Sunday, November 22, 2015

Time to Cook Time to Eat

You like cranberry sauce? You know... the kind that comes our of a can and looks like said can? Yeah, me too. Or at least I used to. Until I figured out how to make real cranberry sauce. Then there was no turning back.

Recently I've been accused of being a good cook. It's not something I ever really considered myself; a good cook. But I suppose I'll take that title. I cook to my own tastes. I make what I think is yummy. I think everyone could do it, if they were inclined. And with the rising popularity of this new thing called the internet, it's really a no brainer.

So Thanksgiving... In recent years I've hosted everyone. This year will be no exception. My Mom is getting up in years, and she's sort of passed the torch. Or did I take it? I'd rather have the chaos here, so she doesn't get stuck with the mess and what-not.

I love to cook for a group. I love having everyone here. I love everyone squeezed around my little table talking animatedly, passing food, drinking wine and being a family.

This year, I decided to make a big ham. It occurred to me that I don't actually like turkey. And if I'm the cook, I get to choose. So ham it is. 

I've already started "cooking". I picked up the rest of our Thanksgiving dinner. I made the hummus, and the cranberry sauce and stuck them in the freezer. The theory is, if I do a little  pre-planning, I'll only have to deal with the ham and potatoes and green beans, the day of. 

This, folks, is the beginning of the end of my summer body. Halloween candy be damned. I love cranberry sauce and twice baked potato casserole. And, because I'm such an awesome chick, I'm going to share the recipes with you.

First up, cranberry sauce. Yeah, opening the can is pretty easy. But when you realize how simple it is to make real cranberry sauce, you might just be kickin yourself. Are you ready?

1 bag (12 oz) raw cranberries
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water

Put all three ingredients into a stove top pot, at the same time and set to a low boil. Let it boil, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool without a lid.

BAM! Cranberry sauce. And here's another tip for ya. If you forget those easy directions, the recipe is on every bag of cranberries in the supermarket. Trust me, you want to make this stuff.

Now, for my other favorite Thanksgiving dish... Twice baked potato casserole. Mashed potatoes are all well and good. But they got nothing on this dish. I only make it once a year. You'll see why when you take note of the ingredients.  


10 large russet baking potatoes (about 7 pounds total)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
1/2 pound sharp white Cheddar, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 pound mild Cheddar, grated (3 cups)
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Scrub the potatoes well and rinse under cool running water. Pat dry with paper towels and prick the potatoes in several places with a fork. Place the potatoes in the oven and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside on a wire rack until cool enough to handle.

When the potatoes have cooled, cut each potato in half and, using a spoon or a melon baller, scoop the flesh out of the skins, leaving as little flesh as possible. Place the potato flesh in a large bowl and add 1 stick of the butter, the sour cream, heavy cream, salt, and pepper and mash until chunky-smooth. Add the bacon, cubed white Cheddar, half of the grated Cheddar, the green onions, and eggs and mix thoroughly.

Butter a 9 by 13-inch casserole with the remaining tablespoon of butter and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.

Place the seasoned potato mixture in the prepared casserole and top with the remaining grated Cheddar. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly around the edges and heated through and the cheese on top is melted and lightly golden. Serve hot.

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, Emeril's Potluck, William Morrow Publishers, New York, 2004

If you want to try it, here's the link, so you can bookmark it...
Emeril Lagasse's Potato Casserole

I'm telling you, this stuff is so good, you won't care that you're eating a shit-ton of carbs and fat. It's a once a year thing. Go with it.

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