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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Let's Talk Turkey!

My favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, is less than two weeks away.  Here are a few things that we can do ahead of time to make our Thanksgiving Day go smoothly.  We want to focus on enjoying our time with our friends and family on Thanksgiving without being stressed out or exhausted all day.

I like to make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner of roasted Turkey with all of the fixings.  I never really stray to far from my tried and true dishes.  If you do want to try something brand new, I recommend trying out that recipe and experimenting before the big day.

The star of the show, the turkey, is something that you will always want to cook the day of but there are things that you can prepare ahead of time to save time the day of.  If you are buying a frozen turkey, I recommend purchasing it a week in advance and keeping it in the refrigerator, giving it plenty of time to defrost.  A few years ago, I started buying two smaller turkeys as opposed to one large bird.  This cuts the cooking time in half and gives you four drumsticks instead of two.  The drumsticks are popular around here!  The turkey will take a day to defrost for every four pounds it weighs.  It's okay for a fully defrosted turkey to sit in the fridge an extra day or two.  If you are brining your turkey, you'll want to do it a couple of days in advance.  I prefer a compound butter to brining.  A compound butter is something that you can make now and freeze until the day before.  The freezer is your best friend when it comes to making things ahead of time!  I prep my turkey and make my stuffing the night before. Even though I no longer put my stuffing inside of my bird, I still call it stuffing.  I just bake it in the oven after I take my turkey out of the oven to rest before carving.

Aside from a compound butter, there are a few other things that can be done now, two weeks before Thanksgiving, such as dessert.  My family loves pie, especially apple. You can make your pie crust now and freeze it, you can make your unbaked pie and freeze it or you can go as far as baking your pie and freezing it.  

Gravy is another thing that most people don't know you can make ahead of time.  You can buy some turkey parts (breasts, legs, wings) and roast them. Collect the drippings and make your gravy now.  It freezes wonderfully well, just defrost the day before and heat and whisk well the day of.  The last thing you want to be doing is standing over the stove, worrying about lumps right before dinner is about to be served. 

A dish that is actually better made in advance is cranberry sauce.  It is so, so simple to make from scratch. Once you make homemade, you'll never want to serve it from a can again.  It can be made now and frozen or up to a week before and refrigerated.  It actually tastes even better after a few days in the fridge.  Here is my super simple recipe:

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:
  • 1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 1 C water
  • 2 tsp orange zest
Directions:
  • Mix all ingredients together in a medium saucepan. 
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 10 to 12 minutes or until most of the cranberries have burst.
  • Let cool and then refrigerate.
*substitute half of the water for orange juice, pomegranate juice or apple juice to change up the flavor.

*use an immersion blender if you like a smooth as opposed to a chunky texture.




I normally wait until the day before to make my mashed potatoes.  I put them in the slow cooker a few hours before dinner will be served to get them heated up, stirring well.  This also frees up space on the stove top and in the oven for the last minute things.  

Two extra tips for a successful Thanksgiving meal:
  1. Always have a meat thermometer on hand.  The temperature should read 165 degrees, measured in the innermost part of the thigh and the thickest part of the breast.
  2. Delegate! Don't be afraid to ask guests to bring a side dish.  I usually request that my guest bring bread or rolls, ice cream for pie, or best of all, wine!

Try to relax, have fun and enjoy the holiday!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Pumpkin & Maple Bacon Waffles

Pumpkin & Maple Bacon Waffles

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Every year during the last month of October, we celebrate Pumpkin Week on Good Morning Idaho.  I'll be making these totally delectable Pumpkin & Maple Bacon Waffles!  Spencer Blake, the morning anchor is crazy for bacon so I often try to incorporate it into the recipes that I develop for my segments.  You're welcome, Spencer!  Tune in tomorrow, October 29th at around 6:45 a.m. to watch us make them live!  You can also stream Good Morning Idaho on www.kivitv.com This will be my 4th annual Pumpkin Week appearance.  It will be hard to beat last year's Creamy Pumpkin Penne Pasta but I think this recipe might do just that.  These waffles are a little sweet, but mostly savory.  They would be great served up for breakfast, lunch or dinner but absolutely perfect for brunch!

Ingredients:


  • 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 C packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 C buttermilk
  • 1 C canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 C vegetable oil
  • 1 pound maple bacon, cooked and roughly chopped
  • Cooking spray for waffle iron
  • Butter and pure maple syrup for serving
  • Toasted chopped pecans for garnish (optional)
  • Whipped cream (optional)

Directions:


  1. Preheat the oven to 250°F and preheat your waffle iron.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and then whisk in the milk, buttermilk, pumpkin and oil. Mix well.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk until smooth.
  5. Spray your waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray.   Add the batter and top with a generous amount of the chopped maple bacon. Cook according to your manufacturer's instructions. The number of waffles this recipe makes depends upon your particular waffle iron.  As you make the waffles, transfer them to a cookie sheet and keep them warm in the oven until you've used up all of the batter.  Leftover waffles freeze well and you can just pop them in the toaster to reheat.
  6. Serve with butter and pure maple syrup or perhaps some of my salted caramel sauce.  I like to garnish with toasted pecans and a dollop of whipped cream.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Boston Baked Beans

Boston Baked Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound navy beans (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 TBSP molasses
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 C ketchup
  • 1 TBSP worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 C brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Place the beans in a pot and cover them with 2 inches of water.  Let them soak overnight.
  2. Drain the beans, reserving the water they were soaked in.
  3. Dice the bacon and cook until crisp in a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot.  Remove the bacon to add back in later and discard all but one TBSP of the bacon fat.
  4. Saute the onions in the bacon until translucent (about 5 minutes).
  5. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and simmer for about 10 minutes
  6. Stir in the bacon and the beans and a cup of the reserved water and then cover and put into a 325 degree oven for 4 hours.  Check the beans every 1/2 hour to an hour and stir in more of the reserved water if needed.
Recipe serves 5 to 6 as a main dish or 10 to 12 as a side.


Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Samoa Cupcakes

Samoa Cupcakes 



So, in case you live under a rock and didn't notice, the Girl Scouts just blew through town, spreading love, joy and cookies everywhere!  I can't say I'm a huge fan of girl scout cookies but I am a big fan of the organization and the cause.  I am a baker so I prefer to make my own cookies.  But... if those adorable little girls that hang outside of my grocery store manage to tug at my heart strings and make me weak... I will buy some cookies.  I prefer the Samoas.  I've never been a fan of coconut.  That is until I made my first German Chocolate Cake!  That will be another recipe for another day, though!  

My friend, Spencer Blake who is the anchor of Good Morning Idaho on Channel 6 here in Boise, asked me to come up with a recipe that includes Girl Scout Cookies for a segment.  Well, what better food is there to create than a new cupcake?  :)

This cupcake has a Samoa cookie on the bottom, then a layer of chocolate cake.  It is filled with some homemade salted caramel sauce which is topped with a little toasted sweetened coconut.  The next layer is some vanilla bean buttercream frosting.  I drizzled the frosting with salted caramel sauce, sprinkled some more (Samoa) toasted coconut then finished it off with a drizzle of chocolate ganache.   A little piece of Samoa makes an adorable and super tasty decoration on top.  

This is a non-recipe recipe!  Take 2 cupcake pans and line them with standard-sized cupcake liners.  Place a Samoa cookie on the bottom of each liner.  You will probably need about 3 boxes of Samoa cookies because unfortunately they only put about 15 cookies in each package.  The nerve of them!  Anyway, save some for the garnish on top!

Next, mix up your favorite chocolate cake recipe,  If it's from a box, no judgement here!  I only ask that you make your own frosting.  Please, please, please do not buy the can!  American buttercream frosting is so simple to make and so, so, so much better that chemical infused yucky canned stuff.  

To make a vanilla bean buttercream, simply beat 2 sticks of room temperature unsalted butter with 6 cups of powdered sugar, 1/2 cup of whole milk, a very generous tablespoon of pure vanilla extract and a pinch of salt.  There ya go.


Here is how to make some yummy chocolate ganache...

Pour one cup of heavy whipping cream into a microwavable glass bowl. Add one heaping cup of semi sweet chocolate chips, heat for 1 minute in your microwave. Mix well. If it needs to melt some more just put it in the microwave for another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add a teaspoon of vanilla and bada-bang baby, you got yourself some ganache. 

Enjoy,








Thursday, February 26, 2015

Portobello Mushrooms Rockefeller


This recipe is a perfect for meat-free Fridays during lent or anytime you want a vegetarian appetizer, side dish or main.


Portobello Mushrooms Rockefeller

Serves 2-4


Ingredients

  • 4 medium-size portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzerella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 medium shallots, diced small
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces fresh baby spinach, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Remove the stems from the portobello mushrooms and chop the stems. 
  3. Hollow out the mushrooms so that there is more room for stuffing.
  4. Set the whole mushroom caps aside.
  5. In a medium heated frying pan melt the butter then add the olive oil, shallots, garlic, and mushroom stems. Saute until soft, about 3 minutes. 
  6. Deglaze the pan with the white wine.
  7. Pour in cream and mix well. 
  8. Add chopped spinach and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. 
  9. Add the grated parmesan and panko breadcrumbs . The sauce will thicken when heated through, another few minutes. Remove from heat.
  10. On a baking sheet with a baking rack, arrange mushroom cavity-side up. 
  11. Spoon in enough spinach mixture to fill the portobello mushroom cap.
  12. Top with mozzarella cheese. 
  13. Bake for about 20 minutes. 
  14. Remove mushrooms from the oven and serve warm. 
(Recipe adapted from cookingchannel.com)

Enjoy!




Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sweet & Spicy Asian Wings


I love Asian flavors.  I love wings.  Most of all, I love the two together!  The sauce for these wings is kind of like a "kitchen sink" of a recipe.  I just kept throwing things in that I thought would add to the many layers of flavor.  Result, BAM!  Big flavor!  Now, some of you may like the extra crispy texture of wings that are deep fried.  If that is the case then by all means, fry them!  The wings in this recipe are baked.  They are not quite as crispy as fried but they are healthier and taste just as delicious!  I am going to make up a couple of batches of these for the Super Bowl this Sunday!  Go Pats!

Sweet & Spicy Asian Wings


Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs of chicken wings, split in half, tips cut off and discarded
  • 1/2 C apricot jam
  • 1/4 C hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 C soy sauce
  • 1/4 C rice vinegar
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP freshly grated ginger root
  • 1 TBSP crushed red pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 TBSP freshly minced garlic
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • dash of sesame oil
  • 1 TBSP chopped cilantro
  • 1 TBSP green onion
  • 1 TBSP toasted sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Pat chicken wings dry with paper towels and place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. (I baked the wings on foil the first time and the chicken skin stuck to the foil, even with lots of oil.)  Spray wings well on both sides with a non-stick cooking oil spray.
  3. Bake in the oven until golden brown and crispy (about 45-50 minutes) turning halfway through.
  4. While the chicken is baking, make the sauce.  In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, combine jam, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, fresh ginger, crushed red pepper, fresh garlic, lime zest, lime juice and sesame oil.  Mix together well and cook until thickened (about 15 minutes).
  5. Keep the sauce warm on the stove on low heat until the wings are done baking.  When the wings are done baking, pour the sauce into a large bowl.  Add the wings and toss to coat.  
  6. Transfer the coated wings to a serving platter.  Garnish with cilantro, green onion and toasted sesame seeds.

Enjoy, and Go Pats!



Hot Cheesy Bacon Dip



It's no secret that I am a total foodie.  I am also a huge football fan!  So, the week before the Super Bowl is a pretty big deal to me.  To say that I am excited about this year's Super Bowl is a total understatement.  My team, the New England Patriots are playing the Seattle Seahawks. There are a whole lot of Seahawks fans here in Idaho so I've been receiving a whole lotta smack talk about "Deflategate" lately.  I am so over it all and just want to watch some football!  I won't be hosting a party on Super Bowl Sunday this year because if I invite friends over they might actually talk to me during the game!  :)  I will have a few friends over who know better than to do that.  I came up with this yummy, hot, ooey, gooey, cheesy bacon dip to serve up for them during half time.  I tried it out on some friends last night and it was a huge hit!  Here is the recipe...

Hot Cheesy Bacon Dip

serves 4-6




Ingredients:

  • 8 oz package of cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 1/2 C sour cream
  • 2 1/2 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 lb bacon, cooked to crispy and chopped up
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced small (leave the seeds and ribs in if you like it spicy!)
  • 6 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 dash of worcestershire sauce
  • bread, crackers, chips or veggies for dipping

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sour cream on low with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy (1 to 2 minutes)
  3. Add the shredded cheese, cooked and chopped bacon, green onions, jalapeno, and dash of worcestershire sauce and mix well with a rubber spatula.
  4. Put the dip into a 1 quart oven-safe baking dish and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted throughout. 
  5. Serve immediately with bread, crackers, chips or veggies.

If you live in the Boise area, tune into Good Morning Idaho at 6:40 a.m. on Channel 6 or at 7:20 a.m. on Channel 9 to watch me make this recipe LIVE!  

Enjoy, and GO PATS!