Friday, November 20, 2009

Cooking a turkey

I'm surprised how many people are afraid of cooking a turkey. I've done it for about 10 years now, and it's surprisingly easy and a very economical way to add protein to a menu. I will often cook two turkeys in November while the meat is sold at a discount price and freeze one in small vacuumed sealed packages to use through the winter.

This is going to sound like a made-up story, but I swear it's true. My sister had a friend, who had a brother that worked in a restaurant. His job was to make the turkeys during the holidays. He put together instructions, and gave them to my sister, who in turn gave them to me.

Now, there are probably as many ways to cook a turkey as there are turkeys on the planet, but this method has never failed me. In fact, I now use it for roasting chickens as well.

Kristie's Tasty Turkey
For an 18 lbs. Turkey

  • You will want to use a roasting pan with a rack to raise the turkey and the roasting pan should not be too big. The Turkey should only be 1-2 inches from the sides of the pan. Thaw turkey completely – 3 to 4 days in the fridge
  • Soak turkey(in the packaging) in cold water with 2 cups of salt in the kitchen sink for at least 4 hours or up to overnight -- this is called brining
  • Once completely thawed & brined, rinse turkey, remove everything from inside and pat dry
  • Separate skin from breast and rub a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic pepper and poultry seasoning inside between the skin and the breast meat
  • Rub and dump 3-4 handfuls of salt in the internal cavity
  • Tie back the wings under the breasts
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Cook turkey upside down, uncovered @ 400 degrees for 1/3 of projected cook time (18 lbs. = 50 minutes, or so)
  • Turn Turkey breast side up, drizzle skin with butter and shake salt and pepper on the outside
  • Add 1-2 cups of water to bottom of pan to add to the juices and make basting easier
    Drop temperature to 325 degrees and cover with a tight foil tent
  • Baste every 30 minutes
  • Begin checking the temperature for doneness after a total of 2 hrs of cooking. Reduce temperature if cooking too rapidly.
  • When temperature reaches 165 – 185 degrees with a digital instant read thermometer in both the legs and breasts, remove from oven and baste again, immediately wrap completely in a tight foil blanket and then wrap that in a towel.
  • Allow to rest for up to an hour before carving.

Spaghetti Bake

This recipe is a slight modification of one that my mother-in-law makes. The first time she made it for me was just after I had my son and was completely incapacitated from the surgery. My wonderful mother-in-law came to stay with us for a week and took great care to love and feed us while she was there. This recipe will always remind me of her kindness.

Aside from it's wonderful memories, it's tasty too.

Spaghetti Bake

16 oz package spaghetti
1 pound hamburger
1 green pepper
1 medium onion
1 package pepperoni, chopped into small pieces
1 tablespoon butter
1 jar spaghetti sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese

Boil noodles, but drain them about two minutes before you would normally remove them. They will continue cooking in the oven.

In a fairly large pan, brown and drain the hamburger.

In the same pan that you cooked the hamburger, saute pepper and onion in butter until tender. Add the chopped pepperoni. Saute for two minute more.

Add the hamburger back to the vegetables and pepperoni. Add the spaghetti sauce and heat until warm.

Place the cooked noodles and the vegetable/sauce combination into a 9x13 baking dish. Mix thoroughly.

Top with cheese and cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is brown.

Oh Cherry Oh! idea

I've been working with some fun fabrics lately, sadly I haven't figured out how to import fabric to Electric Quilt yet. I'll just suffer through with their sample swatches to make my designs.

The quilt design I'm working on right now uses Oh Cherry Oh! fabrics by Moda's Me and My sister line. I purchased the pre-cut turnovers and have been trying to figure out how best to use them on quilts for an un-named upcoming holiday. I really like how they look on point, and I think that may be my final choice. I don't have any yardage of the fabrics, so I think the end of each row and the borders will be bleached white Kona muslin.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

This soup is always a hit! I take it often to people that are sick or need a meal brought in. When taking it to someone, I always pair it up with my hearty white bread.

It freezes VERY well, just remember to heat it slowly because it is cream based. If you reheat it in the microwave, just set it at a medium power setting.

Good luck!

Wild Rice Soup

1 large Onion
2 cups Carrots, diced
3 cups Celery, diced
½ cup Butter
2/3 cups Flour
6 cups Water
2 tablespoons McCormick chicken base (or 4 Bullion Cubes)
2 pkgs Rice-A-Roni Long Grain and Wild Rice
5 Chicken breasts (cooked and cubed)
2 cups Half and Half
½ teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon Pepper

1. Chop vegetables and place in large soup pot. Melt butter and sauté vegetables until tender.

2. Add flour and stir until vegetables are coated. Let the flour cook for about 2-3 minutes until it has a golden blond color.

3. Slowly add water and stir vigorously until flour dissolves. Prepare Rice-A-Roni as directed on box, then add to the soup.

4. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer on low until well blended, usually about 1 hour.

Servings: 20
Yield: 20 cups

Monday, November 16, 2009

Meal Plan for November 16-22

I'm back to meal planning again after a few months off. It was just too much hassle if I don't plan ahead. Without a plan, I find myself trying to find ways to convince the family that we should eat out instead of cooking. Not really money-saving at all.

A friend recently explained to me that in their family, each person gets to choose one meal during the week, and the mom chooses for the days left over. I thought it was a great idea. We tried it for a bit last week and had very happy results. The picky eater in the family was thrilled that people had to eat what she liked, and she didn't whine as much on the other days. So, my family members have shared the duty again this week, and we put together the following menu:

Monday -- French Dip Sandwiches
Tuesday -- French Peasant Bread with Cream cheese chicken and rice
Wednesday -- Wild rice soup and homemade bread
Thursday -- French toast and bacon
Friday -- Chicken Tacos with Black Bean Salsa
Saturday -- Spaghetti Bake
Sunday -- Crock pot BBQ pork chops with simple roasted potatoes and Alabama white BBQ sauce

I'm getting into the habit of thinking ahead. Next week, on my day we're going to have Tostadas with shredded beef that's already made and waiting in the freezer.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I love Shutterfly!

I love Shutterfly because they give me screaming deals on things I already wanted to buy. You can see some of the things I've put together over here on my share site.

The company gave me the chance to host a party last weekend, and each guest received a free 8x8 photo book and 12 free Christmas cards. Oh, and a really cool pen. Loving the pen! Hoarding the pen.

I worked on my photo book this week, and put together my purchase this morning. All in all I purchased:
  • an 8x8 photo book that was 54 pages
  • 50 -- 4x6 prints
  • 12 -- nice 5x7 foldable Christmas cards
  • 6 -- 5x7 prints for decorating around the house

For all of that I paid a whopping $23. That's it! I saved $91.10 on my order.

Shutterfly lets you save coupon codes and it will apply all the available ones to your order, so I got free shipping, 10% off, a free book, free cards, free prints, etc. I am one loyal customer! And, by using, I was able to earn money back on my purchase as well! What a bargain.

Oh, and if you haven't ordered from Shutterfly before, their printing is the best around, and I'm a picky customer.

By the way, they didn't actually give me money to share my positive opinion -- I love them anyway!