Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bread for stuffing and other Thanksgiving comments

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, with all the traditional fixings   ... but we are slowly losing the tradition of cans and packaged foods. And I think we have started a new tradition of smoked chicken wings for lunch (Lou's new specialty).
A big hit was the new version of Green Bean Casserole, using the recipe from Alton Brown.  We did all the parts the night before: blanched the green beans, made the mushroom soup part, and cooked the onions.  (Did you know that the first ingredient of the fried onions that you buy in a can is palm oil... yuck).  The only tricky part is the onions.  Don't cut too thin (go for ~ 3/16 of an inch) and try to cut evenly.  And don't get too brown the first time, as they will get browner on the casserole (especially in the turbo-charged convection oven).  We cooked in a 9x13 casserole dish, for about 20 minutes after the turkey came out of the oven. 

Not so big a hit were the brussels sprouts, even sauted with a bit of bacon (and finished with a little cider vinegar).  Roy, Sharon and I loved them, everyone else, not so much.  At least Bridget had fun slicing them with the Cuisenart!

Also a note on a deconstructed turkey:  You can do a big one this way: we did a 23-pounder.  Using the turbo-convection oven, when started at 400F for 20 minutes, then 325 it was done in about 2 1/2 hours (we dropped the temperature to 300F towards the end so it actually cooked for almost 3 hours).   I started at the higher temperature because I was a little late getting it into the oven, I had figured on 3 1/2 hours (which might be right for a normal 325 oven).  As always, everything cooks evenly.  We just had to use an extra pan because both legs didn't fig into the roaster.

Finally, here is the recipe for the stuffing.  Last year I discovered that Pepperidge Farms stuffing (which is what our family ALWAYS used) had one of my banned ingredients (don't even remember if it was HFCS, hydrogenized oil, or MSG) so I made my own bread using the bread machine (where you don't care there are stupid holes in the bottom from the paddles).   I'm always surprised at how long it takes for the bread to dry, especially considering that if you leave a slice of bread out you are making a sandwich from it is crispy in 15 minutes.  If you don't have a bread machine (I suspect that mine is on its last legs), there should be no problem making like normal bread, would just follow the steps for any whole wheat bread recipe. 

Herb Bread for Stuffing
2lb loaf, make 20 ounces of stuffing (lots)

¾ cup milk 
2 tablespoons butter
¾ cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon rosemary, finely chopped
½ teaspoon sage
Black pepper (a couple of good grinds)
2 teaspoons yeast

Heat the milk and butter together in the microwave until the milk is just a little warm, and butter is soft and starting melt.  Put everything (in order) in the bread machine and start.  When done, let completely cool, preferably overnight.  Slice into cubes, about ½ inch square.  If the crust is particularly heavy, remove some of the crust, but otherwise leave on.  Spread the cubes on a large sheet pan, and let dry for a couple of days.


Bread Cubes 
½ ounce dry mushrooms, reconstituted in ~ 1 cup boiling water. 
8 ounces (1 package)  mushrooms (sliced)
1 large onion (diced)
2 stalked celery (diced small)
½ to 1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter
2 cups turkey broth
¼ cup of chopped herbs (parsley, thyme, sage, etc).

Place the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl.  Stain the dry mushrooms, reserving liquid.  Chop and add to stuffing.  Saute the fresh mushrooms, onion, and celery with salt in the butter, add to the bread cubes.

Add mushroom liquid to bread cubes, careful to not get any grit at bottom.  Mix the cubes, add a cup of turkey broth (slowly pour around the top).  Stir and taste.  Add another ½ to 1 cup broth.  Cubes should be just moist, not soggy.    Ready to go in / under turkey, or in a separate casserole dish to cook (if cooking separately, put a bit of turkey fat and / or skin on top). 

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving's coming

Its just a week away!  This year will be at my brother's house, with the standard Norman fare.  I slowly can change things ... for example, everyone is now expecting homemade cranberry sauce, and not disappointed that you can't see the ribs from the can in the jelly.

Last year, I started making the bread for the stuffing instead of Pepperidge Farms ... as part of my ban on HFCS and hydrogenized oils, not sure if anyone noticed.  I plan to do it again this year, just need to find the recipe (and I will post when I find it). 

This year, I'm going to mess with the green bean casserole, and will make the mushroom soup part instead of using Cambells.  Lou even agreed to use fresh green beans. 

We will also do a deconstructed turkey.     But the squash gratin will need to wait for Christmas.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Creamy Pasta Sauce

OK, so obviously I have not made the blog every day goal.  So I'm resetting the goal to blog every week...  at least until the end of the year.

Always an inspiration are recipes that I e-mail out to family and friends.   I was talking to my brother today, who had some chicken he needed to cook, and wanted some pasta for dinner.  I really like a creamy sauce with chicken and pasta (plus a few vegetables), so I recommended this:

Creamy Pasta Sauce
This is great to use up whatever you have on hand.  Also, it reheats very well

3-4 servings

8 oz pasta (linguine, spaghetti, corkscrew)

1 tablespoon butter
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon flour
1 ¼ cups low fat milk
¼ cup of low fat cream cheese (block or tub)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

Start water to boil for pasta.  For the sauce, melt the butter in a sauce pan or skillet.  Add garlic and sauté for a few minutes, then add flour.  Cook for about 30 seconds, then slowly add milk, stirring with a whisk. Cook until nearly boiling, add cheeses and cook until very thick.

Drain pasta (with optional vegetables) and return to pot, add sauce and other options.  Give a good twist of black pepper, add more cheese or toasted nuts if desired


Vegetables (blanched):  Use up to 2-3 cups of asparagus, peas, broccoli, carrots or other vegetables to pasta and cook (need to judge how much time to cook the veggies, generally add 2-3 minutes before the pasta is done

Vegetables (sauted): Use up to 1-2 cups of onions, shallots, mushrooms, and/or bell peppers, can put garlic here rather in sauce.  Place a small amount of oil in skillet, add red pepper flakes if desired, and sauté vegetables.  If it gets too dry, add a little white wine, or a bit of broth or water. Use the same pan to cook the sauce, remove the vegetables first (unless you are just using a little onion or shallots, then its ok to leave them in the pan).

Herbs: whatever you like, add to sauce when it is done.

Meat: Sauté chicken chunks, black forest ham (cut sandwich slices into strips), or use other leftover roasted meat.

Cheese: the original recipe called for Gorgonzola, but I’ve never actually tried this.  Usually I use a hard cheese, plus will throw in scraps if we have any left from a cheese appetizer.

Nuts:  A nice addition if there is not any meat in the sauce.  Walnuts or pine nuts, toasted in the toaster oven (1 cycle through “toast” on a foil lined pan) are good.