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DSC_9607 (1600x1060)We tried not to go overboard for the Xmas Day menu where we end up with tons of leftovers.  I think we did pretty well.  I did the turkey breasts in duck fat, just like the leg quarters we did here.  Alas, there’s no way to make modern day turkey breasts taste better than “just OK” but at least these weren’t dry.  The stuff just above the cranberry sauce was a new side for us – corn pudding.DSC_9598 (1600x1060)There are scores of recipes for this dish online, I didn’t follow any particular one.  Mine has bacon, onions, and chopped bell peppers along with whole and creamed corn.  I used Parmesan in it but most any cheese should work – cream cheese was often mentioned.  Jiffy cornbread mix is a popular ingredient but I just used my usual yellow corn meal.  DSC_9599 (1600x1060)St Francis got in a Maine Coon-ish kitty the other day from a fellow that is active in the rescue business but is having health issues and can’t keep up his regular pace.  He brought this boy in the other day with three other cats that the shelter had agreed to take off his hands.DSC01477 (1600x1060)Maine Coons are reputed to be most excellent pets and can grow pretty big.  The mane should grow quite long.  This fellow has just been neutered and is still woozy from the anesthetic.DSC_9611 (1600x1060)I’m sure turkey noodle soup was pretty commonly on the table for many this week.  It’s a good way to use up that leftover turkey.  I dropped a couple of eggs into the simmering soup to let them poach.  Worked great!  I did spoon some hot broth over the tops to help them along.DSC_9615 (1600x1060)Another way to use up that turkey!  I bought some canned biscuit dough on a whim the other day and one can didn’t have enough to cover.  I think if I do this again that I’ll par bake the biscuits separately before topping the filling so that the bottoms aren’t quite so doughy.  I took these off, flipped them over on a tray, and slid them under the broiler for a spell.  That went a long way to repair the initial error.DSC01442 (1600x1200)Here’s another shelter kitty.  Staff have named him George, he’s been with them for 5 or 6 months.  Adult cats don’t place as quickly as kittens.  Mrs J says he’s a good one, friendly and playful with the other cats.DSC_9581 (1600x1060)I’ll wrap this with a cheeseburger –  pickle, onion, mustard.  I jazzed the mustard with minced peppers and onion to where it’s more of a relish than plain mustard.  Sometimes all you want is a basic burger and fries.

Turkey Leg Confit

DSC_9582 [1600x1060]I finally found the time to gather all the parts I needed for my first go around with the confit method of cookery.  I’m not sure that’s quite the right term, confit is more a method of preservation than cooking.  Generally speaking, a food item is salted down for a day or two, then cooked at a low temperature while covered in fat.  Duck fat is all the rage in foodie circles but it can be done with most any any vegetable oil.  I’m using the duck fat I bought the other day with a couple of turkey legs that have spent the night marinating in garlic, thyme, and kosher salt.DSC_9587 [1600x1060]Brush off all the salt you can then cover with fat.  This quarter sized hotel pan was just right for this because it didn’t take a lot of fat to fully cover the legs.  I made a foil cover and cooked them at around 200 degrees for about 4 hours.  I was able to easily poke a skewer right through the legs.  They were showing 185 degrees on my digital temperature probe.DSC_9589 [1600x1060]I managed to get them out without them falling apart, mostly.  I gobbled down the pieces that came off, declaring then and there that the project was a success.  Yum!DSC_9590 [1600x1060]I served them up with smashed tiny golden potatoes and Brussels sprouts that were tossed with the handy duck fat and roasted.  I am a big fan of duck fat roasted stuff.  Where has it been all my life!  LOL

Braised Turkey Update

Braised turkey prep


I stashed away a frozen turkey just before Thanksgiving and when I had fully recovered from the family festivities, I decided I would try the braising method found here. I did not brine it first (I’ve made it no secret I do not understand brining – extra work and messy for not much reward IMHO).

This method is fairly easy to do. You need to have a sharp knife to separate the leg/thighs from the bird and I also removed the backbone and wings before cooking to use for soup stock.

I can’t say that it was any better or worse than the cooking in a bag method, but it did make the best gravy ever. So I might do it again.


Moar Turkey!

DSC_9493 (1600x1060)I nearly dropped the whole stock pot last night while carrying it down to the basement fridge.  I did slop a pint or so out onto the stairs but they cleaned up well enough, just bare wood – no carpet.  I brought it back up this afternoon and ladled out portions to freeze, and brought the rest to a boil for the dumplings.  Simple rolled dumplings: flour, salt, baking powder, lard, and milk enough to moisten.  These could have spent more time simmering but they were close enough done to eat.  I stirred in a can of cream of celery soup just to get that can out of the pantry.  I bought it long ago for an abandoned project, long enough ago I don’t remember what I had intended for it.

Mmm… Mini Pot Pies

DSC_9487 (1600x1060)Mrs J makes a killer pie crust using the butter recipe.  We like these with crusts on the bottom, too.  I bought some 6″ anodized aluminum pie pans a while ago and these pies came right out of them without greasing the pan,  Lots of butter in the crust.DSC_9481 (1600x1060)Sometimes I mix the fillings with the white sauce, these were assembled in layers – veggies then meat then sauce, then the same again.DSC_9482 (1600x1060)I cooked a white sauce with a little nutmeg and a teaspoon of dry mustard.  It seemed lacking so I turned it into a mornay sauce by grating in a few ounces of Parmesan.  It would have been a little better with more half and half, these came out a bit drier than I like.DSC_9483 (1600x1060)Top them with another crust and seal the rims with a fork, trim the excess dough, then give them an egg wash.  This wash was a whole egg beaten with a dollop of dairy.DSC_9484 (1600x1060)Pop them into a 350 oven until they get some nice color, about 30 minutes.

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


Chicken Dumplings

DSC_8372 (1600x1060)I found a frozen block of turkey broth while rummaging through the big box and dragged it out.  I added more broth and a few more chicken thighs, tossed in some veggies and a bag of dumplings that have been in the freezer since I can’t remember when.  It all simmered for a good while but the dumplings never did get quite right, they’ll be better tomorrow when they have had more time to soak.

Turkey Soup

DSC_7646 (1600x1060)It was pretty cold overnight, down into the teens.  We got a bare dusting of snow but that will go away today.  Strong south wind and warming temps today, we have made it into the 40s but there is a chance for sprinkles later.  Soup sounded pretty good.  This one has the turkey and some baby carrots along with a wild rice mix from Zatarain.  They make good rice mixes and we really like the wild/long grain rice mix they sell.  It’s been absent from the local market so we ordered a case online.

Hearty Turkey Soup on a Cold December Day

It’s still chilly here, though the Arctic blast has moved on. I decided to use up the leftover turkey and test out my new mandolin at the same time and make a big pot of soup for lunches this week.

When I roast a turkey, I always save the wings and legs, freezing them for soup later on.  You can also save the carcass, which I do sometimes, but really most times it seems like too much trouble.   You can also freeze leftovers, but I find dark meat works best because the white meat tends to get tough once it’s frozen, even when simmered for hours in soup.

You can add anything you want. I didn’t have beans, so I substituted whole wheat egg noodles. I cook them separately, so they don’t get too mushy and add them to the bowl and pour the soup over them.

Hearty Turkey Soup

  • Wings and Legs of turkey, cooked
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 carrots,  julienned (frozen ok)
  • 2 stalk of celery and celery leaves,  julienned
  • 1 cup green beans, frozen or canned
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 15 oz can Cannellini beans*
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, add turkey, broth and water.  Bring to a boil and let boil 10 minutes.  Reduce heat and add remaining ingredients.  Let simmer for 20 minutes, remove legs and wings, let cool enough to remove remaining meat (most will have fallen off).  Add meat back to soup and let simmer another 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaf and serve with Buttermilk Biscuits and Cranberry Sauce.

*Cannellini beans are large and have that traditional kidney shape. With a slightly nutty taste and mild earthiness, they have a relatively thin skin and tender, creamy flesh. They hold their shape well and are one of the best white beans for salads and ragouts.


Originally posted November 2011

Sammich Pr0n – Thanksgiving Leftovers

DSC_7415 (1600x1060)An alternate version might have garlic mashed potatoes and candied yam slices.  This one used the praline sweet potatoes in lieu of both. Also: Chopped turkey, green beans, dressing, and cranberry sauce.  Don’t forget the cranberry sauce!  It holds everything together.DSC_7409 (1600x1060)


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