Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Make It From Scratch: Vanilla Extract, Part 2

Hurrah for adorable and homemade gifts!! 

I finally dug my vodka bottles out of the pantry and got some 4 oz. jars ordered.  So last night, I got everything strained and poured and labeled and ready to wrap up as Christmas gifts.  And I'm pretty darn pleased with how it all turned out.  Scratch that - I love how it all turned out!

Updated Cost List (for a double batch):
Vanilla Beans: $25.19
Vodka: $24
24 Bottles & Lids (including shipping): $27.27
Labels: no cost, because I already had some in our office supplies
Ribbons: no cost, because I had some leftover from my Sarandipity days

With my two vodka bottles brewing in my pantry, I ended up having enough vanilla extract to fill nearly 30 of the 4 oz. bottles!  But because I only ordered 24, I poured the rest into canning jars to keep for myself :)  So, for 30 bottles, the cost per 4 oz. bottle works out to around $2.60 per bottle.  Which is dirt cheap for real vanilla extract.  Plus, you can't beat an adorable personalized and homemade gift, am I right?

Now, Let's Bake Something!


Pin It
Print Friendly and PDF

Wash your jars and lids and have them ready, with a funnel, for pouring.

I first tried straining with a coffee filter, but that took forever and eight days.
This fine mesh sieve does a decent job, but will allow a few seeds through.

Using a funnel, pour into each jar, leaving a little extra space for a piece of vanilla bean.

Snip off a small section of your vodka'd vanilla beans for each jar.
I like the end with the curl because it looks pretty in the jars. 

See?  Pretty!

Then, whip up a cutesy personalized label to slap onto each jar.

And gussy up with a ribbon.  Perfect for gift giving!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Oh My Good Gravy

Why is it that when I'm digging through the containers of Thanksgiving leftovers, there never seems to be enough gravy for the mountain of leftover mashed potatoes and turkey?  And by that point, there aren't any drippings handy to whip up another batch of gravy.  What to do, what to do....

You can make this no dripping gravy!  The original recipe was intended to be a flavorful vegetarian gravy, so you can make this with either chicken stock or vegetable stock, depending on your needs or what you've got sitting in your pantry cupboard.  The rosemary, poultry seasoning, and vegetables add amazing flavor to the stock, and it smells unbelievably delicious as it's cooking.  This recipe makes a ton, so you'll definitely have enough to cover all those leftovers and then some.

Because this doesn't rely on pan drippings and because it actually doesn't have a ton of fat per serving, I'm most definitely adding this to my regular dinner rotation.

Turkey Coma Part II,

Oh My Good Gravy
(aka Gravy Without Drippings)

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. finely diced onion
1 c. finely diced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 sprig fresh rosemary
32 oz. chicken or vegetable stock *
salt & pepper to taste
1/3 c. cornstarch, dissolved in 1/2 c. broth or water

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onions and cook, stirring often, until caramelized, about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms, garlic, butter, and poultry seasoning, and cook until mushrooms are tender, about 2 minutes.  Add rosemary sprig to pot and pour in stock.  Bring to a boil and keep at a medium boil for 10 minutes, to reduce.  Remove rosemary sprig and season with salt and pepper.  While gravy is boiling, whisk in cornstarch and continue boiling for 1 minute.  Serve immediately, or allow to cool and cover with plastic wrap before refrigerating.  Makes about 3 cups.

* Note:  If your container of stock is only 26 oz, don't bother opening another container to reach 32 oz.  I've made this with both size containers, and it's yummy either way.

         Pin It

         Print Friendly and PDF

Caramelizing the onions will add much more flavor than just cooking them to tender.

Pour in the stock and keep at a medium boil for 10 minutes, to reduce.

Friday, November 25, 2011

(Leftover) Turkey Lentil Soup

Oh boy.  Who's still full from yesterday?  And who ate way too much dessert and not enough veggies?  Just me?  I suppose that's not terribly surprising :)

This recipe is a yum-yummy way to use up some leftover turkey (or roast chicken) while getting in a bunch of vegetables and lentils for antioxidants and fiber.  It leaves you feeling nice and cozy, but not heavy or sleepy.  And doesn't it feel so good to scoop up all those brightly colored veggies after a day of Thanksgiving feasting?

Spending Today in My Fleeze PJ Pants (Not Shopping),

Turkey Lentil Soup
adapted from Allrecipes

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 c. lentils, rinsed
16 oz. salsa
2 c. cooked turkey, diced
6 c. low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
5 oz. spinach or collards or kale
salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion, carrots, and celery and saute until celery is tender, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are tender, about another 3 minutes.  Add lentils, salsa, turkey, and broth and bring to a boil.  Turn heat to medium-low and simmer for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in spinach or collards and simmer 5-10 more minutes, until greens are softened.

         Pin It

        Print Friendly and PDF

Ingredient Lineup:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blue Cranberry Sauce

Poor cranberry sauce is so low on the list when it comes to Thanksgiving Dinner.  It's been relegated to a jiggly can-shaped mass that gets picked at out of politeness.

But, not any more!  This cranberry sauce is jazzed up with blueberries, cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla.  It sounds a bit crazy, but it definitely brings poor cranberries out of their doldrums.  And the color is such a gorgeous addition to your table.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Blue Cranberry Sauce
adapted from Allrecipes

12 oz. fresh cranberries
1 c. water
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pint (16 oz.) blueberries

Wash and pick over cranberries. Place in a medium saucepan with water and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until cranberries burst. Slightly mash the cranberries with the back of a wooden spoon to ensure all skins are broken. Add the spices and vanilla and mix well. Remove from heat and mix in the blueberries; don’t be afraid to break a few, but don’t overmash. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Transfer to a bowl, cool slightly, and place plastic wrap directly on the sauce to cover. Serve warm or refrigerate until chilled.

Note: This can be made up to three days ahead of time and stored in the fridge.

        Pin It

        Print Friendly and PDF

Ingredient Lineup:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Fun: What Are You Most Thankful For?

My favorite bridge on the Greenway paths near our house.

Happy Friday, you lovely cooks!  I thought it might be fun to post a few photos of things I'm thankful for.  And, to invite you all to fill up the comments with all the big and little things that make your heart smile. 

I'm thankful for my favorite taste-tester, my sometimes camera man, and the person who encourages and praises me the most on this planet.  And I'm thankful for his parents who raised such an amazing man.

I'm thankful - and really missing! - all my family back in the Pacific Northwest.  This photo is with my parents, siblings and spouses, two grandkids, and grampa.

I'm so thankful to be living in a place where Fall - my most favorite season - is just so beautiful. 

I'm thankful for my crazy, sweetheart of a dog, Rory.  She makes me laugh every single day.

And, who isn't thankful for from-scratch, still-warm chocolate cake?! :)

Let's hear it - What are you thankful for this year?

And, Thank You!

Pin It

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sage Stuffing

Oh, sage, how I love thee.  You taste amazing (especially with butter), and you look just beautiful (5 points to the first person to guess my favorite color!).  

Last year, I took my gramma's stuffing recipe and threw in fresh sage, simply because I had it on hand.  And, oh what a fantastic decision that was.  It pushed an already yummy recipe to perfection.  

I have a few tips for making stuffing:
- Opt for larger cubes and strips of dried bread to keep your stuffing from becoming a gooey paste.  You can buy bags of stuffing cubes from your grocery store bakery.  

- If you don't like mushrooms, don't use 'em.  Throw in something else!  People add all kinds of things to their stuffing; there are a million variations.

- If you don't like giblets, don't use 'em.  My gramma also used to add sausage to her stuffing, and a popular variation is to make it with oysters.  Go right ahead.

- You can prep all the veggies a few days early and store them in your fridge to save time on Thanksgiving Day.  Once you have the ingredients prepped, it only takes about 15 minutes to get it all cooked and mixed and into the pan, ready for baking. 

- You can call it dressing if you want, and we'll all still know what you mean :)

Sagey Sagey,

Sage Stuffing

1/2 c. unsalted butter
1 c. celery, diced
3/4 c. onion, minced
8 oz. mushrooms, diced
4-6 fresh sage leaves, finely minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1lb. dry, day-old bread cubes
14oz. (or more) broth from turkey giblets (or chicken broth)
Turkey giblets, optional

Optional:  Place turkey giblets into a medium saucepan with enough water to cover by 3”. Boil on low for 1-2 hours, while you’re preparing the other dinner items. Add more water if necessary, to keep the giblets well covered. Remove giblets from broth and finely chop for stuffing. Strain and reserve broth for stuffing mixture.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add celery, onion, and mushrooms, and sauté until nearly tender, about 3 minutes. Add sage and cook until vegetables are tender, about 1 more minute. Remove from heat.  Add salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and giblets, and then stir in bread cubes. Stir in enough broth to moisten all of the bread well, without making soggy.

Bake until stuffing is hot and the top is lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

         Pin It

        Print Friendly and PDF

Ingredient Lineup:

After combining the bread cubes with vegetables and sage,
add 14oz. broth, or enough to moisten the bread without its becoming too soggy.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...