Friday, November 26, 2010

Sausage and Spinach Stuffing

Sausage and Spinach Stuffing
Makes 12 – 14 Servings

I wanted a tasty alternative to the usual conbread stuffing I make at the holidays. I typicaly use a little turkey bacon in mine since my husband doesn't eat pork, and I don't eat beef. This gives me the option to make things a little different but they are always creative and tasty.

Prep: 40 minutes Bake: 25 - 35 minutes

Pre-heat oven to 325°

1 Small bunch of Fresh Spinach
12 oz Package of Sausage (I am using Turkey Store Breakfast Links)
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 Yellow Bell Pepper; Chopped
½ Orange Bell Peppers, Chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup butter
2 tsp. Dried Sage, crushed
1/2 –1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Jiffy Cornbread Mix (follow recipe on box – milk, eggs) Baked and cubed for stuffing
1–11/2 cups chicken broth

Finely Chop all peppers, celery and onion, if you are removing casing from sausage, do so and place all sausage with veggies.

Cook sausage in a deep skillet or Skillet/Dutch Oven until brown

Once sausage is crumbled and browned, remove from skillet and place in a bowl.
 Sautee celery and onion in skillet until soft and browned

Add yellow and orange peppers to skillet.

When all of the pepper, onion and celery have cooked down, return sausage to skillet.
(Jaidea was in the kitchen with me... notice the artwork in my food)

Add chopped spinach to skillet and add salt and pepper to taste.

Add sage to skillet and give a good stir.

 Cut up cubed cornbread (Thank you Jaidea) and place in your stoneware dish.

Add your stuffing blend to cornbread and pour in your chicken broth, enough to wet but not drench the bread.

Add in your veggies and sausage from the skillet. Use more of your broth to wet the stuffing.

Bake at 350 until firm but not dried out.

Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole
Makes 16 Servings

Green bean casserole is a dish I love to make that is almost too easy to even be considered a dish. I started making green bean casserole because I got tired of the typical green beans and white potatoes all the time. I make the same casserole you will find on the box of French’s Onion Curls, but I add one or two ingredients of choice.

4 - 6 Cups Fresh Green Beans (You may use canned, I don’t eat very many canned items)
1 Can of Cream of Chicken Soup
1 Can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 Cup of Grated Cheese
1/3 Cup of Milk
French’s Fried Onions (use as liberally as you like)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a stoneware dish with butter or non-stick spray (I like butter)

Blanche your green beans in a nice hot pot of water, not boiling.

Blanche your green beans in a nice hot pot of water, not boiling.

Remove your green beans when they are tender and a beautiful bright green

Place green beans into an ice cold water bath, this will stop the cooking process immediately and will allow the green beans to remain crunchy.

Place cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soups and milk into a pot, heat until nice and hot and bubbly. Stir until smooth …. Yummy!

Remove from bath and place in your prepared baking sheet

Add cheese into the soup and give a few quick stirs to begin melting cheese.

Pour mixture over green beans; make sure you cover all of the green beans.

Bake green beans and soup and cheese sauce for 25 – 30 minutes or until a flaky, golden brown and bubbles are peeking out around the edges of the dish.

Top with French’s Onions and bake until golden brown.

If needed, give a gentle stir to make sure soup marries well with the green beans.

Southern Style Mac n' Cheese

Southern Style Creamy Mac ‘n Cheese
Makes 8 Servings
You can get really creative with this dish nowadays – people put all kinds of things in Macaroni and Cheese now and it seems with the expansion of cheese departments, the options for types of cheese or several cheeses in one dish are endless. I keep it simple, while I like variety – too much of a change makes me feel a little odd about the dish. For years, my Nana has made delicious macaroni and cheese, my Mother mastered it, as for me - I just couldn’t get it to look like hers. Now there are some things I make JUST like Nana’s and even some things she prefers for me to make now instead of her own recipe, so I think I have done pretty well in the observe and learn department. I have a recipe that is a take on my Nana’s with my little spin. I hope you enjoy it!

1 Small Box of Elbow Macaroni
1 Small Kraft Sharp Cheese (or any Sharp Cheese)
1 Small Kraft Mild Cheddar Cheese (Or any Mild Cheese)
½ Cup of Flour
1 Can of Evaporated Milk
3 Eggs
Salt and Pepper to taste (I also use a little Onion Powder and Garlic Powder)
½ Stick of Unsalted Butter

You need two nice sized pots, one for your noodles and the other for your cheese sauce.
You will need one nice sized stoneware baker

Grate all of the cheese

Boil entire package of elbow noodles until al dente, not overdone.
While your noodles are cooking, make your cheese sauce:

Add ½ of the unsalted butter to the pot and let melt down to a golden brown

Sprinkle in flour, in a circular motion, slowly and evenly, and stir the flour around the pot with a wooden spoon.  Slowly add milk to the flour and butter, slow enough to work the flour into a paste, take your time with the mixture. Keep and eye on your sauce, you should have a nice golden paste developing; while this is being mixed, add some salt and pepper.  Don’t be afraid to add flavor to your sauce, be careful to only add just the right amount, the cheeses will bring bite and salt to the dish.

Add in your cheeses and stir the mixture constantly, to avoid large clumps of cheese, keep the fire on a low to medium flame, but constant stirring is the key. Reserve a small amount of each cheese for the topping of dish.

Keep an eye on your noodles – drain them when they are al dente (sort of transparent and soft, not mushy, still tasting kinda starchy but done).

Return the noodles back into the pot they were boiled in; add the last of the butter to the noodles and give a stir. Add a pinch of salt to noodles and butter, add eggs one at a time. Maintain a medium heat under pot.

Begin to stir your cheese sauce into the noodles. When noodles and sauce are completely combined and the sauce is hot but not boiling, transfer to the stoneware dish for baking. Add more cheese to the top of the dish.

Bake at 350 degrees until a golden brown. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

Herb and Salt Brined Turkey

Herb and Salt Brined Turkey
(Source: Fine Cooking Magazine)

Ok – so here it is, Thanksgiving! The year has literally flown by and I have so much to be thankful for and reflect on. This year I thought I would make a bird that I had never tried before and I found just what I wanted to try in a magazine I picked up based on the cake on the front page…LOL! Herb and Salt Brined Turkey may be a new thing for us, but I am praying we love it! The herbs smelled so intoxicating and make me feel like the holidays are upon us. This brine process was over 4 days, I really took my time getting the herbs onto the flesh of the bird, the house smelled so fragrant and delightful. If you are looking for a new twist for your bird, give this one a try. This is going to be my every year turkey - it is so moist and flavorful!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
2 Tbs. chopped fresh sage
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
One 16-lb. turkey, preferably fresh (not kosher or self-basting)
2 oz. kosher salt (1/2 cup if using Diamond Crystal; 1/4 cup if using Morton)
Herb Gravy for a Brined Turkey (optional)

Chop your herbs and add olive oil to them 

Rub the herb mixture on the meat, under the skin. Pat the skin back into place.

Rub the salt inside the cavity and on the skin. Tuck the wing tips behind the neck and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Put the turkey in a large food-safe plastic bag (such as a turkey-size roasting bag) and tie. Put the bag inside a second bag and tie.

Refrigerate the turkey, turning it over every day, for 3 days.

Remove the turkey from the bags and pat dry. Put it in a flameproof roasting pan and refrigerate, unwrapped, to let the turkey air-dry overnight (for the fourth day).

Roast the turkey
Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Roast the turkey for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325°F. Continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 170°F in the thickest part of a thigh, about 2 hours. Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes before carving to allow the juices to settle.

Not only is the smell just fantastic! The taste is amazing!

Store leftover meat and the turkey carcass in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Sweet Potato Muffins

Sweet Potato Muffins
Source  (southern
Makes 12 Muffins
Although I am not a fan of yams or sweet potatoes, I have been reading about the health benefits they provide, and they are recommended for women who may suffer with fertility issues as well. I decided to search out some recipes for muffins or breads containing sweet potatoes, I tweaked some of the ingredients to add a little more likeable flavor.  I am so excited to share these with you, not only were they easy to make - they are delicious!
Here is the recipe:
6 Tablespoons of softened Butter
2/3 Cups of Sugar
1 Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 ¾ Cups of sifted All Purpose Flour
1 ½ Teaspoons of Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
½ Teaspoon of Nutmeg
½ Teaspoon of Kosher Salt
2/3 Cup Evaporated Milk (or regular Milk)
1 15 oz can of Organic Sweet Potato Puree (Or Canned Yams will work just fine)
2/3 Cup chopped Walnuts or Pecans

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

 Beat in Egg and Vanilla until well combined

In a separate bowl, combine Flour, Baking Powder, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Salt
(sorry, picture would not post)
Combine the wet ingredients with the dry in three parts, include milk with the three parts (alternate a portion of dry mixture, then add milk, then dry mixture and so on)

Stir in your Sweet Potato Puree (if using canned yams, be sure to smash them before adding to large bowl mixture)

Stir in the Walnuts or Pecans (do not over stir, as they will fall to the bottom of your batter)
* A little tip – If you want the nuts to set in the muffins and not fall to the bottom, lightly dust them with a little flour (maybe a teaspoon or so) and put a small amount of patter into each liner or tin, then add nuts to each tin before filling completely with the rest of the batter.

Spoon your batter into greased muffin tins or paper liners, bake at 375 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from poking the center of a muffin.

Let cool for 5 minutes and serve warm 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ode to Rachael Ray

Lets Talk Rachael Ray
I have a confession, I love Rachael Ray! Like really- really- really love her. While I was off work on medical leave earlier this year, I began watching the Food Network on a daily basis, I was hooked… it became all I watched night and day. While I’ve always loved to cook, I was most fascinated with the idea of 30 Minute meals for my family. I was instantly hooked on several shows but my absolute favorite personality on the Food Network is Rachael Ray. There is this relaxed and fun attitude about her and I was really excited to try a few of her recipes out and loved how easy they were to make. And so the need for new cookware began… I quickly put in my not so subtle request for new pots and pans for Mother’s Day, and not just ANY pots and pans – oh no!!! I wanted the Rachael Ray Hard Anodized pots with the orange handles.

I was hinting hard to my loving husband, and just when I thought he had all but ignored my requests, and even the print out from the computer of where he could get them, he surprised me for Mother’s Day! I was so excited,  not only were they well made, heavy, non-stick – all the things the reviews said about them… they made my food look pretty (or maybe that was my imagination). I raved about the pots and pans so much that my cousin in Louisiana even became a fan and got the same pots and pans I have. From there, I purchased  this stoneware set ,   


Then I couldn't pass these by either  (in orange... of course) sautee skillets, 12” skillets, oval sautee pans. . . you name it!

I have so many Rachael Ray products now, my beloved cousins (and they know who they are) tease me and call me Rachael Ray, B.Smith, Paula Deen, Betty Crocker… It’s all in fun so I don’t mind, but I do love Rachael Ray, I record all of her shows and always try out recipes from her magazines and cookbooks. This section “Ode to Rachael Ray” will be all of the wonderful recipes that I have decided to give a try since Rachael decided to share them with me (again, maybe my imagination), I will share them with you. Here’s to you Rachael, and here’s to good food!

Oh how I love my cousin "T" (the mutual Rachael Ray lover) - Who contacted me this morning to tell me that had our beloved Rachael Ray products on sale... And not just any products, our sought after 8qt. Pasta Pot. . .
Hard Anodized and ORANGE!!!  

Whoooooooo Hoooooooo! I am soo excited, I can't wait!!!!
We both ordered our pots - I already know what my first meal in the pots will be!!!

Stay tuned for more Rachael Ray recipes and updates when I get new items.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Craving for Cupcakes

Let’s Get Started
To start off my blogging experience, and to give you all something fun and light at heart to make and share with those you know and care about. I have decided to make two types of cupcakes… not because I wanted too, but because I am having my sister, brother and a close friend over and not everyone likes the same kind of cupcake… So - Lemon Cupcakes with a Lemon Frosting and Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with a Vanilla Cream Cheese frosting it is! Now – some cakes I make call for cake flour, which still requires you add the wet and some of the magic that you want to put into your special cakes, other recipes I have found call for all purpose flour. I don’t have a preference between the two, however I like having both on hand.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
1 1/2 Cups Self-Rising Flour (This flour has all of the ingredients you would have to otherwise add to a dry mix - the baking powder and baking soda)
1 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Sticks of Butter
2 Cups of Sugar
4 Eggs
1 Cup of Milk
Vanilla Beans (Directions for Vanilla Beans listed Below)

Extracting Vanilla Beans
Take a small pot of water and place two vanilla bean pods in the pot, allow water to become warm, not boiling. Remove the vanilla beans from pot when they are soft and plyable, do not leave in water long enough to break the skin. Take pods and place them on a plate, slice the vanilla bean pod from tip to tip. Scrape the vanilla out of the pod.

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz Cream Cheese at room temperature
1 Stick of Butter
3 Cups of Powdered Sugar
Vanilla Beans


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

In a bowl combine all your flour. In a large bowl, cream your butter until smooth, add the sugar in slowly until light and fluffy.

Add Eggs to sugar and butter mixture one at a time
Mix in the dry ingredients in three parts, each time, alternate adding milk
Add in Vanilla Beans
Be sure to mix in but do not over beat your batter, the cupcakes will not rise if you do.
Take a spatula and go around the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is mixed in before you scoop out batter.

Place your batter in the paper lined muffin tin 
Bake your cupcakes for 20 - 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from after poking center of cupcake.

Allow cupcakes to cool completely before adding icing.

For Cream Cheese Frosting

Beat Butter until smooth and creamy (1-2 minutes)
Mix in the Cream Cheese

Continue to mix these two ingredients until they have both completely combined and are smooth.

Add in Powdered Sugar (by now the mixture should be a little loose but firm.
Add in Vanilla beans and mix Frosting with a spatula.
Add frosting to cupcakes

Let Cupcakes set with frosting for at least 15 minutes before serving, this allows the frosting to settle on to the cupcake and makes a better presentation.