Friday, November 29, 2013

Turkey Tetrazzini

Years ago, I started Mrs.4444 Cooks, inspired by the one and only Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. I actually got to meet her once, in the lobby of BlogHer '09 Chicago, and I'm happy to confirm that:

*That she's every bit as down-to-earth as she seems on her blog (and on her cooking show).
*Her husband is a smokin' hot gentleman.
*Her boys are adorable little rascals who reminded me of puppies playing together (They were bored 4-5 year-olds at the time, and I didn't blame them.)

Anyway, although I don't get to Ree's blog very often, I am "friends" with her on Facebook, and she shared some tempting after-Thanksgiving recipes, so I thought I'd give one a whirl.  I liked it very much, and Mr.4444 proclaimed it "wonderful," so I thought I'd share it here.

This recipe reminded me of my Chicken Spaghetti recipe in the way that's it's prepared, so if you've made that, this one should be a snap. I'll warn you, though; this recipe is not for anyone in a hurry. I estimate that I was in the kitchen for an hour and a half, as there are a lot of ingredients to prep (or maybe I'm just slow):

Yes; that's stuffing on that plate with the turkey.
No, I didn't use the stuffing, and that was far more than enough turkey, too.
The containers in the middle-back hold frozen turkey broth; I had to thaw it.
Here's a handy photo of the ingredients after prepping
(click to make it nice and big):

Here's a list of the ingredients, in order of use:

4 Tbls. butter
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 pound of mushrooms (the best part, IMO!), cleaned and quartered 
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
1/3 cup flour
4+ cups turkey or chicken broth
1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened 
3 cups shredded or chopped turkey
1 cup finely-chopped black olives
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
4 slices of cooked, chopped bacon
1 cup grated Montery Jack cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

After you prep everything, put the pasta on to cook. When it's done, drain it and set it in a very large bowl (I use my biggest Tupperware bowl.).

Heat a large skillet to medium-high and melt the butter. Add the garlic and saute for a couple of minutes.

Add the mushrooms. At this point, I must interject to advise you that the best way to clean mushrooms is to wipe them with a clean, dry cloth.

See? Nice and clean and not slimy! Oh, and yes, I rebelled against the quartering advice and cut some of them in sixths and even eighths!

Add the salt and cook some more (2-3 minutes)

Pour in the wine and cook 5-7 minutes, until about half of the liquid has evaporated.

Next, sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and use a whisk to mix it in.
(Congratulations; you have made a "roux," which is a flour/fat mixture used for thickening sauces.)

Then add three cups of the broth, and cook it a few more minutes to thicken it a little. For what it's worth, I couldn't get mind to thicken much at this point, but I had added four cups of the broth, instead of three. It didn't turn out to matter, though.

Next, reduce the heat to low and cut the cream cheese into small pieces, adding it to the roux.
Stir to mix it in well. This is about how much it will melt in.

Then add the remaining ingredients: turkey, peas, bacon,

and cheeses.

Mix well. At this point, pour it all over the spaghetti in a very large bowl and mix it well.  Add the extra cup (or more) of broth now, as you want it to be nice and moist, as the spaghetti is going to soak up some of the broth. When I made this, I used four cups of broth, plus another 3/4 cups.

Top with breadcrumbs and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly and the top is browned.

For what it's worth, this recipe made enough for me to generously fill three 2-quart casserole dishes. I cooked one for Mr.4444 and me and froze the other two without putting the breadcrumbs on the ones that I put in the freezer.

The only thing I might do differently next time (and there will be a next time) is maybe add finely-chopped celery to the mushrooms/garlic. Sorry I don't have a photo of the finished product; I was too busy eating!

Fall Pumpkin Dip

When I first saw this recipe (shared by a friend) I thought Why would I make that? It's terrible for you! But then I remembered that pumpkin is a vegetable! So I made it. It's delicious!

16 oz Cool Whip
1 small can of pumpkin puree
1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Whip together and chill. Serve with gingersnap cookies or graham cracker sticks.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Easy-But-Popular Taco Dip

I couldn't get away without taco dip at our annual Halloween party; everyone loves it.
It couldn't be easier to make, really; I even hesitated to post it here for that reason,
but I figured my kids might want the "recipe" some day, so here goes.

1 pkg cream cheese, softened
1 pkg sour cream
1 pkg taco seasoning of your choice
Your favorite taco sauce
Shredded cheddar cheese (about a cup)
Toppings: chopped lettuce, more cheese, diced tomato, slided black olives

I doubled these ingredients for our party.

First, blend the sour cream, cream cheese, and taco seasoning until smooth.

Spread the mixture out over the pan of your choosing. 
Since I'd doubled the recipe, I used a large serving tray, 
which is about the size of a big cookie sheet. 
The dip base was about 1/2" deep.

Drizzle some taco sauce over that (about as much you like).

Then spread it around evenly.

This is Wisconsin; we love our dairy products, so I sprinkled some cheese on next.
Some people put it on top, but I don't like it when it falls off of my chip; 
I like to sprinkle it where it'll stick a little.

Add chopped lettuce and any other toppings you like.

Some would say that black olives are a must, but you can do what you like.
You can also sprinkle a little more cheese on top
and even drizzle a little more taco sauce if you like.

Chill for at least an hour. If you want, you can make it the night before
and keep it covered in the fridge,
 but hold off on chopping the toppings until shortly before serving.

Serve with Tostitos.

Brain Hemorrhage Shots

As many of you know, we have an annual Halloween party. 
I generally abstain from alcohol; it just doesn't agree with me, for the most part, 
though I do enjoy the rare Baileys on-the rocks. 
That said, our party guests enjoy shots, 
so this year we decided to make the eye-appealing "Brain Hemorrhage" shot. 
I found the directions here. 

Peach Schnapps
Baileys Irish Cream
Blue Curacao
Grenadine (Buy a small one; you don't need much.)

The directions said to first fill a shot glass half-full of schnapps and to then "carefully" add Baileys until it's nearing the top. This is what it looked like when I wasn't careful enough;

The photo below shows the shots I made, 
in order of learning curve (from left to right).
I learned that using a spoon to carefully drop the liquids in 
resulted in the best look.

This is not a shot recipe for careless people who lack patience;
take your time.

Getting back to the directions....
After the Baileys, spoon the blue Curacao in carefully.

Then drop 3-4 drops of grenadine in.
(I used a tiny plastic shotglass to do this.)

The more careful you are, the better they look.

Partygoers who drank these were pretty grossed out by the texture of the "brain bits" in them
(which is half the fun, right?)
though not grossed out enough to spit them out.

"It tastes about like you'd expect a brain hemorrhage to taste."

I'm pretty sure no one drank more than one.

For what it's worth, I made these shots more than an hour before we needed them,
and they stayed just as gross-looking until we served them.

To Pin this recipe, hover your mouse over any of the photos.