Sunday, December 6, 2009

Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas


This recipe is a great vegetarian alternative to a meaty mexican dish. The black beans are incredibly filling, and the whole recipe comes together so easily with ingredients that many of us have on hand. The cheese you use is key here - I like monterrey jack because it melts nicely and doesn't completely over power the quesadilla mix. And when grilling your quesadillas go low and slow, like you would on a grilled cheese. That way you ensure a crispy (yet fluffy) tortilla and gooey melted cheese on the inside without burning the tortilla.

Ingredients for 4+ servings:
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp minced jalapeno
  • 1 can corn, drained (You could also use defrosted frozen corn)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 - 2 tbsp of salsa
  • 4z (half a brick) of monterrey jack cheese, shredded
  • 4 burrito sized tortillas
  • Vegetable oil to brush on tortillas

Directions:
  1. Heat oil in a saute pan and lightly saute jalapenos.
  2. Add in corn and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add beans and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add salsa and incorporate thoroughly.
  3. Lightly brush one side of each tortilla with vegetable oil (this helps create a lightly crisped tortilla).
  4. In a separate large skillet, heat up to medium-low heat. Place tortilla in the dry skillet, oil side down. Add cheese immediately on one half of the tortilla, top with the bean/corn mix, and fold tortilla in half.
  5. When cheese has melted and bottom of tortilla is golden brown, flip tortilla. Cook until golden brown.
  6. Remove from skillet and cut into wedges with a pizza cutter. Serve immediately.
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Green Chili Mashed Potatoes


Two Tex-Mex restaurants that my husband and I have been to many many times serve what's called Papas con Chile, which I LOVE. This is my first attempt at recreating those spicy, creamy mashed potatoes. I don't think I nailed it, but I believe I've certainly begun to head down the right path. This is essentially a basic mashed potato recipe, kicked up with some chile peppers and jalapenos. I didn't monitor my time, or take exact measurements of the butter, milk, cream and salt that I added. So, as you make this recipe, make sure you taste as you go, and add ingredients little by little to control the spice, creaminess and salt levels to your preferences.

Ingredients for about 3-4 servings:
  • 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and large diced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 can of green chilis, drained
  • 1 tsp minced fresh jalapeno
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • Monterrey Jack Cheese (optional)

Directions:
  1. Bring pot with cold water and potatoes to a boil. Boil potatoes until tender. Drain, and return potatoes to pot on stove.
  2. Using a masher, mash potatoes and add in butter, milk and cream (you can use all milk, or half and half instead). Mash until combined.
  3. Add drained chili peppers and jalapenos (use less jalapeno if you prefer less spice). Stir to combine.
  4. Add salt to taste
  5. Top with Monterrey Jack cheese
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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Starbucks Inspired Pumpkin Scones

My husband doesn't have many things he loves to eat, but Pumpkin Scones is one of those things that he truly enjoys. I had about a cup of leftover pumpkin after making my pumpkin pie so I decided to give these scones a try. The recipe I found was on Recipe Zaar - a pretty good resource for restaurant copycat recipes.
Overall I think this recipe is good. I didn't have half and half on hand, but I had plenty of cream and milk. So, I used half milk, half cream in place of the half and half. I had a little trouble getting the dough to come together therefore I added more milk to the mix. I also decided to make a double batch so that I could flash freeze most of them and make only a handful for us to snack on. Because my husband works from home, I thought it'd be nice to have frozen scones in the freezer, ready for him to thaw for 30 minutes and bake for about 15. If you wish to freeze your scones, freeze unbaked scones on a cookie sheet or cutting board, then place into a freezer-grade ziploc bag.

Although I will post the full recipe here, I didn't make the icing at all. I attempted the simple powdered sugar glaze, but the ratio of powdered sugar to milk which I used was off. Next time, I'll give the icings a try.

Ingredients for a SINGLE BATCH of Pumpkin Scones (approximately 6 scones)

SCONES
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 7 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 6 tbsp cold butter
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 tbsp half-and-half
  • 1 large egg

POWDERED SUGAR GLAZE
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk

SPICED GLAZE
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground cloves

Directions:
TO MAKE THE SCONES:.
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife, fork, or food processor, cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half and half, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball.
  4. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle (about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide). Use a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough.
  5. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 14–16 minutes. Scones should begin to turn light brown. Place on wire rack to cool.

TO MAKE THE PLAIN GLAZE:.
  1. Mix the powdered sugar and 2 tbsp milk together until smooth.
  2. When scones are cool, use a brush to paint plain glaze over the top of each scone.

AS THAT WHITE GLAZE FIRMS UP, MAKE THE SPICED ICING:.

  1. Combine the ingredient for the spiced icing together. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk.
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Turkey Pot Pie



Well, if you've read the previous few posts, you'll know that I prepared a Thanksgiving turkey for 3 people, and the turkey breast weighed 8lbs. Needless to say, we had a LOT of turkey leftovers. Not to mention leftover peas, and turkey gravy. I've never made a turkey pot pie, but I thought that this would be the most efficient way to use up a lot of the leftovers we had plus get through some of the fresh veggies still on hand from the week before, like potatoes, carrots, and onion. I even had leftover biscuit dough from the fried biscuit donuts I made for breakfast this same morning! I winged this whole thing, so make sure that you taste as you go, adding what you need based on taste and consistency.
Overall the results were quite good! Hearty, full of yummy veggies. The biscuits were almost like dumpling texture underneath. I added spicy chipotle chili powder to the pot pie mix for a nice kick too. This is a great cold weather meal and perfect for Thanksgiving leftovers.

Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 carrots peeled and cubed1 Celery Stalk medium dice
  • 6 Tbsp Flour
  • 1 cup left over gravy
  • 1.5 cups of Milk
  • 1.5 cups broth (chicken/turkey/vegetable)
  • Dash of chipotle chili powder (to taste - i added 1/8 tsp or so)
  • 2 Cups cooked Turkey, diced
  • 4 Buttermilk biscuit dough rounds, halved width-wise (or 8 regular biscuit dough rounds)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Heat butter and oil in a large, oven safe pot or dutch oven. Add diced onion and cook for two minutes until halfway translucent. Add in carrots and celery and continue to cook for another few minutes until onions are totally translucent.
  2. Add in flour and whisk, add in gravy and whisk until incorporated with flour.
  3. Whisk in milk and broth and cook until it begins to boil and thicken.
  4. If you wish the mix to be thicker, combine equal parts liquid from the pot with flour. Stir to combine thoroughly and return this slurry to the pot. This method will help you avoid lumps.
  5. When mixture reaches your desired thickness, add in diced turkey, season to taste with salt and pepper and top with the biscuits.
  6. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until biscuits are cooked through

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Brined Turkey and Sweet Corn Bread Pudding


This year was my first year cooking a Thanksgiving dinner. Albeit, there were just three people in attendance, but I still went all out. The menu consisted of a Brined Roasted Turkey Breast, Sweet Corn Bread Pudding, Scalloped Potatoes, Buttered Peas, Roasted Carrots, Spinach Artichoke Dip, and Homemade Bread. Dessert was the rich NY Style Cheesecake in the post before, and a traditional Pumpkin Pie. There are two recipes in this post - Turkey Brine and Alton Brown's Sweet Corn Bread Pudding, which makes a great stuffing type side dish. Turkey is front and center in the photo above, and the Corn Bread Pudding is in the background in the cast-iron skillet.

TURKEY BRINE
Several years ago my Mom started brining her Thanksgiving turkeys and they were moist, tender, and flavorful every single time. So, I decided to brine my turkey to achieve the same results. The brine itself was very easy; water, chicken broth, salt, sugar, and spices. The trick is finding out how much liquid you need to add, and that is based in part on how large your turkey is, and how large your brining vessel is. I chose to brine my turkey in a large oversized stock pot. My Turkey was an 8lb bone-in turkey breast, (it's important not to buy a self-basting turkey for this!). The day that I wanted to make the brine, I placed my turkey in the stock pot and measured out how much liquid I could safely fit in the pot without over-flowing. This helped me plan the right ratio of water to stock and salt/sugar. Fortunately, my Mom's recipe called for the exact amount of liquid I could fit into my stock pot with the turkey inside.

Here's my Mom's recipe as I prepared it. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
  • 1 gallon chicken broth (vegetable broth is fine as well)
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of your favorite herbs; rosemary, sage, thyme. (I used a combination of fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, and dried poultry seasoning)
  • 1 gallon of ice water
Directions:
PREPARING THE BRINE
  1. In a large stock pot combine the chicken broth, salt, sugar and herbs. Bring to a boil and let cool to room temperature.
  2. Wash and dry your turkey, making sure the innards are removed. Place turkey in cooled brine, add the remaining 1 gallon of ice-water. If stock pot isn't large enough for your brine + turkey, transfer to a lined 5-gallon bucket. Be sure to use food-grade supplies for this (do not use trash bags to line your bucket).
  3. Place your stock pot in the refrigerator or cold location overnight; approximately 12-14 hours.

ROASTING THE TURKEY
  1. Remove turkey from the brine and thoroughly rinse. For crispy skin, let the turkey sit in the refrigerator 6-10 hours before roasting, to allow the turkey to dry.
  2. When ready to roast, place turkey in roasting pan on top of any aromatics you wish; I used garlic and onion, tucking fresh thyme, rosemary and sage under and inside the turkey. I sprinkled the top of the turkey with fresh thyme leaves.
  3. Brush turkey with olive oil all over. No need to add salt due to the brine.
  4. Bake the turkey on 325 - 350 for approximately 1.5 - 2 hours, until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165 degrees. Remove turkey from oven, as the turkey will continue to cook.
  5. Let the turkey rest for 10 minutes before carving!

SWEET CORN BREAD PUDDING

I was looking for a corn recipe to serve at Thanksgiving when I came across this sweet corn bread pudding recipe on foodnetwork.com. I wasn't totally sure what to expect, but reading the reviews it sounded like this was less of a pudding and more like a bread or stuffing. I figured that if it were stuffing like, it knocked out two birds with one stone; so, I gave it a whirl and man, am I glad I did! The results were phenomenal and the recipe was so easy to make. There was a great corn flavor, light, fluffy, yet moist bread stuffing texture, and was a nice complement to the turkey and other dishes at Thanksgiving. Plus, it made for really tasty leftovers.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 onion, diced fine
  • 1 ounce unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 (15-ounce) can creamed style sweet corn
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, whole grain, stone ground
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cubed French bread

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sweat onions with butter and herbs in an oven safe skillet until translucent.
  3. Combine corn, cream, eggs, baking powder, cornmeal, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Add cubed bread and fold to combine. Pour batter into skillet, right on top of the onion mixture. Bake 50 minutes, or until set. Cool slightly before serving.
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New York Style Cheesecake


I've been wanting to try a cheesecake recipe for some time now, and so I though Thanksgiving would be the perfect excuse to slice after slice of an indulgent dessert. This recipe came together very easily, especially since I actually let the cream cheese come to room temperature before trying to work with it. The only modification I had to make was to use a little more butter in the graham cracker crust, as the graham cracker crumbs seemed so dry.

Here's the recipe, courtesy of Allrecipes.com: New York Style Cheesecake

Ingredients:
  • 15 graham crackers, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9 inch springform pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press onto bottom of springform pan.
  3. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Blend in milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, and let cake cool in oven with the door closed for 5 to 6 hours; this prevents cracking. Chill in refrigerator until serving.
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