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Turkey Stock

Turkey Stock

In my, not so, humble opinion a great Thanksgiving dinner starts with good stock.  So many recipes will call for chicken broth, but I have found that substituting it out with homemade turkey stock adds a much richer flavor than any canned chicken broth can offer.  For this recipe, I roast the ingredients over very high heat to get a darker color.  With color comes flavor.  You know you have nailed it, when the stock turns to gelatin upon cooling.  I treat this stuff like liquid gold and I think I could just drink it by the cupfuls.

Yield: 20 cups

Ingredients:

  • 15 pounds turkey legs
  • 6 yellow onions, quartered with skin on
  • 6 celery stalks, leaves removed and very coarsely chopped
  • 6 carrots very coarsely chopped
  • 48 cups water (12 quarts)
  • 15 parsley stems, leaves removed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns

Directions:

  1. Place rack in lowest position in oven.  Preheat to 500F.
  2. In batches, roast turkey legs in a large roasting pan for an hour, turning halfway through.  Transfer turkey legs to a large stockpot (I had to use 2 stockpots to fit everything).
  3. Next roast onions, celery, and carrots for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Transfer vegetables to stockpot.
  4. Deglaze roasting pan by heating on stove and adding 4 cups of water.  Add liquid to stockpot(s).
  5. Add remaining 44 cups of water to stockpot(s), parsley, bay leaves, and peppercorns.  Heat over low heat for about 12 hours tasting along the way.  When it’s ready, it should have a rich mouthfeel and deep flavor.
  6. Once you are happy with the flavor, strain the stock, refrigerate, and skim fat off of top.
  7. Reheat strained and skimmed stock over low heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Use refrigerated within a week or freeze for 6 months.
 
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Posted by on November 16, 2013 in Made from Scratch, Uncategorized

 

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Homemade Ricotta Cheese

I made this again yesterday and I forgot how easy and amazing homemade ricotta is. Try adding it to your lasagna. You will not regret one single ounce of this creamy goodness!

afunfoodie

Ricotta Cheese

Yield: 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Slowly bring milk, cream, and salt to a boil.  Stir often so milk doesn’t scald on bottom of pot.
  2. Once boiling, add lemon juice, reduce heat to simmer, and stir just to mix.
  3. Let mixture curdle for approximately 2 minutes.
  4. Pour mixture through fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth and allow to drain for an hour.
  5. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Note: Use within 2 days.

Recipe adapted from “Epicurious.com; Issue of Gourmet April 2006.”  Link to original recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Fresh-Homemade-Ricotta-234282

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Posted by on November 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Pan-Seared Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta and Parmesan

Pan-Seared Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta & Parmesan

Now that it’s November all I can think about is Thanksgiving.  It is my favorite holiday.  Obviously the emphasis on food doesn’t hurt, but it is just a no-stress enjoyable time with the family.

I love brussel sprouts and have decided to add them to our Thanksgiving dinner this year.  We have a couple of gluten-free eaters and this will just be another option for them and me to load up on!

I have made this twice now, both on weeknights and it has been devoured before we can even get to the rest of the food.  It’s quick, easy, healthy, and delicious!

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 1 pound brussel sprouts
  • 1 oz pancetta*
  • 1 tsp. bacon fat, olive oil, or duck fat**
  • 1/2 oz Parmiggiano-Reggiano, finely shredded
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Remove stray, ratty looking, or loose leaves from brussel sprouts.
  2. Fill a large bowl with some ice cubes.  Set aside.
  3. Fill a heavy pot with 6 cups of water and 1 tsp. coarse kosher salt.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Add brussels sprouts to water and blanch for 3 minutes.  While sprouts are blanching, fill bowl of ice with cold water.  Remove sprouts from heat and plunge into ice water immediately to stop cooking.
  4. Once cooled, transfer brussels sprouts to a cookie sheet lined with paper towels.  Dry brussels sprouts completely.  Cut brussels sprouts in half, lengthwise.
  5. Cut pancetta in strips, and crisp in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat.
  6. Melt 1 tsp. bacon fat** in a cast-iron skillet over high heat.  Add brussel sprouts.  Using tongs to turn brussel sprouts until all are turned on their flat side.  Allow to sear for 2 minutes.
  7. Add balsamic vinegar and pepper to skillet and stir to coat brussel sprouts.  Remove from heat.
  8. Sprinkle brussel sprouts with pancetta strips and parmesan.  Serve immediately.

* Pancetta doesn’t have as much fat to it as bacon so will burn if the heat is too high.  Remember we’re talking pancetta here, prosciutto doesn’t deal with heat too well so get your P’s right people!!!

**I used bacon fat because I always have it in my fridge.  That’s how I roll!  You can certainly use olive oil.  I would steer clear of extra-virgin for this recipe because you are going to pan-sear these babies over high heat and you wouldn’t want to ruin their amazing flavor with oxidized oil.  If you want to be super luxurious use duck fat.  I wasn’t going to do this for a Tuesday dinner at home, but I will seriously consider it for Thanksgiving.  It really would bring this dish to a whole new level.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2013 in Fall, Sides, Uncategorized

 

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Roasted Squash with Wilted Spinach and Bacon-Shallot Vinaigrette

Roasted Squash and Wilted Spinach Salad with Bacon-Shallot Vinaigrette

I don’t think I have ever eaten what would be considered a “healthy” salad in my life.  My thought process goes more like this, “Well I’m not eating a cheeseburger so therefore I am allowed to put whatever I want on my salad and not feel guilty about it!”  This recipe is no different.  This salad was created for enjoyment of all the fall colors and flavors.  The health factor takes a very distant third in terms of what I cared about when creating this recipe.

This is not a difficult recipe but it is a bit more time-consuming that what I would typically do for a weeknight.  If you roast the squash beforehand however, this recipe will come together in a flash.  There will probably be leftover squash but it makes a great side dish for the rest of the week.

Yield: 4-1st course servings or 2-dinner servings
Active Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 (2 pound) butternut squash
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 (6oz) bag baby spinach
  • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. shallot, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 oz. soft goat cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Fry bacon in a heavy skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer bacon to paper towels and strain bacon grease.  Reserve bacon fat.
  3. Cut ends off of squash and cut in half.  Remove seeds.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel butternut squash to remove outer layer.  Cut squash into 1 inch cubes.
  4. Toss squash with 1 Tbsp. reserved bacon fat.  Spread squash on a cookie sheet in a single layer and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30-45 minutes until you can just pierce through with a fork.  Remove from oven, and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Return to oven on a low broil until caramelized.  Remove squash from cookie sheet to a plate*.  Set aside.
  5. Return oven to 400F, and roast onion with 1 tsp. bacon grease for 15 minutes.
  6. To make the dressing, heat 2 Tbsp. bacon fat in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add shallots and saute until softened.  Add the apple cider vinegar and apple cider to skillet and allow to reduce for 10-12 minutes until the mixture becomes thickened.  Once the dressing has thickened, whisk in the Dijon mustard and olive oil.  Season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste.  Immediately toss warm vinaigrette with spinach to wilt.
  7. Arrange spinach on plates and top with roasted squash, roasted red onions, and crumbled goat cheese.  Use a grind of fresh pepper to finish.

* Remove the squash from cookie sheet while still warm.  If you wait until it cools, like I did, the squash will stick to the cookie sheet and it will be hard to remove.  If this does happen, just place the cookie sheet back in the oven until warms and it should again become easy to remove.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2013 in Entrees, Fall, Salad, Uncategorized

 

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Cheesy Polenta (Grits)

Cheesy Polenta

Today we are back in South Dakota to visit an oldie but a goodie friend and my parents.  It is pheasant opener here so we are all decked out in orange.  Otis can’t wait to go find some birds and on a chilly Fall morning a hearty, stick to your bones bowl of grits is perfect to sustain us all day.  We’re hoping for roasted pheasant for dinner, but if no birds come our way, we will just have to have another bowl of these creamy cheesy grits and that would be just fine too.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups 2% milk, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 2 cups coarse ground cornmeal (not instant)
  • 2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 6 strips bacon, diced and cooked

Directions:

  1. Bring chicken broth, 2 1/2 cups milk, and salt to a boil.  Watch closely to make sure this doesn’t boil over.  I say this because that’s exactly what happened to me!
  2. Slowly whisk in grits.
  3. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir for about 20 minutes until thickened.
  4. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk and stir to incorporate.
  5. Stir in cheese and butter.
  6. Stir in bacon.
 
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Posted by on October 19, 2013 in comfort, Entrees, Uncategorized

 

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Falafels with Tzatziki

Falafel

Sometimes I get a hankering for falafels and although it’s sometimes easier to go to my local Mediterranean restaurant and pick them up, they are honestly so much better homemade.  Unlike a lot of take-out places, these falafels are crispy on the outside and smooth on the inside with a lot of flavor to carry them on their own without being dried out.  The tzatziki adds a creaminess to bring the whole thing together for a fresh and quick dinner.

If you have a food processor or blender these come together in a snap.  The main ingredient is garbanzo beans so they are very inexpensive to make, and I think are good reheated.  It makes for a much more interesting lunch than a peanut butter sandwich.

Servings: 8
Active Time: 45 minutes
Inactive Time: 4 hours

Ingredients for Tzatziki:

  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded (use other half of cucumber as garnish for falafel)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Ingredients for Falafels:

  • 2 (15 oz) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour + more for coating falafel
  • 2 tsp. cumin, fresh ground
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • Oil for frying (peanut, canola, corn)
  • 4 warm pita breads, cut in half
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced cucumbers
  • Hot Sauce
Directions for Tzatziki:
  1. Grate cucumber and sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt.  Transfer to a fine sieve set over a bowl to catch liquid.  Allow to drain for 2 hours.
  2. Transfer strained cucumber to a bowl.  Stir in Greek yogurt, sour cream, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt.
  3. Refrigerate for 2 hours before using to allow flavors to meld.  Can be made up to 2 days in advance.

Directions for Falafels:

  1. In a food processor, combine garbanzo beans, 3 Tbsp. flour, cumin, minced garlic cloves, and 1/2 tsp. cayenne in processor until combined. Add 3/4 cup onion, egg, and pulse until ingredients are finely chopped.
  2. Transfer to a bowl.  Roll mixture into 1 inch balls, then roll in a bowl of flour.
  3. Pour oil into a heavy skillet and heat over medium-high heat.  Once oil is hot add four falafels at a time making sure to not overcrowd.  Turn after about 2 minutes to brown on all sides.
  4. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
  5. Serve falafels in pitas with tzatziki, diced tomatoes, diced cucumbers, and hot sauce.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on October 12, 2013 in Beans, Entrees, Made from Scratch, Uncategorized

 

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Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Mac 1

Mac-n-Cheese is one of those things in life that so many of us have in common.  I come from a family of 6 and am the baby, baby, baby.  My sisters and brother are 12, 10, and 8 years older than me, so my siblings were very much a part of my upbringing.  I remember very clearly when my oldest sister Terry watched me I always requested Kraft mac-n-cheese.  That’s right, I had the “blue box blues.”  I loved it when she made it for me because she would add all the butter and milk that the recipe called for.  When my mom made it, I think she secretly added water and margarine.  Bleck!

As I have gotten older, I no longer crave the blue box, but my love of mac-n-cheese certainly has not faded.  These days I love a rich, creamy bechamel based cheese sauce, baked, with a crunchy panko topping.  I happened to get a block of bleu cheese for 99 cents at the grocery store this week and needed to use it, so decided to morph my usual cheesy mac into a buffalo chicken recipe.

I hope this recipe brings back as many homey and comforting memories for you as it did for me.  Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese

Yield: 8 Servings      Active Time: 30 minutes     Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded chicken breasts, poached or rotisserie
  • 3 cups medium shells
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 Tbsp. powdered mustard
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce (preferably Valentina)
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 oz. extra-sharp white cheddar, coarsely shredded (about 4 cups)
  • 1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
    For Topping:
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup bleu cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Poach enough chicken breasts to measure 2 cups shredded or use 2 cups rotisserie chicken.
  3. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the shells 5 minutes.  You want them undercooked.  They will absorb the creamy cheese sauce in the oven and come out perfect.  Drain and set aside.  Do not rinse.
  4. In a heavy skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and stir constantly for five minutes.  Slowly stir in milk and cream.  Increase heat to medium and whisk to remove any clumps.
  5. Add onion, bay leaf, and hot sauce. Simmer for about ten minutes or until the sauce thickly covers the back of a wooden spoon.  Reduce heat to low and remove the bay leaf.
  6. Temper in the egg (instructions below).  This is an important step.  Don’t skip it!
  7. Stir in the cheese, salt, and pepper. Fold in the macaroni.
  8. Pour into a casserole dish. Top with bleu cheese.
  9. Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese 3

How to Temper an Egg:
  1. Whisk egg in a bowl.
  2. Add a spoonful of sauce to egg while whisking.
  3. Continue adding a couple more spoonfuls while whisking.  Then add warmed egg mixture to sauce in skillet.
  • The purpose of tempering the egg is to slowly bring the egg to the temperature of the hot sauce.  If you add the egg directly to the sauce it will scramble and give you an awful curdled texture.
  • The egg, when tempered properly, will give a nice creamy texture to your finished dish.
 
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Posted by on October 4, 2013 in comfort, Entrees, Uncategorized

 

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