Friday, November 23, 2007


so this is perhaps a bit late, given that yesterday was turkey-day, but i wanted to try it out before sharing it. this year we brined our turkey--which means, essentially, that we submerged it in a sugar, salt, and water solution for several hours before cooking it. i could spell out all the details of how it works, but they're kind of boring. so i'll just say that the idea is that brining the turkey makes it both more moist and tender and more flavorful. and having done this to my family's turkey yesterday, i can attest that we had the most delicious turkey ever, complete with moist, tender white meat (which almost never happens). so here's the details:

the best candidates for brining:
CORNISH HEN: whole, butterflied
CHICKEN: whole, parts, butterflied
TURKEY: whole, breast, parts, butterflied
PORK: loin, tenderloin, chops, fresh ham
SEAFOOD: whole side of salmon (when grill-roasting or smoking), shrimp

how to brine:
1. Mix cold water, salt, and sugar in brining vessel and stir to dissolve salt and sugar.
2. Immerse food in brine, seal, and refrigerate. (If not refrigerating, add ice packs before covering.) When brining a turkey or whole bird, make sure the air bubble in the chest cavity comes out.

formula for basic brine:
1 quart cold water
1/2 cup Diamond Crystal kosher
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Morton kosher salt
1/4 cup table salt
1/2 cup sugar

use 1 quart of brine per 1 pound of food, not to exceed 2 gallons brine**

brine for 1 hour per pound, but not less than 30 minutes or more than 8 hours

formula for brine for high-heat roasting, broiling, or high-heat grilling:
1 quart cold water
1/4 cup Diamond Crystal kosher
3 tablespoons Morton kosher
OR 2 tablespoons table salt
2 tablespoons sugar

use 1 quart of brine per 1 pound of food, not to exceed 2 gallons brine**

brine for 1 hour per pound, but not less than 30 minutes or more than 8 hours

**when brining multiple items, time based on weight of single item (for example, use weight of 1 of 4 pork chops being brined)

***when brining a turkey or fresh ham, rinse it well to remove excess sugar (extra sugar can make the outside of the meat burn)

what you'll need:
in addition to the ingredients (water, salt, sugar), you'll need a few other things, including:

some kind of brining vessel. for small pieces of meat, you can use ziploc bags, usually one- or two-gallon size. for larger pieces of meat (whole turkey, whole chicken, etc.), use some kind of tub or cooler. you need to make sure the meat is completely submerged in the brine, which means either expelling all the air from the bag or weighting the meat in a tub/cooler so it's submerged. you can also put a large piece of meat inside a trash bag and tie it off so there's no water left.

a method for keeping your meat cold. when you're working with a big piece of meat, especially for a holiday meal, it's not always possible to store a big tub of brine + meat in the fridge. you can put your brining bird (pig, fish, etc.) in a cooler full of ice packs so it stays down around 40 degrees. we used a trash bag for the turkey and brine and surrounded it in a cooler with ice, which worked great. make sure you don't let ice melt and dilute the brine if you take the cooler option.

after it's brined:
you can put your meat right in to cook after brining. however, if you like crisp poultry skin, you probably won't get it if you cook right away. instead you should brine ahead of time so you can let the bird air dry for at least several hours (best if you can let it air dry overnight) before cooking it. to let the bird dry, remove it from the brine and rinse well (to remove excess sugar). pat it dry with paper towels. place on a rack inside a rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan. refrigerate. the rack allows air to circulate around the bird.

so there it is. how to brine your bird (or pig or fish). it's not effective for red meat or fattier birds (duck, for instance) because those meats have sufficient fat to compensate for the drying that happens during cooking. i can't tell you how much it improved the turkey yesterday. my brother-in-law was carving the turkey and i was stealing snippets of white meat, amazed at how tender and juicy it was. try it for christmas!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


OK, here is the roll recipe:

1 package yeast (1 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup milk, scalded (warm it up but take it off the heat when it is steaming but not boiling)
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs, well beaten
3/4 tsp salt
3 1/2 - 4 1/2 cups of flour (This is an estimate)

Dissolve yeast and 1 Tbsp sugar in 1/3 cups of warm water. (I use pretty warm water) Set aside. Scald milk and butter together and set aside to cool a bit. In a mixing bowl place 1/2 cup sugar, salt, and eggs. Add cooled milk mixture (It will still be a bit warm, just don't scramble the eggs!) and yeast. Add part of the flour and beat in until thick. Add additional flour to make a soft dough. (It will still be pretty sticky at this point). Let rise until double-usually about two hours depending on how warm the room is. Roll out dough on floured surface (I usually have to add quite a bit of flour here because the dough is so sticky. I actually add flour to the dough in the bowl and then dump it out on the counter and knead it in). Roll out and cut to the shape you want. I use a big cup/glass and cut the rolls into circles. I then dip half the roll in melted butter and fold it over on itself. If you do it this way you don't have to grease the pan since the rolls have butter on them. Let rise until light and the right size...use best judgement! Don't let them get too big. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. I usually start checking mine around 12 or 13 minutes.

The flour isn't an exact measurement but just put in enough so it looks right! The secret to these rolls is not using a ton of flour. That way the rolls stay light and fluffy! Good luck and I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. Let me know if you have any questions!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Do Not Peek Chicken

Chicken to serve your family...I always use bone in chicken for this recipe
1 C. rice...not instant
2 cans cream of chicken soup...can be reduced fat. The original recipe calls for one can cream of celery/1 can cream of mushroom...but we like the chicken soup
1/2 soup can of milk
1 envelope of dry Lipton onion soup mix

Sprinkle rice evenly over a 9x13 pan. Mix milk and soup together and pour over the rice. Sprinkle half the onion soup over rice. Place chicken pieces over rice and cover with pieces of chicken. Sprinkle remaining onion soup over the chicken. Seal with foil and back for 2-2 1/2 hours at 325 degrees. Enjoy. This is actually one of M's favorite meals.

Creamy Black Bean Salsa Chicken

2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can chicken broth
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 c. salsa
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 c. cheddar cheese
1/2 c. sour cream

Put chicken in crock pot. Pour in broth, salsa, corn, beans and taco seasoning. Cover and simmer on low for 6-8 hours. Once done, shred chicken, add cheese & sour cream. Heat until cheese is melted. Serve over rice.

Crock pot season is upon us. I love crock pot cooking. Here's a recipe our family LOVES. Hope yours does too. This goes great with a green salad or spinach salad!!

A few requests...

Zeeny - Do not peek chicken (because I always forget)
Brandi - Breakfast burritos
Carrie - Spaghetti (when you made it at Wolf Creek)
Zippy - Guacamole
Whitney - Taco Soup!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Zucchini Bread

I have been making tons of this, my husband and I are now addicted!
3 eggs
2 c. sugar
1 c. apple butter OR apple sauce
2 c. grated Zucchini
1 tsp. vanilla
In another bowl mix:
3 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
*IF you are using apple sauce and NOT apple butter than add
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon

Add dry ingredients to wet and stir well. You can add 1/2 c. nuts if you want.
Add to 2 greased bread loaf pans and bake 325 for 1 hour.

A good friend gave me the idea to make a dinner menu weekly and stick to it. So far its working and I'm hoping now that classes have started back up I'll be able to stay on top of dinner with this method! So every Sunday night I get input from the family and we make our choices for the week. This week we are having:
Mon-Chicken Alfredo
Tue- Homemade chili and cornbread
Wed- Am for Pm (pancakes, eggs, bacon)
Thurs- Spaghetti with maple sausage and garlic bread
Fri- Homemade pizzas, one with Hawaiian, another with the works
Sat- Chicken Chili
Sun- Lasagna and garlic bread

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pepper Steak

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 bell peppers any color (red, green,orange)
1 medium onion cut into wedges
2 cloves garlic
1 pound of thinly cut steak
1 can of campbells condensed beefy mushroom soup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ginger
hot cooked rice

In hot skillet with oil stir-fry peppers onion and garlic then set aside. Then brown the steak and combine the soup soy sauce and ginger when hot, put peppers and onions back in heat through. serve of rice.

I usually don't like bell peppers but this is really good!!! Scott and i tried it a couple of weeks ago and we loved it. The first time i tried it with white rice and the second with brown rice and I think i prefer the brown rice. This is a really easy recipe and hardly takes any time and bell peppers are supposed to be really healthy!! I hope you enjoy!!!

Friday, November 9, 2007

ham & bean soup

a few years ago i got on a kick of making "experimental soul" for the missionaries. i'd feed them once a month and each month i made a new soup i'd never tried before. in december that year, i came home from our ward christmas party with a hambone that had plenty of meat on it. so i went looking for a soup to make using my hambone. this is what i found:

1 lb. white beans, prepared
8 c. water

1 hambone

2 c. ham, diced
1 c. celery

1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1 bay leaf

combine all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low for 12 to 14 hours.

modifications: i used white beans and 15 bean mix. there are a couple of ways to prepare beans; the bag should say how. i usually soak them overnight. because i had more beans than it called for, i ended up using only about half the water it called for, which resulted in more of a chili consistency soup than a soupy soup. it was tasty. i also season to taste rather than measuring out my salt and pepper. and knowing me, i probably threw in other seasonings--whatever looked good at the moment. i had a very meaty hambone, meaning there was a lot of meat left on it, so i didn't bother with the 2 cups of diced ham. when i came home from work that day and tried to pull the hambone out, it fell apart. and i've never tasted ham that tender. delicious. enjoy!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Never Fail Pie Crust

With Thanksgiving around the corner I thought this pie crust recipe might be useful. It is a really easy...really good crust. I put any left over bits into a pie tin/ pan and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on them and eat them like a cookie! Yum. Hope you enjoy.

Never-Fail Pie Crust

2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shortening
Cut shortening into flour until crumbly.

1 Tbsp. vinegar
1/3 cup cold milk

Add and mix with a fork. Divide dough and roll out. For shell, prick and bake at 450 degree's for about ten minutes. Makes 3 (8 or 9 inch) pies or a large double crust pie. My mom can get 3 pie crusts out of it but I usually just get two with enough left to make a yummy cinnamon sugar cookie!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sweet Carrot Mashed Potatoes

3-4 large sweet potatoes
2-3 cups of russet mashed potatoes (or instant)
1 cup mashed carrots
½ cup butter
pinch of garlic power
pinch of dried chopped onion
Salt and pepper to you liking
1 tablespoon of sugar ( I used Splenda)

I microwave the sweet potatoes (I think the skins are easier to peel) But you can boil them. Boil until soft. Boil carrots until soft. Boil white potatoes until soft. Peel skin of potatoes and mash all together. Add butter and season to your liking.

I made these for the Culinary Institute and everyone liked them. I kinda made it up as I went along I added the white potatoes because I thought I wouldn't have enough... and I really like the 2 mixed. And I really needed to use the carrots up so I added them too. Enjoy

Monday, November 5, 2007

Penne w/Cabbage, Sausage and Marinara

We are having this for dinner tonight with garlic bread, haven't ever tried it before, but it sounds good. (I love, love, love trying new things!) I got it off the Good Morning America website. Enjoy!

1/4 C. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
1 lb. Italian sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb. Savoy cabbage, cooked and chopped into bite-sized pieces
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 C. Marinara sauce
1 lb. Penne pasta
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (optional)

1. Heat oil in large saute pan over med. heat. Add sauasage and saute until done.
2. Add cabbage, salt, pepper and saute for 1-2 min. Stir in marinara sauce and cook 3-5min. until flavors have blended.
3. Meanwhile, cook penne in a large pot in rapidly boiling salted H20 until al-dente.
4. Drain pasta, and return it to the pot with 1/2 cup of sauce. Stir for 1 min over high heat, then place sauced pasta on serving platter and pour remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle with Romano cheese.
Serves 4.

Shepard's Pie

With the weather turning colder, Samson tells me it is time for Shepard's Pie. I know there lots of different ways to make Shepard's Pie. This is the recipe that we like to use ~ Samson loves it!

1 lb Hamburger (ground - lean)
1/2 small Onion (chopped)
1 can Beef Gravy
2 cups Veggies (frozen)
Mashed potatoes (instant)

Brown hamburger and add onions to cook until soft. Mix in gravy and heat until warmed through. Put beef mixture on the bottom of a casserole dish. Spread frozen veggies (we use peas, carrots, and corn) over beef mixture. Make mashed potatoes according to the instructions on the box - or if you can make your own from scratch. My kids love mashed potatoes so I mound it on until it reaches the top of the casserole dish. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake (covered) at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

What's for Dinner?

What is everyone making for dinner this week?
Let's post some recipes...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Tasty Sausage Dip!!!

2 cans of rotell tomatoes (original)
2 packages of cream cheese
1 roll of original style sausage (jimmy dean)

Brown sausage and then put all of the ingrediants into a crock pot and cook until warm then serve with tostitos scoop chips!!!