Roasted Turkey

Roasted Turkey

  • Servings: servings vary
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Author note: The first roasted turkey recipe my husband and I ever cooked was Alton Brown’s. His method of roasting is complete and thorough. We have never roasted a turkey any other way. While the brine and stuffing recipe is A Pleasant Little Kitchen’s, the cooking method is 100% Alton Brown’s.

for the brine

2 gallons cold water

1 apple juice

1 1/3 cups kosher salt

1 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons peppercorns

1 tablespoon allspice berries

2 tarragon sprigs

4 thyme sprigs

4 rosemary sprigs

2 garlic cloves, halved

1 onion, halved

1 apples, quartered

2 inch fresh ginger pieces, peeled

1 12-18 pound turkey

  1. Place all ingredients in a large stock pan. Heat the brine until sugar and salt have dissolved, stir occasionally. Remove the brine from the heat and bring to room temperature.
  2. Remove the turkey from the packaging. If there is anything inside the turkey cavity (neck, giblets, etc.) remove these items as well.
  3. Place the turkey in a 32 quart plastic container. Pour the cooled brine over the turkey.
  4. Place the turkey into the fridge and let brine for at least 12 hours, up to 24 hours.

for the turkey

1 garlic, halved

1 onion, halved

1 apple, quartered

1 tablespoon peppercorns

1 tablespoon allspice berries

2 tarragon branches

3 thyme sprigs

3 rosemary sprigs

canola oil

  1. Heat the oven to 500F.
  2. Remove the turkey from the brine. Rinse the turkey and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Place the turkey on a large rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle the peppercorns and allspice berries in the bottom of the turkey cavity. Stuff the cavity with the remaining aromatics. After stuffing the turkey, truss the wings and legs to form a compact shape. This will help with even cooking and makes for a better presentation.
  5. Place the turkey on a roasting pan and lather the turkey with canola oil.
  6. Roast the turkey at 500F for 30 minutes.
  7. After 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350.
  8. Remove the turkey from the oven and insert an oven-safe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast.
  9. Return the turkey to the oven and cook until the internal temperature reaches 155F.
  10. This will take 2 – 2 1/2 hours, depending on the exact weight of the turkey.
  11. Peek at the turkey (without opening the oven) with about 30 minutes to go. If the breast skin is getting too dark, place a double piece of foil over it to shield it from the heat during the remainder of the cooking.
  12. Remove the turkey from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes prior to carving.

Hot Chocolate with Vanilla Marshmallows

Hot Chocolate with Vanilla Marshmallows

  • Servings: servings vary
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Author note: The amount of chocolate syrup used is dependent upon your level of chocolate preference. Start with a few tablespoons full of syrup with 2 cups of milk. Increase the syrup to taste.

chocolate syrup (see below or click here for recipe)

whole milk

pinch of kosher salt

homemade marshmallows (see below or click here for recipe)

  1. Place the whole milk and chocolate syrup into a saucepan. Stir well to combine.
  2. Warm over low heat until syrup is incorporated with chocolate. Add a pinch of salt and stir.
  3. Serve warm with homemade marshmallows

for chocolate syrup

1 cup cocoa powder

pinch of salt

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 cup water

  1. Place the sugar and water into a small saucepan, and make a simple syrup. Cook on low heat until the sugar has dissolved, about 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  2. Combine the vanilla and salt into the simple syrup. Stir well.
  3. Place the cocoa powder into a large bowl. In three batches, whisk the simple syrup into the cocoa powder. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Strain the cocoa mixture back into the pan. Add corn syrup and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  5. Remove from the stovetop and bring to room temperature. Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge, up to three weeks.

for the vanilla marshmallows

Author note: Store the marshmallows in an air tight container for up to three weeks. A candy thermometer is required for this recipe.  Also, a hand held mixer would work for this recipe, however a stand mixer makes it easier.

3/4 cup corn syrup

1 1/2 cups sugar

pinch of kosher salt

1 cup and 2 tablespoons of ice cold water

3 packages plain gelatin

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons corn starch

cooking spray (canola or vegetable oil)

  1. In a large mixing bowl add 1/2 cup water. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the water. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of water to any dry spots of gelatin. Dissolve the gelatin for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the corn syrup, sugar, salt and 1/2 cup of water into a small saucepan. Attach the thermometer to the side of the pan. Cook the mixture over high heat until it reaches 250 degrees F.
  3. Turn the mixer on to slow speed. Slowly pour the corn syrup mixture down the side of the bowl while the mixer is running. Once the entire mixture is poured into the bowl whisk on high speed for 12 minutes.
  4. With one minute remaining add in the vanilla extract. Whisk until fully incorporated.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the powdered sugar and corn starch into a medium sized bowl, stir well. Set aside.
  6. Spray the inside of a 13×9 baking pan with canola oil. With a sifter, then add an even layer of powdered sugar inside of the pan.
  7. Evenly pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan. Smooth out the top of the marshmallows with a lightly oiled spatula.
  8. Spray the top of the marshmallows with canola oil and add another even layer of sifted powdered sugar mixture. Keep the remaining powdered sugar mixture for later use.
  9. Let the marshmallows set for 5-8 hours.

To cut the marshmallows:

  1. Spray a spatula with canola spray. Move the spatula around the edges and bottom of the marshmallow to loosen it from the pan.
  2. Place the marshmallow onto a cutting board lightly covered with powdered sugar.
  3. Using a lightly oiled pizza cutter or knife, cut the marshmallows into 1 inch squares.
  4. Once the marshmallows are cut, place a few batches of marshmallows at a time into the powdered sugar mixture. Coat the marshmallows on every side. Store in an airtight container.

Vanilla Marshmallows

Vanilla Marshmallows

  • Servings: servings vary
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Author note: Store the marshmallows in an air tight container for up to three weeks. A candy thermometer is required for this recipe.  Also, a hand held mixer would work for this recipe, however a stand mixer makes it easier.

3/4 cup corn syrup

1 1/2 cups sugar

pinch of kosher salt

1 cup and 2 tablespoons of ice cold water

3 packages plain gelatin

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons corn starch

cooking spray (canola or vegetable oil)

  1. In a large mixing bowl add 1/2 cup water. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the water. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of water to any dry spots of gelatin. Dissolve the gelatin for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the corn syrup, sugar, salt and 1/2 cup of water into a small saucepan. Attach the thermometer to the side of the pan. Cook the mixture over high heat until it reaches 250 degrees F.
  3. Turn the mixer on to slow speed. Slowly pour the corn syrup mixture down the side of the bowl while the mixer is running. Once the entire mixture is poured into the bowl whisk on high speed for 12 minutes.
  4. With one minute remaining add in the vanilla extract.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the powdered sugar and corn starch into a medium sized bowl, stir well. Set aside.
  6. Spray the inside of a 13×9 baking pan with canola oil. With a sifter, then add an even layer of powdered sugar inside of the pan.
  7. Evenly pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan. Smooth out the top of the marshmallows with a lightly oiled spatula.
  8. Spray the top of the marshmallows with canola oil and add another even layer of sifted powdered sugar mixture. Keep the remaining powdered sugar mixture for later use.
  9. Let the marshmallows set for 5-8 hours.

To cut the marshmallows:

  1. Spray a spatula with canola spray. Move the spatula around the edges and bottom of the marshmallow to loosen it from the pan.
  2. Place the marshmallow onto a cutting board lightly covered with powdered sugar.
  3. Using a lightly oiled pizza cutter or knife, cut the marshmallows into 1 inch squares.
  4. Once the marshmallows are cut, place a few batches of marshmallows at a time into the powdered sugar mixture. Coat the marshmallows on every side. Store in an airtight container.

Cheddar Bacon Drop Biscuits

Fry. Chop. Stir. Drop. Bake.

Then glory is yours. This is also knowns as homemade biscuit greatness.

Truth be told, I’m not much of a biscuit girl. I don’t know why though. Every time I make a batch I think, ”why don’t I bake biscuits more often?”Every time those warm golden bites emerge from the oven I am sent into a food memory frenzy, remembering the tales of grandmothers and great-grandmothers who made biscuits that were unforgettable.

I’ve come to realize that biscuits (especially drop biscuits) only require a few steps. Plus, everyone in my family eats them AND they’re freezer friendly. What’s not to love?Now, let’s talk a little more about biscuits though. I can say that I tend to be a drop biscuit girl instead of a knead and roll out biscuit type of girl. Rolling out dough falls low on my list of favorite activities in the kitchen (but it may be your favorite, so embrace YOUR kitchen rhythm). Drop biscuits literally require stirring and dropping.Also, when I make buttery biscuits I want to dirty up the fewest pieces of equipment. That means one or two bowls max.

I also want to utilize the ice cream scoop I finally added to my kitchen about a year ago. (sidenote: WHY did it take me so long to bring this piece of equipment into my kitchen— it is a kitchen necessity).The beauty behind the drop biscuit is that it makes minimal mess and I don’t have to get an arm workout by kneading and rolling out the dough (and not dirtying up a surface with lots of flour).

I do get bored with the plain biscuit though. Yes, honey is nice…so is butter. But I kinda crave a glutinous biscuit– one that, with each bite provides me with indescribable food joy.Oh, and for good measure let’s not forget the scallions. We need a bit of green beauty.

So make biscuits this weekend, but not any biscuit. Make the drop biscuits of all of our dreams.

Cheddar Bacon Drop Biscuits

  • Servings: makes 18-20 biscuits
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2 cups flour

pinch of sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons baking powder

8 tablespoons melted butter

7 tablespoons whole milk

1 egg

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup scallions, diced

1/2 cup cooked bacon, chopped

1 cup of mild cheddar cheese

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir well.
  3. Add 7 tablespoons butter, milk and sour cream into the flour mixture. Stir well.
  4. In a small bowl, crack the egg and lightly whisk. Add the egg into the biscuit batter. Stir well to combine.
  5. Add the scallions, bacon and cheddar to the dough. Stir well to combine.
  6. Using an ice cream scoop (or two spoons) out dollops of dough onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Place the biscuits about 1/2 inch a part.
  7. Brush 1 tablespoon of melted butter on top of the biscuits.
  8. Place the biscuits into the oven and cook 13-15 minutes (or until the biscuits are golden and cooked all the way through).
  9. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Serve warm.

Chocolate Syrup

Chocolate Syrup

1 cup cocoa powder

pinch of salt

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 cup water

  1. Place the sugar and water into a small saucepan, and make a simple syrup. Cook on low heat until the sugar has dissolved, about 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  2. Combine the vanilla and salt into the simple syrup. Stir well.
  3. Place the cocoa powder into a large bowl. In three batches, whisk the simple syrup into the cocoa powder. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Strain the cocoa mixture back into the pan. Add corn syrup and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  5. Remove from the stovetop and bring to room temperature. Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge, up to three weeks.

Turkey Enchiladas

Turkey Enchiladas

Author note: Chicken can be substituted for turkey. The turkey recipe for these enchiladas can be found in The Dallas Morning News. Click here for the recipe and full story.

3 tablespoons unsaltaed butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken stock (warmed)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups chile sauce, plus additional for building the enchiladas (see recipe below)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup Mexican crema, plus more for topping

2 cups cooked turkey (click here for the recipe)

8-12 tortillas (flour or corn)

grated Mexican blend cheese

chopped cilantro, for topping

  1. In a large flat bottomed pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic cloves and flour. Whisk until golden, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the warm chicken stock and whisk until combined. Let the sauce thicken for 10 minutes. Whisk frequently to prevent burning.
  3. Add 1 1/2 chile sauce (see recipe below) and Mexican crema. Continue to simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened.
  4. Add the turkey and stir well. Set aside.

to build the enchiladas

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Evenly spread a few spoonfuls of the extra chile sauce on the bottom of a long baking pan.
  3. In a small skillet warm a tortilla over medium-low heat. Dip both sides of the tortilla into the chile sauce. Lay the tortilla onto a plate. Fill with the chicken mixture and a sprinkling of cheese. Roll the tortilla tight and place into the baking pan.
  4. Repeat this process until all the tortillas are used or the pan is full.
  5. Lightly cover the enchiladas with additional cheese and chile sauce.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Top with Mexican cream and cilantro. Serve warm.

for the chile sauce

2 cans whole tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon oregano

2 teaspoons kosher salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 onion, quartered

2 dried ancho chiles, stems removed

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and quartered

2 poblano peppers, seeded and quartered

4 dried arbol chiles

  1. Place all ingredients into a saucepan and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Place the sauce and all ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pour the sauce back into the pan. Use as directed.

A Pleasant Little Menu | Thanksgiving Leftovers

Ahhhh, the thrill of the Thanksgiving feast…that quickly turns into the meal no one wants.

Isn’t it amazing how just a few hours post-Thanksgiving feast (the one that everyone oooed and awed over), the meal quickly turns into a “leftover” that family members turn their noses at?

Not this year, folks. Take those leftovers and turn them into the second phase of the Thanksgiving smorgasbord that everybody wants a bite of.

Bacon and Cornbread Dressing Skillet

Sweet Potato Pomegranate Crostini

Turkey Manchego Sliders

Apple Cider Popsicles

So while you’re doing your Thanksgiving grocery shopping add these few additional items to your list to be ready to serve up a second feast.

bacon

parmesan cheese

pomegranates

french baguette

manchego cheese

Sir Kensington’s Special Sauce (or your favorite sandwich condiment)

popsicle sticks

small plastic cups

What is so great about these four recipes is that little brain power is needed to execute them. Which, lets face it, is a mandatory post-Thanksgiving requirement.

Bacon and Cornbread Dressing Skillet

leftover cornbread dressing (click here for recipe), diced

bacon

eggs

parmesan cheese, freshly grated

  1. In a cast iron skillet fry the bacon until crispy and cooked.
  2. Remove the bacon from the skillet and place on a paper towel to dry.
  3. Leave about 2-3 tablespoons of bacon fat in the skillet and drain the rest.
  4. Add the cornbread into the skillet and stir to coat the dressing with the bacon fat. Cook over medium heat until the dressing is lightly toasted. Turn off the heat.
  5. Chop the bacon into bite sized pieces. Set aside.
  6. Meanwhile cook the eggs to your preference. Top the eggs with a sprinkling of parmesan at the end of the cooking process.
  7. Add the bacon to the dressing and stir well.
  8. Top with runny eggs or stir in the scrambled eggs.
  9. Top with hot sauce and serve warm.

Sweet Potato Pomegranate Crostini

french baguette, sliced thin

leftover sweet potato casserole (or roasted sweet potatoes)

pomegranates

fresh thyme leaves

  1. Toast the slices of baguette.
  2. Spoon dollops of sweet potato casserole onto the baguettes. Top with pomegranates and fresh thyme.

Turkey Manchego Sliders

leftover turkey meat, chopped or sliced

leftover dinner rolls, sliced in half

Sir Kensington’s Special Sauce (or your favorite sandwich condiment)

manchego cheese, sliced

cooking spray

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Spray the interior of a baking dish or rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Spread a thick layer of special sauce onto the bottom half of the dinner roll.
  4. Line the baking dish with the dinner roll bottoms.
  5. Add the turkey to the dinner roll halves, then top the turkey with manchego cheese slices.
  6. Place the tops of the rolls onto each bottom half.
  7. Place in the oven and bake until the rolls are golden and the cheese melted. Serve warm.

Apple Cider Popsicles

leftover apple cider

small plastic  cups

popsicle sticks

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with the paper cups.
  2. Fill the cups 3/4 of the way with cider.
  3. Place the tray into the freezer and freeze.
  4. Add the popsicle sticks into the cider 1 1/2 to 2 hours into freezing. Continue to freeze until the cider is frozen solid.
  5. Remove the frozen cider from the cup and serve immediately.

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