Thanksgiving Round Two!

My other Aunt and Uncle wanted to cook their own turkey so we had Thanksgiving again on Friday night. I think this is going to be a new tradition for me. It was a smoked turkey this time around and it was delicious, and oh the mashed potatoes were amazing!!  My mom’s birthday is this Tuesday so we celebrated her birthday that night as well!

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving Round One

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving was as relaxing and “full” as mine.  My sister is the scone Queen and baked her mouth watering blueberry scones for breakfast.  She made the Macy’s Day parade even better if you can imagine that. I was making desserts which were pumpkin whoopie pie, pumpkin cake and apple sheet pie. I had baked all the whoopie pie’s and cakes the night before and made the pie dough so all I had to do was finish the pie and make the frosting and frost everything on Thanksgiving morning.  The baking process took a little longer than planned because my dad forgot my pans so I had to bake each tier separately :).  On Thanksgiving morning I also learned a baking lesson that you should read a recipe fully before attempting to bake it, I am talking about my apple sheet pie I was making.  I didn’t read the recipe fully just looked at the amazing pictures so I was a little thrown by a few more steps that were involved that I didn’t realize had to be done.  But my Dad stepped up and saved the apple sheet pie, and made up for forgetting the pans.   Here are a few pictures of the food from my day!

P.S. this turkey was the best turkey I have ever had.  My Uncle separated the breast from the turkey and cooked them at the appropriate temperatures and time for dark and light meat.  Truly moist tender amazing turkey.  I know the presentation a full turkey makes is amazing but this taste will trump that in my book forever!

P.S.S. the apple sheet pie was amazing as well and looked so rustic and beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Talk Turkey To Me

I heard the greatest quote the other day;  “The greatest things in life are family, friends and Thanksgiving.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  I hope everyone is starting to have a hard time sleeping in anticipation for the greatest holiday.  Now I hope the anticipation is because you are so excited to cook and not because you are nervous.  This year I am only in charge of desserts and I’m prepared.  All the groceries have been bought and I’ve made each of them before so I’m good to go.  I’m still learning every time I cook though, so I thought I would share a few tips for a worry free Thanksgiving cooking day.

Chicken Stock

Chicken Stock is the answer to all your problems on Thanksgiving, according to Bobby Flay.  Since it plays such a big part in the feast it is crucial that you make homemade chicken stock.  Now I know that sounds crazy and normally I roll my eyes when Ina Garten insists, but I have to agree this time.  It makes all the difference.

Brine

To brine or not to brine, that is the question I am always asking myself.  Basically what brining does is pull the salt in from the water, which makes the proteins push away from one another allowing more of the water.  This results in juicier and softer turkey.  A new way of brining I just heard about eliminates a step, defrosting.  Place the frozen turkey in your brine for 3 days.  Make sure it’s dry before you roast it.

Dry Rub

If you want to mix it up and do something different, you can use a dry rub.  Mix up the seasonings that you would like to flavor the turkey with and add some oil for moisture; then rub it on there.  You will get a beautiful crust with flavor that sticks.

Let The Meat Rest

When you cook any meat you need to let it rest to make sure the juices are restored.  If you have a decent sized bird you should let the meat rest under tin foil for an hour.  If you are afraid it cooled too much, the life-saver chicken stock can be poured over it, and it will warm it the perfect amount!

Have an amazing Thanksgiving flaws and all!

I want to hear your Thanksgiving stories!  Comment and tell me about your Thanksgiving experiences!

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Profiteroles; As The French Call It

I made profiteroles this weekend for dessert and boy did they surprise me.  They not only surprised me with their incredibly simple recipe, little amount of ingredients and ability to turn into a beautiful puff, but also with their name.  I am talking about what we in literal termed US, call a cream puff.  I was looking up recipes for them and discovered the word cream puff and profiteroles is interchangeable; I quickly learned a little history lesson on this tiny pastry.

A cream puff was originally called a profiterole or choux à la crème.  They are made from choux pastry and it is believed they were created for Catherine de Médicis who was the wife of Henry II of France.

I had watched Anne Burrell on the Foodnetwork make them so I felt prepared to tackle what I expected to be a challenge.  The easiest recipe ever; 1, 2, 3 and you’re done.  The only thing that scared me was the piping part.  I used a gallon sized bag which wasn’t a problem, but it’s a sticky dough, and I had a hard time making them look ok.  Although, my little sister was here and is always the one to keep her overly dramatic sister calm.  We wet our fingers, and patted down the points, and put them in to bake not thinking they were going to turn out anything  like a normal cream puff.

When I opened the oven door my eyes started to tear up.  Yes, it could’ve been from the smoke caused by the butter I used to grease the pan because we didn’t have parchment paper, but I like to think it was because they were so beautiful.  Round, golden and light appearance.  To use my little bit of French I learned from six years of French classes; ils étaient parfaits.  I had to put an “Autumn” spin on them so I added hazelnut and cinnamon into the vanilla filling to taste.

They were so fabulous, and easy that my older sister, Kara, and I decided to make them for the office Thanksgiving lunch.  54 profiteroles later patiences fully in-tack we were still fans.  I should be their spokeperson because I have nothing bad to say about them rien du tout.

Cream Puff Recipe

Custard Filling-  Add Hazelnut and Cinnamon to taste.  Makes enough filling for 8-12 puffs.

  • 1 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
Mix all the ingredients together then chill in the fridge till the puffs are ready to be filled.

 

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One Pot Thanksgiving!

I have been grounded basically for these past couple months and this has been the longest grounding for me in at least the last four years.  When I say grounding, I’m not speaking of the type of grounding your mom gave to you, but I’m speaking in a literal term.  I’ve been grounded due to my job for the past two and half months excluding my trip to my grandma.  I’m used to going somewhere at least once a month so this is way more scheduled life and way less air time for me.

Missing my old trips I decided to theme a dinner around a food I ate in another country.  Since my little sister Kylie was coming into town and we went to Ireland together I decided on shepards pie.  Of course I immediately tried to think of a way to incorporate pumpkin into it, but then decided why not add to the already international trip themed meal, and make it Thanksgiving themed as well!  I’m starting to experiment and be able to think outside the “pan” with recipes, so I was really excited to make this recipe.

I substituted the lamb for turkey, peas for green beans, added cranberries, used sweet potato mash as well as regular mashed potatoes, and then crumbled dried stuffing on top for a nice crust.  So you have the turkey, green beans, cranberries, sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes!  It’s a Thanksgiving dinner in one pot!   I think the Irish might start celebrating Thanksgiving if they tried this recipe!

 

 

  

Shepard’s Pie Recipe

My Alterations:

I substituted the Lamb for turkey, added cranberries which I cooked on the stove with 1 cup water two cups sugar till sweet enough to taste the drain.  Green beans, chopped up instead of peas, added in when you add the rosemary and thyme.  I added sweet potato mash to the top and followed Alton’s recipe for his mashed potatoes.  Lastly, I crumbled stuffing mix on top then topped with cheese.  Enjoy!

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Finally Guy Found It!

 

I love the show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network channel.  I think it’s an awesome show and concept.  It’s like the American Idol for restaurants.  The restaurants that can’t get the word out about their food, in their small town kitchens, that are just as top notch as a those big guys in the city, are given their chance with this show.  We all have those few restaurants in our town or near our town, that are amazing and we love them oh so much.  The Clarkston Union Bar & Kitchen, in Clarkston Michigan, is my family’s hidden gem.  It’s about a 45-minute drive from our home to get there but it is well worth the drive and wait.  This place is so good and unique that I guess somebody couldn’t keep it a secret because it received a visit from the one and only Guy Fieri this summer!

Clarkston Union is a favorite of mine for dinner but is my all time favorite place to get Sunday brunch.  They have amazing eggs benedict, maybe my favorite ever and that means a lot because I am an eggs benedict connoisseur.   I may love their breakfast but they are famous for their mac and cheese.  They like to call it the “most macked mac & cheese. Period.”  My little sister can literally not go there and not get it, it’s just not an option for her.  It has a beautiful crunchy crust and then warm ewwy goey noodle middle.  It’s not overly cheesy but perfectly savory and is served with a slice of carrot on top.  May seem weird at first but after a few visits you will begin to fight over the carrot.

Their menu is delicious, fresh traditional American cuisine.  They have amazing specials that are different depending on what is in season and fresh.  Oh and I’m forgetting the best part; the restaurant is built out of an old church steeple and all.  The booths are pews and the stove area is the alter.  They also have 30 plus selections of craft brews that are featured on a huge chalkboard posted on the wall.  Its loud and crowded, but has great character and personality and like I said before great food.

This small town joint just definitely got its big break!

(Clarkston Union Bar & Kitchen will be featured on an episode within the next few months)

 

 

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A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned

 

-Santorini-                                                                               -Denver-

-Amsterdam-

I’m going to share some examples of how I have cut corners here and there while traveling to save money; after putting this in writing I’m noticing that some of my actions are conflicting. I spare no expense when it comes to food and drinks, and am always the one at the bar ordering rounds of drinks for all of my friends, even when we are not in a shout (Australian term for each person paying for a round of drinks for the group). Anyways, I’d like to preface this post and let you know that this is not the norm for me, I just wanted to share some entertaining stories. :)

I recently heard a joke about how the copper wire was invented.  Simple answer; two pilots fighting over a penny!  My grandpa was incredibly creative in his frugality and this could explain some of my dad’s spending habits that I observed growing up.  So having that much frugal blood in my system, I am half cheap, half impractical, which makes a seriously weird combination when traveling.

I will walk many miles in heals instead of taking a cab to save money or sleep three to a bed, but this is the way I think and with this thinking I have found myself sleeping on many airport floors. Before you start to judge, like all the cleaning crew who see me on the floor, let me explain.  The last time I slept on a floor was because the flight I was trying to get on was at 1 a.m. and the next one was at 7 a.m., so was I really going to go pay $150 for maybe five hours of sleep?  Not in my lifetime.

The worst night of rest I had on an airport floor was at the Detroit Airport.  Ok now you can judge me for my stupidity.  I was headed to Texas to help my sister move down there for work and there was only one seat left on the plane; so I let her go.  It was a 9:30 p.m. flight, and by the time my mom either drove the hour and half to get me, or waited until the 11:30 p.m. flight so I could fly to Flint, which is closer to my home, then get up at 4:30 a.m. to start all over again, I decided why not stay here.  I was working on finishing a 28 page paper so in my mind I thought this would be a perfect way to force myself to write it.  I was wrong. The next flight was at 7 a.m. and that was the longest nine and half hours of my life.  To top it off, I had forgotten that one of my really good friends lived 20 minutes away and she could’ve picked me up.  Karma from the FAA gods for something I did.

When I sat down to write this post I started to make a list of all the airports I slept in and thought there had to be around 20, but no it’s only five and that’s how awful it is; those nights stick with you forever. From my experience at the Detroit, Denver, Amsterdam, Minneapolis, and Athens, Greece airports I have learned a few key things that really make those long nights horrible.  It’s that the floor is cement and you become so cold.  You might not be the only one sleeping there but the fun “people watching” airport quickly empties out to a boring, cold dreary place.  So here is my advice to those wise travelers that travel my way.  Always bring a small blanket (Airplane blankets are perfect! Small, folds well) or have a sweatshirt.  Second tip, bring some form of pillow.  I have a stuffed animal, Rover, who I travel with so he’s perfect.  Last but not least an eye mask helps.  TSA isn’t courteous enough to dim the lights.

-Norway-

-Denver-

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Falling for Pumpkin Lasagna And Baked Apples

It’s November and I’m in full-blown pumpkin mode.  Every time I look for a recipe recently I’m looking for something that includes pumpkin; whether it is the star or just a team player.  I’ve been making a lot of desserts with pumpkin so I decided it was time to switch it up and make a savory meal.  When you think of savory, hearty and delicious what comes to mind?  Well what came to my mind was lasagna

and then I found a pumpkin lasagna recipe; it was meant to be.

I was so intrigued by the recipe because it looked like a typical lasagna recipe except you add pumpkin so I didn’t really know what to expect.  The end result was beautiful lasagna with just a little bit extra of the lighter than air texture of the ricotta with a touch more sweetness from the pumpkin. I don’t think I would’ve been able to tell that there was pumpkin in it if I didn’t know I put it in there.  My suggestion would be to use two cups of ricotta instead of two and a half cups and then make it one and half cups pumpkin puree instead of just two.  Let me know if that brings out the pumpkin flavor more.  With that being said this lasagna was very delicious and that hidden pumpkin flavor really was the thing that took this lasagna to the next level so try it out!  Don’t worry the other squash will forgive you for ignoring them.  They know its only two months of the year.

I said I was going to try a savory recipe with pumpkin instead of my typical pumpkin dessert recipe but I didn’t say I completely over looked dessert! My sister found an awesome baked apple recipe.  Super easy and delicious.  This meal is the definition of a fall meal!  I even bet people will be “falling” over each other to get to it ;).

 

Pumpkin Lasagna Recipe

 

Baked Apples Recipe

Photos courtesy of John Tagle

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