Monday, November 30, 2009

Magical Nights of Lights - Lake Lanier Islands Resort, Georgia




Lake Lanier Islands Resort
November 21 - December 30, 2009



More than six miles of illuminated giant characters are created with millions of twinkling lights at this annual holiday spectacle, now celebrating its 17th year.

A few highlights include:

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Santa’s Elves at Work

The North Pole Express

The Animated Sliding Penguin

Jack and The Beanstalk

Icicle Bridge

Candy Cane Lane

Following the dazzling driving tour, plan to spend some time at Holiday Village, featuring a bonfire for roasting marshmallows, holiday fare, pony and amusement rides, holiday shopping and more. Pictures with Santa take place at the Santa Shop.


Additional Information - For details about admission rates and hours, package prices, directions and more, visit the Lake Lanier Islands Resort / Magical Nights of Lights Web Site.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Lake Lanier on Thanksgiving 2009




This is the first Thanksgiving I've cooked for less than 10 people and I loved every second of it.  Last minute cancellations left my daughter and me and our "girls" alone for the day but that didn't deter us from sitting down at the table and enjoying a fine meal.  I've always wished to have a dinner party where I could preside in my pajamas and I wouldn't have to fret about tight pants afterwards.  Well, yesterday, my dreams came true!












In late morning, we took the dogs out for a swim and a run by Buford Dam and were surprised to see many families with the same idea.  I think it will become a tradition for Thanksgivings to come.  Then we came home and started whooping it up in the kitchen.  Since there were only the two of us we had decided on the Cornish Hens with the Cornbread stuffing and, of course, we had to have the Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows posted in Lindaraxa's Garden.  We had agreed on no dessert, but at the last minute broke down and made a quick apple crisp with a couple of apples we found in the refrigerator.  By 6:00 p.m. we were snuggled in front of the fire watching a chick flick, half of which I missed since I nodded off halfway thru...just like a regular Thanksgiving.  The moral of the story, it's not the turkey that makes you sleepy, its the rest of the rich food.

Tomorrow we are going to the Christmas tree farm to pick out our tree for the holidays.  Can't wait!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving for Two...Cornish Hens With Orange Glaze & Cornbread Stuffing



If your plans were just cancelled and it's just the two of you for Thanksgiving, here's a quick and elegant dinner.  No fuss, no mess and lots of flavor.

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

1 large Spanish onion, sliced

2 Cornish hens

Cornbread Stuffing, recipe follows

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup orange marmelade


Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the sliced onion in the bottom of a roasting pan. Remove the giblets from the hens, and rinse them inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outsides dry. Place the hens on top of the sliced onion.

Pack the cavities of the hens with the cornbread stuffing.

Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the hens. Rub the hens with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast the hens for 25 minutes, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Glaze with orange marmelade and return to oven for another 15 minutes.

Cornbread Stuffing:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup yellow onion, chopped

1 cup chopped chestnuts

2 1/2 cups cornbread

1 celery stalk, diced

1/4 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large saute pan. Add the onion and celery and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the chopped chestnuts and sautee for another 2 minutes.Break the cornbread into pieces and place the pieces in a large bowl. Add the onion mixture to the cornbread. Add the chicken stock, parsley, salt and pepper, and mix together.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Roast Turkey Breast With Madeira Sauce

Instead of cooking a whole turkey, a turkey breast is a timesaving substitute for a holiday dinner or other special gathering. And roasting the breast on its own will ensure moist, tender meat. This recipe is perfect if you are preparing dinner for a group of  8. It's also a great addition to the meal when you are cooking for a crowd and are concerned that a whole turkey won't provide enough meat for everyone.

This year, I am having a very small Thanksgiving and rather than cooking a turkey, I will be having one of these with my immediate family.  If there is only four of you, halve the recipe and only purchase one turkey breast.  Or do both and have enough leftovers for turkey croquettes and sandwiches.

There is also a Roast Turkey Breast With Apples, Onions and Sage recipe in the main blog.

Serves 8


Ingredients:

2 boneless turkey breast halves, each 2 1/2 to 3 lbs.

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

2 Tbs. canola oil

5 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups chicken or turkey stock

2 Tbs. all-purpose flour

2 Tbs. Madeira wine

Kitchen Bouquet


Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Season both sides of each turkey breast half with salt and pepper, then sprinkle each side evenly with the parsley and 1 tsp. of the thyme.

Lay one breast half, skin side down, on a clean work surface and lay the other breast half, skin side up, on top of the first, with the thickest parts of each breast at opposite ends. When tied together, they should form a roast of even thickness. Cut 6 to 8 pieces of kitchen twine, each about 12 inches long, and tie the turkey breast halves together at 2-inch intervals.

In a small roasting pan or a large ovenproof fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil and 3 Tbs. of the butter. When they are nearly smoking, brown the roast for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast the turkey, turning occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers 165°F, about 2 hours.

Remove the pan from the oven, transfer the turkey to a carving board and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let the turkey rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, set the roasting pan over medium heat and add the stock and the remaining 1 tsp. thyme. Bring to a simmer and whisk to scrape up any browned bits; keep warm.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the remaining 2 Tbs. butter. Whisk in the flour until smooth and blended and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and just begins to turn golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the drippings from the roasting pan along with the Madeira, stirring to combine.  Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add a few drops of Kitchen Bouquet to darken the sauce. Stir again.  Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Carve the turkey into 1/4-inch-thick slices and transfer to a warmed platter. Pour the sauce into a sauceboat and pass alongside the turkey. Serve immediately.


Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving - 101 Head Starts On The Day



I am posting a wonderful article by Marc Bittman, The Minimalist, published today in The New York Times on how to simplify your life on Thanksgiving Day.  This is a must read if you are entertaining at the lake where you want to keep things simple, fun and relaxed!

For cooks, most Thanksgiving problems are brought about by the sheer number of dishes competing for the stove: It’s not easy to roast a turkey and sweet potatoes for 20 at the same time. The best solution is to make food in advance, like one of the dishes that follow.  Continue...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Creme of Leek & Potato Soup

I'm so excited...my daughter in law is showing an interest in cooking and calling to consult on recipes!  I guess having great cooks on both sides of the family finally made her throw in the towel.  My sister in law, on the other hand, took a different tack after some unsuccessful attempts in the kitchen, and decided she just wasn't going to compete.  I think she's the smartest of the lot.  Now when we get together, guess who's in the kitchen sweating it out and guess who's sitting on the sofa cool as a cucumber!

By coincidence, when my daughter in law called, I also had some leeks in the refrigerator about to go bad and already had a recipe in mind.  She must think I'm a genius. This afternoon we are having a cooking class on the phone and hopefully a nice surprise for my son when he comes home for dinner.  Not only is leek and potato soup delicious and appropriate for the cold weather, it's also very easy and quick to make.  The addition of bacon is all her idea...I guess she's catching on quick!



Yield: 6 servings


Ingredients

2 TB unsalted butter

3 cups sliced leeks, white and tender green parts

3 cups peeled and roughly chopped baking potatoes, like russets

6 cups chicken stock (no sodium)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream

 1/3 cup minced chives or parsley

Crumbled bacon (optional)

Directions

In a large heavy saucepan, sautee the leeks in the butter until tender, about 8 minutes.  Add the potatoes, chicken broth, and salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover partially, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Correct the seasoning, to taste, and let the soup cool a bit.  Puree with a handheld immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor.

Return to the saucepan, add the cream and reheat before serving. Top each serving with a sprinkling of fresh chives and bacon, if you like.

For the cold version known as Vichyssoise

The Ingredients are the same, omitting the Bacon, of course.

Directions:

1. Simmer the vegetables in stock or broth instead of water as described in the master recipe [Potage Parmentier]. Puree the soup either in the electric blender, or through a food mill and then through a fine sieve.

2. Stir in the cream. Season to taste, over-salting very slightly as salt loses savour in a cold dish. Chill.

3. Serve in chilled soup cups and decorate with minced chives.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Spinach & Cheese Puffs



A great side dish for Thanksgiving or any other time of the year.Bake up to 1 day ahead and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature, then cover with foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 20 minutes more.

Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 40 minutes

Serves 8


Ingredients

Butter, for baking dish

3 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1 1/2 cups half-and-half

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Gruyere cheese (about 6 ounces)

Coarse salt and ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a shallow 1-quart baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine spinach, half-and-half, eggs, 1 cup Gruyere, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg; stir to combine. Spread evenly in prepared baking dish, and top with remaining 1/2 cup Gruyere. Bake until set and top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes.

Martha Stewart November 2007

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Kettle Chips with Parmesan Cheese



These are so easy to make and make wonderful hors d'oeuvres for a small dinner party.  You can prepare them ahead all the way to the frying of the herbs, turn the heat off,  and fry the chips right before you are ready to serve them.  They also go well with sandwiches and hamburgers.

Ingredients

6 large Yukon gold potatoes
Canola oil and olive oil, 75/25 ratio for frying
6 whole cloves garlic
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/2 bunch sage
1/2 bunch fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions

Wash and clean the potatoes in cold running water. Using a mandoline, or vegetable peeler, finely slice the potatoes into chips. Drop the chips into a bowl of ice water as you work to prevent them from going brown. This will also remove any excess starch.

Set a large pot of 75/25 canola and olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic (paper and all) and whole stems of fresh rosemary, sage and thyme. Bring oil up to 375 degrees F. As it heats up the oil will get infused with the garlic and herbs. Once the herbs crackle and get crispy they will go clear and you know they are done. Using a strainer drain the herbs and garlic and set aside on paper towels.

Fry the potatoes in batches until golden and crispy. Drain the chips, dry well on paper towels and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with crispy fried herbs, garlic and shower with Parmesan.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Butternut Squash With Brown Butter



Ingredients


Serves 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 butternut squash (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1/2 cup low-sodium canned chicken broth

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon dark brown-sugar

Directions

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown. Add squash; saute, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender when pierced with a fork, about 16 minutes.

Add chicken broth, the water, and brown sugar; cook until liquid has evaporated and squash is nicely caramelized, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Recipe:  Martha Stewart

Apple Crisp


This cinnamon-scented crisp is best served still warm from the oven, topped with a scoop of vanilla, cinnamon, or caramel ice cream. The secret to a crunchy, chunky topping is working the oat mixture into large clumps with your hands -- this helps the topping hold together atop the apples while toasting to a golden brown.  I have substituted granola for the oats when I add cranberries.  Talk about a crunchy top!

Prep: 20 minutes

Total: 1 hour 25 minutes

Ingredients

Serves 8

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

1/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)or granola.

pecans (optional)

3 pounds apples, such as Empire, Rome, or Braeburn, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 cup cranberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Cut butter into flour, using a pastry blender or two knives, until mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Add oats, and use your hands to toss and squeeze mixture until large, moist clumps form. If you are adding pecans do it now.Transfer to freezer to chill while you prepare apples.

In another large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice, cinnamon, and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar. If using cranberries  add them now. Transfer to a shallow 2-quart baking dish, and sprinkle with topping mixture. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until golden and bubbling, 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Everyday Food, October 2007

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