Archive for November, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 @ 06:11 PM

I know many people that are either not exchanging gifts at all this year, or putting names in a hat and everyone picks one name. My sister has decided to have a craft night a work, one night a week, so that everyone can get together and make gifts. At my house, we are just going to have a tree and get together and have a nice dinner and share each others’ company.

I know that the economists say that the recession is over…but I am just not seeing it. I still see people struggling. I am hearing daily about people still being laid off, loosing jobs, and getting another extension on their unemployment or just running out of unemployment all together.

It has come to getting creative with presents. If you are going to buy a gift for someone, make sure that it is something that they can use, more than once. Not some frivolous piece of jewelery, or another ugly sweater.  Giving someone a unique item to help them prepare food, an item that they may not already have is a great idea. Get something like a deep fryer, a grill, a slow cooker, a BBQ smoker.

Everyone has to eat. A piece of cast iron cookware is a gift, that if taken care of properly, will last a lifetime. It won’t just break down after a while or need new parts. It won’t get moth eaten or never be worn. A Dutch oven or cast iron skillet is an item that can be used every day. It can be cooked with indoors on your stove top, you can bake, roast and braise with them in your oven. You can also bring them outdoors and place them right on your grill. They can even be placed on an open fire or right into the hot coals at a campsite. Some simple cooking techniques may need to be learned for outdoor campfire cooking, but as far as indoor cooking goes, cast iron works just like any other pan. If seasoned properly, they have a great non-stick surface. Some care needs to go into washing…NO Dish Soap!!! But if you loose the seasoning on your pan…it can always be re-seasoned. Let’s see you do that with a non-stick pan! Most non-stick pots end up in the trash once their coating starts to go, or gets scratched over time and starts to flake away. That will never happen with cast iron cookware.

Slow cookers make great gifts too. Especially for someone that may have had to go back to work, or take on another job. These items are great for moms. A little preparation in the morning before work, place the unit on low, come home, and dinner is usually done. Stews, soups, roasts, can all be busy cooking while you are at work. And everything cooked in one pan. There are even slow cookers with separations so that you may cook 2 or even 3 different items at time. There are also many recipes, and helpful sites out there regarding slow cookers. Lots of advice for working people to help make life a little easier.

So, keep helpful cooking implements in mind while shopping for your friends and family.

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Monday, November 29, 2010 @ 07:11 PM

One of my favorite side dishes has always been pierogies.

For those of you who don’t know what pierogies are, they are more or less, stuffed dumplings or filled and sealed pasta pockets. They can be filled with mashed potatoes and cheese, spinach, meat, or sauerkraut. There are also dessert versions that are filled with fruit.

My favorite are the cheese and potato pierogies. They are great sauted in butter and onions, boiled, even deep fried. Lately I’ve taken to egging and breading them before deep frying them. You can thaw them first by sticking them in boiling water for 3-5 mins. or just simply egg and bread them while they are still frozen.

Heat the frying oil in your counter top deep fryer to 350- 400 degrees F. When the oil is hot, place the pierogi in the basket, a few at a time. Do not over crowd. Deep fry 3-5 mins. or until golden brown and crispy.

Makes a great side dish for any meat and gravy dish, with marinara sauce or just serve salted as a finger food.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010 @ 11:11 AM

Whether you deep fried your bird in a turkey fryer, roasted it on the grill or in the oven, or just had ham instead, we mostly all have more Thanksgiving  leftovers than anyone ever knows what to do with. Especially before we are so sick of turkey, we don’t want it for another whole year. Forget Christmas…we’re having beef for Christmas. Anyway, it’s time to let the leftovers commence.

I always have to have at least one turkey sandwich out of my leftovers. White bread or roll, sliced turkey, mayo, Swiss cheese and lettuce. I don’t know why…but that is just the way it is. When I get sliced deli turkey…I never put Swiss cheese and lettuce with it. Only sliced leftover turkey.

Then our family tradition of hot open turkey sandwiches, but with freshly made waffles instead of bread or toast.

One great thing to do with your turkey fryer, after the frying oil has cooled, been filtered and funneled back into its container; clean out the stock pot, fill it with water and your left over turkey carcass. It is called a stock pot for a reason. To make stock with. It doesn’t matter how meticulous you are at carving the bird and cleaning the remnants, there is still a ton of meat left on that bird. Throw it in a stockpot, cover with water, add an onion, remove the center of a head of celery: leaves and all, throw it in the water, turn it on, and cook it down for an hour or two. Drain out the broth you’ve made, and when cool, pick through and remove the meat from the bones. Now you are halfway to turkey soup. When you’re ready, put the stock and broth in a slow cooker, add carrots, another fresh onion, a few potatoes, maybe some cut up celery, cook until the veggies are tender. (If you have left over turkey and gravy that you’re not sure what to do with, go ahead and through it in. It just adds to the flavor. You can even put leftover mashed potatoes in if you like. They make a great thickening agent, more like turkey stew than soup). If you’d like, cook some barley or ditalini pasta on the side and add it at the end.Separate leftover soup into smaller batches and freeze for a really cold day in the winter.

If soup isn’t your thing, how about a turkey pot pie? Make some pie crust and fit into a pie pan, or go and buy a pre-made crust or two. You can cook down some fresh veggies, or buy a can of mixed vegetables, mix with your leftover turkey and gravy. Fill the pie crust. Cover with mashed potatoes or another pie crust, or both. As I said before, mashed potatoes are a great thickening agent, so if you prefer you can add the mash right into the turkey and gravy mix before filling the crust. Cover and freeze for a later date or have for dinner.

Some people like to go the turkey salad way. That does not go over at my house.

I actually made a turkey and a ham this year. We have a recipe at our house that is an old Irish recipe, geared more toward St. Stephen’s Day; the day after Christmas.

St. Stephen’s Day Stew

2 lbs. cold turkey, cut up

1 lb ham, cut up

1\4 stick of butter

1 1\2 cup chopped onion

8 oz. package of fresh mushrooms

4 cups well flavored turkey stock or 2 3\4 cup stock and 1 1\4 cup turkey gravy

3\4 cup cream

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tbsp chopped chives

2 tsp fresh marjoram or tarragon if available


12 fresh cooked potatoes

salt and pepper

Melt butter in a large cast iron skillet that has a lid.

Add the chopped onions, cover and sweat for about 10 mins. or until soft but not browned.

Remove from pan. Add mushrooms,(sliced if you like). Cook over a brisk heat. Season with salt and pepper, add to the onions on the side. Toss the turkey and ham adding a little extra butter if necessary. Now take that out and add to the mushrooms and onions. Deglaze the pan with the turkey stock. Pour into a slow cooker. Add the cream and chopped herbs. Bring to a boil then thicken with the roux. Add the meat, mushrooms, and onions back to the pot. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary. Peel the freshly boiled potatoes and place on top. Let the brew fully heat through and serve when hot.

No matter what your leftover preferences, you can have the leftover turkey now, or freeze and have it later. There is no need to make yourself sick over the matter. Good luck, and hopefully you will be deep frying or roasting another bird come Christmas Day.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010 @ 11:11 AM

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Remember to take all safety precautions while deep frying your turkeys.

Another reminder is that your turkey fryer is also a stock pot and stove. It steams , stews, and boils. After Thanksgiving is over and your pot has been emptied of cooking oil and cleaned, you can use that stock pot to cook your turkey carcass. Make it into stock, and or make turkey soup right in the stock pot.

Have a safe and happy holiday.

Gobble til you wobble!

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010 @ 08:11 AM

Please use the following information to determine the proper size turkey for your fryer.

How long do I cook a turkey per pound?

Estimate cooking time by the formula of 3 minutes per pound of turkey (example: a 10 lb. turkey should cook at least 30 minutes).

Make sure turkey is completely thawed(ice crystals can cause oil to over flow suddenly and a fire could result) Determine the amount of peanut oil required for cooking by placing the turkey in the strainer basket and set into the empty boiling pot. Add water to the pot until the turkey is covered by no more than an inch of water. Remove the strainer basket with turkey and measure the amount of water in the pot. This will give you a close approximation of how much peanut oil you will need for cooking. Empty the water from the pot and dry completely.

Add measured amount of oil to the pot and preheat to 350°-375°F. using the  deep fry thermometer. Pat turkey dry and rub generously with  Fried Turkey Rub`N Spice. Let turkey marinate for 30 minutes.

Using protective gloves and clothing, place the seasoned turkey in a strainer basket. Carefully lower the basket with turkey slowly into hot oil. Using the deep fry thermometer, maintain a temperature between 350°- 375°F. Once oil regains this temperature, regulate the heat source to maintain this temperature throughout cooking.

Do not let oil overheat or a fire may result. deep fried turkey

Estimate cooking time by the formula of 3 minutes per pound of turkey (example: a 10 lb. turkey should cook at least 30 minutes). Check doneness with a meat thermometer after carefully removing turkey from hot oil.

Do not leave the turkey fryer unattended when hot or in use. Please read your owner`s manual before using your turkey fryer and follow all safety procedures!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010 @ 06:11 AM

Another way to cook your Thanksgiving bird is by roasting it on the grill. Here is one way to grill your turkey.

Apple Cider Glazed Turkey

14 lb turkey

1 quartered apple

1 quartered onion

1 small bunch fresh thyme

1 cup water

1 cup apple cider (not apple juice)

2 tbsp. sugar

1\4 cup butter (1\2 stick) cut into 4 tbsp. pats

Preheat grill to 425 degrees F. Rinse turkey and pat dry. Season the bird inside and out with salt and pepper. Place the apple, onion, and thyme in the cavity. Dress the bird (tuck wings and legs, tie with string if necessary). Place on a roasting rack in a shallow roasting pan. Put the water in the roasting pan. Roast in covered grill one hour without basting. While the bird is roasting, boil apple cider and sugar, in a cast iron pot on your side burner, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Continue stirring until the mixture has reduced to about 1\4 cup. Remove from heat and whisk in butter one pat at a time.

After the turkey has roasted on the grill for the 1 hour, rotate the bird 180 degrees. Roast without basting 40 minutes more.  Now, baste the bird all over with all of your cider glaze. Close grill lid and continue to roast. Roast for another 5 to 15 minutes or until thermometer in fleshy part of thigh registers 170 degrees F. (Total roasting time 1 3\4 to 2 hours).

Carefully pour out juices from inside the turkey, into the rest of the juices in the roasting pan & let the bird rest uncovered for 30 minutes.  (Temperature should raise to about 175 degrees F while resting). Remove any string & discard.

Strain pan juices trhu a small seive or collander. (If desired, set up a direct heat on your grill, put the roasting pan on the grate, and pour 2 cups of dry white wine and deglaze the pan. Drain these juices through the sieve and add to original pan juices.)In a cast iron pot, melt about 2-3 tbsp. butter. Add 1\3 cup flour. Make  a roux. Add pan juices and whisk until thickened. Carve your bird and serve.

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Monday, November 22, 2010 @ 08:11 PM

Turkey, is a versatile meat. It can be cooked many different ways. It can be deep fried in a turkey fryer or outdoor propane deep fryer. It can be roasted in your oven. It can be butterflied then cooked on a grill. It can be smoked in a BBQ smoker.

There are many different marinades, (regular & injectable); brines, and rubs that can be used on turkeys. Spicy Cajun, smokey, or sweet. There are many different turns and flavors that your Thanksgiving bird can take on. You can make that bird be what ever you want it to be, you just don’t want it dried out. That is why many people do brine or use injectable marinades.

I am including 2 separate recipes here, to show versatility. The first is a smokey paprika rubbed bird to roast in the oven. Come back tomorrow for a sweet, apple cider glazed turkey that you can cook on your grill.

Roasted Turkey with Smoked Paprika

2 tbsp. Italian seasoning

2 tbsp. sea salt

1 tbsp. fresh ground black pepper

1 tbsp. smoked paprika

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. ground mustard

14 lb turkey

2 ribs celery

1 quartered onion

1 quartered orange

2 bay leaves

1tbsp olive oil

Mix seasonings together in a bowl.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Rinse turkey and pat it dry. Place the bird on a roasting rack in a shallow roasting pan. Put 1 tbsp. of your seasoning mix inside the turkey. Place celery, orange, onion and bay leaves in the cavity as well. Spread the remaining seasoning over the entire surface of the turkey. Put 1/2 cup water in the roasting pan. Loosely tent with heavy duty aluminum foil. Cook for 1 hour. Remove tent. Roast another 2 to 2 1\2 hours basting occasionally. Cook until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F or 175 degrees F at the fleshy part of the thigh. Remove from oven and let stand for 20 minutes. Use pan juices to make gravy. After resting, carve the bird, and serve.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010 @ 05:11 PM

The big day is getting closer. So many people like myself, have decided to yet again, take on the responsibility of continuing our family’s and our nation’s holiday meal traditions for Thanksgiving Day. I, like so many others, have a job. So getting ready to feed 10 people and have my meal be a success, I have already had to start prepping for the big day.

My Aunt, has an enclosed, unheated porch. A great place to put, pre-made holiday pies, and keep them out of harms way before dessert time. I, unfortunately, do not have one of those. I do have an old refrigerator that gets plugged in at holiday time. I have already baked 2 apple pies and placed them in the fridge. Tomorrow I plan to make a cranberry, corn bread, sausage stuffing. That will get placed in that old fridge as well. All the cranberry sauces, pickles, and olives are getting pre-chilled as we speak.

I have still not decided on whether I will be deep frying my bird in a turkey fryer, or roasting it on my grill. I went yesterday and filled my extra propane tank, just in case. Don’t want to run out. That would definitely put a damper on a perfect Thanksgiving meal.

I do still have 2 pies to make. If all goes well with the corn bread stuffing, one of those pies may get done tomorrow. All of the corn bread got made today. So there is a good chance that a nice simple pumpkin pie may get put in my oven after work & after dinner and dishes tomorrow night. Let us hope that work is not too overly demanding this week.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010 @ 09:11 AM

My friends at Philly Tailgating Fanatics are throwing a Thanksgiving tailgating party at The Eagles vs. Giants game this weekend. This tailgating group who’s mottoes are “Give me tailgating or give me death”, and ” Don’t tread on my tailgate” are setting up for one grand ole time.

It sounds like a great tailgate party and I’m sure they are not the only ones. Deep fried turkey cooked in an outdoor propane fryer will be the main focus of this tailgate menu. I’m sure there will be plenty of other tailgate parties at this weekend’s and Thursday’s games with turkey fryers going. This is a “why not” scenario. You want to keep your tailgate menu fresh and lively at all times. It is not like The Philly Tailgating Fanatics make Philly Cheese Steak at every venue. That would just get boring. Besides adding a turkey fryer to your tailgating gear is a great idea. They don’t just deep fry, they steam, stew, and boil. That means when your team plays against Buffalo, you deep fry Buffalo wings. Your team plays against The Patriots, you have a New England Clam Bake steamed in your fryer, or a large simmering pot of New England Clam “Chowda”. The Texans or Rangers come to town…make a big pot of Texas style chili.

The versatility of a turkey fryer kit or an outdoor patio stove and a big stock pot, can add diversity to your tailgate menu.

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Friday, November 19, 2010 @ 05:11 PM

Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks. In honor of our forefathers and the Native Americans that helped the pilgrims survive the winter, we gather together and cook and stuff ourselves silly. The natives taught the pilgrims what to eat and what to plant to help them survive. Thanksgiving is also a day for us to reflect on the things that we are thankful for. Food on our tables, family and friends to share it with, a roof over our  heads, clothes on our backs. If the Native Americans and pilgrims from way back when could see the way that we spend our Thanksgivings today, I’m really not sure what they would think.

Deep fried turkey cooked in outdoor propane deep fryers would definitely be an oddity to them.

Football games in the back yard and on television maybe not so much.  The Native Americans had games, like Lacrosse, that they did played when they gathered together for social functions.

The amount of food that we Americans consume on that one day is probably more than what one pilgrim family had to eat in a whole week or more.

Some of the things that they had to eat on that glorious day, that we have come to honor and cherish, are probably so far from what we have made a traditional Thanksgiving meal into that our heads would spin. They lived near the shores of New England. They probably had fish, shellfish, and lobster along with other wild game. Not just turkey and probably not mashed potatoes. I’m sure they had cranberries and other fruits like apples, that are available at that time of year, but could you see the looks on all of their faces at the jellied cranberry sauce that has donned many of our tables year after year.

Anyway, we are all thankful for the day of gluttony and the day off of work!

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