December 19, 2016

Divine Turkey Brine

I tried brine from a packet with my Butterball turkey a couple years ago and was anything but impressed. This year I bought a random brand from Ruler Foods (they carry Kroger brand) and worried about the outcome but yum! The meat was moist and tasted Sooooooo good! I didn't even need my stuffing to give it flavor. So good.
Make sure you use a good grade container to brine the turkey so you don't add any harmful additives to your bird. Makes 1 large turkey.

Divine Turkey Brine

1 gallon chicken, vegetable or turkey broth
1 c  sea salt
1 Tbsp crushed rosemary, or 3 Tbsp fresh leaves, or 3 Tbsp fresh
1 Tbsp dried sage, or 3 Tbsp fresh
1 Tbsp dried rosemary, or 3Tbsp fresh leaves (or 3 fresh sprigs)
1 Tbsp dried savory or marjoram
1 gallon ice water
1 turkey up to about 20 lbs

1. Add broth, salt and herbs to large stock pot. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature; pour into a 5 gallon bucket.
2. Remove innards from turkey. Rinse turkey and place in bucket, breast down, making sure liquid fills cavities. Cover and place in fridge (I kept mine in the cold garage) overnight, up to 24 hours.
3. Remove turkey from brine and cook as desired, tossing out brine. Brined turkeys tend to cook about 30 min faster so keep an eye on it. Enjoy!

December 18, 2016

Delicious Roasted Chicken Rub

This rub is divine! I want to eat the whole bird with this recipe. Good thing I didn't because the leftovers made delicious enchiladas the next day! It was a success with EVERYONE. Makes one whole chicken or about three large breasts (I'm talking double D's). Enjoy!

Delicious Roasted Chicken Rub

1 whole chicken*
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp celery salt
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion powder
2 Tbsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried sage, or 1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or a dash of red chili sauce

1. Stir oil and seasonings in small bowl. Let sit 5 minutes for seasonings to re-hydrate a bit. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 475 degrees.
2. Remove giblets from bird, cut off excess skin and rinse in cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel. Place chicken in roasting pan. Rub the...well...RUB all over the chicken, getting under the skin where you can and coating the skin. Add any large chunks of veggies around the bird (quartered potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, etc), if desired.
3. Place chicken in preheated oven.
*2 1/2 to 3 lb chicken cook an hour to an hour 15 minutes
 3 lb to 3 1/2 lb chicken cook an hour 15 minutes to an hour and a half
 3 1/2 lb to 4 lb chicken cook an hour and a half to an hour 45 minutes
 4 1/2 lb to 5 lb chicken cook an hour 45 minutes to 2 hours
If you have a larger chicken, you just might've bought a turkey. :)
4. It's done once internal temperature reaches 180 degrees, juices run clear, drumstick meat falls easily off the bone and there is no pink meat. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.

December 17, 2016

Easy Jäegerschnitzel

I got this yummy recipe from my German friend. Easy and delicious and my kids always go gaga over it. Serve over any noodle or mashed potatoes. Even rice would go well! I'm sure there's better gravy but this is GOOD and EASY so I'm rolling with it. Makes about 8 schnitzels and 2 cups of gravy .

Easy Jäegerschnitzel

1 1/5 lbs boneless pork chops, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
5 eggs
2 Tbsp water
4 c Italian style bread crumbs
Oil for frying

Mushroom Gravy
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 c diced onion
1-8 oz package mushrooms, sliced
1-15 oz can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c milk

1. Place piece of plastic wrap over a piece of meat. Pound with mallet until about 1/4" thickness (before I owned a mallet I used a hammer, just sayin). Sprinkle each side with salt and pepper; set aside. Repeat for each piece.
2. Heat 1 inch of oil in large skillet over medium heat. Beat eggs and water in a wide, shallow bowl with a fork just until smooth and blended. Pour bread crumbs in another wide, shallow bowl.
3. Dip each piece of flattened meat into egg, then bread crumbs, then egg and bread crumbs again. Once oil sizzles from a drop of water sprinkled onto it, it's ready.
4. Cook two pieces of meat at a time, a few minuets each side until golden brown. Place on a plate covered with a paper towel to drain.

GRAVY

1.  Melt butter in medium sauce pan over medium heat. Saute onion and mushrooms four minutes, or until soft. Stir in soup and milk. Continue to site frequently as it heats up. Remove from heat once it starts to bubble or once it heats to your liking.
2. Pour immediately over schnitzel and noodles or potatoes.

December 16, 2016

Snowball Cookies

Nuts usually ruin baked goods for me but this is a recipe I've ALWAYS loved, even as an annoyingly picky little girl. They're known as "Russian Tea Cakes" or "Mexican Wedding Cakes" but we called them "Snowballs" growing up because...well...they looked like snowballs! It was the closest we had to the real thing at Christmastime growing up in Central California. The almond extract is optional but adds a richer flavor. I substituted walnuts because it's all I had on hand and they were still my favorite crumbly cookie. My 2 year old did some sort of Houdini trick to steal a third one off of the counter. Still not sure how he did that but he LOVES them. Makes about 2 dozen.

Snowball Cookies

1 c butter, at room temperature
1/2 c confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond exract, optional
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 c flour
1 c finely chopped pecans
confectioners sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, 1/2 c confectioners sugar, vanilla and almond extract with electric  beaters. Mix in salt, flour and chopped pecans. Dough will be crumbly. Press into 1" balls and place on unbaked cookie sheet about 1/2" to 1" apart. They don't flatten much.
2. Bake in preheated oven until bottoms are golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. The tops will still be white. DON'T let them burn. Roll immediately in powdered sugar and once again after they've cooled. Enjoy!

September 20, 2016

Sweet Potato Fries

I was skeptical about SWEET POTATO fries but these were so good! I didn't have the patience to wait for them to crisp up but they were still delicious soft. And supposedly sweet potatoes are healthy so double bonus! Add any seasoning you want. If you want some spice I'd recommend a dash of cayenne pepper. This is nice and flexible for your individual needs and taste preferences. Serves 4.

Sweet Potato Fries

4 medium sized (smooth-skinned) sweet potatoes
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil large cookie sheet or jelly roll pan; set aside. Peel sweet potatoes, if desired, and cut into equal fry-size slices (you know, long, rectangular shapes like the picture above).
2. Add potato pieces to bowl or ziplock bag. Add oil and and stir or shake to coat. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika; mix to coat.
3. Place in single layer on prepared baking sheet without overcrowding. Bake 15 minutes in preheated oven. Flip fries with a spatula and bake another 10 to 15 minutes more, or until fries have turned from glossy to matte skin (if you want them a little crispy).

September 19, 2016

Grilled Marinated Shrimp ll

I LOVE this shrimp! I used (defrosted) frozen shrimp and the texture didn't suffer any. My 10 year old asks for thirds and my 2 year old asks for "moooore!". Makes 2 lb shrimp. Serve with a steamed veggie or salad and cheesy garlic bread swirls or any bread , rice or pasta you'd like. YUM.

Grilled Marinated Shrimp ll (read, "the second," because it's so distinguished)

2 lb raw shrimp
1/3 c olive oil
1/4 c tomato sauce
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
skewers

1. Peel and devein shrimp, if necessary. Set aside.
2. Mix oil, tomato sauce, vinegar, basil, salt and cayenne pepper in bowl or large ziplock bag. Add shrimp and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes to an hour, flipping shrimp once or twice.
3. Spray grill and preheat to medium heat. Slide shrimp onto skewers, piercing near tail and head.Cook shrimp on preheated grill until opaque, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve immediately.

September 18, 2016

Easy Ham Tetrazzini

I LOVE to make elaborate meals that take time and all fresh ingredients...when I can. Being gone 4 afternoons of the week taking kids to sports stuff means I need faster meals. My kids RAVED about this. My 9 year old said he's never tasted anything so delicious (except ice cream, of course). It's not the best dish I've ever had but tasty ham tossed into creamy noodles is definitely a tongue pleaser. Serves 6.

Easy Ham Tetrazzini

8 oz spaghetti noodles
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbsp chopped onion
8 oz package mushrooms, quartered
1 10.75-oz can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c water
1/2 c shredded cheese
2 c diced ham
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c sliced almonds, toasted, optional*

1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion with thyme leaves until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook one minute more, stirring frequently.
3. Add mushroom soup, water and cheese; stir until cheese melts. Stir in ham and parsley. Cook until heated through. Sprinkle with roasted almonds, if desired.

* To toast almonds, heat small skillet over medium heat. Add almonds and shake skillet gently back and forth so they don't burn. Use a spatula to turn, or jerk pan quickly forward then backward (if you feel comfortable with that). Repeat until almonds turn light brown.

September 17, 2016

Southern Baked Yellow Squash

If you're like me--and every other neighbor around me--you had yellow summer squash coming out of your ears. I don't love it sauteed in butter, blah blah bleck, but this recipe has me excited. Such a tasty and fun way to use up the squash and get your carotenoids and antioxidants! My kids still didn't like it because they HATE the texture of any kind of squash. But I LOOOOOVE the leftovers so it's fine by me! It takes about an hour and a half to be ready so give yourself enough time (I didn't realize this and was in a hurry so I heated it under 425 degree oven for 15 minutes...still delicious). Makes an 8x8 pan.

Southern Baked Yellow Squash

3 lbs yellow squash, washed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 c Panko bread crumbs
1/2 c diced onion
2 eggs
1/4 c butter
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

TOPPING:
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 c Panko bread crumbs

1. Place summer squash in a large soup pot, cover with 1/2" water and boil until soft, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 2-quart baking dish (like an 8x8 dish)
2. Drain squash well and place in large mixing bowl; mash until slightly chunky. Stir 1/2 c bread crumbs, onion, eggs, butter, sugar, salt and pepper into hot squash until butter is melted; spread into prepared baking dish.
3. Drizzle 3 Tbsp melted butter on top of squash mixture. Sprinkle 1/4 c bread crumbs evenly over top.
4. Bake in preheated oven until casserole is cooked through and top is golden brown; about an hour.