Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Leftover Turkey Tips

Source: Ellen's Kitchen

Almost as good as Thanksgiving itself are the LEFTOVERS! I just LOVE leftovers! Having a ton of delicious food for days afterwards makes all the work of the meal completely worth it.

When it comes to reheating turkey and gravy, you can go the easy route (the microwave), or occassionally, if I'm not completely starving, I'll heat up the turkey in the oven and the gravy in a saucepan. To reheat in an oven, spread out turkey in a single layer, sprinkle with juices or water, and heat for 30-45 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees. Bring the gravy to a boil on the stovetop.

If you have leftovers in excess of 3 days, freeze the turkey and the gravy. If there's a lot, I try to separate into a few batches so I can take out a little turkey and gravy at a time. The turkey tastes best if used within 2 months.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fresh Corn with Wild Rice

Source: The Pioneer Woman

I messed up this dish a few different ways, but I'm still posting it because I think it was still good, and would still be delicious had I followed the instructions! I

1. Bought the wrong kind of rice (black rice instead of wild rice)
2. Overcooked the rice
3. Then added an extra cup of rice to the dish than what the recipe called for, so the corn to rice ratio was off. The rice I bought probably ended up cooking 5 cups of rice once it was done. I'm lucky I didn't put the WHOLE thing in there!

But it was still good! I really will make this again.

Fresh Corn with Wild Rice


2 cups Cooked Wild Rice
4 cups Chicken Broth
3 cups (to 4 Cups) Fresh Corn Kernels (scraped Off The Cob or from frozen)
1 cup Heavy Cream
6 Tablespoons Butter, sliced into 1 tablespoon pieces
2 whole Eggs, Beaten
1 teaspoon (to 2 Teaspoons) Kosher Salt (or Table Salt To Taste)
Cayenne Pepper To Taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon and it was pretty spicy!)
½ cups (to 1 Cup) Milk, For Thinning

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cook wild rice in chicken broth until almost done. Rice should still have a firm (but not crunchy) bite. Drain rice and allow to cool.

3. Scrape corn kernels into a large mixing bowl. Add in cream, butter, beaten eggs, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir together.

4. Add in 2 cups of cooled wild rice, stirring gently. Splash in milk so that mixture is stirrable, but not overly juicy.

5. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt or cayenne pepper if needed.

6. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until just turning golden brown on top and the mixture is somewhat set.

Easy Turkey Gravy

Source: All Recipes

What's Thanksgiving dinner without gravy? I actually had not thought about gravy until I'd started the meal, but fortunately found this quick recipe. This was SO easy and super yummy! To save time, I placed the cream of chicken soup and spices in a saucepan WELL ahead of time, as well as pre-measured the milk and flour. As it turned out, the 7 pound Slow Cooker Turkey Breast I made produced EXACTLY 2 and 1/2 cups of drippings. If you're making a larger turkey, look to the original recipe for increased proportions.

Easy Turkey Gravy

2-1/2 cups turkey stock with pan drippings
1/2 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1. Bring the turkey stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in soup, and season with poultry seasoning, pepper, seasoned salt, and garlic powder. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer.

2. Warm the milk in the microwave (about 30 seconds), and whisk in the flour until there are no lumps. Return the gravy to a boil, and gradually stir in the milk mixture. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Be careful not to let the bottom scorch.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

Source: All Recipes

As far as I'm concerned, f#$*& 2009.

It's been a tough year for a lot of people I know. I know the economy's affected too many people. Career-wise, my husband started his own company, which is very exciting, but challenging. I've seen a lot of challenges of my own this year.

We've attended both family celebrations and funerals. Unfortunately this year will always be defined as the year my brother passed away, completely unexpectedly. So I think you can understand when I saw f#$*& 2009.

With all this madness going on, the one thing my husband and I have NOT done is take time away, together, alone. Being on a vacation together with no expectations on our time is SO important, and I'm very happy we'll be going to Las Vegas over Thanksgiving! While it may be untraditional, we love that we can either live in up in Vegas, or hang out at our hotel and talk. We're not big gamblers, it's just nice to be away and have a million entertainment options at our fingertips. I'm SO looking forward to it.

That being said, although we'll likely indulge in a buffet for Thanksgiving dinner, was I content to leave Thanksgiving dinner to Vegas? Noooo, I had to make one for ourselves this weekend! It was a very simple dinner, with just a few sides, but enough to leave us both satisfied.

This recipe popped up in my email, and before this, I had NO idea you could JUST cook a turkey breast, instead of a whole turkey. AND you could cook it in a slow cooker? Well, sign me up! This was AMAZING, fall-off-the-bone delicious. 7 pounds is a LOT between 2 people, but my favorite part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers! This will become a tradition in our house.

One note: I bought this this morning, frozen. I had planned to come home and pop it in the slow cooker, forgetting that grocery stores often freeze turkey breasts. The solution was to put in in a sink of cold water for about an hour and a half, turning every 20 minutes. I ran some cold water over the still-frozen parts after I unwrapped it for a few minutes. Much quicker than letting it thaw in the fridge!

I utilized a lot of reviewer comments, so use this version if you'd like to make it!

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

1 6-7 pound bone-in turkey breast
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
1 packet dry onion soup mix
1 tablespoon butter, melted

1. Add celery, onion, garlic and chicken broth to the bottom of a slow cooker.

2. Mix dried herbs. Rub all over, inside, and under turkey skin. Rub onion soup mix over and under turkey skin. Rub minced garlic clove over turkey. Place in slow cooker and drizzle with melted butter.

3. Cook in slow cooker high for 3 hours and low for 4 hours. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pan-Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

Source: Cooking for Two

I recently received an AMAZING cookbook for my birthday. Like most other bloggers, about 90% of the recipes I try are from other blogs, which may also end up being from cookbooks. There's just so much out there it's hard for me to justify a new cookbook purchase. However, this was sent to me by my wonderful cousin Christine, and I couldn't be more thrilled. If you are cooking for 2 people, you have to get this book! Not only is it filled with delicious recipes, but all the little tips really make it great, too. For instance, there's an ingredient index which will list ingredients, like asparagus, and then all the recipes that use asparagus, so you don't have to throw away food. There are also small boxes called "Use it Up" throughout the book that feature quick little recipes to use up key ingredients, and lots of great tips throughout the book. For instance, I learned I can keep iceberg lettuce good for up to 2 weeks by wrapping in moist paper towels and then storing in a plastic shopping bag. If you're cooking for 2, you need this book!

Anyway, this is the very first recipe I've made and it's OUT OF THIS WORLD delicious and simple. I've always been a fan of pan-frying chicken and then placing in the oven to finish up. This was amazingly flavorful. The olive oil/lemon sauce added at the very end gave it an extra little kick, too.

Pan-Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

8 ounces small red potatoes (about 3), cut into wedges
4 ounces baby carrots (about 14)
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 (12-ounce) bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts, trimmed and brined if desired (to brine, dissolve 1/4 cup salt in 1 quart cold water and brine for 30 minutes)
2 shallots, peeled and quartered
4 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
Pinch red pepper flakes

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the potatoes and carrots with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of pepper in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high, uncovered, until the vegetables soften but still hold their shape, about 5 minutes, gently stirring once during cooking.

2. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper (pepper only if you've brined the chicken). Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Carefully lay the chicken breasts, skin-side down, in the skillet and cook until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip the chicken and continue to brown light on the second side, about 3 minutes.

3. Remove the chicken from the pan, add the shallots and microwaved vegetables, then place the chicken, skin-side up, on top of the vegetables. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the thickest part of the breast registers 160 to 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Using potholders, remove the skillet from the oven. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a serving platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, and pepper flakes together in a small bowl, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the oil-lemon mixture over the chicken and vegetables before serving.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dinner party

If there's one word I can use it describe me in the kitchen, it would be flustered. Though I should know better, I frequently don't read recipes carefully enough and am scrambling for ingredients halfway through the recipe. Add in multiple dishes, and while everything gets done in the end, it looks like a bomb went off in the kitchen, and I'm usually so stressed out I can't enjoy the meal.

We had friends over for dinner recently, and I wanted to make something special, but at the same time, I was determined to not be a mess through the whole process. So I thought through the dishes and how I wanted to prepare for the meal, and I'm happy to say everything went off with aplomb! For anyone else considering hosting a dinner party who's also organizationally challenged, I laid out how I went about the process. I hope it helps.

The menu:

Garlic Rosemary Roast Chicken with Potatoes - this is a GREAT company dish because not only is the chicken FAAAAAAABULOUS, but it's really 2 dishes in one! Red potato wedges roast below the chicken as it's cooking. MMMMMM!
Pioneer Woman's Whiskey-Glazed Carrots - these are just so, so tasty. I eat your carrots! I EAT THEM UP!
Green Salad
Bread (baguette from the grocery store)
Apple Crisp
Not really part of dinner, but we made what I call the Lazy Man's Mojito. It's a slushy mixture of vodka, mint leaves, and limeade. Seriously delicious.

The night before:
  • Brine the chicken. Once complete, pat dry and place on a plate and put back in the fridge. The next day, make sure to turn it over so the entire surface of the chicken has a chance to dry.
The morning of:
  • Chop the carrots. Place in a bowl or large plastic bag and refrigerate.
  • Cut the potatoes. Place in a bowl and refrigerate.
Around 3:30:
  • Set out butter in butter dish to soften.
  • Place remaining ingredients that go with potatoes per the recipe in the bowl (garlic cloves, olive oil, salt and pepper). Set aside.
  • Prepare garlic-rosemary paste. Insert under chicken skin. Brush chicken with olive oil and pepper.
  • Take out roasting pan and lightly spray rack. Place prepared chicken on rack and set aside (or refrigerate if it's too early to put in the oven).
  • Pre-measure brown sugar and whiskey for whiskey-glazed carrots. Place beside stove.
  • Make green salad and refrigerate.
  • Peel and slice apples and place in dish. Cream together sugar, butter and cinnamon. Cover dish with apples and set aside creamed mixture, as well as a 1/2 cup measuring cup.
  • Slice bread and set aside.
  • Clean kitchen so it doesn't look like a disaster zone.
Now, the chicken takes about an hour to cook. Our guests were going to be in at about 5:30, and I wanted to have everything done by 6:00. So I put the chicken in at 4:50. If you've done a lot of prep by that point, you may not have much to do other than clean up a bit. I did peel and slice the apples while the chicken was cooking, although it does need attention since it has to be turned. I also used that time to set the table, get out napkins, dinnerware, glasses, etc., as well as pull out serving plates.

Twenty minutes before the chicken was done, I started the carrots. Although I long for a kitchen with 2 ovens, I only have one, so I thought it best to have one dish in the oven, and another on the stove. The whiskey-glazed carrot recipe is VERY easy and having pre-measured the whiskey and sugar makes it that much simpler. It should be done about the same time the chicken is done. Make sure to cover while you're letting the chicken rest before carving it - the carrots were a little cool when we finally all sat down.

As for dessert, after we had been eating for around 45 minutes, I poured the butter/sugar mixture on top of the apples, as well as the water, and popped in the oven for 50 minutes. They were absolutely delicious a la mode!

By planning everything out in advance, I was actually quite calm and able to enjoy dinner with my guests!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Apple Crisp

Source: All Recipes

We recently hosted some friends for dinner and I went ALL out: roasted chicken, whiskey-glazed carrots, and roasted potatoes were on the menu! I wanted to make dessert but being with all the work I had already put in the kitchen, it had to be a no-brainer. This recipe was. I sliced all the apples ahead of time, as well as creamed the sugar/butter/cinnamon mixture. After we had been eating dinner for about 45 minutes, I poured the water on top of the apples, added the creamed mixture, and popped it into the oven. It came out crispy on top and the apples were so tender and sweet! My husband looked at me accusingly as we were eating it and said, "WHY haven't you ever made this before?" I guess that means it's good!

One note - the dish was a little watery at the bottom. I served with a slotted spoon, so it didn't impact the dish. But I might suggest halving the water added to the apples.

Apple Crisp

4 cups sliced apples
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8x8 inch baking dish.

2.Place apples in prepared. Pour water over all. In a bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Blend in flour and cinnamon. Sprinkle mixture evenly over apples.

3.Bake in preheated oven 45 to 50 minutes, until apples are tender and crust is golden.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

Adapted from: All Recipes

This was one recipe where the reviewers suggested a LOT of changes, and I'm glad I took them into account. The result was an incredibly rich chicken and rice soup that was SO filling. I just love making dishes like this not only because it's fall, but because I get to take the leftovers to work! This is comfort food at its finest! The next time I make this, I think I'll switch to wild rice just because I love the taste of it.

Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

Serves 8


3 chicken breasts
Olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup uncooked brown rice
3 1/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup sherry
1 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk, divided
salt and pepper to taste


1. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts. Melt approximately 1 tablespoon of olive oil and butter each in a skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken breasts until done, turning once, about 5 minutes each side. Set aside and let cool.

2. Add additional butter and olive oil to the pan. Add celery, onions, carrots, and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent, scraping the bottom of the pan for browned bits.

3. In a stockpot over high heat, add vegetable mixture, chicken, and rice and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Slowly add the flour, stirring often, to make a roux. Add 4 cups of milk, 1/2 cup at a time, while constantly stirring. Add this and the chicken to the rice mixture and return the rice mixture to the stovetop over low heat.
(If the soup seems too thick, add some or all of the remaining 2 cups of milk.) Season with salt and pepper to taste and allow to simmer for at least an hour, stirring every 15 minutes.