Looking for something to feed the kids? Need a great dessert to take to a gathering?
In the mood for a delicious soup, salad or whatever? Look no further.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sugar Cookies

This is a great sugar cookie recipe that I got from my sister-in-law, Dolly. Jessica, tell Taylor I'm sorry it took me so long to get this posted :)

Sugar Cookies:

1 c. butter or shortening
1 1/2 c. sugar

2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. sour cream

4 c. flour (more if needed)
1 1/2 tsp b. soda
1 tsp salt

If your dough is really sticky/tacky, then you may need to add a little more flour... just don't add too much. Chill dough for at least an hour. Roll dough out to about 1/4 inch (or a little thicker) on a floured surface (helps to make sure you rolling pin stays floured as well). Bake at 350 for 7-9 minutes - DO NOT OVER BAKE! They will taste like any other dry sugar cookie, if you do. Error on the side of under cooked - they shouldn't really have any brown on them.

It's just as important to use a good frosting recipe as it is to use a good cookie recipe - so that you end up with a great sugar cookie. Here's the one I use, in case you don't have one:

1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c shortening (or use all butter if you don't care for shortening)
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbl milk
5 - 6 c powdered sugar (I'm not exactly sure how much I use - I just add a little at a time until it's at the consistency that I like)
A few dashes of salt

Beat butter and shortening together. Add powdered sugar about a half cup at a time until it's smooth and stiff. Add milk, vanilla, and salt, and mix well. Add a bit more p. sugar to get it back to the right consistency, if needed.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Apple Dip

I got this recipe a few years ago from my sister-in-law, Kelly. It is soooo yummy.

Apple Dip:

8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 pkg toffee bits

Whip together cream cheese and sugars until smooth. Add vanilla, then toffee chips. If you want crunchy bits, then add just before serving. If you want them more dissolved, then let them sit overnight.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Brined Turkey

Today we are getting ready to dunk the turkey. For the last 5 years, we have brined our turkey for Thanksgiving. I have never had a better turkey. Moist and flavorful. Some have asked us if it's too salty, but we have not noticed a huge difference. The only drawback is that you can't make homemade gravy from the drippings. So save the gibblets for gravy. This recipe is a mixture of several that Steve has perfected over the years.


1 C Salt
1 C Brown Sugar
2 Oranges, quartered
2 Lemons, quartered
6 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary

You will also need some type of large container.
We use a 5 gallon bucket lined with a garbage bag.
To make the brining solution, dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 gallons of cold water (we do this right in the bucket). Squeeze the juice from the oranges and lemons into the water, and then throw the rinds in too. Then add the thyme, and rosemary. If you have a big turkey and need more brine than this, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar for every gallon of water. Let the turkey sit in this brine for about 24 hrs. in the fridge or some other cold place. We leave ours in the garage - don't let it freeze though!

We Stuff the turkey with:

1 orange slice
1 yellow onion, cut into big chunks
1 stalk celery, cut into large pieces
1 carrot, cut into large pieces
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
1/2 bunch sage
3 sprigs parsley

We Season the turkey this way:

1/4 of an orange
Room temperature butter
Salt and pepper

Rub the orange all over the turkey.
Rub butter all over the turkey - even under the skin too.
Season w/ salt and pepper as desired.

This is how we Cook the turkey:

You will need about 2-3 cups of chicken stock.

Cook at 325 degrees. Cook the turkey upside down (breasts down) for the first hour. Flip it over after that. Baste the turkey ever 45 min or so w/ a 1/2 Cup of chicken stock. As the turkey gets brown, tent it w/ aluminum foil. It took our 12lb. turkey about 3 hrs to cook.

We have cooked this in a bag before, and that works great too - it takes less time.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Not your Campbell's Green Bean Casserole

I've always really liked green bean casserole--even the Campbell's version, and it is a staple at Thanksgiving dinners for us. This, however, is a fresher take on it--better flavor, less mushy. It is an Alton Brown recipe from Food Network. He fries his own onions, but I still use the French's. I guess I'm not ready to give up all my processed foods. But if you are feeling ambitious the instructions are here.

Green Bean Casserole
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen green beans cooked until barely tender in salted water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (He calls for 12 oz, but it's easier to just throw in an 8 oz package of already sliced 'shrooms .)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1-1/3 cup french fried onions
Melt butter in heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook until mushrooms start to release their liquid, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and nutmeg and cook for a minute or two more. Sprinkle the mixture with flour, stir until mushrooms are coated, and cook for one minute. Add broth and simmer for a minute more. Reduce heat to medium low and add half and half. Cook until mixture thickens, about 6-8 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in 1/4 of the onions and all of the green beans. Pour mixture into a casserole dish. Top with remaining onions. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pineapple Pie

I took this pie to Drew's Thanksgiving play at school today. Several people asked me for the recipe so I think that qualifies it for here. I'll have to remember to take a picture when I make it again on Thursday. With such a cute first grader/acorn squash to take pictures of there was no time for food photography.

This pie is super easy and is great to add variety to the usual Thanksgiving pie selection.

Need: 2 unbaked pie shells, top and bottom
1-20 oz can crushed pineapple with juice
3 level Tablespoons tapioca
7/8 cups sugar (are you serious? use a scant cup)
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
sprinkle of salt

Mix the above together and let stand while you make the crust. Put in a pie shell and pat the top with butter. (Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever done this. I don't read instructions very well.)

Cover with top shell. Vent top crust with a fork or cut a pretty design in it. Seal edges with milk or water. Brush top crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.

Chicken Corn Chowder

It's soup night again at my house, so I decided to post this since we all loved it, and nobody else is posting anything.

I made this a couple of weeks ago when we had company for dinner. It was a huge hit, with Mark's brother having helping after helping. I was glad I doubled the recipe for guests. This soup received the hard to earn title of "Family Favorite" which means all six of us enjoyed it. I also really like how colorful it is with the celery, corn, and red pepper. PLUS...its really easy.

I'm not ashamed to say this came straight from My Kitchen Cafe, including the picture. Thanks Melanie! My notes are in italics.

*Plan Ahead: This recipe calls for cooked chicken.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped, seeds and membrane removed (I was afraid of the jalapeno, but with the seeds and membrane removed it added no heat, just a really great flavor)
1/4 cup thinly sliced or cooked chopped ham
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14-oz.) cans chicken broth
3 tablespoons flour
3 ears of fresh corn kernels or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (I grilled the chicken because I like the flavor)
4 oz. softened cream cheese (To avoid lumps, soften in microwave until almost melted)
1 cup milk (I used plain soy milk to cut down on the dairy for Sarah)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I recommend sharp or extra sharp)

Place olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute celery, bell pepper, onion and jalapeno until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ham; cook for another 3 minutes. Whisk the broth with the flour in a liquid measuring cup or bowl and then stir into the soup. Stir in the corn and chicken. Bring to a low boil and reduce heat. Whisk together the cream cheese and milk in a large bowl until smooth. Whisk the cream cheese/milk mixture into the soup along with the salt, pepper and cheddar cheese. Simmer on low until ready to serve.

Recipe Source: My Kitchen Cafe

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Here is my contribution for Thanksgiving. I always thought I didn't like cranberry sauce. I usually don't care for something that retains the shape of the can it came from. Then one year at Mark's mom's Thanksgiving Dinner, his step-mom brought this (don't even try to figure that out). It is so different from stuff you slice from the can. Now I really like Cranberry Sauce, and best of all...its easy! This is the only picture I could find.

2 juicy oranges (Buy a couple extra, they need to be JUICY)
1 bag cranberries
1/3 cup sugar (This is just to start with. You may need to add more according to taste since cranberries are really tart. No matter how much you add it won't be as much as the stuff you buy.)

Process the oranges and cranberries in a food processor (or a blender) until desired consistency. I like mine a little chunky. Then add the sugar until you get the desired sweetness.

You can also play with this and add spices like cinnamon or cloves. You can also add a little orange juice, or whatever you want.

This will also keep in the fridge for a long time.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Raised Potato Doughnuts

This recipe is from Sam Dyreng. They are fantastic. I don't usually like doughnuts, but I could not get enough of these. I have scaled it down. The original recipe makes 100, but 50 were plenty for us, the neighbors, and the Saturday morning flag football group (rave reviews all around), and so I have scaled it down to 50, and of course, added my notes because I like to share my opinions on things. Be sure and eat them fresh (like within the first hour). They are not the same the next day.

Raised Potato Doughnuts
1-1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shortening (I used half butter half shortening because that's all I could scrape out of my 4 year old can of Crisco. Next time I'll try all butter.)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1 cup mashed potatoes (Sam actually made mashed potatoes with real potatoes and milk and stuff. I used potato pearls. Both were good.)
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon dry yeast
3 eggs beaten
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp nutmeg
6-7 cups flour (I needed a little more to get a workable dough.)
Combine milk, shortening, salt, sugar, mashed potatoes, and heat to lukewarm. (Instead of heating it all together I just warmed my milk in the microwave, made sure my potatoes were still warm and threw it all in the mixer. Saved myself a pot.)

Add beaten eggs and yeast that has been dissolved in the warm water.

Add half of the flour and beat until well blended and smooth. Add lemon juice, zest, and nutmeg.

Add remaining flour to make a soft but firm dough (firm enough to roll at least). Knead until smooth.

Let raise until doubled in bulk. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into doughnuts. Let raise again until doubled (30-40 minutes). (I just realized I totally skipped the second raising. They turned out great anyway.)

Deep fry in fat at 375 degrees until golden on each side. Drain on paper towels then dip in prepared glaze.


2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla (you can also substitute maple flavoring)
3 to 5 tablespoons of milk

With a mixer mix sugar and butter. Add vanilla and milk to desired consistency.

Apple Cherry Tart

We seem to be lacking in recipe postings lately, especially since it's coming up on Thanksgiving. So here is a call out for all of your Holiday Favorites.

We are very basic in our Thanksgiving meal. Pretty much the same thing every year. The only place that I get to experiment is with the dessert. I'm not a huge fan of making pies. I think they take a lot of work. In my opinion, you can have a great crisp or cobbler - it takes less time, and usually turns out better. My Mom would completely disagree with this statement, because she is a huge fan of Pie Crust. This recipe works for both of us.

Because this is a Pampered Chef recipe, it is made on a 13" stone, but I'm pretty sure you could make this on a cookie sheet just fine. I will try and make it soon so I can add a photo.

Crumb Topping:
2/3 c flour
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 C butter, softened
1/2 C pecans, chopped

1 Pie Crust*
1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling, divided
2 lg. Granny Smith apples - pealed, cored and sliced thin

Preheat oven to 400.
Combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. This can be done with a pastry blender or possibly a fork. You are looking for a nice crumbled mixture. Then mix in the pecans. Set aside.
(I've done this step using completely melted butter, so that I don't have to use a pastry blender, and it turned out a little different, but still great.)

Roll pie crust into a 13" circle and place on greased stone/sheet. Layer apples evenly over crust to within 1 inch of the edge of the crust. Spread at least 1/2 C of the pie filling over the apples. (I always use more.) Sprinkle crumb topping over cherries. Fold outer edge of pastry over the very edges of the filling to form a rim. Bake 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

I like this best served warm, with ice cream. You can top the ice cream with the left over cherries.

* I have always made this with a store bought pie dough - you have to roll it out a little to get it to make 13". I am sure that it is so much better with a homemade dough.