Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Here are all of the recipes from my Thanksgiving dinner!

Roasted Turkey Breast with Herb Butter Crust

What you'll need:

6 lb turkey breast, skin on and bone-in
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tbsp fresh sage, minced
2 tsp salt
3 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
Chicken stock, as needed

For the brine:
1 gallon of water
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
Ice, as needed

In a large stock pot, combine water, salt and sugar.  Heat until the salt and sugar are melted then add enough ice to cool it down.  Add the turkey breast, cover and let sit in the fridge overnight.

The next day, take the turkey breast out of the brine and rinse with water.  Pat dry really well with paper towels.  Place in a roasting dish.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine butter, rosemary, sage, thyme, garlic and salt.  Spread over the turkey breast making sure to get under the skin.

Pour some chicken stock in the bottom of the roasting dish, a cup or so.

Roast in the oven for about 2 hours or until a thermometer reads 155-160.

Take out of the oven and cover with aluminum foil.  Let it rest before carving.  While it's resting, it will continue to cook to 165 degrees.

Slice and serve!

Broccoli Casserole

This is another recipe that's been a part of my family's Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations for years.  There are a few versions of it but this one is my favorite!

What you'll need:

10 oz. package of frozen chopped broccoli
1 onion, small dice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 stalk of celery, small dice
1 10.5 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup crushed Ritz crackers
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup rice
1 cup chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil with a sprinkle of salt.  Add the rice, reduce the heat to low and cook covered for 15 minutes.

Place the pack of broccoli on a plate and microwave for 3 1/2 minutes.

In a skillet, melt the butter and saute the onion and celery with a sprinkle of salt on medium heat until soft.  Add the garlic and cook a minute more.  Add the broccoli, stir and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the soup, mayo, cooked rice, cheese and half the Ritz crackers.  Add in the broccoli mixture.

Pour into a 9x13 baking dish, sprinkle the rest of the crackers over the top and bake for 30 minutes.

Holiday Dressing

This dressing has been a staple for my family for years and years.  We make this every Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It wouldn't be the same if we left it out!

What you'll need:

1 lb. sausage with sage
1 onion, small dice
2 stalks of celery, small dice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 stick of unsalted butter
8 oz. cornbread stuffing mix
8 oz. herb stuffing mix
2 14.5 oz cans chicken broth
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a skillet over medium high heat, brown the sausage.  Set aside in a large bowl.

In the same skillet, melt the butter and saute the onion and celery with a sprinkle of salt.  When soft, add the garlic and cook a minute more.  Add to the bowl with the sausage.

To the sausage and veggies, add the stuffing mixes, chicken broth and a sprinkle of pepper.  Stir really well to combine.

Pour into a 9x13 baking dish and bake for 30 minutes.

Sweet Potato Casserole

What you'll need:

3 large sweet potatoes, 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 onion, sliced very thin
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup grade A maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp unsalted butter
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1 1/2 inch chunks.  Toss in olive oil and salt, spread out on a sheet tray and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, until tender.

While the potatoes are roasting, cook the onion in a pan over medium heat with 1 tbsp of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt until it is caramelized.  When it's brown, add the syrup and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes more.

When the potatoes are ready and still hot, put in a large bowl with the onion, garlic and maple syrup.  Mash all together and add the butter and brown sugar.  You can puree everything in a food processor for a smoother consistency.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.

Scoop out into an 8x8 baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Cranberry Sauce

What you'll need:

12 oz. fresh cranberries
1 - 1 1/2 cups sugar
1 orange, zest and juice
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt

**If you want a sweeter cranberry sauce use 1 1/2 cups of sugar.  I like mine more on the tart side so I only use 1 cup of sugar**

Rinse the cranberries well and drain.

In a medium pot combine the cranberries, sugar, orange juice and a splash of water.  Make sure you zest the orange before you juice it or it will be very hard to zest!  Turn the heat to medium.

When the sugar is dissolved and the cranberries start to pop (I love the sound of cranberries popping!), reduce the heat to low and add the orange zest, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. 

Let it simmer for about 15 minutes until most of the cranberries have popped and it has thickened. 

Let cool completely then store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chili Mac and Cheese

Can you tell it's comfort food season at my house?  Here's another mac and cheese recipe.  Chili Mac! I love using pasta shells for this recipe because they hold so much of the filling.  Here's how to make it:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mushroom Risotto

This is a very earthy and flavorful risotto, perfect for a cold night. Risotto is one of my favorite things to make because it is so versatile.  All you need is a basic risotto recipe, then you can add anything you want.  For this recipe, I went with mushrooms!  Risotto is actually a technique for cooking rice, that's where the dish gets its name.  The holidays are coming up and this would be a perfect dish to make!  Here's how to make it:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Jerk Chicken Chili - 3rd Place!

After going out to eat the other night and having some really good jerk chicken nachos, I really wanted to make something with jerk spices.  My apartment complex was having a chili cook-off so I decided to make Jerk Chicken Chili.  I won third place and a set of ceramic mason jars!  How southern, right?  Even though it was a small competition, it was still a lot of fun.  My parents came up to participate and we had a great time.  Here's the recipe!:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Donating My Hair

I have always wanted to donate my hair.  From 9th grade on, I always had really short hair.  I would grow it out occasionally but it was never long enough to donate, and I would just end up cutting it again.  For the last few years I decided to just let it grow and try my best not to cut it.  When I found myself itching to cut my hair again, I had no idea it would be long enough to donate it.  I guess I had just gotten so used to it that I didn't even realize how long it had gotten.  I went to get it cut not even thinking about donating it until my hairstylist cut off my pony tail and it was 9 inches long!  I found a place that requires hair to be at least 8 inches long so I was in the clear.  I mailed it the next day and it feels so good!  I chose Children with Hair Loss.  It feels great knowing that a young child out there who has lost their hair will get to wear mine.  I've been out of work the past few weeks recovering from a fracture in my leg, and I have felt pretty useless.  Doing this really made me feel a little bit better about myself and I'm glad I could do something meaningful during this time off.

Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes

This is my recipe for potato pancakes using some leftover Garlic and Herb Mashed Potatoes.  They are great for breakfast or brunch the next day and require very little effort!  Here's how to make them:

Garlic and Herb Mashed Potatoes

Mmm, mashed potatoes!  Everyone has a recipe for them...or a few!  Garlic mashed potatoes are my favorite!  Here's how I make mine:

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Low Country Soup

One of my favorite things ever is a Low Country Boil.  It brings back so many memories of the beach and being with family.  I find myself craving it from time to time but it's not something you would just whip up on any given day.  If you're not familiar with a Low Country Boil, it's just seafood, potatoes, sausage and corn boiled together in a big pot.  When it's done, you lay newspaper on a table and pour everything out.  Everyone stands around and eats.  No utensils required.  It's great!  This is something we would do a lot at our beach house, Windy Point.  It doesn't get much better than digging for your own clams.  We had a really unusually cold first day of November and I wanted to make a big pot of soup.  When I started thinking about what I wanted to make, all of the ingredients from a boil came to mind.  So I thought, why not make a soup with all the things I love about a low country boil?  What could be better! Here's what I came up with: