Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,

If you want to drop a wad of cash to pay for my home insurance, car insurance and car tag renewal, then it would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

About to be broke before the holidays....

Breakfast Burritos

One thing my family loves is breakfast. On the weekends, its one meal we can eat together on the compound. My dad is king of breakfast, and makes the most fantastic pancakes you have ever eaten in your life. Seriously. They are world reknown. : )

Each time my family comes to visit, I like to prepare different things each time. I like to experiement. Sometimes its sweet, sometimes its hearty. So far though, I've had no complaints!

This weekend my brother and I tag teamed and came up with a super fantastic breakfast burrito. It was really easy, fast, and left everyone wanting more. Here's what we did.

Ingredients:
Eggs (1.5 per person)
Shredded Cheese
Chopped bell pepper and onion
Home fries/Hash browns (chopped or quartered, not shredded)
Tortillas (We like the large burrito size)
Salsa
jalepenos
Oil
Butter
Salt and pepper

Directions:
Cook home fries according to directions on package. (We cooked them in a little bit of oil in a skillet.) Chop bell pepper and onion, and saute in oil and butter. Add salt and pepper for taste. Beat eggs in a small bowl and scramble on medium heat. Melt cheese on tortilla.

Assemble burrito by adding eggs first, home fries and vegetables. Top with desired condiments like salsa, jalepenos or salt and pepper.

Roll, serve and eat.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Breaking News...

This just in. I have an idea. Saturday is going to be an all day, black bear themed feast. Why?

Because That School Up North is now the Black Bears.

And because we are going to beat them in the Battle for the Golden Egg.

How many black bear themed items can we come up with? So far, here's the list:

Black bear dip (aka...cream cheese rotel or man dip)
Blackberr Cobbler
Black Bear Cookies
Blackberr Bait (Substitute blackberries for blueberries)
Black Bear Pie Using No Black Bears
Black Bear Cake
Da Black Bears Roast

I could go on for days....I will have to narrow down my choices for Saturday night because after an all day family feast, we won't be able to eat THAT much during the game. But a girl can dream can't she....ha ha ha!

Go State! Beat That School Up North!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa....

All I want for Christmas are some Fiestaware ramekins (2 each in peacock, shamrock, scarlet, sunflower and tangerine) and a mini blowtorch. Then I could be a shaker, a baker, and a cream brulee maker! : ) Seriously though, I think I can find many uses for ramekins and a torch, and I probably won't even burn my house down! (I said probably. I didn't promise anything.) I've always wanted to make creme brulee....

Sincerely,

SMSA




Thanksgiving 101: A tale of two dressings

What’s the next step after making a turkey for Thanksgiving? Dressing! That’s right!

The first time I made homemade dressing was also the first time I baked a turkey. That day I hand chopped all of my ingredients. It took me like 47 hours because I’m not that quick with chopping. After that day, D bought me a mini-food processor. It has since changed my life, and I am forever grateful! : )

Most people like a traditional cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving. I’m a fan, and picky/somewhat of a control freak when it comes to making my dressing. Its actually a recipe my mother gave me several years ago, and in my opinion, it’s the best dang dressing you will ever eat in your life.

HOWEVER…when cooking for out Thanksgiving feasts, my father likes to make the dressing. And we do things differently. We use the same basic recipe, but he uses dry ingredients verses fresh. I prefer all of my herbs to be fresh in my dressing. You absolutely can taste the difference. And I’m not saying my dad’s dressing isn’t good. It’s very good. He is a very, very good cook. But…I will say I am partial to my own interpretation. Since that’s the case, I let him make the traditional cornbread dressing while I do a completely different version that is definitely far from traditional.

My dressing that I make for Thanksgiving every year now is a little bit of Texas and a little bit of Mexico. It is influenced by the 7 years I spent living out west. Not only did Texas play a huge role in forming who I am today, but it also had a great influence on my choice of foods. I like things a little bit hot and a little bit spicy, and therefore, my dressing is a bit of that.

Several years ago I learned how to make tamale dressing from a Dallas/Fort Worth news show. It is very similar to your traditional dressing, but uses crumbled tamales instead of cornbread. It is a bit of a risk, unless your crowd likes Tex-Mex. Which…mine does. So, I typically make it as an alternate to our traditional dressing. And top it with cranberry salsa…which is amazing.

Again, I stick to fresh ingredients. So, I use whole cranberries, jalapeƱos, fresh cilantro, etc. I think fresh vs. dry is the way to go. There is just so much more flavor there! And, the tamales add a little out of the box thinking to your typical southern Thanksgiving meal. It’s a nice change!

No matter what kind you choose, you have to have dressing with your turkey. We do both. If I picked one over the other, it would probably be the traditional cornbread dressing. But if you wanted to go Tex-Mex, then I would make a spicy turkey and season it with cilantro and lime juice! : ) I say use whatever herbs you use in your dressing to also flavor your turkey, or vice versa. Helps the two to compliment each other.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

For the love of pumpkin...Part 3

Everyone loves pumpkin pie! Actually, I know that's not true. But most people love it. And, in all actuality, I didn't love pumpkin pie until several years ago. I made one because of my friend Scott's obsession with it. So, in order to appease my friends, I made one. And I was hooked. And now I love it a little too much. And no Thanksgiving is complete without a traditional pumpkin pie...

Traditional Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp cloves)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) Pumpkin Puree
1 can (12 fl. oz.) Fat Free Evaporated Milk
1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In medium bowl, combine sugar, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Beat eggs with a whisk in large mixing bowl. Stir in pumpkin and dry ingredients. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour mixture into pie shell.*

Bake pie at 425° F for 15 minutes. Then, reduce temperature to 350° F and bake for an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.

*If you have extra mix after you pour into the shell, I typically put it in a ramekin to bake a mini pumpkin pie. No need for a crust. : )

Monday, November 15, 2010

Halloween snacks for the kiddos

I know this post is a little late, but I still wanted to put it up. First off, I have to give a shout out to my Internet/blog stalker who I met Friday night! HEEEEEYYYY!!!! I can't believe people other than Jana and April read my blog! Its kinda cool!

Halloween weekend I had the pleasure of hosting my sister's family in my home. Which means I had the cute little kiddos running around everywhere! : ) We got all dressed up , and went to the town fall fest Friday night. Will went as Diego (from Go Diego Go) and I was his precocious and youthful sidekick, Baby Jaguar. Pretty cute, huh?

Saturday we went to the park and lounged around the house before our football game that night. Whenever I hang with Will, I always try to encourage him to cook with me. Sometimes he goes for it. Sometimes he doesn't. Depends on his toddler mood of the day. On this particular day, though, he was willing to help me with lunch. So we made a cute and creepy version of hot dogs. Its a super easy treat to make with kids!

Mummy Dogs
Ingredients:
1 package of hot dogs (I prefer Bryan all beef juicy jumbos)
1 package of crescent rolls
Mustard

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll hot dog inside of crescent roll, and leave an opening for the eyes. Form crescent roll around the bottom and top of the dog to make sure it is covered. Place on cookie sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until crescent rolls are golden and crispy. Remove from oven and dot on mustard for eyes and mouth.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dear Santa...


Here's another new series of posts to be intermingled with the Thanksgiving ones. I'm calling it...Dear Santa. Figure that one out!

Dear Santa,

I have a lot of spices. I have a drawer these could go in. I would like approximately 4 sets of these. : )

Sincerely,

SMSA

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thanksgiving 101: It's all about the turkey

In my opinion, on of the greatest accomplishments one can do (as a cook) is to adequately prepare the Thanksgiving meal, from starters to dessert, all by yourself. I first attempted this my senior year of college. It was Thanksgiving Day. We had a football game that night. My family went to visit my dad's relatives, and I stayed at my house to prepare the meal. I did everything. Baked the turkey, made homemade cornbread dressing, made sides, baked an apple pie, everything. It took me ALL DAY LONG! But at the end of the day, it was quite delicious, and everyone enjoyed it.

So, over the course of the next few weeks, I'm going to blog about my Thanksgiving meal adventures. Many of the recipes are already on the blog from year's past, but I will post again. I hope you enjoy!

First off is the turkey, the most important part of the meal. Growing up my family typically did a fried turkey (prepared by my mother's brother), so I always thought it was intriguing to try baking one. In my lifetime, I have bakes around 4-5 turkeys. I know that doesn't seem like much, but I am still young, and baking a turkey is kind of a big deal!

Your first step in turkey baking is choosing the right bird. You need to plan for 1-2 lbs. of meat per adult, which will leave ample leftovers. I would do 1/2-1 lb. per child. We will use my family as an example for this. We have 7 adults and 2 children in my immediately family. So, I would buy a 16 lb. turkey.

Turkeys, when purchased from your local grocery, are typically frozen. The preferred way to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator. You can submerge it in cold water, but the fridge is best. The turkey will need about 6 hours per pound to thaw, so a 16 lb. turkey will require about 3-4 days of thaw time in the fridge. Be sure to place it in a roasting pan or large plastic bowl before you place in your fridge. That way you avoid spreading any salmonella.

Now its time to prep the bird!

First, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the turkey from its plastic wrapper, and unhook/unwrap/undo the feet. (They are usually fastened together by plastic, metal, or string. BE SURE TO CLEAN OUT THE INSIDE OF THE TURKEY! You will have a giblets bag, head, neck, etc. inside. You don't want to bake that in there!!! Some people save these things, but they gross me out so they go in the trash at my house! Do what you will...

Give turkey a good rinse, and don't forget to wash your hands and antibacterialize your sink when you are done!!! (Protect from germs!!!) Then place the turkey in a large roasting pan.

Now comes the fun part! Seasoning the bird!!! I use the same herbs that are required for my cornbread dressing. So, finely chop up fresh rosemary, thyme and sage. (About 2-3 tablespoons of each) Run your hand between the skin and the meat, and then rub in between the two layers. Wash your hands really good again!!!!

Take a generous amount of olive oil , a pastry brush and brush over the skin of the bird. Generously! Then rub remaining herbs on outside of bird, along with kosher salt and crushed black pepper.

Now its time to stuff your turkey. I don't think its super sanitary to eat anything inside a turkey, so I usually just put chunks of onion, garlic, celery and bell pepper inside the cavity. Then I toss them when done baking.

The key to baking a juicy, non-dry turkey is liquid. Pour 1 can of chicken broth into bottom of roasting pan to provide moisture while cooking. You may need to add more if it evaporates out. You will need to baste the turkey once an hour by taking a large syringe or baster to draw liquid from the bottom of the pan and squirt all over and inside the turkey. If your liquid is evaporating, then pour in more chicken broth.

A lot of times people use those pop up turkey times to gauge when done. The best thing to do is get a meat thermometer. You need to bake the turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, and done push it through to the bone. That will affect the temp reading.

A turkey needs to bake about 1 hour per 2-3 lbs. A 16 lb. turkey will probably take about 5-6 hours. Again, it depends on the internal temp of the bird. Check it after about 4 hours in the oven, and see where you are on temp.

Once the turkey is finished, remove from oven and let it rest for about 20-30 minutes before carving. This is when I turn the project over to someone else. I mean...I'm just not fantastic with large knives. I do know you start with the breasts and work your way to the legs. Usually men are pretty good at this kind of thing...that's all I'm sayin....

Finally, you can take the juices from the bottom of the roasting pan to make some gravy. Do you know how to do that? Or do I need to explain it? I'll just let you figure that one out. Its like making any kind of gravy. : )

And there you have it folks....in 800 words or less....how to bake a turkey! Good luck! And no, you don't have to wait until Thanksgiving to try this one out!

Happy cooking!!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010