thanksgiving

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Drop Biscuits

Published March 21, 2016 by jenmatteson

These are by far the quickest and easiest biscuits to make, and wonderful for entertaining. The best part is that the dough can basically be assembled far in advance. A few quick steps, and they can be in the oven in less than 5 minutes.

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You can prepare the dough up through step one (all the dry ingredients and butter), and have buttermilk measured and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Just pour, mix and drop. These biscuits come out nice and flaky, buttery and rich. They melt in your mouth – no joke! I often make these for Thanksgiving, and are the last thing I put in the oven while everything else is getting to the table. Works like a charm!

Want to make these at a moment’s notice, but don’t have buttermilk? Don’t worry – you can make your own buttermilk substitute with these two ingredients you probably do have: milk and vinegar. Simply measure out 1 tbsp. of vinegar and pour into a liquid measuring cup. Pour milk into the measuring cup with the vinegar, filling up to the 1 cup line. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Viola! Buttermilk substitution.

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Drop Biscuits

Drop Biscuits

Source: Adapted from Fresh Direct
Servings: 8-12 biscuits

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.

2. Dump into large bowl, and stir in buttermilk with wooden spoon until just combined. The dough will be very sticky. Using the spoon, drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Lightly spray with olive oil.

3. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 12-15 minutes.

Stuffin’ Muffins

Published November 18, 2013 by jenmatteson

Do you ever get your hopes up for some kind of leftovers, only to find out your sig other (or kids) have finished it off without your knowledge?  More on this in a minute.

Sausage and Apple Stuffing bites

Stuffing is my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner.  I generally prefer a vegetable stuffing, but I don’t mind stepping outside the box a little and adding a little sausage.  It’s Nate’s favorite…just ask Momma Marsha 😉  Unfortunately (and fortunately for my waistline) the only time of year that I eat stuffing is on (or near) Thanksgiving – and plus leftovers, if there are any!  I came across this stuffing appetizer recipe in Food and Wine and had to try it.  It’s basically stuffing in a muffin, hence “stuffin’ muffins”!  Lame, I know.

Sausage and Apple Stuffing Bites

I made these for my girlfriend and myself on Halloween to snack on before we enjoyed our spaghetti squash soup with mushrooms.  I loved them, and lucky for me, they didn’t all come out of the muffin pan in one piece.  Seeing as though I couldn’t possible serve non whole muffins, I got to have a small snack before she got there 😛  Between the two of us, we ate about 6 of these suckers, meaning there were ample amounts of leftovers.  I ate two.  Nate polished the rest of them off as a lunch over the weekend 😦  I was sorely disappointed as I counted on one or two on Sunday night, only to have my hopes and dreams dashed when he told me there were no more left.

Sausage and Apple Stuffing Bites

Long story short (too late), I loved these stuffing bites.  I thought the hot turkey sausage was a perfect complement to the sweet-tart apple.  Certainly any kind of sausage would work, pork, turkey, chicken – sweet or spicy.  These would be an excellent appetizer at any party over the holidays.  Everyone loves stuffing!!

Sausage and Apple Stuffing Bites

Sausage-and-Apple Stuffing Bites

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: Makes 24 mini muffins

Ingredients:

cooking spray
4 oz white country bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup olive oil salt and pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup finely
chopped onion
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 pound hot Italian turkey sausage (use your favorite sweet or hot sausage, turkey or pork will be fine)
6 cloves garlic
3/4 tsp sage
1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled and finely chopped
4 large eggs, beaten
2 tbsp low-sodium chicken broth

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease mini-muffin pan with cooking spray.

2. On a baking sheet, toss the bread with 2 tbsp of olive oil; season with salt and pepper.  Bake for about 10  minutes, until bread is toasted.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

3. In a large skillet, melt the butter in the remaining 2 tbsp of oil.  Add onions and celery and cook over moderately  high heat, until golden, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add sausage, garlic and sage, stirring and breaking up the meat, until no pink remains, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add sausage mixture, apple, eggs and broth to croutons and mix until all ingredients are evenly distributed; season with salt and pepper.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

4. Pack the stuffing into the muffin cups and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and slightly crisp on the top.  Set pan on wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.  Loosen the muffins with a sharp paring knife and left them out.  Serve warm.

Harissa-Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Published October 24, 2013 by jenmatteson

This is my third and final whipped sweet potato recipe of the week.  And I have to say, I saved the best for last!

Harissa Whipped Sweet Potatoes

These whipped sweet potatoes are the same as the original, with the addition of harissa.  What’s harissa, you ask?  Great question.  Harissa is a Tunisian hot chili sauce whose main ingredient is roasted red peppers, with Serrano peppers, and other hot peppers, depending on the region it’s from.  With the addition of some herbs and spices, like garlic, caraway, coriander seed and chili powder, this seemingly simple sauce has a deep complex taste (Harissa can be found at Whole Foods and other specialty stores – don’t count on finding at your local grocer, I couldn’t).  Paired with the sweetness from the potato, this is a match made in heaven.  Give it a whirl for a new take on sweet potatoes!

Harissa Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Harissa- Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 10-12 servings

Ingredients:

6 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 large)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened or melted
1/2 cup sour cream (plain non-fat Greek yogurt would be great)
1/4 cup harissa
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pierce sweet potato several times with a fork and bake on baking sheet for about one hour, until very tender.  Let cool slightly.

2. Peel sweet potatoes, chop roughly and transfer to food processor.  Add butter, sour cream and harissa and puree until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Ginger

Published October 23, 2013 by jenmatteson

Whipped sweet potatoes, take two.

Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Ginger

This recipe is just a small tweak from yesterday’s basic whipped sweet potato.  The coconut cream keeps these potatoes rich and creamy, while the ginger adds a fresh pop!  I’m definitely a traditionalist when it comes to my Thanksgiving table, but sometimes I like to explore a little outside the box.  This would certainly be a fun way to surprise your family this season, but if they’re like mine and are suspicious of anything new or different, just make them any ol’ day of the week this fall.  These are so quick to whip up, and a great source of antioxidants and beta-carotene, why wouldn’t you?  Oh, and if you’re wondering what to do with all that leftover coconut cream, use this helpful tip!

Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Ginger

Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Ginger

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 10 to 12

Ingredients:

6 lbs sweet potatoes (about 6 large)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened or melted
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut cream
1 1/2 tbsp freshly grated peeled ginger
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
unsweetened finely shredded coconut, for garnish

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pierce the sweet potatoes several times with a fork.  Place on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, until tender.  Let cool slightly.

2. Peel and roughly chop sweet potato, then transfer to food processor.  Add butter, coconut cream and ginger.  Puree until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve and garnish with shredded coconut.

Whipped Sweet Potatoes and a Lesson on the Difference Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams

Published October 22, 2013 by jenmatteson

Have you ever wondered what the different between a sweet potato and a yam was?  Have you ever stood in the grocery store, staring at both, thinking, they look pretty much the same?  Well, technically, you’re right.  The USDA has perpetuated an error in labeling sweet potatoes “yams”.  In most cases, sweet potatoes are labeled with both terms, thus adding to the mass confusion.  There are two types of sweet potatoes, one with a creamy white flesh and golden skin, and the other with an orange flesh and copper skin, generally labeled as “yams” by the USDA.

The mis-label began in colonial times when Africans saw similarities in the sweet potatoes and their native yams.  The USDA decided to call them “yams” to differentiate the two varieties of sweet potatoes.

So, really, what is a yam?  Yams are native to Africa and Asia, as well as some other tropical regions.  They are starchy tubers that have a skin that is almost black and bark-like.  The flesh is white, purple or even reddish and they come in many varieties.  Yams are usually found in international markets, and somewhat unlikely that you’ll find them at your local grocer.  (Huffpost Taste)

There’s your lesson for the day, now let’s get down to the cooking!  Everyone loves mashed potatoes (don’t they?), but have you had mashed sweet potatoes?  Sweet potato fries and baked sweet potatoes are popping up all over in restaurants and kitchens across the country, and I think mashed (or whipped) sweet potatoes will be the next big thing!  In the latest Food and Wine, three different whipped sweet potato recipes were featured, and I couldn’t help but make them right away – just for you, just before the holiday season.

Whipped Sweet Potatoes

This recipe was fantastic.  It’s rich and creamy, and very satisfying.  Using the food processor ensures there are absolutely no lumps, giving a smooth, velvety consistency.  Try it out on your Thanksgiving table this year!  Stay tuned in this week for two variations on this basic recipe!

Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 10-12 servings

Ingredients:

6 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 large)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened or melted
1/2 cup sour cream (plain non-fat Greek yogurt would be great)
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pierce sweet potato several times with a fork and bake on baking sheet for about one hour, until very tender.  Let cool slightly.

2. Peel sweet potatoes, chop roughly and transfer to food processor.  Add butter and sour cream and puree until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Meatless Monday: Sweet Potato Biscuits

Published October 21, 2013 by jenmatteson

I’m gearing up for the holiday season and trying to get some good recipes out for you to impress your family and friends this season.  This week’s focus will be on sweet potatoes.  Nothing says Thanksgiving, or even just fall, like sweet potatoes.  Many people aren’t really sure what to do with them, and many people think they don’t like them as they’ve only tried sweet potatoes in the form of pies.  I love sweet potatoes, but I’m not a huge fan of sweet potato pie – at least the ones I’ve tried in the past.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

But, there are many things to do with sweet potatoes, other than fries and pies.  I saw these biscuits in the latest Food and Wine and wanted to make them right away.  Seeing as though I had three mashed sweet potato recipes to try out, I figured, what’s one more?!

To me the biscuits don’t look quite as appetizing as a regular buttermilk biscuit, but they definitely taste just as good.  There is just a slight hint of sweetness hiding between the many flakey, buttery layers.  This would be a fun twist on your usual dinner rolls this Thanksgiving!

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: Makes 24

Ingredients:

1 cup chilled sweet potato puree*
3/4 cup chilled buttermilk
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus 1 tbsp melted butter for serving

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sweet potato puree and buttermilk.  In a larger bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut butter into the flour until the mixture resembles very coarse crumbs.  Stir in the sweet potato mixture until a soft dough forms (the dough will be very dry, but don’t worry, that’s how it should be).

3. Dump the dough out onto a work surface and form into a 1-inch thick round.  Using a biscuit or cookie cutter, stamp out as many biscuits as you can, reforming the remaining dough to stamp out more biscuits (or like me, free hand it with a paring knife).  Gently arrange biscuits on prepared baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.  Brush with melted butter and serve warm.

* To make the sweet potato puree, pierce a large sweet potato with a fork several times and microwave on high power for about 10 minutes or roast at 350 degrees for one hour, until tender.  Let the sweet potato cool slightly, peel, and puree in food processor.

Chicken Pot Pie

Published December 7, 2012 by jenmatteson

I was recently asked by my aunt to cater her annual cookie exchange for 10 ladies.  I was so excited – it was officially my first catering gig (though I did tell I’d do it for just the cost of groceries seeing as though it was the first time I was doing this for someone other than myself or my own friends).  She hosts this event every 10 years, as it changes from each person’s house every year.  The dinner is seated and fairly fancy.  We talked quite a bit about the menu and she had a fairly good idea of what she wanted, so that made things quite easy for me to work with.

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

She really wanted to do something that was served in individual dishes.  I came up with a list of ideas and she settled on pot pies.  She also gave me the idea to use almond milk, which I’ve never used before, for the sauce.  I believe it was the base to a sauce she had at another event.  So I went on a mission to start working on the filling.  Thankfully, it was just after Thanksgiving and I had a bunch of leftover turkey, so I used that (though the real thing would be made with chicken).  The sauce turned out wonderful, but now I had to perfect the crust.  I originally used a pastry recipe from Ina Garten, and it was pretty good.  My intent was to make that for the event.  However, I did have some leftover pie dough in my fridge from Thanksgiving (not really sure why I saved it, but glad that I did).  I tried using that crust over the pot pies and it was absolutely to-die-for perfect!

Chicken Pot Pie

The event turned out great!  I only had one minor set back, which was not accounting for extra baking time with so many things in the oven.  No biggie. It all turned out wonderfully for my first real event.  For the rest of the meal, I served mini twice baked potatoes as an appetizer, a roasted pear salad with champagne vinaigrette, toasted walnuts and gorgonzola, and for dessert, thick mint ice cream sandwiches.  She had a blue Christmas theme going on, and wanted to use her Christmas martini glasses for a blue non-alcoholic drink.  I concocted a yummy fruity blue Christmas drink (there is an adult version, too ;)).  Thank you to my Aunt Kay for believing in me, food untasted, to take on such an important event!

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

Source: Filling is Pigzilla Original, pastry from Food and Wine
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

For the pastry:
Perfectly Flakey Pie Crust

For the filling:
4 tbsp butter
5 tbsp flour
2 cups almond milk, warmed
1 cup low sodium chicken broth, warmed
salt and pepper
1 tbsp rosemary
1/2 tbsp thyme
olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 small Yukon gold potatoes, par-boiled (about 8 minutes), peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled, diced and blanched for 2 minutes
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 cup cooked chicken breast, I seasoned mine with turmeric

Directions:

1. Prepare dough for pastry.  I highly recommend using this perfectly flakey pie crust recipe. This will make enough for 6 pot pies.

2. In a large, deep sauce pan, melt butter over low heat.  Sprinkle in flour and whisk until flour is dissolved.  Slowly add in almond milk and broth.  Increase heat to medium and bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Allow sauce to thicken to desired consistency, then reduce heat to a simmer.

3. In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add onions, potatoes, carrots, peas, corn, turkey, rosemary and thyme to sauce.  Simmer for 5 minutes more, then remove from heat.  Evenly divide the mixture into 6-1 cup ramekins, slightly mounding mixture over the top in the center.

4.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Remove dough from refrigerator and divide into 6 equal portions.  Roll each into a small ball, then roll out into 8-inch rounds.  Brush the outside rims of each ramekin with egg wash then place dough rounds on top, trimming dough to 1/2-inch larger than the ramekins.  Tightly press the dough to the sides to make it stick.  Make three slits in the top of each pie, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Place on baking sheet and bake until tops are golden brown and filling is bubbling hot, about 50 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.  They will be HOT!

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