Sweet Cooking

Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

Turkey and Gravy

In Holidays on November 23, 2010 at 9:26 pm

I couldn’t eat my sweet potato casserole alone (well, actually, I could and did).  But Dan couldn’t, so I also made a roasted turkey breast and some quick gravy. I’m not a huge turkey lover, but I thought this recipe for an Herb Roasted Turkey Breast turned out well. Ina Garten’s recipes almost always turn out great. You start by making a paste of fresh herbs, garlic, dry mustard, salt and pepper, olive oil and fresh lemon juice.  I did it in the mini prep, and it comes together really quickly.

Once you make the paste, you rub it underneath the skin and then on top of the skin, as well.

To cook the turkey, line a roasting pan with foil. Pour one cup of white wine in the bottom of the pan, and then put the turkey in the pan. I had a 6 pound turkey, so I roasted my breast for about one hour and 45 minutes at 325°.

I was intent on making sure the turkey was done, but not dry. I used a meat thermometer to make sure it was a perfect 165 degrees.

While the turkey rests, heat the oven up to 350° and warm all of your other dishes (dressing, sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, etc.). You can also make gravy! I have not yet perfected the art of great gravy. If you have a good recipe or tips, please send them my way. I used this Cooking Light recipe for Quick Gravy.

The recipe says to use chicken broth, butter, flour and some seasonings. Since I had lots of pan juices from my roasted turkey breast, I used that instead of chicken broth. I definitely think that helped with the flavor of the gravy.

Good gravy!

I hope all of you are cooking something delicious for Thanksgiving! Enjoy your time with family, friends and food!

Sweet Potato Casserole

In Holidays on November 22, 2010 at 6:40 pm

It would not be Thanksgiving without sweet potato casserole. I will be taking this dish to my in-laws house on Thursday, and I will not be sharing the leftovers! I did a dry run on Saturday night to make sure my recipe was good, and it’s so delicious…I’ve had sweet potato casserole for breakfast, lunch and dinner ever since. The recipe I follow is my mom’s. Here you go:

Linda’s Sweet Potato Casserole

4 large sweet potatoes

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

3/4 cup sugar (you may use less if your pototoes are really sweet)

1 tsp vanilla

1 stick butter

Topping:

1 cup light brown sugar (I used 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup flour (if using all purpose, add a pinch of salt)

2/3 cup melted buttter

1 cup chopped pecans

1. Put the potatoes in a pot (leave whole and skins on), cover with water and boil until you can easily poke a fork in the potato. Mine took approximately 30 minutes.

2. Drain the potatoes and let them cool. Once cool, peel the potatoes and remove the ends and any stringy stuff.

3. Mash the potatoes with a hand mixer until they are smooth.

You should have about 3 cups of potatoes.

4. Mix together the egg (slightly beaten), milk, sugar and vanilla.

 

5. Add a stick of butter to the potatoes and then add the milk mixture.

Mix it all up with a hand mixer until it's smooth. No lumps!

6. Grease a 9×13″ baking dish.

 

7. Pour potatoes into baking dish and spread to even.

8. Make topping by combining all topping ingredients. Spread over potato mixture.

This dish will freeze well or store in the refrigerator for 24 hours before cooking.

9. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

 

This is just the best thing you’ve ever tasted. I would venture to say it’s one of the top 3 favorite things in life I’ve posted on this blog. I know a lot of people put marshmallows on top instead of brown sugar. I think that’s crazy, but by all means, if marshmallows are your family tradition, then go for it.

Chance would love to have a bite of this! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

 

Vegetable Lasagna

In Just Good Food on November 15, 2010 at 6:57 pm

This is such an easy and delicious meal. It’s great for anyone, but I’m sure a vegetarian would especially appreciate this meatless take on lasagna. Plus, it makes a ton so you can eat off of it for several days. Follow this Cooking Light recipe.

Step 1 - Mix together some ricotta, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese along with an egg.

Step 2 - chop all of the vegetables...zucchini, red pepper, onion, yellow pepper and mushrooms. And garlic, of course.

I did not use all of the mushrooms that the recipe calls for. I just used one package, and I thought that was plenty. Once you have chopped all of the vegetables, sauté them until they are soft. Now you are ready to start layering the lasagna. I did not cook my noodles prior to putting them into the lasagna. I had some of those oven-ready noodles that don’t have to be boiled first. It’s a huge time saver and I recommend it for anyone who is limited in time (or just lazy). I also used store bought marinara. I used Rao’s, but any good quality jar sauce will do.

Step 3 - Layer everything as instructed and top with cheese. I was generous with the cheese!

Step 4 - Cover and bake at 350° then uncover the dish and bake for 10 minutes longer until the cheese is nice and melted.

Step 5 – and this is a very important step. The lasagna must rest before you cut into it. The recipe says to let it sit for 10 minutes. I let mine sit for 20. Mostly because Dan was late. But I actually think the extra 10 minutes helped make the lasagna less runny and more firm. I hate cutting into a lasagna and the sauce starts going everywhere. I like a neat square that I can put on a plate without a mess.

This photo is not that great. It looked better in person. And it tasted better than it looked!

Speaking of photos…the winter is challenging. Now that it gets dark right after lunch, there is very limited natural light to take advantage of. My photos will suffer. Natural light is what makes them so pretty. So bear with me!

Chicken Flop

In Just Good Food on November 9, 2010 at 11:47 am

Those of you who have read my blog for a while know that I am not a huge chicken fan. My husband, however, is. So from time to time (mainly when I want something) I make chicken for dinner. By far, the best chicken I’ve made is a whole roasted chicken. But let’s face it, sometimes you just don’t want to cook the entire bird. I recently tried this Cooking Light recipe for Chicken with Lemon-Leek Linguine.

The main problem with this recipe, for me, was the pasta. It just didn’t have a lot of flavor. Dan agreed, but he also didn’t love the chicken. I thought the chicken was good, actually. So, you’ll have to try it and decide for yourself.

First, you pound the chicken so it's all even and give it a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Then dredge both sides in flour.

I hate pounding chicken. It is so barbaric. I would rather have blood drawn than pound out chicken. But, I will pound the chicken for the sake of having it all cook evenly and quickly. But I really do HATE it.

Cook the cicken in a little butter until it's done. Be sure to cook it well. You don't want to invite Big Sal to dinner.

Now, for the pasta. I love leeks and lemon (and butter) so there is no reason why this should not have been great. Honestly, it just wasn’t. I bet it would have been better if I had used more butter and salt. Note to self: when in doubt, always add butter and salt. Basically, you make a sauce of garlic, sauteed leeks, lemon juice and chicken broth. Toss the pasta in it and then serve it with the chicken.

I should have known this dinner was a flop when even Chance wasn't interested.

The best thing about this recipe is a little vinaigrette that is included in the magazine. I will definitely be making it again. They don’t include the vinaigrette recipe on-line, so here you go: combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar (I used champagne vinegar), 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard and a little salt. It’s delicious!

Bun in the Oven

In Miscellaneous on November 5, 2010 at 10:51 am

And I’m not talking about the kind made with yeast and flour. That’s right folks, I am pregnant. Really pregnant. As in 16 weeks pregnant.

That’s why my blog has suffered a bit of late.

Being pregnant is exhausting work.

Really exhausting. As in you stayed up all night and took a red eye home and didn’t sleep and went to work and then did it all again the next night.

And honestly, I haven’t been that jazzed about food. About 6 weeks ago, I had no interest in food at all. I ate an english muffin topped with cheese and jalapenos for dinner 8 days in a row. I didn’t think that meal was blog worthy. Dan was disgusted and his diet suffered greatly during that time.

I’m feeling better now. I’m eating like a horse and having fun in the kitchen again. So the blog should be a little more regular.

Here are the answers to the common questions:

1. When is the baby due? Middle of April.
2. How are you feeling? Excited, petrified, exhausted. And I have acne and killer headaches. This is odd because I’ve never had bad skin or migraines before.
3. How is Dan? He is fine and seems to be handling pregnancy well. He’s not showing at all.

4. Do you miss wine?

Yes, but not as much as I would have thought. I’ve actually had fun trying non-alcoholic cocktails. Alcohol free mojitos are great.
5. Are you going to find out the gender? Yes, I have an ultra sound scheduled at the beginning of December. We are going to ask the tech to write down the gender and we’re going to read it for the first time on Christmas morning.
6. Would you consider naming the baby after Cam Newton.

Yes, most definitely.

Have a great weekend everyone!

A Lighter Brownie

In Brownies & Bars on November 4, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Do you read Cooking Light? I’ve been subscribing to that magazine for years. Some issues are better than others, but I always enjoy their “Lighten Up” recipe. Basically, a reader sends in a recipe that is full of fat, processed food and calories, and the chefs at Cooking Light make the same dish using less of that bad (but oh so good) stuff. In October, they “lightened up” some brownies. Being a health conscience gal who quite enjoys her sweets, I decided to give this Fudgy Brownie recipe a shot.

Start with a mixture of melted butter and chocolate. How is this light, one might ask??? It's only 1/3 cup of butter....

 

and a mere 2 ounces of dark chocolate.

The recipe comes together very easily. Just follow the instructions and you should have brownie batter that looks like this.

YUMMY!

The brownies bake for 20 minutes at 350°. I dusted mine with powdered sugar and took them to a birthday party.

I honestly couldn't tell that the brownies were "light". I ate 4 (not to mention licking the bowl) so I had to go to the gym anyway. Enjoy!

Jambalaya!

In Just Good Food on November 2, 2010 at 2:15 pm

I love to make one-dish meals in the winter time. I am pretty much obsessed with chili, stews, soups, and gumbo. Following that theme, I decided to make jambalaya for the first time on Sunday night. This Cooking Light recipe is very simple. It’s a creole jambalaya that contains sausage, chicken and shrimp. The other main ingredients are vegetables, chicken stock and white rice.

You start by browning some chicken. The recipe calls for chicken breast and thighs, but I only used breast meat. Then you brown some sausage. The recipe calls for smoked turkey sausage. I used pork sausage that was hickory smoked. Once the sausage is browned, you add in onions, celery, garlic and green bell pepper in a large stock pot. I also included one sliced jalapeno, but that’s optional.

Once the veggies are soft, stir in the rice. I used a combination of white and brown rice. I think it would have been better with all white rice.

Once the rice is in, add the chicken stock, spices and diced tomatoes. Let all of this cook down until the rice is done and the liquid is absorbed. Then you add the chopped shrimp at the end and just cook it long enough so the shrimp are done (but not rubbery – gross). This recipe makes enough for dinner plus leftovers for lunch!  

A delicious one pot dinner! I served this with some homemade corn bread muffins. Enjoy!

Mrs. Fields

In Cookies on November 1, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Who doesn’t love Mrs. Fields? Honestly, I hadn’t thought much about her until recently. We were visiting friends in Maryland, and our host made these delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies. I couldn’t get enough of them. I even took a baggie of them “to go” for our car ride home. Her recipe? Mrs. Fields!

There is a shocking (well, it was shocking to me) secret in this recipe. Mrs. Fields takes oatmeal, grinds it into a fine powder, and then adds it to the cookie dough. CRAZY!!!

I put some Quaker Oats into my mini prep....

A few pulses later, it looks like this!

I am not sure how Mrs. Fields came up with this technique, but it makes a really delicious chocolate chip cookie. The rest of the recipe is pretty standard.

This is a hearty dough...a little thicker than my typical cookie dough.

Scoop out the cookies as usual.

Then bake at 375° for 6-8 minutes. Mine took the full 8 minutes. I have to say, these cookies are really magnificent (especially when they are still warm). If I had to rate this cookie, I would say that I prefer the dough of the Nestle Tollhouse cookie. But once the cookies are baked, I prefer the Mrs. Fields cookie.

They are best fresh out of the oven. Enjoy!