Friday, December 15, 2017

Pomegranate Balsamic Glazed Salmon

Want an easy salmon dinner midweek that comes together in minutes?! This is it! I absolutely love making salmon for weeknight dinners because it's so easy and quick. Thanksfully, Dr. Sweetpea loves salmon for dinner regularly. I saw the recipe for the Pomegranate Balsamic Glazed Salmon on America's Test Kitchen and knew it would be a hit. It's sweet, tart, and thick so it doesn't drip off the salmon. Dr. Sweetpea raved about how good salmon was and ate two servings for dinner! 

Pomegranate Balsamic Glazed Salmon
(Source: America's Test Kitchen) 

1              teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2         teaspoon kosher salt
1/4         teaspoon cornstarch
4              center-cut skin-on salmon fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each (see note)
Ground black pepper
1              teaspoon vegetable oil

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine brown sugar, salt, and cornstarch in small bowl. Pat salmon dry with paper towels and season with pepper. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture evenly over top of flesh side of salmon, rubbing to distribute. Heat oil in 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place salmon, flesh side down, in skillet and cook until well browned, about 1 minute. Using tongs, carefully flip salmon and cook on skin side for 1 minute. Remove skillet from heat and spoon glaze evenly over salmon fillets. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until center of thickest part of fillets registers 125 degrees on instant-read thermometer and is still translucent when cut into with paring knife, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer fillets to platter or individual plates and serve.

3              tablespoons light brown sugar
3              tablespoons pomegranate juice
2              tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1              tablespoon whole grain mustard
1              teaspoon cornstarch
pinch cayenne pepper

Whisk ingredients together in small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; simmer until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Cookies 2017

It's December, so that means it's Christmas cookie baking season!!! I made a plethora of cookies to be mailed out this year again and they are all DELICIOUS!! Dr. Sweetpea brought some of the cookies to work to share with his colleagues and everyone asked for my recipes because cookies were addicting. So without further a do, below are the recipes for the cookies that I baked this year:

Cherry Pistachio Biscotti
(Source: Ina Garten) 

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature, one separated (I used regular large eggs)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
11/3 cups almond meal or almond flour, such as Bob?s Red Mill
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/2 cup whole dried cherries
Turbinado sugar, such as Sugar in the Raw

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, gradually add the 2 whole eggs, the egg yolk (reserve the egg white), and vanilla and mix until combined, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula.

In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry mixture to the butter-sugar mixture, mixing only until combined. Scrape down the bowl and beater and make sure all the ingredients are combined. Stir in the pistachios and cherries.

Roll the dough into a ball on a well-floured board and cut in half. With floured hands, roll each piece into a cylinder about 11 inches long by 2 inches in diameter and place them 3 inches apart on the prepared sheet pan.

Place the reserved egg white in a bowl and beat with a whisk for 15 seconds. Brush the logs with the egg white (save the rest!) and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon of turbinado sugar. Bake for 45 minutes, until lightly browned (the logs will be soft). Cool for 30 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 275 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. With a serrated knife, slice the biscotti 1/2 inch thick at a full 45-degree angle. Place the slices cut-side up on the prepared sheet pans. Brush them with the egg white and sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar (I didn’t do this part). Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, turning each slice once, until browned and fully baked. Transfer to a baking rack to cool.

Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies
(Source: Fine Cooking)

8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3 oz. cream cheese (I use Philadelphia brand), softened at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
11 1/4 ounces (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour, sifted
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Colored sugars or other decorations for sprinkling (optional)

Heat the oven to 375°F. With a stand mixer (use the paddle attachment) or a hand mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat again until blended. Add the flour and mix on low speed until blended. Fit a cookie press with a die plate. Scoop up about a quarter of the dough and, using a small amount of flour if needed, shape the dough into a log just narrower than the barrel of the cookie press. Slide the log into the cookie press and spritz the cookies directly onto ungreased baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Brush the tops with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with colored sugar if using. Repeat with the remaining dough. Bake until the cookies are just golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes (it’s best to bake one sheet at a time). Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet on a rack for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. Be sure the baking sheet is cool before spritzing more cookies. Store at room temperature or freeze in an airtight container, separating the cookie layers with waxed paper.

Chocolate Toffee Butter Cookies
(Source: Cooks Country) 

2 1/3      cups all-purpose flour
1/2         teaspoon baking powder
1/2         teaspoon table salt
16          tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened but still cool
1            cup packed light brown sugar
1            large egg
1            teaspoon vanilla extract
1            cup Heath Toffee Bits (without chocolate)
1 1/2      cups semisweet chocolate chips
1            tablespoon vegetable oil
2/3         cup pecans, toasted and chopped fine

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together. With electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture in two batches, and mix until incorporated. Stir in toffee bits. Divide dough in half and roll each piece into log about 9 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Flatten logs until 2 1/2 inches wide. Wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 1/2 hours. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using chef’s knife, cut dough into 1/4-inch slices; transfer to baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake until just browned around edges, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating rack position and direction of baking sheets halfway through baking time. Cool cookies completely on baking sheets. Use remaining dough to make second batch of cookies. Transfer baked cookies to wire rack set in baking sheet. Melt chocolate and mix with oil in bowl until smooth. Dip part of each cookie into melted chocolate or drizzle chocolate over cookies with spoon. Sprinkle pecans over cookies. Don’t touch until chocolate sets, about 1 hour.

Linzer Cookies
(Source: NY Times)

3  cups/435 grams all-purpose flour
1  cup/156 grams raw, skin-on almonds (or 3/4 cup/75 grams almond flour)
1 1/2  teaspoons ground cinnamon (I omitted)
1  teaspoon baking powder
1  teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2  cups/341 grams (3 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4  cups/250 grams granulated sugar
2  large eggs
1  teaspoon vanilla extract
1  cup/290 grams raspberry jam
 Powdered sugar, for dusting

Pulse together flour and almonds in a food processor until the almonds are very finely ground. Add cinnamon, baking powder and salt, and pulse to blend. (Alternatively, whisk together flour, ground almonds or almond flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.)

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together on medium-high until the mixture is light, fluffy and pale, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla extract, and beat until everything is well combined, again stopping to scrape down bowl as necessary.

Add in dry ingredients all at once and mix on low speed, just until incorporated.

Divide dough in 2 equal pieces, and wrap each piece in cling film, patting into a 1-inch-thick disk. Chill at least 2 hours, up to 5 days ahead.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper so it's about 1/8 inch thick. (Because of the almonds, the dough may crack in places while you’re rolling it out. This is O.K., just patch it up with scraps.)

Using a round cookie cutter 2 1/2 inches in diameter, cut out as many circles as possible. Take half of these circles and cut out a 1-inch circle from the interior of the larger circles, creating a doughnut shape that will become the top of the cookie. If at any point the dough becomes too soft to cut and cleanly remove from parchment paper, slide it onto a cookie sheet and chill for a few minutes in the freezer or refrigerator. Gather any scraps of dough, combine them and roll them out, chilling as necessary. Transfer dough circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet spaced 1 inch apart and bake until the edges are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

To assemble the linzer cookies, spread about a teaspoon of raspberry jam onto the flat sides of the larger circles. Dust the tops of the cutout circles with powdered sugar and place on top of raspberry jam.

Chocolate Blossoms
(Source: America's Test Kitchen)

1 cup (5 ounces) all purpose flour
1/4 cup (3/4 ounce) Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup (4 2/3 ounces) sugar
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
24-26 Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses, unwrapped

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heave oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Microwave butter and chocolate in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring often, until melted, 2 to 4 minutes;  let cool slightly. Add sugar, egg and white, and vanilla and whisk until combined. Using rubber spatula, stir in flour mixture until just incorporated. Let dough sit until thickened, about 5 minutes. 

Working with 1 tablespoon of dough at a time, roll into balls; space balls 2 inches apart on prepared sheets. Bake until puffed and just set, 10 - 12 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Working quickly, remove sheets from oven and place 1 candy in center of each cookie, pressing down lightly. Return sheets to oven and bake 2 minutes longer. Let cookies cool on sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool completely before serving.  

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Homemade Marshmallows

If I knew making marshmallows at home would be so easy, I would have made them from scratch YEARS ago! They are SO much better than the stuff that you buy at the grocery store. Dr. Sweetpea kept raving about how tasty the homemade marshmallows are and kept grabbing one or two whenever he was in the kitchen. I'm planning on dipping these in chocolate next year and giving them away in the cookie tins. Definitely a keeper! 

Homemade Marshmallows
(Source: Ina Garten) 

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly. With a sieve, generously dust an 8 by 12-inch nonmetal baking dish with confectioners' sugar. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top, and dust with more confectioners' sugar. Allow to stand uncovered overnight until it dries out. Turn the marshmallows onto a board and cut them in squares. Dust them with more confectioners' sugar.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Oven Fried Chicken

Dr. Sweetpea loves loves LOVES oven fried chicken. He has mentioned over and over again how his mom made the best oven fried chicken while he was growing up. I've made a few different varieties over the last several months, but I think I finally found the recipe that is really better than what he ate as a child. It's super easy to make and the chicken is perfectly crispy, juicy, and flavorful after it's baked. Dr. Sweetpea kept commenting on how this is the best oven fried chicken he's ever had. This will be something I make regularly for us.

Oven Fried Chicken
(Source: Melba's American Comfort Cookbook)

6 chicken thighs (I removed the skin) 
6 chicken drumsticks (I removed the skin)
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (I used ground poultry seasoning)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I increased the cayenne pepper to 1/2 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
3/4 cup dried panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup dried Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. 

Put the chicken in a bowl and season with poultry seasoning, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. in a second bowl, combine the bread crumbs, salt, and pepper to taste. Combine the milk and mayonnaise in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken pieces in the milk mixture and then in the bread crumbs. 

Lay the breaded chicken in the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes. Then turn it over and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until it is done. When done, it should register 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer and when pierced with a fork, the juices run clear. Transfer to paper towels to drain before serving. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Beef Stroganoff

While I was flipping through the latest Cooks Country magazine, I realized they had a beef stroganoff recipe using ground beef. This immediately brought me back to my days in college where I made the Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff in my apartment regularly since it was filling, easy, and cheap. Needless to say, I wasn't a very healthy eater when I was in college since I hate a TON of processed food. I graduated with my undergraduate degree in 2009 so it's been several years since I stopped eating eating processed foods and making everything from scratch at home.  Anyway, when I started making this recipe, not only did it smell amazing but it came together incredibly fast. Another perk? It's absolutely delicious with no preservative laden ingredients!!! It's definitely a keeper for easy week night meals for us.

Beef Stroganoff 
(Source: Cooks Country)

2              tablespoons vegetable oil
8              ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
Salt and pepper
1              onion, chopped fine
2              garlic cloves, minced
1              pound 85 percent lean ground beef
3              tablespoons all-purpose flour
4              cups chicken broth
1/4           cup dry white wine
8              ounces (4 cups) egg noodles
1/2           cup sour cream, plus extra for serving
2              tablespoons minced fresh chives

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms begin to brown, 5 to 7 minutes; transfer to bowl.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty pot and return to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add beef, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, breaking up meat with spoon, until no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add flour and stir until beef is well coated; cook for 1 minute. Stir in broth and wine and bring to simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Cook until mixture is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in noodles, reduce heat to medium, and cook, uncovered, until noodles are tender, 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Off heat, stir in sour cream and mushrooms until fully combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to shallow platter and sprinkle with chives. Serve, passing extra sour cream separately.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Chocolate Glazed Doughnut

Dr. Sweetpea has been asking me to make doughnuts for him again, so I tried out a recipe from the NY Times. It's super straight forward and absolutely delicious. In fact, this is the recipe that I'll be using going forward for all our doughnuts because they were so dang delicious. As for the chocolate glaze, I whipped up a batch of Chocolate ganache (no recipe since I didn't measure) and dipped the doughnuts in the chocolate. 

(Source: New York Times) 

1 1/4 cups milk
2 1/4 teaspoons (one package) active dry yeast
2 eggs
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
2 quarts neutral oil, for frying, plus more for the bowl

Heat the milk until it is warm but not hot, about 90 degrees. In a large bowl, combine it with the yeast. Stir lightly, and let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, beat the eggs, butter, sugar and salt into the yeast mixture. Add half of the flour (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons), and mix until combined, then mix in the rest of the flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add more flour, about 2 tablespoons at a time, if the dough is too wet. If you’re using an electric mixer, the dough will probably become too thick to beat; when it does, transfer it to a floured surface, and gently knead it until smooth. Grease a large bowl with a little oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl, and cover. Let rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and roll it to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out the doughnuts with a doughnut cutter, concentric cookie cutters or a drinking glass and a shot glass (the larger one should be about 3 inches in diameter), flouring the cutters as you go. Reserve the doughnut holes. If you’re making filled doughnuts, don’t cut out the middle. Knead any scraps together, being careful not to overwork, and let rest for a few minutes before repeating the process.

Put the doughnuts on two floured baking sheets so that there is plenty of room between each one. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place until they are slightly puffed up and delicate, about 45 minutes. If your kitchen isn’t warm, heat the oven to 200 at the beginning of this step, then turn off the heat, put the baking sheets in the oven and leave the door ajar.

About 15 minutes before the doughnuts are done rising, put the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and heat it to 375. Meanwhile, line cooling racks, baking sheets or plates with paper towels.

Carefully add the doughnuts to the oil, a few at a time. If they’re too delicate to pick up with your fingers (they may be this way only if you rose them in the oven), use a metal spatula to pick them up and slide them into the oil. It’s O.K. if they deflate a bit; they’ll puff back up as they fry. When the bottoms are deep golden, after 45 seconds to a minute, use a slotted spoon to flip; cook until they’re deep golden all over. Doughnut holes cook faster. Transfer the doughnuts to the prepared plates or racks, and repeat with the rest of the dough, adjusting the heat as needed to keep the oil at 375. Glaze or fill as follows, and serve as soon as possible.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Oatmeal Muffins

I've been looking at various ways to get Dr. Sweetpea to eat more oatmeal. Lately, I've been making overnight oats for him (a huge hit in our household but that's for another post) and then I came across this Oatmeal Muffin recipe. I'll admit we were both pleasantly surprised because we were expecting it to be really dense since there is so much oatmeal in the muffins. In reality, the muffins were super moist and fluffy. These are the best Oatmeal Meal muffins we've ever had and definitely will remain in our regular repertoire to make over and over again.

Oatmeal Muffins
(Source: Cooks Illustrated) 

1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup (1 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup pecans, chopped fine
1/3 cup packed (2 1/3 ounces) light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 6 tablespoons melted
2 cups (6 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/3 cups packed (9 1/3 ounces) light brown sugar
1 3/4 cups milk
2 large eggs, beaten

FOR THE TOPPING: Combine oats, flour, pecans, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl. Drizzle melted butter over mixture and stir to ­thoroughly combine; set aside.

FOR THE MUFFINS: Grease and flour 12-cup muffin tin. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add oats and cook, stirring frequently, until oats turn golden brown and smell of cooking popcorn, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer oats to food processor and process into fine meal, about 30 seconds. Add flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda to oats and pulse until combined, about 3 pulses.

Stir 6 tablespoons melted butter and sugar together in large bowl until smooth. Add milk and eggs and whisk until smooth. Using whisk, gently fold half of oat mixture into wet ingredients, tapping whisk against side of bowl to release clumps. Add remaining oat mixture and continue to fold with whisk until no streaks of flour remain. Set aside batter for 20 minutes to thicken. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

Using ice cream scoop or large spoon, divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (about ½ cup batter per cup; cups will be filled to rim). Evenly sprinkle topping over muffins (about 2 tablespoons per muffin). Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 18 to 25 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking.

Let muffins cool in muffin tin on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove muffins from muffin tin and serve or let cool completely before serving.

Saturday, November 25, 2017


Dr. Sweetpea and I have a yearly tradition of cooking a massive Thanksgiving meal at home for the two of us. We always end up making too much food and eat leftovers for daaaaays but I wouldn't have it any other way. Both of us love cooking and love spending time together in the kitchen so I love that we do this yearly. This is definitely a tradition that we plan on keeping! So without further a do, here is the food that we made for our Thanksgiving meal!

Alton Brown's Turkey

1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young 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 allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied 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
Canola oil

2 to 3 days before roasting:

Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F. Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, 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, and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:
 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, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

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. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

Extra Crunchy Green Bean Casserole
(Source: Cooks Country) 

1/2         cup panko bread crumbs
1              tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2      cups canned fried onions

2              pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3              tablespoons unsalted butter
1              pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
1              tablespoon minced fresh thyme
2              garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2      teaspoons salt
1/2         teaspoon pepper
1/4         cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2      cups chicken broth
1 1/2      cups heavy cream
1/2         cup dry white wine

FOR THE TOPPING: Combine panko and melted butter in bowl. Microwave, stirring occasionally, until panko is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Let cool completely, then stir in fried onions; set aside.

FOR THE CASSEROLE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine green beans and 1/2 cup water in large bowl. Cover and microwave until green beans are just tender, about 8 minutes, stirring halfway through microwaving. Drain green beans in colander; set aside.

Melt butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper and cook until liquid is nearly evaporated, 6 to 8 minutes.

Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth, cream, and wine and bring to boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer green beans to 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Pour sauce over green beans and toss to combine.

Bake until bubbling and green beans are completely tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven, top with fried-onion mixture, and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve.

Sausage, Dried Cranberry, and Apple Stuffing
(Source: The Hearty Boys) 

1 pound mild bulk breakfast sausage
4 tablespoons butter
3 cups sliced leeks, white and pale-green parts only, cleaned well (about 2 large leeks)
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped
1 cup chopped celery with leaves
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 cup dried cranberries, rehydrated in boiling water for 15 minutes and drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
6 cups boxed bread cubes (I used a 12 oz bag of dried stuffing mix)
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 to 3 cups chicken stock (I used 3 cups of chicken stock)
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Saute the sausage in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, crumbling coarsely with the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage and drippings to a large bowl. Melt the butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, apples, celery and poultry seasoning to the skillet and saute until the leeks are soft, about 8 minutes. Mix in the drained cranberries, sage and rosemary. Add the mixture to the sausage, then mix in the croutons and parsley. Next add the chicken stock a little at a time until the stuffing is very moist. Be sure not to overdo it; it shouldn't be mushy. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a casserole dish. (The stuffing can be made to this point 2 days before Thanksgiving, refrigerated.)
Bake in a 14-inch oval or 9 by 13-inch rectangular casserole dish and place, uncovered, in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the top is crispy and the center piping hot. Remove and serve immediately.

Classic Cranberry Sauce
(Source: Food Network) 

1 pound cranberries (about 4 cups), thawed if frozen
2 medium oranges
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground coriander (I omit)
Kosher salt

Put all but 1 cup cranberries in a saucepan. Remove wide strips of zest from 1 orange with a peeler; add to the saucepan with the juice of both oranges (about 1/2 cup). Add the sugar, coriander, a pinch of salt and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries burst and the sauce thickens, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 cup cranberries; cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool; remove the orange zest. Transfer to a serving dish and refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
(Source: The Neely's) 

1 head garlic
Olive oil
2 pounds red potatoes, washed well and quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Slice off the very top of the garlic head. Drizzle head with olive oil and wrap in foil. Place on a sheet tray and bake until tender and fragrant, roughly 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Remove the cloves and mash with a wooden spoon. Place potatoes in a large stockpot and cover with cold water. Add salt and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender and drain. Mash the potatoes until smooth. Meanwhile heat butter and cream until butter melts. Add the roasted garlic and potatoes and mash all together. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Best Crab Cakes

Dr. Sweetpea and I went to Salt Air here in Houston a few weeks ago for dinner and had amazing crab cakes as an appetizer. I loved it so much that I had a craving to eat more but since they are so pricey, I decided to make some from scratch. I used Valerie Bertinelli's recipe and it was amazing! Dr. Sweetpea kept raving about how good they were and to definitely make these for us more often. Definitely a keeper in our household!

Lump Crab Cakes with Cocktail Remoulade Sauce
(Source: Valerie Bertinelli) 

4 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked through for bits of shell
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 pound baby spinach
Cocktail Remoulade, for serving, recipe follows
Lemon wedges, for serving

Pulse the bread in a food processor to make coarse breadcrumbs; transfer to a large bowl. Add the crab, mayonnaise, green onions, lemon zest, Worcestershire, seafood seasoning, hot sauce, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Mix gently to combine. Add the egg and mix gently but thoroughly.

For the mixture into eight 3-inch-wide crab cakes. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to set slightly.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the crab cakes, in batches if necessary, turning once, until golden brown on both sides and heated through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a large plate and cover loosely with foil.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach, in batches if necessary, and cook, tossing, until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide the spinach among four plates and top with the crab cakes. Serve with Cocktail Remoulade and lemon wedges.

Cocktail Remoulade:
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons finely chopped capers
1 green onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix together the mayonnaise, ketchup, horseradish, parsley, mustard, vinegar, capers, green onion and some salt and pepper in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. The remoulade keeps, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Dutch Apple Pie

Dr. Sweetpea has been asking me to make apple pie for several weeks and I finally caved. The Honeycrisp apples were on sale at our local grocery store so I bought those to make Dr. Sweetpea's pie. I'll admit that it was time consuming to make the pie crust, apple filling, and crumble all from scratch but it was TOTALLY worth it because the pie was amazing!!! Dr. Sweetpea raved about how this was the best apple pie that he has ever had. Admittedly, both of us had two big slices before the pie was completely cool. I think this is even better the next day. This apple pie is definitely one that I'll make for years to come.

Dutch Apple Pie
(Source: Food Network) 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
14 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons cold water

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 pounds baking apples, such as Golden Delicious, Cortland or Mutsu
2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons cornstarch (my addition)
Generous pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Streusel Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I omitted but I’ll use next time)

For the dough: Pulse the flour, granulated sugar and salt in a food processor until combined. Add the butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles yellow cornmeal mixed with pea-sized bits of butter. Add the egg, and pulse until the dough just comes together. (If the dough is very dry, add up to 1 tablespoon cold water.) Remove the dough, gently pat it into a round, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

For the filling: Meanwhile, put the lemon juice in a medium bowl. Peel and core the apples; cut each in half, and cut each half into 4 wedges. Add the apples and granulated sugar to the bowl with the lemon juice, and toss.

Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the sugared apples, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to simmer, about 2 minutes. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the apples soften and release most of their juices, about 7 minutes.

Strain the apples in a colander over a medium bowl to catch all the juice. Shake the colander to extract as much liquid as possible. Return the juice to the skillet, and simmer over medium heat until it has thickened and lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.

Toss the apples with the thickened juice, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Set aside to cool completely. (The cooled filling can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 6 months.)

For the streusel topping: Whisk the flour, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the butter, and rub it into the flour mixture with your fingers until it has been absorbed. Mix in the walnuts.

To assemble and bake the pie: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, place a baking sheet on it and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough disk into a 12-inch circle. Layer it between pieces of parchment or wax paper on a baking sheet, and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.

Ease the dough round into a 9-inch pie pan. Fold and crimp the edges as desired. Add the filling, and spread it out to make an even layer. Squeeze handfuls of the streusel topping, and drop clumps of it on top of the filling to completely cover it.

Bake the pie on the preheated baking sheet until the crust and streusel are golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes. Let it cool on a cooling rack for at least 3 hours before serving. (The pie keeps well, covered, at room temperature for 24 hours or refrigerated for up to 4 days.)

(Note: I didn't cook the apple pie filling before adding it to the pie crust. I combined all the pie filling ingredients together and piled on top of the crust and then sprinkled the streusel topping before I baked the pie)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Red Beans and Rice

Dr. Sweetpea loves LOVES loves red beans and rice. He always orders red beans and rice whenever we go to a restaurant that serve comfort food. So when I came across a recipe for it in Cooks Country, I HAD to make it at home for him. Yes, it takes several hours for it to cook but it's absolutely phenomenal. Dr. Sweetpea raved about how this is the best he's ever had!! In fact, I had two servings myself because it's that good. Also, it makes your kitchen smell wonderful while it's cooking! Definitely a keeper recipe for us.

Red Beans and Rice
(Source: Cooks Country)

4              slices bacon, chopped medium
1              small onion, chopped fine
1              green bell pepper, chopped fine
1              rib celery, chopped fine
4              cloves garlic, minced
Ground black pepper
1              teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves
1              teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/2           teaspoon cayenne pepper
4              bay leaves
Table salt
1              pound dried red kidney beans, rinsed and picked over
7              cups low-sodium chicken broth
7              cups water
1/2           pound andouille sausage or kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch half-moons
6              cups cooked long-grain rice (from 3 cups raw rice)
Hot pepper sauce

Cook bacon in large Dutch oven over medium heat until lightly browned and fat has rendered, about 7 minutes. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1 teaspoon pepper, oregano, thyme, cayenne, bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, beans, broth, and water, and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain vigorous simmer (mixture will be steaming and several bubbles should be breaking the surface) and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until beans are soft and liquid thickens, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Stir in sausage and cook until liquid is thick and creamy, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over hot cooked rice with hot pepper sauce, if desired. (Leftover beans can be refrigerated in airtight container for several days.)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Spicy Pretzel and Nut Mix

Who doesn't love snacking on pretzels and nuts while binging on favorite tv shows? Well, we were out of our favorite chips the other day and decided to whip up this batch of snack mix to eat while watching my tv shows. The snack mix is so good that I may have ate the whole batch in one sitting. Dr. Sweetpea told me to leave out the cayenne pepper next time but he also loved it! Definitely a keeper for us!

Spicy Pretzel and Nut Snack Mix
(Source: David Lebovitz) 

2 cups (200g) mixed raw nuts (untoasted); any combination of cashews, whole almonds, peanuts, pecan halves, and hazelnuts
1 tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons (45g) dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or another red pepper)
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt
2 cups (100g) small pretzel twists

Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and roast in a 350F (180C) oven for 10 minutes, stirring once for even toasting. In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, and maple syrup. Add the warm nuts, stirring until coated. Then mix in the salt and pretzels, and stir until the nuts and pretzels are completely coated. Spread the mixture back on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 12-18 minutes, stirring twice during cooking. Remove from oven and cool completely, separating the nuts and pretzels as they cool. Once cool, this mixture can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I asked my little brother if he would like me to bake up a batch of fresh homemade cookies and ship to NYC for him and his girlfriend to enjoy. He immediately told me that he would like Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Since I'd move mountains for my brother, I went to the grocery immediately after work and got all the ingredients to make the best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. These cookies were super easy to make AND so chewy! Who doesn't enjoy chewy cookies?! These cookies were a total hit with my brother and his girlfriend!!! 

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
(Source: Genius Kitchen) 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups oats (not instant)
1 1/2 cups raisins

Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk dry ingredients; set aside. Combine wet ingredients with a hand mixer on low. To cream, increase speed to high and beat until fluffy and the color lightens. Stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture until no flour is visible. (Over mixing develops the gluten, making a tough cookie.) Now add the oats and raisins; stir to incorporate. Fill a #40 cookie scoop and press against side of bowl, pulling up to level dough (to measure 2 tablespoons of dough). Drop 2-inches apart onto baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake 11-13 minutes (on center rack), until golden, but still moist beneath cracks on top. Remove from oven; let cookies sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Mushroom Oven Rice

I'm always on the lookout for a delicious side dish to serve with Dr. Sweetpea's meal. If I can't whip something up quickly, he'll always ask if I can make white rice as a side since it's so simple. I think it's so plain that I wanted find an easy but delicious rice side and came across this Mushroom Oven Rice recipe online. Dr. Sweetpea kept raving about how amazing our apartment smelled while the rice was baking in the rice. Needless to say, it only took one bite for him to fall in love with this dish. It smells amazing and tastes fantastic! Definitely a keeper in our household.

Mushroom Oven Rice
(Source: Taste of Home) 

1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth
1/3 cup water
1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce (I used 1 tablespoon only)
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

In a skillet, saute the rice in butter for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Add celery and onion; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook and stir until the celery is tender. Transfer to a greased 1-1/2-qt. baking dish. Stir in the broth, water, soy sauce and parsley. Cover and bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Crispy Mustard-Roasted Chicken with Cheesy Grits

I absolutely love Ina Garten. She's such a classy lady and all her recipes are delicious. Honestly, I don't think any of her recipes ever turned out bad. So when I saw her make this Crispy Mustard-Roasted Chicken, I knew I'd have to make it for our dinner since it's so easy. I made this mid-week and it smelled absolutely divine while it was baking in the oven. Dr. Sweetpea even said that our apartment smelled wonderful as soon as he stepped inside after coming home from work. I just love having a hot dinner ready for him to eat after he gets home from a busy day working in the hospital.The chicken was crispy, tender, and flavorful and the cheesy grits completed the chicken really well. I'm definitely making this meal for us regularly! 

Crispy Mustard-Roasted Chicken
(Source: Ina Garten) 

4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups panko (Japanese bread flakes)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup Dijon mustard, such as Grey Poupon
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used buttermilk)
1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chicken, cut in eighths (I used bone-in skinless chicken thighs)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the garlic, thyme, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the garlic is finely minced. Add the panko, lemon zest, olive oil, and butter and pulse a few times to moisten the bread flakes. Pour the mixture onto a large plate. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the mustard and wine.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle generously all over with salt and pepper. Dip each piece in the mustard mixture to coat on all sides, and then place skin-side down only into the crumb mixture, pressing gently to make the crumbs adhere. Place the chicken on a sheet pan crumb-side up. Press the remaining crumbs on the chicken pieces.

Bake the chicken for 40 minutes. Raise the heat to 400 degrees F and bake for another 10 minutes, until the crumbs are browned and the chicken is cooked through. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Creamy Cheddar Grits
(Source: Ina Garten) 

2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup fine quick-cooking grits (not instant)
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups grated aged sharp Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (4 scallions)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Grated Cheddar and chopped scallions, for garnish

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a heavy 4-quart saucepan. Add the salt, then slowly add the grits in a thin, steady stream, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the grits thicken, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the half-and-half and butter to the grits and stir. The mixture will seem thin but it will thicken as it cooks. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes, until very smooth and creamy. Off the heat, stir in the Cheddar, scallions, and pepper. Season to taste and serve hot with a sprinkle of grated cheese and scallions.