Author Archives: TaMara

Friday Recipe Exchange: Preparing for Thanksgiving

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Cornbread Stuffing Photo by JeffreyW

Bixby and I are hitting the road for the holiday, as long as the weather stays nice. I’m planning on arriving early so I can help with prep, because I like love to cook. Bixby is growing fast and you can see his latest photo here, along with a quick update. I hope he does as well in the car as he did last trip.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, next to 4th of July. Food, family, friends…and leftovers. I compiled some favorite recipes for tonight’s recipe exchange.

JefferyW makes Cornbread Stuffing,  part 1 here and part 2 here.

Roasted Butternut Apple Soup makes a great starter, recipe here.

I think I’m going to volunteer for mashed potato duty this year so I can make these again, a lost recipe found, Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes, link here. I made them years ago and then completely forgot about the recipe.

And this recipe is the reason I think I get invited to many holiday gatherings, my Cranberry Upside Down Cake, click here.

Since my brother is cooking again this year, we’ll probably have deep fried turkey, which is ok by me, as long as I’m not cooking it. I have a real fear of deep frying anything, which is why all the deep fried recipes on the blog are from JeffreyW. I will still cook a turkey, though, because, leftovers. This year I’m going to try the braising method from America’s Test Kitchen’s Braised Turkey technique, link here, minus the brining.

Not sure how you want to cook your turkey this year? I’ve listed some ideas from people smarter than I am: turkey four different ways, here.

What’s on the menu for your Thanksgiving this year? Do you have a must-have recipe for your holiday dinner?

I’m not a fan of traditional candied sweet potatoes, so tonight’s featured recipes are some non-traditional styles of recipes for sweet potatoes.

Cajun Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter,  melted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • ¼ tsp cumin (opt)

Covered casserole dish, well-greased

Steamer and saucepan

In saucepan, add water, steamer and sweet potatoes. Steam until you can easily stick a fork in them. They don’t need to be completely soft. About 10-15 minutes. Add sweet potatoes to casserole dish. Combine oil, butter and spices. Pour evenly over potatoes. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes until potatoes are soft. You can adjust cooking time if you prefer your firmer or softer potatoes.

Sweet Potatoes w/Apples

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 apples, cored & sliced
  • 8 oz can sliced pineapple (including liquid)
  • 2 tsp butter
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt

2 qt casserole dish, greased

Add ingredients to casserole dish. Stir gently and bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes, uncovered, until apples and potatoes are very soft. Cover if it begins to brown too much

That’s it for this week. No recipe exchange next week I hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.   – TaMara

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Bixby Update: Growing Up Fast

Bixby 11 20 14 final

Bixby is busy doing Bixby things, important things, like rolling on the floor chewing on his favorite stuffed dog and chasing playing with cats, so I thought I’d give you a quick update. First I went looking for photos for the week and realized I didn’t have any. You’d be surprised (or maybe not) how difficult it is to get photos of a very rambunctious puppy. Especially when I have the camera, he always wants to ‘see’ what I’m doing and the best I can get is a photo of his left nostril.

No one wants to see that.

So I convinced him to sit up on the couch and be still for all of 5 seconds (treats may have been involved), so I could get this shot. That’s right, you’re looking at a photo taken just moments ago. And I’m fairly certain that he’s grown about  a 1/4 inch since I snapped it.

At five months, he’s just so very smart and so very easy to train. We are working on more complex problems right now, like not being in the kitchen while I’m cooking, asking to be on the couch, understanding that while I’m working, I cannot also be petting, playing or otherwise entertaining him. He’s a quick a study. He also has a stubborn streak and will give me a look and then do exactly what I just said he couldn’t do. Because, well because he’s Bixby.

Some video from two weeks and 10 lbs ago:

The video isn’t much, but I’ve been trying to get video of him flying off the deck (stairs, who needs stairs?) like super-dog. I was not completely successful, but I’ll keep trying. And the play stance of him, butt up, tail wagging is one of my favorites, it really reflects his whole view on life right now. Happy, fun, tail wagging. He reminds me everyday to stop taking it all so seriously.

I’m trying Bixby, I’m trying.

Paw print

 

Thanksgiving Files: Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I was looking through the archives trying to decide which recipes to repeat and this one caught my eye, mostly because I had totally forgotten this cooking method. So reposting as an idea for your holiday dinner. For all the Thanksgiving recipes, click on this link: Thanksgiving Files.

I’m never going to turn away mashed potatoes.  Ever.  But I do have a favorite style – unpeeled and hand mashed potatoes.  I love creamy ones too, but with a good gravy, the hearty ones really hold up.

A while I ago I wrote about a mistake I made cooking potatoes and how I used a recipe I remembered from a few weeks before to save them.  Well, I decided to try it for real this time.  I could not track down the recipe, but did the best I could with what I remembered.  I must have remembered pretty well.  They turned out great.

This recipe uses unpeeled potatoes, but you can peel them and whip them for creamy mashed potatoes suitable for the fanciest Thanksgiving table.  And don’t be startled, but you don’t boil the potatoes either, you cook them in cream and butter. Yummy.

Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • 1/4 cup water or broth
  • 3 tbsp to 1/4 cup of butter
  • 4-6 small garlic gloves, peeled and minced
  • 6 to 8 medium potatoes (russet or yukon gold work best)

4-qt saucepan

Add half & half, water, butter and garlic cloves to the pan and turn heat to low and let butter melt and liquid heat.  Meanwhile, scrub potatoes well and cut small (not diced, but smaller than 1-inch cubes).  Add to liquid and turn heat to high.  Stir constantly until liquid begins to boil, turn heat down to medium-low, cover and let cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 20-30 minutes.  Keep an eye on them and turn the heat lower if it looks like they might stick – if you feel like you need more liquid, add half & half.  There is so much water in the potatoes, this technique works really well.  And the potatoes are extremely creamy because you haven’t soaked them in water.  When they are tender, turn off heat and mash to desired constancy.

Originally posted November 2011

Thanksgiving Files: Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

In preparation for next week, I thought I would highlight a few of my favorite Thanksgiving ideas. Also, to see all of them, click on this link: Thanksgiving Files.

This is by far the most requested dessert I make.  This time of year every dinner I attend, this is what I am asked to bring. I’ll be making two tonight to take to various get-togethers  this week.  Easy, easy, easy and foolproof, but always a beautiful presentation.  If you’re looking to wow, try this one.  From 2009:

Cranberries are on sale!  Buy them now, because I’ve got some great cranberry recipes coming up.  I’m starting with this one, because if you’re going to be a guest at someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner, this is the dish to take.  It’s pretty to look at and it’s both sweet and tangy, perfect after a big dinner.  You’ll wow everyone with it and it’s foolproof to make.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups cranberries, chopped*
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp orange zest (rind)
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk

Topping

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tbsp orange juice (more as needed)
  • 2 tsp butter, softened

8×8 glass baking dish & mixing bowl

Preheat oven to 350°

Melt 3 tbsp of butter and pour into baking dish, spread to cover bottom and up the sides. Add ½ cup sugar, mix with butter on bottom of pan. Add cranberries & walnuts, spread over bottom of pan. Cream remaining butter & sugar, add vanilla, egg, orange zest, mix well. Add flour, baking powder & milk, mix until well blended, don’t over mix. Pour batter over cranberry mixture. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and center bounces back at the touch. Invert on plate. Let cool.

Topping: Mix together butter, orange juice & powdered sugar, pour over cake and serve.

* if you don’t have a food processor, you can leave cranberries whole.

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Friday Dinner Music: Jeremy Jordan, Losing My Mind

Sometimes people lead me to the best things:

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Spicy Pumpkin Cookies with Crumble Topping

Finally got down to some cooking. I started the week out with Pumpkin Squares (recipe here), a real favorite with everyone, so a big pan goes pretty quickly. Then it was on to a good spicy pumpkin cookie, the featured recipe tonight. The photo shows both a crumble topping and a cream cheese frosting, but since I really preferred the crumble topping, that’s what I included in the recipe. These freeze well, so they can travel to Thanksgiving dinner with family.

I really wanted to make a Pumpkin Bundt Cake this year, so I went searching for recipes and adapted one to use buttermilk, click here, which I thought created a very moist, flavorful cake.

And finally, Pumpkin Cream Pie with a brown sugar whipped cream topping, which I am really enjoying at Thanksgiving instead of the traditional custard pumpkin pie. Pictures and recipe here. I’ll probably make it again this year.

For the pet lovers, Bixby update is here. He’s five months old this week and a wild thing. And as I was writing this, JeffreyW put up some adorable photos of shelter puppies in sweaters, click here. Please keep your squeals to a minimum.

Now it’s your turn. Are you a fan of pumpkin? I know it can be one of those ingredients that inspires a very strong response, either positive or negative. What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe or product this time of year? If not pumpkin, what treat really puts you in a fall mood?

Tonight’s recipe:

Spicy Pumpkin Cookies with Crumble Topping

Cookies

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (14 ounces)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice

Cream together butter and sugar; add egg, pumpkin, and vanilla, mixing well. Sift together dry ingredients and slowly mix into pumpkin mixture and mix until well combined. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, then drop by spoonful on a baking sheet. Top with crumble topping, pressing gently into the dough. Refrigerate remaining dough until ready to bake.

Bake for 12-13 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 2 dozen

Topping

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix together until crumbly

That’s it for this week. Stay warm – TaMara

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Pumpkin Buttermilk Bundt Cake

Pumpkin Cake Slices

This was a much more successful pumpkin recipe. Very moist, very flavorful And if you’re creative, you can make it look like a pumpkin. Because I’m at high altitude, I should have remembered to add 2 tbsp extra flour. Next time.

Pumpkin Buttermilk Bundt Cake

  • 2-1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 Tbsp buttermilk powder
  • 3 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 15 oz can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup water

Icing:

  • 1 -1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk (more or less as needed)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

bowls, bundt pan

Butter and flour bundt pan generously. In bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy (about 3 minutes), add eggs, beat 1 minute. Add pumpkin and vanilla and beat on low until incorporated, scraping sides frequently. Alternate adding the flour mixture and water until all are incorporated with the pumpkin mixture and batter is smooth.

Spoon into the bundt pan and gently tap pan on the counter to remove any bubbles and even out the batter.

Bake at 350 degrees until a wooden skewer comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes, then invert on a plate and remove from bundt pan. Let cool completely before frosting.

Icing:  Add vanilla to powdered sugar  and then slowly add milk until mixture is smooth. Pour evenly over cooled cake. (I added yellow and red food coloring for some Halloween fun)

 

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Bixby Diaries: I’m 5 Months Old Today

Bixby 11 8 14

UPDATE: We finally made it to the vet for a weigh-in. My little guy is at 67 lbs. Looks like we’ll be adding another cup of food to his day.

It’s been a while, I know, but my person and I have been so busy. She’s been working and looking for a new home for us. I’m mostly just having fun. I’m five months old today. I weigh ??? (TaMara’s note: Today was the day to go get weighed but snow and cold kept us housebound, I’ll update tomorrow with his weight, but it’s likely 65 lbs) and when I stand on my hind legs, I can easily hug my person around her neck.

Bixby 11 8 1422

Big doings lately. I’ve been riding in the car without my crate for quite a while now and my person says I’m doing awesome. Well, mostly. She’s pulled the car over a couple of times when I wouldn’t listen and tried to climb in the back area of the car. She says it’s not safe. She says it very loudly.

I’m doing well on all my commands, my person has added “come” and “down” (which she reminds everyone is not the same as “off”). TaMara’s Note: Come still seems to mean, run around the yard like a crazy thing.

11 8 14 River

I had my first (well if you don’t count my trip to come to my new home) road trip. It was great fun. I felt like I was in the car forever, but I got a lot of walks in very interesting places (my person called them ‘rest stops’ though we didn’t rest there at all).

When we finally stopped driving we were at my other family’s home, filled with other kitties, a sweet little girl and my person’s brother and sister-in-law. So many new things to see and take in, and little kids to play with, I really like them.

The best part was one night we went for a long walk with lots of kids and big people, stopping at house after house. Everyone was soooo excited, it was hard to not run around crazy like they were doing, and everywhere we went everyone wanted to pet me and tell me how handsome I am. I can’t wait to do it again.

Quiet Time for 2

All that excitement, I missed a lot of my naps. Finally crashed while my sweet little girl read me a bedtime story. Another whole day of fun and then it was time to go back home.

Back in the car, we drove forever again, but finally we were home and I really think my kitties missed me because they are all hanging out with me a lot more. That makes me very happy.

Not really friends but trying

Everyday my person and I go out to the ponds for a long walk. I really like this, so many smells, so many birds and just enough people to make it interesting. We practice all kinds of things there: come, stay, stop, walk, heel and how to sit when bicycles fly by. I really want to chase them, but sitting makes my person so happy, I’d rather sit.

Love my stuffy2

TaMara’s note: I thought it would be fun to compare and contrast Bixby in photos:

11 9 14 stuffy

This week (above)…and his first week with me(below):

Bixby Sleep

I still love my stuffy, even though I don’t fit on him quite the same.

Love my stuffy

That’s it for me, I’ll update when I can. Until then, know I’m having a blast and growing every day. – Bixby

Paw print

Thank You To All Who Serve…

…and to the families who support them while they do.

Coming from a military family – not just my immediate family, but extended family as well – Veteran’s Day has always been very important to me.   Please remember those who are serving and those who have served.

Thanks Dad!  Thanks Paul!  And a big thank you to all my family who have served and the loved ones so supported them while they served (that covers just about every member of my family).  Love you!

 

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My Black Beauty

Bixby 11 8 1422

 I’ll have an update later this week. But this is from our (daily) walk today.

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