Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Readers Faves Countdown for 2014

I'm joining in on the countdown led by Sarah at Fantastical Recipes for the most popular or favourite recipes in 2014.
 
Not too surprising, some of the faves were the Secret Recipe Club recipe posts.     I love to go and look at all the recipes posted every Monday.   I'm not too good at going out and looking for blogs, usually I run across interesting recipes when I'm looking for ideas.    And when someone takes the time to write me a note, or make a comment on one of my recipes I get so excited.   I also love seeing how other cooks tweak my recipes as well.  It's all good.

So here goes, from the most popular on down.

I was kinda shocked to see the most popular, by views that is, on the blog was Cream Cheese Grits.
 I made them in February and they were great for a winter dish.











Next up was a Baked Egg Skillet I made for another Secret Recipe Club reveal.

I've since made this as a nice light dinner for myself a couple of times.









I finally figured out I could make my own Bread Pudding this year, and in fact made it with some leftover Soda Bread.    And it was good.   I wonder if this qualifies as a SRC recipe as well?  I did make it with the leftover Soda Bread I'd made for my reveal that month.


I also made some Chicken Enchilada Rollups for the Secret Recipe Club in July, and these were scarfed up rapidly.  There is just something about rollups, they're quick and easy to make and really easy to eat as well.











 I had fun introducing my siblings and family to a Low Country Boil this summer.   They'd never had anything like it and they all liked it.   And I found out that the leftover sausage and potatoes make a great fry up the next day.  Who woulda thunk it. 









I also shared how to make some Fransk Vafler as well as Marzipan Fruit.  You didn't think you were going to get away without hearing about at least one Danish recipe, did you?  









That's the round up of my most popular posts this year. 

Wishing you and yours all the best in this next year.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dessert Roundup for 2014

Sarah at Fantastical Recipes thought it would be fun for we members of the Secret Recipe Club to do a round up of some of our recipes that we've made over the past year.   Check her out here.   She's got all the recipes and links there.



I wasn't going to participate in the Dessert Round Up, cause I didn't think I'd made that many dessert recipes this past year. 

 And then I counted them up.

I had made a few sweet things, well, more than a few actually.  

I got to try some new techniques, new recipes, and revisit some old favourites.   

Here are just a few:

I made these back in February, and I still think they are a fun thing to do.

Nutty Chocolately  Coconut Marshmallows








And then there was the Bread Pudding I made from some leftover Soda Bread.  










 Rødgrød med Fløde 

My Danish side came out one day when I found some Rhubarb in the store and I had to make this.











And then there was also this made from Rhubarb as well.
Rabarbergrød

Rhubarb pudding.   See how pretty it looked?  I just remembered I still have a little left in the freezer, hmmm, I wonder how it will go with some æbleskiver?






I attempted to recreate a recipe for a friend and judging by how eagerly everyone ate it, I guess it was a success.  
Fresh Apple Cake with Caramel Frosting

And I have to admit it did taste good.   Messy, but good.







And I finally tried my hand at a real Kringle.   And it was a success.   But I'm so going to need to practice making more of them...  

OK, so I'm looking for an excuse to make more, can't just do it for myself. 

Or can I?  






I've been making Banana Pudding for a few years now, cause it's one of the most popular desserts here in the south and everyone needs a fool proof Banana Pudding recipe.   Mine isn't fool proof yet, I'm still tinkering with it.  








I even made my self a Kiksekage for my birthday this year.  
Warning on this though, if you don't like rich chocolate, don't make it.

It is so rich and so good, and I think I need to make this again, soon.













And since I like to experiment in the kitchen I even tried my hand at some Gluten Free Cream Puffs.
You know, they were actually very good.   And they all got eaten that day.















A friend gave me some lovely Persimmons and I tried making a Nutty Persimmon Cake from them.   Could not believe how good it was.




And last but not least, and even though the bird and I ate all of them, I think there 4 in all, but...  I'm planning on making these again and sharing them next time, and not just with the bird either.
Cranberry Cream Cheese Tarts









Just a few of the goodies I made this past year, and shared, mostly, but it's all good.  

I had fun in the kitchen.  


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Monday, December 29, 2014

Best Snacks and Appetizers of 2014

I'm looking back at 2014 and how many recipes I made, all the discoveries I came across and some of the great bloggers I met through their posts on the Secret Recipe Club and I'm exhausted.   And that doesn't count all the other food blogs I wandered into over the past year.


Just for fun, Sarah at Fantastical Recipes is doing a round up for their bloggers and letting us share some of our faves from the past year. 

So here goes with a Countdown to 2015.

I picked Snacks and Appetizers and I'll be sharing my favorite Desserts tomorrow, so stay tuned and don't forget to check out Sarah's blog.   She'll have a few more links on there of some more great recipes to look at and drool over. 

This past year just flew past and sometimes it seemed like there was a lot going on in my life and I did a lot of last minute recipes.

I guess that's just like a lot of people, huh?   We don't always get to plan out the details, sometimes you just have to fly and hope the wind catches you just right and you glide and don't crash and burn. 

Here's some of my favourite discoveries this past year, recipe wise that is.

 I made some Crispy Edamame for NPA one night, and even if they were not all that crispy, they tasted really good.
Very more'sh in a good way.
 I made some Asian Style turkey meatballs one night for Tapas, and played around with making some of them gluten-free.

I love finger food, can you tell?
I'm still trying to perfect my sticky wings recipe, but in the meantime, I keep coming up with more and more delicious variations.

I will persevere and get it right one of these days.

But in the meantime, I'm just going to have fun.  
 I made these Mini  Pizza Cheese Muffins for the Secret Recipe Club one month, and they were a big hit. 
All I can say is I'm glad I got to taste one or three before I shared the rest, cause they disappeared fast.
 I love, love, love smoked salmon and am always playing around with new variations.  This was one of my better efforts. 

Salmon Mousse
 Baked Brie with Fig Preserves.   OMG good.   I have no idea why this combo is so wonderful, but it is.











Rosemary Cheese Crisps with Pine Nuts.

Sublime.

No other words needed.

 Another one of my fun recipes, well, fun to me, cause I made it.
Sun Dried Bruschetta Jack Dip/spread.   
Really yummy, and quick and easy to make as well.


Spicy Witchy Fingers.
Well, actually one of the best cheese crackers I've found so far.  And fun to play with as well.

Like I love to say, if you can't have fun with your food, you're not playing correctly.  
I made some Tonkatsu with dipping sauces for Boat Club one night, and they got renamed.  
They are now known as Pork Fritters.
I do live in the south you know, but these were very eagerly eaten.  
Did that make sense, well, all I know is, there were no leftovers.

I've made them a couple more times, and I still can't get any leftovers.  
 Twisty Breadsticks.   These were more fun to do.  And a nice twist on a regular breadstick.  

Get it?  Nice twist?

Never mind.
 Sophisticated little noshes for a cocktail party, or to just eat out of hand.   Also great with chili.
Savoury Three Cheese Crackers, really fun and good.  
Chicken and Kohlrabi Slaw Bites.    One of those lucky accident recipes.  
 Za'atar Pita Crisps   I think I love these.   So simple, so tasty and even somewhat good for you.
Well, there's olive oil in there, and the spices are just plain fun.  
Chocolate Hummus

I made this once, cause the ladies at NPA like Hummus and chocolate and this put them together.  Well, I've since made several batches.
It's that good.
Savoury Garden Dip (FKA  Garbage Dip)

So easy to make and so good.    I even caught a sour cream hater eating some, didn't even know it was in there.    Or they just didn't care cause it tastes so good.
Hissy Fit Dip.   

Honestly, you need to make this one, even if you just do it so you can say the name.

Seriously good. 
Roasted Broccoli.   Pretty much not a finger food, but when you take it to NPA it becomes a really good finger food.   I guess it would work as a side dish for an entree as well.










Cucumber Salsa, another one of those dishes where you just keep on eating, but at least this one is pretty good for you.

And it's pretty to look at as well. 










There were lots more I could have included in here, really, but I'm tired of typing, and I'd love it if you just felt like exploring my blog on your own.

And if you feel like it, give me a shout out and let me know if I left out any of your favourites. 

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Brining a turkey

I brined my very first turkey this week, and with a couple of small changes, I would so totally do this again.

Next time I won't use as much salt, and I would totally up the aromatics, but I will do this again.

I'd seen a post about brining a turkey and using the veggie drawer in the fridge for the brining container  on The Kitchn

And it made sense to me.  I've wanted to try brining, but I had no room at the inn, well, I didn't have the fridge space, so...

That idea got put on hold. 

Until I read about brining a turkey in the refrigerator drawer.

It was one of those D'uh moments.    And so I cleared out the bottom drawer and proceeded to lay my turkey in it, had to make sure it fit.   And it did.  So I left it there to thaw.
I know you're not supposed to brine a frozen turkey, most of them already have some kind of liquid added to them somewhere along the line.  
However, I did it anyway.

I kinda followed a recipe from Pioneer Woman, 

But because I had a small turkey, I didn't need as much of everything, and shame, horror, dismay here, I forgot the garlic. sigh

Here's my recipe:

2 cups apple juice
1/2 cup sugar
scant 1/2 cup salt, more like an enthusiastic 1/4 cup. 
2 oranges, peel cut off, and some of the juice squeezed into the pot
2-3 tablespoons peppercorns
3 cloves of garlic (which I forgot)
2 quarts of water

Add all this together, let it come to a boil, turn off and let cool.  
Then take the turkey out of the wrapper, rinse it off, make sure that the little ice chunk in the cavity is removed.  
Place the rinsed turkey in a cooking bag, and put the turkey into the refrigerator drawer.  You need to do it in that order, really. 
You could put the turkey in bag, pour the brine over it and then try to maneuver it into the drawer, but it's really hard to do. 
OK, so I tried it.  Sheesh,
Pour the brining liquid over the turkey, expel as much air as possible from the bag, and tie it off.   The turkey should be pretty submerged.  I put my turkey in breast side down, as I wanted the brine to get into the breast meat. 


And you don't want to brine it very long, just overnight.   I did turn the turkey over after about 5 hours, which was an adventure unto itself.  sigh.   And I found out how important it is to make sure your drawer doesn't leak.   My bag did leak, but the drawer contained it all.   You can see it in the above picture.


When you take it out of the brine, rinse, rinse, rinse that turkey.
In other words, you want to remove as much of the brine as possible.  

Take out of the sink, and pat it dry.   (You did remember to scrub the sink before and after you rinsed the turkey, didn't you? )

Then, have some fun.
Loosen the skin on the breast and place some seasoned butter in there, as evenly as you can.   I usually add some poultry seasoning to some softened butter, and use that.  No added salt, you won't need it. 
Take a little of the butter and rub over the top of the skin as well.     I also stuffed some celery, onion and carrot into the cavity, for flavours sake.  

Insert a thermometer into the thigh, and monitor the temperature.  Roast at 325 for about 20-25 minutes per pound, or until the thermometer reaches 165 degrees, and if you're old school, like me, the drumstick moves easily.  
I did say to have fun with the food.  You can make a whole production out of wiggling the drumstick if you want. 

Never mind.

Just roast it until it's golden brown, and if it's browning too fast or too much, tent some foil over the top.

Discard the juices that came off of the turkey as it was cooking.   It's way too salty to use.  
Go ahead, taste it.
See, I was right.
I actually took the turkey neck, giblets and heart out first, and didn't brine them.  I just roasted them the day before I cooked the turkey, then threw them violently into a pot, covered them with water, added carrot, celery and onion alongside some poultry seasoning and cooked them to make a broth, which I used to make the gravy from.  You can also take the meat off of the turkey neck and add it alongside the chopped giblets and heart to the gravy, but I didn't.   I ate them instead.  
Don't tell anyone, OK?

After that just carve the turkey however you like, and serve.  

I put the bones into the freezer and will be making some stock out of it in the next little while.

I can't wait, some lovely turkey soup with home made noodles.  Nothing like it.






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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Turkey and Ham and leftovers, yay!!!

Merry Christmas Everyone.

I know it's Christmas morning and hopefully everyone has survived so far.  And if you're lucky enough to have children and grandchildren to watch unwrap their presents, you're dealing with bits and pieces of wrapping paper all over the place. 
I know it, you'll be picking up those pieces of paper for days, and days.
It's worth it in the end.
Really.

Whether you  had your big meal last night or are having it today, you will probably be dealing with leftovers.

I love leftovers. 

You can make so many wonderful dishes from them.

Let me show you a few of my ideas.

I brined a turkey last weekend and cooked it for Tapas.   There wasn't much meat left, but I had the bones and the veggies I'd put in the cavity of the bird to cook.  
So...
I broke down the turkey a bit, and placed the bones and veggies on a baking sheet and threw them, OK, I then put them in the oven at 400 degrees for about a half hour or so, just until the bones started getting browned.   I wanted to get a head start on making some stock.   I didn't have time or fridge space to finish making the stock, but by breaking down the bones, deglazing the pan that I baked the bones on, I had the start of a good stock.  I ended up freezing it in a container and sometime in the next week or so, I'll cook it up into a stock.



 Browning the bones adds so much more flavour to the finished stock.  











And then there is the ham I made last night for dinner.   We had a few people over, and I made a ham,
another friend brought a turkey (which was amazing by the way).
   My guests all brought side dishes and we had a fantastic meal.




  Everything from a wonderful Baked Brie, to Sherried Potatoes to mushrooms, to a green bean casserole, a green bean salad, potato salad, bread, Apple Crisp and Mango Pudding with fried bananas for dessert.

I'm still full.

I do need to pat my self and Publix grocery store on the back though.   I finally (yes, finally), made a moist, tender, delicious ham.
Finally...
After all these years, I made a totally edible ham.     And now we can eat ham for the next week or two, but that's OK, we like ham.

I see a nice split pea soup in my future, maybe some Brunede Kartoffler med Skinke (sugar browned potatoes with ham), or some collard greens and ham.
I have a world of possibilities opening up here.  

But for starters, I think some Ham and Eggs for breakfast is in order.  

I'll let you know.

In the meantime...

Merry Christmas from my house to yours.



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