Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Food for Thought | Thanksgiving

{Be Thankful}

I don't have the perfect life.  This year, I have been practicing gratitude for everything: the heartaches, the set backs, the good, the thrills, the disappointments, and the ugly.  
Around Thanksgiving, many people say they are grateful for their families, friends, having a job, etc.  I am always eternally grateful for my friends and family without whom I would most certainly be lost.  However, this year, I am most grateful for all the little things in my life.  Below is a very small sampling of the small things that I am always grateful for:

  • the daily kitty welcome committee/snuggle crew
  • the daily comments from The Hubby that he loves me, thinks that I am beautiful, sexy, intelligent, etc
  • the sunrise over a beautiful Kentucky landscape on my way to work
  • the sunset view that I have from my house
  • the surprise emails from my grandparents about how they love me and are proud of me
  • the banter and time I spend with my mom
  • the health of my body, mind and soul
  • my senses: being able to see, touch, hear, taste, and smell my surroundings
  • for the compassion that is shown to me by others (who I don't forget to thank, even if they are strangers--one person even cried after I thanked them!)
  • for authors that write the books I read
  • for the directors/writers that produce/write the movies and TV shows I watch
  • a warm, soft, safe place to lay my head at night (or for nap time in the middle of the day)
  • for all the people both near and far that make my life easier, better, safer, etc
I am not perfect, and sometimes I do forget to be grateful especially when I am sad, mad, frustrated, stressed, etc.  I am human, and I am grateful for that.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I'm taking a short break, but I'll be back next Monday!
PS--I am thankful for you too, my dear reader!  Did you really think that I would forget you?

Pin It

Monday, November 24, 2014

Homemade Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Since November is National Peanut Butter month, I thought I would debut this recipe that I have been working on for months.  Why so long?  I cannot get the chocolate to stick on the outside without wax (I'm not eating wax--sorry!).   I gave up, and put the chocolate on the inside.  I have no idea how they got it to stick, but I got impatient because this recipe is so DELICIOUS.

The peanut butter filling:  I saw how much sugar they asked for in the recipe, and I decided to half it and go from there.  The golden rule of cooking-you can ALWAYS add more, not take away.  I am so glad that I did because it was delicious and spectacular the FIRST time!

Inside Out Homemade Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
 {Inside Out Homemade Reese's Peanut Butter Cups}

Inside Out Homemade Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
 {These don't last long and are safe no where!}

Homemade Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
from Six Sister's Stuff

Makes 3-4 dozen (depending on the size you make)

10 graham cracker sheets, crushed into crumbs
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
8 oz powdered sugar
1 cup peanut butter
Milk chocolate chips
  1. Put graham crackers in a food processor or plastic Ziploc bag and beat until they are finely crushed. 
  2. Mix butter, powdered sugar, peanut butter, and graham crackers together in large bowl. 
  3. Grab some of the peanut butter mixture and a few chocolate chips and roll into 1″ balls. 
  4. Place rolled balls on large cookie sheet (I lined my cookie sheet with parchment paper) and stick in the freezer for about 20 minutes. 
  5. Try not to eat them all! 
This recipe is dead on for a Reese's cup.  The Hubby says he prefers these to the store brand.

Do you like peanut butter?  The Hubby and I go through about a jar every two weeks.  What can I say, if I was allergic to peanut butter, I would be the saddest woman in the world!  If you are looking for a savory peanut butter recipe, check out my favorite Asian dish:  Rice Noodles with Peanut-Lime Sauce.

Pin It

Friday, November 21, 2014

Food for Thought

Pin It

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How-To | Have a Stress-Free Thanksgivng

Do you dread Thanksgiving?  Are you just completely stressed out just thinking about it?  Do you wake up at 3 AM and make the entire meal?  If you answered YES to any of these questions, read on for some tips on making Thanksgiving as stress-free as possible!

I told several of my co-workers that I was going to spend a Saturday making Thanksgiving, and they all gave me such sympathetic looks.  I asked them why, and they said "you'll be in the kitchen ALL day!".  I'm happy to say that I spent only about 3 hours in the kitchen making the Thanksgiving pictured above because I followed the tips below for a stress-free Thanksgiving:

Plan the Basics:  This doesn't have to be a five course dinner with 4 dishes for each course.  How many guests will you have?  What time will dinner be?  Where will everyone eat?  Will tables and chairs need to be rented?  Get the basics written down and confirmed.

Decide on a Menu:  What are some traditional family dishes?  Make a list.  Gather everyone who will be there and decide on a menu.

Delegate:  My family has a rule that whenever we have family meals, everyone brings something.  So take the menu and ask people what they are willing to bring.  Even if they cannot boil water, they can buy rolls.  You are a wonderful cook, and you can do anything!  Don't do everything. 

Confirm:  Confirm a few days before Thanksgiving that 1) the person is coming and 2) that they are still bringing the dish they volunteered to bring.

Make Ahead:  Make as much of Thanksgiving recipes that you can ahead of time.  Even some of the sauces that will be pour on vegetables and such will save a tremendous amount of time and sanity!

Enjoy! Enjoy a stress-free holiday because this year, you had help and were actually able to enjoy your holiday rather than waking up at 3 AM and spending all day in the kitchen.

So there you have it!  My 5 tips on how to have a stress-free Thanksgiving!

Pin It

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thanksgiving | Sweet Potato Casserole Ice Cream

I mentioned a few weeks ago, when I went to the KY Proud Food Show, that I had sweet potato casserole ice cream.  I was OBSESSED.  So much so that I made it at home! 

The ice cream that I tried at the food show was good; it had the nuts, marshmallows, and a sweet ribbon running through the ice cream.  However, my favorite part of sweet potato casserole is the crunchy topping.  So I made my topping separate and sprinkled it on top. 

Sweet Potato Casserole Ice Cream
 {Sweet Potato Casserole Ice Cream}

Sweet Potato Casserole Ice Cream
 {I made the base only slightly sweet so that the topping and it didn't compete}

How did I make this you ask?  I simply modified my sweet potato casserole recipe from a few years ago, and viola!  Ice cream perfection!  This is the perfect dessert for those who do not like pumpkin pie or are adventurous.  This is different, but I'm all about different and new!

Sweet Potato Casserole Ice Cream

Makes 2 quarts

2 pounds sweet potatoes (KY Proud)
2 cups brown sugar, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup pecans, chopped
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  1. Cook sweet potatoes until tender.
  2. Cool the potatoes, and then puree them in a blender of food processor.
  3. Add 1 cup brown sugar, heavy cream and vanilla to the potatoes.
  4. Put potato mixture in a container and cool overnight in the fridge.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350.
  6. Mix remaining 1 cup brown sugar, pecans, flour, and butter together until crumbly.
  7. Place pecan mixture on a baking sheet and bake until crispy, about 10-15 minutes.
  8. Once the pecan mixture is cooled, break into pieces.  Save in an air tight container.  This will be the topping for the ice cream.
  9. Freeze potato mixture according to manufacturer's directions.
  10. Serve potato ice cream with topping.
This was such a hit at work where I convinced about 10 people to try it.  The Hubby hates sweet potatoes so he didn't even try which was okay with me because that meant more for me!

I won't judge you if you add whipped cream too!   Do you do traditional desserts for Thanksgiving? 

Pin It

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thanksgiving | Brined Turkey

And now for the highlight of any Thanksgiving feast--THE TURKEY!!!  My mom requested a brined turkey this year, and being the awesome daughter that I am, I obliged.

This turkey was so incredibly yummy that there was none left over for my favorite sandwiches!  A friend even asked if the turkey was KY Proud because it had so much flavor (unfortunately, the turkeys would not have been ready in time for timely post so this was a store bought turkey).  Biring is a seriously under-used yet easy method for meats.

Brined Turkey
 {Brined Turkey--we roasted it after brining it for about 24 hours.  It was everyone's favorite!}

I am so happy to say that this is an original recipe of mine adapted from another brining I did a few years ago.  I wanted to grill/smoke the turkey, but it was freezing and rainy outside so it was baked.  Still delicious!

Brined Turkey

Makes 6 servings

3/4 cup Kosher salt
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoon black peppercorn
3 tablespoon coriander seeds
3 tablespoon dried oregano
2-3 bay leaves (depending on the size: 1 large or 2 small)
  1. Place all spices in a dish that can withstand hot water. 
  2. Heat about 1 cup of water until steaming.
  3. Pour onto spices and stir until all of the salt and sugar are dissolved.
  4. Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes or until cool.
  5. Add turkey and fill the remainder of the container with cool water.  The turkey needs to be completely covered so please make sure it fits before brining!  I tried several different vessels, and I ended up cutting out the back bone and smooshing the turkey down a bit.
  6. Marinate for NO MORE than 24 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 and roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until turkey reaches 160 degrees; if using a whole turkey, increase this time to about 3-4 hours.  
How does your family make their turkey?  I would love to hear!

And last but not least, the winner of the crock-pot is Jessica!  Congratulations!  An email has been sent to the winner!

    Pin It

    Monday, November 17, 2014

    Thanksgiving | Cranberry Sauce

    What is Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce?  I really can't do the canned versions mainly because it can be made ahead of time and is ridiculously easy to make it at home!  Besides, it looks weird coming out of the can all ribbed and such...  Just creepy.

    Cranberry Sauce
     {Cranberry Sauce}

    Cranberry Sauce

    Makes 3 cups

    12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries (approximately 3 cups), rinsed
    1/2 cup water
    1/2 cup fresh orange juice with pulp
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    1. In a medium sauce pan dissolve sugar in water and orange juice over medium low heat.
    2. Then add cranberries and return to a gentle boil for 10 minutes.
    3. Remove from heat.
    4. Serve warm or let the sauce completely cool.
    5. Refrigerate until ready to serve if needed.
    One of my favorite parts about Thanksgiving is eating cranberry sauce and turkey sandwiches for lunch the week after!  One of my favorite sandwiches (cream cheese and onions too if you are interested!)

    Do you make cranberry sauce or do you buy it?  Now that you know how easy it is, will you try to make it at home this year?

    PS--Don't forget to enter the crock-pot giveaway!  The winner will be announced tomorrow!
    Pin It

    Thursday, November 13, 2014

    Brussel Sprouts and Pecans in Brown Butter

    I've been making this recipe since I was in culinary school where I learned it.  It's so easy, and the flavors work so well together.  Then again, what doesn't taste good coated in butter?  This recipe does have to be made at the last minute, but it's easy--promise!

    Brussel Sprouts and Pecans in Brown Butter
    {Brussel Sprouts and Pecans in Brown Butter}

    Brussel Sprouts and Pecans in Brown Butter

    Makes 6 servings

    24 oz brussel sprouts. trimmed and cut in half (KY Proud)
    4 tablespoons butter
    1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
    1. Steam brussel sprouts until tender.
    2. Meanwhile, brown butter in a sauce pan; click here for a tutorial.
    3. Once the brussel sprouts are done, add the butter and pecan.
    4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    5. Serve warm.
    Next week will be the crowning glory of any Thanksgiving meal: turkey, cranberry sauce and dessert!  Stay tuned for more recipes!

    PS-Don't forget to enter the crock-pot giveaway!

    Pin It

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    How-To | Roast a Pumpkin

    I have received several questions on how to roast a pumpkin this year so here it is!  It's super easy!

    Roast a Pumpkin
     {Pureed pumpkin}

    Roast a Pumpkin
     {Pumpkin courtesy of my in-laws}

    {Step 1: Preheat oven to 350}

    Roast a Pumpkin
     {Step 2: Cut pumpkin open and scoop out the seeds.  You can roast the seeds if you would like.}

    Roast a Pumpkin
     {Step 3: Place pumpkin in casserole dishes and roast until tender, about 1 hour}

    {Step 4: Allow pumpkin to cool}

    {Step 5: Peel off the waxy part of the pumpkin}

    Roast a Pumpkin
    {Step 6: Using a blender or food processor, puree the pumpkin}

    {Step 7: Use or store in the fridge for up to 1 month}

    So there you have it!  Really easy right?  So now what?  You can use it like any other pumpkin puree!  Some ideas:  pumpkin juice or pumpkin bacon sauce!

    Mine happens to be more watery than I would like especially for baking so I will be putting it in a strainer overnight before using it to bake some Pumpkin-Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies for my in-law's Thanksgiving.

    PS-Don't forget to enter my crock-pot giveaway!

    Pin It

    Tuesday, November 11, 2014

    Thanksgiving | Sausage, Apple and Sage Stuffing plus GIVEAWAY!

    When I was surfing Pinterest for stuffing recipes, I saw several that were done in a crock-pot.  I mean, how awesome is that to shove everything in a crock-pot Thanksgiving morning and let it do the work?   A no-brainer, that's what!

    Sausage, Apple and Sage Stuffing
     {Sausage, Apple and Sage Stuffing}

    Sausage, Apple & Sage Stuffing
    from sweet treats & more

    Makes 8 servings

    1 loaf sourdough bread, cubed and toasted
    8 ounces ground pork sausage (KY Proud)
    4 tablespoons butter, melted
    1 1/2 cups Granny Smith green apples, chopped (KY Proud)
    1 1/2 cups chopped onion
    1 1/2 cups chopped celery
    1 teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoons pepper
    1/2 cup chicken broth plus more if desired
    2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage 
    1. Brown the sausage, drain and place in the bottom of a (6qt or larger) slow cooker. 
    2. Stir in the remaining ingredients except for sage; toss everything together using two large spoons. 
    3. Cover and cook on low for 2-3 hours or until the bread is browned on top and vegetables are tender. 
    4. Before serving you can stir in extra broth if desired for extra moisture. 
    Since we are coming up on cold weather and the holidays, I am giving away one of favorite pieces of kitchen appliances--a crock-pot!

    {It's my favorite because it has clips to prevent it leaking when you transport the crock-pot!}

    The giveaway is only for one crock-pot, and is open to anyone over the age of 18 in the US.  The contest is open from today until Tuesday, November 18 when the winner will be announced!  Use the widget below to enter!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Good luck!

    Pin It

    Monday, November 10, 2014

    Thanksgiving | Carrots with Lemon-Chive Butter

    Welcome to Thanksgiving headquarters!  Over the weekend, I made a complete Thanksgiving meal full of new recipes, and I am so happy to say that most were easy and delicious.  One recipe I'll have to tweak before sharing, but these carrots were a major hit.  What's so awesome about them?  You can make the butter ahead of time so all you have to do is steam the carrots right before dinner then add the butter.  Easy!

    Carrots with Lemon-Chive Butter
     {Carrots with Lemon-Chive Butter}

    Carrots with Lemon-Chive Butter

    Makes 8 servings

    4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    1 lemon, juiced and zested
    1/4 cup chopped chives (alternatively use the green parts of green onions)
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    2 pounds baby-cut carrots
    1. In a bowl, combine butter, lemon zest and juice, chives, sugar, salt and pepper, and mix well with a rubber spatula or hand mixer on low speed.  Do this ahead of time!
    2. Place carrots in a large pot and just cover with water. 
    3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until just tender, about 20 minutes. 
    4. Drain and return to pan. 
    5. Add butter mixture and toss until butter melts and carrots are evenly coated. 
    6. Serve warm.
    Stay tuned for more delicious recipes like sausage, apple, and sage stuffing and brined turkey!

    Pin It

    Thursday, November 6, 2014

    Pleasing Your Palate | Thanksgiving

    Did I panic you with the mention of Thanksgiving on Monday?  If I did-sorry!  It's a good thing that I have two years of Thanksgiving recipes under my belt, and I'll be sharing more recipes later this month!

    To get the juices flowing, here are some of the recipes I have made in the past:

    Smashed Potatoes

     Roasted Chicken with Herb Butter and Gravy

    Old-Fashioned Cornbread

    Apple-Cranberry Bars

    Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

    Sweet Potato Casserole

    Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Sweet Thai Chili Sauce

    Roasted Cauliflower Gratin
    Garlic Roasted Chicken with Gravy

    Chickpea and Kale Salad

    Creamed Corn

    And because you know that you'll make entirely too much food for Thanksgiving and will be eating leftovers for a week, why not make a pot pie?
    Leftover Thanksgiving Pot Pie

    So there you have it!  Is there anything that your family makes specifically for Thanksgiving?
    Pin It

    Tuesday, November 4, 2014

    What's in Season | November

    Although the outdoor farmer's markets have closed until the spring, you can still get local products and produce.  Head to Liquor Barns, Good Foods Co-Op, or Whole Foods for all your KY Proud product and produce needs.  For produce, I'd stop at Good Foods Co-Op first because they are a locally owned store and more likely to carry local produce.

     {No strawberries are not in season; this is a picture from earlier this year that was never posted.  I didn't take a picture of the November produce when I was at the market last week.  Don't judge.}

    Here's a list of produce available in November in Kentucky:

    Beets (first part of the month will be the last of the season)
    Broccoli (first part of the month will be the last of the season)
    Brussel Sprouts (first part of the month will be the last of the season)
    Cabbage (first part of the month will be the last of the season)
    Carrots (until mid month will be the last of the season)
    Cauliflower (until mid month will be the last of the season)
    Lettuce (until mid month will be the last of the season)
    Onions (until mid month will be the last of the season)
    Pears (until mid month will be the last of the season)
    Pumpkins (until mid month will be the last of the season)
    Radishes (first part of the month will be the last of the season)
    Sorghum (until mid month will be the last of the season)
    Squash, winter (first part of the month will be the last of the season)
    Sweet Potatoes

    See?  Still a decent amount of produce!  I've been making some recipes with sweet potatoes and beets that will be coming up in November!

    Pin It

    Monday, November 3, 2014

    monthly munchies | November

    November 1st, and there is snow on the ground (okay so maybe the cars, but it's cold and snowing--that's the point).  If this is any indication, this will be a long, cold winter.

    Before we get to the heart of winter, fall winds down to Thanksgiving!  That's right; it's about 3 1/2 weeks away!  Start planning!  I know that my family is, and we are trying to get a jump-start on Christmas!

    carrots and ranch
     {Let's be honest--any raw veggies with ranch is a perfect snack (at least in my book)}

    So what's happening around a girl eats world in November?  Well...
    • It's all about THANKSGIVING!  This week, I'm doing a recap of my past Thanksgiving recipes, just to get you in the mood to start thinking about a menu.
    • Second week in November, I'll give you a sample Thanksgiving menu and tips to reduce the stressful holiday!
    • In the second week, I'll also start sharing some new recipes (brined turkey anyone?) that will go into the third week.
    • The fourth week is Thanksgiving!  I will be taking a short break from blogging on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Mainly because I have two Thanksgivings to make food for and attend.  Plus, this girl needs a rest!
    • I'm also having another giveaway so check back throughout November for more details!
    • Personally, I've gained some unwanted weight so I'm working on losing about 15 pounds.  I started last week, and I thought it would be hard.  I'm finding it's really easy (when I'm not stressed out, but I'm working on it).  I identified some unhealthy habits, kicked them to the curb, and added more intense walking to my routine.  Sorry--no desserts for a little while!
    What are your plans for the month besides getting home to friends and family on Thanksgiving?

    PS--Look out on instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for my contributions to HerKentucky.com and Mour Magazine throughout the month!

    Pin It