November 28, 2008
I’m back and just in time for a Thanksgiving post. This was my first year hosting Thanksgiving and let me tell you, I was so excited. I’ve always wanted to host turkey day at our house, but we normally go to my in-law’s. But this year, they were out of town and we weren’t able to go to my parents’ so they decided to come here. So my first Thanksgiving was a small one; just me, my husband, and my parents.
My family likes pretty traditional foods for Thanksgiving so I decided I’d play it safe and just make everyone’s favorite foods so there would be no misses. After browsing through lots of recipes I finally settled on the ones I would use. After a lengthy (and expensive) trip to the grocery store I was finally ready to get started. Thankfully, I got off work early on Wednesday so I could get a head start on the prep work. My parents came in Wednesday night so my mom helped me a lot on the actual day. And the verdict? Everything turned out great! But if I learned one thing from hosting my first Thanksgiving it would be that it’s a lot of work! I am so much more appreciative of my great-grandmothers, grandmother, my mom and mother-in-law who have planned and hosted Thanksgiving for many more people than I did for many years now. I would love to host again, but I think I might have to go into training beforehand next time. ; )
On the menu this year:
Garlic and Citrus Brined Turkey
For the brine
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
3 bay leaves
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 gallon water
For the turkey
1 8-10 lb turkey
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Dissolve the salt and brown sugar in 1 gallon of water. Place the turkey in a large stock pot or brining bag. Pour the brining solution over the turkey. Add the sliced oranges, lemons, garlic and bay leaves to the brine solution. Refrigerate over night or place in a cooler with ice. Before cooking the turkey, rinse it well inside and out and pat dry with papertowels. Rub the turkey inside and out with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook as desired.
And yes, that is canned cranberry sauce…the only kind my family and I like!
2 cups prepared cornbread, crumbled
2 cups Pepperidge Farm herbed stuffing mix
8-10 crumbled crackers (saltine or club will work)
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup melted butter (1/2 stick)
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
chicken broth (about 3-4 cups, enough to make the bread mixture moist)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Begin my sauteing the onions and celery in a little olive oil until soft, about 8 minutes. In a large bowl, combine cornbread, stuffing mix, celery, onion, butter, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper. Add chicken broth until the mixture is very moist. It will be just slightly soupy but the bread will absorb the liquid. Place in a greased 9×13 baking dish and bake 35-40 min.
Sweet Potato Casserole
(my mother-in-law’s recipe)
3 cups sweet potatoes, cooked until tender (should be easy to mash) about 4 med potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Mix all ingredients together and pour into a baking dish.
For the topping:
1 cup pecans
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup), melted
1/2 cup flour
Mix all dry ingredients and sprinkle over casserole. Pour melted butter over the top. Bake at 350 for 30-35 min. The top should be bubbly and have a golden crust.
Jiffy Apple Pie
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1 box Jiffy yellow cake mix
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick butter
Preheat oven to 325 F. Place chopped apples in an 8×8 baking dish. In a bowl, mix dry cake mix, cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples. Slice the stick of butter into thin slices and place all over the top of the cake mixture. Bake for 35 min or until the top is golden and bubbly.
This apple pie is obviously not a traditional apple pie. It’s best served warm as a dessert topping for vanilla ice cream. Yum!
- 1 cup Karo® Light OR Dark Corn Syrup
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon Spice Islands® Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans
- 1 (9-inch) unbaked or frozen** deep-dish pie crust
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Mix corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla using a spoon. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into pie crust.
- Bake on center rack of oven for 55 to 60 minutes. Cool for 2 hours on wire rack before serving.
- **To use prepared frozen pie crust: Place cookie sheet in oven and preheat oven as directed. Pour filling into frozen crust and bake on preheated cookie sheet.
- RECIPE TIPS: Pie is done when center reaches 200°F. Tap center surface of pie lightly – it should spring back when done. For easy clean up, spray pie pan with cooking spray before placing pie crust in pan. If pie crust is overbrowning, cover edges with foil.
- NUTRITION TIP: To reduce calories, substitute new Karo® Lite Syrup for the Karo® Light or Dark Corn Syrup.
- High Altitude Adjustments: Reduce sugar to 2/3 cup and increase butter to 3 tablespoons. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
My only complaint from the whole Thanksgiving dinner was that my pecan pie didn’t set. It’s the first one I’ve ever made and I followed the directions exactly, and it just didn’t set in the middle. I’m not sure why, but I’ll definitely be making another one in the future and hopefully will have better luck with that one.
Along with this we also had green beans and rolls.
September 28, 2008
Does anything say Fall better than apple pie? I don’t think so. That’s why I decided to make one to take to my in-law’s last night for dessert. My sister-in-law, her husband, and their kids came up for the Auburn/Tennessee game (Go Auburn!) this weekend and we were invited for dinner yesterday after the game. Knowing that our nieces would be there I wanted to take something that everyone could eat for dessert. I figured no one could say no to apple pie and vanilla ice cream. But just in case I took these blondies, too.
I had never made a from scratch apple pie before. Normally I cheat and use a refrigerated pie crust but I thought it would be more special if I put in the extra effort and made the dough myself. When searching for a recipe I came across this one on Annie’s blog. After talking to her and finding out it is her “go to” apple pie recipe, I figured it had to be awesome! It really wasn’t that difficult to make the dough. In fact I made this pie and the blondies after work on Friday and it only took a couple hours start to finish for both. I didn’t have the patience that night to make a lattice top but maybe I’ll try that next time. Everyone loved the pie and blondies. No one could choose just one and had to sample both!
For the crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
6 oz. butter (1 ½ sticks), chilled and diced
5-6 Tbs. cold water
For the filling:
2 lbs. peeled, cored and thinly sliced Granny Smith apples
1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
¼ c. sugar
¾ tsp. apple pie spice
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the butter. Cut the butter into the flour or rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture is crumb-like. Sprinkle 5 tablespoons of water over the mixture. With a fork, toss gently to mix and moisten it. Press the dough into a ball. If it is too dry to form a dough, add the remaining water. Wrap the ball of dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.
To make the filling, add the apple slices to a mixing bowl. Add flour, sugar and apple pie spice and toss to coat evenly.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let warm up a bit if necessary. Preheat oven to 375°.
Cut the dough in half. On a floured surface, roll out one half into a 12-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Try to keep the dough as round as possible. Transfer the rolled-out pastry to a 9-inch pie dish. Roll out the pastry for the top crust and cut it into strips about 1/2 inch wide; set aside. Put in the filling and smooth so the top is level.
To create the woven lattice top, use the longer pastry strips near the center of the pie and the shorter ones near the edges. Cross the two longest strips over the center of the filled pie. Place a second long strip over the top cross strip. Fold back every other strip onto itself and lay a cross strip in place, then return folded-back strips to their original position. Continue weaving in this fashion, working from the center of the pie toward the edges. Trim and flute the edges decoratively with your thumb. Bake for 45 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and the fruit is tender. Cool on a rack. Serves 8.
* I brushed an egg wash on top of the crust and sprinkled with a little extra sugar before baking
June 23, 2008
I’m pretty sure this recipe might be on the list of the seven deadly sins. But in this case if it’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right. Really, it could be more of a dessert with all it’s brown sugary yumminess, but I decided to make this for breakfast today. From the minute I saw Tyler Florence make this on his show, Tyler’s Ultimate, I knew I wanted to try it. I mean, what could be bad about french toast, apples, and a brown sugary glaze. This recipe is a little time consuming as far as prep goes, but the results are totally worth it. As soon as it started baking, my house filled with the smell of apple pie and caramel apples. I wish I could capture that smell in a candle so I could enjoy it every day without all the calories that come with it. This would be a great recipe for brunch or even breakfast on Christmas morning. The original recipe calls for cranberries, but I left those out because my picky husband doesn’t like them. I think those would be a great addition though.
Upside-Down Apple French Toast with Cranberries and Pecans
(with my alterations in italics)
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 loaf challah bread, cut into 1 inch-thick slices (I used french bread)
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup light brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling, divided
4 Granny Smith apples
1/4 cup heavy cream (I used whole milk)
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I omitted)
Confectioners’ sugar, garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.In a flat dish, crack eggs and add milk, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Whisk until well combined then lay challah slices in mixture to coat and absorb it all, turning occasionally.
Set a 10-inch skillet, seasoned cast iron if you have, over medium heat. Add the butter and 1 cup sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar has melted and caramelized, about 8 minutes. While the sugar is melting, peel apples, core and cut into halves. Remove from heat and gently whisk in the heavy cream. Sprinkle in the pecans, dried cranberries and gently press in the apple halves so there is a flat surface. Lay soaked slices of challah over the top so it is completely covered – you should be able to arrange the large slices and small slices so there are no gaps. Sprinkle the top with some brown sugar and place into the preheated oven. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes until the top is golden and puffy.
When done, allow to cool for 2 to 3 minutes then invert onto a large plate. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired, and serve.
Chef’s Note: FYI – if your cast iron skillet is not seasoned, the cranberries will react with the skillet and turn black.
*I don’t have a cast iron skillet so I used a pie dish to bake this in. I melted the butter and sugar in a pot on the stove and then poured it into the pie dish before assembling.
Source: Food Network
March 31, 2008
If you’re starting to think that this is now just a baking blog, you might be right. It seems like that’s all I’ve been doing lately! Believe it or not, I have actually eaten real food lately but mostly salads and things I’ve blogged about before. So for now at least, you’ll have to deal with my baking posts until the cooking fairy visits me again. And this one folks is a good one! I had some puff pastry in the freezer from who knows when and it kept being pushed to the back of the freezer, lost under frozen vegetables and ice cream. Well it surfaced the other day while I was rearranging the contents of my freezer, and immediately my mind started thinking of uses for it. I finally settled on apple turnovers. You may not know this about me, but I love apples. My favorite is Gala both for the color and the taste, and I eat one almost every day. I mean what’s not to love about apples? Juicy, sweet, crisp. Mmmm And they’re even better baked into desserts. So I knew the combination of the tender, sweet apples would be perfect wrapped up in the flakey, buttery puff pastry. I basically just came up with this little recipe on my own and they turned out amazing! My husband and I both licked our plates clean. And that’s always a very good sign.
2 medium apples (or 1 large), peeled and diced (I used Gala but Granny Smith would be great)
1/8 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp flour
4-6 pats butter (just a thin slice)
2-3 Tbsp prepared cinnamon sugar (I just eye ball it and mix granulated sugar and cinnamon together. You could also buy cinnamon sugar in the spice aisle)
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (12×9 sheet)
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a baking sheet and set aside. Carefully unfold the sheet of puff pastry on a clean, lightly floured surface. Cut into 4-6 even squares (depending on how large you want them). In a bowl, combine apple, sugar, cinnamon and flour. Spoon the mixture onto the center of each puff pastry square leaving a small border around the filling. Place 1 pat of butter on top of the filling in each pastry. Brush the edges around the filling with the beaten egg. Next, fold into triangles or rectangles, whichever you prefer. Using a fork, press the edges together to seal. Make 2 slits in the top of each pastry. Brush the top with the egg and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 20 min, until the pastry puffs and is golden brown. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.
February 25, 2008
My husband is right…I don’t say that too often, but in this case he is. He tells me all the time that I am spoiled because I always end up getting all these fun, new kitchen gadgets that I want. But I don’t think that’s any different than him getting every new power tool or electronic gadget that comes out. And besides, I’m much more likely to use my kitchen tools for many more years than he’ll use the things he buys. But anyway, back to me being spoiled. I realized today that I really am. I wanted to make some muffins to have for breakfast this week. I was all prepared with my recipe, and then I realized the bowl for my KitchenAid mixer was in the dishwasher (which I had just turned on by the way) along with my food chopper that I was going to use to chop some pecans, and my mandoline that I needed to shred my apples! All things I *needed* to make my recipe! At first I was disappointed because, being spoiled as I am, I couldn’t figure out how I was going to make my muffins without my favorite kitchen gadgets. But then a little common sense finally kicked in. I realized that I still do have a hand mixer in the drawer, long forgotten since I got my stand mixer. I also have a hand grater in the drawer that I never use anymore, and as for chopping the pecans, well a plastic baggy and a heavy rolling pin works well for that. So I ended up making my muffins anyway and they turned out to be so delicious. Even my husband liked them and he is not into anything remotely healthy. Thanks to Elly over at Elly Says Opa for the recipe! I had to make some alterations to the recipe based on what I had on hand and I used a little different ratio of whole wheat to all purpose flour. Check out Elly’s blog for the original recipe along with her other variations of the healthy muffin recipe.
Healthy Apple Muffins
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (or vegetable oil, if you’re not calorie counting)
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk (I subbed 3/4 cup milk with 1 tsp lemon juice)
1 cup shredded apple (1 large apple)
1/3 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 400 and grease a 12-cup muffin tin. Sift together flours, baking powder and soda, salt and spices.
In a seprarate bowl, beat egg with brown sugar until well combined. Stir in vanilla, buttermilk, applesauce and shredded apple.
Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in nuts.
Pour mixture into muffin cups and bake approximately 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
November 23, 2007
As much as I love to cook and bake, I did not host Thanksgiving this year. We always have the big meal at my in-laws’ house. Of course I always offer to bring something and normally end up taking a main dish and a dessert. Well this year when I asked what I could bring I was told that all the main dishes were taken care of and that I could bring a dessert. Every other year there is always pecan pie and sweet potato pie at the in-laws and then I bring some other dessert. So I decided not to make I pie since I assumed there would be pie. I had seen these apple blondies on a couple food blogs recently and had heard rave reviews from everyone that had tried them. So I figured these would be a good option. Well, there ended up being no pecan pie at Thanksgiving dinner and I was disappointed in that. Safe to say I’ll be making one of those soon to satisfy my craving. But the blondies turned out good anyway! I think they are the best blondies I’ve ever had! I took the advice of others that had made these and didn’t make the brown sugar frosting recipe for these blondies. Instead I made up my own frosting recipe. Everyone loved them!
Apple Blondies with Brown Sugar Frosting
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chopped peeled apples
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (i did not add nuts)
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Combine flour, baking pwder and salt. Add to butter mixture on low speed, mixing until blended. Stir in apples, cinnamon and nuts, mixing well. Spread evenly in greased 9×13 pan.
Bake in Preheated oven at 350 degrees until set and golden, 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on rack.
Confectioners’ Sugar Frosting
(Icing recipe I made)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a bowl combine all ingredients and whisk together. Add more milk if needed. The icing should be smooth but thick enough to coat a spoon. Drizzle over cooled blondies just before serving.
*This is the original frosting recipe. Others said it was just too sweet for these blondies so I made a different recipe.
*Brown Sugar Frosting
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring mixture just to a boil then remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm. Stir in the confectioner’s sugar, mixing until smooth. Spread evenly over bar. Let stand until frosting is firm enough to cut. Cut into bars or squares
October 18, 2007
Tonight’s dinner was a huge success for me. I had never made a whole roasted chicken. To be honest, it has always scared me a little. But it really wasn’t hard at all. I will admit, when I first took this whole chicken out of the package, it really creeped me out. I can handle boneless, skinless chicken breasts and any other meat, but something about a whole raw chicken is a little icky to me. But I love roasted chicken so I quickly got past that and prepped my chicken. My other worry was how long to cook a whole chicken. I read so many different recipes and finally decided on how I would cook it. I gave my husband specific instructions on when to put the chicken in and at what temp when he got home and crossed my fingers that it would turn out.
When I got home I was pleasantly surprised. My house smelled great and the chicken looked so good! So I whipped up a couple easy sides and dinner was ready. I think I got 2 thumbs up from my husband.
On the menu tonight: garlic and lemon roasted chicken, wild rice, peas, and baked apples.
Garlic and Lemon Roasted Chicken
whole chicken (mine was 5lbs)
4-5 small garlic cloves, peeled, whole
3/4 cup lemon juice
salt and pepper, mixed together in a bowl (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 stick butter, cut into 1/4″ slices (1/4 cup)
Begin by washing the chicken and patting it dry. Place chicken in a roasting pan. Rub a little of the salt and pepper on the inside cavity of the chicken. Place garlic cloves inside. Place a few slices of the butter inside the chicken as well. Rub remaining butter, salt and pepper on the outside of the chicken making sure to coat wings and legs, too. Pour lemon juice over the chicken. Bake at 375 degrees, 20 min per pound. Baste chicken with pan juices every so often. (I roasted mine for about 2 hrs-20 min longer than it really needed just to be sure
; P )
The baked apples I made as sort of an afterthought tonight. I had wanted to make a wild rice, apple, and pecan stuffing for the chicken but then remembered I used the last of my chopped pecans the other day. I wanted to do something with apples anyway so I made some simple baked apples.
1 large apple, cut into 1″ chunks (I used Gala because that’s what I had)
1/4 stick of butter, cut into 1/4″ slices
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Spray ramekins with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet. Place apples in the bottom of each ramekin. In a bowl, mix brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the apples. Place 3 slices of butter on top of each dish. Bake at 375 for 15-20 min until apples are tender.