Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our first Thanksgiving at our home

This is the first year that we had Thanksgiving at our home.  We were blessed to be able to host family and share a meal with them.  This year we made grilled asparagus, brown sugar ham, italian sausage stuffing, and mashed potatoes.  I got a little bit to involved in my multitasking at times to remember to take a few steps may me missed.

A few facts to chew while you read.  Did you know that Thanks giving dates back to 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast? This is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two hundred years, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn't until 1863 that President Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

So for the grilled asparagus you need a bunch of asparagus, a plastic bag, olive oil, and minced garlic. 

Take said asparagus and pull of any weird bits.  Then you're going to break off the woody stems.  If you don't then you'll have some of the asparagus really chewy and basically an inedible bite.  This is easy.  Take the stalk of asparagus and bend it towards the end and let it break naturally.  Really the stalk does all the work.

Add everything to your plastic bag and let sit.  It only takes about 5-10 minutes on your grill, just make sure it's nice and hot...and watch for flare ups since you're using olive oil!

Ok so my confession here is that we didn't want to mess with the grill so we broiled them.  Same charred flavor but don't have to remember to check a grill and the oven.

The ham is a cinch.  Really we  found this recipe Slow Cooker Ham from All Recipes and it is so good.  I added orange zest for a little bit of change this year.  If you don't have a slow cooker (you should snag one this holiday) you can do it in a roasting pan covered with foil.

I have to add in here that I just got this pampered chef Microplane zester and I LOVE it! You can get one from my great friend Angela .  It zests and orange without getting the bitter pith!! Does nutmeg like a charm.  It's awesome!  Oh and after you zest that orange toss it in a pot of cider with cinnamon sticks, and whole allspice and perhaps a few cloves, let it simmer a bit and you'll bit super pleased with the results!

My happy little helpers!

Hubby really did most of the ham!  He is the best.  I am so very thankful that he loves to cook as much as me. 

Now we have a large crock pot but the lid never fits on the ham when we do this.  So we cover it with foil and a few hand towels and it does the trick.  Man was this good.  Don't forget to make ham gravy!  Basic rue (flour and butter) then add the ham juice and cream/milk if you like.

Now for the stuffing I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs Our Best Bites and my hubby really likes Italian sausage so I gave this a whirl.

Brown the sausage.  Now I'm one of those who likes my ground meat cooked and chopped in tiny crumbles.  I do not like the big chunks of taco meat, or in my sauce but I assure you, bigger chunks are ok here.  Really!  Don't chop it up. 

Add the celery, onion and garlic.  I omitted the mushrooms because I love my hubby and care about what he likes.

Then the grated apple.

Stuffing mix.  No it's not cheating if I use a stuffing mix, so there!

Pour the chicken broth over the stuffing then add the pecans and craisins.

Bake and here are the yummy results.  Next time thought I'll definitely use a spicy sausage!

Ok mashed potatoes!  Oh my these are such a great comfort food to me.   They go with almost any meal.  My mouth is watering thinking of them again...ok I'll be right back.

Ah, now that's better.  Let me say these potatoes are not for the dieter or the faint of heart.  Potatoes form Trader Joe's (I <3 Trader Joe's).  Peel and cube them.

I add pepper, cream, butter, and garlic salt.

Again one of the many uses of my Kitchen Aid mixer.  I ended up using about 1/3 c cream, 2 sticks of butter, 1 tsp garlic salt and fresh ground black pepper (the grinders are just about the same price as the containers of already ground pepper).  YUM!  Topped with that ham grave I mentioned earlier or with my chicken noodle soup...mmm.

Ok so there you have it!  My Thanksgiving dinner.  Ok, I didn't take pictures of the rolls since they were frozen and my guests brought dessert (apple and pumpkin pie...YUM!) and I totally forgot to take picture the night before of my homemade cranberry time my friends!

Is there something you love to make for the holiday meal? Hate to make?  Tell me all about it!

Until we eat again. what to do with all that Turkey?

If you're like most households you make this great turkey on Thanksgiving day, everyone stuffs themselves then seems to pass out on the couch.  Did you know that its not really from the tryptophan? Yes turkey does contain a small amount of tryptophan (which really works best on an empty stomach) but really it's the eating of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner that makes a nap irresistible!  The average dinner is about 3000 calories and just shy of 250g of fat!!  All those lip smacking carbs and heavy foods kick our body into overdrive just to digest all of that.  Not to mention if you have a glass of might as well eat in your pjs with a pillow.

Anyway back to the couch or wake up from your siesta seeing the kitchen chaos so you begin to clean and then either send leftovers home with your guests or spend the next week racking your brain for what else you can use this turkey in. 

Well I do a few things with my left overs: Ham and cheese melts, omelets, Thanksgiving quesadillas, turkey club sandwiches, and so on.  But one of our favorite recipes is chicken noodle soup (you can sub in turkey instead)!  Especially with the temps dropping its just so comforting.

In a large stock pot, add water, leeks, carrot, ginger, peppercorns, and chicken.

This was already cooked...tried to get the hubs to take pics but he just likes to cook.

Cover and let this cook.  Now start the noodles.  Yes I make my own noodles for soup.  You just can't beat it!  You know those thick al dente noodles you ate at your grandmas or the local diner? Oh man those are the best.  For those of you who really just think its too intimidating (at least promise me you'll try it once) I recommend Reames noodles, located in the freezer section of your local grocery.  There as close as you can get in my opinion.
So combine the flour, eggs, milk, salt, and butter.  Knead for about 10 min then let rest for 10.  I am immensely blessed to  have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer so I use this with the dough hook.

Roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thick.  Up to this point my hubby did everything (Thanks babe!) so now he wanted me to do this bit.

Cut into desired shapes, hubby requested long noodles even though I tried to sway him to squares.  I just use my pizza cutter since I don't have a fancy pasta cutter.    So just cut long lines.  I'm not picky about if they are all the same width or straight.

Now make perpendicular cuts at the desired length.

Look at all the pretty noodles!


Once the chicken is totally cooked, strain the broth and let the chicken cool.   Return the broth to the pot and peel and chop carrots and ginger and chop some celery then toss into the pot with a few chicken bouillon cubes.

Hubby took over again so this is the only pic until I add the noodles!
Bring all the above to a boil.  Make a cornstarch slurry while you wait.  When the boiling begins add the noodles!  Let it boil a bit before you add the slurry as the flour on the noodles will also thicken.  Add as much or as little of the slurry as you like to thicken accordingly.

 Shred the chicken then add to your soup and the soup is ready.

After not all that much work, here is what you get:


Um I strongly advise using a sieve or a cheese cloth for the peppercorns...or you'll have a bit more work in store.
And what's better than chicken noodles with mashed potatoes...ok maybe mac and cheese, but I'm still searching for a good homemade recipe!

Here's the recipe.  I'm working on figuring out how to get it to print here...sorry :)  ANy tips would be greatly appreciated!

Comforting Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 1 leek, sliced in half and thoroughly washed
  • 1 carrot, chopped in half
  • 3-inch chunk fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 chicken breasts on the bone, with skin removed
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
  • 3/4 c peeled and sliced carrots
  • 1 c sliced celery
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water 
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup milk (more or less as needed)
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  1. Pour 10 cups water into a big stock pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the leek, carrot, hunk of ginger, and peppercorns.
  2. Skin the chicken breasts, remove any excess fat, and add to the pot. Allow the broth to come to a boil, and then turn it down and let simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked and tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. While the broth is cooking start the noodles. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt.
  4. Add the beaten egg, milk, and butter. Knead dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. Let rest in a covered bowl for 10 minutes.
  5. On a floured surface, roll out to 1/8 or 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired lengths and shapes. Set aside.
  6. Once the noodles are done and the chicken is cooked, remove the chicken and allow to cool. Strain the stock and discard the leeks, carrots, ginger, and peppercorns.
  7. Add the strained broth, bouillon, chopped ginger, sliced carrot and celery to the pot.
  8. Keep the soup at a simmer while you remove the chicken from the bone and shred finely using a fork.
  9. Turn up the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. Add the noodles. The more flour on the pasta from rolling it out, the thicker your soup will be.
  10. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the cornstarch with the water until smooth. Add half to the soup while stirring. Allow to boil until thickened to the desired consistency. Add the shredded chicken and serve.
Until we eat again!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A crazy thing I'm addicted to

Seaweed!  Yes that green floaty stuff from the "pond".  Now wait just a second before you click away form my post.  Seaweed is a very popular food.  Its used in sushi, and is very popular in coastal areas mainly in the Eastern hemisphere.  Whether you know it as nori, zicai, gim or just that green papery stuff, you've eaten it in some form probably several times (heard of  alginateagar or Check your food labels sometime).  
Um...yeah I see that coffee spot on my desk...NOW.  Unfortunately I have consumed the rest of the package so a new photo op was not possible.
Trader Joe's has a Roasted Seaweed snack that is just amazing.  Roasted seaweed snacks! Available in plain or Wasabi (pictured above) Each package is 2 servings and I'm not really ashamed to say that I eat the whole thing every time I open one.  I'm very thankful for my friend LH who introduced them to me.  A small warning though, when eating the Wasabi careful when licking your fingers!

Whew!  I had to stop eating them until I got my camera on I can go back to my happy noshing!

Until we eat again!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Candy Corn Cookies

My boss' favorite fall treat is candy corn. Well candy corn mixed with peanuts.  When you think of Halloween or a fun fall candy one of the first that comes to mind is candy corn.  Did you know it was invented in the 1880's, that's not a typo...over 100 years ago this sweet treat was born!  There are several varieties, candy corn scented candles, even M&M's got on the candy corn craze this fall.

Now, personally, I am not a fan of the candy.  I know, this could possibly put my citizenship into question but, eh, it's just not for me.  My kids on the other hand LOVE them.  So when I came across this blog post from these amazing women at for candy corn sugar cookies I was intrigued.

Its pretty simple an my kids loved helping me.  You need the following:

A good sugar cookie recipe. I used this great recipe from Easy Sugar Cookies
Red and yellow food color
A square container to put dough in lined with plastic wrap I used a bread loaf pan
Knife and cutting board
White chocolate or almond bark

Prepare your sugar cookie dough and divide it into thirds.  Take one third and place it in the lined container. It should be about an inch thick.  Mine only went about 2/3 of the way across the pan.

Next put the remaining two thirds back into your mixing bowl and add yellow food coloring until its bright yellow.  I lost count of how many drops I used.  When you get the yellow you like take the dough out and divide in half.  Take on of the halves and layer it on top of your first "white/uncolored" layer.  About the same thickness as the first.

Place the remaining dough back into your mixing bowl and add red food coloring until you get a bright orange.  Again layer the orange on top of the yellow...unfortunately I was so excited that this actually worked I didnt' take a picture of this step. Cover the rest of the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

Take your cookie dough "loaf" out of the pan and place (unwrapped) on a cutting board.  Now cut slices about 1/4 inch thick.  Then cut the slices into triangles, thus making candy corns. I finally remembered I owned a camera at this point so now the show and tell can begin!

I think they are so pretty!
I have to say my bubble deflated a bit when my hubby pointed out that there were "upside down" candy corns...but this can't be helped.  We decorated a few before baking with decorating sugar.  It gives that jewel like quality after baking.

My little chef!!
Bake according to your cookie recipe.  I'd also advise checking them about 3 min early incase your "corns" are a little one the thin side.

I used white chocolate chips and melted them and a double boiler.  I did have to turn the heat on and of so as to not seize up my chocolate.  Then I "painted" the cookies.

My budding chefs then took over the sprinkle decorating.  They decorated all the cookies...and most of my kitchen floor!

They tasted very yummy and looked great too!

What's your favorite fall candy?  Do you have any great recipes that your kids love to help you make?

Until we eat again!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A statement of thanks

I wanted to take moment or two to talk about Thanksgiving!  I love this time of year.  The cooler weather (meaning that snow is around the corner), family, cooking, and a time to reflect on the things that I am abundantly blessed with.

I am thankful for my family.  I remember back when we were told we probably wouldn't be able to have we have a full house with 3.  I have siblings that support me and pray for me.  That will leave their families at a moments notice to come make meals for me when I have an emergency appendectomy.

A home to live in and a job to help me afford this.

Food in my pantry and the ability to share with others.

Thousands of soldiers who, daily, give up time with their families, and sometimes their lives so I can sit here and type my opinions with out fear of retaliation.

There so much more I could mention but a cooking mom of three only has so much time.

One thing I am not thankful for is the Christmas creep.  It's like an uncontrolled Kudzu infestation. The ghosts and ghouls haven't even made it to the clearance shelf when the Christmas marketing begins! I remember working at one of those wholesale clubs and stocking Christmas Cookie baskets in the July. 

What happened to Thanksgiving?  A time to pause and think of how amazingly good we have it.  Even if right now, you feel as though there is no light to be found...if you live in the US you live a life that millions dream of.  To gather your family and/or friends and fellowship with one another.

Now don't get me wrong I love snow, and watching Christmas movies til I can quote them, and just delighting in the meaning of Christmas, but don't neglect the time to give thanks.  Respect the Bird! We pour money into scaring people then before we've even gasped our next breath we're lighting Christmas lights, selling Christmas decor, Christmas songs begin to play and the commercials...oh don't even get me going on the commercials.

Do you feel the same?  Wondering what you can do about it...let me tell you! It's referred to as the Respect the Bird campaign,.  It's a grass roots effort started in November 2010 by one frustrated Supporting Member, Doug Matthews. Doug wrote a blog post then reminding people Thanksgiving deserves to be more than an afterthought among our national holidays. Taking a cue from Doug’s blog post, Allrecipes aims to boost Respect the Bird into national awareness.

I've pledged, go ahead do it too!  Let's start a nationwide movement!  To take the Respect the Bird pledge go here.  Or click on my link on the right! 

Do you have a Thanksgiving tradition? A favorite food? Do you Respect the Bird?

Until we eat again!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stuffed Pork Chops and a how to video

Tonight we had stuffed pork chops.  We do often stray from chicken on the menu but my hubby does love a good pork dish.  So I saw a good deal on think cut pork chops and that Stove Top has a new Apple Stuffing so our Friday night dinner now had a plan.

I combined two techniques that I've used before to prepare my chops: brineing and salting (if there is a cooking term for this I don't know it).  I know you're thinking that these are the same things but the difference is that when I've brined my chops in the past I soak them in a salt water solution, usually over night, in a cold environment.  Salting is something I picked up from The Steamy Kitchen.  You set the meat out to come up to warm temperature and salt it liberally. 

Ok so the chops have now set out for about 1 1/2 hours and I've rinsed them and patted them dry.  I used boneless thick cut pork chops for this.  Bones don't make good stuffing examples.

I had a friend ask me how one actually stuffs a pork chop so I have made a short how to video.  It's pretty simple and makes for a yummy surprise.

 Once the pork chops were stuffed and lightly breaded, I added a bit of butter to a very hot pan. *Note: adding the butter when you begin to stuff the chops only results in burned butter*

Cook for about 5-6 min on each side getting a nice sear on the chops.  Then in a 325 degree oven I put the whole pan in the oven until the middle chop reached 170 (using my trusty probe thermometer).

Turned out delicious!  The chops were moist and the salt is balanced by the sweet apples in the stuffing.  So there you go, now you can eat what we had!

Until we eat again!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Toast to a new

Something fun to share with others!  I am greatly blessed by food: eating it, buying it, cooking it, and most of all sharing it with others.  This led to the thought, "Why not write about it?" So here we go.

My hubby and I love to cook so here's a blog about when we do!  Enjoy and feel free to comment and share!

Comfort food

We like rice.  Jasmine to be more precise.  When we make it we tend to over estimate the amount needed.  So the other evening it was chilly and I wanted something warm and sweet to end my day.  We already used some left over rice in supper and so as I was cleaning up, I saw that there was a small amount of rice still remaining.  Wait a minute...rice, looking in fridge a little whipping cream, eggs, milk, looking in pantry raisins, cinnamon...rice pudding.  PERFECT!

I love pudding.  I have this great memory of my mom making this gooey pudding cake when I was little.  Park cake and part hot sticky, chocolatey pudding.  Divine! In the United States, pudding typically refers to a sweet milk-based dessert similar in consistency to egg based custards, though it may also refer to other types such as bread and rice pudding. There are more than 60 types of pudding! But I digress back to the food desired! Rice pudding is this dish that is warm, creamy, sweet with a teeny dash of savory to round it out.

I love It's so versatile

Here's the final recipe:
1 C prepared rice
3/4 C whipping cream
1/3 C sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/3tsp cinnamon
1/2 raisins (white or purple) for an adult kick, soak them in 1c rum until plump
1/2 C milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg beaten (only use half of this)

In a small sauce pan combine rice and cream.  Over medium heat, bring to a boil.  Reduce to low and stir in sugar, salt, cinnamon and raisins (if you didn't rehydrate them, if you did add them later).  Simmer for about 5 minutes. 

Combine the milk, vanilla and 1/2 the beaten egg.  When the 5 min has passed slowly pour the milk mixture into the rice while stirring very quickly (bits of egg not so yummy in this case).  Remove from heat and it will thicken as it cools.  Serve with extra cinnamon, whipped cream, or just enjoy as is.

Here's the end result:

Let me say that it was just what I needed.  I didn't add any nuts though, there are those who swear by adding walnuts to a rice pudding.

Do you like pudding?  What's your favorite?

Until we eat again!

P.S. I'll work on adding pictures as I make things...sometimes I get so busy with my family that I forget!