Category Archives: More than 30 Minutes

This One is to Show You I’m Serious

A bonus recipe that is probably my second most requested recipe.  Make this Peanut Butter Cheesecake today.  Seriously.


Peanut Butter Cheesecake


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 10 tablespoons Oreo crumbs
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1 1⁄4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 large eggs, at room temp
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1⁄4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 ounces melted milk chocolate (optional)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Set a large tea kettle of water to boil.

Use a 9-inch springform pan. Tear off a rectangular piece of 18-inch aluminum foil, and wrap it underneath the springform bottom and fold up along sides of pan, creating a water-tight barrier. It’s a good idea to use a second piece of foil to ensure water tightness.

Inside the pan, brush bottom and sides with melted butter. Drop in crumbs, and tilt the pan around to coat bottom and sides with crumbs evenly.  Press crumbs into place.

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar cheese and beat about 3 minutes on low speed.  Add peanut butter and beat until combined.

Add eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated. Add vanilla extract, mix. Add heavy cream, mix. Add a pinch of salt. After ensuring all ingredients are mixed evenly and thoroughly, pour mixture into the prepared pan.

Place springform pan into a roasting pan.

Place roasting pan on middle rack in oven, securely, and pour enough boiling water to go half way up side of springform.

Bake for 55-60 minutes. Doing the jiggle test: gently shaking the springform pan, the outside of cake will appear firm but the center will jiggle like Jell-O, and the top will not look browned, thus giving the appearance that it is underdone. But this is what you want because the hot cheesecake will continue to cook.

Turn off oven. Use a wooden spoon to open keep the oven door ajar a couple inches in order to cool. Leave cheesecake in oven for an hour.

Remove springform pan from roasting pan, place on rack on counter to cool to room temperature for 2-4 hours.

Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.  Optionally, drizzle melted chocolate over the top.

I Know It’s Been Years…

I was guilted into posting again. Life got crazy when I started teaching seminary, but things are getting back to normal now.  I don’t have any witty banter or even pictures, but this lasagna is one of the most asked for recipes that I have.  I hope you like it!


Lasagna alla Dave


  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb Italian sausage (mild or sweet), either loose or removed from casings
  • 2 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 8 oz can of tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp basil
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • ½ tsp black pepper



  • 1 16 oz container of small curd cottage cheese
  • 1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese, with ½ cup or so reserved for sprinkling on the top
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp black pepper


  • 1 lb lasagna noodles


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large stock pot, saute onion in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add sausage and saute until brown. Drain fat and add garlic. Saute for another minute or so. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and spices.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Boil lasagna noodles in salted water for a few minutes LESS that what the box says. The noodles should be just shy of fully cooked. Drain the pasta and set aside until they cool off a bit.

Mix all ingredients for the filling in a medium sized bowl.

Once the noodles are cool enough to handle, spread sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 (or larger) pan. Place a single layer of noodles in the pan, then spoon about ¼ of the cheese filling on top of that. Cover this layer with more sauce and then repeat the layers until you have used all the pasta. Sprinkle the reserved mozzarella on top.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has started to brown a bit.  If you have the patience, let it rest for 10 minutes or so after taking it out before serving.

Dairy Free, Soy Free. Really?

Seriously, is life even worth living at that point?  I have my doubts.  A friend of mine recently presented me with this challenge, and I was intrigued by it.  How does one make a meal without butter, cheese, cream, or any of the other things that make life worth living?

I went to the Italian place of my culinary soul (because I’m a masochist) and couldn’t get lasagna out of my head.  So here follows my version of a sausage and vegetable lasagna with fresh pasta and almond milk béchamel sauce.  I used Blue Diamond unsweetened almond milk and I think it turned out really well.


Dairy Free, Soy Free Lasagna

  • 1 Recipe Lasagna Sauce (see below)
  • 1 Recipe Almond Milk Béchamel Sauce (see below)
  • 1 pound lasagna noodles, about 2 minutes undercooked (I made fresh ones, but dried is fine)

Ladle in some sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan.  Layer on noodles, spread a layer of béchamel sauce over the noodles, then top with sauce.  Repeat, alternating layers, until the noodles run out or the pan is too full.  Make sure your last layer of noodles is completely covered with sauce or it will dry out and get crunchy.

Lasagna Sauce

  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
  • 1 eggplant, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into small cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 – 28 ounce cans diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 8 ounce can tomato paste
  • 4 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large stockpot over medium high heat.  Add a tablespoon or so oil and heat until shimmering.  Add sausage and brown well.  Remove meat from pan and drain off all but a couple of tablespoons of fat.  Add the onions and mushrooms, sprinkle with a little kosher salt and sauté until well browned.

While the onions and mushrooms are cooking, lay out the eggplant in a single layer on a plate lined with paper towel.  Sprinkle with salt and then microwave for 2 minutes.  Once the onion and mushrooms are browned, add the eggplant and continue to sauté over medium heat until it breaks down a bit.  Add zucchini and sauté until it starts to soften.  Add red peppers and hit it with another sprinkle of kosher salt.  Sauté all of the vegetables until they are soft, and then push the veg to the sides so there is a small empty space in the middle.  Throw in the garlic and cook it until it starts to smell good. 

Add all of the remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.  (This sauce is actually best the next day, so if you can plan that far ahead, go for it.) 

Almond Milk Béchamel Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk, warmed in the microwave
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Heat oil in sauce pan,  Add garlic and sauté for a minute or so.  Add flour and mix until it turns into a paste.  Cook until the paste turns a light brown color.  Whisk in the almond milk over medium heat and it will thicken nicely after a minute or so.  Add salt and pepper and then taste it.  Remove the pan from the heat and then add the freshly grated nutmeg. 

Fresh Pasta

  • 1 pound bread flour
  • 5 eggs (the fresher the better)
  • large pinch of kosher salt

Mix it all in the food processor until it looks like yellow pebbles.  Dump it all out onto a floured surface and knead it for a couple of minutes.  Put it in a ziploc bag and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour. After the dough is rested, roll it out as thin as possible and cut into lasagna sized strips. 

September Birthdays Everywhere

It seems like there are a ton of birthdays this month of important people in my life.  My youngest turned 3 last week and both my mom and my mother-in-law had birthdays this week.  Apparently they were both recently taken with what I consider to be one of my B-list recipes that I only make when I’m low on ingredients or motivation.  It’s a simple tin foil dinner that you can have prepped in ten minutes or so and then let the oven do the rest of the work.  Happy birthday, ladies, and thanks for all that you’ve done for me!

Foil Dinner

  • 1 lb good quality ground beef, not less than 10% fat (Spring for the grass fed stuff, you won’t regret it)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 large russet or yukon gold potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 8 or so unpeeled cloves of garlic (optional)
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Divide the meat into 4 equal portions and form a rough patty shape.  Don’t over work the meat.

Slice the onion, carrots, and potatoes as thin as you can.  I usually use a mandoline for this.  Tear off 4 large sheets of tin foil.  Alternate layers of potato, onion, and a generous sprinkle of kosher salt, 2 or 3 layers deep, then sprinkle with pepper.  If you’re using the rosemary, this is where I usually put it.  Put the patty on top and then throw on the carrots.  Add the garlic cloves on the edges, if you’re going that route.  Give the whole thing another good sprinkle of salt and then seal the thing up with a drugstore fold.  (Fold it over long ways, then roll up the short ends.) 

Bake the whole thing for 45 minutes or so and then dig in. 

Back By Moderate Demand

Sorry for the long absence, but I have lots of great things to share with all of you.  Here’s a quick pork tenderloin recipe that you can have on the table in next to no time.  Tenderloin doesn’t have a ton of flavor on its own, so a quick soak in a marinade and then some homemade barbeque sauce will jazz things up.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

  • 3-4 lb pork tenderloin
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar

NOTE:  If you’re using charcoal, fire it up before you even start.  You will probably want a full chimney full (hardwood charcoal, of course) and then you’ll add about another half chimney or so after you dump in the first. 

First, rinse the tenderloin off and then pat it dry with paper towels.  Get a sharp paring knife and trim off any excess fat and that shiny white stuff (called silverskin).  On the thicker end of the tenderloin, make a cut down the length of the tenderloin just until the meat starts to taper.  You don’t want to cut all the way through it, just about halfway.  You should be able to open the tenderloin like a book and have a roughly even thickness across the pork. 

Now, whisk all of the ingredients together and then pour into a gallon sized ziploc bag.  Put the tenderloin into the bag and shake it around a bit. 

While the meat is soaking, fire up your gas grill to full blast on both burners.  We’re looking for a HOT grill to drop this on.  If you’re using charcoal, put the coals down in an even pile on half of the grill.  Either way, we want that grate as hot as we can get it. 

Once the meat has soaked for a good 20 minutes or so, you can take it out of the marinade and drain it.  Lay the tenderloin out flat on the hot side of the grill and let it get some good color on it for 4 or 5 minutes.  Once you’re happy, flip it on the other side of the meat (still on the hot side of the grill).  Let it go for another 4 or 5 minutes.  Now turn off one of the burners of the gas grill and then move the meat to the “off” side (for charcoal, the side with no coals).  Cover and let it go for another 15 minutes or so, depending on the size of the tenderloin.  We’re looking for about a 155 degree internal temperature, then we’re going to take it off the heat and let it rest for about 5 or 6 minutes.

After the meat rests, slice it and serve with your sauce of choice.  It’s great with barbeque sauce, chutney or whatever makes you happy.

Stay tuned and I will give you my barbeque sauce recipes next time.

My First Step

I love food.  You know I love food.  There are few things that can get me as fired up as food.  I could talk about it for hours.  I love technology too, but with technology, I don’t get the creative buzz that cooking gives me.  So recently, I’ve been trying to think of ways to connect more with that side of my brain and last night I actually took the first step.

I had the chance to make a three course meal for my brother and his wife for his birthday.  I think it turned out really well and I definitely had a lot of fun.  So much so that I’ve actually set up several more dates to do the same for some of my friends.  I’ll keep you posted. 

So here’s the menu from last night:

  • Roasted Shrimp Cocktail with Chili Cocktail Sauce
  • Pork Medallions with Mushroom Balsamic Reduction
  • Potato Gratin
  • Caramelized Corn with Thyme
  • Apple Cranberry Pastry with Cinnamon Cream

I’m an idiot for not taking any pictures, as it was a thing of beauty.  Anyway, here are the recipes, you’ll just have to use your imagination on how fantastic they looked.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

I stole this from Ina Garten.  A lot of times, the shrimp is boiled and that leaches away the flavor of the shrimp.  Roasting, on the other hand, concentrates flavor.

  • 1 lb of large (16/20) shrimp, the freshest you can find
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Peel and devein the shrimp.  Toss them in a little olive oil and then spread them out on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then roast in a 400 degree oven for eight to ten minutes.  The great thing about shrimp is that it tells you when it’s done by turning pink. 

Remove from the oven and then put in a bowl of ice to chill.  Serve with lemon wedges and this fantastic cocktail sauce:

Chili Cocktail Sauce

  • 1/4 cup of chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup of ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons of prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper sauce (I like Frank’s)
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Mix it all up and serve.

Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Mushroom Balsamic Reduction

  • Pork Tenderloin (I usually figure 1 tenderloin for every 2 people.  You do the math.)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 cup of Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped fine
  • 1/2 pound of sliced mushrooms (any mushroom is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

First you want to put the vinegar into a small sauce pan over medium heat and cook it until it’s reduced by half.  When there’s about half a cup left and it’s syrupy, remove from heat and let it cool off.  Set it aside and we’ll come back to it at the end.

Next you want to trim the fat and silverskin from the tenderloin(s).  Then you want to slice across the tenderloin to make about two inch thick disks until you get to the “tail” end of the tenderloin.  Cut the tail almost in half long ways and then fold it along the cut.  It should be about the same thickness as your disks.

Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper, then get out your heavy skillet.  Heat the skillet over medium high heat, then add a couple of tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil.  When the oil shimmers, put the meat in the skillet, but be careful not to crowd the pan.  (If you need to, cook the meat in batches.)  It’s important to leave the meat alone while it cooks.  Don’t move it around because that will prevent the nice browning that we want.  After five or six minutes, take a pair of tongs and flip the meat and cook for another four or five minutes.  We’re looking for about 140 degree internal temperature.  Remove the meat to a plate and allow to rest while making the pan sauce.

In the same skillet, add a tablespoon of butter, the shallot, and the mushroom.  Cook until the mushrooms turn golden brown, about six or seven minutes.  Add the vinegar reduction, and scrape up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Take the pan off the heat and then add the other tablespoon of butter and swirl around until melted.  Taste the sauce and adjust salt/pepper as desired.  Pour the pan sauce over the meat and serve.

Caramelized Corn with Fresh Thyme

  • 1 package of frozen corn, defrosted (My favorite is Birdseye White and Gold Sweet Corn)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add butter and when it stops foaming, add corn.  Without stirring, let corn cook until you start to see some color on the kernels, five or six minutes.  Stir the corn once, and let the color continue to develop for another couple of minutes.  Add thyme, then salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Apple Cranberry Pastry

  • 1 sheet of Puff Pastry, defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 egg, beaten with a little water

Heat oven to 400 degrees. 

In a small saucepan, combine apples, sugar, cranberries, cinnamon, orange zest and juice.  Over medium heat, cook for 5 or 6 minutes, until the apples soften just a bit. 

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar on the parchment, then lay out the puff pastry sheet on the sugar, pressing the dough a little to make the sugar stick.  Cut puff pastry into four equal squares.  Fill each square with a tablespoon or so of apple filling.  Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg, then fold diagonally and seal the edges with a fork.  Brush the tops of the pastry with beaten egg and then sprinkle a little more sugar on the tops of the pastry. 

Bake for eight or ten minutes, until the pastry is a deep golden brown.  Let cool and serve with cinnamon whipped cream.

Cinnamon Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

In a medium bowl, add cream and whip for a minute or so with a whisk or hand mixer.  Add sugar and cinnamon, and then resume whipping until the cream stiffens and holds its shape nicely. 

It’s FINALLY Here. So Now What?

I absolutely LOVE Thanksgiving.  Preparing this meal is something I look forward to all year long.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Christmas, but I particularly like this time of year to re-focus on all of the things we have to be thankful for.  For me the list has always been long and I am excited to share this time with my family and friends.

For some reason this year several people who will be making this spread for the first time have come to ask my advice, so I know that many will be stressing out over this meal.  To help out, I am going to post my menu for this year and give you the recipes.  This will be a monster of a post, but hopefully it will give you some inspiration for your own meal. 

The Side Shows

Mashed Potatoes

I always have to start here.  This is a must have for me, one of those things that define this meal to me.  I use Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and large diced which I boil until easily pierced with a fork.  Drain the potatoes and then take heavy cream and steam it (or heat it in the microwave).  Melt some unsalted butter (and I do mean butter, none of this fake crap – it’s Thanksgiving for cryin’ out loud) and then mash the potatoes a bit.  Pour in some hot cream and some butter, while whisking the mixture.  Add cream and butter until it gets to the consistency you like, then add salt and pepper.  You really can’t mess this one up.


Gravy is one of those things that seems to strike fear into the hearts of many cooks.  Everyone has experienced the lumpy, floury, greasy failures that I think cause this fear.  Gravy doesn’t have to be hard, though.  You are going to get a fantastic flavor boost for free from the turkey drippings, so all you have to do is to get a good consistency to work with.  For me, a nice blond roux is the perfect start.  I usually sauté some onions in a decent amount of butter because I like the flavor that they bring to the party.  Then add about 1/2 cup of flour (sifting the flour into the pan helps reduce lumps) and cook it for 2 or 3 minutes.  Then add some hot chicken stock and whisk until it gets to a thick consistency.  When your turkey is done, strain out the drippings into a large glass measuring cup and allow the fat to separate out.  Skim off all of the fat and then whisk the remainder into the gravy.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sweet Potato Casserole

No marshmallows in this one, sorry.  It’s full of butter and sugar, so quit your whining.  This one is best started the day before.  Bake 3 or 4 large sweet potatoes until they’re completely soft.  Let them cool.  Peel them and then put the insides into a large bowl.  Beat in about a cup of sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 eggs, 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/2 cup milk and a tsp of vanilla.  In a separate bowl, combine 3 tablespoons butter, a cup of brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour.  Once it’s all mixed up put this mixture on top of the sweet potatoes and then bake at 350 for 30 minutes or so.

Green Beans Almondine

I vacillate between this one and the green bean casserole (with homemade mushroom cream sauce and fried onions, of course).  My problem is that oven time is at a premium on Thanksgiving day as I only have a single oven, which is a sad thing indeed.  So I go with this simple skillet preparation instead.  I take a couple of pounds of fresh green beans with the ends trimmed and cut them in half for easier sautéing.  I boil them in salted water for a couple of minutes, then drain the hot water and dump the beans into an ice water bath to stop the cooking and prevent them from turning an ugly gray.  I then heat a heavy skillet over medium heat and drop a few tablespoons of butter into it.  Once the butter melts, add a minced shallot (or onion or garlic even) and cook for a minute or so.  Add the beans and toss to heat and coat.  Add sliced almonds and cook for another few minutes, then add salt and pepper to taste. 

Caramelized Corn and Mint

Every year, I do an experimental recipe.  Some times it works out, sometimes not.  My only requirement is that I’ve never tried to cook it before.  This year I was reading a food blog which I had never cooked anything from – The Wednesday Chef – and she really sold this recipe, so there you have it.

Dinner Rolls

This is one is from Cook’s Illustrated.  I am not the greatest baker, so I pretty much follow this one as written.

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon water (12 1/2 ounces), room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 3 cups plus 1 tablespoon bread flour (16 1/2 ounces), plus extra for forming rolls
  • 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour (about 1 ounce)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

Whisk water, yeast, and honey in bowl of stand mixer until well combined, making sure no honey sticks to bottom of bowl. Add flours and mix on low speed with dough hook until cohesive dough is formed, about 3 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature 30 minutes.

Remove plastic wrap and evenly sprinkle salt over dough. Knead on low speed (speed 2 on KitchenAid) 5 minutes. (If dough creeps up attachment, stop mixer and scrape down using well-floured hands or greased spatula.) Increase speed to medium and continue to knead until dough is smooth and slightly tacky, about 1 minute. If dough is very sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons flour and continue mixing 1 minute. Lightly spray 2-quart bowl with nonstick cooking spray; transfer dough to bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Fold dough over itself; rotate bowl quarter turn and fold again. Rotate bowl again and fold once more. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes. Repeat folding, replace plastic wrap, and let dough rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Transfer dough to floured work surface, sprinkle top with more flour. Using bench scraper, cut dough in half and gently stretch each half into 16-inch cylinders. Divide each cylinder into quarters, then each quarter into 2 pieces (you should have 16 pieces total), and dust top of each piece with more flour. With floured hands, gently pick up each piece and roll in palms to coat with flour, shaking off excess, and place in prepared cake pan. Arrange 8 dough pieces in each cake pan, placing one piece in middle and others around it, with long side of each piece running from center of pan to edge and making sure cut-side faces up. Loosely cover cake pans with plastic wrap and let rolls rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes (dough is ready when it springs back slowly when pressed lightly with finger). Thirty minutes before baking, adjust rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees.

Remove plastic wrap from cake pans, spray rolls lightly with water, and place in oven. Bake 10 minutes until tops of rolls are brown; remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees; using kitchen towels or oven mitts, invert rolls from both cake pans onto rimmed baking sheet. When rolls are cool enough to handle, turn right-side up, pull apart, and space evenly on baking sheet. Continue to bake until rolls develop deep golden brown crust and sound hollow when tapped on bottom, 10 to 15 minutes; rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time. Transfer rolls to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.


Orange Cranberry Sauce

This is another one to make the day before.  First, use a microplane or zester and get all of the zest off of one orange.  Then finish peeling off the pith and chop the orange into pieces (remove any seeds).  Take a couple of packages of fresh cranberries, put them in a sauce pan and add 1/2 cup of sugar, the chopped orange and a cinnamon stick.  Simmer all of this together until the cranberries start bursting and the sauce thickens.  Then mix in the zest and add a little freshly grated nutmeg.  Let cool and put it in the refrigerator, overnight if possible.


The Main Event


I have nothing against ham.  Or beef.  Or pork.  I am truly an equal opportunity glutton.  For Thanksgiving for me, though, it has to be turkey.  Look at this bad boy from a few years ago:

DSC01118Turkey is pretty simple really.  I soak mine in brine for a couple of days before hand.  I get a cooler, put the defrosted bird in it.  I try to guess how much water it will take to completely cover the bird (usually 4-6 gallons) and then I dissolve 1 cup of kosher salt per gallon of water, a couple of cups of brown sugar, a palm full of whole allspice, 4 or 5 dried bay leaves, 2 or 3 palms full of whole black peppercorns in a gallon or so of water.  I pour this mixture along with the rest of the cold water over the bird, and then add a bag of ice.  Let it sit in the brine for 24-48 hours and then take it out and rinse it off. 

Then take the bird and put it on a roasting rack inside a deep pan.  Let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.  On Thanksgiving morning, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter and brush the bird all over with it.  Then sprinkle on kosher salt and pepper.  Take some chopped onion, celery and carrot and some fresh thyme and put some inside the cavity of the turkey and the rest in the bottom of the roasting pan.  Also, add about a cup of water to the bottom of the pan.  Roast the turkey, breast side down at 400 degrees for an hour or so.  Then flip the bird with one wing up, baste it and roast for about 15 or 20 minutes.  Then flip the bird to the other wing baste it and roast for 15 minutes.  Then flip the breast side up baste it again, and roast until the breast gets to 160 degrees or so (start checking after 30 minutes or so).  Take the bird out and let it rest for 10 minutes or so, then it’s ready to carve.

The After Party

Pumpkin Mousse Parfait

I really like Ina Garten.  She is very classy and yet down to earth.  This recipe is from one of her cookbooks and I don’t really change anything about it.  It’s fantastic!

Apple Pie

My wife is actually the pie maker in our house.  She does a spectacular job and this is her recipe for a most excellent apple pie.

  • ½ cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp table salt
  • 1 tbsp juice and ½ tsp grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 ½ lbs firm tart apples (about 5 medium), peeled and cut into ¼ inch thick slices
  • 2 ½ lbs firm sweet apples (about 5 medium), peeled and cut into ¼ inch thick slices
  • Mix ½ cup sugar, brown sugar, salt, zest, and cinnamon in large bowl.

Add apples and toss to combine. Transfer apples to dutch oven (do not wash bowl) and cook, covered, over medium heat, stirring frequently, until apples are tender when poked with fork but still hold their shape, 15 to 20 minutes. (Apples and juices should gently simmer during cooking). Transfer apples and juices to rimmed baking sheet and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. While apples cool, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place empty rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees.

Remove 1 disk of dough from refrigerator and roll out between 2 large sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap to 12 inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. (If dough becomes soft and/or sticky, return to refrigerator until firm.) Remove parchment from one side of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs plate in place; refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, roll second disk of dough between 2 large sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap to 12 inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate, leaving dough between parchment sheets, until firm, about 30 minutes.

Set large colander over now-empty bowl; transfer cooled apples to colander. Shake colander to drain off as much juice as possible (cooked apples should measure about 8 cups); discard juice. Transfer apples to dough lined pie plate; sprinkle with lemon juice.

Remove parchment from one side of remaining dough and flip dough onto apples; peel off second piece of parchment. Pinch edges of top and bottom dough rounds firmly together. Cut four 2 inch slits in top of dough. Brush surface with beaten egg white and sprinkle evenly with remaining teaspoon sugar.

Set pie on preheated baking sheet; bake until crust is dark golden brown, 45 to 55 minutes. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool at least 1 ½ hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

Who Needs Hawaii?!

No, No No.  I was JUST KIDDING, HONEY!  Remember you said they were awesome.  My son and I were debating about what to make for dessert and so I started listing all the things we had in the pantry to work with.  We had coconut, white and bittersweet chocolate, and coconut milk.  He won’t eat coconut, but he thought it was a good idea to make truffles.  I should listen to that kid more often.


Macadamia Coconut Truffles

  • 1 cup Sweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 4 ounces White Chocolate (I like Ghiradelli bars, not chips)
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 8 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate (Milk is ok too.)
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Roasted Macadamia Nuts (If you want them)

Break up the white chocolate into small pieces and put into a medium sized microwave safe bowl.  Zap it for 30 seconds at a time, stirring until melted.  Add coconut, sugar, and coconut milk, stir until combined,  Put coconut mixture into the freezer for around 30 minutes. 

Break up the chocolate and melt in the microwave, once again for 30 seconds at a time.  Once it’s completely melted, let cool for 5 minutes or so (who has time to temper the chocolate?).  Take the coconut mixture out of the freezer and use a small ice cream scoop or melon baller to form the insides of the truffles.  Drop them one by one into the melted chocolate and roll them around until completely covered on all sides.  Put the truffles onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  If you’re going to use the macadamia nuts, sprinkle them over the tops.

Let truffles cool for at least 30 minutes (try your best) and the chocolate hardens and turns shiny.  Enjoy them!!

A Turkey Is NOT A Cow

I have no idea why people think that ground turkey is a substitute for ground beef.  Sure, with enough salt, Worcestershire, tomato paste or soy sauce you can make turkey an approximation of beef, but it just strikes me as…wrong.  I get the whole less red meat/lower fat/don’t kill the cute animals thing.  (Not that I understand it, but I hear you talking…)  Why not let turkey taste like turkey? 

My dear wife wanted turkey meatloaf.  We have tried turkey meatloaf recipes in the past and that’s largely what produced the above tirade.  So I thought I’d take another path and try to work with the flavor of the turkey instead of trying to make it into something that it’s not.  Instead of bludgeoning the delicate flavor of the turkey meat into submission with umami ridden flavors, I thought why not use the tried and true flavors that everyone raves about at thanksgiving.  (Don’t worry, November will be here before you know it.  I will rock your world.)  So I started with some turkey friendly aromatics, carrots, onions and celery.  I added some ground thyme – always a winner with poultry, and then a touch of butter and garlic.

The feedback from my favorite testers was it’s really good, but the carrots were too much.  (That was a winner in my book – this is a tough crowd).  As always, you be the judge.

Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf

  • 1 pound ground turkey – preferably white meat
  • 1 medium white onion, diced fine
  • 2 medium celery stalks, diced fine
  • 1 small carrot, diced fine (or 1/2 of a medium one)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium clove garlic, smashed and minced fine
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 saltines, pulverized into fine crumbs or 1/3 cup of bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons Heinz chili sauce (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Heat canola oil in heavy skillet or saute pan over medium high.  Add the onion, celery, carrot, thyme, and bay.  After 5 or 6 minutes, add salt, pepper, butter and garlic.  Heat for 2 or 3 more minutes, until the butter is melted, remove the bay leaf.  Scrape out the skillet into a medium bowl. 

Add the turkey, egg, and cracker (bread) crumbs to the vegetable mixture.  Mix well to combine then transfer meat into a loaf pan or baking dish.  Form the loaf shape that you want in the pan.

If you want this to be more of a traditional meatloaf you can mix the ketchup, chili sauce and sugar and spread it over the top of the loaf.  It’s just fine if you leave that out though. 

Bake for 35-40 minutes or to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes or so before cutting.

Yeah, Girly Salad. Wanna Make Something Of It?

Years ago, my wife went to a bridal shower or a baby shower or something like that.  She knows me really well, so she always gives me the rundown of the menu at any of these things.  (She even knows all the questions I’m going to ask before hand, so she pays extra attention to those things even though she thinks I’m a geek.  I’m not worthy!)

Anyway, at this event she had a salad that she REALLY liked, but didn’t get the name of for some reason.  She describes it to me – it has grapes and apples, grilled chicken and bowtie pasta.  She says, “I know you won’t like it…it’s a girl salad”.  How am I supposed to take a statement like that?  What does the fact that I actually really like this “girl” salad say about me?  I like shoes too!! YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT?!

Ahem.  Try this exceptionally tasty, perfect for summer meal and I think you’ll like it too.  Regardless of any other…preferences.

Girl Salad

For the Salad:

  • 1 pound cooked bowtie pasta
  • 2 medium red apples (braeburns are really good, as are red delicious.  you want something with some crunch to it)
  • 1/2 pound green seedless grapes
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • lemon pepper seasoning
  • garlic salt

For the dressing:

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon yellow mustard

Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl until completely smooth.  Chill in the refrigerator while you assemble the rest.

Stem and core the apple.  Cut into bite sized pieces.  Wash the grapes and remove from the stem.  Put fruit into large bowl with cooked pasta.

Generously coat the whole chicken breast with lemon pepper and garlic salt on both sides.  Heat grill or grill pan to high heat.  Grill the chicken for 4 or 5 minutes on each side, depending on thickness.  Remove from heat when done (internal temperature of about 160 degrees F), and allow to rest and cool for a full five minutes.  Cut the chicken across the grain into bite sized pieces, then add to pasta and fruit.  Pour the dressing over the top and toss vigorously to coat.  You can eat it right away, but it’s really good if it can chill for an hour or two first.

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