Coconut Milk-Braised Chicken with Rice

005This recipe originated out of the Rachael Ray Magazine.  It looked simple, quick, tasty and healthy.  It called for turkey breasts though and I normally do not have them on hand unless I find them on clearance, which is not all that often.  So I decided to modify this recipe and use chicken breasts.  Truly, there was no modifications other than substitute the chicken for the turkey.  I also did not have a can of coconut milk, I did have a carton of coconut milk.  I know there is a difference in taste there as the can seems more full of flavor and fat (don’t worry, the good fat).  If I would have gone to the market ahead of time I would have used the can over the carton any day.  It still tasted divine.  I am obsessed with braising now that I have received my lovely Le Creuset 4 1/4 quart braiser from the holiday season.  I love anything that has to do with braising.  In fact, if you all remember, I did a whole Braising 101 post.  If you are at all interested in learning more about braising I suggest you take a gander.  Fun stuff.

This recipe is a one pot meal other than the rice on the side.  You can always use turkey as the recipe suggests.  Also, for a fun switch, cook up some tri-colored organic quinoa for the side.  All you want is a grain that will help soak up all of the yummy braising liquid.  I love the way the recipe has us smash or mash a bunch of garlic cloves.  Seems so much more rustic than mincing or coarsely chopping.  Love it.  This recipe has a bunch of fun, different ingredients you do not normally see together.  Apple cider vinegar, soy sauce and coconut milk all in the same dish-intrigue got me and thank goodness, I was very happy that I tried this.  It tastes wonderful.  Perfect for a cold Fall or Winters night.

Happy cooking friends!

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups long-grain rice, rinsed (or quinoa)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 boneless turkey breast (2 1/2 lbs), sliced into 4 pieces (or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts)

1 14 ounce can coconut milk, shaken

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/3 cup soy sauce

1 large head garlic (about 10 cloves), smashed and peeled

3 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

8 ounces baby spinach

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the rice and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Set aside, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the turkey (in batches if necessary) and cook, turning, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add the coconut milk, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves and crushed red pepper; bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer, turning the turkey halfway through, until the turkey is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the turkey to a plate.
  3. Boil the sauce until reduced to 2 cups, 8 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Stir in the spinach to wilt in the sauce for 1 minute.
  4. Return the turkey to the sauce to warm through. Serve with the rice.

High Altitude Adjustment

  • Increase water for rice to 2 cups

Compost

  • Garlic and spinach trimmings

Recycle

  • Coconut milk can/lid
  • Plastic spinach container/lid

Reuse

  • Plastic bag garlic came in

Italian Wedding Soup – A Union of Warmth and Goodness

italianweddingItalian wedding soup.  The marriage of leafy greens and meat.  A magical union that makes your mouth yearn for more.  Italian comfort food at its best.  Our first snow day is upon us and I thought, since all is home for the day (even the Hubs) I would have a little more help on hand to prepare home-made meatballs and present to my family one of my favorite soups.  The added effort of home-made meatballs is worth it through and through.  Frozen meatballs are just not the same. Truly, making your own meatballs is quite simple.  You just mix all of your ingredients in a bowl, form and fry.  An important tip I learned is that you want all of your meatball ingredients at room temperature to insure even cooking.

This is the original recipe from Eating Well Magazine.  This recipe has you fry up your meatballs in the same skillet as you are cooking the soup, which is perfect so you can get all of the browned bits at the bottom of the skillet to add flavor to the base of the soup.  Normally I like to bake them, I feel like it is healthier and easier.  Instead of standing over a skillet and rotating the meatballs, you can just throw them in the oven for 15 minutes or so and call it good.  I drizzle with some olive oil over the tops of the meatballs before baking giving them a nice crisp.  But not for this soup.  You want all the yummy juices to be included.

I love the mindfulness of cutting up a bunch of fresh, organic vegetables.  I added an organic fennel bulb since I had it, forgot the cabbage and know that it will give the soup a yummy, fresh flavor.

I love the mindfulness of cutting up a bunch of fresh, organic vegetables. I added an organic fennel bulb since I had it, forgot the cabbage and know that it will give the soup a yummy, fresh flavor.

This easy soup recipe lends itself to countless variations. For instance I substituted the escarole with organic red chard.  You can use: spinach, chicory, chard or any other leafy green for the escarole or kale, and any leftover cooked (or canned) beans for the white beans.  I do not cook with white wine, I substitute with chicken stock with a dash of white vinegar to maintain appropriate acidity levels.  This soup is very forgiving.  I forgot to buy cabbage, and yet the show must go on as I am not stepping foot outside into the snow.  My house is way too snug.  The soup is fine without it although would be better with.  This soup has loads of vitamin A to help keep eyes healthy plus almost three servings of vegetables.  I feel like a lot of the flavor comes from the freshly grated Romano cheese, so don’t forget to sprinkle that on top when serving.

This is a wonderfully, hearty one-pot meal although I am going to make some Italian herb bread in the bread machine.  Mama needed more nosh.  Happy cooking friends!

Ingredients

Meatballs

1 pound ground turkey breast

1 cup fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs (see Tip)

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup dry white wine (or chicken broth with a dash of white vinegar)

Also, I buy fennel seeds and then just grind them in a mortar/pestle.

I buy fennel seeds and then just grind them by hand in a mortar/pestle.

Soup

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped onion (1 medium)

1 cup chopped carrots (2 medium)

1 cup chopped celery (2 medium stalks)

4 cups chopped cabbage (about 1/2 small head)

8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed

8 cups coarsely chopped escarole or thinly sliced kale leaves (about 1 bunch)

1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

Preparation

  1. To prepare meatballs: Combine turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, garlic, Worcestershire, fennel seeds, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to firm up. With damp hands, shape the mixture into 32 (1-inch) meatballs (about 1 scant tablespoon each).
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from the heat and add wine, stirring gently to loosen any browned bits.

    The brown bits are the best.

    The brown bits are the best.

  3. To prepare soup: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, 7 to 9 minutes. Add cabbage and cook, stirring, 5 minutes more. Stir in broth, beans, escarole (or kale) and the meatballs and any juice. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Top each portion with 1 tablespoon grated cheese.
My meatballs have been browned, mirepoix mix with the added fennel is translucent, chard and meatballs added.  Ready to boil and then simmer for 20-25 minutes.

The meatballs have been browned, mirepoix with the added fennel is translucent, chard and meatballs added. Ready to boil and then simmer for 20-25 minutes.

High Altitude Adjustment

  • You may need to add more broth, liquid tends to evaporate more easily at high altitudes

Compost

  • Egg-shell
  • All vegetable trimmings

Recycle

  • Plastic herb container(s)
  • Broth can/lid or carton
  • Bean can/lid

Reuse

  • Plastic bags vegetables came in

White Chicken Chili – A Mothers Journey to Hide and Seek Her Own Identity

sk-white-chiliThis past week was one of those weeks where I questioned my life decisions.  I am a stay-at-home-mom, a privilege this day and age, I know.  I am sure that as a stay-at-home-mom, my job is viewed as some-what easy.  Supposedly I get to be home all day and get chores done, right?  I had thought that too.  I figured once my sons were done breastfeeding, wearing diapers and being spoon fed I’d be able to get a lot more done.  Wrong again.  Now that they are both able to eat, dress, brush/floss teeth, use the bathroom, talk, walk all by themselves, that freedom I had hoped for, has gone to an even darker place.  All they want to do is play with me.  How many times can one person battle Beyblade?  Play hide-n-seek?  “Tag your it”!  Crash monster trucks.  Even when I have to turn on the television to gain some kind of sanity and have a moment of peace to myself I have the battle of my kids wanting, no needing, to watch super hero shows with real guns.  No!  I am just feeling that I am not a good mom because I do not want to play with them.  There.  I said it.  I am thinking maybe a job where I could get all dressed up, talk to adults, eat lunch in peace and use the facilities without an audience sounds super awesome.  I am wondering if where we moved was a bad decision as well.  It is currently 16 degrees outside, we can’t go on a nature hike or anywhere out there.  There is no mall to walk around.  It is a small town with not much to do.  Ideally we’d be outside gardening and finding “treasures”.  That is where I excel as a parent.  Teaching them about growing your own food and taking them into the forest to run and climb and chase and see the wonder that is nature.  BUT IT’S COOOOOOOLD!  6 months out of the year!  I see my greenhouse from my kitchen window and I am ready.  Winter, is not.  I need to tap into a creative outlet where I can figure out new activities for the children and I.  Preferably something that would be enjoyable for me as well.  I’m in a slump.  I’m tired.   To put forth any effort seems daunting.  But alas, that is my job.  I need to put on my big girl panties and get ‘er done.

I am reminded that they are only this age for such a small amount of time, hang in there for another year or two and once the children are in school I can find my place in society once again.  Hair done, pumps on and a killer outfit ready to take on the adult world.  Until then, I will just slip on those UGGs, throw my hair into a pony and wear those jeans I have been wearing the last several days and play with my kids.  One day, they will be grown and I will want to play with them and they won’t want to.  I need to keep that in perspective.  Make time for them now so that they will want to make time for me then.

My husband and I had a discussion the other night on his job versus mine.  I acknowledged and validated that his job was intense.  He has a lot of problem-solving to do every day.  What I tried to explain was that I do too.  Yet I do not get the privilege of taking a moment, sitting and methodically thinking about problematic ways of solving the current issue in peace and quiet.  No.  I need to make split decisions, as both boys are screaming, that could affect them the rest of their lives, for the good-or bad.  Talk about pressure.  Constant.  All.  Day.  Long.  My nerves are frayed, I feel like I am an awful parent because I’d rather be touring the South of Italy and I don’t feel like I am excelling at my job.  Again, this is just one of those slumps.  I know that I am a very lucky lady to be able to be home with my sons.  I am a very lucky lady to not have to rush off in the morning and go to a place where I’m not the boss.  I don’t mean to say that a job is any easier.  It is just different.  In a few weeks I will be taking my youngest to take swim lessons twice a week and that will be an awesome adventure that will take us out of our house snow or shine and do something that is worth something.  Learning to swim.  So keeping this feeling of total failure in perspective, I know that this too shall pass.  That this is only temporary.  That I am just going through something and that no matter what, I can start my day over at any time.  If I did not have this blog, this creative outlet, the loneliness may succumb.  But I have this blog, spirituality, friends, family and a husband that is starting to “get it”.  I will be okay, as will my kids.

One thing is for sure, since I am unable to get a lot done during the day because of the constant attention my children need from me, putting together gourmet meals are making my hair fall out.  So easier meals are needed.  Chilies are easy.  And a twist on a traditional red meat and bean chili is a white chicken chili.  The landscape is white outside, the forecast calls for more and the nights are really cold.  There is nothing like a steaming bowl of chili to comfort your bones after a hard days work-no matter what job you have.  I like to pair chili with steamed white rice.  You can also pair this with a simple broccoli slaw.  Or just use this as a one dish wonder.  If you prefer turkey, substitute the chicken for turkey.  The original recipe is from my Soups, Stews & Chilies magazine by Cuisine at Home.  The way they  make it is delicious, with hominy and you roast your own fresh pablano chili and there is even tequila in there!  I changed all of that though.  I figured, with kids or just adults that don’t drink that does not sound appetizing.  If you do not like the jalapeno in there, leave it out.  Remember though, if you do take out all of the seeds and membranes, it will not be too hot.  Even for itty mouths.  The original recipe has you make it on the stove-top, and you still can but I have made it into a slow-cooker recipe so that I may regain some kind of sanity.  Here is my original White Chicken Chili recipe that I concocted with all of my favorites.  Anytime I get to cook with fresh tomatillos, it is a good day.

Happy cooking friends, and be kind to yourselves…

Ingredients

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite-sized pieces

1 large onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons each ground cumin and dried oregano leaves

1 teaspoons each ground coriander, kosher salt, and white pepper

3 cups chicken broth

2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced (these will add a wonderfully, thick consistency to the chili)

1 15 oz can great northern beans, drained and rinsed

3-4 tomatillos, husks removed and diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and membranes removed, diced

salt to taste

Garnish

steamed white rice

sour cream

chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

Note: If I had one of those brilliant All-Clad Deluxe Slow Cooker I could saute my onion and garlic and then brown the chicken all the while in the same slow cooker insert you’ll use all day to save all those good browned bits for extra flavor.  But alas, that is still a dream.  One day I will get one of those and that day will be AWESOME!!  So, if you are like me, with a basic slow cooker, no need to brown anything.  Plus that takes out an extra step making this meal that much easier.

  1. Add the first 10 ingredients into a slow cooker.  Turn on low for 5-7 hours.
  2. Salt to taste.
  3. Serve with garnishes.

High Altitude Adjustment

  • Chili may cook quicker.  I would suggest a slow cooker with a timer if you are gone all day.

Compost

  • Onion, garlic, tomatillo, jalapeno and cilantro trimmings

Recycle

  • Bean can/lid

Reuse

  • Plastic bags vegetables came in

020

Cranberry Bean Soup-Leftovers Part Deux

Okay, here is my second leftover idea.  I found this out of a Williams-Sonoma magazine as I was making my Christmas list for Santa.  It looks really amazing.  Not sure where you are, but here, it is getting quite chilly!  I look forward to making this sometime the following week after Thanksgiving.  I have yet to make it but already I am going to make some changes.  I have never used cranberry beans, and although they look exciting and delicious I have the largest bag of pinto beans that I will use instead just because that is what I already have.  I will use my turkey stock that I made prior to this by boiling my turkey carcass with some vegetables.  I can use some of the congealed turkey fat from the leftover turkey (I know, that sounds obnoxiously gross, but it is what it is, delicious flavor builder), it may not be enough so I may have to make up the difference with some unsalted butter.  The rest looks good.   I may add some shredded turkey if there are still leftovers.  Good way to get the rest of your turkey out of the house, because by the following week, we are over it!  And in a wonderfully flavorful pot of soup, it will taste good again only because it is coupled with many other flavors.

When I first cut this recipe out, and before I studied it I thought maybe there were cranberries in there and thought that would be interesting.  But alas, it is cranberry beans.  Duh.  In either case the base of this soup sounds amazing.  I love that it uses leftover gravy, the congealed turkey, turkey stock and tomato paste.  It seems like the broth is going to be heavenly and will do the job of warming our bellies up on a cold winters night.

Happy cooking!  So much to be thankful for….

Ingredients:

2 cups cranberry beans, picked over, rinsed, soaked overnight and drained

8 cups turkey stock

3/4 cup wild rice

2 to 3 Tbs. congealed turkey fat or butter

1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped

2 carrots, coarsely chopped

About 3 Tbs. port or dry sherry

2 Tbs. tomato paste

1 to 2 cups turkey gravy

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place the beans in a soup pot and add water to cover by 1 1/2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the beans are barely tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Check periodically and add more water as needed; you want enough water to keep the beans cooking and to prevent them from burning, but less than usual. The turkey stock, which is added later on, will supply more liquid.
  2. Add the stock and wild rice to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the turkey fat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until very limp and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the carrots and cook for 3 minutes more. Add the port and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Add the onion-port mixture to the soup pot along with the tomato paste and gravy. Cover the pot and cook until the rice is tender. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 15 minutes more.
  4. Taste and adjust the seasonings with more tomato paste or port, and thin the soup with more stock if needed. Garnish the soup with parsley, ladle into bowls and serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.

High Altitude Adjustment

  • No matter what bean you use, you will also have to do a quick soak as well as the soaking over night method.  A quick soak means that you bring your beans and water to a boil.  Boil for an hour (that is not normally a part of the quick soak but we need the extra boiling/cooking time up here), cover and turn off.  Let soak over night.  Next day rinse off beans in a strainer.

Compost

  • Onion, carrots and parsley trimmings

Recycle

  • Any containers you have used the end of.  Or if you used turkey stock from a carton, wash those cartons out and recycle

Reuse

  • Any plastic bags your veggies came in

Turkey and Mushroom Risotto-Leftovers Part Un

005I know, leftovers already!?  We haven’t even had the meal yet!  If you are like me then you will want to prepare your shopping list in completion so that you will not have to step back into a grocery store for a very looooooooong time.  I have planned my dinner, produced my grocery list (great aspect of living on top of a mountain is that I only had to study 2 different grocery store sales as opposed to a handful if I lived in a city), which is two-sided.  I have also added to my lists ingredients for this recipe and another leftover recipe under Part Deux.  This way I can enjoy cooking throughout the following week without having to see other people.  Haha, just kidding.  Sort of.

I bought a big turkey.  It is 13 pounds.  For two adults and two children (under the age of 5) that is a big turkey.  I bet we are going to have plenty of leftovers, even after our turkey sandwiches the following day.  And, we have one of those obnoxious french door style refrigerators where the freezer section is on the bottom, and pulls out like a drawer and is obnoxiously small.  It is already so full I did not want to stuff a Ziploc bag of turkey in there.  Hence my Type A planning of the meals to get that turkey rid of.

This risotto is a recipe I found in the recent Bon Appetit magazine.  It looks lovely.  I, of course, have yet to make it but it looks simple enough.  I don’t see any potential changes I will make to this recipe.  What I do notice with the two leftover recipes is that I need a lot of turkey stock, so I have decided to make that the day after.  I will do that by taking off all of the edible meat from the turkey carcass (leaving on the inedible parts like ligaments and other gristle-esque parts for great flavor.  Maybe add the giblets and neck if you did not use them in your gravy or discard them when you prepared the turkey), then boiling that carcass in the largest pot I have in water with some cut up: celery, carrots, onion, parsley and add some peppercorns and bay leaves.  I will boil that for about 30-45 minutes.  Discard the carcass and strain all of the rest from the liquid.  Reserving the liquid (hopefully making like 12 cups of stock) for the leftover recipes.  Voila!  Super easy stock.  No added yuckies and you have used the whole animal.

Here is the risotto recipe.  Happy cooking friends!

Ingredients

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter,  divided

1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 cups assorted fresh mushrooms (preferably  wild, but white buttons will do), thinly sliced

2 cups arborio or carnaroli  rice

1 cup shredded leftover turkey meat  (optional)

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

Kosher salt and freshly ground  black pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf  parsley

Preparation

  1. Bring stock to a simmer in a medium pot over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low. Cover and keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large pot over  medium heat until it begins to foam. Add onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally,  until onion is soft and translucent and just beginning to turn golden, about 5  minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, and  any liquid released has evaporated, 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add rice; stir to coat. Add 1/2 cup warm stock and stir  constantly until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding stock by 1/2-cupfuls,  stirring constantly, until rice is tender but still firm to the bite, about 20  minutes. Add leftover turkey meat, if using; stir to combine and to warm  through, adding a little stock or water if necessary to keep mixture creamy,  about 3 minutes.
  5. Stir Parmesan and remaining 1 tablespoon butter into risotto.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among warm bowls. Garnish with  chopped parsley.
004

Home-made turkey stock and risotto set-up

High Altitude Adjustment

  • Increase turkey stock to 9 cups

Compost

  • Onion, mushroom and parsley trimmings

Recycle

  • Butter wrapper

Reuse

  • Any plastic bags your veggies came in

Thanksgiving-An Ode to the Murry Clan

Awe Thanksgiving…..football, food, drinks, family, friends and the biggest food baby you will ever conceive.  Every year my husband, kids and I go to my in-laws home where we get to hang out with his lovely sisters, their significant others, where we get to watch the cousins play, eat amazing food and relax.  It is a wonderful time, just what Thanksgivings are all about.  If you were to look through the window you may see my husband and his Dad playing cards, the cousins running around, my mother-in-law in the kitchen and my sisters and I surrounding her munching on anything we can get our hands on.  My mother-in-law makes a mean turkey.   Always tender and moist.  With all of the amazing side dishes.  Everything is beyond delicious.

But of course there was that one year I had Thanksgiving at our home.  Not too many years ago.  It was the worst Thanksgiving dinner ever.  Disaster and failure after disaster and failure.  For starters I brined the turkey in a wonderful brine.  But then I forgot that a brined turkey (or any meat for that matter) cooks faster than if it weren’t brined.  So the turkey was over cooked.  Enter the second amateur mistake, I was dying to make oyster stuffing!  But I could only afford canned oysters and still decided to make it.  Gross.  Then….as if all the fates were unaligned I tried to thicken the turkey drippings to make a gravy and I had mistakingly put powdered sugar in the cornstarch container.  Fail.  Flat on my face fail.  But what made it all the better was that I was surrounded by family who loved me enough and were kind enough to say that it was a delicious dinner.  I knew they were lying through their teeth but I received their generosity and enjoyed the rest of the weekend.  Thankful for my husband’s family, who is my family.  The fire was going, the cousins were playing, football was on and we were all together.

Unfortunately for the first time, well….ever we are celebrating Thanksgiving with just the four of us.  Logistics took its toll and we are staying home for Thanksgiving.  Even though we are totally and completely sad to miss our family, I all of a sudden got excited at the notion that I get to make Thanksgiving dinner not only in my pajamas but I get to redeem myself!  I get to do what I love to do the most (besides being a mom and wife) which is to organize a grand meal and then cook and bake all day long.  I started rummaging through my bazillion recipes wondering what fantastic, gourmet Thanksgiving recipes I was going to make and then it dawned on me.  I want basics.  Back to basics.  I don’t want gourmet I want traditional recipes.  And so that is what I’m doing.

**Please note I have changed my menu.  I realized that I had made this menu prior to my reading Bon Appetit’s Thanksgiving issue as it was hidden under several newspapers.  So I have changed my turkey and stuffing ideas.  Here is my update menu:

Turkey

I have decided to do the traditional Herb-Roasted Turkey out of the recent Bon Appetit Magazine issue. I love the simplicity of it as well as all the fresh herbs that will accompany this bird.  This recipe also works best for my situation since it is for a smaller bird.  I’m sure that most people will be having a larger crowd than I so you would need to find a different recipe that pertains to larger birds.  I found organic turkeys at Costco for $2.99 a pound, which for me, seems really good and do-able.  It is too late now but if you have a Natural Grocers near you, you can pre-order your turkeys there for an amazing price ($5 deposit).  They have a wide variety of different kinds of turkeys ranging from organic to all natural.  I feel that for me, as I dropped the ball with Natural Grocers, Costco was my best bet.  I got a 13 pound organic, in brine turkey.  So my brining is already done for me.  Although I do love to make a good brine, I feel this will alleviate some stress that accompanies bringing.  Such as finding a container large enough to fit the turkey as well as my refrigerator.  Remember to defrost your turkey in the refrigerator several days before roasting.  Defrosting it on the counter will assure that the outside of the turkey will rot before the inside is defrosted.  Here is the turkey recipe I will be using:

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2012/11/herb-roasted-turkey

Sweet Potatoes

I wanted to the basic, mashed sweet potatoes with the miniature marshmallows on top.  I didn’t want nuts or candied anything.  Just wanted a creamy potato consistency coupled with a sweet marshmallow topping.  I found this recipe on allrecipes.com.  I had a hard time finding a recipe that was not gourmet.  I knew I could probably come up with a recipe on my own but felt it was “safer” to follow a recipe.  I always use fresh as opposed to canned.  A rather large change I’m going to make is that I want to use yams as opposed to sweet potatoes.  We’re going to have mashed potatoes anyways, no need for two potato dishes.  The only difference I see is that they I will not boil them, I will roast them and make this dish the day prior as I will need the oven for the turkey on Thanksgiving.  Here is the basic recipe I will be using:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/mashed-sweet-potatoes-with-marshmallows/

Mashed Potatoes

This is basic, traditiona, nothing fancy such as the theme of our Thanksgiving this year.  I do not follow a recipe but I’ll tell you what I do.  I buy organic russet potatoes.  Peel and cube 4 large potatoes.  Boil until they slip off of an insert fork.  Drain, then add to a bowl with (I never measure so I hope I am being precise) about 1/4 butter and 1/2 cup sour cream.  Beat with beaters or use a potato masher until smooth, no chunks.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Turkey Gravy

This is another recipe I just eyeball.  I will be hopeful that there will be enough drippings from the turkey to work with.  If not, I will have some organic turkey stock on hand.  I will empty the roasting pan, after the turkey is removed to set, into a fat separator and wait until all of the fat has separated.  Once it has separated I like to use the fat on the top to make my roux as opposed to butter.  More amazing taste.  Take about 1/4 cup of turkey fat (substitute in butter to make up if there is any difference) and heat in a small saucepan.  Add about 1/3 cup of flour, make a roux and then add the turkey drippings, stir until blended.  If there is not enough turkey drippings I will use some stock and make it to the consistency that I desire.

If you would like to follow a recipe I loved this one (even though I do not use the porcini mushrooms, porcini powder nor the Madeira).  But it is good!

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/11/rich-and-silky-turkey-gravy

Aiden, frothing at the mouth. Me: one more picture honey and then we can eat! Oh the perils of blogging.

Sauteed Green Beans

We’ve got to have something green, right?  I absolutely loathe the traditional green bean casserole made with the can of condensed mushroom soup and those awful crunchy onions.  I thought that since the oven will be in over-use mode it may be a good idea to make something on the stove top.  I’ll just heat a teaspoon of organic garlic olive oil (compliments of Trader Joes) and add about a pound of trimmed and halved green beans.  Cook until al dente.  I like them when they have a slight crunch.  Salt and pepper to taste.  It will be nice to keep something simple…

Cranberry Relish

I’m not sure where this recipe originated from but it is my favorite side dish of the day!  It is so refreshing!!  I love to smear this all over my turkey and rolls.  And the next day, holy smokes, it absolutely makes the turkey sandwiches.  Can’t have a sandwich without some of this relish.  And it is so super simple.  In a food processor add a bag of cranberries, 1 orange (peel only half of it) cut into quarters and 1 cup of sugar.  Process until a nice relish consistency.  Refrigerate until use.

Butter Rolls: Makin’ it Easy

I am going to make this easy, I am going to buy the bag of frozen dinner rolls.  You just put them into a greased glass baking dish and defrost all day.  Bake when the turkey comes out of the oven.  Easy and they are really, very good.

Stuffing

I have decided to make the “Simple is Best” Dressing out of my Bon Appetit magazine.  I purchased a loaf of premium Italian bread.  I will open up the bread the day before to let it become a bit stale.  I will then follow this recipe:

http://origin.www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/-Simple-is-Best-Dressing-51124210

Pumpkin Pie

I have always used the Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe.  Always.  I never use their canned pumpkin but I love the recipe.  Always comes out to perfection.  I have recently roasted and pureed our pumpkins from Halloween and have frozen the pumpkin in 2 cup increments.  I look forward to using that pumpkin.  Here is the yummy recipe:

http://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/18470/LIBBYS-Famous-Pumpkin-Pie/detail.aspx

As for the pie crust I love the Martha Stewart pie crust.  I posted that recipe under the Mini Pies vs. The Blues post.  Check it out.

Chocolate Cream Pie

I know, 2 pies for 1 family!?  We need something chocolat-y though, right!?  I found this recipe in my Eating Well Magazine this month.  I love chocolate cream pie, so as long as it has the Oreo crust as opposed to a pastry crust.  This recipe uses chocolate wafers for the crust and I may just use Oreos.  We’ll see how I rebellious I feel that day.  Here is the yummy recipe:

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/chocolate_cream_pie.html

Hor d’oeuvres

I know, like we need this.  Actually, we do.  We will be eating early, but later than lunch and I will not be preparing a lunch so we need something to snack on.  Plus I want to make sure my husband is happy in front of football, hopefully entertaining the kids as I cook, and food always makes him happy.  I am going to make Jamie Gwen’s Hot Clam Dip and an easy baked brie with bread.  Both I can easily bake right in the toaster oven.

Here is the recipe for the clam dip.  I change nothing it is so good!  Although, since we drain the clam juice, I freeze that and use it in a seafood stock when I make a chowder or something.  No need to waste precious clam juice!  I serve this heavenly dip with a sour dough round that you have people just pull off bits to dip in.  Very casual.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/jamie-gwens-hot-clam-dip-recipe/index.html

For the brie, you get a tube of refrigerated dinner french bread loaf and wrap it around the brie wheel, pinching it at the ends so it sticks together and makes a lovely boarder around the brie.  Bake as directed on the dinner roll tube.  I don’t like to add nuts and jelly to this as others like to.  I like it simply bread and cheese.  But you can dress this up any way you want.  I know that the fig jam and walnuts is a popular hit.

So there you have it!  Our Thanksgiving is going to be intimate, comfortable and cozy.  I picture the fireplace going, football on the TV, kids playing and me cooking.  My life is blessed beyond measure.  Happy cooking, baking and Thanksgiving!

The destruction