Thursday, November 28, 2013

Here's to You, on Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, but especially to all of my sisters and girlfriends, who today will work their fannies off trying to fight with the 50lb wet bird, stuff the stuffing , cook it juicy, while not burning or drying it out, whip the potatoes to perfection, de-lump the gravy, sauce the cranberries, and roll out the pies. May your guests love and appreciate you and may you drink so much wine that you frankly, do not care. Throw on those high heels, your mascara, and slap that bird on the table. 
God love ya, for all you do.
 I am THANKFUL you are my friends  Happy Thanksgiving xoxo

Bag the Canned Cranberries! Make This Beautiful Cranberry Conserve in 15 Minutes!

Super easy, fresh and filled with chunky fruit...everyone loves it! 
This picture is before cooking, so you can see all of the beautiful fruit. 

This recipe is for a single batch...however, in the picture here is 5 times the amount.
 We are having two family dinners, so this should be enough! 
12oz bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 apple peeled or skin on, chopped 
1 orange zest and pieces
1 lemon zest and pieces 
1-8 oz bag walnuts-chopped

Add all ingredients (except walnuts) in large pot. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer 15 minutes. Let cool 30 mins. Stir in chopped walnuts.  Chill 2-3 hours, and serve.  Enjoy!! xoxo

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Nobody Beats Martha Stewart's Basic Instruction for Turkey Recipes! So, Here You Go...

As sassafras as I think I am in the kitchen, nobody beats Martha Stewart for basic cooking instruction. So, I am reprinting hers below. I have used the cheese cloth method, and it produces a wonderfully even browning of the skin. I highly recommend not skipping that step. 

The only modifications I offer is that I use my own LaDolceVitaGirl TURKEY BRINE RECIPE at least 24 hours prior to baking (see link). 
Then, I always use Rosemary, Thyme, Sea Salt, and Pepper on the outside of the bird, to season. 
I stuff the inside with my own recipe of LaDolceVitaGirl Thanksgiving, Green Apple Stuffing and I remove bird, cover, and allow to sit at least 30 minutes, prior to serving. 
**Happy Thanksgiving!**

My French Bread with Thyme and Green Apple Stuffing!

Every year people rave about this stuffing, so I just keep making it! 
It's easy and the flavor is immensely satisfying! 

16 cups 1-inch bread cubes, white or whole wheat (2 baguettes)4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)2 cups medium-diced onion (2 large)2 cups medium-diced celery (3 large stalks)
1 cup white wine2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and large diced2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp thyme2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken stock
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Put the bread cubes on a 13 by 18 by 1-inch baking sheet and bake them in the oven for 7 minutes.

In a large saute pan, melt the butter and add the onion, celery, apples, parsley, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Saute for 10 minutes, until the mixture is soft. Pour in wine and saute until wine steams off. 

Combine the bread cubes and cooked vegetables in a large bowl and add the chicken stock. Either stuff the bird, or bake the stuffing at 350Degrees, covered for 30 mins. 

Broccoli, Cheese, Sausage...Strata with a Twist!

The great thing about Strata is that you can switch it up for the occasion and to suit your taste. Our son has just come home to visit from University and loves sausage and broccoli. So, I have whipped this up for a pre-Thanksgiving breakfast! 

8 eggs
1/2 loaf white French bread
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups chopped broccoli 
1 package fresh ground sausage
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 chopped onion
Sea Salt & Pepper to taste
Hot Sauce optional

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. 
Slice French bread into thin slices about 1/2" thick.
Saute ground sausage in cast iron or steel frying pan until well done. 
Add onions to last 3 minutes of cooking.
Quick steam broccoli until tender.
Cover bottom of baking dish with bread slices.
Pour sausage and onion mix, and broccoli, onto bread in baking dish. 

Briskly whisk together eggs and cream by hand, or in a stand mixer for 3 minutes.
Pour eggs over top of pan ingredients to cover all. 
Lay shredded cheese out across entire pan and let sink a bit into the egg mixture. 
Cover baking dish and refrigerate for one hour-up to 2 days. 
Remove pan and bring to room temperature. 
Bake at 350 Degrees F  Approximately 50 minutes-1 hour, until
eggs in center are cooked. Do not overcook. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Homemade Horseradish for Beef Roast or Anything!

I was tired of buying little jars and running out when I made a roast. Thought to myself, "how hard can it be?" So, found some raw at the local grocer. Wow! is it strong! Roast in the slow cooker for tonight and this will be the best compliment!

It starts off looking like this...just chop in sections and throw in food processor on high. Add 2-3 tbsp white vinegar, and 1/4 cup of water and stir. (Don't let the pic fool you. I had first attempted to grate it, and it was not successful! Please use processor :)

TIP: Thanks to my friend, Michael sure to mix it with vinegar immediately to temper the heat. 

Michael also gives a great tip for GROWING YOUR OWN HORSERADISH: 

You need a good sized isolated bed. The leaves grow to about 3 - 4 feet long and they shade everything around them so nothing else grows well nearby. Also, never use a rototiller or cultivator to break up the ground around them or you will find yourself with a hundred new horseradish plants and they are almost impossible to get rid of once they are established.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mini Shepherd's Pies~ A Quick and Easy Family Favorite!

Mini Shepherd's Pies~

I bought these cute little souffle cups at Home Goods a while ago and could not wait to use them! With a pound of organic ground beef and some veggies, they finally got their first run! 
I love this meal and so do the kids...warm, flavorful, and great for a winter's night <3 

1 pound ground beef
6-8 chopped small potatoes (white/redskin/other)
1 chopped onion (white/red/yellow)
1 chopped celery stalk 
1 large chopped carrot
2 cups Cheddar cheese-shredded ( recommend block and shred yourself for best flavor)
2 chopped, fresh cloves of garlic (or garlic powder 1 tsp) 
2 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp sea salt (to beef and again to potatoes)
1/4 tsp black pepper (to beef and again to potatoes)

Any herbs to taste can be added to enhance this dish 

Preheat oven to 350deg F. Preline cookie sheet with parchment to protect from cheese overflow.  

Chop potatoes and boil in water 10 mins, until soft and drain. Mash potatoes with dash of sea salt, pepper, and 1 Tbsp butter. 

Meanwhile, saute ground beef, garlic, sea salt, pepper together in butter. Add vegetables, cover and cook on medium heat, until soft. (Add Rosemary, Thyme, etc. at this time...optional)  

Pour meat and vegetable mixture into souffle or other glass baking cups, spread mashed potatoes on the top-rubber spatula works great-and top with shredded cheddar in a large heaping mound.  Place cups on parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350degrees for 15 mins or until cheese melted and heated through.  

Easily refrigerated/freezable for future consumption. 

Don't skimp on the seasonings in this dish. The vegetables will need to be countered with extra flavor from the meat and seasonings in potatoes!  Also, shredding your own block cheese gives you a better taste in your food and without the added chemicals and anti-fungal agents that shredded cheese typically has :) 

*******Yum!! Enjoy this warm and cozy dish!! ***
La Dolce Vita= The Good Life! 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My Tried and True Turkey Brine Recipe!

This is my tried and true Turkey Brine Recipe! 
Brining takes a little effort, but proves huge results in a moist and flavorful bird. 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Brine Recipe: 
1 Turkey, rinsed, patted dry, neck and giblets reserved (optional)
1 Large, Clean bucket or bin-large enough to hold turkey and water to cover
1 1/2 cups salt-course if possible
1 cup sugar
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp coriander or coriander seeds
2 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 bottle of Reisling or other white wine
2 medium onions
6 garlic cloves-crushed
1 bunch of fresh thyme
1 bunch of rosemary

Bring 1 quart of water, and all ingredients to boil on the stove, stirring until salt is dissolved. Let cool 5 minutes.  

After rinsing and drying turkey place in clean or cooking bag-lined bucket. Add the hot water mixture from the pan and add additional water, enough to cover the bird fully.  If necessary, weigh the bird down with a plate to keep it submerged. 

Place in refrigerator, or add ice as necessary to keep bird at 40degrees. Leave in brine water for 24 to 48 hours, rinse and pat dry before cooking. See my turkey recipe for an easy, flavorful bird here!  


Friday, November 15, 2013

Recipe for Scrumptious Pumpkin Granola Chocolate-Chip Bars!

I made these to ship off to my college boy for his birthday. He is a health fanatic and typical
cupcakes-even from scratch-would not cut it!  So, I grabbed some canned Pumpkin Puree from
the pantry and made these babies.  They are fairly low in sugar, and taste great with Honey on top!

Scrumptious Pumpkin Granola Chocolate-Chip Bars! 
Great for Breakfast! 

2 cups Oats
2 cups Pumpkin Puree (natural drained, or canned)
2 cups Chocolate Chips
1 cup Honey
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 pinch of sea salt

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl. Spread across a large stone pan or baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake at 325degrees, 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool 5 minutes, then cut into 1x2" bar shapes. Let cool completely to serve. Honey on top, optional.  Yum!