Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bit O Honey

This is one of my most favorite candies on the planet!  After a few weeks of trying, I think I have finally got it.  So here you go...
1/2 cup Honey
1/2 cup Sugar
1 ounce Almond Paste
1 cup Dry Powdered Milk

Melt honey, sugar and almond paste together, stirring with a wooden spoon, until reaching
the soft-crack stage at 270 degrees Fahrenheit. Let cool to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Add
dry powdered milk and mix well with the wooden spoon. Let cool to 110 degrees Fahrenheit and
roll out on a cutting board. Cut into rectangular chunks about one inch long. Let harden.
Wrap in wax paper to store.
Makes 3 dozen.

No Corn Syrup Maple Syrup

When it comes to certain things I like to go as natural as possible.  I'm not saying that I'm a freak about it because if you look at my recipes I'm not, but there are some things that nature makes that you just don't want to mess with, and in my mind one of those things in Maple Syrup.  Here is my go to maple syrup recipe that has absolutely no corn syrup, is sweet, yet bitter, and absolutely delicious on Swedish Pancakes.

8 cups Sugar
1 cup PACKED light or dark Brown sugar (whichever flavor you like best)
1/2 cup pure Honey
4 cups Water
2 tsp. Pure Maple Extract
2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

In a large 5-6 quart pot, combine the sugars, honey and water. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat to low so the mixture gently simmers. Cover the pot and simmer the mixture for 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool for 20 minutes before stirring in the maple and vanilla extracts. 

Let the syrup cool in the pot for another 40 minutes, or so, stirring occasionally, before filling jars/containers. Once the containers are filled, let them cool to room temperature uncovered. 

Store covered in jars or other containers in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to 2 months in the refrigerator. Gently reheat before serving, if desired.

This recipe yields about 10 cups, so you can adjust it as necessary.  I make it for Christmas gifts in pretty glass bottles.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Stories

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving!  Ours was great!  I had so much fun cooking, I think I could have done it twice!  The dinner turned out great, beautiful, and delicious.  It was wonderful spending time with my husband and family.  There is nothing better in this world then eating and spending time with the ones you love.

I want to hear all about your Thanksgiving stories though!  Your traditions, what you had to eat, even share some recipes if you want!  Here is a list of the things I made, and just a few pictures from off my phone of the dinner.  (I forgot to take a picture of the Turkey, but I will be making another one this week, so I'll show you what it looks like then! And I obviously didn't have my regular camera, we were working with an old cell phone hehehe)

Homemade Clover Rolls

Me, just cooking away

My homemade cranberry recipe that I made up that day.  It was a HIT!

Pumpkin Crunch cake...mmmmm.

The star of the party in my mind, the Candied Yams

Papa Kirk (my Dad) The Gravy Chef

I know it's not a Turkey, but man was it delicious!

And what the yams look like before the Marshmallows

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mushroom and Shallot Thanksgiving Stuffing

 In my opinion, Stuffing is one of the most important sides to Thanksgiving dinner.  I have experimented with many different kinds, and for me this is our family winner.  We love mushrooms.  I came up with this a long time ago and I have used it for every Thanksgiving since.  If you don't like Mushrooms I won't be offended, just use something else.  :)  Happy Thanksgiving Week!

1 large loaf seeded hearth bread (about 1 1/3 pounds), cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 12 cups total)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound chopped white mushrooms
4 large shallots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs such as sage, thyme, marjoram and oregano
1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

Spread bread cubes on two large baking sheets; let sit on the counter overnight, or bake in a 300°F oven until just dried, about 15 minutes. Place in a large bowl.

In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until very tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in shallots and celery and cook 3 minutes longer. Stir in parsley, herbs, salt and pepper; remove from heat and spoon mixture over bread. Stir in broth and let sit a few minutes for it to be absorbed.

If using to stuff a turkey, cool completely and follow stuffing directions for your recipe. If baking separately, heat oven to 350°F. Spoon stuffing into a large buttered baking dish. Smooth the top and bake until browned and crisp, about 50 minutes.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Candied Thanksgiving Yams

In my house for Thanksgiving we always had marshmallows on top of our golden, buttery, creamy, and delicious yams.  That is what I am going to show you how to make today!

7-10 Sweet Potatoes
1 1/2 C. Brown Sugar, packed
1 1/2 cubes Butter, melted
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 bag Mini or Big Marshmallows

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

With a fork, puncture holes all over your sweet potatoes over the skin.  Place on a cookie sheet and cover with tinfoil.  Bake for 1-1 1/2 hours until soft.  Take out and let cool just enough to handle, but don't turn off your oven.  Remove the skins and roughly chop.

While the potatoes are in the oven mix all your ingredients in a mixing bowl except the marshmallows, cream, and butter.  Set aside.

Once you have removed and discarded the skin and chopped the potatoes it is time to mash them.  Put all the pieces into a mixing bowl and dump in your melted butter, and cream.  Mash until smooth.

Take a 9x13 baking dish and grease it well.  Place 1/2 of your potato mixture into the bottom and generously sprinkle the dry ingredients over.  Dump the remaining mashed potatoes on top and dump the rest of the dry ingredients on top of the last layer.  Place in your 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.  Then remove and sprinkle your entire bag of marshmallows on top.  Turn off your oven, but turn your broiler on low.  Place the pan with the marshmallows under the broiler.  You are going to leave them in there just long enough to brown the marshmallows.  You need to watch it 100% of the time, because you don't want them to burn.  Once the mallows look like the perfectly browned campfire mallow take out and serve!! 

I promise, even the little kids are going to love there potatoes.  They are ooey, gooey, drippy, and delicious!  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Thanksgiving Feast Week Day 1-The Turkey

To start off this week I am going to give you the easiest and most delicious Turkey recipe ever.  I promise your breast will be moist, and your thighs will be finger lickin good!  Hands down the best Turkey anywhere!  And it's so easy, anyone, and I mean ANYONE can do it.

I have made a few Thanksgiving dinners in my day, and on my quest to perfection I have finally found the perfect recipe for me.  Warning: your Turkey will not be in 1 whole piece.  It will be in 2 when you are finished.  Legs will be cut away from the rest of the Turkey body.  The main reason I do this is because Thighs take longer to cook, and if you cook the breast and thigh together your breast is going to turn out dry and you will ruin your turkey.  I don't care how much you baste it!  ;)  So here we go....are you ready for the best Turkey of your life!?  Happy Thanksgiving!  I'll be here all week! 

1 Turkey (20-22lbs)
4 Carrots
4 Onions
4 Celery Stalks
7 Granny Smith Apples
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
5 Tbs. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 bunch fresh Tyme
1 bunch fresh Rosemary

For the compound butter
2 1/2 cups Butter softened
1/4 cup fresh Tyme, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Sage, chopped
1 Tbs. fresh Rosemary, chopped
3 fresh Bay Leaves chopped
1 Lemon, zested
1 tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Salt

Separate the turkey legs from the breast, keeping the backbone intact and the legs still attached in the center. Cut the remaining backbone piece from the breast and save (use it in the roasting pan when you cook the turkey). 

Peel the carrots and onions and roughly chop. Roughly chop the celery. Cut the apples in quarters and remove the cores. Place 1/3 of the vegetables and apples in a container large enough to accommodate the turkey with the vegetables and apples (I use a 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot or Lowes). 

Season the turkey inside and out with salt and pepper. Rub the cider vinegar into the turkey. Place the breast into the container and top with 1/3 of the vegetables and apples. Add the legs and top with the remaining vegetables and apples. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate overnight.

The next day preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking so the turkey can come to room temperature. Place the vegetables and apples into the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the legs, skin side up, on top of the vegetables, being sure there is room to add the breast later. Put the legs in the oven to cook first, about 1 hour 45 minutes.

While the legs are cooking, make the Herb Compound Butter. Place the Butter in the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. Add all the chopped herbs and lemon zest. Add the salt and pepper and mix for 1 minute until herbs are evenly dispersed. Place the Butter-herb mixture in a thick line along the long side of an 18-inch long piece of plastic wrap. Roll into a tube, twist the ends until tight, and then place in the refrigerator to set but not get hard, 30 to 40 minutes.

Slide your hand underneath the skin on top of the turkey breast to separate the skin from the breast. Cut one of the ends off the Butter tube. Squeeze half of the mixture under the skin on top of one of the breasts and the remaining onto the other breast.

After the legs have cooked, place the thyme and rosemary in the roasting pan. Place the breast on top of the herbs. Roast until both the legs and breast reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 2 hours and 30 minutes longer.

This is the most important step of all....once you remove the bird from the oven, let it rest for 15 minutes before cutting it. Now dig in and have a great Turkey Day!!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole

2 things that I absolutely love are crock pot cooking and breakfast, so I thought why not put the 2 together.  Voila!!!  Here is your delicious breakfast for this Saturday!

6 Eggs
1/4 cup of milk
1/2 of a bag of Has Browns
1 Green Pepper diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 lb. ground sausage
1 small bag of Sharp Cheddar cheese grated
1 medium onion diced

 Whisk the eggs and milk together and set aside.  Thoroughly brown your sausage in a skillet on the stove until no longer pink. 

Grease your crock pot and place the hash browns on the bottom.  Then put your onion on top of that.  Next put your browned sausage on top of that, then cheese, then peppers, then mushrooms, and then start all over and layer again.  Reserve about 1/4 cup of cheese.  When you're done layering, dump the Eggs over the entire thing.  Place your crock pot on low heat and let cook for 5-8 hours. 

I normally do this before I go to bed at night and it's ready when we all wake up in the morning!  :)  This recipe will feed about 2-4 people.  For a 4-6 family, double the recipe.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Drunken Chicken in the Oven

1 4-5 lb. Chicken
1 can (12oz) Beer
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
2 sprigs Parsley
4 Basil Leaves
2 sprigs Rosemary
1 sprig Tyme

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Tie your fresh herbs together with cooking twine.  Place your herbs in the cavity of the chicken.

Open your Beer can and place into the cavity (or the Butt) of your chicken.  While the chicken is standing up on the can, rub olive oil over the entire chicken.  (Be very liberal with this step.  I also continually oil it while it is cooking.)

Take the rest of your ingredients and liberally sprinkle all over your chicken.  I normally dump a bit of each in a bowl, mix them together, and then pat it all over the well oiled chicken.  I like it to be very well seasoned.
Take a baking dish and place your chicken inside.  Place the baking dish in your oven.  You are going to cook the chicken until the internal temp. is 180 degrees.  My oven this took about 55 minutes.  I just checked it every 20 min.  But I'm assuming it will take 45 min. to an hour. Make sure to check with your thermometer.

When it is done, carefully remove the chicken from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes before cutting into it.  I serve mine with some oven roasted asparagus drizzled in olive oil, and sea salt, or smashed potatoes and chives.  I hope you enjoy!!