Wednesday, November 15, 2017



I Love cooking on Special Days, Thanksgiving is one of those DAYS...I have cooked many a Turkeys and tried a few different methods. I think I have found that I like brining. I have use a wet brine and though I like it the Turkey does not get that golden brown color I like to see. So I am sharing a recipe I found and use....It's perfect!!!

This turkey dry brine recipe has just a touch of orange and maple mixed with the traditional Thanksgiving flavors.  I love it so much! So this year if you facebook me, you live near....tell me you want a jar and I will deliver it to you!!! I am making it in the next few days, grew all the herbs, garlic and onions. If you want to Gobble and Wobble in great taste, try it!!!

Dry brining simply means pre-salting with salt and/or other herbs and seasonings. There’s no water or liquid involved and no mess.

The salt helps draw out the moisture. Then that moisture dissolves the salt crystals. And this is where the magic happens: the now dissolved salt, moisture and seasonings get reabsorbed back into the meat all the way down to the bone. The salt helps break down the tightly woven proteins resulting in the most tender, moist meat. And the seasonings get infused throughout the whole bird. You won’t want to make a turkey (or chicken) any other way once you try it!

Dry Brining benefits include:
  • far more flavorful than any other method 
  • crispy golden brown skin and moist, tender meat 
  • less mess compared to a wet brine 
  • no fancy equipment 
  • super easy 
  • turkey is prepped and ready to go for the big day 

Recipe: Dry Brine Turkey Mix. A touch of orange and maple added to the traditional Thanksgiving flavors is a delight to the tastebuds!

Ingredients

¼ cup coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon maple sugar ( because it adds a touch of wonderful maple flavor, but if you can’t find it, you can use brown sugar or coconut sugar.
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder


Instructions
Mix all the ingredients together.

How to Use Dry Brine:
*Use 1 tablespoon of dry brine for every 5 pounds of meat* Pat dry the outside and inside of the turkey. Then season the entire outside and inside cavity using the dry brine. Don't forget to loosen some of the skin and season directly on the meat, too, especially on the breasts.
Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 12 hours up to 72 hours (the more time it sits in the fridge, the more flavorful it will be, but you'll still get a really great tasting bird even if you do the minimum time)
When you're ready to cook, pat dry the outside of the turkey and cook using any method you prefer. I like the long and slow oven roasting method: 325 degrees F for approximately 15 minutes per pound.


Notes

If you are not stuffing your turkey, add the orange you used for your orange zest to the cavity! I also like to add in an onion, a few cloves of garlic and a handful of fresh rosemary, thyme and sage. SO YUM!

Monday, October 30, 2017



When your Gardner Guy fills up the Refrigerator with carrots it's time to make a  Carrot cake!!!


Makes 1 (9-inch) double layer cake (16 to 22 slices) or 22 to 24 cupcakes

YOU WILL NEED


2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups (295 ml) canola or other vegetable oil
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1 cup (200 grams) lightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
3 cups (300 grams) grated peeled carrots (5 to 6 medium carrots)
1 cup (100 grams) coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup (65 grams) raisins
FROSTING
8 ounces (225 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (140 grams) powdered sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup (50 grams) coarsely chopped pecans, for topping cake or carrot peels and spearmint leaves for a fun look.

DIRECTIONS

  • MAKE BATTER
  • Heat the oven to 350ยบ F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper then grease the top of the paper. Or, grease and flour the bottom and sides of both pans.
    In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and the cinnamon until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, sugars and vanilla. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until blended.
    Switch to a large rubber spatula. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, stirring gently until they disappear and the batter is smooth. Stir in the carrots, nuts and raisins. Nuts and raisins are optional...
    • BAKE CAKE
    • Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake until the tops of the cake layers are springy when touched and when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean; 35 to 45 minutes.
      Cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes then turn out onto cooling racks, peel off parchment paper and cool completely. 
    • Tips
For the Carrot Flowers:
Fill bowl or saucepan with cold water and add lemon juice. Cut carrots lengthwise into paper-thin ribbons using vegetable peeler or large mandolin on its thinnest setting. Place carrot ribbons in water and let stand for 15 minutes. Some ribbons will begin to curl, this is normal. Remove ribbons from water and pat dry with paper towels. Roll carrot ribbons into spirals and arrange on top of cake. Arrange mint leaves around carrot spirals.

For cupcakes,  bake for 14 to 18 minutes (or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean). Then let them cool for a few minutes in the cupcake pan before transferring them to a cooling rack. The recipe should make about 24 cupcakes.



Happy Halloween

Frankenstein Pudding Cups



These are so cute and fun to make....All you need is a Black Sharpie Marker, clear cups, Oreo cookies and pudding...

Draw all the faces on the cups with a black Sharpie, mix up some vanilla pudding, use food coloring to tint it green. Then crush some Oreo's to sprinkle on top of the pudding.

You can also use pistachio pudding and skip the green food coloring
Super, super  cute, fast and easy!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting.....Happy Fall!!!


4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 - 15oz can pumpkin puree

Or use fresh pumpkin, see how to by following the link
https://mygardnerguy.blogspot.com/2012/12/pumpkin-jam-makes-for-very-nice-gift.html

1 1/2 sticks melted butter
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a jelly roll pan (15 1/8"x 10 1/2") with cooking spray. Mix eggs, sugar, pumpkin and butter in a large bowl or stand mixer bowl. Sift dry ingredients together and combine with pumpkin mixture. Pour and smooth evenly in pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

6 oz. cream cheese, softened
9 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp milk

Mix cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add vanilla, add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and milk 1 tbsp at a time until desired consistency. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.

For Banana Bars: substitute 1 can of pumpkin puree for 2 cups mashed ripe bananas. Omit cinnamon and ginger, but use a pinch of nutmeg.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Those new potatoes will pair up nice with the garden peas!!!

Creamed Garden Potatoes and Peas Recipe

We all have comfort foods...this one is mine, My Gardner Guy approves!!!




Ingredients
2  pounds small red potatoes, quartered
3 cups of fresh or frozen peas
1 chopped onion
2  - 4 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons plus 1 tsp. of all purpose flour
1 - 1/2 tsp. of salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cups of 2% milk
1 cup of half and half cream

Directions
Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a
boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 8-12 minutes or until
tender. Drain.

Meanwhile, place peas and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until tender.
Drain.

In a large saucepan, saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in the
flour, salt and pepper until blended; gradually add milk and cream.
Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Stir in potatoes and peas; heat through. Yield: 12 servings.

Special notes....I'm doing the weight watcher thing...

Nutritional Facts

2/3 cup equals 156 calories, 5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 18 mg cholesterol, 345 mg sodium, 22 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 6 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1-1/2 starch, 1 fat.



 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dill Pickles....love them

Once again I am buried  in cucumbers... I love these pickles and this year I grew my own dill heads so I'm excited to use them.
The “head” of dill is the entire seed head of a dill plant it looks like  flower kind of...the sprig is the fern looking part of the plant that grows on the stem. This plant is fun to grow and I love using a sprig of dill to garnish a dish...like deviled eggs, appetizers, and soups. For ideas type in your google search bar garnishing with dill sprigs and have fun!!! 
 
 
 
 


Ingredients:

8 pounds of pickling cucumbers
4 cups white vinegar
11 cups water
2/3 cup of pickling salt
16 cloves of garlic peeled
8 sprigs of fresh dill weed
8 tsp of dill weed and seed
8 dill heads (optional)
peppercorns
mustard seed
1/2 cup sugar (optional)
pickling spices

Directions:

1. Wash cucumbers and place in the sink with cold water and lots of ice cubes. Soak in ice for at least 2 hours but not more than 8 hours. Refresh ice as required. Sterilize 8 (1 quart ) canning jars and lids in boiling water for about 10 minutes.

2. In a large pot over medium high heat, combine the vinegar, water, and pickling salt. Bring the brine to a rapid boil.

3. Tie Pickling spices in a net and add to the large pot.

4. In each jar, place 2 half-cloves of garlic, one head of dill, one sprig of dill, 1 tsp of dill seed and weed, sprinkles of peppercorns and mustard seeds, then enough cucumbers to fill the jar (about a pound). Then add 2 more garlic halves, fill jars with hot brine. Seal jars, making sure you cleaned the jars rims of any residue.

5. Process sealed jars in a boiling water bath. Process jars for 15 minutes.

6. Store pickles for a minimum of 8 weeks before eating. Refrigerate after opening. Pickles will keep up to 2 years if stored in a cool place.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tomato Jam.....great for appetizers and fantastic on a BLT!!!

My Gardner Guy's Tomato Jam.... 

Crostini with Ricotta and tomato jam or use goat cheese....it is great!!!
 

Use this as a great appetizer to top cheese and crackers, on a bagel. If your like My Gardnerguy right off the spoon is the best!!!

This Tomato Jam has become my secret ingredient in My Gardner Guy"s BLT sandwich I just mix it up with my mayonnaise and It gives the wonderful BLT a gourmet taste....also try the next link for a great dressing...
Wonderful dressing for a BLT Salad....link coming....http://mygardnerguy.blogspot.com/2011/10/simple-twist-on-blt.html

Tomato Jam

6-8 cups small tomatoes (1-2" in diameter skins on seeds in)
2 cups sugar
1 T grated ginger
zest and juice of 2 limes
zest and juice of 1 lemon
6-8 TBS of a strong vinegar
1-2 tsp. red chili flakes....use what looks good to you, optional

Combine all ingredients in a large, non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until it looks jammy; expect this to take an hour/ hour and a half and maybe even longer. When jam is ready, remove from heat and fill jars, leaving 1/3 inch of head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and twist on rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes. Remove jars from water bath and allow them to cool. When jars are cool enough to handle, test seals. Store jars in a cool, smile....add it to your pantry collection of good food!!!
On a bagel over cream cheese....breakfast

This makes a wonderful gift...they will come back for more!!!
A dipping sauce...My Gardner Guy's way...

Plenty to put in my pantry....pretty, pretty, pretty..



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Time for the Banana peppers!!!

Today I decided to tackle the banana peppers...I like them on sandwiches especially sub sandwiches! This is a fast and easy canning recipe to make your own Banana Pepper
sandwich rings.
Just finished in time to get ready for a date!!!

Banana Pepper Rings
Here is a link that educates you; or anyone interest in methods in preserving peppers http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/pdf/8004.pdf

Ingredients

20 - 25 banana peppers
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 clove of garlic (per pint jar)
1 tsp canning/pickling salt (per pint jar)
1 tsp vegetable oil (per pint jar)
6-7  1/2 pint jars and lids, sterilized and prepared for canning

Instructions:


Wash the peppers. Slice, remove seeds, discard stem ends.
I have found that keeping the peppers in ice water helps them to stay crisp


 In each jar of packed peppers, add 1 tsp canning/pickling salt and 1 tsp vegetable oil.
add one clove of garlic and I like to add a small hot pepper to each pint jar...the pepper is optional
In a sauce pan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and ground turmeric. Bring to a boil.
Ladle hot pickling liquid into jars, leaving 1/2 inch head-space. Remove any air bubbles and add more liquid as needed.

Apply lids and bands, screw down to fingertip tight. Process in hot water bath for 10 minutes. Cool and store. Check back after 24 hours to make sure the lids have sealed.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A twist on a family favorite Lemon Zucchini Bread!!!!


With plenty of Zucchini in the garden you can't go wrong with these two recipes. Both are yummy and once you cut into them be prepared they will be gobbled away quickly. This year I changed up my regular recipe by adding some lemon. I loved the results!!! This one is all pretty and wrapped....heading to Grandpa's he likes this bread just as much as My Gardner Guy!!!

Lemon Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
2 1/4 cups of sugar
1 cup of oil
4 cups of flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. lemon extract
2 tsp. lemon juice
zest from one lemon
2 cups of zucchini
1 cup of nuts (optional)

1, Mix together eggs, sugar, oil
2. Add flour, salt, soda, baking powder, lemon extract, lemon juice and lemon zest
3. Add shredded zucchini and nuts, mix well
4. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes (if you cook in large loaf pans)
mini loafs take about 40 minutes

Sometimes depending on my time and mood I add a lemon glaze glaze to my bread and it's yummy!!!
LEMON GLAZED ICING
 

1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 tsp. lemon juice, or a lemon extract I have used a little of both ;)
2 tbsp. butter
Add powdered sugar, stir in butter and add lemon juice

 
 



Tips for drying your own lemon or orange zest...
My Gardner Guy...Grow, Create, Cook and Eat...: Drying grated lemon or orange peel

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
2 1/4 cups of sugar
1 cup of oil
3 cups of flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
3 tsp of vanilla (sometimes I use 2 tsp. of vanilla and 1 tsp. of lemon extract)
2 cups of zucchini
1 cup of nuts (optional)

1, Mix together eggs, sugar, oil
2. Add flour, salt, soda, baking powder, cinnamon and vanilla
3. Add shredded zucchini and nuts, mix well
4. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Planning a party .....

Party plans....it can be a lot of work but with a few of these tips it can be a lot of fun and successful!!!
Over the years I have been involved with planning different kinds of party events, in fact at one time in my life I started a small company called "I Do"... catching name right? Well I did party and event planning. It seem like most of all the events involved food so I also started catering and that business was called "We Cater to You"...After posting these tips I came back to add a tid bit...If you are hosting a party, reunion, reception or any other kind of event where there are children set up a children's food table...they will love it!!!


This is Madelyn at my Son's Wedding luncheon....she still talks about the little kids table!!!



1. Give your self plenty of time....You should start planning 6-8 weeks before the event no less than 4 weeks. Trust me on this one, this allows you plenty of time to think the party out from beginning to the end. Get your detail list started and break down your to do's.  It also allows you the time to gather the supplies, come in under and at your budget, and enlist plenty of helpers...

2. Enlist help! Trying to get everything done by yourself can be stressful. Delegate duties to some of your friends...they're usually happy to help out, and it's a lot more fun than doing it alone! I have found that when I do this, those that I have help bring ideas and resources with them...

3. Choose a theme. A theme makes planning your party much easier, and it sparks your guests' enthusiasm. This includes the table and chair lay out, table clothes, plates, centerpieces, lighting, ect...

4. Pick a place, and time...

5. Plan out your games and activities, if you are going to be busy hosting assign this out to someone who is great at involving people in games.  Follow up with them and make sure they are aware of your party layout, tables, chairs ect.  

6. Decide on the menu pretty early in your party planning process and make a list of all of the food and drinks that you will need to purchase from the grocery store. Determine what type of serving dishes you are going to need and be sure you have everything. If there's something that you're missing, call a friend to see if you can borrow something, or add the item(s) to your shopping list.

7. Spread the word. As soon as you have the core parts of the party down (food, location, music, time, date) then start to invite your friends. If it is a big party you need a big place, for example a recent party I did we served 56 people, last year the same party we had 64. This requires a large area...if you are hosting a party for 20 people and your home is  2500 square feet, that's probably all the people that you will want to invite. Being over crowded does not make for fun!!!

8. Set the mood. This is one of the party planning tips that some people tend to overlook. Greeting guests at the door with a smile will help them feel comfortable right away. Decorating your party location to match your theme will spark your guests' enthusiasm, and dressing in the style of your theme will get everyone talking. I am a believer in Presentation.....!!!

9. Play background music to liven up the atmosphere. Make sure it's played loud enough to hear, but not so loud that it's a distraction.

10. Visit with all your guests!!! Let them know you are so pleased they attended the party, everyone loves to feel important. 

Above all enjoy yourself....you are the Hostess!!!



 Centerpieces do not have to be large, use smaller items and create groupings for larger table areas...
Any area can be transformed into a event with planning, this is a gym...
Start early gathering your items needed for your decoration, including the dishes you may be displaying and serving food in.
Presentation!!!
Make the food look fun, good, display it!!!



Gather the dishes you need for all the food, warming dishes work well for large groups...
Layer your place settings, serve a few courses, place settings should have appeal but also keep it simple...Some other ideas you can do is tie flatware with a pretty ribbon or fabric , or add a vibrant napkin for a pop of color...for this party simple hearts made with scrap booking paper and piece of chocolate adds to the theme for a Valentines party.

Remember Presentation!!!
At this dinner we served three kinds of soup, make food labels to inform your guest what foods your are serving...
We also had a bread bar, and salad bar with a variety of specialty dressings notice the bottles are all labeled...  
These are the spreads and butters used at our bread station, notice the place cards...
Having a variety of breads to choose from was a fun foodie idea!!! Every one loved it...


Groupings of smaller items add interest using tea lights...

Keeping a beverage table makes things easier of you...guest are free to get their own drinks. Use several punch bowls or pitchers so you don't have to refill the table often.



Make the food look great remember
Presentation!!!
To serve a busy group either serve from both sides to keep line going faster or for this party we started at the center (our meat carving station ) then proceed either  left or right...
Yummy bread station...
The soups were great...
Allow the crowd to mingle at the beginning...enjoying the mood




Mingle and enjoy your guest...






Make the games fun...put someone in charge of this!!!

The above pictures are from our Valentines Ward Party...For the past few years I have enjoyed  (with lots of help) doing a couples dinner. Rather it be for a large group or a small group in your home the approach of planning is the same....


I Love cooking on Special Days, Thanksgiving is one of those DAYS...I have cooked many a Turkeys and tried a few different methods. I t...