Tuesday, December 3, 2013

.seafood chowder.

 
 
 
Fall is my favorite time of year.  Love the colors, love the weather and I love making soups and stews.  Nothing speaks to me of comfort more than a hearty bowl of something warm.  A few years ago I had some seafood that needed using up from a low country boil dinner we had and I thought it would work really well in soup form.  It sure didn't disappoint!  I don't make this very often because it can be expensive to make, but I had this stuff on hand to make this week.  Feel free to use whatever kind of seafood you want!  Love the flexibility of this recipe.
 
 
2 cups Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
5 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn
4 cups chicken broth (or if you shell the crab and shrimp yourself, you can use the shells to make seafood stock)
2 cups milk
1/2 cup flour
Old Bay seasoning
salt and pepper
Seafood of your choice:  I used crab, shrimp, clams, and smoked salmon
 
In a large soup pot, heat a little oil over medium to medium high heat.  Add the potatoes, onion, garlic, and celery.  Cook until the potatoes start getting glossy around the edges.  Add the broth and let this come to a simmer.  While that simmers, mix together the flour and milk, whisking to remove lumps - strain, if necessary.  When the potatoes are fork tender, add the flour/milk mixture and bring to a boil.  If it's not thick enough, add a little more milk/flour until you get the consistency you want.  Season with salt, pepper, and Old Bay.  At the very end, add your seafood and corn.  Taste and re-season if needed.
 
Serve with fresh dinner rolls and a salad!

Monday, November 25, 2013

.momma's apple pie.

 
 
There's nothing better than someone coming up and saying my apple pie is the best dang pie they've ever had.  Or when they say it reminds them of their mother's pie "God rest her soul".  I mentioned earlier that I've been selling pies at my local farmers market.  Market days were 2x/week and it was an insane summer for me.  Needless to say, it's taken me years to perfect my pie recipes and this one, I am so proud to take anywhere I go and it's always welcomed with open arms (and mouths). :)
 
Your standard apple pie is apple, cinnamon, and sugar.  I add more to my pie to give it a little more flavor.  Here's what you'll need. 
 
PIE CRUST:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter flavored Crisco
1/2 cup regular Crisco
ice water
 
Mix together your flour and salt in a bowl.  Add the Crisco and cut in using a pastry blender.  Mix until you've got a nice crumbly mixture.  Add some water, a little at a time, and use a fork to "fluff" the dough.  Keep adding some water until the dough starts pulling together.  When it's no longer dry but not overly wet, you're ready.  Now at this point you can form the dough into a ball, press into a disc shape and then wrap with saran and chill for about an hour. 
 
Put some flour on your counter and place half the dough on top and sprinkle again on top.  Return the other half to the fridge. Roll until you have a large enough circle to line the bottom of your pie plate.  Trim the edges and put the pie plate in the fridge while we make the filling.
 
FILLING:
1 lb granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
a small sprinkle of cloves, ground ginger, and nutmeg
squirt of lemon juice
 
Mix all filling ingredients together and spoon into your prepared pie crust.  *NOTE:  Don't let the filling sit too long because the sugar will make your apples macerate and you'll wind up with a lot of liquid.
 
Roll out the other half of your pie crust and place on top.  Trim the edges, tuck under and crimp.  Use a knife to make some vent holes on top and then brush with some egg wash (1 cracked egg and a little milk) and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Place in a 350* and bake for about an hour or until the juices start bubbling out of the vent holes.
 
 
If you've never made an apple pie before, don't be afraid!  And don't be afraid to make your own pie crust!  You can do it!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pre-Thanksgiving: Corn Pudding

 
 
Growing up, there were certain dishes that had to be on the Thanksgiving table, or else it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving.  This isn't one of those dishes.  We had just about every other item under the sun (literally) and I'm rather surprised a deliciously moist corn pudding wouldn't be there.  Go figure.  We're Seattle folk!
 
When our family transferred to the southern states, we picked up a lot of southern traditions and this was one that we gladly adopted.  Now, when you think pudding you might think of something sweet and creamy like chocolate pudding or butterscotch pudding.  Au contraire, this is a savory steamed cake that isn't really cakey and it really isn't pudding'y. 
 
I used fresh corn to make this, but if you can't find fresh corn, use frozen - not canned (if you can help it!).  Super easy to make and I bet you'll find yourself making this throughout the year and not just for Thanksgiving. 
 
8 fresh ears of corn, cut off the cob (approx. 3 1/2 cups)
2 Tbsp butter
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 tsp garlic powder
kosher salt and white pepper
1 cup cream
1 small can diced green chiles
1 small onion, chopped
2 eggs
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup butter, melted

Put 2 Tbsp butter in a heated skillet.  When melted and bubbly, add garlic, HALF of the fresh corn and onion.  Saute.  While that's cooking, put the rest of the corn in a blender with the cream. Blitz until the corn starts moving around.  Don't over-blitz!

Sprinkle the corn, onion, and garlic with some salt, white pepper, and garlic powder.  Add the can of diced green chiles.  Keep sauteing until the onion becomes translucent.

Add the creamed corn and mix in.  Cook until it's heated through and bubbling.  Pour into a mixing bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well to incorporate.  Pour into a casserole dish.  Place your 9x13 casserole dish in another pan and add hot water to the larger pan (don't put it in the corn pudding!  We're going to steam it!).  Cover both pans together with foil so the steam will cook the pudding.  Place in a 350* oven and bake for 1 hour.  Serve immediately.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pre-Thanksgiving: Sausage Sage Stuffing



I'm having to reuse my Thanksgiving plate image again because I never got a picture of the stuffing all by itself.  Stuffing vs. Dressing.  It doesn't matter to me.  "It's allll good!" said in my very best Southern accent.  Love the stuff.  Probably my most favorite thing ever! Wouldn't you agree?

I always stuff my bird.  I know there are skeptics out there, but I have never (and I repeat "NEVER") gotten sick, or gotten anyone else sick.  There are a couple important tips to know about stuffing your turkey, though:

RULE #1:  NEVER stuff until just before you're ready to put the turkey in the oven.
RULE #2:  Wait until just before stuffing to mix all your ingredients together. 

Because turkey takes such a long time to roast, I always get all of my stuffing ingredients prepped the night before, so all I have to do is mix things together in the morning, stuff, and pop in the oven.  Works out perfectly.  I also stuff the neck cavity and use needle and string or skewers to tack the flap down to hold it all in place.

Here's my recipe for sausage sage stuffing. 

2 bags bread cubes for stuffing (I like the kind that has white and wheat)
1 tube sage sausage
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 cups carrots, finely diced
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme
approx. 3 cups chicken broth or turkey broth

Cook the sausage in a skillet using a spatula to break apart the sausage.  Set aside.

Heat a little oil or butter in a skillet and saute the garlic, onion, carrots, and celery until onion becomes translucent. (I like to add 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms to the saute, too but if you don't like mushrooms, leave them out.)

*The sausage and veggies can be cooked the night before so everything's ready to go in the morning when you stuff your turkey.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together.  Drizzle some broth around the top and mix around.  Stuff the neck and body cavities of your turkey and stitch up so nothing falls out.  Put your turkey in the oven immediately.  Don't let this sit around or you could contaminate your turkey and stuffing with bad bacteria.

With the leftover stuffing, wet more with broth and put in a casserole dish.  Put in the fridge until you're ready to put it in the oven.  Bake approx. 1 hour or until nice and hot.

We mix the stuffing from the casserole dish with the bit that comes out of the turkey.  Serve hot.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Holiday Craft Project! JOY SIGN



Don't judge.
My house is already decorated for Christmas. :D

I started a pie business earlier this year and it's kept me so busy all summer long. I sold at our local farmers market twice a week and now we're going into the winter market. Plus, Thanksgiving has me loaded up with orders and then we have Christmas! Craziness. I had a slow week and figured I better get the decorating done now otherwise I might not have the energy (or time) to do it later. The decorations I have, I've had for quite some years. My husband and I will be celebrating our 22nd wedding anniversary in January and while our decorations aren't quite THAT old, I was feeling like I needed some new stuff - or even arrange things differently.

I decided to hit Pinterest for inspiration.  If you want to follow me, check it out. :)  I found some super cute DIY ideas but one I really liked was this wood plank "BELIEVE" sign.  I changed it up to make it my own and am very happy with the results.

Here's how it turned out!


It took me two days to get it done, but I could have probably gotten it finished in one had I started earlier and if my nail gun hadn't gotten jammed, and if I had wood glue on hand.  So, hoping you don't have any of those problems, this should be very easy for you to make!

First you want to paint your entire board RED.  I bought little quart cans of paint at Lowe's - one red, one cream, and one grey.  I'm going to have this paint forever because you don't use much at all.  Let the red paint dry.

Now here's where I would do this differently.  I made my letters on Photoshop and printed onto regular paper.  Not a good idea.  I would print out, then cut them out of vinyl or something that won't go weird when coated with 3-4 layers of paint. (oops!)  Take the cut out letters and spray the back side with a spray adhesive.  Carefully lay your letters down the center of your board and rub the edges well so everything is good and stuck on.

Next, paint the entire board CREAM!  Go ahead and roller right over those letters.  We're doing a resistance technique and those letters will stay red - don't you worry about that.  You'll need to let the first coat of cream dry completely and then put on a 2nd coat.  Let that dry completely.

If all your paint is dry, then you can move onto the next step.

Use extra wide (2 inch?  I can't be certain how wide mine was) blue painter's tape.  Make a diagonal stripe, then put a 2nd strip of tape on that so you get wide stripes.  I didn't measure at all - just eyeballed it, but if you want to make sure it's perfect, measure and then tape.  Leave equal sized gaps between your painter tape stripes so you get the candy cane effect.  Once you have the tape done, then paint all those white gaps grey.  Again, you might need to do one or two coats, depending on how dark you want the color.

Don't leave your tape on very long.  Once you're done painting, go ahead and pull it off to reveal your stripes.  Let dry completely!!  When everything is 100% DRY, carefully pull up your letters!  I had a bugger of a time pulling off my paper, but if you USE VINYL (please use vinyl) they should come up in one piece.  You will probably have to touch up your letters a little bit with some more red paint.    Dry.

Now that everything is painted, you can begin sanding to give it more of a rustic look.  I didn't sand the entire thing.  I did spots here and there with 180 grit sandpaper.  Wipe with a tack cloth and let dry.

While things are drying, you can paint your trim moulding (if you want to use moulding).  I used the same red as the letters.  Use a miter saw to cut your edges at a 45* angle and then nail or glue down.  Use painter's tape to hold things in place while it dries.  Once it's all dry (lots of drying, right?), you can distress the moulding a little with that sandpaper.  Wipe with tack cloth.

At Lowe's you can buy a little bottle of something called Antiquing Glaze.  It's in the paint department.  Wet a rag or a paper towel and put some of that antiquing glaze on your rag.  Make sure you're wearing gloves or something because you don't want to give your hands that antique look. lol  Start rubbing all over the surface of your sign.  Use a dry rag to wipe some off if it's too dark.  Work until you have a look you want.  Dry.

Polyurethane that baby to death since it'll be outside (maybe?) and exposed to the elements.  Let dry between each layer and voila!  ALL DONE!!!!  If you have any questions as to how to complete any of the steps I listed above, leave me a comment!  MERRY CHRISTMAS!! 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pre-Thanksgiving: Roasted Green Beans

 
 
Gone are the days of steaming vegetables in this house.  When I was young, my mom would put things in a pot and cook them in some water until they cooked through.  Corn, peas, beans, etc., leaving the vegetables soggy, sad, and almost flavorless.  I admit when I first got married and started cooking for my husband, I did this too - for a long time, actually.  A friend had mentioned roasting broccoli in the oven, so I thought to myself, "Self!  Let's try it!"  And I did and I have been a changed woman ever since.  I roast broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans... you name it!  Roasting vegetables in the oven brings out a whole new flavor - pure deliciousness.
 
Green bean casserole seems to be the norm on many Thanksgiving day dinner tables.  I have never seen the point in taking something that's supposed to be healthy and turning it into a fat and carb laden dish.  Granted, I do put bacon in this, but it's a meat.. right?  So good.  So good.  You'll never do that casserole stuff again!  Here's how you do it:
 
Approx. 2 lbs fresh green beans, trimmed
5-6 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
2-3 shallots, sliced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper

Fry up the bacon and drain on paper towels.  Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss well to coat the beans with some olive oil.  Spread on a cookie sheet and roast at 350* until the green beans are cooked through.  Spoon into a serving dish.  Eat warm.


**NOTE:  If you're roasting the turkey and making sides (including this one), put all of the sides in once the turkey has cooked.  I said in my last Pre-Turkey Dinner post to let your turkey rest for at least 30 minutes.  Well, you'll probably need 45 minutes to an hour for these which is fine.  Just put some foil on your turkey and keep it on the stovetop so it stays warm.  Trust me -- even after an hour, the turkey is still hot but won't burn your fingers when you go to carve it.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner - Turkey Talk

 
 
About a month ago, I started craving my full-course Thanksgiving dinner.  Roast turkey, sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade rolls, cranberry sauce... ahhhh I love it.  Thanksgiving, in my opinion, is every home cook's, or chef's "Olympics".  If you're making the meal yourself, that is! 
 
So I started planning my "Fakesgiving".  I invited some friends over - because there is no way our little family of 4 could eat all the food I was about to prepare.  The next few posts will be entirely devoted to dishes for your Thanksgiving dinner!
 
Today, I want to talk turkey.  Years ago, I made my turkey using a Reynolds roasting bag.  It kept the turkey moist and it cooked quickly, but the look of the bird was something less than desired.  You don't get a beautiful crispy skin (which I love!) when you use the bag.  I had never brined my turkey before, either.  About 5 years ago, I tried it for the first time and oh my goodness... I won't ever not brine again.
 
Now you can spend a ton of money buying a bringing mix from Williams Sonoma or other places.  I make my own and really, you can make it however you want! It's easy, but you need to give yourself plenty of time to allow for this process - not just for the best results, but for safety reasons, too.
 
Fill the biggest soup pot you have with water.  If you don't have a big pot, then you'll probably have to do this twice or three times.  You'll need a gallon or two of brine to cover the entire bird.  In the pot, add 1 1/2 cups salt.  I use sea salt or kosher salt.  Then I toss in some crushed garlic cloves, a couple bay leaves, peppercorns, fresh rosemary sprigs, thyme sprigs, one orange sliced, one lemon sliced, 2 cups apple cider or apple juice, 1 cinnamon stick, and if you can find them, juniper berries.
Bring this to a boil.  When the salt is completely dissolved, turn the burner off and move the pot off the heat.  Allow this to cool completely and then put in the fridge.  Like I said, it's a long process.  I always start my brine in the afternoon, let it cool until bedtime, then put in the fridge overnight.
 
In the morning, I put my turkey in a brining bag.  If you can't find a brining bag, use one of those Reynolds roasting bags!  They work great!  Put the turkey in the bag, then place in a tub or roasting pan for easy transporting, and just in case you spring a leak!  Check to make sure you've emptied out all the of the cavities of the turkey - removing the neck and innards.  (Don't toss those - you'll want them to make turkey stock for the gravy!)  Carefully pour the COLD brine into the bag.  Removing as much air from the bag as possible, seal it up and pop the entire turkey into your fridge.  If you don't have room in your fridge, use a cooler and keep on ice so you don't get food poisoning.
 
Every 12 hours, rotate your turkey so all sides get evenly brined.  I brine my turkey for at least 2 days.  So if you do the math, that means you need to start three days before Thanksgiving for this whole thing to work.
 
The night before Thanksgiving, remove the turkey from the brining bag.  I put my turkey on a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet.  You want your turkey to drain before you start roasting so you get a crispy skin.  Cover the turkey with saran or foil and put in the fridge for overnight.  In the morning, put your turkey in the roasting pan, rub with olive oil, and sprinkle with sage and thyme.  Pop into a 400* oven for about 25 minutes, then reduce to 325* and roast until your meat thermometer (stuck into the thigh - but not touching bone!) reads 165*.  Remove the turkey from the oven and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.