Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Have a safe and healthy holiday.
  I hope your week is surrounded with friends, family and food!
  We are taking December off here at Dinner In A Pinch. Thank you all for your support. I love doing the classes for you, and love meeting all of you. Watch for some great New Year specials. I have lots of fun classes planned , but I would love to hear from you on ideas for classes. Drop me a comment and let me know what it is you want to cover in the new year.
Watch for the January class schedule coming at the middle of December
 Again Thank You and Happy Holidays from DIAP

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Last Cranberry Sauce Recipe You Will Ever Search

I promise this will be the last pre Thanksgiving entry. We first had this Cranberry sauce at The Smith House in Dahlonega GA. For me it was life changing! I was only used to the jiggle jello kind you open a can of and slide it out onto a plate,(I still have my mothers cut glass dish that somehow fits perfectly 1 can of the jiggly stuff) and I still put that out as an offering to the Thanksgiving gods.But this sauce, or maybe I should call it a relish, because it's not cooked, will change the way you think about cranberries forever! I make it throughout the year and serve it with roast pork or chicken. It's also not bad on vanilla ice cream or blender into a smoothie. Very good for you and very high in dark fruit antioxidants.

Cranberry Relish

1 15 oz bag fresh cranberries
2 cups frozen no sugar added raspberries
1 large granny smith apple
1 large navel orange
1 cup sugar                                                            

                                                  zest the orange and squeeze the juice from it,

                                         cut the apple into 1 inch chunks, I leave the peel on.
                               In batches, chop all coarsely in your food processor. (I did mine in two)

                                      Place all in a bowl and mix well to blend all the batches.
Cover and place in fridge until dinner I like at least 3 hrs to mellow the flavors, but next day is best so this is another make ahead.
And have a happy and safe holiday to you all
with love from
Dinner In A Pinch

Sunday, November 21, 2010

side bar on the "Brine Or Not To Brine" post

Just remember that if you are going to brine your turkey this year before you cook him soak in a large pan of water for 15 minuets. This helps to leach out some of the excess salt flavor that you don't want to end up in you drippings and eventually into your gravy. The salt does not effect the taste of the bird in fact it helps.
If you have not brined a bird before try it. Even if your not feeling adventurous this Thanksgiving try it with a chicken. You will be a seasoned convert by next Thanksgiving.

Acorn Squash

Here is another quick and healthy and easy and DO AHEAD recipe! I love this one because it's so easy and you can make these two or three days ahead and just warm them in the microwave before serving. Just double triple or what ever to feed as many people you are having . This recipe serves 2-4 if you cut them in half that's two if you quarter them it's four. The measurements are not exact just be sure each squash half gets a little of everything.

Baked Acorn Squash

brown sugar
salt and pepper

                                                   cut in half and scoop out insides, discard

into the cavity of each half, or quarter (if you want to make 4 smaller servings)
put a1 Tb. of butter, 1 Tb. of brown sugar and sprinkle with salt and pepper. The squash pictured on the left I used sugar free maple syrup for my husband who is diabetic.

Bake at 400 degrees covered for 40 min. and then uncovered for 10 min. till a little brown on the edges.
At this time you can cool them cover with plastic wrap and then just microwave for 6-8 min till hot through.
Yummy! they are like candy I make them all year, there great with the Glazed Ham we made in October.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bruswick Stew

This one is for my friend Tasha who's husband is out doing his "man thing"...hunting. Not to say it's just for men. I know allot of women that hunt, I'm just saying the men really get into it. For me it's all about getting the cutest camo jacket and gloves to match my boots! So Tasha here is a great recipe to help use up some of that 300 lbs. of Venison that is soon to grace your freezer. Enjoy

Brunswick Stew

1 lg sweet onion
2 cloves garlic
4 ribs of celery
3 lg carrots, peeled
3 lg potatoes, peeled
1/4 cup butter
1- 15oz can corn
2- 15oz cans petite diced tomatoes
1 can baby lima beans 
3-4 cups of the chicken cooking water (to follow)
1- 2-3 lb whole chicken (1 Tb. salt, 1 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 2 bay leaves and the tops and peels from the celery and onions)
 1 1/2 lb venison, ground
1 Tb. dried Thyme
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tb.Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. cyanne pepper

In a large stock pot place the chicken, celery and onion peels, thyme,bay leaves, salt and pepper and enough water to just cover, bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer for 40 min covered. Drain and save 4 cups of cooking water. remove the chicken from the bones and chop coarsely in a food processor, set aside.

In the same food processor, chop in batches the onion, garlic, celery and potato and to the same stock pot you just boiled the chicken in with the butter salt, pepper and thyme, sweat until the veggies are clear about 6-8 min.

Now dump in the corn with the juice the tomatoes,baby lima beans and the cooking liquid you saved.Stir well and add in the cooked chicken and the raw ground Venison.

Stir well and bring to a boil, turn down and simmer covered for 45 min, and uncovered until thickened and the chicken and venison are tender about 30 more min. Season with up to a 1/2 tsp. cyanne pepper or serve with hot pepper sauce. 

Just Sides!

Here are a few quick and healthier DIAP sides. I took some of the old standbys and switched them up a bit.

Oven Roasted Root Vegetables

2 lg sweet potatoes
2 lg russet potatoes
1 lb bag of parsnips
1/4 C olive oil
1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp. black pepper

 peel them all

                                       place in water until all are peeled to prevent browning

cut in chunks all about the same size so they cook evenly,
toss in roasting pan with oil salt and pepper. Spread out evenly so not to crowd.

Roast in a hot 400 degree oven for 45-50 min. until you have some brown yummyness happening,
Serve with a drizzle of honey or real maple syrup.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Stuffing or Dressing?

Okay, first lets clear this up, Stuffing goes inside you bird and is usually a little dryer(to allow it to soak up juices) and very highly seasoned, and gets it yummy flavor from soaking up all those juices from inside the turkey, and helps to flavor the bird. Dressing is made in a baking dish, outside of your bird and is usually made with some kind of pork product and stock to give it moisture and flavor.
 Every year I go back and forth in my head, am I going to stuff my bird or make dressing? Lets face it if you stuff your bird it will take longer to cook so keep that in mind. So if you make dressing you will cut your cooking time down by about an hour, but you take up extra space in your oven. It is Thanksgiving, you don't get to have that yummy stuffing throughout the year so I truly think its worth the extra cooking time and effort, just get started a little earlier or plan dinner a little later. I remember my Mom and Dad getting up at 4 am to get the turkey washed, stuffed and in the oven on time for dinner at noon on Thanksgiving day. It seamed like that turkey cooked forever, and the dryness factor proved that.
 Food safety guideline have changer over the years but there are still some that apply.
 Never pre stuff your bird even for an hour stuffing is a hot bed for bacteria. Cook the thigh meat to 165 degrees at the thickest point being sure you don't touch the bone with your thermometer.But more about that later. Here are some recipes to get you thinking.

Papa's Sausage Dressing

1 bag of that pre seasoned bread stuffing mix not the cubes the crumbly one
1 lb Jimmy Deans sage breakfast sausage
1/2 stick butter
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 Tb. spicy brown mustard
1 Tb. poultry seasoning
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 -3 cups chicken stock

Pour stuffing mix into a large bowl set aside
in a large frying pan break the sausage up and cook through, add in the celery and onion, cook until translucent.
Off the heat add in the poultry seasoning, thyme, mustard and parsley start adding in the chicken stock a little at a time until your dressing is wet but not soupy it should look like wet sand. Put into a baking dish, cover and bake at 350 for 45 min. uncover for the last 15 min. You can baste with additional chicken stock wile it is baking, about 1/2 cup half way through.

Mom's Bread Stuffing

25 slices of stale white bread
1 stick butter
2 cups diced celery
2 cups diced onion
2 tsp salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tb. Poultry seasoning
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup half and half
1 egg

Break the bread in to 1 inch pieces, place in large bowl set aside
In a large saute pan melt butter, add celery, onion, salt and pepper, cook until translucent.
stir in poultry seasoning and pour over dices bread.
 In a med. bowl mix chicken stock, half and half and egg. Pour over bread and vegetables and mix lightly .Mix should be wet but not dripping kind of like a very stiff oatmeal.
Salt and pepper the inside of your bird and place stuffing into the cavity loosely it will expand a bit. You can also put some of the stuffing in the front neck area under the large flap of skin. Just tuck the skin under the bird when you put it in the roasting pan.
Roast your turkey according to the recommendation on the wrapper or

325 degrees

9-18 lb unstuffed 3-3 1/2 hrs   stuffed 3 3/4 - 4 1/2 hrs.
18-22 lb. unstuffed 3 1/4 4 hrs. stuffed 4 1/2 - 5 hrs.
loosely covered until last hour baste throughout entire cooking time.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November Schedual

November Schedule

Thursday November 11th 7pm "Just The Sides" we will go over tips for the perfect bird and cover several side dishes, all with a fresh, Dinner In A Pinch twist on the old classics

Tuesday November 16th 7pm Girls Night Out "Cocktails and Canapes" We will make drinks and appetizers to start your Thanksgiving day off in style.

Thursday November 18th 7 pm "Get Ready For Leftovers" We are going to shake up the old hum-drum leftover Turkey don't miss this one.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lemon and Lime cubes

OK sorry, I thought I posted the citrus cube trick last month but I couldn't find it. So here it is. Citrus is in season right now so watch for your markets to run sales, buy them up in bulk and bring them home and squeeze them. An electric juicer will be your best investment. When you open the freezer in December and make a fresh glass of lemonade or warm it with honey for that scratchy winter throat. You will be glad you went to the trouble to do this now.

This is my 1950's juicer, I hope it out lives me

Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Then pop out and fill zipper freezer bags with your little lemon or lime jewels, and pull one out when ever you need one.
They are great for soups, sauces, smoothies or tea. What ever you want to add a little sunshine to.

Quick Lunch!

I had nothing in the house for lunch the other day when I stumbled on a can of chi chi beans way in the back of the pantry, I hollered HUMUS!! the kids just looked at me in disbelief.

In a food processor bowl put,
 1 can of chi chi beans(did you know there also called chick peas, they look just like little bitty chickens!) drained
1 peeled clove of garlic
3 of those lemon cubes we made last month and put in the freezer for just such a day, or 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup good olive oil

buzz until smooth

serve with whole wheat crackers and celery sticks

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Brine Or Not To Brine

This time of year it's funny how your brain starts all on it's own, thinking about things like sweet potatoes, pies (well more than normal) and whether or not am I going to empty out a vegetable drawer in my fridge, line it with a plastic bag, and soak a turkey for 24 hours! Well let me tell you if your questioning this thought I say go for it! The effort will be well worth it. You will end up with the most flavorful and moist Turkey ever.
  Here is one of my favorite Brine recipes. Don't be afraid of the copious amounts of salt and sugar you rinse it all off before you roast the bird.

  • 1  Quart Apple Cider
  • 1 gallon Water
  • 4 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary Leaves ( 6 of your cubes we made last month)
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 cup Kosher Salt (it comes it a blue box in your salt isle)
  • 1 1/2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Peppercorns
  • 8 whole clove buds
  • 5 whole Bay Leaves
  • Peel Of Three Large Oranges(just use your vegetable peeler)
  • and the juice from those oranges
Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover.
Allow to cool completely, I put it in the fridge, I like to use the bottom vegetable drawer right out of the fridge, line the drawer with a large plastic bag I use a large zipper storage bag, the size you use for clothes or blankets.(or a trash bag) Put the uncooked turkey and brine solution in the bag and squeeze all the air out and zip to seal tight, then refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours.I put the drawer right on the floor of the refrigerate so not to snap the track of the wall. 
When ready to roast turkey, remove turkey from brine rinse well and pat dry, and cook according to your normal roasting method.
Your bird will be so moist and flavorful, this will be your new method from now on. throughout the year play around with different flavors in you brine just half you liquids and use a chicken.
Try rosemary Thyme and garlic or lime peel cumin and red chili flakes just play with it have fun and always remember when trying something new on the fly "right it down" so you remember for next time

Monday, November 1, 2010

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I often forget about this recipe and when it pops up in my head I crave it until I make it. It looks fancy and hard to make with all the chopping, but a food processor makes light work of this one.
I first had this at PF Changs for lunch with my daughter one day. I came right home and tried to duplicate it, and I think I came pretty close. At least an easy version of it.

In a med bowl place,
1 lb. boneless white meat chicken, strips
2 Tb. light soy sauce
1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp chili garlic sauce (available in your Asian section of your market)
Mix together and place in refrigerate

After about 1 hour heat large frying pan over high heat add 2 Tb. vegetable oil and cook chicken through about 8-10 min (if its not all the way cooked that's OK, you are going to cook it again) Save the fry pan you are going to use it again.
Place cooked chicken in a food processor bowl and chop coarsely. dump out on a plate and set aside.

In the same food processor bowl place,
1 celery stalk 1 inch pieces
1/2 sweet onion 1 inch pieces
1 small sweet red pepper 1 inch pieces
1/2 bag Cole slaw mix
1 can sliced water chestnuts
 Pulse until coarsely chopped.

Add another 1 Tb. oil to the fry pan and add in all the chopped vegetables and the chopped chicken.
At this time add in
1/4 cup chicken stock
 3 Tb. light soy sauce
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tb. fresh grated ginger
1 large clove garlic grated
and anywhere from 1 tsp. - 1 Tb. of the chili garlic sauce, depending on how hot you like it.

I like to use 2 rubber spatulas to keep this moving in the pan cook about 6 min. over med high heat until cooked through the veggies will still be crunchy and the chicken cooked through.

on lettuce leaf, I like Romain, but it was served on Bib at the restaurant. Top with more of the coleslaw mix (raw), lime wedge, chili garlic sauce and or soy sauce.
Makes 4 servings 2 each