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Delicious Thanksgiving Treats!

26 Nov

I am such a huge fan of Thanksgiving, and I am fairly certain that at the very least, most of us enjoy the food.  ALL HAIL the Thanksgiving Feast!  For me, the food is most certainly a big part of the sheer enjoyment I feel on the day “The Holidays” truly begin. 

Strategically placed turkey with the the fixins is ALMOST all I can think about!

Strategically placed turkey with the the fixins is ALMOST all I can think about!

Growing up, some of the dishes I anticipated most were carefully honed, crafted, and handed down from my Mammaw to my mom.  I remember hovering around the kitchen begging to get a lick of the chocolate silk pie, or my grandmother’s deliciously moist cornbread stuffing.  I could eat that stuff cold, I could eat it in between to slices of bread, with NOTHING ELSE (talk about carb on carb), but most of all, Thanksgiving just wasn’t the same unless I saw those golden mounds of cornbread with little crusty crests, interspersed with bits boiled eggs, celery, and all things savory…  Hold on; let me wipe up the drool… 🙂

When I was younger and just starting to cook, the internet was my oyster and every recipe was a chance to create a new, MORE perfect recipe.  With each click, a potential new flavor combination, something out of the ordinary, a culinary pearl… In short, I got tired of the tradition and wanted something innovative!!  We all go to that place, in fact I think it’s how old family recipes get lost forever, and most of us spend the rest of our lives trying to recreate those “tired old recipes” we were trying to escape.  Call it rosy-food-retrospection,  but at this stage in my life, after trying so many different recipes, I think it’s safe to say that I have landed on what I believe to be those dishes for my family.  I’m not saying I won’t ever try something new, but herein lies two recipes that, in my humble opinion, are ones that will not disappoint (at the very least YOU) and the having of them should leave you excited and unstressed for next holiday season… and the one after that and so forth.

 The more I cook and the older I get the more I appreciate clean, simple, and delicious recipes and ingredients.  My recipe for Mulled Cranberry Sauce and Yam Soufflé with Homemade Marshmallows are both best made ahead, which means more time for you to enjoy the holiday and watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade come Thanksgiving morning.


Mulled Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

12-14Oz Fresh Cranberries

1-1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar

Fresh Cranberries, simmering until bursting, and finished in an old fashioned mold bought on Etsy!

Fresh Cranberries, simmering until bursting, and finished in an old fashioned mold bought on Etsy!

1-Cup Muscat or Dessert Wine

Juice from 1 Orange

Bundle of Mulling Spices in a Cheese Cloth

Directions:

1) Bring Muscat and sugar to a boil over medium high heat.

2) Add rinsed and picked cranberries, bring to a boil and simmer, covered for 10 minutes with mulling spices and orange juice.

3) Use food mill or immersion blender (my preferred method) to blend.  You can make it chunky or perfectly smooth depending on the family preference.  I find everyone likes it smooth, even if they prefer it chunky, but not vise versa.

4) Top with orange zest and pour into serving bowls or molds to set.


** You can serve this warm or cold, it’s UNREAL the day after with your Turkey sandwich!!!

Yam Soufflé with Homemade Marshmallows:

Note: This soufflé recipe isn’t difficult at all.  I have used caramel, nuts, fruits, and a variety of other ingredients to dress up yams, but actually I find that they make the most impact on the plate the same way they did when you were a kid, beautifully whipped with butter, brown sugar, and spices.  What makes this special, the WOW factor, is that I make my own marshmallows… It’s seems like a daunting task, but it’s really not, and you take ALL the credit. Plus you can give the extras out as gifts or plop them into hot chocolate to selfishly enjoy with a Christmas movie!

Homemade Marshmallows: I like this one by Alton Brown

Finished Mallows, the candy thermometer, and setting gelatin! These are DIVINE!

Finished Mallows, the candy thermometer, and setting gelatin! These are DIVINE!

Ingredients
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Nonstick spray

Directions

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
For regular marshmallows:

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

**You can use cookie cutters and make all kinds of fun shapes!!!

 

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Yam Soufflé: I adapted this one from Ina Garten, whom I think makes the best of everything, generally.  I will also say that after several years of going back and forth between canned and fresh, I have decided there isn’t much difference here and so I take the help from the can.  Trust me on this; there is no discernable difference in taste!

 

Ingredients

4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 large) (I used CANNED!!! Easy PEASY!!!)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Open can, place the sweet potato meat into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (I mash it up a bit, usually over heat) and add the orange juice, cream, butter, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Mix together until combined but not smooth and transfer to a baking dish.

Bake the potatoes for 20 to 30 minutes, until heated through. About 5 minutes before you remove them, top with homemade marshmallows!

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Hope you enjoy! Happiest of Thanksgivings to you and yours!!

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SUPER EASY and DELICIOUS Peanut Butter Pie!

4 Nov

Peanut Butter Pie!I am a HUGE lover of peanut butter… But even more than that, I love peanut butter and chocolate together.  When I was a kid, and to this very day, one of my all time favorite birthday cake recipes includes a deliciously peanut-buttery frosting on a decadently moist chocolate cake! Yum! Therefore, it should be no surprise to you that anytime I run across a peanut butter and chocolate recipe I have to take a look.  Recently, I stumbled on this recipe and decided to give it a whirl, and boy oh boy it did NOT disappoint!

The recipe I am including can be found on The Pioneer Woman website but I want to tell you about a couple changes I made, mostly for convenience… Since I last blogged I started my own business and so I don’t have quite as much time as I once did.  Still, I love to make at least one dessert per week from scratch…Er, sort of scratch… Even with a little help from the grocery store, it’s still so much better than anything you can buy pre-made!  Here goes:

1) Although I think that a homemade crust would be better than a store-bought crust, I decided to opt for a store-bought Oreo crust for convenience. I know, I know, a store-bought PROCESSED crust!!?  Please kindly close your mouths! 🙂  I GENERALLY buy organic and non-processed foods, but you know what?  Every now and then I think it’s just fine to take a little help! So trust me on this, if you want to, BUY THIS CRUST, it’s easy and tastes ALMOST as good as the one you would have made!

2) Trust this recipe! I know Dr. Oz and the media has scared the CRAP out of us about partially hydrogenated soy bean oil and corn syrup… So why would you EVER purchase cool whip? (Unless you’re from the south where I am pretty sure it’s a constant staple for potlucks and church gatherings)  But here, in this recipe, you have to use it.  Pioneer Woman says so, and although I haven’t tried a substitution in this particular recipe, I have in others and it seems to create a less creamy and short lived pie… Again, it’s not like you’re eating tons of stuff with cool whip in it! You get your nails done, you dye your hair, an occasional pie with cool whip isn’t gonna kill you, so DO NOT TRY TO SUB WHIPPED CREAM FOR COOL WHIP! IT WON’T BE THE SAME! 

3)  Save the whipped cream as a topper! 🙂 This pie is really rich! I think it’s made even more wonderful with some deliciously fresh whipped cream! It just lightens everything up a bit!

4) Crumble some cookies on top!  I actually took some Oreos and crumbled them onto the top.  It’s not necessary, but it sure was tasty! Sprinkles would be nice too!

5) The longer you let it set, the firmer it gets! It was almost tastier the next day!Cupcake

Ingredients: If making this with the pre-made crust the recipe takes about 5 minutes to whip up if you’ve thawed your ingredients! So simple! So Good!

FOR CRUST

  • 25 whole Oreos
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
  • Or 1 store bought chocolate cookie shell!

_____

PEANUT BUTTER FILLING:

  • 1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 package (8 Ounce) Softened Cream Cheese
  • 1-1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 package (8 Ounce) Cool Whip, Thawed

Preparation Instructions

Crust:
Crush the Oreos until they’re fine crumbs. Pour melted butter over the top and stir with a fork to combine. Press into pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes, or until set.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

*Or do nothing because you bought your pie shell pre-made

FILLING:
Whip the peanut butter with the cream cheese until smooth, slowly add in powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Mix in the thawed Cool Whip and beat until smooth, scraping the sides as needed.

Pour filling into crust, smoothing  the surface with a spatula. Allow to set in the fridge for at least one  hour before serving.

Pie!

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Recipe: World’s Best Chili and Corn Muffins!!

18 Mar

Recipe

Well… We certainly don’t have very much longer to enjoy the type of recipe that I am posting today… Summer Chili is a completely different dish, made for lavishing toasted buns and hot dogs with a dose of extra decadence… This chili recipe is one that IS a meal.  I’d suggest making it within the next couple weeks, perhaps on one of the rainy days of spring and I promise you won’t be disappointed!

I came across this recipe while on a trip with my hubby to Washington D.C. last fall, and I was simply DYING for a bowl of authentic “East Coast Chili” … Since I hadn’t been to the East Coast as an adult, I really don’t have any idea what this means… and I’m pretty sure Boston might be better known for it’s chili than is THE DISTRICT… but none-the-less this produces a seriously easy and delicious bowl of pure yummy-ness! Some of the ingredients took me a bit of looking to find, but I am not entirely sure why since now I see them everywhere… with the exception of the “Dark Chili Powder”… this needs to be bought in more of a specialty shop like Draeger’s or maybe even Whole Foods (where I live).

I do suggest that you serve this with a corn muffin (I crumble mine inside but my hubby prefers his on the side 🙂 ).  I’m not sure if that’s how they do it on the East Coast (in Texas they serve chili with rice too! Yum!), but it’s how we do it in this house and it brings the bowl of chili from fabulous to… well, no words, but grunts of pure satisfaction :). I am including both of these recipes, which I have tried several times but have not improved upon since there was just no need… Although a can of fiesta corn and a dollop of jalapeno jam may not be the worst idea I ever came up with when adjusting the corn muffin recipe… but you know what they say “Why mess with perfection?!”

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Old Ebbitt Grill Chili

(Serves Six to Eight)
Sweet and slightly hot, this saloon-style chili with beans has been a staple on Clyde’s menu for thirty years. Liz Taylor would order it by the gallon and have it shipped to her house! Since we no longer offer our chili in the can at Britches clothing store, it’s only fair that we give you the recipe that has been top secret for many years.

(This was taken from the website which is included in the “Old Ebbitt Grill Chili” link 🙂

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb. pound small diced onion
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 25-ounce can chili beans
1 12-ounce jar chili sauce (This is in the tomato sauces section at my Safeway)
2 tbsp light chili powder
1/4 cup dark chili powder*
2 tblsp Worcestershire sauce (clearly a secret ingredient)

1. In a heavy bottomed pot, saute the onion and garlic in the vegetable oil until golden brown.
2. Add the beef to the onions and cook until it is about medium-rare. Do not stir the beef around too much – you want to have some large clumps of beef in the finished chili.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until it is just blended. (It may seem like a lot of powder but that’s why they call it chili!)
4. Cook the chili over medium heat for about 10 minutes, just until the meat is fully cooked. Don’t overcook it!

Serve the Clyde’s chili with ice cold beer and condiments like shredded sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream and minced onions.

toppings

I’ve used scallions several times, but there is something about the bite of a white onion that lends itself so nicely here. Medium cheddar and a dollop of light sour cream! MMMMM!

*The light chili powders have more of the hot seeds or flakes ground with the pods. By using more of the dark powder our chili is a little sweeter. If you can’t find light chili powder, just using a little bit extra of the dark powder will taste great.

Barefoot Contessa’s Corn Muffin Recipe:

Corn Muffins (Makes 12 Muffins)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup medium cornmeal
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 extra-large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, melted butter, and eggs. With the mixer on the lowest speed, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir until they are just blended. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each one to the top. Bake for 30 minutes, until the tops are crisp and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly and remove from the pan.

The Bowl of Chili Baby! Soooo good!

The Bowl of Chili Baby! Soooo good! Of course you could use ground turkey, but beef is better here!

Paige’s World’s Best Pasta Salad

26 Feb

Paige’s World’s Best Pasta Salad.

Hope you enjoy one of my favorite recipes!

THE PASTA SALAD!

Paige’s World’s Best Pasta Salad

26 Feb

Pasta Salad

Period. The end.  Since I was a child I have always loved and adored a delicious pasta salad.  In my youth, I became an expert at making different variations of one of my favorite any-time snacks; so much so that when girlfriends would come over, they would always ask me to make said pasta.  So… after years of experimenting and perfecting, I am sharing it with you!!

This pasta salad recipe is a stand-alone recipe, but please note that I have used just about every kind of veggie in the fridge to create a version of this recipe.  So that means, if it includes something you don’t like, omit it (with a few caveats which I’ll make note of) and if you want to add something else, by all means do!

by DaisyChic via ETSY

by DaisyChic via ETSY

Ingredients:

Veggies: ALL RAW

The veggies I am mentioning are my favorites, and the ones I always include when making this recipe.  However, if you have extra squash or zucchini, you can always add them as well.

  • Cherry Tomatoes: halved if large, whole if small (use however many you want! I usually use a whole pint for 1 box of pasta, but I do love a tomato)! In the summer, mine includes heirloom tomaters as well! Yum!
  • Chopped Carrots (I have even used the ones already shredded in the bag in the produce section before, so easy!)
  • Broccoli ~1-2 heads: chopped into florets, if you are trying to make this lower carb, I’d go for 2 heads!
  • ½Yellow or Orange Bell Pepper: Chopped (MUST)
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes: chopped, I do about a cup for one box of pasta (makes sure to get the ones that ARE NOT in the oil!)
  • 1-2 Cloves of Fresh RAW Garlic: minced (MUST!)
  • Raw Cauliflower: Chopped (optional)
  • Fresh Basil (optional)
  • Fresh Black Kalmata Olives (optional)

Extras:

  • Pinenuts: Just enough to sprinkle (optional)
  • 4 Sticks of Pepper jack or fresh Mozzarella Cheese: Chopped (I find the sticks are easy to chop into little cubes and add a buttery richness)
  • Salt and Pepper: to taste
  • A pinch of Sugar (MUST)
  • Olive Oil (MUST)
  • A good Balsamic Vinegar (I have used other kinds before, depending on the style of salad, but balsamic is the best!) (MUST)
  • 1 Box of Pasta: cooked Al Dente, according to packaged directions, rinsed and drained with cold water after cooking.  (I prefer Bowtie)
  • Meat (salami, summer sausage, or diced chicken) (Optional, I usually make this vegetarian)

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Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, big enough to hold all veggies and extras, chop and mix prepared tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, bell pepper, sun dried tomatoes, garlic and cauliflower (if using).
  2. Season mixture from Step 1 with salt and pepper and a quick glug of balsamic, just enough to coat.
  3. After pasta is cooked and rinsed so there is no heat left, toss with a few glugs of olive oil to lightly coat.  Put pasta in with veggie mixture and toss to combine.
  4. After mixture is fairly evenly distributed.  Add salt and pepper to taste, toss in a pinch of sugar, cheese, olives, and a little extra olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.  Mix. Do not be too heavy handed with the vinegar, since much of it settles to the bottom and just needs to be redistributed. (I store this in a Tupperware so I can give it a good shake as it settles)
  5. Add fresh basil if using at the end!

Tips:

As you can see there are no EXACT measurements for this recipe, which can be hard if you’re not a great cook.  Trust me though, just put as much veggies as you want in this recipe! The more the better! You really can’t mess it up unless you add too much garlic or sauce! Use your little tongue to decide how much is just right! LESS IS MORE!

Also, the 1-2 cloves of garlic goes A LONG WAY, but it’s the secret to this recipe, so don’t skip it!

The next day, you might need to add a touch more vinegar, so taste before you add!

This is so great for large crowds! And it can be put together in less than 20 minutes! I prep the veggies while the pasta is cooking.  I’ve used it for parties, work events, and baby showers and always have people asking for the recipe! Enjoy!

Flu BE~GONE: Ginger/Lemongrass Soup

17 Jan

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Get-Better-Soon ~or~ Never-Get-Sick

Lemongrass/Ginger Soup Recipe

So, I am seeing so many of you are sick L. This makes me sad, especially since AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!  I am going to give you my go to recipe for getting over that flu quick, or trying to ward it away from your homestead.  I will say that I got the idea for this recipe from a dear friend and client, but hers is probably much better and involves a lot more time as she makes her stock from scratch, but I say again, when you’re sick AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT! 

This is so simple to make, that I have literally dragged my near-lifeless zombie-fied body to the kitchen and created a bubbling cauldron of healing goodness.  I ALWAYS have the ingredients on hand in the winter and I believe you should too! It’s even delicious with a  BLT or Grilled Cheese!

Here’s what you need!

  • Ginger, peeled and smashed, cut into 2ish inch cubes (I use a lot or a little depending on how serious I am, more is better! Sometimes you can even use the immersion blender at the end if you want it in the soup… but the soup isn’t as yummy then, ginger is NO JOKE!)
  • Lemongrass (2 sticks, I rinse them, take off the outermost layer after cutting into 2.5 inch pieces)
  • ½ White Onion, chopped
  • 1-3 Cloves of smashed or chopped Garlic (depending on what you can take!)
  • 2-4Tblsp of white vinegar
  • Juice of one Lime
  • 1 Carton of Chicken Stock 32 OZ
  • 2Tblsp of one of my FAVORITE ingredients, Better Than Bouillon (BTB) CHICKEN *
  • 1 Can of White Meat Chicken, rinsed (I know, canned chicken, but actually it’s not bad and when you are sick it’s perfect. Just rinse it first… or throw last nights chicken breast in)
  • 1 Serrano Pepper (Optional, I literally just cut the tips off and float it in the broth for the tiniest bit of heat)
  • Oil for pan
  • Cut Spaghetti Noodles, as few or as much as you want, I caution not to use too much.

Directions:

  1. Prep your ingredients, you’re sick! Just rough chop all that crap up! Put those bad boys on the cutting board and put your pot on the stove at Medium with just a little twist of olive oil to coat.
  2. Drop the white onion in and let it cook, about 1 minute, coating in the fat, add garlic and cook one more minute.  I like to keep everything in this fresh and white.
  3. Add chicken stock and 2Tblsp of BTB, sir until dissolved.
  4. Drop in Lemongrass and Ginger, bring to a boil; then, reduce to simmer.
    1. (Drop in option pepper here too if you want a little heat)
    2. Add rinsed chicken as well as salt if needed and pepper if you want, and desired amount of vinegar and a hand full of noodles.
    3. Let simmer for 10 minutes to an hour, remove ginger and lemongrass or if you’re too exhausted eat around it… Sometimes I need the soup right then and there, and it’s perfect! You don’t have to let it simmer forever!

This seems involved, but once I developed it, I can make it in a snap and my hubby swears it’s a cure-all!

*Note: Better Than Bouillon is something I have in all three flavors at all times in my kitchen: beef, chicken, and veggie. They make it in a variety of styles including gluten free and organic.  I can’t tell you how often I add it to a soup or sauce, or even as a little something salty and warm in the evening if I’m craving it! Enjoy!

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