Monday, December 28, 2009

Turkey Soup

Turkey Soup

What better thing to do with your turkey carcase but to make turkey soup. This has go to be one of the easiest things to make, and since you are most likely using items in your kitchen, that makes this a Frugal Find also. This though does need some fore-thought after you have carved your turkey. Take the carcase and place it in a large stock pot and put it in a cold place till you can get to it (mine sat in my 3 season porch overnight, the coldest place in my house that night).
When you are ready to make the soup fill the stock pot 3/4 or more with tap water. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Let it boil for a good hour. The idea is for all the meat to fall off the bone. At this point there is no need for seasoning, for the turkey will do all the work (if there is any skin left over please add that to the pot, the flavor can boil out of it too and can be discarded later).
After the hour has passed you can de-bone the turkey. This is a bit of a tedious process, but well worth it in the end. This cavity of so you think tiny bits of meat and skin will not only give you amazing flavor on their own but they will give way more meat than you can imagine. The amount of meat you will get will make your soup into stew.
No is time to add the following
2 cups carrots chopped
2 large onion chopped
1 celery heart chopped
1 medium/large potato peeled and diced
salt n pepper to taste
(fresh cilantro or parsley can be added if you have them on hand in you fridge)

Put the stock pot back on the stove top and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and keep on low for at least another hour.
You can serve it now but since turkey has more fat than chicken it is a good idea to cool the soup in your fridge overnight so the fat can rise to the surface of the soup and can be skimmed off the top.
After skimming the fat reheat the soup and serve. The soup can also be put in freezer containers and saver for later meals.
A perfect dinner for those cold January nights, warm home-made soup!!! Yum!!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sweet Crescent Rolls

This morning I was trying to figure out what can I make for breakfast that is not only easy but looks good too. Then it came to me ... I forgot to make the crescent rolls last night with dinner maybe I can use them to make some yummy pastry. That is just what I did, a Frugal Find for breakfast ... how sweet is that.

Sweet Crescent Rolls
Cinnamon Rolls

1 package of Crescent rolls

1 egg (for wash)

1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves

Preheat oven according to Crescent Roll package. Unroll the dough and tear accordingly to make 8 rolls. In a small bowl beat one egg to make an egg wash, then brush the egg over each of the triangles. In a small bowl combine the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove (you can also use pumpkin pie spice in place of all of these). Once all the triangles have been egg washed sprinkle with the sugar mix. Roll into crescents. Egg was the finished crescent roll and sprinkle with sugar. This will give the outside a nice flaky top.

Bake accordingly.
Serve hot.


Raspberry Turnover Crescent Rolls

1 package of Crescent Rolls

4 tablespoons of raspberry jam*

1 egg (for wash)
pinch of sugar

Preheat oven according to Crescent Roll package. Unroll dough and tear accordingly to make 8 rolls. In a small bowl beat one egg to make an egg wash, set aside. At widest end of triangle dob 1/2 tablespoon of jam. Fold over the tips of triangle to form an enclosed turnover. Egg wash the finished turnover and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake accordingly.

Let cool a few minutes before serving for jam is very hot and can burn.


*In the case of the jam version, any jam will do. if you like another it can be used in place of the raspberry, the sky is the limit, or what you can find at the local market.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Upside down Apple Pecan Pie

I told you I like to make pies ... here is another one. Yes, this one like the last one has apples and pecans it also. But this one is very unique in that it looks like what would happen if an apple pie were to marry a pecan pie and they were to have a child ... it would be an Upside down Apple Pecan Pie. This pie is super easy to make and looks like you spent all day in the kitchen. But that can be our secret. Here we go ...

Upside down Apple Pecan Pie

1/2 cup seedless raisins
1 tablespoon bourbon/port/brandy
1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
1 cup pecan halves (or whatever it will take to cover the bottom of a 9" pie pan. They also need to be perfect pecans, not broken)
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

2 pie crusts

6 peeled, cored, sliced apples
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven 450 degrees

Mix raisins & alcohol and set aside

Spread butter onto bottom of 9" pie pan. Press pecans topside down into butter. Pat brown sugar evenly over pecans. Place one pie crust over pecans.
Drain raisins and discard liquid. Toss raisins with apples, sugar, lemon juice, flour, and cinnamon. spoon over crust in pie pan. Take second pie crust and cover. Crimp edges to seal being careful not to tuck any of the crust under the pan lip. Prick crust with fork to allow to vent.

Bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake additional 45 minutes, or until top crust is lightly browned.

Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes or until pie stops bubbling. Place serving plate over pie bottom side up, and FLIP. Remove pie from pie pan and cool completely.

This pie is best if made the day before you want to eat it.

This pie needs to settle and the brown sugared pecans need to harden up.

Roasted Turkey & Stuffing with Pan Gravy

Turkey in my opinion is the epitome of comfort food and a meal that brings people together, and brining people together is what I love about food the most. Every year at this time my husband and I host our annual Turkey Dinner. A time when we can bring new and old friends together to eat and enjoy each others company. This started 4 years ago as a small dinner for 12 and has now evolved to buffet for 30. The nice thing about this dinner is that the entire meal is NOT all on my shoulders, everyone invited brings a dish weather it be an appetizer, a side dish, or dessert. This gives the meal another dimension and variety each year.

My part is the Turkey and all the fixings, I begin by brining the bird. Yes, I brine our bird each time we make it. When I first started roasting turkey's I had no idea what it meant to brine a bird and the thought of soaking it in salt water mix for 24 hours pretty much freaked me out. But someone old me to try it, so I did, and that was the start of the juiciest turkey's I have ever eaten ... even the white meat was juicy and full of flavor.

The key to brining a bird is the water to salt ratio.

1 gallon water : 1 cup of salt

As long as you have that ratio down you cannot go wrong. The best part about this ... is there is not one bit of salt flavor left on the bird, just juicy white and dark meat.

This is the brine we use

2 gallons of cold tap water
2 cups kosher salt
3-5 bay leaves
small container of whole allspice
small container of whole cloves
handful of dried thyme
handful of dried sage
handful of whole peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
small bottle of maple syrup

We have used many vessels to brine our turkey but believe it or not the best way we have found so far is a 5 gallon bucket you can get at Home Depot or your local hardware store with a plastic trash bag. Start by adding the water. After you have 2 gallons of water in the bucket put the thawed, cleaned, gizzards removed turkey in the water to verify the water will not over flow. Remove the turkey and add the salt, mix till dissolved. Some who make brines say you need to heat all this mixture up on you stove top ... we have done it both ways and every time it comes out good, so we take the easy way and add it all at once. Then we add the aromatics, the beer, maple syrup, and the brown sugar. Stir till the liquid is murky, then place the turkey in the brine. Close the bag and put in a cold place for 24 hours. I live in New England and in December the coldest place is usually on the back deck ... that is where it stays till we are ready to roast.

* Julius Echter beer -- is a German wheat ale with hits of cloves and other spices that pair nicely with the aromatics in the brine. This is one of my favorites for cooking with, marinating with and just plain using in the kitchen. The idea here is to find a beer that has rich flavors that can be paired with food. If wheat ale is not your favorite try a micro-brew and use the flavors in that as your aromatics.

Before taking the Turkey out of the brine it is a good idea to make the stuffing.

Now on to the stuffing, or as some call it the dressing to the turkey. This is one of those recipes that has evolved over the years and I believe we have reached our pinnacle this year. Part of reaching our peak is using more and more ingredients that are home made and not so manufactured. You may think I have no time for this ... but when you make turkey it takes nothing but time and since most of us do not leave our ovens on and go out, try a few more "from scratch" stuff and you will find it is just as easy.

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were on vacation in Florida and came upon a spice and tea shop called Spice and Tea Exchange in John's Pass at Madeira Beach. While I was looking around at all the teas I found the spices in jar after jar and found the Herb Turkey ... it smelled so good I had to get it to replace my Bell's Turkey seasoning with it.

Lets make Stuffing

6 Hogie rolls

1 large onion chopped
1/2 bunch celery chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter*
1 tablespoon of Herb Turkey (or Bell's Seasoning for Poultry)
Salt n Pepper to taste
1/2 cup pecans crushed
1/2 cup crasins chopped
1/2 cup apple peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 quart chicken stock/broth

Cut up the bread into 1" or smaller cubes and toast on cookie sheets in 350 degree oven till dry.

Saute onion, celery, in butter over medium high heat. Add seasoning and salt n pepper till soft and brown.

Transfer bread from cookie sheets to large bowl. Pour saute mix over bread. Add pecans, apples and crasins. Toss to combine. Add Chicken stock one cup at a time to make moist. When you get your desired consistency set aside.

If you are going to stuff the bird make sure the stuffing is room temperature so it does not effect the roasting of the turkey. whatever does not fit into the Turkey put in a casserole dosh to cook in the oven after the turkey is finished roasting.

* You will find that in where ever the need for butter is I tend to use unsalted butter, for the reason that folks can add salt but you can NEVER take salt out of something if it is over salted. In time those you cook for will get adjusted to the lack of salt but the addition of other flavors and the need for salt is not there.

Now for the main event ... the Turkey.

Take the Turkey out of the brine and pat it dry with a paper towel. You may have to rinse out the cavity of the turkey for allspice, cloves and peppercorns can get stuck and are not quit so nice to eat in their whole state. Then place the turkey in a roasting pan. It is a good idea to keep the bird off the bottom of the pan either with a wire rack, or my favorite carrots split in half the longways.
The next step is stuff the bird. Who doesn't like juicy turkey flavored stuffing, the bird should be stuffed? After the bird is stuffed melt half a stick of unsalted butter. Brush the butter all over the turkey, and sprinkle with seasonings. This is something you can decide to do for yourself. I usually use fresh ground pepper and herb turkey (or Bells Seasoning), what it comes down to is the seasonings I use in the brine they are sprinkled over the turkey.
Before the Turkey goes in the oven it is a good idea to take the liver and the neck and place that at the bottom of the turkey pan ... not many of us eat the liver or the neck but it will aide in the flavor for the gravy. You may also want to add a cup to 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock. Last of all cover the Turkey either with foil or if your roasting pan has a lid use that.
Now your Turkey is ready for roasting. Please consult of how long to roast your turkey. Please also DO NOT use those "pop-up" indicators, they are not as accurate as a simple meat thermometer. Poultry should be 180 degrees at its thickest part.
Now that's a Yummy Turkey!!!

After it rests for half hour to hour it can be carved. Keep in mind the carcase can be used for more meals (to be discussed later) and the pan drippings can make some of the best gravy you have ever tasted.

Pour the drippings in a sauce pan, and add 1/2 cup of white wine (preferably a white you are serving with dinner so it is easily accessible and most likely already open) over medium/high heat. In a small cup whisk together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of cold water, when cornstarch is dissolved add to the gravy and wine. Continue to whisk till gravy thickens.

Now sit down with your family and eat Turkey!!! Yum!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Crunchy Carmel Apple Pie

Aside from making breads and muffins I love to make pies also. Fruit pies that is. There are so many fruit pies out there to make that to decide which one to make first first is a bit of a challenge. Years ago as a kid I tried to make a pie ... a raisin pie, and it was a disaster. It took me many years to make another pie and this pie was one of the first pies I made a married woman. The best thing about this pie is it has all the ingredients we love in a dessert; apples, Carmel and pecans. Yummy!!!
Crunchy Carmel Apple Pie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Need single pie crust for bottom of pie

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of salt
6 cups of thinly sliced apples
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup Carmel ice cream topping

Line pie crust with single pie crust and crimp edges as desired

To make crumb topping -- combine brown sugar, 1/2 cup of flour, oats, and cut in butter, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Set aside.

In a large bowl stir together sugar, 3 tablespoons of flour, cinnamon, salt and apple slices (I sometimes also add nutmeg and cloves for added flavor and dept). Gently toss till apples are coated. Transfer the apple mixture to the pie crust. Sprinkle the crumb topping over apples.

Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes covered with foil to prevent the crust from burning. Uncover and bake for another 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and drizzle the Carmel topping over the hot pie and sprinkle the chopped pecans.

Cool on rack.

This pie is best if made a day or two before you want to serve it, so it settles and becomes dense. I guarantee this will be a crowd favorite.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Auntie Barb's Chop Suey

Last week my husband and I spent the week visiting family in FL ... and as it turned out every night a different member of the family would make dinner for us. It was so nice to be all the Aunts and Uncles and eat what they eat. Which brings me to my next entry ... Chop Suey. Now I know what you are thinking, meat and elbow macaroni, this is NOT that.

Auntie Barb's Chop Suey

1 lb. ground beef (can also use ground veal, pork and sausage)
1 bunch of celery
1 lg chopped onion
1 can water chestnuts
1 lg can of bean sprouts
1 can of beef broth
low sodium soy sauce to taste (can also use tamari sauce)

Start by browning the meat in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt n pepper in a large stock pot. Add the chopped onion. When all cooked add the water chestnuts, bean sprouts and broth. When mixed together add soy sauce to taste.

This can be served two different ways (1) on buttered hamburger rolls or (2) over chow mien crunchy noodles (this is the way I like it)

The reason this was one of the dishes made while we were visiting is because the Aunts are all on Weight Watchers now and found that this meal is a mere 5 points. The Aunts in FL all have a goal that by Spring Break they want to be svelte and partying like rock stars. In my opinion as long as they are all happy and enjoying themselves that in itself will be a good goal to have.
PS ... by the time I decided to add this to my blog we had eaten so much of it, this is what was left over in the pot. Give this dish a try it is so yummy and very happy Auntie Barb was able to share her recipe with me.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Guacamole is one of those "dips" you either love or you hate. I keep getting mixed reviews about it ... but one thing I know for sure is I Love it!!! (and if you like Guacamole like I do and if ever you travel to Cozumel, Mexico you need to Stop at Playa Bonita's for some Home-made Chips and Guacamole and an Ice cold Margarita. Did I also mention it is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to in the Caribbean). Well, Enough about the best ... lets talk about my Frugal Find.

The other day I was at Trader Joe's looking to pick up items that will go well for watching a Football Game . Low and behold i came across the coolest thing in the store ... well, the coolest thing in the produce section. The "Guacamole Kit." At first I passed right by it and went looking for avocados, tomatoes, limes, onions, etc. Then went back to find it was only $2.99 ... and it had it all for way less than I was paying for the items in my basket. I bought the "Kit" and the Guacamole was the best I have ever made.

This is the "Kit"

2 Avocados
2 Plum Tomatoes
1 Lime
1 Clove of Garlic
1 Onion
1 Jalapeño Pepper
Salt n Pepper to taste

Peel and dice the onion and garlic, dice the
jalapeño pepper, and Peel, Un-pit, and dice the avocado. Combine all this into a bowl and mash until it is to your desired consistency. Dice the tomatoes and add to the mixture. Add the juice of the lime and salt and pepper to taste. You may also want to add a few sprigs of fresh Cilantro to give it that straight from Mexico taste.

The best thing about this, is I know what was in it, all fresh ingredients, nothing processed and nothing from a can. It may take a few more minutes to prepare but when there is none left ... you don't feel guilty about eating any of it.

This is the first installment of Frugal Finds ... as I find more I will post them. Frugal Finds will be a section dedicated to finding things that are still home-made but seem to be Way Cheaper than buying store bought brands.