Thanksgiving Traditions

 Salads and Dressings, Side Dish, Thanksgiving, Turkey  Comments Off on Thanksgiving Traditions
Nov 202014
 

As the holidays approach it brings to mind such sweet memories of  Thanksgivings past. Here is a little peek into my holiday memories.

Gina B. – Team member of  Cooking Queen

Each year, Americans celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday on the fourth Thursday of November. Most families follow traditions begun on the first Thanksgiving, but many have their own traditions that they follow each year. One such tradition in my family was the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade! Thanksgiving was my daddy’s favorite holiday. Thanksgiving morning , my sisters and I would lay across the living room floor and watch the parade with my parents. We never missed it!  We loved seeing our favorite balloons appear on the parade route…and seeing all the performers.  My dad used to say that if we watched till the end and saw Santa waving at us, that he would know exactly where to find us on Christmas day. That was back in 1973- Today I still can’t miss the parade. I watch it every year no matter where I am. The first few minutes of the start of the show, as they are announcing the special guests…I am in tears remembering those past thanksgivings with my daddy and how much he loved my mom’s cooking and Thanksgiving.  Today I share this same tradition with my own children.  We all snuggle up, with coffee or Hot chocolate and tune in.  We don’t start our day until the parade is over. Thanksgiving is my absolute FAVORITE holiday.

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Traditional foods are a large part of Thanksgiving celebrations. Many families include the entire family in the food preparation. Traditional foods include turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, cornbread, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Many people serve pie for dessert at the end of the meal. Popular pie flavors are pumpkin, pecan, sweet potato, and apple. In my family , growing up with a mom from Jamaica and a father who was American, our Thanksgiving feast was a tasty combination of  food that became our favorite tradition day one! Of course no meal is complete with out the traditional ,Roast Turkey and Gravy but mom also made a Brown-Sugar Glazed ham and Roast Beef . Instead of mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes as most would have …we had  sliced Cranberry, Cucumber Vidalia Salad, Homemade Stuffing and Coconut Rice or “Rice and Peas” , as they would call it in Jamaica.  Coconut rice is delicious! It is rice cooked with coconut milk instead of water and either Black eye peas or Red Kidney beans are added. The end result is amazing and really compliments the trio of meat and other sides. I hope you enjoyed this trip into my Thanksgiving Traditions and I hope you try the recipes!

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Herb Roasted Turkey

 Holiday/Entertaining, Thanksgiving, Turkey  Comments Off on Herb Roasted Turkey
Nov 202014
 

Herb Roasted Turkey
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
Ingredients
  • 1 turkey ( 8-12 lbs)
  • 1 cup of melted butter ( salted)
  • 2 cups of stock ( chicken or vegetable)
  • 6 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 2 tsp of each herb listed ( mix together)
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Onion Powder
  • Herbs de Province
Instructions
  1. Place, washed and dried bird in roasting pan on top of a rack. Rub melted butter under and over the skin of the bird, then sprinkle with seasoning and fresh garlic.
  2. Pour stock under the bird and bake according to directions enclosed with your turkey.
  3. Use the pan dripping to make a delicious gravy with the addition of a little flour cooked and whisked in a saucepan.

 

Coconut Rice a.k.a Rice and Peas

 Holiday/Entertaining, Side Dish, Thanksgiving  Comments Off on Coconut Rice a.k.a Rice and Peas
Nov 202014
 

Coconut Rice a.k.a Rice and Peas
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 7
 
Ingredients
  • 1tsp
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • ¼ cup onion, minced
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 15.5 oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2¼ cups water
  • 13.5oz can ( 1- ¾ cups) coconut milk)
  • 1 whole scotch bonnet hot pepper( not chopped) Optional
Instructions
  1. In a medium heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium: add garlic, scallion, onion and thyme.
  2. Saute` a few minutes, then add rice, beans and stir.
  3. Add coconut milk, water, salt and fresh pepper and place the whole scotch bonnet pepper in the pot, stir to combine and bring to a boil.
  4. Remove and discard the hot pepper and continue to cook the rice until almost all the liquid is absorbed and just skims the top.
  5. Cover; reduce heat to low; simmer for 25 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and keep covered for 10 additional minutes to allow the steam to finish cooking the rice ( do not be tempted to lift off the lid before that). Serve hot.

 

Apr 272012
 

As a mother of two wonderful children and a step-child, I find Mother’s Day to be one of the most special days of the year for me. Let me share a few thoughts to help you make Mother’s Day special for your mom. Think about her favorite food; you can make it at home and make it special by serving her in bed or allowing her to watch an afternoon movie while you cook. Other options would be to order in and set the table at home with special decorations or take her to that favorite local restaurant. Maybe it’s time for a bigger break than just a meal and you want to take Mom to a special place for the weekend. If that’s the case, you usually have to plan ahead because places book quickly. It doesn’t usually take much to make Mom feel special; her favorite flowers, a card, or a relaxing day will give her memories she’ll cherish forever. So whatever it is that you do for Mom this year, tell her you love her! Whether she’s in the next room or thousands of miles away, you can say “I love you, Mom”.

Apr 202012
 

Did you know? Barbecues originated in pig-pickins, feasts that were common in the Southern United Statesprior to the Civil War. Whole pigs were cooked and eaten by the crowd.

A couple of pieces of trivia: According to the Barbecue Industry Association, half of all marshmallows eaten in theU.S. have been toasted over a grill.

Kansas City, Missouriand Lexington, North Carolinaboth claim to be the barbecue capitals of the world. Memphis, meanwhile, stakes a claim to being the pork barbecue capital.

Here’s a tip for you: For an easy way to check how much propane you have left, bring your bathroom scale outside and weigh the gas tank.

Apr 132012
 

Tuna can be an excellent substitute for red meat on the grill. Look for tuna steaks cut about 1 inch thick. You can wrap each steak up in aluminum foil with your choice of: butter or olive oil, soy sauce or teriyaki marinade, green onions, ginger, or pineapple slices, and some salt and pepper. In less than 15 minutes you have a delicious, healthy main dish. Try grilling summer squash, pineapple chunks, or Vadalia onions to have on the side. Add a salad and you have an amazingly delicious, healthy meal. It’s so easy; I hope you’ll enjoy this gourmet side of grilling like we have.

Apr 052012
 

I thought it might be helpful to suggest a sample menu for those of you who might be cooking for the holidays for the first time. I hope you’ll notice the variety in color and texture with each of the menus. For finger foods: spiced bacon twists, asparagus ham roll ups, deviled eggs, stuffed mushrooms, brie with apricot topping, chicken salad puffs, and citrus pound cake. For a brunch you might serve: spiced bacon twists; asparagus,brie, and parma ham crostini; applesauce oatmeal pancakes; bacon quiche; chicken salad puffs; and citrus pound cake. For dinner may I suggest: applesauce pork loin recipe, glazed orange carrots, never fail scalloped potatoes, and Easter pie. These menus vary different flavors and don’t focus too much on one ingredient in case you have guests that don’t like a particular food. And most of these menus will have you out of the kitchen in less than an hour to prepare the entire menu (not including cooking time). Let us know which of these have become your favorites. We’d love to hear. You’ll find the recipes on http://www.pamperedchef.com and http://www.tasteofhome.com 

Apr 022012
 

 

Whether you are entertaining many friends or serving your family for Easter, here are some simple tips that have served me well over the years. There are three basic menus: finger foods, brunch, and dinner. Depending on the size of the group the menu can be scaled back. If you are serving finger foods or brunch it is best to have between 4-8 choices. For  dinner a main dish, 2 side dishes, and a dessert is enough. When choosing a menu try to remember to vary color and texture in your dishes. When the kids were little finger foods were a fun way for them to eat; but, if you have teens the dinner idea might be more filling!

For recipes try http://www.pamperedchef.com and http://www.tasteofhome.com

Jan 032012
 

Most of us have found some sort of Italian cuisine that has become a favorite for our families and ourselves. Unfortunately, far too many of us discount the possibility of bringing Italian cooking into our very own American kitchens for fear that many of the recipes are far too difficult. Learning to cook Italian food just might make your home the favorite drop in dining spot for friends and family all over.

Believe it or not, most great Italian recipes have an easier version that can be made with very similar effects when it comes to flavor and aroma. Also, despite the commercials of old, all Italian cooking does not require an entire day of simmering in order to achieve great flavor. You do not have to let your friends and family in on that little secret though.. You do not have to let anyone in on your best-kept secrets when it comes to preparing these often simple dishes.

The biggest challenge that most Americans face when it comes to Italian cooking is basically learning a new set of essential ingredients. The cheese, meats, or grains that are used in their creation most often identify or define Italian cuisine. It’s the combination of these primary ingredients that create some of the most distinctive flavors on earth. Learn about these ingredients. Identify the flavors and study the combinations of flavors and you should be able to not only follow many great Italian recipes but also to invent a few of your very own Italian inspired recipes.

The greatest thing when it comes to cooking Italian food is that most of these dishes are rather difficult to destroy. This of course does not indicate that it cannot be done, only that it isn’t as simple as with some of the more delicate cuisines around the world. Italian food is durable and flavorful but for the most part not too terribly delicate when it comes to flavor. You can go a little heavy with some spice or cheese without completely ruining the dish in most instances. If you are anything like me, this is a regular occurrence when cooking and one of the reasons I enjoy cooking Italian food so much. Fresh ingredients is the key to an authentic Italian meal. Fresh herbs like basil can be purchased in most chain grocery stores. You don’t have to grow it yourself or even stop by a farmer’s market. Fresh basil, fresh garlic and some good quality extra virgin olive oil and you are well on your way to success.

Another thing you should keep in mind when cooking Italian food is that nothing seems to bring out the flavor of Italian food better than a good bottle of wine to match. Perhaps this is the reason that it is difficult to ruin an Italian meal, no matter how bad it is, the good wine paired with it, will erase all ill will and tastes in very short order. You will want to spend a little time researching and studying the science (though some will argue that this is truly an art form) that goes along with pairing a good bottle of wine with the right flavor combination when it comes to Italian cooking. Once you’ve mastered this, there is nothing to prevent you from being the diva of all things Italian when it comes to food preparation.

The most important thing for you to remember when cooking Italian food is not to take the cooking too seriously. Good Italians know that the enjoyment of the meal is far more important than the process of preparing the meal. Make your meal an event with plenty of time for pleasant conversation and enjoyment of your company in between courses. You should also never rush a good Italian meal or you will find that all your efforts cooking Italian will be for naught as the true pleasure of Italian cuisine has been lost somewhere in translation. For now check out this extremely easy “Grilled Chicken Penne al Fresco” that is posted on my site – more will come later.