Thursday, November 28, 2013

Turkey Plates and a Happy Thanksgiving!

I am a dish lover and collector which I, clearly,
inherited from my mother!
My mom was given four of these turkey plates years ago by her aunt.
Her aunt's husband had originally purchased them while living in
Syracruse, New York.
On Thanksgivings hosted by my mother, those four turkey
plates were on the table - mixed in with other plain "non-turkey" plates.
It was a real treat to have gotten one of the turkey plates to eat from.
A year or two ago, my mother and I were walking through an
antique mall and I did a double-take.  Mom and I both agreed that
the two turkey plates sitting there were matches to her four at home!
She bought them, brought them home, and sure enough they matched.
She now has six turkey plates.
She nor I have done any research on the plates but we did notice that
the two  found plates had a different plate marking on the back. 
The two found plates state:
The four original plates say:
Mom isn't hosting Thanksgiving this year so the plates
having been sitting in a vignette on her side table.
and used for dinner along with a Broccoli Chicken
Casserole and Autumn Salad dinner HERE.
So, on behalf of myself and my family, and Mom's six turkey plates,
I wish all you a very Happy Thanksgiving, safe driving, and happy eating!

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Lovely Salad for Autumn and the Holidays

 I am sharing with you a lovely salad for Autumn.
"Autumn" is in the title of recipes containing those
fruits (like the pear) and vegetables found during the
Autumn months. However, this salad is equally great for the
Holidays because of the beauty of the red dried cranberries.
This salad uses a fresh pear but any of the pears are okay to use.
The one I choose usually depends on which variety of pear 
is on sale.  I will admit that I do cross my fingers and
hope the Bosc variety is on sale because I like the visual
of the brown-ish skin left on the cubes of pear in the salad.
I wish for the Anjou variety for the holidays for its bright green color.
Keep in mind to buy the pears a few days ahead of time
just in case they will need to ripen.  For the salad, we
want the pears just ripe - not mushy.  Cut them and add them
to the salad just before serving so they won't turn brown.
There really isn't a recipe for this salad.
Sometimes I use a Baby Spring lettuce mix
and sometimes I use only chopped Romaine lettuce.
I made this salad recently with the Romaine lettuce along side
a French Onion-Bacon Tart. Sorry, no photos. A flavor tip
when making salads is to make sure you season your lettuces.
Just sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over lettuces in the
bowl prior to adding whatever add-ins you are going to use.
The "add-ins" to this salad are the pear cubes, pecans,
dried cranberries, crumbled bacon, and feta! Sometimes I
crumble the feta and sometimes I leave them as small cubes. 
For the dressing, a Poppy Seed salad dressing is drizzled over the
salad followed by a drizzle of basic Balsamic Vinaigrette. I make my own
Balsamic Vinaigrette but you can buy a bottled one as well.  The
ratio is approximately 70% Poppy Seed dressing and 30% Balsamic
Vinaigrette. Mix well to combine and then taste a lettuce leaf. 
You will be pleasantly surprised how delicious this is.
I "pear-ed" this salad with a Broccoli Chicken Casserole
which is a great recipe that can be used with leftover
Thanksgiving turkey.  That recipe can be found HERE. 
I thought this little plant of
fresh "Turkey Seasoning" herbs was genius.
"Flavorful herbs grown with your holiday turkey in mind."
"Cut what [we] need for seasoning and the plant continues to grow."
I bought it at the grocery store and it came with the
cute ceramic turkey on a stick.  I will be giving it to
my daughters on Thanksgiving as a hostess gift. 
I will be linking this week with
The Tablescaper's Seasonal Sundays
Stone Gable's On The Menu Mondays
Rattlebridge Farm's Foodie Fridays
Thank you for stopping by and visiting.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Broccoli Chicken or Turkey Supreme

Dinner tonight is actually a recipe I want to share with you before
Thanksgiving because its such a great recipe for using
our leftover turkey after Thanksgiving. 
I first knew of Broccoli-Chicken Casserole because it
was the first dish my father learned to make after he retired
and my mother was still working.  He wanted to have dinner
ready for her! How sweet is that? (Miss you dad!)
But, I have to tell you, most of those recipes (including the
one my dad used) called for canned soup. 
I'm happy to say this recipe I'm sharing with you has NO canned
soup.  It is scratch-made using a cheese sauce and made with
crumbled (and buttered!) Ritz crackers for its topping...
I didn't say it was lower in fat!
Tonight I made this casserole with some leftover shredded chicken
breast that I had in the frig and had been needing wanting to use.
I broke up the fresh broccoli florets, leaving them on the
larger side, and then steamed them for 3 minutes.   
I placed them in the bottom of a greased
baking dish and sprinkled the shredded chicken over top.
The cheese sauce was then made by melting butter and adding
seasonings, milk, a little chicken broth, and a slurry of cornstarch and water.
It thickens beautifully then shredded cheddar cheese is added and
combined until melted and smooth.
This cheese sauce is now poured over the top of the chicken and broccoli
with more cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.
For the topping, I used Ritz' Roasted Vegetable crackers,
crushed them in a ziploc, again leaving pieces on the large side, then
added them to melted butter.  The topping was sprinkled
over the top of the casserole then baked. 
The recipe makes a 9x13 but I improvised and
made only an 8x8 because there was only two of us for dinner. 
I served it along side one of my favorite salads which includes
 dried cranberries, pecans, feta, ripened pear, and an unusual,
but tasty, dressing made by combining two different dressings.  Check
back in a day or two and I'll share that salad recipe with you as well.
This isn't the normal Broccoli-Chicken Casserole
and it certainly deserves the title of Supreme.
I hope you keep it in mind come Friday and you have
all your leftover turkey.
Here is the recipe: 
Broccoli Chicken Supreme
Makes a 9x13 baking dish.
1 lb. fresh broccoli, broken into florets.
3 cups cooked chicken breasts, cubed or shredded
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 sleeves Ritz crackers
1 stick melted butter
Cheese sauce:
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup cornstarch, dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups milk
1/2 of the cheese listed above.
Steam broccoli florets for 3 minutes.  Grease a 9x13 baking dish and layer the broccoli and the chicken.  Set aside. In a saucepan, combine the melted butter, cornstarch slurry, chicken broth, seasonings, and milk.  Stir with a whisk and continue whisking until sauce has thickened. Take pan off heat and add 1/2 of the cheddar cheese and whisk until melted and smooth.  Pour over the chicken and broccoli. Top with the remaining cheddar cheese.
Crush the Ritz crackers in a ziploc.  Melt butter in a bowl and add the crushed crackers to combine.  Sprinkle topping over the top of the grated cheese.
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Cover with foil if topping is getting too browned before its done.  Let it sit and cool slightly before serving.
Thank you for visiting!
I will be linking with
The Tablescaper's Seasonal Sundays
Stone Gable's On The Menu Mondays
Rattlebridge Farm's Foodie Friday
~ Karen

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Whats for Dinner? French Onion Soup

The nights are beginning to get on the chilly side.
Southern California is actually getting some much needed rain.
Dinner tonight will be French Onion Soup to warm our insides.
French Onion Soup is a classic soup made with broth and caramelized onions
then topped with a toasted baguette and Gruyere cheese melted until a broiler.
Absolute deliciousness!

If there is a trick to making great French Onion Soup, it would be
in caramelizing the onions.  True caramelized onions are slowly cooked
until they are  SO soft they are almost dissolved.  They can be SLOWLY cooked
stove top or placed in the oven (with its pan covered) at a slow
temperature for about 40 minutes then finished stove top.
The onions will have turned soft and sweet!
Broth is then added to the caramelized onions and cooked further until
you reach the desired richness (taste!)
I like to add  all beef broth for a deeper beef flavor. 
Half beef broth and half water can also be used and
I have seen chicken broth used also.
In a perfect French world, it would be made with veal stock.
If you happen to have some homemade veal stock tucked
away in your freezer - by all means use it!
After simmering, you will have a rich soup.
As the soup is simmering, shred a handful of nutty tasting,
easy melting, Gruyere cheese, and cut some slices
from a baguette.  I like to use three slices
for each soup bowl.
Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and place
in a hot oven until lightly toasted on both sides.
Lade the rich soup into the bowls, top each
with three toasted baguette slices (stacked in a sort of a
triangle so they cover the opening of the bowl), and a
good heaping of shredded Gruyere.
Pop the bowls under the broiler... (Be sure to watch them!)
... until nicely browned and melted.
Carefully take the hot bowls out from under the broiler
and you will have a delicious rich onion soup
with a cheesy topping!
The following is a general recipe for French Onion Soup
but this is a great soup that you can easily "wing" without a recipe.
Go ahead, wing it! Give it a try!
French Onion Soup
Serves 6-8
2 oz. (half a stick) unsalted butter
4 large yellow onions, sliced, to make apx. 8 cups
1 small baguette, cut into 1/4-1/2 inch slices
2 quarts low-sodium beef broth
2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
Salt and Pepper
Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Stir in the onions to coat well.  Reduce the heat to low and slowly cook until the onions are very soft and taste sweet.  Stirring occasionally.  Apx. an hour until deeply browned.
While onions are caramelizing, make the baguette toasts by placing the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Place in a 350 degree onion dry-toast until lightly toasted on both sides.  Set aside.
Add the broth to the caramelized onion and simmer to enrich the broth and combine the flavors. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Ladle the soup into oven proof bowls that have been placed on a baking sheet.  Put 3 baguette toasts in each bowl and cover opening completely with cheese.  Broil at high heat for a short few minutes (watch them so they don't burn).  Be extra careful removing the hot bowls from the oven.
Serve and enjoy!

Thank you for visiting!
I will be linking up with 
Rattlebridge Farms:


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