Heavenly Ambrosia Fruit Salad Recipe

November 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Holidays, Vegetables

This recipe is a holiday tradition at our house. Many recipes add mini-marshmallows, and you can if you like, but my family prefers just fruit. This ambrosia can be made the night before to allow the flavors to mingle. Add the coconut and pecans just before serving. If added early they will soften and discolor, but still taste good. You can use whatever fruits you desire for this recipe. You need enough citrus and pineapple juice to coat the apple and pear pieces. I like mine juicy.

Heavenly Ambrosia Recipe

English: a fruit salad Deutsch: ein Obstsalat

Heavenly Ambrosia Fruit Salad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6 naval oranges
2 tangarines
1 red grapefruit
1 15 ounce can of pineapple tidbits in juice
4 apples
2 pears
1 bunch seedless grapes
1 jar maraschino cherries
1 cup coconut (optional)
1 cup pecan halves (optional)
2 Tablespoons sugar (optional- taste before adding)

1. Remove peel, seeds, and membranes from oranges and grapefruit. Work over a large non-metal bowl so that juice is not lost. Cut pulp into bite size pieces.
2. Add pineapple and its juice. Core and dice apples and pears. Peel can be left on or off according to your preference.
3. Mix apples and pears into the juice of the oranges to coat. This prevents browning.
4. Halve grapes and add.
5. Add cherries and enough of the liquid to add a little color to the juices.
6. Mix all together and taste. If the juices are tart, add enough sugar just to sweeten slightly. It should not be very sweet.
7. Refrigerate until ready to serve. At serving time, mix in the coconut and/or pecans, or sprinkle on top of each serving for garnish.

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Mom’s Cornflake Stuffing

November 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Breads, Holidays

By Amanda Jade

I grew up on this stuffing.  One year, Mom bought a massive monster of a bird, almost 30 pounds, and stuffed it to the brim with her cornflake stuffing.  The roasting pan was not sturdy enough and Mom ended up losing almost half the stuffing to the floor when it collapsed.  She didn’t bat an eye.  We still had enough stuffing to feed a half dozen people and have leftovers for Thanksgiving sandwiches for a week.

A stuffed turkey

A stuffed turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons Butter or Fat
  • 2 large Onions, chopped
  • 3 large Carrots, diced
  • 1 large Green Pepper, diced
  • 4 Celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 pieces Wheat Bread
  • Eggs
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • Salt, Pepper, Old Bay Spices
  • Cornflakes

Directions

  1. Heat the butter or fat in a large skillet and add your vegetables.  Sauté until soft but not too done.  In the last minute or so of heating, liberally add salt, pepper, and Old Bay seasonings.
  2. In a large bowl, add the corn flakes.  Drizzle a little bit of water onto the bread and break it apart with your hands into the corn flakes.
  3. Add the vegetables, mixing gently to avoid breaking too many of the corn flakes.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, until the mixture is sticky but not soaked, usually 3 or 4 eggs.
  5. Stuff your bird loosely as the stuffing will swell when cooking.  You can use the rest around the bird itself in the pan to soak up the juices from the turkey or just bake it in a casserole.

 

This stuffing is very versatile because you can add or exchange just about every vegetable you would like to it.  My mom always used Old Bay, but Bell seasoning can be used as well, or even Adobo if you prefer that flavor profile.  Go nuts, be creative!  This will give you a softer stuffing, which has its advantages.  My family’s favorite use for this stuffing is as a base for pan fried Thanksgiving sandwiches, but that’s another recipe!

 

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Thinking about Turducken for this Thanksgiving

November 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Holidays, Tips

By: Amanda Jade

Turducken: a chicken, stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey, often with stuffing placed between each layer.

A well roasted Turducken looks just like a Turkey

A well roasted Turducken looks just like a Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sounds like a monster, huh? In truth, I was hesitant when I first tried one. I was at an Orphan Thanksgiving celebration at a friend’s place and she mentioned she had purchased one. “Blasphemy” I cried, pointing at her viciously. Why would anyone do this? I was so very wrong. That meal was one of the most delicious, albeit strange, that I’ve ever eaten.

Centuries ago, the Romans did something very similar with pigs, goats, sheep, cows and other land animals, as well as waterfowl like ducks and geese. In the 1800s, the French had a meal called Roti Sans Pareil, or the Roast without Equal. It featured up to 17 birds, each being stuffed inside another, larger bird. They ranged in size from a Warbler at its smallest to a Turkey and Bustard at the larger end. Truly an aristocratic meal.

In more modern days, there are several companies that provide them for varying prices, often including different flavors of stuffing or even replacing it entirely with pork. I would not recommended attempting to make one at home the first time, as each of the birds needs to be almost entirely deboned for ease of cooking and carving, but if you have a butcher that is local and easily bribed, I would highly advise embarking on such an adventure.

Turduckens are shipped on dry ice in their own small coolers. They cannot be fried and this warning is apparent on every one I’ve ever purchased. Fire up that oven, make sure the birds are completely thawed and pop it in the oven. Follow the directions that are included with your bird. That’s really about all there is to it. Once completely cooked, remove it from the oven and let it sit for about 20 minutes or so. Being completely boneless makes them extremely easy to carve. Just slice it as you would a pork loin. Each slice will give you all three birds and the stuffing of your choice.

My household orders one every couple of years or so and we always make sure to invite new people over to try it. The expression on their faces when we explain what it is we intend to feed them is priceless. Everyone has gone home a convert to the Turducken ways. It is a truly unique experience that I think everyone should have. It certainly illustrates the creativity and fun that can be had with simple combinations of food. If we can’t have fun, what’s the point, right? Find your fun!

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Tips for Deep Frying a Turkey

November 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Holidays, How To, Meats

By: Amanda Jade

Deep fried turkeys have become all the rage in recent years for a delightful Thanksgiving bird, and for good reason! The skin is left crispy and full of flavor and the meat is moist and delicious without tasting greasy or oily. Unfortunately, deep frying a turkey safely can present a challenge to the new cook. With a bit of preparation and planning and a few key tools, these safety concerns can be left by the wayside on your journey toward a wonderfully tasty turkey.

Tips for Deep Frying a Turkey

Here are a few key things to remember about deep frying a turkey:

A turkey fryer.

A turkey fryer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Always keep gloves and a fire extinguisher nearby. Not needing them is great, but not having them can lead to disaster.
  • If you purchase a kit to deep fry your turkey in, always read and follow the directions. Most will be designed for a specific weight range of turkey and may have special instructions.
  • The optimal weight for a turkey to be deep fried is between 10 and 20 pounds. At 10 pounds, it should take 3 minutes per pound and at 20, it should take 3.5 minutes per pound to cook through.
  • Always ensure that your turkey is completely thawed. If there is any doubt, do not fry the turkey. Hot oil tends to explode violently when exposed to cold water or ice, which can cause severe burns and even burn your house down. A 20 pound turkey takes about 4 full days to thaw in the refrigerator.
  • Set up your turkey frying station outside on the pavement, never on a deck or in a garage. You want to be free of overhangs and on a level surface.
  • Never leave your frying station unattended once the oil has begun heating. Make sure to keep small children and pets away from the frying station. The turkey could take up to an hour or more to cook and at least 3 hours for the oil to cool.
  • Use an oil with a high smoking point, 450 degrees F if possible. The best options are canola or peanut oil.
  • Always lower the turkey into the oil carefully and slowly. This is best achieved with a small pulley attached to a board, supported by a ladder. Use gloves. Hot oil will burn skin instantly if it splashes. Using a pulley also means that you can allow the turkey to drain when finished without straining your arms or dripping scalding oil.
  • Once fried and drained, allow the turkey to sit for 10 to 20 minutes before carving. This oil can be strained and used up to three times.
  • To avoid staining caused by oil splatters, place a flattened, broken down piece of cardboard under the fryer. You can also use a large plastic drop cloth with sand or kitty litter to soak up the oil.
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Sausage Apple Pecan Stuffing

November 1, 2013 by  
Filed under Breads, Holidays

Sausage Apple Pecan Stuffing Recipe

1 lb. mild pork sausage
2 c. chopped onions
1 c. chopped celery, incl. leaves
1 bag 14 oz. herb seasoned stuffing plus a small bag of stuffing
2 c. chicken broth (Swanson’s canned)
2 sticks butter
1 c. golden raisins
3 red apple, washed, cored and chopped
1/2 c. chopped almonds or pecans or walnuts
1t. cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook sausage in skillet till browned. Drain and set aside. Heat the broth and melt a stick of butter in it. Set aside. Saute onions and celery in butter till onions begin to golden.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add all the dry stuffing, the onions and celery, sausage, chopped apple, raisins and nuts and begin blending, with your hands, add 1 c. of broth at a time till you get to the desired stuffing consistency.

3. Taste and adjust seasoning by adding salt and pepper to taste.

4. Stuff the turkey both ends and truss. In the tummy area, cut an apple in thirds widthwise, and put this slice over the opening so stuffing does not leak out. You should have enough left over to put in a casserole with foil over and bake the last 45 minutes of the turkey.

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Easy Oyster Stuffing Recipe

November 1, 2013 by  
Filed under Breads, Holidays

Easy Oyster Stuffing for Turkey

1 (14 oz) bag of premade stuffing mix. 1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cups chicken broth (out of a can is fine and easy)
1 pint oysters, chopped

1. Brown onion and celery in the butter. Add chopped oysters and the liquid from them if desired.

2. Heat chicken broth until boiling and remove from heat.

3. Add stuffing mix. Toss lightly with a fork until moist throughout. Stuff turkey lightly until cavity is filled, do not pack. Any remainder can be placed in a small foil pouch and baked beside the turkey in the roasting pan.

********** For food safety reasons, we recommend that stuffing be cooked alongside turkey rather than stuffing.

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How to Brine a Turkey with Recipes

November 1, 2013 by  
Filed under Holidays, How To, Meats

Brining yields a much more moist and tender Turkey. Make sure you have room in your refrigerator before you start this. Brining your turkey results in a moist and juicy, not “watery” bird. This method can be used on chicken as well, but you don’t need to brine as long.

English: A Thanksgiving turkey that had been s...

A Thanksgiving turkey that had been soaked for 10 hours in a brine of water, salt, brown sugar, cut and squeezed lemons and oranges, and chopped onion. Roasted in the oven in a roasting pan, for nearly 4 hours. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How to Brine a Turkey

Make the Brine:
1 1/2 cups, Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups, brown sugar
10 whole cloves
3 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 1/2 gallons (6 quarts) apple Juice or cider (non-alcoholic)
18oz hard apple cider beer
The peel from one orange or one tangerine (colored part only – not white pith)
optional: 3 teaspoons, dried thyme and/or 3 teaspoons, dried sage

  1. Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive pot, Bring mixture to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes (partly covered). Allow Brine to cool completely.
  2. Rinse turkey under cool running water, inside and out  and remove the giblets from body cavity. Pat turkey dry with paper towels, then immerse turkey in cooled brine. The turkey should be completely submerged in liquid. Place a plate on top of the bird if necessary to keep it covered with the liquid.
  3. Cover the pot and refrigerate for 8-10 hours. Remove turkey, rinse, pat dry, and roast as usual.

*Be sure container for turkey in brine is non-reactive: use enamel, glass or crockery or stainless steel – never cast iron or aluminum. The pot should be just large enough to just contain the turkey.

Prepare glaze:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp marjoram
1 tsp lemon peel
6 oz hard apple cider
salt, pepper,
optional fresh herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary)

Combine Butter, sugar, marjoram & lemon peel in a small mixing bowl. Place towel dried turkey breast side up on rack in a shallow roasting pan. Separate the skin from breast meat. Spread half the glaze over the breast meat just under the skin. Melt the remaining glaze & cool slightly, stir in the cider beer. Brush mixture over outside of turkey. Season with salt & pepper. Lace up the turkey, tuck in the wings and neck skin. Insert the type of thermometer that can stay in the oven the whole time during roasting process OR buy yourself a very nice instant read thermometer to use towards the end of your cooking time. Tent loosely with foil. Roast at 325 for 3 3/4 – 4 1/4 hours or at LEAST until the thigh meat reads 180 degrees F. Remove foil during final 30 min of roasting to allow browning process. Besides the temp test, turkey is done with drumsticks move easily and juices run clear. Remove turkey from oven and recover with foil and allow to stand for 15-20 min before carving. This is essential to allow juices to be reabsorbed from outside back into fibers of meat. Garnish with fresh herbs for presentation if desired.

Brined Turkey Breast with Lemon-Parsley Gravy

Soaking a turkey in a salt-and-sugar solution adds moisture to the meat. This is an especially good technique to use with all-white meat, which can become dry when roasted. Soaking the breasts after brining in fresh water prevents the meat from being overly salty, although it will be somewhat saltier than turkey that has not been brined. Keep this in mind when salting the gravy to keep the flavors of the dish in balance.

For the brine:
4 quarts water
1 cups kosher salt
1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
ice

2 bone-in fresh whole turkey breasts, about 11 lb. total
9 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 yellow onion, unpeeled, quartered
2 large carrots, unpeeled, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

For the gravy:
7 cups turkey stock
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. minced lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

To make the brine, in a stockpot, combine the water, salt and brown sugar. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring, just until the salt and sugar dissolve. Let cool to room temperature. Rinse the turkey breasts and pat dry. In 1 very large or 2 large glass bowls or other non-aluminum containers, cover the turkey breasts with the brine. Add ice as needed to cool the brine and cover the breasts with brine when melted. Refrigerate, turning the breasts occasionally in the brine, for 24 hours.

Drain and pat dry. Trim excess skin from the turkey breasts. Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F. Spread 1 1/2 Tbs. of the butter over each turkey breast. Place the breasts on a rack in a flameproof roasting pan. Scatter the onion and carrots in the pan around the turkey. Roast for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the chicken stock, the remaining 6 Tbs. butter, the white wine, oil and lemon juice. Warm over low heat until the butter melts. After 30 minutes of roasting, baste the breasts with some of the stock mixture. Continue to roast the turkey, basting every 30 minutes with the remaining stock mixture and then with the accumulated pan juices, stirring the vegetables in the pan occasionally, until the breasts are well browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165°F, about 2 hours. Transfer the breasts to a cutting board and cover loosely with aluminum foil while you make the gravy.

To make the gravy, place the roasting pan with the vegetables across 2 burners and turn the heat to medium-high. Add 6 3/4 cups of the turkey stock to the pan and bring to a brisk simmer. Stir to deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom, about 5 minutes. Pour the contents of the pan through a sieve set over a large bowl, pressing hard on the vegetables with the back of a large spoon to extract all the liquid; discard the solids. Spoon off as much of the fat as possible from the liquid, or pour the liquid into a fat separator and pour off the liquid. Transfer the liquid to a wide saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and simmer briskly until reduced by one-fourth, about 10 minutes. In a small bowl, stir the remaining 1/4 cup stock into the cornstarch to make a slurry. Gradually stir the slurry into the saucepan. Stir in the parsley, lemon juice and lemon zest. Cook until the gravy clears and thickens, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Slice the turkey breast against the grain, on a slight diagonal, and serve with the gravy. Serves 8 to 10.

Make-Ahead Tips: The turkey must be put into the brine 24 hours before roasting. The stock may be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated, or up to 3 months before and frozen. Or, it may be made while the breasts soak in fresh water before roasting.

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Molded Cranberry Salads — Perfect for the Holidays or Anytime.

June 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Holidays, Salads

I greatly prefer a molded cranberry salad to the canned cranberry sauces that you buy. The fresh, tart flavor of cranberries is strong and easily complimented with orange, pineapple, nuts and other fruits. I like these so much that I buy bags of fresh cranberries every November and throw them in the freezer for use year-round. No prep required, just freeze the unopened bag. Here are 6 different molded cranberry salad recipes to get you started.  [Read the rest of this entry…]

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Hoppin’ John Recipe

Hoppin’ John

Some southern states have different versions, using the local variety of peas; but Hoppin’ John always includes peas and rice. [Read the rest of this entry…]

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Decadently Rich Chocolate Truffle Cake

April 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Desserts, Holidays

This chocolate truffle cake is perfect for the holidays or a special occasion. It is a little more complicated to make, requiring a filling and a ganache coating, but the results are well worth the effort.

Ganache

Ganache (Photo credit: julesjulesjules m)


Chocolate Truffle Cake

Ingredients:

For Cake

* 1/4 cup unsalted butter
* 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
* 1 large egg
* 2 teaspoons vanilla

For filling

* 1 1/2 cup walnuts
* 1/4 cup unsalted butter
* 1 cup packed light brown sugar
* 1/4 cup honey
* 1/4 cup heavy cream
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

For ganache

* 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
* 1 pound fine-quality bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F and butter a 9-inch springform pan.

Make base: In a small saucepan melt butter and stir in cocoa powder. Remove pan from heat and add brown sugar, stirring until dissolved. Stir in flour, walnuts, egg, and vanilla and spread batter evenly in spring form pan. Bake base in middle of oven 10 minutes, or just until firm, and transfer to a rack to cool, still in the spring form pan.

Make filling: Arrange walnuts in one layer on top of base. In a small heavy saucepan combine butter, brown sugar, and honey and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes, or until a candy thermometer registers 280°F. Remove pan from heat and add cream, vanilla, and lemon juice, stirring until smooth. Cool mixture to room temperature and pour over walnuts, spreading evenly.

Make ganache: In a saucepan bring cream just to a boil. Finely chop chocolate. Put chocolate in a metal bowl and pour hot cream over it, stirring until smooth. Cool ganache to room temperature and beat with an electric mixer until it just holds soft peaks (do not over beat or it will become grainy).

Spread ganache evenly over filling. Chill cake, covered, at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.

Run a thin knife around edge of cake and remove side of pan. With a large spatula transfer cake to a plate and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

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