Monday, November 30, 2009

Turkey in a Bag

This year was our first attempt to cook a Thanksgiving turkey and it was surprisingly easy and quick to make! I wanted to rave about the oven-bag method for cooking a turkey because it turned out juicy and plump. Yum!

Thanks to Reynold's for selling their oven bags and making turkeys delicious for families across the country. Seriously. We had a 14 pound turkey that cooked in about 2 - 2.5 hours. We let it rest until ready for carving and it was perfect. And for those that worried about the beautiful browning of the skin, it wasn't a problem for us!

Here are some tips that we incorporated into our turkey making process:
Make sure the turkey is completely thawed out! Wash and dry the turkey at least a few hours ahead of the cook time so that the skin has time to dry out (for better browning). Rub the turkey with a herb butter rub consisting of one stick of melted butter, dried spices such as sage, thyme and rosemary, salt and pepper. I also added sprinked paprika all over the turkey to enhance the brown color. Most importantly, we stuffed the cavity of the turkey with an orange, lemon and onions to enhance flavor and juices. Finally, we made a large bed of vegetables on the bottom of the bag consisting of onions and celery stalks - it also helped that we had a large bag of onions to use up!

The only negative to this cooking process? We were too lazy to take the entire turkey out of the bag so we simply carved it while it was still inside the bag. It made for less messy cleaning but we lost some of the OOOH and AHHHing effect of seeing the whole turkey.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Thanksgiving is here and gone (except for the leftovers inside my refrigerator) but I had to share a recipe for the two delicious pumpkin cheesecakes that I made for my own dinner party and also at my friend's party. It was the perfect ending to a turkey-stuffed meal especially since almost everyone is a fan of cheesecake. And pumpkin cheesecake is even more appropriate for the holiday's, right?? My best compliment of the night was when someone said that it tasted better than a Junior's cheesecake!!!

Ingredients for the Pumpkin Cheesecake:

9 inch graham cracker crust
2 packages of 8 oz cream cheese (I used a lower-fat version)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree (or a little more for more pumpkin flavor)
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
dash of ground cloves
2 eggs
Optional: vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat together the cream cheese and sugar. Add the spices/salt/vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. Beat in the eggs until the mixture is creamy. Pour the batter into the crust. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the center comes out clean with a toothpick. It should poof up a little like a balloon when it is done. Let cool before decorating with whipped cream.

I made my own whipping cream by beating heavy cream, sugar ream and vanilla extract. It was really easy to decorate by creating my own piping bag with a ziploc bag and cutting the tip off the corner. Voila!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Curry Beef Pastries

I finally baked! Well actually I baked chocolate chip cookies last weekend to get my oven ready for the holidays. And I was inspired again this weekend to venture into something different, a world of pastries. It is not that impressive since I purchased the pastry from Pillsbury - but I had to make the filling that goes inside of it!

Here are some general tips for making the filling that I found from reading different recipes. It starts out with a basic 1 pound of ground beef, 1/2 onion chopped, salt and pepper to taste, and 2 tablespoons of curry. Simple enough. I actually used an entire small onion because I like to have different filling texture in my mouth. Plus I love the taste of curry, so I added in an extra tablespoon of curry along with dashes of garlic powder and pepper.

Lastly, and here is the secret, adding a binding ingredient such as mashed potatoes or bread crumbs to the filling makes a world of a difference. We mashed two small potatoes and cooked it with the beef mixture. It was fantastic! This prevented the beef from becoming too crumbly. Others have used added yogurt but I wanted to keep it similar to the Indian samosa.

And here is a picture of the making of the beef pastry. Spoon in 2 tablespoons of the filling on one side of the dough. I cut the pastry dough into squares and folded them into triangles. Don't worry about overstuffing the pastries since it is always better to have more meat inside than less. I used a fork to help seal the edges and give it a nice look.

And here they are, all finished and ready to be frozen in my freezer! We cooked some right away at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, which was not necessary (almost got a little burnt). But watch your oven carefully since it just needs to be reheated. You may want to brush the pastries with an eggwash before putting them in an oven, for a nice pretty golden color.

Enjoy! I can't wait to enjoy my pastries in the upcoming days!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Yankees Parade Pictures

Okay, so by now it is old news that the Yankees are 2009 World Champions. But let's face it, they are still milking their win. So I figured I would post pictures of the parade down the Canon of Heroes in downtown is my view of the parade. Please note: I didn't leave for the parade until 10 minutes after it started. I *might* have to leave earlier for the next Yankees parade.

Look! Ticker tape! Er....your old tax forms.

The last float in the parade. It was hilarious that it collapsed before it went down the parade line.

The crowds! This is my only chance to view the jumping up and down through the heads and cameras.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ritter Sport Chocolates

Today I took a lovely stroll around lunchtime today with some coworkers when we were stopped by a woman who asked us "Would you like a piece of chocolate?" Of course I said YES! She also took a picture of us and posted it on their website, Ritter Sports Friends. As it turns out, this near 100 year old chocolate company has a great social networking presence on facebook, twitter and myspace.

We were given a solid square of chocolate and a short pamphlet on the different chocolate varieties. Mine was milk chocolate in a butter biscuit, my absolute favorite. There are different sizes in their chocolate bars, with the standard size being 100g while a king-sized bar is 250g.

Here are some of their enticing flavors: Cornflakes (how freaking neat would that taste?!), Cappuccino, White Whole Hazelnuts, Caramel Nuts, Butter Biscuit, Marzipan, Peppermint, Raisins & Hazelnut, Whole Almonds, Yogurt...Oh which one should I try first?!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Kodak Gallery Coupon Code

I've been an avid user of Kodak Gallery since 2000, but I have to admit that I've ventured off to other photo sharing sites in recent years. However, Kodak has made some impressive changes to their website which I am very excited about. Mainly, it is now easier to view and preview my photos in albums! I also love how easy it is to tag and edit the photos. If you haven't used Kodak Gallery in a while, here's a little incentive to try it out again.

Purchase your Holiday Cards, Photo Books, Mugs and hundreds of other products at Kodak!

Here are coupon codes for 40% off your order at the Kodak Gallery. If none of them work (only one per order), please leave a comment and I will post up additional codes. Expires 12/1/2009.


Restaurant Review: Ed's Chowder House

Ed’s Chowder House at The Empire Hotel
44 West 63rd Street (btwn Broadway & Columbus)
New York, NY 10023

Ever since our weekend trip to Boston, we have been searching for equally delicious seafood restaurants in Manhattan. Forget the chain restaurants (aka McCormick's and Red Lobster)! We want good chowda, raw bar and grilled lobster!! So did Ed's Chowder House deliver?? Hmm it came pretty close. Read the following review closely before your first visit!

Pros: With the name 'chowder' in the restaurant name, we *had* to eat the chowder. And based on previous reviews and the waiter's recommendation, we had to eat "Ed's loaded shellfish chowder." This is a New England based chowder and then filled with a big chunk of scallop and shrimp! There were unmistakable chunks of clams as well and it made it all delicious! We were almost full from just eating the loaded chowder. Almost. Next, we tasted the Scallop Ravioli with white wine sauce & herbs ($12). Normally, I'm not a fan of scallops but the wine sauce and herbs made this dish absolutely to-die for!! I am definitely going to eat this again in my next visit. Our next appetizer came from the bar-menu. We wanted to try the jumbo lump crab cake from the entree section but we didn't want to order it as our entrees. So luckily we knew (from reading other reviews, hehe) that we could order ONE crab cake which is from the bar menu. Omigosh, this was also delicious - chunky crab meat over a delicious sauce. Sigh, heaven.

Cons: The cons are mostly relegated for our entrees. And it's only because we were so full from our appetizers that we couldn't really enjoy our entrees. I ordered the peppered tuna steak frites with herb butter ($28). Did not love it but only because they overcooked my tuna - I wanted it rare. Jander ordered the moist grilled lobster over a bed of julienned vegetables ($16 per pound with a minimum of 1.5 lbs). According to previous reviews, this is a very popular dish. However, they failed to warn us about the amount of butter used in the dish. They must have melted at least 3 sticks of butter in that one plate!!! And the worst part is, even the vegetables were cooked in butter. Seriously...I could feel my pores oozing with butter after tasting a bite of lobster. I would recommend trying the simple lobster.

Note: The entrees in the menu are divided into 'simple' and 'composed.' The composed items are cooked in a sauce and come with vegetables. And the simple are without sauce/vegetables. Given our experience with the sauces in their entrees, we will go with SIMPLE in the future!

Overall, we found the food delicious and the patrons in the restaurant a bit pretentious. It's definitely a fancy type of restaurant with the average age in the 40's range. Previous reviews have noted the lack of food knowledge by the waiters. Luckily we did not experience that...but I did notice that there were many 'hosts' in the restaurant. At first, I mistook them as guests in the restaurant because I've never seen so many male 'hosts' in a restaurant. They wore blazers and nice pants so I figured they would be patrons. Last observation, since the restaurant is inside the Empire Hotel, I had to 'leave' the restaurant to use the bathroom. I cannot wait to go back here and try their other appetizer options!
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