Sunday, November 23, 2014

Herbed Turkey over Cornbread Waffles w/ Cranberry Sauce {#SundaySupper: Thanksgiving Leftovers}

Herbed Turkey over Cornbread Waffles with Cranberry Sauce #ThanksgivingLeftovers
I like Thanksgiving leftovers almost as much as I like the meal itself. It actually makes me a leeeetle bit frustrated if there's nothing left for later that night AND the next day. That is exactly why I make extra. Of everything. For example, even if I'm roasting a whole turkey, I put an extra breast in the crockpot. I always make a double batch of cranberry sauce. And one pie? Oh no, I make at least three pies or other dessert offerings—but mostly pie.

I know this sounds boring, but my absolute favorite way to eat leftover turkey is simply piled on white bread and sprinkled with salt for a sandwich that sticks both to the roof of my mouth and to the insides of my throat and chest as it goes down. I swear, but that's exactly the way I like it. Hanger ensues if I don't eat at least one of those sandwiches yearly.

But I also like more creatively re-purposed leftovers. For example, a Turkey Manhattan (an open-faced sandwich with turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy) is probably second on the must-have Thanksgiving leftovers scale. I also always throw a couple of extra sweet potatoes in the oven alongside whatever is roasting for the sole purpose of eating these Cranberry-Barbecue Turkey Stuffed Sweet Potatoes later on. Turkey Tetrazzini and Cranberry Sauce Crumb Bars are a couple more of my family's favorite uses for leftovers.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Persimmon Pudding

Persimmon Pudding #Thanksgiving #dessert
Okay, so I'm about to put this out there—until recently, I thought persimmons were a tropical fruit. I think it's because I didn't eat a single persimmon until a few years ago. Whenever I saw them, they were at the market, in the produce section next to the coconuts, star fruit, pineapple, papaya, get the point. Of course, that seems to be where the section they display the pomegranates in, too. A person can get the wrong idea.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming it on the supermarkets. My ignorance is my own fault (if fault is really a thing here). Recently I was paging through books and magazines to help me plan out my Thanksgiving menu when I stumbled across an article about and recipe for persimmon pudding. I was dumbfounded when I read the title "Indiana Persimmon Pudding". What? Indiana? I live in Indiana. Little did I know, persimmons grow wild across much of Southern Indiana and Illinois. Well, I live as north as you can get in Indiana without being in Michigan. So that explains it.

Apparently persimmon pudding is a tradition and a staple in the Midwest (where I've spent almost my entire life) and the South. And yet, to me it was a brand new discovery. Trying to remember how many times I've actually eaten persimmons in my life, I can remember approximately three times before now. THREE. I just never really knew what to do with them (and apparently didn't bother doing even minimal research). But this little tidbit of knowledge reeled me in.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Asian-inspired Braised Duck Legs - #perfectiontakestime w/ @fijiwater

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Fiji Water, for the Perfection Takes Time campaign. All opinions are my own.
Asian-inspired Braised Duck Legs #perfectiontakestime #duck
Recently I realized something, and it made me a bit wistful. I realized that I don't take my time in the kitchen anymore. I mean, YES—I'm always in the kitchen. Always testing recipes. Always making dinner. Always moving a stack of cookbooks from the table to the floor. Always fretting over lack of counter space...lack of daylight...lack of clean dishes. Hurry, hurry, hurry. Spending my time instead of taking it.

Sixteen years ago, when I moved into my first real apartment...not a dorm room, not a house or apartment shared with college roommates...just me, I took my time in the kitchen. I was just coming into my own. I was learning cooking processes and techniques. I used to make lists, explore ingredients, and prepare meals that took time. Golden-skinned chicken that was roasted in the new stoneware dish I was so proud of. Chuck roasts so tender and beckoning that burning my fingertips just to get an early taste didn't hurt a bit. Pink hams wrapped in a shiny glaze. Pork loins propped up by a bed of sturdy vegetables. You know, the type of food that envelops the entire house in a sense of calm.

And I did it just because I enjoyed it.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Duck and Lentil Ragù with Spaghetti Squash #12WeeksofWinterSquash

Duck and Lentil Ragù with Spaghetti Squash #12WeeksofWinterSquash #duck #lentils via @girlichef
The word ragù instantly conjures up visions of warm kitchens, family meals, and comfort food. Slow cooking...long braises...tomato based (traditionally) meat sauces, usually containing some sort of wine...what's not comforting about that? But sometimes I cheat and go for something equally as hearty and flavorful, yet cooked in far less time. Let's call them rapid ragùs.

This one in particular still features tender, slow-cooked meat—it's just that I didn't simmer it in the sauce itself. I love slow roasted duck and duck confit (duck legs that have been cooked slowly in their own fat), and while I don't mind taking the time to cook either, Maple Leaf Farms offers some awesome pre-cooked options. That means that I can have slow roasted meat at my fingertips, whenever.

I made this ragù at the end of last week (you may remember me telling you that there was a thick blanket of snow outside my window). It all started with a couple of little ovalular spaghetti squash sitting on my counter. Spaghetti squash just so happen to be my favorite type of winter squash...well, any squash really. More often than not, I'll just roast and scrape one and eat it with some Italian sausage and kale; that's one of my favorite meals. But since I've shared that recipe before, I knew I had to come up with something else. I mean, that is the point of 12 Weeks of Winter Squash. Stepping outside and trying new things, new combinations...coming up with new favorite uses for these sturdy squash varieties.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cardamom-laced Pumpkin Steel-Cut Oatmeal + Silk® Cashewmilk

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Silk. All opinions are 100% mine.
Cardamom-laced Pumpkin Steel-Cut Oatmeal + Silk® Cashewmilk #pumpkin #glutenfree #vegan
I've always been a milk-drinker. Growing up it was always dairy, and I don't think I even knew there was an alternative. I've even been a shareholder of a grass-fed organic dairy herd. I like dairy milk and I don't have any sensitivities to it. That being said, now that I'm "all grown up", I also keep alternative varieties on milk on hand at all times. One—because you never know when an intolerant person might drop by, and two—because I like using different types of milks for different applications.

I almost always have a can of coconut milk in my pantry. It's good for me to keep rice milk around because my mom can't have dairy, nuts, or soy. I use almond milk on a fairly regular basis, and soy milk from time to time. Often you hear about making nut milks at home, and while it's something I'll probably try making (because I like to try making everything myself—at least once), I know I wouldn't make it on a regular basis. I know a lot of vegans (and non-vegans) who use cashew cream, and it's always intrigued me, so when I saw that Silk® now makes cashew milk, I knew I wanted to try it.

I went for the unsweetened, because I like to control the end result (I knew I'd be using most of it as an ingredient). But of course, I had to drink some to give it the old college try before I went any further. The carton says "irresistibly creamy"...and it's right. The Silk Cashewmilk is creamy with an entirely natural and pleasant mouthfeel. Sorry, I know some people hate the word "mouthfeel", but it fits here. When you tilt your head back to take a gulp, the cashewmilk does not feel cloying or unnaturally thick. It has a mild, pleasant taste. And it BEGS to be used in oatmeal. Really, I heard it.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tuscan White Bean Soup + Swanson® Soup Prize Pack Giveaway

I received samples from Swanson® for review purposes. The opinions stated in this post are my own.
Tuscan White Bean Soup + Swanson® Soup Prize Pack #Giveaway #soup #kale via @girlichef w/ @swansonbroth
My attention is being steadily averted by the window to my left. It's mid-November, therefore the fact that fat, lazy snowflakes are falling steadily from a pale sky should not be surprising. Yet here I sit, shaking my head in disbelief at the six inches lining the shoveled path in front of the house. I wasn't ready for it. Honestly, it seems like last year's snow just finished melting.

My initial reaction aside, it's kind of comforting. I mean, as a child of the Midwest, a good snowfall does conjure up images of crackling fires, piles of cozy blankets, steaming mugs of hot chocolate, and big pots of soup to warm your bones after a day of sledding, fort building, and snowball fights.

So, when the folks at Swanson contacted me to see if I'd be interested in trying an assortment of their products, I was more than happy to put the broths and stocks to use warming up my kitchen. Swanson is a name that already appears on containers and cans in my pantry, so I was already a fan of their products. I use a lot of stock and broth, and while I do make my own, I don't make enough to keep up with what I go through. I especially like their seafood stock, since that's something I rarely make myself.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Roast Crispy-Skin Turkey (w/ Citrus Herb Brine)

Roast Crispy-Skin Turkey w/ Citrus Herb Brine #Thanksgiving #turkey via @girlichef
Fourteen years ago, I was in charge of the Thanksgiving turkey for the first time. I was 25 and finally ready to join the ranks of my grandmas, mom, and aunts; I was finally going to be hosting the meal that I look forward to for an entire year. I'd been training for that day my whole life by helping choose how we were going to flavor the bird when my mom researching the pros and cons of reading up on wild vs frozen. I was a master baster. Go ahead, snicker. I was ready.

So, I set about my normal routine of figuring out how I could make the best turkey my family had ever eaten. Visions of breast meat so juicy that it garnered involuntary whimpers from the hungry mouths of my guests. Skin so burnished and crispy that I'd have to fend off sneaky fingers with the tines of my carving fork. Turkey that elicited a satisfied smile when looked back on throughout the year.

You know, a turkey that was no less than amazing—an A++++++++.....