Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Mom's Turkey Pot Pie

This is not only a Thanksgiving leftovers option, it's a meal I'm dreaming of as the air turns to winter here in New England.  Mom's pot pie is the ultimate comfort food, the kind of meal you look forward to all day while out and about during the cold.  I texted her for the recipe tonight, just in case you are swimming in turkey like I am.

*Portions are somewhat guesstimates, as this is cobbled together from several texts from our dear Mum.  Use your best judgement.

2 cups shredded leftover turkey
3 cups chopped veggies (celery, onion, carrot, potatoes, peas, green beans, corn, etc. Mom does carrots, peas, corn, and chunks of potato.)
Cornstarch
2/3 milk
3/4 cup chicken broth
Sage
Thyme
Salt
Pepper
2 unbaked pie crusts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll one pie crust on to pie plate. Cook veggies in broth til tender but not soft.  Add the sage, thyme and pepper.  Make a roux with the milk and a spoonful or so of cornstarch (in a separate cup, stir until smooth).  Add the roux to the veggies and broth, stirring constantly until incorporated.  Add shredded turkey.  Add filling to prepared pie crust, lay second crust over the top and crimp edges shut. Slit the top crust for ventilation. Bake until crust is browned to a nice golden color, and is crisp when you knock gently on it with a utensil.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Guest Post: Thanksgiving Leftover Stuffing Waffles

Our cousin Jessica is returning - already! - to our blog, after commenting on my Thanksgiving Roundup with a mention of something that sounded so glorious I couldn't resist posting for you before the big day.
True to my cooking roots – I started googling recipes for “stuffing waffles” based on a whim last Thanksgiving. I combined a couple of recipes to come up with the following! It’s best if you have two or three people to assist you in the process. There are a lot of moving parts.



Using this stuffing: http://www.happilyunprocessed.com/2014/04/29/stuffed-acorn-squash-apple-cranberry-sausage-stuffing/

With this cheese sauce: http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/11/turkey-stuffing-waffle-thanksgiving-croque-madame-sandwich-recipe.html

Ingredients – this will make enough for 6 people:
2 cups whole wheat bread (preferably from the bakery, processed bread takes longer to dry)
1 cup white bread
1/2 cup onion, diced finely
1/2 cup celery, diced finely
1/2 lb ground pork sausage with sage (If you can't find ground and/or it comes in a casing, remove the casing first)
1/2 tsp dried sage, rosemary & thyme
2 Tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1 apple, cored and diced into small chunks
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1/4- 1/2 cup chicken stock
2 or 3 cups of leftover gravy
All the leftover turkey you want!
8 ounces grated Comté or gruyère cheese
1 pound sliced roast turkey breast
1 tablespoon butter
6 eggs
Left over Cranberry sauce

Make your stuffing for Thanksgiving – but make sure you double the recipe - it’s so good that its hard to have left overs. (following the rules from my previous post for making the stuffing, only this time I did use the bread so that it would stick together in the waffle iron.)

The day after Thanksgiving – re-moisten your stuffing. You want it to be fairly sticky. You can do this by adding extra chicken stock. Set aside.

This is where it’s helpful to have more than one person.

Heat up your waffle iron and start cranking out waffles. Remember that this is not a batter – you need a larger serving of stuffing on the waffle iron to get a full waffle. It’s best if you have a Belgium waffle maker. While you are doing that, someone else needs to make the cheese sauce – Heat up your gravy and whisk in all of the yummy cheese – it needs to be constantly whisked until fully melted.

As the waffles are come off the iron, place them on a nonstick pan and put your turkey on top followed by a ladle of cheese sauce and some remaining grated cheese if you have it. Broil it until the cheese is very melty.

Meanwhile – fry your eggs. You will want them to be slightly runny in the yolk.

Bring out the waffles, top with the egg, followed by more cheese sauce, and then top with cranberry. The cranberry helps cut the richness of the meal.

Free to add your favorites on top! A scoop of mashed or sweet potatoes, green beans, etc would go amazing.

EAT! It’s best if you eat it while piping hot.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Salad with Grapefruit, Avocado, and Red Kuri Squash

Just a really good salad.

Ingredients:

1 red kuri squash (or any squash that roasts well, like delicata)
1 large or 2 small grapefruit
2 avocados
Hard white cheese for grating (like gruyere)
Baby spinach or kale
For vinaigrette:  Juiced lemon, olive oil, salt, and honey

1. Roast the kuri squash.  Slice it into thin slices with the skin on, brush with olive oil and salt, and bake at 400 until it starts to brown (I didn't keep good track but probably 1/2 hour).

2.  Chop up the grapefruit and avos.  Chop the squash into smaller pieces when it comes out of the oven.  Toss everything together.  

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

It may be on the later end for Thanksgiving recipe planning, but allow me to put forward this post about some favorite recipes of ours (from this blog and elsewhere) over the years.  I know there are some others out there besides me who simply haven't had time to sit down and plan until this weekend.


Turkey and Stuffing
The O'Dowd Family Way - Turkey with Bacon: For years, K and I were kindly welcomed to her in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey was always cooked simply, but was delicious as can be. Place onion halves, lemon and garlic in the cavity,  shower salt and pepper on the skin and lay strips of bacon on top. P and I would try to sneak bits of the crispy bacon right as the turkey came out of the oven, which has skyrocketed toward the top of my list of "best moments of the Thanksgiving meal." The bacon fat drips down in your turkey as well, and MAN doesn't that sound good?

Dad's Favorite Turkey with Sage Cornbread Stuffing:  Originally from Bon Appetit, this has been our Dad's favorite turkey prep since I was a teenager, and I think it was the beginning of his achievement of official gourmet chef status. Saute 6 sticks of butter, chopped onion and 3 packages of fresh sage.  Set half of mixture aside.  Tear cornbread in a bowl with the other half of the mixture, stuff in bird.  Lift the turkey skin and rub the bird with the set aside portion, reserving some sage butter to drizzle on the outside of the skin with some maple syrup.

Brown Butter and Rosemary Cornbread Stuffing: A few years ago,  I created this stuffing and while it's intensive (so I'm not sure it's making my menu this year), it is one of my prouder recipe creations. You brown butter for both the homemade cornbread and the stuffing itself, so that should be enough information to sway you...

Vegetables and Sides
Crispy Sweet Potato Roast:  Deb at Smitten Kitchen is the sisters' collective go-to for recipes, and this does not disappoint.  Not a sticky-sweet marshmallow concoction, this recipe lets sweet potatoes shine.

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts: One year, I tossed some cubed butternut squash (pierce the skin and microwave on high for about five minutes until it softens a bit before chopping into it) and brussels sprouts in olive oil and maple syrup before roasting them until soft and browned, respectively.

Date, Feta and Kale Salad: Another Deb staple, K had this on her menu when we were all together for Thanksgiving last year.  We subbed the cabbage for kale, and it was actually a favorite dish of the meal.  We liked it even better the day after (rare for salad) and it was a great offset to the rich, the heavy, and the sweet that usually dominate a Thanksgiving table.

Cranberry Salsa: My friend Mandy found this, and it adds a great Southwestern twist to any table.  It's rapidly become my favorite cranberry recipe, and doesn't even require a stovetop.  I just made a batch to throw in my freezer for this week, and added a substantial amount of extra lime and cilantro.  Adjust to taste!

Brussels Sprouts Slaw: Another Mandy find, the brussels sprouts are surprisingly at home in a fresh, bright, crunchy slaw. It's another way to provide needed balance to your feast. I'd consider swapping mayo with greek yogurt, which always spins nicely with lemon juice into dressing.

Baked Brie with Cranberry Chutney: Our stepmother makes this as a classic winter entertaining staple.  Spoon on top of a wheel of brie, wrap with a store-bought crescent roll dough or even an extra pie crust, bake until browned, dig into the gooey goodness.  Bonus, the cranberry chutney makes extra, so you can serve this as an appetizer, and have plenty for with your turkey or with your leftovers.

Pie
Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie: Make the pie in this post that has the chocolate ganache on top.  The filling is made with honey instead of corn syrup, making a pecan pie that's less tooth-achingly sweet and can handle a rich ganache on top.  This also makes a great slab pie, if you're feeding a larger group.  Just double the recipe, and roll out your crust in a big rectangle with a nice "handle" for the crust.  Bake until the crust looks browned and spread your ganache on top, cut into bars.

Spiced Molasses Holiday Pie:
Invented by K years ago, this is a staple holiday pie for us.  The "strong and rich" version is my recommendation, and make sure to save some leftover maple whipped cream to stir into your coffee the next morning, or enjoy a strong black cup of coffee with a slice of this pie for breakfast (a match made in heaven.)

Mulled Wine Pear Pie: Another favorite recipe creation of mine.  The key is making sure your spice balance in the mulled wine syrup is right on, so make sure you taste as you go!

Cider Caramel Apple Pie: I made this recently after apple picking with some friends.  The cider caramel can be finicky, it definitely takes a long time and you need to watch it near the end. I would argue that more than making this pie incredibly caramel-y, the cider caramel amps up the apple flavor in a remarkable fashion.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie: If your goal is a rich, buttery caramel apple pie, choose this one.  Caramel is shockingly easy to make.  You'll have extra, spoon it on top of your pie and the requisite scoop of ice cream, or save it and drizzle it down the sides of a mug with hot apple cider in it.

Caramelized Pumpkin Pie: If you're making a pumpkin pie, promise me you'll caramelize your filling.  It's such a simple step that makes all the difference in the world (I would argue that it makes a bigger difference than pureeing your own pumpkin!). I've been thinking it would be lovely to top this with some whipped cream that has sour cream beaten in.

Nutmeg Maple Cream Pie: The New York Times posted this, then Deb adjusted it, then K made it gluten-free friendly.  The crust K suggests here is a great gluten-free option if you are nervous about using gluten-free flour for a classic pie crust.

Vanilla Pudding Pie with Bailey's Whipped Cream:  Light, easy, not overly rich, this pie with a gingersnap crust would be a nice balance to spread that includes more dominant pies.

Purple Yam Pie: I've never made this so I can't vouch for it, but doesn't it look like a showstopper? I thought I'd include it as a vegan and/or gluten-free option as well, and the crust is another good alternative if classic pie crust doesn't work for you.

Leftovers
Thanksgiving Leftover Cornish Pasties: I apparently incorrectly attribute this idea to a family I'm friends with who've hosted me for Thanksgiving many times, but regardless of where it came into my head, it is hands down the best thing to do with your leftovers.

Grilled Turkey Sandwich with Smoked Apple Butter and Brie: My friend Melissa recently sent me some smoked apple butter that's out of this world, and this is what I'm dreaming of doing with some leftover turkey to mix up a classic "leftovers sandwich".

Drinks
Mulled Wine: This is my favorite holiday drink, and I love Ina Garten's citrus and cider version.  So cozy, and having a pot bubbling on your stove all day will make your home smell even more delicious than it was already going to. I like to slice oranges into rounds, stick cloves into them, and simmer them on top.

Apple Cider Maple Whiskey - A few weeks ago, I made a reduction of equal parts apple cider and maple syrup for some waffles for brunch (about a cup of each, simmer until it starts to thicken).  As I pondered what to do with the extra, a brilliant friend suggested I stir it into some whiskey.  Makes for a great fall nightcap, and you can tip some extra cider into the glass if it's too strong for you.

Gin Grapefruit Rosemary: This is another untested recipe for me, but it reminds me of a drink we would have mixed up in our Arizona Thanksgiving days, and drank on the patio in the sunlight to start the temperate November day.  Annie's Eats is a trusted source, and has a few other attractive cocktail options (including a cranberry sorbet fizz!) that you can and should check out.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Vanilla Pudding Pie with Fancy Whipped Cream

To introduce these pies, a Parable about Pie Baking Restraint (or Lack Thereof):

Me (two weeks ago): I know we're making four pies, so I think two should be this really simple yet great pie I make with instant vanilla pudding.  I've always topped it with Bailey's whipped cream, and it's an unexpected hit, and I was thinking of adding cardamom whipped cream to another to keep it sweet and simple.  I'm vowing to not make this hard on us.
Jess: Great, I think that's smart!

Me (at the grocery store shopping for pies): I keep being tempted to make homemade pudding for the pies, but I know that's crazy and I am committed to not overdoing it.
Jess: Yes, making the pudding could be overdoing it. We do have a lot of pie to make. But we could see how it goes tomorrow.

Me (the morning of pie making): I just keep thinking about making the pudding from scratch, but I know it's crazy.
Jess: Yes, that is a little crazy. Do you want me to put the instant pudding in the crusts?
Me: Yes, but also don't you think we should start rolling out the apple pie crust?

Me five minutes later (as she graciously rolls out pie crust): So...I was just thinking...I think I'm gonna make some homemade pudding real quick.

End Result: Vanilla Cinnamon Pudding Pies with Homemade Gingersnap Crust with a choice of Whipped Cream

one of my dear sisters *ahem* has borrowed  stolen my camera, so these iPhone pics will have to do *cough cough*

True to form, these pies started simple and ended up much less so.  I will note that in the original, un-fancied form, it remains a true win.  Take a storebought graham crust, instant vanilla pudding, and the below Bailey's Whipped Cream, and you'll be getting a lot of bang for your buck.  Or take any level of the (not that difficult, actually!) suggestions below, and it'll be well worth it.  That's the beauty of these pies - they're flexible to tastes, budget and time. No matter which route, you'll have a pie that's light, surprisingly not plain, and transcendent of seasons.

decorations for the whipped cream pies were done by my friend Michael, using a parchment paper stencil.  he's descendant from pie royalty, and i bet if we ask nicely he might show us his tricks.

Ingredients:
(For one pie)
Crust:
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees*
1 1/2 cups Ginger Snaps crumbs (1 box of gingersnaps seems to be far more than enough)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Pinch of salt

Make crumbs of your cookies using the most convenient method for you.  We used a blender, but a food processor works just fine (as does using a rolling pin or your fists over a ziploc bag). Stir together gingersnap crumbs, melted butter, vanilla, brown sugar and salt in a bowl until well combined.  Press into a 9-inch pie plate.  Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, then set aside to cool.

Vanilla Cinnamon Pudding:
(adapted from this recipe to up the vanilla and cinnamon flavor, and to adjust for pie size)
1/4 + 1/8 cup sugar
4.5 tablespoon cornstarch
3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups low fat milk
3 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt in the bottom of a medium saucepan.  Turn burner underneath to medium heat to begin heating. Slowly whisk in milk, continue whisking constantly.  Simmer for 5 minutes or until it begins to thicken - you'll feel a noticeable difference, so try not to jump the gun. The milk will foam as you do.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Pour into prepared and cooled pie crust.  Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, can be made a day in advance.

(For whipped cream - pick one, or both!)
Bailey's Spiked Whipped Cream
1 cup chilled heavy cream
1 shot (roughly) Bailey's Irish Cream to start, add more to taste

Using a chilled bowl and set of beaters, whip cream and Bailey's until stiff peaks form.  Taste and add more Bailey's, or sugar if desired.  I usually wing this, but I believe I may use closer to two shots...but don't want to make it too boozy for others, so start with one shot and increase as you go.

Cardamom Whipped Cream
1 cup chilled heavy cream
1 Tbsp. sugar, powdered or white
2 tsp. cardamom

Same as above, whip all ingredients together with chilled equipment until stiff peaks form.  I also recommend adjusting cardamom and sugar to taste.

Top chilled pie with whipped cream and serve!

food ethics and considerations: easily gluten-free if you use gluten-free gingersnaps or graham crackers (fairly easy to find!) and pay close attention to your spices.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Guest Post: Weekly Meal Plan by Cousin Jessica, Wednesday & Thursday

Wednesday – “Finally together as a family” – Crockpot Pot Roast with carrots and potatoes



When Dexter heads to our house for his time with us, I try to have hearty, healthy kid friendly meals that can be ready quickly. Josh and I both have a long commute home and using the crockpot allows us to spend more time playing with legos vs cooking in the kitchen.

This recipe is a mix between what my mom told me, what my grandma suggested, and what I’ve found works for a long day in the crockpot. 

Ingredients:
·       A large roast – any kind – I’ve been using tri tip and it’s wonderful
·       1 can cream of mushroom soup (Amy’s organic is wonderful)
·       1 package Lipton onion soup
·       1 can roasted tomatoes – whole or diced, with liquid
·       6-10 red potatoes (washed) depending on your family size
·       6 – 10 pealed whole carrots
·       1 onion – cut into chunks

How to build:
·       Potatoes on the bottom of your crock pot, followed by carrots
·       Place roast on top
·       Lipton soup – sprinkle throughout
·       Cream of mushroom – on top
·       Can of roasted tomatoes
·       Stuff the onion chunks into any nooks and crannies
·       Set crock pot for 8 hours on low

Tips for a busy family:
·       Build the night before and place in the fridge
·       Freeze your roast, let it thaw a bit in the crock pot overnight – adjust cooking time to 10 -12 hours depending on how long you are out of the house during the day
·       Buy a crockpot with a timer and a warmer – this way you can set for 8 hours and keep on “warm” until you get home

Serve:
·       The roast will be very tender, use tools to remove from the crock pot and place on a cutting board to slice
·       Scoop out potatoes and carrots and some onions if you desire
·       I don’t love gravy, so I don’t make it . . . but you can use the juices to make a gravy if you like! Strain, add a roux and I’m sure it’s delicious!

·       We eat ours with sour cream and BBQ sauce because we love sauces J

Thursday: “It’s time for leftovers” – Eat up!
Suggestions for serving:
·       Grain bowl:
o   Use leftover veggies, add some cheese and stuff in a tortilla for a hearty burrito
o   Add another egg and eat up just like before!
·       Stuffing:
o   Serve up with some cheese and crackers
o   Add an egg and eat up!
·       Pot Roast:
o   Pot roast heats up great as is – throw in the microwave and serve
o   Pull roast apart, add some bbq sauce, heat up and make sandwiches
o   Potatoes – these potatoes make great potato pancakes! Smash them up, add some onions and spices, and fry! You can also smash in the carrots for some extra flavor. Serve with sour cream and apple sauce
·       Mix and match!
o   Mix any combo of the above together, add some scrambled eggs and bacon – makes great hash!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Guest Post: Weekly Meal Plan by Cousin Jessica, Tuesday

Our dear "Cousin Jessica" (as kids, we only referred to her by her full "title", and it has since stuck) has written a series of posts for our blog this week, walking through a week of cooking for a new family amidst the busy-ness of life. We're posting it over several days this week, but will include the grocery list at the top of each post for ease of use.  Her posts are filled with great tips along with great recipes, so happy reading!

Weekly Grocery List and Budget – Weekly budget including what we need for breakfasts and lunches - $150 for a family of three.

I have a lot of the spices in these recipes already, along with some staple items. Please double check your cupboards and the recipes to make sure you have all ingredients!

Brown Rice
Whole grains (any)
Acorn Squash
Onion
Celery
Ground sausage with sage
Flat leaf Parsley
Apples
Cranberries
Butter
Chicken stock
Rosemary
Avocado oil
Sage
Carrots
Brussel sprouts
Radishes
Butternut Squash
Beets
Lemon
Thyme

Shallot

Tuesday “Let’s entertain on a week night” – Acorn Squash stuffed with Sausage, apple and cranberry stuffing; Sweet treat: Paleo Bon Bons



Let me start off by saying, entertaining on a weeknight is totally doable even if you both work.  The key is to PREP.  This stuffing is still amazing if cooked the night before. Bon Bons can be prepped up to a week in advance.

The base of this recipe was not my idea. Last year, I had a craving for stuffing and squash and I went hunting for recipes.  I knew I wanted apples and cranberries to give some sweetness, but I also knew that I didn’t have a ton of time.  I found this recipe on Happily Unprocessed (great site!) and tweaked to make it work for us.  Tonight I’m adjusting to make everything mostly paleo for my dear friend who is coming over for dinner.

Bon Bons:
Ingredients:
·       Almond butter – 1 cup
·       Coconut flakes – ¼ cup
·       Almond extract – a couple drops
·       Honey -1/2 cup
·       Dark chocolate (to be paleo, 85% or above. To be creative, use fruit infused chocolates – like orange or raspberry)

What to do:
·       Mix everything but the chocolate into a bowl. You want the consistency to be thick – add more coconut if you needed, but make sure it’s not crumbly.  The mixture should still be damp. 

·       Melt the dark chocolate. Form the above mixture into balls and put into a small cupcake paper.  Pour the dark chocolate over the top. Freeze for 30 minutes or up to a week.


Squash and Stuffing:
Ingredients:
·       Two acorn squash
·       Half onion – diced
·       Diced Celery – ½ cup or so
·       1 lb ground sausage with sage – I used spicy Italian sausage for kick – if you can’t find with sage, just add some extra sage in your cooking process.
·       ½ teaspoon dried sage (more if your sausage does not have sage)
·       ½ teaspoon fresh thyme
·       Two cups whole grain brown rice - cooked
·       1 apple cut into chunks – Skin on – any variety (honey crisp is my fav)
·       I cup dried cranberries
·       Butter – two or three pads – grass fed if you can find it



Cook it up!
·       Bake up the squash -  preheat oven to 350 – cut in half, brush with olive oil, place face down on a cookie sheet.  Cook for 15-20 minutes. If your squash is thick, cook for 25 – you want it mostly done
Cook the stuffing – this can be done the night before and saved in the fridge
·       Cook onions, celery in olive oil until translucent. Add the sausage and cook until cooked through. Add the spices. Add apples, cranberries and some butter.  Add the brown rice and mix.  
o   Note: This will not “set” like traditional stuffing because there is no bread. Expect it to be crumbly
Stuff the squash
·       Pull squash form the oven and flip over – use a fork to break up squash – it will be a little stringy. Add some butter to preference.  (In this stage, I always add a little goat cheese to make the squash extra creamy, completely up to your own taste)
·       Stuff the squash with as much stuffing as it will hold. It’s ok if a little bit falls on the pan or the sides, it will get crispy and it’s amazing.
·       Bake another 20 minutes – careful not to burn the top. The stuffing is cooked – this baking is only to add more flavor to the squash, finish the squash baking, and crisp the sausage.
·       Leftover stuffing – put in a glass pan and bake until crispy. Great for leftovers or to supplement if you have hungry guests!

Eat! Take everything out of the oven – it will be VERY hot.  I like to top with a little goat cheese or parmesan. My friends added siracha and it was delicious.  

Dessert: Bon bons are eaten frozen – do not thaw!

Tip: if you want more of an ice-cream consistency, mix in some ripe banana during the creation process and lessen the amount of almond butter by about half.