Yum, Yum, Yum

Life Changing Turkey Brine

3 C. Apple Cider (or juice but cider is MUCH better)
2 Gal. Cold Water
4 T. Fresh Rosemary Leaves
5 Cloves of Garlic (I just smashed it and threw the whole clove in)
1 1/2 C. Kosher Salt (must be Kosher)
2 C. Brown Sugar
3 T. Peppercorns
5 Whole Bay Leaves
Peel of 3 Large Oranges

Combine all ingredients (minus the cold water) in a large pot. Bring to a boil, stir until salt and sugar dissolve completely, then turn off heat and cover.

Allow brine to cool completely, then pour liqued, (orange peel, bay leaves and all) into a large brining bag or pot. (I bought a 5 gallon paint bucket from the hardware store with a lid.) Add cold water and stir to incorporate. Fully submerge uncooked turkey in brine solution, making sure to fill cavity, then refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours.
When ready to roast turkey, remove turkey from brine. Submerge turkey in a pot or sink of fresh, cold water. Allow to sit in clean water for 15 minutes to rinse excess salt from the bird. 
Discard brine. Remove turkey from clean water, pat dry, and cook according to your normal roasting method. You will not need to season the bird further! I just rubbed a little olive oil on the skin to help it along.
Be prepared for it to severely cut your cook time down!!! It cut mine in half.

*I don't know where this recipe originally came from. I know that it started out as a Martha Stewart recipe but got a little help from the Food Network and some local, fresh apple cider. 

**This brine also works well with chicken. But be prepared that you will never go back to regular turkey or chicken again. This might ruin a regular roasted bird for you. Sorry!

The Mommy's Chili Verde

Pork roast (any size from 2-5 lbs)
1 small white onion sliced
1 packet of taco seasoning (I used the HOT variety because we love the heat.)
16 oz jar of green salsa (I used Medium.)
2 C. beef broth (or more to keep the roast from drying out)
2 T. unsalted butter*

Spray crockpot with cooking spray for easier clean up. Lay onion slices on the bottom of the crockpot to act as a "trivet" for the roast. Rub taco seasoning into the roast and lay massaged roast onto the onions. Pour salsa and beef broth over roast (it doesn't have to be completely covered), seal down lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours depending on roast size. At the 6 hour mark I shredded the pork roast, added the butter to the liquid and returned the deliciousness to the liquid until time to serve.

Serve with warm tortillas and big spoons.

*The butter is purely optional but it thickens the liquid and makes the stew velvety.

Mini Quiches/Muffins

6 Eggs (lightly beaten)
1/4 C plus 2 Tbls Bisquick
2 C Shredded Cheese of choice
5 Strips of Bacon (cooked crisp and crumbled)
3 Diced Green Onions

This is an easy recipe! Pre-heat oven to 350. Grease muffin pan. Mix all ingredients together. The batter is will be sticky but not dry, if it is too dry add no more than 1 Tbls of milk. Evenly distribute batter between muffin cups. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned. Yields one dozen.

*You can use any combination of meats and cheeses. I always add about 1 C. of sauteed veggies, such as onions, green and red bell peppers, and mushrooms. Adding veggies does increase the yield by half.

The Mommy's Beenie Weenies
2 Cans of Pork and Beans
1 Pkg. of Little Smokies (I use turkey or chicken)
4 Strips of Bacon, cooked crisply and crumbled.
1 T. Reserved Bacon Drippings
1 White Onion, diced
3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 T. Olive Oil
1/4 C. (scant but packed) Dark Brown Sugar
1 1/2 C. Barbecue Sauce
Splash (heavy handed) Worcestershire Sauce
1/8 t. Liquid Smoke
2 T. Dijon Mustard
(Optional) Fresh Cracked Black Pepper to Taste (and if you like it a little on the spicy side you can put in some diced roasted jalapenos or a couple of diced Adobo chilis)

(Break out the Dutch oven you got as a wedding present and have never used that you have hiding in that dark cabinet because you need something that is able to go in the oven after being used on the stove top!)

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

Heat the Dutch oven to medium high and cook bacon until crispy. Drain bacon on paper towels and when cool, crumble and set aside. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings and discard the rest. Add the tablespoon of olive oil and heat until oil shimmers. Add diced onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, until translucent and slightly golden, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add pork and beans, little smokies, barbecue sauce and brown sugar to the pot, stirring to blend and until brown sugar melts. Add Dijon mustard, Worcestershire and liquid smoke. At this point taste to make sure seasonings are to your liking. Add pepper and bacon.

Put dish in oven (without lid!) and heat until bubbling and slightly browned on top. Approximately 30 minutes.

Serves: 8

Kale Chips

Head of Kale, stocks removed and the leafy part torn into bite-size pieces
Mrs. Dash Seasoning (flavor of choice)

Pre-heat oven to 350. Working in batches, arrange kale on a non-stick cookie sheet in a single layer. Spray the the kale with the Pam (enough to get the Mrs. Dash to adhere to the kale). Season liberally with Mrs. Dash. Bake for 10-12 minutes until crispy but not overly browned.

Serving size: 1 C Points: 1

*Really watch your first batch until you know how long it takes a batch to be baked. They burn quickly!

**I hope you will give them a try. Don't be afraid to change up the seasoning. I put wasabi powder on one batch and served it as a side with my teriyaki salmon BLTS. Yummy!

Ham and Cheese Muffins*
1 T. Butter                                 1/2 C. Milk
1/3 c. minced onion                2 Eggs
8 oz Shredded Cheddar          1 C. Cooked Ham, finely chopped
      Cheese                                   1 t. Hickory Smoked Salt**
1-1/2 C. Bisquick

Melt butter in a skillet. Add onion and cook over low heat until softened; set aside. Combine cheese and biscuit mix in a bowl; stir in milk and eggs just until moistened. Fold in ham, softened onion and salt. Fill 12 greased muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 425 degrees for 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from muffin cups. Serve warm.
Makes 1 dozen.    

Notes: These freeze well. To reheat from a frozen state, wrap muffin in a papertowel and microwave on high for 45-60 seconds.

I like to change these up quite often by changing out the meat and cheese combinations, ham and swiss, sausage and pepperjack etc.

*I was given this recipe along with a collection of handwritten recipes as a wedding gift. Where it came from originally, I don't know.

**I use liqued smoke instead of the salt. If you choose to go this route USE SPARINGLY! Seriously like an 1/8 t. or it will be overwhelmingly smoky and salty.

SPAM Scalloped Potatoes
3 T. Butter
3 T. Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
2 1/2 C. Milk

8 Red Potatoes peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 C. Diced Onion
1/4 C. Diced Green Pepper
1 Can SPAM cubed*
1 C. Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour, salt, and pepper. Cook over low heat for 1 minute, then slowly add the milk.  Bring to a boil and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 2 quart casserole dish and layer with half the potatoes, onion, bell pepper, and SPAM, then cover with half the sauce. Repeat layers and top with cheese. Bake covered for 1 hour, then remove cover and bake another 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Many consider this dish better when re-heated. Serves 6.
Recipe from SPAM The Cookbook.

*I added more cheese (double) and I used Garlic SPAM and upped the pepper by double. Very yummy and perfect for the cooler weather dinners.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 C. Butter*                          1/2 tsp. Salt
1 C. Sugar                             1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 C. Brown Sugar                1 tsp. Baking Soda
2 Eggs                                   2 1/2 C. Oatmeal
1 tsp. Vanilla                       16 oz. Chocolate Chips**
2 C. Flour                            1 C. Chopped Pecans (optional)***

Pre-Heat your oven to 375.
Cream softened butter with both sugars until pale and creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well incorporated.
In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda and add to wet ingredients in two batches, mixing well in between each addition.
Mix oatmeal (by hand), chocolate chips, and nuts (if using) into the dough until well incorporated.
Portion cookies, about a tablespoon, onto nonstick cookie sheets and bake approximately 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

*If you want softer cookies substitute margarine for butter. I often do half butter and half margarine.
**Use any combination of chocolate, butterscotch or candy that you like.
***Use any kind of nuts or dried fruit.

I make these cookies anytime I need to donate something for a bake sale. You can also freeze the the dough and then thaw and bake.

Macintosh Muffins
1 1/4 C  oil                            2 C  chopped Macintosh Apples*                          
2 C  sugar                             1 C  chopped pecans
3 C  flour                              1 C  coconut
3 eggs                                    1 t  cinnamon
2 t  vanilla
1 t  baking soda
1 t  salt

Mix all ingredients together.  Fill greased muffin tins about 2/3 full.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.  Makes about 2 1/2 to 3 dozen!

*I used whatever (red) apple I had in my crisper.  I didn't chop them; I grated them--peal and all. 
**I may have a new "Go to Muffin". 

Linguine with Clam Sauce
1 lb. linguine
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion
3 cloves of garlic, peeled, and minced
3 cans (6.5 oz) chopped clams**
1 T dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp red pepper flake*
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 fresh cracked black pepper

Cook linguine according to package directions.  Drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in 10 in skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes.

Strain liquid from clams and add to pan, reserving clams.  Add parsley, oregano, basil, pepper flakes, salt and pepper to pan.  Simmer 5 minutes then stir in clams; cook 2 more minutes.  Stir into pasta.

Garnish with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese.

*Red pepper flakes are to taste.

**You can also use shrimp instead of clams but if you do you need to reserve about a cup of the pasta water and you should also add 1/2 C white wine before you add the pasta water (in place of the clam juice). 

***My family really likes for me to add frozen peas to this dish.  Just add them when you add the clams. 

My Go-To Muffins

2 C. Biscuit/baking mix
3/4 C. Plus 2 T. sugar, divided
2 Eggs
1 C.  Sour Cream
1 C.  Fresh or frozen blueberries*

In a large bowl, combine the biscuit mix and 3/4 cup of sugar.  In a separate, small bowl combine eggs and sour cream; stir into the dry ingredients just until combined.  Fold in blueberries.

Fill greased muffin cups 3/4 full.  Sprinkle with remaining sugar and bake at 375.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan. 

*I use any kind of berries.  Strawberries and 1 1/2 tsps. almond extract is awesome.  I also like 1/2 cup of raspberries, 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips, and 1 tsp. vanilla.  I just thought that crushed pineapple with some coconut extract would be yummy too!



  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 heaping tablespoon grainy mustard
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 pound cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • Splash of rice vinegar (a heavy handed splash)
  • 4 cups cooked rice, such as jasmine or basmati
  • 1 pound bok choy or spinach, sliced 1 inch thick
  • 7 ounces firm tofu, cubed
  • 6 large eggs
  • 4 to 5 scallions (both white and green parts), sliced, for garnishing
  • 1 jar kimchi, for serving (optional)


1.       Heat a large pot that has a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion, and garlic. After it begins cooking, add the meat, increase the heat, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring until the meat is browned. Add the ginger and mustard, and continue cooking for 3 to 5 minutes, to caramelize the meat in the bottom of the pan.
2.       Stir in the chicken broth. Add the mushrooms, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Splash in some vinegar.
3.       Stir in the rice, bok choy, and tofu. Raise the heat to high. Smoothly tamp the mixture into the pan. Start listening for the "sizzling sound" as the rice crisps up in the bottom of the pan.
4.       When the rice is heated through, make indentations in the top of the mixture for each egg and crack each one into a hole. Cover the pot and steam to cook the eggs, 2 to 3 minutes. To serve, scoop out a large spoonful of the mixture with an egg on top. Sprinkle with scallions. Serve with kimchi, if using.

Cold Oriental Noodle Salad
  • 15 ounces dried soba or ramen noodles (spaghetti works in a pinch)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (you could also use peanut oil)
  • juice from one lime
  • zest of one lime
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 cup finely grated carrot*
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped salted peanuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I substituted parsley because cilantro sucks)


1.        In a large pot, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse noodles with cold water, and set aside.
2.        Pour into a large bowl the sesame oil, vegetable oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and lime juice. Mix in lime zest, honey, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes; stir until sugar dissolves. Toss in carrots, peanuts, and cilantro.
3.        Cut noodles into 3-inch lengths. Stir into dressing mixture. Cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
4.        Toss salad again before serving. Serve cold.

* Please feel free to use any vegetable you have on hand.  I usually put 1/2 cup carrot and 1/2 cup of thawed frozen peas. 

The dressing is very versatile.  I use it as a salad dressing, a marinade, or as a dipping sauce for dumplings.  I often serve these noodles on a bed of fresh spinach or on cold, steamed bok choy; just add shrimp for a complete meal!

Grilled Eggplant Stuffed Sandwiches

1 T. honey
3 T. white wine vinegar
1/2 cup + 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 t. dried Italian seasoning
1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 t. salt

1 eggplant, about 1 lb., peeled and sliced into 1/4" thick slices
1 large onion, sliced into 1/2" thick slices
3 fire-roasted red peppers (from a jar; not oil-packed)
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4" slices
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese

1 loaf of frozen bread dough; thawed and quartered

Roll out thawed bread dough on a floured surface into 4 separate 6" squares.  Allow to rest while you prep the marinade and filling. 

In a small bowl, combine marinade ingredients and whisk until well-blended; set aside.

Peel eggplant and slice into 1/4" slices.
Peel onion and slice into 1/2" slices.
Drain peppers and blot with paper towel to remove excess moisture.
Heat grill pan with 2 t. of olive oil.
Once the pan is hot, glaze one side of 4 eggplant slices with the marinade and place eggplant slices, glazed-side down, onto grill pan.
Glaze plain side with marinade, cook for 2 1/2 minutes, turn over, and cook for another 2 minutes.
Remove eggplant from pan, and repeat process with remaining eggplant slices, onion slices and bell pepper until all have been grilled.

Evenly distribute 1/4 C. of Parmesan cheese over the 4 dough squares.
Layer grilled eggplant onto half of the cheese covered dough, leaving an 1" edge of dough on the bottom and sides.
On top of eggplant, layer grilled onions, red pepper, and mozzarella cheese.
Sprinkle on remaining Parmesan cheese.

Fold dough over filling (calzone or dumpling style) and pinch edges to seal.  Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until a dark golden brown. 

Convenience Version
Substitute 1 Pillsbury Pizza crust, classic variety for the frozen bread dough and proceed with recipe.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 30-35 minutes.

Spinach "Scomboli"

1 T.  Italian Seasoning                         1 T. Steak Seasoning
1 Egg                                                1/4 c. Olive Oil
1 Pinch of Kosher Salt

1 lb. bulk Italian Sausage                     1 Loaf Frozen Bread Dough, thawed
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen Spinach,            2 c. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
   thawed and well drained
Pizza Sauce; optional*

In a large skillet, crumble and cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.  In a small bowl beat egg, olive oil, salt, steak and Italian seasoning.  Roll out bread dough to a 13-in. x 10-in. rectangle.  With a pastry brush paint surface of bread dough with 1/2 the egg mixture leaving 1-in. at the top free.  Sprinkle with sausage.  Top with well drained spinach and sprinkle mozzarella cheese.  Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with the long side; pinch seams to seal and tuck ends under.

Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet.  Paint top and sides with the remaining egg mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  Slice and serve warm with warmed pizza sauce, optional.*

    This recipe is actually a combination of two recipes.  The first is a "Scomboli" recipe that's I've been playing with for a couple of years now.  I've been simplifying it to make it more of a "go to" recipe for our family.  The second half of this recipe is a spinach loaf recipe I just acquired.  Again it's been paired down to accommodate a busy family of five. This recipe is also a really great way of sneaking vegetables into meals without causing the whole family to say "Yuck"!  


Halloween Candy Cookies

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup Nutella*
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
20 REESE’S CUPS®, SNICKERS®, and/or MILKY WAY®s fun size bars, each cut in half
6 packages fun size M&M’S®**
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of a standing mixer combine sugars, butter, peanut butter, and Nutella, beat until well creamy.  Mix in vanilla and eggs until just combined.
Add flour mixture in two additions, mix well. Shape a scant 1/4 cup dough around each candy bar half, making sure candy is completely covered. Place 4 inches apart on cookies sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. Flatten slightly and place    3 M&M’S® on top of each.
Bake for about 15 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on pan, then remove with a spatula to a rack to cool completely.

Makes 40 large cookies

I  cut all the candy up into bite size pieces, throw it all in a bowl (the M&M's too), toss it in the freezer for 30 minutes (so the candy bars hold together while you mix them into the dough) and mix it all in the dough like you would chocolate chips, but to each their own!

* Don't have or like Nutella?  Just use a full cup of peanut butter. The cookies pictured are peanut butter only.  I ran out of Nutella.

** Any candy bars will work.  I didn't care for any coconut based bars but I also don't like those candy bars either so....

  Bierocks (Meat Turnovers)

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs

1 pound lean ground beef or ground pork is really yummy
2 small onions, chopped
1 clove (or 3) garlic, minced
4 cups chopped cabbage or a 14 oz bag of shredded coleslaw mix
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

In a large mixing bowl, place 1 3/4 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Heat milk, water, and shortening to 120-130 degrees F. Pour over flour mixture; add the eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low until blended. Beat 3 additional minutes on high. Stir in the remaining flour; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

While the dough proofs, brown beef, onions, and garlic in a large skillet. Add the cabbage, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper; cook until cabbage is wilted. Punch dough down; roll into twelve 6-inch squares. Top each square with 1/3 cup meat mixture. Fold into triangles. Pinch edges tightly to seal, and place on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until golden brown.


Notes: I have often used frozen bread dough loaves instead of making my own and if I’m really strapped for time (and energy) I’ve used two tubes of Pillsbury Crusty French Bread.  Simply unroll, flatten, and divide each tube into 8 squares with a pizza cutter. (The bierocks end up squares rather than triangles.)

For the cabbage, I always substitute one 14-ounce bag of shredded coleslaw mix. Who really has time to chop cabbage?  This makes it extra cabbage-y, but I like it that way and I like the crunch of the carrots.  When using the coleslaw there is always extra filling, which I promptly devour, by itself, as the bierocks are baking. 

Bierocks freeze and microwave beautifully!
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