Saturday, December 24, 2011

Crispy Turnip Fries

Hello! I've been away from blogging for too long! Travels and holiday activities have slightly taken over, and I am so glad to finally get to posting again. :) I hope you didn't forget about me...'cause I'm still here! 

Oh, and did I mention I got my first iPhone? It has been stealing a lot good amount of my attention. ;)

Anyway, back to food. I had another "first" a couple of weeks with turnips. They look like white beets, but aren't as sweet and have the consistency of an apple or jicama. What was I going to do with them?

I went to my trusty Google to tell me all the things that I could do. And then I picked something that would go with the bratwurst I was wanting to make for dinner. Turnip FRIES!

I cut them up in thin sticks, then tossed them in canola oil, grated parmesan cheese, a little garlic powder, paprika, pepper, and a tiny bit of salt. I adapted mine from this {recipe} I found on

Then I baked them up in a hot oven, 425F, for 20 minutes until they crisp up a little. They are pretty watery, so they don't crisp up like potatoes do, just be warned. They have a smaller starch content, which is why these are a pretty healthy alternative!

To accompany by turnips, I braised my bratwurst in white wine that I had from Thanksgiving dinner - if I had a beer, I would have probably used that, but I didn't, so I found the wine as a replacement, and it worked!

I served it up with another side of collard greens and smoked chicken (leftover from a previous dinner). And guess what hubby liked the best?

You guessed it, the turnips! Shocked me. Try these out sometime if you run across turnips in your CSA box (or your shopping cart!).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Persian Fried Rice

Personally, I like restaurant leftovers. I know that lot of people don't like bringing food home because it just isn't great when you "nuke" it in the microwave the next day. Fried items get soggy, meats dry out, salad wilts - I get that.

Other foods, however, heat back up really well. But then there's the issue of not wanting to eat the same thing all over again. Some of you need variety. I get that too.

Hubby had a brilliant idea of what to do with some leftover rice and meat from a Persian restaurant we took some visitors to last week. "Could you make fried rice with that?" he asked. Sure, I answered. That's a great idea! I was just going to heat it up and serve it as it was! He's a smart one, my hubby.

We had chicken, beef, and two types of rice dishes. I also had onion, broccoli, and baby bok choy from my CSA box. This was perfect becuase we needed some vegetables and some color.

I parboiled (quickly and partially cooked) the broccoli florets that I had cut up by placing them in a small bowl and pouring boiling water over it, letting it sit for a few minutes. When the stems are tender and the tops are bright green, it's done. I have one of those electric hot water kettles, so this process made it SO much easier than boiling a pot of water on the stove and throwing in the broccoli. I need to file this tip away for later use.

While the broccoli cooked a bit in the bowl, I chopped up my onion and bok choy, along with the meat from the restaurant - all into bite-sized pieces.

With some canola oil in a hot pan, I sauteed the onion, bok choy, chicken, and beef.

Then  added both types of rice, the broccoli, and seasoned it all with salt, pepper, a little garam masala (Indian spice mix), and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. It needed a little lemon to "brighten" up the dish. Food Network stars always say that. Now, I have too.

I cooked it over medium heat until the rice and meat were warmed through and moist again. We poured a couple of glasses of apple beer (I think it was Belgian), and sat down to eat a remodeled dinner.

I was reminded, with how yummy it turned out, what a great idea it is to use leftover rice in a fried rice dish. It's easy because you really can use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge and whatever meat you may have either in the fridge or freezer (bacon is always a good add-in). Frozen peas or green beans, canned corn or mushrooms or water chestnuts or pineapple (!)...the sky's your limit when it comes to a simple fried rice.

Make it with Chinese flavors like soy sauce and sesame oil or Middle Eastern with cinnamon and coriander. Or, like I did, you can use Persian ingredients and put in a little Indian spice. Use the rice as your canvas for a delicious, comforting meal.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gingerbread Santa Hats

I, like many of you out there, have (recently) joined Pinterest, a website that allows you to create virtual bulletin boards of things that you like, love, and/or admire - things that inspire you, things that you dream of making or baking or replicating someday. And this site, can suck you in. Almost worse than Facebook. Just sayin'.

One day, while I was inside the vacuum that is Pinterest, I found these Santa hat treats, made of brownie, whipped cream and whole strawberries. C-U-T-E!

So, when my friends had a little Christmas get together this week, guess what I made?

Instead of brownies, I made gingerbread (from a box mix from Trader Joe's from my mom-in-law).

I baked the "cake" in a small rectangular Pyrex (glass) dish. I let it cool, and then I took a 2-inch round biscuit cutter and cut out circles like this...

Then, you're left with all the scraps that look like this...

Beware - it is VERY tempting to eat ALL of the scraps immediately. Don't do it! Save some for later!
 I washed and cut off the tops of the strawberries, then dried each one with a paper towel so that the cream would adhere to the berry.

There's that pumpkin plate again. I can't bring myself to put it in storage quite yet.

I was short on time, so I bought whipped cream in a can instead of doing my own...doing my own would have been better. I realized that I could have controlled the firmness of the cream better had I whipped it in my stand mixer. This cream sort of melted quicker than I was expecting.

Anyway, to assemble the hats, top each cake or brownie circle with cream, add a strawberry, and top the point of the berry with a teeny bit of cream to form the hat's pom-pom.

Note: If I had used my own whipped cream, I would have placed the strawberry directly on the cake, then piped the rim of the hat around the berry. Also, if you plan to serve these at another location than your home, I would assemble them at the place where the party is. I messed that up too (got too anxious and then the berries were sliding around in the car. Not good). Ah well. Shoulda-coulda-woulda blah blah blah. :)

The result is a sweet treat to share with friends and family. Add Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies to the plate, and you've got a party!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pumpkin & Butternut Squash Ravioli

This dish was my favorite discovery from our Thanksgiving meal. I hadn't made it before, so it was risky to serve it for a holiday dinner, but oh my, was it worth the risk.

I found a recipe on - click {this link} for the web page. I guess Emeril was my go-to guy for T-Day. I made two of his recipes on the same day!

I did almost everything the same, except that I used a mixture of butternut squash and pumpkin puree, I used wonton wrappers in place of homemade pasta dough, and I added balsamic vinegar to the sauce (at the suggestion of a friend).

And, the result was delicious, rich, and left folks wanting more. Just what a cook hopes for, right?

You start by sauteeing finely diced shallots in a little bit of butter, then add in the squash puree and cook it for a few minutes, so that the moisture evaporates a bit.

Then you add half & half, grated parmesan, and nutmeg.

Then, you assemble the ravioli. This job is most enjoyable with help. That's my niece, Rowan. She was a great help and we finished so much quicker with her assistance! As you can see, we used wonton wrappers and sealed the ravioli with egg wash, and then cut the edges using a cookie cutter. On Thanksgiving we made hearts, but with the leftovers I just did circles.

Once the ravioli is put together, I found that it helped to separate each layer with plastic wrap or parchment paper, and then let it sit for a while so that the pasta dried out a bit.

Slip each ravioli in the boiling water individually, so that they don't stick to each other, and stir the pot to keep them separate. Then when the pasta floats up to the surface, they are ready to fish out.

Meanwhile, let a good amount of butter melt in a large pan and let it cook at a low temperature until it starts to brown. Add sage leaves to the butter, then add the ravioli. Coat the pasta with butter, and then drizzle about 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar over the ravioli (about 15 ravioli at a time). Work in small batches if you're making a lot so that the ravioli don't break in a crowded pan.

Top with shaved parmesan cheese, and enjoy!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Making Over The Turkey Leftovers

We didn't have a ton of turkey left over from the holiday - it was so scrumptious, most of it was consumed on Thanksgiving Day. Hubby did an awesome job smoking it on our Traeger Smoker Grill

I spent a good 40 minutes picking all of the meat off the bones until I had a heaping pile of shredded, smoky, goodness to play with. Here's how we ate (and are still eating) our leftovers. 

Classic Turkey Salad Sandwich Mayo, mustard, hot sauce, sweet relish, salt & pepper mixed with turkey, served with sliced cranberry cheddar cheese (leftover from the cheese plate) on onion cheese bread (leftover). Aunt Deb's cranberry jello salad on the side. :)

Isn't that pumpkin plate cute?
Open-Faced Hot Turkey Sandwich with Roasted Vegetables More toasted onion cheese bread topped with turkey reheated in gravy. I roasted broccoli, fennel, and onions for a side dish. Note: the broccoli was charred a bit in the oven (I overestimated the timing), but hubby liked it like that...they were like broccoli crisps. He asked that I do that again sometime soon. Heehee.

Turkey Rice Porridge "Jook" with Shitake Mushrooms This is my family's classic meal made with turkey leftovers. I made about 6 quarts of stock with the turkey carcass and veggie scraps the day after Thanksgiving. This week, I took the about 2.5 quarts of stock and added 1 cup of uncooked, short-grained rice. I let it boil and then simmer for 3-4 hours until the rice breaks down and fills the whole pot and thickens the liquid. Then I added shredded turkey, diced shitake mushrooms, and salt to taste. That's comfort food for a cold, windy day. Tasty soup to warm your insides. Yum.

These three dishes pretty much used all of our turkey! How did you makeover your leftovers?