Top 10 Turkey Tips

November 17, 2010

Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey

So, who’s roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving next week? Whether it’s your first time to roast a turkey or if you’re an old pro, here are ten tips to help you assure that you roast the best turkey EVER!

  1. First, decide whether you are going to buy fresh or frozen. Plan ahead if you’re buying frozen. The safest way to defrost a frozen turkey is in the refrigerator and a 20 lb. turkey will take between 3 -4 days to fully defrost.
  2. When choosing your turkey, be sure to read the nutritional label. A lot of the frozen turkeys are basted and will contain more fat and as much as four times the sodium as a fresh turkey.
  3. Decide on the size of the turkey you need based on how many people you will be feeding. If you want leftovers, Butterball says to allow approximately 1 1/2 pounds per person; so for 15 people, you would want to buy a 22 lb. turkey.
  4. Cooking times do vary depending on whether you purchased a frozen or fresh turkey. Allow 20 minutes per pound in a 350 degree oven for a defrosted turkey and 10-15 minutes per pound for a fresh turkey.
  5. I stuff a turkey the same way I do a large roasting chicken. Just loosely fill the turkey cavity with veggies like carrots, celery, garlic, onions and maybe some fresh rosemary. And, I like to add fresh herbs under the breast skin. A turkey will cook more evenly if it’s not densely stuffed. (Our family always baked the stuffing separate from the turkey, never stuffed inside the turkey or in the bottom of the roaster.)
  6. For more even roasting, truss the turkey and tuck the wing tips under the shoulder of the bird. If you don’t want to take the time to truss, just make sure the legs are tucked into the pocket of skin at the tail end.
  7. Before roasting, brush the outside of the turkey with either vegetable or olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and make a tent out of aluminum foil and place over the top of the turkey. (This will prevent the breast from browning too quickly.)
  8. Once you’ve got your turkey in the oven, just leave it alone! There is no need to baste every hour and opening the oven will drop the temperature which will effect the roasting time. About 45 minutes to an hour before you think the turkey is done, remove the foil so the breast can brown and baste with turkey juices. (Our mom also liked to rub butter on the skin at the stage.)
  9. Don’t rely on the little plastic thermometers to pop out. Instead, check the temperature of the turkey with an instant read thermometer. The deepest spot on the turkey, in the thigh, between the leg and the breast should read 165 – 180 degrees. Make sure you do not overcook or you will end up with dry turkey breast.
  10. Remove from oven. Place the foil tent back over the turkey and let it rest for 20 – 30 minutes to allow to juices to redistribute throughout the turkey. To end up with a moist turkey, it’s very important to let it rest. For best results, carve with a very sharp or electric knife.

Voila!  I know the first time I roasted a turkey, it was somewhat intimidating, but it really is pretty simple, isn’t it?

photo credit: r_gnuce


~LilSis

Holiday Potatoes: Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

November 8, 2010

Holiday Potatoes: Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Holiday Potatoes: Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

We did share our recipe for Holiday Potatoes last November, but they are definitely worthy of another mention, especially at this time of the year. These potatoes are on our Thanksgiving and Christmas menus every year, without fail. My guys would actually love it if I would make these more often instead of saving them for special occasions.

Trust me when I say that this recipe will not disappoint.

Holiday Potatoes

9 large potatoes (I used white, but you can use Russet or Yukon Gold) peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 stick butter, softened
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. sour cream
3 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 c. canola oil
salt and pepper to taste

Place the potatoes and the garlic cloves in a large saucepan and add water to cover. Boil until potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the oil until hot, add the shallots and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are golden, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to a paper towel to drain.

Once tender, drain and place the potatoes in a large bowl. Cut butter and cream cheese into small pieces and add to bowl. Beat with electric mixer until potatoes are fluffy. Beat in sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or place in a buttered casserole dish and refrigerate.

To reheat, bake for 20 minutes or so at 350 degrees. If the potatoes are completely cold, they may need 45 minutes to heat through.  I like heating mine until they’re a little brown around the edges. Right before serving, sprinkle the shallots with salt and garnish the potatoes with the shallots.

If you’ve never tried a Make Ahead Mashed Potato Recipe, I can almost guarantee you that once you make these, you’ll never go back to making last minute mashed taters EVER again!  Instead of peeling and boiling potatoes in a busy kitchen, just pull these out of the fridge, pop them into the oven, and visit with your family while they’re heating.  That’s one more thing to be thankful for!

~LilSis

Cinco de Mayo Recipe Roundup

May 3, 2010

Is it really May already? I must say this every month, but it does seem like time is flying by faster than ever before.  I know we had an early Easter this year but where did the rest of April go? We’ve got Mother’s Day already right around the corner and before you know it we’ll be celebrating Memorial Day and the Fourth of July!

But before we get ahead of ourselves, we’ve got Cinco de Mayo sneaking up on us in just two days. So, whether you’re looking for an easy appetizer to take to a party or you’re cooking for a large group of friends and family, here are some of our all time favorite recipes that are perfect for a Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Hatch Green Chile and Garlic Goat Cheese

Ceviche Salad with Avocado, Cilantro and Green Chile

Ceviche Salad with Avocado, Cilantro and Green Chile


Super Simple Guacomole

Super Simple Guacamole

http://bigsislilsis.com/2010/04/27/roasted-garlic-dressing-with-green-chili/

Roasted Garlic Dressing with Green Chilli


Homemade Pita Chips

Homemade Pita Chips

(This is a terrible photo, but this soup is perfect topped with grated cheese, sour cream and toasted tortilla strips)

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Chicken Enchilada Soup


Classic Tortilla Soup

Classic Tortilla Soup

Spinach Mushroom Enchiladas

Spinach Mushroom Enchiladas


Shrimp with Garlic and Chile Pepper

Shrimp with Garlic and Chile Pepper


This next recipe is one of Bry’s favorite appetizers but every time he makes them they’re gobbled up so quickly we never have time to take a photo! Yes, they’re that yummy!

Bry’s Stuffed Peppers

15 fresh jalapeno peppers
1 pound Italian sausage
1 (8 oz) cream cheese
1/2 pound bacon

Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Clean out seeds with spoon. Set aside on foiled lined cookie sheet. Saute sausage and drain. Add the cream cheese to the sausage and mix well.  Spoon into peppers and wrap 1/3 slice of bacon around each pepper. Bake at 350 for approximately 20 – 30 minutes. Put under the broiler for a few minutes to further brown the bacon, if desired. Drain on a paper towel, then serve warm.

And, lastly, we can’t forget about something sweet.

Mexican Chocolate Rice Krispies

Mexican Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

Hopefully, we’ve given you a couple of ideas to help you with your celebration, but whatever you decide to do on Wednesday, have a safe Cinco de Mayo! :-)

~LilSis

Last Minute Thanksgiving Recipes

November 24, 2009

I’ll be taking our family’s go-to tater recipe – Holiday Make-Ahead Potatoes – to Thanksgiving lunch at SisMama’s house this year.  If I needed to whip up anything else, you can bet I’d be choosing from this group of fab-you-luss recipes!

Breakfast

Appetizers

Side Dishes

Desserts

  • Caramel Apple Bars from SugarPlum
  • Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bundt from My Baking Addiction

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!


~BigSis

Double Chocolate Peppermint Bars

November 16, 2009

Chocolate Peppermint Bars 2

With our SPCA Bake Sale looming on the calendar, I’ve been busy planning and test-driving a couple of new recipes.  The last thing I need during the baking frenzy is a recipe that doesn’t work!  I have a bunch of tried-and-true favorites that I’m making, but still wandered through my cookbook collection in search of some new goodies to try.  I flipped through Carole Walter’s “Great Cookies”, and found a dark chocolaty recipe called Triple Chocolate Peppermint Bars that sounded crazy good.

You make a dark chocolate shortbread base and then top it with a dark chocolate brownie filling that has peppermint schnapps in it.  Then you cover the whole thing with a thin chocolate ganache that has even more schnapps in it.  How bad could that possibly be!  It certainly deserved a test-drive!

I didn’t have schnapps so I used peppermint extract instead, and left the ganache layer off since I thought it might be too smeary and messy once it’s packaged in a cute little treat bag.  The top got a sprinkle of crushed candy canes instead.

Chocolate Peppermint Bars 1

Can I just say YUMMY??  Oh, mommy, these have an incredible chocolate flavor!  Maybe I loved them so much because I adore chocolate shortbread and brownies and peppermint.

Only one little problem…my bars didn’t come out looking anything like the photo.  I expected the bars to be kind of chunky and thick, but mine came out very thin; only about 1/2″.  Phooey.  I can’t figure out what I might have done wrong, if anything, but I guess it doesn’t matter.  I think the bars are too thin and fragile to work well for the bake sale, which is a bummer, but this recipe is a keeper!  If I make them again and don’t need to package them, I’ll definitely add the ganache layer!

~BigSis

Bacon Challenge Detour: Deviled Eggs with Baconnaise

November 13, 2009

I’ve been searching for a vegetarian – or ideally a vegan – alternative to pork bacon that is crispy and smoky and delicious.  And by the way…I’m still looking!  Along the way, I found and tried an odd little product called Bacon Salt.  To be honest, I didn’t love it although I gave it kudos for originality.  :-)

The Bacon Salt people saw my review, and emailed me to see if I’d like to try the natural variety of the salt, as well as their Baconnaise, which is a vegetarian bacon-flavored mayonnaise type spread.  Well, this girl just saw Zumanity, which scared the tweet out of me, thanks for asking.  If I can survive that and live to tell about it, surely I’m tough enough to handle bacon-flavored mayo and more Bacon Salt, right?  Right?  Ehhh, ummm, sure…?

The bad news first. I still am not a fan of Bacon Salt.  Frankly, I think the “unnatural” version tastes better than the natural one.  The natural variety just tastes harsh and fake to me.

However!  The Baconnaise is another story.  The flavor is not bad.  It’s smoky, savory and bacon-ny, but pretty darn salty too.  I started thinking of how it might be used other than just lightly spread on a tomato and lettuce sandwich.  I think potato salad would be a good fit since potatoes drink up a lot of salt, but I don’t know how to make less than a giant washtub-sized vat of it so I settled on deviled eggs.

Baconnaise Deviled Eggs
(vegetarian)

5 or 6 large eggs
1 tblsp or more Baconnaise (can dilute with some plain mayo)
2 tsp dill pickle relish
1 tsp spicy brown mustard
Pepper to taste

Place eggs in a saucepan, and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and boil for 20 minutes.  Run cold water over eggs until cool enough to peel.  Peel, rinse and dry eggs.

Cut eggs in half lengthwise and remove the yolks to a small bowl.  Add all the other ingredients and mix well.  Add a little more Baconnaise to reach the consistency you like.  Fill each egg half, and refrigerate.  BigSis Note: I like to sprinkle my eggs with Penzeys Shallot Pepper before eating them.

The final verdict?  Baconnaise is pretty good, but it’s a little strong for me.  I’d recommend mixing it with regular mayo to smooth it out a smidge.  I think that’s what I’ll do the next time I make these eggs, or a vat o’ tater salad!

~BigSis

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Tomato Salad with Feta, Basil and Balsamic Reduction

August 22, 2009

Farmer's Market Tomato Salad

Tomato Salad with Feta, Basil and Balsamic Reduction

One of the bummers of summer coming to an end is that excellent tomatoes vanish.  The days of collecting big bags of succulent locally-grown tomatoes from the farmer’s market will be long gone.  Boo.  Before that happens and I go into withdrawal and deep depression, I’m making all of the yummy summer tomato recipes that I can.  Here’s a recipe for a delicious fresh tomato salad that couldn’t be easier.

Don’t let the fancy title fool you.  It’s way simple, and you can use whatever quantities and whatever ingredients you like. You could add roasted red pepper, mint, olives, capers, pine nuts…anything your little heart desires!  As my old boss would say, you’re only limited by your imagination!  He would also say that it’s easier to ask forgiveness rather than permission, but the company folded so I’m thinking that maybe that wasn’t such a good philosophy.  :-)   This salad is good though!

Tomato Salad with Feta, Basil and Balsamic Reduction

1 large tomato
2 small or 1 medium tomato, chopped
2 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Dash of lemon pepper
2 tablespoons or more feta (I like more!)
Lettuce for serving
Balsamic Reduction (cook 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar over low heat until it thickens slightly.  Cool before using.)

First, make the receptacle for the salad.  Turn the large tomato upside down,with the stem side down.  Make 4 cuts, like you’re making an asterisk, but don’t cut all the way through; only a little more than 3/4 of the way down.  You want to be able to spread the “petals” of the tomato to make room for the salad to sit.  Place the tomato on a bed of torn lettuce.

Mix the chopped tomato with the basil, lemon juice, olive oil, lemon pepper and feta. Toss lightly together, and spoon into the center of the prepared tomato.  Drizzle with the reduced balsamic.  Voila!  Vive la Summer!

~BigSis

Food Face Plate

August 4, 2009

We had a great weekend celebrating SisMama’s birthday, and will talk about it later this week.  Meanwhile, I just stumbled upon this cool item and wanted to share it.

Do you remember being a kid and needing encouragement to eat?  I don’t.  I think I’ve always liked to eat, and sometimes wish I didn’t enjoy it so much!  But I’ve known kids who weren’t interested in food at all, and had to be bribed or threatened to eat.  Maybe this cool product would make mealtime fun for them, or maybe it would be even more fun for us big kids!

Food Face Plate

Food Face Plate

It’s Wooly Willy; that dude from the magnetic game you took in the car with you on road trips!  But now, he’s on a plate and instead of decorating him with magnetic metal shavings, you’re decorating him with your food.  I love the green bean eyebrows!

I heard about the Food Face Plate from FreshTrend, and found the plates available for sale on Perpetual Kid for $9.95.  If you buy one of these and play with your food, send us a photo!

~BigSis

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Summer Salad

July 8, 2009

Last week we talked about Party Menus, Chips and Dip, Pizza on the Grill, Quick & Easy Recipes, and No-Bake Desserts. Lots of talk about lots of food! We were definitely in ‘party-mode’ in preparing for the holiday. And, unfortunately, I also consumed a lot of party food last weekend and while on our ten-day vacation in Chicago.

Monday morning, I decided that the vacation was over and that it was time to get back on track!  No party food for me for a while.  :-(

I could actually be satisfied with a salad for dinner, but the guys aren’t too thrilled with the idea of just a bunch of green stuff for dinner.  And, to be honest, I’m a little bored with my same old salad recipes so I’m on the lookout for some new ones.

I’ve been so busy since returning home from vacation that I haven’t had time to flip through any cookbooks or browse the internet for fresh salad ideas. A few days ago, I received my new August/September issue of Food Network Magazine. When I found the article on “50 Simple Salads”, I was glad that I had taken a few minutes to look through the magazine.

If you don’t subscribe to the magazine, you can find the  “50 Simple Salads” recipes here. There are a lot of simple dressing ideas and some interesting combinations in some of these salads, but I did say that I was bored, right?

I wonder if my family would try a Watermelon-Feta Salad?

Watermelon-Feta Salad

Watermelon-Feta Salad

Or a Squash and Orzo Salad?

Squash and Orzo Salad

Squash and Orzo Salad

This Bacon Bistro Salad looks really good to me. But, of course it does, it’s got fried bacon in it!

Bistro Bacon Salad

Bistro Bacon Salad

It may be an experiment to see if I can get my guys to eat a salad other than a Caesar Salad or an Iceberg with cucumbers, but I’m going to give it a try. Wish me luck!

~LilSis

Last Minute Quick & Easy 4th of July Recipes

July 4, 2009

I’m a huge planner and a huge fan of being organized, but for some reason, a lot of our get-togethers and parties are planned at the last minute. Trust me when I say that there have been many times that I’m still scrabbling the morning of a party to finalize my menu. Last year, I threw together my New Years Eve Party all in one day and it turned out great! If anyone is like me and might be searching for some quick and easy last minute recipe ideas, here are some of my favorites.

Insalata Ala Caprese

Insalata Ala Caprese

Insalata ala Caprese is my absolute all-time favorite! It’s always a hit and can be served either as an appetizer or a side salad.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Here’s a different twist on almost the same ingredients. You can’t go wrong with this Heirloom Tomato Salad.

Summertime Fruit Salad

Summertime Fruit Salad

I think this Summertime Fruit Salad would be a great start for a 4th of July Celebration.

Ceviche Salad

Ceviche Salad

This Ceviche Salad is light and simple and would be great to take to a cookout.

Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Potato Salad

Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Potato Salad

This Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Potato Salad isn’t your every day potato salad.

Homemade Pita Chips

Homemade Pita Chips

Healthy Hummus

Healthy Hummus

How about some Pita Chips and Hummus? Easy and healthy, too!

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs

Okay, I know that there’s nothing special about Deviled Eggs, but in a pinch, if you have to take something to a cookout, no one will complain about having these at the party!

Angel Hair Pasta Salad

Angel Hair Pasta Salad

This Angel Hair Pasta Salad is a great choice for a crowd. The recipe may say that the pasta needs to marinate in the lemon juice overnight, but I’ve done it for just an hour or so and it turns out fine. This salad requires a little more prep with just chopping ham and grating cheese, but it’s so worth it. It’s an all-time family favorite.

Lastly, if you go here, you’ll find recipes to these favorites; Sun Dried Tomato Spread, Grilled Shrimp wrapped in Bacon, HVR Cheese Ball, BigT’s Peppers, Artichoke & Spinach Dip Restaurant Style, and Bo’s Version of Brie and Cranberries. I promise you that you CANNOT go wrong with any of these ‘go-to’ favorites.

Whatever you decide to make for your own party or to take to share with friends, have a safe and Happy 4th!!

~LilSis

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