Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 - Sweet Potato Casserole

So, I LOVE sweet potatoes, but every year, really felt like my casserole fell flat. It was just too sweet to be enjoyable.

Usually, I mash my potatoes with some crushed pineapple, a little of the juice, and some brown sugar.  Once topped with marshmallows, it was too sweet to even be a pie! This year, it was perfect.

Make-Ahead Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet potatoes
Sea Salt
Mini Marshmallows

Figure out how much sweet potato casserole you need. I had 30 people coming, and wanted a 9x13 pan full. Wash your sweet potatoes, and put them on a foil-lined baking sheet. (I used 10 Costco-sized sweet potatoes). Poke each one 2-3 times with the tip of a knife, and roast in the oven at 400 for about an hour, or until a knife can be easily inserted into the largest potato, ALL THE WAY TO THE CENTER. Nobody wants chunks in their casserole, right? (You might need to remove smaller potatoes as they finish. Burned isn't what we're going for, either.)

When the potatoes are done, turn off the oven, and let them cool in the oven.

Once everything is cool, peel the skins off the potatoes (this is really simple - just use your hands), then put the potato flesh into a big bowl. Add a liberal sprinkle of sea salt, and a splash of cream, and mash away. Adjust the seasoning to taste, then spoon the mixture into a 9x13 pan and smooth it out with a rubber scraper.

Cover the pan with tin foil, and put it into the oven.

About an hour before dinner time, throw the foil-covered pan into a 350 oven to warm up. 5 minutes before dinner, remove the pan from the oven, remove the foil, evenly spread a bag of mini marshmallows across the top, and broil to crisp up the marshmallows. They will burn QUICKLY, so don't take your eyes off of them! About 5 minutes should be plenty of time, depending on how close your casserole is to the element.

Enjoy! Not too sweet, perfect as a side.

Thanksgiving 2015 - Spatchcock Turkey

Spatchcocked Turkey

This might be my favorite Thanksgiving turkey to date. My first time cooking a turkey for the family, on the big day.

Turkey (we used an organic heritage #20 monster)
Montreal Steak Seasoning (a seasoning blend of salt, pepper, garlic, and some other spices)

The night before:
Cut out the backbone, spatchcock (open up) the bird. Set the neck, back, and giblets aside for tomorrow. Season the turkey liberally, skin side and inside, with Montreal Steak Seasoning. Put it on a rack in your pan, and put it in the fridge, uncovered.

The day of:
Try to calculate your cooking time. This is hard, honestly, and will take some finesse. How well do you know your oven? Some recipes work out to 6 minutes per pound, some advise 10 minutes per pound. My 20 pound bird was done in just under 2 hours, and was actually fairly OVERdone (about 20 degrees past what I was shooting for). (Your end-goal is 145 in the breast and 165 in the thigh).

So. In my GE Cafe oven, I cooked the bird for about two hours. Next time, I'd leave 90 minutes. 5 minutes per pound was perfect for me. If your oven is slower, or lets out a lot of steam while you cook, give yourself more time. Here's my time-line, with dinner at 4pm

11:30am - Get the turkey out, put it on the counter. Chop veggies - celery and onions - into big chunks. (Honestly, these were DROWNING in broth/drippings at the end of the cooking time, and completely unusable...but maybe they gave some flavor to the bird??). The veggies go into the bottom of the roasting pan, then the rack, then the bird. Tuck the wing tips in, like he's got his hands behind his head. Nice and chill. Season it a bit more- the salt has melted into the meat.

12:00 pm - Turn the oven to 450.

12:30 pm - Bird goes in the oven!

1:00pm - Turn the oven down to 400. Watch the skin, don't let it burn! Mine got as dark as I wanted it around 1:30, so I turned the oven down to 350.

1:45pm - Start checking the bird. You're looking for 145 in the breast, and 165 in the thigh. You can pull it a few degrees below that - it will continue to cook as you let it rest.

At 2, my bird was done, so I changed the oven setting to Warm (200 degrees) and just left it there.

3:30 - Take the bird out of the oven

4:00 - Carve the bird!

I used this recipe as my base, and followed their gravy recipe, substituting corn starch for flour. (If using corn starch, don't brown it. Just make a slurry of cornstarch and cooled broth, and mix it into boiling broth, then cook it down until it's nice and condensed. I used about 4 big scoops of cornstarch for 6 cups of broth to make gravy.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

5 Spice Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Ok, so THIS was a surprise hit. Mostly with me. Hubs had rice in his wraps, the boy had meat on rice on his plate, and a lettuce leaf filled with BBQ sauce (yes, really), and the toddler just had meat and rice. 

You can drizzle any sauce you like over the top...I preferred a Bloody Mary seasoning sauce. So tasty! 

One tip: To shred my cabbage, I hacked it into chunks, cored it, and put it in my Vitamix with enough water to make it all float. Turn it on, then quickly turn it to high, JUST until you hear the last hunk hit the blades. It takes about 2 seconds. Drain, and you have perfectly minced cabbage! 

5 Spice Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Serves 3-5

1 package ground turkey meat (close to a pound)
1 large onion, chopped (optional. My kids asked me to leave that out next time. I used a Vidalia onion I had roasted with some burgers the other night)
Minced cabbage (3-5 cups. I used 3/4 of a small head)
3 tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder
2-3 Tbsp. soy sauce (I used gluten free)
3 Tbsp. minced garlic
Salt to taste

Lettuce (to wrap) (I used romaine)

hot sauce, bbq sauce, etc.
1/4 cup chopped green onions

In a large dutch oven, brown the turkey and onions together. When the meat is cooked and the onions are soft, add the rest of the ingredients (cabbage, 5-spice powder, soy sauce, garlic). Cook until everything is soft and tasty, season to taste with salt. 

Serve in a lettuce leaf, topped with green onions and any sauce, if desired. 


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Protein Powder Chocolate Chip Muffins

This morning, I had some extra time, and wanted to make something yummy. I love my sweets, but don't love the crash I get after eating sweet, starchy snacks. I found a recipe on Petite Athlete that I tweaked a bit. This makes a great breakfast, or snack, or just a quick pick-me-up any time you need a boost! These are INFINITELY better cold, so do yourself a favor and hold off eating them until they have cooled completely.

Aunt LoLo's Protein Powder Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 10 muffins
(Adapted from Petite Athlete)

1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (or full fat coconut milk)
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
2 scoops protein powder (I used Combat Protein Cookies & Cream)
3 Tbsp. coconut flour
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat your oven to 325, and prepare a muffin tin with non-stick spray.

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until just combined. You might want to whisk the eggs first, and then add everything else. Or, be like me, and just kind of mash up the eggs in the bowl in the middle of everything, and then stir to combine. Whatever floats your boat. Just don't over-mix.

Let it sit for about 5 minutes to plump up the chia seeds, then divide into 10 muffins.

Bake at 325 for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool briefly, and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. Enjoy! Store uneaten muffins in the refrigerator.

By my calculations, these muffins have 98 calories each, 4 grams of fat, 8 g. of carbohydrates, and 7 g. of protein.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Adapted from Against All Grain, this is my new go-to taco seasoning! (By the way, I love almost every single recipe I make from Against All Grain. It's great to find someone with taste so similar to my own preferences!)

Aunt LoLo's Taco Seasoning
(Adapted from Against All Grain)

In a glass jar, combine:
2.5 Tablespoons chili powder
1.5 Tablespoons sea salt
1.5 Tablespoons ground dried cumin
1 Tablespoon dry parsley
2 Tablespoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cover, shake to combine. Will keep in the pantry for as long as the original ingredients would.

To use, sprinkle approximately 1 tablespoon over 1 pound of ground meat, and cook it up on the stovetop.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

My Yearly Apple Cider

For YEARS, my sister and I have hosted an annu caroling party. And for as long as we have hosted the party, there has been hot apple cider waiting in the crock pot for us when we got home from singing. In the early days, it was my father's creation. Now, it is mine. My children have come to absolutely love it, so I thought it would be worth it to write it down! 

Hot Apple Cider 

1gallon apple juice
1 small orange 
2 6" sticks cinnamon 

In a large crockpot, combine the apple juice and cinnamon sticks. Cut your orange in half. Squeeze the orange juice into the apple juice and then add the ribs as well. 

Heat on low at least an hour, to let the flavors combine. 

Enjoy! Great on a cold winter morning as well. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Blue cheese Carrot Slaw

This carrot slaw just came together with pantry items, and it's pretty darn tasty! 

Blue Cheese Carrot Slaw

7 medium sized carrots, stem end cut off, grated 
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup blue cheese dressing
1 green onion, chopped
Salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and add salt to taste. Allow to sit at least half an hot for flavors to really meld. Enjoy!