Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipes

Happy Thanksgiving, from my table to yours!  I have linked up some of our favorite recipes that are perfect for celebrating with family & friends.  As we all sit down to enjoy a very special meal, look around the table, think about each dish & why it's special to your family.  And be thankful for those who have gone on to feast with the Lord.

Happy Thanksgiving, ya'll!!!       

Main Dish

Our Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Our Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Traditionally my mom has always cooked a turkey on Thanksgiving so we can all enjoy it all week long, sandwiches, soups, etc.  But we eat at Kirby Pines, my grandparents retirement home, for Thanksgiving.  They prepare of huge meal that is hands down, some of the best food you will ever eat.  So, making the turkey is merely a formality for us.  Our huge, home cooked meal is not until Christmas. Since my grandmother's passing on November 9, 2011, my grandfather opted to continue our traditional of eating there with him. And since she hasn't been able to join us in 2 years, having an empty seat at our table, won't be anything new this year.  It just represents that she is up in heaven feasting with the Lord & for that we are truly thankful.  

I am sure we will be sharing all kinds of funny Margie stories so I can't wait.  Here's one my father stood up & told at the funeral.  My grandmother, left my dad a list of things she wanted said at her funeral & at the bottom of the list, it read "Chuck, if you can think of anything else to brag on me about, great, if not KEEP QUIET!!" lol

1 (12-14 lb) turkey
1 tablespoon flour
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 (19" x 23 1/2") Reynold's oven bag

4-5 days prior to cooking take turkey out of the freezer & thaw in refrigerator, on the bottom shelf. 

Preheat oven to 350F. 
Prep the bird, remove the giblets & neck (set aside both to use for your gravy), rinse bird & pat dry.
Sprinkle flour in bag, arrange veggies in the bottom for bird to sit on.  Brush bird with oil or butter.  Place bird in turkey bag & in a roasting pan (at least 2 inches deep).  Close bag with oven safe tie.  Make several 1/2 inch slits in bag & place thermometer in one of the slits.  Be sure you insert into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone.  Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until thermometer reaches 155F.  Remove & let bird rest (in bag) for about 30 minutes.  Carve & serve.

NOTE: Avoid purchasing a bird larger than 15lbs, the bigger they are the drier they get once cooked.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Gumbo

Oh my, the deliciousness has arrived & appears before you ready to be devoured.  I predict this recipe will quickly become your go to dish, when you need a little extra spice in your life.  But this buffalo chicken is like nothing you have ever had before, I promise.  And one bite will have you quicky realizing that new life has sprung open.  This dish is creamy, spicy, packed full of crunchy celery & tender sweet carrots.  You could use leftover roasted chicken, either shredded or cut into cubes.  But I want to share with you, that the ground chicken works harmoniously with the other ingredients, bringing everything together, giving it the perfect balance of texture.  This sauce would also be great tossed with spaghetti (Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti) or over stone ground grits (Buffalo Chicken & Grits).  

3 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
3-4 carrots, peeled & diced
3-4 celery stalks, peeled & diced
1 tsp salt
1 lb ground chicken
3 tablespoons hot sauce (you could use more, if you like)
1 (15oz) jar Classico Light Alfredo sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (use less, if you prefer less heat)
1 cup chicken stock

Garnish: blue cheese crumbles & fresh cilantro

In a 5 1/2 qt dutch oven (or similar), over medium high heat, melt butter then add onions, carrots, celery & salt.  Saute for about 10 mins, til soft & onions are translucent.  Add ground chicken & hot sauce, continue to cook for about 5-10 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.  Add alfredo sauce, garlic powder, cayenne and chicken stock, bring everything to a boil & then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover & simmer for about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare your rice. 

1 tablespoon oil
1 cup rice 
1 1/2 cups water 
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Over mid high heat, in a large pot/saucepan, add oil. Toast rice in oil til it simmers, maybe 2 - 3 mins. Add water & salt, bring to a boil. Once its reach a rolling boil turn down to low & cover (do not uncover it while its cooking). Set a timer for 20 mins, walk away. If after 20 mins, you taste it & its not done add more stock & reduce longer. Let stand for 5 mins off heat.

Makes 3-4 servings

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a jar of the Classico Light Alfredo.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Perfect Buffalo Chicken Burger

We ALL love burgers, the are classic American comfort food for sure.  And after an amazing day of eating our way through our local India Festival 2011, we figured what better than to end the day.  Now, I want to explain why this works.  Chicken, as you know is a very lean meat & true burgers are about 20% fat.  So in order to make this work, all I did is replace some of the fat with a good quality mayonnaise, this is key (and no miracle whip, please).  You will get the consistency of a wet meat loaf that doesn't form a shape, very easily.  Don't worry, let the skillet do the work for ya & it will come out perfect, I promise.  Once it hits that hot pan, it flattens out.  This burger was juicy, had the perfect buffalo flavor without being too spicy, creamy coolness from the sour cream & a nice bite from the blue cheese.  We LOVED it & couldn't get enough, can't wait to make this again!!!

1/2 lb ground chicken
3 tablespoons hot sauce sauce (Frank's is perfect)
2 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
1/2 tsp celery salt
dash cayenne
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 medium garlic cloves, grated 
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Toppings: sour cream, blue cheese crumbles, red onions

Preheat oven to 400F.  

In a medium bowl, mix together the first 7 ingredients (everything but the oil & toppings).   It will look like a big blob & almost have the consistency of a wet meat loaf.  

In an oven safe skillet over medium high heat, add oil til it begins to sizzle.  It wouldn't allow me to form patties in my hand (like a regular burger) so I made them into a ball, placed it in the skillet & gently pushed it down with the back of a spatula (as it began to cook) & it worked perfect.  Cook for 4 mins on each side. Then slide in oven for 10 mins or until internal temperature reaches 165F.  Let rest for 5 mins.  

Toast buns with a little butter & layer up with red onions on bottom, then the burger, blue cheese, a few extra dashes of hot sauce & finally a smear of sour cream on the top bun.  Serve with fries & ENJOY!!!

Makes 2 servings  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Bars

I decided to cook the cover of Southern Living Magazine for this month.  Nothing embraces a southern Thanksgiving, like pumpkin & cream cheese.  Of course I made a few alterations but then again, that's what recipes are for, right?  Since I didn't have a spring-form pan (as I am sure, most of you don't either), I decided to use an 8x8 square baking dish, this also means I cut the recipe in half.  Essentially, taking a cheesecake & turning into fun size bars.  This way it's more flexible in serving size, you can cut off a small square, for a snack or a big square for your perfect family dessert.  It's hard to cut a small slice of cheesecake & have it hold up, like this will.  This recipe is so easy & most of your time is spent waiting for it to set overnight but it's well worth every second.  We loved it!  And this will be my go to recipe for all things cheesecake from here on out.  You have to try this, your family will love it, I promise.  

1 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (used 2 tsp but we really love this stuff, so depending on how much pumpkin pie flavor you desire, alter accordingly)
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
Garnish with crumbled chocolate graham crackers

Preheat oven to 325F. In a small bowl stir together first 3 ingredients, until combined.  Press in the bottom of a parchment lined 8x8 square baking dish.  Bake for 8-10 mins to set. 

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, sugar & extract in a stand mixer, at medium speed, until smooth.  Add eggs, spices & salt, continue beating til well combined.  Finally add pumpkin, beating til everything comes together.  Pour batter over crust & bake for 40 minutes (be sure to watch it, so it doesn't brown on top).  Once it's set, turn oven off & leave oven door closed for 15 mins.  Remove & let cool completely on a wire rack.  Cover & chill for 8 hrs or overnight.  Cut into bars & serve.

Servings depends on big/small you cut them, up to 9 large bars or 12-16 small bars

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

India Festival 2011 - Memphis, TN

You are invited!!

India Festival

November 5, 2011

From 10AM - 6PM

Come experience India without the hassles of traveling.

This year the theme is "Passage through India", where you will be able to travel through the country to experience a vast array of Indian cuisine, learn about India through fun and interactive activities, shop and be entertained by the members of the Indian-American community. 

India Fest will have fun and engaging activities for kids, young and old. There will be local and national vendors selling exotic jewelry, apparel and artifacts from India. 

The mid-south community also gets a chance to enjoy a sit-down dance and music show presented by the talented performers of the Memphis Indian-American community. 

And of course, just like every year, India Fest will feature traditional food from all over India.  Of course, this is the part we are excited about most...the FOOD!!!!

Meet Pavithra, author of Dishes From My Kitchen
she will be doing cooking demos & teaching us all about how easy it is to prepare classic Indian cuisine, in our homes 

Here is one of her dishes, we had the pleasure of trying a few weeks ago

Tofu Bhurji
perfect blend of Indian spices, makes this dish warm & comforting, something that the entire family will enjoy..we loved this dish & immediately went home & recreated it, swapping out the tofu for a classic southern staple...GRITS

1 tablespoon oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tomato, diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
dash of turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala
dash of cayenne (or more depending on desired heat level)
12 oz firm tofu, crumbled
salt to taste
Garnish with cilantro

 Heat oil in skillet, add cumin seeds, once they start crackling, add onion & saute til brown. Add tomato and season with salt (this draws out the water), continue to saute until water evaporates. Stir in all your spices. Add tofu crumples, season with salt to taste and continue cooking until all the moisture has evaporated (it will look like scrambled eggs, at this point). Turn off heat & garnish with cilantro.

NOTE: traditionally this is served with naan & you use the naan as your utensil to scoop up the ingredients. Here she used pita bread, lightly warmed with a little butter & then cut into triangles, YUM. 

Serves 4-5


So, mark your calendars for India Fest 2011 & come join us on November 5, 2011 for an experience you will never forget.  See ya there!!

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