PANZANELLA SALAD

A true Panzanella is made with stale Italian bread, but croutons can be used in a pinch for a quick week night meal. It also calls for prosciutto, but I rarely have that on hand and have found that bacon works just as well for my family. Personally, I do not like olive oil so have substituted avocado oil and butter. You can also adjust the vegatable combinations to what you have on hand and/or your family’s taste palette.  The key is the bread ratio to making this a true Panzanella salad.

At this time of year especially, I have plenty of homemade croutons for the Thanksgiving stuffing making this the perfect time to have this wonderful salad. **I use a combination of sourdough bread and hamburger buns. I tuck away in the freezer all the stale bread for several weeks/months before the holiday season just to have the versatility of flavors.

PANZANELLA SALAD

2 cups stale rustic Italian bread, torn into bite size pieces**
1/8 cup avocado oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 cup baby spinach
1 cup torn romaine leaves
1/3 cup diced red onion
1 English cucumber, halved and sliced
1/2 pound grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
1/2 pound bacon, diced
1/2 – 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Pepperoncinis, to taste (optional)

DRESSING          also see alternate VINAIGRETTE BELOW
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons avocado oil
2 tablespoons Golden Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper, to taste

  • Preheat oven to 300°.
  • Combine avocado oil and melted butter.
  • Add bread pieces and toss to coat.
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and toss again to mix.
  • Arrange bread pieces in a single layer and toast in oven until crisp – about 30 minutes or so.

 

  • In a large skillet brown bacon pieces in a single layer until browned and crisp. Drain. Set aside to cool.
  • Whisk dressing ingredients together until emulsified. Set aside.

 

  • While the bread is toasting prepare vegetables by washing and chopping.
  • In a large salad bowl toss together the spinach, torn romaine, red onion, basil, tomato halves, mozzarella cheese, cooled bacon pieces and cooled toast pieces.
  • Drizzle dressing over salad and toss.
  • Serve immediately.

MARGARITA VINAIGRETTE
3 tablespoons tequila
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (2 large limes)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro, chopped
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1⁄2 cup avocado oil
fresh ground salt and black pepper, to taste

  • Whisk together all the ingredients except for the avocado oil in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  • Slowly incorporate the oil into the bowl with a whisk until the mixture becomes emulsified.
  • Season as necessary.

SHARING with FOODIE FRIDAY and TASTY THURSDAY.

SWEET & SOUR CHICKEN

SWEET and SOUR CHICKEN

1/3 cup apricot pineapple jam**
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
scant 1/4 cup grated onion
pinch red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon chili sauce
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
8 ounce can crushed pineapple, WELL drained (reserve juice)
1/2 teaspoon molasses
splash grenadine (for color)
1/4 cup pineapple juice
Fresh ground salt and black pepper, to taste
2-3 pounds chicken thighs##
Scallion Rice@@
Sliced scallions for garnish

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Line a shallow roasting pan with foil and spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Whisk together the jam, vinegar, chili sauce, brown sugar, grenadine, pineapple juice, molasses, garlic, all but 1/4 cup of the crushed pineapple and onion.
  • Cook over a low heat to heat sauce through.
  • Place chicken skin side up on baking sheet, generously seasoning with fresh ground salt and pepper.
  • Roast chicken 15 minutes.
  • Brush glaze onto chicken pieces (about 1/3 of the glaze).
  • Roast another 10-15 minutes until juices run clear and chicken is cooked through (170°).
  • Turn oven to broil and raise rack to 5 inches below broiler.
  • Brush chicken again with glaze and return to oven, broiling until crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Heat any remaining glaze in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  • Serve over buttered rice.
  • Garnish with scallion greens.

NOTE ** In many places in this country you can’t buy apricot pineapple jam, but I usually buy a jar of apricot and a jar of pineapple and make my own when I can’t find it already made.

NOTE ## You can use mixed chicken parts just as easily, I just prefer thighs. You can also use boneless chicken, JUST BE SURE to adjust cooking times. Also remember that there won’t be any skin to crisp so chicken will dry out some as well as cook faster. IF USING BONELESS PIECES, I brown them in avocado oil in a skillet before adding and tossing with the sauce.

NOTE:@@ To make scallion rice, I substitute a combination of mainly chicken broth with a little pineapple juice for the water in any rice recipe.  I then add 1 tablespoon butter, the scallion whites of the onions and 1/4 cup of the crushed pineapple and then cook per package directions.

MIREPOIX for THANKSGIVING PREPARATION

It’s Thanksgiving week! The food prep can be overwhelming at time, but over the years I’ve found ways to make Thursday more enjoyable without breaking my back.  I did ALL the shopping this morning and one of the first things I did was ALL the tedious chopping for my stuffing vegetables and gravy vegetables. I did a little research and found out I have been using a combination of several methods for years. Mirepoix from the French is plainly diced vegetables cooked with butter (generally) on a gentle heat without browning until soft and flavorful. You are not trying to caramelize, but blend and sweeten the flavors to use as a base for other foods.

A traditional mirepoix is 2 parts onion, 1 part celery and 1 part carrots. This traditional base is then built and layered upon to enhance flavors for building stocks, soups, stews and sauces.

To make mirepoix: Rinse, trim, and peel vegetables — typically two parts onion to one part carrot and one part celery — then chop them into uniform pieces. The shorter the cooking time of your recipe, the smaller the pieces should be, so that they effectively infuse the foods with flavor.

There are of course different names and combinations of vegetables based on the culture. Similar flavor bases include:

  • the Italian soffritto, The Italian version of mirepoix is called soffritto is a base of finely chopped parsley and onion sauted in lard, but most modern cooks substitute olive oil or butter. Garlic, celery, or carrot may also be included. According to the Italian restaurateur Benedetta Vitali, soffritto means “underfried” and describes it as “a preparation of lightly browned minced vegetables, not a dish by itself.”
  • the Spanish sofito, There are many different versions of sofrito, but the basics are green and red peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro.
  • the Portuguese refogado. Refogado is a Portuguese-style sofrito featuring onion, garlic, saffron, tomato and smoked paprika.
  • the German Suppengrün (leeks, carrots, and celeriac), means soup greens in German, and the Dutch equivalent is soepgroente. Soup greens usually come in a bundle and consists of a leek, a carrot, and a piece of celeriac. It may also contain parsley, thyme, celery leaves, rutabaga, parsley root, and onions. The mix depends on regional traditions, as well as individual recipes. The vegetables used are cold-climate roots and bulbs with long shelf lives. Suppengrün act as herbs and impart hearty, strong flavors to the soup or sauce, providing a foil for other strong tasting ingredients such as dried peas and beans or pot roast. Large chunks of vegetables are slow cooked to make flavorful soups and stocks, and are discarded when the vegetables have given up most of their flavor. Finely chopped Suppengrün are browned in fat and used as a basis for a finished sauce. The vegetables may also be cooked long enough until they fall apart, and may become part of the sauce or pureed to form the sauce.
  • the Polish włoszczyzna (leeks, carrots, celery root, and parsley root), A typical set of soup greens, known as włoszczyzna, the Polish word for soup vegetables or greens and literally translates to “Italian stuff”, used in Polish cuisine: carrots, parsley root and leaves, leek, and celeriac. Bay leaves and allspice grains are also shown. Queen Bona Sforza, who was Italian and married Polish King Sigismund I the Old in 1518, introduced this concept to Poland. A włoszczyzna may consist of carrots, parsnips or parsley root, celery root or celeriac, leeks, and savoy or white cabbage leaves, and sometimes celery leaves and flat-leaf parsley.
  • and here in the U.S. we use the standard mirepoix, the classic and most common French combination of onions, carrots, and celery, typically in a ratio of 2 parts onion to 1 parts each carrot and celery as well as the Cajun and Creole holy trinity that replaces the carrots in the standard mirepoix with bell peppers and sometimes the French duxelles (mushrooms and often onion or shallot and herbs, reduced to a paste).

Though the cooking technique is probably older, the term “mirepoix” dates from the 18th century and is credited to the chef, Charles Pierre Gaston Francois de Levis, duc de Levis Mirepoix who was the field marshall and ambassador and member of the noble family of Levis, lords of Mirepoix.

 

CUCUMBER POMEGRANATE SALAD

Need a quick, easy and pretty side dish for Thanksgiving?  I have it right here for you!

 

CUCUMBER POMEGRANATE SALAD

1-2 large cucumbers, sliced thin
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Champagne Dressing
  • Arrange cucumbers, green onions and pomegranate seeds on serving plate.
  • Generously salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle dressing over top.
  • Chill.
  • Enjoy!

CHAMPAGNE DRESSING
1/3 cup peanut oil
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons sugar
salt & pepper to taste

  • Whisk together peanut oil, champagne vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, salt & pepper. Chill for several hours.
  • Enjoy!

HAPPY HOMEMAKER & MENU PLAN MONDAY week 47 of 2017

I hope you all had a great week and weekend.  Mine was so so – just getting things done that will help hubby while I’m down, but I’m not expecting much excitement until after surgery.

This can be a stressful week for many, so let’s start it with a laugh! Just remember that a turkey is JUST a BIG chicken. I’m going to do my Thanksgiving shopping this morning and then won’t eave the house again!

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW & THE WEATHER OUTSIDE

We finally got a bit of a “COLD” front (at least for here) through yesterday that has lowered temperatures to the fall level finally.  I don’t have many hopes for a real winter here, but would like it if the temperatures at least get down to the 60’s for a high and stay there for more than 4 days!

ON THE BREAKFAST PLATE

A banana, tangerine and coffee

AS I LOOK AROUND THE HOUSE / WEEKLY TO DO LIST & HOUSE PROJECTS

  • LAUNDRY… quite a few loads this week, towels, bedding and clothing – doctor has me washing things much more often trying to eliminate infection possibilities. I have to say washing the linens every other day is getting tiresome.  I never wear clothes more than one day, but sheets and towels usually get 3-4 days or so before changing them.
  • LIVING AREAS… plan on doing a deep clean today and tomorrow for Thanksgiving
  • KITCHEN… pretty clean, but with starting Thanksgiving prep tomorrow that WILL change! I do the veggie chopping and making the croutons for the stuffing on Tuesday and baking on Wednesday so I’m not doing it all on Thursday – makes it so much more stress free!  That way I can watch the parade and enjoy my coffee!
  • STUDIO… is mainly storage these days so nothing going on there
  • YARD… nothing much for hubby and nothing for me at all
  • BLOG… still doing some recipe updating, future post planning and holiday posts scheduled, I’m also working on my ideas for Ava the elf

CURRENTLY READING & TELEVISION / DVR

  • BIG BANG THEORY and the new YOUNG SHELDON
  • NCIS, NCIS NEW ORLEANS and NCIS LA, CRIMINAL MINDS, S.W.A.T. ??
  • MADAME SECRETARY, SCANDAL, DESIGNATED SURVIVOR
  • CHICAGO FIRE, CHICAGO PD, CHICAGO MED
  • BRAVE, VALOR, SEAL TEAM
  • LAW & ORDER SVU, BLUE BLOODS, HAWAII 5-0
  • MACGYVER, SCORPION, BLINDSPOT, ORVILLE, WISDOM OF THE CROWD
  • Z NATION, WALKING DEAD, STRANGER THINGS, FLASH, DC LEGENDS, INHUMANS
  • THE GOOD PLACE, AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE, SPEECHLESS, GREAT NEWS
  • THIS IS US, ONCE UPON A TIME, THE GOOD DOCTOR, LONGMIRE
  • GUY’S GROCERY GAMES, BEAT BOBBY FLAY, BOBBY AND DAMARIS, GUY’S RANCH

MENU PLANS FOR THE WEEK

MONDAY
TUESDAY
WEDNESDAY
THURSDAY
FRIDAY
SATURDAY
SUNDAY
BREAKFAST
FRUIT & COFFEE
SCRAMBLED EGGS
FRUIT SMOOTHIE
FRUIT & COFFEE
WAFFLES & BACON
SHIRRED EGGS
PANCAKES
LUNCH
FRUIT & CHEESE
SOUP
MEAT ROLL-UPS
SALAD
C.O.R.N.
C.O.R.N.
C.O.R.N.
DINNER
SWEET & SOUR CHICKEN and SCALLION RICE recipe will post soon
PORK MARSALA recipe will post soon
TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE recipe will post soon  and SALAD
SEE MENU BELOW
C.O.R.N.
C.O.R.N.
C.O.R.N.
DESSERT
 MOLASSES CRINKLES recipe will post soon
 REINDEER NIBBLES recipe will post soon

SUCCESSFUL RECIPE LINKS FROM LAST WEEK

HEALTH & BEAUTY TIPS

HOMEMAKING/COOKING TIP

ON MY MIND / THINGS THAT ARE MAKING ME HAPPY

Only more 16 days until surgery and I can’t be happier!  I need to get this behind me and on the road to recovery! I ended up with yet another infection this past week and have been put on house “isolation” for the most part until surgery. Primarily I’m staying away from school children and elderly that may be sick or contagious, washing my hands A LOT, showering A LOT and am on 3 new eye drops to combat the latest issue. I’ve already been in for 2 weeks other than doctor appointments and am looking forward to get out and doing the Thanksgiving shopping this morning and after that will only leave the house on the day of pre-op at the hospital and then on the day of surgery.  It’s getting old being so sequestered, but has become a necessary evil.  We even had to cancel our trip to Santa’s Wonderland. 🙁 There’s always next year. 😀

FAVORITE PHOTO FROM THE CAMERA

I got hubby a new stocking this year and it is really cute. Mine is an UGG red, white and green plaid that I really like too.

Then, there is Gunner, at 15 3/4 he’s still trudging along, but spends most his time chasing rabbits in his sleep in his favorite bed these days.

INSPIRATION

Be sure to link up with Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Happy homemaker Monday, Terri at Darling Downs Diaries and with Laura at I’m an Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

Save

THE FIRST THANKSGIVING MENU vs. A TRADITIONAL MODERN MENU

As I was selecting a Thanksgiving Menu this year I was struck by the thought that much of the menu may not have even been at the first Thanksgiving which prompted me to do some research.

According to HISTORY.COM much of what we eat today for Thanksgiving is vastly different from the First Thanksgiving.

As I was selecting a Thanksgiving Menu this year I was struck be the thought that much of the menu may not have even been at the first Thanksgiving which prompted me to do some research.

Today for many Americans, their traditional Thanksgiving meal includes many “seasonal” dishes such as roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie.

As an annual celebration of the harvest and its bounty, moreover, Thanksgiving falls under a category of festivals that truly spans cultures, continents and millennia. Thanksgiving itself dates back to November 1621. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. But, it wasn’t until 1863, during the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

Although the American concept of Thanksgiving developed in the colonies of New England, its roots can be traced back to the other side of the Atlantic. Both the Separatists who came over on the Mayflower and the Puritans who arrived soon after brought with them a tradition of providential holidays—days of fasting during difficult or pivotal moments and days of feasting and celebration to thank God in times of plenty. Historians have noted that Native Americans had a rich tradition of commemorating the fall harvest with feasting and merrymaking long before Europeans set foot on their shores. In ancient times, the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans feasted and paid tribute to their gods after the fall harvest. Thanksgiving also bears a resemblance to the ancient Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot.

The first autumn harvest for the newly arrived Pilgrims corresponded with the Wampanoag Indians autumn harvest celebration at Plymouth. This event is widely regarded as America’s First Thanksgiving. Much of the local fare would have been from the Indians harvest.

In November 1621, now remembered as America’s “first Thanksgiving”, although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time. The festival lasted for three days.

No exact records exist of the actual menu, but Edward Winslow journaled that after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful the colony’s governor, William Bradford sent 4 men hunting for wild turkey, which was plentiful in the region and common food fare for both the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians. It is also possible that the hunters also returned with ducks and geese. He was organizing a celebratory feast a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit.

Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. As for the dressing or stuffing, herbs, onions and nuts may have been added to the birds for flavor.
The first Thanksgiving’s attendees almost certainly got their fill of meat. Winslow wrote that the Wampanoag guests arrived with an offering of five deer. Culinary historians speculate that the deer was roasted on a spit over a smoldering fire and that the colonists might have used some of the venison to whip up a hearty stew.

Local vegetables that likely appeared on the table include onions, beans, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots and perhaps peas. Corn, which records show was plentiful at the first harvest, might also have been served, but not in the way most people enjoy it now. In those days, the corn would have been removed from the cob and turned into cornmeal, which was then boiled and pounded into a thick corn mush or porridge that was occasionally sweetened with molasses.

Fruits indigenous to the region included blueberries, plums, grapes, gooseberries, raspberries and, of course cranberries, which Native Americans ate and used as a natural dye. While the Pilgrims might have been familiar with cranberries by the first Thanksgiving, they wouldn’t have made sauces and relishes with the tart orbs. The Pilgrims would surely have depleted their sugar supplies by this time. Records show that adding sugar to cranberries and using the mixture as a relish didn’t actually happen until about 50 years later.

Because of their location and proximity to the coast, many culinary historians believe that much of the Thanksgiving menu consisted of many seafood entrees that are no longer on today’s menus. Mussels in particular were abundant in New England and could be easily harvested because they clung to rocks along the shoreline. The colonists occasionally served mussels with curds, a dairy product with a similar consistency to cottage cheese. Lobster, bass, clams and oysters might also have been part of the feast.

Whether they were mashed, roasted, white or sweet, potatoes were not at the first Thanksgiving as they had yet to arrive to the north American region. Present on the menu would have been turnips and possibly groundnuts.

As for pumpkin pie, pumpkins and squashes were indigenous to the New England area, but the settlers hadn’t yet constructed an oven and lacked both the butter and flour to have made a pie crust. Some accounts do imply that early settlers improvised by hollowing out pumpkins, filling the shells with milk, honey and spices to make a custard, then roasting the gourds whole in hot ashes. The lack of sugar and an oven would have also eliminate pies, cakes or other desserts from the menu.

Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.

Pilgrims didn’t hold their second Thanksgiving celebration until 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well.

During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated one or more days of thanksgiving a year, and in 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States; in it, he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies.

TRIVIA THOUGHTS
Turkey, because it contains tryptophan often gets blamed for the drowsiness and the need for a nap after the big Thanksgiving meal, but studies suggest it is really the carbohydrate-rich sides and desserts that allow tryptophan to enter the brain.

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusett Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

Beginning in the mid-20th century and perhaps even earlier, the president of the United States has “pardoned” one or two Thanksgiving turkeys each year, sparing the birds from slaughter and sending them to a farm for retirement. A number of U.S. governors also perform the annual turkey pardoning ritual.

New York, In 1817, became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday; each celebrated it on a different day, however, and the American South remained largely unfamiliar with the tradition.  In 1827, the noted magazine editor and prolific writer Sarah Josepha Hale—author, among countless other things, of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”—launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. For 36 years, she published numerous editorials and sent scores of letters to governors, senators, presidents and other politicians. Abraham Lincoln, finally heeded her request in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”

It was Abraham Lincoln who scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when FDR moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.

In many American households, the Thanksgiving celebration has lost much of its original religious significance; instead, it now centers on cooking and sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends.
Volunteering is a common Thanksgiving Day activity, and communities often hold food drives and host free dinners for the less fortunate.

Parades have also become an integral part of the holiday in cities and towns across the United States. Presented by Macy’s department store since 1924, New York City’s Thanksgiving Day parade is the largest and most famous, attracting some 2 to 3 million spectators along its 2.5-mile route and drawing an enormous television audience. It typically features marching bands, performers, elaborate floats conveying various celebrities and giant balloons shaped like cartoon characters.

For some scholars, the jury is still out on whether the feast at Plymouth really constituted the first Thanksgiving in the United States and many Native Americans take issue with how the Thanksgiving story is presented to the American public, and especially to schoolchildren. In their view, the traditional narrative paints a deceptively sunny portrait of relations between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people, masking the long and bloody history of conflict between Native Americans and European settlers that resulted in the deaths of millions. Since 1970, protesters have gathered on the day designated as Thanksgiving at the top of Cole’s Hill, which overlooks Plymouth Rock, to commemorate a “National Day of Mourning.” Similar events are held in other parts of the country. Historians have recorded other ceremonies of thanks among other European settlers in North America that actually predate the Pilgrims’ celebration.

Save

PUMPKIN MUFFINS

This is another recipe from the Doxie Greenspan meme I belonged to several years ago. This is another of my favorites that is perfect for this time of year.

PUMPKIN MUFFINS
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of ground allspice
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
about 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, for topping

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400°.
  • Butter, spray or line 12 cupcake molds in a regular-size pan.
  • Place the pan on a baking sheet.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.
  • Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until soft. Add both the sugars and continue to beat until light and smooth.
  • One by one, add the eggs, beating for a minute after they are incorporated, then beat in the vanilla.
  • Lower the mixer speed and mix in the pumpkin and buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients in a steady stream, mixing only until they disappear. To avoid over mixing, you can stop the machine early and stir in any remaining dry ingredients into the batter using a rubber spatula.
  • Stir in the raisins and nuts. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle a few sunflower seeds over the top of each muffin.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Kelly’s note: A lot of the TWD folks found that 25 minutes was too long, taking theirs out around 17 minutes.
  • Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the pan, then carefully remove each one from its mold to finish cooling on the rack.

NOTE: Dried cranberries are an excellent substitution for the golden raisins in this recipe.

Save

BISCUIT TOPPED CHICKEN POT PIES

BISCUIT TOPPED CHICKEN POT PIES 6 servings
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 LARGE Vidalia onion, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced
1 large stalk celery, diced
2 + 1/2 cups flour
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup whole milk
4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
2 cups spinach leaves
Fresh ground black pepper and salt, to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large stock pot, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat.
  • Add onions, carrots and celery, stirring until soft, about 6-7 minutes.
  • Add 1/2 cup flour, stirring to blend until flour is golden.
  • Add broth and bring to a boil, stirring until thick and creamy.
  • Reduce heat to low.
  • Stir in cream and milk until well blended.
  • Add in spinach and chicken pieces, cooking for 5 minutes more.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Divide mixture into 6-8 ramekins.
  • Arrange ramekins on baking sheet. (KEEP WARM)
  • I like to pour the contents out onto a plate for eating.

OPTIONAL: I sometimes add a can of Le Seur peas for color more than anything.

BISCUITS

1 1/2 cups finely grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons COLD unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
1 cup whole buttermilk

  • In a large bowl sift together 2 cups flour, 1 cup of the cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  • Using a pastry blender cut in the cutter until mixture is crumbly.
  • Add buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. (Dough will be sticky and that’s okay)
  • Drop by HEAPING spoonfuls onto silicone lined baking sheet.
  • Bake until edges are beginning brown.
  • Place one biscuit on top of each ramekin and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  • Sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper.
  • Add to oven for 5-6 minutes until cheese is melted and pot pies heated through.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDY ~ PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

Today would have been my dad’s 80th birthday I can’t believe he’s been gone 25 years. I still sometimes pick up the phone to call him and talk before I realize…

ANYWAY I digress. My cousin also passed away back in 1998 and her sister and I bake a cake for her every year on her birthday – most times we even make significantly different flavors, but I always make the same one on daddy’s birthday, Pineapple Upside Down Cake, his favorite.

This year I decided to try a new recipe from Damaris Phillips – I just LOVE her.  She is so much fun, and REAL, plus she likes to experiment so I know she’d be okay with the changes I made to her recipe.

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE
Total:1 hr 15 min          Active:25 min          Yield: 8 to 12 servings

TOPPING
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon molasses
20-ounce can sliced pineapple, drained and juice reserved
20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained and juice reserved
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup pineapple rum

  • Soak raisins and apricots in the rum.
  • In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the brown sugar.
  • Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts, about 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Drain apricots and raisins well.**
  • Arrange the pineapple slices in the skillet.
  • Fill in the spaces with the chopped apricots and golden raisins.
  • Follow by a thin layer of crushed pineapple. Set aside.

CAKE
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/3 QUALITY flaked coconut
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract
1/4 cup reserved pineapple juice (from the cans)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil
1 LARGE egg

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.

Combine the cake ingredients in this fashion:

  • In one bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, coconut and salt.
  • In a second bowl, combine the milk, vanilla extract and 1/4 cup of the reserved pineapple juice.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the granulated sugar and coconut oil on medium speed until thick and creamy, about 3 minutes.
  • Beat in the egg.
  • Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low until just combined.
  • Add the milk mixture and stir until just combined.
  • Add the rest of the flour and mix until combined, about 1 minute.
  • Pour the batter over the pineapple slices in the skillet and spread evenly.
  • Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted, 25 to 35 minutes.
  • Be sure and check after 20 minutes to make sure the top isn’t getting too brown. If it is, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  • Let cool for 15 minutes.
  • Cover with a large serving plate and invert the cake.
  • ENJOY!

NOTE: YOU CAN NOW USE THE LEFTOVER RUM FOR A COCKTAIL WHILE YOU WAIT!

 

BRANDING IRON MEATBALLS

I originally found this old recipe in some things of my grandmother. It is from an old cookbook she evidently bought at Knott’s Berry Farm. I’ve modernized it to our tastes, but I love that they are on skewers, making it a great party recipe. They are also great on the grill – I use fire wires when I grill them to make it easier to turn them regularly.

BRANDING IRON MEATBALLS
MEATBALLS
2 pounds ground sirloin
2 eggs,, beaten
1 LARGE shallot, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup Panko crumbs**
Fresh ground salt and pepper, to taste
Stainless steel Skewers
pineapple chunks, cherry tomatoes or green and red pepper chunks

  • Soak skewers in water for an hour before using if using wooden skewers.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine ground sirloin, eggs, shallot, garlic, Panko crumbs, salt and pepper until well blended.
  • Roll meat mixture into golf ball sized balls.
  • Arrange meatballs on on skewers alternating with veggie pieces, pineapple chunks or tomatoes.
  • Arrange skewers in a single layer on a jelly roll pan covered in foil.
  • Pour cooled sauce over skewers.
  • Marinade skewers for an hour or so, turning to coat every 15 minutes.
  • Broil for 5 minutes.
  • Turn skewers and broil 5 minutes more.

NOTE:** You may need to add more to achieve the desired consistency for the meatball to hold together well.

SAUCE
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons avocado oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2/3 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup apricot pineapple jam**
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablesspoon Frank’s hot sauce

  • Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Add shallot and saute’ until soft.
  • Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes until thickens.
  • Cool.

NOTE:** Recipe called for Knott’s Orange Honey, but I haven’t been able to find it so substituted the jam.

CORN FLAKE HOLLY WREATHS

Christmas is right around the corner so I thought I’d share one of my favorite holiday recipes. My great aunt who I only got to see a couple times a year used to make these every year special for me and I would wait out on the front steps for her arrive just to see them and know they were there. She always made them soooooooooo pretty and perfect!  They are delicious and they are a quick, easy, no bake treat and they’re so pretty to add to the cookie & candy tray selections.

CORN FLAKE HOLLY WREATHS
(these are better when they are made a few days ahead)

30 large marshmallows (or 3 cups mini marshmallows or 1 jar marshmallow cream)
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon green food color
3 1/2-4 cups cornflakes
Red Hots or sprinkles for decorating
  • Combine marshmallows, butter, vanilla and food color in top of double boiler.
  • Heat and stir frequently until well blended.
  • Gradually stir in cornflakes until well blended.
  • Drop onto wax paper and arrange into wreath shapes. I plop them onto the wax paper and then push out from the center to form the wreaths.
  • Decorate with red hots.
  • Let cool.
  • If your house is warm – chill in refrigerator until set.

Linking up to FULL Plate Thursday.

Save

Save

Save