Showing posts from 2009

Holiday Turkey Gravy

Another addition to the Holiday cooking guide: Gravy has to be the best part of the Thanksgiving meal. I mean, you can pour it on the meat, the mashed potatoes, the dressing, or sop it up with a roll.

I have never really tried to describe how to make gravy before so I have put a lot of thought into this. Have you heard of a roux before? That is a fancy French cooking term for cooking flour with fat that becomes the binder for gravies and sauces. Basically, to make roux-based gravy, there is a magic ratio of 1 Tablespoon fat (butter, oil, pan drippings) mixed with 1 Tablespoon flour and thinned with 1 cup of liquid (stock, broth, or milk).

You can make sauce using other thickeners like corn starch or egg. But if you are looking for a certain texture, the way to go is probably using a flour roux.

I have read lots of cookbooks and lots of websites and lots more cookbooks. I have been cooking since I was little kid, so gravy was one of the first things I learned. It's really easy, y…

Holiday Turkey Giblet Dressing (or Stuffing)

Another recipe from the Holiday cooking guide, my mom's recipe for Turkey Dressing has been one of my all-time favorites.

I suppose you could stuff the bird with this, but I don't like squishy stuffing, so we always make it in a separate pan. It gets nice and toasty this way.

I just have to say here that I don't like it when people get all fancy with their dressing/stuffing. Cornbread. Rice. Sausage. Mushrooms. YUCK. Just give me some good turkey giblet dressing. Especially if I can drench it with turkey gravy.

And now I have to admit one more thing. I don't always use ALL the giblets. I have a dog, and she appreciates a little holiday dinner too so I normally use just the neck meat in the dressing, then give Sitka the chopped up heart and gizzards. (I also boil the liver separately so she can have turkey liver sauce for another meal. No, she is not a spoiled dog. Really!) But if you are in love with using the heart and gizzards in your dressing, go for it.

A no…

Almond Kringle

Kringle! This is a family tradition. My family is a little short on traditions, so the few I can grasp, I hold on tight. My mom's family is Czech, and we have lost many of the Czech traditions. I think this particular recipe is not Czech, per se, but it is in the same family as kolache or rugelach.

Kringle is a type of pastry, like a Danish. The shape is what makes it stand out. You can honestly make any shape you want, wreaths, twists, whatever, but "Kringle" means "knot" from what I remember. Whatever language it is, it's tasty.

For the dough
4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
4 cups AP flour

For the filling
1 cup almond paste
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar

For the topping
1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water
3 T. slivered blanched almonds, divided
extra white sugar for sprinkling

1. Proof your yeast in the warm water with 1 teaspoon sugar for a…

Turkey Stock

Continuing the Holiday cooking guide, I present Turkey Stock. Useful for making incredible Turkey Gravy and Turkey Dressing (or Stuffing, if you prefer it by another name).

By the way, the recipe below works equally well with chicken parts to make chicken stock.

giblets from one turkey (minus the liver)
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped
about 1 quart water
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place neck, heart, and gizzard in a 2-quart saucepan. Do not use the liver because it will make your stock cloudy and gritty.

2. Add carrot, onion, and celery to the pot. Cover it all with the water.

3. Bring pot a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer about 1 hour.

4. Remove neck, heart, and gizzard. Reserve for dressing recipe.

5. Strain liquid into a large measuring cup. Discard vegetables.

Holiday Oven-Roasted Turkey

TURKEY! I love turkey! I mean, I really LOVE turkey!

This is my favorite time of year, food-wise by far. I get to have turkey, and leftovers using turkey, and cranberry sauce, and's all sooooo good.

And I think I may have misled some people of Facebook about my turkey-cooking expertise. I am not a turkey novice. I have cooked many in my time. I have to admit that this year was my first year being in charge of the whole Thanksgiving meal. I am typically the kitchen donor (you know, people come to my place and cook) so the roles were changed this year.

We ventured to the throbbing metropolis that is Winnemucca to spend Thanksgiving with Justin's grandmother. My folks joined in as well. Their original plans to go to Arizona were thwarted by a buzzrd that insisted on committing hara-kiri using my dad's brand new Escalade as his method of death.

This post is the first of my holiday cooking guide. And just for reference, this year was my first time cooking a …

Elk, Venison, or Beef Stew

I used to make stew a different way. It was the way my mom made it, which technically happens to be a vegetable beef soup. My "official" stew recipe, this one I'm posting right now, came from Justin's grandmother Rose.

The technique of dredging the meat in flour, then frying, helps to thicken the liquid so it's not so soupy, and it adds complexity to the meat flavor. Simmering the meat in tomatoes also tenderizes the meat very well. It works on tough cuts of beef, which may take longer to really get tender. However, it also works well on wild game meats, which typically don't have as much fat marbling as beef, which would make them more dry.

We actually made our first meal of Justin's elk as stew, the photos shown here are from that meal. I have to admit, I usually prefer deer meat to elk, but this one is especially tender and mild. This summer we had record amounts of rain and apparently, the game had plenty of tender and tasty greens to eat. I also hav…

Pumpkin Bread

I have a problem. It's a horrible addiction to baked goods and chocolate. There are some days on the drive to daycare and work, all I can think of is eating pumpkin bread, or a croissant, or whatever strikes my fancy that day.

Since the weather has offically turned cold, I have been looking for more reasons to bake. One fine day, not too long ago, I set up my mixer and started tossing things together, hoping to get a good home-made replacement for Starbuck's pumpkin bread.

A few tries later, (including one semi-disaster involving a molasses) I'm happy to share my discovery. The coloring is good, spices aren't too overpowering, texture is good. I made a batch as muffins a few days ago for a bake sale at daycare. Eric helped mix the dry ingredients and put liners in the muffin tins. I like having an assistant.

This recipe will make 36 standard size muffins or two cake loaves.

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 …

Justin's Shrimp Scampi with Garlic Rice

Who knew such a simple thing as shrimp and rice could be so succulent? It's one of the few things that Justin still makes because he can do it better than I can. I don't know how, but he can just tell by looking at the sauce that it's ready.

We only make this on special occasions, which ends up being about twice a year for someone's birthday or a holiday.

But, for shrimp lovers, this is a must have dish.

For the scampi
3 lbs shrimp, deveined
2 cloves of garlic per 10 shrimp (You'll probably need 6-8 cloves for the sauce), chopped
4 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 cup butter
1/4 cup regular olive oil
1/2 cup cream sherry
1/2 cup white wine, we usually use a Chardonnay

For the rice
2 small cloves of garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
3 cups water
1-2 Tablepoons parsley, chopped

1. Start the rice: I always rinse the rice grains two times with cold water. Drain off as much rinse water as you can. Add the measured water and rice to a 2-quart…

Homemade Baked Chicken Tenders (or Nuggets)

I knew I should have grabbed the camera when I was making these. These are fast, easy, and taste good. Picky eaters ate them! So DING DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER! Try them and see!
Ingredients 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs, such as Italian or Garlic-Herb 2 Tablespoons olive oil
Method 1. Wash and pat dry the chicken. Remove any fat or sinewy, tendon pieces. Slice each breast into four narrow strips. Or slice into small chunks for nuggets. 2. Using the olive oil, brush or rub each piece of chicken.
3. Spread the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish or plate. Roll the chicken in the breadcrumbs so it has an even coating on all surfaces.

4. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the chicken's thickness.

Note: If you have plain breadcrumbs, add your own seasoning and mix well. You can use just about anything you like. I have some Luzianne Cajun Seasoning that is really good. You will need to taste-test the crumb mix just to b…

Pumpkin Pie Recipe

It's Autumn! It's pumpkin season!

I love visits to the pumpkin patch with the kids and smelling the crisp, cool fall air. It makes me hungry for baked squash, pumpkin pie, pumpkin scones, pumpkin bread, hot tea, hot chocolate, soup...I think you get the idea.

About a week ago, we visited the pumpkin patch with the kids. That got pumpkins on my mind. We happen to have three very large pumpkins waiting to be carved for Halloween plus a variety of squash in a bowl on the counter. I already fixed the butternut squash and it's history.

Then Justin went hunting. For the second trip to get a buck. I told him if he got one, I'd make a pie when he got home. He loves pie. LOVES pie. Even Eric got excited for pie.

Saturday afternoon Justin called and said they got the buck. So now it was up to me to make the pie.

Sunday afternoon I started baking. I made up a batch of pie crust mix. Eric dragged all three big pumpkins into the kitchen "helping" me so I could "us…

Haley's First Birthday Cake

Saturday was Haley's first birthday. We had a small family party at our house. I put Haley in a super-cute pink dress.

I made Haley's cake and frosting completely from scratch. I took photos of each step along the way. I was excited!

Then it was time to dig in.

I decided NOT to post the cake recipe. It was not an instant success. The batter was good. The only problem, once I cooked it, it was hard to get it to come out well. I live in "high altitude" Nevada, so baked goods always need adjusting. I had to cook it more than the recipe said. The recipe said bake for 20-24 minutes. OK. I went for 22 to start. It was still pretty liquid in the center. I gave it 4 more minutes. It looked set up, but the toothpick test yielded a wet toothpick. Another 3 minutes later, the edges were brown, pulling away from the pan, and I got a dry toothpick. Lesson learned: shaped pans with uneven depth make cooking a bitch.

I cooled it in the pan a few minutes, then on the rac…