Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Feast

Sorry, I'm a little late with posting this.

Thanksgiving lunch was at our new house. It was kind of last minute. Like, the Saturday before. Just in time to get the turkey out of the freezer and thawed in time.

The last couple years, we've had Thanksgiving lunch at our house in Springfield, and our parents and my brother came to eat at our house. We had a total of ten people at our house this year. Before we have our next big get together at our house, we need to invest in a folding table and some chairs. Our dining table came with 6 chairs, and we could probably fit 8.

I had a general idea when the turkey would be out of the oven (12:30), but it ended up being later than that - this turkey had a pop-up timer and it wouldn't pop! So, I had some snack foods...
I also had a veggie tray with hummus, but the cheese/sausage was a hit!

I made the turkey and stuffing. Just this year I found out the turkey stuffing recipe is my great-grandma's recipe, not my mom's as I always thought. It is so delicious that my grandpa went back for thirds and kept complimenting me on it. Here's the recipe:

turkey giblets and neck - put in a large stock pot with a lot of water, some salt & pepper, and bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or until the giblets are cooked. Then dice up the giblets (liver, heart, gizzard) into 1/4" or so pieces.
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 stick of butter
palm full each of salt and pepper
2-3 eggs
1+ loaf of bread - this year I used a loaf of honey wheat bread and about half a dozen leftover dinner rolls, but I usually use 1-1/2 loaves of bread
5-10 sage leaves, chopped - I know that's a wide number range, but it depends on how "sage-y" you like your dressing and how big the leaves are

In a large bowl (I used the crock out of my crockpot), tear up the bread into bite-sized pieces.

In the meantime, melt the butter in skillet. Add the onion and celery and saute until translucent. When cooked, pour into the bread.

Add the rest of the ingredients (you might beat the eggs before you add them so they mix more evenly), and then ladle in some of the turkey stock until everything is gooey. (I know, that term doesn't sound very appetizing, but you want it to be really moist or it will dry out!)

We always cook our stuffing in the bird. Make sure to put it in both ends of the bird! If there's any leftover stuffing that won't fit in the bird, you can refrigerate it in a baking dish, and then bake it after you pull the turkey out of the oven. Probably about 350 degrees for about 30-45 minutes.

Read the directions on your turkey, but usually you cook a turkey for 20 minutes per pound, plus an extra hour if it is stuffed.

I meant to photograph the turkey after pulling it out of the oven, but forgot. We were hungry.So here's a photo of the lunch I brought to work on Friday:
Clockwise from the top left: mashed potatoes with gravy, corn casserole, homemade cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, turkey, green bean casserole and stuffing. Yum. I should make freezer meals like Marie Calendar.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Curried Quinoa, Kale and Sweet Potatoes

This recipe is loosely based on this recipe.

Several weeks ago, I picked an entire plastic shopping bag full of kale. It nearly filled up the crisper drawer it was so full. I've been slowly making my way through the bag.

The original recipe used spinach, but since I had kale, I modified it.

Curried Quinoa, Kale and Sweet Potatoes
 1 large sweet potato
1/2 c dry quinoa, cooked per package instructions
enough kale to fill up your salad spinner, after removing the central rib from each leaf
chickpeas, prepared per this recipe
1/3 c raisins
about 5 dried apricots, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 to 1 tsp sweet curry powder, to taste
olive oil

Start by preparing the sweet potato. Dice into 1/4" to 1/2" pieces. Spread out flat on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a 350 degree oven until tender, about 20 minutes. Stir at least once during cook time, to keep them from sticking.

I already had the chickpeas prepared. If you don't, put in them in the oven with the sweet potatoes.

Put about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven. Saute the onion until tender.

Then add the raisins, apricots and garlic. Saute for a couple minutes.

Then add the kale and stir. Put the lid on and let the kale steam for a few minutes. You may need to add a little water. Steam until it's at the consistency you want. I like my kale to still be a vibrant green; if you cook too long it will turn brown. Turn off heat.

Stir in the sweet potoatoes, chickpeas and quinoa. Then start seasoning with curry powder. I ended up using one teaspoon.

I topped mine with sharp white cheddar, which melted nicely when reheated for lunches at work.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I Promise This isn't Photoshopped

Yesterday morning I went to the farm to walk Freddy. After his walk, I always feed him. Lately, the kittens have been getting in Freddy's pen and eating his feed. He doesn't try to scare them off; he just lets the kittens eat his feed. 

So I put some feed on the sidewalk for the kittens so they would leave Freddy's food alone. 

Except there's a different animal the kittens have to compete with now. 

Coconut Shrimp

The original recipe may be found here

1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined 
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp panko crumbs
2 tbsp all purpose flour 
1 large egg
pinch salt

For the Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce:1/2 cup peach preserves 
Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a non-stick baking sheet with cooking spray.
Combine coconut flakes, panko crumbs and salt in a bowl. Place the flour on a small dish. Whisk egg in another bowl.
Lightly season shrimp with salt. Dip the shrimp in the flour, then into the egg, then in the coconut crumb mixture.
For the sauce, combine all the ingredients and place in a small bowl. You may need microwave it for 15-20 seconds.
Lay shrimp on the cookie sheetbake in the middle rack for about 10 minutes. Turn shrimp over then cook another 6-7 minutes or until cooked though. Remove from oven and serve with dipping sauce. I baked the shrimp on a silicone mat so I didn't have to grease the pan.
Served with baked broccoli and cauliflower, rice pilaf and garlic-parmesan rolls.

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pear-Apple Pie

You know, I have this list of recipes I would like to try, as a page here on the blog. Somehow, I'm really good at making other recipes from the same books, but not the one on the list.

Yesterday, I stopped by my Grandma's house to pick up a massive bag of banana and bell peppers. We're talking a plastic shopping bag so full the handles barely met. This is the second time in the last couple of weeks that we've had such a large bag of peppers in the house. And apparently her deep freezer is full of them as well. The last bag I used in chili, sauteed with onions with steaks, and in breakfast hashbrowns. This bag is going in meatloaf and chicken fajitas this week.

At the same time that I picked up the peppers, Grandma also gave me several pears from her tree. These pears are huge; I believe Grandma said they weighed one that was 1-1/4 pounds!!! These are easily twice the size of pears I buy at the store. For scale, here's a photo of one with two of the apples I have left from Aunt Patty:

The recipe I chose is from 100 Great Breads, which obviously has recipes for things other than bread. The original recipe calls for a raspberry-confectioner's sugar syrup to be served with the pie. But there aren't free raspberries being given away by family members to use for such a sauce, so there isn't a sauce with my pie.

Pear-Apple Pie

For the pastry dough:
2-1/2 c flour
1-1/4 c sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1 medium egg
2 Tbsp water, plus more if dough won't stick together

Mix the above in a (large Pyrex) bowl with a hand mixer or pastry blender. Split the dough in half. Roll out half of it on a floured surface, and line a pie pan (or a tart pan).

For the fruit filling:
8 apples, cored, peeled, sliced/chunked
3 monstrous pears, cored, peeled, sliced/chunked
about 1/4 c sugar

Put the above in a dutch oven or some other large pot and cook on low/medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until the fruit begins to soften and smell heavenly.

Pour or spoon the filling into the pastry. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. I probably used about 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg (this was not in the original recipe).

Roll out the other half of the dough and cover the fruit filling, pinching edges to seal.

Brush a beaten egg onto the top of the pie, then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Did you have leftover dough after making the top and bottom crust? No worries! Roll it out, brush with leftover egg wash, and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden. It's like a cinnamon-sugar cracker!

Something else from this weekend... While the Hubs was out hunting on Saturday morning (a successful hunt, as he bagged a 10-point buck on the farm!), I was working away at the house, cleaning and putting the rest of the cabinet handles on! The bags of produce from left to right: pears, apples, peppers

Monday, November 12, 2012

Christmas Cookies

I know, it seems a little early to think about Christmas. But it's less than two months away. I made a big dent in Christmas shopping last week and started thinking about which cookies to make for the men in the family. The last several years, I've made about 3 dozen cookies per man. If I start stockpiling supplies now, my grocery bill won't be so big at one time (this list of cookies will take 5 boxes of butter, and nearly 25 cups of flour...)

Here's the list for this year:
Almond Caramel Swirls
Salted Caramel Thumbprints
Chocolate Crinkles
Key Lime Coins
Chocolate Espresso Coins
Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles
Hazelnut Kisses
Browned Butter Blondies
Cherry Surprise Crinkles
Farmgirl Susan's Ginger Snaps
Farmgirl Susan's Shortbread Chocolate Chip Toffee Bit cookies
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Nigella's Chocolate Chip cookies
Ribbon Cookies
Sugar Cookies

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dinners week of 11/12

Meatloaf w/ mashed potatoes and veggies
Chicken tacos (crockpot recipe)
Pork Chops
Fried fish w/ hushpuppies

I promise we'll eventually get to something more than food. It's almost Thanksgiving, which means garden catalogs are on their way...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cajun Chicken Pasta

The original recipe may be found here.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

8 ounces uncooked pasta - I used elbow macaroni because that's what we had
1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1/2" pieces
1-2 tsp Cajun seasoning  - used Weber Cajun Seasoning
1 tbsp olive oil
about 6 mini sweet peppers, sliced
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
medium yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup 2% milk
1 tbsp flour
3 tbsp cream cheese
pepper and salt to taste

Prepare pasta in salted water according to package directions.

Heat a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; saute the chicken in olive oil  5 to 6 minutes or until done.

Add olive oil to a second large skillet; add bell peppers, onions, and garlic to skillet, saut√© 3-4 minutes

In a small blender make a slurry by combining milk, flour and cream cheese. Set aside. Season chicken generously with Cajun seasoning, garlic powder and salt.

Add mushrooms and tomatoes and saut√© 3-4 more minutes or until vegetables are tender. Season with salt, garlic powder and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium-low; add chicken broth and pour in slurry stirring about 2 minutes.

Add chicken to vegetable skillet; adjust salt and Cajun seasoning to taste, cook another minute or two until hot. 

Serve with the pasta. 

Note: I may have used too much Cajun seasoning, as the Hubs was sweating. Oops. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Making use of Apples

Mom gave me some apples from my Aunt's tree (Thanks Mom and Patty!) I love eating fresh fruit, but in addition to the clementines, bananas, pears, grapes, and additional apples from Mom last weekend, I was afraid some of this fruit would go to waste. So instead of eating them raw, I dug out the Joy of Cooking cookbook and searched for apple recipes.

The Hubs doesn't like pie. Weird, I know. So I settled on the recipe for Apple Tartlets with the Basic Pie Dough.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Basic Pie Dough:
2-1/2 c flour
1-1/4 tsp salt

With a pastry blender, cut in until blended to the size of peas:
3/4 c shortening
3 Tbsp cold butter

Add 6 Tbsp butter, then roll out to 1/4" thick.

Use a 3" biscuit cutter to cut 12 rounds of dough, and then pressed them into and up the sides of a muffin pan.

4 c thinly sliced apples (hint: use your Pampered Chef Apple Peeler Corer Slicer for this!), and then cut into 1/2" pieces

Distribute the fruit between the mini-pies. Then mix in a medium bowl:
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 c evaporated milk (I had this left over from a recipe from last week, otherwise use 1 c heavy cream)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Distribute the liquid, about 1/4 c per mini-pie.

Bake for 40 minutes.
Mini apple pies!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dinners week of 11/5

Crockpot Roast w/ Potatoes, Carrots, Onions - didn't make this last week as planned!
Coconut shrimp w/ parmesan roasted cauliflower
Cajun chicken pasta
Deer Chili

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Lucky One

Don't worry, there won't be anything graphic in this post. I was too busy working on the chickens to take any photos.

Saturday, October 13, Mom, Grandma and I butchered four of these brown leghorn roosters. We left one alive because I think they are beautifully colored. The whole process went a lot easier than I expected.

Mom and I watched several youtube videos on butchering and Grandma passed on her expertise.

This Saturday, my Mom, brother and I butchered four Buff Orpingtons. It went a little faster this time. 

You see there are five roosters in the cage? One of the Buff Orpingtons has a really great crow; it wanes/dwindles at the end of the crow, and he leans into it. I didn't want to kill him. 

He's the Lucky One.

Next year if we get new chickens to butcher, I'd like to get meat breed chickens, that have more meat on them.

I also brought home my first dozen eggs from this year's batch of chickens!

Friday, November 2, 2012


Wednesday was one of those throw together dinners. I knew I had the components, but didn't have a "recipe". I just went with what I thought would taste well together.
1 pkg of spinach/ricotta tortellini, prepared per package instructions
1 lb ground pork, browned and drained
about 4 mini bell peppers, diced
half an onion, diced
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 jar of pasta sauce

Brown the pork and drain it, then add the seasoning, onions and peppers to the pan and saute until tender.
Add the mushrooms and saute until cooked.
Mix in the pasta sauce, and mix in the drained tortellini once cooked.

On the side, I sauteed about 1 lb of asparagus, that were cut into 1-1/2" pieces. I sauteed in about 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil, and seasoned with salt, pepper and Parmesan.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Hub's birthday cake

The Hub's birthday was this week. I grew up in a household where you chose your birthday dinner and birthday cake. Is it like this in all families? I'd like to continue that tradition in my household. The only problem is, who will make my cake?

Anywho, the Hubs decided he wanted a carrot cake with the icing that goes on German chocolate cakes. Weird combination, I know. But it worked, and tasted delicious. Notice the past tense in that last sentence...

To make this cake, I used recipes out of two different cookbooks. The cake came out of the Joy of Cooking. The icing came out of Better Homes and Gardens Bridal Edition of the Red Plaid Cookbook.

I used (2) 9" round cake pans and made a layer cake. Next time I make this icing for a layer cake, I'll double the recipe because there was only enough icing to ice between layers and the top. The sides of the cake were exposed.

Carrot Cake
Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk together in a large bowl (I used my large Pyrex bowl):
1-1/3 c flour
1 c sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt

In another bowl (I used my medium Pyrex bowl), whisk together:
2/3 c vegetable oil
3 large eggs

Mix into the egg mixture:
1-1/2 c shredded carrots (about 21 baby carrots)
1 c chopped pecans (original recipe called for walnuts)
1 c raisins
1/2 c canned crushed pineapple

Mix the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Scrape into 2 9" pans, or a 9x13, lined with parchment paper. (This was the first time I've lined a cake pan with parchment paper and it was genius!) Bake 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Let cake cook for about 5 minutes, then remove the cake and parchment paper from the pan and let col on racks.

Coconut-Pecan Icing
In a medium saucepan, beat:
1 egg

2/3 c evaporated milk
2/3 c sugar
1/4 c butter

Cook over medium heat until thickened, about 6 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in:
1-1/3 c coconut
1/2 chopped pecans

Allow to cool before icing the cake.  

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This is one of those recipes I found on Pinterest. The original may be found here. I tweaked it by adding vegetables. One of our favorite Chinese restaurants in Springfield was Hong Kong Inn, and they put pineapple, peppers, and possibly onions (I can't remember!) in their sweet and sour chicken. It was delicious. I haven't found a Chinese restaurant here that compares. And then I made this recipe.

We may never eat out for Chinese again.

Start off cooking your rice. I used Bob's Red Mill Brown and Wild Rice blend. This takes about 45 minutes to cook properly.

Sweet and Sour Chicken
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
1 c cornstarch or flour in a ziplock baggie
2 eggs beaten in a bowl
2-3 bell peppers, or about 6 mini peppers, cored, seeded, and julienned

Heat a skillet with about 1/3 c vegetable oil in it.

Put a handful of the chicken into the ziplock baggie and shake it to coat. Then put several pieces in the egg to coat.

Cook the chicken until lightly browned. You'll probably want to coat and cook in several batches.

Put the chicken in a 9x13 pan.

In a separate skillet, saute the peppers in some olive oil until tender. Place on top of the chicken.

For the sauce, mix together:
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c ketchup
1/2 c white vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp garlic powder

Then pour over the chicken mixture. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Serve over the rice.

Next time, I'll add canned chunk pineapple and about half an onion, sauteed.
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