Turkey Day Prep: Zinful Cranberries

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This is a recipe I shared yesterday to my wine lifestyle blog #GirlsGoneWine that I love pulling out for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s one that I have been making for a few years. It’s fast, easy, and tastes so good!

Growing up, my family never ate any cranberry sauce that was homemade.  In the preparations for cannedcranberriesThanksgiving, someone was always assigned the task of bringing two cans of jellied and one of whole berry cranberry sauce.  You couldn’t try and pull a fast one by buying store brand.  It had to be Ocean Spray on Grandma’s Thanksgiving table!

When I began cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my own family I automatically followed the same routine until I became obsessed with the Food Network a few years back and made my first foray into making cranberry sauce from scratch.

For the first few years, I stuck with the basic “back of the package” recipe:

  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 – 12 oz bag of whole fresh cranberries

Boil sugar and water, add cranberries and cook 10 minutes over a slow boil until berries have popped, refrigerate until time to serve.  *If you wanted it jellied you strained out the berry solids and skins using a mesh strainer before refrigerating.  BORING!

This year I put some time and creativity into the preparation and came up with a winner:

Zinful Cran-Blueberry Sauce

  • 1 & 1/3 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Zinfandel Wine (Best Quality you can afford – if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it)
  • 1 – 12 oz Package Ocean Spray Fresh Whole Cranberries
  • 1 Cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 1 Whole Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • Orange or Tangerine Zest

Bring sugar, wine and cinnamon stick to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add remaining ingredients and return to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 15-20 minutes.  You may want to use a splatter shield to avoid splashing when cranberries pop. Remove and discard cinnamon stick.  Cool slightly then move sauce to serving dish.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours and serve cold.  Sauce will thicken up as it cools.  Garnish with a few cranberries, blueberries and curls of zest.

Don’t worry, for the holdouts who just can’t stand not seeing the canned Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce, I still have the obligatory dish with the slices in the shape of the can. 😉  #CAGirlsGoneWine

Turkey Day Prep: Buttermilk Brined Turkey Breast

bmilkbrinedtbreast

The biggest gripe I have about roasting a turkey is that, when roasting the whole bird, to get the thigh to come up to the optimal temperature of 170° you often will end up with a dry, overcooked breast that only needs to reach about 150° to be perfectly done.

This afternoon I came across an article on lifehacker.com that solves the problem!  Cook the breasts separately and brine them first in a buttermilk based brine that infuses the meat with an incredible amount of moisture and flavor while also adding some very needed fat to help retain both.

Word to the wise: buttermilk promotes browning so watch your breast carefully as you start to get into the latter stages of roasting.  The breast in the picture had foil on it for the last 15 minutes of roasting.

Buttermilk Brined Turkey Breast

  • 4-5 pound bone-in turkey breast
  • 1 quart of buttermilk
  • 1 quart of water
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 5 smashed garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns (white are ideal)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Citrus fruit slices (A couple of lemons and oranges is plenty.)

Pour the water into a sauce pan, along with the salt, sugar, garlic, pepper and bay leaf. Bring everything to a boil, then remove from the heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Let the brine cool to room temperature. Once it’s cool, combine it with the buttermilk, then pour the mixture over the turkey breast in a brining bag or small bucket. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375℉, remove the turkey from the brine, and let drain on paper towels, blotting to remove excess moisture from the skin. Scatter your fruit in the bottom of a roasting pan or large skillet, place a trivet or rack on top of that, then set the turkey on top. Roast uncovered until the skin is well-browned, covering with foil towards the end if it starts to look dicey. Continue to roast until the thickest part of the breast reads 150℉, about 90 minutes to two hours. If your breasts are Dolly Parton sized 😉 cook them a little longer. Remove from the oven, and let rest for 15 minutes before carving. Sprinkle with some sea salt and citrus zest before serving.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Turkey Day Prep: Pumpkin Pie for the Keto Crowd

easy-keto-low-carb-pumpkin-pie-recipe

This week is all about making Thanksgiving desserts that those in your family who live the Paleo or Keto lifestyle can enjoy with you.  Yesterday was Pumpkin Mousse, and today we’re taking on traditional pumpkin pie in a keto crust.

The great things about this crust is that it can be used for either sweet or savory pies and that, even if you have the most vocal of coconut haters, they shouldn’t be able to smell or taste that coconut is your secret ingredient.

Keto Low Carb Crust

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract- eliminate for savory
  • 1/4 cup Swerve sweetener -eliminate for savory
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup butter cold cut into cubes
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Whisk the eggs, oil and vanilla extract in a food processor or stand mixer.
  3. In another bowl whisk the remaining ingredients together until combined.
  4. Pour the dry and wet mixture into a food processor.
  5. Add the cubed butter. Process by pulsing until it looks like crumbles.
  6. Spray a pie plate with cooking spray and pour crumbles into pie plate.
  7. Press with hands to form dough right in the pie plate. Alternately you can also roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper and flip over into a 9 inch pie plate.
  8. Using a fork randomly make holes into the bottom of the crust.
  9. Bake the crust 10 minutes or until golden.
  10. Cover the crust edges with aluminum foil if using this for a savory or sweet pie that needs to be baked again, otherwise it will burn.
  11. Take crust out of the oven, cool completely, and add your filling.

Easy Low Carb Keto Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 15-oz can Pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup Heavy cream (or coconut cream for dairy-free/paleo)
  • 2 large Eggs (at room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup Powdered erythritol (Swerve)
  • 2 tsp Pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp Sea salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp Blackstrap molasses (optional)
  1. Beat together all ingredients at medium-low speed, until smooth. (Don’t over mix.)
  2. When the pie crust is done baking, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Cool the crust on the counter for at least 10 minutes, longer if you have time.

  3. Pour the filling into the crust. Gently tap on the counter to release air bubbles.
  4. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the pie is almost set but still slightly jiggly in the center. (Check on it occasionally, and if you see the crust starts to brown too much, cover the crust edge with foil and return to the oven until the filling is done. It should still jiggle a bit in the center, like a custard before it sets.)

Cool completely on the counter, then refrigerate at least an hour before slicing. Pie can be refrigerated overnight.

Serving size: 1 slice, or 1/12 of entire pie

Nutrition Information Per Serving

Calories: 244 | Fat: 21g | Total Carbs: 8g | Net Carbs: 4g | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Protein: 7g

Big thanks to Maya Krampf at Wholesome Yum for creating the pie filling & getting the recipe just right!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Turkey Day Prep: Stock

TurkeyStockI have been cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my own family for the past 25 years, or so, and have never attempted to make home made stock.  I never saw my Grandpa (THE Thanksgiving GURU in our family) make his own stock, as far as I knew, canned stock was the only stock there was. #1970sCannedFoodKid 

This year, since I’m trying to keep the meal as clean (read: uncanned) as I can this year to try and keep close to my Keto goals, I thought I’d try to make my own stock ahead of time and put it in the freezer to have for basting the bird and making the (Not Keto) stuffing and gravy.

The biggest hassle with making turkey stock is the fact that you have to make a whole turkey first to have a turkey carcass on hand.  I did find a way around this: I use turkey thighs, because I like the moister dark thigh meat, which I buy at my local grocery store, in this case, the Gelson’s a couple of miles from my house.  I like the upscale Gelson’s Market because it offers antibiotic-free, fresh, organic, and kosher (if that is important to you) turkeys and turkey pieces.

While not an all day process, it is a two part process.  First you have to cook the turkey parts and then you can make the stock.  Luckily the pressure cooker makes both parts easy.

Pressure Cooker Turkey ThighsEasy-Roasted-Turkey-Thighs-3-688x1032

  • 4 turkey thighs
  • 4 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, and chopped into large chunks
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning
  • salt and pepper (if not using the Creole seasoning)
  • 24 oz low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  1. Set your pressure cooker to the “Brown” setting
  2. Add 1-2 TBLS olive oil to the pressure cooker.
  3. Season your thighs liberally.  I prefer to use Creole seasoning but you can use salt and pepper.
  4. Brown your thighs, two at a time, on all sides.  Make sure that the skin side is a deep, golden brown to ensure that the fat is rendered and the flavor is sealed into the meat.  Remove the browned thighs and set aside.
  5. Slip the skin off of the thighs and return to the pressure cooker to render as much of the fat into the pot as possible.
  6. Add the rest of the olive oil and the chopped onion. Saute the onion for about 5 minutes and then add the garlic.  Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add the thighs back to the pot. Stir the onion and garlic up onto the chicken then season with salt & pepper, add the red wine vinegar and the stock.
  8. Lock the lid and cook on high pressure for one hour.  When cooking is finished, allow to return back to pressure naturally (about 30 minutes).
  9. Remove thighs from pressure cooker and put on plate for removal of meat from the bones.  Leave everything else in the pot.

**To Use Thighs For Stock:  The meat will easily shred right off the bone, but don’t worry, plenty remains to flavor the broth.  Store the shredded thigh meat in a covered container or zip bag to use in sandwiches, add to soup or eat in other meals.

Continue Preparing the Stock

  • bones from cooked turkey thighs (retained from recipe above)
  • 1/2 cup chopped turkey thigh (from recipe above)
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly cut into about 1″ pieces
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and roughly cut into about 1″ pieces
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 5 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 tsp pink Himalayan Sea Salt (you can use any sea salt – I like this one)
  • 3 cups water
  1. Add the skin, bones, chopped meat, celery, carrot, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, peppercorns, and salt to the vegetables and cooking liquid already in the pressure cooker pot, then add water.
  2. Pressure cook on high for 60 minutes.
  3. Let the pressure come down naturally – about 30 minutes.
  4. Scoop the bones and vegetables out of the pot with a slotted spoon and discard.
  5. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids.
  6. After the stock is completely cooled, I portioned it into quart-sized zip lock freezer bags.  It can be frozen for up to 3 months.

**Tip – If you use glass jars make sure to leave about an inch of head room or your jar could break when it freezes. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

 

 

Brown Butter & Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

BBToffe ChocChipCookies

I was cleaning out the drawers in my kitchen today, a task I hate and do only when I notice crumbs in the silverware divider (HOW IN THE WORLD DO CRUMBS GET INTO THE SILVERWARE DIVIDER WHEN THE SILVERWARE IS CLEAN?), and found a recipe I’d printed out last year but never made.  Truth be told, there were dozens of recipe print-outs, torn out magazine pages, a few cooking magazines, some torn off box tops with recipes and a few odd labels with the same.

After washing out the divider and putting everything, except all of the recipes, back into the drawers I was drawn back to this recipe and put it squarely on top of the pile to be made next.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

There are a lot of things to like about these cookies, but one or two that could be cons for some:

  • They don’t pretend to skimp on calories or fat
  • They aren’t your run-of-the-mill chocolate chip cookies
  • They have buttery toffee in them
  • They call for chocolate discs instead of normal chips
  • Salt is a featured flavor
  • Con 1: They require extra time to prepare
  • Con 2: The ingredients cost more than everyday chocolate chip cookies
  • Con 3: The recipe makes fewer than 2 dozen cookies – cost per cookie is definitely special occasion or want to impress someone level

It’s really important you know how to make brown butter, so I went to America’s Test Kitchen to get a video to help us all out:

Brown Butter & Toffee Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 chocolate toffee bars (Heath or Skor), chopped into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1½ cups chocolate wafers (disks, pistoles, fèves; preferably 72% cacao)
  • Flaky sea salt
    Cook butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until it foams, then browns, 5–8 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl and let cool slightly.

    Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.

    Add brown sugar and granulated sugar to browned butter. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until mixture lightens and begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Reduce mixer speed to low; add dry ingredients and beat just to combine. Mix in toffee pieces and chocolate wafers with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Let dough sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes to allow the flour to hydrate. Dough will look very loose at first, but will thicken as it sits.

    Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 375°. Using a 1½-oz. ice cream scoop, portion out 10 balls of dough and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing about 3″ apart (you can also form dough into ping pong–sized balls with your hands). Do not flatten; cookies will spread as they bake. Sprinkle with sea salt.

    Bake cookies until edges are golden brown and firm but centers are still soft, 9–11 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough and a fresh parchment-lined baking sheet to make 10 more cookies.

    Do Ahead: Cookie dough can be made 3 days ahead; cover and chill. Let dough come to room temperature before baking.

Pairing Dessert with Wine

dessertwines

It’s no secret that I love food and wine, but even I have to admit that sometimes the wine you drink with dinner may not be the same wine that you want to keep drinking when it comes time for dessert.

Generally, it’s not a bad idea to follow the rule: the darker the dessert the darker the wine.  If you don’t feel secure with a rule that is so non-specific, there are a few other taste guidelines according to the different dessert types:

  • Custard and Vanilla
  • Fruit and Spice
  • Caramels and Chocolate

Custard and Vanillacremebrulee

When your dessert is based around the light, mild, buttery flavors found in most custard based desserts you want your wines to have the same basic flavor profiles.  So, if you are serving a vanilla custard, pudding, flan, crème brûlée, tart or pie, you’ll want to serve a white wine like a late-harvest Riesling, or a sparkling wine like an Asti Spumanti or demi-sec Champagne.  This Vanilla Crème Brûlée from The New York Times is #FastAndEasy and needs only 5 ingredients!

Vanilla Crème Brûlée

  • 2 cups heavy or light cream, or half-and-half
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • teaspoon salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar, more for topping

Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a saucepan, combine cream, vanilla bean and salt and cook over low heat just until hot. Let sit for a few minutes, then discard vanilla bean. (If using vanilla extract, add it now.)

In a bowl, beat yolks and sugar together until light. Stir about a quarter of the cream into this mixture, then pour sugar-egg mixture into cream and stir. Pour into four 6-ounce ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish; fill dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until centers are barely set. Cool completely. Refrigerate for several hours and up to a couple of days.

When ready to serve, top each custard with about a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer. Place ramekins in a broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat source. Turn on broiler. Cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes. Serve within two hours.

Most crème brûlée recipes need a torch, but this one is simpler & safer: it uses your oven’s broiler to get the crackly top.

**TIP: Make sure the custard sets for several hours in the refrigerator before brûléeing the top so you don’t end up with soupy custard.

vanillaspicedpoachedpearFruit and Spice

When your dessert is fruit based with a spicy profile, like those with apple, pear, pumpkin or cinnamon in them, you’ll want to lean toward white wines that have more character to them.   In this case you’ll want to consider Pink or Rosé Champagne, Sauternes, or late-harvest Gewirtztraminer.

Caramels and Chocolates

When your dessert is rich and full of any of the flavors across the chocolate spectrum turtlebrownies1(except white chocolate) or has the gooey richness of caramel’s toffee goodness, then the wines you’re looking for will be Red.  Late-harvest Pinot Noir, Banyuls, Grenache, Australian Shiraz, Port (the classic chocolate pairing), and Grappa all are excellent pairings for these rich dessert choices.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

 

Pumpkin Gingerbread

pumpkingingerbreadI’m not a big pumpkin spice anything girl, but I am a big fan of pumpkin pie and just about any bread or muffin that has pumpkin in it.  I am not, however, a big fan of the amount of fat that usually accompanies those recipes and look for any way I can to trim that aspect down so I can enjoy more of those seasonal treats.

On this first day of October, it may have been 90° and muggy in the shade where I live, but I’m kicking off my fall baking (well after dark) with this recipe for pumpkin gingerbread with no added fat.

Pumpkin Gingerbread

  • 3 Cups sugar
  • 1 Cup applesauce or banana puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 Cup water
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 3+1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1+1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1-15oz can pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, applesauce or banana puree, and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice cinnamon, and clove.

In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Cool loaves completely on wire racks.  Store wrapped in refrigerator.

#ThisGirlLovesToEat