Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Quick Thanksgiving Breakfast or Truly Any Day That Ends in Y

Sorry side ways 

Most people I know think that if you skip breakfast you will have more room for a huge lunch.  When in reality if you eat a small breakfast you will wake up your metabolism and you will be ravenous come lunch time and you will enjoy your big lunch more.  Plus if your house is like mine and  full of young people skipping breakfast is not an option or they will eat your arm off, or at least the cat's food.
This recipe comes again from Pioneer Woman ( I am only a tiny bit obsessed hay she makes good food) over at Tasty Kitchen.  These little babies are simple to prepare a day or two ahead, simple to put together the morning you are going to eat them and they are delicious.  If you are severely adverse to warm mayo take in two points into consideration before you do not try them.  1 the mayo is just a binder once everything is mixed together it doesn't even taste like mayo. 2 if it still grosses you out consider eating the spread cold on a toasted english muffin.
This recipe is easily halved however it hold well in the fridge if you don't eat it all in one day.  These are perfect on school mornings also.

Make-Ahead Muffin Melts
  • 12 whole Hard-boiled Eggs, Peeled And Chopped
  • 2 cups Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 cup (Real) Mayonnaise
  • 12 slices Bacon, Fried And Crumbled
  • 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Dijon Mustard
  • ½ teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
  • 6 whole English Muffins Split

Combine eggs with all other ingredients. Fold together gently. Cover and store in the fridge overnight.
Spread on English muffin halves, then broil for 3 to 5 minutes or until hot and bubbly. (Don’t set them too close to the heating element.)
Serve immediately!
* Extra kick try pepper jack instead of cheddar
* Try sprinkling with hot sauce
* Add a 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper to the mix 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sweet Potato Bake

I am typically I am not a fan of sweet potatoes all gussied up.  I like them roasted, split open, and covered in butter and not much else maybe a tiny bit of brown sugar.  Or just pan fried with a little chipotle powder but I have never made them  in the traditional baked casserole way.  But for tradition sakes this year I thought I would try them.  I am so glad I did this will go in the usual rotation of Thanksgiving and everyday meals.Now this was the last recipe I made yesterday and I again forgot to take pictures sorry.  Thankfully Pioneer Woman whom I got the recipe from has photos of all her recipes over on her blog which you can check out over here.  If you can go without your eyes tantalized before making a recipe here is recipe. In the original recipe she calls for 1 cup of sugar I cut it down to 1/2 cup and thankful I did so it was not sickly sweet.

  • 4 whole Medium Sweet Potatoes
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Pecans
  • ½ cups Flour
  • ¾ sticks Butter

Preparation Instructions

Wash 4 medium sweet potatoes and bake them in a 375-degree oven until fork tender, about 30-35 minutes. When they are finished cooking slice them open and scrape out the flesh into a large bowl.
Add 1 cup of (regular granulated) sugar, 1 cup of milk, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of salt. With a potato masher, mash them up just enough—you don’t want to be perfectly smooth.
Now, in a separate bowl, add 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup pecans, chopped (that means measure a cup of pecans, then chop them), ½ cup flour, and ¾ stick of butter. With a pastry cutter or fork, mash together until thoroughly combined.
Spread the sweet potato mixture into a regular baking dish and sprinkle the crumb mixture all over the top.
Bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Terrific Turkey Brine, and Yes I Roast My Turkey Upside Down.

Why in the world would I roast my turkey upside down?  In this family there is a fist fight over dark meat every time we have poultry, most times I only purchase thighs and legs so there is no blood shed. A thanksgiving of just turkey legs does not sound good to me.  I once read on a blog that roasting a chicken upside down will have all the juices settle into the breast meat causing it to be a moist as dark meat.  I thought what the heck and I tried it.  It turned out perfect I had never seen my husband down breast meat without a complaint.  It is the standard way I roast my chickens now.  So why not give it a try with a turkey?  It was great!  
I always feel that the thanksgiving turkey was missing a flavor boost.  Typically I do not even eat turkey on thanksgiving I load up on all the side dishes and then make a rosemary turkey sandwhich the following day to get my turkey in.  I have seen turkey brine recipies floating around my favorite blogs and food shows for a couple years.   As I mentioned in a previous post that I have recently purchased the Pioneer Woman Cooks A Year of Holidays cookbook and lo behold there was a turkey brine recipe in it.  A sign from the cooking gods this was the year I was going to try a brine and this was the recipe to use.  I will never make an unbrined turkey again !! I forgot to take picture of making the brine so if you want a picture tutorial you will have to flip over to Pioneer Woman to see her pictures.  If not here is the recipe.


  • 3 cups Apple Juice Or Apple Cider
  • 2 gallons Cold Water
  • 4 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary Leaves
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1-½ cup Kosher Salt
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Peppercorns
  • 5 whole Bay Leaves
  • Peel Of Three Large Oranges

Preparation Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover.
Allow to cool completely, then pour into a large brining bag or pot. Place uncooked turkey in brine solution, then refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours.
When ready to roast turkey, remove turkey from brine. Submerge turkey in a pot or sink of fresh, cold water. Allow to sit in clean water for 15 minutes to remove excess salt from the outside.
Discard brine. Remove turkey from clean water, pat dry, and cook according to your normal roasting method.

Here is my turkey in the brine solution before I drained and rinsed it.  
Here is it getting it's bath.  Pioneer Woman warned against using a previously frozen turkey due to the sodium solution all ready injected to the turkey making it to salty to eat.  However all I had was  a previously frozen turkey so when it was time to soak it in clear water for 15 min half way through I changed the water.  It worked perfectly it was not salty at all. 

Cranberry Sauce Not in the Shape of a Can

Don't get me wrong I have eaten plenty of can shaped cranberry sauce so I am not judging if you do too.  However I find it odd that my family does not have a tried and true recipe for homemade cranberry sauce seeing how at one point in time we owned one of the biggest cranberry farms in the state.  I am sure that we did have a recipe but it was lost over time.  So this one comes from Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond over at Tasty Kitchen.  I have been a fan for a couple years now even before she had her show on Food Network.  I was super excited to purchase her new cookbook The Pioneer Woman Cooks a Year of Holidays.  For this year's thanksgiving this cookbook was the star most of the dishes were from the book.  Including this one which you can see over here at Tasty Kitchen.  Now the one at Tasty Kitchen is a little diffrent from the actual book I will write that one here because that is what I used.

The Players in this saga.
12oz fresh cranberries 
2 lrg oranges
1c PURE maple syrup NOT pancake syrup 

In a med bowl pour in cranberries and pour over water to rinse well.  Cranberries should float any sinkers should not be allowed to party any more.  

Zest the two oranges being careful to not zest to far in the fruit and scraping in the white pith eww so gross.  
After zesting roll the oranges between your palm and the counter cut the oranges open and juice. If you do not have a juicer just squeeze the orange halves juicing into a small sauce pan.  

In a small sauce pan add the drained cranberries, orange zest, orange juice, and maple syrup.  Turn the heat on to med high and bring the mixture to a gentle boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10-15 min until juice is thick.  Remove from heat a pour into a small bowl.  You can leave on the counter and serve room temperature if eating the same day or cover and place in the fridge until ready to serve.  You could make this a couple days ahead of time.  

Is it Stuffing or Dressing? In this house it is Stufessing.

The controversy of calling this dish stuffing or dressing is as old as Thanksgiving.  My best understanding is when you cook it in the bird it is stuffed in the cavity therefore it is stuffing.  When it is cooked in a different pan it is called dressing as in you are dressing the table with food. Typically stuffing in the bird is more moist having sponged up the juices of the turkey. The dressing in the baking dish is a little more dry and I don't mean to say it is inedible but it has not soaked in all the juices of the turkey.   
In our family we called it stuffing, cooking half inside the bird and half in a separate baking dish. When the bird is done we unstuff it mixing into the dressing in the baking dish. You get this beautiful combination of the juicy and peices and crunchy bits. SO GOOD.  Today I am trying a little experiment by doing the baking dish portion in the crock pot saving oven space.  

The cast of characters 
1 roll Pork Sausage 
1 c celery diced
1 onion diced 
4-6 c chicken stock
2 bags herb seasoned stuffing cubes 
2 tbl butter
1 tbl olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat a medium size saute pan over med high heat.  Break the sausage up into small pieces into the pan doing this while it is still raw will make your life easier as it cooks.  

Cook until browned breaking up the sausage even more as it cooks

Remove the sausage from the pan in to a bowl or plate which ever you have handy.  Leave as much as the sausage gresse as you can.  Return the pan to the heat add the 1 tbl olive oil and the 2 tbl butter heating until the butter is melted.  

Add the diced celery and onion sprinkle with about 1/4 tsp salt and a couple shakes of pepper.  Cooking for about 10 min until heated through but the celery should be crisp tender.  

In a extra large bowl (I used my tupperware that's a bowl) Pour in your seasoned bread cubes followed by the sausage, celery and onions mix well.

Carefully pour in 4 cups of the chicken broth while stirring the stuffing mix.  

Pour everything into a crock pot ( yes in my picture that his a chunk of ice.  I had homemade chicken stock in the freezer I thawed most of it but this one chunk was not melting so i just threw it in and it melted into the stuffing) setting the temp to high for one hour then reducing to low for 3-4 hours stir every hour or so.  

As the cook time goes on and you feel you need more chicken stock feel free to pour in a little more until till you reach the consistency you like.  You could also add more aromatics if you wish such as carrots mushrooms.  However I can not vouch how the flavor would be we are very picky in our house about stufessing the year my mom tried to add extra stuff we nearly took her out back and strung her up a tree.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Apple Butter Pumpkin Bars with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

In my family when the Autumn rolls around we make a pan of pumpkin bars about every other week.  It dawned on me the other day that we can get pumpkin year round yet we anxiously wait until October before we make our first pan.  I know we are goofy.  About 8 years ago I saw an episode of Paula Deen's Thanksgiving and she made a Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie.  Thought I would give it a try our family really liked it and now it is the standard dessert at our Thanksgiving table.  A couple weeks ago I thought I would try adding apple butter into the pumpkin bars and see if they were just as good.  They were, now don't be freaked out they will not have the overwhelming flavor of apple just a hint and it keeps them moist.  Making the spiced cream cheese frosting I was just showing off.  :-) You can find apple butter at most major grocery stores either near the peanut butter or jam.  If you are super ambitious you can make your own super easy in the crock pot I have used this Apple Butter Recipe I only start with 2 c sugar and cook awhile and then add more if needed.  If you want to avoid white sugar I have used honey in place of the sugar with great results. You do not have to buy pumpkin pie spice if you have cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove in your pantry.  Check out the Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe I use every year.

Apple Butter Pumpkin Bars

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2c apple butter
1/2c applesauce unsweetened
1 (15oz) Can pumpkin puree
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp salt

Pre heat oven to 350
In a med bowl mix eggs, sugar, apple butter, applesauce, and pumpkin with a electric mixer until fluffy. In another bowl sift (or mix really well so no lumps of baking powder or soda) together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt.  Stir into the pumpkin mixture until thoroughly combined.
Spread the batter evenly into an ungreased 10x15 inch jellyroll pan.  Bake for 25-30 until browned.  Cool COMPLETELY before frosting.

Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
6 oz cream cheese
1 stick butter softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 c powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl cream the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until fluffy add vanilla and pumpkin pie spice turn the mixer to low slowly add the powder sugar a little at a time beating until mixture is smooth.
When bars are cooled spread evenly on top of the cooled bars. Cut the bars into squares.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Apple Overload Breakfast Quinoa and Perfect Pumpkin Quinoa

 I really like Quinoa for breakfast.  When I am trying to stay away from foods that are on my allergy list breakfast becomes really boring really quick. This past week I have come up with a couple new recipes after being inspired by pinterest.

Apple Overload

1/4 c quinoa rinsed very well
1/2 c apple cider or juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 apple diced into small pieces
1 Tbl apple butter*
1 tbl heavy whipping cream (optional)

In a small sauce pan over med heat combine quinoa apple cider and cinnamon, bring to a boil cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat stir in apple pieces and apple butter.  Pour in to bowl and drizzle with heavy cream.

* If you do not have apple butter use 1 tbl unsweetened applesauce 2 tsp honey 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg.

Pumpkin Quinoa

1/4 c quinoa rinsed very well
1/2 c water
1/2 tsp cinnamon *
1/4 tsp ginger and nutmeg*
pinch ground clove *
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbl pumpkin puree not pie mix
2 tbl pecan pieces toasted **
1 tbl  heavy whipping cream (optional)

In a small sauce pan over med heat combine quinoa water, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove and vanilla. Bring to a boil cover and reduce heat to low, simmer for 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat stir in pumpkin.   Pour in to bowl and top with pecan pieces and drizzle with heavy cream.
* you could use 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
** to toast pecan pieces heat a small pan over med heat add pecans warm in pan for 5-10 min depending on size of pieces. Pecans are optional but they add an amazing flavor