Stuffing or Dressing-Your call

I start thinking about Thanksgiving sometime in July.  This is my favorite holiday.  I love thinking about the menu and getting everyone involved.  I drive my kids nuts talking about it more incessantly as the months go by and the day gets closer.  It is quite enjoyable. 😉  This year my stuffing was incredibly awesome.  Here is the recipe;

Checkerboard Stuffing

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Ingredients

16 ounces bread (mix of Pepperidge Farms Hearty White, Dark Pumpernickel and Rye)
12 ounces breakfast sausage
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
16 Tablespoons Butter (2 sticks.  I know it’s a lot of butter. That’s okay, it’s Thanksgiving!)
1 Tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
5 cups turkey stock (or chicken broth)

Directions

  1.  Weigh out 16 ounces of combination of above breads.  I placed slices of bread on a wire rack and covered with parchment paper.  I left out for 3 days so it could get hard rock stale. Next year I will cut into cubes before I do this.  However, it was simple enough to break/slice into small cubes. Place bread cubes in a large bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In medium skillet over medium heat brown breakfast sausage.  Set aside.  Place in bowl last. That will give it time to cool.
  4. In a large skillet over medium heat melt 16 Tablespoons butter.  Add onions and celery along with salt and pepper.  Saute until transparent, about 8-10 minutes.
  5. While onions and celery are cooking chop your herbs.  Add herbs to the bread.  Then add the onions and celery along with the turkey stock and mix well.
  6. Place stuffing in 13×9 baking dish.  Cover with aluminum foil.  Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake another 15-30 minutes depending on how crispy you like your stuffing.

This was so flavorful.  You will love it. I know our family did!  Happy Thanksgiving to all and to all a GREAT night!

 

 

 

 

 

Chili – Simple and Delicious

Everyone loves Chili.  I make it quite a lot this time of year.  One thing I have been doing lately is grinding the meat.  I buy a 3# chuck roast.  I then have Kent grind it with the accessory for my stand up mixer.  We take 1/2 of the ground meat for hamburgers and other 1/2 for chili.  He likes to use the coarse grind.  Here is a very Simple and Delicious Chili that I make for a quick family meal.

Chili

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Ingredients

2# coarsely ground beef (you don’t have to do it yourself, you can buy coarse or regular ground beef. Also, I sometimes cut the chuck roast into bite size pieces instead of using ground meat.)
1 large onion, chopped
2 large red or green  pepper, chopped
(One of each or you could throw in a jalapeno, poblano or whatever kind of peppers you want.  Depends on what I have on hand.)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 26 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans, drained (or any combo of beans)
1 Tablespoon cumin
1/4 cup chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

1.  Using a Dutch oven (or a large pot) add 2 Tablespoons olive oil on medium high heat. When oil glistens add ground or bite sized pieces of meat in 2-3 batches. Brown meat, take out and set aside.
2.  Add 2 Tablespoons olive oil.  Add onions and peppers.  Add garlic and stir into mixture.
2.  Add cumin and chili powder along with the meat.  Mix well.
3. Add tomatoes, beans (I use different beans each time I make it.  2 cans is enough.) Add salt and pepper.
4.  Heat to boiling, turn down to low and simmer for 30 minutes.  (If the chili is not “saucy” enough for you add a 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes.  You could also not drain one of those cans of beans, or  just add a little water or broth to thin to your liking.  We like our chili chunky.)

That is it.  Simple and Delicious!

Peas and Macaroni – Simple and Delicious

When I was younger every Friday my dad made dinner.  My favorite Friday dinner was when he made Peas and Macaroni.  I enjoyed watching him make it (he always seemed happy). I also enjoyed eating it, lots of it!!  I know this was a meal he had when he was growing up.  This is another “Depression” food but as far as I am concerned it is definitely not depressing!  One thing though, my mom always bought the LeSeur brand canned peas.  I also still buy the same peas.   Sometimes I will use frozen peas and a can of chicken broth.  It just doesn’t seem the same.  When I make this meal all I can  think of is my dad getting home from work on a Friday night, having a beer in the breezeway sitting on the steps, then coming in the kitchen and making the most delicious meal for all of us.  Don’t knock it until you have tried it!

Peas and Macaroni

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Ingredients

1 pound pasta (I use large elbows, you can use whatever you like.  I find the smaller pastas go better with this dish.)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 green bell peppers
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 – 15 ounce cans of peas, not drained
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

1.  Cook pasta according to directions on box
2. While pasta is cooking add 3 Tablespoons olive oil to fry pan over medium heat.  Add sliced onions and peppers.  Cook until onion opaque, about 8-10 minutes.   Add garlic, oregano and basil. Mix through.
3.  Add 2 cans of peas. Cook over medium heat until warmed through, about 5 minutes.
4.  In the meantime drain pasta in colander, then put back in sauce pan.
5.  When peas are heated through add to the pasta.  Mix the pasta and peas together.   Have a bowl and enjoy!  Simple and Delicious!!

Italian Bread

My dad used to love Italian Bread from Columbus Bakery.  Whenever we go back to Syracuse we like to stop there if we have time and grab some fresh Italian bread.  I checked to see if there was a recipe out there in the internet world for their delicious bread.  Of course, there is not.  I decided on using King Arthur’s website.

I wanted a recipe that included a biga.  Biga is basically a starter.  Per King Arthur’s website; A biga is a pre-fermented dough that the French call pâte fermentée. It’s started with a tiny bit of yeast, and allowed to work for several hours. The advantage of making a biga is that because it ferments for a long time, it adds flavor and character to the bread you make with it.

Here is the recipe I used.  I made the biga the night before.  It is best to set at room temperature for 8-10 hours.  By the way, this bread goes great with my Tomato Sauce with Meatballs, which we also had today in celebration of Dad.

Italian Bread

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Ingredients

Biga or Overnight Starter

3/4 cup Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast or active dry yeast

Dough
2 teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 3/4 cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Topping
1 large egg white beaten with 1 Tablespoon water

Directions

  1. To make the starter: Mix the starter ingredients in a small bowl, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight.
  2. Combine the starter and the remainder of the dough ingredients. Mix, then knead the dough — by hand, mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a soft, fairly smooth dough.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise for 90 minutes, turning it over and gently deflating it after 45 minutes. If you’re using a bread machine, remove the dough when the cycle is finished, deflate it gently, and let it rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface.  Make into a loaf shape.
  5. Place loaf on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap, and let rise it rise for about 60 to 90 minutes, or until it’s very puffy. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
  7. Uncover the loaf. Brush it with the egg white glaze.  You can also top with sesame seeds.  I did not do this step.
  8. Bake the loaf for 25 to 35 minutes; the longer it bakes, the crunchier it’ll be. (I baked for 30 minutes.  That worked out perfect!)
  9. Remove the loaf from the oven and cool it on a rack. For extra crispness, cool it in the turned-off oven with the door propped open. (I did the latter and it worked great.  We like the crust crispier.)
  10. Store the loaf in a paper bag for 24 hours; wrap in plastic and freeze for longer storage. 

I did 2 biga recipes last evening so I could have 2 loaves of bread.  We go through fresh bread in one day.  2 loaves may last 2 days!!  Simple and Delicious.  Enjoy!

 

Molasses Cookies

In celebration of my Dad’s birthday and parent’s anniversary I decided for a sweet treat to make Molasses Cookies.  Both my parent’s enjoyed these cookies over the years.  Mom would always buy the Archway brand Iced Molasses cookies.  Here is a version I made for my family today.  I found this recipe on America’s Test Kitchen website.

Molasses Cookies

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Ingredients

12 Tablespoons butter, softened but still cool
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar (I only had light brown)
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup molasses, light or dark
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon table salt

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place 1/2 cup sugar for dipping in a 9″ cake pan.
2.  Whisk flour, baking soda, spices and salt in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined.  Set aside.
3.  In stand up mixer beat butter with sugars at medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Reduce speed to medium low and add yolk and vanilla; increase speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds.  Reduce speed to medium low and add molasses, beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula.  Reduce speed to lowest setting and add dry ingredients until incorporated.  Be sure to scrape sides and bottom of bowl so all is blended together.
4. Using tablespoon measure, scoop heaping tablespoon of dough and roll palms into a
1 1/2 inch ball; drop ball into cake pan with sugar.  Toss balls in sugar to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 3 inches apart.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Bake at 375 for 11 minutes rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not overbake.
5.  Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes, then place on wire rack; cool to room temperature and serve.  If you want you can put glaze on them.

Glaze;  1 cup confectioners sugar, 2 Tablespoons milk.  Whisk together.  Drizzle on cookies.

Enjoy!!