Archive for November, 2013

THANKSGIVING FAVORITES

Thanksgiving in the United States is a family holiday that is usually celebrated with a huge Turkey Dinner.  Although Thanksgiving Celebrations occurred sporadically since the Pilgrims first Thanksgiving, it wasn’t until President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November to be the official National Holiday. 

In 1939 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared the fourth Thursday in November to be the official Thanksgiving Holiday.  Before 1939, it was on the last Thursday in November and it was suggested to him, that if it was officially on the fourth Thursday there would be more time for Holiday Shopping and thus help to improve the economy which at that time was not very good due to the Great Depression.

The history of Thanksgiving in the United States goes back to the Mayflower Pilgrims, but the actual tradition goes back to ancient times to the Druids in Ireland.  Societies all over the world and back into prehistoric times have always given thanks for a good harvest.  In Jewish tradition, Sukkoth is celebrated shortly after the Jewish New Year.

Our tradition of Turkey dinner goes back to the first dinner that the Pilgrims celebrated with the Indians.  Wild turkeys were plentiful at that time and that was one of the many protein foods that were eaten during the first Thanksgiving.  Most of us have our family traditions which include not only Turkey but Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin and Cranberries.   Even though most of us will probably have the traditional turkey and dressing some of you may like to make it a little different this year.

This year, for the first time in 125 years (the last event like this was in 1888) the first day of Chanukah falls on Thanksgiving.  Because of this dual event, many families will be celebrating both holidays with food that may be somewhat untraditional for both holidays.

In our family, Sweet Potato Latkes (pancakes) are going to replace our usual Sweet Potato Casserole which is really very good.  What I am going to do is take the flavors from our usual casserole and incorporate them into the Latkes.  Other families will probably make the traditional Potato Latkes, but we do like our Mashed Potatoes and Gravy on Thanksgiving.  Pictured below are Apple Latkes;  the shape and texture are the same as Sweet Potato but the color is different.  The method of making is the same.

Apple Latkes

Most of the recipes featured here are traditional, but with a slightly different twist from the original.   The traditional Roast Turkey is on the menu but with a not so traditional Curried Fruit Dressing.    Instead of candied yams try a Golden Squash Jubilee made with banana squash and dried apricots; for color contrast make fresh Creamed Spinach in minutes with the aid of your Food Processor and Microwave Oven.  For the bread make Pumpkin Yeast Biscuits and instead of Pumpkin Pie, try a French Apple Tart made in a Pecan Crust.

You have all the traditional items in this menu, but made just a little differently for a surprising taste twist.  The turkey is present with a traditional bread stuffing made not so traditional by the addition of dried fruit and curry powder.  The orange vegetable in the form of squash (yams or pumpkin may be substituted) are present and so is the traditional pumpkin, but in the form of biscuits.  The Thanksgiving pie is also present but made with apples, a fruit favored by more people than pumpkin.  Add your own choice of appetizer and condiments and you will have a Thanksgiving feast that your family and guests will not only remember for years, but will request repeats of, over and over again.

RECIPES:

 

Golden Squash Jubilee

Pumpkin Yeast Biscuits

Creamed Spinach

Curried Fruit Stuffing

 

Vegetables for Stuffing

Vegetables for Stuffing

French Apple Tart

Cinnamon/Vanilla Cranberry Sauce

 

Cranberries and Cinnamon Stick in the Pot ready to cook for Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries and Cinnamon Stick in the Pot ready to cook for Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2013/11/23 at 4:46 PM

Categories: Baking, Bread, Condiments, Cooking for Everyone, Dinner Ideas, Fruit, Holiday Ideas, Holiday Meals, Main   Tags: , , , , , ,

‘NATIONAL HOMEMADE BREAD DAY’

Baked Asparagus Bread (4)Today is ‘National Homemade Bread Day’ and what better way to spend a cool Sunday than to make a loaf of bread or two.  I love homemade Bread and contrary to what most people think, it is simple and easy to do.  Especially if you have a Food Processor or Standing Mixer, but even by hand it is easy to do.  Bread Making is especially therapeutic if you have had a hard and stressful day or week.  Bread Making is a great way to get rid of pent up energy, frustration or irritation.

 

 

 

 

To make Homemade Bread you don’t even need a recipe.  For a basic loaf you only need 5 ingredients:

  • Flour    –    provides the structure of the bread – gluten, the protein in wheat     provides the strength needed for the bread’s walls.
  • Yeast   –   is a live Organism which consumes the Sugar and gives off Carbon Dioxide, the same gas we breath out – the Carbon Dioxide makes the Dough expand and raise up.
  • Sugar    –   Provides food for the Yeast
  • Salt       –   Adds flavor and also keeps the Yeast from growing too much – too much growth will make the bread collapse (just like a balloon)
  • Water    –   Holds everything together.

You do need to combine the above ingredients in correct proportions to yield a soft, but not sticky, Dough.  If you use too much flour and the Dough is hard and stiff, the Bread will be tough and dry.  Too much water and the Dough will be sticky and hard to knead and shape.

 

For a simple loaf bread that you are making by hand follow the proportions and directions below:

4 cups Flour

1   cup Liquid  (If using Milk, you must scald it first or your Dough won’t rise – the enzymes in Milk, unless inactivated will prevent the Yeast from rising)

1 Tbsp. Yeast

1 Tbsp. Sugar

1 1/2 tsps. Salt

 

Place the Warm Liquid in a bowl along with the Yeast and Sugar;  allow to stand about 5 minutes or until the Yeast starts to bubble.  This is called proofing and will ensure that the Yeast is alive.

 

Proofed Yeast

Proofed Yeast

Stir in the Flour 1 cup at a time.  After the second cup of Flour, add the Salt.  After you have added about 3 cups Flour and  the Dough holds together turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it for about 10 minutes, adding additional flour as needed.  REMEMBER!  YOU WANT A SOFT DOUGH, NOT A STIFF ONE!!

Once the Dough has been kneaded, place in a greased bowl, cover with a clean dish towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to raise.  The Dough should raise to double its original size.

Once the Dough has risen, punch it down and shape it into a loaf.  Place the loaf on a greased pan that has been sprinkled with Corn Meal and cover and let raise again.  The bread in the photo below has been placed on a Pizza Peel that has been sprinkled with Cornmeal – this Bread was baked on a Baking Stone that was preheated in the oven to 500 degrees for one hour.  The heat was turned down to 375 when the Bread was Baked.  The Baking Stone ensures that the bottom of the Bread will have a nice crunchy crust.

 

Shaped Loaf on Pizza Peel

Shaped Loaf on Pizza Peel

Once the Bread has risen, het your oven to 375 degrees;  brush the loaf with a beaten egg and bake until golden brown;  the bottom should be somewhat darker than the top and should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

If you don’t trust your judgement use a meat thermometer to test the temperature – the inside of the loaf should register 140 degrees on the thermometer.

Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool;  when cool enough to handle, loosen the sides with a straight-edged spatula, turn the pan oven and allow the Bread to drop down onto the rack.

 

Baked Bread

Baked Bread

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2013/11/17 at 2:15 PM

Categories: Baking, Bread, Main, National Food Days   Tags: , ,

CULINARY MAKEOVERS – #16 – SPINACH/MUSHROOM LASAGNA

Last Night’s Dinner was Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin with sautéed Spinach with Mushrooms and Onions.  I had been busy most of the afternoon baking Gingerbread House Parts so my husband Ev, went to the store for me to pick up the Pork Tenderloin and a Vegetable.  I had asked him to get whatever Leafy Vegetable he preferred and it could be fresh or frozen.  He picked out frozen chopped Spinach.  Now, I love Spinach, but chopped is another story.  Anyways, I sautéed it with diced Onions and sliced Mushrooms.  It came out pretty good, but the whole leaf would have been better.  Anyways, I always cook too much for two people and there was a good size portion of the Spinach leftover.  When we discussed what we would like to have for Dinner tonight, Ev wanted Pasta.  I said okay but didn’t tell him what kind of Pasta we were going to have.  Here is where the Makeover comes in.  Listed below are the leftovers that  I incorporated into the meal along with the additional ingredients that I had to purchase:

 

ON HAND                                                                                                    PURCHASED

Lasagna Noodles                                                                                        Ricotta Cheese

Mushroom/Spinach Sauté                                                                         Canned Diced Tomatoes

Egg & Cream                                                                                              Ground Veal (optional)

Shredded Mozzarella                                          

Parmesan Cheese

Fresh Basil & Garlic

Dried Oregano & Bay Leaves

Olive Oil

Tomato Paste

Salt & Pepper

 

Lasagna Noodles

Lasagna Noodles

 

Shredded Mozzarella

Shredded Mozzarella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mushroom/Spinach  Sauté

Mushroom/Spinach Sauté

Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Shredded Parmesan Cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was probably one of the easiest meals I have prepared in a long time.  Below is the order in which I prepared this dish:

 

I – Making the Tomato Sauce

  • Sautéing the Veal in a small amount of Olive Oil
  • Crushing the Garlic and adding it to the Veal
  • Add the Crushed Tomatoes along with the Dried Oregano & Bay Leaf
  • Add half can (3 oz.) Tomato Paste along with Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Allow to simmer until the Sauce is of the desired consistency
  • At the end, add about 1/4 cup minced Basil
Add the Basil at the end of the cooking period.

Add the Basil at the end of the cooking period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

II – Spinach/Ricotta Mixture

  • In small bowl I mixed 1 cup of Ricotta with 1 beaten Egg and then added about 1/4 cup of Cream.
  • Stir in the Mushroom/Spinach Mixture

III – Assembly

  •  Place a very small amount of Olive Oil at the bottom of the baking dish and spread it with a paper towel to cover the entire bottom surface.
Oil the Bottom of the Baking Dish

Oil the Bottom of the Baking Dish

  • Arrange a layer of Noodles on the bottom
Lasagna Noodles - First Layer

Lasagna Noodles – First Layer

  • Add a layer of the Spinach/Ricotta mixture
Mushroom/Spinach Ricotta next

Mushroom/Spinach Ricotta next

  • Add a layer of shredded Mozzarella

 

Shredded Mozzarella

Shredded Mozzarella

  • Add another layer of Pasta and top with another layer of the Spinach/Ricotta mixture
  • Sprinkle some Parmesan Cheese on this layer
  • Add another layer of Pasta and top with another layer of the Spinach/Ricotta mixture
  • Add Mozzarella Cheese
  • Half hour before serving bake at 350 degrees until the Cheese is melted and slightly browned and the dish is hot all the way through – (about half hour)

IV – Serving

  • Let the Lasagna rest for about 5 minutes before cutting and serving it.
  • Serve with the Veal/Tomato Sauce and additional Parmesan Cheese as desired

 

Spinach/Mushroom Lasagna with Veal/Tomato Sauce

Spinach/Mushroom Lasagna with Veal/Tomato Sauce

 

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2013/11/13 at 10:25 AM

Categories: Cooking for Everyone, Dinner Ideas, Italian, Leftovers, Main, Pasta   Tags: , , , , , , , ,

TURKEY MONTH

Funny that November is recognized as the following Food Month –

Honoring many types of food, but not of all things the Turkey.  Why not?  November is Thanksgiving and Turkey is the main highlight of most families dinners on Thanksgiving.  So like October which I have declared ‘The Month of the Pumpkin’ I am now declaring November as Turkey Month.  Everywhere you go, there are turkeys for sale,  Frozen Turkeys, Fresh Turkeys, Heritage Turkeys, already prepared Turkey Dinners, etc.

Before we go any further does anyone know why the Turkey is called the Turkey?  What did the Indians call the Wild Turkey that was prevalent when the first Pilgrims came over?  Does anyone know?  And why did the Europeans call Turkeys, Turkeys?  Well it seems that the Europeans thought the Turkeys were related to Guinea Fowl which were transported to Europe via Turkey.  Therefore, they called the Wild Bird they found in the New World, Turkeys.  That name has stuck to this day.

Benjamin Franklin thought that the Turkey should be the National Bird but the Bald Eagle has and probably always will be the Bird Symbol for the United States.  However, three States including Massachusetts have adopted the Turkey as their State Bird.

Most of us will be making or Eating Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner.  There are many ways to cook Turkey;  Smoking, Frying, Barbecuing but the traditional and most ways to cook Turkey is still to roast it fully packed with Stuffing.  But preparing Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner is not the problem.  It’s what to do with the leftovers that presents challenges.  The best and probably favorite way is the ‘Turkey Sandwich’.  My preference is with Mayonnaise, Pickles and Lettuce.  Some like to put Stuffing and Cranberries on their Sandwiches, but whichever way you make it, I would venture to say that the Sandwich is the favorite way to use Turkey Leftovers.

Another use, though probably not usually thought by most people is a Turkey Frittata turkey-frittata/.  The Frittata can be made for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner and is a good way to use up those little pieces of Turkey that fall off the bone or crumble from the slices.  The Frittata is an omelet with  Meat, (Turkey) Vegetables and usually some kind of Cheese.  The Frittata is very tasty and a great use for leftover anything, including Turkey.

 

Another good use for Turkey leftovers are Turkey Croquettes.  /turkey-croquettes/   Great for  Brunch, Lunch or Dinner the Croquette can be varied to suit your individual taste palette.  Either good old American, Italian, Mexican or even Asian.  With just one or two additional ingredients the flavors can be easily varied.

One more use for leftover Turkey is the Turkey Pot Pie.   turkey-pot-pie/  Delicious and warming in the cooler weather of Fall!

The above are just a few of the things that can be done with Turkey Leftovers.  You can probably come up with more ideas on your own.

And don’t forget!  November is ‘Turkey Month’!!

 

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2013/11/05 at 4:21 PM

Categories: Asian, Breakfast Ideas, Cooking for Everyone, Cooking for Kids, Dinner Ideas, Holiday Ideas, Holiday Meals, Holiday Tidbits, Italian, Leftovers, Lunch Ideas, Main, Mexican, National Food Days   Tags: , , , , , , ,

BUCKEYE CANDY BALLS

Buckeye Candy Balls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is ‘National Candy Day’.  Howa about trying this tasty treat called ‘Buckeye Candy’.  This recipe was developed to resemble the fruit of the Buckeye tree which is indigenous to the State of Ohio.  I was just there recently but forgot to look for the Buckeye tree.  The recipe below is a tasty treat and is related to ‘Rice Krispy Squares’ – there are just more tasty ingredients in them.

 

Buckeye Balls are great to eat and make nice gifts too.  Try them for an extra treat for Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS:                                            EQUIPMENT:

1/4 cup unsalted Butter                                 Large Saucepan

5 cups Marshmallows                                    Wooden Spoon

1cup Peanut Butter Chips                              Waxed Paper

1 cup Mini-Chocolate Chips                            Candy Bags or Plate

4 cups Rice Krispies®

Liquid Margarine or Soft Butter

 

DIRECTIONS:

 

  1. Melt the Butter in the Saucepan over low heat.
  2. Add the Marshmallows and stir constantly with the wooden spoon until the Marshmallows are completely melted; stir in the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chips.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the Rice Krispies®; mix until the Krispies are   completely coated with the melted Marshmallow mixture.
  4. Spread the Liquid Margarine or Soft Butter on your hands and then shape the  Candy into Balls about the size of Ping Pong Balls.
  5. Place the shaped Candy onto a sheet of waxed paper or a glass plate. When cooled, place in a plastic bag or covered plate for storage or just serve and eat right away!!

 

                Yield:  About 20 Pieces

 

 

             

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Posted by sylveee - 2013/11/04 at 4:53 PM

Categories: Dessert Ideas, Food as Gifts, Holiday Ideas, National Food Days   Tags: , , , , , , , , ,