Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I consider myself to be richly blessed and thank God for my blessings regularly. Having a nationally recognized holiday to do so is wonderful. In my family, I have taken over Thanksgiving responsibilities in the last few years and relish the opportunity to cook up a feast. And a feast it truly is.
This year our menu was as follows:
Roasted Shrimp Cocktail
Pickled tomatoes (store-bought)
Smoked fish (store-bought)
Goat cheese bruschetta
Roasted Red Pepper Salad
Puff Pastry “strips”
Meringue cake (store-bought)
The turkey I’ve made in the last 5-7 years has always been moist as a result of both brining and baking it in a bag. However, this year it was absolutely superb. Please don’t think that I’m boasting. I did absolutely nothing differently from years past. The difference is in the turkey itself. I ordered a turkey at a farmers market earlier this year through Rueggseger Farms. The turkey was never frozen, it was “harvested” on Tuesday morning and we took delivery in the evening. It was astonishingly fresh and well-cleaned and absolutely lip-smacking when cooked.
Additional Recipes will be coming soon.
Posted in Dinner, farms, Fish, Healthy, Meat, Oven-baked, Potatoes, Salmon, seafood, Soup, Turkey, Uncategorized
Tagged baked salmon, bruschetta, cake, holiday, mashed potatoes, puff pastry, Shrimp, Thanksgiving, Turkey, vegetable soup
Chunky Pasta Sauce
I haven’t made anything pasta related in a while and figured it was time to get back to that. So today I decided to make pasta sauce. Additionally, I had a lot of vegetables in my fridge that I haven’t used up yet, so I figured it’s a perfect opportunity to use them. This worked out really well since I like a really chunky tomato sauce. And if you have kids, this is a great way to get them to eat vegetables. This recipe can also be vegetarian quite easily – just leave the meat out. With this recipe, use what ever veggies you like, in any quantity you like. Here is what I did.
We're cooking now!
Pasta Sauce Ingredients
Adding the meat
Ingredients: 1 lb of ground turkey
1 very large carrot (cut into half moons)
2 red bell peppers (diced)
1 large white onion (minced)
1 zucchini (cut into half moons)
1 summer squash (cut into half moons)
3.5 oz of mushrooms (that was the size of the package I had. Use more or less)
3-4 cloves of garlic (finely minced)
2 cans of tomatoes (I used 1 can of Red Gold roasted garlic and onion and 1 can of Red Gold basil, garlic, and oregano)
Roasted tomatoes (optional; I had some on hand so I used them)
Tomato paste (I used about 3 oz, half of a 6oz can of Red Gold tomato paste)
2-3 tb of olive oil
Olives (optional, but I had some so I used them; chopped, about 2 handfuls)
Paprika Salt, Pepper (freshly ground)
Flat leaf parsley (for garnish and for cooking, to taste)
6 bay leaves (3 for the sauce, 3 for the pasta)
See the parsley
All the ingredients cooking
Adding pasta to the sauce
1. Saute the onion for a few minutes and then add the garlic.
2. Add the carrots. Let cook for about 5 minutes.
3. Add the rest of the vegetables and salt & pepper. Let cook for a few minutes (I put the lid on and let the veggies steam a little).
4. If you are adding meat, do it at this stage. I pushed the veggies to the sides of the pan and added the meat into the middle so that it can brown. I also season the meat at this point. Cook the meat until it’s all browned and thoroughly cooked.
5. Add bay leaves and parsley. Mix everything together and taste seasoning. This is when I add more salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and anything else that strikes my fancy.
6. Add the tomato products (canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and roasted tomatoes if you have them).
7. Put the lid on and let cook over medium-low for about 10-15 minutes.
8. Add the pasta to the sauce (which has been cooking in a separate pot, according to the directions on the box.) I serve it with a little bit of cheese grated on top. I used a very mild goat’s cheese.
I know you can't resist this!
Posted in Bell pepper, Dinner, garlic, Healthy, Mushrooms, pasta, Quick and Easy, tomatoes, Turkey, Veggies
Tagged Bell pepper, carrots, flat leaf parsley, garlic, Healthy, Mushrooms, pasta sauce, summer squash, vegetables, zucchini
Turkey - Extra moist and delicious
I was completely new to baking a turkey a few years ago. In fact, the first time I tried to make a turkey (for Thanksgiving) I almost burned down my kitchen. You see, I was following 2 different turkey recipes at once and made a pie earlier. When the pie filling oozed out ever so bubble-ishesly right between the heating coils, I didn’t give it much thought. Until I needed to crank the oven to 500 degrees. That was the day I found out that burned sugar and high temperatures don’t mix, for when I went to put the turkey in the oven, I saw flames! shooting up inside the oven. You have to image this: me standing in front of the oven, barely holding pan with a very heavy turkey at eye level, in complete shock.
In the end, it all worked out. We had a really moist and tasty turkey. So moist that people with dentures were able to enjoy it as well. You can see in the picture that it’s so moist it’s practically falling apart.
Here is the recipe that I adapted from Alton Brown’s on the Food Network.
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 gallon vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
- 1 gallon heavily iced water
Baking the Turkey:
For this, I use Reynolds Oven Bags. Here are the instructions from Reynolds (which are also found inside the packagin):
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Shake flour in Reynolds Oven Bag; place in large roasting pan at least 2 inches deep. Spray inside of bag with nonstick spray to reduce sticking, if desired.
3. Add vegetables to oven bag. Remove neck and giblets from turkey. Rinse turkey; pat dry. Brush turkey with oil. Combine sage, thyme, rosemary and seasoned salt. Sprinkle and rub herb mixture over turkey, turning to coat evenly.
4. Place turkey in oven bag on top of vegetables.
5. Close oven bag with nylon tie; cut six 1/2-inch slits in top. Insert meat thermometer through slit in bag into thickest part of inner thigh. Tuck ends of bag in pan.
6. Bake 2 to 2 1/2 hours for a 12 to 16 lb. turkey, 2 1/2 to 3 hours for a 16 to 20 lb. turkey, and 3 to 3 1/2 hours for a 20 to 24 lb. turkey, or until meat thermometer reads 180°F. For easy slicing, let stand in oven bag 15 minutes before opening.
Posted in Dinner, Healthy, holiday, Oven-baked, Turkey, Uncategorized
Tagged Alton Brown, Healthy, holidays, party, Thanksgiving, Turkey
The day is finally here and I’m giddy with excitement. I started cooking late last night and continued today. One of my big realizations was that everything except that was cooked, except the boiled potatoes, was baked. My oven fulfilled its baking duties fully. I love my stove/oven but as my mental list of my dream kitchen grows longer, I’m adding double ovens to that list. Or maybe it should be triple ovens.
Today, we got together around 2:30 and people left after 8. We laughed and toasted and chatted and reminisced and remembered. And ate. And ate. And ate. That’s the “Russian” way.
This year, as we toasted to the things we were thankful for such as family, health, friends, and other such things, we also added “having jobs”. Face it, it’s a blessing to have a job currently.
But as much as I love this day and as much as I look forward to it all year, I am also not sorry that this day is drawing to a close. Finally sitting down in my comfy PJs and running a load of dishes in the dishwasher, I am truly thankful for all that I have, but especially for being here and being able to celebrate this wonderful holiday.
But without further delay, here are the pictures to accompany the menu in this post.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, in large part because I love all the cooking. Most people dread all the cooking, but I even take Wednesday off so I can make a few “spares”, just in case something doesn’t turn out and people still leave with overstuffed bellies. I still love the holiday, despite the mandatory family squabbling. But without further delay, here is the menu I’m planning (and yes, I take help where I can):
- Chicken wings (not a Thanksgiving staple, but I love them and they seem to go over pretty well with the family). See above
- Seafood puffs (puff pastry stuffed with seafood, store bought, and I hope they’re good).
- Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Pizza Bites
- Smoked Mackerel (this can be found in most Russian food stores; ask for “skumbria”)
- Baked Asparagus with Cheese
- Shrimp with sauce
Fish in pieces
- Seafood salad
- Olivie? (a French salad, and every cook in former USSR has her/his own twist on it. This one is a maybe since I don’t like peeling potatoes or cutting cooked potatoes.) I decided not to make it this time.
- Egg salad and mushroom
- Baked potatoes (my family is averse to mashed potatoes with skins and I am averse to pealing potatoes)
- Stuffing (of the StoveTop variety. My family will accept no other.)
Zephyr in Chocolate
- I bought two pies at Sweet Pies of Door County and we’ll have that. They’re yummy, try one.
- I also bought a Russian-style dessert called Zephyr in Chocolate. I’m not exactly sure what’s in it, but it seems a marshmallow-type substance covered in dark chocolate.
Recipes and pictures for all these to follow.
Posted in Dessert, holiday, Potatoes, Salad, Turkey, Uncategorized
Tagged appetizers, asparagus, Dessert, Dinner, holiday, holidays, pies, puff pastry, Salad, seafood, Shrimp, Thanksgiving, Turkey
Today I felt inspired to create something different, something I haven’t done before. Yes, believe it or not, I’ve never made a white sauce of any kind. Ever! I know, it’s ridiculous. Also, I stopped at the grocery store on my way home after work, and got some great things I wanted to use right away. I’m notorious for wasting food and I’m trying to work on that, so I figured I’d buy it and cook it today.
This seems like a lot of ingredients and steps, but you can scale it to what you have in your fridge and what you want to do. And the hardest/longest step was chopping the onion. The rest was just stirring.
1 LB of ground turkey
1 medium onion (diced)
1 bell pepper (diced)
16 oz. mushrooms
1 head of broccoli
1/2 cup of shredded cheese (I used smoked Gouda with cracked pepper, but any melty cheese would work)
3 cloves of garlic (grated and/or finely minced)
2 TB of olive oil
1/2 LB of rigatoni (or any pasta with ridges)
1/2 cup of chicken stock
1/2 cup of half&half (or soy creamer or non-dairy coffee creamer if you prefer to keep this kosher)
salt & pepper to taste
fresh parsley and basil to taste
hot chili flakes to taste (optional)
1. Saute onion and garlic for a few minutes, until golden brown and add ground turkey in a large skillet with high sides.
2. Brown the turkey until it’s completely done, seasoning it as you go along.
3. When the turkey is no longer pink, add bell pepper, broccoli, and mushrooms.
4. Add chicken stock and cook what’s in the pan.
5. Make a rue (a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of flour all mixed together and added to the pan).
6. Add the half&half.
7. In a separate pan, cook the pasta. When the pasta is al dente, transfer it to the other pan.
8. Add the cheese.
Garnish with the greens and you’re done!
Mushrooms are added
Broccoli , mushrooms, and peppers
Posted in Bell pepper, Dinner, Healthy, Mushrooms, pasta, Turkey, Uncategorized
Tagged basil, gouda cheese, ground turkey, Healthy, Mushrooms, onions., pasta, red bell pepper, rigatoni