Sweet ‘n’ Salty

Last week was filled with savory Thanksgiving dishes, so it seems only fitting that I’ve spent most of this week making sweets.  (And writing papers… don’t worry, Mom.)  Besides lingering leftovers, there’s no longer any “real” food in the apartment.

I’m okay with that.

First came amazingly delicious caramel corn.  This recipe (see below) made a whopping 32 cups!

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Thanksgiving Recap

Now that Thanksgiving is over and Gabe and I are happily munching on leftovers, I thought I’d share the recipes I used for Turkey Day.  (You can find a more complete menu here.)  My plan for Thanksgiving was to incorporate traditional foods but serve them in a slightly different way.

First, stuffing.  I fell in love with this recipe.

Sandra Lee’s sage and mushroom stuffing

I’d never cooked a turkey before and was really worried about how it would turn out, but Alton Brown’s recipe worked perfectly.  The meat was juicy!  With crispy brown skin!  I am now a convert to the brining method.  Spread the gospel.

Alton Brown’s good eats roast turkey with Netta’s cranberry sauce

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Crisis Management

When preparing a large holiday meal, crises are inevitable.  This was the first Thanksgiving meal I’ve ever planned and executed, so I received a crash course in crisis management.

First, of course, was the infamous blender mutiny.  It was pretty funny until the night before Thanksgiving, when I finally noticed splattered carrot all over the kitchen ceiling.  The solution?  Prevent my guests from looking up.  The cleanup will have to wait.

Next came the lovely surprise of an unexpected houseguest.  I was forced to remake candied pecans and rolls, and the parmesan crisps went straight in the trash without time to make them again.  (Whole Foods cheese straws to the rescue!)

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Two Days Until Thanksgiving!

After yesterday’s blender mutiny, it took a teensy bit of willpower to get back in the kitchen this morning and keep prepping for Thanksgiving.  Good thing I come from a line of strong Polish women!  :)

Today’s accomplishments: sage and mushroom stuffing, Parker House rolls, lactose-free evaporated milk, pumpkin pie filling, and cinnamon ice cream batter.  And a hot bubble bath.

And because that wasn’t enough fun, I’m working on some recipes that use leftover Thanksgiving ingredients.  For lunch, I whipped up herbed linguine with brown butter, fresh sage, mushrooms, salt ‘n’ pepper, and a little bit of milk (to make it creamy).

Now that's what I call "leftovers"

I’ve never cooked with fresh sage before and was amused to find that the leaves are fuzzy, sort of like a velvety peach skin.  They smell like pine but taste delicious when sautéed.

The other dish I made is still in the oven, so it will have to wait until tomorrow.  Let’s just say that the concept induced eye-rolls from Gabe and my sisters… although that’s not too hard to do!

Here We Go!

It’s a good thing I don’t have class this week; my schedule is crammed with cooking and baking!  Since Thanksgiving is a holiday where it’s all about the food, I decided to do my grocery shopping at Costco.  The grand total?

  • 10 lbs potatoes
  • 5 lbs onions
  • 3 lbs carrots
  • 3 lbs kosher salt
  • 2 dozen eggs
  • 2 lbs pecans
  • 2 lbs mushrooms
  • 2 loaves French bread
  • 15 oz pumpkin puree

And this doesn’t even include the turkey yet!  Phew!

The Calm Before the Storm

Knowing that next week is going to be a wee bit busy, I decided to devote time this past weekend to some low-key cooking.  The goal: make enough food so we can have home-cooked meals all week while ensuring that I can still spend the majority of my time at my desk doing research.  (Oh end of the semester, how did you sneak up on me?)

I know a lot of people love their crockpots for low-maintenance cooking, but I am very particular about how many appliances I own, due to limited storage space.  (My espresso machine and KitchenAid mixer are the clear winners here.  Gabe even had to convince me that we needed a blender.)  Plus there’s a teensy part of me that feels like I’m not old enough to own a crockpot yet.  There, I said it.

Luckily, I do own a roasting pan!  What could be easier than pulled beef?  I’m not a huge fan of barbecue sauce (shhh… don’t tell) so I cooked this roast with a homemade Italian-style marinade.

My carnivorous baby sister should appreciate this photo

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It’s All Greek to Me!

While watching Kitchen Nightmares the other night, I got a sudden craving for Greek food.  Not the so-terrible-we-don’t-even-care-anymore-until-Gordon-Ramsay-saves-our-butts Greek food, but the post-makeover-all-the-screaming-was-worth-it-awesomely-gourmet Greek food.

I started with a time consuming but well-loved tzatziki recipe from The Good Housekeeping Cookbook.  Next time I’ll probably add a little more garlic to give it an awesome zing.

So many cucumbers!

I also made my own pita bread, because a) it’s cost-effective and b) it’s awesome to watch them puff up in a hot oven.

Rise ‘n’ shine

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