Garlic & Herb Compound Butter

By now you should know if you are cooking or just eating for Thanksgiving. I have hosted Thanksgiving at my home for at least the last 13 years straight. We have been as few as 7 to as many as 23. Over the years I have only changed a few things to try to make it easier on me and in return on everyone that comes for dinner.
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I used to make one large bird, now I search for anything 10 lb and under. I feel with even cooking two smaller birds at the same time not only does it take less time in the oven, I find they are much juicier. I use the same roasting pan and they fit perfectly side by side. I can also give away a carcass for someone else to enjoy turkey soup at their house.

I also enlist whoever is around Wednesday night to help peel and dice all the vegetables place them in their pots with water and store them in the cold storage area off the garage till we need them on the stove. This year I ordered fresh rolls, I usually make them but I was my local store and there was a sign up sheet for fresh made rolls from a local bakery and I stood in line long enough; plus it was super easy to just sign my name.  KP would this be considered an impulse buy?  She loves shopping with me and always chuckles at my impulse register buys. They put things by the registers for a reason hmmm!
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This weekend is for finishing up my table center piece, I make new place cards every year so I need to finish those up.

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Before

 

 

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After

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I will toast my ciabatta bread for my sausage stuffing well actually dressing; I don’t stuff my birds. I put apples and onions in mine. And I’ve also made a garlic herb compound butter to cover my turkey’s before putting them in the oven YUM!
img_4732I do have to confess, I was just going to make herb butter, but I double checked with my daughter; should I add garlic? She was like YES we are garlic – she is right we are a little on the obsessed side of garlic so if you are not you don’t HAVE to add it.

Garlic Herb Butter

4 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2-3 small bunches of fresh Sage
5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
Chop them all up fine
3 cloves minced garlic
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You can use just a bowl and elbow grease or bring out your food processor. Cut the butter in pieces add to the bowl of the processor, add the fresh chopped herbs and a little salt and the minced garlic. Pulse till blended.

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It smells amazing – I can’t wait to use it

Now comes a kind of tricky part, placing the butter in the saran wrap so you can roll it into a log. By moving the wrap back and forth it will eventually with a little coercing become a log I promise.  It takes a couple of hours to get to its full flavor and set up. Store it in your fridge till you are ready to prep your bird. Gently loosen the skin of the breast meat on your bird and spread the butter under the skin and all over the skin. 

Happy Healthy Thanksgiving to all of you and thanks for supporting me week after week!

Fudge Topped Brownies

Chocolate calls my husbands name; at least that is what he says A LOT! I cannot tell you how many times I have found a lonely chocolate chip on the pantry floor while he was grabbing a handful to shove into his mouth when he couldn’t find anything else.

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I just took a pan of these out of the oven and the first words out of his mouth are “can I have one of those; or are they for someone else”? He has seen many a baked good leave the house without getting to have any of them. Fortunately for him I was planning on splitting the tray and only take half of them to work for my co-worker’s birthday.

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I know most people find it easier to use a box mix for brownies and I was definitely one of them. They taste good, they are simple and I have had many homemade brownies that just did nothing for me; until now. If you ever want to try a delicious and easy to make brownie you need to check these out I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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He is still bugging me for one; since I have to bring some of them to work, we have to wait for them to completely cool so they don’t crumble into pieces. We have had a lot of experience with cutting uncooled brownies; I am sure by now you know who I am talking about.

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You probably also noticed I made my brownies half with nuts and half without. I am sure this would never solve a nut allergy but it solves the fact the my son does not like nuts so I try to accommodate this by making sure when I bake I either split the pan or make 2 loaves be it banana or pear bread.

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1 cup of butter – 2 sticks melted
2 cups of sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
⅔ cup Hershey cocoa
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
½ cup milk
3 teaspoon vanilla – divided 1 ½ teaspoon each

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350’

Bake for 40 minutes

put first 7 ingredients along with 1½ teaspoon of the vanilla in a large bowl beat well. If you are adding nuts either add all now or do as I did and after adding batter to 9×13 pan stir into half of the pan.

In a pan or bowl heat or microwave the chips and condensed milk and the other 1½ teaspoon vanilla just till melted and pour over the brownies when they are hot out of the oven.

Let them cool before cutting and enjoy with a big glass of milk or some vanilla ice cream!

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Recipe shared by Julie Cordatos

Individual Chocolate Chip Cookie

My daughter has been home for a month now, while she was in Japan she and a few of her expat friends started a weekly meal from another country. One of the first things she did when she got home was declared she wanted to continue this tradition here at home. I personally thought it was a great idea. I will admit that my initial thought was one night off from cooking dinner sounded pretty cool to me but I knew the adventure would be so much fun! I knew the guys would be cool with it, I just didn’t expect how cool they thought the idea was.

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After the first week my son decided that he wanted to invite his girlfriend over for this AND he was going to make the native cocktail from the country/region. My husband on the third week invited one of his buddies over for Hawaiian night and his buddy made a traditional Hawaiian cake for dessert. That night; after a cocktail or two; my husband dubbed the weekly event Worldwide Wednesday BRILLIANT!!! Oh and he wanted to make the appetizer; which really meant that either Abbi or I was to also make an app.

So far we have been to Cambodia, Hawaii, Chile and Iraq which she made Sabih which was a pita pocket with fried eggplant, pickled mango and a couple of sauces. It was tasty and we all liked it except for my son he really was not a fan. Ab was a little crushed since this was the first dish she made that someone didn’t like. Welcome home Abbi did you miss your “little” brother? She ended up giving the rest of it to my in-laws and they LOVED it.

This last Wednesday I tried to make the dessert can you say epic fail! We again invited friends over and we were going to Chile so I asked them to bring some Chilean wine and I would make the dessert. My Tres Leches cake let’s just say I should have brought the wine. I figured out what I did wrong, and I will try making it again, just to show that I can. But I really need to score myself a kitchen scale, don’t tell my son Alex this, he thinks I have WAY too many kitchen gadgets already.

I am probably not going to share her recipes here as I really would like her to maybe start her own blog someday, for now I will just be enjoying the journey first hand instead of hearing about it over the phone.

Love in a cup 007

So when you have an epic dessert failure I pulled out what I have dubbed love in a cup. A warm chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream; it takes so little time to make and EVERYONE loved it. Use your go to chocolate chip cookie recipe and instead of making individual cookies, put some dough in a ramekin and bake just till barely cooked through, top with some cold vanilla ice cream, zero to hero in what maybe 30 minutes max!

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

 2 ¼C flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

¾C sugar

¾C brown sugar

½C softened butter – if too dry add another ½ stick softened butter

2-3 handfuls of chocolate chips (I don’t like a lot of chips in mine, I’ve even left them out on purpose)

Cream the butter in a stand mixer or by hand add the sugars and mix well. Add the eggs mix until combined add the vanilla and dry ingredients to incorporate. Stir in the chips and done.

Pre-heat oven at 350’ spray your ramekin with nonstick cooking spray, fill the ramekin about ½ to ¾ of the way full and bake for about 20 minutes just till barely cooked through. Place on a small plate as the ramekin is super-hot and top with your favorite vanilla ice cream.

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Dough freezes well so you can make yourself one any night you want!

Individual Chocolate Lava Cake

Valentine’s Day date night was more of a weekend thing this year; due to yet another snow storm for the North East. I swear it feels like we are in a snow globe and a 5 year is having a blast shaking it and we can’t get it away from him. My husband has a plow route so making dinner plans was definitely out of the question.  We figured Friday night would be the only time we could sit down for dinner so we had a nice steak, pan seared scallops, smashed potatoes and roasted asparagus and I picked up some ice cream for dessert.

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Top off with confectioners sugar, fresh berries and a side of ice cream YUM

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The snow started around 10 am on Saturday and literally ended just a few hours ago. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to have dinner together Saturday night so I picked up some nice thick cut bone-in pork chops from a semi local butcher shop along with a couple of their baked stuffed potatoes; just a few things I could throw together quickly without a lot of fuss.  SO with that being said I wanted to make a nice homemade dessert.

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The Pork Chops were D’lish – A little Cajun seasoning and finished off with a little honey

My husband loves to tell me that “chocolate calls his name”. He’ll hunt around the kitchen and pantry looking for it. He’ll even go for my chocolate chips if he can’t find anything else. So I figured Chocolate Lava Cake would be a huge hit, and I could make it when we were ready for it.  This is the first time I have tried making them and they didn’t quite flow like I wanted them to but the flavor is really delicious and I know what I would do differently. (my daughter called me out on this statement. Apparently I have tried making these before; I honestly do not remember it. During the first book of our book club we made several recipes from the book and Abbi and I made the chocolate lava cake. I still don’t remember doing this but she does so there is it) I will not forget making this one, I have pictures and put it in writing!

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Individual Chocolate Lava Cake

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk (room temperature)

½ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp salt

2 Tbs AP flour

Eight 6 ounce ramekins

Confectioners’ sugar or unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)

With rack in the middle of the oven; pre-heat oven to 400’. Grease and dust with either confectioners’ sugar or cocoa.

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Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Melt chocolate and butter in either a double boiler or a heatproof bowl over a sauce pan filled with about an inch of water, do not let water touch the bottom of what you are using and do not allow water to boil. Stirring occasionally until smooth; remove from the heat and set aside.

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Using a stand a stand mixer with whisk attachment; whip eggs, yolk granulated sugar, vanilla and salt on high speed until volume nearly triples. The color should be very light, and the mixture should fall from the beater in a smooth thick stream, roughly 5-7 minutes.

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Pour chocolate mixture over egg mixture and sprinkle flour over the top. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold all together until uniformly colored. Ladle or pour into prepared ramekins. Bake until cakes have puffed up about; have formed a thin crust with the center being able to jiggle slightly when shaken very gently. 12-13 minutes. run a thin knife around the edges, invert onto a plate; let sit until the cakes release themselves, roughly 1 minute. Lift off ramekins. Dust with confections sugar if you chose to use.

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This was a little over done – a minute or two less would have worked better

Couple of notes: you can keep the ramekins in the fridge for up to 8 hours before baking. Let them set on the counter for about 30 minutes before baking.

I used cocoa powder but next time I would dust with confections sugar, cocoa was messy.

You can also use a spring-form pan if you want to make 1 large cake. It is best served warm (within 30 minutes) but can stay in the pan for up to an hour.  Bake at 375’ around 22-25 minutes for a 9 inch pan or 27-30 for an 8 inch. Let it cool for 15 minutes; then run a thin knife around to loosen the cake and invert on a plate.

Thanksgiving Dinner – no power – Sausage Ciabatta Stuffing

Firstly I hope you all had a wonderful day with delicious food and great conversations with your family and friends

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Talk about having a pretty traditional Thanksgiving here in NH we got hit with a heavy snow storm on Wednesday; I think the final total was 15 +/- inches.  While that much snow is generally not a big deal for us, this one kind of kicked our butt.  We lost power for 10 hours on Wednesday; which is always my prep day. I peel and cut up all the veggies, set the table, get out all the serving dishes and prep the dressing aka stuffing.

A few years ago I opted for cooking 2 smaller sized turkeys together versus the 16+lb bird I used to get. I find that they have a better chance of being super moist which pretty much is the main cooking goal for any cook. This year in particular it was an amazing choice. My gas Viking stove top works but my gas oven does not. My girlfriend who lives up the road did offer me hers and I was going to use it; however I was concerned about not being on site while it cooks, I like to keep an eye on it and I couldn’t be 2 places at once.

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Not as pretty as when cooked in my oven; but they tasted wonderful!

Thursday we lost power again at 8:30 am; it came back right after we finished dessert around 4:30 pm.  While my guys were out plowing and shoveling; I cleared a path to the gas grill and cleaned it off at least a foot of fresh powder. I actually grabbed my roasting pan and put the birds; packaging an all into the pan to see if they would all fit on the grill. It was perfect. I make beer can chicken on the grill all the time; so I felt pretty confident it would work.  I filled the bottom of the pan with water; stuffed both with apples, onions, and garlic and seasoned them well; covered them with foil and hoped for the best. The grill was a solid 450′ and they took approximately 2 hours.

They came out excellent and outside smelled awesome!!!

There were only 2 things that I couldn’t make as I wanted.  I could not make the dinner rolls this year; which was fine and the dressing I made couldn’t be baked to get all the crust that everyone loves. But I was able to brown them with a little crust on the stove top.  If you are in search of a great tasting dressing/stuffing I wholly suggest this one!  Flavor galore and everyone loves it.  My son had 4 helpings yup I said 4.

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Fennel

Fennel

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It is based off of a Mario Batali sausage stuffing

Sausage Ciabatta Dressing

Your favorite Olive Oil for the pan

1 lb of your favorite Italian sausage – casing removed crumbled and browned

1 medium onion – diced

1 bulb fennel also called anise – sliced thin, fronds reserved

1 cup of chestnuts – I found them already cooked and peeled – brilliant

2 apples – I used granny smiths – peeled and diced

5 cups ciabatta bread cubed and toasted – I toasted them in a pan on the stove top

¼ cup fresh parsley – chopped

2 ½ cups chicken stock

½ melted butter

Add oil to the pan, crumble the sausage and cook till the sausage starts to brown, add the onion, fennel, chestnuts, apples and cook. Stirring occasionally, until the sausage is cooked through

In a large bowl, place the cubed bread and pour the cooked sausage mixture over the top. Sprinkle with parsley, and pour the stock and melted butter; toss to combine.

In a 9×13 baking dish place all ingredients in and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover and bake until the top is golden browned and crisp. Serve garnished with some of the fennel fronds.

Big Debbie – Oatmeal Creme Pies

Yep I did it again; my husband was reading his weekly Sunday magazine this morning and they have a Food & Drink section with a recipe of the week.  He said “honey you should make these and blog about them”.  I can read between the lines, he really didn’t have any preference if I blogged about them for not; he did however really want me to make them; SO I did – I did mention I was an enabler right!

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I didn’t have everything on hand so he said “give me a list and I will go and get what was needed”; like it was going to be an option for me to go. I feel it is a small price to pay for someone else to bake.  Similar to whoever cooks; someone else has to do the dishes.  It’s only fair right?

The recipe of the week was a play on the Little Debbie oatmeal creme pies.  I am calling them Big Debbie because they have a tablespoon of bourbon in the cookie part and the creme asks for some of the butter to be browned. They are kind of a grown up version of the tasty little morsels, over the years I have bought the little version of them on a whim or maybe a weak moment going through the store, not very often maybe a couple of times a year if that, but they never lasted long when in the house. These are pretty darn good; well see how long these last.

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Cookie

Preheat 350′

2 cups AP flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

2 eggs

1 tablespoon bourbon – I used Jack Daniels’

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

2 ½ cups oatmeal

Line a couple of sheet pans with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, and ½ teaspoon salt.  In a mixing bowl, beat the unsalted butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in molasses and then the eggs.  Add the whiskey and 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla. On low add the flour mixture and then the oats.  Using a tablespoon, or similar size scoop for uniform cookies; place on parchment a few inches apart. Bake 10-12 minutes.

Creme Filing

3 sticks butter, room temperature and divided

3 tablespoon heavy cream

2 teaspoons vanilla

¼ teaspoon salt

3 cups powdered sugar

Melt 2 sticks of butter in a saucepan; swirl around until butter starts to brown. Pour into a bowl/cup. Cool 10-15 minutes; place in the freezer for about 30 minutes. You want it solid but not frozen.  Add to a stand mixer add remaining butter beat until fluffy.  Stop the mixer and add the heavy cream, 2 teaspoons vanilla and ¼ teaspoon salt. Mix to combine, slowly add powdered sugar on low speed. Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth and fluffy.  Spread creme on cooled cookie and top with another. Makes about 20

Broccoli Cheddar Soup (from my garden)

So I harvested all of my garlic yesterday as well as several zucchini and cucumbers but only one summer squash and a few tomatoes and a couple of onions. We have been getting broccoli pretty steady for a couple of weeks now. My garlic ended up with pretty small bulbs but there are 68 of them so I think we should be OK for a bit. I need to figure out how to grow larger bulbs; the small ones don’t really keep very well. Once it cures for a couple of weeks I will probably have to peel and freeze all of it. Once frozen the only way to use it is crushed but I do that more than anything else so I am pretty OK with it.

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Broccoli Cheddar

 

 

 

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Chicken Divan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broccoli really doesn’t keep very long in the fridge once harvested so I had to do something with it. I have already frozen a couple of gallon bags so this morning I decide to make something with it. I love broccoli cheddar soup so that took care of some of it and my son loves Chicken Divan so that took care of the rest. We had the soup for lunch and the divan is actually in the oven as I type.

 

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Broccoli Cheddar Soup

1 TBS melted butter

1 medium onion chopped

¼ cup melted butter

¼ cup flour

1 Cup half and half

1 Cup milk

2 cups chicken stock

Head of broccoli (use less if you want) trimmed

1 cup julienne carrot

¼ tsp nutmeg

8 ounces grated good sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper

Sauté onion in butter and set aside

I had a potato that I peeled for breakfast and didn’t need it SO I cut it up; ,boiled it and used my potato ricer and added it to my soup, it helped thicken the soup even more, which we all love.

Melt butter and add flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.  Stir constantly and add the milks. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat for 20-25 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste. You can puree this if you want or leave chunky (I left mine chunky) return to heat and add cheese. Stir in nutmeg and enjoy. My son doesn’t like broccoli cheddar soup but he did like and eat this one.