Friday, November 30, 2012

Turkey Soup

Last night I turned the remaining turkey into turkey soup.  I filled a large stock pot with the turkey breast and covered it with water.  Then I added: chopped celery, carrots, and onions, as well as garlic, fresh thyme and sage, bay leaves, salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, and the leftover Thanksgiving gravy and beef broth.  I brought the soup to a boil and then reduced the heat to a simmer.  After an hour and a half, the meat fell right off the bones (which I removed). 

Tonight we had turkey soup and grilled cheese sandwiches - a perfect dinner for a rainy Friday night.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving Turkey Breast

Our Thanksgiving dinner was delicious!  Everything was from scratch - stuffing, party potatoes, cranberry sauce with pomegranates, and turkey. We even made butternut squash soup for our appetizer. 

For the turkey breast we used a recipe inspired from Ina Garten; surprisingly she did not include any butter to her recipe, so we added some in ours.

Serves: 6 

You'll need:
6 lb. turkey breast 
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup red wine
1 cup orange juice
1 cup beef broth


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the turkey breast, skin side up, in a roasting pan.

2. In a separate bowl, make a paste for the turkey by combining the garlic, mustard, fresh herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, butter and lemon juice. Smear the paste under the skin and on top of the skin.  You may have to gently loosen the skin away from the meat. 

3. Pour the wine, orange juice, and broth into the roasting pan.

4. Roast the turkey for 2 hours (20 minutes/pound) uncovered.  At the one hour mark, baste the turkey with the wine/broth/juice mixture that is in the bottom of the roasting pan.  Baste the turkey again every 15 minutes.  (We basted our turkey four times.)

The turkey skin was a beautiful brown from the red wine.  It was also super moist and flavorful.  I highly recommend this turkey breast recipe for your next turkey dinner. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Party Potatoes

Party Potatoes are a traditional side dish in M's family.  Boil, mash, and then bake the potatoes.  What's not to love about potatoes, sour cream, cream cheese, and butter! They're a party in your mouth!

For party potatoes, you'll need:
5 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into equal-size pieces
4 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. sour cream
4 tablespoons butter, plus a few pats of butter for the top
salt and pepper

About 8 servings 

1. Boil the potatoes in salted water until soft, about 15-20 minutes. 

2. Smash or mash your potatoes.  Add butter, sour cream, cream cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.  Blend together.

3. Place the party potato mixture in an oven-safe casserole dish, adding a few pats of butter on top.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350°F.  Then we broiled ours for a few minutes on high to get a golden brown top layer.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Pomegranates

I saw a cranberry sauce recipe here and decided to give this homemade cranberry sauce with pomegranates a try for Thanksgiving. It was tangy with a crunch from the pomegranate seeds.  M tried it, but preferred the canned cranberry sauce. 

For this side dish you'll need:
12 ounces fresh cranberries
1 apple, diced with the skin on
juice from orange (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
honey, to taste
1/2 cup of  pomegranate seeds plus 1/4 cup for garnish (about one whole pomegranate)
orange zest
less than a shot of whiskey

1. Place washed cranberries, juice, apple, water, orange zest, and spices in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the whiskey.
2. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Don't be alarmed when cranberries pop and open. Add honey to taste and adjust spices if needed.
3. Add 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds and gently stir them into the sauce. As this sauce cools it will continue to thicken.
4. Cool in the refrigerator.  When you're ready to serve, add the remaining 1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup garnished with nutmeg and croutons.

This butternut soup recipe is always a favorite in our house for holidays and in the cooler months. It's savory and a bit spicy. I have collected and tried several different squash soup recipes over the years - selecting the best aspects of each - and blending them into my own version.  

For this recipe you'll need:
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 small jalapeño, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic
2 carrots, grated
1 12 oz package of butternut squash, fresh or frozen
2 14.5 oz cans of chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with nutmeg and croutons 

1. In a stock pot, sauté the diced onion and jalapeño in butter.  Once these ingredients are translucent add the olive oil, garlic, and grated carrots.  Salt and pepper this layer and sauté for a few more minutes.

2. Next add all the other ingredients (including another dash of salt and pepper) and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.

3. Once the soup has cooled a bit, puree the soup with a hand blender or in the blender. (If using a blender for hot liquids, remember to remove the middle lid and place a towel over the hole so the soup does not go flying everywhere.)

4. Serve hot soup with a dash of nutmeg and croutons. 

Cooking Notes: You could always use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth to make this a vegetarian meal.  Also, this soup tastes better the next day when the flavors have had more time to develop. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Be ok

While practicing yoga in my friend's studio, I noticed her be ok candle and decided to use these words for my November postcard.  As part of our yearlong postcard project, another friend and I make and send a postcard to one another each month.

Using a watercolor postcard, watercolors, and a Sharpie, I designed this be ok postcard.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Kielbasa, Shrimp, and Chicken Gumbo

M made a heavenly, scrumptious gumbo for our camping trip; he prepared it at home and then we reheated it over the campfire.  This hearty dish warmed our bones and we'll be eating it again - camping or no-camping.

The base recipe was from and M added a few other ingredients, like kielbasa, chicken, diced tomatoes, sauces, and spices. 

For Kielbasa, Shrimp, and Chicken Gumbo you'll need:
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 box (14.5 oz.) chicken broth
1 box (14.5 oz) beef broth
4 cups water
1/2 lb. kielbasa, cut into bite-size pieces
diced chicken breast from 2 chicken breasts
1 can diced tomatoes, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon celery flakes
1 teaspoon Chesapeake Bay Style seasoning 
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 lb. medium shrimp, seasoned with Chesapeake Bay Style seasoning and cooked
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
Splash of Tabasco 
1 box Zataran's jambalaya rice cooked, or rice of your choice
cornbread muffin

1. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Gradually add in flour and stir. Cook until it's light brown, stirring often so the mixture does not burn, about 10 minutes. Pour in the chicken and beef broths and mix until blended.

2. In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil and heat until hot. Add celery, garlic, green pepper, and onion.  Cook until vegetables are tender.

3. Add all veggies, including the diced tomatoes, to the broth.  Next add the kielbasa, chicken, herbs, salt and pepper, Worcestershire and Tabasco.  Simmer for 15 minutes. 

4. Then add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for about 1 hour.

5. In another pan, season the shrimp with Chesapeake Bay Style seasoning and cook.  Add to the gumbo.  Simmer for another 20 minutes.

6. Place the rice at the bottom of your bowl.  Top with Kielbasa, Shrimp, and Chicken Gumbo and serve with a corn muffin.  (We used Trader's Joe cornbread mix and made it into a dozen muffins.)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Quilts for Kids

Happy Thanksgiving!  I am thankful that I know how to sew.  Thanks, Mom! 

My Mom and I collaborated on two projects for Quilts for Kids - an organization where volunteer quilters make quilts for children in need.  


I selected fabric scraps from previous projects and made six blocks for each quilt; then I attached the blocks with complementary fabrics.  My Mom quilted the blankets and delivered them to her local Quilts for Kids chapter.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Vanilla Extract for Cleaning

Last weekend I was busy... I cleaned the microwave, oven, and refrigerator; I even reorganized our closet.  These were all long overdue tasks. 

For the microwave I placed a cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl and added a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Then I microwaved the mixture for 2 minutes and wiped the inside of the microwave with a damp cloth.  All the food particles came right off and onto cloth. AMAZING!

I also placed some vanilla extract on a wet paper towel to remove the freezer burn smell in the freezer.  Vanilla is much more pleasant than freezer funk.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gluten Free Brownies

Over the weekend, I made these Betty Crocker gluten free brownies for a potluck, in particular for a friend who is gluten free, and they were DELICIOUS!  They were moist and gooey, just the way I like my brownies.  If I didn't tell you and everyone else at the gathering that they were gluten free nobody would have know the difference, they were that convincing!