Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Roasted Turkey with Herb Butter & Roasted Shallots

When we began our tradition of having PTGTG (Pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving) 4 years ago it was because as family traditions go, things change as families grow and since my brother and sister-in-law were planning to go to Atlanta for Thanksgiving to be with Maggie's family, we thought we would just have our own Thanksgiving dinner before they left.  

We invited a couple friends whose families lived out of state and tried recipes we would never try on Thanksgiving day since those recipe are staples that cannot be messed with under any circumstances!  It was so much fun that we decided to do it again the following year and wanted to include more of our friends since they are blessing for which we are certainly most grateful!

Our tables and spreads have grown over the years and this weekend we had a house filled with love, laughter, family and friends.....the true essence of Thanksgiving in my mind!

We always have a friend turkey for PTGTG but I usually roast one as well so that we can have the drippings for gravy.  When I came across this recipe I thought it sounded perfect so I gave it a shot and it was delicious!

If you are looking for something different this Thanksgiving when it comes to the big bird, I would say in a heartbeat that this would be a great recipe to try!

The gravy was superb as well!

Roasted Turkey with Herb Butter & Roasted Shallots
From the kitchen of Cookin Canuck. Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine.

3/4 cup butter, softened
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 15-to-16 pound turkey
Salt and pepper to season cavity
1 1/4 lb. shallots, peeled and cut in half through the root
1 carrot, unpeeled
1 large celery stalk, cut in half crosswise
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
3 cups (approximately) chicken broth

I brined the turkey overnight in the following mix I bought at the grocery....it included the bringing bag and everything!  SCORE!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium-sized bowl, mix together softened butter, sage, thyme and parsley until well combined.  Remove the neck and other innards from the turkey cavity. Season the cavity with salt and pepper.

Place the carrot, celery and onion quarters into the cavity of the turkey.  Tie the turkey legs together and tuck the wings underneath the turkey, using small skewers to secure, if necessary.  Starting at the neck end, slide your hands under the breast skin to loosen. Smear 3 tablespoons of the herb butter underneath the breast skin. Smear another 4 tablespoons of the herb butter over the entire topside of the turkey.

Place the turkey in the roasting pan, breast side up. Scatter the shallots around the turkey, on
the bottom of the roasting pan.  Cover the breasts with foil and place the turkey in the oven. Roast the turkey for 2 hours,  Basting it with 1/2 cup chicken broth every 30 minutes.

Remove the foil from the breast. If you find that the legs are browning too much, cover each drumstick with foil. Roast the turkey until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh (be sure not to hit the bone) registers 170 degrees F, basting every 30 minutes with the pan
drippings, about 1 hour total.

Remove the turkey from the oven, transfer it to a platter, tent with foil and let rest for 20 minutes
before carving. Remove the carrot, celery and onion from the cavity and discard.  Remove the shallots from the pan and serve with the gravy. Use the remaining brown bits on the bottom of the pan and the remaining herb butter to make the gravy
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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Spicy Sausage Pasta

Sometimes I find it challenging to figure out the best recipe to cook for a casual dinner with friends that will not require me to be in the kitchen the entire time thus not being able to visit with my guests, but also be something that tastes like it came out of the freezer.

When a friend of mine sent me this recipe it solved both of those problems.  It took me 20 minutes to make and was the perfect accompaniment to a cool fall night with a table full of crafts to follow!

Spicy Sausage Pasta
recipe from www.kevinandamanda.com/

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb smoked sausage
1.5 cups diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles, Mild
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz penne pasta
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions

Add olive oil to an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Add sausage and onions and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese. 
Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with scallions. 
Broil until cheese is melted, spotty brown, and bubbly.
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Friday, October 31, 2014

Baked Parmesan Mushrooms

I recently started a new board on Pinterest called Sunday Dinner Ideas where my friends and family can add different things they would like to try for a coming meal.  Recenlty my sister-in-law added this recipe so of course we tried it the very next Sunday and it was a delicious, simple way to add flavorful goodness to these lovely fungi!

Baked Parmesan Mushrooms
1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
Place mushrooms in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Add olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, thyme and Parmesan; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Gently toss to combine.
Place into oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until browned and tender, tossing occasionally.
Serve immediately.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sweet and Sour Broccoli Salad

My idea of the perfect side includes potatoes, cheese, and possibly some heavy cream.  My idea of the perfect body size for me is a size 6.  These two ideas are completely and utterly mutually exclusive...they do not lilve in the same universe and if someone tried to tell me that if I exercise more then I would be able to do both I will throw a pie in their face!

With all of that being said, I have tried to train myself to go in a different direction when it comes to a tasty side...try doing something with the other veggies I like...well when I compare broccoli, which I thoroughly enjoy, to my deep and sincere love of the potato it is like saying would I like platinum or silver.  Both lovely options but one is clearly more desired than the other.

This recipe did seem to sate my need for something delicious along side the rest of our Sunday dinner menu so alas, I was happy.  Not full on a scrumptious, cheese plate of scalloped potatoes, but happy nonetheless!

Sweet and Sour Broccoli Salad
8 cups fresh broccoli, cut into very small flowerets and stems chopped into small pieces
1/2 small red onion, cut into slices and then 1/4 inch dice
6 slices bacon (or less), cooked very crisp, fat blotted off, and then crumbled
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (I used Four Cheese Blend from Costco, which is a blend of lower fat cheeses. I think this would be quite good without the cheese too, if you wanted less fat.)

Dressing Ingredients:
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup light mayo (not fat-free, which usually had added sugar)
3 T rice wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, or red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar, Splenda, Granulated Stevia, or Agave nectar
2 tsp.Spike Seasoning (optional, but it does add a nice flavor here)
salt/pepper to taste

Cook the bacon until it's very crisp, then blot on both sides with paper towels to remove as much fat as possible. (I use pre-cooked bacon and then crisp it in the microwave, which removes a lot of the fat.) Combine dressing ingredients in processor or in bowl with a wire whisk.

Wash and dry broccoli if needed and then chop broccoli flowerets and stems into very small pieces. Chop onion into small pieces and crumble the bacon. Coarsely chop pecans. 

Combine broccoli, onion, bacon, and pecans in large salad bowl. Mix desired amount of dressing into salad (you may not want all the dressing depending on how wet you prefer your salad.) Gently fold in cheese. Salad can be refrigerated for a few hours before serving. This will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, but you may want to add a tablespoon or two of extra dressing after it's been refrigerated.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Grilled Maple Ginger Pork Tenderloin

I don't know about you but when I try to cook something in the oven during the summer months I swear the temperature in my entire house raises by about 10 degrees and suddenly all of my dinner guests are either sweating inside or swatting away the skeeters out on the back deck!

As I love to entertain I knew I just had to come up with a solution....Solution #1: use the grill instead of the oven.  Solution #2: huge fan and bug spray outside to keep the bugs away!

Success accomplished!

What happened on the grill that night was also true magic.  This original recipe called for the tenderloins to be cooked in the oven but due to my aforementioned dilemma I knew we would have to adapt this to the grill.  Luck for me my family is stocked full of excellent grillers, with the one exception....ME!

I can marinade like a champ but I have to toss the baton when it comes to the actual grill.  With all of that being said there was not a piece of tenderloin left at the end of dinner as everyone had gone back for seconds....including my 3 year old nephew!

Grilled Maple Ginger Pork Tenderloin
¼ cup organic maple syrup
¼ cup gluten-free tamari (we substituted soy sauce)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 inches fresh ginger root
1 pound pork tenderloin

In a small food processor, puree the maple syrup, tamari, garlic, and ginger until smooth. Alternatively, you can mind the ginger and garlic by hand and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Transfer the marinade to a resealable plastic bag. Add the pork and swish around until coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

Heat grill to approximately 350 degrees or medium high heat.  Remove the pork from the marinade and set on a foil-lined baking sheet.Grill for approximately 30 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until the pork is nicely browned on top. Allow to rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, transfer the remaining marinade to a small saucepan. 
Cook on medium heat until reduced by half.
Slice the pork on the bias, and if you have roasted it in the oven you can drizzle with the reduced sauce, and serve immediately.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Spicy Chicken Sausage Pasta and Greens

With a slight chill in the air, it is time to put away the homegrown tomato recipes and pull out the fall favorites.  I like to think of this recipe as the perfect transition from summer to fall....it still has the fresh, crisp bite of the arugula but with the pasta and chicken sausage you are getting that soup feel without the heaviness of a chili.

Spicy Chicken Sausage Pasta and Greens

8 oz. medium shell pasta (3 cups)
1 bunch broccolini, cut into 1-inch pieces (3 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 oz. package of fully cooked spicy chicken sausage links cut into 1/2 inch think slices
1 small onion, coarsley chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 to cups arugula
1/3 cup pParmesan

In a dutch oven cook pasta according to package directions, adding the broccolini the last 4 minutes of cooking time. Drain; rinse with cold water and drain again. Set aside.
In a 12-inch skillet heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage, onions and garlic.
Cook, turning occasionally, until sausage is browned, salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth and heat through. Add arugula. Remove from heat; toss to wilt greens.
Divide among shallow bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 
 Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with crushed red pepper.
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Butterflied Chicken

Before we know it we are going to be putting away the grilling utensils and trading them out for the crock pot and pressure cooker!  Well that's actually a lie because I have never in my life used a pressure cooker and any time I think about it I get this horrible image of crabs screaming as they are dropped into a pressure cooker.....I guess that is thanks to a high school english teacher from Charleston who gave my overactive imagination too much to ponder when we read Moby Dick.

Back to the topic at hand....while it is still grilling season, and the kitchen still gets too hot using the oven and stove, I fully intent to take advantage so when this recipe fell into my lap I jumped on it...after all, Ina has never led me astray!

Butterflied Chicken 
recipe from Ina Garten

1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus 2 sprigs
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 roasting chickens (2 1/2 to 3 pounds each), deboned and butterflied
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

Mix the chopped rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in a small bowl to make a paste.

Place the chickens on a sheet pan, skin side up, and loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers. Place 1/2 of the paste under the skin of each chicken. Rub any remaining paste on the outside and underside of the chickens.
Turn the chicken skin side down and scatter the lemon slices and sprigs of rosemary over each chicken. Season with salt and pepper. 
Roll each chicken up, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Heat a grill with coals. Spread the coals out in 1 dense layer and brush the grill with oil. Unroll the chickens, place them on the grill and cook for 12 minutes on each side.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta

In my family pasta is like gold.  Cherished, loved, truly and genuinely desired!  We really like it.  But with said love so fervent, it makes it a little difficult to come up with different ways to prepare it and I don't like getting a rut where I cook the same thing all of the time.

I came across this Mediterranean style recipe the other day and so we gave it a shot.  The savoy goodness of the sun-dried tomatoes coupled with the creamy feta was heaven!

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta
1 pound chicken breast tenderloins
Greek seasoning (I used the no-salt version)
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
4 tsp chopped garlic (about 4 large cloves)
6 Tablespoons jarred sun dried tomato bruschetta (or sun dried tomatoes in oil)
1 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp corn starch
4 oz package of crumbled feta cheese
6 Tablespoons butter
2 cups fresh baby spinach, stems removed
1 lb cooked penne noodles, al dente, drained and rinsed
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
additional sun dried tomatoes
sliced black olives to garnish

Make ahead time savers! You can make the garlic wine sauce ahead of time. You can make, drain, and rinse the pasta ahead of time. Then when you want to cook dinner, all you need to do is cook the chicken and throw it all together. Also, get all of your veggies chopped.

Garlic wine sauce:
To a sauce pan, add olive oil, half the garlic and half the shallots. Saute them until golden brown, then add the white wine. Allow it to come up to a boil, then reduce by half, stirring frequently. In a measuring cup or bowl, stir together the cold chicken stock and corn starch to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the reduced wine sauce. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes until it has thickened up a bit. Strain the sauce and discard the garlic and shallots. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator until you need it if you are making it ahead of time.

Season the trimmed chicken breast tenderloins liberally with Greek seasoning and veggie rub seasoning if you like. Saute until golden on both sides in butter and olive oil over medium high heat.  Remove them to a plate and cover to keep warm so they won't overcook and dry out.
Add in the other half of the chopped garlic and shallots. Add in the sun dried tomato bruschetta (or sun dried tomatoes that were packed in oil). Add in about half of the garlic wine sauce. Add in the butter and half of the feta cheese. Stir in the chopped spinach and drained noodles. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.
By this time, the chicken breast tenders should be cooked through. Please don't over cook them. To finish, add in the remainder of the garlic wine sauce, and garnish with the remaining feta, toasted pine nuts, and sliced olives.
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Monday, August 18, 2014

Spaghetti in Garlic Gravy with Herbs and Lemon Marinated Chicken and Cherry Tomatoes

With so many delicious treats growing in the garden I have been on the hunt for new recipes to try while they are still abundant in the backyard!  I made this one for a recent Sunday Dinner and it was a tremendous hit!

Spaghetti in Garlic Gravy with Herbs and Lemon Marinated Chicken and Cherry Tomatoes

1 lb. thin spaghetti pasta (cooked al dente)
1 pound chicken breast fillets (sliced into 1 inch chunks)
For the chicken marinade:
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped (if using dried, use half of the amount)
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ a lemon
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt (not table salt)
½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (to sauté the marinated chicken)

Add all the marinade ingredients into the chicken and marinade for 20 minutes (if making this dish in pronto) or over night (if making this dish the next day… much better).  Saute the marinated chicken in extra virgin olive oil until cooked (about 4-5 minutes) then set aside.

For the garlic gravy:
½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, finely minced
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup parsley, chopped (to sprinkle/finish the pasta)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups whole cherry tomatoes

Place sauté pan over medium heat and add butter and olive oil.  Saute garlic until fragrant and soft.  Add the flour and cook for a minute.  Add chicken stock and simmer gravy until thickened then add the chopped basil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the sauteed chicken in the gravy then toss the cooked spaghetti into this sauce.  Add the cherry tomatoes and finish the dish with the chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese (serve extra on the side).

Makes 5-6 servings
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Monday, August 11, 2014

Jalapeno Ranch

Every year it seems that there is one particular part of my garden that absolutely goes crazy with growth!  This year, in my garden, it was the jalapeno peppers.  

I have been trying to think of all kinds of things to do with these spicy devils since I am a little intimidated by anything with the peppery kick so when this recipe came to mind I thought it would be perfect!

Jalapeno Ranch

1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 jalapeno, stemmed and seeded
1 clove garlic
1 bunch scallions
1 tablespoon lime juice (~1/2 lime)
1 handful cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Place everything in a food processor and puree.

I served it over bibb lettuce with mangoes, tomatoes, and avocados...the family went crazy with delight!

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Caper-Garlic Roasted Salmon

Looking for a simple, delicious, yet seems-gourmet meal?  This is the money shot!  Simple its preparation and divine in the flavors, you cannot miss with this recipe!

Caper-Garlic Roasted Salmon

2 lb. salmon fillet
1&1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons  olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 dashes cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried dill
3 tablespoon capers (add a little caper juice if you like the taste)

Combine all ingredients, except salmon, in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Place salmon skin-side down in heavy-duty foil with sides turned up. Pour sauce over fish.  
Place on medium hot grill and cover with lid for =/- 20 minutes.
Skin should remain attached to the foil when salmon is lifted.  Alternate method: cook in the oven set to 375 degrees, +/- 10 minutes, or until fish is light and flakey.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

The Very Best Caprese Salad


You know when you think you have a dish down and there is no possible way to make it better but then someone comes along and knocks it out the park?  Well, dear readers, that is what happened last night at Sunday Dinner.

My family loves nothing more than including some of our dearest friends in our family tradition.  Old friends, new friends, friends of friends....bring 'em all, we love the company!

This weekend, my loves, Jason and Matt, joined us for dinner which always makes for some side busting laughter, exquisite music coming from the piano, and lots of delicious dining choices.  

With the tomatoes so divine this time of year we thought we would go for round two on the caprese salad even though we just had it last weekend with a reduced balsamic glaze.  I kind of figure, "why mess with success", we could just do that same recipe this week, but alas, Matt had a better idea.

He had tried a recipe that gave a twist to the old favorite and took our caprese salad to a whole new level.  With plans of it being a side for dinner, no one could wait that long, and we ended up devouring it long before we sat down to the table!

Matt's Caprese Salad
5 large tomatos
1 log of fresh mozzarella salad
1/2 cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 pieces of bacon, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella and lay on a platter, tomato-mozzarella-tomato-mozzarella, etc.

Cut the pieces of bacon into bite-size bits.  In a cast-ironed skillet, brown the bacon.  
Once it is to the desired doneness, drain away all but 2 teaspoons of the bacon grease.  Leaving the bacon in the skillet, add the vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper and let simmer.  
Sprinkle the tomatoes and mozzarella with coarse salt and pepper along with the fresh basil, then pour the bacon/vinegar/olive oil mixture over the salad.  
Serve immediately.
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