Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My Mothers Beloved Stuffing

My brother goes crazy over my Moms stuffing.  I like it but I am always tring new stuff so it has not been high on my priority list to make. Over the years I have come to appreciate it.  Now, I really love it.

The stuffing pictured above is not my Moms.  I will get a picture as soon as possible. 

I asked my Mom for the recipe.  Mom says, "I dont really have a recipe but I will do my best."

Mom's Stuffing

2 cups celery, chopped
2 cups onions, chopped
1/4 pound butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups of giblets
1 teaspoon dried and crushed sage
giblet broth
if needed canned or boxed broth
stuffing bread or Country white bread, kind of a dense bread (dried a little)

Cut bread into cubes, spread out on a cookie sheet and air dry over night.

Rinse giblets.  Boil in salted water until soft.  Save broth, set aside. Trim giblets and cut into little pieces.

Sauté onions and celery in butter with a little salt and pepper until soft. Remove from heat.

In  large bowl combine everything and two beaten eggs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Put enough giblet broth in there to get it really wet but not soupy.

Lightly grease pan. Bake at 350F covered initially (first 20 minutes) then remove cover. Bake a total of 45 minutes approximately.  If it is still really wet leave in oven 15 mire minutes. It won't hurt anything, says Mom.

Note:  You can add sausage or bacon, already cooked as well. Mom prefers Jimmy Dean, breakfast sausage.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


This cake is like, seriously, the BEST cake I have ever had.  Do not let this cake ever pass you by.  You must make it.  If you like cake, this is your cake.

I have been wanting to make this cake for like, two years.  My Mom's birthday was coming up and I thought I am not giving her a choice in cakes this year, I AM MAKING THIS CAKE.  Oh, I am so glad I listened to myself.  She loved it too.  She says to me after eating it.  This cake is a keeper.  Its in your top ten!

I wish I had taken more glamor shots of individual slices.  But alas, I sent my folks home with some and it was gone before I even had a chance.  The disappearing cake.  That kind of says it all.

slightly adapted from a recipe by from Fine Cooking
Issue 107

6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; more for the pans
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla

For the topping
1-1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2/3 cup pecans
1/2 cup unsalted, raw, hulled pepitas
2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. table salt
1-1/2 Tbs. chopped crystallized ginger

For the frosting
8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 oz. (1-1/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar

Make the pumpkin purée
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Brush a 9x13-inch baking dish with the oil. Put the pumpkin halves in the dish cut side down and bake until tender when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. Let cool. Peel the pumpkin and purée the flesh in a food processor until smooth. You’ll need 1-1/2 cups of the purée for the cake. Refrigerate or freeze any remaining purée for another use.

Make the cake
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans with removable bottoms (or butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, butter the parchment, and flour the pans).

Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not set, about 15 minutes. (*Be careful because there will be white foamy stuff on top from the milk particles in the butter. You wont be able to see the bottom browning easily.  Pay close attention because it will go from brown particles on the bottom to black particles real quick. Then it will just be bitter).

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves. In a large bowl, whisk 1-1/2 cups of the pumpkin purée with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk until very well blended. With a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Gently whisk in the brown butter until completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Bake the cakes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto racks, remove the pan bottoms or parchment, and cool completely.

Make the topping
Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and pepitas and cook until the pecans brown slightly and the pepitas begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and salt and stir until the sugar melts and the nuts are glazed, about 2 minutes. Stir in the ginger. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool in the skillet.
Make the frosting
Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until the solids settle at the bottom of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the bowl to the freezer and chill until just firm, about 18 minutes. Using a spoon, carefully scrape the butter from bowl, leaving the browned solids at the bottom; discard the solids.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light in color and the brown sugar has dissolved, 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Assemble the cake
Put one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread 1/2 cup of the frosting on the layer. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the nut mixture over the frosting and top with the second layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Arrange the remaining topping in a ring 1-1/2 inches in from the edge of the cake and serve

Make Ahead Tips
You can make the purée up to 2 days ahead. The assembled, frosted cake can be covered with a cake dome and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve at room temperature.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 660; Fat (g): fat g 36; Fat Calories (kcal): 320; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 18; Protein (g): protein g 7; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 80; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 4; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 440; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 115; Fiber (g): fiber g 2;

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wet Brining Your Turkey

If you haven't brined your turkey.  You must absolutely try this.  I know probably a lot of you deep fry your turkey.  Color me jealous, I have never had that kind of turkey.  I know, crazy, huh?   I hear everyone go on and on about it.  Since I have never even had it and it costs money, plus money for the oil, I just can't justify it.  Some day, at a garage sale, I will find one, and I might just buy it.

Until then, I will happily make my brined turkey. It's juicy and delicious and the gravy you make with the juices is amazing!

One week away till the American Thanksgiving!
Source:  Graphics Fairy

Brined Turkey

For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger or a chunk of ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage

About 2 to 3 days before roasting: Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Combine the salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature. Add in the vegetable stock.  Refrigerate.

About 24 hours before you plan to cook the bird start with these instructions. Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours. Turn the bird over about half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500°F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine. Place the bird on a roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels. I know this temp seems counter intuitive but really it puts a beautiful brown crust on the bird and traps in the moisture for the remainder of the baking process. Tuck the wings underneath the bird. Liberally smooth oil all over turkey skin.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. 

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500°F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161° F.

It's about 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting for a 20 pound turkey. Remove from oven. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving. A perfect amount of time to get your gravy done.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

garam masala and pumpkin spice

There was a couple things on my docket today.  Go through my spices and make some more of the mixes that I use a lot- especially in the fall.

Here are some of the things I use my garam masala for.

Butternut Squash Soup
Chickpea Tikka Masala

 Dum Aloo

 Lucknow Red Bean Chili (Rajma)

Carrot and Potato Indian Stir Fry

garam masala

1/4 cup cumin seeds
⅓ cup coriander seeds
2 tablespoons whole peppercorns (reduce to 1 tbsp for heat)
2 tablespoons whole cloves
2 tablespoons green cardamom
6 whole mace
6 cinnamon sticks
6 whole bay leaves
4 black cardamom, seeded
1 small whole nutmeg, crushed

Toast all the ingredients except for the nutmeg and black cardamom in a hot dry skillet for one minute.  Cool and grind add in the other ingredients. Make sure you take the black cardamom pods apart and discard the husks.

pumpkin spice 

⅓ cup ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg or mace
1-½ teaspoons ground cloves
1-½ teaspoons ground allspice

Add a gift tag with these instructions: “For pumpkin pie, add 1 to 1-½ teaspoons of spice mix to your other ingredients.”

Here are some of the recipes I use pumpkin spice for.

pumpkin donuts

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Pumpkin Tart

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Apple Cake

I had surgery this past week, so not too much baking and cooking going on here.  It is hard to chop things with one hand, especially round things, like onions.  My surgery was pretty simple, carpal tunnel and ulnar release.  All went well.  I was in good hands.  It was very fascinating experience. 

The nerve block they gave me- totally amazing.  Have you heard of that?  I never had. Essentially they block the area that will be operated on.  Totally dead, lifeless arm.  Very bizarre to have it flailing about.  My daughter repositioned me through the night.  What a good girl. 

I learned what it was like to have the other members of my family be caregivers to Mama...  I think they may need some more training.  I will just leave it at that.

While not having an arm, I thought many times what life would be like to not have a limb, with no hope of it returning.  I have always been impressed by that.  These are some of the true heroes.  Mind you I have many more heroes like that.... caregivers who deal with a loved ones illness day in and day out.  People who face life debilitating illness themselves day in and day out.  The list goes on.  Some pretty amazing people out there who fight the fight every day.

Now, how about some cake? This is seriously moist and flavorful.  It does not disappoint.

Apple Cake

1 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 baking apples such as Granny Smith peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4” dice
1 cup chopped pecans
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9x13 pan.

In a large bowl, stir by hand the oil, melted butter, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Stir in the apple and pecans. Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon to the bowl, and then stir until combined. This is a very thick batter, in fact it’s more like a cookie batter.

Spoon the batter into the baking pan or skillet, patting down the top so it’s even. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is lightly browned and an inserted knife comes out clean.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Its hard to stop eating these cookies.  Make them and share them at once.

These are not a sweet cookie.  I am totally okay with that. You can certainly add in, say a 1/2 cup of brown sugar if you want them sweeter... 

Next time, I plan to add 1 cup of pumpkin puree and 1/2 cup of coconut oil and see how that goes.  Not that it isn't perfectly delicious as it is but more pumpkin is more better for me.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut oil or butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
3 tablespoons ground flax
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cookie sheets with cooking spray or butter.

In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients flour, pumpkin spice, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl combine melted coconut oil, sugar, pumpkin puree, ground flax and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and blend until combined.

Fold in the chocolate chips. Place 1 inch balls of cookie dough scoop onto prepared sheets. With wet fingers smooth top of cookie down or you can use a bottom of a glass to press a little.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies become lightly golden. Let cool on a wire rack, then enjoy! Makes  about 55 cookies. Unless of course you like eating raw cookie dough.  No egg in here so you totally, safely can do that.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Positively Butternut Squash Pizza

At  a local pizzeria I get  what they call a Positano Pizza.  What does Positano mean?  Its a city along the Amalfi Coast.  I am sure that whoever named this pizza had some specific reason why he or she named the Positano.  In my mind, when I ordered the Positano (ah hem a couple of different times, at different visits) , I would think in my head, now, what was that pizza, oh yes, Positano. I know the name because it is "positively" good for you with its butternut squash all over it.  Isn't it funny how I can fool myself into believing a pizza is good for me?  Ha!

It is delicious!  I tried to make it home the way they did before but it just didn't come out to my liking.  This time however, I think I got it right.  Its not exactly what they do but it was delicious to me! I think I nailed it! My pizza picky husband agreed.

Positively Butternut Pizza

1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup butternut squash that has been cubed and roasted
Aleppo Pepper or Crushed Red Pepper
crushed black pepper
basil leaves

If you want a crispy pizza, there is all kinds of ways to go about it but here I took the easy route.  I used an air bake pan.  It worked perfectly.  I sprayed with pam and spread my dough on it.

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