Open Faced Turkey Sandwich

Open Faced Turkey Sandwich

Candied Yams aren’t the only dish I put off for too long. I can’t believe I avoided a simple open faced turkey sandwich until now. I think it has been the gravy that always had me nervous about it. I like turkey. I like bread. All that’s left is the gravy.

As is typical with many households, we had leftover turkey after Thanksgiving. We also had lots of bread since my wife made some delicious honey whole wheat bread from scratch. Since I tried some of her homemade gravy on the turkey for Thanksgiving and liked it, Linda suggested I try an open faced sandwich. I’m glad she did.

She made McCormick turkey gravy since the homemade gravy was gone. Then she cut up pieces of the turkey and added them to the gravy. Once it all had a chance to heat up a bit, she poured it over her homemade bread. I had some of the leftover candied yams with it and even let them touch on the plate.

I now have another thing to look forward to during the holidays.

Candied Yams Recipe

My wife has been making these for the holidays for as long as I can remember. She always thought I had tried them and disliked them, but for some unknown reason, I never did. Well, the reason isn’t really unknown. It’s because I thought I wouldn’t like them because of the yams. In any case, this year I went ahead and tried them. I can’t believe I went this long without trying them. Here is the recipe if you’d like to give it a try.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of yams
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup marshmallows

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Pour yams into a 9×9 baking dish
  3. Cut up butter into small pieces and distribute evenly
  4. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the yams
  5. Cover with marshmallows
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes or until marshmallows become golden brown

If your fussy eater has a sweet tooth, then there is a pretty good likelihood they will enjoy these. I actually went back for seconds and then had more the next day as well. I’m already looking forward to the next time Linda makes them.

Alton Brown Turkey Brine Recipe

We decided to try things a little different this Thanksgiving. My wife found this interesting brine recipe for turkey and it looked good enough to give a try. It’s good for a bird 14-16 pounds, although I’m sure it could be adjusted for other sizes as needed. You’ll need your turkey thawed at least a day or two before roasting to give it time to marinate in the brine.

Brine Ingredients:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water

Aromatic Ingredients:

  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil

Directions:

  1. Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, black pepper, allspice, and ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil.
  3. Remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
  4. Combine the brine, water and ice in a 5-gallon pot. Place the thawed turkey with innards removed breast side down in brine.
  5. Cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
  6. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
  7. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water, discarding the brine.
  8. Place the bird on roasting rack and pat dry with paper towels.
  9. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
  10. Add steeped aromatics to the turkeys cavity along with the rosemary and sage.
  11. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
  12. Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes.
  13. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F for approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting until the internal temperature reaches 161 degrees F.
  14. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

via Good Eats Roast Turkey Recipe : Alton Brown : Recipes : Food Network.

We made a few changes to the original recipe due to some ingredients we couldn’t find. We used black pepper instead of black peppercorns, ground allspice instead of allspice berries, and ground ginger instead of chopped candied ginger. We also allowed it to marinate for 24 hours or so before cooking.

The brine had a really nice smell while it was cooking on the stove top. That gave me a lot of hope that the turkey would come out tasty. We used a big lobster pot so we could cook, cool, and marinate in the same pot.

After we let it boil, we set it aside for a few hours to cool. We let it sit in the fridge overnight. The next morning we added the ice water to it.

The recipe calls for getting the whole turkey submerged, but that just wasn’t possible. We just made sure to flip the turkey in the brine so it all was covered at some point.

When we were ready to cook the turkey, we removed it from the brine and patted it dry. Then we coated it with canola oil. This was a big change for us. Usually my wife slices just under the skin and puts butter underneath. To our surprise, the turkey gets very golden brown using the canola oil.

This was by far the best looking turkey we have cooked. We were all commenting on how it was so golden brown that it looked fake – like some picture you’d see in a food magazine. After letting it sit while we finished up some side dished, I started slicing the turkey. I think we left it in a little bit long. It wasn’t as juicy as I would have liked.

Overall, I’d call this recipe a success. The skin wasn’t salty or over seasoned.  The flavor really seemed to get cooked thru the whole bird. This certainly isn’t a last minute recipe, but if you’ve got the time for it, the results are well worth it.

A Fussy Feast – Thanksgiving with a Fussy Eater

There is no better time to spot a fussy eater than Thanksgiving when most plates are overflowing with a wide variety of food. Growing up my plate was typically filled with lots of turkey (with no gravy), corn, peas, a dinner roll, and (if I was feeling very adventurous) a small serving of mashed potatoes. Times have certainly changed. Much of what was on my plate this year would never have been in the past.

I’m just going to go over the various dishes and what I thought of them for now. I will be posting recipes for many of them individually in the coming days.

We tried something different with the turkey this year. Instead of just sprinkling a lot of seasoning on the turkey just before sticking it in the oven, my wife found an interesting brine recipe. It had brown sugar, cinnamon and red pepper in it. This was quite a departure for us, but it came out really good and I had seconds and even a small third helping.

Linda made homemade mashed potatoes and gravy. I’m usually more a fan of Betty Crocker Butter and Herb potatoes, but these were good. Her gravy was also pretty good, even though I didn’t have much of it. She also made homemade stuffing. Everyone else seemed to enjoy it, but I didn’t care for it at all.

Our daughter came over with a parsnip dish with a creamy cheese sauce. I only tried a little bit of it, but I didn’t like it at all. She used a Gruyere cheese. I’m not sure if it was the cheese or the parsnips that I didn’t like – or both. We may try to make the dish with Parmesan cheese to see if that tastes better.

Linda also made a dish she usually makes for the holidays that I can’t believe I never tried before – candied yams. With all the brown sugar and marshmallows it was right up my alley. I went back for seconds and had leftovers the next day too.

Dessert wasn’t like past years. Usually, Linda makes me a chocolate pie or some other chocolate treat. This year, she made pecan pie and apple pie from scratch. Our daughter brought a no-bake chocolate pumpkin pie. The pecan pie was sweet, but I didn’t care for the nutty taste. The apple pie was OK. I might be able to learn to enjoy it with more cinnamon. The chocolate pumpkin pie was made with a very dark chocolate so it wasn’t very sweet. I didn’t care for the pumpkin aftertaste. I’ve already learned that I don’t care for winter squash like butternut squash or acorn squash. Pumpkin is another one I don’t like.

I almost forgot that Linda also made homemade honey wheat bread. It didn’t rise as much as we would have liked, but it was still delicious.

All in all, it was a great holiday. I hope you all enjoyed yours and tried something different. Let me know some of the new dishes you tried and I’ll check them out as well.

Crock Pot Pork Chops Recipe

Fall seems to be the time of year that people break out the crock pots and slow cookers. They’re great for pot roast, but can also be used to make some really great meals that you probably cook other ways. You might not even have considered using a crock pot for them. I know I would never have thought to use it for pork chops.

My wife Linda was looking around for slow cooker recipes and stumbled on this one that looked good so we decided to give it a try this past weekend. We made a few changes based on availability of ingredients. I’m listing the recipe the way we prepared it. Feel free to visit the source to find the original recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  •  Goya’s Con Culantro Y Achiote
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 4 thick cut boneless pork chops
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, chicken broth, and seasonings.
  2. Pour into the slow cooker.
  3. Cut small slits in each pork chop with the tip of a knife, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Place pork chops into the crock pot, cover, and cook on High for 4 hours flipping them about once an hour.

via Slow Cooker Pork Chops II Recipe – Allrecipes.com.

When Linda found this recipe we made sure to pick up all the ingredients, but apparently we missed a few things. We thought we had paprika and totally overlooked the poultry seasoning. We decided to skip them both and use Achiote instead since we always have some on hand.

I must confess that I was a little nervous about this recipe since it not only calls for garlic powder, but also minced garlic as well. Still, I tried to keep an open mind and waited until they were done to try it. They certainly didn’t smell bad in the crock pot all afternoon.

So finally the moment of truth came as it was time for dinner. The first thing we noticed was how incredibly tender they were. The chops were practically falling apart as we pulled them out. I really liked the way they fat separated from the meat. Even Linda noticed that the fat wasn’t as appetizing as it would normally be when they were fried or broiled.

When Linda served my pork chops, I didn’t see any noticeable garlic on them. I think the garlic may sink to the bottom of the crock pot, but I’m not sure. All I know is that it wasn’t on my chops and that’s a good thing. Since they were so tender, you only needed a fork to break it up into bite sized pieces. I still wasn’t sure if I was going to like them. Linda said hers needed more seasoning. Personally, I thought they were really good. As they used to say in the Alka-Seltzer commercials – ” I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”.

So this recipe gets the fussy eater stamp of approval. Chances are we’ll be trying a few more crock pot recipes this fall. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs

I’m not a fan of red sauce. Pizza sauce is the only exception. It’s not the same as spaghetti sauce no matter who tries to tell you otherwise. They are seasoned differently. Recently, my wife made spaghetti with turkey meatballs and made her own sauce taking my fussy palate into consideration.

I’m not calling this a recipe, because quite honestly, I don’t know exactly how my wife made it. I do know that she started with tomato sauce and tomato paste. I know she added sugar and a little cinnamon. Beyond that, I’m clueless. I do know that the meatballs were made from 99% lean ground turkey. She didn’t use an onions in them either. Turkey meatballs don’t brown up quite like regular meatballs, but since they’re going in the sauce that doesn’t really matter much anyway.

As you can see from the picture, I didn’t take much spaghetti. The sauce wasn’t as bad as most I’ve tried, I didn’t even scrape it off the meatballs like I usually would. It was passable, but I didn’t enjoy it. The meatballs, however, were quite good and I had several of them. I think next time I might suggest she add more cinnamon to the sauce. It is one of my favorite ingredients, after all.

Acorn Squash Recipe

Recently, my wife and I picked up an acorn squash to try. We’ve never had one before so we looked around for a recipe that looked like something we might like. She came up with one that seemed kind of similar to the butternut squash recipe that we didn’t like. (Cue dark, foreboding music).

Ingredients:

  • Acorn Squash
  • 2 tbsp Dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp Butter

Directions:

  1. Cut the acorn squash down the middle – Use a large knife as this is not easy.
  2. Remove the seeds.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes on 350 degrees in a pan with the cut side down.
  4. Remove from oven and turn over.
  5. Add butter to each half.
  6. Add brown sugar and cinnamon to each half.
  7. Return to the oven to cook another 30-45 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and scoop out the squash to serve.

As soon as we started, I had a bad feeling. The acorn squash looked a lot like the butternut squash except it is more round. It has that same orange color. It also has a similar smell. They both remind me of pumpkin. I guess that makes sense since the pumpkin is a kind of squash too. All three are considered “winter squash”.

As with the butternut squash, I was really hoping that the brown sugar would make it taste good. Well, brown sugar let me down again. Even with brown sugar and cinnamon, I didn’t like it. Neither did Linda. We have concluded that we just aren’t winter squash people. However, Linda says that she thinks I might like pumpkin pie. She might make one later this year for me to try.

From what I’m hearing from people, if you don’t like butternut squash or acorn squash prepared with brown sugar, chances are you just don’t like the squash and no recipe will change that. I think we will likely continue our efforts with summer squash when they are in season again.

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