Cooking

Homemade Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate Truffles

In keeping with my homemade gift theme this week, I wanted to share this simple, yet very tasty recipe, for Homemade Chocolate Truffles. These melt in your mouth, with a smooth, creamy texture and rich, chocolate flavor.

They can be a lovely hostess gift. Kids can make them, too.

The secret for making really good truffles is using the best quality chocolate you can. You can use chocolate chips, but get good ones.

They are very soft, and melt quickly when handled. When rolling them out, I prefer to wear plastic gloves. Make them without gloves, and you will understand why.

At candy making stores, get small papers cups and small boxes or tins for wrapping up your truffles.

 

 

Chocolate Truffles

1/3 c. Whipping cream

6 T. butter, cut into small pieces

2 c. chocolate chips- or 12 oz. dark chocolate, grated or chopped coarsely

Unsweetened cocoa

Heat cream to boiling in small saucepan. Stir in butter and cook until melted. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted. Place in shallow bowl and chill until firm, at least a couple of hours. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls and roll in cocoa. Sometimes the mixture is quite firm and hard to roll into perfectly smooth balls. You can roll them out as smooth as you can, roll in cocoa and then roll again to smooth out. You might want to give them another roll in the cocoa after that.  Makes about 30.

Homemade Cashew Brittle

 

Homemade Cashew Brittle

If you need a great food gift- perhaps something to bring to a holiday party- this brittle might just be the answer.

I was given this recipe at a craft show a few years ago. The brittle is cooked in the microwave. No special thermometers or equipment required. Just a glass bowl and a few minutes of your time. It could not be simpler.  It is really good, too.

You can use other nuts, if you prefer, or peanuts. You can add a little cayenne pepper, if you want a spicy version. You can also dress it up with a drizzle of chocolate, once cooled.  So many ways to enjoy it.

 

Stored in a covered container, in a cool, dry place, the brittle will stay crunchy for weeks.

 

 

 Homemade Cashew Brittle

2 c. cashews*

1 c. sugar

1/2 c. corn syrup

1/8 t. salt

1 t. butter

1 t. vanilla

1 t. baking soda

Butter or oil a large baking sheet and set aside. In a 3-4 quart glass bowl combine the nuts, sugar, corn syrup and salt. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Remove from microwave, stir well and return to microwave. Cook 3 more minutes in microwave. Remove and stir in butter and vanilla, stirring until butter has melted. Return to microwave and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from microwave and stir in baking soda. Stir until well blended and pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet. Spread out quickly, then allow to cool. Once cool, break into pieces. Store in a cool, dry place. I normally store it in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.

* I used salted cashews but feel free to experiment with other nuts

Note: Use high power setting on microwave.

 

Six Quick Breads for Gift Giving

Cinnamon Apple Bread

Quick breads are a great food gift for the holidays. I have collected six of my favorite quick bread recipes. There is something to suit any taste. Rather than giving one large bread, I often divide the batter into smaller pans, and give a few different breads as a gift.

When making the bread in smaller pans, bake at the same temperature as you would normally, but reduce baking time. Depending on the size of the small pans, baking time can be cut in half. Check the breads after thirty minutes of baking. If not done, check at five minute intervals after that.

For gift giving, I often bake them in foil pans. I leave the breads in the pans, then slip into a bag and tie shut with a pretty ribbon.

They also freeze well. You can bake them ahead of time, then you have gifts at the ready, as needed.

Cinnamon Apple Bread

This bread is one of my favorite recipes. Not too sweet, it is moist from the shredded apples, flavored with cinnamon and studded with raisins and nuts. This apple bread makes a great breakfast or snack. I have been known to top a slice with cinnamon ice cream and a little caramel sauce for a simple dessert. This recipe makes one loaf, but I often double it- so I can freeze the second loaf for later. Enjoy!!

 

1/3 c. butter, softened

2/3 c. sugar

2 t. grated lemon or orange peel

1 t. cinnamon

2 eggs

3 T. milk

1 t. lemon juice

1 t. each baking powder and salt

1/2 t. baking soda

2 c. flour

1 1/2 c. peeled shredded apples, about 2 large apples

1 c. raisins*

1/2 c. chopped nuts

Topping:

3 T. sugar

1 t. cinnamon

 

Cream together butter, sugar, peel and cinnamon. Beat in eggs until light and fluffy. Stir in milk and lemon juice. Stir in dry ingredients then fold in apples, raisins and nuts. Pour batter into greased 9×5 – inch loaf pan. Combine topping and sprinkle over the top of the batter.  Bake in a preheated 350 -degree oven for 1 hour. Use a toothpick to test for doneness. Cool 15-20 minutes before removing from pan. Yield: 1 loaf.

*You can use other dried fruits. I sometimes use dried cranberries or cherries.

 

Pumpkin Bread

While the recipe calls for cooked pumpkin, other winter squash can also be used. I like butternut and Hubbard squash, but feel free to use what you like.

1 ¾ c. flour

1 ½ c. sugar

1 t. baking soda

¾ t. salt

1 t. each cinnamon and nutmeg

½ c. butter, softened

2 eggs, beaten

1 c. pumpkin

1/3 c. water

Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Beat together butter and eggs until fluffy. Beat in pumpkin and water until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients until smooth. Pour into a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 60-65 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing from pan and placing on cooling rack. Wrap in plastic, best served the next day. Freezes well. Makes 1 loaf.

 

Zucchini Bread

This recipe makes two loaves. When divided into smaller pans, you can get quite a few loaves baked up in no time at all.

 

3 c. flour

3 eggs

2 c. sugar

2 c. shredded zucchini

1 c. oil

1 c. chopped nuts or raisins

½ c. sour cream or strained yogurt

1 t. each vanilla, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and baking soda

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 2 (9×5 inch) loaf pans. Set aside. Place flour in large bowl. Beat eggs and add with remaining ingredients to flour, mixing well and scraping bowl. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until browned and toothpick in center emerges clean. Cool in pans on wire rack. Freezes well. Makes 2.

 

This bread is a favorite of mine. It is not too sweet and pairs nicely with coffee or tea, so it can be a breakfast or brunch dish. It makes a nice dessert, too. The bread is studded with raspberries with hints of cinnamon and vanilla. It can be eaten plain or served up with fruit topping or maybe some whipped cream.  I have used it as the base for a pretty good shortcake. I topped slices of the raspberry bread with ice cream, more berries and a dollop of whipped cream. Like most quick breads, it is better if you wrap it up in plastic or foil, once cooled, and eat it the next day, if you can wait that long!!

 Raspberry Bread

The raspberries make this a special bread, for sure. I normally use fresh raspberries, but frozen work fine, too.

1 ¾ c. flour
½ t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
½ c. butter, at room temperature
¾ c. sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
½ c. sour cream, room temperature
1 t. vanilla
1 c. raspberries, fresh or frozen
¾ c. chopped nuts, optional

Grease an 8×4 inch loaf pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Set aside. In small bowl beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and beat 1 minute. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in sour cream and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until just moistened. Fold in berries and nuts and place batter in prepared pan. Bake 60-65 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Makes 1 loaf. Freezes well.

 

Banana Bread

You can use fresh or frozen bananas in this bread. When my local store has bananas marked down because they are getting brown, I buy them, then freeze until I am ready to bake with them. Bananas can be frozen right in their peels, but I peel and mash them, to save freezer space. I freeze them in one cup amounts.

1 ¾ c. flour

1½ t. baking powder

¾ t. salt

½ t. baking soda

2/3 c. sugar

1/3 c. butter, softened

2 eggs

2 T. milk

1 c. mashed ripe banana

¼ c. chopped nuts, optional

Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Combine sugar with butter and beat until fluffy. Beat in eggs. Beat in eggs until mixture is smooth. Beat in flour mixture alternately with bananas. Fold in nuts, if desired. Pour batter into greased 9×5 -inch loaf pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 60-65 minutes. Use toothpick to test for doneness. Cool in pan 10 minutes before placing on rack to cool. Store in plastic wrap to preserve moisture. Makes 1 loaf.

Strawberries and Cream Bread

This bread requires fresh berries. I make it when local berries are in season. It always reminds me of a warm summer day.  Luckily, even in colder months, I can often find nice fresh berries at the store.

1 ¾ c. flour

½ t. baking powder

½ t. baking soda

½ t. salt

½ t. each  cinnamon and nutmeg

½ c. butter, at room temperature

¾ c. sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

½ c. sour cream, room temperature

1 t. vanilla

1 c. fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped*

¾ c. chopped nuts, optional

 

Grease an 8×4 inch loaf pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Set aside. In small bowl beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and beat 1 minute. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in sour cream and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until just moistened. Fold in strawberries and nuts and place batter in prepared pan. Bake 60-65 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Makes 1 loaf. Freezes well.

*  frozen berries are not recommended in this bread.

Pumpkin Bread

Raspberry Bread

Zucchini Bread

Banana Bread

 

Cranberry Liqueur

Cranberry Liqueur or Cranberry Bounce

You can do more with cranberries than make sauce. Not that I don’t like cranberry sauce, I do. I love cranberry season and find myself using them in all sorts of recipes. This is one of my favorites.

I got the recipe from my sister Cindy, many years ago. It is also called Cranberry Bounce. It tastes amazing and makes a great gift, too.

Cranberries, sugar and vodka. What a great combination. It’s simple to make and it makes a nice gift, too. The color is absolutely beautiful. The sweet/tart finished product can be enjoyed by just sipping, on the rocks, or mixed with club soda.

Often after Thanksgiving, the price of cranberries goes down. I stock up on them, freeze some and make a batch, or two of cranberry liqueur.

I hope you give it a try. I am sure you will be pleased with the results.

 

 Homemade Cranberry Liqueur – Cranberry Bounce

1 lb. fresh cranberries (most bags are 12 oz.)

2 c. sugar

4 c. vodka- at least 80 proof

Grind berries fine in food mill or food processor. Place in large jar and combine with the sugar. Let stand, covered until sugar is dissolved completely, several hours or overnight. Add vodka and let steep 1-3 weeks, stirring occasionally. Strain and filter. Makes 5 cups.

Note: Fruit can be saved in fridge and used, sparingly, in desserts, fruit salads and on cake or ice cream.

Ten Tasty Recipes for Leftover Turkey

Turkey Reuben

It is that time of year, when we find ourselves waking up to leftover turkey. Sometimes quite a lot of leftover turkey.

Of course, be sure to make stock from the carcass. Turkey sandwiches are always a favorite in my family. There is a lot more you can make with the rest of the bird, though. Here are 10 fun and tasty ways to make the most of all that turkey.

 

I never get tired of turkey, but if your family does not feel the same way, these recipes could come in handy. Enjoy!!

 

 

Turkey Reuben Loaf

3 ¼ c. flour

1 T. sugar

1 t. salt

1 package quick-rising yeast

1 c. hot water

1 T. oil

¼ c. thousand island dressing*

8-10 oz. thin sliced turkey

4 oz. sliced Swiss cheese

1 c. sauerkraut, rinsed and squeezed dry

1 egg white, beaten

Caraway seeds

 

Set aside 1 cup of the flour. Combine remaining flour with the other dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir in water and oil and gradually stir in enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Roll dough into a rectangle about 16 x 8. Spread dressing down center middle of dough. Top with meat slices, cheese and sauerkraut. Cut one-inch wide strips of dough from filling to edge on both sides. It will sort of look like fringe. Alternating sides, fold strips up and over the filling at an angle. Carefully lift loaf onto greased baking sheet and place at an angle. Cover with a towel and place sheet on top of a roasting pan half-filled with simmering water for 15 minutes. Brush with egg white and top with seeds. Bake in a preheated 400-degree for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly before slicing. Serve warm and refrigerate leftovers.

* You can make your own Thousand Island Dressing by combining equal parts of ketchup, mayo and sweet pickle relish.

Note: The variations for this bread are almost endless. Some favorite combinations are ham and Swiss with mustard, roast beef and cheddar, chicken, broccoli and cheese, Spinach with ricotta or feta and onions, pizza, assorted fillings. You get the idea. Use your imagination and have fun. Just be careful not to overfill, or the bread will be hard to move, use fillings that aren’t too runny and always use cold fillings.

 

If you want to use regular yeast use warm, rather than hot water. Also, don’t let dough rise over boiling water. After kneading cover dough and let rise 45 minutes. Punch down and assemble as in original recipe. Cover with a towel and let rise until dough looks puffy, about 40 minutes. Bake as directed above. These breads can also be frozen.

Turkey Tetrazzini

2 T. butter or oil

1 c. chopped celery

4 oz. sliced mushrooms

4 T. flour

1 1/2 c. chicken or turkey stock

1 c. half and half or milk

1/4 c. sherry

2 c. cooked turkey, cubed

4-6 oz. broken spaghetti, cooked

salt and pepper to taste

bread crumbs

butter

Parmesan cheese- optional

Heat butter or oil in pot and add celery and cook 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook 3 minutes more. Stir in flour and mix well. Add stock, half and half and sherry bring to a simmer- stirring often. Stir in turkey and pasta. Adjust seasonings. Place mixture in oiled casserole and sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and drizzle a little melted butter over the top. Add Parmesan cheese, if you like. Place in a 350 degree oven and bake until bubbly- about 25 minutes. Serves 4.

 Turkey Noodle Soup

Oil*
2 onions, sliced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 ribs celery, sliced
4 qts. Turkey stock
4-5 c. turkey meat, cubed
1 c. chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot pepper sauce to taste
1 lb. wide egg noodles, cooked

Heat oil in soup pot and cook onions until starting to brown. Add carrots and celery and cook a few minutes more. Add stock and meat and simmer, covered, until veggies are tender. Add parsley and simmer 15 minutes longer. Adjust seasonings. Warm noodles and serve on the side so everyone can add as many noodles to their soup as they like. Serves 8.
* Since I had freshly made stock I used a little fat from the stock to cook the onions.

 

Turkey Won Ton Soup

1½ lbs. cooked turkey, about
1 head bok choy
3 T. hoisin sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
24 won ton wrappers
2 qts. Turkey stock
1 t. ginger
1 t. hot pepper sauce
Chopped green onions
Sesame oil

I used dark meat from the turkey, mostly. I minced enough to give me a cup of meat. The rest I cut into thin strips. I then took stems from the bok choy and minced enough of them to make 1 cup. Combine the minced turkey with minced bok choy, the hoisin and the garlic. This is the filling for your won tons. Slice more of the bok choy- using mainly the leaves, into thin shreds. This will go into the soup later, along with the strips of turkey. You should have at least a couple of cups of the shredded bok choy, but more is OK, too. To make the won tons place one on your work surface and spoon a rounded teaspoon of the filling into the middle of it. Moisten edge with water, fold in half and press to seal. I used round wrappers, but square wrappers are fine, too. I like the round ones, labelled for dumplings, because they are a little thicker. I get them at a local Asian grocery store. Repeat with remaining won tons and fillings until done. Bring stock to a boil and add the ginger and hot sauce. Add the won tons to the simmering stock. Simmer gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the strips of turkey and the shredded bok choy greens. Cook about 5-6 minutes longer. Finish soup with chopped green onions and a drizzle of sesame oil. Serves 6-8.

 

 

Turkey Chili

1 large onion, chopped
2 T. oil
2 ribs celery, sliced
1 sweet pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans lima beans, drained and rinsed
1 can ( 4 oz.) chopped green chilies
3-4 c. cubed turkey
2-3 c. stock- turkey or chicken
3 T. chili powder, or to taste
1 T. cumin, or to taste
Generous dash of hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chopped cilantro

Toppings: Pick what you like. Some good toppers are shredded cheese, chopped green onions, salsa, sour cream or tortilla chips

.
In soup pot cook onion in oil until golden brown. Add the celery, peppers and chilies and cook 5 more minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, except cilantro and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and simmer until flavors blend, about 30 minutes but longer is fine. I usually cook it covered for 15 to 20 minutes and then remove the lid so it can thicken. Add the cilantro right before serving. Ladle into soup bowls add add toppings of your choice. Serves 6.

Turkey Florentine

2 T. oil or butter
1 large leek, cleaned, trimmed and chopped
4 T. flour
1½ c. stock – turkey or chicken
24 oz. fresh spinach, washed
¾ c. half and half- you could use milk instead
3 c. cubed cooked turkey
Salt and pepper to taste
2 t. hot sauce- or to taste
1 c. shredded Pecorino/ Romano cheese, plus extra for sprinkling on top
Hot cooked pasta

In large skillet cook leeks in oil or butter over medium heat until tender. Stir in flour and cook until smooth, but not brown. Add the stock and cook until mixture starts to thicken. Add the spinach and continue cooking, stirring often until the spinach is wilted. The spinach cooks down a lot- you might have to add it a little at a time to have room in the pan for all of it. As soon as the spinach is wilted add the half and half and the turkey and cook until heated through and bubbly. You might need a little more stock or half and half if the sauce is too thick for your taste. Season with the salt and pepper and the hot sauce. Stir in the cheese. Serve over hot pasta. Serves 4-6.

Turkey with Herb Dumplings

1 turkey thigh, cut off the bone and cubed

1 large onion, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

4 c. turkey stock

4 T. flour

salt and pepper to taste

1 c. baking mix- like Bisquick- I make my own

1/2 c. milk

2 T. chopped green onion

1 T. chopped parsley

1 t. dried basil

In Dutch oven or large pot, brown turkey thigh. Add the vegetables and brown them, too, turning to prevent burning. Add stock, cover pot, and simmer until veggies are tender, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Combine flour with some cold water or more stock until smooth. Add to the pot and stir well. Mixture will thicken. Meanwhile combine baking mix with milk and herbs. Drop dumpling batter by tablespoonfuls over the turkey mixture in pot. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and cook until dumplings are cooked, about 20 minutes. To serve place some of the turkey and vegetables with sauce in serving bowls and top with dumplings. Serves 6.

Turkey Vegetable Soup

1 onion, chopped

oil

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

3 small potatoes. peeled and cubed

1 c. corn- cut from 1-2 ears

1 medium tomato, peeled and chopped

2 c. shredded cooked turkey *

3-4 cups turkey stock- or whatever you have and like

Fresh parsley and basil

salt and pepper to taste

dash of hot sauce

Heat oil in pot and cook onion until golden. Add carrots and cook a few more minutes. Add remaining vegetables, turkey and stock and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes- or until veggies are tender. Add herbs and simmer a few more minutes. Adjust seasoning and add hot sauce. Serves 2-3 for dinner.

*If you want to turn this into a vegetarian soup add vegetable stock  and add a couple of cups of cooked beans. Kidney beans would work well.

Turkey Lo Mein

1 onion, chopped

2 T. oil

1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained

1/2 c. green peas- you could also use green beans

2 c. diced cooked turkey

8 oz. angel hair pasta -I use a very fine noodle I get at the Asian market

soy sauce to taste

Hoisen sauce or oyster sauce to taste- you could also use stir-fry sauce

sesame oil

chopped green onions

Heat water for pasta. Heat oil in skillet and cook onion until browned.  Add water chestnuts and cook 1 minute longer. While onion is cooking cook pasta. Add peas to onion mixture and stir to combine. Add the turkey and heat through.  Drain pasta and toss into turkey mixture. Season with soy sauce and what ever Asian sauce you have on hand. Drizzle with sesame oil and top with green onions. Serves 4.

Turkey With Tortellini

1 lb. cheese tortellini, cooked and drained

2-3 c. cubed cooked turkey

2-3 c. cooked broccoli, chopped

2 T. butter or oil

2 T. flour

1 c. half and half or milk, warmed

2 c. stewed tomatoes- I used my canned tomatoes- you could substitute a 14 oz. can of tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

fresh chopped parsley

In bowl combine tortellini with turkey and broccoli and place and a lightly greased casserole. In saucepan melt butter and add flour whisking until smooth. If using oil just combine oil and flour in pan and whisk until smooth. Add  half and half and cook, stirring often until thickened and bubbly. Add tomatoes and heat through. Season to taste. Puree sauce and pour over the turkey mixture. Sprinkle with the parsley. Bake in a 350 degree oven until heated through and lightly browned around the edges- about 40 minutes.

Turkey Florentine

Turkey Florentine

Turkey with Herb Dumplings

Turkey with Herb Dumplings

Turkey Lo Mein

Turkey Lo Mein

Turkey with Tortellini

Turkey with Tortellini

Uncle Art and the Giant Turkey

I posted this story last year and had a request to post it again….so here it is….

Rather than posting a recipe today, I wanted to share a fun Thanksgiving memory with you. Through most of my younger life, Thanksgiving was spent with my family and my Aunt Tillie and Uncle Art’s family. My mother and my Aunt Tillie were sisters. They were as close and loving as sisters could be. We took turns at each others homes, and shared the cooking duties.

There was a friendly rivalry every year to come up with a special dessert or to have a new side dish. The biggest part of this challenge though, was to get a really big turkey. My mother was convinced that a big bird was tastier than two small ones. Aunt Tillie agreed. So every year it was the quest of the host family to score a really large turkey.

My mom and dad would go to the local butcher to order the bird weeks in advance. I am sure Tillie and Art did the same. They always seemed to end up around 25 pounds, give or take. My dad and uncle kept track. Last year was 26 pounds and 4 ounces, but two years before, closer to 27 pounds. I swear, these birds had to be part ostrich.

The ultimate goal was to get a 30 pounder. It had eluded them all, until one year. Uncle Art had found a new guy. A turkey guy, who promised him the 30 pound bird of his dreams. We knew days before the big day, that the really big bird dream was going to happen. Then my mom got a phone call from Aunt Tillie.

My uncle had picked up the beast. He proudly brought it home. He looked at it, lovingly at first. Then he looked again. This was not Uncle Art’s first turkey. He felt something was wrong. Remember, this was something they had all dreamed about finding. Finding it first was cause for bragging rights, for sure. He was convinced that he had been duped, that the bird fell short of its promised weight. He told my aunt about his suspicions and they weighed the bird. It was too big for their kitchen scale, so my uncle weighed himself on the bathroom scale and then weighed himself again, this time holding the turkey.

Uncle Art had been right. He was short at least a couple of pounds of the promised 30 pounds. He went back to the turkey guy, irate. The man was defensive at first, but weighed the bird again. It weighed in somewhere in the area of 28 pounds. The man gave him some money back and lacking a bigger bird, Uncle Art brought it back home.

As I recall it was a perfectly lovely bird, cooked to juicy perfection. To my Uncle Art it was both a failure and a success. On one hand, he had not gotten the 30 pound bird he was hoping for. He did, however, take pride in the fact that he spotted it. That in the world of turkeys, he could see the difference between a 28 pound and a 30 pound bird.

I believe, some years later, a 30 pound bird was found. The story that year, around the Thanksgiving dinner table, was not so much about the 30 pound bird before us, but about the one that nearly was.

I hope you all have a great day, spent with those you love. I also hope you make memories to make you smile, when some of those we love are no longer here. Love and best wishes to all.

Happy Thanksgiving.

My Mom, Dinah Shore and the Upside Down Turkey

Turkey time

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought I’d share how I came to roast my turkey breast side down. I must say, there are a number of ways to roast a turkey and have it come out nice and juicy.

I have no objection to any way you like to cook your bird including, but not limited to: frying, wrapped in bacon, cheesecloth wrapped, spatchcocked, sous vide etc. Stuffed, un-stuffed, brined are all OK by me, if that works for you. I have found over the years that cooking a turkey is a very personal decision, and folks get pretty passionate about how they cook their bird.

Many years ago a singer named Dinah Shore had a TV show, which my Mother really liked. Dinah, besides being a singer, liked to cook. She gave her turkey cooking tip one time on her show. She said she roasted her turkey breast side down for most of the time. The theory is that if the bird is breast side down the juices will flow into the breast- which eliminates the need to baste. It also slows down the cooking time for the breast- so it comes out cooked at the same time as the dark meat.

My Mother was intrigued, to say the least. She talked about it, a lot, leading up to Thanksgiving. We used to get a really big turkey and my Dad has his doubts about how easy turning over a hot, partially cooked turkey, would be. Mom was adamant. So it was that that Thanksgiving my Mom put her bird in the pan, on the rack, breast side down. She was excited and nervous at the same time.

Let’s face it- the turkey is the star of the meal and if it didn’t work it would be a disaster. But Mom trusted Dinah and they went ahead with this radical new plan. After about 3 hours of cooking, maybe a bit less, they managed to get the turkey turned over and returned it to the oven. Mom would look pensively through he oven window. I think giving birth was easier on her.

Well, in the end it worked out great. The bird was juicy and evenly cooked. No basting, so less work. She was delighted that she had held to her plan and had not been persuaded to cook it like before.

So every time I cook a turkey I cook it breast side down. How long I roast it that way depends on the size of the bird. Normally about 2 hours- because I am roasting a smaller turkey. I always remember my Mother when I cook it that way. I remember that first breast side down Thanksgiving and every one after that. Mom always was delighted- like the first time- and she always mentioned Dinah Shore.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. May your turkey be juicy and most importantly, may you get to spend time with the people you love. I’ll be with family and I’ll think about my Mother and Father – and Dinah.

Honey and Orange Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Honey Orange Glazed Sweet Potatoes

I will admit it – I am not a fan of really sweet,  sweet potato dishes. Not unless it is a dessert. My Mom never served sweet potatoes with marshmallows, but they were still served “candied”. Sweet potatoes, sometimes canned, cooked in a glaze of brown sugar and butter. It was just what we did.

Then, one year,  I grew my own sweet potatoes. Everything changed after that. I can still remember the joy of digging that first plant up.  There they were, a cluster of beautiful sweet potatoes. I grew a lot of them that first year. I steamed them, baked them, made soup with them. Even had them for breakfast a few times.

My Mom was so pleased when I told her I was supplying them for her Thanksgiving dinner that year. I suggested we just cook them with a little butter, salt and pepper. They were so naturally sweet, that they surely, did not need to be candied.

Not everyone was so pleased with that choice. Clearly, how to prepare sweet potatoes evokes some of the same passion as how to cook the turkey. So for awhile, there were two competing dishes of sweet potatoes on the Thanksgiving table. As if there weren’t enough dishes to worry about- we now had to have 2 types of sweet potatoes.

I hope this dish might just bridge the gap between the two camps. A little sweet, but not overly sweet. The orange juice and honey enhance the sweet potatoes nicely. The sugared nuts are a fun addition, too.

Honey Orange Glazed Sweet Potatoes

4 T. butter
4-5 c. peeled and sliced sweet potatoes
1 c. fresh orange juice
Zest of 2 oranges
¼ c. honey
2 t. hot sauce, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh grated nutmeg
Sugared nuts- optional* recipe follows

Melt butter in large skillet. Add sweet potatoes and cook over medium heat, for 5- 8 minutes. Potatoes should start to turn a little golden. Add orange juice, honey and seasonings and turn heat down to low. Cook, uncovered,  until potatoes are tender and liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes. If you want more color on the sweet potatoes, turn the heat up a little once they are tender, and liquid is mostly gone. Serve with sugared nuts sprinkled on top, if you like. These can be made a day ahead and reheated.

 

*Sugared Nuts

4-5 c. nuts, I like walnuts or pecans
2 c. sugar
1 c. water
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. orange peel
1 t. salt, optional
Place all ingredients in heavy skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until all the water disappears. Whatever liquid in the pan will be clinging to the nuts and syrupy. Dump nuts onto a large cookie sheet and break apart with a wooden spoon to prevent clumping. As nuts cool, stir once or twice to remove any remaining clumps, and to cool faster. Nuts will lose their glossy appearance and attain a sugary crust. If it looks like nut soup, you didn’t cook them long enough, and you must return all to the skillet and cook longer. As the nuts start to get drier during cooking, you can turn down the heat a little to prevent burning. Once you’ve made a few batches, though, you will get good at judging when to stop cooking. You can also make a spicy version by adding a teaspoon of cayenne pepper along with the other ingredients. Store in cool, dry place to keep nuts fresh longer.

Mashed Potatoes- Three Ways

A trio of mashed potatoes

I am perfectly happy just mashing up potatoes and adding milk and butter to them along with salt and pepper. Still, sometimes it is nice to switch things up a little. There are certainly countless variations for what you could add to mashed potatoes. If you are making mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, and want to try something new, you might consider one of these recipes.

They are three of my favorites.

 

 

 

I can remember the first time my Mother added roasted garlic to mashed potatoes.  They were so good. I think she added roasted garlic to them all the time after that.

Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes

6 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
3 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cubed
½ c. milk, warmed
¼ c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
½ t. salt
¼ t. ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place garlic cloves in a small baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, cover, and bake 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add potatoes, and cook until tender but firm. Drain, and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Place roasted garlic, milk, Parmesan cheese, and butter into the bowl with the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Mash to desired consistency.

 

 

Cheesy Bacon Smashed Potatoes

3 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cubed
½ c. milk or half and half, warmed
2 c. shredded cheese- I like cheddar
3 T. butter
12 oz. bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add potatoes, and cook until tender but firm. Drain, and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Place milk, cheese, and butter into the bowl with the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Mash to desired consistency. Stir in bacon, reserving some for the top.

Sour Cream and Green Onion Smashed Potatoes

3 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 c. sour cream
3 T. butter
½ c. chopped green onions or chives
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add potatoes, and cook until tender but firm. Drain, and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Place sour cream and butter into the bowl with the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Mash to desired consistency. Stir in green onions, reserving some for the top.

Cranberry and Raspberry Sauce

Cranberry-Raspberry Sauce

If you are looking for a fun and tasty variation for the usual cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving, I might suggest this cranberry and raspberry version.

The raspberries add a great flavor to the dish along with the cranberries and orange juice.My family has enjoyed versions of this sauce every Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember.

The real secret however, is the dressing. It is a creamy, slightly sweet topping, made with a fruit juice custard and whipped cream. It really changes the whole dish into something special.

This might be the first time people ask for seconds on cranberry sauce.

Cranberry-Raspberry Sauce

 

12 oz. cranberries, rinsed and picked over

1 c. orange juice

1 T. grated orange peel

½ c. sugar, or to taste

12 oz. raspberries, fresh or frozen ( thawed, if frozen)

Combine all ingredients, (except the raspberries)  in a saucepan and cook, stirring often, over medium heat. Cook until then cranberries burst and mixture thickens, about 25 minutes, stirring more often as mixture thickens. Stir in the raspberries. Cool and chill. Makes about 3 cups. Serve with the dressing on the side.

Dressing

2 eggs
½ c. sugar
½ c orange juice
½ c. pineapple juice
2 T. flour
juice of half a lemon
1 c. whipping cream, whipped

Combine all ingredients, except whipped cream, in a saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Mixture should coat a spoon. Cool and chill. Fold cooled mixture into whipped cream.  Serves 6-8.

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