Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

As Thanksgiving approaches, we are thankful for the opportunity to share our favorite recipes with you.  And we are thankful for those of you who have helped our fledgling blog reach 3,000+ visits!  Many of you may already have your Thanksgiving menu set, but for those of you still looking for the perfect dish to complete your feast, check out our Thanksgiving-approved recipes below that are sure to please the crowd…

Appetizers
Tasty bites for munching while waiting for the bird to come out of the oven

Baked Sausage Balls

Sausage Balls: These appetizers are super-easy and super-tasty.  If you happen to have any leftovers, they’re great for breakfast the next morning!

Salmon Puffs

Smoked Salmon Puffs: These things will be gone before you can turn around!  Not a traditional Thanksgiving dish but they’re wonderful for passing around before the meal starts

Tartlets

Tomato Goat Cheese Tartlets: Another appetizer that won’t last long… and they’re vegetarian-friendly!

Breads
Homey recipes to serve along with your turkey and vegetables

Rustic Bread

Rustic Bread: This bread has great flavor and texture… and (the best part) requires almost no work on Thanksgiving, just mix up the dough the night before!

Corn Bread Pieces

Southern Corn Bread: If you’re making a cornbread dressing, you won’t find a better starting point than this savory recipe

Vegetables and Sides
The perfect dishes to pile on your plate with the turkey

Baked Brussels Sprouts

Baked Brussels Sprouts: A Thanksgiving classic, not to mention delicious and healthy! **FIX**

Roasted Smashed Potatoes

Roasted Smashed Potatoes: No Thanksgiving meal is complete without mashed potatoes, but if you’re looking for something different, give this mouth-watering potato recipe a try

Sauteed Chard

Sauteed Chard with Prosciutto: This is a great green to serve with your meal – even veggie haters will enjoy it!

Mac and Cheese

World’s Best Macaroni and Cheese: Maybe it’s because I was raised in the South, but we always had mac and cheese as a side at Thanksgiving while I was growing up.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a better recipe for this dish…

Quinoa Mac and Cheese - Yum!

Quinoa Mac and Cheese with Spinach: A healthier version of mac and cheese made with a protein-rich whole grain and spinach

Desserts
Something sweet to ease you into that tryptophan coma

Pumpkin Poppers

Pumpkin Poppers: Not your typical pumpkin pie but they still have that wonderful seasonal flavor.  These goodies will get snapped up!  If any survive to become leftovers (unlikely), they make tasty, doughnut hole-like treats for breakfast the next morning

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Pumpkin Bread: A not-too-sweet addition to the dessert table that’s packed with pumpkin and spices

We hope these recipes will help improve your table this Thursday.  From all of us at The Sunny Skillet, we wish you a happy and delicious Thanksgiving with your family and friends!

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Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

It wasn’t until recently that I made chicken noodle soup at home.  Actually MADE it, not heated up some Campbell’s.  I must say, this is one recipe I hate I didn’t discover before now.  Chicken Noodle Soup is a “Feel Good” kinda dish anyways – something you make for someone who isn’t feeling well, or something you enjoy on a cold night in your sweat pants.  But HOMEMADE chicken noodle soup is a REAL “Feel Good” dish – maybe it’s the fresh veggies, or the slurpy egg noodles like mamaw used to make, or just that it sloshes so happily into my bowl from my pretty red pot (where a lot of good things come from)… I’m really not sure.  No matter what the reason for it’s greatness, it’s great.  It’s a ridiculously simple recipe (adapted from a Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meal recipe) and all the ingredients are probably already in your cabinet.

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Start by chopping all the veggies.  I like to chop mine fairly small and try to keep it fairly even.  You’ll also need to dice your chicken.  Season the diced chicken with a little salt and pepper.

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Now drizzle a couple tablespoons (twice around the pan, as Rachel would say) in the bottom of a large pot.  I like to use my enamel-covered cast iron dutch oven because it heats quickly and evenly, and it retains its heat very well.  When the oil is hot, add your chicken and saute until cooked through.  It should all be white in color, with no pink remaining.

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Now add in your veggies and cook 5-7 minutes, allowing them time to sweat (or give off some of their moisture).  When the veggies have started getting soft, add (roughly a tablespoon each) parsley and Italian seasoning.  Stir to combine.

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Dump in all the chicken stock and bring your soup to a simmer.

I like my chicken noodle soup with a lot of broth and a lot of noodles.  I use 5-6 cans (or 10-12 cups) chicken stock and almost 1 pound of egg noodles.  You can use as little as 6 cups of stock to 1/2 pound of noodles if you prefer.  There’s no wrong ratio of chicken to stock to noodles.  So whatever makes you and your family happy!

Add the egg noodles and turn down the heat, simmering about 5-7, or until the noodles are soft.

Note: Egg noodles cook fast and get extremely soft.  So if you prefer your noodles with a little more bite, cook only 3-4 minutes and pull the pot off of the burner (they will get softer as they sit in the hot pot).  You can also add the noodles directly to individual serving bowls.  I have a toddler and we’re okay with soft, so into the pot they went.

Serve with crackers or crusty bread, like our Rustic Bread, for a delicious meal!

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This recipe makes A LOT of soup.  It will keep in the fridge for a few days, but you can also freeze it.  Ball (and I’m sure other companies as well) make inexpensive freezer jars.  In the winter, I like to freeze soup and chili in these pint-sized jars so I’m always ready with an individual portion of something quick and warm for lunch or dinner.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients

1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, diced
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 medium carrots, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
1 medium/large onion, diced
1 Tbsp. parsley (more if using fresh)
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
5-6 cans (10-12 cups) chicken stock
1/2 to 1 pound egg noodles

Step 1: Salt and pepper the chicken.  Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add the olive oil.  When the pan is hot, saute the chicken until cooked through, 4-5 minutes.

Step 2: Add the vegetables and saute 5-7 minutes, or until getting soft.  Add in the seasonings and give it a little stir.

Step 3: Add the chicken broth to pan and bring to a simmer.

Step 4: Add the egg noodles and cook 5-7 minutes or until noodles reach desired consistency.

Lasagna Soup

As the snow accumulates outside and the temperatures drop into the teens I’m getting into a winter state of mind.  In honor of my mood, I want to share one of my favorite cold weather recipes with you.  This lasagna soup is the perfect dish on a cold evening with rain falling against the windows or snow blanketing the world outside.  It’s hot, comforting, and satisfying!  As the name suggests, it’s got all the components of lasagna in soup form: pasta, meat, tomatoes, herbs, and cheese.  So yummy! Lasagna Soup I usually make this dish on Sunday nights.  It’s a great football dinner – you get it going and let it simmer while you enjoy the game.  When it’s done, take your bowl to the couch and enjoy the homey deliciousness without missing any of the action!

Lasagna Soup

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients

1 tsp. Olive Oil
6 oz. Italian Sausage (make your own using our recipe)
6 oz. Ground Beef
1 1/2 c. Diced Onions
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp. Dried Oregano
1/4 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1 tbsp. Tomato Paste
14 oz. can Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
1 Bay Leaf
3 c. Chicken Broth (I use low-sodium)
1/4 c. chopped Fresh Basil
4 oz. Whole-milk Ricotta Cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan (I use Parmigiano-Reggiano)
1/8 tsp. Salt Pepper
4 oz. Pasta

1.  Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the sausage and beef and cook until the red color is gone.

2.  Add your onions and cook until softened (generally 3-5 minutes). Add Onions 3.  Then add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute.  Stir in the tomato paste and cook 3-4 minutes.

4.  Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, and chicken broth.  Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Simmer Soup 5.  Next, create your cheese mixture: combine the ricotta, parmesan, and salt then season with pepper and stir.

6.  Add your pasta to the soup and cook until al dente.  Since the soup isn’t boiling, it usually takes about 2 minutes longer than the longest time listed on the pasta box.

For my pasta, I like to use tirali.  It looks like elbow macaroni with a ruffled ridge along the back – kinda like the edge of a lasagna noodle.  Any sort of relatively small pasta will work.  Keep in mind that a ridged pasta, like the tirali, holds sauce better.

7.  Stir in your basil and season the soup with salt and pepper. Stir in Basil 8.  Now you’re ready to eat!  Put a generous dollop of the ricotta mixture in the bottom of the bowls.  Ladle hot soup over the cheese and serve. Dollop of CheeseLadle Soup

I have tried adding mozzarella to the top of the soup – to make it more lasagna-y – but all it seemed to add to the dish was extra calories.  I no longer add it, but you’re welcome to try it if you like. Serve this soup with some warm, fresh bed for a comforting and filling meal – I recommend our Round Rosemary Foccacia! Soup with Bread Before you eat, make sure to give your soup a stir to distribute that cheesy goodness on the bottom of the bowl! Lasagna Soup

Beecher’s Grilled Cheese

Is there anything more comforting on a cold day than a gooey grilled cheese with a crisp, buttery crust?  This is my favorite fall or winter lunch.  It’s cheesy and satisfying and guaranteed to warm you up!

Beecher's Grilled Cheese

Thinking of grilled cheese always takes me back to my childhood.  I mean, who didn’t love grilled cheese as a kid?!  Of course, my childhood grilled cheese was a little different than this one.  My mom made our grilled cheese with American cheese and whole wheat bread (I’m so thankful she wouldn’t feed us Wonderbread!) and cooked it in the toaster oven.

I loved my mom’s grilled cheese growing up, but as I’ve aged, my tastes have matured.  This more “adult” version of grilled cheese uses high-quality cheese and homemade bread (Sourdough or a bolillo would be a good substitute if you don’t want to make your own).  The aioli adds a gourmet touch, and bacon – as I’ve mentioned before – makes almost everything better.  I hope you enjoy my version of this comfort food favorite!

Beecher’s Grilled Cheese

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Cook Time: 5-10 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

4 slices Rustic Bread
Aioli
2 slices Bacon
3/4 – 1 c shredded Beecher’s Flagship Cheese
Butter, slightly softened

Ingredients

1.  Cook your bacon in a skillet or griddle until it’s crisp then drain on paper towels.  Once the bacon has cooled, roughly chop it.

2.  Now, it’s time to assemble your grilled cheese.  Start by spreading a little aioli on the insides of the bread.  Then place half the chopped bacon on one side of the sandwich.

Bacon and Aioli

3.  Top the bacon with half the cheese, pressing down to help pack the cheese into the sandwich so it won’t fall off – don’t want to lose any of that delicious stuff!

Note: Beecher’s Flagship is a cheddar-gruyere blend.  If you can’t find Beecher’s Flagship at the store, you can substitute a 1:1 cheddar to gruyere blend.

Add Cheese

4.  Close the sandwich, pressing down again, and butter the top half of the bread.  Then repeat steps 2-4 for the other sandwich.

5.  Preheat a panini press to medium-high heat.  Flip your sandwiches onto the panini press (so the buttered side is down) and then butter the top side of the bread.

6.  Close the panini press and cook your sandwich until the bread is golden and crisp.  Keep an eye on your sandwiches to make sure they don’t start leaking cheese!

Grilled to Golden

I know it will be hard, but let that bad boy cool down a few minutes before biting into it.  It won’t lose any of its wonderful flavor, but if you burn your tongue on molten cheese, you won’t be able to fully enjoy it (or your next few meals).  Once it has cooled slightly, you are ready to tear into the warm, cheesy goodness of this sandwich!  I like to cut mine on a diagonal and serve with chips, sweet potato fries (I like Alexia’s Sweet Potato Waffle Fries), or our Perfect Oven-Roasted Potato Wedges.  Or, for a classic combo, you could pair it with your favorite tomato soup.  Enjoy!

Beecher's Grilled Cheese

Rustic Bread

You really can’t beat homemade bread fresh from the oven, but the time management required to plan for kneading and multiple rises can be daunting.  Well, this recipe has none of those challenges!  You simply combine all the ingredients the day before, and your bread is ready to bake the next day.  Nice and simple… and tasty!

Rustic Bread

The are many rustic/peasant bread recipes out there floating around on Pinterest and food blogs.  The ingredients for our Rustic Bread come from this recipe.  This bread is great for soup or sandwiches or simply as a meal accompaniment.  It’s easy to make, tastes great, and has a wonderful texture.  You gotta try it!

Rustic Bread

Prep Time: 5 minutes + 12-18 hour rise time

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

2 c. Flour
1 tsp. Salt
generous 1/4 tsp. Yeast
1 c. Water

1.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise on the counter for 12-18 hours.

Risen Dough

2.  Heat your oven to 450° F.

3.  While the oven is heating, shape the dough into a round and place on a well-floured surface.  Dust the top with flour.

Now, from here there are two different cooking methods: pizza stone (my preferred method) or Dutch oven.  Below are directions for both.

Pizza Stone Method

For this method, you’ll want to have your pizza stone in the oven while it’s heating.  You’ll also need a large metal bowl – I use a mixing bowl.

4.  After the oven has preheated, allow the stone to heat for 30 additional minutes.

5.  Once the stone is heated, place the dough on the stone and cover it with your metal bowl.

Pizza Stone MethodCover with Bowl

6.  After 30 minutes, remove the bowl.  The bread should still be pretty pale but will feel crusty.

Remove Bowl

7.  Cook for an additional 15 minutes until the outside is golden.

Dutch Oven Method

4.  Once the oven is preheated, put the dutch oven (with the lid) into the oven and heat for 10 minutes.  (If you want an even crunchier crust, leave the pot in the oven longer – up to 30 minutes).

5.  Pull the dutch oven out of the oven and carefully (the pan is HOT!) drop the dough into the dutch oven.  Cover and return to the oven.  Bake 30 minutes then remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes.

Cooked Bread

With either method, your end product should be a round, golden, crunchy bread loaf.  I prefer the pizza stone method as the bottom of the bread seems to come out a little softer making it easier to cut and chew.

Rustic Bread Loaf

Tip: The crunchiness of this loaf makes it difficult to cut, regardless of the method.  I’ve found that a serrated utility knife actually works better than a bread knife.  Another thing that helps is to let the loaf cool before cutting it – then the bread retains its shape instead of getting squished by the knife as you cut it.  Try to wait at least 15 minutes after it’s out of the oven.

Serrated Knife

After just a few minutes of work the day before, you’ve got yourself a fresh, homemade bread loaf for your next meal.  It really doesn’t get easier than that…  Try this bread with our Butternut Squash Soup!  **FIX**

Pecan Pumpkin Pancakes

One of our favorite things to do as a family is have a nice, leisurely homemade breakfast on Saturday mornings. And since my daughter gets up at 7 on the nose, we usually have plenty of time to do so. Sometimes my husband makes omelets, but most of the time it’s me in the kitchen, starting a pot of coffee and warming up the kitchen in my PJ’s.

When I worked at Williams Sonoma while I was in nursing school, I learned a lot about cooking and food, and also got to cook with many of their mixes and starters. My favorite, hands down, is the Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle mix. To put it simply, it’s perfect. It’s exactly what you fantasize the perfect pancake tasting like – enough spice to warm it up, the right amount of nuts for a little crunch, and the perfect amount of pumpkin to please anyone.

Since I quit working there, I have tried so many recipes to try to replicate that mix. And finally, after several years of playing with recipes, I have created a recipe that’s even better than that mix.  I have made them MANY times since the first time, with consistent and tummy-warming success.  If you have time, infuse a little pure maple syrup with a cinnamon stick (letting it sit at least a few days) for an extra tasty topping.

You can use this recipe to make pancakes, waffles, or a brunch time favorite, pancake balls with an ebelskiver pan (a round pan with little wells).  If you decide to use the ebelskiver pan, you can make filled pancakes using pumpkin butter – delicious!!  Just pour 1 Tbsp batter in each well, top with a teaspoon or so of pumpkin butter, then another Tbsp of batter.

Side note:  If you do not own an ebelskiver pan, I would highly encourage adding it to your Christmas list, fellow foodies.  It makes the cutest little balls of yumminess you ever did see.  You can even use it to make mini corn dogs!!  So fun!!  … back to the pancakes…

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To begin, mix together the pumpkin, milk, egg, oil, and vinegar until well combined.  In a separate bowl, stir together the rest of the ingredients, except the pecans.  Stir the dry into the wet just enough to combine well.  Now stir in your chopped pecans.  Your batter will be a little thick.

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Now, preheat a griddle or flat bottomed pan (or waffle iron, if you’re making waffles) over medium high heat.  It’s important that the bottom is flat so your pancakes cook evenly.  Spray your pan with cooking spray or add a dab of butter and spread it over the bottom as it melts.  I prefer to use butter – no preservatives and no sticky residue.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop the batter onto the hot pan.  I use the back of the measuring cup to spread the batter out a little, so they’re not SO thick.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on the first side, or until the edges are formed and starting to brown, like this.

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Using a spatula (that’s close to the same size as your pancake), carefully flip and cook on the other side.  The second side will take less time, 1-2 minutes.

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Repeat with the rest of the batter.  Don’t these look so yummy??  Trust me… they are!!  Serve warm with butter, syrup, and whatever your little heart desires… which will be more pancakes after you have one bite.  My mouth is watering while I type…

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A couple things to keep in mind while cooking, you will probably have to adjust the temperature of your griddle.  I usually start turning the knob on my stove down after the second batch or so.  You don’t want the griddle to get so hot that it burns the outside before it cooks the inside.  And these are pretty fluffy, so it can happen easily.  Also, I usually add a tiny bit more butter to the pan after each batch.  It helps brown the pancakes and also keep them from sticking.  If you get little batter bits building up around the edge of your griddle, use a paper towel and wipe clean before preceding.

Since this recipe makes A LOT of pancakes, we always have some left over.  Which is excellent.  Pancakes freeze very well and can be popped in the toaster for a quick breakfast on weekday mornings.  To freeze, allow pancakes to cool until about room temperature.  Tear strips of wax paper that are a little wider than your pancakes.  Lay a pancake on the end of a strip, fold the strip over, lay another pancake, fold over, and keep repeating.  (I usually get 3 pancakes on 1 strip of paper.)  Slide your little stacks into zip top freezer bags and pop in your freezer.  It’s that simple.

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Pecan Pumpkin Pancakes

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yields: about 2 dozen pancakes

Ingredients

1 cup pumpkin
1 1/2 cups milk
1 egg
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Step 1: Mix together pumpkin, milk, egg, oil, and vinegar until well combined.

Step 2: In separate bowl, stir together all other ingredients, except pecans.  Add this to the pumpkin mixture, and stir, just until combined.  Stir in the chopped pecans to incorporate.  Your batter will be thick.

Step 3: Heat a griddle or flat bottomed pan (or waffle iron) over medium high heat.  Grease with butter or oil.  Pour batter with 1/4 cup measuring cup onto hot griddle and brown both sides.  Repeat with remaining batter and serve warm.