Tuesday, November 15, 2011

To brine or not to brine?

Here's my We Are Austin LIVE segment on KEYE-TV, touting the benefits of a brined Turkey. It's moist and flavorful!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Candy Cap Mushrooms, Marx Foods and an inspiration!

I was invited by Marx Foods to participate in their Candy Cap recipe contest.   "What's a Candy Cap" you ask... it's a little gem of a mushroom that smells just like maple syrup.   Seriously, as soon as I unpacked the little sealed baggie, my entire kitchen smelled like breakfast!   My task was to come up with an original recipe using those tasty morsels.   Throughout the day, all I could think of was breakfast... but I wanted to make dinner.   Fried Chicken and Waffles came to mind, but I wanted something original.   I ended up marinating some chicken in maple syrup and created a Candy Cap Risotto that was OH SO GOOD!   Now I'm sharing my recipe with you!   If you haven't tried Candy Cap mushrooms, put it as a must on your list!

Maple marinated Chicken with Candy Cap Risotto

  • 4 chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 C maple syrup
  • 3 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 2 C hot water
  • Candy Cap mushrooms, reconstituted and rough chopped
  • 2 C vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 C arborio rice
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 t brown sugar
  • salt and pepper
Directions:   Trim all fat from chicken breasts, rinse and pat dry then marinate them in a zip lock bag with maple syrup for an hour.

 Heat 2 C water until at a boil and add the Candy Cap mushrooms to reconstitute.   Let sit for 5 minutes, remove from water, rough chop and set aside. 

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add mushroom water and 2 C chicken or vegetable stock.   Meanwhile, cook bacon until done and drain on a paper towel.   Use bacon drippings to saute minced shallot then add the arborio rice and saute a few more minutes. 

Add a ladle of hot stock mixture to the rice, stirring well, until the liquid is absorbed.   It's important to keep stirring the rice as the stock is absorbed then add another ladle when the rice is almost dry.   Keep this up, a ladle at a time, for about 20-30 minutes or until the rice is tender but firm.   When the stock is almost gone, add the chopped Candy Cap mushrooms, butter, brown sugar and salt and pepper to taste.

As the rice is cooking and using an outdoor grill, cook your chicken until done.   Crumble cooked bacon.

To assemble your delicious dinner, start with a nice helping of Candy Cap Risotto, then a whole and sliced maple syrup marinated chicken breast and top with a bit of bacon.   You'll think breakfast for dinner!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pumpkin Roll

After my mother had her back surgery, I wanted to make something yummy for her.   Since we are finally in autumn I grabbed my new favorite, the trusty pumpkin, and made a lovely pumpkin roll with a cream cheese frosting garnish with salty roasted pumpkin seeds and dusted with freshly grated nutmeg.

Pumpkin Roll

  • 1 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 C vegetable oil
  • 1/2 C apple sauce
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 C canned pumpkin
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 C flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1t ground cloves
  • 1 t freshly grated nutmeg
Directions:   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Grease and flour a jelly roll pan and set aside.   Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and spices and set aside.  In a large bowl combine the sugar and oil.   Blend in the applesauce, vanilla and canned pumpkin.   Beat the eggs in one at a time.   The 1 cup at a time, add the flour mixture.   Spread the batter into jelly roll pan and bake for 20-24 minutes.   Remove from oven and let cool a bit.   Generously dust a large kitchen towel with confectioners sugar and turn out the cake.   Sprinkle top with confectioners sugar and gently roll cake up to cool.

 While the cake is cooling, toast some pumpkin seeds for garnish...
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 2 8 oz pkgs cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 C butter, softened
  • 2 C confectioners sugar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t freshly grated nutmeg
Directions:   In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter, then mix in the vanilla and gradually the confectioners sugar.   Add the nutmeg and if it's too thick, thin with a bit of heavy cream to your desire consistency.

To assemble the pumpkin roll, gently unroll cake and fill center with frosting.   Roll back up and transfer to serving platter.   Frost the outside of the roll, garnish with crunchy and salty roasted pumpkin seeds and dust with freshly grated nutmeg.   SERVE!

Brined Thanksgiving Turkey

I like to brine my Turkey because it's my belief that brining makes it moist.  The salt causes the meat tissues to absorb water and flavorings and breaks down the proteins, resulting in a tender turkey. This means that despite the moisture loss during roasting and the long cooking time, you still end up with a juicy bird.

It's important to find a container that's large enough to submerge the turkey, yet small enough to fit in your refrigerator. Try a stock pot or a bucket.  You can also purchase brining bags, like I did, and use the roasting pan, but you'll need to turn the bird periodically so that each side rests in the brine.

The basic ratio for turkey brine is two cups of kosher salt to two gallons of water. Some recipes include sweeteners or acidic ingredients to balance the saltiness.
  • Dissolve salt (and sugar, if using) in two cups of hot water. Stir in remaining gallon plus 3 ½ quarts of cold water.
  • Remove giblets and neck from turkey.
  • Immerse turkey in brine and refrigerate for at least eight hours but no longer than 24 hours.
I have a tried and tested recipe that is full of flavor and I use every year to rave reviews!

Stacey’s Savory Brine

  • 1 C course Sea Salt
  • 1/4 C Sugar
  • 1/2 C Dried Cranberries
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 C Chopped Apple
  • Zest of 1 Orange 
  • 2 T Sage, rough chopped
  • 1 T Juniper Berries
  • 1 T whole Black Peppercorns
  • 1 T Thyme, rough chopped
  • 1 T Rosemary, rough chopped

This makes about 2 cups.  Add this to 1 gallon boiling water and stir until solids are dissolved.  Cool to room temperature then refrigerate to chill.   Using a large bucket or brining bag, place thawed Turkey breast side down in brine with an additional gallon of water to fully submerge.   Chill for 12 -24 hours.  Remove bird from brine, rinse and pat dry.  Now it’s ready to roast.   Tuck the wing tips behind the back and place the bird, breast side up on the roasting rack.   I like to rub my bird with a bit of olive oil then pepper the skin, add fresh herbs to the cavity and tie the legs together.   Follow the roasting instructions for your size Turkey.   Remember that the turkey has already absorbed a significant amount of salt and any drippings that you use for gravy will already be salty, so taste before you add any additional salt.

Weight Watchers demo and recipe

I was invited to demo some great food for the Weight Watchers Round Rock grand opening!   Met so many wonderful people that afternoon and wanted to share the recipe that was gobbled up.   I apologize that I didn't get it up on the blog as soon as I should have, but LIFE stepped in and we've had a house full of children.

Weight Watchers Friendly
Chicken and Spaghetti Squash Saute

  • cooking spray
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 C fat free chicken stock
  • 1 C artichokes, quartered
  • 1 small spaghetti squash, cooked and shredded
  • 1 C green beans, cut into 1 inch segments
  • pepper
Directions:   Trim any fat from chicken breasts, rinse and pat dry.   In a large saute pan, coat with a quick blast of cooking spray and saute garlic and onion until soft.   Push to the side and saute the chicken breasts until cooked thoroughly.  For faster cooking, slice the chicken into strips before sauteing.   If things seem to be sticking, add 2 T of the fat free chicken broth to the pan.  Remove the chicken only and hold. Once cooled, slice into strips.   Deglaze the pan with the fat free chicken stock, then add the artichoke quarters to the onion/stock mixture.

I like to cook my spaghetti squash in the microwave, cut in half with seeds in, covered with a damp paper towel.   A small squash will take about 12 minutes.   Remove the seeds and shred with a fork.   Add the cooked and shredded spaghetti squash to the pan as well as the sliced chicken and stir.   Finally add the green beans and saute until cooked.   I plated mine then added fresh ground pepper.

I can't divulge the Points Plus for this entree, but I can tell you that everything but the chicken is free!