Sunday, October 27, 2013

Apple-Sweet Potato Casserole



I found this recipe in a magazine and thought it would go well with my chicken. A lot of sweet potato/yam dishes for thanksgiving are loaded with marshmallows which, to me, is sort of gross. The idea of adding in apples and a topping with what is essentially praline instead sounded really good.

Apple-Sweet Potato Casserole
adapted from Cooking Club, Oct/Nov 2010
click to print

4  lb. sweet potatoes
2 c sliced peeled apples, such as Braeburn or Gala (1-2 apples)
1/2 c water
1/3 c butter, melted
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c raisins
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 c coarsely chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 11x7-inch glass baking dish with oil.

Microwave sweet potatoes, in batches if necessary, 4-6 minutes or until almost tender but not mushy.


Let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel; cut into 1/2-inch slices. Arrange in baking dish.


Bring apples and water to a boil, covered, in medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook 4-6 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Holy crap, I overcooked my apples. Err toward half of the lower end of these directions.

Arrange over sweet potatoes.


Combine all remaining ingredients in small bowl.


Spread over potatoes and apples.


Bake 30 minutes or until potatoes and apples are tender.


Cut and serve.



While I thought the topping on this would be much too sweet and buttery, it turned out perfectly. The ratios were spot on. Apparently 1/3 cup brown sugar is spectacularly suitable for four pounds of yams. The nuts were so delicious, essentially candied, I wished there were more, unusual for me. Raisins, generally something I tolerate, went unnoticed. The apples, overcooked, were only a hint.

Overall, a definite winner, one I'd gladly make to accompany a turkey at Thanksgiving or a chicken anytime.

Cost:
  • sweet potatoes: $2.18
  • apples: $0.49
  • butter: $0.27
  • brown sugar: $0.14
  • raisins: $0.82
  • pecans: free from Mom
Total: $3.90 or about $0.49 for each of 8 servings.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cornbread-Sausage Dressing



What Thanksgiving meal is complete without some sort of stuffing/dressing? This is the dressing recipe that accompanied the Honey-Roasted Turkey recipe I tried out on chicken recently. The only change I made to the recipe was substituting home-made chicken stock for the low-sodium chicken broth.

Cornbread-Sausage Dressing
adapted from Cooking Club
click to print

2 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 lb. bulk mild Italian sausage
1 tsp ground sage
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
Pinch crushed red pepper
1 1/2 c chicken stock
1 1/4 lb. cornbread, coarsely crumbled (8 cups)
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

Heat oven to 325°F.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium heat.


Stir in onion and celery. Cover; cook 5 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally.

My onion and pepper was cooked about 10 minutes before I moved on with the recipe.

Add sausage, sage, thyme, rosemary and crushed red pepper. Cook 4 to 6 minutes or until sausage is thoroughly cooked and no longer pink in center, stirring frequently.

After four minutes my sausage wasn't thoroughly cooked so I let it keep on going. It went another four minutes...

Add broth; bring to a boil over medium-high heat.


Remove from heat; stir in all remaining dressing ingredients.


Coat 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass or ceramic baking pan with cooking spray; spoon in dressing. (Dressing can be made 12 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate. Increase baking time 5 to 10 minutes.)


Bake dressing 40 to 45 minutes or until hot.



Tasty, but a little dry and salty. I'd cut the coarse sea salt at the end and give yourself the freedom to add more at the table if necessary. I'm a little surprised this dish turned out dry since I think I used a little less than the quantity of cornbread called for. But my cornbread has been sitting in the microwave uncovered since I made it. The edges were bone dry. That lack of moisture might have contributed.

I'd consider doing this again to use up some cornbread if I had extra. The other stuff is inexpensive; with the exception of the sausage, usually have everything else. Overall, it was alright but not one I'd consider stellar. Most exciting to me is that there's a recipe in the line-up which calls for leftovers of this particular dressing.

Cost:
  • butter: $0.10
  • onion: $0.31
  • celery: $0.19
  • bulk mild Italian sausage: $3.20
  • chicken stock: $0.24
  • cornbread: $1.17
  • Italian parsley: $0.49
Total: $5.70 or about $0.71 for each of 8 servings

Grocery List, 102613

To round out my small-scale Thanksgiving meals, I'm going to crank out some sides to accompany the bird and a dessert or two to finish.

Cornbread-Sausage Dressing
Chicken Spoonbread Casserole
Apple-Sweet Potato Casserole
Sugar and Spice Cupcakes, Take 2
Brown Butter-Carrot Cake with Orange-Cream Cheese Frosting

Grower's Direct:
  • Valencia orange: $0.28/0.147 lb
  • carrots (3): $0.48/0.98 lb
  • celery: $0.99/bunch
  • parsnips (2): $1.38/0.99 lb
  • Italian parsley: $0.49
  • organic yams: $2.18/3.70 lb
  • TOTAL: $5.80

Stater Bros.:
  • whole milk: $1.99/half-gallon
  • sour cream: $2.19
  • cream cheese: $1.49
  • cream cheese: $1.49
  • Italian sausage: $3.20/1.07 lb
  • TOTAL: $10.36

102913, Stater Bros.:
  • cheddar cheese: $2.49/8oz
  • bacon: $1.42/033 lb
  • green beans: $3.06/1.23 lb
  • TOTAL: $6.97

Grand Total: $23.13
Total for the year: $1613.48

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cost of Take-Out Lunch, Week Ending 102513

Monday: Chipotle for three: $28.78
Tuesday: I ate, but there's no traces of it on paper
Wednesday: Again, I ate, but there's no trace!
Thursday: The Flame Broiler on a coworker
Friday: Bravo Burgers on a coworker

Total: $28.78, but it's probably low. I must've purchased lunch at least twice. I'm befuddled!
Total for the year: $1379.50

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Honey-Roasted Chicken



I'm going to have a small-scale Thanksgiving dinner before Halloween! Intended for turkey, this recipe was executed for a party of one; thus, a chicken. The chicken weighed approximately half of what the turkey was supposed to weigh; to compensate I cut all of the other ingredients in half. Certainly, I had doubts about how well that would work out since I didn't consider surface area, but whatever. It'll go well with the mac and cheese, leftover yam mash, and cornbread. There is a dressing recipe that goes with the bird, but I saved that part for later.

Honey-Roasted Chicken
adapted from Cooking Club
click to print

1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 (5-6-lb.) chicken, patted dry
1/4 c butter
1/4 c honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Heat oven to 375ºF. Place roasting rack in shallow roasting pan; coat rack and pan with cooking spray.

Combine 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon salt and black pepper in small cup.


Rub spice mixture over chicken and into cavity. Tuck wing tips behind chicken; place breast-side up on rack.

I used my quarter-sheet pan which doesn't have a rack. I did spritz the pan with oil from the Misto before putting the chicken on it. The recipe didn't give indication that the bird should be trussed; I did a quick-and-easy tie-the-legs-together.

Bake 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 1/2 cup butter in small saucepan over medium heat.


Remove from heat; whisk in honey and mustard.


Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Generously baste chicken with honey mixture.


Bake an additional 30-45 minutes or until internal temperature of the breast reaches 160ºF., basting every 30 minutes and covering loosely with foil if browning too quickly. Remove chicken, cover loosely with foil; let stand 20 minutes before carving.

Chicken right out of the oven, chilled 18 hours and then carved into pieces. Some pieces for now, some for later.


When my chicken was done roasting, it was about midnight-thirty. I let it cool to room temperature and then chilled it in the fridge until I was ready to eat. I know, weird, right? Still, the chicken turned out marvelously. Even after reheating a drumstick and two wings with sides on a plate in the oven (at 350°F for about 20 minutes), the chicken was tender and juicy. The skin wasn't perfectly crispy and I doubt it would've been even if I carved it 20 minutes after coming out of the oven. The honey is thick and weighs heavily on the skin. That equates to tasty, yes; crispy, no.

Essentially a simple recipe to execute and it looked really pretty after it was finished. I'm certain a turkey done this way would get lots of ooh's and aah's and mmm's!. And plus it's done with a bunch of stuff I (we?) normally have in the kitchen anyway, so no shopping for elusive mushrooms, pork pieces or herbs/spices.

Cost:
  • chicken: $11.38
  • butter: $0.20
  • honey: $0.48
  • Dijon mustard: $0.15
Total: about $12.21 or about $3.05 for each of 4 servings

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Safeway Corn Bread



Safeway Corn Bread
adapted from the package
click to print


1 c corn meal
1 c flour
4 tbsp baking powder
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 c milk
1/4 melted butter

Sift flour with sugar, baking powder and salt.

I opted to just stir it all together with a fork.

Stir in corn meal.


Oh man, I forgot the sugar in the earlier step. I'll get that in now.


Beat eggs slightly, add milk and melted butter.

To minimize the number of bowls I'd have to wash, I melted the butter in a bowl, then stirred in milk, and then added to eggs before beating them into the milky butter.

Combine with dry ingredients, stirring only until moist.


Pour into buttered 9x9x2-inch pan.

The directions didn't say to spread the batter out but I did anyway.

Bake at 425°F for 20-25 minutes.



That seemed like a LOT of baking powder but for whatever reason it didn't become more cakey than I remember the Albers recipe being. Is that because of the additional egg? Does a single egg counter the effect of so much more baking powder? It must!

No matter the science behind what and how this shit happens, this recipe is a good one. The bread is slightly cakey, not excessively crumbly or sweet. I like this one. And I found it on the back of a bag. Is it perfect? It does use butter instead of oil, but you tell me.

Cost:
  • corn meal: $0.26
  • flour: $0.08
  • sugar: $0.24
  • eggs: $0.33
  • milk: $0.49
  • butter: $0.20
Total: $1.60 or about $0.13 for each of twelve little servings.