Thursday, November 26, 2009

Be Thankful!

Among many other things, I am thankful…

For all things pumpkin
For baby toes (yum)
To live in a place where I can make choices (any choice I want)
For coffee
For all the good people in my life
For my health
For wine
For my smart, handsome, funny, patient, loving, husband
For my three little monsters and their wonderful imagination

Happy Thanksgiving to you

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Soup and Broccoli

I found the recipe for Baked Potato Soup here, on the blog… “A year of slow cooking”. If you like to use a crock-pot then you have to go check out her site. I’ve tried several of her recipes and I’ve loved them all. I go here ever time I need a fresh idea and I don’t want to be in the kitchen all day.

Here’s what you need:

5 lbs. Potatoes peeled and diced
1 very small onion
4 cloves garlic
½ t. black pepper
½ t. red pepper
2 quarts chicken broth
2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese
Salt to taste
Crumbled bacon and chopped parsley to garnish

In a 6 qt slow cooker place the peeled/diced potatoes. (I sautéed the onion and garlic quickly in a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil) add the seasonings, onion, garlic and broth to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. (Potatoes need to be fork tender)
Use a masher or hand held blender to mash potatoes. I left a few in chucks because I like it that way but you can make it smooth.

After mashing the potatoes, add the cream cheese and cook on high for at least 30 minutes stirring a few times. Add bacon and parsley as a garnish. (Cheddar cheese will work too.)

I found the recipe for the Broccoli Bake in my very first cookbook that I’ve had for decades. (Ouch) “Where’s Mom now that I need her?”. A co-worker bought it for me when I moved out on my own for the first time. It has all kinds of helpful hints in it, not just recipes.

Here’s what you need:

2 packages frozen broccoli florets
1-cup mayonnaise
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 egg beaten
1 ½ cup grated parm. cheese
1 cup crushed crackers (I use Durkee onion instead)

Cook broccoli and drain well.
Combine mayo, soup, egg, cheese and stir in broccoli. Spoon into baking dish and top with fried onion (or crackers) cover and bake for 30 minutes at 325 and then uncovered for another 10-15 minutes.

I have more than enough casserole dishes to make all of these sides but this year, I used several of the disposable ones to make things easier on me. What do you do to make your family gathering easier? (Drink wine???) Just kidding... Well, not really.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sides, sides and more sides

Yesterday I posted the Turkey and Stuffing recipes. If you missed them, go back and take a look. I’ve always been all about the side dishes. I’ll have a small amount of turkey but what I really want is the sides. Maybe that’s why my menu is so out of control. Anyway, today I’m posting the recipes for the Apple rice medley and the Fancy Mac-n-cheese.

The Apple Rice Medley:

I found this recipe in my 4-ingredient cookbook.

1 package long grain and wild rice
1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese divided
1 cup chopped Golden Delicious apple
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup thinly sliced celery

Prepare rice according to package
Add ½ of the cheese, the apple, mushrooms and celery to the rice; toss to combine. Spoon into 1 qt. dish and bake for 15 minutes at 350 and then top with remaining cheese and bake another 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.
(sorry, can't find the picture of this one as a finished dish???? must have gone too quickly.)

(You can make this 1-day ahead but you’ll need to adjust the bake time.)

The Fancy Macaroni Casserole:

I got this recipe years and years ago from a second cousin by marriage and probably couldn’t pick her out of a crowd today if I had to. I’ve altered the ingredients a few times along the way.

8 oz. Macaroni (elbow or small shells work best)
½ lb. Sharp cheddar cheese grated
1-cup mayo
* About 1 roasted red pepper (more or less to your personal taste)
* ½ cup onion (I never use the onion... don't like it.)
* Small jar of mushrooms (I like fresh better and use about a cup of them sliced)
* Small green pepper (again, I never use the pepper... don't like it.)
* 2 to 4 table spoons of crumbled blue cheese (yum, the more the better for me.)
1 can cream of mushroom soup

(**** These ingredient are basically considered optional but don’t cut all of them out or you’ll be left with nothing “fancy”)

Cook the pasta and then mix together with the other ingredients and bake for 40 minutes at 375.
Special note… The blue cheese can be mixed in and/or sprinkled on top.

(You can make this 1-day ahead)

When I’m doing so many side dishes I like to make what I can a day ahead. It can also be a challenge to bake everything per the instructions. I usually try to average the temp. Most of my recipes were between 375 and 325. I used 350 but could have done 375 with so many dishes in at once. I also added 10 to 15 minutes to a few dishes to make sure they were hot in the center.

So are you after the turkey or are you more interested in the sides? What’s your favorite side dish?

I’ll post the Broccoli Bake and the Potato Soup next.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Here birdie, birdie, birdie.

First Tom gets and nice olive oil massage. Then he is gently rubbed with steak seasoning that has been ground into a very fine powder along with ground sage, salt and pepper. After that, an orange and a lemon are squeezed over him and the remaining fruit is tossed into his cavity (Ooo). A generous fist full of Parsley, another handful of sage, several sprigs of rosemary and a few of thyme are also placed into the cavity to help flavor the bird. Then it’s into the roaster and in the oven to be cooked as directed per weight.

Now for the stuffing.
I make a dried cherry and sausage stuffing. I found it years ago on-line most likely from the food network web site. I’m sure if you looked it up you could probable find their version. I tend to slightly alter recipes each time I make them. You know, I add more of what I like and less of what I don’t like until I get the flavor I want.

Here’s what you need:

1 stick butter (It’s thanksgiving, no one can diet on this day)
5 to 6 ribs of celery finely diced (the smaller the better for me)
Fist size or smaller of onion. I like Vidalia but they can be bigger so I just use a portion. Again finely diced.
10 healthy cups of bread cubes
1 cup (at least) of dried cherries (you can find them where the raisins are in the store)
About ¾ of a pound of sweet sausage cooked and crumbled
¾ cup of parsley chopped
30 (plus) ounces of chicken broth (you might need more if you make it ahead of time or if you like it more moist).
Salt & pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a skillet add the celery and onion and cook until translucent.
In a large bowl combine; celery, onion, bread cubes, cherries, sausage and parsley. Add the broth and stir until well mixed.

Bake covered for 1 hour and then uncovered for another 15 minutes.
(This can be made 1 day ahead)

This has always been a big hit. If you do make it ahead of time, you might need to add more broth before you put it in the oven. Sometimes the bread soaks everything up and it can become dry stuffing… blah.

As you might have noticed from yesterday’s post about the menu, I make a ton of food for this one meal. I am very grateful that I have been blessed with 2 refrigerators and 2 ovens. I wouldn’t know how to pull this off otherwise.

What makes your Thanksgiving go smoothly?

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I think I'm back into the blog world now.
Sorry to be out for so long but I got my butt kicked. I’ve been sick for well over 3 weeks. It started as the flu and now I’m taking meds to battle bronchitis. I feel slightly better but I’m still waiting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and get my energy back.

OK, enough whining, it’s time to be thankful.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I however, host a huge Thanksgiving feast the Saturday before Thanksgiving. I do it now so that my extended family has the chance to all come together and celebrate one another and then they are also free to go and visit with other friends, family, and in-laws on the actual holiday.

As an only child and a latch key kid to a single working Mother I spent a good deal of time alone. Thanksgiving to me is a time for everyone to come together. I have always enjoyed the noise and energy of having a house full of people and listening to the stories and laughter. I like that commercialism has not been able to take over this holiday. There’s no worry about getting the right gift or trying to make someone happy. For one day we can put aside dysfunctional family stuff, bite our tongues and be together. All you have to do is show up and eat. Yum. I’ve always loved having all this wonderful food around. We used to eat, go back for seconds and then after the dishes were washed we would start pulling things out again for a munch fest.

This year’s menu looks like this…

Turkey (seasoned with rosemary, sage, parsley, thyme and an orange)
Dried Cherry and Sausage Stuffing
Cranberry Sauce
Apple and Rice Medley
Fancy Mac-n-cheese
Broccoli Bake
And Baked Potato Soup

And with out a doubt there will be Pumpkin rolls, Pumpkin Pie and a Berry Pie.

Keep your eyes open; I’ll be posting the recipes over the next several days.
Time to go greet my guests.

While I feast why don't you tell me about your favorite Thanksgiving food.