Monday, November 26, 2012

Turkey Soup

The onion is cooks' treat
I like to make soup at least once a week during winter. Today I started a pot of turkey soup right before I had to go to school. Right after we carved our turkey, I put the carcass in some tin foil and off to the freezer. This morning I put about 8 cups water, the carcass, one onion whole, 2 stalks of celery, 2 carrots cut into coins, and one potato diced. It's ok to put in these veggies because they will retain their shape.

I let the pot boil on medium heat for about a hour and a half. I then remove the carcass and let it cool down so I could pick the meat off. I added 1 tsp salt and about 2 TBSP chicken soup base to the soup. I checked it for seasoning and added the meat back in. I added more water because of the turkey carcass being taken out. I then let the soup cool and put it in the fridge for my hubby to heat up for dinner. If I were home I probably would have made some dumplings to go in it. This soup is a holiday favorite.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Next Day Dinner

We have been eating left over today starting with lunch. There wasn't much turkey left over from our 13 pounder. For dinner I decided to use the left overs to make a feast. Still the same ingredients, but it tasted different. I saw this cool recipe on Foodnetwork for coquettes. They are little potato pancakes that are dipped in bread crumbs and fried until golden. I adapted the recipe a bit because I am out of ingredients but they still turned out fantastic!

Potato Coquettes

Let me preface this and tell you how I make my smashed potatoes. This year I used yellow potatoes. Normally I use red. I peeled and cut them into 4th and boiled them in water until fork tender. I then mixed them with 1/4 package cream cheese and started to mix them with 1/4 heavy cream, and seasoned with salt and pepper.

3 cups cold mashed potatoes
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup Canola oil
salt and pepper
1 egg yolk
1 whole egg for dipping
a splash of milk

Mix the egg yolk in with the potatoes. Take a handful of mashed potatoes and make a patty with your hands. Set on a foiled tray and repeat until you have exhausted all of your mashed potatoes. I got about 9 patties out of this.
 Put the tray in the fridge to harden the mashed potatoes for about 5 minutes. Next dip the patties in the beaten egg and into the bread crumbs. Move into a frying pan and oil that has been heated. The oil should go mid way up the patties.
Fry for 3-5 minutes on each side until golden brown. Let drain on paper towels and serve!

I then used the left over gravy and turkey and served that with the potatoes. It was delicious!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Coming Out of a Turkey Coma...

I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving with your family! I have been stuck sitting in the recliner for the past two hours trying to digest the huge dinner I laid out. I haven't roasted a turkey in the oven for about 8 years. My hubby had been deep frying it. Times are tough this season so I bit the bullet and decided to forgo the fryer this year.

I started out about 7:30A.M.  with the bird in the sink. I had had it in the freezer since Saturday but it was still a bit frozen. I finally got it thawed out and into the oven around 9. I rubbed it down with some softened butter, Rosemary, Thyme, and salt. I covered the breast and drumsticks with a foil triangle.

The next item on my list was to make the Deviled eggs. You can make these the night before, but they will not make it to the table in my house. These are a must in our house for any special occasion. I either have to hid them or not make them until right before the event. Older eggs work better in this recipe. They peel easier.

Easy Deviled Eggs

1 dozen eggs
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 pinch Cayenne
salt and pepper
mayonnaise (start out with 3 TBSPs)
A pinch of Paprika for the top

Add the eggs to a medium sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a rolling boil for 11 minutes and shut off heat. Let them sit on the stove for 10 minutes more and cool by running cold water over them. Once cooled peel the shells and cut eggs down the middle. Use a fork to smash the yolks. Add mayonnaise, mustard powder, Dijon, and Cayenne. Use a teaspoon to fill the egg whites. Refrigerate until ready to serve in a well  hidden place.

While the turkey was roasting in the oven, I basted it every hour with melted butter. I also roasted my own sweet potatoes. I poked holes in them and rolled them in some oil on a baking sheet. I added them to the bottom rack and roasted them until fork tender for about a hour. I then used a beater to mash them. I normally would add about 2 TBSP brown sugar but was out. I added 2 TBSP syrup instead along with butter, salt and pepper. I used a spoon to lay them out into the casserole dish. I topped them with marshmallows  I didn't heat them until the last half hour when the turkey was out of the oven.
Lastly my favorite thing on the menu. To die for stuffing. This recipe came from my Grandmother Virginia, was passe on to my Mom, and I have been making it for the last 16 years. I tweaked it a bit and always make two huge baking dishes full. This is even better the next day for left over dinner! Save the giblets from the turkey for this one. I make my stuffing separate from the bird.

The Best Ever Stuffing!

2 Bags Stuffing with sage
2 stalks celery cut into 3rd s and diced
1 onion diced
1 apple cored and diced
1 stick of butter
1 carton chicken broth
the giblets cut into bite sized pieces and sauteed in butter

In a small stock pot add the chicken broth, celery, onion, and apple. Bring to just below a boil to soften. In a small frying pan saute the giblets. Add the stuffing cubes to a large bowl and begin stirring in the chicken broth. You may need to add a bit of water if you run out of broth. Add the giblets and continue stirring and adding broth until you get the consistency you are looking for.  It fills 2 9x13 pans. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 325 degrees. Serve with gravy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Let the Preparing Begin! Time for the Sides!

The fun began this morning. I had intended on going back to bed, it just wasn't meant to be! I started boiling the eggs for deviled eggs. I cannot make them up until tomorrow. They disappear! Next I started the cranberries. Once you go fresh, you will never go back to canned! (I do use the canned for New Years meatballs though)
start by making a simple syrup

I made a simple syrup with one cup water and one cup sugar. I stirred until the sugar was dissolved. I then added one half of a juiced orange and the rind along with the sorted and washed package of cranberries. Heat on medium low. You will hear the cranberries pop. Let reduce for 5 minutes giving it a stir every few minutes. I leave the orange rind in until the morning. It adds extra flavor. The cranberries will thicken as they cool. Cover and serve with the turkey.
It was now time to make the no bake Pumpkin Cheesecakes. Normally I would spend hours and hours baking pies but my daughter requested I make this recipe again. It's been a few years. It's as easy as pie:)  I doubled the recipe and emptied it into two store bought graham cracker pie crusts. 

No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 packages reduced fat cream cheese
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
dash of cinnamon 
2 1/2 cups Lite Cool Whip 

Bring the cream cheese to room temperature. Add the pumpkin puree, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Gently fold in the Cool-Whip and divide the servings between two pie shells. Refrigerate over night and serve topped with more Cool-Whip. 

Lastly this morning I made the orange fluff. This is the easiest recipe ever! The ingredients: 1 package orange Jell-o, one can of mandarin oranges drained, 1 container of large curd cottage cheese, 1 tub Cool -Whip. Mix the cottage cheese, Jell-o, and oranges together in a medium bowl. Gently fold in the Cool-Whip and refrigerate until serving time or overnight. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Potato Addicts Anonymous...And Perfect Scrambled Eggs

I should have sold this on Ebay!
I guess it's not that anonymous if it's stated right in the title... I am a fried potato lover! My Grandmother got me started with absolutely the best fried potatoes or home fries you ever did taste. I have been working on perfecting them for a good part of my life. Her secret was...par boiling the potatoes with their skins on and then peeling them and frying them. I like to make them that way or the easier way by par cooking the potatoes in the microwave. I also leave their skins on instead of peeling. I do remove any eyes. You don't want those staring at you, and they are hard to chew.

further proof the world is ending

I have to share pics of this bag of potatoes. They are the most genetically mutated ones I have ever seen! I wonder what happened at this farm? Is it me, or do these look like human appendages. Anywhoo! I took the potatoes, poke holes in them, and microwaved them for about 6 minutes. (Not these freaky potatoes, some other ones) Microwaving is the quicker way to do it. If you have more time, place the whole potatoes in a pan with enough water to cover them and cook for 25 minutes. You don't want them to be mushy but semi cooked. Drain the water or wait for them to cool off for a minute or two after they come out of the microwave. Or, you can burn your fingers like I do and attempt to slice them. Make sure the pieces are uniform so they cook evenly.

Add 2 TBSP to a non-stick frying pan. Mine is monsterous because I am cooking for a family of four. Heat the oil and then add the potatoes. I don't have a lid big enough for my pan but I try to cover them for a few minutes and season with salt each time I turn them. I love the burnt bits! You may also add a diced onion and pepper to this and make potatoes O'Brien. It takes about a good 10 minutes to develop proper color.

I have seen plenty of disastrous eggs in my life time. The kids and my hubby prefer scrambled unless I make poached or over medium. Then they don't have a choice. The main thing I see go wrong in scrambled eggs, is scrambling them too much. They should be gently convinced to scramble. I made them similar to a omelet so they are fluffy instead of destroyed.

I generally use one egg per person. Poke holes in the yolks so they mix easier. Add about 1/4 cup milk to the eggs and beat. Add butter to a non stick egg pan and begin the process. Let the eggs sit there for a minute until you see the edges bubble. Then start to push the cooked eggs to the middle so the wet eggs can cook. Don't constantly stir the eggs as this will destroy them.
Eventually the eggs will come together. The top of them are wet, then I flip them over and season them. Cook for a minute longer and remove to the plate. Serve with the delicious fried potatoes!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chicken Chop Suey

I felt like I was on an episode of "Chopped" last night. I wanted chop suey but didn't have any beef. I also had one can of bean sprouts. My grandmother used to make the best chop suey when I was a kid. I have no idea what that meat was lol  But, I was looking for the same consistency. I decided on chicken. Chicken is the main protein in our house. This would be great with turkey for an after Thanksgiving meal or you could use a rotissire chicken for this.

I boiled frozen boneless chicken breast in water for 25 minutes and then moved it to a plate to cool.  Meanwhile I diced two carrots into coins and also diced a small onion. I am out of oil (darn grocery list) so I added a small amount of water to the bottom of the pan and covered with a lid. I steamed the veggies until they were semi soft. Next I shredded the chicken breast and added about a cup and a half of chicken broth. The next step was to add the soy sauce. Start with 2 TBSP and go from there. I used a 1/4 cup of water from the boiled chicken and added about 2 TBSP corn starch to it as a thickener for the sauce.

You can add whatever veggies you like to this dish like carrots, celery, or even a can of drained La Choy chop suey veggies. Serve over rice with chow mein noodles.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Greek Style Chicken Piccata and Orozo

Pounded Chicken Breasts
I am really happy with the Barilla orzo. I was able to make two separate meals out of it. Earlier in the month I made Sanford D'Amatos' "Shrimp and Orzo."  I am always in a rush to get food on the table by 6:30PM. One of the things that is easy to do with boneless skinless chicken breast  is butterfly it and pound it out. This decreases the cooking time dramatically. I used a Zip Loc bag or you can use two pieces of plastic wrap to put the chicken between. I use a rolling pin to take out my aggression. The main point of this chicken carnage is to make the cooking surface uniform and as thin as possible to ensure even cooking. 

The next step is to prepare a breading of sorts. To make this "Greek" tasting. I added flavors such as oregano, garlic powder, you could even use a Greek Seasoning. This was added to a cup of all purpose flour. Each piece of chicken was dipped in the flour and then into frying pan of hot oil. I brown each side for 5 minutes. The cutlets are then moved to a waiting plate. In the frying pan add a cup of white wine and a small diced onion. Use a spatula to get the brown bits off of the bottom. Let this reduce down for 3 minutes or so. Add a cup of chicken stock and a 2 tsp minced garlic. Reduce another 3 minutes. Reintroduce the chicken to the sauce. Add a handful of Kalamata olives and 2 TBSP of lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook until the sauce thickens and the chicken cooks the rest of the way through. The sauce will thicken on it's own due to the flour used on the breading. Add a pat or butter or two to add richness to the sauce.  Season with more oregano, salt, and pepper. Serve with the orzo pasta below. 
browned chicken
Greek Style Orzo
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock 
1 cup of water reserved
1/2 box Barilla orzo pasta
1/2 onion diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
salt, pepper, oregano
2 TBSP lemon juice
A pat or two of butter

You will notice the ingredients are basically the same for the chicken as for the pasta. Begin by bringing the chicken stock and wine to a boil. Add the orzo and turn the heat to a medium low. This is similar to making risotto  You can have a stock pan going with the extra water or chicken stock. (I used water) When the liquid reduces, add more liquid if necessary. The orzo needs to be stirred every few minutes until you get the desired doneness. I don't like al dente' so I let it go a bit past that. The best way to test is take a piece out and see how you like it.  Lastly season with salt and pepper and add the feta cheese. Give a stir to incorporate the feta and add the lemon juice lastly and add a pat or two of butter. Serve with the chicken and sauce. 
Reduce until the liquid is cooked out.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Busy, Busy, Week! School and Obama...

Dear Blog,

I know it's be a few days since I have updated you. On Saturday 11/3 the President visited Milwaukee and I took my oldest daughter Cassie to hear his speech. We arrived a hour early thinking there wouldn't be a huge line. The air had a chill in it. We ended up about 3 blocks away from the entrance!
Before we knew it, the line was thousands upon thousands of people long. We had only eaten breakfast and had two waters with us.

I was really surprised we only saw a few Romney protesters and one guy dressed in an elephant costume for PETA regarding the unethical treatment of circus elephants. We met a nice family and talked to them all the way to the entrance where were separated.

We finally made it in 2 1/2 hours later. The secret service riffled through my purse. No one checked our tickets. The ball room was all ready half full. We found a spot and stood, and stood. People started taking the stage around 2. We had politicians that are popular around here like Mayor Tom Barrett, Tammy Baldwin, Gwen More, and Herb Kohl.
She doesn't know I took this!
There were breaks in between the speakers. Forget coming back to your spot if you had to go to the bathroom. People were not letting others get back to their spots. We were packed in there like sardines. There were about 20,000 people. What bothered me was people didn't seem to have consideration for others. My daughter and I are short and we had nothing but tall people in front of us. The one boy in front of us had to be about 7 feet tall. He took pictures for us sometimes and was very nice. I had to yell at his woman next to us that kept elbowing my 13 year old. Then when Katy Perry took stage people became really rude and put their kids on their shoulders obstructing every one's view.

This was not a place to bring babies or young kids. We were standing for 5 hours.

Finally around 3:30PM was the moment we had anticipated. The President took stage! When I was a kid the Reagan presidential motorcade had passed my grade school. We really couldn't see that much then either but now we were parallel to the podium where Obama was! People were still pretty rude. There was a sea of cameras and tall people. My daughter and I managed some how to get some pretty great pictures. It was neat to be in a room united with other people.

 I have never seen so many people packed into such a tiny space! We were so tired, hungry, and thirsty by the time the President took the stage. We got our second wind though and were very energetic.

His speech was amazing! My daughter was the one that really wanted to go. It's great that at her age she all ready has her own political perspective.I am so glad I could share this with her!

I am also very proud of Wisconsin and our 87% voter turn out. We waited in line 45 minutes to vote. Our ward has a big turn out every election. Even if you didn't vote for Obama, this is the chance for our nation to come together.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Crock Pot Porcupine Meatballs and Mushroom Gravy

I made this right before I had to leave for school on Monday this week. Since I am at school 1-8 PM these days, I need to have something my hubby can easily make himself. Usually it's a crock pot meal. I love meatballs in general because they are so mess free to make in the oven. Add a easy sauce to them in the crock pot like this mushroom soup sauce, and you have a hot meal waiting for you when you get home.

This oven recipe for the meatballs saves you the mess of cleaning out a pan. I line a baking sheet with tin foil and it catches the grease. It also acts as a handy carrying agent to get your meatballs into the crock pot. You could use a Minute Rice with this, but I prefer to use cook long grained rice. A rice cooker is an awesome tool!

If you were baking the meatballs all the way through and then making the gravy via stove top, bake them through for 30-35 minutes until no longer pink. For this recipe. I browned them in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Porcupine Meatballs in Mushroom Sauce

1 lb ground beef
1 cup long grain rice cooked and cooled
1 egg
salt and pepper
1 small can Campbell's cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can of milk poured into the mushroom can
1/2 cup water

Make the meatballs by adding the rice, egg, and salt and pepper.  Brown them in the oven on a tin foil lined sheet for 20 minutes. Add the water to the bottom of the crock pot. Mix the soup and milk and pour over the browned meatballs in the crock pot. Cook on high for 3 hours. Serve with the gravy over more cooked rice.