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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Leftovers - how to use up stuffing

I have an over-abundance of stuffing. This has nothing to do with the deliciousness of my stuffing. It was quite tasty. But when your mother-in-law brings a bathtub full of mashed potatoes, your friend brings corn pudding and you make a sweet potato casserole, there is bound to be leftovers. There is just so much starchy food that people can eat, particularly when they are saving room for pie and homemade vanilla ice cream.

Lots of turkey soup recipes say throw in some stuffing. I don't get this. I haven't tried that, mind you. It simply doesn't sound that appetizing to me. I would much rather put in wild rice (see last year's post on Turkey-Wild Rice Soup) or barley. Stuffing does freeze well and it's nice to have a stockpile for the rest of the comfort food season. But, my favorite way to use up stuffing is to cook it for breakfast. Heat it up in the microwave or oven. This speeds up the process a bit. Break up the stuffing in a skillet with a little butter or nonstick cooking spray. Make a nest in the stuffing and break an egg into the hole(s). This is not a particularly brilliant suggestion but it is one that I personally love. Stuffing is the perfect start for breakfast - it's got bread and usually some sausage. Isn't that the start of most great breakfasts? Just add eggs. Think of it as the Post-Thanksgiving version of Toad-in-the-Hole.

I included a link to the original recipe in my pre-Thanksgiving post. I made a number of adjustments, so here's a link to the PDF of my adapted  Apple-Sausage Stuffing.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Here we are, on the eve of another Thanksgiving. Who doesn't like Thanksgiving? OK, the poor devil that gets stuck cooking everything. I'm not sure why anyone would want to cook everything on the table for Thanksgiving. Even as a professional, I don't want to be stuck with that much cooking. You can go commercial, buying some of the dinner. I prefer to enlist the help of my friends. I do the turkeys (see last year's Thanksgiving posts Turkey Brining and Turkey Cooking) and a few other things, which I discuss below. And I let my guests provide the rest. In my house, Thanksgiving is not when I impress folks with my cooking prowess. It's about sitting down to far too much food, and enjoying what everyone has provided. Kind of like the first Thanksgiving when everyone who attended reportedly brought something to the feast. Can't say I've ever been disappointed in this arrangement. Everyone brings something they are proud of, so everything is delicious.

Besides the usual turkeys, I am making a bunch of new recipes. Yes, I am a crazy woman who tries out new recipes on my guests at Thanksgiving. But, hey, if you can't try new stuff on your best friends and family, who can you try it out on?

Here's what I'm making:
From Apple-Sausage Stuffing but with my modifications.

From Anne Burrell at the Food Network: Sweet Potato Casserole

From The Pioneer Woman blog: Nantucket Cranberry Pie which was part of a Throwdown with Bobby Flay last week. Not really a pie. More like a cobbler. But, as there are two other pies coming from my guests, I thought I'd try a non pie dessert. I am making vanilla ice cream to go with it. Homemade vanilla ice cream. What can be better than that?

Hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving especially my dear Pamela who will be spending her first Thanksgiving away from home with family in New Jersey and New York. Sweetie, we miss you!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Shrimp, Tomato and Avocado Salad

This appetizer came together at the last minute. I had some cooked shrimp and wanted to make a first course salad with them. Everything else in this recipe just happened to be lying around my kitchen. That's how recipes get created in my kitchen. I start with an ingredient and then figure out what other things I have that will complement it.

The tomatoes were the last of my ripe garden tomatoes. Not my favorite variety but with the other flavors, they were fine, which means this would work with your average dull supermarket tomatoes. Pomegranates are in season right now and they add a surprising crunch to this colorful salad. I've made a few modifications to the recipe I made for a dinner party, making the presentation more elegant.

Shrimp, Tomato and Avocado Salad
(serves 4)

4 martini or wine glasses, chilled

12 oz cooked shrimp (small shrimp are fine)
3 medium tomatoes
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1 medium avocado
juice of 1/2 lime
2 tbl lemon olive oil OR 2 tbl extra virgin olive oil and zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tbl chopped cilantro
salt and pepper
large pinch of mild or medium pure chile powder, such as New Mexican red Chimayo
4 sprigs of cilantro for garnish

1. If the shrimp are 31/40's or larger, cut into bite-size pieces, about 1". Place in a medium bowl.

2. Dice the tomatoes and combine with the shrimp. Add the pomegranate seeds, season with salt and pepper.

3. Add lime juice, lemon oil, cilantro, and chile powder to shrimp-tomato mixture and toss gently.

4. Dice the avocado. Season with salt and pepper.

5. To assemble, place 1/8 of the shrimp-tomato mixture in each glass. Then place a small layer of avocado pieces followed by 1/4 of the remaining shrimp-tomato mixture. Finish off with remaining avocado.

6. Chill in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and serve.

Note: Do not chill much longer than 1 hour because the shrimp is likely to get mushy from the lime juice.

Link to PDF of Shrimp, Tomato and Avocado Salad

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Baked Penne with Butternut Squash and Turkey Sausage

Here's a recipe to use the tomato sauce that I posted in my previous blog post dated October 27. This is a tasty fall pasta dish. It uses butternut squash, a beautiful seasonal ingredient. Adding the squash up's the nutrition and makes the pasta very filling with a relatively small portion of sausage. And this is quite filling - it's a grand meal served with a mixed green salad.

The cinnamon is an interesting addition. It evokes Greek pastitsio more than Italian. Greek pastitsio and Italian pasticcio are similar and a bit more complicated than this recipe since they use a bechamel sauce. Both are delicious but this is a lot easier.

Baked Penne with Butternut Squash and Turkey Sausage
(serves 8)

1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
½ cup Dry White Wine
¾ pound Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage, without casings
½ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 pound Butternut Squash, ¾" dice, about 4 cups
2 cups Tomato Sauce

1 cup Vegetable Broth
⅓ cup Heavy Cream
Salt And Black Pepper
1 pound Penne Pasta
3 ounces Soft Mild Goat Cheese (Such As Montrachet), crumbled
3 ounces Shredded Part-Skim Mozzarella

¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450℉. Coat a 13"x9"x2" baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until golden. Stir in the garlic and saute 1 more minute. Pour in the wine and cook until it has evaporated and the onion is browned, about 8 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up into chunks with a spoon, until it is no longer pink. Add the cinnamon.

3. Add the squash, tomato sauce, broth, and cream. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid boils. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered and stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender, 15 minutes. There should be plenty of liquid. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

4. While the squash is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook penne according to package directions until al dente. Drain well.

5. Combine goat cheese and mozzarella in a medium bowl.

6. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir. Add ½ of the cheese and mix well. Spread the pasta in the prepared baking dish, smoothing out the top. Top with the remaining cheese mixture and the Parmesan cheese.

7. Bake until the cheese melts and bubbles, about 15 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Adapted from The Essential Best Foods Cookbook by Dana Jacobi, Rodale, 2008.