Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No-Salt Seasoning (with salt)

Adapted from http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/No-Salt-Seasoning/Detail.aspx It's seriously good, even without salt, but I added salt to it. Definitely a keeper.

5 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon dry mustard
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
scant teaspoon ground celery seed
generous 1/2 teaspoon table or popcorn salt (more if using kosher salt)

Combine everything and store in a tightly-sealed jar. Rub on chicken, pork, or beef before cooking, or use as a table seasoning.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Roast Brined Turkey with Garlic Herb Butter

My favorite Thanksgiving leftovers in the world can be found on Robinswood Court in Lakeland, FL. Which makes me chuckle, since The Chef at said address has a totally different cooking style than I do. I'm herb-crazy; she is not. But her turkey is always awesome, and her stuffing is my favorite stuffing in the entire universe.

Turkey, though, is just one of those things: my own is my favorite, because I make it how I like it. Individual tastes always win turkey wars, I think. So this is how I make it.

Turkey Brine and Garlic Herb Butter
1 13-pound turkey, thawed
1 large, clean bucket (I used a clean trash can)
1 gallon apple juice
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 large sprig rosemary
4-5 thick sprigs thyme
1 gallon ice water
1/2 gallon's worth of ice cubes

Garlic Herb Butter
1 stick butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper

To brine turkey: Pour some of the apple juice into a medium pot - maybe 4 or 5 cups. Add the salt, sugar, rosemary, and thyme. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes, until salt and sugar are dissolved and herbs are fragrant. Remove from heat and add water and ice cubes; let stand, stirring occasionally, until mixture is cool (add more ice if necessary). Submerge the turkey breast-side down, filling cavity with brine. Let brine for at least 8 hours (overnight).

The next morning, remove turkey from brine and discard brine. Rinse turkey all over, including cavity. Pat the outside dry with paper towels. Let the turkey dry, uncovered, in the fridge for a few hours to let the skin dry, otherwise the skin won't be as crisp. (I let it sit in the fridge for a day, uncovered).

When ready to roast, preheat oven to 350. Separate the turkey skin from the meat, then stuff butter under skin. Coat the outside of the turkey with remaining butter. Roast for 2 1/2 hours, or until internal thigh temperature reaches 160 degrees (it'll coast to a higher temp outside the oven).

Friday, November 26, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin

Everyone needs one of these. Even though Thanksgiving and Halloween, the traditional punkin-using holidays, are now over, you should still make this. I don't care if you make it in a Christmas ornament: just make it.

Roasted Pumpkin with Cheese Fondue, adapted from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roast-Pumpkin-with-Cheese-Fondue-350655

1 sugar or pie pumpkin (mine was 4.5 pounds)
4 ounces gruyere (I used smoked)
4 ounces emmentaler swiss
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup chardonnay
1 1/2 tsp. honey
A few pinches or grates of nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 smallish baguette, sliced
Vegetable or canola oil

Cut the top off of the pumpkin and scrape out the innards. This is a pain in the butt.

Toss the cheeses with the thyme in a bowl. In a large measuring cup, or a bowl with a spout, combine the cream, milk, wine, honey, nutmeg, and salt.

Lay a few baguette slices in a single layer inside the pumpkin. Top with some of the cheese mixture, then pour on some of the cream mixture. Repeat this until all of your ingredients are used up.

Pop the top back on the pumpkin, place the pumpkin in an oven-safe dish of some kind, and coat the outside liberally with oil.

Roast at 375 degrees for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the pumpkin is tender all over. Let it stand for about 15 minutes before messing around with it.

Serve it with toast rounds, raw veggies, crackers, or whatever. We thought it was particularly good with Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuits. Just make sure to get a wad of pumpkin with each bite.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Afternoon Delight

Red velvet cuppies...

... and a little boy who was very happy to see his mama this weekend.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie, originally uploaded by queenofthemoodswingset2.

I do not like the pecan pies that only have whole pecans because you get bites with no pecan, so I add a 1/2 cup of chopped pecans.

Pecan Pie

1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 heaping cup pecan halves
1/2 cup pecans chopped
1 pie shell, unbaked, 9-inch

Combine corn syrup, brown sugar, salt, butter, and vanilla. Add slightly beaten eggs and blend well; stir in pecans. Pour into the unbaked pie shell. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 45 minutes, or until set. Cool pecan pie and serve with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

2 white or yellow onions, sliced thin
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp white wine approx.
½ tsp sugar
1 tbsp flour
4 cups beef broth (or 4 cups water with 1 bullion cube)
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 cup mozz cheese
½ cup parmesan
½ cup asiago cheese
Stale sourdough bread, cubed

Cook the onions with the butter on medium low heat for 10-20 minutes (should caramelize and turn a golden color). Add the white wine, sugar, and cook a few more minutes.

Whisk the flour in with the broth so it doesn't clump and pour the broth mixture in, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 10-15 minutes (more if you feel like it, but I was hungry).

Pour the soup into small oven safe dishes and put the bread on top of the soup, cover with the cheeses and either bake at 400* until the cheese browns, or broil it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Captive Fraggle

Saturday, November 13, 2010

finger foodsies

Crappy photo of fun finger foodies.. I was tryin' on my fancy pants...

1. Spanish tortilla bite with sundried tomato/red pepper/manchego pesto

3. Bourbon bacon apple tarts with bourbon whipped cream (adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/brian-boitano/bourbon-bacon-apple-tarts-recipe/index.html)

Spanish Tortilla Bites

3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 can new potatoes, drained, sliced, and blotted dry with paper towels (otherwise the oil splatters and ouchie)
2 slices deli sandwich ham, finely chopped (unless they're really small/thin; then you might want to double up)
5 eggs
2 tbsp. water
3/4 tsp. salt
fresh black pepper
1/4 cup jarred roasted red pepper, chopped finely
1 cup cheddar cheese

Heat oil in a skillet, then add pepper, onion, and potatoes. Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until veggies caramelize, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and spread evenly in a greased small pan (I used an 8x10). Sprinkle with ham.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, water, salt and pepper. Stir in cheese and pepper. Pour evenly over onion mixture, redistributing cheese if necessary. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until edges are set and middle is soft, and a knife inserted in edges comes out dry, but a knife inserted in center comes out wet. Allow to cool to room temperature, then chill for at least 3 hours or overnight before cutting into however many rounds/squares/wedges you want.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Double Chocolate Layer Cake

This week has been brought to you by the letter "F," as in "I need to find a FREAKIN chocolate cake recipe that I'm happy with, dangit."

This is a great one. Baked it about two hours ago and just tasted it about ten minutes ago.

This might just be a personal preference thing, but I like to let chocolate baked goods rest overnight before really evaluating their flavor - they're always a little flat to me when fresh out of the oven. So even though I found the flavor of this to be almost a tiny bit flat, I'll reserve judgment until tomorrow; I'm sure it'll develop overnight. The texture is just plain dreamy - dense, heavy, still fluffy, and so moist. I love that the cake is almost black in color.

A gripe: As you can probably see from the second picture, the middle sank a bit. The recipe says to bake at 300 degrees for an hour or a little more. Mine actually took closer to 1:25 to bake. It may have been the oven, though. Either way: still yum. I think. Awaiting a verdict....*

Double Chocolate Layer Cake

(I halved the recipe for testing purposes.. worked great. Half of this recipe makes a LOT of cake.. probably would've worked out to around 18 cupcakes.)

3 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups hot coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (tempted to use a high-end, but too broke to justify it; used Hershey's Special Dark - RECOMMEND RECOMMEND!!)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease and lay parchment in the bottoms of two 9-inch round pans. (This is a sticky cake; definitely use the parchment.)

Stir the chocolate into the coffee until melted; set aside.

Sift dry ingredients together; set aside.

Beat the eggs until thick and lemon-colored, around 5 minutes. Combine oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and coffee/chocolate mixture; beat slowly into egg mixture. Add dry ingredients all at once and mix until barely not lumpy. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 1 hour - 1 hour 10 minutes.

Cool completely in pan.

(I didn't make the ganache frosting included with the recipe. Unless you're a major chocolate lover, I suspect the richness of the cake and ganache together would be way too much; it kind of makes me gaggy to think about it. But then, I am not a major chocolate lover.)

*Verdict: WIN. Keeper.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

127 Irish Car Bombs

My piping hand is tired!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Veggie Beef Soup and Sweet Skillet Cornbread

I don't care what anyone says: Sweet cornbread is food. Savory cornbread is ew.

The soup really isn't this thick; this was cold leftovers in a bowl for the sake of photography. Viva el arte.

Veggie Beef Soup (adapted from, well, me)

1 lb. stew beef, cut in 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 cup red wine
4 cups beef broth
1 cup water
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes seasoned with oregano, garlic, and basil, undrained
1 16 oz. bag frozen mixed vegetables
Salt and pepper

Dredge beef in flour, salt, and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. In three batches, brown the meat in the olive oil (just long enough to brown the outside; they don't have to be cooked through). Remove meat to a bowl; set aside.

Add additional olive oil to pot, if necessary. Sweat onion and celery in pot for about 5 minutes, stirring to get brown bits off the bottom of the pot. Stir in 2 tbsp. of the seasoned flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in wine, beef broth, water, tomatoes, beef, and vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cornbread (little bits of about 5 different recipes)
1 cup flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tbsp. dark brown sugar (light works, too)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 tbsp. lemon juice/vinegar with enough milk to make 1 cup)
4 tbsp. melted butter

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 9-inch or 10-inch cast iron skillet.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and buttermilk; barely stir into the dry ingredients. Add melted butter and stir gently just until combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Stuffed Chicken Thighs

I'm about to post photos that I'm ashamed of. (Not that kind.) (...this time.)

Stuffed Chicken Thighs

3 tbsp. olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
6 campari tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped (or enough of another variety tomato to yield about 1 1/2 cups chopped tomato)
Salt and pepper
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
10-15 basil leaves
6 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
1 1/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
Olive oil

Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a medium skillet. Add garlic and cook gently for about 5 minutes (do not let the garlic brown). Add tomatoes and increase heat to medium high; cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have cooked down and have taken on a jam-like consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Speaking of crappy pictures...

Let's pretend that never happened.

Lay a chicken thigh on a flat surface. Lay a basil leaf on the meat (or two leaves, if you think they're small). Spread about 1 tablespoon of the tomato mixture on the basil. Sprinkle about 1 tbsp. of cheese on the tomato mixture. Roll up, sealing as well as possible, and coat with bread crumbs. Lay in a lightly greased 8x8 pan. Repeat with remaining chicken.

(Have you ever noticed that raw chicken just does not photograph well? and you'll notice by the end of this post that the chicken ended up in a different pan; this one was too big. whoops.)

Drizzle lightly with olive oil and top with the leftover cheese, if you're feeling frisky. Just make sure your chicken isn't too close to your top burner when you bake them at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

I would make this again, at least that tomato mixture (YUM). But next time, I think I might chop the basil finely and add it to the tomato mixture after it's cooked (and in that case, probably only about 2 tbsp. total chopped basil). I wasn't crazy about the big pieces of basil in the chicken, personally. I'd also use a sharper cheese.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rice Pudding

Nothing about this post is even remotely appealing to me.

What a way to start a recipe post, huh?

I hate rice. I will eat rice if it's smothered with something delicious and international. And even then, I'd rather lick a plate clean of all kinds of goo than have the deliciousness taken up by rice. The smell of rice cooking makes me think of dogs, and the texture of it between my teeth makes me think of organisms that I won't write about here. You're welcome.

But I find myself surrounded by a bunch of weirdo rice pudding lovers, and I've never actually made rice pudding before. So I figured, hey... it's still gross.

This recipe was interesting because, unlike many others I saw, it doesn't require eggs; I guess the starch in the rice provides all the thickening power. I made this partially for a person who isn't a huge fan of spices; if not for that, I might have cooked the pudding with a cinnamon stick floating around in it, then fished it out at the end. I might do that next time (next time? psh).

Rice Pudding (adapted from the recipe at America's Test Kitchen, which I cannot link to because it's a paid site that I didn't pay for, but that's another story.)

1 cup medium-grain white rice
1 pinch salt
4 cups 2% milk
1 cup cream (not heavy whipping cream)
1/3 plus 2 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste)
Another pinch or two of salt
Cinnamon, nutmeg, or whatever else

Combine the rice, pinch of salt, and 2 cups of water in a medium-large pot. Cover and cook until all liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes.

Stir in the milk, cream, and sugar. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture begins to boil. Turn heat down to maintain simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. When mixture is fairly thickened, turn heat down to low and continue cooking, stirring more frequently, until mixture thickens further, maybe another 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Add pinches of salt as needed. Season with cinnamon, nutmeg, or whatever else.


Pastitsio, adapted from Everyday Food (http://www.pbs.org/everydayfood/recipes/pastitsio.html)

6 tbsp. butter
1/3 cup flour
3 cups milk
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

2 lbs. ground beef
2 medium onions, chopped
3/4 cup red wine
6 oz. tomato paste
2 cups beef broth
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 lb. penne pasta, cooked and drained (I used elbows because that's what we had)

To make topping: Melt butter and add flour. Whisk and cook for about a minute, then add milk slowly, whisking until no lumps remain. Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet, cook beef until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add chopped onion and cook another 5 minutes. Drain some of the fat, if necessary. Add wine and cook until liquid is cooked away, about 6-8 minutes.

Add tomato paste, broth, cinnamon, salt and pepper; cook until thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in cooked pasta, then transfer to a 9x13 baking dish. Spread topping on top, and bake at 375 degrees for about 35-45 minutes or until topping is slightly browned in spots (more brown than the picture above.. haha.. whoops).