Sunday, November 30, 2008

Refreshments will be served

So for those of you who know me personally may know that I was recently made the the "P. Prez" (aka, primary president, aka over all the kids at church) and if you know me really well, you probably laughed out loud when you heard the news. November is a time for the "Priesthood Preview" which as the new P. Prez I was in charge of. So I got it on the calendar, invited the children and their parents, etc, and was well on my way to fulfilling my duties. Last night I climbed into bed to cuddle up with my iphone (I know, I'm suppose to say husband, but I do love my iphone) and it reminds me, "Priesthood Preview: Tomorrow 7 pm." Oh dear, I completely forgot. For those of you in my church understand well, all church activities and firesides lure people in with the promise, "refreshments will be served." I had no refreshments. Of course fairb being the male that he is says, "We have the pumpkin pie leftover from Thanksgiving, and some cookies and cream ice cream in the freezer, just use that." Oh dear, does he not know who he is married to? If I am in charge, the food MUST be good. So I tossed and turned with anxiety over no refreshments. Then I had a true revelation . . . .Chocolate eclair cake! Its easy, its elegant, kids like it, and I had all the ingredients! So I went to bed in peace, knowing I could make a treat, true to form. Here it goes . . . . . This is inspired by my sister-in-law Laurie, who after bringing this cake to a function was officially made the family dessert maker.
Chocolate Eclair Cake
1 stick butter
1 c water
1 c flour
4 eggs
1 large box instant chocolate pudding
1 8 0z pkg cream cheese, softened
1 quart whipping cream, whipped and sweetened with vanilla and sugar
optional garnishments
Bring butter and water to a boil. Turn off and immediately add flour and beat till smooth. Add one egg at a time beat each one in until smooth. Spread like frosting into a greased cookie sheet

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes until browned.

Meanwhile, make pudding according to instructions, add softened cream cheese and beat till smooth. Let set. Spread over the eclair crust.

Next add sweetened whip cream. Spread smooth and add desired garnishments. Its fast, its easy, its fancy, and its refreshments . . . .

Had lots of family up for dinner tonight . . . Fairb is out of town. I don't like it when fairb is out of town, especially on a Sunday. When fairb is gone it means one of two things, we are having chicken or pork, because he will not eat either. Tonight I ventured out of my normal realm and had a pork loin roast. I braised it in chicken stock, sparkling apple juice, onions, garlic, bay leaf, sage, and of course a crap load of salt and pepper. Turned out pretty good . . . .

Friday, November 28, 2008

Its begining to look a lot like Christmas, at my house anyway.

Even before getting all the dishes done from Thanksgiving dinner, I had to get the Christmas tree up. Putting up the tree the day after Thanksgiving is a long standing tradition in my family. So as soon as we got up, we started with the Christmas decorations (actually, the first thing I did was take my son to the doctor who had a high fever, sick kids is kind of a tradition too I guess). We blasted Christmas music on Pandora and started unwrapping ornaments. Fairb and I travel a lot (correction, I used to travel a lot, now I am a single mom a lot while he travels) and instead of bringing home crappy souvenirs we will never use, we like to bring home Christmas ornaments. I let the kids put on the ornaments, and they only broke about 3! Not too bad. Christmas is the best time of the year, and the best time to eat! So now that the decorating is done, lets get cooking!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Like a turkey strutting his feathers: A cook on Thanksgiving Day.

Have you ever heard that there is something in turkey that actually makes you tired?
I read an article today that said that although there is the chemical tryptophan in turkey that induces sleepiness, it has no more of it than chicken or cheese. So the concept is really a myth. Then why am I so tired right now?
A successful thanksgiving. Everything came to the table as perfection (actually, we didn't even bring the food to the table, the was no room!) and I did it all with my two little hands, and I loved every minute of it. Like a turkey strutting his feathers. Everyone oohed and aahhed over the food, and I sent all the leftovers home with the in-laws (save it some rolls, turkey and some pie). Thanksgiving is a good day. No presents, no parades, just a day to stay home, be with family a give thanks. I am very thankful indeed . . .

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

must . . . find . . .bed: Day 2

Pies made . . . stuffing prepped . . .turkey brinded . . .cornocipa put out . . .roll dough made . . . must sleep . . . 6 am wake up to put in the turkey. . . . and what about the kitchen?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

So many pies, not enough people: day 4 and 3

So I skipped day four. My intention was to do candied yams. The reality is, I don't really have a "special recipe" for candied yams. I just do it the straight forward way. Slice, boil, baking dish, salt, pepper, butter, brown sugar, marshmallows, bake, eat, yum. So there is day 4.

Day 5: Pie filling

Last year I made 7 pies. 2 banana cream, 1 lemon sour cream, 2 berry, 1 apple, and 1 chocolate cream, (and I bought a pumpkin, I have never tasted a pumpkin pie that was significantly better than I store bought one). This year I am only having 7 adults to dinner (Fairb's family is coming down execpt his sister who just canceled, if you could only read the blog in my head right now . . . .). So now I am struggling what pies to make. This is one pie I am definitely making because it is fairb's favorite. This is the easiest pie recipe, and it is the best banana cream I have tasted (I have tried Martha's recipe, which is painful to make, and this one is better). This is a recipe taught to me by my friend Lori, the pie goddess. You can do the exact thing for chocolate cream, just use a chocolate pudding box.

Banana Cream Pie
1 small box instant banana cream pudding
½ can (7 0z) sweetened condensed milk
7 oz water
1 ½ c heavy whipping cream
2-3 bananas
1 cup heavy whipping cream whipped with sugar and vanilla to taste.

In mixing bowl, mix together water and sweetened condensed milk. Add dry pudding mix and beat until mixed well. Refrigerate. Ina separate bowl, beat whipping cream until stiff. Fold pudding mixture into whipped cream. Peel and slice banana and layer with pudding mixture into baked pie shell. Chill until set, (about 1 hr) garnish with whipped cream and more bananas if desired.

This is also taught to be by Lori. The key is to thicken the sauce first, and then add the berries at the end. That way you have to joys of whole berries and not a big sloppy concoction.

Berry Pie
1 ½ lbs frozen berries (1/2 bag tripe berry blend from costco)
1 c sugar 1 T lemon juice
¼ c cornstarch 2 T butter. Thaw berries in microwave for 3-4 minutes. Collect juice from thawed berries and save. Mix together sugar and corn starch in sauce pan. Add juice from thawed berries and about 1 cup of the thawed berries. Mix together over medium and stir until boils and thicken. Add remaining berries. When thick, take off heat and stir in lemon juice, and butter. Fill unbaked pie shell and bake at 425© for 15 minutes. Turn heat down to 350© and bake for additional 20-30 minutes

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Don't mash it, Rice it! : Day 6

Mashing potatoes, pretty standard fare. But have you tried using a potato ricer ?


A potato ricer is a tool ( I got this one at target) that makes the potatoes lighter and fluffier. As I learned from Chef Kent Anderson, using a rice prevents over working the gluten in the potatoes which makes the potatoes heavy and starchy. After your potatoes are tender enough to easily poke with a fork, drain the potatoes and press the potatoes through the ricer. Put you butter and sour cream in the pot first (on low) and let them heat up as you rice in you potatoes.

Tips on good potatoes:

Don't over cook the potatoes, that makes them grainy

Do use, butter, sour cream, cream, or buttermilk (did I say or, I meant all!)

Do use plenty of salt in the water

Saturday, November 22, 2008

No Fail Pie Crust: Day 6

So my mother taught me how to make a pie crust, it was good, but it was pretty painful, and it looked pretty ugly. I've watched Martha Stewart make a pie crust, and she used a food processor to cut in the cold fat which I thought was smart, but one false move, one extra drop of water and the pie crust becomes disaster. Hey, good things take effort right?
There is something about me that I am not proud to admit. In my own laziness, I tend believe that if its more expensive that is the better product, and if the recipe is arduous it probably produces the better result. Well tell that to the bargain shopper, and tell that to the woman who taught me this pie crust recipe! They will tell you I am dead wrong!

I asked my neighbor and friend Lori to teach a pie class in my home last year before Thanksgiving because she is famous for her pie. We had a packed house, and it was the night I threw Mom and Martha's pie technique out the window. So thank you Lori! She also makes awesome sweet rolls and bread!

No fail pie crust

4 c flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 T sugar

1 t salt

1 3/4 c Crisco (butter flavored)

1/2 c water

1 egg

1T white vinegar

Mix together flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Add Crisco and cut in with pastry cutter, fingers, or a couple forks (it will come together pretty fast) and it will be crumbly and and look like this

Next, measure water, drop the egg in the water and the vinegar. Pour into the flour mixture and mix it all up (easiest to do with your hands). Once its all combined, divide into 4 balls. With a nice floured surface, roll out into 4 pie crusts. To bake a shell (like for a cream pie) it takes 10- 15 min at 425 degrees. Put it in the shell and stab it with a fork all over. Then use pie weights (if you are Martha Stewart) or use rice or dried beans on some tin foil. You put tin foil on the pie crust and pour the beans on top of the tin foil so it weighs down on the pie crust. This prevents it from puffing up to much.
I have had more compliments on this pie crust and it truly is no fail!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Family Tradition: the Cornucopia day 7

Ever since I can remember, as a kid nothing I looked forward to more (maybe equally to the homemade rolls) was the cornucopia. We didn't fill our horn of plenty with the fruits of the harvest, but rather and abundant variety of cookies and candy. Mom would cover all the treats with plastic wrap so we could all see it, but no one could touch it till after dinner. Now my children, (who are candy obsessed, I wonder where they got that from?) look forward to the cornucopia. I'll will have to post the real picture of our horn a plenty after the holidays.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Clam chowder

Tonight I went to 'Enrichment Night' and the church, (and I took my mother, a miracle I know). I signed up to bring a soup. So I fed my family with it first and rushed it down to the chapel. This is a soup my mother taught me to make.
Looking at the list of ingredients, one can conclude that soup is not good for you., but is dang good. Its better that Market Street Grill's clam chowder. Alright, I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty sure it is Market Street Grill's recipe.
1 c diced potatoes
1 c diced leeks
1 c diced green pepper
1 c diced onions
1 c celery diced
2 cans clams in clam juice
1 T ground pepper
2 1/2 t thyme
4 t salt
1 t Tabasco
6 bay leaves
3/4 c white wine, or sherry wine
2 c water
1 1/2 stick melted butter
1 c flour
2 quarts half and half

Combine the flour and butter in a oven proof dish to make a roux, bake in the oven for about 20 minutes to cook the raw flavor out of the flour. Start to simmer the potatoes in the water with the salt. Now the next step I added after going to Certified Executive Chef Kent Anderson cooking class. He taught us you should always saute and aromatic vegetables before they get put in a recipe. He said they need to release their oils, otherwise even though they are cooked, they will still taste raw. So instead of throwing all the other vegetables in the pot to boil, I sauteed the leeks, onions, peppers, and celery in a tiny bit of oil. To this I added the pepper, and thyme.
Just after they became fragrant, I added to the saute pan the wine and poured it into the stock pot with the potatoes. Next I added the clams and their juice, and the Tabasco sauce. I simmered everything until the veggies were way cooked down. Then I added the roux. This should turn it to almost cookie dough consistency.

Then you add the half and half. Then you have to heat it all up again until it thickens up. Do not boil it. Just a simmer.
Serve with a yummy crusty bread and a big salad!

Gusteaus Motto, everyone can cook (vegetables): Day 8

So my son Porter wanted to get in on this directing stuff like dad. He wanted to take a picture of me holding up a saute pan, this is inspired by Chef Gusteau in the movie Ratatouille. Porter took the picture, Alta, also wanting in on the action grabbed her own pan. Everett who is the youngest, knowing that when he is older he probably won't have any baby pictures for his wedding video (no youngest child ever does) tried to get in on the action as well. I believe in Chef Gusteau's motto, everyone can cook, but I'd prefer little rats not cook in my kitchen.
With no proper segway, today I am blogging vegetables. CORN and GREEN BEANS. So when I got my new kitchen I wanted new pans. I bought these really fancy pans that are surgical grade stainless steal, handles come off, don't need hot pads, stack nicely, supper heavy duty. Anyway, one of the sell points (which didn't sell me frankly) was you don't have to cook your vegetables with water. Anyway, so ever since I got them, I always cook my frozen corn, and my green beans (fresh or frozen) without water. I love it because not only is that healthier, but in taste and texture it was better. I always suspected that it wasn't my pans in particular that made this possible, but any decent pan could do it. I put that to the test tonight with the corn.
I pulled out one of my old, not so fancy pans and tried it without water; turned out great, this is what I did.

I get the white corn from costco (white is the only corn in my world)

Poured some corn in the pot till half way full. Kept it on high for about a minute, stirred. Turned it to med for about 2 minutes, stirred. Turned it down to low for about 8-10 min (this is all covered mind you with a tight fitting lid). Added salt and pepper, and butter. It tastes better, its not water logged and it plumps up the corn and gives it a nice almost roasted taste Keep in mind, it can be burned if not watched. Try it I dare you!

You must have always have a green vegetable, I choose this . . .

These are costco's fresh green beans (already snipped, priceless). I cook the beans (waterlessly, with the beans wash them that way they have a little moisture) or you could steam them. But don't over cook them, you want them a little crisp still. Meanwhile saute some mushrooms in butter, when the mushrooms are almost tender then add the beans and give them another minute together in the pan. Salt and pepper. So pretty, so yummy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jump on the gravy train: Day 9

There are all kinds of ways to make gravy, there are tedious "french" ways and there just plain wrong ways. I do it the easiest, tasting good way. Now the foundation to a good gravy is the drippings to which your meat cooked in, and if you well seasoned your meat, your gravy will also be seasoned well.
Let it be known, my blog has become a family affair. I have a director and producer now, and I didn't even hire them. My husband, whom I call "coach" because he is always "coaching" me on everything, even when he doesn't know crap, has made himself the director. My friend Don, who is video producer by profession (see here) suggested I post a video on my blog, so he pulled out some serious gear at Sunday dinner last week. The director really wanted to do a second take, he had some serious issues with the impromptu script, but the food was done, it was time to eat. I have my priorities. So here is our youtube debut.

So your turkey might not have enough liquid in the drippings, and since you used a roaster, you will need to pour everything into a sauce pan, try to scrape as much of the brown bits and possible. Add potato water if you need more liquid, you could also add a little butter or cream. Make sure you taste it!

The stuff Thankgving is made of: Day 10

So I am feeling inadequate . . . .

I went to Chefs Table today for Certified Executive Chef (which is a really hard thing to be, I learned) Kent Anderson's cooking class on holiday cooking. That guy know his stuff! That's what happens when you throw down 100,000 dollars for culinary arts school. So he taught how to cook a lot of the things that I will be blogging about this week, thus I am humbled and feeling a little mortified really. . . .

Ok, I am over it now. His food tasted good, dang good. My food is also good, dang good. One thing I noticed about Kent Anderson, Certified Executive Chef is that he is very cocky about his food, that is one thing we have in common, I am cocky too! Anyone who considers going to one of his classes, I highly recommend it. Call me, I'll go with you.

So this is not my stuffing, but it will look like this . . .


I am sure you have heard, never stuff a turkey because it breads salmonella etc. This is true, but I still stuff the turkey, the difference is, I pull it out of the turkey and bake it again, ridding it of all possible disease.


1 loaf of dried white bread (not cheap bread, good bread) dried out for a day and cubed

1 onion chopped

6-7 sliced mushrooms

2 stalks celery sliced

1 box stove top stuffing

1-2 cans chicken stock

pine nuts

1 clove garlic minced


fresh or dried sage

bay leaves

First take tiny amounts of all the above ingredients and put it in some cheese cloth (maybe a 1/4 of everything) and stuff it in the turkey.

1 hour before the chow bell, saute the onions, mushrooms, celery, garlic and pine nuts in a liberal amount of butter (half stick at least). Till everything is aromatic and softened. Mix together bread and stove top together in a large bowl. Pull the stuffing out of the turkey (which should be pretty much done by now) and dump it in with the bread. Dump in the veggies and add just a little sage (1 t dried 2 t fresh) a little sage goes a long way. Add three bay leaves. Mix it all together and put into a baking dish. Pour the can of chicken stock ( if you want a little moister stuffing, pour in some more) . Cover and bake for 30-45 minutes at 400. Like it a little crispy? uncover for part of the time.

cooked a great meal tonight . . .

Made homemade french bread and everything. Don't worry, I will make it again and share the recipe soon. So keep reading, and have you be sharing my blog with your friends yet?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Day 11: Let's talk turkey

this is not my turkey, mine will be better, I am sure!
I am getting straight to business, how are you going to cook that Turkey! ( ok so this not my turkey in the picture, as a matter of a fact, my turkey probably doesn't look this good, but I can guarantee my turkey will taste better than this one!)

So in my journey of perfecting Thanksgiving dinner, I had to overcome a problem. I have two ovens (if you only have one you are really in trouble!) and I need to roast a turkey, bake the stuffing, bake the sweet potatoes and bake the rolls! Also, sorry mom, I am a white meat girl and I was sick of dry white meat. So through my journey of self discovery I have come up with a masterful, slow roasted thanksgiving turkey.

So first we must do KITCHEN TOOL OF THE WEEK

The roaster. Aside from thanksgiving, I use this all the time and they are not that expensive. Pick it up on one of you thousand trips to wallmart.
To warn you, this is going to be a looooonnnngg post. Its serious business, this turkey stuff.
Get a fresh turkey, don't mess around with the frozen ones. Go to costco, get a fresh turkey.
Before you roast it you will need to brine the Turkey. Get your cooler out. Here is the brine recipe:
For ever gallon of water you need a cup of salt
Every gallon of water you need a 1/2 c of sugar
Now this stuff needs to be dissolved, make half the water hot enough to dissolve the sugar and salt, then add ice cold water to it. The water must be cold, you are creating disease if your water is warm.
Next add liberal amounts of fresh spices ( sage, thyme, rosemary, peppercorns whatever you like), garlic and onions. Put the turkey in the brine for at least 12 hours. Put the cooler outside if its cold, or add ice if needed.
Take the turkey out of the brine and thoroughly rinse it off. Pat dry. Now we can't use the roaster yet because we need to brown the skin and the roaster will not do this properly. First we have to stuff it and tie it up. Ok, you are going to put stuffing in a cheese cloth and put it in the turkey, more will be explained on stuffing day. You have to tie up the turkey so all the limbs are in tight. Put your turkey on a cookie sheet, and give it a nice rub down with oil; salt and pepper (go light on the salt because the brine will already make it salty) Put the turkey in the oven at 500 degrees for about 30 minutes (watch it, I kind of burned the skin one year) till the skin is browned pretty.
Now transfer the turkey and all the drippings and brown pieces (that will be your gravy) into the roasting pan. Sprinkle the turkey with sage, garlic powder and dried onions. Add about 2 cups hot water, 2-3 T chicken base and 6-7 bays leaves, and anything else you like (carrots, onions, celery, more garlic, lemons let you creativity flow) Roast at 225 degrees for 10 hours or at 190 for 12 hours. Make sure the turkey reads 165 and the thickest part of the thigh with an instant read thermometer. Not done yet? just turn it up. Don't want to get up in the middle of the night to start the turkey( depending on when you eat) forgo the slow cooking and cook at a higher temprature in the roaster. My fingers are sore . . . . . tomorrow stuffing!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's the big count down! 12 days till Thanksgiving!

I took over cooking Thanksgiving about 3 years ago. We take turns celebrating with my family or the in-laws ever other year, but I cook every year. The reason is, Thanksgiving must be done right, and I definitely have an opinion on how to do it right! So to get excited, I am doing a count down to Turkey Day. All the recipes you will ever need to do a traditional Thanksgiving dinner!

Today, out of this world rolls (that is their name, literally). These were brought warm to the Thanksgiving table ever since I can remember. We ate them on Thanksgiving, and only on Thanksgiving. I bust these out occasionally outside of turkey day, but next to the big bird, they define Thanksgiving to me. Luckily, if you are a baby to bread making, this recipe is for beginners and requires no kneading. Recipe makes about 3 dozen rolls, I always double it, but you need a big bowl and a big fridge to do that (or a cold back porch where to dogs can't reach!)

2 T yeast proofed in 1 c warm watter and 2 t sugar. set aside.

1 c butter melted

2 c warm water

4 t salt

6 eggs

4 1/2 c flour

1/2 c sugar
Mix together with a hand mixer in a huge bowl till smooth, add yeast mixture and blend till smooth. Add 4 more cups flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Dough will be very sticky! It will also be noted that my mothers original recipe called for a cup of sugar,  I reduced it to 1/2 cup. Cover with Pam sprayed wrap and put in the fridge overnight. The dough should almost double when its time to shape.

Begin to shape dough 3 hours before you want to serve them. You need to be working with cold dough, as warm dough will be too sticky! Take half the dough and turn it a couple times on a floured surface, then roll out into a circle about a 1/4 inch thick. Spread with melted butter. Cut into triangles and roll into crescent shapes.

Place on a greased cookie sheet. Repeat with second half of dough. Cover rolls with a tea towel (the kind of towel that doesn't have fuzzies) and let raise till nice a puffy.

Cook at 400 degrees for 10-14 minutes, until brown and yummy looking. Serve warm.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It seems I eat a lot of BYU food, that's not a good thing.

So another banquet of sorts and BYU this weekend. They mean well, they really they do. What I can say nice about BYU catering is they have the best ranch salad dressing. As a matter of a fact, I go the BYU creamery and buy it. The desert was pretty good, but it always looks better than it tastes.

So as my grandfather was getting an award for his achievements in entrepreneurialism I was taking pictures of my food with my iphone. I definitely got some funny looks, but I was trying to be incognito!

So I have my pizza dough in the fridge ready for "family pizza night" I have a feeling this is going to catch on. Maybe tonight I will do a little chicken, artichoke pizza . . . .

Friday, November 14, 2008

Its a baby shower!

So my sister, who is 9 and a half years my elder is due any day now with her fifth child. The kicker is, her youngest is in the first grade. Needless to say, it was a surprise! She really inspires me. So much so that she inspired me to make my husband get a vasectomy within weeks of her revealing she was pregnant. Seeing how she has long since gotten rid of all things baby, we decided to throw her a shower. However, we insisted that the guests gifts were hand-me-downs. So my sister-in-law, Laurie did what she does best, invite everyone and provide a clean house, and I did what I do best, the food.

I did beef and barley soup, home made rolls, and spinach and strawberry salad, and a lemon berry tart for desert. Also to drink, I did a apple slush.

If you want a nice, earthy, hardy soup, this is the soup for you. Also, this is one of the meals I was tell you about, when you use your leftover roast beef from Sunday dinner.

3-4 diced red potatoes
2-3 diced peeled carrots
1-2 sliced celery
1 diced onion
1/2 c pearl barley
6-8 cups beef stock
leftover roast beef with gravy
salt pepper
1 t thyme
2-3 bay leaves
Get your beef broth boiling while you prep the veggies. Put the barley in once it is boiling. Add the veggies, thyme and bay leaves, add salt and pepper to taste (remember the beef stock is already salty). Turn to med-low and simmer till veggies are tender, then add leftover roast beef and gravy. Continue to simmer and taste.

Lemon Berry Tart

Lemon curd filling (Paula deans recipe)

3 large lemons, zested and juiced

1 c sugar

1/2 butter melted

4 eggs

Using a food processor, pulse together sugar and zest. Add lemon juice and eggs and blend. Then add melted butter slowly pulsing as you go. Then thicken on the stove over simmering water. (put in a bowl that can sit over a pot of simmering water) Stir often till thicken. Paula's recipe says 5 minutes, but it took me much longer.

Now I used a tart pan which has a false bottom so you can take it out of its tin, but you can use a pie tin or any other shape you want to bake in.

So you use a pie crust( like I said you are going to have to wait for the best pie crust ever) Bake your pie crust, then fill it with the lemon curd. Top most beautifully with berries. Serve with fresh whipped cream (cool whip is a sin in my house).

I also did a spinach salad with strawberries, goat cheese, pomegranates, red onions and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. That recipe will be for another day.

The apple slush, huge crowd pleaser and super easy. Get some fresh apple juice (you know the kind they sell with the produce) and put it in your punch bowl and put it in the freezer. One hour before your party pull it out of the freezer and let it soften. Slice some apples and pour some sprite over it. You'll probably have to smash it with a knife a little as well. Way good.

Now the rolls, two words. DANG GOOD. However they also will be debuting in the "12 days of Thanksgiving" Stay tuned . . . .

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chicken Pot Pie

Tonight, the American classic, chicken pot pie. My husband, was a vegetarian when we married. Me, the lover of all foods knew that this just would not do. Although I added many vegetarian dishes to my reptuare I just couldn't cook for a vegetarian; imagine all those amazing dishes . . . . wasted. So, I suggested to him that I'd stop drinking coke if he would eat meat once a month. He choose beef because he had a ethical struggle with chicken, (or something like that, in one ear and out the other, if you know what I mean). So the deal was sealed. I went off the drink, and he started to eat beef once a month.Being the cunning person I am, I knew he would love my meat, and he did. (insert evil, diabolical laugh) Once a month became quite more frequent, and now he craves it. As for me, I fell off the wagon and drink 1 or 2 cokes a day. He threatens vegetarianism occasionally, but I know he could never follow through (insert laugh again). Although, he, to this day will not eat chicken, turkey or pork. But he cannot deny the chicken pot pie . . .

Leftover roasted chicken and gravy

1-2 potatoes diced

2 big carrots diced

1 onion diced

1 big handful frozen corn

1 big handful frozen peas

1 can chicken stock



salt and pepper


season salt


pie crust

In a sauce pan melt the butter (as much as you are comfortable with 2 T at least) and add the carrots, potatoes and onion saute a little then add a sprinkle of flour (1/4 c ish) then add peas, corn and chicken stock. Simmer till potatoes are almost tender, check the liquid levels add some milk if necessary. Add salt pepper and season salt to taste, and a couple sprinkles of thyme. add the chicken and gravy till all mixed together and tasting good, (doesn't taste like much? add some salt!) You want it kind of soupy and runny, otherwise you chicken pot pie will be dry. That is where the milk comes in.

Put your filling in your desired baking dishes (notice I had some individual size ones for the kiddies) and top with a pie crust. Make it look pretty and add some slits for the steam to escape. Paint the crust with an egg wash, (whisk and egg and use a pastry brush)

Then bake in the oven about 30 min at 350 till nice and browned and bubbly.

What kind of pie crust should I use do you ask? Well you could use a store bought crust, or you could use the easiest, yummiest, fool proof pie crust recipe. My friend Lori taught me this pie crust and its perfection. However, you will have to wait for my, "12 days of thanksgiving" for the recipe to be revealed . . . . stay tuned.

Kitchen tool of the week

The mandolin

When I was in high school all my friends played the guitar, they all had this cool "indigo girl" vibe, so I thought I would have a go at the mandolin. It turns out, music really isn't my thing, but this kind of mandolin I can play. . . .
So mandolins are used to slice and/ or julienne food. They are great not only for the recipe below, but when you are cooking big stir fry, and they will also cut this criss-cut. Be warned, don't buy a cheap one, I bought a cheap one and it didn't work well, so I took it back and bought this one at William's and Sonoma. Of course, a good old sharp knife can always do the trick, but like I said, the mandolin is much more fun to play!
Last nights dinner was salmon, broccoli, watermelon, salad and cheesy scalloped potatoes. After many attempts and many read recipes, I have mastered the scalloped potato. So here it goes . .

2 or 3 large potatoes thinly sliced

1 small onion; fine diced
1 garlic clove; minced 
1 c milk
1 c heavy cream
1 t salt
1/2 t fresh gound pepper
1 c shredded cheese
1 T oil or butter

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a cast iron skillet, or cast iron pot (something that is can go on the stove and the oven).  Saute the onions and garlic until fragrant on stove.  Add the cream and milk, and season with the salt and pepper.  Add the potatoes.  Make sure there is enough liquid to cover the potatoes, barely.  Bring to a boil and allow to boil.  Once its to a boil, remove from the head and add the cheese.  Give it a little taste, do you like the taste? Good put it in the oven.  Is a little bla still?  Add a little more salt.  Put in the oven uncovered and about for 35-45 minutes.  Until the top is nice and brown and the potatoes are tender.  

Monday, November 10, 2008

Your body is screaming for this!

Have you ever heard people say that after you add all the toppings and dressing to a salad that its not even that healthy? That is a defamation of character, and the salad should sue! Put all the ranch dressing you want! Getting those raw, whole foods into your belly makes your body so happy, who cares how you got it down. Make a big salad and serve every night of the week at your dinner table. Even if you your kids won't eat it, they will watch you it and one day their body might just get the salad itch. . . .

Tonight, I served my green salad with the meal that probably millions of American families sat down to tonight. Spaghetti and meatballs!

Spaghetti is the classical meal that is quick and a kid pleaser. This was the first meal I ever learned to make. My family still recounts me at 5 years old making spaghetti for the family. It was the meal I requested on my birthday, to be eaten on the "you are special today" red plate. To this day, I make it at least twice a month and I love it. I make extras for lunch leftovers. When I was five, would cook the ground beef then pour in the jar of spaghetti sauce.(along with a few extra spices, including sugar) . Now, in my adulthood, I have upgraded to meatballs.
I will say, I'm not sure I have mastered the meatball (so any comments of the masterful meatball would be great, I am always striving for perfection!) but here is what I do.
1.5 lb lean ground beef
1 egg
1 clove garlic minced
2 t salt
1 t pepper
few dashes basil
couple dashes oregano
dash cayenne pepper
2 or 3 T Parmesan cheese
handful of bread crumbs
I mix it all together with my hands and shape into balls. I brown them a little, then I pour the bottled spaghetti sauce over the meatballs and simmer them for about 15-20 minutes.

I can't wait for my leftover lunch.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Surprise guests on sunday

First call of the morning was from my brother-in-law, t-dog, "you got any room for us at Sunday dinner?" Despite having to get out of bed to answer the call, I cheerfully said, "of course." During church I got a text message from my next brother, "wife out of town, have enough food for us?" to which I text back, "come on up."
So that was a total of 12 extra guests up for Sunday dinner. No biggie. I relish in it. Good thing I always put plenty of meat on.
The roast, the foundation of the Sunday dinner, and the building blocks to countless other meals (of which you will learn on this blog). So read on to learn how to do a fool proof, tasty roast. . . .
First, buying the roast ( do I even need to say it? costco). I buy the round eye roast, but I call it the triangle roast, because it is shaped like a triangle with fat on one side. I always buy this roast because I like the the fat on one side, so you can roast it with the fat to make it moist, but you cut off the fat before you serve it. Second, (1) Put you roasts in your roasting pan (one with a lid) with fat side sideways. Salt and pepper the crap outof it. Put in the oven at 450 and get in nice and browned (2). Once it is browned add, two or three crushed garlic cloves, a healthy sprinkle of dried onion, five or six bay leaves, 2 or 3 tablespoons of beef base, and enough water to half way- 2/3 covering the roast (3). Put it in the oven at 275 for 5-6 hours ( don't have that kind of time? aka 9 am church-- 325 degrees for 3-4 hours)
(4). You will have a nice dark broth that you will not have to add anything but a thickening agent to for gravy (5). It will be super moist and fall apart, just waiting to be scooped up with mash potatoes and gravy (6).

Master this and you will be able to make many meals to please your family, not just the sunday dinner.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

this makes me happy

So Fridays and Saturdays I don't cook, I give the kitchen a break. So tonight it was good ole' boxed mac and cheese. My children love it when I don't cook! This child does not do this when I cook.

One night my husband put hot dog slices in the mac and cheese, I literally gagged. My children have officially deemed fairb (my husband) the best "chef" in the family. If it isn't totally obvious (sense the sarcasm) I am a total food snob. So instead of cuddling up to the fire with a bowl of mac and cheese, I had this . . . .

Creamy tomato basil soup and artisan bread from . . . (wait for it) . . . .COSTCO! where else. It was really tasty.
Anyhow, so yes I make boxed mac and cheese, but no, I do not eat it!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pizza for Porter

Yesterday was my son's birthday. So for his birthday, I made pizza to take to his class for lunch (don't have a heart attack, he only has 8 kids in his class). But first I must tell the story of the pizza. So I have tried pizza before many times. Each time the pizza came out just ok. To me it was sub par and I was better off calling the pizza guy, and the only reason I ever did it was to do something fun with the kids. I had searched recipes and tried different varieties and techniques, but nothing was impressing me. Then I saw the light . . . .

I was down in Popeville (the neighborhood where all my siblings live) and my brother's family was making their usual weekend pizza. I decided to go see how my sister-in-law does her pizza. I tasted it . . . . best stinking pizza in the valley. Seriously.
Being the lover of all things created in the kitchen, I had to know exactly how it is done, and this is how . . .
First, you must know there are things you have to purchase, and its the only way. You have to get a thick baking stone (the pampered chef ones are just ok . . ), and you have to get high gluten flour (not just bread flour). I bought mine online here.

My sister-in-law told me you could get the flour at lehi roller mills, but I ordered my flour online here.

The flour needs to have at least 14 percent protein content.
You can also get pizza screens here. But the second time I did pizza I just used a wood peel which you can also get at the same site.

I am not saying this is going to be easy folks, but you will make the best pizza you have ever had and it is going to cheaper than going to Brick oven.
The dough (this is a doubled recipe 4 12 inch pizzas)
1 c warm water
1 t yeast
2 t sugar
1 1/2 c cold water
2 t olive oil
2 1/2 t salt
6 to 7 c high gluten flour
( in a stand mixer) dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water. Mix salt in 2 c of the flour. Add proofed yeast mixture, cold water and oil and mix (should be like pancake batter). Switch to dough hook and start adding more flour. Add enough flour till you have a stiff dough. Knead for about 5 min, till dough is elastic. When you roll in into a ball and pinch the middle between your fingers, it should only relax a little when you let go, if it goes right back to form, keep kneading. Now here is where you must have patience. Cut the dough into two pieces, roll them into a ball and put them into pam sprayed ziplock and put them into the fridge for TWO DAYS MINIMUM! They have to raise in the fridge for two days! The dough should get to about double is size.

So you have waited, your pizza day has come. Hopefully you have already gone to costco and got their perfect pizza cheese blend, is mozz, provolone, and cheddar. Sauce time:

1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
3 t salt
2 t sugar
1-2 t pepper (your preference on spice)
1/4-1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves minced
2 t basil leaves
1/2 -1 t oregano

Mix that all together in a sauce pan and heat to mix all the flavors together, what you don't use you can save for next week.
Your pizza stone should be on the bottom rack of the oven. Turn you oven to its highest setting, mine is 500. You need to heat the oven for a least 30, so the stone is nice and hot.

Time to shape the pizzas, best to use you hands. Hard to describe really, but know that it isn't easy, and you pizzas probably won't be too pretty. If you use the pizza screens, they are helpful in stretching out the dough. My sister-in-law only uses the individual screens because the dough is difficult to stretch. The warmer the dough, the easier it is to shape, so pull the dough out of the fridge about an hour before shaping.

add sauce
add cheese
add toppings

If you are using a screen, set right on the stone and after about 7 minutes remove the screen and let the pizza sit on the stone. If you shaped you pizza on the pizza peel, (make sure you use corn meal) then shake the pizza right onto the stone. They take about 10-12 minutes to cook. Check them to see when the crust is browned.

It is good, I don't know if I will ever buy a pizza again. My sister makes dough every week and always has dough in her fridge ready to go for when her family craves pizza. I know this post was way to long, any questions, just post them on the comment board and I will answer them.