Saturday, November 29, 2014
Each time I make dressing I change it slightly. This time, I think I've found the Magic Method. The following ingredient amounts will be make two 9 x 13 pans of dressing. The amounts can easily be halved. I'm not a huge fan of celery, so I skimp on it a bit. If you enjoy it, feel free to increase the amount. Cooking your hens for the broth is essential. The richer and more flavorful the broth, the tastier your dressing will be.
I made four skillets of cornbread for this amount. This year one of the differences I made was to process the cooled cornbread in the food processor until I had coarse crumbs. This allowed the cornbread to dry out overnight much easier. The drier the crumbs, the more of the broth they will soak up to keep your dressing moist.
Follow this link for my cornbread recipe.
So first step is to make the cornbread a day before if possible, let it cool and either crumble it yourself and spread it out on a baking sheet to dry out or process it in the food processor. See how pretty?
Now we'll make the dressing:
2 small hens
3 bouillon cubes
1/2 stick butter
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 T. butter
12 - 14 cups of chicken broth (you'll make this by cooking the hens)
1 t. celery salt
1 t. freshly cracked black pepper
1 t. dried sage
1 T. poultry seasoning
4 eggs, lightly beaten
In a large Dutch oven or pot, place the hens and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Skim off any residue which rises to the top of the water. Add bouillon cubes and butter and let simmer for an hour or so until chicken is cooked through.
When chickens are cooked, remove from broth and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove chicken from bones and discard skin and bones.
While the chickens are cooking, melt 2 T. butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions and celery and saute' until vegetables are translucent.
Add onions, celery and chicken to the cornbread crumbles.
Slowly add chicken broth a cup at a time, allowing the cornbread time to absorb the broth. Continue until all the broth is incorporated stirring well after each cupful is added.
Add the seasonings and taste. Add more salt/pepper if needed and additional sage or poultry seasoning if desired.
Mix in beaten eggs.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spoon dressing into lightly greased baking pan(s). Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and cook for another 5 - 10 minutes until dressing is browned.
If you're like me, I love leftover turkey sandwiches. In addition to the turkey I roasted in the oven (drumsticks are a must!), we also smoked a turkey breast with apple wood. It makes a beautiful presentation as well as being delicious!
Here's the process:
In a large bowl, soak chunks of apple wood or apple wood chips. They need to soak at least an hour in water to provide that wonderful smoke that will cook the turkey. When you're ready to begin the smoking process, drain water and place apple wood in the fire box.
For the liquid, I used fresh oranges, cut into quarters and Pumpkin Spice Lager.
I purchased a 12-pound turkey breast. While the apple wood was soaking, I let the turkey get some of the chill off before putting on the smoker. I used 1 stick of softened butter mixed with a little salt and pepper and 1 t. of Herbes de Provence. \Gently rub the softened butter mixture all over the turkey breast. Slice one of the oranges and put into the turkey breast cavity. This will add a wonderful flavor to the turkey from the inside out.
Place the turkey in the smoker and keep the temperature between 225 and 250 degrees.
Here's a picture after about 1 1/2 hours in the smoker.
And after 2 1/2 hours, it's beginning to brown and the smoke continues to do its job.
After 4 hours, the turkey breast is completely cooked and ready to be taken from the smoker.
Giblet Gravy. You say that phrase and you get one of two reactions. People either LOVE their giblet gravy or there's a very emphatic "No Thank You!"
If you're one of those who enjoy giblet gravy, I offer my recipe.
4 cups broth reserved from cooking hens
Giblets from hens (chopped fine)
2 chicken bouillon cubes or 2 t. chicken base
3 heaping T. of reserved uncooked dressing
3 T. cornstarch
1/3 cup cold water
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring stock to a boil along with chopped giblets. Add bouillon cubes (or base) and dressing. Mix cornstarch with water and add to boiling stock, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and continue to cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper and gently stir in chopped eggs.
Friday, November 28, 2014
On those special occasions (Thanksgiving, Birthdays, you didn't get stopped by ANY red lights on the way home from work), a rich, indulgent mashed potato is a great addition to your meal time.
Yes, this recipe has heavy cream and real butter. Walk an extra block or three the next day. Life is too short to count every fat gram, every calorie, every everything. Lolly steps off soap box.
8 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream, warmed
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, place potatoes and cover with cold water. Bring to a gentle boil and let potatoes cook until easily pierced with a fork.
Drain and put the potatoes back into the hot pot. The heat from the pot will help evaporate any remaining water in the potatoes.
Gently mash the potatoes using a potato masher. Leave some lumps and chunks as is your preference or continue to mash until they are smooth. I like a little texture in mine.
Add butter and milk a little at a time and gently stir to combine with the potatoes. Add a little salt and pepper at a time and taste until you get them exactly to the point where they taste perfect to you.
You may need a little more butter or cream depending on the size of the potatoes. You may need a little less.
I made these for Thanksgiving and put them in the crock pot on the "Keep Warm" setting until ready to serve. Add a little more butter on top once you have them ready to serve just to make them look really pretty for your guests (or YOU!)
If you're tired of the same old German Chocolate Cake, but love those flavors, how about trying a cheesecake version? This one was a home run.
1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs
2 T. sugar
3 T. butter, melted
3 (8 oz.) cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 t. vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Stir together first three ingredients, press into bottom of an ungreased 9 inch springform pan.
Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool crust.
Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees. Beat cream cheese and next 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Pour into prepared crust.
Bake for 35 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven and gently run a knife around outer edge of cheesecake to loosen from sides of pan. (Do not remove sides of pan.) Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cover and chill 8 hours.
Stir together evaporated milk and next four ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly 7 minutes. Stir in pecans and coconut. Remove sides of pan, spread topping over cheesecake.
From The Southern Cake Cookbook.
Some people call these beans "butter beans." Some people call them "large limas." Sweet Harold and my son-in-law call them delicious. They are their favorites. My dear mother-in-law always cooked these for them on Thanksgiving. Now that she is no longer with us, I'm trying to tack up the slack and cook them to her standards. It's a labor of love that's for sure.
1 pound dried butter beans, rinsed and picked through to remove any debris or soft beans
Water to cover
5 slices bacon, chopped small
Salt to taste
You can either soak the beans overnight or do a "quick soak" of a few hours. The rule is the longer you soak the beans, the faster they will cook.
I covered mine with water and let them soak overnight. Drain the beans and then put them in a 3 quart Dutch oven and covered them with water again.
Bring the water to a boil and then lower the heat so that the beans are gently simmering. Add the chopped bacon and cover. Stir the beans occasionally and cook until the beans are soft and the the liquid has thickened. Mine took about 2 1/2 hours to cook through. Season with salt to your taste.
What to do with those leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes? Why you make Black Friday brunch goodies, of course! Looking for a great tailgating recipe that's far removed from the regular chips and dip and tortilla chips and salsa? These little bites are perfect!
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped cooked bacon
1/4 cup finely chopped cooked ham
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a 24 count mini-muffin pan.
Cook bacon and ham in a small skillet.
In a medium bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, bacon, ham, 3/4 cup of cheese and 3/4 of the chives. Blend in the eggs and depending on your taste, you might want to add a little salt and pepper. This will depend on how your potatoes were seasoned.
Lightly spoon mixture into the muffin tin.
Cook for about 20 minutes until golden brown and let rest in the pan for about 5 minutes before removing. Top with the remaining cheese and chives before serving.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
With the absence of some of our family members due to distance and not enough vacation time to travel to Lolly's for Thanksgiving, there wasn't a "children's table" this year. So the little girls were elevated to the "big people" table. I tried to make it not only a lovely table for us, but I wanted to add a little whimsy for them as well. The result was a Turkey Day table with lots of turkeys around for the little girls to "gobble" with during dinner.
If you'll notice, I used Fiestaware glassware and coordinated the plates to match the colors of the stripes in the glasses: red, yellow, orange and green.
The napkin rings were my grandmother's.
The girls' place settings had Beanie Baby Turkeys and their very own turkey plates.
And a few more turkeys to add to the ambiance!
These salt and pepper shakers were my paternal great-grandmother's!
Fiestaware gravy boats added nice pops of color to the table.
I hope each of you have a most wonderful Thanksgiving! Thank you so very much for being faithful blog readers and I hope you will continue to be!
What are YOU thankful for today? Please leave a comment and let me know you're out there.
Peace and love,
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Here's a fun idea for your littlest diners. The three granddaughters loved their turkey tortilla "sandwich" today at lunch. You can change the fillings and toppings to suit your little one's tastes.
Here's what I did:
1 6-inch flour tortilla, softened in microwave for 10 seconds
Pretzel Sticks, broken into small pieces
Spread a thin layer of peanut butter on the tortilla and fold over. Cut the tortilla into quarters. Place on plate and cut a small circle out of another tortilla.
Garnish with Craisins, cheese, candy corn, candy eyes and use the pretzels sticks for feet.
Monday, November 24, 2014
You may have some questions about this recipe title. Who is Mr. Theron? What makes this pie ultimate? Here's the answers!
Mr. Theron was a very nice man who baked pecan pies for friends and family during the Holiday Season. They are legendary. Why is it ultimate? Because to me, this pie has the PERFECT balance of filling to pecans and it's DEEP DISH!
After Mr. Theron passed, a dear friend took it upon himself to keep the tradition alive. I'm very thankful to be a recipient of his generosity and baking skills and he gave me permission to share the recipe with all of you. If you're searching for a show stopping Thanksgiving dessert, look no further.
I promise, you'll come back and leave a comment here once you've made and tasted this pie. Thank you Mr. Theron for leaving us with this wonderful recipe.
1 cup dark Karo syrup
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 deep dish pie crust
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine first five ingredients. Stir, mixing well.
Add melted butter and stir very quickly to incorporate the butter. Pour into pie crust and bake for 1 hour or until pie is almost set in the middle.
Cool completely before serving.
This is another one of the Lolly creations that evolved as I cooked. I kept digging through pantry, freezer and fridge and before I knew it, I had a big Dutch oven full of goodness simmering on the stove. If you prefer to let it cook in the crock pot on low....just brown the sausage first and then add ingredients to the crock pot. I hope when you get to the rind end of your Parmesan cheese, you put it in a ziplock bag in the freezer. It's a great addition to put in the soup and let it simmer to add a great layer of flavor.
1 lb. hot or spicy Italian sausage
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 T. chopped garlic
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup of small white beans, soaked for a few hours and drained OR 1 (15 oz.) can of cannellini beans
1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
2 T. tomato paste
2 carrots, chopped
Green beans, sliced in 1/2" pieces to equal 1/2 cup
1/2 small head, Savoy cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
In a 5 quart Dutch oven or soup pot, over medium high heat, add sausage and cook until browned. Drain fat and add onion and bell pepper. Stirring frequently, let the vegetables cook until softened, 5 - 7 minutes. Add garlic, chicken stock, beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, carrots and green beans. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Add cabbage a handful at a time.
Let simmer for a few hours until the vegetables are soft and the stew has thickened. Serve with toasted bread and top with grated Parmesan cheese.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
I'm very proud to say that I had an excellent relationship with my mother in law. Her name was Sue and she was a mother to me in all ways. She encouraged me, loved me and accepted me into her family without hesitation. She was my friend. She will always be Mama Sue to me. She passed from this earth in February 2013 and I miss her every day. This is one of her recipes written as she gave it to me. Sweet Harold loves this one. What a great comfort food to enjoy on a cold, rainy day.
1 lb. ground chuck
6 oz. tomato paste
6 oz. water
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 t. chopped garlic
1 t. sugar
salt and pepper to taste
A few dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
8 oz. macaroni noodles, cooked and drained
Brown ground chuck with onions, peppers and garlic. Drain any fat from the meat. Stir in tomato paste and water. Add sugar, salt and pepper and Worcestershire Sauce. Add a little more water if needed.
Gently stir in macaroni noodles. Simmer until desired consistency. Top with shredded cheddar if desired.
Friday, November 21, 2014
I made these for the granddaughters this morning and needless to say, they loved them. What a fun tradition to have with your little ones on Thanksgiving morning. Thank you Pillsbury for this great idea.
1 can (17.5 oz) Pillsbury Grands refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing
10 slices bacon
5 candy corns
5 red mini candy coated chocolate candies
10 candy eyeballs
15 mini pretzel sticks
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Set icing aside. Separate dough into 5 rolls; place about 3 inches apart on cookie sheet. Unroll each roll about 1 inch, tuck dough into roll to create neck of turkey.
Bake 20 minutes or until light golden brown Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp; drain on paper towel lined plate. Cut bacon in half. Tuck 3 or 4 halves of bacon into back of each cinnamon roll so they stick up and look like tail feathers.
Drizzle tops of rolls with icing. Decorate turkeys with candy eyeballs, candy corn and candy-coated chocolate candies. Before serving, place pretzel sticks underneath each turkey to resemble turkey's feet.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
One of my Bucket List restaurants was Alabama's oldest The Bright Star. Since 1907, The Bright Star restaurant has been serving generations of customers its specialty Greek- style snapper and steak, signature seafood gumbo, luncheon specials, and famous pies. Located in Bessemer, Alabama, the restaurant has a regional following and draws patrons from throughout the Southeast as well as nearby Birmingham.
Recently we dined there with friends and I can't wait to go back again.
I started with a cranberry & Prosecco glass of bubbly.
Dining Companion #1 had a pomegranate martini.
Sweet Harold had a Long Island Ice Tea. Yes, it's served in a PITCHER. No, he wasn't driving.
Dining Companion #2 enjoyed a bourbon on the rocks. I'm sorry I can't remember what brand.
And a few photos of exterior and interior of this lovely, historic restaurant.
And now on to the food. The salads were well chilled and the dressings are house made. Both salad diners were well pleased with the size of the salads and the flavor of the dressings.
One of the owners was on site while we were dining and made several stops at the table to tell us a little history of the business and to check on how our meal was progressing. He sent out a complimentary plate of onion rings. Handbreaded and piping hot, these were absolutely delicious.
Instead of an entree', I ordered crab cakes and seafood gumbo. The crab cakes were FILLED with lump crab and were perfectly seasoned. The jalapeno tartar sauce and tomato salsa were a great accompaniment.
My cup of seafood gumbo was filled with shrimp, oysters and crab. The roux was dark and spicy. Yum!
Dining companion #1 chose wisely: Breaded Veal Steak with Brown Gravy and a baked potato. Our lovely server recommended this dish. She was spot on with her recommendation.
Dining companion #2 chose wisely as well: Snapper Almondine. Doesn't that look delicious?
And as you all know, if grouper is on the menu......say it with me "That's what Sweet Harold orders!" Broiled grouper with crab meat topping with a lemon butter sauce. Oh yes.....yes.
A lovely, unrushed meal in a historic restaurant add in delicious food and great company and you have the recipe for a perfect evening.
If you're EVER in the area of The Bright Star, please do yourself a huge favor and dine at this restaurant. Take a few minutes and follow the link posted above to learn more about this great piece of Alabama history.