Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving Planning

I apologize for the temporary absence from my blog. I haven't really been in the mood for blogging and I have  had many other things on my mind. My husband and I are expecting a baby! I am due May 18th and we are so excited. I have constantly been thinking about the food I am eating, but not in relation to my blog. I have been reading the book Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck. It's amazing how overwhelming it can feel when you hear everything about what you should and shouldn't eat. Nina's book breaks it down into simple, whole, real foods and makes nutrition easier to grasp.

As I got on my computer tonight, I browsed through my blog pictures folder...apparently I haven't been taking any food pictures either! So I decided to share my Thanksgiving planning with you. I am very excited to be hosting again this year. My husband's parents are coming from Iowa. Right now we have 6 guests and are planning on a few more possibly. I am making a few changes from my menu and preparation from last year. I am making more items ahead of time to make the holiday more relaxed. I will be brining my turkey like I did this summer and will use Alton Brown's recipe again. Anyway, enough with my talk! Here is my tentative plan (subject to some changes) to prepare for Thanksgiving. You can watch these videos from Good Eats if you want to learn about brining the turkey and feel like a little bit of weird Alton humor. : )

  • Already made
  • Sunday
    • Shop for final fresh ingredients
  • Monday
    • Put turkey in fridge to thaw
    • Clean house after arrives tomorrow!
  • Tuesday
    • After work, make pie crusts and keep in fridge
  • Wednesday
    • Morning:
      • Make brine and keep in fridge
      • Bake pumpkin and chocolate meringue pies
      • Make Cheesy potato casserole and keep in fridge
      • Make Green bean casserole and keep in fridge (or maybe this recipe?)
      • Make cheeseball dip
      • Make fluff (technical's Cooper family recipe)
      • Prepare relish tray with olives (another Cooper thing : )
    • Afternoon
      • Do something fun with family! : )
    • Evening
      • Place turkey in brine
  • Thursday
    • Morning:
      • Make mashed potatoes and place in crock pot on warm
      • Prepare stuffing and place in crock pot to cook
      • Sweet potatoes...I don't have a recipe yet. 
      • Get turkey in the oven, save giblets to boil for stock to make gravy
    • Relax for a couple hours :)
    • About 12:45
      • Make topping and put cheesy potatoes in the oven to begin cooking (45 minutes)
    • After turkey is done and resting
      • Make topping and put green bean casserole in the oven (20 minutes)
      • Put rolls in the oven to bake
      • Make gravy 
    • About 1:30 
      • Enjoy a meal and count your blessings together!
Now for a few final tidbits. I would love a probe thermometer for my turkey (early Christmas present anyone??). This eliminates opening the oven to check the temperature. Instead you set it to the temperature when the turkey is done, and the timer goes off when it reaches the correct temperature. I also watched this video from Alton Brown (yes, I like his shows and info!). Did you know that bubble wrap will keep food warm for hours? Interesting idea that I may try out. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! We have so much to be thankful for!

This post is linked to Mingle Monday

Monday, September 26, 2011

One Year Anniversary!

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of when I started Cooper Cookin'. I believe I have come a long way from my first recipe post; and as this next post demonstrated, I am thankful I no longer feel the need to have catchy titles with matching first letters. I decided to compile a list of my family's favorite recipes, in order of oldest to most recent, from this website as a celebration of my first year blogging. These are recipes that I make often and enjoy sharing with others. Thank you to all of those who read this blog, your comments really make my day! Have a wonderful week!

1. Taco Ring
A family favorite and most popular main dish on this website. If you haven't made this yet, you need to do so soon! Check out this recent update for ideas on making this a little bit healthier.

2. Herbed Breaded Chicken
Eeek that's a terrible picture but the chicken is no less delicious. Most of the time I just throw in whatever herbs I want and I always use homemade breadcrumbs.

3. Taco Soup
 I actually haven't made this for a while (it's a good fall/winter recipe) but it's always one of our favorites.

4. Garlic Bread
Yummmm I love this stuff. I use whatever bread I have on hand and real Parmesan cheese if I have it too. Always delicious with some pasta...carbs anyone?

5. Cast Iron Seared Steak
So simple and delicious. Make it a treat by spending a few extra bucks on high quality grass-fed beef.

6. Bourbon Chicken
Recently I have quit frying the chicken with cornstarch and usually just stir-fry it with some olive oil. Last time I made this I added diced red peppers and sugar snap peas!

7. Cinnamon Streusel Pancakes with Cream Cheese Drizzle
Knock your socks off delicious and heavenly. These are definitely a rare treat, good for lazy weekends with family visitors.

8. Slow Cooker Maple and Brown Sugar Ham
This recipe is so simple, don't even bother measuring. Just put it in the slow cooker and walk away. Amazingly tasty. I love to save the leftovers for casseroles, soups, and egg dishes.

9. Brownie Bite Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache
Okay, so this isn't something that I've made more than once, but I really shouldn't unless there's going to be a crowd. Because it's that good. I might eat half of it on my own if no one was watching.

10. Puffy Chocolate Chip Cookies
I make these often. Once or twice a month. My husband is addicted, I pretend I'm not addicted. When I wrote this post I mentioned that I wanted to try other chocolate chip cookie recipes, but I just haven't gotten around to that yet because these are always so good. I have the recipe memorized...

11. Simplified Chicken Cordon Bleu
It lives up to it's name, and the flavor is fantastic. This is one of those recipes that I saved my slow cooker ham to use with.

12. Cheesy Chili Mac
This recipe is wonderful and simple. I have recently used only 3/4 pound of meat instead of a full pound and it's just as hearty.

Again, thank you so much for reading my blog and especially for making the recipes! I love it when I hear that someone has enjoyed one of the recipes that I shared. That is what makes me want to continue blogging. And you wanna know a secret? Every time I get a comment or a new follower, I do a little happy dance. : )Thank you!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Simple Roasted Chicken

Yes it's true! You can have a roasted chicken done in about an hour, on a weeknight, and have time to make a side dish! If I told you how easy this method is (not to mention how amazingly delicious), you probably wouldn't believe me. But here it is: Olive oil, salt, pepper, skillet, and your oven. That's all!

And the chicken of course. This fabulous recipe is from my favorite genius cooks at Cook's Illustrated. They tested countless methods to give us the best technique to roast a chicken without 24 hours of brining and planning. You would not believe how much flavor this little bird packed. And underneath that crispy golden skin? Tender, juicy breast meat that will have even dark-meat loyalists reaching for a second taste. Seriously, you have to try this recipe!

But don't throw away that carcass! After lunch, I picked off all the remaining chicken and set it aside. I then put the carcass, half an onion, a few garlic cloves, carrots, and rosemary in a pot. Covered it with water and let it simmer for 90 minutes to make stock. After straining and cooling, I skimmed the fat. As you're reading this, I have Southwestern chicken chili made with the extra chicken and stock waiting for me in the slow cooker. Yum!

A few notes: you may notice that the bird's legs are held together with a foil "rope." I did not have kitchen twine so I improvised and it worked perfectly! Also, the magazine offered a pan sauce but we didn't like the taste of it, and this chicken is perfectly delicious on it's own. One more thing, I didn't read correctly and covered my chicken while it was resting. This took away some of that crispy skin on top and made it kind of deflate as you can see in the photo. So keep your chicken uncovered while it is resting and all will be well. :)

Simple Roasted Chicken
Prep: 10 minutes / Cook: 50-70 minutes / Rest: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 (3-1/2 to 4 pound) whole chicken, giblets discarded
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Place a 10 or 12-inch oven-safe skillet on the middle rack and preheat oven to 450 degrees (I used my 10-inch cast iron skillet).

2. Combine salt and pepper. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Rub entire chicken (top and bottom) with oil. Sprinkle salt mixture evenly over entire chicken. Tie legs together with twine or foil and tuck wing tips underneath bird.

3. Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer chicken to skillet, breast side up (it will sizzle!).  Place in oven and roast for 25-35 minutes, until breast meat registers 120 degrees and thighs read 135 degrees.

4. Turn oven OFF and leave chicken in the oven for 25-35 minutes, until breast meat reaches 160 degrees and thighs reach 175 degrees.

5. Transfer chicken to carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes. You can use this time to prepare a side dish. Carve chicken and serve.

Print Recipe

Recipe source: adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Additional information:

This method works for several reasons. Preheating the skillet allows you to sear the thighs, giving them a head start from the breast meat. Turning off the oven halfway through helps the chicken's exterior cool rapidly, eliminating evaporation of all those precious juices. Heat inside the chicken will continue to cook the chicken until it reaches a safe temperature.

To check the temperature:
Breast: insert thermometer low into the thickest part of the breast, just above the bone. Withdraw slowly and check for the lowest temperature.

Thigh: Insert thermometer into the space betwen the breast and thigh. Angle probe outward slightly to pierce the meat in the lower part of the thigh.

Information from Cook's Illustrated September/October 2011

My Review

Monday, September 12, 2011

Get Ready for New and Improved Taco Ring!

There it is. Taco ring in all it's glory. The most popular main dish recipe on this blog, and for good reason! A year ago I never would have thought twice about using the canned crescent rolls and other pre-packaged ingredients, but this food blogging world has really affected my cooking perspective, and in a good way too. You may remember my first taco ring post and a few changes have happened since then. I plan on giving you all the recipe details soon but for now I will tell you that the above taco ring was made with homemade taco seasoning and homemade crescent rolls! Someday I would also like to make my own refried beans, taco sauce, and cheese! Baby steps! I am currently on my way back from Iowa (sniff) and will be back to my regular recipe updates next Monday. Have a great week!

Linked with Mingle Monday