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Author Archives: TaMara

Paris Whimsy

One of my favorite photos from Paris. Catching these two. A moment later they somehow lost them.



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Perfect Pencil Tree

I decided this year that, because Bixby and Bailey loved to rough-house, I needed a tree I could tuck away and easily block off. So I snagged a pencil tree in October when they were on sale. It was bittersweet when I put it up…

I must say though, I really like the look of it and glad I made the jump to an artificial tree.

I’ve Been Keeping a Secret

Meet Scout, Bixby’s Christmas present:

She is a Merle Great Dane, her dad is practically Bixby’s clone.  She arrives Jan 5. More of her story then…stay tuned…



Christmas Cookie Exchange: A Few Holiday Favorites

Sunday is my annual cookie baking day with friends. Most of goodies are going into gift boxes, but I’ll hold enough back for my annual Christmas Eve dinner. This is the usual round-up.

Pictured above:

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe here

Spritz Cookies, recipes and instructions for using a cookie press here.

Pecan Cookies, recipe below.  Much more below the fold.

But wait, there’s more! Click to read

Happy Hanukkah!

This Guy

Makes me laugh every day. I told him when he was a puppy he had two jobs: make me laugh and protect me. He does both with the same enthusiasm. Although his protection is subtle – he backs up, sits on my feet, which brings him up to my chest, and dares anyone to step closer without saying a word. We were laughing the other night and saying if he were a person, he’d be Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Love that pup.



Paris In The Fall: Day 1

I’ve been having difficulty putting Paris into words, which is why the delay in my promised posts. I think I just feel that everything that can be said about the City of Lights has already been said. But I’ll give it a shot.

Paris was beautiful and I enjoyed every moment of it. The people were friendly, kind and welcoming. Fall was in full force as we walked….everywhere. We mastered the Metro and wound our way through the tree line streets to museums, gardens, cafes and the cemetery.

The Eiffel Tower was directly outside the hotel window creating a pretty sweet nightlight with hourly sparkles.

I found many things as I walked through quiet museums and busy neighborhoods, but what I did not find was my heart. There was beauty, art and history, all things I love. But I was really surprised that as much as I loved it, it was not the zing to my heart that I expected.

Maybe a girl can only have one city steal her heart, and mine was stolen by Boston long, long ago. Still, every day in Paris was a lovely adventure.

There’s more and I’ll share in the days to come…especially the cemetery…



cross-posted at Annie DeMoranville Writes

Thanksgiving Feast

Kept it low key, but still have a ton  of leftovers.  From left to right – cheesey potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, GF stuffing, regular  stuffing, green bean casserole and of course the star of the day – turkey and roasted vegetables.

I hope everyone had a wonderful day.

Now back to work for me!



 

Moment of Zen: Thanksgiving Sunset

It was about 70 degrees here today, so after a very nice dinner, we went for a walk. Lovely sunset.

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving.



Thanksgiving Files: Spatchcock Turkey Is the Way To Go

Spatchcock Turkey finish

This is the only way I’ve been preparing turkey since my first attempt. The only thing I changed up from that first time I prepared it, I skip the metal rack and instead place the bird on a bed of carrots, celery and onion. With the shorter cooking time, the flavor needs the boost the roasting veggies add.

From 2015:

Sometimes the scariest part of the Thanksgiving Dinner is the worry that the turkey will not turn out properly – undercooked, overcooked, dry, flavorless – and ruin the whole meal. I’ve cooked in bags, roasted, braised, fried, deboned – about everything but brine. I’m not a fan of brining. And still every year I worry.

This year I decided to try removing the backbone and flattening the bird, cooking it at a high temperature for a shorter cooking time. It seemed like it was pretty foolproof and stress free and the bird turned out great.

BTW, my recommendation is to always get two smaller birds instead of one massive bird – you’ll have a much better outcome with shorter cooking times. Not to mention not having to worry about fitting a huge bird in the oven. We usually do an oven bird, then grill, smoke or fry another.

For this recipe, a good set of poultry shears makes quick work of removing the backbone. I prepped the bird yesterday, wrapped it up and refrigerated it. This gave me time to make a nice broth from the backbone, giblets and neck last night (see notes below) and make the cranberry sauce, because it’s always better the next day.

Spatchcock Turkey Prep

Roasted Spatchcock Turkey

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 whole turkey (10-12 pounds)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Rimmed baking sheet, rack

In a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, crush together pepper, salt, sage and rosemary and add to brown sugar. Set aside.

With a sharp knife or scissors, remove the back bone of the turkey, flip over and press down on the breast bone to break and flatten. I wasn’t quite strong enough, so I turned the bird over, scored the bone, flipped it back and tried again, this time it broke easily. I then trimmed off the wing tips. See my notes below on what to do with the back and wing tips.

Place the bird flat, breast side up, on the rack in the baking sheet. Rub with spice mix and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Before cooking drizzle olive oil over turkey and roast for 1 hour or until the temperature of the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees. Remove from the oven, tent with foil and let rest for 30 minutes (during this time the bird temperature will reach 165 degrees and thighs should be 175 degrees).

Carve and serve.

NOTES: I took the back, wing tips, neck and giblets, covered them with water and simmered them for about an hour. I then used the broth for both the stuffing and gravy. I also cooked the stuffing in the oven, in a baking dish, uncovered, with the turkey. They finished up about the same time.

The next time I make this, I would forego the metal rack and instead use a roasting pan and place the bird on a bed of carrots, celery and onion. With the shorter cooking time, the flavor could use the boost. I do feel this is a great technique for wood grilling or smoking.

More Recipes: We have a bunch, a peck, a bushel, of Thanksgiving recipes, including my favorite Upside-Down Cranberry Cake (here), No Boil Mashed Potatoes (here), and Non-Traditional Sides (here), click on this link for all the other recipes or search by name or ingredient in the search box at the bottom of the blog.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!  – TaMara

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