Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Slow-Cooker Cranberry Turkey Breast with Gravy

Slow-Cooker Cranberry Turkey Breast with Gravy
I'm sneaking in one more recipe for you to consider adding to your Thanksgiving table this year. I know it's T-minus 24 hours or so, but this dish is totally worth it. Now, I've mentioned before that I always make at least one extra turkey breast alongside our turkey—I hate not having Thanksgiving leftovers. This is probably the recipe I will use from now until the end of time for at least of those extra turkey breasts. It's that good.

Okay, so let's talk crispy skin. It's one of the best parts of the turkey, right? But it gets eaten right away. I mean, it has a short window. You rip it off gingerly to avoid burning your fingertips, and you savor the crispy, flavorful crackle. Crispy skin does not make it to the leftover containers for that reason, and because it would no longer be crispy when reheated. So, roast your turkey in the oven (might I suggest this Crispy Skin Roast Turkey with Citrus Herb Brine), and cook this one out of the way in your crockpot.

This extra breast won't yield you any extra crisp skin, it will however give you extra ridiculously juicy and flavor-packed meat AND about two and half cups of gravy. Extra gravy is never a bad thing. Like, ever.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Waldorf Salad inspired by Pieces of April for #FoodnFlix

Waldorf Salad #Thanksgiving #sidedish #apples
I find it hard to take a person seriously when they don't admit to some dysfunction somewhere in their family. Rainbows and lollipops do not always abound when the family comes together, not even on Thanksgiving. This month's Food 'n Flix pick Pieces of April, as chosen by our host Deb from Kahakai Kitchen, brings some of that dysfunction to the screen.

Far from a poster-child for exemplary behavior in the past, April is now a young adult coming into her own. She invites her mostly estranged suburban-dwelling family to her Lower East Side apartment for Thanksgiving dinner, with a nervous hope that their cold demeanor will start to warm up a bit.

It turns out that April's mother Joy is in the final stages of cancer, and this may be her final Thanksgiving. With mood swings that range from sweet and blissful to downright nasty, Joy is not a very lovable character. I found myself thinking "what a bitch" in my head so many times throughout the movie, which I found disconcerting, since she is dying...and it's sad and understandable. Sort of. I don't understand not being able to remember even one happy memory of your own daughter. As much as I enjoyed Katie Holmes as April in this film, it was Patricia Clarkson as her mom that stole the show. Of course, because Clarkson is flipping brilliant (for lack of a more eloquent term).

Monday, November 24, 2014

Butternut Squash and Apple Bisque {blog tour + giveaway + #12WeeksofWinterSquash}

Butternut Squash and Apple Bisque #12WeeksofWinterSquash #soup
The Food Truck sensation is sweeping the nation, and photographers Phil Shen and Kim Pham have a backstage pass. They stumbled sort of accidentally into the place they were meant to be after moving to Portland, Oregon in 2009. Between sporadic photo jobs, they began exploring the food pods around town (my PDX friend Bea tells me about these all the time), and were smitten.

They'd spend their weekends exploring and tasting, and in the midst of it all, took notice of the chefs, owners, and people who ran these tiny little kitchens. They wanted to know their stories. Thus, the idea of their food blog was born; a combination of their love for food and photography. They teamed up with Terri Phillips, a writer, and began to delve deeper into the food pods, food carts, and food trucks vying for a spot on the busy streets. Behind the Food Carts is their (very successful) vehicle for sharing these people's stories through words and photographs. Their passion led to being named Saveur magazine's Best Culinary Travel Blog in 2013, and now this inspiring and delicious cookbook.

"Each chapter kicks off with an introduction by Phil and a full food truck story by Terri, and each recipe features a personal tidbit or anecdote from the contributor. These recipes are not "inspired by" or "based on" the menus of the food trucks featured; they're direct from the chefs themselves. You may not be able to travel to Love Balls Bus in Austin, Texas for Garlic Yaki Onigiri, but you can sear some up in your home kitchen and taste Chef Gabe Rothschild's drive and dedication for yourself."

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.