Friday, November 28, 2008

Smoked Turkey - Great turkey repeated!

Well, we did our smoked turkey yesterday complete with cajun injection. Wow - it was great. Even my son ( who doesn't really like turkey) said it was the best turkey he has ever had! The secret ingredient is Tony's Creole Injection. I used TWO BOTTLES and injected the turkey until it was very "full" (oozing out full). Then, buttered the turkey and used lots of granulated garlic, lemon pepper, and Emeril's Essence to season. I stuffed the cavity with onlons and garlic cloves, and basted it every hour.

It was wonderful. I think we have a winner!! I was going to take a picture, but wouldn't you know - my camera batteries were both dead... story of my life :)

Thanksgiving Poem

Be Thankful
Author Unknown

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don't know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you're tired and weary,
because it means you've made a difference.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours is a quiet holiday. Grant is here for a "short" visit (leaves Saturday afternoon). Larry is working today...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hawaiian Christmas falling into place

Well, our plans are coming along... We have our 2 full days on Oahu figured out. We arrive on Sunday afternoon, so will have Monday and Tuesday as our full days to explore. On Monday, we will spend the day at Pearl Harbor. Everyone says this is a must do experience, and can take much of the day. Our second day, Tuesday, we are taking "The Surf Bus" to the north shore of the island where the big waves are, and the cute little surfer towns. We will have a few hours on a beach to kayak and play. So, we will experience the big city in Waikiki, and the quaint villages of the north shore.

On Wednesday, we fly to Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. We will have a rental car while on Hawaii. Since we are going to our condo, we need to stop at the market and pick up provisions for our 5 days. I've already ordered our prime rib for Christmas dinner! Christmas Eve we are eating out (and already have our reservations).

So, plans are falling into place, and in less than one month we will once again feel the warmth of the tropics!

Do Ahead Turkey Gravy

As Thanksgiving approaches it is time to shop for the big cooking day! I saw last week that Costco had turkey gravy, and had decided that I would just got the easy way this year. Well, not going to happen as Costco is now out! So plan B goes into effect.

Last year I ran across this wonderful recipe for make ahead turkey gravy. It is a bit of work, but very tasty and I LOVE having gravy done ahead of time! I have never been a gravy maker - never seems to turn out, so usually resort to having someone else do it, or a jar. This gravy is wonderful and now I know I can make gravy! I hope this can help you too...

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy
Makes 8 cups

This can be made ahead of time. You can even freeze it in an airtight container - it will keep for 3 months!

6 turkey wings
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
1 cup water
2 quarts chicken broth, divided
3/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange a single layer of the turkey wings in a large roasting pan. Scatter onioins over the top of the wings. Roast in preheated oven for 1.24 hours, or until wings are browned.
2. Place browned wings and onions in a 5 quart stockpot. Add water to roasting pan and stir, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour the water from the pan into the stockpot. Stir in 6 cups broth, carrot, and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and summer uncovered for 1.5 hours.
3. Remove wings from the pot and place on a cutting board. When the wings are cool, pull of the skin and meat. Discard the skin and save the meat for another use. Strain contents of stockpot through a large strainer into a 3 quart saucepan. Press on the vegetables to extract any remaining liquid. Discard the veggies and skim off the fat. Bring the contents of the pot to a gentle boil.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk flour into the remaining 2 cups chicken broth until smooth. Gradually whisk the flour mixture into the simmering turkey broth; simmer 3-4 minutes or until the gravy has thickened. Stir in the butter and pepper. Serve immediately, or pour into containers and refrigerate or freeze.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Prime Rib - new recipe

Well, I'm in the planning stages for cooking a Christmas dinner in Hawaii. It is always hard to cook a big meal in someone elses kitchen, much less a condo we have never been to before. So, we will see how this goes! I found a new recipe for a "foolproof" way to cook a prime rib. So, today is testing day - I'm testing out the new recipe to see how it works. It goes something like this...

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
Step 2: Season the roast with a mixture of seasoning salt, garlic salt; Emeril's Essence; and onion powder; (equal parts). Press the spices into the roast.
Step 3: Put roast on a rack in a roasting pan. Put it in the oven.
Step 4: Set timer for COOKING TIME... To figure your cooking time, it is time to multiply the weight of the roast by one of these numbers (dependent on the amount of done-ness you want). 5 (very rare); 6 (rare); 7.5 (medium rare); 8 (medium). For example, your roast is 5.0 lbs, and you want it rare. You would multiply 5.0 (weight) x 6 (rare) = 30 minutes cooking time.
Step 5: Once your "cooking time" is over, turn OFF the oven - DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR!!!!! Set your timer for TWO HOURS.
Step 6: When the two hours is up, and timer has gone off, turn on your oven at 375 degrees for 15 more minutes. STILL, DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR.
Step 7: When the timer goes off, this time it means your prime rib is done! You may open the oven door, take the roast out and wrap in foil to keep it warm.
Step 8: Do all your last minute preparations, call everyone to dinner - you are ready to eat!

My roast is almost done resting (12 more minutes), close to turn on the oven time (Step 6). Salad is ready; asparagus is ready to steam and horseradish is made! I'll let you know how it turns out. This has been incredibly easy, so I hope it is good. If so, it will be a great holiday dinner away from home kind of meal! I made enough to have leftovers - prime rib tostadas!

The results: The prime rib turned out great. I choose rare for cooking time, and next time I will choose medium rare (it was quite rare). Delicious, easy and a great way to cook a prime rib.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Broccoli Au Gratin

Well, our pretend/practice Thanksgiving turned out great. I mentioned Kalyn's Broccoli dish in my earlier post - and oh it was YUMMY! You have to give it a try. Here is the recipe (adapted slightly from Kalyn)...

5 cups broccoli florettes
4 oz. grated swiss cheese
About 6 Tbsp of mayo (you can use a mix of light + regular; all I had was regular)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp. dijon mustard
Ground black pepper to taste (I used quite a bit)
3 Tbsp chopped green onions (very finely chopped)
Parmesan-reggiano cheese (to top the casserole - I probably used 4-5 Tbsp)

Preheat your oven to 375. Trim your broccoli into florettes (bite size pieces). I did not use much stem at all, mostly all florettes. Boil large pot of water. When water is boiling, put in your broccoli and cook 1-2 minutes, until they turn BRIGHT GREEN. Drain in a colander well.

Spray a 9x13 pan with olive oil Pam. Put the broccoli into the bottom of your casserole, spreading into a single layer.

Stir together mayo, lemon juice, Dijon, pepper, green onion, swiss cheese. I used a spatula to smear this mixture of the broccoli. It won't cover it completely, just cover as much as you can spreading it out evenly. Last step is to sprinkle the top with parmesan - reggiano.

Bake 20-25 minutes, uncovered. You want the cheese to be melted slightly and nicely browned.

Very yummy! This will be our Thanksgiving veggie. For pictures and more suggestions about healthy Thanksgiving, visit Kalyn's website. BROCCOLI GRATIN WITH SWISS & PARMESAN

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Practice Thanksgiving!

Well, today turned out to be a practice Thanksgiving. I injected a turkey with a cajun spicy mixture (store bought), and then we smoked it in our little smoker. We are going to smoke our turkey this Thanksgiving and are trying to perfect the process. This time, I injected the bird with Tony's Cajun Flavor Injection. I had a 12 lb bird, and used 1 and 1/2 bottles! I then melted a stick of butter and made sure the turkey was covered well. I filled the cavity with onions and garlic. And finished it off with Emeril's seasoning (BAM!), granulated garlic and lemon pepper. I poured a bit of chicken stock in the bottom of the roasting pan to mix with the butter (for basting purposes). We basted the bird every hour.

I also made a wonderful veggie casserole: Broccoli AuGratin. This recipe came from Kalyn's Kitchen. You blanch broccoli; spread it out in a 9x13 casserole dish. Mix 6 Tbsp of mayo (Kalyn recommended to use part low fat; and part regular... I had no low fat, so used all regular mayo); ground pepper; sliced green onions (very thin) and grated swiss cheese (I used about 4 oz). Using a spatula, you smear the creamy mixture on top of the broccoli. On top of the broccoli mixture, you top with shredded parmesan cheese and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Kalyn gives lots of tips, so here is her link:
Broccoli Au Gratin ala Kalyn

The turkey is done, and in the process of being carved right now. VERY YUMMY! I think we found a winning combination. Even the white meat is juicy and tender, and the cajun flavor is just the right spice. Now if we can only recreate it on Thanksgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Hawaiian Christmas!

Well, we finally figured out our plans for Christmas... Hawaii! We will be lucky enough to see 2 islands, Oahu and Hawaii. We lucked out on some air fare (big sale), and have condos for the three of us at the Hilton Grand Vacation Club. Should be very fun!