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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Morning Cranberry Orange Muffins

I found this recipe the other day and I immediately thought they would be great for Christmas morning. There is nothing more Christmasy than cranberries and orange.  And they smell wonderful too.  Don't wait until next Christmas to make these muffins. 
Look at all those cranberries.
 I forgot to have the butter out for the picture.
 The first thing you want to mix up is the topping.  1/4 cup sugar
 Zest for 1/2 of an orange.
 Then mix that up and break up the zest.
 Now set it aside while you mix up the rest of the muffin.
 Now for the muffins.  Melt 4 Tablespoons butter.
 Then add 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar.
 Zest the other half of the orange.  Then give the orange to your husband for a snack so it isn't wasted.
 Add 2 eggs.
 1/4 cup oil
 1 cup buttermilk
 2 teaspoon vanilla Mix all that together well.  The smell of the orange is wonderful.
 Then add 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour to the mixture a little at a time.
 1 teaspoon salt
 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
 Mix well.
 Add 1 cup or maybe a little more fresh cranberries to the batter.
 Fold it into the batter.
 Fill the muffin pans.
 Then add a couple more cranberries to the top
 Then sprinkle the orange sugar on top.
 Isn't that pretty? Place in a preheated 400 oven and bake for about 18-22 minutes.
They smell wonderful and taste delicious.  Mix up a batch of these muffins soon.

Christmas Morning Cranberry Orange Muffins Recipe
Topping
1/4 cup sugar
zest from 1/2 orange

Muffins
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
zest of 1/2 orange
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
4 Tablespoons butter melted
1/4 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup fresh cranberries + extra on top

Top muffins with extra cranberries and orange sugar
Preheat oven to 400 and bake 18-22 minutes.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Fluffiest Baked Potatoes Ever!

For a couple of holiday parties this year we have created a baked potato bar.  And what do you need for a good potato bar, great baked potatoes.  The first step in a good potato is finding a nice big potato to bake.  You might not think this would be a problem but it is.  You want all of your potatoes to be about the same size so they bake evenly.  We have a new Whole Foods here in town.  I went over one day to check it out and guess what.  They have nice sized potatoes.  So that is where all my potatoes have come from this season.  Just a little hint for you.

The weather was like summer so we had a picnic for Christmas Eve dinner.
 Those potatoes are nice and big.  The first thing you need to do is wash your potatoes well.  I like to do it early so they can air dry.  You can't really get them good and dry using paper towels.
 After they are dry poke holes with a fork all around the potato.
 Now give them a good bath in olive oil.
 Now a good coating of sea salt.
 Fresh pepper
 Now they are ready to go into a preheated 425 oven.  Bake for about an hour.  After 30 minutes turn them.  I like to turn the oven off after an hour and let them sit in the oven for a few more minutes.  It will help make the skin nice and crisp.
 Fresh from the oven and ready for their toppings.
The inside is nice a fluffy and the outside nice and crisp.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sweet Tea Turkey Brine

Back to another Thanksgiving recipe.  This year I decided to cook two turkey breast instead of a whole turkey.  So I have been reading and thinking about brining a turkey for a while so I thought this was the perfect time to try. The thing to remember about using a brine is you have to plan ahead a little bit.  
Sorry I did not get a picture of the finished bird.  You know how it is on Thanksgiving and everyone is ready for the guest of honor and taking a picture didn't cross my mind.
So the day before I want to put the turkey in the brine, I made the brine.  This one is very easy.
I went ahead a mixed the brine in the pot I was going to use for the turkey.  Add 1/2-1 gal of water.  Bring water to a boil.
I sliced the orange, lemon and onion while I was waiting on the water.
I measured out 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup salt, and 1/2 Tablespoon whole peppercorns.  Now more about the salt.  The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of salt.  But according to the Pioneer Woman and some other places I read salt water is added to the turkeys before they are frozen to keep them moist.  If you are using a fresh bird add more salt, frozen bird less salt.  You don't want the bird to be too salty.
When the water boils add 5 tea bags, turn off the heat and cover.  Let steep for 10 minutes.
Now it is time to add the rest of the ingredients.
1/4 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 Tablespoons peppercorns
Orange slices
Lemon slices
Onion slices. Cover and put in the fridge to cool.
Now most recipes call for brining a bird for about 24 hours.  So the next morning I got the bird and the brine out.  Wash the bird well and clean him out.  Yuck.
If the turkey is not completely covered add a little more water.  You can also brine in a brining bag.

Thanksgiving morning I go get the bird to get him ready for the oven.
Take him out of the brine.  I poured the brine down the sink.
Now the easiest thing for me was to wash out the pot and then refill it with fresh water.  You will want to soak him for about 20-30 minutes to make sure all the salt is gone.
Now we are ready to get him dressed for the oven.
Pat him dry.  This will help have a crispy skin.
Pour some olive oil on the bird.
I added some fresh parsley that was left in my garden.
I put some more orange, lemon and onion slices inside the bird with some left over parsley.  I use turkey bags to bake my turkeys.  They come out nice and moist.  I follow the directions on the box for baking.  I really wish I had remembered to take a picture.  He was a pretty bird.  Nice and golden brown.  The meat was nice and juicy.  I would try this again.

Sweet Tea Turkey Brine Recipe

3-5 lb turkey breast
1/2 -1 gal water 16 cups
5 tea bags
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup salt
onion, lemon and orange sliced thin
1/2 Tablespoon peppercorns
3 garlic cloves
olive oil
salt and pepper