Cider Glazed Turkey

Preparing a turkey is not nearly as difficult as you would think.  Seriously people, don’t be afraid of the turkey.

This was my first time making the turkey for thanksgiving.  I’ve prepared turkey breasts, and thighs before.  Never before had I roasted an entire turkey.  This one was just shy of 20 pounds.  And the oven I roasted it in was not the best in the world.  However, that didn’t matter.

When it was pulled from the oven and sat waiting for carving, people who poked their heads in the kitchen oohed and ahhed.  R even commented that he was pleasantly surprised by how tasty this turkey was.



I am Thankful – Apricot-Orange Aspic

I am thankful for having a roof over my head, food on the table, and having someone to come home to.

I am thankful for working for a wonderful company.

I am thankful for new traditions and old ones.

I am thankful for you, my lovely readers.  Thank you for reading.  This is my 50th post, I hope you’ll stick with me for another 50!

This thanksgiving was wonderful.  There were moments of panic and stress, but seeing all of the happy faces eating food and enjoying great company at the end of the day was worth it.  Cast, crew and family brought the total for the company dinner to about 50 people.  We all were contently full afterwards and still had leftovers.

I’ll tell you about the turkey soon… it was a success!  But first I thought I’d share a dish that is a staple of my family Thanksgiving:  Apricot-Orange Aspic.

It’s a simple, easy dish.  And most people are very surprised at how lovely the flavor and texture is.  This cool jello is a bright, smooth citrus dish that pairs well with traditional thanksgiving dishes.  The brilliant orange hues is a great pop of color amongst the red, brown, and green of a full plate at dinner.  It’s also a great snack, with tons of vitamin C!


Roasted Tomato Soup

Yum.  I kept saying this last night as I savored this delicious soup.  This soup has me thinking of curling up in blankets and sitting in front of a fire on a rainy day.  This is comfort food.

The original recipe is from Smitten Kitchen.  R and I made a few alterations.  We used our own blend of herbs: thyme, paprika, dill, and chili powder.  R also added some oil from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes.  Then I topped the bread with a 4 cheese blend.

When you pull this soup out of the oven after the broiling process the cheese and bread create a wonderful cap, trapping the flavor and warmth of the soup under it.  The roasted tomatoes give the soup a fiery sweetness that pairs wonderfully with the herbs.  The bread soaks up the flavor of the soup and really adds a nice substance to the recipe.

As we sat there, enjoying both the soup and our new kitchen table, I imagined this soup appearing on an upscale “comfort food” restaurant.  While I still love classic American cheese and the red and white can, this recipe is going to replace that staple whenever I have the extra time.

Freezer Burritos – Featuring Fetus Joe Hot Sauce

A friend of mine makes his own hot sauce.  It’s lovely, in that burn your face off kind of way.  He’s made several varieties including: Red Pepper, Strawberry Habanero, Ginger Sesame, Carmalized Onion & Garlic, Apple Bacon, and the Holy F*ck Sauce.  R accidentally sampled a full spoonful of the HF Sauce and had heartburn for two days, but said it was worth it.  Each one has a great heat to it and it’s own unique flavor.

I wanted to make some meals that I could bring to work or heat up when I don’t have time to make a full meal.  I make Freezer Burritos, based on Shutterbean’s Freezer Burritos.  I mixed in the hot sauce with the greek yogurt and boy does it give them a kick.

These are easy to make and eat, just pop them in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.  The hardest part was rolling the burritos, I ate the first few that didn’t roll as well and had ingredients popping out the sides.

These are spicy and gooey and delicious.  It was hard to roll up the majority and put them in the fridge, rather than sitting down and consuming them all.


Artichokes and Olives

The pizza dough recipe I shared earlier was enough for two pizzas.  R and I decided to get a little creative with the second pizza and opted for a few extra veggies.

I am a big olive fan, especially kalamata olives.  I think it’s the sweet, rich flavor that has a hint of saltiness and the tender texture they get when cooked.  Artichokes sounded like a great pair for these olives, with a little bit of feta cheese to add some bite to the pizza.

This hit the spot on a hot summer evening.  Filling and with a fresh, light taste it’s a great summer pizza.  Pair it with a nice glass of wine or summer ale, kick back and enjoy!

Homemade Pizza

Sorry I’ve been MIA for over a week.  A little thing called tech week happened.  And I had to tell my kitchen “I can’t.  It’s tech.”

For those of you non-theatre folk out there tech is short for technical performance.  It’s the time when all the elements come together.  The actors get on stage, lights and sound cues are written, set changes are fine tuned.  In many theatres this process only lasts a week or less.  “I can’t. It’s tech.” is an understood excuse for almost anything when you work in theatre.

So apologize for the lack of posting.  Homemade pizza is my apologetic offering.

The dough is soft and chewy.  Topped with creamy mozzarella and spicy tomato sauce.  Make one with someone you love, or someone you want to impress.  Even if you don’t get it quite right there’s something about homemade pizza that’s better than any delivery or frozen recipe.

Oh and spring for real mozzarella cheese, trust me on this one.

Pizza Dough

1 1/2 cups warm water (105°F-115°F)*
2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups bread flour
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar

*If the temperature of the water is below 105°F the yeast won’t activate, hotter than 115°F and the yeast will be killed.

In a small bowl mix the yeast and the warm water.  Let sit at least 5 minutes, you’ll see bubbles forming.  In a large bowl mix flour, olive oil, salt, sugar and water/yeast mixture.  Turn out onto a well floured surface and kneed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.  Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Let sit in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.

At this point extra dough can be frozen.

Remove plastic wrap and punch dough down.  Divide dough into 2 balls.  Place each in it’s own bowl, cover, let rest 10 minutes.  Turn dough out onto well floured surface.  With lightly oiled hands, start at the center working outwards, flatten the dough down to 1/2 inch.  Stretch dough.  Let relax 5 mintues. Stretch dough.  Repeat relaxing and stretching until pizza dough is 10-12 inches in diameter.  Sprinkle baking sheet with cornmeal and transfer dough.  Top with sauce and toppings.  Bake in a 450°F oven for 10-15 minutes or until dough is browned and cheese is golden.  Enjoy!

California Seafood Burger

It has been getting pretty humid and hot in Virginia lately. This type of weather makes me want to make food that puts traditional summer meals on their heads and has crisp, cool flavors. I’m happy to share my Cali-Krab burgers I made for D with everyone here with my first guest blog. So ‘Hi’ everyone, R here. Hope you all enjoy!

These burgers take common west-coast ingredients and mixes things up for a great lunch that is filling without being heavy, and is different enough to be a hit at your next cookout.

I start with ground chicken (or turkey) and mix in some cracked black pepper, minced garlic, and hickory smoked sea salt, made into 6-8 oz patties. Sear the patties in a skillet (or grill over wood coals) with a medium heat. While they cook, you can prep the other ingredients.

Slice the tomatoes and avocado into 1/4 inch rings. Take a few seconds to pat the tomato down with a paper towel, it will pull the excess juice out and keep the bun from getting soggy. I used pre-made crab salad with shrimp. To make your own simply shred the crab meat, add mayo, shrimp, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and diced celery. Swiss or Loraine cheese works best for these burgers.

Toast butter kaiser roles to use as buns. Build the burger up with the tomato, then cheese, patty, avocado, and pile the crab salad on top. This is no small burger, so encourage your guests to grab some napkins.

The flavors complement each other well, but remain distinct. The Swiss pairs with the woodsmoke in the meat, the rich avocado complements the light and crisp crab salad. There isn’t much need for a side, due to the crab salad on the burger and they match really well with a light, summery beer or a quick sparkling lemonade. This fresh, playful take on a summer classic will have your guests RSVP-ing quickly for your next cookout.

2 Lbs ground chicken or turkey
1 large beefeater tomato
1 Lbs crab salad
1 large avocado
Thinly sliced Swiss cheese
Sea salt, black pepper, hickory smoked salt*, minced garlic

*Hickory smoked salt can be hard to come by. An easy alternative is to purchase ‘Liquid smoke’ and sprinkle it over coarse sea salt, allow it to dry fully before use.

The hands that feed me…

These are the hands that feed me.  These hands belong to a truly amazing guy.  Seriously.  He makes me delicious food, puts up with my quirks and faults, introduces me to awesome TV series, rescues me from lamb, makes little adventures of everyday things,  and makes me feel loved.  In a little over a month I’ll have to fend for myself in the kitchen while he’s off at a summer gig.  I am not looking to being away from him for those months. I foresee lots of phone calls, video chats, and a few care packages.

In the meantime I can enjoy his chicken pot pie.  The crust was store bought, but I’m planning on attempting pie crust in the near future.

Savory, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth chicken mixed with veggies all in a flaky crust.


Garlic Mushrooms on Toast

Often I do not eat at normal times.  Running shows I am usually in before dinner, but don’t leave until when most people go to sleep.  Even when I do have a more normal working schedule I still don’t seem to eat at normal times.  Years of running shows preceded by college has eliminated a sense that dinner should be at a set time every day.

I have been a grazer all my life, I prefer to eat more often and smaller portions.  This, I have heard, is better for you since it helps promote a higher metabolism.  I am a big fan of small, light meals that are easy to make, like this recipe.

I can’t remember where I first saw the idea for this recipe, but when I first started my internship this became a staple post-show meal.  Garlic sauteed in butter with tender mushrooms over toast.  Yum.  When I first started making this recipe the mushrooms were just plain, white mushrooms and the toast was white bread.  But this is an easy recipe to dress up or down, really it’s a suggestion more than a recipe.

Garlic Mushrooms on Toast

1 Garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons Butter
1 cup Mushrooms, diced
2 pieces of Bread (I prefer Rosemary Olive Oil Bread)

Melt butter in a pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Add mushrooms, cook for 3 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.  While mushrooms are cooking, toast bread lightly.  Pour butter, garlic & mushrooms over the toast, distributing evenly.  Enjoy!

*Hint:  Choose a pan large enough to allow the mushroom pieces to have a little space, they don’t properly brown if they are crowded.

Real Chili

R made chili the other night, possibly the best chili I’ve ever had.  While checking out at the grocery store he grabbed a chocolate bar and Pepsi from the “impulse aisle”.  I teased him about having a sweet tooth, but he told me it was for the chili and said something to the effect of: “Real barbecue comes from Kansas City, southerners don’t know how to really barbecue”.  The woman in front of us turned around and gave him a judgmental once-over, the hazard of being a Midwesterner in the South.

The chili was thick, perfect for pairing with cornbread, and had a spicy heat with the first spoonful.  The complex taste finished with a sweet, savory tone that had me in the kitchen ladling out a second bowl.