Corn Casserole

A few weeks ago I was making Jalapeno Popper Chicken for dinner but I was at a total loss of what to serve with it. I knew we would have a side salad but I felt like I still wanted something else. Suddenly corn casserole popped into my head and it seemed like the perfect fit. So I did a little searching but I was a disappointed with what I found. Pretty much every recipe called for a canned corn and Jiffy cornbread. I don’t love canned corn and I knew a box of Jiffy would be a difficult find in Suzhou (and probably expensive if I found it!).

At that point I had my heart set on corn casserole, so I continued on the hunt for a from-scratch recipe. I never did find one that was everything I was looking for, but I did find one that looked like a good starting point. I made a few adjustments and cut the recipe in half so we wouldn’t have leftovers for a week. I’m really happy with how it turned and happy to have another side dish to add to the rotation.

 

 

Pumpkin Praline Cake

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Originally I was thinking that if Jesse wasn’t going to be home for Thanksgiving I would just fly back to Ohio. Unfortunately we found out too late and the cost of airlines tickets was outrageous. How annoying is it that the airlines can get away with charging so much more for tickets during the holidays? So I had to stay in San Diego for Thanksgiving.

Since a few friends were also staying in town, I decided to host a not-Thanksgiving dinner. Going in a completely different direction I planned a Mexican feast, complete with chicken enchiladas, shrimp enchiladas, black beans, and rice.The friends I had over were also at our turkey dinner 2 weeks earlier, so I don’t think they missed the traditional meal too much. And I have to say, I forgot how much I love enchiladas at home.

But when it came to dessert I couldn’t get the traditional pumpkin out of my head. I found this recipe and even though it didn’t really “go” with my theme, it was still awesome. Pumpkin cakes are always super moist, and the crunch from the pecans and the flavor of the caramel was perfect. And don’t even get me started on the cream cheese, whipped cream frosting fusion. Last minute I felt like the frosting needed a little kick so I sprinkled in some cinnamon and it was like heaven on a spoon when I tasted it.

Quick blog announcement: If you follow me on Facebook, then you already know this, but if you don’t (maybe you should :)) then I just want to share that starting Monday I am doing a week long feature on Christmas cookies! Stop by all next week for some Santa- friendly treats!


Pumpkin Praline Cake

Ingredients

Caramel Praline

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
3 Tbsp whipping cream
1 cup pecans chopped, and toasted

Cake
4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Frosting 4 ounces softened cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 – 1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter the parchment paper.

In a small sauce pan over low heat, stir together the brown sugar, butter and heavy whipping. Keep stirring occasionally until it has all melted together, about 5 minutes. Then divide the mixture between the two cake pans. Sprinkle the pecans into the cake pans, over the brown sugar mixture. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

In another bowl, with a hand held mixer (or standing mixer), beat together the eggs, vegetable oil and sugar until well blended. Slowly add the dry ingredients, and with the mixer on low speed, combine. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top of the cake is spongy and the edges start to pull away from the sides. Let the cakes cool in the pan or 5 minutes, then invert onto cooling racks*. Allow to cool until no longer warm to the touch, at least 1 1/2 hours, before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar until light and creamy. Add the whipping cream 1/4 cup at a time, beating on high speed until smooth, and scraping down sides of the bowl after each addition. After the last addition beat until it has the consistency of whipped cream. Finally stir in the cinnamon.

Frost the top of each cake then stack one on top of the other. Garnish with whole pecans.

Adapted from Beantown Baker

Apple Cider Vinegar Glazed Green Beans

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I have nothing against the traditional green bean casserole that is found on so many Thanksgiving tables. I’ve even been known to sneak an extra spoonful or two when going back for seconds. But it’s also not my favorite way to eat green beans. I like them crisper and, like so many other things in the world, with bacon. So when the menu planning was entirely up to me, I opted for my style of green beans.

After doing an online search I knew what kind of flavor I wanted to go for. Tangy and savory, and of course with bacon. But I also wanted to bring in something “fall” like. So I adapted a recipe to use apple cider vinegar and the broth/drippings from the turkey. Like most of the things I made for our Thanksgiving dinner, the picture was AWFUL! So I recreated the dish, only using regular chicken broth, to get a better picture. Of course it was a little richer with the turkey drippings, but both ways we were good enough for me to eat half of them all by myself!


Apple Cider Vinegar Glazed Green Beans with Bacon and Shallots

Ingredients
1 lb fresh green beans, blanched or steamed for 4 minutes (I used fresh “steam in bag” beans)
3 strips of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 shallots, cut into strips
1/4 cup broth
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Directions
In a large skillet or wok, cook bacon over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the shallots and cook for another minute. Remove bacon and shallots from pan and set on a paper towel lined plate. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the green beans to the pan, stir to coat with bacon grease. Add the broth, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper to the pan. Cook over medium high heat for 7 minutes or until the liquid has reduced and thickened, stirring often. Remove from heat and return the bacon and shallots to the pan.

Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately.

Adapted from Cooking Light, via My Recipes

Salted Herb Roasted Turkey

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If you’re still on the fence about how to prepare your turkey this weekend, then stop right here. This turkey doesn’t require any special bags or a sanitized cooler. Just a nice coating of salt and herbs and an overnight chill in the fridge. I’ve never brined a turkey, so it’s tough for me to give an honest comparison. But I can honestly tell you that with results like this, it’s unlikely that I ever will go through the trouble. This turkey is just too good.

Salted Herb Roasted Turkey

Ingredients
Overnight salt mix:
6 Tbsp coarse kosher salt (4 tablespoons if finer-grained kosher salt)
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 Tbsp fresh sage, minced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
3 small bay leaves, coarsely torn
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp finely grated lemon peel

Turkey:
1 14- to 16-pound turkey (make sure to remove all the icky stuff inside!)
1 large onion, cut into large chunks
1 large celery stalk, cut into large chunks
1 whole lemon, cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups broth

Directions
Combine all of the ingredients for the salt, set aside.

Rinse the turkey inside and out, but do not pat dry. Coat the turkey inside (both cavities) and out. Use your fingers to loosen the skin over the breast and carefully rubs some of the salt under the skin. Place the turkey on a large plate (preferably with a lip to keep any loose juices on the plate and not on your fridge) and cover tightly with foil. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours.

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the turkey inside and out; pat very, very, dry (I also set it on top of a wad of paper towels for about 15 minutes). Rub some of the butter on the inside of cavities then divide the onion, celery, lemon, and herbs between the cavities. Truss the turkey (tie the legs together and wings in with cooking twine).Rub the rest of the butter on the outside of the turkey, getting under the breast skin as well. Place the turkey, breast side down, in a roasting pan, using extra carrots and celery to keep the turkey off the bottom of the pan if you don’t have a rack in your roasting pan. Pour the broth into the bottom of the pan.

Roast at 425 for 45 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven, then use wads of paper towels to flip the turkey breast side up. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees. Continue to roast turkey until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees, 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours longers (my 16 pound turkey took another 2 1/2, but keep an eye on it). 3 times during roasting, carefully baste the turkey with drippings and then quickly close the oven door again.

Tent the turkey with foil for 30-45 minutes before carving and serving.

Adapted from Epicurious (Bon Apetit) as seen on The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Me carving the turkey in my messy kitchen

One last thing. The family I work for is out of town for Thanksgiving, and tonight as I was writing this post I got a text. It was a picture of food that the youngest took. I told her I would put it on my blog so here it is. And can I just say I’ve taught her well? Look at that plate presentation (and no, that’s not her glass of wine).