Brining the turkey

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Unorthodox use of medical tape # 152: decreasing the potential space of your turkey brining bag to increase the brine coverage of your turkey.

brining the turkey with some help from medical tape and a  binder clip

brining the turkey with some help from medical tape and a binder clip

As is most of my cooking, the brine was concocted with approximate guidelines and inspired by stuff available in the cupboard:

  • kosher salt, about 1 cup
  • honey, about 1 cup
  • sugar, about 1cup
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled, crushed and minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • some bay leaves
  • varying quantities of clove, nutmeg, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme — I honestly don’t know if these come through with everything else going on
  • balsamic vinegar to taste

All of the above were dissolved in 3 qts boiling water and reduced to a simmer for about 10 minutes. I let the brine cool for about 20 minutes, then added about 2 qts warm water to help cool it down more. When mixture felt comfortably warm (not hot enough to cook the bird) we poured it over an 18+lb turkey in the brining bag. It’s now sitting in the fridge in its roasting pan, taped up as shown above.

We shall find on Thursday whether the brine was a good idea or not. Update: turkey was ah. may. zing. And the turkey stew we made from it was the best we’ve had.

Quiche Lorraine

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Another easy baby-approved meal. Bacon for the win. Quiches and pies are fall favorites around here. (Bacon fat + pie crust = maybe not the healthiest meal, but M needs some more baby fat rolls before I worry about that.)

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“Sheesche? Sheesche?” Madeline couldn’t wait long enough for me to snap a photo before demanding a piece to eat. Hence the missing wedge.

Quiche Lorraine

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb bacon (lower sodium preferred for baby), cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 to 1/2 lb shredded gruyere cheese
  • 9-inch pie crust in a pie pan

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Over medium-low heat, fry the bacon until crisp. Drain off fat as needed, leaving 2-3 tablespoons in the pan. Remove bacon and place on paper towels to drain.
  3. Add onions to the fat in the pan and brown over medium-low heat, about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, pierce holes or slits (use a fork or knife) in the pie crust bottom. Bake the pie crust for 5 minutes and remove from oven.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper together until blended.
  6. Layer ingredients in the pie shell as follows:
    1. At the bottom, place 3/4 of the cheese and spread evenly.
    2. Spread a layer of half the bacon, then half the onions, and repeat with the other half of bacon and onions.
    3. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
    4. Pour the egg mixture over all the ingredients to fill the pie pan enough to just cover the top layer of cheese. If needed, add another egg blended with 1/2 cup of milk.
  7. Bake quiche for 30 minutes or until center is set.

Swedish meatballs

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This recipe is my version of the meatball-egg noodle dish, adapted from recipes from the Fannie Farmer cookbook, The Dirty Dish Club and Food.com. After some initial skepticism, Madeline approved. This one might become a cold-weather staple.

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Swedish Meatballs (or, Meatballs with Egg Noodles in a Sour Cream Sauce)

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz wide egg noodles
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided into 1 tbsp each for the meatballs, sauce and noodles, plus more as needed for the sauce
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley, divided into 1 tsp for the meatballs and 1 tsp for the noodles, plus more for optional garnish
  • Meatballs:
    • about 1.25 lb ground beef, pork and veal (sold at our grocery store as “meatloaf mix”)
    • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
    • 1 egg
    • 1/3 cup minced onion
    • 1/4 cup finely shredded carrot
    • 2 cloves minced garlic
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp sugar
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • 1/4 cup flour for dredging
    • 2 tbsp olive oil for frying
  • Sauce:
    • 1/2 large onion, minced
    • 1/3 cup flour
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • 1/2 tsp onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp sugar
    • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
    • 2.5-3 cups beef or vegetable broth
    • 1 cup sour cream

Directions:

  1. Meatballs (start the mix several hours ahead or the day before): 
    1. In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, breadcrumbs, egg, onion, carrot, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, and 1 tsp parsley. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
    2. Form 1-inch meatballs, dredge them in flour to coat all over, and set aside. I spray my hands with a bit of cooking spray to prevent them from getting too sticky.
    3. In a large pan, melt 1 tbsp butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Lightly brown the meatballs on all sides and remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan. The meatballs do not need to be cooked through at this point. Unless your pan is very large, this step will probably require working in batches.
  2. Sauce:
    1. With the pan on medium-low heat, add the minced onion to the pan and caramelize the onions, about 20 minutes. You can start the noodles while you are waiting.
    2. Combine the flour, paprika, onion powder, sugar, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, and cloves in a small bowl and set aside.
    3. Add 1 tbsp butter to the pain and stir to melt.
    4. Add the flour mixture to the melted fat and onions and stir quickly to form a roux. If the fat seems too scant for the amount of dry ingredients, add more butter. Continue stirring the roux for 2 minutes.
    5. Add the broth, stir well, and bring to a bubble.
    6. Add the meatballs, cover the pan, and reduce the heat, allowing the meatballs to cook through.
    7. Once the meatballs are cooked, turn the heat very low so that the sauce is not bubbling. (High temperature might cause the sour cream to curdle.) Stir in the sour cream and turn off the heat. Continue stirring to mix well.
  3. Noodles: Prepare the egg noodles according to their directions. Drain most of the water and return the noodles to their pot. Toss with 1 tbsp butter and 1 tsp parsley.
  4. Assembly: Place noodles on serving dish. Spoon sauce and meatballs over the noodles. Garnish with a bit of chopped fresh parsley.

 

Iced pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

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Mama’s primary accomplishment on this cloudy drizzly day:

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These are for Madeline’s class party on Friday. Amazing things get done when mommy has the day off! Between the pumpkin puree and the reduced amount of sugar (compared to regular chocolate chip cookies), these treats qualify for nutritious snacks in my book.

The recipe is from Very Best Baking:

Iced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 15 oz. pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 oz. (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • vanilla glaze:
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp milk
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. PREHEAT oven to 375° F. Grease baking sheets.
  2. COMBINE flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in pumpkin, eggs and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.
  3. BAKE for 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
  4. FOR VANILLA GLAZE: COMBINE powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract in small bowl; mix well. Drizzle or spread glaze on cookies.
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Zucchini bread

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This recipe is a slight variation of one that my friend Alli makes — so good! I made some for our road trip to Pittsburgh, and Madeline chowed down in her “trough,” as Anittah says.

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Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chips

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated zucchini (about 2 small or 1 large), drained (I leave it to drain in a sieve overnight in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap and weighted with an apple or other round object, and I also blot with towels just before adding to the batter)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate mini morsels
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking pan (I use the butter wrappers — less mess!). Sift together the dry ingredients (the first six) and set aside. 
  2. Beat together the butter, oil and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs.
  3. Add in the dry mixture 1/2 cup at a time, stirring to blend.
  4. In a separate bowl, stir together the zucchini, lemon juice, and chocolate morsels. Fold into the batter.
  5. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Bake for about an hour or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Vegetable fritters, baked or fried

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We didn’t start giving Madeline sweets until her first birthday. (My reservation had less to do with dietary habits and more with fear of taxing her pancreas. No science, just irrational mommy fear.) She’s generally game for a variety of foods although she does have her picky days. She has never turned down these, though. Baked or fried, Madeline loves her vegetable fritters.

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fried vegetable fritters with sweet potato and zucchini

Vegetable fritters, adapted from Maggie Meade’s The Wholesome Baby Food Guide

Ingredients:

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    zucchini and eggplant fritters

    1 medium sweet potato, chopped into thin 1-inch strips (or substitute a vegetable you like; M.M.’s original recipe uses carrots, and eggplant also works well)

  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped into thin 1-inch strips (or substitute a vegetable you like)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup flour, divided in 2
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk (or ricotta cheese)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • butter and/or olive oil for frying, or butter for greasing baking sheet if baking

Directions:

  1. If baking, grease baking sheet and preheat oven to 350 deg F.
  2. Combine the eggplant, zucchini, onion, and garlic. Stir in the first half-cup of flour and mix well.
  3. Add the eggs and milk, and stir well. Add the remaining flour and stir until the batter is smooth (aside from the vegetables).
  4. Season with onion powder, garlic salt and black pepper to your liking; mix well.
  5. Proceed to (A.) to bake or (B.) to fry.
    1. The batter consistency varies with the type and quantity of vegetable, so you might want to add another 1/4 cup of flour if your batter seems too runny to stay put on the cookie sheet. Spoon out the batter onto the baking sheet in strips about 1 inch wide. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the strips are golden and the batter is set. When cool, cut the strips into short segments so baby can pick them up and munch.

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      fritters on the baking sheet, ready for the oven

    2. Heat your frying fat over medium high (I like to use olive oil with a tbsp of butter for flavor). Spoon out the batter into the oil in fritters 2-3 inches long. Fry them about 5 minutes or until golden brown, and then flip to fry the other side. When both sides are golden, place fried fritters on a paper towel to drain excess fat.

Quinoa vegetable nuggets

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Yes, she actually eats these. Mommy is ever in a quest for baby-friendly nutritious finger foods.

quinoa vegetable nuggets for baby

quinoa vegetable nuggets for baby

Ingredients:

  • About 4 cups cooked quinoa (the yield from 2 cups uncooked quinoa), cooled. Prepare the quinoa with broth or water, as you like. I cook it in a rice cooker.
  • 1 lb frozen mixed vegetables
  • 3 medium-large bananas
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. On a cookie sheet, bake the bananas until the skins turn black and they are soft. Meanwhile, grease another cookie sheet. When the bananas are done, take them out of the oven to cool. Reduce the oven to 350 F.
  2. Cook/steam the frozen vegetables. I do this in the microwave using a steamer basket.
  3. Peel the bananas (carefully!) and dump them into a large mixing bowl. Add the quinoa and vegetables, alternating in small quantities, to combine and distribute evenly. Stir in the lemon juice.
  4. Roll nuggets in baby-friendly size (about 1-inch diameter) and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake 5-8 minutes or however long it takes for the nuggets to hold their shape. Don’t bake for too long or they will be dry.

These freeze and thaw reasonably well; I pack them in an ice cube tray so that they don’t freeze together.

 

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Lentil stew

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Lentils, chicken and kale. Time previously spent nursing is now spent cooking baby-friendly food. Here’s hoping she eats it.

lentil stew

lentil stew

 

Lentil Stew

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 8 oz dried lentils
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth plus 2 cups water (or however you’d like to apportion broth and water for 4 cups total)
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (I buy frozen chicken breasts and keep them on hand for soups and stews such as this)
  • 1 lb fresh or frozen kale
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 oz chopped ham (optional)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 tsp tarragon (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a 4-qt Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Brown the onions (about 15 mins). If you have fresh chicken breasts, you can cube them into 1/2-inch pieces while the onions are cooking. Alternatively, you can leave them and proceed as below.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add the garlic and stir 1-2 mins. Add ham (optional) and continue stirring, letting the ham brown a bit. Add the lentils and continue stirring, allowing the lentils to toast a bit.
  3. Add the broth and/or water. I like to heat them up in the microwave before adding, so that I finish cooking sooner.
  4. Increase the heat to bring to a boil. Add the chicken breasts and stir. Reduce heat to simmer and cover.
  5. While the stew is cooking, prepare the kale if it’s raw. I like the bags of washed kale at Trader Joe’s, because I hate washing vegetables. To cook it, I heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high in a large (12″) saucepan or skillet. Add the kale in batches, always stirring to distribute them evenly as they turn dark green. Once all the kale is dark green, add 1/2 cup of water, stir, reduce heat, and cover to let it steam for 5-10 mins.
  6. As the lentils cook, they’ll absorb the broth/water and the stew will thicken. When the lentils are to your liking, remove the chicken breasts and dice them into baby-friendly (about 1/2-inch) pieces. Return chicken to the stew and add in the kale as well.
  7. Season with lemon juice, tarragon, salt and pepper to your liking.
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Crockpot creamy chicken and noodles v2.0

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I revised the previous incarnation of this dish and much prefer this version, as it is healthier, baby-compatible and still easy to make. It is also a good candidate for a weekend mass food production routine: I actually prepared about 10 chicken breasts in the slow cooker, saved a small part (about 1/10) to make baby food, and then divided the remainder for this dish and for another (chicken tetrazzini).

crockpot creamy chicken and noodles

crockpot creamy chicken and noodles

Crockpot Creamy Chicken and Noodles a la Butz

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs), cut in 1- to 2-inch cubes
  • 12 oz egg noodles
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream (Trader Joe’s has cream in a shelf-stable 1-cup package — this might be the most amazing culinary find all year!)TJcream
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch celery, sliced (or substitute 1 package (16 oz) frozen mixed vegetables)
  • adobo seasoning
  • tarragon

Directions:

  1. Place the chicken in the crockpot and season with adobo seasoning and tarragon. Stir in chopped onion and minced garlic. Cook in the slow cooker for 8 hours on low temperature setting.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles for about 2/3 the time recommended (approximately 4 minutes) and drain. They will continue cooking in the crockpot.
  3. When the chicken is finished, it should fall apart easily when mashed with a fork. Shred the chicken by stirring with a large fork until it is broken into small pieces.
  4. Stir in the cream and chicken broth until well-blended. Stir in the noodles. Cook on low heat for about 4 hours, or until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Stir in the celery (or frozen vegetables) and cook for another hour or until the vegetables are heated.
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Pasta with clams and kale

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I got a mess of kale and put this together with ingredients on hand, inspired by a Portuguese recipe. All the other ingredients are shelf-stable or typically on-hand, which makes this dish a great last-minute easy-prep meal.

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Ingredients:

  • kale, 1 bunch, chopped
  • clams, 4 cans, drained with juices reserved (approximately 1 cup juice)
  • pancetta, 2-4 oz
  • onion, one large, chopped
  • thyme, fresh from the garden
  • garlic, 4-5 cloves, crushed and roughly chopped
  • white wine, 1/2 cup
  • rotini or similar pasta, 1/2 lb., cooked and drained

Directions, roughly:

  1. Cook the kale in salted boiling water. Drain the kale and set aside.
  2. In a large pan, fry the pancetta over medium heat. Pull the pancetta to the side of the pan to drain it. Remove the pancetta, leaving the fat in the pan.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high. Fry the chopped onion in the pancetta fat until it is soft, clear and golden at the edges. Turn the heat back to medium. Add the garlic and thyme. Cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the pancetta and kale.
  4. Add the wine and clam juice. Stir and deglaze. Continue cooking until the kale is as soft as you like it (about 10-15 minutes).
  5. Add the pasta, stirring until it is heated evenly.
  6. Add 3 tbsp butter to the pan. Stir.
  7. Add the clams and cook while stirring constantly unti the clams are heated. Do not cook the clams for too long or they will become tough.

Galactagogue cookies (which sounds way better than lactation cookies)

The first trial of motherhood I have encountered is suckling my child. Pregnancy and delivery were cake compared to breastfeeding. One of the challenges is maintaining an appropriate supply — apparently all kinds of subtle cues can throw it out of whack. And while undersupply is an obvious potential problem, I also learned that oversupply can be a frustration all its own.

Somewhere in my history of surfing the interwebs, I had come across lactation cookies. At the time, I thought, “Ummmm, weird.” How foolish and naive of me. Undersupply can be such a source of anxiety for moms, so what better way to address it than a baked concoction that both soothes and treats it?!

Below is a recipe I found at The Progressive Parent and adapted to my own preferences. I cannot attest to whether the cookies do statistically increase milk supply. I can attest only to their nutritionally dense yumminess.

sweet chocolatey oatmeal goodness.

sweet chocolatey oatmeal goodness.

Lactation Cookies

— with oatmeal and whatever goodies you like — my favorite is craisins and white chocolate/dark chocolate chips! For one 9″ x 13″ pan of bar cookies* (because I don’t have time to drop them into individual cookies — if you prefer normal round cookies, see variation below**):

Ingredients

  • 2 oz (4 tbsp) water
  • 2 tbsp milled flaxseed
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (3 minutes on 20% power works for me, and then I use the wax wrappers to grease the pan)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1.75 cups flour**
  • 4 tbsp brewer’s yeast
  • 1 tsp baking soda (or 4 tsp baking powder)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups thick rolled oats
  • 1.5-2 cups mixed chocolate chips/white chips/craisins, in whatever proportions you like — I do 1 cup craisins, 1/3 cup chocolate chips, and 2/3 cup white chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F. In a small bowl, stir together the water and flaxseed. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and beat in the sugar. Then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flaxseed mixture from step 1 and stir.
  3. Stir together the flour,** yeast, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir this dry ingredient mixture into the large bowl to form the cookie dough.
  4. Combine the cookie dough with the oats and craisin/chip mix. This step requires biceps or a stand mixer — the dough will be thick.
  5. Spread in a greased 9″ x 13″ pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are brown and inserted knife comes out clean. Don’t bake for too long or the cookies will crumble.*
  6. Wait for the cookie pan to cool, cut it into bars, grab a glass of milk, and enjoy!

*If you double the recipe to make two pans, they will take about 25 minutes to bake. I might or might not know this empirically.

**If you prefer the usual individual round cookies rather than bars, add an extra 0.25 cup of flour (total 2 cups flour). You can then drop teaspoonfuls — or, for the perfectionists who aim for pi-worthy circles, roll into balls — and bake 10-12 minutes. This is still too much work to me, so I prefer to spread the dough on a greased sheet of wax paper (cooking spray is quick and sufficient for greasing), roll it into a log about 2″ diameter, wrap with plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 2 hours. Let thaw about 20 minutes at room temp and slice 1/2″ thick. Since they are frozen, they bake for 11-13 minutes.

 

 

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Sweet potato pie

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An experiment for lab party tomorrow! I tried one of the baby pies and am a fan =)

in honor of our upcoming trip, a sweet potato pie mickey

finally tried out our mini cocottes!

 

  • 1 lb (about 2) sweet potatoes, peeled, cubed and cooked
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 package (4-serving size) vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp lemon peel
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 unbaked pie crust to fit your pie pan

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Prepare pie crust in (9″ to 12″) pie pan. Beat sweet potato until fluffy. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into pie crust. Bake 40 minutes or until golden and center is set.

Crockpot creamy chicken and noodles

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I have since revised the recipe, so try the new one instead!

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Cold weather inspires me to experiment with the slow cooker. What’s more cozy on a cold day than being home with Chris, Henry and a warm meal of comfort food?

crockpot creamy chicken and noodles

The first one I tried this season is from The Crockstar. I am trying to gather recipes that are easy to prepare ahead and/or on a week night, especially since I foresee family meals will become a major responsibility — I can’t eat cereal for dinner like a college student anymore. (Well, I can, but Chris can’t — he needs protein. A lot of it.) The Crockstar’s recipe for Creamy Chicken and Noodles fit my search criteria. I tried it with a few modifications to fit our tastes, and it was a success! By which I mean: Chris approved. We’ve made it twice now.

Side note: I did some research trying to find a more descriptive name for this combination of ingredients and found several similar recipes for “Chicken Stroganoff,” but I disagree with that designation. The principal ingredients for a Stroganoff seem to be a sauteed meat — usually beef, but it can also be chicken — and a sour cream sauce, usually made with sauteed mushrooms and onions. This recipe has no sour cream, mushrooms, or onions.

Crockpot Creamy Chicken and Noodles

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 lbs boneless skinless chicken (dark or white meat), cut in 1″ cubes or smaller
  • 11 oz condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 11 oz condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 packet (about 1 oz) dry vegetable dip mix (I like Lipton Recipe Secrets Kosher Soup & Dip Mix because it doesn’t contain MSG; you could also try dry ranch, Italian dressing, or onion dip mix)
  • 1 tsp onion powder (optional but tasty)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (optional but tasty)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus 1 cup water (or substitute 4 cups water if you prefer less salt and more vegetable flavor)
  • 2 oz (1/4 package) cream cheese or neufchatel cheese (which tastes like lower-fat cream cheese), cut in small slices/pieces (you could also substitute sour cream)
  • 1 bunch celery, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 12 oz (1 package) wide egg noodles

Directions:

  1. In the crockpot, combine the two soups with the 2 cups of broth. Add half the dry dip mix and stir all together until smooth.
  2. Lay the chicken pieces in the pot and season it with the remaining dip mix, onion powder, and garlic powder.
  3. Set the slow cooker to Low for 8 hours or High for 4 hours.
    ** The remaining steps can be done an hour or two before the cook time is completed, or they can be done after 8 hours on Low. Leaving the slow cooker for 4 hours on High might burn or dehydrate the sauce around the edges of the pot. **
  4. Add the cup of water, cream cheese, and celery. Stir well to mix. (If this step is done after the cooker has finished 8 hours on Low and it has switched to Warm, set the temperature to High.)
  5. Cook the egg noodles al dente, about 7 minutes. Add the noodles to the crockpot and stir well to mix. If the sauce is too thick, add more water in 1/2-cup increments.
  6. Simmer until the chicken is cooked and the celery is tender.

Thanksgiving 2012

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This year was our first married Thanksgiving. For weeks, Chris had been excited to roast his first turkey, and I was equally excited for stuffing! We made a game plan, did our grocery shopping, and went to bed (relatively) early the night before so we could get started at 7am. Thursday morning came. Game on.

Well, the first hiccup came early — I had trouble sleeping, so we slept in an extra hour. We adjusted and got right back on schedule, though. (Yes, we made a schedule.) As it turns out, we learned a number of things:

  • Chopping the vegetables the night before means we don’t have to get started until 8am. Whoo hoo!
  • Our 24-pound turkey took about 5.5 hours to cook. By about 3 hours, enough fat had drained off to baste it.
  • We do not have a platter big enough to hold a 24-pound turkey. Fortunately, a smaller platter on a baking sheet will suffice.
  • Potholders can also be trivets.
  • The day is not nearly as busy as I thought. We had breaks to to watch Star Trek, set the table, and so forth. It was easier than cooking for the party we just had! (Then again, we had over 30 people there.)

I also took notes on miscellaneous adjustments to our schedule and recipes. Here is the result of our Thanksgiving Matrix (which obviously is not formally a matrix, but sounds niftier than Thanksgiving Chart):

ThanksgivingMatrix

the Thanksgiving Matrix, stained and annotated as we used it to guide us through our first Thanksgiving!

And here is the resulting feast:

Having slept well with the aid of turkey somnolence, we dismantled the bird this morning. Henry also helped, sort of.

Cinnamon sugar coffee cake

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cinnamon sugar bread — but it’s more like a coffee cake, so let’s call it cinnamon sugar coffee cake

This might be the easiest baking I’ve ever done. I came across this recipe a week ago and have been craving it since. Tonight I finally gave in and made it. Henry grew increasingly restless as aromas of cinnamon and cake filled the house. With Chris’s approval, I gave the poor puppy a few (big, crumbly) morsels. The crust is my favorite part.

Bonus: I cut the sugar in half with Splenda. Chris hasn’t noticed, and I’m not sure I can tell.

Here’s the recipe, with my slightly altered directions.

Cinnamon Sugar Coffee Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and 1 cup sugar. Add egg, milk, and oil to flour mixture. Stir until smooth (small lumps are okay).
  3. Stir together the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Lightly grease a 9″ loaf pan with cooking spray. Pour half of the batter into pan.
  5. Sprinkle with about half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  6. Cover with remaining batter.
  7. Top with the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture. With a fork, swirl the topping into the batter until it is marbleized.
  8. Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.
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