Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Aftermath... Leftovers !

I purposely make a larger than needed turkey for two reasons; one- I send a large amount of leftovers home with the guests, and two; I like leftovers too!
Friday was Turkey Barley Soup, simple stuff! Chopped up white and dark turkey meat, trimmed, 2 qts. of turkey stock made from the bird, pearl barley, chopped onion,chopped celery, and chopped carrots, a touch of seasonings- all thrown in a slow cooker on low for 5 hrs. With dinner rolls, and some pumpkin pie, it makes a nice, simple meal!
Saturday, I made kind of a mini turkey and cheese sandwich, with cooked turkey, Havarti cheese, mayo, lettuce, with a slice of tomato on a dinner roll.. very simple and good! A cold sandwich can be superior to one heated or grilled sometimes...
Today will be Asian Sock-eye salmon, with the last of the bean casserole- but that's another post!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Well, I suspect with all us food lover's and cooks out there in Blogland, there will be a flurry of food posts about Thanksgiving in the next couple of days! After two days of prepping and cooking, Friday, Sat., and Sun. will be filled with great ideas for leftovers!
Our T-day meal was about 3:30PM, and I can say I didn't screw up one dish! All came out on time, and the bird was flavorful and moist... Brining a turkey is a pain in the butt, but it is worth it- I guarantee!
1. Cranberry relish- a coarse texture and tart, some orange added- I don't use it, but the people who did liked it.
2. Mashed potato casserole- Yukon golds boiled and mashed, with additions of sour cream, butter, salt, and pepper.. Made a day ahead, and heated before dinner- son's girlfriend liked them a lot!
3. Gravy- I admit to mixing jar turkey gravy with pan drippings, and spices.. it's no fail and quick.
4. Asian green bean casserole- I put bean sprouts, water chestnuts, sliced mushrooms, soy sauce in with the green beans and cream of mushroom soup, and top with fried onions and crumbled bacon. Earthy, with the water chestnuts giving a pleasant crunch.
5. Rolls- Bakery fresh, with butter and honey
6. Sage sausage dressing- Dry bread cubes, sage sausage browned with chopped celery, and chopped onions (undrained!), chix broth, and butter- all poured at once over the
bread cubes, covered and baked. I am not allowed to make any other on Thanksgiving!
7. Roast turkey- 17.8 lbs. Brined overnight, trussed, with celery tops and a sliced orange in the cavity for moisture, coated with olive oil and roasted for 3hrs. loosely covered, then another hour uncovered. Left to rest for 20-30 minutes, then carved... As always, moist and tender!
8. Graham cracker crust pumpkin pie, done in a rectangular baking pan.. Dense, and with whipped cream it was a hit!
The bones were made into stock, which will probably be our turkey noodle soup supper tonight!
I wish I could have taken more photos, but I was a little busy! Hope you all had good ones- tell me about your T-day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Do You Eat When A Feast Is Coming Thursday?

I was going to post about a really great raspberry crisp I made, but a certain wife of mine seems to have made off with it before I could take a photo... It was full of berries, not too sweet, and pretty easy to make..
This week is a tuffy for picking out what to cook and eat before Thanksgiving..Monday I made chicken and cheese open faced sandwiches.. Simple stuff..make a cheese sauce of your liking, mix cooked cubes of boneless chicken breasts in the sauce, spread on a half a bun, and broil. My mom used to make these when I was a kid, and I couldn't get enough of them!
Our T-day menu is planned- traditional all the way! Roast turkey, sage sausage dressing, mashed potato casserole, gravy, an Asian flavored green bean/bean sprout casserole, rolls, and graham cracker crust pumpkin pie... Only five of us this year, so very manageable sized group...
Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What Master Can Do With A Disaster...

Thursday night, I took Picnic Ham out of the freezer(still wrapped and in a white plastic shopping bag) to thaw for Friday night dinner. I planned to make scratch scalloped potatoes to go with the ham.... Imagine my surprise Friday morning when I removed the meat from the bag.... it was not a picnic ham, but a fresh picnic shoulder- uncured pork! The ham and scalloped dinner became an oven pulled pork, with Au Gratin potatoes!... Normally, I would do pulled pork in my smoker- but there was no time for that.. I trimmed all heavy fat off, dry rubbed it with the seasoning shown, put it into a pan, covered it tightly with aluminum foil, and baked for about 7hrs. at 240F.. Sure glad I have a double oven, as the taters needed 350F 1hr covered, 30 min. uncovered. The meat was then shredded(fat removed) into tender strings and shreds, and mixed with white vinegar, and a couple of BB-Q sauces until ready to eat! Wife and son raved, and for a mistake- it was pretty darn good!
Made some home-made coleslaw also.. goes well with or on the sandwich..

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hearty Bean Dip, For Snack Or Meal!

The kids are grown up. The household now consists of my wife, Sher, an aging Airedale named Clara, that was a rescued dog from ATRA, a cat named Willow I got from a meat market that I saved from the incinerators of The Humane Society, and me!
I seldom get to cook the quantities I used to nightly, so a lot of times supper is something between a snack and a meal! With the Holidays approaching at lightspeed, I thought I'd share a simple recipe, that goes with watching football, playing cards, board games, or whatever else you do for relaxation during the season...
Bean Dip. Not your "back of the can" recipe, either! This is substantial, and simple as all get out!
1. 2 cans(15oz.) refried beans
2. 1lb. browned, Tex-Mex seasoned ground beef- on the lean side
3. 1 Onion, chopped and sauteed with the browning ground beef
4. 1 Green bell pepper, chopped and also sauteed with the browned ground beef
5. 8oz. Velveeta(really!)or American cheese
6. 4oz. of a smooth taco sauce, medium heat
7. Drain beef/onion/pepper mix, hand blend all above and simmer on stove until bubbling hot
8. Put in bowl, or bowls, top with a shredded Mexican blend cheese(4oz.) and serve with warmed tortilla chips.
This one isn't rocket science, but people seem to enjoy the hearty texture on a tortilla chip! I haven't brought any leftovers home with me yet!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Doesn't This Look Good? Well, It Wasn't!

Monday night, I fixed boneless skinless chicken breast sandwiches. I had been deliberating between flattening them and rolling them up with ham and cheese, or simply slicing them thinner, and using some that BB-Q sauce my son had sent me for my birthday... Well, the lazies attacked me, and I went with the seasoned sliced BB-Q chicken breasts.. I had been hoarding the sauce, and went with a bottle of Rufus Teagues. The bottle said it was "Blazing Hot", but a lot of them do.. I poured a bit on finger tip, and it was a bit lively! Broiled the chicken, flipped, coated with BB-Q sauce, and broiled some more. In the mean time, I sliced the dill pickles, and onions as the add-ons.. trust me, this flavor works-usually! Trimmed the breasts and made sandwiches on buns... Here's where the wheels fell off the wagon! We bit into this, with meat being tender, nice flavor and crunch from the veggies- but it was a bit hot.. Hot became very hot, then evolved into what I call stupid hot.. It then kept climbing until it reached inedible hot! Now I love hot, and my wife can keep up- but we were both sweating, with noses and eyes running, we both said "No Mas!!!" at the same time! I have had hot sauces that weren't as hot as this so called BB-Q sauce!
The next morning I swear I crapped battery acid! That night we had take out, while the kitchen was declared free of nuclear radiation...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Steak Fajitas, Good Stuff!

Sunday found us taking our time, and enjoying doing little or nothing.. We do have one big meal in early afternoon, which seems to be enough, with a little snacking later that night..
I sliced the remaining prime, rare, rib-eye into thin, red strips of tender, flavorful pieces.. I also sauteed red bell pepper, and thinly sliced onion in olive oil, adding the beef on the end- all seasoned with chili powder, garlic, sea salt, and pepper.. No marinade for this- meat was too noble to do that to it! I then put Jalapeno salsa, and red salsa onto a large, soft flour tortilla, and piled on the fillings, piping hot!
This was good stuff! Bright flavors, and colors- with a nice mix of textures to boot! Wife had a side of rice, with fajita sauce on it.. Son loved it, and wife and I both thought it tasty, and not too heavy! Less can be more..simple things, done well- my Motto in cooking!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Peasant Food, and Food For V.I.P.s..

Sometimes we want simple, sometimes we splurge.. We usually splurge after two or three nights of simple! Hump Day(Wed.!!), we just wanted a simple tuna fish salad sandwich, on that home made wheat bread- just right for the moment! Thursday found my wife joining a bunch of other women after work, who walk for exercise in the halls of a local grade school.. I made a baked mac-n-cheese (negating any good the walk did for her!).. it tasted simple, and good. Friday, we determined we hadn't had a good steak over a charcoal grill in a while, so that was what happened.. I had played Keno that day, and had won about 60 bucks, so I decided Prime Beef Rib-eyes were the treat! $17 a pound, and thick to boot, $35.00 is a lot of dough in these parts for two steaks! I cooked both, one was medium rare, the other rare. We split the medium rare, along with a roasted(baked) potato and fresh bread- for a great Friday night supper! The rare steak will become the world's greatest Fajitas tonight! The butcher cracked me up.. I asked if he had some deli Gouda, or Edam cheese- and he had never heard of them! He then tells me he's of Dutch descent... Thank God he knows quality meat!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mini-Meme, Coming At 'Cha!

With Christmas advertising and Yuletide songs on the radio already, I've begun to call Thanksgiving "The Forgotten Holiday"... I happen to love Thanksgiving, and wish my family still had the big get-togethers we used to at my house. We would always seem to include a friend or a son's friend who had no where to go that day, and was welcome to enjoy food with our family. I love to watch people enjoy a feast that I fixed- I think I get more pleasure from that than they do eating it!
Our two question format, as usual..
1. Turkey- Do you prefer white meat, or dark meat? Why? Do you even have turkey that day?
2. Dessert- Your favorite on this day, traditional or otherwise..and do you wait an hour or two to have the dessert, or right after the meal?
Some traditions are forced upon us by the media, some are inherited, and some are invented by us! I am always keenly interested in the regional differences we have in America, in addition to the other countries that have an equivalent holiday and their traditions also..
I'm looking forward to your responses!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Oatmeal, Crasins, Chocolate Chip Cookies, And Honey Wheat Bread!

I was a useless piece of crap Friday and Saturday when it came to cooking...Sunday, I caught fire- making that homemade pizza, and some really great Oatmeal cookies! I love my dried, sweetened cranberries, and semi-sweet chocolate chips that adds richness, but doesn't sweeten the cookie all that much! They came out chewy, and not overdone in any way! Two dozen are almost gone!
Today, I made a couple of loaves of home made light honey wheat bread... Tasty.. made ham and cheese sandwiches, with mayo, lettuce, and a touch of mustard.. Not bad, but Ithink this bread is better with just butter or honey..Didn't rise as much as some, quite substantial!
It's good to try new things...It's how we learn!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Friday Night Pizza- Only It's Sunday!

Friday night, did not feel like cooking.. went to a great fry food place and picked up a chicken and fish combo! Fish was so good, I went back Saturday and got two fish sandwiches to go!
Sunday, promises were to be kept, so I made what we call around here a "Dad" pizza! That means home made yeast risen crust, flavored with garlic, and red pepper! It means home made sauce, tomato paste, olive oil, garlic, onion, red pepper, oregano, basil, fennel seeds, salt, and red wine vinegar.. It means hand ground Parmesan and Romano cheese.., It means Italian seasoned sausage, pepperoni, and Canadian bacon as meats.. It means covered with Mozzarella cheese, shredded.. 450F for 12 minutes, set for 5 more minutes.. Well, look at the photos!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Left-Over Meal, And Chili!

Tuesday night, I fixed a sliced beef in gravy over brown rice for a "Use up the pot roast" supper.. The addition of fresh, sliced mushrooms into the simmering gravy beef mix worked well.. I thought the earthy flavors of beef and mushrooms would marry best with the equally earthy, nutty flavor of brown rice.. It all disappeared, as I suspected it would!
Wednesday, we went North to a casino, where it seemed every senior citizen in Michigan was gambling their children's inheritance away... We didn't win either!
Tonight, A rare occurrence in our house.. I made chili! As most of you know, I have competed in 40+ chili cook-offs, and have my share of awards- but I hardly ever cook it at home just for us! Not my competition batch, but close... Cooking at home offers advantages over contest cooked chili! I can make up a batch, throw in a slow cooker longer than contest times allow. I can after three or so hours, check and adjust flavors to where I want the texture, color, aroma, heat, and taste, without time constraints. Finally, I can make a chili I like, rather than one for a bunch of judges who don't even cook, and taste buds have been destroyed after 5-10 chili samples that are heated, highly seasoned dog food!
I have books upon books of chili recipes, and more books on chile peppers themselves.. I have heard more people say "I make the best chili ever!" I usually tell them, "Don'tcha know? We all do...
I have learned through experience, that taste buds are as individual as fingerprints, kiddos! Make it the way you like it, and enjoy... but don't try a throw-down with me.. I compete with 20-40 people every contest, and a "Throw-down" is one on one!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Pot Roast, Creamy Tomato Soup, And Frosted Brownies

Usually around Sat., I ask my wife what sounds good for Sunday dinner..I swear once a month, I know she is going to say "A beef pot roast". She loves this dish, as well as my son, who we drop off a plate every Sunday where he works. I use a lot of herbs and spices, a can of some cream of something soup, and some dry brown gravy mix- with a touch of red wine vinegar, too. I wrap the whole thing up (3-1/4lbs) in heavy duty aluminum foil- no leaks allowed! Baked at 325F for 3-1/2 hrs, it is fall apart tender, full of flavor, and you've made gravy for the potatoes right in the foil!
My wife and I have both been fighting the creeping crud that is going around, so Monday night was good old cream of tomato soup. I mix a can of Campbell's with diced tomatoes, basil, 4oz. of cream cheese, splash of milk and V-8 juice, with chopped Canadian bacon, and home made croutons..very filling and comforting!
I also summoned the strength to make frosted chocolate brownies... I can't do chocolate without adding either cinnamon, or almond extract- this time, cinnamon! If the surface of the frosting looks a little shiny, I hit it with my brulee torch for a quick glazing over..
Tomorrow we head North to do a little gambling...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Another Retro Appetizer, With Another Regional Name..

Polish Roses! Much better known through America as onion wraps! These simple treats have been on nearly every informal get together appetizer table I've ever been to.
We've had a husbands and wives Texas Hold'em card night 3 or 4 times a year for a few years now, with everyone bringing their own beverages and and appetizer or two to share.. I know they can handle the upscale stuff, but I also know they prefer the simple treats by far! I made deviled eggs( which disappeared!), and a tray full of these onion wraps, affectionately known as Polish roses. The descendants of Polish immigrants around here seem to love these things, and are at a lot of wedding buffets..
Simple to make, you get some good looking green onions, wash and trim back the greens not to be eaten, leaving some as a handle of sorts for holding them while you eat one! Trim roots off, leaving a flat end. Take dried or corned beef of appropriate size, spread with softened cream cheese, and wrap around edible end tightly- you now have one done! Refrigerate for two hours, and serve. Ham, roast beef, flavorings to cream cheese are all fun to try... A tip to some of you new cooks starting to get a little experimental- don't make it look like what people are used to, if you are going to change the flavor expected- warn them first, and they will like it more!