Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving spread - the general idea of it anyhow

Hello all! Here it is already days past Thankgiving and swiftly coming into Christmas if you can believe it. We had the usual Thanksgiving set up this year which was having my mom and stepdad over for the feast. Since most of the dishes we prepare are very traditional to all homes that celebrate this holiday I won't bore everyone to tears by posting each detail about every one of them. Instead, I decided to do a basic overview of my day.

It starts with this handsome fella. This is a fresh Diestel turkey I bought a few days prior at Whole Foods. I have always heard great things about brined turkeys but this was my first attempt at doing one myself. Whole Foods had a bucket of their in house brining mix for sale so I bought that as well, and boy howdy am I glad I did. I don't think I can ever have turkey any other way again. So here he is after being brined overnight, ready for some love.

I took a stick of room temperature butter and added some herbs and spices. I went very easy on the salt as the turkey is brined which contains a lot of salt. In with the butter I added Italian seasoning, cumin, garlic powder, and some pepper. I would have added some cayenne but unfortunately my mom is unable to eat spicy foods. I then mixed this all together to make a quick herb butter.

Which I then rubbed all over this grateful turkey. My original plan was to start it breast down and flip it most of the way through the cooking. My understanding is that this makes for an incredibly juicy breast. I decided against that since I was a) unsure about what difference there might be in cooking a brined bird and b) this would definitely NOT be my first time ruining a turkey if it didn't work out. Yeah, I have never ever had a turkey come out perfectly. In fact, last year we had to pull the still mostly raw turkey apart and cook it in the gravy in huge chunks since HOURS had passed since we should have eaten! Many many tears were shed, and many bottles of wine consumed to ease the pain. ANYWAY.

I did a lot of prep work the night before, which made a huge difference in the panic level the day of. Wednesday night I peeled and diced the potatoes for the mashers, and the yams for the yam dish. Then I put them in their individual pots, covered with water, and left in the fridge overnight. This tip worked well and will be one I use from now on.

Yuck, look at my dirty stove burner things. What are those called? The racks or what have you? My absolute least favorite chore in the entire history of chores is cleaning my stovetop. I would rather clean anything else, toilets included. So, who wants to come over and scrub my stovetop in exchange for me feeding you delicious foods? Think I'm kidding?

I put the turkey in the oven @ 5oo degrees for half an hour. Then I took it out to baste it and make sure there was enough liquid in the pan. Then it was covered (with aluminum foil as the lid wouldn't fit on the pan with this huge beast in it), the temp lowered to 350, and put back into the oven. This was an 18 lb bird, and after the initial 30 minutes I believe it was in for about another four hours.

Ahh pretty birdie.

Now I prepped the brussel sprouts. This is an old family recipe originated by my Oma. This will be made a star in its own individual post at a later date. Brussel sprouts in the bowl on the left, odds and ends in the compost bowl on the right.

Once the yams were tender I drained them, mashed them, and put them in a casserole dish. Dotted the top with some Earth Balance. No marshmallows this year as I tried to lighten things up a little. The taste was still delicious.

Melty goodness...

I sliced each brussel sprout in half and tossed them in the steamer, then whipped my potatoes with plenty of garlic in the kitchenaid mixer. After the bowl was tightly covered with aluminum it was set aside, and was still plenty warm to serve when it was time to eat.

I may or may not have eaten almost a pound of these myself to "taste test" them before serving. Hey! I was starving! A good cook always tastes as they go!

Periodically the turkey would be taken out and basted, I would say every 45-60 minutes.

Then I started on the dressing. It was a classic style dressing. I used a loaf of my mom's handmade bread that I cubed and let sit out for two days to get stale. I also added mushrooms because they are delicious. The recipe also called for dill, but not much, so now I have a whole bush of dill in my fridge. Know of any recipes or good ways to use it?

Chicken stock in pan heating for the dressing, oil and butter on the right for the onions and celery which would also go into the dressing.

Turkey Tom, all done and gorgeous.

The spread! Clockwise from the bottom left green bean casserole (mom brought), yams, dressing, gravy, rolls (mom brought), Oma's sprouts, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce (homemade from mom), and the star Tom.

This was my first brined turkey, but positively NOT my last.

Just look at all the spectacular leftovers.

Not a bit of the turkey went to waste. After it cooled enough I tore it apart.

Meat in the bowl, skin and bones into a seperate container to make stock. My house smelled just as good the next day while the stock cooked.

There you can see a very excited and blurry Rusty in the back ground. Yes, they surely each got their share of goodies. This year was much less rushed than past years. Part of that was because of all the work I did in prepping the night before, and it is the way we will do it from here on out. Sadly we were unable to be surrounded by all of our family but that's the way things go sometimes.

Gobble gobble, I hope all who celebrate had a great Thanksgiving as well!

What are your plans for leftovers?

Don't forget to share any recipes requiring dill if you have them!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Roasted chickpeas

Holy smokes I am alive! I know I haven't updated this in forever. It's actually been so long that I almost couldn't remember how. Where I have been and what I have been doing is nothing exciting, nor anything extremely positive or even worth talking about. Let's just pretend I was on a fabulous trip to somewhere magical. K? Moving on!

I am not getting any younger, or any thinner for that matter. So, in an effort to change my indulgent ways I am making a serious effort to eat better and move more. This recipe reflects that. Roasted chickpeas, an incredibly healthy, budget and waist friendly, snack. Really easy and really simple. I've got to get back into this slowly you know?

Ingredients are:
2 T olive oil
1 can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
Salt to taste
Cayenne to taste
Curry powder to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2. Rinse and pat the beans dry
3. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt, cayenne, and curry powder
4. Place it all in a baking pan or sheet
5. Roast for 25-35 minutes, until the beans/peas are crunchy and brown but not burned

Here is my journey:

Lining up my ingredients. I completely forgot about the curry powder until later.
Preheat the oven to 450.
Rinse the pretty little beans/peas.
Pat dry with a paper towel. PAT DRY. Not man handle and squash like I almost did. Sometimes I don't know my own strength.
Toss them into a bowl with the olive oil, some cayenne, salt and this is when the curry powder should have gone in.
A perfectionist I am not, which is made obvious by the crooked and sloppy cut parchment paper on the bottom of the pan. Really I don't think it is even necessary to use but you know, I am a rebel and all that so....

This is also where I remembered the danged curry powder. So I just sprinkled some on and tossed these around a bit.

Put them in the oven and bake, but keep a close eye on them towards the end. They will burn quickly.

What is this fat little enchilada licking his lips for? You'll see in a minute.
These may not be the prettiest things you have ever seen but they are indeed delicious. Crispy, spicy, salty, and some still had a little softness in the middle. Yum.

This is the object of Remo's infatuation. I was giving him some "carrot noodles", which is basically the carrot skin after peeling. I am whipping up a huge pan of roasted veggies to eat through out the rest of the weekend.
Happy eating everyone! I have really missed doing this and hope to be back on a regular basis!

If you want some other healthy ideas and tips, check out this blog:

This woman is serious about her health and fitness. Would I ever be able to be that committed? Yeah, committed to the nuthouse if I even tried. Either way I am hooked on her and can't stop reading.

Have a great weekend!