far. Ok wait, I lied. Rachel made some for us once and it rocked too. But other than that… every other homemade mac and cheese I’ve made or eaten pretty much sucks. The Dijon mustard in this is what gives it an extra punch of flavor. It only calls for 1 tbsp., but I usually double that because I love it so much.

Today’s Special: Pot Stickers w/ Soy Dipping Sauce, Chicken Wellington, Kelly’s Chili, and Deep-Dish Apple Pie

23 Oct

I resisted the urge to raid my “new recipe” feeds on Google this week and dug out the old-fashioned cookbook. These are definitely some of my favorite recipes!

Pot Stickers with Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce– These pot stickers rock my world. It’s a little time consuming to make all the individual folded pouches, but so worth it. Also, do not skip the dipping sauce, it’ll take you five minutes to make it and it’s amazing! I usually make double batches of these because it’s more common to find 48 packs of the won ton wrappers (usually in the produce section) and a full pound of ground pork.

Chicken Wellington with Creamy Mushroom Sauce – So remember a couple weeks ago when I made Crap in Rolls? Well think of this as its more sophisticated, incredibly delicious older sister. The recipe calls for 8 small chicken breasts, but I used 4 large ones and cut them in half. I also pounded out the chicken to a uniform thickness to make sure they cooked evenly (I don’t have a mallet… just used the side of a can of beans!). Also… I have a confession to make… I completely forgot about the corresponding Mushroom Sauce this time around. Which was fine… they are totally awesome on their own. HOWEVER. I have made the Mushroom Sauce before and it is awesome. And I would have made it this time had it not completely slipped my mind. Oh, and the recipe says to take the puff pastry out of the freezer 10 minutes before you use it. I’d say make it more like 20-30 minutes. But seriously… this looks really fancy but it’s not hard at all to make!

Kelly’s Chili– I’m not usually big on chili. In fact it’s typically one of my least favorite “soups.” But this chili is so good! It always turns out with the perfect amount of heat and it doesn’t have a lot of beans in it. In fact I add an extra can of beans to make the meat/bean ratio a little better. I made this for a work party once and everybody loved it. And Seth and I were able to make it through an entire crockpot full of this stuff before it went bad, so that’s saying something!

Deep-Dish Apple Pie This week a friend of mine at work gave me a bag of homegrown apples so of course I had to make a pie! I love making this pie because it always turns out delicious. And look how beautiful! This isn’t exactly a fast recipe to make (what apple pie is?) but it’s well worth the effort. I use an apple peeler thingy which helps cut down the prep time a lot. A food processor is also a very useful tool with this one.

Today’s Special: Oreo Balls, Chicken Enchiladas, To Die for Crock Pot Roast, and Pork with Dried Apples & Proscuitto,

13 Oct

Oreo Balls– New Recipe. So I’ve had these in my “To Try” folder in my Recipezaar account for a long time, but for some reason never got around to making them. The other day a co-worker shared one of these with me and I knew I had to have more. So I made some! These were seriously so awesome. They’re just blended up Oreos with cream cheese but man… they rocked! Plus they were actually really easy to make so that was definitely a bonus! Corinne… you better not make these. You’ll probably die. Or gain 50 pounds.

Chicken Enchiladas– New Recipe. So I first saw this recipe on the Blue Muse’s blog and thought it looked awesome. The night I made this the Internets were down at my house so I had to guess on how to make it. I basically did everything as it says in the recipe, except I didn’t add any onions or garlic because I forgot about them. But it still turned out so good! I think the rotisserie chicken made a huge difference in the flavor. Also, I’m not sure if I’ve used white corn tortillas before or not, or maybe it was the brand I bought (Mission), but these ones were a million times better than the corn tortillas I’ve used before. Usually they break when I roll them, but these held together very well. I’ll definitely buy them again. Anyway, this recipe was definitely easy AND delicious. I’m sure I’ll be making them again!

To Die for Crock Pot Roast– Repeat. This is my favorite pot roast recipe. It always turns out good and it makes its own gravy! The gravy is very salty straight out of the pot, so I always thin it out with water and then use a thickener to get it back to a good gravy consistency.

Pork with Dried Apples and Prosciutto– New Recipe. I really liked this recipe. It definitely had a great “Fall” flavor. It was super easy to make and fast and used up some prosciutto and sage I had in the fridge! (You know you’re out of control when you have leftover sage and prosciutto). I don’t normally like pork chops much, but these were delicious!

Today’s Special: Beef Bourguignon, Autumn Chicken Stew, Fish Sticks, Squash Gnocchi, Cheesy Chicken & Rice, and Cinnamon Bread

2 Oct

Beef Bourguignon– New Recipe. After making this recipe I can now claim I’ve flambéed something. Check that off my list of things to do before I die! I have to admit it was a little scary, but all turned out well and I didn’t burn any of my hair off. This tasted like a fancy beef stew. Actually Seth and I called this “Alcoholic Beef Stew” because of all the liquor involved… a full bottle of wine and 1/2 c. cognac. Wow. I think next time I’ll try making Julia Child’s recipe so I can compare. Anyway, two thumbs way up for this one.

Autumn Chicken Stew– New Recipe. I love making seasonal recipes for obvious reasons…. ingredients that are not only cheaper than usual, but tastier as well. It’s a win-win situation. The only reason I was skeptical of this recipe was the addition of not one, but two granny smith apples. I thought the resulting flavor would be too sweet for a “stew.” Nay nay. This was some good eatin’. Seth thought the apples were potatoes. And he  raved about how much he loved the parsnips (a close cousin to the carrot) and I agreed. Why are parsnips not a common cooking component? Ok ok I know I’m getting carried away with the alliterations. Let’s just cut to the chase. This was awesome. You should make it.

EatingWell Fish Sticks– New Recipe. Ok I could not make fish sticks without referencing this episode of South Park. With that out of the way, these were incredibly easy to make and tasted really good. Seth especially really liked these. This was also my first time using Panko bread crumbs which are supposed to be crunchier than regular bread crumbs. I think it worked! I couldn’t find the whole wheat Panko bread crumbs, so I just used 1 cup of the regular ones. Oh and don’t forget the tartar sauce!

Chickpea, Spinach, & Squash Gnocchi– New Recipe. Doesn’t this look so beautiful with all those fun colors? Sadly, the beauty of this dish was only skin deep. It was heart breakingly bland and there wasn’t much depth to it. Oh well, guess I don’t have to chop up all that squash again.
Cheesy Chicken & Rice– Repeat. This isn’t a gourmet meal by any means, but it requires very little prep and it tastes pretty good! Spend five minutes putting it all into a pan, throw it in the oven and do something else for an hour while you wait for it to cook. Oh, and don’t forget to cover this with tin foil, otherwise your rice will be crunchy. (Yes I’ve made that mistake before…)
I’ll admit I’m a rookie when it comes to making bread. I honestly just guess my way through it. But I love homemade bread. I’m usually just too damn lazy to make it because let’s be honest… it’s very time consuming. I decided to try this recipe because it looked awesome and because there were step by step instructions on the Pioneer Woman’s blog complete with pictures. How could I screw it up if there were pictures? I couldn’t!
So I made this bread one Saturday morning when I woke up at the butt crack of dawn because my body is now used to my early to bed early to rise dork schedule and I can’t sleep in past 7am even if I want to. The one thing I really hate about bread recipes is I always have to add a ton more flour than it says to get the right texture and it sort of freaks me out. This recipe said to add 1/4 c. extra flour after kneading for a few minutes if it was too sticky. I ended up adding probably a cup or more.
So I finally got the bread all made and it turned out ok. However, I don’t think I rolled it tight enough so it was kind of floppy after slicing. Also, I overcooked it a tad, so after it cooled it was dry. I was a little disappointed. BUT… I sliced it all up and froze it and I plant to unthaw it this weekend and make it into cinnamon french toast! That should save it! At any rate, it looks beautiful. Kinda makes me want to bake bread more often.

Today’s Special: Ranch-Parmesan Chicken, Korean Chicken & Peanut Noodles, Crap in Rolls, Beef Stroganoff, and BLTs

24 Sep

Ranch-Parmesan Chicken– New Recipe. I made this on the spur of the moment because I hadn’t gone to the grocery store yet. It turned out surprisingly good. Not healthy in the slightest, but good!

Korean Roast Chicken (new recipe) with Peanut-Ginger Noodles (repeat)- The Korean chicken turned out surprisingly well. I actually used boneless skinless thighs and it worked just fine. It did reduce the cooking time to 45 minutes. I’d probably let these marinate longer if I were to make them again. And the noodles? What can I say? This is my favorite peanut sauce/noodle recipe I’ve tried. And it’s super easy.

Crap in Rolls– Old family favorite. OK so there’s a story to this one. These things are actually called “Chicken Rolls.” We pronounce it more like “crap’n-rolls.” My now brother-in-law JR was coming over for his first Sunday dinner at the Holley home. When asked what we were having, Corinne said something like, “I don’t know… crap in rolls or something.” And he still came over. Bachelors sure are desperate for a home cooked meal. Don’t worry, they’re better than they sound. And my mom still gets pissed off when we called them Crap in Rolls.

Crap in Rolls

2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
1/4 tsp lemon pepper
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 can mushrooms
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tbsp. butter, melted
2 cups breadcrumbs
2 cans Refrigerated Crescent Roll dough (16 rolls)

1 can Cream of Chicken Soup

Combine chicken, lemon pepper, cream cheese, mushrooms, and celery. Roll out dough. Spoon mixture onto dough (about 1 rounded tablespoon each), roll up, and seal. Dip in melted butter and then into bread crumbs. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

To make sauce combine cream of chicken soup with enough milk to thin to desired consistency and heat. Spoon over hot rolls.

Makes 16 rolls.

Beef Stroganoff– Repeat. Comfort food at its best. I always add mushrooms to the meat/onions when they’re sauteing.

BLTs– Repeat. So I’m pretty sure the name is self-explanatory of the recipe for this one. Unless you want to get all technical and say it doesn’t include the mayo or bread. But come on. If you don’t know how to make a BLT, there’s no help for you. Quit now.

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