Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey In A Sack? Yes!

When my daughter told me that she was making her (first) turkey in a brown paper sack, I'm sure my reaction was the same as everyone else's- you're what?  However, she had heard that this was the easiest way for first-timers to make the most perfect turkey.  Paper burns at 451 and we would have the oven set at 375 so there was no worry about it catching fire (so they said).  I consulted with some other friends/cooks and more than one had heard of this method.  In fact, 2 of them shared stories of grandmothers fixing other things, such as sausage and chicken, in this manner and it came out wonderfully and nobody's house burned down. 

The Bags
We have 2 grocery stores here that have brown paper bags.  One of them, however, has a lot of ink/printing on it so I opted for the one that had the least ink.  I'm not sure if that matters or not but it seemed to me that it might.  

The Method
The directions that we used will be posted at the end of this, but it was really a very simple process.  And we had a small turkey (10 lbs) to work with which was perfect for the 4 of us.  So, the turkey was cleaned, rinsed and patted dry.  We sprayed the sack with a squirt bottle til it was damp.

Then she stuffed it with chunks of onion, celery, carrots and garlic.


Olive oil was rubbed all over and then Mr. Turkey went into the pan.  Then into the sack....


It was stapled shut.



And into the oven!


Then we got to work fixing way too many side dishes.  Holy cow!  There was stuffing, squash casserole, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry salad, gravy and rolls.




I think my daughter now has a whole new appreciation for 1.) her aunt who usually fixes our Thanksgiving turkey 2.) her other aunt who usually fixes the green bean casserole and 3.) her double oven!  After we cooked for what seemed like HOURS  (wait, it WAS hours...) we were done and so was the turkey.  Our timing was pretty awesome, I must stay.  The Moment of Truth arrived.......  
TA DA!!


It was perfect, I tell you!


Tender, delicious and lots of juices for making gravy.  If I ever have to make another turkey, I will do it this way.  Here is the summation of our entire meal:




Kidd Kraddick's Famous Brown Bag Turkey Recipe


No, this turkey recipe won't burn your house down because you're using a brown paper bag... but it will taste 

great!

Okay, experienced cooks…this is geared to first-timers (even though veteran chefs LOVE it) so we present

this recipe as an easy-to-read story!

First, take everything out of the inside of the turkey. There will be a giblet bag and some other stuff-. You don't want to leave that in there. Next, add vegetables to the inside of the turkey. This is easy because the veggies are just for flavor...you're going to throw them away later. You don't even have to peel anything. Take an onion and cut it into quarters. Roughly chop a nice long carrot. Do the same to a couple of stalks of celery. Add several cloves of garlic that you mash between a broad kitchen knife and the counter. Throw it all inside the turkey. Then rub the turkey all over with olive oil. . . not butter because butter usually has salt in it and that will dry out the turkey. Salt is the enemy of a moist turkey! Make sure the whole bird is covered!
Put the turkey in a roasting pan and cover the whole thing with a large brown paper bag. Staple it shut. If
you have a huge turkey, use two bags, sliding one end of the turkey into one bag and the other end of the
turkey into the second bag. It won't stick to the bird because of the olive oil. Sprinkle the bag all over with 

water to help it breathe. Place into pre-heated 375 F oven, ON THE MIDDLE RACK.

The bag won't burn because paper burns at 451 and we're at 375 degrees. The advantage of the brown
paper bag over the Reynolds's cooking bag is that the paper breathes so the turkey roasts. In the Reynolds 

bag the turkey steams, giving it a different taste. Also the brown paper bag retains the same advantage of 
the plastic cooking bag...no splatters all over the oven.

Roast for 14-16 minutes per pound. (Add 2 minutes per pound if you live in the mountains.) When you think 

it's ready, shove a meat thermometer through the bag and into the turkey and give it a minute to register. 
Make sure it doesn't touch the bone. The thermometer should register between 165-171 degrees.

Remove from oven, cut away the bag and remove from basting pan. Don’t throw out the drippings! To make 

the gravy, strain the pan juices from the pan into a really big pot. Any juices that accumulate on the turkey 
platter get poured into the pot.

Add six oz. of boiling chicken broth and 1/8 cup of corn starch to the gravy to thicken it up. Cook at low heat 

and stir. If it seems like it isn't going to be thick enough, add a little more corn starch.

-----------------------------------------

Okay, now your questions-----
Question: Can I use one of those disposable foil basting pans?
A: Yes. It doesn't matter.
Question: What about the talk that brown paper bags are unsafe for cooking?
A: If you mean unsafe because of fire, it is important that the bag doesn't make contact with the heating
element of the oven. If you mean because of the recycled paper bag releasing toxins into the turkey, all we 

can say is that this recipe has been around for over thirty years. We've been posting this recipe for over ten 
years and never had a single complaint that anyone got sick. We've had hundreds and hundreds of emails 
that it's the best turkey they've ever tasted and the perfect recipe for first-time chefs!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Christmas Stockings Kits

Do you remember those felt stocking kits from back in the 80's and 90's?  My mother made all 9 of her grandkids those kinds of stockings, which they all treasure now as adults.  I never thought I would be able to sit still long enough to even want to make one of them.  But.............grandkids sure do change you!  Although there are tons and tons of cute, ready-made stockings out there, for sale cheaper than I could ever make them, I wanted my little guy to have one made by his Mimi. So I started searching in late October for one of these kits.  The pickin's were slim, let me tell you.  However I was able to locate some at JoAnn's that were half price, no less.  These seemed to definitely be several years old but they were too cute!  I also checked out Hancocks.  They had about 3 designs to choose from.  Not much.  So after much thought, I purchased a little snowman from JoAnn's- one that looked fairly simple (no sequins!) and boyish.  The only problem was it was supposed to have the word "Cheer" across the snowman's tummy- printed on there for you to sew over- and I didn't want that so I just turned him over and added 3 buttons instead.  He turned out fine and was good practice for a first one.  I learned the most important lesson (for me) and that was that trying to hand embroider letters/names is REALLY DIFFICULT for me to do.  I have never sewn, ripped out, sewn again, ripped out so many times in my life.  Note to self: next time use embroider machine for name.  Here is Cade's stocking:


Well, after making this I was HOOKED.  I found that sewing on these while a TV show or music is playing in the background is cathartic for me.  And for the most part, the package instructions are easy to follow although there are 2 different kinds of patterns.  One of them, the  FeltWorks stockings have the pattern printed onto the felt for you to cut out.  The Design Works have paper patterns for you to put on the provided felt, outline and cut out yourself.  Advantages to this method are that you have the pattern pieces left over and could, essentially, make another of the same stockings.  So, my next stocking was for daughter-in-law Christe.  I went back to JoAnn's and there were a few more kits there to choose from.  This little kitty jumped out at me as being perfect for her.  This is one of the Design Works and while assembling each of the stuffed pieces was easy enough, assembling them onto the stocking was a little trickier.  I could've used more information in the instructions, please!  My seam ripper was used more than once.  And I immediately used my beloved embroidery machine for the name this time!


While over in my neighborhood shopping center, I stopped in Hancock's just to see if they had put out any more.  Uh, yeah.  They sure had.  And so had JoAnn's.  Oh boy, I kind of went crazy  (who, me?)


I bought enough kits to make my future grandkid's stockings and then some. Anyone want a stocking made for their kid/grandkid.....?  I even bought an Advent Calendar kit!  Guess I'll work on that this summer.... 


So I started on one for Bryan today.  I'm keeping the ones my Mom made for my kids here for now.  It gives me an excuse to make more :o)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Cake

As the grocery store began putting out all of the traditional holiday grocery items (in the center of the aisle so you can't help but see it) I thought of a recipe that requires only 2 items:  Spice Cake mix and canned pumpkin.  Together these 2 ingredients make some very tasty cookies, so I picked up both items.  But then, as I began reading more of the holiday recipes showing up (everywhere), I got a hankering for something else.  What is it about the combination of pumpkin/spices and cream cheese that go SO well together, especially this time of year?  I don't know, but I wanted it.  So began my creation of something new, something good, something easy and something very tasty.  

Generously grease a 9x13 pan and preheat the oven to 350   (complete recipe below)

In a large bowl mix all of the ingredients:

Spice Cake mix, canned pumpkin, apple sauce, eggs and spices.


Pour into cake pan and bake for 30 minutes; check to see if knife comes out clean for doneness.  Cool completely.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  This is something that always works well for anything with spices- sweet and salty ones alike.

Next up I just used a tried and true traditional (and very rich) cream cheese icing:

Place 1 stick of butter and 1 8-oz pkg of cream cheese out at room temperature for several hours.  If you don't have that kind of time, you can zap 'em in the microwave for 30 seconds but don't melt the butter!  You want to cream both of these together, then add vanilla and powdered sugar.  You can use as little as 2 cups or as much as 4.  I used 3 Cups.



And voila!  This cake is extremely moist and wonderful.  You don't have to frost it (but the frosting IS so good!)  


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PUMPKIN SPICE CAKE

1 package Spice Cake mix
1 15 oz can pure pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/2 C apple sauce
3 eggs
pumpkin pie spices, cinnamon

Generously grease 9x13 pan and preheat oven to 350.  In large bowl mix all ingredients together and spread evenly in pan.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean.  Cool and refrigerate.
This is good by itself, as is OR you can add frosting.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

1/2 C softened butter
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
2-4 C powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and cheese.  Mix in vanilla.  Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until creamy.