Monday, November 28, 2011

Sheperd's Pie with Turkey

I hope that you had a Thanksgiving that left you completely stuffed, and your soul filled to the brim of joy, happiness and blessings. This year I was debating on what type of turkey I was going to cook. I thought about just doing two turkey breast or a rolled stuffed breast. I sure am glad that my husband suggested the same turkey we have every year! This way we will have leftovers for soup, turkey pot pie and maybe a turkey alfredo pizza. Who doesn't love Thanksgiving leftovers? As I was putting the carcass in a huge stockpot to cook down (don't forget to add a splash a white vinegar to the broth while cooking, it helps extract more calcium from the bones), I realized that I am pretty much a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. Even with some of the new recipes I've tried I always seem to go back to the ones we've had year after year. You know it's just tradition! When the carcass was done cooking, broth cooled and all meat removed from the bones, we had enough for soup and I decided to make this sheperd's pie, a twist from my mom's original made with beef. This recipe is pretty easy to put together, ingredients will depend on what you have on hand. I just had to make a new batch of mashed potatoes and some extra gravy. If you don't have either on hand I am sure you can find already mashed potatoes or gravy at your local supermarket. I love a huge pat of butter on the top of my pie that melts down the sides and makes a pool around the potatoes. A scoop of butter with every bite.
I love the account of the birth of Jesus and thought I would share a bit of the story over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas-Luke 2:1-5 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) Any everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth to Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. he went there to register Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child....

If you have a box of Cheerios in your cabinet, I encourage you to take a look at the box, I know on our box (purchased at a wholesale club) had two sending cheer postcards. Cut them out, write a note of encouragement, Thanks or Christmas cheer. Place a stamp in the corner and place it in the mailbox. This will be sent to someone serving in our Military. A few minutes of your time could bring a smile and comfort to someone who is not home for the Holidays.

Sheperd's Pie with Turkey-
4 cups leftover turkey cut into bite size pieces, or enough to fit in the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish
4 cups turkey gravy-homemade or purchased
2 cans greens beans-drained
2 cans corn-drained
(I used beans & corn but feel free to use whatever you like or have on hand)
8 russet potatoes, peeled, cubed, cooked & mashed
salt, pepper

Place the turkey in the bottom of a 13x9 pan and pour 3 cups of gravy of the turkey. Layer the beans then the corn. Spoon the mashed potatoes over the top and spread evenly. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. You can add a few pats of butter as well. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve this along with leftover stuffing, sweet potatoes & cranberry relish. Pass the extra gravy.

Eat Well, Sonya

Monday, November 21, 2011


With Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching everyone is focused on appetizers, dinner and desserts. I think that breakfast gets over looked. Often we get up and start on dinner preparations and forget to eat. By mid-morning your starving! You need to take a few minutes to sit and fortify yourself with something before the hustle and bustle of the day begins. Who doesn't love a bagel? I love them and so does my family. A dear friend invited me for breakfast and we had homemade bagels topped with cream cheese, smoked salmon and very thinly sliced onions, and they were delicious. I knew that my family would love these. With recipe in hand, I've been making them ever since. Bagels are easier to make than you think. Put some music on, brew a pot of tea and within an hour you'll have these done. I always make a double batch, cool, slice and freeze half for later in the week. Why not have a few minutes with your spouse, toast up some bagels, pour that coffee and enjoy some quiet time together before anyone else gets up and your days starts with the Thanksgiving preparations.

I wish you all a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving! 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  There is much to be joyful and thankful for. As your are preparing your dinner, be thankful for the income that provided the meal, as you set your table, thankful for the home you have, and thankful for each guest that arrives to share the day. For our loved ones that have passed, they are ever present that day. With the food we choose to serve, how we set the table and the wonderful memories we have of them. Our holiday traditions started with them.

Remember and give thanks to all the men & women serving to protect our freedom, and those working at the local missions to serve Thanksgiving dinner to many that would not have a meal elsewhere.

Homemade Bagels
4 cups bread flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 cups to 1 1/2 cups warm water

Mix the above ingredients in a bowl. The dough should feel stiff. Adding extra water if it is too stiff or if you can't get all the flour incorporated.

Plop the dough onto the counter and knead for about 8-10 minutes, until the dough is uniform and smooth. Cut into 8 equal pieces and let rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Take each dough ball and poke a finger through the middle and swirl around your finger to form a bagel shape. Let rest for another 20 minutes.

Boil a large pot of water and add bagels three at a time. Do not crowd them. Boil for 1 minute and flip them over and boil for another minute. (One minute per side). Remove with slotted spoon to a cookie sheet and let dry for a few minutes.

Place bagels on an oiled cookie sheet dusted with corn meal. At this time, you can sprinkle poppy seeds, sesame seeds, sea salt or dried onion flakes on top. Bake for 10 minutes on one side, turn them over and bake for another 10 minutes. Cool. If you are going to freeze them, slice them ahead of time and freeze in a ziploc bag.

Eat Well, Sonya

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chocolate Truffles

I enjoy cooking and baking with my family, and I especially like it when they have picked out a recipe for us to do together. My niece, Nicole and I have been baking together since she was little. Starting out with homemade play dough, candy, cookies and cupcakes. This time she chose Chocolate Truffles from Barefoot In Paris. Yes!, truffles, a chocolate lovers dream!! She has wanted to make them for awhile, but thought they would be complicated. Much to her surprise they were very easy. The longest part is waiting for the chocolate to set up. Isn't that how it goes in our life? We think that things are going to be very complicated and when it's all said and done, it's not all that bad. These truffles are creamy, dreamy and very much full of chocolate. If you do not have Grand Mariner liqueur omit that ingredient, the recipe will not be affected. We doubled the recipe to share with family and friends and I am know that Nicole will be making a batch of her own to share.

Along our path of life, we are blessed with people who are like-minded or kindred spirits as I like to call them. Ones who share the same passions, love and purpose no matter the age. Philippians 2:2 then make my joy complete by being like minded having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. I have kindred spirits in my life, ones who share love for The Lord, talents, putting their families first and have joy in serving others above themselves, they help keep me grounded. Nicole is no exception, we both love to cook and bake, and we can talk hours about recipes, cookbooks and our favorite Food Network shows. She helps her mom prepare or cook meals for those they host from their local church. She will be picking out a recipe each month and will be posting it here as Recipe of the Month. I am excited to see what she picks out for December.

With the Holiday season fast approaching you could make a batch or two, they make great hostess or teacher gifts or gifts for anyone in your life that Loves Chocolate.

Chocolate Truffles-
Recipe from Barefoot in Paris
3 1/2 ounces good bittersweet chocolate
3 1/2 ounces good semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier Liqueur
1 Tablespoon prepared coffee
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract
Cocoa powder
Confectioners' sugar

Chop the chocolates finely and place in a bowl.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it boils. Immediately pour the hot cream through a fine meshed sieve over the bowl of chocolates. With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolates together until the chocolate is completely melted. (If the chocolate doesn't melt completely, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir for a few minutes till melted.) Whisk in the Grand Marnier, coffee and vanilla. Cover and chill for 45 minutes to an hour until pliable but firm enough to scoop.

With two teaspoons or a 1 1/4" ice cream scoop, make dollops of the chocolate mixture and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes, until firm enough to roll into spheres. Roll in cocoa powder and chill. Truffles are best when they're allowed to set overnight in the refrigerator. Roll in Confectioners' sugar and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Makes 20 Truffles

Eat Well, Sonya

Monday, November 7, 2011

Apple Banana Bread

This is a favorite of my brother! I always seem to have a small stash of bananas in the freezer. Right next to the boneless skinless chicken thighs that I am in love with. I can't help myself, but every time I visit the grocery store, I pick up a package or two. We are apple fanatics and have a never ending bowl of them on the counter. Combining the two just seemed like the right thing to do. Dusting the top of the bread with broken sugar cubes tossed with cinnamon adds to the sweetness, along with some pockets of melted sugar.
The kitchen is filled with an amazing banana aroma while baking, and when the bread has cooled you slice into a surprise of little chunks of soft apples. 

I look forward to and enjoy each season that approaches as mentioned in Ecclesiastes 3:2, a time to plant & a time to uproot. Our fall has produced an abundance of fruits and vegetables. With apples, pumpkins, squashes, root vegetables and late fall greens, the recipes are endless! I know that watermelon and berries are not a match for the fall weather, but come Spring, I will be getting excited for those fruits & vegetables that mark the beginning of that season. Let us be mindful of the season of life God has placed us in today and be thankful for his abundance and blessings that He daily gives us.

As you are walking through the vegetable aisle, listen, those rutabagas just might be calling out to you!

Apple Banana Bread-
1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons sour cream
1 mashed banana
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large apple, peeled, cored & diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease & flour a standard loaf pan.

Cream the butter and sugars together till light & fluffy, 3minutes. Add the eggs and mix well. Stir in the sour cream and the vanilla.

In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Gradually add this to the creamed mixture.

Gently fold in the apples. Spoon the mixture into your prepared pan. If you have them, take a handful of sugar cubes and a 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and place in a plastic sandwich bag. Gently crush the sugar cubes leaving some chunks. Sprinkle on top of the bread before baking. You can use two tablespoons of sugar instead of the cubes.

Bake for 1 hour, or until knife comes out clean when tested.

Cool, slice and enjoy!

Eat Well, Sonya