Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Spice Facts

So often when I am baking the aromas of Cinnamon and of Nutmeg float from my kitchen to the other rooms in my home.  In desserts or in warm cereals when the weather is chilly, these are two of the spices that I often use.  Now, my Spice Rack contains mostly McCormick containers of savory fragrant useful baking ingredients.

History and facts are two fascinating areas for me.  This past weekend I stopped in and browsed through McCormick's website.  With a click here and a click there I learned more about the spices that I have been using for many years.  :)

On the back of my kitchen door hangs a double sided Durkee laminated chart that has always given me quick info about what herbs and spices would work well with various foods.

The printed charts are no longer mailed as incentives to cooks.  Mine is still used and is probably 30+ years young.  It's been a part of my kitchen for a loong time.  However, it's great to visit a website with the History & Facts!   

Now, I'd best get back to the K2, P2 ribbed hat that I've started knitting - for a gift.  Tomorrow the oven will be heated.  :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just Remember the Cranberry Sauce!!!

Jellied Cranberry Sauce is a must on our Thanksgiving Dinner table, just like Gravy!!!  A dish of the wiggly sauce will also accompany the Hot Turkey Sandwiches that we will enjoy on Friday!  Yummy!   :)  Oh, definitely, there will be moments when our fridge door will open and a "small" slice of moisty roasted turkey will be enjoyed as a snack, just because ...

However, it is customary on the second day after Thanksgiving, we will dine on Turkey a la King for our main meal.  Small bits of turkey along with carrots and peas in a creamy milk sauce placed over toasted oatmeal bread.  It's a much easier version of Turkey Pot Pie.  Is it easy?  You might ask.  Oh, it's very simple to prepare.  And also quick!  Just remember the Cranberry Sauce!!!  

Turkey a la King
Serves 2 - 3 Adults

1/4 cup Margarine/Butter, melted (I use unsalted.)
1/3 Cup Flour
1 Cup Chicken Broth (I use College Inn low fat, less salt.)
1 Cup Milk
1 Cup Turkey chunks (cooked), more if desired
2 Cups Cooked Carrots and Peas
Toasted Bread

  1. Melt Margarine/Butter in skillet.
  2. Remove skillet from Medium heat and slowly stir in Flour. 
  3. Return to heat and slowly add in Chicken Broth and Milk while slowly stirring constantly.
  4. Continue stirring over heat until sauce is thick and bubbly.
  5.  Add Turkey chunks. 
  6.  Add in cooked vegetables.
  7. Stir and heat mixture.
  8. Serve over toasted Bread. 
Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cranberry Bread

One never knows who/what the source of a delicious recipe may be!  Quite a few years ago one of my sons arrived home from school one afternoon with a RECIPE.  On this particular November day his school librarian had read a Thanksgiving story to his first grade class.  

Maggie & her grandmother lived in New England near a cranberry bog.  We lived in MA, so the story had kept his attention!  Her grandmother baked delicious Cranberry Bread.  Printed in the book was a recipe for the Cranberry Bread with the instructions "Get Mother to help".  My son's kind librarian had given each student a copy of the recipe to bring home to mom.  

There were bags of fresh Cranberries in our fridge, because Thanksgiving was the following week.  That weekend we baked Cranberry Bread using "his" recipe.  From that day on it became the recipe we would always use for Cranberry Bread.  It makes one mighty fine bread!  It also fit my requirements for a dessert recipe - the Sugar content was much less than the required Flour.  From the first time we baked this delicious moisty bread, I substituted 2 Egg Whites for the 1 Whole Egg.  The original recipe called for Golden Raisins and I have never used Raisins, only Cranberries. 

The recipe that became a family favorite was printed in the book Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin.  The book is no longer printed, but the included recipe is still enjoyed by my family.  :)  It makes one delicious, colorful, tasty, moisty bread.  I usually double the recipe and bake two.

Cranberry Bread


2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Cup Butter/Margarine (softened)
2 Egg Whites (or 1 Whole Egg) beaten
3/4 Cup Orange Juice
1 Package Fresh Cranberries (rinsed in cold water and chopped)

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with PAM.
  3. Rinse Cranberries in cold water (using a colander)
  4. Chop Cranberries coarsely.
  5. Combine Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder, Salt and Baking Soda in large bowl.
  6. Cut in Butter/Margarine (with pastry blender or two knives) until mixture is crumbly.
  7. Add Egg Whites (or Egg) and Orange Juice and stir until moist.
  8. Add chopped Cranberries to batter and Fold in.
  9. Spoon batter into loaf pan. 
  10. Bake at 350° F for 1 Hour and 10 Minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  11. Cool on rack for 10 Minutes.
  12. Remove from pan and cool on rack.
  13. After cool, wrap in foil.
**My Extra Notes! 
  • Wait at least 5 hours after it has cooled to eat.
  • If baking two breads, double recipe and stagger the pans in the oven.
  • This bread Does Not Freeze Well.
  • Use Fresh Cranberries, not frozen.
Two days before Thanksgiving I will be baking two Cranberry Breads.  It is the best!!!  Yummy!

Do you bake Cranberry Bread to enjoy on Thanksgiving?


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Butternut Squash Muffins

After mashing the last batch of the Butternut Squash chunks that were in the large pot, 1 Cup of this tasty, orange veggie was refrigerated.  I had plans ...  Muffins!  Specifically, Butternut Squash Muffins - Yummy! During the month of November (especially before Thanksgiving) one of the ingredients in some of my baked goodies is Butternut Squash.  I learned this habit from my mom.  While growing up my fam had two large gardens.  Oh yes, Butternut Squash was one of our cherished veggies.  My mom did not bake goods with Pumpkin, but always substituted it with the plentiful orange colored tasty Butternut.  To this day, I still prefer using it.  I have used Pumpkin to see how it would taste/work, but discovered my mom knew what she was talking about.  Butternut Squash it is!   

It's a great ingredient in muffins!  The next day my 2 muffins pans were put to work.  One batch of these tasty treats requires only 1/2 Cup of Squash.  However, let me tell you whenever I am happily working in my kitchen, I seem to use many utensils and there are splatters in unusual places.  :)  So whenever I bake muffins, my rule is to make a double batch.  Sometimes, it may take an extra couple of minutes in the oven, but my freezer will be well fed!  It's always great to open the freezer door and locate a package of homemade muffins.  Yummy!  

A few years I started using Egg Whites, Soy Milk & Olive Oil as substitutions for Whole Eggs, Milk & Vegetable Oil/Butter or Margarine (melted/cooled) whenever possible.  Keeping in mind that 2 Egg Whites equals 1 Whole Egg.

These tasty muffins are so good with Raisins!  In my fam it's always all about the Raisins! This time the double batch did not last long nor did many muffins make it into our freezer!  The next day our sons and families had some goodies!  :)   

Butternut Squash Muffins
Oven:  400°F
Yield:  12 Muffins


1 and 1/2 cups Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
2 Egg Whites (or 1 Whole Egg)
1/2 cup Soy Milk
1/4 cup Olive oil (for Sauteing & Baking)
1/2 cup mashed Butternut Squash
1/2 cup Raisins  


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place muffin liners in muffin pan.
  3. Combine first 6 dry ingredients.  Stir to mix.
  4. Separate Egg Whites.  Place Egg Whites in small bowl and beat with fork.  (If using 1 Whole Egg, beat with fork.)
  5. Add Soy Milk (Milk), Olive Oil & Butternut Squash to Egg Whites, stir.
  6. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. 
  7. Add Raisins.
  8. Mix all ingredients until moistened.  Batter will be lumpy.
  9. Fill muffin cups by evenly dividing batter. 
  10. Bake 18 - 20 minutes in 400°F oven until muffins are lightly browned on top.  Double batch may take up to 4 additional minutes.
  11. Remove muffins from pan immediately.
  12. Cool muffins on racks.

Do you bake using Butternut Squash as an ingredient?  When making muffins do you bake a double batch as long as the utensils are being used?  Do you purchase an extra bag of Flour or Sugar if it is on sale during this time period?

My answer is yes to all three questions.  :)


Friday, November 5, 2010

A Batch of Butternut!!!

Steaming, orange, mashed Butternut Squash!  My family's fav fall vegetable! Now, it will be the fav veggie of spring, also, if I start to tackle that bushel of Butternut Squash that has been sitting patiently on our garage floor.  :)  The time has come...  As our temperatures at night have decreased, I realize that it is not wise to let those light orange colored beauties sit on a cold concrete floor.  So, it was time to get moving and prep those veggies for the freezer.  Portions of mashed Butternut Squash were placed in Freezer Ziploc Bags and placed in our freezer to be enjoyed throughout the winter/spring.   

It is one of my fall traditions.  I usually prep 6 squash at once. First, the Butternuts are rinsed/cleaned in cold water.  Then, carefully the skins are removed with the aid of my cutting board and a sharp knife.  Cut off & toss the stem and rounded top.  Then, the long top portion is cut into slices that are circles, and the skin cut off.  After removing the seeds, I do not save them, but do save as much of the orange veggie as possible in the surrounding area.  2" chunks of orange squash are placed in two large pots on my stove top.  (I use my 2 Dutch Ovens.) 

After adding cold water (to reach up about 2" in the pots), the heat is turned up to High.  After a Boil is reached, lower the heat and simmer about 13 - 15 minutes, until pieces can be pierced with a fork.  During the cooking minutes, stir the Squash pieces in the pot, so they soften equally.   After draining the squash using a colander, return the chunks to the large pots and mash.  

I pack about 2 Cups of mashed Squash in Ziploc Freezer Bags.  After labeling, store in freezer.  Whenever desired for dinner a bag is unwrapped and the frozen chunk of squash is placed in a Corning Ware container with a lid.  Reheat in the microwave.  Easy does it! 

Yes, squash can be purchased already mashed and boxed & frozen ready to heat.  I've seen boxes containing a mixture of various winter squashes that need butter/margarine or brown sugar/maple syrup for flavor.  I am really not into adding sweetness to veggies to help make them more tasty, but would rather save any desired sugar for dessert.  We are very fortunate here in Western MA - Butternut Squash is readily available to purchase when the harvest is ready.  I usually purchase them at Meadowbrook Farm.   

In the next couple of days 6 more Butternuts will be prepped and find their spot on my freezer shelf.  The bushel will contain even less.  I always save enough for either dinner or a yummy dessert that contains Butternut Squash.  That will be another post!  :)

Do you enjoy Butternut Squash?  At other times of the year in addition to Thanksgiving Dinner?