Friday Recipe Exchange: Thanksgiving Files

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Is this thing on? I know it’s been forever – the house, work and puppies have taken most of my time. Cooking lately is mostly just for sustanance, nothing terribly creative. But Thanksgiving is almost here! Time to get cookin’.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, next to 4th of July. Food, family, friends…and leftovers. I’m going to have a house full this year and I’m excited to host. Although I wasn’t expecting to have a puppy thrown in the mix, but that just makes it more interesting. I have compiled some of my most requested holiday recipes for tonight’s exchange.

JefferyW makes Cornbread Stuffing, (pictured above) part 1 here and part 2 here.

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

Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes, click here – my family loves these, though the first time I made them they mocked me until they were served because the cooking method is so unusual. I cook them early and keep them warm in a slow-cooker while everything else cooks and stove top space is at a premium.

Two Brussels Sprout dishes: Pan Roasted with Pancetta and Onions (recipe here) and JeffreyW’s Brussels Sprout and Potato Au Gratin (click here)

Yum. What do you mean I have to take a bunch of pictures before I can even try it?

There will be a variety of pies this year, but instead of the traditional Pumpkin Pie, I’m making Pumpkin Cream Pie (above), the recipe is here, plus there are additional pumpkin dessert ideas at the link.

For the main course, we’ve made turkeys a bunch of ways here, including a Spatchcock Turkey, recipe here. For something more traditional, here are some ideas from people smarter than I am: turkey four different ways, good stuff 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 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. I hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.   – TaMara



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Turkey Confit

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I did these turkey leg quarters last week and they’ve been in the basement fridge since then.  I finally brought them up today to finish them off for a nice Sunday dinner.I only had duck fat enough for one so I bought some cheap olive oil for the second one.  These have just spent four hours in a 275-ish oven and I’ve already lost track of which was which but I sorted them out today when they warmed back up a little.  I did do the green salt thing on both, letting them spend the night with a generous coating.DSC_1446You will want to brush most of it off but leave a little on because it’s delicious.  I found a few recipes online for the salt mix but most agree that fresh thyme and parsley should be part of it, tarragon, bay leaves, and green onions were also suggested.  This time I went with parsley, thyme, and sage.  A food processor makes short work of blending the kosher salt with the herbs.  Like mine, they can spend a week or more submerged in the oil.  When you are ready to eat them, let most of the fat drain off then brown them in a skillet on the stove top and then pop the skillet into the oven to warm through.DSC_1517I made more cranberry sauce to go with the turkey, and roasted some root veggies with honey and olive oil.  There’s a slab of Parmesan polenta under there, too.  These are absolutely the best turkey legs I’ve ever eaten.  The green salt was perfect and the meat came right away from the bones.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Thanksgiving Non-Traditional Side Dishes

JeffreyW's Roasted Brussels Sprout and Potato Gratin

JeffreyW’s Roasted Brussels Sprout and Potato Gratin

This is the time of year when we get a lot of blog visits from people looking for side dishes. And I have a lot of recipes for the traditional holiday sides, desserts and instructions on the various ways to cook your turkey. JeffreyW has a ton of mouthwatering photos. All of that can be found at at this link.

I thought it would be nice though, to focus on some non-traditional sides for tonight’s recipe exchange. In case you were looking for something different to showcase this year.

Soups make a nice starter at for any meal and tonight’s featured recipe is a savory winter soup. I also have a nice Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup, (click here)

JefferyW favors brussels sprouts and came up with this wonderful recipe, Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin pictured above. (click here)

Roasted Brussels sprouts are pretty easy, and leave it to Emeril Lagasse to “kick it up a notch” with his Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Grilled Onions. (click here)

I’m not big on the whole candied sweet potatoes, so I went looking for alternatives and found three I like,  African Sweet Potato Salad, Cajun Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes and Apples, click here for all the recipes. You can also just roast them in the oven, and I found two really good recipes here (honey roasted) and here (thyme roasted).

What are your Thanksgiving plans? Are you doing the cooking or does someone else have the honors? And most importantly, what are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes?

The Thanksgiving featured recipe is one that works great as an appetizer:

Need to keep everyone out of the kitchen while you finish up dinner prep?  Set up a buffet table with a raw vegetable tray and dip, a bowl of nuts (in their shells) along with a couple of nutcrackers and this soup in a slowcooker to keep it warm and that should keep your guests occupied while you cook.

Winter Squash Soup

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3-1/4 pounds butternut or acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into large pieces
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 carrot, quartered
  • 1 celery stalk, quartered
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Chopped chives (for garnish)

Large sauce pan

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the squash, onions, carrot, celery and garlic; sauté until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken broth, apple juice, thyme and sage. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from stove. Puree the vegetables until smooth with a hand blender or in batches in the food processor or blender. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if desired.

***Soup can be made to this point 1 day ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.***

Return soup to pot and bring to a simmer. Add the sherry and simmer about 2 minutes. Stir in the cream, sour cream and nutmeg until well combined. Place soup into large soup tureen and garnish with chives. Place on appetizer table with small bowls & spoons and let everyone help themselves.

That’s everything this week. There won’t be a recipe exchange next Friday, but next week I’ll be featuring more recipes for the holiday. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. – TaMara

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Dinner Menu: Better Late than Never, Spicy Chicken Stew

It has been a crazy week and I was going to skip the weekly dinner menu, except it falls completely inline with the Friday Recipe Exchange tonight.

Meanwhile in the kitchen right now I’m making a gluten-free Pumpkin Cake, I’ll post the recipe later, as soon as I know if it came out ok. Company on the way to taste test. 🙂 Although they do not know  it.

On the board tonight:

  1. Spicy Chicken Stew
  2. Sweet Potatoes w/Apples
  3. Tossed Salad
  4. Shortbread

Spicy Chicken Stew

Slow-Cooker Meal

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 boneless breasts, large cubes
  • ½ lb smoked sausage, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds

Slow-Cooker

Combine all ingredients (except almonds) into Slow-Cooker, cook according to manufacturer’s directions (usually on low) for 8-10 hours. Add almonds, simmer 5 minutes & serve.

Sweet Potatoes w/Apples

  • 2 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 sweet potatoes and ¼ cup water to casserole dish and microwave for 3 to 5 minutes (until potatoes are fork tender, add more water if needed) Add remaining ingredients to casserole dish, stir gently and bake at 450° for 20 to 30 minutes, uncovered, until apples and potatoes are very soft.

UPDATE: I just received an email from a friend who said that you can actually put all the ingredients from the stew and the sweet potato recipes into the same slow-cooker and create a very popular Mexican stew called Mancha Manteles.  Who knew?  I knew the two dishes complimented each other nicely…all together would be interesting.

Shortbread

  • 1 cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 ½ cups flour

baking sheet

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in flour. Chill for an hour. Divide in half. Place each half on baking sheet and pat each into approx. 7 inch circle. Prick each with a fork to make 16 wedges (total of 32). Bake for 30 minutes at 300°

Shopping List:

  • 4 boneless breasts
  • ½ lb smoked sausage
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 apples (my new favorite are Jazz)
  • 8 oz can sliced pineapple
  • 4 oz orange juice
  • 1 1/4 cups butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 ½ cups flour

Also: olive oil, cinnamon, salt, pepper

Originally published on January 2010

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Twice-Baked Potatoes

JeffreyW's Loaded Baked Potato

JeffreyW’s Loaded Baked Potato

I think potatoes are one of my favorite foods. So many things you can do with them. I’ve covered a lot of recipes for potatoes over the years, but there always seems to be more. Tonight I wanted to cover a simple recipe, but one that is oh so good.  Time consuming, but you can make part of it ahead of time and assemble before the final baking.

For some less laborious baked potatoes, let’s start with some easier, foolproof recipes:

Quick and easy baked potatoesinstructions here. I love these because by splitting the potato you get a nice crispy roasted flavor.

Smashed potatoes are fun, flavorful and a great side for a dinner party. We have two good recipes, here and here.

And if you missed it, this week’s Dinner Menu – Beef and Pepper Subs with Walnut Pear Salad, can be found here.

What’s on the weekend agenda? Any fun pre-Halloween plans like corn mazes or pumpkin hay rides? Hit the comments, and don’t forget to share your favorite potato (or other) recipes. And what do you think, should we tackle pumpkin recipes next week?

Tonight I’m feature two recipes:

Twice Baked Potatoes

(pictured at the top of the post)

These potatoes are packed full and could be a complete meal with a nice salad. You can bake the potatoes a day ahead, refrigerate them and then prep quickly before dinner.

  • 5 large baking potatoes, washed and scrubbed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 4 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped (reserve 2 tbsps of chopped greens for garnish)
  • 4 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz shredded Jack cheese
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 4 tbsp butter, at room temperature

Additional Ideas to make it a meal: Fresh chopped broccoli, diced mushrooms to mix in

Baking sheet

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Rub the potatoes with the olive oil and salt. Place in the oven, pierce each with a fork and bake until fork-tender, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let the potatoes sit until cool enough to handle (or refrigerate for preparation the next day)

Cook the bacon in a medium skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp and the fat is rendered, 5 to 6 minutes. Add chopped onions and cook until tender-crisp, 1-2 minutes. Drain bacon and onions on paper towels.

Cut ONE potato in half and scoop out completely. Place the pulp in a large bowl.

Cut the top quarter from each of the remaining FOUR potatoes and using a spoon, scoop the pulp from the potatoes into the bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch layer of pulp on the skin. Season the inside of the shells with salt and pepper and place the potato shells on the baking sheet.

Using a handheld masher, mash the potato pulp until smooth. Add 2 oz of each cheese, the sour cream, butter, bacon, cooked onions, salt, pepper and mix well with a fork. Spoon the potato mixture back into the potato shells, top with the remaining cheese and bake at 400 degrees until hot and the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Serve hot and garnish with remaining onion greens.

All those leftover potato tops can be used in soup or other recipe.

How about  changing things up with the next recipe?

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Photo by, who else, JeffreyW.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 sweet potatoes, washed scrubbed
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Baking sheet

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Pierce potatoes with a fork and place sweet potatoes on sheet tray and bake for 1 hour or until soft. Remove from oven and let stand until cool enough to handle (again you can make a day ahead and refrigerate at this point).

Cut the top quarter from each of the potatoes and using a spoon, scoop the pulp from the potatoes into the bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch layer of pulp on the skin. Season the inside of the shells with salt and brown sugar and place the potato shells on the baking sheet.

In another bowl, add brown sugar, butter and cream cheese and the all of the spices and mash with a fork or rubber spatula. Add the butter and cream cheese mixture to the sweet potato flesh and mash completely. Add the filling back to the potato skins and place on a half sheet tray. Sprinkle tops with brown sugar and chopped pecans. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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Thursday Recipe Exchange: Roasting

Tried to fit some actual cooking into what has been a very busy week. The weather is very warm here right now, so I want to rush out and buy plants and get summer underway. But even 90 degree (!) temps can be deceptive – at this altitude they still recommend planting after Mother’s day to be safe. We’ve had 90 degrees to freezing whiplash before.

JeffreyW's Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Carrots and Parsnips

Roasting seemed wrong for our summer like weather, but most roasting recipes can be adapted for the gas-grill as needed, so I went with it. Roasting adds great flavor to foods, vegetables in particular. The slow cooking method adds a touch of sweetness and depth to almost any vegetable (current cooking crush Ming Tsai even has a recipe for roasting radicchio). For a quick dinner you can add vegetables tossed with olive oil to the bottom of a roasting pan, top with chicken breasts rubbed with oil and seasoned with salt & pepper and roast until the chicken is required temperature.  One pan dinner in about 35 minutes.

This week I roasted Asparagus topped with mozzarella and tonight’s sweet potato recipe. And here is the link to JeffreyW’s Brussel Sprouts, Carrots and Parsnips.

For dessert I made a batch of Orange Brownies.  I think for the weekend, though, I’m going to stick to stove top cooking and grilling.  What’s on your menu this week? Does weather affect what you want to cook?

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1 or 2 inch pieces
  • 2 medium red onions, cut in to 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • sprig of fresh time, cut into 4 pieces
  • salt & pepper (about 1/2 tsp of pepper or more, finely ground)

Preheat oven to 425. Combine all ingredients in baking dish. Toss to coat the veggies and bake for 35 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender and onions are soft.  

Next Week: Awesome Cookies

Thanksgiving Files: Sweet Potatoes

I have a confession. I hate traditional Thanksgiving  candied sweet potatoes. I can’t pass them fast enough away from me at the holiday table. I thought I hated sweet potatoes because I assumed that they always tasted that sweet and gooey. Then I stumbled across a few savory sweet potato recipes that really let the flavor of the potato shine and my opinion quickly changed.

So in honor of the poor sweet potato covered in marshmallow goo (and I mean no offense anyone who looks forward to candied sweet potatoes every year!) I offer two savory recipes and one semi-sweet recipe. In case you want to try something a little different this Thanksgiving.

Each serves 4, but you can easily multiple the ingredients for your crowd.

African Sweet Potato Salad

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes – precooked*
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • ½ onion chopped
  • 1 stalk celery chopped

Large glass or plastic bowl

Slip skins off potatoes and cube. In bowl mix oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper, add potatoes, onion, celery and toss. Refrigerate until serving.

You’ll want to steam these, you can halve them and leave the skins on, they’ll slip off when cooled. You don’t want to boil sweet potatoes, it leaves them watery and they lose their creamy texture.

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.

Thursday Night Menu: Tropical Edition

I’m travelling, again, but I’m leaving you with my favorite Key Lime Pie recipe, courtesy of my brother and sister-in-law in Florida.  I love Key Lime Pie and this one is so easy and fool-proof.  This entire menu has a bit of a tropical feel to it, which I think is perfect for a cold winter’s day.  I’ll be on the beach, so whatever.  I hear I’ll be coming home to snow and bitter cold, lucky me.  I await spring and seed catalogs.  Wherever you are this weekend, I hope you’ve got something fun planned.  If I was home I’d have a big pot of soup or stew on and be curled up reading a good book.  What do you like to cook when the weather is cold and dreary?

On the board tonight:

  1. Pork Tenderloin w/Mojo Sauce & Chutney
  2. Baked Sweet Potato w/ Curry Butter
  3. Steamed Sugar Snap Peas
  4. Key Lime Pie

Pork Tenderloin w/Mojo Sauce & Chutney

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1 cup key limejuice*
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1-1½ lb pork tenderloin
  • 8 oz jar pineapple or mango chutney

sauce pan and roasting pan or casserole dish

Sauté garlic & olive oil in saucepan. Add limejuice & spices. Bring sauce to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Place the roast in a covered oven-proof casserole. Pour 1 cup of the Mojo sauce over the pork. Cover and bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes, until internal temperature is 140°. During cooking, baste the roast twice. Let set 10 minutes before slicing into medallions, serve with remaining Mojo sauce & chutney. Start checking internal temperature at 30 minutes. I’ve never had a pork roast cook the same amount of time yet.

Baked Sweet Potato w/ Curry Butter

  • 4 small sweet potatoes
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ – ½ tsp curry powder

Bake at the same time the tenderloin is cooking (I’d start them about 10 minutes before, just to be safe). Approximately 45-60 minutes, until you can easily pierce w/fork. If you have metal skewers, place potatoes on the skewers (usually 2 can fit on each skewer) this will speed up cooking time. Melt butter, add curry and let cool.  If potatoes finish before roast is ready, wrap in foil to keep warm. Slice open cooked potatoes and add dollop of curry butter.

Key Lime Pie

So easy, yet sooo good!

  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp Key limejuice*
  • 9 inch graham cracker pie crust
  • 4 oz whipped topping
  • 1 lime, sliced

Preheat oven to 250°

Combine milk & yolks with mixer until well blended. Add limejuice, mix well. Pour into pie shell. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool, then spread whipped topping over the top, garnish with lime slices, and refrigerate until served.

* you can substitute regular limejuice if needed.

No shopping list tonight, sorry, was a rushed week.