Ingredients: My thing this Christmas is making Christmas baskets of homemade or specialty items for friends and family. I first worked this BBQ sauce up out of desparation, but I've tweaked it over the years. People seem to like it, and it's easy to make and can.
1 c. chopped onion
2 T. canola oil
1 c. ketchup
1 c. beef or chicken broth
½ c. clove apple butter [or 1/2 c. apple butter with 1/4 t. ground cloves]
3 T. packed brown sugar
1 t. paprika
½ t. ground mustard
3 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice [about what you get from one large lemon]
1 T. A1 Steak Sauce
1/4 c. molasses [Unsulphured]
1 t. Sriracha sauce, at least [or tabasco sauce]
A couple of dashes of Liquid Smoke
Sauté onion in canola oil. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, lower
temperature and simmer for 30 minutes, or until it's reduced by about half.
Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for two months.
It makes the whole house smell like a rib joint.
The canning jars have been washed in hot soapy water, but I also boil water in them in the microwave for 5 minutes before draining and filling them.
Once filled with hot barbecue sauce, I top them with the lids and rings and tighten the rings. Turning them upside down gets everything hot and helps the jars to seal. I doubled the recipe and then used about a cup of the sauce for Dave's dinner. That left 3 half quarts and 1 pint jar of sauce.
I'm trying to fill the baskets with items geared to the recipients. I know three people who love barbecue sauce, and the one left is for us, unless someone else comes up.
I even found these cute labels for the lids.
I love easy and good.
1 lg. purple onion
½ c. red wine
½ c. water
3 T. sugar
½ t. salt
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
Halve, peel, slice,
and separate onion. Pack into sterilized canning jars as tightly as possible
without bruising the onion pieces too much.
Heat the remaining
ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat with occasional stirring until sugar
dissolves. Pour over the onions; seal with lids and rings. Cool and
refrigerate. I'm going to put together Christmas baskets of home made or canned foods, and I thought that these would add great color and be a nice treat for pickle lovers.
They really are pretty.
Dave liked them so much on cheeseburgers that he also put them on a salad.
Make Ahead Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/4 c. butter, clarified butter, or ghee
1 lg. onion, sliced
1 pt. good fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t. ground thyme or several sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 c. flour
2 c. beef broth
1 small container Knorr Beef Homestyle Stock
1/4 c. heavy cream
Salt to taste
Over medium heat, cook onions and mushrooms in butter along with thyme and pepper until vegetables are soft. Add flour and stir about 5 minutes until cooked. Add broth; stir over heat until soup boils and thickens. Add Stock and stir to combine. Puree in blender or food processor or with an immersion blender.
Cool and refrigerate. Warm over medium heat. Add cream; add seasoning to taste. Serve or use in casseroles.
Ghee is clarified butter that has a wonderful full, nutty flavor.
And before you think, "I prefer to not eat anything packaged outside the United States.", this stuff is made in Flushing, NY. It's yummy!
The local produce market had these crimini mushrooms up front with the sale items. Who could resist?
I did have to pick out the thyme stems.
I made this last night for Dave to nosh on while we made a dinner of small grilled steak, baked potato, and Bob Evans broccoli in cheese sauce [Hey! I had a coupon and it was on sale! I wanted to try it. Don't judge!] that he slathered on his baked potato.
He ate a cup of it and then dipped bites of grilled steak in another cup.
4 c. bread,
cut into ½ inch cubes
½ c. butter
½ c. diced
½ c. diced celery
1 t. poultry seasoning
½ t. salt
½ t. pepper
½ t. Sriracha sauce
3 T. flour
2 c. chicken
1 small tub
Knorr Chicken Stock Concentrate
4 c. chopped,
8 oz. sharp
cheddar cheese, shredded
cubes on baking sheets or in roasting pan in 300 degree oven for 20-30 minutes,
until hard, stirring frequently until "toasted".
temperature to 350 degrees and grease a large casserole dish.
In a large
soup pot over medium heat, cook onion and celery in butter until soft. Add
poultry seasoning, salt, pepper and Sriracha sauce, and cook an additional 2
minutes. Add flour, and stir 5 minutes. Add chicken broth, cook and stir until
mixture boils and thickens. Stir in concentrate until mixed. Add chicken and
cook until heated through.
Off heat, add
bread cubes and shredded cheese and stir until combined. If mixture seems dry,
add chicken broth to taste.
prepared dish and spread evenly. Do not press down. Bake uncovered at 350
degrees for 30 minutes until slightly browned and bubbly. Cool slightly and
aka "How to stretch a little chicken or turkey to feed more people." I doubled this recipe for 25-30 people. They also had the mashed potatoes, green beans, gravy and cranberry sauce. [With rolls salad and drinks.]
Mashed Potatoes For 25 People
About 7-8 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 c. butter, softened, divided
16 oz. sour cream
2 t. Kosher Salt
1 t. white pepper
1 c. whole milk, warmed, or more to taste
1 t. Sriracha sauce
Steam or boil potatoes until they're fork tender. Working in two separate batches: Place 4 oz. cream cheese and one stick of butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mash half of the potatoes and add them with one teaspoon sauce and half a teaspoon pepper.
Starting on low and slowly working up to higher speeds, whisk the potatoes, scraping down the sides of the bowl often. When mixture is well blended, blend in 8 oz. sour cream. Begin adding the milk slowly, until potatoes are the consistency desired. Add to a well greased casserole dish, and repeat with the second half of the cooked potatoes.
Dot top evenly with remaining stick of butter. Spray underside of a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray and cover potatoes, sealing well. Keep warm until serving, or cool to room temperature, and refrigerate up to two days. Reheat in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until heated through. Bring the dish to room temperature first, will decrease baking time.
Another Thanksgiving dish you can prepare up to 2 days ahead of time! What's not to love about that?
I have this humongous steamer that only gets used a few times a year. It takes one hour to steam the 7-8 pounds of potatoes.
Mash the potatoes whatever way works best for you!
At first, there are almost too many potatoes for the mixer, but they mix down.
This fed about 30 college kids and adults.
Dave enjoyed his dinner...
a lot! lol
Orange Cranberry Sauce
12 oz. bag fresh
cranberries, washed and drained
1 c. granulated
1 c. water
1 cinnamon stick
½ t. ground allspice
¼ t. ground nutmeg
1 T. Grand Marnier
orange liqueur or 1 t. orange extract
1 orange, zested and juiced
In a medium pot, combine
cranberries, sugar and water. Stir to blend. Bring mixture to a boil over
medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and add cinnamon stick, allspice and nutmeg.
Add Grand Marnier.
Stir and simmer for an
additional 5 to 7 minutes until most cranberries have burst. Remove from heat.
Add the orange juice and zest, stir and allow to cool before serving. Makes about 9 cups sauce.
In your scrupulously clean sink, wash cranberries in cold water, and remove any that are soft. If they look a little bruised, but are still hard, they're still good.
If you don't keep this expensive liqueur around in the big bottles, it also come in these smaller bottles. This is left from last year, and I'll still have enough for next year.
The berries pop when heated, and sometimes they can spray a little hot syrup. To minimize this, I cook them in a deep pan with a screen over the top.
As you stir them, you'll notice when they're mostly soft and foaming like this. These are done. Now that it's cooled, you can see how the pectin in the fruit is already gelling the sauce. This smells wonderful with the cranberries and spice and orange. It really is a special addition to the holiday table and tastes nothing like the stuff from the can.
This is the 6th 20 pound turkey we've cooked in the past month. This one is going into casseroles for the Wednesday luncheon at the college. The first five were roasted for the church's turkey dinner fund raiser. Each 20 pound bird was done in under 4 hours and the meat was very moist. See?
This is the meat we took off the bird after dinner tonight.
The secret is using Reynold's Cooking bags. They have three distinct advantages: moist meat, birds done in 2/3 the time of traditional roasting, and the bags retain almost every bit of those exquisite turkey juices, which are the key to killer gravy. And the bags make it easy to catch all the juices in a saucepan!
Every box comes with 2 bags, 2 ties, and an instruction booklet.
This tells you almost everything you need to know about how to impress your in-laws. Almost.
You'll also need a heavy roasting pan large enough to hold the bird.
No, I didn't pay $33 for this turkey. Kroger had them for 88 cents a pound and with my loyalty card, I got it for $14.73. But a word about the turkey you buy.
If your family rarely eats turkey, or can't really tell the difference between good turkey and really good turkey, get the bird on sale, by all means. Turkey is like pizza imo. There is no bad, just good and better.
But if you're cooking for your in-laws and you want everything to be good, get a name brand bird. Not only is the meat a bit better, the gravy is, too.
If you're cooking for your in-laws or the CEO of your company, and you really want to make a special bird and you can afford it, spring for a fresh, never frozen bird. There really is a difference that some people can detect.
Also, the rule of thumb says to calculate one pound of bird per person. I say get as much as you can. Heck, leftovers are the BEST part of Thanksgiving dinner! The stress is over and you can enjoy making those crazy turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, cole slaw sandwiches. And if you buy a larger bird, you can send leftovers home with some people.
In your scrupulously clean sink, remove the wrapper and check both upper and lower cavities for giblets and gravy mix and whatever they've stuffed in there.
It's never a wrong thing to simmer the giblets on the stove, covered with water or broth, while the turkey is cooking, and then, add the resulting nectar to the juices for the gravy. Die hard turkey lovers sometimes remove all the sweet meat from the cooked turkey neck, and there's a lot of it, and add THAT to the gravy, too.
Open the cooking bag, place about a tablespoon of flour inside, hold the end shut, and shake.
To stuff the bird or cook the dressing separately is another decision. When I'm cooking for others, I cook the dressing separately. When we make it for our family, we stuff it inside the bird. It's a personal choice. The only important thing to know is that a stuffed bird takes 30-60 minutes longer to roast. But the instructions with the bags will tell you that.
If you or someone in on important turkey decision making absolutely HAS to have crisp skin or a whole Norman Rockwell looking bird on the table, you have two choices: slather the bird with Crisco or butter before putting it into the bag, arrange the bag so it isn't touching the skin much [a larger size bag would help], and then, after retrieving the juices, cut open the bag and place the bird under the broiler for a while, or forego the cooking bags and go with one of the brining methods, likes Alton Brown's, for moister meat.
We carve the bird in the kitchen, which makes it easier on so many levels.
Wrestle that big boy inside the bag, twist the end a few times and secure it with the handy tie.
Here is where I diverge from the cooking bag instructions. You need to cut about four small holes in the bags to allow steam to escape. Ignore the instructions to cut them all over the top, and only cut slits near the closed end of the bag. This helps with turkey juice retrieval later.
Tuck that bad boy into a 350 degree oven, and relax a bit.
For those new to turkey preparation, timing is crucial. If the instructions say to roast the bird for 3-3 ½ hours, put it into the oven no later than 4 ½ hours before dinner time. Once the turkey is cooked, it will need time to cool, you will need time to make the gravy and bake the rolls. And every once in a while, you'll get a bird that hasn't read the instructions and will take 30-45 minutes longer to cook than it's expected to.
Getting it done a little ahead of time and having it rest 30 minutes longer than planned is a whole lot better than keeping hungry guests, who have been smelling the delicious odors coming from your kitchen, waiting any longer than necessary. No matter how sweet they are about it, you will feel bad.
So, the instructions say to roast it for 3-3 ½ hours. If you know your oven, you'll know on which side to err.
If you're new to this, start checking the temperature at 3 hours. Insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest areas of the bird, between the legs and the body and into the thickest part of the breast, and wait for the needle to register the temperature All readings need to be >165 degrees F. If the readings are 20 degrees low, cook the bird an additional 30 minutes before checking it again. Overcooking, in these bags, is NOT a problem.
The only time we've ever seen blood or under cooked poultry was when slicing off a leg, so I roast birds until they're 180 degrees between the leg and body.
This 20.75 lb. bird yielded about 1 ½ quarts of turkey juices and fat. The broth from simmering the giblets for 3 ½ hours is good stuff, but nothing like this. And the cooking bags make it easier to capture them than any other way.
You will need an assistant, one able to lift the bird, and you need to prep the area. Place a large cutting board next to an empty sink. [An empty sink in a kitchen on Thanksgiving is a rare thing indeed, but plan ahead. You'll be glad you did.]
Place sieve on a 2 quart sauce pan and put it in the empty sink. Move the roaster to the cutting board, and stand by with a long thin knife while your assistant uses the twisted end of the cooking bag to lift the bird and position a corner of the bag over the sieve/saucepan.
Here's the tricky part: you need to cut a hole in that corner bulging with juices, but as soon as you do, they're going to squirt up and over the pan. I always lose a bit that way. I need to work on that. I know that it helps to cut completely through both sides of the bag so the juices begin going into the pan. Maybe I need a wider saucepan.
Dave's a pro at this. He drains as much of that tasty stuff as he can.
Making the gravy.
The fat: The fat in the drained juices has SO much flavor that I hate to waste any of it, but use a fat separator or spoon fat from the surface of the juices as you need.
Gravy thickener: Flour, corn starch, and potato starch are the three top choices in my book. I like corn starch because it dissolves easily without lumps and it doesn't give gravy that raw flour taste. Place about a cup of corn starch in a small bowl,
and add broth or water to make a slurry.
Place the sauce pan with the juices and the giblet broth over high heat and bring it to a boil. For a 20 pound bird, add about half of the slurry and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens. Corn starch takes less time to come to full thickness than flour.
Continue adding the slurry and cooking until the gravy is the desired thickness. If it becomes too thick, thin it with broth or water. Add salt and black pepper to taste, and half a teaspoon of Sriracha sauce will only make it better.
This was Dave's dinner tonight. He went back for seconds.
Smoked Sausage, Cabbage, and Noodles
2 T. oil or clarified butter
½ c. sliced celery
½ c. chopped red bell pepper
1 small head cabbage, shredded
½ t. pepper
1 t. Sriracha sauce
2 t. chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 t. ground thyme
2-4 c. chicken broth
1 small tub Knorr Chicken Stock Concentrate
8 oz. old fashioned noodles, cooked slightly al dente
Grated Parmesan cheese to garnish
Cut sausage into 1/4 inch coins and fry in oil or butter over medium heat until slightly browned. Add vegetables and cook 10-15 minutes or until soft and beginning to caramelize. Season with pepper, Sriracha sauce, and thyme, and stir while cooking. Add 2 cups chicken broth and Chicken Stock concentrate and stir until concentrate is evenly distributed. Add noodles, stir and add more broth, to taste. Continue cooking over medium heat for 15 minutes until vegetables are cooked and flavors have blended.
Garnish with cheese and serve.
I doubled the recipe for a crowd.
I love succulents for several reasons. Each one is so unique, and yet they're wonderful together. We moved the container that was on the steps to the deck inside, but it's getting crowded.
Succulents can be grown easily from a pinch off a plant. These Blue Chalk Fingers are from one limb of a plant bought last Spring that fell off. I just cut off the individual stalks, planted them, and spritzed them with water every day or so.
This leaf fell off during transplanting in May, so I stuck it in this wee pot and spritzed it every day.
Same thing with this plant. It's been 6 months; that's how slowly they grow,
The parent plant of the last two is that gray fellow there in the center looking all proud.
I took 3 leaves from the variegated African Violet way last winter,
and this is how small they still are. The hole on the upper left of the pot is from where I took the third, and largest, plant to transplant for a friend.
This Haworthia isn't waiting for me to intervene. She's producing babies of her own.
Almost every plant I have here came from a cutting. It's infinite! I could have a house full!
I'm glad they grow slowly. I have plans for several container gardens next summer...
Cinnamon Roll Dough
medium potato, peeled and sliced
1 c. potato water [the water the potato was cooked in]
2 packages active dry yeast
¼ c. warm water [110-115 degrees]
½ c. butter, melted and cooled
2 t. salt
2 eggs mixed with milk to make 1 c. liquid
6 c. AP flour plus more for kneading
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. granulated sugar
2-3 t. ground cinnamon
3 c. Confectioners' sugar
2-3 T. whole milk
Boil potatoes until tender. Mash and add with
cup of potato water to bowl of a stand mixer. Let cool.
Add yeast to a small bowl with 1 t. of the sugar
and ¼ c. warm water. Stir and let sit 5-10 minutes until it foams.
yeast mixture, sugar, butter and salt to the mashed potatoes. Stir. Add the
eggs and milk.
Add half of the flour
and mix with dough hook, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue adding flour one cup at a time to make a soft dough. Place
dough on a floured board and knead it about 10 minutes. [Or knead with the
dough hook in your mixer for ~4 minutes.] Dough should be smooth and elastic. Place
dough in a large oiled bowl and turn to coat all sides. Cover and let dough
rise in a warm place until doubled.
Punch dough down, knead
the dough a few times, then roll dough out to a large rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Pour melted butter over dough and spread to cover. Sprinkle with sugar and liberally sprinkle with cinnamon.
Roll dough up from the long side furthest away from you, tightly. Use a long strand of waxed dental floss to cut roll into 1 inch slices. Place the slices close together in two 9 x 13 inch baking pans. Cover and let rise until almost doubled in size.
Bake at 400°. for 20
minutes. Reduce oven to 300° and finish baking for another 25 minutes until browned and fragrant.
Let cool 15 minutes. Place confectioners' sugar in a small bowl. Add milk, a tablespoon at a time, stirring until icing has the consistency of thin pancake batter. Drizzle Icing over tops. .
I made these last week, covered the unbaked rolls with Saran Wrap [right on the rolls] and aluminum foil and froze them. I removed them from the freezer and let them thaw and rise overnight in the cool [~60 degree] basement, I baked them as usual.
Dave had to be sure that they were edible...