"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Roasted Acorn Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas

1 Acorn Squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1" dice
1 Yellow Onion, diced
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 can (15oz) black beans, drained
1/2 C. Salsa
1 tablespoon; onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder
1 teaspoon; cumin, coriander, paprika, oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Soft corn tortillas
1/2 cup Queso Fresco
1/2 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
1 cup Enchilada sauce, plus extra for serving
Garnish with sour cream, shredded lettuce and favorite hot sauce

Preheat oven to 400°F.

To make filling:
Place squash in a large mixing bowl, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil and all seasonings (onion, garlic, chili powders, cumin, coriander, paprika, and oregano), salt and pepper.  Toss well.  Put seasoned squash on rimmed baking sheet and place in oven.  Cook for 20 minutes, stirring half way through.

Meanwhile, in a large pan heat the last tablespoon of oil.  Add onions and peppers.  Cook for 5-7 minutes until they start to soften.  Add minced garlic and black beans.  Cook for another 5 minutes.  Add salsa, mix well and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.  Mix in cilantro.  Reserve warm.  When squash is done, add to black bean mixture, mix.

Place 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce on bottom of a clean baking dish.  Take a small amount of squash filling and place on tortilla.  Add a small amount of queso fresco and roll, place enchilada seam side down onto sauced dish.  Repeat until all filling and Queso is used.  Rope enchiladas with sauce and shredded Colby jack.  Place dish into oven and cook for 30 minutes or until cheese is fully melted but not brown.  Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.  Serve with shredded lettuce, sour cream, hot sauce, if desired and additional enchilada sauce.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Granola for a Paleo Lifestyle

I love this in a bowl with almond milk or straight up out of the ziplock bag. It's the easiest thing in the world to whip up and kills anything you'll buy in the store. It's also way less expensive to make yourself.  Enjoy!

1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup pecans, chopped
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup honey
¼ cup maple syrup
1 cup dried cranberries, blueberries, raisins, or cherries
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Add all ingredients, except honey, dried fruit and maple syrup to a large mixing bowl.  Mix well.  Place on a baking sheet (use parchment paper for easy clean up).  Bake for 15 minutes, remove and carefully stir in the syrup and honey.  Return to oven and cook an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Watch carefully the last 5 minutes so as not to burn.  Remove baking sheet from the oven, mix in dried fruit. Let cool.  Serve and Enjoy!

Weekly Menu Nov. 16th - Nov. 22nd

Thai-styled Chicken Lettuce wraps
Spicy Asian Green Beans

Pot Roast, Mushroom Gravy
Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasted Acorn Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas, Quesco Fresco
Salsa Verde

Spaghetti Squash with Bolognese
Grilled Turkey Sausage topped with Gorgonzola

Butternut Squash and Roasted Garlic Cassoulet
Arugula Salad with Crispy Shallots and Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette

Grilled Garlic Shrimp, Spaghetti Squash

"B.A.S Night" (Big Ass Steak night)
Bone-in Aged NY Strip Steaks
Mushrooms with Caramelized Shallots
Sautéed Spinach with Garlic
Mashed Turnips with Green Onions

Butternut Squash and Roasted Garlic Cassoulet

1 whole garlic head
4 ounces pancetta, chopped
2 cups vertically sliced onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
4 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (16-ounce) cans cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
2 (1-ounce) slices white bread
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Remove white papery skin from garlic head (do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap garlic head in foil. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Set half of garlic pulp aside; reserve remaining garlic pulp for another use. Discard skins.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pancetta; sauté 5 minutes or until crisp. Remove pancetta from pan, reserving drippings in pan. Add onion and 1 tablespoon oil to drippings in pan; sauté 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 25 minutes or until onion is very tender and browned, stirring frequently. Stir in vinegar.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Add garlic pulp, pancetta, squash, and next 6 ingredients (through bay leaf) to onion mixture, stirring well. Place bread in a food processor, and pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure about 1 cup. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil; sprinkle evenly over squash mixture. Cover and bake at 375°F for 50 minutes or until squash is tender. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until topping is browned. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with parsley.  Serve and Enjoy!

Spicy Asian Green Beans

Serves: 6

1 lb of Green Beans
½ lb of Carrots
1 Sweet Bell Pepper
3 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons of Lime Juice
1 Tablespoon of Fish Sauce
1 Tablespoon of Peanut Butter
1 Tablespoon of Red Chiles or Chile Paste
½ teaspoon of Tumeric
¼ teaspoon of Grated Ginger
¼ teaspoon of Coriander
½ cup of Water
2 Tablespoons of Chopped Basil
1 Tablespoon of Sesame Oil
¼ cup of chopped Peanuts
1 Tablespoon olive oil Cooking Oil

Slice the green beans at an angle. Slice the carrots into thin discs or even strips.  Core the bell pepper and slice into strips about the size of the green bean.  Combine the soy sauce, red chile paste, lime juice, fish sauce, turmeric, ginger, coriander, peanut butter, and water in a bowl.

Heat a wok to medium heat and add the olive oil (not the sesame oil).  Add the green beans and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add the carrots.  Add the sauce mixture and continue to cook with intermittent stirring for about 7-8 minutes until the sauce reduces.  Add in the chopped bell pepper and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and fold in sesame oil and basil.  Garnish with chopped nuts, serve and enjoy!

Thai-style Chicken Lettuce Wraps

This is a really versatile recipe and without too many exotic ingredients you can really get that Thai flavor profile.  Feel free to substitute the chicken for whatever you are hankering for.  So, instead of chicken try,1/2 cup firm Tofu or pork, shredded, or 1/2 cup cooked baby shrimp.  I've even thinly sliced grilled steak, yum.  Enjoy!!

1 head fresh iceberg lettuce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb-size piece ginger, peeled & grated
1/4 to 1/3 tsp. chili flakes
2 shallots, sliced finely
1/2 cup cooked chicken, cut into strips
1 carrot, grated or cut into thin strips
5-6 mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 egg
1/2 cup shredded cabbage (any type will work)
3 spring onions, sliced
approx. 2 cups bean sprouts
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1+1/2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1/4 tsp. sugar

1/3 cup fresh basil OR mint, chopped if leaves are large
1/3 cup fresh dry roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
fresh bean sprouts

OTHER: 2 Tbsp. oil for stir-frying

Drizzle oil into a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger, chili flakes, and shallots. Stir-fry one minute, or until fragrant. Stir-frying tip: add a little water or white wine if the wok/pan gets too dry instead of more oil.
Add chicken, carrot, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, and spring onions. As you stir-fry, add the lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce and sprinkle over the sugar. Stir-fry about 1 minute.
Push ingredients to the side of the wok or pan, and crack in the egg. Stir-fry quickly to break the yolk. Mix in with the other ingredients.
Add the bean sprouts and stir-fry briefly to mix (avoid over-looking or it will go limp). Remove from heat and correct the seasoning with adding more fish sauce if not salty enough.
Cut off the stem part of the iceberg lettuce so it's easier to separate the leaves. Now place the lettuce, sir-fried filling, and the toppings on your table in separate bowls/plates, allowing family or guests to make their own wraps.
To assemble, take a whole lettuce leaf and place 1-2 heaping tablespoons of filling in the center. Top with a sprinkling of fresh basil and peanuts plus fresh bean sprouts if desired. Then wrap up and eat! (For those who like it extra spicy, fresh-cut chili can be added as another topping.) ENJOY!

Paleo Brownies

Jeanne found this recipe at Elana's Pantry and I was excited to give them a try.  The result was really stunning.  Great cake-like texture and fabulous rich chocolate flavors.  I increased the sugar from a teaspoon to heaping tablespoon, the first batch I made wasn't sweet enough to marry with the richness of the cocoa.  I also made a couple of substitutions.  Not messing with the coconut oil, I substituted vegetable oil and instead of the stevia, used sugar.  In addition, I added 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Makes 16 brownies

1 cup blanched almond flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces baking chocolate (100% cacao), chopped
7 Medjool dates (1/2-2/3 cup) pits removed, rough chop
3 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
1 heaping tablespoon spoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a food processor, pulse together almond flour, salt and baking soda.  Pulse in dark chocolate until the texture of coarse sand.  Pulse in dates until the texture of coarse sand, pulse in eggs.  Pulse in oil, sugar, and extract until mixture is smooth.

Transfer mixture to a greased 8 x 8 inch baking dish.  Mixture will be very thick, smooth with a spatula.  Place in hot oven and bake for 18-22 minutes.  Cool for 2 hours, then serve and Enjoy!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Root Vegetable Gratin

1 lb parsnips (about 4 medium)
1 medium celery root (sometimes called celeriac; 3/4 lb total)
1 lb sweet potatoes
1 1/2 lb russet (baking) potatoes
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 400°F.
Peel parsnips and cut crosswise into 3-inch lengths with a knife, then cut lengthwise around core into 1/8-inch-thick slices with slicer (discard core). Transfer to a large bowl.
Peel celery root and all potatoes (prepare russet potatoes last to avoid discoloration) and halve lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices with slicer. Add to parsnips along with salt, garlic, pepper, nutmeg, broth, and 1 3/4 cups cream, tossing to combine. Transfer to gratin dish, spreading evenly.
Cut out a piece of parchment or wax paper to fit just inside gratin dish, then butter 1 side of parchment. Cover vegetables directly with parchment, buttered side down, then put dish in a shallow baking pan (to catch any drips). Bake until gratin is bubbling all over and vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife, about 50 minutes. Discard parchment.
Just before serving, preheat broiler. Drizzle top of gratin with remaining 2 tablespoons cream and broil 4 to 6 inches from heat until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve and Enjoy!

Italian Parsley and Beet Salad

1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
2 1/4 pounds assorted beets with greens (such as Chioggia, white, golden, and red; 1 1/2 pounds if already trimmed)
1/4 small red onion
1 1/4 cups Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves (from 1 bunch), torn if desired
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Accompaniment: fresh ricotta or farmer cheese, or grated ricotta salata

Whisk together juices, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Trim beets, leaving 1 inch of stems attached, then peel.
Using stems as a handle, slice beets paper-thin (less than 1/8 inch thick) with slicer (I like to wear latex gloves to avoid staining my hands), then cut slices into very thin matchsticks.
Thinly slice onion with slicer.
Toss beets, onion, and parsley with dressing and season with salt. Let stand, tossing occasionally, 30 minutes to soften beets and allow flavors to develop.
Toss again and season with salt and pepper before serving drizzled with additional oil.  Add a healthy table spoon of fresh ricotta or farmer's cheese and finish with a little extra ground black pepper.  Serve with crusty Italian bread or baguette and Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie

With Thanksgiving coming up I thought I'd share a terrific recipe for the star dessert.  If making your own crust seems like too big a bother, just buy a pre-made one at the store.

1 Basic flaky Pie Crust for a 9-inch pie
4 (2-inch) gingersnaps
1/4 cup pecan halves
1 3/4 cups unsweetened pumpkin puree (one 15-ounce can)
3/4 cup, packed, light brown sugar, preferably raw
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 liquid cup milk
2/3 liquid cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make the dough:
Using a floured pastry cloth and rolling pin sleeve, or two sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap, roll the pastry 1/8 inch thick or less and large enough to cut a 13-inch circle. Use an expandable flan ring or a cardboard template and a sharp knife as a guide to cut out the circle. Transfer it to the pie pan and tuck the overhanging pastry under itself. If desired, reroll the scraps, chill, and cut out decorative designs such as leaves. (Bake them separately on a small baking sheet at 400°F for 6 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool.)
Cut the border into a checkerboard design or use a fork or spoon to make a flat but decorative border. Do not make a high raised border or extend it over the sides of the pan, as it will not hold up baked so close to the heat source. Refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 1 and up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375°F at least 20 minutes before baking.  Set an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone or cookie sheet on it before preheating.
Process the gingersnaps and pecans until finely ground. Sprinkle them over the bottom of the pie crust and, using your fingers and the back of a spoon, press them into the dough to coat the entire bottom, going about 1/2 inch up the sides.
Make the pumpkin filling:
In a small heavy saucepan, stir together the pumpkin, brown sugar, spices, and salt. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a sputtering simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes or until thick and shiny.
Scrape the mixture into a food processor and process for 1 minute. With the motor on, add the milk and cream, processing until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the work bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, processing just to incorporate, about 5 seconds after each addition; add the vanilla along with the last egg.
Pour the mixture into the pie shell and place in oven on cookie sheet. Bake the pie for 50 to 60 minutes or just until a knife inserted between the sides and center comes out almost clean. The filling will have puffed and the surface dulled, except for the center. (The filling will shake like jelly when moved. This will happen before it has finished baking, so it cannot be used as a firm indication of doneness; conversely, if it does not have this jelly-like consistency, you can be sure that it is not baked adequately). If the crust appears to be darkening too much on the bottom, raise the pie to the next rack. After 30 minutes, protect the edges with a foil ring.
Place the baked pie on a rack to cool. When cool, the surface will be flat. If you have made decorative designs, place them on it now.

Chocolate Brownies

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 18-20 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone needs a terrific chocolate chip cookie recipe.  This is one I found years ago in Gourmet magazine and have used ever since.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (16 ounces)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or wax paper.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
Beat together butter and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Lightly beat 1 egg with a fork in a small bowl and add 1 3/4 tablespoons of it plus 2 remaining whole eggs to butter mixture, beating with mixer until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture until just blended, then stir in chips.
Scoop 1/4 cup batter for each cookie, arranging mounds 3 inches apart, on 2 baking sheets. Flatten mounds into 3-inch rounds using moistened palm of your hand. Form remaining cookies on additional sheets of parchment.
Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool and continue making cookies in same manner using cooled baking sheets.  Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mashed Yellow Turnips with Crispy Shallots

1 1/2 cups light olive or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 to 6 shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rings
2 large yellow turnips (rutabagas), about 4 pounds total
Kosher salt
1 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) salted butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil and unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it reaches 220° F. Reduce the heat to low, add the shallots, and cook until they are a rich golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. The temperature should stay below 260 degrees F. Stir the shallots occasionally to make sure they brown evenly. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon, drain well, and spread out to cool on paper towels. Once they have dried and crisped, they can be stored at room temperature, covered, for several days.

Peel the turnips to remove the waxy skins and cut them into generous 1-inch chunks. Place them in a saucepan with water to cover and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until easily pierced by a paring knife, about 35 minutes. Drain.

In a separate saucepan, heat the milk and salted butter over low heat until the butter has melted and the milk just begins to simmer.

Puree the turnips in several batches in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. With the motor running, add the melted butter and milk in a steady stream. The turnips should be smooth.

Return the puree to the saucepan, season with 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper, and reheat, stirring, over medium heat. Serve piping hot, sprinkled with crispy shallots.  Enjoy!

Roasted Jicama

This is a really great substitute for potatoes.  It's a little sweet and nutty, I just love it.  Serve as you would potato just with a whole lot less carbs and calories.

2 cups jicama, skin removed and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced finely
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon parsley
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Toss all ingredients together. Spread single layer on a baking pan. Put pan into hot oven and cook for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes.  Remove, serve hot and Enjoy!

Vegetable-Leek and Chicken Soup

This is a super easy soup to throw together on a cold fall day.  If you don't feel like cooking the chicken breast in the recipe, substitute a pre-cooked one from your grocery store.  Shred the meat and replace the water in the recipe with all chicken stock.  Now, disregard the poaching step in the recipe and start by sweating the vegetables in paragraph two.  It's that easy.

4 cups water
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 lb skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 medium leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
4 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/3-inch-thick slices
2 celery ribs, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Bring water and broth to a simmer in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan. Add chicken and simmer, uncovered, 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat and cover, then let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and cool 10 minutes. Reserve poaching liquid, uncovered.
While chicken is poaching, cook onion and leeks in oil in a 4-quart heavy pot, covered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add carrots, celery, salt, and pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add poaching liquid and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
While vegetables are cooking, shred chicken into 1/4-inch-wide strips (about 1 inch long). When vegetables are done simmering, stir chicken into soup along with parsley. Serve and Enjoy!

Weekly Menu Nov. 9th - Nov. 15th

Soup of the week: Vegetable and Leek with shredded Chicken

Grilled Sirloin Steaks with Wild Mushrooms
Mashed Turnips
Roasted Beets and Carrots

Seared Salmon served over Caesar Salad
Oven Roasted Jicama and Sweet Onions

Thai Curried Chicken with Vegetables
Asian Spiced Spaghetti Squash

Vegetable Chili
Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic and Thyme

Turkey Meatloaf, mushroom gravy
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Pecans
Braised Carrots with Honey and Shallots

Butternut Squash and Beef Stew

Dinner Out

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Brined-Roasted Turkey Breast

How many times have you been excited about Thanksgiving's star, the bird, just to be crushed that the white meat turns out to be as dry as the Mohave desert?!  Here's a sure fire way to insure moist delicious breast meat that will have everyone racing back for more and singing your praises.

2 skin-on, bone-in turkey breasts (3 1/2–4 pounds)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1 onion, sliced thickly
2 celery stalks
2 carrots, peeled, cut lengthwise
6 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled, crushed

Brine Turkey Breasts overnight.  (3 qt. water, 1/2 C. Orange juice, 1/2 C. salt, 1/3 C. sugar, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds,1 onion sliced, 1 carrot, peeled, cut on a diagonal, 1/2 fennel bulb sliced, 8 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, 8 sprigs thyme, 2 bay leaves)

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Remove breasts from brine and pat dry. Gently loosen skin from turkey breasts and rub butter under skin and all over outside of breasts; season with salt and pepper.
Place a roasting rack in a rimmed baking sheet and scatter onion slices, celery, carrots, thyme sprigs, rosemary sprigs, and garlic on the rack and arrange turkey breasts, skin side up, on top. Put into oven and roast turkey breasts for 30 minutes, until skin starts to crisp and turn golden brown. Turn down oven to 300°F and loosely tent the breasts with foil.  Continue to cook until done. (20 minutes per lb. or internal temp reaches 155°F.) Transfer turkey breasts to a platter and let rest 20-30 minutes before carving.

Serve turkey breasts with pan drippings alongside.

Braised Turkey Legs and Thighs

I'm starting to get excited about my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.  I really like to break the bird down into two parts, white meat and dark meat.  Cooking each with a separate technique to insure both come out moist and equally delicious.  Here's a simple braise technique for the legs and thighs.

2 skin-on turkey drumsticks (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 skin-on, bone-in turkey thighs (about 2 pounds)
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large leeks, whites and pale greens, chopped
6 celery stalks, thinly sliced
8 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, plus 1/2 cup chopped leaves
4 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs sage
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
8 small carrots, tops trimmed, carrots halved lengthwise
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Season turkey with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Working in batches, cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 15–20 minutes per batch; transfer to a large plate.
Add onion, leeks, celery, and garlic to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5–8 minutes. Add wine, parsley, and thyme and sage sprigs; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until reduced by half, 8–10 minutes.
Return turkey to pot and add broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer until meat is tender and cooked through and liquid is reduced by half, 2 1/2–3 hours. Add carrots and cook, uncovered, until carrots are soft and meat is falling off the bone, 35–45 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
Transfer turkey and carrots to a platter. Strain sauce; serve alongside. Top with chives and 1/2 cup chopped parsley.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Weekly Menu Nov. 2nd - Nov. 8th

Dinner out with Friends- Mex Restaurant, Birmingham

Garlic Chicken Stir-Fry
Rice Noodles with Black Bean Sauce

Carnitas with Salsa Fresco
Cilantro Rice
Warm Tortillas

Grilled Salmon with Five Onion Marmalade
Spaghetti Squash
Green Beans with Red Onion Confetti

Roasted Chicken
Oven Roasted Root Vegetables with Balsamic Glaze

BBQ Pulled Pork
Jicama, Carrot, and Apple Slaw

"Chef's night off", catchers catch can!