Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cranberry Sauce

I really cannot imagine buying this stuff after realizing how easy it is to make.

Cranberry Sauce
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 pound fresh cranberries
Place all ingredients in a pot with high sides, it tends to boil over every time I make it.  Simmer for 30 minutes or so or until all cranberries are popped and it looks like cranberry sauce.  

This is the amount I got from one recipe.

Cornbread Dressing

I have had the priveledge of giving advice to a few young wives and I would have to say my favorite little tidbit is this...... learn to cook your husband's favorite dish that his mom makes.  Okay, I know you are thinking that is a bit too simple, but really how much love must you have for a person to want to be able to transport him to his childhood when he is 60 and his mom is long gone.  For my husband it was cornbread dressing.  Keep in mind my precious mother in law did not read nor write, but she was one of the wisest women I have ever known.  I watched her make this many times and am now so thankful for this dish.

This is before baking.  I was so excited about eating it I forgot the after picture.

Granny's Cornbread Dressing
1 whole chicken, washed and anything left inside removed
3 small onions, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
4 green onions, green and white part
2 tablespoons diced jalepeno pepper
1 pan cornbread, any recipe works
Ground Sage

Since Granny didn't use a recipe, neither do I  but I tried to keep up with everything this time so I could give the recipe.  The first thing I do is make cornbread, I make it the day before putting it together.  Place the chicken in a stock pot and completely cover with water.  Add salt and pepper, probably around a tablespoon of each.  Simmer until chicken is falling apart when you touch it.  Crumble the cornbread, you can throw it in a food processor to get it really crumbled well.  Remove chicken from the pot leaving the broth.  Add onions, celery, bell pepper, green onions, and jalepeno.  Simmer until veggies are tender.  Using a slotted spoon add veggies to cornbread.  Remove chicken from bone and add to cornbread mixture.  Now you will begin ladeling chicken broth into cornbread mixture.  This is all about texture, the amount you add will depend on the consistency you like.  Add salt, pepper, and sage to taste.  I use a LOT of sage, it even changes the color of the dressing.  Just taste, taste, taste.  Everything in it is cooked so don't worry about eating raw ingredients.  Allow the dressing to sit at least an hour or so to soak up the broth allowing you to know whether you should add more or not.  I mix mine the day before I bake it because it seems to really let the flavors meld.  Bake on 350 degrees for an hour, or until golden brown on top.   I serve mine with gravy and cranberry sauce.

Bread Pudding

Many years ago when I was a wee 21 years old I opened a little cafe in Denham Springs.  This brilliant business endeavor lasted about 4 months because I fell in love with the plumber and had a very hard time going to work.  If it was raining I would just put up a sign that said "Closed Due to Weather".  Plumbers don't usually work in the rain. ;]  Anyway, my most requested item was bread pudding and continues to be so today.  I have catered off and on since and ran a "homemade meal to go business".  This is what I call my "money" recipe.  It is wonderful, easy, and super versatile.  It is NOT healthy, except for the fact that it feeds your soul when shared with someone you love.

Nicole's Bread Pudding
1 can evaporated milk
2 cups whole milk
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter, melted
8 cups torn or cubed day old french bread
1/2 cup coconut, optional
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
Mix first 5 ingredients.  Add bread, let sit 30 minutes or more.  Add butter, coconut, and pecans.  Place in 8x11 pan or something similar.  Bake on 325 degrees 1 hour 15 minutes or until golden brown and set in middle.

  Before baking.  Hint, you can adjust the consistency by adding more or less bread.

Rum Sauce
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 can evaporated milk
Rum, to taste, start with about 2 tablespoons
In a small sauce pan melt butter.  Add sugar and flour and whisk for a minute.  Add evaporated milk and simmer until it is hot.  Add rum.

Instead of coconut and pecans you can add ANYTHING.  One thing I love is orange zest and dried cranberries, then for the sauce use Grand Marnier instead of rum.  Another idea is bananas and pineapple, with Malibu Rum sauce.  You can also make a brown sugar, pecan, and cinnamon mixture and just put on top for a cinnamon crunch thing.  Oh the fun you can have with this recipe!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake

This is pretty simply described..... HEAVEN!!!!  Every Thanksgiving I try to come up with a cheesecake I haven't made yet.  Last year it was just cheesecake completely coated in raspberry sauce and white chocolate curls.  This year definitely topped it.  The only thing I would change is adding more strawberry puree to the cheesecake itself.  Best part about this is that I made a couple of mistakes that turned out wonderful thus giving me complete creative license to call this my own.

Crust, this is simply a homemade brownie also my first mistake....I forgot to buy brownie mix.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Melt the butter in the microwave.  Mix in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder and add to wet ingredients.  Pour into a greased spring form pan and bake on 35 degrees for 10 minutes.

Cheesecake mixture, mistake #2.  I used the recipe from my Junior's Cheesecakes cookbook but added an extra egg because I use my own eggs, layed by my chickens and they are medium instead of the extra large called for.  Also I forgot to add the whipping cream.  So....... here is "my" recipe.  I must say it was soooo yummy!
Four packages 8 oz. cream cheese
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 eggs
I put everything in a food processor and just let it run until smooth.  Pour on top of brownie mix which is undercooked, don't make the mistake of overcooking it.

Strawberry puree, I only used a cup but I think more would be better.
2 cups frozen strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
Defrost strawberries in microwave and place in blender with sugar.  Blend until pureed.  I then poured it into a ziploc bag, snipped a corner and swirled it around the cheesecake.  Use a knife and cut it through the cheesecake mixing the strawberry through out.  Bake on 350 degrees aproximately 1 hour 15 minutes or until the top is set and light brown.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Place in refrigerator for as long as possible, at least 4 or 5 hours.

Chocolate Ganache
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Heat whipping cream.  Place chocolate chips in a mixing bowl.  Add hot cream to chocolate chips and whisk until smooth.  Ladel over cheesecake allowing chocolate to run down the sides, spreading with knife when necessary.  Place a few tablespoons in a ziploc bag.  Arrange strawberries on top of the cheesecake then drizzle remaining chocolate on top.  Chill until chocolate is set.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Favorite Holiday

Today is Thanksgiving which happens to be my all time favorite holiday.  Last night my husband, children, daughters in law, and grandson enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinner which was blissful.  Although I adore all of my family and friends it was that cozy little group that I am most thankful for.  Over the next few days I will be blogging my Thanksgiving recipes but I wanted to voice what is on my mind first.

So yesterday I spent the entire day cooking as Mike took my two boys to Mississippi to do a little work at his hunting camp.  They were home for only a few minutes before they were out the door again to pick up Jason and Catherine from the airport.  So most of my day was spent in the solitude of my farmhouse kitchen with the most wonderful ingredients and silence giving way to thoughts of why?  My why of the day is....Why is Thanksgiving my favorite?  Well for starters the meal is hard to beat, then of coarse the whole concept of eating without concern for calories just pure enjoyment.  However most of all it is to me the only holiday that is still pure.  Although it is not necessarily a "Christian" holiday I really believe Christ would agree with me.  No commercialism, no gifts to unappreciative recipients, just true focus on what matters, which to me is family.  Maybe it is because it is not a religious holiday that the opposite powers don't feel the need to pervert it, who knows.

This year was our first green Green Thanksgiving.  I actually used all organic ingredients, well except for the dessert, which I could have done but forgot the ingredients when at Whole Foods and didn't have time to make a second trip to Baton Rouge.

Today I will be going to my mom and dad's to have Thanksgiving dinner once again with all my sisters, brother, in laws, and nieces and nephews.  After that I will go to Mike's families dinner.  The whole "not worrying about calories" thing will become a problem today because I just won't even think about it until I step on a scale in the next couple of days and discover 5 pounds that I could NOT afford to gain.  Oh well Monday is coming and I will deal with it then.  For today I am simply thankful.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Goat Cheese Heaven

There is a page I follow on Facebook called Slow Food Baton Rouge.  Of coarse I LOVE that whole concept even though I cheat on it often.  They posted an advertisement about a film titled Artois the Goat coming to the Manship Theater. This is a story of a man who follows his passion of making goat cheese, of coarse in an extremely silly and anti my husband sort of way.  Luckily I was alone.  I did have to look past the complete absurdity of the film but I didn't have to look far to be completely engaged in the process and passion that went into the crazy character making an award winning cheese.  The coolest part was that the director was there and did a little q and a after.  He obviously was never on the acting side of the camera because he could not look anyone in the eye, which I think he should correct but hey that's my opinion.

After it was over there was a goat cheese reception with some local goat cheese.  Before this occasion I was a little on the fence about goat cheese, it just had a little too much twang for me.  However the cheese that was placed before me was absolutely divine, possibly the best I have ever had.  I wanted to go to the farmer's market this weekend to grab some but ran out of time.....that whole thing about cheating on the slow food movement, always in a hurry, arrghhh!  I'll get there soon though.