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The Best Way to Thaw a Turkey | Epicurious.com

Since your Thanksgiving turkey is a critical component of the meal you want to make sure it is properly thawed and ready for cooking come Thanksgiving so you do not fly into a panic about the bird still being frozen. Epicurious gives you a few helpful hints and reminders regarding thawing the bird so you can be sure to thaw it safely and properly, allowing you to cook dinner, make a great turkey and not worry about your guests leaving with more than just some leftovers. Check it out!

Source: The Best Way to Thaw a Turkey | Epicurious.com

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Smash it Up – Copycat Classic Smashed Cheeseburger and Secret Sauce

I freely admit that I love a good burger but I personally have never been to a Smashburger in my life. I have heard of them before but the nearest one to me here where I live in New York is almost twenty miles away so unless I happen to be driving by one and saw it I don’t think I would go out of my way just to find the burger. Though to hear people talk about how great the burgers can be there, maybe it would be worth the trip. With all of hubbub surrounding the burgers they have to offer I wondered if there was a copycat recipe floating around on the Internet where I could just try to make one of my own just like they do there. I was not very surprised when I found one pretty quickly through Epicurious. Upon taking a look at the recipe it seems as though they use ground brisket as part of their recipe, something I am not likely to find here unless I asked a butcher to do it for me specifically. I opted to use ground chuck instead and the rest of the meat involves ground sirloin, which I don’t typically buy because it does tend to cost more but for this occasion of testing a recipe I figured it was worth a shot. So then I set about trying to make the Smashburger.

Copycat Classic Smashburger and Secret Sauce

For the Burgers:

3/4 pound freshly ground sirloin

1/4 pound ground chuck

2 tablespoons butter, plus more if needed

4 potato rolls

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 slices American cheese

Four 1/4-inch-thick tomato slices

4 burger-sized pieces green-leaf lettuce

Secret Sauce, recipe to follow

For the Secret Sauce

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 1/2 teaspoons pickle juice

1 1/2 teaspoons ketchup

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

To make the secret sauce, stir the mayonnaise, pickle juice, ketchup, mustard, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder together in a medium bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary and then set the sauce aside.

For the burgers, in a large bowl, use your hands to gently combine the ground sirloin and ground chuck (or ground brisket if you can find it or make it yourself). Divide the mixture into four equal-sized, loosely meat pucks about 2 1/2 inches thick. Place the patties on a plate lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Transfer the plate to the freezer and freeze the patties for 15 minutes. Do not exceed the freezing time.

Meanwhile, heat a griddle, large cast-iron skillet or large stainless-steel skillet over medium-high heat. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet and place the potato rolls, cut side down, in the pan. Cook the rolls until the cut sides are golden brown, about 2 minutes. You may need to do this in batches depending on how big of a cooking space you have and use additional butter if needed. Place the toasted buns on four plates and reserve the griddle or skillet.

Remove the patties from the freezer. Increase the heat under the skillet to high and add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the skillet. Heat until the oil begins to smoke. Working one at a time, add a patty to the skillet and immediately press a large spatula flat on top of the patty. Use the handle of another large spatula to hammer the first spatula down, smashing the patty until is about 1/2-inch thick. you will have to hammer longer and harder than you might originally think to do this right. Press down and slide the spatula to remove it without tearing the patty. Generously season the patty with salt and pepper. Repeat the smashing process with the remaining hamburger patties.

Flip each patty when the first side is deeply browned and crisp with craggly edges, about 2 minutes long for medium doneness. Season the cooked side generously with salt and pepper, then add a slice of American cheese and continue to cook the patty until the cheese has melted, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer the cooked patties to the bottom of the burger rolls. Top each burger with the tomato slices and the lettuce. Spread the tops of the buns with the Secret Sauce and place the top bun on the burger and serve.

Cast iron will serve you really well here if you have it as you can get that great sear and crust on the burgers when you smash them. I did find you had to press down and hammer pretty strongly to get the desired effect, but if you like your burgers crispy in that way this is a good way to try them. They do come out nicely and I did like the sauce you add to them rolls as it does lend some great flavor. According to the website, potato rolls are also a must here and they do seem to add something to the dish. I put some bacon on Sean’s because that is the way he likes them and I served these with some very easy homemade oven fries, which I will be sharing the recipe for tomorrow. It’s a pretty good burger and if you are hung up on the Smashburger flavor it’s worth a try to make one yourself.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on February 20, 2015 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Lunch, Sandwiches, Sauce

 

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Fast, Easy and Delicious – Pork Tenderloin with Date and Cilantro Relish

Quick weeknight meals have been becoming more and more important around here lately. With Michelle away on business or working late, Sean’s schoolwork and involvement in the school play and my work it has been a crunch to try to get a meal on the table some nights. That means I have been turning more and more to quick and easy ideas for dinner that I can put together in under 40 minutes so we can eat at a reasonable time and not have to turn to fast food or convenience food too often. I do try to mix things up so we’re not eating the same things all of the time (Sean does tend to complain if we are eating too much chicken). I had picked up a pork tenderloin at the store on sale a few days ago and then I saw this recipe on Epicurious for pork tenderloin with date and cilantro relish that sounded tasty and different. it only has a few ingredients to it and can come together in under 45 minutes, so I thought I would give it a try.

Pork Tenderloin with Date and Cilantro Relish

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2/3 cup dates (about 4 ounces), cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons orange juice

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro plus leaves for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Season the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper and place it in the skillet and cook, turning the tenderloin occasionally until it is browned on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven tenderloin until the temperature of the pork registers 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the tenderloin, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and allow the tenderloin to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing it. Set aside the pan drippings from the skillet.

Toss the dates, orange juice, reserved pan drippings, 3 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro and the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil together in a small bowl. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the relish over the pork slices and top with the cilantro leaves.

I did make a small change to the recipe as I went along. It seemed to me that the dish needed a little extra crunch so I added a sliced carrot to the skillet along with some pearl onions with the pork and cooked them in the oven as well. Both vegetables picked up some of the juices from the pork and seem to add a nice touch to the relish as well in terms of color and flavor. I have to admit I do not have a lot of experience using dates or cooking with them, and Sean seemed to shy away from them in the dish, but I really enjoyed the flavor they added overall to the relish and it went really nicely with the pork. I did notice in reviews of the recipe that some people added things like cranberries or walnuts to the relish as well to give it some extra flavor and take some of the sweetness of the dates. I think if you didn’t want to use dates you could easily use prunes or even grapes as a replacement and it would work just as well. I served this with some broccoli and white rice and it was a nice meal that was done quickly with easy clean up.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on February 19, 2015 in Cooking, Dinner, Pork, Produce, Sauce, Vegetables

 

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Simple Southern Sides, Part 1 – Sweet Potato Corn Bread

I had made a Mardi Gras dinner last week at Sean’s request so I tried to find some recipes for some good side dishes that fit the theme we were going for and were going to be easy to make. Since I was making gumbo as the main part of the meal, I wanted to have some bread to go with it and what would be better than some corn bread? Well I found this recipe on Epicurious for a sweet potato corn bread that sounded really tasty and very easy to make, so I thought I would give it a shot.

Sweet Potato Corn Bread

1 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

2 1/3 cups yellow cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9 inch by 9 inch baking pan. Pierce the sweet potatoes in several places with a fork. Microwave the sweet potatoes on high until they are tender to the touch, turning once, about 12 minutes. Cut open the potatoes and allow the flesh to cool. Mash enough of the potatoes to yield 1 cup packed. Reserve the extra mashed sweet potatoes for another use. Place the 1 cup of mashed sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Whisk in the eggs and the buttermilk.

Blend the cornmeal, flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda and ground ginger in the food processor. Add the pieces of chilled butter and blend in the food processor until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the cornmeal mixture to the egg mixture and stir until they are just blended. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan.

Bake the corn bread until it is a deep golden color on top and a toothpick or tester inserted into the center of the corn bread comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool the corn bread in the pan on a baking rack. Serve or let stand at room temperature and serve when you are ready.

Cooking the sweet potatoes in the microwave saves you at least an hour of cooking time in the oven and helps you get the corn bread made a lot faster. I think the bread came out really well. it was not at all dry like some corn bread can be and had a great flavor from the sweet potatoes. If anything, it maybe could even used a bit more sweet potato for extra flavor. This recipe makes a lot of cornbread and says it will serve 10 to 12 people. I actually cut the recipe in half and made a smaller batch for us and we still had plenty to last for the week. I think I would make this one again as it seemed better than some of the traditional cornbread recipes I have tried.

That’s all I have for today. Check back tomorrow for another recipe. I still have a couple of good southern sides to share – a red rice recipe and a baked beans recipe from Jamie Deen, along with the gumbo I made for Mardi Gras, some parfaits, a new pulled pork recipe, beef stroganoff, chicken fingers, 3 pork burgers and a whole lot more. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on March 11, 2014 in Breads, Cooking, Side Dishes

 

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Recipes and Tips for School Lunches at Epicurious.com

Recipes and Tips for School Lunches at Epicurious.com.

As we get closer to back to school time here (two more weeks for Sean), some kids have already started with their back to school rituals, and that means packing lunches for us parents. This is not always an easy task, coming up with things that the kids like and won’t be bored with enough to trade it away or throw it away. Here are some good ideas from Epicurious with recipes and tips to try and make the school lunch process a little better for all of us. Check it out!

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Cooking Websites, Lunch, School Lunches

 

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Some Super Sunday Snack Food

The Super Bowl is coming this weekend (in case anyone wasn’t aware) and whether you’re rooting for the Giants, the Patriots, Madonna or the TV commercials, you want to have some great snack food to eat while watching. When we’re home for the day, we like to just make snack foods for dinner that day. It’s fun to get to eat a little bit of a bunch of different things. If you have some guests over, you can even put out a bigger spread. Lots of people buy 3-foot heroes, wings or pizza and are happy with that, but I like to make my own things and some things that guests may enjoy. Some things we have already made for past meal plans that can be good items to use, like pizza, guacamole, turkey meatballs, some buffet-style dishes like shrimp scampi or pepper steak, or even mini versions of the hamburgers for sliders. I am going to post a couple of recipes of things I plan to make, Buffalo Wings, Swedish Meatballs and one of Sean’s favorites,  Bacon & Cheese Pinwheels. I’ll also give you some links to other sites that have some great ideas for game time, party time, or any time snacks.

Just about everyone likes to have Buffalo wings and there are lots of different recipes you can follow. One thing I like about good wings is that they are both crispy and spicy. I have made wings baked in the oven before, and they are good, but there is something about deep-frying that adds great crispness to the wings. For this recipe, I am deep-frying. I have a deep fryer at home, so it makes it a little easier for me as far as bringing up temperature and avoiding splattering oil, both concerns when you are doing it on the stove in a Dutch oven. Use a candy thermometer to determine the temperature of the oil and make sure you use a deep pot to avoid bubbling oil. And yes, I buy whole wings and cut them myself; I hate the idea of paying more for wings that are already cut when I could just as easily do it myself with a cleaver or some poultry shears.

Buffalo Wings

3 pounds whole chicken wings

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

1/2 cup hot sauce (I like to use Frank’s Louisiana Hot Sauce, or Ken’s Wing Sauce, but use whatever taste and heat you like)

2 tablespoons Tabasco (optional, if you want some extra heat)

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

1 to 2 quarts vegetable oil (for frying)

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon salt

4 ribs celery, cut into thin sticks

2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin sticks Blue Cheese or Ranch dressing (store-bought is fine, our house prefers ranch. You could always use the Ranch recipe I posted

Cut the wings apart at the joints and discard the wing tips. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the hot sauce, Tabasco (if using), brown sugar, and  vinegar. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat 2 1/2 inches of oil in a large Dutch oven, with a candy thermometer attached to the side, over high heat until it measures 360 degrees.

Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch, cayenne, pepper and salt together in a large bowl. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then toss evenly with the cornstarch mixture. Add half the wings to the hot oil and fry until golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with several layers of paper towels and keep warm in the oven while repeating with the remaining wings.

Toss the fried wings and sauce together in a large bowl until thoroughly coated. Serve with the celery, carrots and dressing of choice on the side.

The fried, unsauced wings can be kept warm in the oven for up to 1 1/2 hours. Toss them with the sauce before serving.

For the Swedish meatballs, I am using a recipe that was given to Michelle at her wedding shower by my grandmother. She knew I really liked it and passed it on to her. It’s not a tough recipe, but there’s some work involved in this one. Trust me, it’s really worth it. The meatballs taste great.

Swedish Meatballs

20 gingersnaps

1/2 cup milk

1 egg, slightly beaten

2 pounds beef, pork and veal mixture

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1/4 cup flour

1-2 cups beef broth

Crush the gingersnaps in a food processor or with a rolling pin. Mix the milk, egg, meat mixture, onion, salt, celery salt, pepper and allspice until blended thoroughly. Form the mixture into small “cocktail” size meatballs. In a large skillet over medium-high heat melt the butter until starting to brown. Add the meatballs and cook thoroughly until browned on all size, about 5-7 minutes (you’ll have to do this in batches). Remove meatballs from the pan and stir in flour, whisking constantly until well blended and brown, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the beef broth, scraping up any browned bits and bring to a boil. Add the meatballs back into the pan with the gravy and simmer until heated through and thickened, about 5 minutes.

The last item I am making is Sean’s favorite, Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels. This is a Pillsbury recipe that is very easy to make. You can go to their website and get this and other recipes, but I will also provide the recipe right here.

Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels
1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
tablespoons ranch dressing
1/4 cup cooked real bacon pieces or 4 slices bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled
1/2 cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese (2 oz)
1/4 cup chopped green onions (4 medium, optional. I usually leave them out; Sean doesn’t like them)
Heat oven to 350°F. Unroll dough and separate into 2 long rectangles; press each into 12×4-inch rectangle, firmly pressing perforations to seal. Spread dressing over each rectangle to edges. Sprinkle each with bacon, cheese and onions. Starting with 1 short side, roll up each rectangle; press edge to seal. With serrated knife, cut each roll into 8 slices; place cut side down on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 17 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Serve warm.
There are so many other things you can make for football parties, or any party. Here are a few links to places that you can find some recipes:
Epicurious – They have some great part recipes as well as some recommendations on beer and cocktails for your party.
Food Network – Always a good source for recipes anyway, but they have a section just on big game day recipes.
Bon Appetit – Another good source for recipes all the time, but they have a section for the game with their take on wings, chili, and more.
Williams-Sonoma – another great site, with lots of game day celebration recipes.
Hopefully this gives you lots of good ideas for game day. Do you have any game day snacks that you love to cook? Let me know! Post a comment on it and share with all of us. Tomorrow is back to cooking. it’s the end of the week and we are making Fish and Chips for dinner. I’ll also be letting you know about next week’s meal plan. I will let you know that we let Sean pick the whole week next week and he is going to help cook it, so you’ll be interested to see what he chose. Until then, enjoy your day!

 

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2012 in Appetizers, Beef, Cooking, Poultry

 

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Jennifer Probst

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