Sunday, November 13, 2011

Turkey-Lurkey Part II

Well, there isn't much to say other than cooking my first turkey really wasn't that difficult!  You, too, can be a master chef for your family's Thanksgiving!

So after letting the turkey set in the brine from Tuesday night to Sunday afternoon (approximately five days), I prepared it for its ultimate destination: the oven.

Steps to getting the turkey ready for cooking:

Step 1:  Take out the turkey and pat the bird dry with paper towels.  You will want to not only dry the bird on the outside but also the inside.

Step 2:  Take out the gizzards.  If you want to cook them, great!  If not, dispose of them as you wish.  Also, my birds' legs were clamped together with a plastic tie thingy.  I cut that off, so it would not melt into the bird.

Step 3:  After drying the turkey, I brushed the outside with olive oil.  It gives the bird a nice crispy look if that's what you're going for.  It didn't really matter for me since I was tearing it apart right away after it got out of the oven for later consumption this week.

And she's done! :)
Step 4:  Preheat oven for 350 F.  Put bird in baking pan (I bought a disposable one from the grocery store).  Set in oven for about 30-40 minutes at that temperature.  My turkey went in the oven around 2:45 p.m.

Step 5:  Turn down the temperature of the oven to 250 F.  Let the turkey slowly cook for about 4-6 hours.  I took my bird out at about 8:30 p.m., so it wasn't quite 6 hours in the oven.  Use a meat thermometer to check if the meat is cooked.  Stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the turkey (the thigh).  It should read at least 165 degrees F.

Step 6:  Carve your turkey, and enjoy! :)  It should be really moist and have a hint of smokey flavor due to the liquid smoke you brined it in! :)  Yum, yum!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Turkey-Lurkey Part I

I'm attempting a big feat, something I've never done before: cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving.  Now I'm not cooking for my family at all; I'm cooking for my Bible study group next week.  I am not going to take a day off to cook this lovely bird.  I will be brining it this coming week, and on Sunday, cook her up, nice and slow.

Here is the quick and simple recipe my mother gave me to use to brine the bird.  Thanks goes out to my friend, Chris, for letting me borrow her canning pot to hold the turkey.
This is all you need!  Seriously! And the 12 pound bird.

Thanksgiving Turkey Brine

1 turkey (12-14 pounds, frozen)
1/4 cup pickling salt
1 cup Tender Quick (meat tenderizing salt)
5 tsp. liquid smoke
1 gallon water
Let it "marinate" for several days before cooking
Combine water, salts, and liquid smoke in a large pan big enough for the turkey.  Place turkey in mixture for 7-10 days in refrigerator.  Cook as directed.

More will be coming to you when this turkey gets cooked next week.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Farewell Dinner

I found out my good friend, whom I had sponsored for RCIA and entering the Catholic Church two years ago, was moving just recently.  So, in an effort to send her off well and also cook, I invited her and another mutual friend over for dinner last night.  I made a meatless Mexican dish that I obtained from October's edition of Cooking Light.  I also made a torte that involves the super-goodness of cream cheese and fruit.  Both are fairly simple to make if you make the time and have the patience.  Dinner overall was a success with great conversation and good food! :)

Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce (Vegetarian)

2 large chipotle peppers in adobe sauce from the can (original recipe calls for dried ancho chiles, but I
         couldn't find in the store)
2 cups water

2 tsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. kosher salt (I used sea salt)
2 cups chicken broth (recipe call for vegetable
      broth, but I couldn't find that in the store either)
2 Tbsp. corn starch
2 Tbsp. oregano
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. lime juice (I used the juice from a whole
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups (8 oz.)  pre-shredded reduced fat 4-cheese
     Mexican blend, divided
6 green onions, chopped
10 mulit-grain tortillas (recipe calls for 12 corn tortillas)
6 Tbsp. light sour cream or regular Greek yogurt

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 400 F.

Step 2: Combine chiles and 2 cups of water in a saucepan; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes then drain chiles in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.

Step 3:  Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over high heat.  Add onion; saute 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and salt.  Cook 5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.  Add broth (I made mine on the stove with 2 cups of water and the granule/powder broth), corn starch, oregano, tomato paste, and cumin.  Cook 8 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Step 4:  Pour onion mixture into a blender; add chiles and reserved liquid.  Don't let the steam build up in your blender, so leave it set a few minutes. Be sure that your lid is on very tight, or you will have a complete mess! Blend until smooth (just a few quick pulses to get the big chunks out).  Stir in the lime juice and red pepper.

Step 5: Combine the beans, 1 cup cheese, and half the green onions into a bowl.  

Step 6: Spread 1/2 cup sauce in bottom of 9x13 glass or ceramic baking dish (I don't own one, so I used my regular 9x13 pan I use for baking); coat it with cooking spray.

Step 7:  Warm tortillas according to package directions (popped mine in the microwave for 30 seconds).

Step 8: Spoon 3 Tbsp.  bean mixture down center of each tortilla then roll up.  Place, seam-side down, in prepared dish.  Pour remaining sauce over filled tortillas.  Top with remaining cheese.

Step 9: Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Sprinkle with remaining green onions and serve with sour cream or Greek yogurt.

To add some variety, make some guacamole with tomatoes to eat with these enchiladas!  Muy bien!

Nutritional and Serving Information
Serves 5-6 depending on type of tortillas used; 2 enchiladas and 1 Tbsp. sour cream/Greek yogurt
Calories: 302
Fat: 12.9 g
Protein: 17.3 g
Carbs: 36.1 g
Fiber: 6.4 g
Sodium: 574 mg

Summer Fruit and Sweet Cream Cheese Galettes

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. sugar (and a little extra for sprinkling)
3 Tbsp. cornstarch, divided
1 whole egg separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 refrigerated pie crust from a 14.1 oz. box
2 cups fruit (I've used fresh peaches when in season
    in the past; this time, I used the frozen berry mix
    that can be found in your local freezer section.)

Step 1:  Preheat oven for 400 F.

Step 2:  Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar, 2 Tbsp. corn starch, and egg yolk in medium bowl.

Step 3:  In a separate medium bowl, mix fruit, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1 Tbsp. corn starch, and vanilla or almond extract

Step 4: Unfurl pie dough on a lightly floured surface and roll to about 13 inches in diameter.  Slide onto a cookie sheet or pizza pan and spread cream cheese mixture evenly, leaving a 2-inch border.

Step 5: Scatter fruit mixture evenly over cream cheese mixture.  Fold pastry border over the fruit.  Brush dough perimeter with egg white and sprinkle with a bit of sugar.

Step 6:  Bake galette until golden brown and bubbly about 30 minutes.  Loosen with a metal spatula and slide onto a wire cooling rack to cool slighly.  Serve warm.

Nutritional and Serving Information
Serves 6
Calories: 372
Carbs: 40 g
Protein: 5 g
Fat: 23 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 306 mg

Maureen, Angela, and me one last time

Angela with a bun in the oven...I think Maureen was shocked! :)