Saturday, December 18, 2010

Feature Friday

So many different types of things make us happy. Through the hustle of the holidays with various worries and stresses its easy to get caught up, wrapped up and get wiped out. I've tried to make a point every once in a while to just kick back and focus on a few little things that make me happy and its totally made a world of difference. Today's theme is based on that...some of the things that have caught my eye, made me smile and in doing so made my day a little bit brighter.
  1. Embroidered Felt Pincushion - Sea Pinks
  2. Love - Robins and Pearls
  3. Joy Birdie Print - SickFeet
  4. Cherry Pie in a Jar - Meg's Creations
  5. Twinkle Little Star Hairpins - BazaarLatino 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Feature Friday

I have to admit I almost didn't get this on in today...but I did and since latter is still better than not at all I'm pretty proud of myself for getting it done (pats herself on the back). I am proud to say I am a new member of an awesome team on Etsy called Team Worldwide! So I'm using this Feature Friday as a way to showcase some of my team mates. There were so many to choose from I got a little lost in picking my faves (hence the lateness in posting) but I finally settled enough to get moving.
  1. Apricot Hair Clip - Eternal Eden
  2. Sour Cream and Marscarpone Butter Caramels - BrownBagBakery
  3. Vintage Squirel Salt and Pepper Shakers - rhan
  4. Sailboat Blueprint Neck Tie - Rabbitstop
  5. Vintage 70s Pendleton Blazer - Pistol Poppy Vintage
  6. Modular Messenger Bag in Mustard - Bayanhippo 
Thanks all and have a great weekend!

Thanksgiving Recipes Part 3 - Dessert

Did someone say dessert? I can't tell you how excited I get planning all the goodies to bake and prepare for Thanksgiving. I do change the line up a here and there but I've definitely got my standbys that I either make for or around the big day. To say I did A LOT of digging in my box for this one is something of an understatement...mostly because the dessert section of my recipe box is 14 times bigger than the rest. But I've come out with a good representation of my favorites! So without further ado...

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies Makes about 3 doz

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt; set aside. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add pumpkin, egg and vanilla; mix well. Mix in dry ingredients well then fold in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoonfuls on greased (or parchment lined) baking sheets. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until set all the way through and lightly browned on the bottom.
These are very much on the cake like side of cookies and similar to a lot of quick breads they get somewhat sticky the longer you store them. I also find the flavor gets richer over time like quick breads as well. Store these in an airtight container for 2-3 days. If I'm feeling particularly indulgent I'll sometimes drizzle a little extra melted chocolate on top of the cookies after they've cooled.

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread (this is a Libby's recipe) Makes 2-9 x 5 inch loaves
3 cups all purpose flour
5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 cups sugar
1(15 oz) can pureed pumpkin
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease two 9x5 loaf pans and set aside. Combine dry ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl or mixer combine vegetable oil, sugar, pumpkin and orange juice and beat until well blended. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until just blended. Fold in cranberries. Divide batter evenly into both loaf pans and bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove loaves from pans onto rack to cool completely.
*I actually prefer dried fruit in this recipe but fresh or frozen is good too. Like the cookies above this loaf is fantastic warm from the oven but seems to get better as it sits.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake
For the crust:
2/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup almond flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbs sugar
4 tbs cold butter
For the filling:
2-8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar, divided
1 tbs vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup pureed pumpkin
2 tsp ground allspice
1 tbs ground cinnamon
3 tsp espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor or with a pastry cutter blend crust ingredients until the mixture resembles course sand. Press into the bottom (not sides) of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake 10 minutes, cool completely.
Using a mixer combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Remove 1 cup of mixture and transfer to another bowl. Add the espresso powder to the 1 cup of filling and mix until the coffee has dissolved and is uniform in color; set aside. Blend 1/4 cup sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon and allspice into the remaining filling. Pour the pumpkin mixture on top of the crust in the spring form pan. Top pumpkin mixture with the 1 cup coffee filling mixture. Bake for 55 minutes or until filling is set. The cheesecake will puff up in the middle a bit as it bakes and then relax back down as it cools. Run a knife around the edge of the pan for easy unmolding. Allow the cheesecake to cool before removing the rim of the spring-form pan. Chill until ready to serve.

Roasted Pears with Carmel Sauce*
For the pears:
4tbs butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 pears halved and cored
1/4 cup walnuts (or your favorite nuts)
For the caramel sauce:
1 cup sugar
6 tbs butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Place butter in a baking pan large enough to hold the pears in a single layer: set in the heating oven until it melts. Sprinkle sugar over melted butter, then place pears, cut side down, on top. Bake until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven, turn pears over and baste with pan sauce. Return to oven; bake until golden and glossy, about 10 minutes longer.
Let cool slightly. 
While the pears are cooling prepare the caramel sauce. Before you begin the sauce, make sure you have everything ready to go - the cream and the butter next to the pan, ready to put in. Making caramel is a fast process that cannot wait for hunting around for ingredients. If you don't work fast, the sugar will burn. Be very careful during the process of making the caramel; boiling sugar is much much hotter than boiling water.  Heat sugar on moderately high heat in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart or 3-quart saucepan. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring. You can swirl the pan a bit if you want, from this point on. As soon as all of the sugar crystals have melted (the liquid sugar should be dark amber in color), immediately add the butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted. Transfer pears to dessert plates or bowls. Once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat. Count to three, then slowly add the cream to the pan and continue to whisk to incorporate. Note than when you add the butter and the cream, the mixture will foam up considerably. This is why you must use a pan that is at least 2-quarts (preferably 3-quarts) big. Whisk until caramel sauce is smooth. Let cool in the pan for several minutes. Place pears into serving dish/dishes then drizzle with caramel sauce; sprinkle with nuts. Serve immediately.
*The caramel sauce may be made in advance then stored in a glass jar (after its cooled completely) in the refrigerator until needed.

Pinto Bean Pie (I promise you if you didn't know what this was you would think it was pecan pie)

1 tsp cornmeal
1 prepared unbaked pie crust
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup pinto beans
1/2 cup pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of cornmeal in pie crust and set aside. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Beat in sugar, butter, vanilla and pinto beans. Pour filling into pie shell. Place pecans decoratively on top of pie. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until golden brown and filling is set.

This is just the tip of the iceberg but mostly they are the recipes I get the most enthused about making. As always I hope you enjoyed the recipes and maybe added a few to your box. I'll see ya next week for what to do with your turkey leftovers!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Feature Friday

With all the hustle of the upcoming holiday rush I've found myself getting more and more eager for it to finally officially get here. I'm stoked about having Thanksgiving dinner with my family! In fact this year I get to have two Thanksgivings, one on Thursday with my side of the family and one on Friday with my husband's :) And too I'm sqealishly excited about the Christmas shopping season starting as well. But with all the stress and excitement I've found myself having to slow down take a minute and just relax. So this week I've compiled a grouping of wonderful items that remind to relax take a deep breath and unwind.

  1. Orange and Sandalwood Whipped Soap in a Jar - Anderson Soap Company
  2. Quilted Eye Pillow - The Wildwood Flower
  3. Relaxation Set of 3 Candles - Cottage Garden Therapies
  4. Hand Stamped Om necklace - EmilinaBallerina
  5. Zen - Aromatherapy Oil - SpaGoddess
  6. Deep Breath Print - Fika's Art Box
Hope you all enjoy and hope you have a great (and peaceful) weekend!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tukey Recipes Day Part Deux

Ah turkey, the the great symbol and grand tradition of Thanksgiving. Though most have it as part of their T-Day feast few prepare it exactly the same way. Truth be told I've never actually cooked a whole turkey. First off I can barley handle dealing with a whole chicken, so I'm betting a whole turkey would probably end in disaster. Second I'm lucky to live in the same city as one of the top distributors of smoked turkeys in the US. Greenberg! It's what my family always had on turkey day so I was raised on it and I love it! But I do happen know several ways to prepare turkey breast (my favorite part anyway) and am lucky enough to have a sister and brother-in-law who deep fry their turkey so I'll share that as well :)
Preparing just the breast is really only a small version of the whole enchilada so if you wanted to you could certainly take the recipes here and translate it to your whole bird (you brave whole turkey roasting soul you).

Rosemary Roasted Turkey Breast
3 pound skin on turkey breast*
1 1/2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
3/4 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup water or chicken broth

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, basil, Italian seasoning, black pepper and salt. Set aside.Wash the turkey breast and pat dry. Loosen the skin from the breast and spread a generous amount of the rosemary mixture under the breast skin. Rub the remainder of the rosemary mixture over the outside of the breast. Use toothpicks to seal skin over any exposed breast meat. Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan. Add the 1/4 of water or chicken broth to the bottom of the pan to help keep the turkey moist while roasting. Roast according to the number of pounds your turkey breast actually weighs this is usually 20 minutes per pound or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 180 degrees.
*If you cant find skin on, or don't want to use it for any reason, don't its not totally necessary I just happen to prefer it ;)

Mediterranean Style Stuffed Turkey Breast
3 pound turkey breast bone-out, skin removed
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic minced
3/4 cup dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 fresh cracked black pepper
2 tbs all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 artichoke hearts roughly chopped
1/4 Kalamata olives roughly chopped
1 tbs butter, melted
3 large slices provolone or mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup water or chicken broth

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut a lengthwise slit in turkey breast to within 1/2 in. of opposite side; open meat so it lies flat. Cover with plastic wrap and flatten to an even 1/2-in. thickness and set aside. In olive oil saute the onion and garlic until tender. Stir in flour, thyme, salt and pepper. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and add the spinach, olives and artichokes to the sauce. Remove the plastic wrap from flattened breast and arrange the cheese on top, spread  the sauce over the turkey breast and starting at a short end, roll up and tuck in ends and tie with kitchen string. Place on a rack in a roasting pan with a 1/4 cup water or chicken broth in the bottom. Brush with melted butter. Cover the pan loosely with foil and bake for 1 hour or until internal temperature reads at least 180 degree. Let the breast rest for 10-15 minutes before removing the string and slicing. 

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
1 medium onion sliced
1 medium red bell pepper seeded and sliced*
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
8 ounces turkey Italian sausage, casing removed
3 pound turkey breast
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
salt to taste

In a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker combine onion, bell pepper, garlic, rosemary, and oregano. Crumble sausage over onion mixture. Rinse the turkey and pat dry; arrange over sausage. Sprinkle with pepper. Pour in chicken broth. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 5 to 7 hours, or until internal temperature has reached 180. Remove turkey from cooker and cover to keep warm. In a small bowl, stir together cornstarch and cold water. Stir into cooking liquid in slow cooker increase heat to High, and cover. Cook, stirring 2 to3 times, until gravy is thickened (about 10 more minutes). Season to taste with salt. Spoon gravy over turkey or reserve for individual pouring.
*Any color bell pepper may be substituted.

Deep Fried Turkey my sister's recipe :)
12 pound turkey (size varies but 12 pounds is pretty middle of the road)
Make sure your turkey is completely thawed, if not you may end up with a turkey missile and serious 3rd degree burns!
1/2 cup of butter 
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
Cajun seasoning to taste

Melt the butter and olive oil on low heat, add the garlic and Worcestershire and Cajun seasoning. Inject most of the mixture into turkey and under skin. Rub the remainder on the outside and store the bird for and overnight resting. Add peanut oil up to the line on the inside of the turkey fryer (or see your manufacturer's instructions for recommended quantity of oil). The turkey should be submerged with one inch of oil above it while cooking. The turkey should be placed in the frying basket neck end first. Slowly lower basket into hot oil. Maintain the temperature of the oil at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and cook turkey for 4 minutes per pound. Carefully remove basket from oil, and drain turkey. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh; the internal temperature must be 180 degrees F (80 degrees C).

I hope these recipes have given you guys a little inspiration for trying something new this year! And if you've never had deep fried turkey, give it a try sometime! I know, it is a little bit of a daunting task, but it makes for some of the moistest bird you'll ever taste. Stay tuned for next week, I'll be covering my favorite part of the meal desserts!

If you happened to miss the first post of the Thanksgiving Day recipe series and would like to have a looksie, visit this link--->T-Day Side Dishes

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipes Part 1- Side Dishes

I don't know about you guys but growing up my family had a pretty basic short list of food stuffs that made up our Thanksgiving table.
  1. Turkey
  2. Dressing
  3. Cranberries (jellied, can shaped)
  4. Broccoli and Rice Casserole
  5. Rolls
Pretty much in that order. For several years I didn't eat any meat and never could make myself eat the unnatural can shaped mass of cranberry jelly so I was pretty much limited to one casserole and a basket of dinner rolls....Thanksgiving dinner was no big deal for me. About two years ago though I started eating poultry and fish again and roughly a year before that I got pretty serious about exploring cooking. {If you have any question about why this was something akin to the Pilgrims voyage into the great unknown or about my culinary upbringing, or rather, complete lack there of; please feel free to peruse this post {awesome drawings alert too.}

Since cooking is such a fun pass time for me now and I know there are many of you looking to change up your menu a bit; I'd like to share some of my favorite recipes that I now contribute to my family's Thanksgiving meal.

I've decided to break this down into three separate posts, one a week for each category.

This week (as the title suggests): Side dishes
Next week: Turkey!
The following week: Desserts
The week of Thanksgiving I'll be posting a follow up post on what to do with your left over turkey.

So lets get to the gettin'...

Each of these recipes serves about 8-10 people.

First off, one of my favorite side dishes of all time!

Jalapeno Corn Casserole

  • 1 (15 oz) white shoe peg corn, drained*
  • 1 (14 oz) can cream-style corn
  • 1 (8-ounce) packaged corn muffin/bread mix
  • 1 cup plain low fat yogurt (Greek style is fine here too)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 cups shredded Pepper Jack Cheese (divided in half)
  • 1 small can jalapenos drained and diced
In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin/bread mix, yogurt, and melted butter. Mix in half of the shredded cheese and diced jalapenos.  Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with remaining cheese. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.
•Some may consider this dish pretty peppy! Adjust the jalapenos to your taste.
*If you cannot find shoe peg corn, no worries, just use regular whole kernel corn.

Sweet Potato Casserole ala the Hubby
(This is an approximation of what my super Husband makes every year. Since he pretty much wings it, I don't have exact measurements but I'm pretty sure I'm close.)
  • 6- sweet potatoes peeled cubed and boiled until tender
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 tbs maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
Mash boiled potatoes with butter while still warm. Mix in 1/2 of the maple syrup and all of the nutmeg and cinnamon.  Spread into a casserole dish and arrange pecan halves atop of the dish, drizzle the remaining syrup across the top. This can be kept as is until needed...when you're ready for it pop it into a 350 degree oven until warmed through.
I actually love this cold so warming it up may not be needed :)

Butternut Squash Casserole
  • 3 pounds butternut squash - cut in half and seeded
  • 1/4 cup water (for roasting squash)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 dash pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 6 cups sliced peeled apples
  • 1/8 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup cornflakes cereal, coarsely crushed
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Roast squash upside down in water on a baking sheet for 45-60 minutes or until tender. Let cool enough to handle and scoop into a large mixing bowl. Mash the squash with 1/4 cup butter, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Heat the 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over low heat; stir in sliced apples and sprinkle with the white sugar. Cover and cook over low heat until barely tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spread the apples in a 3-quart casserole. Spoon the mashed squash evenly over the apples. Stir together the cornflakes, pecans, the 1/4 cup brown sugar, and melted butter. Sprinkle the cornflake mixture evenly over the squash. {Here again this is easily made ahead of time then reheated. Although if you're planning to make ahead, leave off the cornflake mixture until your final heat up} Bake in the preheated oven until heated through, about 15 minutes. 

Green Apple Cranberry Relish
  • 3 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 medium red onion quartered
  • 1 green apple cored and quartered
  • 2 jalepeno peppers seeded and halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves*
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tbs fresh lime juice
  • salt to taste
Place ingredients into the bowl of a food processor (or blender or chop by hand if you want/need to). Pulse processor/blender until coarsely chopped. Remove ingredients to serving bowl and chill for at least 8 hours.
*Cilantro is a pretty strong flavor some people are not that keen on so be careful with this and add for your families taste level. 

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
  • 4 pounds Brussels sprouts sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 small red onions, cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Steam halved sprouts in a steamer basket for 8-10 minutes or until tender yet with still a bit of crispness.
Melt the butter in a deep skillet, add the onions; cook until onions brown and nicely caramelized. Add the Brussels sprouts, sugar and vinegar. Saute over medium heat until the Brussels sprouts are also lightly caramelized. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 So there you go, a few of the dishes I like to add to the table on turkey day! Hope you try a few and hope you enjoy! See you next week when we're on to turkey. Gobble Gobble!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Feature Friday - Halloween!

I love Halloween!
  1. Retro Orange & Black Full Apron - Lovers Dovers Clothing
  2. Fleece Ghost Poncho - Izzy B's Stuff
  3. Trick or Treat Snoopy - Barnaby Huxley
  4.  Franko Sock Monkey - Suzanne's Stuff
  5. Lips Flexible Mold (this reminds me of the wax lips I loved as a kid) - ShopSakura
  6. Candy Corn Fudge - Paula's Shop
Hope you guys liked this weeks feature Friday and everyone has an awesome weekend!