Monday, November 30, 2009

Sweet Potato Bake

119. What are your favorite dishes to savor on Thanksgiving Day? The turkey and dressing always rank high, along with pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes and gravy. No one menu is more special or better tasting...we all have "the best" menu when we share this meal with our family and friends. Yes, the food tastes great...but it is the time spent with those dear to your heart that enhance the experience. Make everything taste...better!

Baking pies, especially pumpkin or pecan, are at the top of my list. This year it was Pumpkin and Cranberry Apple Pies.
Thanksgiving Day began at 5:00am, so we could catch the 6:10am train into NYC. Yes, we went to the Macy's Day Parade. And we are so glad we did!
The day was perfect and the Spiderman Balloon stole the show!!!
I personally, was very excited to see the "Food Network" float...although Bobby Flay and Paula Deen were not in sight!
Around 3:00pm we arrived back home, happy, tired, and very hungry. I stuffed and baked my turkey from midnight till 5:00am that morning, so the turkey just needed to be reheated.
I decided to make a quick Sweet Potato Bake, that my girls always *gobble* up.
I peel and chop 4 to 5 sweet potatoes and arrange them in a deep casserole or baking dish.
Sprinkle brown sugar, about 1 cup, over the potatoes, then dot with small handful of raisins. I used white raisins.
Drizzle maple syrup over top of potatoes then dot with butter, or melt butter and pour over.
Bake at 350° for 1 hour or till bubbly and the potatoes are tender.
After our meal we played "Clue" and enjoyed a piece of pie.
But the crowning enjoyment of our meal was the special "Persimmon Sorbet" my daughter just whipped up! It was wonderful...with a hint of lemon and cinnamon. You could taste the cinnamon first, then you would catch the lemon and then the persimmon's subtle flavor came through! This was a wonderful recipe!!! And it was so beautiful!
I am sure your Thanksgiving Day was just as tasty!

"You have to eat to cook.
You can't be a good cook and be a non-eater.
I think eating is the secret to good cooking."
~ Julia Childs

"Dining with one's friends and beloved family
is certainly one of life's primal and most innocent delights,
one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal."
~ Julia Childs

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Char's Cranberry Salad

118. This Thanksgiving was delicious!!! I pulled out one of my dear friend's recipes for Cranberry Jello Salad. Each time we visit, Char makes this yummy side salad, that we all just love.

Since cranberries are plentiful at the end of the year, this recipe would compliment any meal where you are serving turkey or chicken. And, it is beautiful. Try molding it in a decorative bowl, or slice an orange in half, scoop out the fruit sections and pulp, then pour the salad into each orange half and refrigerate. I find this recipe sets up beautifully if it is made a day in advance. You could also mold the salad in separate serving bowls.

The recipe calls for walnuts, but if you want to eliminate them or to substitute them for chopped oranges or mandarine works beautifully...and changes the flavor subtly. We love nuts and followed the original recipe. If you want the jello to be "slice-able", use only 1 cup of cold water. This salad is soft and very tasty.

"Char's Cranberry Jello Salad"

2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 pkg. small flavored jello, strawberry, raspberry, cherry
2 cups cold water
1 can crushed pineapple, drained (discard liquid)
¾ cup walnuts, chopped fine

Place cranberries, sugar and 1 cup water in a 4 quart saucepan. Heat and stir on medium till boiling. Berries will begin to pop and become soft.
Remove from heat and smash down berries with a mashers. Add 2 boxes of jello and stir for 5 minutes making sure the gelatin has dissolved. Add 2 cups cold water, pineapple and the walnuts, (or oranges, orange zest or mandarine orange slices.)
Pour into a decorative bowl (you lightly oiled if unmolding), small serving bowls or container. Cover with saran wrap and place in a refrigerator, preferably overnight.
To serve, if unmolding from a decorative bowl, place the bottom of bowl in hot water to loosen the jello from the sides. Turn out onto a plate and garnish. To garnish, toss cranberries in white sugar and place on and around the salad. It gives them a frosted look.

Serves 6 - 8

This salad complimented our Thanksgiving meal so well. I know you will love it!

“There are four unbroken rules when it comes to Thanksgiving: there must be turkey and dressing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.”
~ John Hadamuscin

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pumpkin-Apple Streusel Cake

117. Autumn seemed to arrive so very quickly this year, and now Christmas is sneaking up quickly. I think the temperature has much to do with our feelings of the season. With the wind blowing and the trees just about done dropping leaves, I am going to whip up a delightful Pumpkin-Apple Streusel Cake.

The recipe is from the 2001 October issue of Bon Appétit magazine. It is also on Epicurious.

This easy-to-make dessert tastes like pumpkin spice cake and apple crisp baked together.

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups diced peeled cored Granny Smith apples (about 4 large)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

11/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup (firmly packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs

Vanilla ice cream
For apples:

Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add apples; sauté until apples begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add sugar and cinnamon and sauté until golden brown, about 3 minutes longer. Cool.

For cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Combine flour, brown sugar, butter, and salt in large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until mixture resembles coarse meal. Set aside 2/3 cup of mixture for topping. Beat pumpkin, sour cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, spice, and baking soda into remaining flour mixture, beating just until smooth. Beat in eggs. Transfer batter to pan.

Scatter apples evenly over top.

Sprinkle reserved topping over apples.

Bake cake until topping is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 20 minutes. Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Release pan sides from cake. Transfer cake to platter. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream.

Delicious, delicious, delicious!!! This recipe is a keeper!!

"If I have enjoyed the hospitality of the Host of this universe,
who daily spreads a table in my sight,
surely I cannot do less than acknowledge my dependence (on Him)."
~G.A. Johnston Ross

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pecan Chicken

116. Hey Y'all! Can you tell I've been watching Paula Deen? Isn't she a doll! I rarely have the opportunity to watch all my favorite cooking shows on Food Network, so today was a real treat. While doing my chores, I flipped on the television and there was beautiful Paula Deen making "Pecan Chicken", "Baked Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar and Butter", "Pumpkin Cheesecake" and "Pear Fritters". It was her Fall Harvest Episode. Each recipe was so easy to follow and when she served each dish, I just had to know what they tasted like. So tonight is a "Paula Deen" night!

I started first with the "Pecan Chicken". Cut up fryer parts of chicken were easy to come by. I eliminated some of the fat in the preparation by using 2 percent milk, less skin, less pecans and a small amount of sesame seeds. I did have acorn squash, the yellow variety, which worked beautifully! And the Pear Fritters were simply easy. The only recipe I did not make was the Cheesecake...I think I will wait till next week and whip it up for Thanksgiving.

The recipes are available on the Food Network website and the picture is included as well!
Here are the links to each for your convenience.

I added a chopped apple to the recipe by peeling and coring the apple and then cutting it into small cubes. Then placing the apple in the center of each squash and placing a dollop of the brown sugar butter on top. And I added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
The squash baked so well and all you needed to do was scrape your fork along the inside edge and the tender flesh came away from the skin very easily. We mixed it in with the apples and juices that collected in the center. YUMMY!

The batter was thick like pancake batter and tasted like pancake batter.
Everything tasted so delicious, was simple to prepare and came together nicely for a fall meal.
The Pear Fritters were not my most family loved them...I thought they tasted more like a pancake than a fritter. But we drizzled sugar free maple syrup over and Cool Whip with cinnamon and sugar.

Paula Deen inspired me! Are you inspired now? Then go cook something!

"I think no matter what the occasion may be,
you can never go wrong
by showing up at the dinner table with a hot plate of fried chicken."
~Paula Deen

"Cooking has always brought me a happiness that I didn't think was available.
I just fire up the stove, and things start to fade away."
~Paula Deen

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Russian Hot Borscht

115. When fall is in the air, soup is a great addition to the weekly meals. I love to try all different types of soup. My girls first choice is always Chicken and Dumplings and I always make a large pot for them! But one of my favorites is a European beet soup called "Borscht".

While visiting the country of Poland, Borscht was one of the soups I just had to have! And it was delicious! The recipe I like to use comes from the Russian Tea Room Cookbook on page 51.

"Hot Borscht"

6 cups beef or chicken consomme'
1 cup tomato sauce (I did not add tomato sauce)
1 ½ cup shredded cabbage (I did not add the cabbage)
¾ cups thinly slices celery
¾ cup shredded carrots
¾ cup thinly sliced onions
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ½ cups julienne strips of raw beets (or cubed, I increased the amount of beets)
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar (optional)
¼ cup minced fresh dill weed
Sour cream

Pour consommé into a large soup kettle. Add tomato sauce, cabbage, celery, carrots and onions. Bring to the boiling point and turn heat to low. Skim soup. Simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender but still keep their shape. Skim as needed. Stir in sugar and the beets. Simmer, covered, for 10 more minutes or until beets are tender. Check the seasoning; if necessary, add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in vinegar if you are using it. turn soup into a tureen or 6 individual soup bowls and sprinkle with the dill. Serve hot, with sour cream on the side.

The night before I had made a beef roast with carrots, potatoes and gravy. There was a little bowl of left overs so I decided to use them in the Borscht. I took the chunk of beef and cut it into small pieces to use in the soup. Then I placed some beef and carrots and potato with a little gravy in my food processor and chopped it. This became a perfect filling for my little "Ucho" or little ears, which are small pierogi. The Borscht in Poland had these little Ucho that were filled with meat.
The pierogi dough is very simple and can be found here. I cut the recipe in half and began to fill the little rounds of dough with the beef and vegetable filling. As I worked on the Ucho, my daughter cut the fresh beets and other ingredients and made the soup.
The Ucho turned out beautifully and I coated them with a little oil so they would not stick together.
I served them next to the soup along with sour cream.
The soup was "gusty dobry".

"Nobody ever says, 'Can I have your beets?' "
~ Bill Cosby

"Everything I do, I do on the principle of Russian borscht.
You can throw everything into it beets, carrots, cabbage, onions,
everything you want.
What's important is the result, the taste of the borscht."
~ Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Russian poet


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