Saturday, November 28, 2009

Week 13: Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Fall Apples

I had big plans to test-drive several different stuffing recipes in the first weeks of November and pick the perfect one to take to Thanksgiving.

It didn't exactly turn out that way.

I made one recipe; it was good. And, I decided to make a different recipe (the one listed below) the night before Thanksgiving to take to dinner. Risky, I know, but it came highly recommended.

Cornbread Dressing with Turkey Sausage and Fall Apples
From (recommended by my sister-in-law)
Makes 10 to 12 servings

3 Tbsp vegetable oil
12 oz ground turkey sausage
3 medium onions, chopped
2 C chopped celery
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
9 C crumbled buttermilk cornbread (see recipe below)
2 C fresh sourdough bread cubes
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 tsp fresh sage
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
3 C chicken broth

Warm 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, crumble, and cook completely.

Add remaining 2 Tbsp oil to same skillet. Add onion, celery, and apples (with sausage). Saute until tender. Set mixture aside.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Crumble cornbread. Cut sourdough into 1-inch cubes. Place on large baking sheet. Bake 15 - 20 minutes (stirring every five minutes) or until golden and crunchy.

Note: The cornbread gets really crumbly; it doesn't hold its shape very well. Don't be surprised.

Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Add bread to sausage, onion, celery, and apple mixture.

Butter a 9" x 13" x 3" pan plus a 9" x 9" baking dish. Divide dressing between dishes. Drizzle half of broth over dressing. Bake 30 minutes; remove from oven and drizzle remaining broth over dressing. Bake additional 20 to 30 minutes, or until dressing is browned on top but still moist in the center.

I broke this last step up in to two steps. I drizzled with half the broth and baked for 30 minutes. Then, I took it out of the oven and packaged it up for transport to dinner. Once there, I added remaining half of broth and baked for 20 minutes at 350. It worked out perfectly because the stuffing baked for just as long as turkey needed to cool.

Buttermilk Cornbread
** I made the cornbread the night before the stuffing. **

1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 C flour
2 C yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 C buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
4 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of 9-inch iron skillet with oil. Allow skillet to heat while you prepare batter.

Sift together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter.

Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir together until just blended.

Using oven mitts, remove hot skillet. Pour in batter. Bake for 25 minutes.

The verdict. . . this had a lot of flavor and was relatively easy to make. The recipe definitely made enough servings to fill up some seriously hungry dinner guests. I think I liked this one better than the Sourdough Stuffing with Sausage, Apples, and Golden Raisins. The cornbread really added some great flavor and texture.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Week 12: Hamburger Helper Stroganoff

My mom is a great cook. We never ate Hamburger Helper growing up (unless we were at a friend's house where it happened to be served).

But, when I went to college Hamburger Helper somehow found its way into my meal rotation. I had a little love affair with the stroganoff variety (the one with noodles); it is, in fact, the only variety I like. I used to make it on the counter top of my college apartment in an electric skillet.

I'm not sure if I was feeling nostalgic or what, but I found myself with a serious Hamburger Helper craving while making this week's grocery list. I couldn't bring myself to just buy the box of Hamburger Helper, so I opted for this recipe instead.

There were a surprising amount of Hamburger Helper-esque recipes online. I even found out that Hamburger Helper recently changed their stroganoff recipe, so if I had bought a box there is a good chance I would have been disappointed. In the end I decided on the recipe below because it didn't have any bouillon cubes in it; bouillon cubes freak me out - too much salt.

Beef Stroganoff Hamburger Helper
(I'm totally embarrassed to say that I found this on a message board somewhere and didn't save the original link. I feel horrible that I can't give credit where credit is due.)

1 lb lean ground beef
1 can cream of mushroom soup (condensed)
1 C + 1 soup can water
1 envelope Lipton dry onion soup mix
1 1/2 cups raw egg noodles
1 can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 Tbsp. ketchup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cheese slice

Brown and drain the beef in a large pot.

Add everything to pot with beef, except sour cream and cheese. Simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally or until noodles are tender. I used whole wheat egg noodles. They cooked up great with the amount of liquid listed above.

Stir in sour cream and cheese slice. (I used a Kraft Single slice. Totally gross, I know, but it did the trick.) Serve.

I loved this! It was super, super easy and tasted great. Plus, the left-overs were a great lunch the next day. I'll definitely make it again.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Week 12: Sourdough Stuffing with Sausage, Apples, and Golden Raisins

Confession. I love to eat stuffing but have never made stuffing.

Okay, so that's not entirely true. The only stuffing I've made is trusty, ol' Stove Top.

But, this year one of my Thanksgiving contributions is. . . you guessed it. . . the stuffing, and I cannot bring myself to show up with a box of Stove Top. Thus, the hunt for the perfect stuffing recipe began.

Here's what I know about my stuffing preferences.
1. I prefer stuffing with meat in it
2. Adding the guts that come in the plastic bag in the turkey freaks me out
3. I don't like nuts in my stuffing

My search for the perfect recipe began at Food Network where I found a recipes from my favorite celebrity chefs:
Ina Garten
Giada De Laurentiis

Next step was an email to friends requesting recipes. Much to my delight, at least one friend confessed to never having tried anything but Stove Top, too! The email resulted in a vote for The Pioneer Woman's stuffing recipe, a top secret family recipe, and cookbook favorite.

I narrowed the search down to three and made a commitment to try all three before Thanksgiving. Stay tuned for the results.

Um, yeah. So, I did make a commitment to actually try three kinds of stuffing. But, T-day is now about a week away. I am going to be in Philadelphia instead of the comfort of my own kitchen for five of the days between now and then. The chances of me actually making three different stuffing recipes are slim - unless I eat nothing but stuffing on the days I'm home between now and Thanksgiving. And, I'm afraid if I do that I won't want to eat stuffing on Thanksgiving.

Sourdough Stuffing with Sausage, Apples, and Golden Raisins
from Bon Appetit - November 2009 (page 111)

Makes 16 servings
Preparation for about 45 minutes
Bakes for 45 minutes to 1 hour
Stands for 10 to 15 minutes

1 1 1/2-lb loaf sourdough bread
2 lbs bulk pork breakfast sausage
2 large onions, chopped (about 4 generous C)
2 C chopped celery (about 5 stalks)
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, divided
6 C 1/2-inch cubed, peeled Granny Smith apples (about 28 oz)
3/4 C golden raisins (about 4 oz)
2 tsp ground sage
2 1/2 C low-salt chicken broth
3 large eggs

1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Remove crusts from bread and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 13 cups). Spread bread cubes in single layer on large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until pale golden, stirring occassionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer bread to very large bowl.

2. Saute sausage in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, breaking up into small pieces with back of fork, 8 to 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to bowl with bread cubes.

3. Add onions and celery to drippings in skillet; saute golden brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer to bowl with bread-sausage mixture (do not clean skillet).

4. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples; saute until tender, about 10 minutes. Add to bowl with bread mixture; mix in raisins.

5. Melt remaining 2 Tbsp butter in same skillet over low heat. Add 2 tsp sage; stir 30 seconds. Add sage butter to bowl with bread-sauage mixture; toss to blend. Season stuffing with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Can do all of this one day ahead. Cover and chill.

6. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Generously butter 15 x 10 x 2-inch glass baking dish.

7. Whisk broth and eggs in medium bowl; add to stuffing and toss to mix.

8. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Bake stuffing uncovered until top is golden and crisp in spots, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes and serve.

Week 11: Spaghetti Puttanesca

I never knew I liked puttanesca. The capers and the anchovies totally kept me from ever trying it. But, when it appeared as a special on the menu of one of our favorite restaurants (without anchovies listed as an ingredient) a big glass of Shiraz gave me enough courage to try it.

And, two days later I made my very own version in the comfort of my own kitchen - capers and anchovy (paste) included.

And, the next day I had the leftovers for lunch.

And, two more days later I made it again.

And, the next day I had the leftovers for lunch.

I think I may have developed a bit of an obsession.

It was quick and super-flavorful and a great excuse to pay a visit to my favorite Italian deli. We will definitely enjoy this again and again and again.

Spaghetti Puttanesca
Serves 2 (generous servings)

Adapted from:
Cooks Illustrated
Smitten Kitchen
last weekend's special at Wild Truffle

8 oz regular spaghetti
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 tsp dried flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup pitted chopped Kalamata olives
1/2 lb Calabrese, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp capers, rinsed
1 tsp anchovy paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes and juice
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1/4 C grated Parmesan

Notes about the ingredients - You could definitely substitute whole wheat spaghetti or even another shape of noodles (like penne). I think you could also substitute pepperoni (or turkey pepperoni if you want it really healthy) in place of the Calabrese. The anchovy paste was super easy to work with and didn't produce anything that resembled a fishy taste.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta and cook according to the directions on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium flame. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the parsley, olives, Calabrese, capers, anchovy paste, oregano and crushed red pepper to the skillet, and saute for 2 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes.

When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the skillet, tossing it with the sauce to combine. Top with grated cheese.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Week 10: Green Bean Casserole

Not quite sure what inspired this choice, especially since fresh green beans are definitely out of season in Wisconsin right now. I think I just wanted something really warm and home-y tasting since it is doing nothing but raining here.

Adapted from:
Best Ever Green Bean Casserole
Alton Brown for Food Network

Makes 4 to 6 servings
Take about 45 minutes to make and cook

For the topping:

2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Nonstick cooking spray

For beans and sauce:
2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 lb fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
12 oz mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 C chicken broth
1 C half-and-half

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Combine the onions, flour, panko and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Coat a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and evenly spread the onions on the pan. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Toss the onions 2 to 3 times during cooking. Really. Do toss the onions. Not tossing the onions results in seriously burnt onions. Once done, remove from the oven and set aside until ready to use.

Turn the oven down to 400 degrees F.

While the onions are cooking, prepare the beans. Bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil in an 8-quart saucepan. Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes. I actually blanched for 10 minutes. I wanted to beans to taste sort of soggy in the casserole. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the half-and-half. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 of the onions and all of the green beans. Put in casserole dish. Top with the remaining onions. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.

Will definitely make this again. I think next time I might skip making the onions myself though and just buy some French Fried Onions. That part took a ton of time, smoked up the house, and didn't really turn out all that great.