Monday, November 16, 2009

Let's Talk Turkey

Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I thought that I would share my recipe for the best turkey ever! Ever since I found this recipe, I have been cooking the turkey. It produces the most moist and flavorful bird ever.

I think that the perfect turkey starts with a brine. For those that don't know, a brine is a salt water solution that you put food in. For Mr Turkey, it is a way to flavor the meat and keep it moist.

You will need a 14-16lb thawed turkey. I usually use 19-20lbs because I like to have lots of leftovers. Just increase the amount of spices in the brine if you choose to use a larger turkey. Here is the recipe and instructions for the brining process.

For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon chicken stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon candied ginger (if you can't find candied ginger, fresh ginger works too, just peel it)
1 gallon iced water

Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.

Now onto the turkey itself. Another thing that must be known, is that if you want a moist and delicious turkey, never stuff it, NEVER. Here is what you do instead.

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

A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine.
Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil.
Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.

Here is one more thing that you can do, to make your turkey sinfully good. Make an herb butter and rub it under the skin of the turkey. What I do is take an Italian Herb seasoning packet that you make salad dressing out of and mix it with 2 sticks of soften butter. Then then put the whole mixture in bag and let it set in the fridge. You want it to get cold again.

Just before the turkey is ready to go into the over, I cut slices of the butter and slide it under the skin (aka between the skin and the meat). As the turkey cook, the butter melts and almost bastes the meat in herby butter goodness. It also makes for the best pan dripping every and therefore the best gravy.

There that is how I make our turkey. Now if you will excuse me, all this talk and looking at my recipes had made me hungry. I am thinking that I need to go to the store and get our turkey. Yum! I can't wait.

Truth be told these are not original recipes created by me. I have combined a lot of trick that I have learned from the lovely Food Network Chefs.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Good From Your Toes To Your Nose Chicken Noodle Soup

1 medium onion
6 stalks celery
6 carrots, peeled
2 cups corn, frozen or canned
4 cups cooked chicken
2 quarts Chicken stock or broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 stick butter
2 tbsp Dried Parsley
1 tbsp Garlic Salt
1/2lb Wide Egg Noddles
1 tbsp Salt
1 tbsp Pepper

  • Chop onion, carrots and celery into even bite sized pieces.
  • Place about 2 tbsp Olive Oil in large stock pot over medium high heat.
  • Add onions and cook about 3 minutes or until soft and almost translucent
  • Add carrots and celery and cook about 5 minutes more or until veggies are just soft.
  • Meanwhile in a small sauce pot, add cream (half and half or milk will work fine here too) and place over low heat. Add butter.
  • Stir cream and butter mixture occasionally until butter is just melted. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Once veggies have softened, add Chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  • Add noodles and boil until just cooked, about 6 minutes.
  • Turn heat to low
  • Then add corn, chicken, parsley, garlic salt, salt and pepper.
  • Next add cream and butter mixture and stir to combine.
  • Simmer for about 15 minutes so that all ingredients can marry and flavors can come together.
  • Spoon into bowls and serve.

Word to the Wise:

I love this soup. It is so hardy and rich and make a perfect meal on a cold day. This soup will freeze well. If you want a lighter version, just omit that cream and use milk or you can omit the cream and butter all together but the soup will not be as good.

For the chicken in the soup, I have used left over Thanksgiving turkey, Rotisserie chicken, cooked chicken breast and grilled tenderloins. It is really about what ever you have in the house. I have not used ground chicken but I am use that would work. The only thing with the chicken is to make sure that it is cooked.

The above recipe makes one large pot of soup. The amount of each ingredient can be decreased or increased to best suit your needs. The consistency of this soup is more like a stew than a soup and that is how my family likes it. If you want a thinner soup just add more chicken stock until (water can be used too) it gets to the consistency of your liking.

This soup is really easy and comes together very quickly, it is the perfect busy weekend supper. Serve with bread and you got dinner.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Chicken and Vegetable Alfredo

1 small onion
1 medium zucchini
1 medium summer squash
1 to 1 1/2 Shredded cooked Chicken
1 jar Alfredo sauce
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1lb Rigatoni Whole Wheat Pasta
Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

  • In a large pasta pot, bring salted water to a boil and cook pasta
  • Cut up onion, zucchini and squash into small bit size pieces
  • Heat oil in a large skillet and sautee vegetables until soft.
  • In a medium sauce pan, heat Alfredo sauce and add cream cheese and Parmesan cheese.
  • Stir until melted.
  • Once veggies are soft, add chicken to the pan to warm
  • When pasta is cooked, drain the water and return to pot.
  • Add veggies and chicken to pasta
  • Pour cheese sauce over the pasta.
  • Mix together, add salt and pepper if needed.
  • Transfer to a 9x13 backing dish.
  • Place in an 350 degree oven for 30 minutes until dish is heated through.

Words to the Wise

This dish was a good one with the kids. They ate it up, including the vegetables. For the shredded chicken in this dish, I use Rotisserie chicken. I like to buy Rotisserie chicken at the store after they are marked 40% off, usually after 8pm. I will buy two or more at a time, pull the meat off, place in bag (from 2 chickens I get four 1 to 2 cup serving) and freeze until I need them for easy, quick meals.
You don't have to add the cheese to the jarred sauce but I think that it gives the sauce a more home-made taste and more flavor and creaminess. It is my way of making a home-made sauce with out all the fuss.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Not Your Average Potato Salad

  • 1 1/2 pounds slender green beans, trimmed, halved crosswise
  • 3 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 large red potatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 9 ounces canned tuna packed in oil, drained

Cook the green beans in a large pot of boiling water until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Using a mesh strainer, transfer the green beans to a large bowl of ice water to cool completely. Drain the green beans and pat dry with a towel. Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the same cooking liquid and bring the liquid to a simmer. Add the potatoes to the simmering liquid and cook until they are just tender but still hold their shape, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to the ice water to cool completely. Drain the potatoes and pat dry with a towel.

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, garlic, oil, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the tomatoes, basil and parsley in a large serving bowl. Add the tuna and toss gently to combine. Add the green beans and potatoes and gently combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.

Words to the Wise
This is a great spring/summer salad. I love the hardiness that the potatoes add. I opted not to use the tuna. And to make things even more easy, I just used Kraft's Honey Dion Vinaigrette dressing about 4 tablespoons.

This recipe was written by Giada de Laurentiis.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Honey Ricotta Cheesecake

* 8 ounces purchased biscotti
* 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
* 1 (12-ounce) container fresh whole milk ricotta, drained
* 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup orange blossom or clover honey
* 1 tablespoon orange zest
* 4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil. Finely grind the biscotti in a food processor. Add the melted butter and process until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared pan. Bake until the crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Cool the crust completely on a cooling rack.

Blend the ricotta in a clean food processor until smooth. Add the cream cheese and sugar and blend well, stopping the machine occasionally and scraping down the sides of the work bowl. Blend in the honey and orange zest. Add the eggs and pulse just until blended.

Pour the cheese mixture over the crust in the pan. Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the cheesecake is golden and the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour and 5 minutes (the cake will become firm when it is cold).

Transfer the cake to a rack and cool 1 hour. Refrigerate until the cheesecake is cold, at least 8 hours and up to 2 days. Cut the cake into wedges and serve.

Words to the Wise
I love this cheesecake recipe. It is just so light and fluffy that its like a cloud on your plate. For the crust, I have used graham crackers or Nilla Wafers in place of the biscotti because sometime biscotti is difficult to find and expensive. I have also used lemon and orange zest just to brighten the cake up more. Top this with a few fresh berries and you have the perfect summer dessert.

This recipe is by Giada de Laurentiis.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Inside Out Cheeseburgers

  • Pre-made Ground Beef Patties
  • 2 oz Cheese of Your Choice
Place cheese in the center of one patty and then take a second patty and place it on top of the first patty. Press edges firmly together around patties. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Cook on a grill until done or internal temp reached 175 degrees. Place on a bun with all the fixin' and serve. Enjoy your gooey cheesy surprise in the first bite.

Words to the Wise
These are super easy to make and very fun to eat. They are sure to be a hit at your next cook-out.
I saw this on a show on the Travel Channel while the host was visiting Minnesota. Here this burger is called the Jucy Lucy.

Mixed Fruit Baked Oatmeal

3 cups Quick Cooking Oats
1 cup Brown Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
2 Eggs
1 Cup Plain Yogurt
1/2 cup Butter, melted
1 small Apple, chopped
1/2 cup Frozen Mixed Berries, thawed
1/2 cup Apricots

  • Mix all the wet ingredients together.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir.
  • Once combined, add the fruit and mix all together
  • Pour into a Greased 8 inch baking dish
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes
This Recipe originally found here.

Words to the Wise
This is an awesome breakfast dish. Just warm some up every morning and you are good to go. Its like having a big oatmeal cookie for breakfast. I will so be making this again and again.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Perfect Spring Cupcakes: Mascarpone Cheese Cupcakes with Strawberry Glaze

8 oz Mascarpone cheese, softened
2 egg whites
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 box white cake mix
1 cup water
1/3 cup frozen strawberries, pureed
2 1/2 cup powdered sugar

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Line muffin tins with paper liners.
  • Mix first 3 ingredients in a large bowl until combined and creamy
  • Add cake mix and water and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes
  • Fill muffin liners to just below the rim. Using a small ice cream scoop helps.
  • Bake until puffed and golden brown about 18-20 minutes
  • Puree the strawberries and then add powdered sugar (this mixture will be very thick and that is how you want it).
  • Once cooled, gently frost or drizzle glaze over cupcakes.
  • Let cupcake sit for a few minutes until glaze sets, serve

Words to the Wise:
These cupcakes are very light and delicate. They can crumble easily when removing from pan or trying to frost so be gentle with them. They are a perfect lite and springy treat.
Mascarpone cheese is a soft Italian cheese much like cream cheese. It is less tangy than cream cheese. Mascarpone cheese can be found in the specialty cheese case at the grocery store. I am thinking that cream cheese could be subsistuded but I am not sure b/c I was able to easly find mascarpone.
I found this recipe while watching a segment by Giaga deLaureniits on the Today show.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pesto Pasta Bake

1 box whole wheat Penne pasta
1 cup store bought or home made Pesto
1 jar Spaghetti Sause
1 lb ground Italian Turkey Sausage, browned
1 cup Mozzella cheese.

  • Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
  • Cook pasta according to package directions
  • Brown sausage in a large skillet, once brown add sause and warm
  • Drain pasta and return to pan, mix pesto with pasta
  • Pour pasta pesto into large baking dish then pour sauce mixture over pasta
  • Sprinkle with choice of cheese
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and heated through

Words to the Wise:

I love this dish and so do my kids. It is just so easy and quick to make. It is perfect for a busy night because it comes together in a matter of minutes.
I sometime will add a layer of Ricotta cheese on top of the pasta pesto mixture and then pour the meat sauce on top of that. I have also added some frozen spinach to the pasta and pesto mixture just to bump up the veggie factor. This dish is a Jen orginal.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Creamy Spinach and Sausage Pasta

1lb 'tube' pasta like Rigatoni or Penne
1lb bulk Italian Sausage
1 small onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 package frozen creamed spinach
1 8oz package cream cheese, soften
2 cups Mozzarella cheese

  • Preheat over to 350 degrees
  • Cook pasta according to package directions
  • Brown sausage and onion in large pan, drain
  • Stir in tomatoes, spinach, cream cheese and 1 cup of mozzarella until all melted
  • Mix cooked pasta into the spinach and sausage mixture
  • Transfer to a large baking dish and cover
  • Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Uncover and sprinkle with remaining cheese, bake for 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted

Words to the Wise:

This is a very yummy dish. We really, really enjoyed it. I used whole wheat penne pasta for this dish. And I couldn't find creamed spinach at the store. So I used on package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and with all the water squeezed out and about 1/2 cup sour cream. It worked for me so feel free to use whatever.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lasagna Rolls



* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
* 1 1/4 cups whole milk
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
* Pinch ground nutmeg


* 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
* 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
* 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
* 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
* 1 large egg, beaten to blend
* 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for salting water
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 12 uncooked lasagna noodles
* 2 cups marinara sauce
* 1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)


To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk the salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the bechamel sauce.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, prosciutto, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Add a tablespoon or 2 of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water. Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour the bechamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 3 tablespoons of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle. Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll. Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, without touching, atop the bechamel sauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture.

Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinara sauce in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until hot, and serve alongside.

Words to the Wise:
This recipes by Giada de Laurnetiis. I just love this recipe. It is a bit on the complicated side and not one really for a busy week night but it is just to make on the weekend like a Sunday afternoon perhaps. It is something a little different then your standard lasagna.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tilapia Wraps

1 cup salsa
1 can (4oz) chopped green chillies
6 tilapia fillets about 6 oz each
2 tbsp Olive oil
2 tbsp steak grill seasoning
8 to 10 flour tortillas, warmed
cheddar cheese

  • Combine salsa, chillies in a small bowl and set aside
  • Drizzle the fillets with oil and sprinkle with seasoning.
  • Cook fillets in a large skillet over medium heat for about 5 to 8 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork.
  • Add salsa mixture and stir breaking up fish as you go.
  • Once combines and salsa is warmed through, spoon into tortillas and sprinkle with cheese.
Words to the Wise:
This is a very light and healthy recipe. It is a nice change from the standard ground beef tacos. I have made this with a sweeter mango salsa and the standard tomato salsa. Both ways are really good.