/A/MY’s back! 

I’ve had several people ask recently about the blog and I’ll admit it’s gone on hiatus. But, I’ve decided to renew the fervor for it and will be getting it rolling once again! 

Stay tuned for more recipes, crafts, travel stories and a new feature covering half marathon training with a running group!

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Lighter Chicken Enchiladas

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This is an easy weeknight dinner! I really like the flavor and it’s quick! I based this off Martha Stewart’s recipe, adding some more vegetables and black beans. The recipe is lightened up, not using store bought enchilada sauce and also high fiber, low calorie wraps or tortillas. Rest assured, the cheese is still there!

Lighter Chicken Enchiladas

10 OZ shredded white meat chicken
1 TB olive oil
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
1 bell pepper
1 cup frozen broccoli florets
1 can reduced sodium black beans
1/4 cup flour
1 TSP ground cumin
1-2 TB chipotle peppers minced, in adobo sauce
1 can reduced sodium chicken stock (14.5 oz)
1/2 cup water
8 tortillas or high fiber low calorie wraps
1/2 cup grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°. Combine the chicken, beans (drained and rinsed) and broccoli in a bowl. Set aside. I use canned chicken for this recipe. It takes out a step and is very easy to shred.

Sauté the onion, pepper and garlic in the oil with salt and pepper. Add flour and cumin, cooking for a few minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock, water, adobo sauce and chipotles. Summer the sauce for five minutes or until thickened.

Stir one cup of the enchilada sauce into the chicken, bean and broccoli mixture. Add 1/4 cup sauce onto the bottom of a 9×13 glass dish. Assemble the enchiladas one by on, adding filling, folding in the sides and rolling tight. Finish by topping the enchiladas with the remaining sauce and cheese.

Bake until bubbly, 10-15 minutes. Let stand before serving and enjoy!

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Make Ahead Roast Turkey

I made my second ever thanksgiving turkey this year. It was a roaring success! Per Ina Garten, I made it ahead! This freed space in the oven for the day of and eliminated a lot of stress. I had my reservations but the turkey was full of flavor, tender and moist. The prep is well worth the work. I was even able to make a workout class the morning of Thanksgiving! All of the holiday preparation paid off.

Thanksgiving Thanksgiving Thanksgiving

Roast Turkey

For the turkey
12-15 pound fresh turkey
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoon fresh thyme
Zest of one lemon
1 large yellow onion, unpeeled and cut into quarters
1 lemon, quartered
8 sprigs fresh thyme
4 TB butter
For the gravy
6 TB unsalted butter
1 large onion, halved and sliced
4 large garlic cloves, whole
6 TB flour
4 cups chicken stock
2 TB bourbon
10 large fresh sage leaves
2 sprigs fresh tarragon
1 cup white wine

For Thanksgiving Thursday, I picked up my bird on Monday. Rinse the turkey, inside and out. Dry it well with paper towels and place into the roasting pan. Cover and coat the turkey (including inside the cavity) with salt, pepper, lemon zest and thyme. Cover tightly with Saran Wrap and refrigerate.

On Tuesday, I uncovered the turkey, removing the Saran Wrap. This allows for the skin to become translucent. This is also the day I made the gravy base. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter, onions and garlic cloves. Cook and simmer until the onions brown and caramelize, about 20 minutes. Add the flour, cooking about a minute. Stir in stock, bourbon, sage, tarragon and pepper. I leave out salt, considering the stock is already salted. Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes.
Let the gravy base sit at room temperature for an hour and then strain out all of the solids.
Refrigerate the base until you’re ready to make the gravy Wednesday.

Preheat the oven to 325°. Wednesday was roasting day! Take out the roaster and be sure to drain any juices in the pan. Cover the bird with butter and salt and pepper. I then made a pouch out of cheesecloth. Fill the satchel with onion, lemon and fresh herbs. Place the bag into the cavity. Tie the legs together and wrap the wings tightly under the back.

Roast for 2-2 1/2 hours until the breast meat registers at 165° with a meat thermometer. Baste the bird throughout cooking time. Carefully carve off both breasts. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Place the rest of the turkey inside the oven to continue cooking. Most likely, another hour (at least that was the case for me) or until the thigh meat registers at 180°.

Carve the carcass and wrap all meat tightly in foil. With the pan drippings, add the gravy base and white wine over medium heat. Bring to a boil, scraping up all the bits inside the pan. Let simmer until smoothed and thickened. I ended up adding an additional 2 cups of stock here. I know gravy is a favorite and wanted to bulk up our inventory for the big day.

In an ovenproof dish, add enough gravy to cover the bottom 1/4 of the dish. Add all of the turkey on top of the gravy and cover tightly. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

On Thanksgiving, remove the turkey and let sit at room temperature an hour before you’re ready to eat. In the oven, heat the meat in its gravy, uncovered for 15-20 minutes.

This technique worked amazingly for me! I think it’s my new standard for the holidays. Thanks Ina!

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Iced Butter Cookies

Make-ahead Thanksgiving starts now. Why? How? The holiday isn’t even a full week away yet? It does when you need custom themed iced cookies as place cards at the table!

This recipe goes back to the early 1900s coming from my Great Grandma Nellie Bower. It is a classic. These cookies hold their shape; the recipe never fails and is a staple for cutout cookies all year round.

The dough yields enough for at least 2 dozen cookies. I tend to roll and cut the whole batch at once and freezing the cutouts. I cut parchment squares and as I cut the cookies, stack them with the layers of paper in between. They freeze well and you can pop them out to bake whenever you need them!

Butter Cookies
1 pound butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
6 cups flour

Set the butter out to bring it to room temperature. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and extract, beating until smooth. Add the flour, one cup at a time.

Chill the dough. Once you’re ready, roll and cut the cookies.
Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes. Ice when cool, if desired.

Royal Icing
3 egg whites
Dash of salt
1 tsp cream of tarter
1 pound (3 3/4 cup) confectionary sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Whip the egg whites, salt and cream of tarter until stiff peaks form. Slowly add confectionary sugar and vanilla.

This is an excellent icing that hardens on the cookies. It spreads well with a spatula or pipes using a piping bag for design. Add or subtract the sugar depending on the consistency desired.

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The finished place cards!

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Cheesecake

I’ve never attempted a cheesecake before! In addition to the two and a half pounds of cream cheese, the only real thing I needed to purchase was a springform pan. We’ll see how this goes! Recipe will follow based upon the success of this very special birthday cheesecake!

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Fabulous and Classic Cheesecake

Crust:
5 tb unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for pan
12 graham crackers (3×5 inch)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp course salt

Filling:
2 1/2 pounds bar cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tb fresh lemon juice
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 375°. Start by making the crust. Butter the springform pan and set aside. Using a food processor, pulse graham crackers until finely ground into crumbs. Stir in the melted butter, sugar and salt. Combine the mixture well and press into the bottom and 1 inch up the side of the pan. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until set. Let the crust cool and turn down the oven to 325°.

Boil a tea pot of water. I used my electric kettle! This will be used later.

With a mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually add sugar until the mixture is creamed. Beat in lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Add the eggs one at a time. Continuously scrap down the sides of the pan as you go. Beat in sour cream

Wrap the bottom of the springform pan in wide aluminum foil. Pour the filling over the graham cracker crust and place in a roasting pan. Now it’s time to use the boiling water; add it into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the pan. Bake cheesecake until it’s just set on the center, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the water and let it cool 20 minutes. Run a knife along the edge, cooling completely. Cover and chill overnight before serving.

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Grandma’s Casserole

This is my ultimate favorite comfort food. I’ve made a couple of adaptations from my moms original recipe. If you can believe it, this is a figure friendly dish coming from Weight Watchers 1987. I’m normally not a fan of leftovers, but this is actually one dinner I look forward to heating up the next night. Enjoy!

“Grandma’s Casserole” Weight Watchers 1987

3 TB olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 pound ground lean turkey
2 TB pepper
2 TB salt
1 TB red pepper flakes
15 oz can tomatoes with liquid
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup water
1 package (12 oz) very thin egg noodles
1 package (8 oz) light mozzarella cheese

Sauté onion and peppers in oil. Add turkey breast, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook until done. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce and water. (I like using canned stewed tomatoes with oregano and basil) Bring to a simmer, cooking 15 minutes.

Spray a 9×14″ pan with cooking spray. Cover the bottom with a thin layer of sauce and add the noodles atop. Spread the meat mixture over noodles and sprinkle on the cheese to finish.

Cover with foil and bake at 360° for 45 minutes or until noodles are cooked and mixture can be cut to serve.

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Bridal Shower Cupcake Cake

A coworker of mine is getting married! It’s tradition in the office to throw a shower. I decided to volunteer to bring the cake.  Usually a cake doesn’t get eaten entirely and sits around.  Cupcakes are easy to serve and require no portioning. I’ve seen quite a few “cakes” made out of cupcakes but had never done it.  I also was seeing zero how-to instruction online. I knew I wanted to make something in the shape of a bridal dress, as this is a bridal shower!

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One of the first questions that came to mind was how do I transport this to work? My best mate, Costco, came in handy.  I picked up a flat shallow box and wrapped it in wrapping paper, finishing it by lining the inside with tissue paper. I also needed to pre-determine the layout and estimate a number of cupcakes needed to make the dress. This dress takes about 31 cupcakes.

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*Note: keep the cat out of the box 😉

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Because of the quantity of cakes, I needed two batches of cupcakes.  I followed recipes from the Cake Doctor; making both a Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcake and Yellow Pudding cake.

 

I made all the cupcakes two days ahead of the party, laid out the dress, and wrapped them tightly in press and seal wrap.  Frosting came next! I love a good buttercream frosting.  Again, referencing the Cake Doctor, I whipped up a frosting to then pipe rosettes on each cupcake.

Because the intention is to make this look like a cake, you’ll want to the piping to run together.  This should look like one piped unit, rather than 30 individual cupcakes stuck together.  I’ll admit, that’s a big challenge.  I think the thicker you make your buttercream, the better. I had to make three batches of frosting.  Once piped, I added some edible pearls to create a sash on the dress. The final finishing touch was made with powdered sugar donut holes as diamond rings.  I’d searched the net for diamond clip art, printed and cut out the shapes, used double stick tape to attach them to toothpicks and affixed them to the donettes. From here, all that was left to do was transport to the office and enjoy!

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