Chef Time!

Chef Time!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Holiday Dinners

Anyone can cook a turkey or ham, at least I hope anyone can. But I'm not writing this post to discuss turkeys or hams. Maybe in another post down the road.
If you really want to make your holiday dinners memorable, then I suggest tweaking up your side dishes. Here is just a few of my holiday favorites that I would like to share with you.

World’s Best Stuffing

6 c. cornbread stuffing mix
6 c. bread cubes
3 c. chopped onions
1 c. chopped celery
3 c. chopped mushrooms
1/2 c. butter
1 c. chopped pecans
12 oz. bulk sausage or 12 ounces sausage links, will work
1 tsp. rubbed sage
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. poultry seasoning
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 c. turkey broth or 1 1/2 c. chicken broth

Sauté sausage until brown; remove from pan and cut into small bites.
In a large skillet, melt butter and cook onion, mushrooms and celery over medium heat for 3 minutes or until softened.
Transfer sausage and veggies including any butter that is left in the pan.
To a bowl and add bread cubes, herbs, salt, pepper, pecans and turkey stock, and eggs.
Toss well and adjust seasoning.
Stuffing should be moist but not soggy add more stock if needed Transfer to baking dish and bake in Bake at 325 for 20 covered and 10 minutes uncovered until heated through and crust forms on top.
Or better yet stuff it into a big fat turkey.

Cider-Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 1/2 c. apple cider or 1 1/2 cups apple juice
1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 c. dried cranberries (quick rough chop)

Cook sweet potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until halfway cooked, (a knife inserted into center will face some snap), about 5 minutes. Drain and cool. (You can do this a day in advance and store the cubes in the icebox in a covered container).
Combine cider, sugar, butter, nutmeg and allspice in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Add potatoes and reduce heat so liquid is simmering.
Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cranberries and continue cooking until liquid is reduced to a syrupy glaze and potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. (If the glaze becomes very thick before potatoes become tender, thin it with a small amount of cider or water).
When potatoes are tender, add salt and pepper to taste.

Lemon Roast Potatoes

2 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. olive oil (extra virgin)
1/4 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
Dry mustard
Salt and pepper
6 -10 potatoes  (russet)

Peel and quarter potatoes.
Place in roaster, in one layer.
Whisk together chicken stock, olive oil, lemon juice, dry mustard, salt and pepper.
Taste and adjust.
Pour mixture over potatoes.
Bake in a slow oven at 300-350 for 2-3 hours, uncovered, 'til fork tender.

Pumpkin Poppers

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. pumpkin (fresh or canned, just not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 c. low-fat milk

For Coating
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
2/3 c. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 and spray your muffin pans.
Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl and whisk till combined.
In another bowl, mix together the oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk.
Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix till it’s just combined (you don’t want to over mix).
Fill your mini tins till almost full.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
While they’re baking, melt your butter and in a small bowl combine your sugar and cinnamon.
Let the poppers cool for a few minutes before rolling them around in the melted butter and then plunging them into their cinnamon sugar bath.
If you want less sugary sweetness you could just dip the top of the muffin into the butter & cinnamon sugar.
They look and taste like a pumpkin donut hole...YUMMY!

Supreme Garlic Mashed Potatoes

6 -8 potatoes, washed, peeled and cubed
1/2-1 c. butter
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 c. milk, or more if needed
3 cloves garlic

Boil potatoes and the garlic cloves together.
When tender, mash with potato masher and add butter.
Mash some more; add sour cream and enough of milk to desired consistency.
Season with salt and pepper.
Top with a sprinkling of paprika and parsley flakes.


2 1/2 c. self-rising flour
1 c. self-rising yellow cornmeal
2 tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 1/4 c. peeled, cubed and cooked sweet potatoes
2 c. buttermilk
3 large eggs
Peanut oil

Dipping Sauce:
1/2 c. creamy USA peanut butter
1/3 c. orange juice
1/4 c. orange marmalade
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. water

Combine first 6 ingredients such as flour, cornmeal, sugar, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl; stir in sweet potatoes. Whisk together buttermilk and eggs. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Pour oil to a depth of 1 in. into a deep cast iron skillet; heat to 350. Drop batter, in batches, by rounded tablespoonfuls into hot oil, and fry 1 ½ minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain fritters well on paper towels, and serve immediately with Peanut Dipping Sauce.

Peanut Dipping Sauce:
Process ingredients such as peanut butter, orange juice, marmalade, red pepper and salt in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down the side. With the processor running, add ¼ cup water in a slow steady stream through the food chute, and process mixture until smooth.

Cranberry-Apple Sweet Potatoes

1 21 oz. can apple pie filling
1 40 oz. can cut sweet potatoes, drained and cut into chunks
3/4 c. whole cranberry sauce
2 tbsp. apricot preserves
2 tbsp. orange marmalade
1/4 c. chopped pecans, toasted (optional)

Spread pie filling in an 8x8x2-inch baking dish (2-quart square). Arrange sweet potatoes over pie filling. In a small bowl, stir together the cranberry sauce, apricot preserves and orange marmalade. Spoon over sweet potatoes.
Bake, covered, in a 350 oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through. If you like, sprinkle with chopped pecans.
Makes 6 to 8 side-dish servings

Bacon Maple Yam Budino

3/4 lb. yams
1/2 lb.celery root
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the baking pan
1/3 c. chopped bacon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. milk
3 egg yolks
1/4 c. freshly grated Gruyere

Preheat the oven to 425.

Peel, quarter, and rub the celery root with olive oil, and puncture the yams with a fork, rubbing them with olive oil as well. Sprinkle with salt and roast until soft in the middle, about 30-45 minutes.
Peel the skin off of the yams and celery root (the celery root will develop a crunchy skin) and force through a ricer or food mill. Place them in a small pot over low heat. Separately, brown the butter and add it to the pureed mixture. Render the fat off of the bacon and add it to the mix, as well as the maple syrup and nutmeg. Using a wooden spoon, stir blend. Salt and pepper to taste and continue stirring until slightly dry. Add the flour to the milk and stir to dissolve some of the flour. Add the milk mixture to the pot and continue mixing until thick. Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 300.

Add the egg yolks and the cheese, stirring to combine. Spoon into lightly buttered dishes (I use personal soufflé dishes). Bake until lightly browned, about 40 minutes. If you want a little crunch on top, add some buttered breadcrumbs and broil for one minute or until browned. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Spinach-Stuffed Pumpkins

4 small sugar pumpkins
1 (9 ounce) package frozen creamed spinach, thawed
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 slices white cheese, such as Monterey Jack

Preheat oven to 350.
Cut off tops and remove seeds from pumpkins. Coat the insides with butter, and season with salt and pepper. Replace lids. Place in a shallow baking dish with a small amount of water to prevent bottoms from scorching during cooking.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until insides have darkened yet outsides remain firm. Meanwhile, small saucepan, stir softened cream cheese into spinach until melted and well-blended.
Fill pumpkins with spinach mixture, and top each with a slice of cheese. Return to the oven for 3 minutes to melt cheese if serving immediately. Pumpkins may be covered and refrigerated at this point until ready to serve. May be reheated in the microwave for 2 minutes.

Red Potato Colcannon

1 lb. small red potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. onion, thinly sliced
6 c. green cabbage, thinly sliced (about 1/2 head)
1 c. low-fat milk
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Place potatoes in a steamer basket and steam, covered, until just cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add cabbage and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to low. Stir in milk, salt and white pepper; cover and cook until the cabbage is tender, about 8 minutes. Add the cabbage mixture to the potatoes. Mash with a potato masher or a large fork to desired consistency.

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