November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013 Menu Revisited

Roasted Brined Turkey
Baked Sweet Potato Casserole
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Mashed Potatoes
Corn Casserole

The Turkey 
Must begin process 3-4 days before roasting
A meat thermometer would be helpful.

As you read the instructions it might seem a bit overwhelming with lots of steps.  It’s not difficult at all and the best reason to do it this way>>>> you don’t have to  worry about the turkey while it is cooking.  It really is the best turkey I have made or tasted.  I learned everything from Alton Brown.  Here is a link to a video 

1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young  turkey
For the brine:
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water. 
  • A large bucket or cooler to fit the turkey in
For the aromatics:
  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil
Directions  2 to 3 days before roasting: 
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F. This will probably take 2- 3 days
 For the brine:
  1. Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. 
  2. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil
  3. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
The night before you'd like to eat:
  • Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket.
  •  Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

  For Roasting: A meat thermometer would be very helpful

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
2. Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
3.  Aromatics: Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
4.  Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil
Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes.
5.  Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F.
6. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting.
7. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving. 

Gravy (you can make this while your turkey is “resting”)
1.      Keep the drippings from your turkey
2.     Pour everything, including aromatics, into a sauce pan. 
3.      Bring to a boil. 
4.      Combine ½ cup flour and just enough water to make a runny paste. 
5.     Reduce heat and slowly add flour mixture, whisking to combine.  You may not need all of the flour mixture.  Use to a desired consistency. 
6.      Drain through a sieve. 
7.      You may also add about ¼ cup heavy cream
8.      Salt and pepper to taste. 

Sweet Potato Casserole
(Based on Ruth’s Chris recipe)

  • 1 ½  cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 ½  cup chopped pecans
  • 1  cup butter -- melted  
Sweet Potato Mixture

  • 6 cups mashed BAKED sweet potatoes
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½  cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup  butter
1.  Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter in mixing bowl. Set aside.
2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3.  Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter in a mixing bowl in the order listed. 
Mix thoroughly.
4.  Pour mixture into buttered baking dish.
5.  Sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture.
6.  Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving.
7.  This can be easily doubled

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
  • 2 cups cranberries
  • Juice and chopped zest of 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup Port
  • 1/2 cup sugar, or more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1teaspoon cornstarch
  1. In a small saucepan combine cranberries, orange juice and zest, port, sugar and cinnamon. 
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmering and cook until cranberries are tender, stirring occasionally. 
  3. In a small cup make a slurry with cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. 
  4. Whisk cornstarch mixture into cranberry sauce and cook, whisking, until sauce thickens. 
  5. Taste and add more sugar, if necessary. 
Note:   I like small amounts of cooked fruit, so I pulse this in a blender or food processor before serving.  

Mashed Potatoes

  • 4 pounds golden potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives  

  1. Put the potatoes into a large pot, add the bay leaf, 2 tablespoons salt, and cover with cold water. 
  2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Drain them well and remove the bay leaf. 
  4. Meanwhile, heat the cream and 3 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. 
  5. Mix the potatoes with hand beater or stand mixer to desired consistency. 
  6. Add remaining butter to help with beating. 
  7. Add the hot cream and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Top with chives.
Note:  I spoon the potatoes in a casserole dish, top with cold butter pats and place them in  the oven.  It keeps them warm and also forms a light “crust” on the top.  Garnish with chives just before serving. 

Corn Casserole


  •  1 can whole kernel yellow corn, undrained 
  •  1 can cream style yellow corn
  •  1 (8 oz.) carton sour cream
  •  2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix 
  • 1 stick butter, melted
Mix all together and pour into large, lightly oiled casserole dish. Bake at 350°F for 55 to 60 minutes.
I double and triple. 

November 20, 2013

Kale Salad

This is my new favorite: A Kale Salad.  I had one  at my church potluck late summer and fell in love.  It was perfect timing because I had a ton of kale growing in my backyard garden for its beauty, not because I wanted to eat it. Our neighborhood garden also had a few varieties planted and was being harvested. You can play with the ingredients a bit but I am listing the ones that I think are THE BEST to add.  My pastor's wife is the one who brought the salad to the dinner and she MASSAGES the kale leaves with coconut oil before tossing the salad.  It makes a difference.  Also, this salad is great on day number 2 and 3!  The kale leaves hold up to the dressing and does not become soggy.  Just lightly dress it if you are storing it. NOTE: If you store it, the coconut oil solidifies, so you must bring it  close to room temperature to liquify it.  You may also add a touch of warm water to the salad before tossing it.  

The Ingredients  
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar or 1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced dry onion
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon poppyseeds 
Optional: I add 1/4cup raw coconut oil
Large bunch of kale (curley)
2 green onions, slivered
1/2 lb. radishes, thinly sliced
2-3 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
2-3 carrots,  thinly sliced
1/4 cup of red cabbage, chopped
1 cup of quartered raw Brussels sprouts
Dried cherries or cranberries.  
Fresh blueberries.
Chopped crunchy toasted sweet nuts (cashews or almonds) 
A sprinkle of white cheese, your choice. I like swiss for this salad

  1. Rip kale into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Massage with 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil.(see note above)
  3. Add salad ingredients and toss with desired amount of dressing.

November 4, 2013

The Scotch Egg

 The Scotch Egg is a traidtional British recipe that is often found in European picnic baskets and in your local English pub.  I had a Scotch Egg for the first time last week.  My husband and I were in the great city of Grand Rapids, Michigan sampling craft beer and locally sourced  artisan food, at the Grand Rapids Brewing Company.
 "GRBC is proud to be the Midwest's first USDA-certified organic brewery. Chef Adam Watts has created a menu that is sourced mostly from West Michigan's bountiful agri-business, and features both house-made and Sobie sausages."
I had no  idea what to expect, having never tried a Scotch Egg.  We had viewed it on the menu on previous visits,  but had skipped over it, choosing  instead items like Kale Popcorn and the daily selections on the Butchers Board. The menu described it as " hard boiled egg, pork sausage, saltine cracker, hop mustard." I imagined the egg with those items on the accoutrements to the egg. 
The plate came out with a gorgeous hard boiled egg surrounded in sausage and pan fried to a golden brown crunch.  It had a hop mustard on the side for dipping and it was fabulous. The saltine flavor really added to the sausage and egg components.    I knew instantly I would have to create these for my next party.
Often, the best way to get quality sausage meat is to buy some really lovely sausages, slit them open, then squeeze out the meat. ~ Jamie oliver
8 Eggs
4 Beaten  eggs
4 Cups of crushed saltines for breading
1 lb. of bulk seasoned pork sausage or Italian Sausage links, split open
Herbs De Provence or other herbs of choice 
Mustard divided: add a touch to the sausage and more  for dipping
Oil for frying
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Paprika for sprinkling

  • Put eggs into a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. 
  • Boil for 3 to 4 minutes, then transfer to a bowl of cold water. 
  • Once cooled, carefully peel them.
  • Put the sausage meat into another bowl with the herbs, a good grating of nutmeg, the mustard and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Give it all a good mix together then divide into 8 balls.
 Have 3 plates ready - one with flour, one with the beaten eggs and a third with the breadcrumbs.
  • To make the Scotch eggs, start by flouring your hands.
  • In the palm of one hand, flatten one of the sausage balls into an oval-shaped pattie. 
  • Roll a peeled egg in flour, then pop it in the middle of the pattie. 
  • Gently shape the meat evenly around the egg, molding it with your hands.

  • Roll the meat-wrapped egg in the flour, shake of any excess, then dip into the beaten egg, followed by the breadcrumbs. 
  • Roll in the egg and breadcrumbs again for a really good coating.
  1. Heat the oil in a deep pan or deep fat fryer to about 150ºC/300ºF. If you have a cooking thermometer it's a good idea to use it. Otherwise, test if the oil is hot enough by adding a piece of potato and leaving it for about a minute – if it sizzles and browns, it's ready. 
  2. Carefully lower the eggs into the pan and cook for about 4 minutes, turning them every so often, until golden. 
  3. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. (If you're worried about the meat being under-cooked, deep-fry the scotch eggs until they're golden and crispy, then pop them in a hot oven for a couple of minutes.)
    Cool the eggs slightly, slicing the egg in half the long way.  
  4. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and paprika.
  5. Must be served with a nice mustard  like Grey Poupon. 

October 22, 2013

Fresh Greens with Bacon & Egg

This is a spectacular way to wow your guests.  A traditional french salad that combines fresh greens, bacon and eggs.  Goes great with a nice roasted chop or your favorite soup. 


  • Splash of white wine vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • About 4 ounces trimmed frisee
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
  • About 3 tablespoons red wine or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fresh ground sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Homemade croutons (see below)


Poaching the Egg
  1. Bring a shallow pan of water to a boil. 
  2. Add the white wine vinegar. 
  3. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir to get the liquid moving in one direction, like a whirlpool. 
  4. Break in the eggs, one at a time. 
  5. Poach until the white is set, but the yolk still runny inside, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6.  Lift them out with a slotted spoon, and set them on paper towel to drain. (You can trim the edges a little if you want to). 
  7. Turn off the water, and cover to keep warm for reheating the eggs.
For the salad
  1. Wash the frisee and spin dry. 
  2. Fry the bacon in a saute pan  about 5 minutes. 
  3. Deglaze the pan with the red wine vinegar and boil to reduce to about 2 teaspoons. 
  4. Add enough oil to make a dressing.
  5. Toss the frisee in the pan for a few seconds just to coat; don't let it wilt.
  6. Divide among 2 plates and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Reheat the eggs in the water for a second or two, lift out, drain and set alongside each salad. 
  8. Season, and serve.

Crouton Directions

Take a 3 inch portion of a fresh baguette, slice into cubes, toss with olive oil, garlic powder and favorite dried herbs like Herbs De Provence.

July 11, 2013

Fresh Strawberry Scone Cake

I have a lovely friend who bakes wonderful scones and she often will make one big round, then slice it after baking to serve with tea.  Since I already made small round biscuit shapes AND mini triangles, I thought I would make one large scone and one medium sized in keeping with my friends tradition.  As I was preparing the dough for baking, I was thinking about needing a dessert recipe that contained strawberries for a request.  I just needed to whip up some cream and buy some fresh strawberries and I would get a nice, basic strawberry shortcake to add to my recipe collection.  What came out was this beautiful layered cake with syrupy strawberries sandwiched between fresh whipped cream and my Dried Cranberry & Apricot Scones!  After taking some pictures, I passed out the forks and my family ate this BEFORE DINNER.   It was cause for celebration because I NEVER bake and hardly ever have dessert...So it was a good reason to have dessert first, THEN dinner.

Scone Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup = 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons chilled  butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup  dried cranberries (such as Craisins;  Dried cherries work well too)
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp. grated orange rind (you can also add some lemon zest to freshen it up even more)
  • 1 large egg 
  • 2 large egg whites, divided
  • Cooking spray 
  • 2 lbs. of fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup of sugar

  1. Combine sugar and strawberries in a bowl and cover.   
  2. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour minimum or until sugar has dissolved.    
Fresh whipped cream:
  • 1 cup of heavy cream  (will make 2 cups of whipped cream)
  • 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
 For the Scones:
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Whisk one egg white in a small dish for egg washing top of biscuit.  
  3. Combine flour,  3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a food processor or bowl.
  4. Pulse or cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  5. Stir in apricots and cranberries. 
  6. Combine buttermilk, orange rind, egg, and 1 egg white; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
  7. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 4 times with floured hands. Divide dough in half. ( I used my Demarle ROUL'PAT.  Its just like the SILPAT but for rolling out dough...IT DOESN'T STICK...EVER!)
  8. Set 1 half scone mix aside for making traditional shapes for scones or freeze for later use.  
  9. Cut dough in half again.  Form each half  into 2 large circles using a rolling pin and patting out to desired shape and height.  The scone should be about 1/8 inch high.
  10. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray (or use your SILPAT, NO cooking spray needed).
  11. Brush top of scones with reserved egg white.
  12. Sprinkle with remaining sugar; bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until golden.
  13. Cool. 
Prepare whipped cream.
  1. Begin whipping cream using your KitchenAid or hand mixer on medium (use may also use a hand whisk).
  2. Mix until stiff peaks are just about to form. 
  3. Turn off mixer and sprinkle in sugar. 
  4. Continue to mix just  until sugar is incorporated, a few seconds.  Do not over-mix or it will turn to butter.
You may also add a touch of vanilla when you add the sugar. 
To Prepare Dessert:
  1. Place large scone on your serving platter
  2. Spread with whipped cream
  3. Top with half the berries.
  4. Place second scone on top and repeat. 

June 6, 2013

May Foodie Pen Pal- BBQ

 The Lean Green Bean
I participated in my second Foodie Pen Pal exchange.  Check out information regarding the program below.

This month I received a nicely made box from  Lori.  I was immediately drawn to the chips, opened them, tasted them and hid them.  Spicy - sweet BBQ chips "VOODOO" kettle style chips from  New Orleans. My husband dived into the spicy pickles from Famous Dave's, and the kids went for the blow-pops,  which I hid also!  Lori also included a spice rub, BBQ sauce and a jar of local salsa.  The box was filled with everything I can use for great summer dining.  I have used the rub and the sauce to make Chicken Kabobs, Ribs, and Grilled BBQ Chicken Breasts.  I also included the sauce in  my BBQ Chicken Salad recipe.
Here is a photo of the box I received....

Paris of the Plains BBQ Ranch Salad

Here’s a detailed explanation of the Foodie Penpals program:
-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

May 28, 2013

The Sundance Salad

Crumbled bleu cheese, pine nuts, red onions,dried cherries, poppy seed dressing.  It sounds  like an odd combination, especially the blue cheese with poppy seed dressing, but the two flavors actually compliment each other quite well.  Add that to some crunchy pine nuts, sweet plump cherries and crispy greens, and it's a unique salad next to a tender steak or for lunch with some grilled chicken breast.
Salad Ingredients
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, washed, chopped and refrigerated for crispness
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of toasted pine nuts
  • 1 cup of dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled bleu cheese  
  • 3 grilled chicken breasts, sliced 
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons poppy seeds 
  • Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.    
  • Plate the greens and place salad ingredients on top.  Toss with dressing.   
As a side salad, omit the chicken and serve with a nice piece of fish or a grilled steak, like a porterhouse or filet.  

May 23, 2013

Sausage Cream Sauce With Fried Sage

I learned to fry fresh herbs while teaching a basic cooking class a few years ago.  The first herb I tried to fry, was parsley. It was for a basic linguini dish prepared with fresh lemon, red pepper and fried parsley.    It caused the flavor to be so much more INTENSE.  It also added a nice unexpected crunch to the pasta. Sage and sausage go so beautifully together, I thought I would fry the sage to go with the cream sauce.  I don't think fresh chopped sage would go as well as the cooked,  it would be to soft and smooth.  The cream sauce is a base I usually prepare with chicken and pork, but it works well with crumbled sausage.  It is nothing like the "gravy" you would put over me.  This is much lighter and more elegant.   I served it over ravioli and then took it to the next level with the fresh sage that I fried in the sausage fat.  You can use this sauce on any of your favorite pasta.  The fried sage can also be used with other dishes like eggs (shown below) and potatoes.  
  • 1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 small red onion, chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 8-10 Fresh sage leaves, whole or chopped
  1. In large skillet, brown crumbled sausage, breaking it into small pieces while cooking it all the way through. 
  2. Add chopped garlic and red onion.  Saute for about 1 minute until tender. 
  3. Remove meat from the pan, reserving some fat.  
  4. Heat pan, adding some olive oil if necessary.  Add sage leaves.  Saute for about 30 seconds, just until crisp.  Remove carefully.
  5. Put meat back into pan.  Add wine and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium. 
  6. Continue to simmer until wine is reduced to  about half.
  7. Add cream, salt and pepper. Bring to a low boil and then simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. 
  8. Use on your favorite pasta.  Garnish with fried sage leaves.  

May 21, 2013

May Secret Recipe Swap - Chocolate Malta BBQ Sauce

I participated in my second Surprise Recipe Swap.  My task was to visit Christie, who is the creator of Food Done Light.  I am always looking for a great sauce to use and came across her Chocolate Malta BBQ Sauce.  The directions were easy and the pictures well done.  I enjoyed my visit and got to know Christie a bit more by reading through a few posts.  It is nice getting to know the bloggers that we share so many recipes with.  It's like putting a name to a face and it makes our large community feel more intimate. The sauce was delicious and complimented grilled chicken and green beans perfectly. I used a non-alcoholic beer, but I think it would be even better with malta.   Go check out Food Done Light for more of Christie's health conscious recipes.  

Christie's Recipe:
1 (7 ounce) bottle malta or a non-alcoholic beer or coke
1 tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 tbsp. unsweetened dark chocolate powder
1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan.  Reduce the heat to simmer the sauce.  Simmer and let the sauce reduce until it is syrupy, around 15 – 20 minutes.  Makes about 10 tbsp.

Here are the SRS details:
Here is how it works:
  • Each month on the 1st you will be assigned to another participating blogger. You will then visit their blog and pick a recipe you want to cook or bake and post about it.
  • Posting day is always the 20th of the month!
  • You are not supposed to tell the blogger you are assigned to, that you are making something of their page.
  • Your post has to have the SRS posting format (very simple instructions will be send to you, once you get approved) and should include link backs to the original recipe, pictures and of course your own opinion!
  • You will be assigned to a new partner each month, so that you never have the same link backs.
  • If you would like to be a part of our journey, read the rules and sign up. I will get back with you shortly!
  • (Don't forget to check your spam folder)
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