Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fresh Cranberry Salsa!

Curtis called from work the other day and asked if we had anything in the house I could make for his work party that night. Being the wonderful person that I am, :) I told him that I would take care of it.

I knew I didn't want to make one of my old tried and trues and also I knew just where I wanted to go to find something new....to Sophia's cooking blog. I've tried several of her recipes before and have never been disappointed. I was entirely comfortable trying something new for that evening if it was from her.

I came across this recipe for Fresh Cranberry Salsa on her blog last year and printed it out. I never got the chance to make it so when I saw it again, I knew this was it. After I dropped Allison off at school, I ran to the store and picked up the couple items that I didn't have. One of the things that really appealed to me was she said it only took 5 minutes to put together. Now that's my kind of recipe! Oh, and did I mention it's so yummy too! Thanks Sophia!

Just one note before you read the recipe. Sophia's recipe calls for a whole bunch of green onions. When I bought the bunch, it was unusually large. I think there were about 12 onions in the bunch. I figured I would start with 3 and then add more if needed. Three ended up being perfect for me but if you want more, have at it!

Fresh Cranberry Salsa


1 bag fresh cranberries
3 green onions, chopped down to an inch from the end
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded then chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro (about 1/4 of a bunch is what I used)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cumin (can add more up to 1 tsp.)
16 ounces of cream cheese (2 blocks)


1. Put the cranberries, greens onions, jalapeno pepper and cilantro into a food processor and chop finely.
2. Next add the sugar and cumin and mix well.
3. Spread 16 ounces of cream cheese, softened, into platter or serving dish.
4. Spread salsa on top of cream cheese.
5. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
6. Serve with crackers or chips.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Green Beans with Bacon!

I wanted to make another vegetable on Thanksgiving for those who didn't like the Scalloped Corn . This recipe ended up being perfect. Seriously, who doesn't love bacon? It's a really easy recipe but just adds a little something extra to regular old green beans.

This recipe is the one I used on Thanksgiving so the quantities are for a crowd. It can easily be cut to down to accommodate your family size. Actually, you really only need to use the method. The quantities really don't matter all that much. Just make it fit you.

One more thing before you read this recipe. If you are a regular reader of this cooking blog, you know I like recipes that are yummy and tasty but do not require a lot of time in the kitchen. Okay. Having said that....I used canned green beans! GASP! Did she say canned? Yes! I did! Fresh would have been nice but I decided that the green beans were not going to be what was taking center stage on Thanksgiving so I used canned! I saved myself the time of trimming and snapping them into smaller pieces. No one had any complaints!

Green Beans with Bacon

1/2 lb. bacon
2-3 Tablespoons butter
4 cans of cut green beans, drained
black pepper, to taste

1. Cut the 1/2 pound of bacon into thin strips.
2. In a large skillet over medium to medium high heat, fry bacon strips. Remove strips from skillet and set aside.
3. Discard all but 1-2 Tablespoons of the bacon grease from the skillet leaving the reserved bacon grease in the skillet.
4. Add butter to skillet and melt over medium high heat.
5. Add drained green beans to skillet and stir well making sure all green beans are heated.
6. Stir back in cooked bacon strips.
7. Season to taste with black pepper.

Note: I made this the day ahead but did not heat the green beans all the way through in step 5. I stirred them enough to cover them all with the grease/butter mixture. I put them all in a covered casserole dish and reheated them on Thanksgiving in the microwave.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cranberry Salad!

I like cranberry sauce. I do not like raw celery. It's something about the strings. I know. I'm odd.

Last year, one of my co-workers, Dawn, brought in this cranberry salad to work and forced (yes, forced) me to try it. Oh. My. Word! It was so yummy and I learned that I DO like raw celery! It just has to be cut up really small so the strings are not noticeable! Wow...the things you learn about me by reading my blogs!

Anyway. The recipe below is the recipe she gave me cut in half. It makes a little over 3 cups. If your family loves cranberry sauce, then double the recipe below. My Curtis and Allison love the cranberry jelly right out of the can so I serve both.

Cranberry Salad

1 can (14 oz.) whole cranberry sauce, mashed
1 small can (approx. 8 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained
1 small box (3 oz.) raspberry Jello
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup water, hot
1/2 cup chopped pecans, (optional...I don't add this)

1. Dissolve jello in a sauce pan of hot water.
2. Add whole cranberry sauce, crushed pineapple, celery and nuts to jello mixture. Stir well.
3. Pour into a pretty serving dish and refrigerate until firm.

Note: This recipe is great for doing the day before!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Scalloped Corn a.k.a Corn Crap!

This recipe comes from a good friend of mine. Actually, it's not Nancy's recipe but her Mom's recipe.

Before I post this recipe, let me explain what "Corn Crap" in the title means. Somewhere along the way, this dish was labeled "Corn Crap" by, I think, Nancy's husband because he couldn't remember the name. It wasn't meant to be a bad thing because we all LOVE it so much! In fact, it should probably be named "Corn Crack" because you can't just have one helping of it.

Anyway. Fast forward to a visit to Nancy's home town of Bellefontaine, Ohio. Nancy took me and another friend of ours, Carolyn, to visit where she grew up. Well. Nancy's Mom, Sis, cooked for us and she made this scalloped corn. When Carolyn saw it she called it "Corn Crap" and Nancy's Mother's eyes just about popped out of her head and she said "Nothing I make is CRAP!" Sis didn't realize that it was a term of endearment for the casserole and we thought Carolyn was about to cry! Too funny! I'm sure it's a story we'll remember forever!

Scalloped Corn

2 cans creamed corn
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted

1. Mix all ingredients together in a big bowl.
2. Put into greased casserole or baking dish.
3. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees until brown. Approximately 40-50 minutes.

1. You can prep this dish the day before and cook it the day of your dinner. If you do this, be sure to take it out of the refrigerator 1-2 hours prior to baking to bring it to room temperature.
2. You can also prep and bake this the day before too and reheat it in the oven the day of your dinner.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Aunt Jan's Sweet Potatoes!

I like sweet potatoes...especially on Thanksgiving. I, however, do not like sweet potatoes with marshmallows on them. Sorry. I know a lot of you do but it's just not my thing!

This recipe is for a mashed sweet potato casserole. It's delish! Actually, it's Curtis's favorite thing on the Thanksgiving table. I found the recipe on Heather D. White's blog. It's her Aunt Jan's recipe...obviously!

If you click on this link, you will find the original recipe. I make mine a little different...of course. Aunt Jan's recipe calls for walnuts. I can't do walnuts. My body tells me I can't do them by giving me horrible heartburn. So I substitute pecans. I also do my topping a little different. I used softened butter and make a sort of a crumb topping to add on top. It seems to cover the top more evenly. The recipe below includes my adjustments. Give them a try! If you like sweet potatoes, you'll love these.

Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups cooked sweet potatoes, mashed (approx. 2 large potatoes)
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, divided (1/4 c. for potatoes & 3/4 cup for topping)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup butter, divided (1/2 c. melted for potatoes & 1/2 c. softened for topping)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup flour

1.Combine cooked, mashed sweet potatoes, sugar, 1/4 c. of the brown sugar, salt, eggs, 1/2 c. of melted butter, milk and vanilla.
2. Place in buttered 2 quart casserole or baking dish.
3. Combine 1/2 cup softened butter, remaining 3/4 c. of brown sugar, pecans and flour together to make a crumb topping. Sprinkle over sweet potatoes.
4. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

1. Heather usually does this recipe 1 1/2 times and fills a 9" x 13" baking dish.
2. You can prep this recipe the day before but not bake it. If you choose to do this, take the prepped dish out of the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to bring to room temperature prior to baking.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

P.W.'s Creamy Mashed Potatoes!

Today's recipe is for mashed potatoes. I know mashed potatoes are very basic and most people know how to make them. I thought that too...until I made these! They are creamy, smooth and velvety. I could just curl up with them on sofa and be perfectly happy!

Seriously. I found this recipe on The Pioneer Woman's site. WHAT? You don't know who The Pioneer Woman is??? Well then. You better get on over there and see what she's all about! She my girl crush! Yes. I admit it! I have a girl crush! Ree Drummond is my girl crush! There. I've said it and I'm not embarrassed. Really...go check her out! While you are there, check out her cookbook that just came out last month. Yes. Of course I bought it! In fact, I just sent it out to her on Monday so she could sign it. What? She said she would do it for anyone and gave us all an address where to send them!

This is the recipe I used for our Thanksgiving mashed potatoes and I will never make them any other way ever again!!!! The recipe below is her recipe exactly and here is a link to her post on it so you can see all the wonderful steps in pictures. The picture above is mine but make sure you go and see hers. She has a much nicer camera and better photography skills than I do. She says you can make these ahead of time which is PERFECT for preparing the Thanksgiving meal! Mashed potatoes take so much time on the actual day so why not make it easier on yourself. I did and they were perfect! The only thing I did differently than she did was I did not bake them in the oven. I pulled them out of the refrigerator in the early morning for about 2 hours. I then put them into a buttered slow cooker (my BFF suggested that...Thanks Susan!) with a few more pats of butter on top. I turned the slow cooker on high to get it started and then turned it on low once it got going. I stirred them up every once in a while to make sure they were heating evenly. Do it quickly though because you don't want all the heat to escape. You can also flip the switch back to high if you need. I hope you try these because they are TO DIE FOR! If you are uneasy about the cream cheese, don't be...you don't taste it at all! It just adds that velvety creaminess to the potatoes!

Pioneer Woman's Creamy Mashed Potatoes


5 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
¾ cups Butter
1 package (8 Oz.) Cream Cheese, Softened
½ cups (to 3/4 Cups) Half-and-Half
½ teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Lawry's Seasoned Salt
½ teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Black Pepper

Preparation Instructions:

Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients.

Turn off the stove and add 1 ½ sticks of butter, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and about ½ cup of half-and-half. Mash, mash, mash! Next, add about ½ teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper.

Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through.

Note: When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bread Stuffing!

I have never made homemade stuffing before but since I was making the Thanksgiving meal, I thought I better find a recipe. I started searching the Internet. When I search there, I always look at the ratings or reviews and comments. You can really learn a lot from them and this one had almost perfect reviews.

So. The starting point for my bread stuffing came from Betty Crocker. You can find their original recipe by clicking here. I like a moist but not wet stuffing so of course I made some changes. My adjusted recipe is below and this will be the one I'll use for years to come. It received great reviews and even I liked it ... and I'm not a stuffing person!

Bread Stuffing
(makes 12 servings)

3/4 cup butter
2 large celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
11 cups semi-soft bread cubes (20 slices)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 to 1 cup chicken broth

To Prepare Bread Cubes:
Preheat oven to 170 degrees or your oven's lowest setting. Lay out slices of bread on a cookie sheets or jelly roll pans. Place trays in oven and keep checking back on them until they are semi-dried out or semi-soft. Remove them from the oven and after they have cooled, cut them into small 1/2" cubes.

1. Melt butter in a pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Cook celery and onion in butter 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Remove pan from the heat.
2. In a large bowl, using a spoon gently toss celery mixture and remaining ingredients except chicken broth, until bread cubes are evenly coated.
3. Starting with 1/2 cup of chicken broth, add to stuffing mixture and toss well. Keep adding more broth, if necessary, a little at a time until the mixture is moist but not wet.
4. Grease a casserole or baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Place stuffing in casserole or baking dish. Cover with lid or aluminum foil and bake at 325°F for 30 minutes. If it's too moist for your liking, you can uncover it and bake it a little longer.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkey!

This year I cooked my family's Thanksgiving meal. Last year I saw it had gotten too much for my Mom. So. This year I told her that I'm taking the turkey baster off of her and Thanksgiving dinner was now mine! It wasn't the first time I cooked a turkey but it was the first time I did the whole meal.

Even though Thanksgiving is now over, I am going to take the next few days to post all of the recipes I used. Any of the items would be great for your Christmas or Holiday meals or you could tuck them away for use next year.

Before I post the first recipe, let me say that I prepped everything the day before. Yes, everything...even the mashed potatoes! Doing this enabled me to have a stress free, relaxing Thanksgiving. I'll share more about how I prepped ahead with each recipe that I post. It really worked out beautifully. Even though I cooked for 12 people, I had time to sit in the kitchen with my Mom while the turkey was cooking and visit.

The first recipe I am going to share is for the turkey. As I have said, I have cooked turkeys before but this year I wanted to try something new. Yes, trying something new on the day of Thanksgiving is taking somewhat of a chance but I threw caution to the wind and went for it. If it didn't work, we had a lot of side dishes we could fill up on!

So. A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving I saw in the Parade Magazine (that comes in the Sunday's paper) the article "The Best Chefs Create Your Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner." Bobby Flay did the turkey and after reading over it, I decided this was the recipe I was going to use. Even though his cooking usually is more elaborate and has a wonderful flair to it, his recipe for turkey seemed more traditional and perfect for me. The main thing I liked about it, was that he said you could cook a 17 pound turkey in 2 hours plus 20-40 minutes resting time after you take it out of the oven. Seriously friends, it worked and was the most tastiest, juiciest turkey I have EVER put in my mouth! Since I live about an hour away from my parents' and I was cooking there, I didn't want to drag Allison out of bed at 5 in the morning to get there to put the turkey in the oven so we could eat around 12:30. I will never cook a turkey the long way ever again!

Here is his recipe with my adjustments in red. (I know, I know...I couldn't help myself...I had to do things a little different but you'll see they weren't in the cooking. I followed his instructions exactly.

Turkey by Bobby Flay


1 whole fresh turkey (17 lbs.), rinsed and patted dry (I used 16 lbs.)

1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened (I used salted)

2 Tbsp each finely chopped fresh sage, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme leaves, and fresh flat-leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 large celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 large onions, quartered

8 cups warm homemade chicken stock


1. Remove turkey from the refrigerator 1 hour before roasting.

2. Mix butter, sage, rosemary, thyme, and parsley in a food processor until smooth; season with salt and pepper. (I didn't use the food processor. I let the butter come to room temperature and finely chopped the sage, rosemary, thyme and parsley by hand. Then I mixed them together in a small bowl with the back of a spoon.)

3. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Season the cavity of the turkey with salt and pepper and fill with half the carrots, celery, and onions. Rub entire turkey with herb butter and season liberally with salt and pepper. (I also lifted the skin and rubbed the mixture directly on the meat under the skin.)

4. Put 4 cups of the chicken stock in a medium-size saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

5. Place remaining vegetables and stock on the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place turkey on top of the vegetables, put in the oven, and roast for 45 minutes or until lightly golden brown. (I covered the turkey for this part of the cooking) Reduce heat to 350ºF and continue to roast (I did this part uncovered), basting with warm chicken stock every 15 minutes, about 1 1/4 hours longer. (An instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh should register 160ºF.) Remove turkey from the oven, transfer to a baking sheet, and tent loosely with foil (I left the turkey in the pan and tightly covered it with foil and then put a double folded bath towel on top of the foil). Let rest 20 minutes before slicing (I let it rest for 40 minutes and it was still hot).

Per 4-oz. serving: 240 calories, no carbs, 32g protein, 95mg cholesterol, and 11g fat.

Bobby Flay's Turkey Tips

Fresh vs. Frozen
Both are good, but frozen turkeys have to be defrosted, which can take several days and occupy valuable room in your refrigerator.

Fresh Herbs vs. Dried
Dried herbs can be substituted for fresh herbs at a ratio of 1 to 3. But fresh herbs have purer flavors that stand out on Thanksgiving Day.

It’s imperative to let the turkey rest before slicing so the juices recirculate. Wait at least 20 minutes for a small bird, 40 minutes for a larger one.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen!


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