Saturday, December 22, 2012

Slow-cooked Turkey Breast with Gravy

When it comes to holiday cooking -- or entertaining in general -- I typically find the logistical side of things much more daunting than the actual cooking. Figuring out when to make everything so it's all done at the same time is challenging, but finding space to cook it all can be almost impossible.

This fall, I tested various cooking methods with turkeys in an attempt to get them out of the often. This slow cooker recipe ended up becoming such a favorite that the hubby requested it three times within the span of about six weeks. That's a lot of turkey.

The downsides to this recipe include the fact that this makes a turkey breast, not a whole turkey. And the skin doesn't crisp up, so you lose that wow factor (and the flavor of the toasty skin).

But this recipe is so easy, and the meat is so tender and delicious that I don't even miss the skin, which I shouldn't be eating, anyway. And the drippings make fabulous gravy, which I doctor up using my dad's tried-and-true cream of chicken soup method.

Slow-cooked Turkey Breast with Gravy
Makes 8-10 servings

  • 1 bone-in turkey breast (about 6-7 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 14.5-ounce can chicken broth
  • 2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can water
  • 4 heaping tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
    1. Put turkey in 6-quart slow cooker. Rub with butter. Combine the salt, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder and pepper; sprinkle over turkey. Pour broth over turkey. Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours, or until tender.
    2. Remove turkey from slow cooker. Cover with foil and set aside.
    3. Pour turkey drippings into a pan on the stove top; skim fat from drippings.
    4. Add cream of chicken soup and 1 can water and combine. Bring gravy to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium. Simmer about 10 minutes.
    5. Combine cornstarch and water. Return gravy to a boil and add cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly. When gravy reduced desired thickness, reduce heat to low. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    6. Carve turkey and sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve with gravy.

    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    Snickerdoodle Bread

    Snickerdoodle cookies are such a holiday favorite of mine that I can't bear to save them just for the holidays, so I was pretty excited to stumble upon this recipe for snickerdoodle bread. The recipe was a cinch and made the house smell heavenly.

    I made four mini loaves and two extra-mini loaves with this recipe, and actually only managed to snag a few slices before the entire stash disappeared. My mother, the main culprit behind the disappearing bread, claimed that it tasted even better after it sat tightly wrapped for a day or two.

    Snickerdoodle Bread
    Makes 5 mini loaves or 2 large loaves

    • 2 1/2 cups flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 1 1/2 cups (1 package) cinnamon chips
    • 2 tablespoons flour
    • 2 tablesopons sugar
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 5 mini loaf pans (about 5 3/4“ by 3 1/4” by 2 1/4").
    2. In a medium bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups flour and baking powder.
    3. In a separate bowl, use a mixer to cream butter, 2 cups sugar, salt and 2 teaspoons cinnamon until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
    4. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix to combine.
    5. Add flour mixture, stirring until just combined.
    6. Coat the cinnamon chips with 2 tablespoons flour and stir into batter.
    7. Spoon batter into pans (don’t fill more than 2/3 full.)
    8. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over the top of the batter in the pans.
    9. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. (If you're making large loaves, increase the baking time to 60-70 minutes.)
    10. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from pans. When fully cool, wrap tightly in plastic wrap to store.

    Wednesday, December 19, 2012

    Roasted Autumn Vegetables

    I'm back! Or at least, I hope to be. The short delay I'd intended with my blogging turned into more of an indefinite leave of absence as the hubby and I have been adjusting to our new schedules. As I mentioned many, many moons ago, we bought our local newspaper and now find ourselves working nearly four full-time jobs between the two of us. A few things had to give in the schedule, like blogging. And cleaning.

    But not cooking. In fact, I find myself cooking as much now as I ever have. A big part of that is because I write a weekly food column in the paper, so I'm constantly testing new recipes, or remaking favorites with new, newspaper-friendly photos.

    But I do miss blogging, and I'm hoping to get back to it, although maybe not as often as I did before. And probably with fewer step-by-step photos. And I promised my fellow publishers that I'd put any new recipes in print, first -- although I'm not sure if my column is that hot a commodity!

    I'll start by attempting to backfill some of the recipes I've worked on the past several months, so some of them might seem a bit out of order or out of season. And then once I catch up, hopefully things will get back to normal!

    I'll start with Roasted Autumn Vegetables, which might not sound terribly exciting, but is a healthy and tasty side dish that's especially great around the holiday season. This dish is simple and colorful, and pretty hand-off.

    • Swap in other root vegetables or change the quanitites according to your preferences.
    • If you double the recipe, put the vegetables on two pans and rotate them halfway through the cooking process.
    • Leftovers taste great in soup. Saute some shallot (or a little onion and garlic), add broth, and then add leftover vegetables and cooked tortellini. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.
    Roasted Autumn Vegetables
    Makes 6 servings
    • 1/2 pound baby carrots, halved
    • 1 medium red onion, cut in 16 wedges and separated
    • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut in 1-inch chunks
    • 1 large sweet potato or yam, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
    • 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut in 1-inch pieces
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon dried (rubbed) sage
    • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray large jelly roll pan with nonstick cooking spray.
    2. Place vegetables in pan. Pour oil over vegetables. Sprinkle with seasonings and stir to coat.
    3. Bake 35-45 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.