Thursday, November 26, 2015

Creamy Brussels Sprouts

The question was, what can I make as a side dish that's new, and that Tom will eat? I decided that maybe Brussels Sprouts would be the answer. Broccoli is my go-to vegetable for holiday meals, but when I learned that Brussels sprouts were in season, I gave it a whirl.
Creamy Brussels Sprouts

  • 4 slices peppered bacon
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved through stem end
  • ¾ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ cup whipping cream
  • cracked black pepper
  1. In 12-inch skillet cook bacon over medium heat until browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet.
  2. In skillet add Brussels sprouts to drippings; cook and stir over medium heat 4 minutes. Add broth, salt, and pepper. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Uncover; cook 2 to 4 minutes or until liquid is nearly evaporated. Add cream. Cook 4 minutes more or until thickened.
  3. Transfer sprouts to serving dish. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon and cracked pepper.
I really enjoyed this dish. It had good flavor, but it wasn't too creamy.

Classic Green Bean Casserole

A co-worker mentioned to me a few days ago that she was making Green Bean Casserole from scratch as her contribution to her family's Thanksgiving dinner, and I thought to myself that I'd never made that before. I decided that I would try out the traditional recipe to see how it worked for me.
Classic Green Bean Casserole

What You'll Need
  • 1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup or (10 1/2 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed 98% Fat Free Cream of Mushroom Soup or (10 1/2 ounces) Campbell’s® Healthy Request® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 dash black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked cut green beans
  • 1 1/3 cups French's® French Fried Onions
How to Make It
  1. Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans and 2/3 cup onions in a 1 1/2-quart casserole.
  2. Bake at 350°F. for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the bean mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining onions.
  3. Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.
I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. Why haven't I ever included this staple in our Thanksgiving dinners in the past? Oh, wait, it's because Tom hates mushrooms and onions. Well then, I'll eat it all myself.

Butter-Basted Roast Turkey with Mushroom Gravy

This holiday dinner was full of new things to try out. My experiment with turkey started out with looking for new ideas for side dishes. This recipe looked like it would be delicious, so I gave it a go. This was a new experience because normally, we season the turkey and put it in an oven roaster bag to cook, and it self-bastes - no muss, no fuss. At the last minute, Donnie requested that I stuff the turkey. So I took the usual stuffing recipe that I use from Betty Crocker, and stuffed the bird. I've never cooked a stuffed turkey before - I've always left that experience for when Mom and Dad visit.
Butter-Basted Roast Turkey with Mushroom Gravy

  • 2½ c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 c. unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1¼ tsp. fresh-ground pepper
  • 2 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 fresh turkey
  • 6 carrots
  • 3 onions
  • ½ c. red wine
  • ½ lb. assorted wild mushrooms
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh sage
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  1. Make basting liquid: Combine 1 cup chicken broth, the butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, thyme sprigs, rosemary, and bay leaf in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter melts, reduce the heat to low and keep the mixture warm.
  2. Prepare the turkey: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Season the turkey cavity and skin with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Truss the turkey and place breast side up in a roasting pan fitted with a wire rack. Arrange the carrots and onions around the bottom of the pan, place in the oven, and roast for 30 minutes. Baste the turkey with the basting liquid, covering all surfaces. Continue to roast, basting every 30 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into the thigh meat reads 175 degrees F -- about 3 hours. Remove the turkey from oven, reserve pan drippings, and let rest 30 minutes before carving.
  3. Make the gravy: Pour the drippings and solids from the roasting pan into a measuring cup. Skim off any fat, reserving 2 tablespoons. Return the drippings and the solids to the pan and place over medium-high heat. Stirring constantly, add the red wine and cook until any bits of vegetable or meat are loosened from the bottom of the pan -- about 2 minutes. Strain, discard solids, and set aside. Heat the reserved fat in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms until cooked through -- about 8 minutes. Add the strained drippings, 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth, 1 teaspoon thyme, sage, remaining salt, and pepper. Cook over medium heat until slightly reduced -- about 10 minutes. Combine the remaining chicken broth and cornstarch in a small bowl and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the gravy and continue to cook until slightly thickened -- about 2 minutes. Stir in the fresh lemon juice and serve warm.
The turkey turned out really well, even by Tom's standards. The basting liquid smelled wonderful, the fresh herbs added wonderful flavor to everything, the skin was browned just right from the basting. I was concerned that the wine in the gravy would be overpowering, but it wasn't. I would definitely use this recipe again.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cranberry Sauce

Something I've wanted to try out for a while now is making Cranberry Sauce from scratch. This upcoming holiday seemed like a good time to try it out, since it would just be Donnie, Tom and myself for dinner.
Cranberry Sauce

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup 100 percent cranberry juice, not cocktail
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 pound fresh cranberries, approximately 4 cups (I used a 12 oz bag)
  1. Wash the cranberries and discard any soft or wrinkled ones.
  2. Combine the orange juice, cranberry juice and honey in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cranberries and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the mixture thickens. Do not cook for more than 15 minutes as the pectin will start to break down and the sauce will not set as well. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Carefully spoon the cranberry sauce into a 3 cup mold. Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.
  4. Remove from the refrigerator, overturn the mold and slide out the sauce. Slice and serve.
Well, I think it was delicious. Not too sweet, not too tart - it was just right!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Caw: Ray Lewis Literally Marched Into M&T Bank Stadium

Read the official account here.
How cool would it be to be in this band? A lot cooler if you were marching in the front block of the band and knew what the heck was going on, unlike me :-(