The Turkey Struggle

About a week before Thanksgiving, I found out that my parents, despite not really wanting a turkey, had bought a turkey…the smallest one they could find. It was still a 10 pound Butterball though… We haven’t made turkey in the family for years and may have only done it once. So, my brother decided to take it upon himself to find a recipe, him being the one in the family who doesn’t know how to cook and literally just tosses meat in the oven, drizzles it with sauce, and waits while hoping the oven doesn’t blow up. That’s about the extent of his cooking.

So, here’s what he found: Link to Recipe Base

And well, we followed that recipe as closely as we could, and this is what we did based on the ingredients we could find and our limited pot sizes(Did not know that turkeys are this big and wasn’t prepared to make turkey…so our biggest pots were…not big enough to pull off the original recipe). We couldn’t find peppercorns and berries at the grocery store nearby, so we just improvised and use Pumpkin pie spice. .and how come we met a bunch of coworkers all shopping in that same grocery store for supplies at like 8-9pm at night? Guess some grocery stores can be hang outs/places to go “Oops…we need food for Thanksgiving”.

Ingredients:

  • 1o pound thawed turkey (instead of original recipe’s 14-16 pound)
  • Avocado oil (but any oil that can survive 500 F is good. The original recipe said canola is fine.)

Brine:

  • 1/2 cup salt (instead of original recipe’s 1 cup)
  • About 1/4 cup brown sugar(instead of original recipe’s 1/2 cup)
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock (instead of original recipe’s 1 gallon)
  • About 5 or so shakings from a McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice(mix of cinnamon, ginger nutmeg, allspice)(instead of original recipe’s 1 TBSP black peppercorn, 1.5 TSP Allspice berries, 1.5TSP chopped candied ginger, and 1 cinnamon stick)
  • 2-3 quarts iced water (guestimating since we did it based on how much our container could hold)(instead of original recipe’s 1 gallon)

Stuff to put inside Turkey/Aromatics 

  • 1 sliced apple (we used Fuji, original says red)
  • 1/2 sliced onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 sprigs rosemary (instead of original recipe’s 4)
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Stuffing(optional)

Steps

Making Da Brine:

  • The night before roasting the turkey…. find a pot. Then add the veggie stock, brown sugar, salt, spice in the pot over medium heat. Stir and boil.  (We didn’t have a 5 gallon bucket. Our biggest container was a mixing bowl that would hold 2 gallons, but that couldn’t go on the stove…which is required…sooo we used a smaller pot and halved the ingredients from the original recipe.)
  • Let it cool and then refrigerate it.

Prepping the Turkey

  • Your turkey should be thawed already.  Remove all the inside stuff. Usually, if store bought, there is a white pouch which contain the innards and there may also be a neck in there. We tossed those out. The white pouch looked weird under the skin, but it was stuck by the hole where the neck would have been if the turkey neck wasn’t chopped.
  • Prep some iced water. We just ran some filtered water into our 2 gal mixing bowl and added ice. It was the biggest container we had.
  • Next, combine the brine and iced water(water with ice) in that mixing bowl/container. Rather, put the turkey into that container first and then add the brine, so you don’t overflow the container. We probably used less iced water because I dumped the ice out to get the turkey to the bottom.  Make sure to pour some of that brine inside the turkey cavity if you can’t submerge the whole turkey…we couldn’t get it to fit.

Turkey Brine

  • Push it down as far as you can and then put the whole thing in the fridge. The idea is for the salty brine to trick the turkey into absorbing more water, so the turkey won’t dry out while roasting in the oven. We put some plastic wrap so the turkey wouldn’t be exposed to air, and so the brine wouldn’t affect anything else. Be careful, this mixture is heavy…turkey plus liquid! Could be a good weights workout if it wasn’t so dangerous to drop! We put the turkey in the fridge at 11:30pm Wednesday night.

Turkey Brine in Fridge

  •  So, here’s where having a night owl comes in handy. After a couple hours, you’ll want to flip the turkey so you can soak the other side of the turkey if it’s not submerged or just try to make the brine even. My brother stayed up and flipped the turkey at around 3:30am in the morning and then tossed a big ketchup bottle on the turkey to weight it down, and then he passed out.
  • No one woke up early on Thanksgiving day. I just remember the turkey was ready to eat at 2pm.  Anyhow, next you want to dump all the brine out and rinse the turkey with cold water.
  • Put the rinsed turkey on your roasting rack in your pan! We used a V shaped rack, which helps to hold the bird in place. Dry the turkey with a paper towel.

Stuffing/aromatics

  • Parents didn’t know what they were doing and grabbed Kraft stove top stuffing because everyone else was grabbing it in the grocery store a couple days before. So…you could put stuffing into the turkey and stuff it from the butt side, not the neck cavity. I forgot and ended up wasting time trying to stuff the stuffing into the neck and yelling at my brother when it kept falling out. The stuffing mix that ended up on the bottom of the pan would burn in the oven later (and I would keep randomly tossing water ingo the pan while the turkey roasted because Kraft stuffing said it needed butter and water…and I failed to read the directions beforehand). Alternatively, just cook the stuffing separately and don’t stuff the turkey with it.
  • Next, slice your apple, onion. Then put the 1 cup water, apple, onion inside a microwave safe dish and microwave for 4 minutes. Then pour that into the turkey cavity.
  • Take the sage and rosemary and stuff it into the turkey cavity too.
  • Tuck the bird’s wings (or give up because this one bird wing wanted to defy all tucking and just stick up for itself…) and then coat everything with oil.

Raw BackRaw

Roasting

  • Preheat the oven to 500 F.
  • Roast the turkey for 30 minutes at a lower rack in the oven. We used the 3rd lowest rack because the oven thermometer was hanging under it. (Don’t accidentally change the temperature to 470 to save energy because making the aromatics took too long while arguing with brother and nearly dropping heavy turkey in brine.)
  • Then roast at 350 F for about 2 hours. Toss water into the pan randomly a few times if you put the stuffing in and realized it requires water.
  • Take the turkey out and cover lightly with aluminum foil for 15 minutes. My brother just cut a rectangle and shoved it only on the top of the turkey. I have a feeling you’re supposed to cover the pan sides too… but apparently it didn’t matter!
  • Voila! Then you are ready to serve!

Cooked

We had the turkey with Heinz Homestyle Beef Gravy and jellied cranberry sauce. We didn’t make gravy out of  the turkey grease because the stuffing already burned the bottom of the pan. The turkey skin was crispy, and if you want it crispier, then more oil and longer roasting probably works. The inside could get dry, but it wasn’t as dry as it could be (that’s good!). It was great with the gravy and sauce though!

 

 

 

Pumpkin Swiss Roll

Swiss rolls are pretty good, and while trying to figure out how to not waste a pumpkin, I stumbled upon SquishyMonster’s recipe of a pumpkin roll cake. If you want to see my “carve pumpkin attempt” from last year and how to get a pumpkin ready for carving, click here.

But first, in order to use pumpkin for pie or cake stuff, you need to get it into puree form.

Pumpkin Puree

  1. After you get all the stringy stuff and seeds out of your pumpkin, you’ll need to cut the pumpkin into pieces.

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2. Then if you want, you can to coat the outside of the pumpkin with some oil. I used avocado oil because that was what I had on hand. Alternatively, you can skip the oil. Honestly, I tried with and without the oil, and I didn’t see any difference in my case. I know some people say there is a difference.

3. Anyhow, then you bake the pumpkin! 350 F for at least 40 min. It also depends on the size of your pumpkin. You know it’s done baking when it’s soft and you can stab it with a fork and scoop it out.

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4. Scoop the soft stuff out and start mashing! Toss the rind. Be careful! You may get splashed while masking ! It gets watery! I didn’t have a very powerful food processor, so I mashed before blending it in my mixer.  You’re done and ready to use the pumpkin puree now! 🙂

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Pumpkin Swiss Roll

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This is from SquishyMonster’s blog. But since I never seem to have all the ingredients, I made some modifications. Anyhow, most of the wording is the same.

Ingredients
  • ¾ flour
  • 3/4 ish  ts baking soda
  • 1½ ts McCormick pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ish ts salt
  • 3  eggs
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ts pure vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup pumpkin puree
Filling:
  • 8 oz room temperature cream cheese
  • 4 oz room temperature butter
  • 1 tb heavy cream
  • 1 ts vanilla extract
  • 1 ts McCormick pumpkin pie spice(honestly, I just dumped some..not sure if I really used 1 ts per Squishy’s recipe)
  • ¼ ts salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar(I always put less sugar because my friends don’t like stuff to be too sweet, but if you want it sweeter, you can put in more)
Instructions
1. In the first bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, pumpkin spice, and salt.
2. In the second bowl, crack in the eggs and blend them together with both sugars. Splash in the vanilla and blend in the pumpkin.
3. Combine the first and second bowl slowly. Stir until just combined and don’t over mix.

IMG_05054. Line a baking sheet with parchment and evenly spread the batter.

IMG_05065. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes.

6. While the cake is baking, create the filling by blending the cream cheese, butter, cream, pumpkin spice, salt, and sugar until light and fluffy. I hit a snag because my cream cheese and butter just didn’t want to melt and get soft enough. I also did not use a blender. If you have one, that might be a good thing…or let your cream cheese and butter sit outside for a while until they are really soft.

IMG_05087. When the cake is baked, lift out of the pan and roll to “train” the cake to stay in the rolled shape. Allow to cool.

8. When the cake is completely cooled, peel off the parchment and spread the filling all over, leaving about an inch of a border all around. Re-roll (as tightly as you can without tearing) and slice to serve. The ends of the roll might look ugly (mine did) because not enough filling. So, just cut a piece off each end, and it should look perfect 🙂IMG_0509IMG_0507

Enjoy!

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

 

What to do when you have a bunch of vegetables that need to go? As long as you won’t get too watery of a mess, there’s always casserole. I had broccoli, carrots, frozen cheddar cheese, and cream of mushroom soup I needed to use. So…. I ended up going with a modified version of Campbell’s Broccoli Cheese Casserole.

Ingredients

  •  1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1 whole clove of broccoli, chopped into small pieces (I don’t know what the right term is.. when you go to the grocery store, you can buy broccoli in giant pieces with the giant stalks. I cut those giant pieces up)
  • Cut carrots (I used half a zipbloc sandwich bag which I had stored carrots in and cut the carrots in half before mixing them in)
  • A bunch of shredded Cheddar cheese to your liking (I just went with whenever it looked like there was enough yellow in the mixture)
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter, melted

Steps

  • Heat the oven to 350°F.
  • Stir the soup, water, eggs, broccoli, carrot, cheese, and water else you want to mix in. My dish was about 10 inch by 7 inch by 2 inch(height), buuut I’m not sure if I measured right because it was definitely looked at least one quart.
  • Stir the bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the broccoli mixture. Don’t accidentally try to mix it like I did… and end up with the crumbs on one side.
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until the broccoli is tender or when the casserole doesn’t look completely like liquid. I did leave my casserole in the oven after turning off the oven because it still seemed a little runny. So, you may need to adjust the timing by checking visually.
  • Enjoy!

Asian Egg Custard Tarts

 

FinishedPie

Snowed in? Why not make some egg custards? These are great as breakfast (although one too many may be a bad idea… haha) or as dessert! This recipe is based off of Yvonne Ruperti’s version of Singaporean egg tarts. The recipe is supposed to yield 16 egg tarts, however, count on me to mess up. My crust was too thick, so I had plenty of filling left over. I dumped that into a premade pie crust.

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

  • 11 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • A little less than 1/2 cup sugar  – Use less if you don’t want it as sweet. I thought this was more definitely sweet enough.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jumbo egg
  • 1 and 1/2 cups  all purpose flour

For the Custard Filling:

  • A little less than 1/2 cup   sugar – Use less if you don’t want it as sweet. I thought this was more definitely sweet enough.
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 jumbo yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Steps:

MixingDough1. Crust

A. Grease or dump cupcake paper or aluminum foil into 16 cupcake tins. If you have these tins, which are the ones you see if you buy these egg tarts at an Asian bakery, they are probably better to help you estimate size to form the dough later and also you don’t have to clean them.

B. Mix melted butter, sugar, salt in a large bowl until combined. Then add the egg and stir in the flour until completely combined.

C. Divide dough into 16 portions and roll into balls.

E. Press a dough ball into each cup, pressing dough up sides to about 1/4 inch from top of cup, and maintaining a thickness about 1/8-inch thick.Yvonne’s recipe states to do this, but I believe I did not press the crust thin enough.

D.Chill for 30 minutes. I put plastic wrap over the baking pan tins so the dough doesn’t get too dry. If you intend to leave the dough in the fridge for a while, that may be safer.

InOven

2. Custard Filling and Finishing up!

A. To make your filling, simply mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. Then add water, cream, yolks, and vanilla until combined.

B. Fill each cup with custard to about 1/8-inch from top of crust (don’t overfill or else you’ll have stuff stuck to the pan like I did). Bake at 375 degrees F until crust is golden and custard is just set, about 20 minutes.If your crust was too thick and you ended up having a whole pie of filling left, you can put them them into a premade pie crust or some other crust size depending on how much you have left. This larger pie will take longer and will take more like 30 minutes or so.

C. Let tarts cool in pan for 15 minutes then carefully transfer to wire rack to cool. Serve room temperature or chilled.

D. For storage, I put them in plastic ziploc bags in the fridge. Do not freeze, or if you do, keep in mind that the flavor will not taste the same afterwards. In the fridge, they can probably last for a couple of days, but not too long.

Failstuck

Oops. Custard filling leaked into pan outside of aluminum so I had some issues getting the aluminum cups out. It wasn’t too bad though. Washing will be a pain though.

 

Whoa… Colorful Much? Pinata Cookies

Pinatas and parties! The World Cup is going on right now. Why not try making these very colorful cookies with MM’s hidden inside them. Warning: Tons of food coloring involved for the pinata cookie. No food dye needed for the M&M’s…. obviously. On that logic, can probably taste the rainbow….with or without Skittles! I’m not sure how Skittles would work in combination with these cookies.

See here for the steps!

Cake Wrecks

I recently stumbled upon a great blog named Cake Wrecks. The blogger has a funny comments and a sense of humor when she writes about the cakes. This blog is funny and talks about cake decorating failures. There are some nice cake decorating successes in there, but it’s just amusing for the failures.

 

I mention this because I tried to decorate a cake for an occasion, and let’s just say everything went wrong. It was a cake wreck….

 

Fail 1: I baked a chocolate bundt cake with cranberries and nuts mixed in. I did oil the bundt baking pan. However, when the cake was finally ready to take out, it wouldn’t come out. It turns out that the bottom of the pan/top of the cake was stuck to the pan. Alas, when the cake finally came out, the top of the cake at the bottom of the pan didn’t quite make it.

Solution: Just flip the cake backwards and ice the whole darn cake to hide the mistake.

Fail 2: So, apparently, whipped cream is just too soft to decorate anything complicated. Previously, I had only worked with frosting/icing which is stiffer.

The white on the cake looked ok….but then the decorating fails after that.

Fail 3: Why did I go with violet? I wasn’t originally planning on using the strawberries, but… should have gone with red….

Fail 4: The red came out pink…I guess I really needed to use more food dye…

Fail 5: Those flower petals look more like blobs than petals….thanks to the softness of the whipped cream.

Fail 6: The border of the cake didn’t do so well either due to the softness…

Fail 7: I tried to draw leaves onto the strawberries on the bottom of the cake. Some of them look like monsters.

After reading about all these fails, here is what the cake looked like.

 

Cake Decorating Fail

Cake Decorating Fail

My Writing Process Blog Tour!

Helloooo, readers and/or fellow bloggers! It is a couple days until the Ides of May! Oh dear… wait, that should be Ides of March. Wrong month… Anyhow, I digress!

I am excited and honored to be invited to the My Writing Process Blog Tour! I was invited by Ada of More Food, Please! Thank you, Ada! Ada’s blog has some nice restaurant excursions and recipes (especially those professional look macaroon and wrapping ones). Those pictures will make your mouth water. :p

So, what exactly is this mysterious blog tour? I was clueless too! Well, it’s really more of a relay marathon as opposed to a rock star or sports tour. It’s basically a “pass the torch” on each date to give bloggers opportunities to showcase and share their blogs as well as pass the baton and spotlight to others bloggers! So, these are the basic steps: 1)  another blogger nominates you and tells you which date you will be making your blog tour post, 2) You agree and prepare your post as well as find a few other bloggers you would like to feature in your post, 3) Write your post to thank your nominator, answer four questions, and then provide the feature presentation of the bloggers you are passing the torch to!

Ah, so now that I’ve explained the general process, here are the questions that are to be answered.

1. What am I working on?
I recently just moved to another place, but there has been a lot of flooding lately in the area. Let’s just say…most of my belongings are still in boxes or were placed back in boxes and stacked to prevent my stuff getting wet. So, my next step is unpacking once the flooding is gone…and hopefully gone forever! (I wish). It’s sad, but it took me a week to find my toothpaste. Don’t worry… I did have toothpaste to use during that week before I found my packed toothpaste.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I started the blog off to be a DIY blog, but then I realize everyone is DIYing in some way whether it comes to writing or cooking or etc… So, it’s become a DIY blog on anything. I try to focus on food and crafts.  I also tend to be informal when I write and slip in some bad puns, which you’ll probably realize if you read them.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I enjoyed writing when I was younger, but then school, work, and other responsibilities took over. Blogging is a way for me to get back into writing and explore “blogging” in general since I’m relatively new to it. It is also a way for me to share without using social media such as Facebook or Twitter. As for the blog posts, in addition to sharing, I’d like to keep a record for the future on stuff I’ve done….just in case all my stuff gets flooded. -.-;
4. How does your writing process work?
There isn’t much structure here.  I just tend to write if I see something interesting or if I want to write about something I created. If I need pictures, I take care of those first before completing the writing. If there is some research involved, I’ll take care of that too. I’ll write whatever the wind whispers to me…haha…just kidding.
Well, that’s enough on me! Let’s move the spot light onto these bloggers, who may choose to feature themselves next week!
—-
LFFL has some amusing outtakes on life, food, and fashion. While some of her posts may highlight things we all find distasteful, she always finds a way to be amusing about it.
The Doodle House follows a couple in Austin, Texas, who have been remodeling their own home DIY! Check their blog out for nice ideas.
Curls & Carrots‘s Shanna always has some nice concoctions and recipes on those tasty concoctions to share. Check out her blog for yumminess for sweets and savories alike!
Oh, and instead of popcorn, in lieu of summer coming….have some of this. It’s an interesting idea…probably not too healthy, but what can you expect from a cake made of ice cream sandwiches!

Gizmodo's Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Source: Gizmodo

Enjoy!