Thursday, November 20, 2008

The ULTIMATE Turkey Brine

This one is a winner folks. Your crew will be oohhhing and ahhhhing over this turkey. If they like ham that is....

Smokey Turkey Brine (from my mom's kitchen)
3 quarts water
3 cups sugar
2 cups Tender Quick (a Morton's product)
12 bay leaves
1 tablespoon liquid smoke

Enough for a 10 to 16 pound turkey. Mix all ingredients and pour over a turkey in a large container and place in the refrigerator for 48 hours. If you do not have room in your fridge, place the turkey and brine in an appropriately sized cooler and place in the garage. Fill gallon sized plastic storage bags with ice cubes and place on top of the turkey. Replace ice as needed. You'll probably need to flip your turkey if it is not submerged completely in either method.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This Year's Specialtea Samples

A couple of weeks have passed since this year's Holiday Specialtea at church. As always, it was a great event with a WONDERFUL meal and lots of samples. If you don't know about the event, we provide samples of recipes along with recipe cards for each. The idea is so that the ladies can sample and see what might be a recipe to include in their holiday celebrations. So we always try to include some unique recipes. This year's theme was Cookies & Candy. Here is a list. Just click on the name and it will take you to the recipe link. All got good reviews, however, the Cracker Candy topped the list for ease and taste.

Cracker Candy

Mounds Candy

Whipped Shortbread Cookies

Spring Lime Cookies


Panocha Fudge

Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Peppermint Snowball Cookies

We had two others: Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies & Chocolate Coconut Log but alas, those don't have web links. If you'd like me to type them out, then please leave a comment.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tartar Sauce

Here is my tartar sauce recipe.

Tartar Sauce
1/3 cup mayo
1 Tablespoon dill relish (heaping)
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 dash of cayenne pepper
Salt & Pepper to taste

Mix well. Can be stored in the fridge for a week (or more but shhhh, don't tell anyone).

Menu Plan Monday 11/17/08

The snow is gently fluttering out of the sky and I'm sitting here with a hot cup of coffee. The girls are playing "nicely" and it is a wonderful time to sit and type out this week's menu which happens to be a short one. You see, in a few days, I'm going to be spending the night in a cabin with a bunch of junior high girls. Please don't be jealous. It is going to be a good trip but in regards to the menu for Saturday, dh is going to be on his own. And it might be fun for them to order in pizza. :)

Monday: Crispy Oven Baked Fish & French fries. I'm also going to make my own tartar sauce. This got moved from last week because I substituted a Baked Jerk Chicken which was phenomenal and another post....
Tuesday: Baked Potato Bar & Salad
Wednesday: 15 Bean Soup & Cheddar Thyme Biscuits
Thursday: Tater Tot Hotdish & Salad
Friday: Chicken Parmesan - mmm and I'm out the door for camp before the dishes are done.

Please check out Laura's blog for an insane amount more menu ideas.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Feta Apple Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

This one is a winner! Even if you think you only like iceberg salads with ranch, you will enjoy this salad. I promise ;)

Poppy Seed Dressing (from Comfort and Joy Goose Berry Patch Cookbook)
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. vinegar
1 t. salt
4 T. poppy seeds
1 T. dry mustard
1 T. onion, grated
1 c. oil (I used Canola)

Blend all ingredients and refrigerate. Shake well before using. Makes 2 cups.
Dice up half an apple (any type will work). Sprinkle feta cheese on a bed of baby spinach. Add the apple. Drizzle on the poppy seed dressing and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Our Daily Bread Recipe

Yesterday, I made some bread. I bake bread about once a week - that equals two loaves of bread per week for our family of 5. I'm sure you've all been annoyed at the price of bread in the stores. I was! So much so that I've taken to making our own. Not a foreign idea to me since homemade bread was all I grew up with but still it was a change from what we had been doing - buying 2 loaves of bread for about 5 dollars at most stores- which is a very good price for the brand of bread we bought! A friend stopped by while I was kneading away and I told her I figured it cost me about 80 cents to bake the two loaves. Today, stricken with the possibility of having misrepresented the cost, I decided to figure out how much it indeed did cost in the way of materials (I did not figure in the cost of running the oven at 350 for 30 minutes) to be sure I was honest.

My Bread Recipe (adapted from many recipes)

1/4 cup Warm Water (~115 degrees F) - Free
1/2 teaspoon Sugar - I'm calling this one a gimme - Free
1 Tbl instant yeast - 6 cents (I buy yeast in 2 lb packages at Sam's - very cheap)
1 cup whole wheat flour - 16 cents
1/2 oatmeal - 5 cents
1/2 wheat germ - 4 cents (I buy it in the bulk bins - WAY cheaper)
2 cups warm water - Free
1/3 cup brown sugar - 9 cents
1/3 cup canola oil - 15 cents
3-4 cups all purpose flour - 30-40 cents (cheaper if I can get it less than 1.88 a 5 lb package)

Proof the yeast by mixing together the water, sugar and yeast in a bowl of a stand mixer. Allow to sit for 5 mintues. Dump in the whole wheat flour, wheat germ, oatmeal, 2 cups warm water, brown sugar, and oil and stir together using a dough hook on your mixer. Add all purpose flour 1 cup at a time until a loose ball forms. On a well floured surface, dump out the dough. Knead, adding extra flour, until just slightly sticky. Usually about 5 mintues. Divide dough in two pieces and shape into loaf looking pieces. Place in small loaf pans that have been prepared by spraying or brushing the sides with olive oil. Cover with a damp towel and allow to raise in a warm spot for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The upper dough should be higher than the rim of the pan. Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Now, if you use regular active dry yeast, then you have to add another step and let rise in an oiled bowl for an hour, then push down and divide and place into bread pans and allow to raise again. The instant yeast allows you to skip this step so I highly recommend it!

So the grand total? 87-97 cents for two loaves. So my rough estimate wasn't too far off. That's a saving of over 4 dollars every week. Take that times 52 weeks and you get 208 dollars a year. Now, one can always buy cheaper bread. But I would argue that my bread is probably healthier due mainly to the fact there is no high fructose corn syrup in it. Now, lately I've been adding a tablespoon of vital wheat gluten which has slightly improved the texture of the bread but it is not necessary. In case you are wondering though, I buy it at Walmart for 1.79 a box and I figure I get about 17 tablespoons out of it. It does add another 11 cents to the bill but again, still a huge savings in the long run.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 11/10/08

Oh, I am EXCITED about this week's menu. I'm trying a couple of new recipe that I am really looking forward to having! When I was in high school, ages ago, I had the opportunity to spend a month in Mexico City. While there, I got to have this meal at a family member of the friend I was staying with. It was sliced pork with an orange sauce over it. I've been trying to recreate this meal for a couple of years now. I've never even come close to getting it right. But Tuesday's Sassy Mojo Orange Pork recipe will be a close match (and if that fails I have another recipe to fall back on). Also, one of my favorite dishes to have at a Thai resturant is Tom Ka Gai, a coconut chicken soup. I know that the recipe I have won't be a hundred percent authentic (it doesn't call for lemon grass or kaffir lime leaves) but I know it will be good. I got the recipe out of my Better Homes & Gardens Biggest Slow Cooker Cook Book. Without any further ado...

Monday: Chicken Pesto Pizza (this one didn't happen last week so it's been pushed to Monday)
Tuesday: Pork with Sassy Mojo Orange Sauce & Spinach Salad w/ homemade Poppy Seed Dressing
Wednesday: Chicken Coconut Lime Soup, Egg Rolls & Salad
Thursday: Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes, & Carrots
Friday: Beef Enchiladas (w/ left over roast), Rice & Beans
Saturday: Crispy Oven Baked Fish (from BHG cook book) & T's Sweet Potato Fries

Monday, November 3, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 11/03/08

It's November!

And it's supposed to be 74 today!

Time to use the grill a couple more times before it goes into the shed for the winter. So the first couple of days are going to be grilled meals and then as we have a chance for snow later in the week, we'll go more for thJe warm comfort food.

Monday: Molten Cheeseburgers & French Fries (going to use my new spider!)
Tuesday: Caribbean Jerk Salmon, Orange Cilantro Rice & Salad
Wednesday: Orange Mustard Pork Chops (new crockpot recipe), Wild Rice (pressure cooker) & Green Beans
Thursday: Chicken Soup with Cheese Tortellini (thanks orgjunkie!) & Salad
Friday: Butternut Sage Pasta & Salad
Saturday: The Holiday Specialtea so hopefully Mike can put together this meal: Chicken Pesto Pizza