Slow Cooker Sunday: Herbed Turket Breast

Have you ever thought about cooking your Thanksgiving turkey in a slow cooker? Well, unfortunately you can’t put a whole turkey in there, but, you can cook a turkey breast. Believe it or not, they actually say slow cooker friendly on the wrapper, well, at least the one I picked up did. My friends and I had our 2nd Annual Friendsgiving Celebration last weekend, and when I offered to bring the turkey in my mind I was already thinking of a slow cooker turkey breast since there wasn’t going to be that many of us. I decided on a turkey breast that was 7.5 lbs. Now, when I brought him home and tested him out in my slow cooker I freaked out a little bit because he didn’t fit. Well, he fit I just couldn’t put the cover on the slow cooker. But, I thought to myself that once he thawed out he should just fine.

On the day of the get together I got up early just in case it took longer than directed and in case of any other mishaps. I began by placing a chopped carrot, onion and celery in the bottom of my slow cooker. I then placed the turkey breast on top of the vegetables and sprinkled him – oh, and yes, I always refer to my turkey as him or he, it’s because of Tom The Turkey – with an herb and spice mix and then drizzled melted butter over him. If you don’t have the specific spices that I used below feel free to create your own spice mix.

After a little coercion I was able to get the cover snug on top and I set him to cook on low. I was planning on him being done between 6-7 hours.

While the pop-up time did pop out at 6 hours I decided to leave him in there a little longer just to be sure. I figured he wouldn’t dry out in a slow cooker. And unfortunately the one downfall of cooking a turkey in a slow cooker is not getting that nice browned skin.

But, that was nothing that a few minutes under the broiler couldn’t resolve.

So, would I make a turkey breast like this again? Yes! It’s stress-free and pretty much guarantees that you will have a juicy turkey. I am tempted to go my usual route of brining the turkey beforehand next time though. Oh, one thing I was able to make with this turkey that I had never been able to do before was gravy. There was a decent amount of drippings left in the slow cooker and I must say, homemade gravy from the drippings beats anything you buy in the store hands down.

 

Slow Cooker Herbed Turkey Breast

Ingredients:

1 carrot, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 celery stalk, chopped into 1-inch pieces

3 tablespoons onion powder

1/2 teaspoons sage

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 6 to 7 lb. bone-in turkey breast

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons cornstarch

 

Directions:

In the slow cooker toss together the carrot, onion and celery.

In a small bowl mix the herbs and spices.

Place the turkey on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with the spice mixture. Try to get some of the mixture under the skin of the turkey as well. Drizzle with the melted butter. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or until fully cooked – 165 F

When the turkey is done, preheat the oven to broil and place the turkey in a roasting pan and broil for a few minutes to brown the skin. Don’t leave it in the oven too long or the turkey could dry out.

Combine the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water.

Strain the remaining liquid in the slow cooker into a medium saucepan. Bring to a bowl over medium-high heat. Whish in the cornstarch mixture and cook until the gravy thickens.

Slice the turkey and serve with the gravy.

 

Recipe from Slow Cooker Family Favorites

 

 

Brussels Sprouts & Cranberry Sauce

So, I’m working a little backwards here. Yesterday I brought you a delicious pie you can serve for Thanksgiving dessert and today I am bringing you two sides. A roasted Brussels sprouts dish and homemade cranberry sauce. Come back on Sunday for Slow Cooker Sunday where I will tell you how I slow cooked a turkey breast – see, definitely working backwards!

I know Brussels sprouts is not a favorite vegetable for many, but, I think the reason is because they are not preparing them the best way. Yes, they have a bitter flavor, just like broccoli rabe, but, when you season and roast them in the oven they take on a whole new flavor. Even the little charred sections taste good. And, they get perfectly tender. The recipe I recently tried called for them to be roasted in the oven and then topped with a glaze made with grapes, honey & scallions… YUM! I can’t wait to make it again and I am pretty sure it will make any Brussels sprout skeptic think twice about that vegetable that looks like a baby cabbage.

I grew up eating cranberry sauce from a can, not the whole berry sauce one, but, the jellied version. It’s weird, I won’t eat the whole berry one from a can because I feel like it’s too fake but I will eat the jellied version. Yes, I will still eat it with my turkey and stuffing. I don’t really know what prompted me to try making cranberry sauce myself since I was content with the can stuff, but, I’ve used the same recipe now for quite a few years and it’s one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving. I look forward to a sandwich with leftover turkey warmed up with melted cheese (preferably provolone) and topped with cranberry sauce every year after Thanksgiving. I am dreaming of it now as I type… LOL! So, what is so special about this sauce? I think it’s the simplicity of it. There are no out of the box ingredients. It’s simply a bag of fresh cranberries, sugar, water, fresh ginger, orange zest, a cinnamon stick, ground cloves and salt. I tried getting a little fancy one year, but, it just didn’t top the simple yet delicious taste of this cranberry sauce. Make a few days before you intend to use to really get the best flavor.

So, I hope these two dishes will make their way to your table, or, they have given you ideas of something else to try.

 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Grapes

Ingredients:

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups red seedless grapes

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons honey

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

Place a baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 450 F.

Toss the Brussels sprouts with the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl. Spread them on the hot baking sheet and roast, tossing halfway through until tender and charred in spots, 20 to 30 minutes.

While the Brussels sprouts are in the oven…. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the grapes and thyme and cook until the grapes starting to burst, stirring occasionally. Add the scallions and honey. Increase the heat to high and bring to boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer until the juices thicken and the grapes are glazed. Season with salt and pepper.

Once ready, transfer the Brussels sprouts to a dish and drizzled the grape mixture over them

Recipe from Food Network

 

Cranberry Sauce

  • Servings: 2 1/2 Cups
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Ingredients:

1 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar

1 cinnamon stick

2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger

2 teaspoons orange zest

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

 

Directions:

In a medium saucepan combine 1 cup of water with the sugar, cinnamon stick, ginger, orange zest, salt and cloves. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the cranberries and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer, stirring until slightly thickened.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Allow to cool before refrigerating

Recipe from Rachael Ray

Brown Butter & Vanilla Pear Pie with a Leaf Cut-Out Crust

With Thanksgiving next week you may be on the lookout for a new or different pie to make. Today I am bringing you a Brown Butter & Vanilla Pear Pie that I saw in a recent issue of Real Simple magazine that would be a wonderful addition to your dessert table.

I began by browning the butter. To do so, I simply melted a stick of butter in a saucepan stirring it until it was golden and nutty smelling – trust me, it will get a nutty scent. Don’t leave it on the stove too long or your brown butter will turn to burnt butter.

I poured the butter in to a large bowl and added in 5 peeled and chopped Bartlett pears, 2 peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples, flour, vanilla extract, salt and sugar. After giving this a few good stirs to mix it all together I transferred the mixture to a prepared pie dish – I had placed an unbaked piecrust in the dish.

Now it was time to work on the top crust. I’ve been wanting to try a different type of decorative pie crust… A leaf cut-out pie crust. I have made cut-outs before for a pie crust, but, they have been just accent pieces. I had never completely covered the pie with cutouts. What’s nice about this… its fool-proof and looks a lot more difficult than what it is. One thing you do need though is patience! Using leaf design pie crust cutters I cut out a bunch of leaves – I had around 60.

I then arranged them on the top of my pie. I brushed the pie with a beaten egg and sprinkled sugar on it and placed it in the freezer for 15 minutes.

A side note, as I have mentioned before I normally use store bought pie crust – always the Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust. So, for this pie I needed 3 pie crusts; 1 for the bottom and I needed two in order to cut out enough leaves to cover my pie. I decided that next time I make a pie with cut-outs for the crust I am going to cut them out the day before and refrigerate them to save time the day of.

I was concerned that the leaf design wouldn’t hold-up during baking – that it would possibly burn or some of the leave would crack. Thankfully baking the pie on the lowest rack of the oven and at a lower temperature (350 F) prevented that from happening.

This pie is delicious… Not overly sweet and the combination of pears and apples is just perfect!

Brown Butter & Vanilla Pear Pie

Ingredients:

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

2 1/2 lbs. (5) pears, peeled, cored and chopped

1 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped

3 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling

Preferred pie crust

1 large egg, lightly beaten

 

Directions:

Lower a rack in the oven to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a medium bowl / skillet, melt the butter over medium heat stirring until golden and nutty smelling. Pour into a large bowl and let cool for a few minutes.

Add the apples, pears, flour, vanilla, salt 1/4 cup sugar to the brown butter and toss.

Roll out your pie crust to 14 inches and line a 9-inch pie plate with it and trim the dough to a 1-inch overhang. Fill the pie crust with the pear apple filling and top the pie with your decided pie crust design. If you plan on just covering the pie with no design, roll the dough out to 12 inches and lay over the filling. Fold the top edge over and tuck under bottom edge; crimp edge as desired. Cut a few vents. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar and freeze for 15 minutes

Bake on the bottom rack until the juices start bubbling, about 60 to 75 minutes. If you notice that the edges of the pie are browning too quickly cover them with aluminum foil for the remaining baking time.

Let the pie cool for at least 4 hours before slicing.

Recipe from Real Simple Magazine

 

Chicken Vegetable Ramen Noodle

When I was in college I used to make ramen noodles a few times a week in my trusty electric hot pot. It was one of the few things that was fool proof to make in there, besides heating up a can of soup. Once I graduated though the hot pot was thrown out and I stopped eating ramen noodles. Then last year not long after my Dad passed away I had a sudden craving for ramen noodles. There was such a feeling of comfort and safety in that bowl of noodles. A reminder of when life was easier and the safety of youth made you feel like nothing could ever go wrong or nothing bad could happen. Grief is a funny thing. It can make you remember things you completely forgot and question whether or not they happened and can make you find comfort in the oddest of things, hence the ramen noodles. To this day I still enjoy the occasional bowl of ramen noodle and have a case of it in my cabinet at all times. It got me thinking, why not try to make a traditional ramen bowl as opposed to the instant one I have been enjoying.

I began by prepping my various vegetables to have them ready to add to the pot as I was going…

And once I started it came together pretty quick, the most time consuming part of making this ramen bowl was prepping all of the vegetables. Oh yeah, and finding the miso. I ended up going to a local Oriental grocery market that I’ve known about for years. I did find miso at my local supermarket, but, the recipe called for white miso and the one they had was red and I didn’t want to take any chances with subbing ingredients.

And while it was delicious, I did have a minor mishap. I left the pot covered a little too long with the noodles so I ended up with something more like Lo Mein than ramen soup. I did have enough broth for one bowl, but, not for two.

Oh well… My noodles and veggies were just as delicious.

I’ll definitely make this again, but, I think next time I will omit the eggs and the chicken. It was definitely enough with just the vegetables.

 

Chicken Vegetable Ramen Bowl

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder, plus more for seasoning chicken

3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided

1 chicken breasts (about 1 pound)

2 eggs

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1-inch piece ginger, finely chopped

3 tablespoons soy sauce

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 tablespoons white miso

8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed and sliced

1 cup baby spinach

4 to 5 mini sweet peppers plus more for garnish, sliced

3 to 4 green onions plus more for garnish, sliced

1 large carrot, thinly sliced into ribbons

6 ounces ramen noodles

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm the 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil. Sprinkle each chicken breast with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Once hot, add the chicken breasts to the skillet. Brown chicken for 5 minutes on each side.

Transfer the chicken to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until cooked through.

In a small saucepan, place the eggs and cover with water and cover the pan. Bring to a boil then turn off the heat. Keep lid on saucepan for 5 minutes. Drain the hot water and fill with cold water, once cool drain the water and peel the eggs.

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, warm the remaining oil. Once hot, add onion and ginger. Cook for 5 minutes, until onions are translucent.

Add garlic powder, stirring frequently for 1 minute. Whisk in soy sauce, broth and miso. Add mushrooms and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer covered for 15 minutes.

Add the peppers, green onions, spinach and carrots. Continue to simmer covered for 5 minutes. Taste the broth and add salt if necessary.

Finally, add ramen noodles and turn off heat (the heat from the soup will soften the noodles).

Slice chicken breasts and eggs. Divide soup into bowls and serve with chicken and a halved egg.

Recipe from Simply Organic

Apple Cider Fritters

I love Apple Cider Donuts! I first had them years ago when I went apple picking in upstate NY and now you can find them anywhere and everywhere. The best one’s I’ve had are from Wilklow Orchards in upstate NY and from Wooside Orchards out on the North Fork- their hard cider is good as well. I’ve also had some bad ones, but, we won’t get into that.  I did try to recreate them at home last year, but, it was a fail. I tried again this year, but, instead of donuts I made fritters and they were DELISH! The only problem… It’s easier to mindlessly eat a ridiculous amount of fritters than it is donuts.

Apple Cider Fritters

  • Servings: 24 Fritters
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Ingredients:

Fritters:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon*

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg*

1/8 teaspoon cardamom*

1/8 teaspoon all spice*

3/4 cup apple cider

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled**

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cinnamon Sugar Coating:

1 cup sugar

4 tablespoons ground cinnamon

*Instead of all 4 spices, you could sub 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon apple pie spice for them

**Can use salted or unsalted, I used unsalted

Directions:

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and all spice in a large bowl. In another bowl stir together the apple cider, eggs, butter and vanilla. Add the apple cider mixture to the flour mixture and stir until combined.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon for the coating in a shallow bowl.

Pour the oil in a Dutch oven or another heavy bottom deep pot and heat over medium heat to 360 to 370 F. Using a cookie scoop, drop the batter in the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

While still warm roll the fritters in the cinnamon sugar and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from My Recipes

Caribbean Chicken

Every week there are two questions I dread… What should I make for lunch for the week and what should I make for dinner? I try to switch it up and make different things but sometimes I just run out of ideas or quite simply I just don’t feel like cooking. Thankfully, I have a binder of organized recipes I have been collecting for quite some time and I am finally putting them to good use. This Caribbean Chicken recipe is one that I ripped out from Food Network Magazine a few years ago and I am sure I will be making it again.

To start I browned boneless skinless chicken thighs that I seasoned with curry powder, allspice, thyme salt and pepper in melted coconut cream that I skimmed off the stop of the coconut milk. Just remember not to shake the coconut milk or you won’t be able to skim this cream off of it.

 

Once the chicken was browned I transferred it to a plate and added onion, garlic, cilantro, a serrano chili and thyme sprigs to my Dutch oven and cooked until the onions began to soften. 

 

I then returned the chicken to the pot along with water and the remaining coconut cream and milk from the can and cooked it covered on medium-low heat, for about 15 minutes until the sauce was thickened and the chicken was cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. And finally, I added in a cup frozen peas and carrots thawed and cooked everything until the pear and carrots were warmed through. I then seasoned it with salt and pepper.

 

And served it with white rice.

 

Caribbean Chicken

Ingredients:

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 3 sprigs

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, quartered

1 13.5 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (do not shake)

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 Scotch bonnet, habanero or serrano chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed

Cooked white rice for serving

Directions:

Combine the curry powder, allspice, chopped thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a small bowl and use it to season the chicken.

Skim 2 tablespoons of the solid cream off the top of the coconut milk and transfer to a large Dutch oven or pot and melt over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onion, garlic, cilantro, chili and thyme sprigs to the pot and cook, stirring until the onions are softened. Return the chicken to the pot along with a 1/4 cup of water and the coconut milk along with any remaining coconut cream. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Remove the thyme sprigs and add the peas and carrots and continue cooking until warmed through.

Serve with rice.

Recipe adapted from Food Network

 

Etsy Shop – CraftedByFran

After making jewelry for a few years and creating pieces to give as gifts, sell to friends and at a few local craft fairs, I finally decided to open an Etsy shop. Truthfully, I’ve been thinking about it for a while but held back because I thought it would be difficult.

So, what did I think it would be difficult? Figuring out shipping costs for one. I did a little research and discovered that this stumps many would-be Etsy sellers. There were a few other things as well: the whole creating a listing, taking good pictures, do I have to give my pieces “names?” And a few other silly little things. In the end, I am opting to offer free shipping and decided not to give most of my pieces a name since they are one-of-a-kind. And after creating my first listing and learning how to navigate the process it became a lot easier and not as daunting. Let’s be honest, trying anything new is a learning process. Soon enough I’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. There is one thing that always gets me… Tagging. Which ones work best and which ones don’t. I have that same issue with my blog posts sometimes.

Below is the link to my shop. Feel free to like a piece, like my shop or maybe you’ll find something perfect for you.

Etsy Shop-CraftedByFran

Here are a some of the pieces available now: