So much food!!!

I have so much to write about and adventures to share!

During the month of May, I spent 10 days in the Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan’s true upper peninsula. This past weekend, Chris and I flew down to Puerto Rico for a friend’s wedding. Oh my, the food we ate! We had roadside Puerto Rican, some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten (all the better following a rainforest hike). We also had some things I couldn’t really identify aside from “meat and maybe that’s a plantain.” And we even visited a Catalan (kind of like Spanish) restaurant for the best meal of the trip.

Fortunately, I’m on a break for my classes this week so I should be able to get some posts up and even have some pictures, of food and views.
More details to follow

Words Not Needed, Really

We are back in Michigan (blah) and I’ve got five or 6 posts about Florida in the pipeline.

But for now, I have a present:

View from our front yard
View from our front 'yard'

(click to make bigger)
Came home to this scene tonight. I knew it was the front of the snow that was coming our way. But still beautiful.

Making it up as I go along, part deux

Now this, I really did just make up as I went along. I had to make a dish to pass for Thursday’s holiday luncheon at work. I planned to make something like the squash risotto but then I just did not feel like doing all the stirring required. And cutting up a hard, awkwardly shaped squash.

On our sign-up sheet I had marked “casserole” and US/Italy as the country (this year’s theme was international). A little departure from that but I definitely think I got the US of A part down!

All American Rice Casserole

Ingredients

1/2 bunch asparagus
1 small red onion
1 can creamed corn
5-6 cherry tomatoes, halved
Gouda cheese
brown rice (2 cups dry)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
chicken broth
nutmeg
sage
salt/pepper
1 mashed clove of garlic

Directions

  • I cooked the rice in the rice cooker first. Took about 40 minutes for 2 dried cups of short grain brown rice. I let that work its magic while we ate dinner (see Part 1). When ready, preheat oven to 350°.
  • Trim asparagus, set tips aside then cut stems in to 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Quarter the red onion then slice thinly.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds then add red onion. Sprinkle a little salt on the onions to encourage the water to come out.
  • Season onions with 1 teaspoon dried sage and 1/4 tsp nutmeg (I grated part of a whole nutmeg using a microplane grater). Reduce heat to medium-low and allow onions to soften and begin caramelizing.
  • Meanwhile, spread cooked brown rice in the bottom of a large casserole dish. Unless the rice is very moist, pour a 1/4 to 1/2 cup broth (chicken or vegetable) over it. Sprinkle generously with grated Gouda cheese. Spread 1 can of creamed corn over the rice and cheese. Season with 1 teaspoon dried sage and a dash or two of nutmeg.
  • When onions have just started to brown, add sliced asparagus stems to pan. Cook 2-3 minutes until asparagus turns bright green.
  • Spread onion-asparagus mixture over corn in casserole dish.  Cover completely with grated Gouda; get right up the the edge of the casserole dish.
  • Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove covering and raise temperature to 475 or turn on broiler. Scatter tomato halves, asparagus tips and sliced (or slivered) almonds over top of casserole. Cook 10 minutes more until almonds begin to turn light brown. I did this under the broiler, about 8-10 inches from the element. Closer in, I would say 5 minutes or less- watch for burning!
asparagus corn casserole
asparagus corn casserole

 


Since I really did just make this up as a I went along, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Then I was late getting in the buffet line today and wondered if I’d get to try out my own dish! But I did. It was about 1/2 gone (and completely gone by the time the serving was over). I’m pleased but I would say that this dish is best served hot from the oven with the cheese bubbling. Being reheated and held in the oven dries out the rice.

Turkey Day Prep

I’m hosting Thanksgiving Day at our place this year. With Chris & I, my parents, brother and his wife, I’ll be feeding six with plans for some leftovers.  I have a few requests plus things I’m absolutely going to make because its not Thanksgiving without them.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I love fall, I love turkey and oh yeah, it also happens to be my birthday.  I was actually born on Thanksgiving Day.  Jen, one of my oldest friends was born 3 days before me (at one point we had it figured out to the second), my grandpa and I shared the same birthdate and Jen’s son was born the day before my day. His birthday happened to fall on Thanksgiving that year so although I was disappointed she couldn’t hold out one more day, we still have the turkey in common (I think she had him a day early on purpose- I told her if we shared a birthday she had to name him after me!).

So, the menu:


One turkey or other bird of a size to feed 5.  My mom is a vegetarian.  My brother offered to bring me a chicken or rather a couple of chickens but once I figured out he meant still alive, I politely declined. I can’t imagine the apartment neighbors would appreciate that too much.  Plus, I’m definitely sure the cats would be less than thrilled.   So if I can find a smaller turkey, I’ll do that otherwise I’m going to look for a big chicken.

In the past, I have brined my bird and I believe I’ll do that again this year.  It was fabulous and juicy with crispy skin.  Brining is just soaking the meat in a salt-water solution mixed with some other seasonings.  Tips on brining can be found HERE, HERE or HERE.  Most importantly, do not brine a turkey that has been treated with a saltwater solution or a kosher turkey – it will be very salty.  I usually  brine overnight then take the bird out, rinse it and let it airdry in the refridgerator.  You get better skin that way.

Gravy – made with drippings from the turkey, not from a jar.

Mashed potatoes – Red skin potatoes made with cream cheese.  A little different but rich and creamy while still having home-made lumps

Stuffing – I’m very particular about my stuffing. I do not want something that looks like it could be used to spackle walls.  The cubes of bread will be distinct.  Although I call it stuffing, technically, I’m cooking it outside the bird.  Usually I add nuts, cranberries and celery & onions to my stuffing.  I might do water chestnuts this year.

Corn – Really basic but I like corn with my stuffing and gravy. I’ll just use frozen.

Baked beans – per request of my brother. Baked beans with bacon.  I figure this is ideal for the slow cooker.

Green Bean Casserole – Oddly, I’ve never made this before.  Its not one of my favorites but it was Chris’s only real request.  He gave me his mom’s recipe and I guess I’ll just follow that.

Baked Butternut Squash – I’m using this recipe here from Simply Recipes.  Chris wanted (still wants) me to make the squash risotto from the other day but I think that’s too much starch with the stuffing and potatoes so I’m going this route instead.

Rutabaga – ha ha, not really.  I cannot stand this stuff but my parents like it so they can bring it, if they want but it better be pre-cooked since I don’t even like the smell of it cooking.  Ugh.

Biscuits – Simple drop style I think

Pre-Dinner nosh:

Peel & eat shrimp – When Chris’s mom sent us 3 lbs of shrimp for his birthday, we froze about 1/2 to save for Thanksgiving.  Now we just need to find some decent cocktail sauce.

Cheese, glorious cheese – Gotta have a cheese plate!  And crackers w/ veggies too.

Desserts

I don’t really have any thing here yet.  We’ll probably make spritz cookies with our giant cookie press from Williams-Sonomoa.  And I saw this ginger-oatmeal cookie with dried cranberries in a magazine.

In the morning, my parents are coming up early and we three are walking the Lansing Turkey Trot 5k. As Chris did not want to participate, he is assigned the job of making breakfast for us when we get done.  We won’t have dinner until late afternoon as my brother and his wife are driving in from Iowa.