Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mindi's Sausage Bread

My husbands sister makes this delicious bread every Thanksgiving - either for brunch or as one of the appetizers before dinner. We all LOVE this bread - but since it's just the 5 of us in my house and we wouldn't get to dinner if this was on the table before the turkey was ready, we've decided to promote this delicious baby to be the star at the brunch table on St. Nikklaus Day.
Mindi's Sausage Bread
1 1/2 lbs Jimmy dean Sausage (ground)
2 Rhodes frozen bread dough loaves
Mozzarella cheese
12 slices of provolone cheese
2 t garlic
2 T Butter

Leave bread out the night before. Brown sausage and set aside. Saute garlic in butter and EVOO. Roll out bread dough (on a floured surface) into approx 9x13 rectangle. Brush half garlic mix over bread. Add one layer each of sausage, provolone and mozzerella. Roll up. Brush with remaining garlic mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly and then slice as you would bread. DELISH!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Feast

Alright - I've done it. I know it's several days after Turkey Day - but I've done it. I posted all my Thanksgiving recipes and I honestly loved every single one of them and plan to use these same recipes again next year.

I truly am sorry that I didn't post these recipes prior to Turkey Day - but I had to test them out to make sure I could put my guarantee on them - especially b/c we are talking about the most important meal of the year.

PLUS, you can always use these recipes for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years, a special Sunday dinner - or an amazing surprise dinner for your spouse or another loved one!!

First up: Appetizer Tray
Main Course: Sausage and Herb Stuffing
Decadent Mashed Potatoes
Isabelles Thanksgiving Rolls
Patty's Beet Salad
Alton Browns Super Tasty, No Fuss, Time Tested, Totally Foolproof Bird (with a bonus section from Bobby Flay about how to carve your turkey.)

Since I've already posted about this tried and true blue fav - I won't repost. Just follow the link for Decadent Mashed Potatoes and then join me in my crusade to bathe in a vat of this decadence.
And another shot of Patty's Beet Salad - seriously delish. My 7 year old pickiest eater son usually has this salad sans the beets or the Feta (gorgonzola is preferred - but when you are dealing with kids - it's the best substitute) Anyway... said 7 year old tried these (warm off the grill beets) and exclaimed that they were his new fav veggie. BOO YA!

Appetizer Platter

My husband is the greatest short order breakfast cook in the universe. Breakfast is his gig. The kids know that M-F it's toast, cereal and yogurt but when Saturday, Sunday or a holiday roll around - Daddy brings out the big guns and it's a breakfast lovers dream!

I really should've taken a pic of breakfast - this year for Thanksgiving we had the usual - omelettes, pancakes and bacon.

Since I planned to eat dinner around 4:30 - I wanted to do a light snacky lunch. I set this platter of yummies (no assembly required by me!) on the kitchen table and everytime my little peeps came by - they'd grab a little snack.
We had: pear apple slices (Costco - cheap and delicious!), cubed cheddar and mozzerella, carrot sticks with ranch dip, green olives and raw asparagus wrapped in cream cheese and ham. Yummy and light.

There was another layer of asparagus/ham rolls before I took the pic - but my kids are just too fast for me. And yes, I did just say kids and asparagus in the same sentance:)

Sausage and Herb Stuffing

As I've mentioned, this is the first time I've EVER done Thanksgiving dinner all by myself. I did a lot of research on Turkey and Stuffing in particular b/c those are 2 things I've never made.

Krystal (another author of this blog) told me that she is a 'stuffing snob' and although she was sweet enough to send me the ingred list for her Mom's famous stuffing - she didn't give me measurements. Normally - I just wing it - but when I try something so crucial to the most important meal of the year - I have to have atleast ball park measurements.

So... I went to my go to, never fail me, culinary hero, Ina Garten for her recipe - and she didn't fail me!!
Sausage and Herb Stuffing - Barefoot Contessa
16 cups 1-inch bread cubes, white or sourdough (1 1/2 pound loaf)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups medium-diced yellow onion (2 onions)
1 cup medium-diced celery (2 stalks)
2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and large-diced
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Place the bread cubes in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 7 minutes. Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Remove the bread cubes to a very large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, melt the butter and add the onions, celery, apples, parsley, salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened. Add to the bread cubes.

In the same saute pan, cook the sausage over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until browned and cooked through, breaking up the sausage with a fork while cooking. Add to the bread cubes and vegetables.

Add the chicken stock and cranberries to the mixture, mix well, and pour into a 9 by 12-inch baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, until browned on top and hot in the middle. Serve warm.

In doing my research, all the 'foodies' on the food network, cookbooks, etc. The 'newschool' way of thinking is NOT to stuff the turkey. Logic being that stuffing the bird brings down the temp of the oven, and by the time the stuffing is done, the turkey has been over cooked and is dried out. SO... I followed the rules and was VERY pleased with the outcome.

Instead of white bread, I used those delicious steak rolls that come in a bag at Costco (I know that is totally cheating - but what can I say?? I did the whole darn Turkey dinner - not too shabby!

I excluded the cranberries and the apples - my husband has a thing about mixing fruit with meat - and it was fantastic.

Isabelle's Thanksgiving Rolls

I have also posted about my sister Megan's Famous Rolls - which are very similar and also delish - but after making BOTH my Mom's (Isabelle) and my sisters recipes on 3 seperate occasions - the verdict is in and Isabelle came out on top (thank you Kenny and Davis families!)

I also prefer this recipe b/c it doesn't have eggs in it - and 2 of my kids have egg allergies...

I should also tell you that I made 2 dozen (what this recipe yields) they were hot out of the oven as we sat down to dinner and were gone by breakfast the next morning (that's only 2 adults and 3 kids under 7 folks)
Isabelle's Thanksgiving Rolls
2 T yeast
3/4 c warm water
2 2/3 c warm water
1/4 c sugar
1 T salt
3 T vegetable oil
7 - 8 c flour
Dissolve yeast in 3/4 c warm water. Add this to the rest of the water in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingred except flour and mix together. Add flour 1 c at a time and stir until you have to use your hands to mix. Knead dough for about 5-8 minutes, adding a little flour at a time to help dough not to be too sticky. Flour your hands as well as the surface you are working on. Place in bowl and cover with a dish towel, let rise about 1 hour.
Punch down dough and divide in half. With a rolling pin roll out one of the dough balls into a circle about 12" in diameter. Spread dough with melted butter. Cut into 12 pieces. Roll each wedge from the fat end inward. Repeat with other dough ball. Place crescents on cookie sheets, 12 to a sheet. Cover with dish towel and let rise until double (about 1 hour). Bake in preheated oven at 425 degrees for 10 - 15 minutes. Brush with melted butter.
*My mom's original recipe says bake for 20-25 minutes - but her stove is waaaay old school. It only takes 10 - 12 min tops in my oven at home.
**Also - a funny side note - when I went to link to my sister Megan's recipe I realized that the pic I posted was of her rolls on this same plate! Guess when I like a serving platter - I really use it!! LOL!

Alton Brown's Super-Tasty, No-Fuss, Time-Tested, Totally Foolproof Bird

You are totally sold right? I didn't even make up that Recipe name - that is what it's actually called!!
I know I am totally posting late - but this is the first year I've done Thanksgiving dinner all by myself - so I wanted the recipes to be tested and guaranteed delicious before posting - keep this one in mind for Christmas, a fancy Sunday dinner or a nice surprise for your loved one's birthday... def making this turkey again!!!

Alton's Super-Tasty, No-Fuss, Time-Tested, Totally Foolproof Bird
1 14-16lb turkey (he calls for frozen – but I used fresh and it was fantastic!)

For the brine:
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

For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Canola oil

2 to 3 days before roasting:
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:
Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining. *Don't be too worried about the 'brine time' I put my turkey in the brine on Wed afternoon and didn't take it out until 24? hours later. Brine is like a marinade - as long as you give it the minimum amount of time - you are fine.*
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

**I know what you are thinking - Why did you stuff the bird with aromatics instead of stuffing?? To see that answer - link here.
AND WE CAN'T FORGET ABOUT CARVING THE PUMPKIN! *Oh. My. Goodness. It's been 3 weeks since I posted this and while looking for a different recipe - I noticed that I wrote "PUMPKIN" when I really meant "TURKEY" durrrr...
Bobby Flay’s carving tips:
He used the tip of his knife to separate both breasts from the bird. Then he seperates the legs and as far as the dark meat goes, he just pulls it off (looks like shredded chicken) with his fingers. Then, he slices the breast into chunky pieces (probably 1 ½” thick) and plates. Then – see below.
Leave yourself time between roasting and carving. "Let the turkey rest for at least 45 minutes," suggests Bobby, "so the juices stay in tact when you cut it."
Cut thick slices. "I never could understand why people like to slice the turkey thinly," Bobby says. "You really want to keep the moisture in by actually cutting it thicker." He says that cutting it in thin slices makes the meat dry out very quickly.
Give the turkey a soak before serving. "The key to thanksgiving is one ingredient: Chicken stock!" Bobby reveals. "[Have] Hot chicken stock on your stove so that when you've [carved] this a half an hour ahead of time ... it brings back the moisture and makes it hot!"

Thursday, November 18, 2010


My daughter had her birthday this week. In our family the birthday honoree gets to choose what the family eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This year she requested Spaghetti and Meatballs for dinner.

Everytime I make meatballs - I just kinda wing it - I mean how hard can it be? It's meat and you roll it into a ball!! LOL. This time, I decided to write down the recipe for my own knowledge and I'm sharing it with you!

This makes A LOT of meatballs - but with my family of 5 (all 3 kids are under 8) there were NO leftovers...

Jen's Meatballs

1 1/2 lbs ground turkey

1 1/2 lbs ground italian sausage (I use mild b/c of my kids - but feel free to go crazy!)

2 c Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

2 T Emeril's Essence (original Bam)

2 t parsley

2 t oregano


Fav Marinara sauce

Get your hands in there and mix all those ingredients together. Use your Tablespoon to help you eyeball your meatballs size wise. I use a generous, heaping Tablespoon full for each meatball.

Fill the bottom of a large pan - about 1/4 inch full - of EVOO. Heat the oil on medium for just a minute or two before adding your meatballs. Cook a couple of minutes on all sides (you know when one side is done - it'll be nice and brown.

Make sure your pan isn't too hot - if it is, you will end up with nice browned meatballs and all sides - but they will be raw in the middle. You want to really let those meatballs take their time to cook so that the outside and insides are cooking evenly. I have a very large pan, so I only had to do 2 batches. I poured out the oil in between batches - just out of preference. If you do swap out your oil, make sure to clean up any oil that dripped over the side/bottom of your pan. If you don't carefully check that - that oil will catch on fire. Are you scrred? Don't be - I'm just giving you a few tips to make everything easy peasy and have everything run smoothly.

Meanwhile, in another pan (large enough to include the meatballs) heat your fav marinara sauce. When all of your meatballs are finished, add them to the marinara and let simmer just a few minutes - you don't want your meatballs to get too soggy. SERVE!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Spice Coated Pork Tenderloin

Angie posted her go to recipe for pork tenderloin over a year and a half ago - I just made it and HOLY SMOKES it was gooood! Def worth a re-post!!
We usually marinate and grill our pork loin - doing it this way was awesome! Wall loved it!
Spice Coated Pork Tenderloin
2 T chili powder
2 T packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 t salt
1 t ground cumin
1/4 t ground cinnamon
2 (3/4 lb) pork tenderloins
1 1/2 T oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together all dry ingredients. Sprinkle pork with spice mixture, pressing onto all sides.
Heat large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add oil; heat until hot. Add pork and cook 3-5 minutes or until browned on all sides. Place on a jellyroll pan and put into oven. Bake 12-15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Place on cutting board, cover loosely with foil. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
*I actually doubled the the dry mix and it rocked!! Thanks Angie!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stuffed Shells

I read an article in the November issue of Martha Stewart Living about stuffed shells. The author put her recipe in the issue - and also gave some great tips. Since I was at the doctor's office - I couldn't bring her recipe home with me - but I did bring her tips home (in my head) and I'm here to share them with you!!

Her tips were: Fill them with anything and everything your family loves. Always cook a double batch of shells b/c they freeze extremely well and so does whatever you stuff them with. She said in particular that cheese freezes very well (something I'd never thought about).

S0 - on my way home, I dropped by the store and grabbed some jumbo shells and some ricotta and made these babies...
Stuffed Shells
12 oz box of Jumbo Shells
16 oz Ricotta cheese
8 oz Mozzerella cheese either shredded or diced into small cubes
1/2 c Parmesan, shredded
2 T parsley
salt and pepper
Fav pasta sauce

Cook pasta per directions on box. Meanwhile, add all other ingredients and mix until combined. *I looked up a few recipes for stuffed shells and all of them included 1 or 2 eggs used as a binder - I chose to omit eggs b/c my kids have egg allergies and we didn't miss it one bit!*

PAM a casserole dish (size depends on how many you are serving - I guesstimated 3 shells per child and 6 per adult) After the shells are cooked, stuff them with a big spoonful of cheese mixture and set them in the casserole dish. Cover with your favorite pasta sauce (marinara is traditional - but I promised my 5 year old that next time I'd make them with alfredo). Sprinkle with more parm and more parsley.

Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until sauce is nice and bubbly.

**You can really go crazy with the 'stuffing' you can use any cheese you like - next time I think I'll try Fontina in lieu of Mozzerella just to kick it up a bit. You can also add any meat, onions, leeks, what have you!!

Roasted Red Pepper Toasts

If you've been on this blog before - you know that I LOVE my cheats. I was at Costco last week and saw a big jar of "TASSOS Fire Roasted Florinas Peppers Whole Sweet" total inpiration for many, many cheater recipes!! So I scooped em up and came up with this little honey of a recipe...

Roasted Red Pepper Toasts
2 or 3 roasted red peppers, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic
2 oz cream cheese
salt and pepper
Sourdough loaf

Sautee red pepper, onion and garlic until the onion is translucent. In the meantime slice the sourdough in thick pieces and toast them (I just used my toaster - but you can use your oven too).

Spread cream cheese on each toast, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with a big spoonfull of red pepper mixture and ENJOY!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Brussels Spouts Gratin

As promised, I am trying out possible Thanksgiving recipes. These new recipes are all vying for a position on my Thanksgiving table this year - and possibly for years to come. That's a lot of pressure to put on these sides - but it's Thanksgiving for crying out loud!
I found this recipe in Food Network Magazine - the November issue. It was under their "Learn To Love It" "DARE" section. And since I am a sucker for a dare - you know I had to try this - that coupled with the fact that putting more veggies on the table is just a good idea - for Thanksgiving - or on a Monday night.

Brussels Sprouts Gratin
2 T butter but into pieces
1 lb Brussels sprouts, outer leaves and stems removed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 c grated white cheddar cheese
1/2 c breadcrumbs (I used Panko)
Salt & Pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and butter a 2 qt. baking dish. bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook until tender, 8 - 10 minutes.

Drain the Brussels sprouts and coarsley chop. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and toss with the red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste, then spread out evenly. pour the cream on top, sprinkle with the cheese and breadcrumbs and dot with the butter pieces.

Bake the gratin until bubbly and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

AND... it was good! How can you not LOVE something that is made with heavy cream and cheese? I am sure this will end up in my top 5...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thanksgiving Is Right Around The Corner!

Now that soccer season and the craziness of September and October are over... I finally get to turn my attention to Thanksgiving!!

We took a road trip recently and I got to peruse a bunch of food mags. I have a definite 'go to' recipe for both my Mashed Potatoes and my sweet potatoes, but I have been on the search for another veg dish for years.

Last year, I made Michael Symons Brussels Sprouts. They were good - but a bit too heavy amongst so many other heavy foods. So the search goes on...
I will be testing out a few of these babies in the next week or two:

Creamy Broccoli with Cashews
Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts
Creamy Vegetable Casserole
Buttered Turnip Puree
Brussels Sprouts Gratin

I'll let you know how each recipe turns out as I make them! Do you have any 'go to' veggie sides on your Thanksgiving menu? PLEASE SHARE!!


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