Friday, November 26, 2010

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Recipe courtesy Ree Drummond

Prep Time:
10 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
45 min
12 servings


  • 5 pounds Yukon gold or russet potatoes
  • 1 1/2 sticks softened butter, plus more for baking
  • 1 1/2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Milk, if needed, for thinning


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel the potatoes and rinse them in cold water. Chop the potatoes in fourths. Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Drain the potatoes, and then return them to the pan. With the burner on low heat, mash the potatoes with a potato masher; the more steam that's released while you mash, the better. Mash for about 5 minutes. Turn off the burner.

Add the butter, cream cheese, half-and-half, and seasonings. Stir to combine, and if the mixture needs thinning, add milk. Check the seasonings, adding salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour the mashed potatoes into a large casserole pan. Dot the surface with butter. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 more minutes. Serve immediately.

Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey

This was a delicious recipe for our Thanksgiving turkey. It was easy to prepare and so well worth it! It was from a Throwdown with Bobby Flay episode where Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman challenged him to a Thanksgiving throwdown! She won! I also made her Mashed potatoes. Delish!

Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey

Recipe courtesy Ree Drummond

Prep Time:
10 min
Inactive Prep Time:
20 hr 0 min
Cook Time:
5 hr 0 min
18 servings


  • 2 gallons water
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 3 oranges, peeled, white pith removed, skin roughly chopped
  • 1 (20-pound) fresh turkey
  • 1 1/2 sticks softened butter
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped orange zest


Combine the water, apple juice, salt, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, dried rosemary, and orange peel in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat immediately, cover, and allow mixture to come to room temperature. Cool mixture in the fridge until you're ready.

To brine the turkey, remove the turkey from wrapper, remove interior bags (set aside; refrigerate), and rinse turkey thoroughly under cool water.

Place the turkey into a plastic brining bag or a very large pot.

Pour the cooled brine mixture over the top, adding extra cold water if you need more to completely cover the turkey. Seal the bag or cover the pot and allow the turkey to brine in the refrigerator for 16 to 24 hours before roasting.

Before roasting, remove the turkey from brine and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Then soak in a sink full of fresh water for 15 to 20 minutes. Pat dry. Discard brine. (This soaking process will decrease the likelihood of too-salty gravy).

Preheat the oven 275 degrees F.

Truss the bird and place it breast side up on a rack in a large roasting pan. Cover the turkey tightly with heavy-duty foil. Make sure it's entirely covered (cover over the bottom edges of the pan). Place in the oven and roast for about 10 minutes per pound (a 20 pound turkey will roast for about 3 1/2 hours).

Remove the turkey from the oven and increase the temperature to 375 degrees F. Remove the aluminum foil and set aside. Mix the softened butter with the rosemary and orange peel and rub all over the skin of the turkey, covering every single inch of the skin. Insert a meat thermometer into the thigh, near the hip joint. Place the turkey, uncovered, back into the oven. Continue roasting the turkey, basting with butter every 30 minutes, until the thermometer registers 170 degrees F and until the juices are no longer pink.

Remove from the oven and cover with foil until you are ready to carve and serve. Reserve pan juices to make gravy.

Cook's Note: This is enough for a 20 pound fresh turkey. You can decrease the quantity for a smaller bird.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hunter's Minestrone

I saw an episode of Ultimate Tyler today. He's one of my favorite chefs from the Food Network and also the Cooking Channel. EVERYTHING that I've made of his has been delicious and this didn't fail. He made a Minestrone Soup that got great reviews. Being that Alyssa isn't feeling well, I figured that this would be good for her for dinner. It's actually an easy recipe but it works best of you get the ingredients out ahead of time. The full recipe will be at the bottom.
First you saute the Sage, Thyme and Rosemary in the oil to flavor the oil. Add the 'tube' of breakfast sausage and break apart the pieces. Next, you chop up the carrots, celery and onion in the food processor. Dump them into the pot and cook for a few minutes.

While that is cooking, heat up the chicken broth and garlic in a pot. I used homemade chicken stock. The garlic BULB can just be thrown in because you're only using it to flavor the broth.

add the crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, beans etc.
Take the garlic out of the chicken stock. Add the chicken stock to the sausage mixture.
Cook the macaroni, drain and keep separate. I don't add mine to the soup until I'm ready to serve it. Otherwise the macaroni will soak up all of the broth. I also used garlic toast that we had on hand. I guess you can tell that I like garlic! The soup doesn't taste garlicky at all.

Hunter's Minestrone

by Tyler Florence
6 servings
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 head garlic, halved
  • 1/2 pound small rigatoni
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 tube of frozen breakfast sausage or Sage sausage that's used for making stuffing, thawed
  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed plum tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley leaves, finely minced
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 12 slices baguette
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Combine the stock and halved garlic head in a big saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes to give the stock a nice, garlicky taste; strain out the garlic. Keep warm.
Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the rigatoni.
Pour 1/4 cup olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the sage, rosemary and thyme and warm the oil over medium heat to infuse it with the flavor of the herbs, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the sausage with the side of a big spoon until well browned. Chop the carrots, celery, and onion in a food processor. Add to the saucepan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned.
To the pan with the sausage stir in the crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, cannelloni beans, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
Cook the rigatoni in the boiling water for 6 minutes; it should be slightly underdone. Drain and stir into the simmering soup. Add the parsley, and salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste. Discard the bay leaf and herb sprigs.
To serve, preheat the broiler. Put the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano and broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and float a couple of the baguette slices on top.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Emeril's Homemade Sweet & Spicy Pickles

Yesterday Alyssa and I made Emeril's Sweet & Spicy Pickles. They are a favorite of Alyssa's. They remind her of 'Wickles', a very popular brand, but she thinks these are even better! The recipe calls for 3 lbs of Kirby Cukes and it serves 4 pints. We decided to triple it! (We did each batch separately though). *** NOTE: We don't use the 24 dried cayenne peppers for this. I've heard it's not that hot using them but I don't want to even go there. We put one teaspoon of red pepper flakes into each recipe instead.
It's an easy recipe, just a bit time consuming.

You start by washing and then slicing the cukes.

Add the sugar and water to the bowls
Add the onions and red peppers. The peppers aren't in the recipe but we think it makes the look pretty so we add them!
After soaking for 2 hours, run under water to get rid of the salt water mixture.
Mix up the rest of the ingredients in a pan, then add the cuke mixture. This was the most tedious part. It calls for 10 TABLESPOONS of chopped garlic for each recipe! So I had to peel and chop 30 TABLESPOONS worth. P - U !!!!
Fill the jars, seal and process in a water bath. DONE!!!! Now you have to wait 2 weeks for them to work their magic!

Emeril's Homemade Sweet and Spicy Pickles

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2005

NOTE: When selecting cucumbers for pickling, there are a few things to remember. For crisp pickles, choose ripe, pickling cucumbers, which are shorter and chunkier than regular eating cucumbers, which tend to be longer and smoother. Ripe pickling cucumbers are darker green, firm, and not "bloated." They should have plenty of spiny bumps on the outer surface. Overripe cucumbers make mushy pickles. They tend to have yellow or white streaks or spots and their surfaces are smoother. Choose pickles that have not been coated in wax, as the pickling brine cannot penetrate through the wax. The fresher the cucumbers, the crisper the pickles will be. For best results, try picking your own cucumbers from a local farm or farmers' market.

Prep Time:
40 min
Inactive Prep Time:
338 hr 0 min
Cook Time:
15 min
4 pints
3 pounds pickling cucumbers, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices

2 cups sliced onions

1/2 cup pickling salt

6 cups water

3 cups white vinegar

1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar

3 1/2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

4 whole cloves

10 tablespoons roughly chopped garlic

24 dried cayenne peppers

2 teaspoons 100 percent Natural Pickle Crisp, optional

Place cucumbers, onions, pickling salt, and water in a large, non-reactive bowl. Cover and allow cucumbers to soak for 2 hours. Drain the water from the onions and cucumbers through a colander and rinse well for 5 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

Combine the vinegars, sugar, mustard seeds, turmeric, cloves, garlic, and peppers in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and add the cucumbers and onions. Bring to a simmer and remove the saucepan from the heat.

Fill each of the hot sterilized pint-size preserving jars with the pickle mixture, dividing them evenly, and enough of the liquid to come within 1/2-inch of the top. Add 1/2 teaspoon of Natural Pickle Crisp to each jar, if desired. With a clean damp towel, wipe the rim and fit with a hot lid. Screw on the metal ring just until the point of resistance is met. Process the jars in a hot-water bath for 15 minutes.

Using tongs, remove the jars, place on a towel, and let cool. Test the seals by allowing the jars to stand at room temperature overnight or until the lids pop. Tighten the rings and store in a cool dry place. Let the pickles age for at least 2 weeks before using.