Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Maple Sweet Potatoes - Thanksgiving 2012

I'm getting a late start working on my Thanksgiving menu this year.  The menu doesn't change much from year to year, but I do try to find variations of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes just to change it up a little bit.

2 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes (about 6) peeled and cut into 1" wedges
2 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp maple syrup (use the real stuff if you can afford to -- there's nothing like it)
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Sea salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into wedges.  Toss the wedges with the olive oil salt and pepper.  Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and place the potato wedges into a 3-quart baking dish.  Toss the potatoes with the syrup.

Place the baking dish back in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes.  Stir every 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the lemon zest, sea salt, and nutmeg.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fried Chicken- Don't look here for a good recipe

Fried Chicken is one food I've never been able to perfect.  In all honesty, I don't even come close to making good fried chicken.  Everyone loves fried chicken and I keep looking for a way to make well-seasoned, fully cooked, crispy fried chicken, but I have come to the conclusion I am not intended to make fried chicken.

On an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on Food Network last week I heard a chef say that he poached his chicken in a cooking liquid for three hours before dipping it in buttermilk, then seasoned flour, and deep frying it. I thought, "That's it!"  So . . . Sunday, I poured four cups of chicken stock into a 12-quart stock pot and added carrots, onion, and celery tops.  I let it come to a rolling boil and then added my whole cut up frying chicken to the stock.  I covered that pot and left it at a very slow simmer for three hours.  I removed the chicken from the stock and refrigerated it until cool.

I dipped it in butter milk and then a mixture of 1 1/2 cups of flour and 1 Tbsp of Beer Can Chicken seasoning.  I deep fried it to a light golden brown and served it.

It tasted great!  BUT . . . It fell apart.  The chicken was entirely too tender and just fell off the bones.  In some of the pieces, the bones became downright dangerous!

And, as usual, out of every bad experience comes a good one.  I drained my cooking stock to remove the solids and used it a couple of night later to cook Orzo.  I had four cups of the tastiest stock.  I brought it to a boil and added one package (12 oz) Orzo.  Let it cook to absorb all liquid over medium-low heat.  Slice six green onions into 1/4" slices and add to cooked Orzo after it is removed from the heat.  Stir to mix through.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Make Your Own Air Freshener

We all have an empty spray bottle.  Well here is the perfect way to recycle that bottle.

Pour 1 oz of fabric softener and 2 Tbsp baking soda into your spray bottle.  Fill bottle with hot water and shake well.

Spray on fabric surfaces in your house to eliminate odors.

There are so many different scents available - pick your favorite.  I like Downy Clean Breeze.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Make your own Ricotta

This is an easy recipe to make your own Ricotta.  I  You'll be surprised at how easy this is and how great it tastes.  Do this the next time you plan to prepare a recipe that includes Ricotta.

4 cups whole milk
1 cup cream
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 - 3 Tbsp lemon juice

Combine the whole milk, cream, kosher salt, and 2 Tbsp lemon juice in a saucepan and bring just to a boil without stirring.  Immediately remove pan from heat.

Let mixture stand for 15 minutes at room temp.  Curds will begin to separate from the whey.  If only a few curds form, your lemons may not be acidic enough; add another 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and gently stir so you don't break up the curds too much, and let stand for 5 minutes more.

Using a large spoon (not slotted) or measuring cup, spoon curds into a cheesecloth-lined sieve set over a large bowl.  The longer you drain the ricotta, the denser and more flavorful the cheese will be.  Add to your favorite recipe using Ricotta Cheese.

Who knew it could be so simple to make your own?