Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Turkey

*Obviously late, but I had to try it to make sure it was good. It was DELICIOUS and oh so juicy!
1 (10 to 12-pound) turkey

Remove the neck, giblets, and liver from the cavity of the turkey. Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water. Soak the turkey in the brine, covered and refrigerated, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. (I did it 24 hours in a big white garbage bag, inside of my ice chest)

1 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 oranges, quartered
2 lemons, quartered
6 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary

To make the brining solution, dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 gallons of cold water in a non-reactive container (such as a clean bucket or large stockpot, or a clean, heavy-duty, plastic garbage bag.) Add the oranges, lemons, thyme, and rosemary.Note: if you have a big turkey and need more brine than this, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar for every gallon of water.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels, inside and out. Place breast side down in a large, heavy roasting pan, and rub on all sides with Olive Oil at room temperature. Season lightly inside and out with salt and pepper.

Stuff the turkey with:
1 large yellow onion, cut into 8ths
1 large orange, cut into 8ths
1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme

Loosely tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string (mine was already done with wire). I actually doubled this recipe and cooked my 22lb. turkey for 6 hours. I covered the turkey in foil, and let it cook for nearly 5 hours. At the 5 hour mark, I took the foil off, basted a little with its juices, then it cooked the last hour uncovered.
Remove from the oven and place on a platter. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Yummy Spiced Cider

8 c. apple juice
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
6 inches stick cinnamon
1 t. whole allspice
1 t. whole cloves
1 t. shredded orange peel
Cheesecloth (100% cotton)

To make the spice bag, place cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and orange peel in center of a double thick, 6" square piece of the cheesecloth.  Tie closed with clean string.  (I use sewing thread.)

In a large sauce pan combine juice and sugar.  Add spice bag to the saucepan with juice mixture.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.  Remove spice bag and discard.

Note: When we do this, we buy 64 ounces of apple juice, make the cider, and then put the cider back in the juice container.  We then keep it in the fridge and reheat in mugs when we want it.  It's super tasty.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Chicken Parmesan

3 T olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded ½ inch thick
½ c flour
1 t oregano leaves or 1/2 t ground oregano
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten with 1 T water
1 c bread crumbs
13 oz (½ jar) spaghetti sauce
8 oz shredded mozzarella
1/4 c grated Parmesan
1/2 c sliced olives
basil to taste, about 1 t
1 lb spaghetti pasta, cooked al dente

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large oven-proof skillet. Combine flour, salt, pepper and oregano in shallow bowl. Lightly dredge both sides of each chicken breast in seasoned flour, then dip in the egg mixture. Allow the excess to drip off, then dredge in bread crumbs. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and fry each side until golden and crusty. Ladle the sauce over the chicken in the skillet and sprinkle with mozzarella, Parmesan, olives and basil. Move to oven; bake at 450° for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Serve hot on a bed of spaghetti.

NOTES: I used 2 parts breadcrumbs mixed with 1 part crushed cornflakes. I have used seasoned breadcrumbs before. The original recipe calls for kalamata olives; we usually use plain old black olives. If you don't have an oven-proof skillet large enough to fit four chicken breasts, you can place the cooked chicken in a lightly greased baking pan and proceed as the recipe directs.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pumpkin-Chocolate Cheesecake Pie - BHG

From Better Homes and Garden Nov 08

1 recipe Deep Dish Pie Pastry (see below)
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup finely shopped semisweet chocolate or mini chocolate pieces
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 sup half and half or light cream

First: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare and roll our Deep Dish Pie Pastry. Transfer to 9 1/2 to 10 inch deep dish pie plate. Flute edge high. Line pastry with double thickness of foil. Bake 8 minutes. Remove foil; bake 6 minutes more or until golden. Cool on wire rack and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Next: In medium mixing bowl combine cream cheese 1/4 cup sugar and 1 egg; beat on low until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture in cooled pastry shell. Sprinkle with chopped chocolate.
Then: In bowl combine pumpkin, brown sugar and spice. Stir in 4 eggs. Gradually stir in half and half. Slowly pour pumpkin mixture on chocolate layer. To prevent over browning, cover pie edge with foil.

Last: Bake 60 to 65 minutes at 375 or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Remove foil. Cool on wire rack. Cover and refrigerate within 2 hours. Top with chopped chocolate.

Deep Dish Pie Pastry: In medium bowl stir together 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/4 tsp. salt. Using pastry blender or two knives cut in 6 Tbs shortening until pieces are pea-size. Sprinkle 1 Tbs cold water over part of flour mixture; gently toss with fork. Push moistened dough to the side of bowl. Repeat using 1 Tbs water at a time until all flour is moistened (5 to 6 Tbs total). Form into ball. On lightly floured surface, flatten dough. Roll pastry from center to edge into 13 in. circle.

Notes: this pie turned out very tasty. My first mistake was leaving this until last minute as I was making this for an event. So I cheated and used store bought pie crust which was obviously not made for a deep dish pie pan. On the plus side my pampered chef pie crust shield is a fantastic tool that kept my crust from over browning. The 3/4 cup chocolate was too much. I'm pretty sure I ended up only using about 1/4 to 1/2 cup at most. This pie tastes best when eaten same day baked.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Apple Crumb Pie

This is one of my favorite pies, because it combines the goodness of apple pie with the yummy-ness of crumb topping! Enjoy!

10-15 apples, peeled & cut into thin slices
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup sugar (+)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (+)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cube butter, chilled, but not too hard
1/3 cup heaping sugar
1/2 cup heaping flour
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 pie crust
Put the pie crust in the bottom of pie dish. Load apple mixture on top - should be heaping. Make the crumb topping by cutting the butter into the sugars, flour and oats until crumbly, then sprinkle over top of apple pie. Wrap tin foil around edges of crust to keep from burning. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour. This tastes fabulous served warm with some ice cream!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Spinach Lasagne with Béchamel sauce

1 cup ricotta or cottage cheese
2 T Parmesan cheese
2 10-oz packages frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
12 oz lasagne noodles
2 c spaghetti sauce
12 oz shredded mozzarella cheese (about 3 c)
2 c Béchamel sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350° F. In a medium bowl, mix together ricotta, Parmesan and spinach. Set aside.
Cook lasagne noodles in boiling water until slightly chewy, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare Béchamel sauce. Cover and set aside.
Drain lasagne noodles and rinse with cold water.
Evenly spread the following layers in a lightly greased 9x13 baking pan:
  1. first third of Béchamel
  2. noodles
  3. first half of ricotta
  4. second third of Béchamel
  5. noodles
  6. half of spaghetti sauce
  7. half of mozzarella
  8. noodles
  9. ricotta
  10. last third of Béchamel
  11. noodles
  12. other half of spaghetti sauce
  13. other half of mozzarella
Cover pan with foil (sprayed with nonstick spray) and place in oven for 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Twelve 300-calorie servings.

Béchamel sauce:
2 c milk, almost boiling
3 T butter
4 T flour
salt and pepper to taste
dash of nutmeg

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. When foam subsides, sprinkle flour into butter, whisking all the while. Cook flour until foaming but not brown, about 3 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat; add hot milk all at once and stir until bubbling subsides. Replace on heat and bring to boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Sauce should be thick and smooth. Season to taste.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quiche with Rice Crust

2 c rice, cooked
1 egg, beaten
1 t soy sauce

1/2 lb vegetables and/or meat, chopped
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c milk or light cream
1 c cheese, grated
1/2 t salt
dash of nutmeg
pepper to taste

Mix crust ingredients together and spread evenly to cover well-buttered pie plate. Bake crust at 350° for 10 minutes. Meanwhile mix eggs, milk, salt and seasonings. When crust comes out of oven, place chopped vegetable in crust and pour over egg mixture. Top with grated cheese. Bake for 45 minutes to until set. Allow to cool ten minutes before slicing. You may also wrap pie pan and freeze. Quiche may be served cold after thawing, or reheated at 350° for 20 minutes.

-We use less rice than the recipe calls for. Two cups of rice in a 9-inch pie plate makes for an excessively thick crust, in our opinion.
-After an hour in the oven, the crust edge can get pretty crunchy (we're talking teeth-shattering here). Make sure the egg mixture covers the edge of the crust when it goes back in the oven (another reason we reduce the amount of rice).
-We used plain old broccoli for our vegetable, but adding a bit of sausage or other
vegetables would make it more interesting.
-We substituted evaporated milk for the milk.

Bacon Wrapped Lil Smokies

1 lb. package little smokies (or little polskas)
1 lb. package bacon
3/4 c. packed brown sugar

Cut the bacon into thirds. Wrap each little wienie with the bacon and secure with toothpick; place on baking sheet. Sprinkle the brown sugar generously over everything.

Bake at 325 for 40 minutes.

Notes: I did these using turkey bacon and (shocker) dear husband thinks they'd slightly better if I used real bacon, although he still ate more than I had planned. Maybe next time we'd only make half and freeze the rest. They were perfect for football-watching.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Baked Apple French Toast

Baked French toast has been one of our favorite breakfasts for years, but it was a guilty pleasure. With so much butter and sugar we didn't feel we could in good conscience eat it that often. We recently found this recipe that--by including apples--directly reduces the need for sugar and moisture and, therefore, the amount of fat. Cooking the sugar until it dissolves produces a syrupy-smooth topping that releases from the baking pan and (more importantly) complements the apples beautifully.

5 T butter
2 large baking apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
1 c brown sugar
2 T corn syrup
1 t cinnamon
10 slices of French bread, 1" thick
4 beaten eggs
1 c milk
1 t vanilla

In large heavy skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add apple slices and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and cinnamon to apples. Stir until brown sugar dissolves. Pour apple mixture into greased 9x13 pan, and spread evenly. Arrange bread slices in one layer on top of apple mixture, squeezing to make a tight fit. Mix eggs, milk and vanilla well and pour over bread slices, making sure to wet all the bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 375° until mixture is firm and bread is golden. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Invert to serve.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Muffins

2/3 c. (5 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. butter, softened (approximately 5 T.)
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk
2 c. fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 c. finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine cream cheese and butter in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended. Add sugar; beat until fluffy. Add vanilla, egg whites, and egg; beat well.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and buttermilk to cream cheese mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Gently fold in raspberries and walnuts.

Spoon batter into greased muffin tins. Bake for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pans; cool on a wire rack.

Notes: I did 1 1/3 c. white flour, 2/3 c. whole wheat flour. Also I didn't do the walnuts because, well, I just didn't feel like it. And if you are near a Harris Teeter, check their sales because I got the raspberries for $1.50. I used one silicon muffin tin and one regular. If you have a silicon, use it and only it; otherwise, I suggest using muffin papers as the sides and bottoms got really dark in the metal muffin tin.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Brandy's Chili

I admit I made this up when I could not find a chili recipe I liked, but it actually is quite tasty (much to my surprise!)

1 lb hamburged browned and drained
1 can diced tomatoes Italian style/flavor
3 cans beans (any kind, I have used black, pinto, chili, kidney, white, etc.)
1 26 oz jar of "Southwest Black Bean & White Corn Salsa - Mild" (this is Sam's choice brand, but I'm sure other people make it)
1 package of chili seasoning
Chipotle seasoning

Drain beans and add to all other items in a crock pot. Stir until mixed. Use the chipotle to your desire for heat. Cook on low until heated through (minimum 2-3 hours, but I've left it all day before and it still came out great).

Chicken Puffs

My husband and his friends fight over the leftovers whenever I make this meal. Even the kids love them!

3-4 chicken breasts boiled and shredded (3 if average size, 4 if small breasts)
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 c chopped onion
3 packages crescent rolls
Melted butter to cover
Italian bread crumbs to top

1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 c chicken broth
1/2 c. sour cream

Mix shredded chicken, cream cheese, and onion together. Spread crescent rolls out of counter so there are 24 triangles of crescent to work with. Fill each of the triangles with 1-2 tbsp of chicken mixture (I do this by hand and sight, with no true measuring). Roll the triangle of dough around the chicken mixture so that no mixture is visible, and everything is covered with dough. Place in a sprayed pan about 2 inch from the next ball to leave room for rising (I use 10 x 13 baking dishes). Brush the tops of each ball with butter (I spray the top of each of mine with pam or butter flavored cooking spray) and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until the crescent rolls are browned to your desire.

While the "puffs" are cooking, prepare the "gravy"/sauce in a small saucepan on the stovetop by... Combining the chicken broth, sour cream, and cream of chicken together and heating until warm, without boiling.

To serve, cover the chicken puff with the gravy as desired. At my house we also use the gravy to top items such as mashed potatoes, etc.

Tomato Dip

Great for serving with chips or fritos or even veggies!

8 oz brick lite cream cheese
8 oz brick fat free cream cheese
3 medium ripe tomatoes
4 tbsp grated onion
1/2 tsp. tabasco
1/2 tsp. salt

Blanch tomatoes and peel. Cut the tomatoes into very small cubes on a paper towl to help remove the seeds and most of the juice (I removed the skins and seeds and then chop with a small food processor until fairly chopped). Blend the tomatoes with an electric mixer with the rest of the ingredients until well mixed. Chill 2 hours. Serve with chips or veggies.

Chicken Sour Cream Enchiladas

These are very popular at my house, where I have some very picky eaters when it comes to Mexican food. I make these at least 1 -2 times a month.

10 -15 tortillas
1 lb cheddar cheese shredded
12 oz sour cream
3-4 boiled and shredded chicken breasts
1 reg. can cream of chicken soup (sometimes I use 2 cans if chicken seems dry)
1 reg. can diced green chiles

Mix sour cream, soup, chiles together. Brush the bottom of two greased 10 x 13 pans with mixeture -very lightly. Add chicken to mixture and stir until combined. Fill a tortilla with a large spoonful or two of the chicken mixture (obviously depends on the size of your tortilla as to how much will fill it). Top chicken mixture with cheddar cheese. Roll tortilla, and place seam down in baking dish. Repeat process until baking dishes are full (approximately 6-8 enchiladas in each pan depending on size). If there is any mixture left, brush the tops of the enchiladas with the mixture and then top with 1/2 cup of cheese per baking dish. Cover and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 5 minutes to make cheese golden. Yields 12 -16 enchiladas which at my house, feeds 8.

Mock Champagne

This is a very light and tasty alternative to the standard event punch of sprite and shorbet. You can even make this and leave out the ginger ale if you don't like the carbonation like me. :)

2 gallons apple juice
2 regular sized containers of white grape juice
2 liters of ginger ale

Mix the apple and white grape juices together and freeze. Refrigerate the ginger ale separately. Put the frozen juices in a large punch bowl and pour the ginger ale over the top to serve.

Serves 40 easily.

**Recipe can be halved for smaller groups and juices can be mixed together and frozen in the juice container. To get the juice out of the small necked juice bottle, simply take out of the freezer several hours before the event to allow the juice to become slushy. No ice is neeed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Muddy Buddies

This is almost better than Rice Krispy treats, if you ask me.......

9 C Chex, whatever kind you want, I used "corn"
You can mix kinds too

Set aside

1/2 C Peanut butter (smooth)
1/4 C butter
1 C semi sweet chocolate chips

Mix together over medium heat in sauce pan

1 tsp vanilla

Add to mixture above, after removed from heat

1 1/2 C powdered Sugar

Pour chocolate mixture over Chex, mix well, add powdered sugar, shake, stir, mix well, Wa-la!!!! I LOVE this after school snack, midnight snack, 7am snack, whatever.........from

Zucchini Soup

I can't express to you how many raves I get when I make this soup. It is hearty and delicious! My hubby doesn't care for zucchini, but I make it for my girlfriends. I went to a recipe swap and brought this, and everyone said this was the best!

3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. margarine
Melt in pot
1 medium clove garlic (1/2 tsp.)
2 medium onions, chopped (I leave this out b/c I don't like onions, put some onion salt in)
6-8 zucchini (chunks)
Saute till onions are clear. Add pre-cooked ground sausage (1 lb.) Cook 10 minutes.
2 (8oz) can tomato sauce
2 ( 15 oz) can of diced tomatoes
Simmer 15 minutes
4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese
4 oz. Longhorn cheese, grated
Simmer, covered, 10 minutes.
I use mostly Monterey Jack cheese and leave half to sprinkle in each bowl just before serving.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fruit and Almond Bark

Grated zest of 1 large orange
1 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. sliced almonds
4 c. white chocolate chips (2 bags)

Roughly chop the cranberries. Toss them with the almonds and zest in a large bowl. Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler, stirring often with a dry spoon (even the smallest drop of water or other liquid will make it seize). Combine chocolate and fruit mixture, stirring until well mixed. Spread white chocolate mixture thinly onto a baking sheet, moving quickly so chocolate doesn't harden. Place baking sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes, until the bark hardens. Remove from freezer, lift from pan, and break into irregular pieces to serve.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tuna and Chickpea Salad with Pesto

from Real Simple

2 15.5-ounce cans (3 cups) chickpeas, roughly chopped (and drained)
1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and thinly sliced
24 black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, thickly sliced
3 6-ounce cans tuna, drained
5 tablespoons store-bought pesto
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 sprigs fresh basil (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, red peppers, olives, celery, tuna, pesto, salt, and black pepper. Divide among individual plates. Garnish with the basil (if using).Yield: Makes 6 servings

e-notes: i did this last week and really enjoyed it. ben thought it was great. miles had 2nd servings. my other kids wouldn't touch it. i had used up my olives the night before and so i didn't add those. i did 2 cans of tuna just because. i used homemade pesto because, in my opinion, it is so much better.

Lemon Chicken

12 chicken tenders
2 T. lemon juice
1 cup heavy whipping cream(not half & half)
2 T. white cooking wine or white grape juice concentrate
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

1. Cook chicken tenders in a buttered saucepan, until browned and cooked through.

2. Place chicken in a glass casserole dish.

3. In the same saucepan, add lemon juice, lemon peel, and white cooking wine OR white grape juice concentrate. Keep on low heat and add the heavy whipping cream. Add the salt and pepper in the sauce.

4. When heated through, pour over chicken tenders. Add a generous amount of parmesan cheese on top.

5. Place in the oven on broil for 7-12 minutes.

Serve over mashed potatoes or rice.

Texas Rice Salad

3 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup (15oz.) can black beans rinsed and drained
1 can (11oz.) corn, drained
1-2 avocados peeled, pitted, diced
2 cups salsa
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped red onion (I don't add this--not an onion fan)
2 T fresh lime or lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Mix all well and serve with Fritos Scoops

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Lotoja Casserole

Every year when Preston rides 206 miles from Logan, Utah to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, he requests ONE thing. When he's done he wants LOTOJA casserole. And it's not the ONLY time we eat it, but I' sure for him it's when it tastes the VERY best.

3 chicken breast/boneless/skinless
1 lb. Monterey jack cheese (grated)
2 pk. frozen broccoli ( I use ONE, and it's plenty) (pre-cook)
1/2 pk. large wide egg noodles (pre-cook)
4 oz. can sliced mushrooms
1 pk. skewered almonds (1 cup)
2 cans Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can onion rings (this is my favorite part)
3 TBL butter
2 C water

Cook chicken in water and butter, slice into pieces when done, set aside. Add soup to broth from chicken, combine remaining ingredients wiht broth mixture, minus onions and cheese. Pre cook noodles, and broccoli. Layer noodles, broccoli, sauce, into baking dish. Top with cheese. Bake 350 for 30 minutes, last 10 minutes add onion rings to top.

This serves about 8 adults in my opinion, so I sometimes 1/2 it, OR freeze 1/2 so it's a "ready made" meal for another day!!! But you know leftovers aren't so bad either!!!!