I think making a turkey is one of the easiest things to do. Once it’s in the oven there isn’t much left to prepare (except sides) and clean up is a breeze. There are tons of different ways to prepare a turkey, but this is how I do it and have always had great results.
Here are a few pointers on turkey making:
- Figure 1- 1.5 pounds of bird per person (leftover turkey is never a bad thing to have and you don’t want to run short)
- Make sure your bird is completely defrosted before cooking. I like to leave it in the refrigerator for 3-4 days before I cook it (shorter or longer amount of time may be needed depending on the size of the turkey). If you don’t have time to defrost it this way or if it’s still partially frozen you can soak it in a sink filled with cool water. If you defrost it this way make sure you clean your sink before and after. Also, change the water out every 30 minutes.
- My way of preparing turkey does not call to brine it ahead of time (soaking the bird overnight in a mixture of water, salt, and sugar), but it is definitely a step you can do.
- Plan to cook the turkey for 20 minutes per pound. You can check the breast with a meat thermometer to make sure it’s up to 165 degrees. Don’t overcook!
- The more you open the oven to baste a turkey, the longer it may take to cook. Heat is lost each time you open the oven.
What you’ll need:
- A roasting pan with a lid (a use tin foil to cover it)
- Cheese cloth (found in most grocery stores). This helps keep juices on the bird during cooktime.
- 1-2 cups chicken broth
- Spices (see step 4 for a list of what I use)
- Baster or ladle
1. Rinse the turkey well and remove and innards.
2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
3. Pour the chicken broth in the pan and set the turkey in.
4. Sprinkle the bird and pan with spices. I don’t measure amounts….I just use a little bit of everything listed: garlic, paprika, rosemary, parsley, pepper, onion powder, salt
5. Melt 1 stick of butter (I put it in a coffee mug in the microwave) and place a piece of cheesecloth (cut the size of the bird) into it to soak the butter. Place the cheesecloth over the bird. Cover the turkey and place in the oven.
6. Baste the bird every hour.
7. Remove the bird when it’s done cooking and remove the the cheese cloth. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes before carving.
How to make gravy:
1. Remove the turkey and any scraps from the pan, leaving just the juices.
2. Place the pan on the stove top and turn the heat on high.
3. In a separte container mix water with flour and shake (the constancy should be fairly thick, but still pourable)
4. Whisk the juices as it comes to a boil and slowly add the water/flour mixture until the gravy is to a consistancy you desire.
Here is a super easy way to make homemade potato topping without all the fat:
- One 16 ounce container of light or fat free sour cream
- 1/4 cup of freshly chopped chives
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- Pepper and salt to taste
Mix it all together and enjoy! If you don’t want as much of the garlic/onion taste use 1/4 tsp of each.
I didn’t really get what the point of cake pops were at first. I thought ‘eat a piece of cake if you want cake’. After giving them a go I now see the fun in making them…and they are pretty dang good! They’re a cute way to jazz up a table, to pass out as party favors, sell at charities, etc.
What you’ll need:
- A box of cake mix (and the necessary components to bake a cake…eggs, oil, etc) or make a scratch cake
- A can of frosting
- Candy coating, chocolate bark, etc
- Lollipop sticks (if you make this recipe without the sticks you have yourself cake balls)
How to make them!
1. Bake a standard sized cake according to the recipe. Let it cool and then ruin it….yes, I said ruin it. Break apart and crumble the cake into a large mixing bowl.
2. Mix in half of a can of frosting and smoosh it together. Roll golf ball sized amounts of the cake/frosting mixture into balls.
3. Melt a small amount of candy coating or chocolate, dip one end of the stick in it, and then place it in the cake ball. This step isn’t necessary, but it makes a huge difference in preventing the cake from falling off of the sticks. It only takes an extra minute to add a small amount of melted candy on the end of the sticks before placing them in the cake balls and once the candy cools it ‘glues’ the two together. You can then place them in the refrigerator to cool and keep there shape, so once you dip them in coating it’s easier.
4. Melt your candy coating or chocolate bark in a double boiler or in the microwave. If you melt it in the microwave melt small amounts at a time, on 1/2 power, and stirring it occasionally as it melts. Stick the cake pop in the melting coating, start to lift it out, and slowly turn it to let some extra coating drip off. Apply sprinkles immediately (if you want) before the coating cools. I used a piece of styrofoam to set the cake pops in while they cooled.
Make these for all sorts of holidays and use different items to decorate…..nuts, coconut (to color it set shredded coconut in a plastic bag, drip in a little food coloring, and shake it up), sprinkles, etc. You can also add a little food coloring to the white candy coating to make the pops different colors.
Do not refrigerate them, but you can freeze them. You can set them out for grabbing or wrap them individually.
If you don’t use sticks, here is an example of cake balls.
We decided to have a ‘spring fling’ again this year and when looking at the calendar we realized the first Saturday of May fell on Cinco de Mayo….a great excuse to have a fiesta! This inspired me to make some new decorations and perfect some much loved recipes from the past. I set up a burrito bar with some amazing meats, made gallons of beergaritas, and displayed some festive themed treats (all recipes will be up soon, so check back).
I spray painted numerous wine and beer bottles with an array of colors for inexpensive table decor, but after all that I took a break to play my new addiction, Bingo! I had recently taken a trip to Mexico, so I picked up a bunch small sombreros and 10 maracas to place around the party. The Mexican flag was purchased online for less than $5 (with free shipping). The large drink dispenser is full of beergaritas and the beverage tub has an assortment of Jarritos soda.
The burrito bar was set up on a back kitchen counter. I taped up some colorful fabric and decorated with Hispanic canned foods, flowers and maracas.
To save time I used a boxed sugar cookie mix, but added cinnamon to give more flavor. A little white frosting, sprinkles, and gumdrops make these cute sombrero cookies.
I cheated on this dessert as well and used a box cake mix…it’s the decoration that matters when it comes to something like this. I just used a little food coloring and black frosting gel to make the Mexican flag.
I like to cover the TV when having parties….why not make everything more festive?!?
We strung colorful banner across the kitchen and placed Mexican pots and statues above the cabinetry.
Nothing says ’fiesta’ like our dog, Greta (who is intently waiting for pepperoni in this shot…it’s the only way we can keep her still).
‘Texas Caviar’ is always a hit. For the recipe Click Here
Why not decorate the back of your toilet?
Make colorful and cheap streamers by coloring doilies, cutting them in half, and taping them across with string.
I can’t help myself when it comes to theme parties….I’m a sucker for a few cheesy elements!
Maybe I went a little overboard on spray painting sticks, but I get obsessed sometimes and have to have every color of something.
Now that summer is here throw yourself a little fiesta!
I love the simple flavors of a caprese salad….basil, fresh mozzarella, and tomato. Purchasing fresh ingredients is the only way to go. If you have space to grow your own basil and tomato plant, even better. Even if you don’t have a yard you can grow these in pots.
I also add a dash of kosher salt and drizzle balsamic glaze (I like the brand Blaze) to really give a punch of flavor.
1. Caprese on a Stick: Spear cherry tomatoes, fresh mini mozzareall balls, and basil leaves on toothpicks to serve as an easy appetizer
Serve in a martini glass for a little extra something
Same idea, but with balsamic glaze drizzled:
2. A Bowl of Caprese: Chop up all the ingredients, mix together, and people can dish up the amount they want
3. Caprese Pastry Bites: Cut pieces of puff pastry, fill with the chopped up caprese, wrap up and bake at 400 degree for 15-20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and puffy.
4. Traditional Caprese Salad: Layer your ingredients
5. Arugula Caprese Salad: Use arugula, chop up tomato and mozzarella, and use the dressing recipe below (or just use oil and vinegar)
Dressing for arugula caprese salad (thanks to my friend, Christina, for making up this recipe)
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- a handful of fresh basil leaves
- 1 shallot
- 1 garlic clove
- salt and pepper to taste
- juice from 1/2 a lemon
Blend together in a power mixer
I don’t think I’ve seen anyone eat this and not fall in love….it is sooo delicious. I first ate this mouth watering appetizer at a friend’s place years ago (thanks Mrs. Taylor!) and have been making it ever since. There are few ingredients, it’s quick & easy to make, and have I mentioned it’s delicious?
What you’ll need:
- 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
- 1 medium wheel of brie or 1/2 a large wheel
- 1 cup Kahlua or any coffee liquor
- 1 cup brown sugar – not packed
- 1 cup chopped pecans
1. Preheat the oven to 410 degrees. Lay some tin foil or parchment paper on a baking sheet and spray with non-stick
2. Lay out the puff pastry sheet
3. Cut the brie in half – horizontally. This way you can layer the ingredients (I like to scrape the white coating off the outside of the brie, but it’s not necessary)
4. Set 1 layer of brie in the pastry and top with 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup pecans, and 1/3 cup Kahlua.
5. Place the other layer of brie on top and add the same amount of ingredients on top.
6. Wrap the puff pastry around the brie and top with another layer of the same amount of ingredients (maybe a little extra if you want).
***Greta is always by my side when I’m preparing food!
7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the pastry is lightly browned and puffy.
8. Serve with crackers or bread. Enjoy!!!
This is one of the favorite recipes that I created. They’re easy to make, there aren’t many ingredients, and everyone who tries these gooey sweet-n-salty delights loves them! 15 minutes prep time, 20 minutes cook time. Makes about 16.
What you’ll need:
- 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
- 1/2 cup softened cream cheese (I like to use whipped)
- 1/3 cup fig preserves
- 1 package (4 ounces) proscuitto
- 1 1/2 cups parmesan (using a mix of parmesan and mozzarella is good too)
- Preheat oven to 420 degrees
- Roll or spread out puff pastry onto a cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper or tin foil for easy clean up – sprayed with non-stick if you want).
- Melt the cream cheese in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to soften it and then spread it on the puff pastry
- Layer the proscuitto, fig preserves, and shredded cheese
- Roll it up and cut into 1 inch slices
- Lay them out on the pan and bake for 20 minutes or until pastry is puffy
- Eat your heart out