Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Sides: Sausage and Sage Stuffing

Do you love stuffing? I am one of those people that seriously love stuffing. I think it is probably my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. I never make it unless it is Thanksgiving. Does anyone? I will make turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes, but never stuffing. It just seems...wrong if it is not Thanksgiving!

I just think that I feel it is so special that it should have it's own holiday. Ha! I bet you thought the turkey was the star on Thanksgiving?  Not at my house. 

I loved my mom's stuffing and so does my family. This is called stuffing, but it isn't stuffed in the turkey. This "stuffing" is baked in the oven in a casserole dish. I hope you love it as much as I do. Enjoy!

Sausage and Sage Stuffing
12 cups of torn bread pieces ( I use Italian bread or french bread)
1 1/2 cups of celery chopped
1 1/2 cups of yellow onion chopped
1 lb of bulk Italian sausage 
4 cloves of garlic minced
2 tsp of rubbed sage
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
3 cups of turkey/chicken stock

Tear bread into bite size pieces, place in a bowl and set aside. In a large pan cook the Italian sausage.  Remove cooked sausage from pan and place in the bowl with the bread.  In the pan with the sausage drippings start cooking the celery and onions. If more fat is needed add a tbsp of butter. Add salt, pepper and rubbed sage.Saute onions and celery until translucent.  Add garlic and cook for 30 secs- 1 minute. Transfer to bowl with other ingredients. Add 3 cups of turkey/chicken stock to stuffing mixture. If you are cooking your turkey you can also add some of the pan juices to this stuffing. This is what I do and what my mom did.  Make sure it is moist enough but not too wet. At this point taste the stuffing and make sure that it has enough seasoning. 
Transfer to a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Cover it with foil for the for the first 30 minutes then take foil off for the last 15 minutes. This recipe serves 4-6 people. I usually double this recipe.  Everyone loves leftovers!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Sides: Dinner Rolls

 I really love to try different roll recipes but this is my never fail, melt in you mouth, go to recipe.  They always turn out--EVERY TIME!!

I bet you are probably saying, "I'm afraid of yeast." Don't be! Baking can be great fun and yeast is nothing to be afraid of.  So are you ready? Let's do this!!

Dinner Rolls
2 packages of yeast (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast or 4 1/2 teaspoons if you have a larger container
  (I get mine at Costco for $5 and its a huge bag...score!!)
1 teaspoon plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
1- 1/4 cups warm milk (110-115 degrees)
1/2 cup salted butter melted and cooled
1- 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
6- 6-1/2 cups all purpose flour  (I use half bread flour/ half all purpose, either way works well)
Butter, for serving

 In a large mixing bowl, (I like to use my bosch or kitchen aid mixer with the dough hook), dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. About 10 minutes.  Add the milk, butter, salt, remaining sugar, eggs and 3 cups flour, beat until smooth.  Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface (or leave in mixer); knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down.  Turn onto lightly floured surface; divide into 4ths.  Divide each portion into 6 pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball, pinching it underneath to keep them nice and smooth on top.
I like to put mine on a greased jelly roll pan/ cookie sheet with a lip.  That way all 24 rolls can fit on the same pan.  2 greased 9X13 in baking pans will also work.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. ( I lightly spray the tops with cooking spray and gently place plastic wrap on top)

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Lightly brush with additional butter, or if you're like me, peel the wrapper off half a butter stick and hold then wrapped side in your hand while rubbing the unwrapped side over the tops of rolls.  If you make them on a jelly roll pan you do not need to remove them to cool.  If you make them in a 9X13in baking dish you will need to remove them to a wire rack to cool.  Serve warm and try your best to not eat the whole pan!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Sides: Sweet Potato Casserole

Do you love Sweet Potato Casserole? I definitely do. I know people either love or hate sweet potatoes, but this is my all time favorite recipe.  It comes from my mother-in-law Jolene and she is an awesome cook.  The first time I tried these, it was one of those moments where I could not get enough. These are perfect for Thanksgiving because they are so quick to put together, but make them as a side dish with any dinner, and you will not be disappointed.

I hope you love them as much as I do-enjoy.

Sweet Potato Casserole
4 1/2 pounds Sweet Potatoes, cooked
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs beaten
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla (Mexican is my favorite)

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup softened butter
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions- Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Remove sweet potato skins and place potatoes in a large mixing bowl. (If using using canned make sure and drain) Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Place in a 9X13in. baking dish.  Mix topping together in a small bowl and sprinkle on top.  (Pecans are optional, but so so good!) Bake for 25-35 minutes until top is slightly crispy.

Quick, but so delicious people will never know how easy these were!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving Sides: Sweet Creamed Corn

How many of you have tried the old school canned cream corn? Well, I remember the first time I tried that... it was not my fondest memory! Needless to say, I did not try it again for many many years.  This recipe comes from my mother-in-law, Jolene, who has shared countless recipes with me.  When she put it on the table and said it was a family favorite, I politely put a very small portion on my plate. I didn't want to be rude, so I took a bite, and was so surprised! It was delicious! I quickly added a heaping spoonful to my plate-no need to pretend now! This is the perfect combination of a little salty, a little sweet and it really equals  a completely scrumptious side dish. It is the sweeter version of this creamed corn recipe posted awhile back. It is really quick and simple too.  Feel free to try and lighten it up if you choose, but for Thanksgiving I'm all about that cream!

Sweet Creamed Corn

30 ounces of frozen corn
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp salt
6 tsp sugar

Allow corn to thaw some before adding whipping cream (otherwise the cream turns to ice).  Bring all ingredients to boil 5 minutes.  Mix 2 Tbls melted butter together with 2 Tbls of flour.  Add this mixture to the corn mixture.  Reduce heat and it is ready to serve after about 10 minutes.
* If it seems thick add more milk and/or more whipping cream until it becomes a nice smooth consistency.

For Au Gratin, place corn in a 9 or 10inch shallow casserole dish.  Sprinkle corn with 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese.  Brown under broiler.  Serves 4-6

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy as my daughter would say!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Homemade Apple Pie

One of my all time favorite things about fall is going to the orchards. I love the apple cider, the donuts, and of course, picking delicious apples. I must confess, that in my younger years I wasn’t a huge fan of apple pie.  It seemed like most of the ones I tried were just too mushy or too tart.  Well I am here to tell you that I have finally come up with a recipe for the best apple pie.  It’s a great blend of sweet and tart, and the apples are just right (not too hard, not too soft).  I have included a pie pastry recipe at the bottom.  If you have never made a pie crust before, I encourage you to try!  It is a lot of fun and the more you do it the better you will get. Hope you like it!

Apple Pie

6-8 tart apples ( I always use at least two kinds of apples. These are some that work great for pie- Honey crisp, Granny Smith, Jonathan, Rome, Macintosh
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
dash of cloves (1/8 tsp)
dash of nutmeg (1/8 tsp)
3 Tbls flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel apples and slice thinly in large bowl and set aside. Mix together in another bowl the remaining ingredients. Pour and toss mixture over the apples. Arrange the apple mixture in pie shell, and dot with one tablespoon of butter. Place top pastry on and sprinkle top of pie with sugar.  Place in hot oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Turn down oven to 350 degrees and continue to bake until apples are tender but not mushy (about 45-60 minutes.

* If the edges start getting dark and the apples are not tender you can either use an edge shield or gently place foil around the edges of the pie.*

Here is a pie crust that works for me all the time:

Pastry Dough

(makes two 9- inch shells or one double crust pie)

2 cups sifted unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup butter or shortening
4 tablespoons water

Mix flour and salt in bowl. cut  in Crisco using a pastry cutter or fork until mixture is uniform and fine (pea-like shaped). Sprinkle water over mixture 1 teaspoon at a time, tossing lightly with a fork.  Mix until dough holds together.  Divide dough into two parts.  Roll half of the pastry 1/8 inch thick on a floured board or pastry cloth (a large piece of canvas in my favorite thing to roll my pies on). Line a 9” pie shell with pastry and trim off at the edge.  Roll out other portion and place on top of fruit filled pie shell and cut off pastry 1” from edge of pie pan.  Fold under the top pastry under the bottom and flute the edges. (sealing it with fingers or fork).

**Two secrets when making pie crust-  1) Always use cold shortening, butter, or lard, and cold water. (use cold water with ice cubes in it. Just make sure not to use actual ice cubes in the pastry. 2) Do not over mix.  What gives a pie crust the flakey, yummy layers are the clumps of  Crisco, butter, or lard.  If they are completely mixed you will have a very heavy pastry, which is why you cut the butter into the flour making small pea-like sized pieces of butter coated in flour. 

                            What are your favorite apples to use in Apple Pie?