Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday's Meal

During this time of parties and festivities I thought I'd share a tasty cocktail for you to whip up. It's definitely a party in a glass!

Strawberry Fusion

1 jigger of DiSaronno Amaretto
1 jigger of Skyy Infusion citrus vodka
1 jigger of X-rated passion fruit liqueur
2 oz. of fresh strawberry puree

Mix all together in a shaker with ice. Drain into a martini glass, garnish with a slice of strawberry and enjoy!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday's Meal

Well, Thursday is Thanksgiving and for many years I've been the official chef of my family's Thanksgiving day feast. I used to fry the turkey. Even though it's so delicious, it's a big hassle. It's also kind of expensive if you're just doing one turkey since you have to use so much oil. Anyways, for the last few years I've been brining the turkey. It's oh so tasty and if you've never tried it, I highly recommend it.
Here's a simple brine recipe to get you started. It should make enough brine for a 14lb bird. Enjoy!

Turkey Brine

1/2 gallon apple cider
2 cup dark brown sugar
11 bottles of dark beer
2 cup sea salt
1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary
1 teaspoon of cloves
1 tablespoon dried sage
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried savory
1/4 cup black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks
4 bay leaves

You will need a non-reactive container large enough to hold the turkey. In a stock pot over medium heat combine all the ingredients except for the beer, bring to a low boil. Mix well until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Let it cool. Transfer to your container and add the beer. Place your turkey into the container, make sure the cavity is filled with the brine. Cover with ice and soak the turkey for overnight. Ideally if you can get your container into the fridge that would be better, otherwise make sure that you keep it cold with ice at all times. On the day you're ready to cook it, remove the turkey, pat dry (discard the leftover brine) and cook as directed. A brined turkey will cook somewhat faster so be sure to use your meat thermometer to monitor for doneness.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I'm in training

A group of my friends want to train and run a half-marathon. I might have mentioned once or twice that not only am I not a fan of exercise, I detest running. They want me to sign up for the race too, but I haven't decided if I will. I have however decided that I will challenge myself by training for the race. I think it's a great way to change up my workout, plus it'll be fun to share my progress (or lack thereof) with my friends. I'll keep you posted. The race isn't until April. I downloaded a training schedule and it says it should only take me 10 weeks to train. Uh, yeah...I better start right now.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Work on it Wednesday

True to form I started off with a bang and then lost my steam. What am I referring to you ask? Well, I'm participating in a swap on Ravelry and I have yet to finish my swap item. I was super excited and began working diligently on my swap item in the summer, but I lost interest and it's sat incomplete. Well, the week of Thanksgiving is when we're suppose to have these in the mail. Panic time! Actually, not to be too hard on myself, I did finish the original item I had planned to swap. I was just not thrilled with it and I started a second item. It was going along swimmingly until I lost my mojo for it. But, a fire has been lite under my butt because yesterday I got my swap package from my partner and not only was it the loveliest hand knitted shawl, but she included so many other items that I'm ashamed to send her my poorly knitted attempt. However, I can sew and I have some sewn items that I'm sending her and I hope they will overshadow and make up for my knitting. I will be in high gear over the next few days to get this stuff in the mail by Wednesday. When will I ever learn?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday's Meal

In honor of my eldest son, S. who loves a sweet potato pie and always wants one baked at the holidays, I thought I'd share this recipe. I prefer sweet potato over a pumpkin pie. But I don't think it would be a problem to substitute pumpkin if that was what you preferred.

Sweet Potato Pie

1 (1 pound) sweet potato
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup light whipping cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 45 minutes, or until done. Cool them and remove the skin. Mash apart sweet potato in a large bowl. Add butter, and mix well with mixer. Stir in sugar, milk, whipping cream, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth. Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 minutes, or until utensil inserted in center comes out clean.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Work on it Wednesday

I'm helping to collect books for a book drive for Project Enlightenment. I will spend the day sorting and boxing up the books I've collected. As a lifelong book lover I'm so happy to share that love with the next generation. I've been so amazed at the generosity of others!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday's Meal

Nothing like a bowl of soup to warm you up. This is a delicious version of an Italian wedding soup. You can do a quickie version and use store bought meatballs if you prefer and it will still be great!

1 pound ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup dried Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons minced onion
2 1/2 quarts chicken broth
2 cups spinach - packed, rinsed and thinly sliced
1 cup seashell pasta
3/4 cup minced carrots
1 tbsp olive oil

In a medium bowl, combine the beef, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, basil, garlic powder and onion. Shape mixture into 3/4-inch balls and set aside. In skillet over medium heat brown the meatballs. Drain on paper towel and set aside.
In a large dutch oven heat chicken broth to boiling; stir in the spinach, pasta, carrot and meatballs. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring frequently, at a simmer for 15 minutes or until pasta is al dente, and meatballs are no longer pink inside. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Oh Jillian!

Those of you who know me IRL know that I am not a fan of exercise. But, alas I have realized that I'm not naturally blessed with a slim physique or fast metabolism so I work it as hard as I can. I try to keep my workout routine fresh by changing it up every few months. I recently started running (well, actually it more of an old people jog). However since the spring I hadn't been doing much strength training so I decided I needed to pick that back up. I knew of Jillian Michaels from "The Biggest Loser" and I've heard great things about her 30 Day Shred so I decided to give it a try. Let me just say I don't know if I'll actually lose 20 pounds in 30 days, but it truly kicked my ass! I consider myself reasonably fit, but I was panting for dear life half way through the program. I'll definitely try it again. I haven't purchased it yet though, I got it off ExerciseTVondemad. I'm going to see if I want to stick with it for awhile before I throw down my $10. But, for anyone looking for a quick intense workout, her dvd is definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hey everybody, you want to make a quilt?

I'm very interested in doing a group quilt along beginning in the new year. Since I first saw it I've wanted to make the Denyse Schmidt Single Girl quilt. I would love it if a bunch of you out there would quilt along with me. I already have a couple friends who plan on working on the quilt with me. I'm super excited. The pattern goes from a baby quilt to a king size so there are tons of options. I'm having fun searching for fun fabrics to use. I'm going back and forth between some Heather Ross fabric I have and some fabric I had planned to use in another quilt. Maybe I'll check out a couple local quilt shops or perhaps I should shop my stash (now there's a novel idea!). Drop me a line if you're interested in joining in. I hope you'll join me, let's get quilting!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Work on it Wednesday

Sheesh! I'm working on trying to catch up. I was buried under the Halloween costumes (I still need to get it together and post a picture! what a slacker!. Now, I'm hard at work on Christmas gifts. We're going to see family for Thanksgiving so the pressure is on to knock out some of these gifts so I can take them with me. That won't leave much time for much else since I'm a notoriously slow crafter. I've got a long list of holiday sewing planned just to find the time for it. Sometimes I wish I could clone myself, lol.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday's Meal

Last week was so crazy around here that I didn't blog at all. But never fear, I have 2 recipes for you this week to make up for that. I hope you enjoy them. The first is my adaptation of Nigella Lawson's Fried Chicken recipe. She suggest boiling the chicken in the milk. I don't do that step. I use a an old fashioned cast iron skillet and cook the chicken slowly uncovered over medium heat. I do however love her two dip method for coating the chicken, it yields a deliciously crisp crust. The second recipe is from a coworker. It's deliciously decadent and I've dreamed about it ever since she bought it to a potluck we had a work. Yummo!

Fried Chicken, Me and Nigella
1 whole fryer chicken, cut up
3 to 4 cups buttermilk
2 1/4 cups solid vegetable shortening, for frying
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp onion powder
2 egg, beaten

In a large bowl, place chicken and cover with buttermilk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours (or overnight if you can). In a large skillet over a medium heat melt the shortening, heating to about 325 degrees. In a large zip-lock bag, add all the seasonings, breadcrumbs and flour, shake to combine. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Place each piece of chicken, 1 at a time, in the bag and shake to coat the chicken. Place each piece of chicken on parchment paper to rest for about 5 mins. for the coating to settle on the chicken. Then dip chicken into the eggs to coat. Place the chicken back into the flour to coat for a second time. Repeat this method on remaining chicken pieces. Place each piece of chicken into hot oil, allow the pieces to have enough room as to not overlap. Cook slowly uncovered until the skin crisp and golden brown in color and no pink juices remain when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oil and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Serve hot with all the fixings.


1 German chocolate cake mix with pudding in the mix
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 can of condensed milk
1 package of light caramels
1 bag of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix the cake according the the directions on the box. Divide the batter in half. Add 1 stick of butter and 1/2 cup of condensed milk to the first half of the batter. Pour into a well greased 9 X 13" pan. Bake for 30 mins. In a medium saucepan melt the caramels, 1 stick of butter and the rest of the condensed milk. Pour over the cake. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Pour the remaining cake batter over the chocolate chips and bake for an additional 30 mins.