Sunday, December 11, 2016

Apple Whiskey Turkey Brine

A few years ago Olivia and I decided to experiment with putting our holiday turkey in a brine the day before we roast it.  We've tried different types of brine.  The common ingredients in most are salt, sugar, spices, etc.  This one intrigued us because it contained apple whiskey.  That sounded to us like just the perfect accompaniment to turkey.

This year we started with a thawed 17 pound Butterball turkey and a five gallon bucket.  Here is the recipe we used, but feel free to tweak it to your liking.  You won't believe how incredibly moist and flavorful your turkey will be.  It is awesome!

1 cup salt (we use Kosher salt)

1 cup brown sugar

1-2 cups of Jim Beam apple whiskey

1 tablespoon of peppercorns

2-5 garlic cloves

2 sliced apples

2 sliced oranges

Put the first five ingredients in a five gallon bucket with just enough water to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Add your turkey.  Cover with enough water to fully surround the bird.  Put in the bucket your apples and oranges.  Put ice cubes in the bucket to keep things cool.  Cover the bucket and place it on a porch or in an unheated garage where everything will stay cool.  Add ice occasionally if needed.  Soak that bird until it is good an happy.  We soak it at least 8-12 hours.  Pull it out of the brine and roast as you normally would.  Yummy!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Smoky Mountain Cat Head Biscuits


This recipe is a repeat of one Olivia shared before but we are sharing it again with a very special purpose in mind.  As many of you know, our family loves the Great Smoky Mountains.  We have been travelling there and enjoying that beautiful region and its people for decades.  As beautiful as the mountains, cascades, streams and wildlife are (and they are extraordinarily beautiful) the people who live there are even more beautiful and special.  Many of the families who live there have been there for generations.  Their roots and love for the area run deep.

This is why our hearts were breaking during recent days as we learned of the wildfires that devastated the community of Gatlinburg and the surrounding area.  Many people lost their homes and some even lost their lives.  Because this is an area heavily dependent upon tourism, many people were  not only impacted by losing loved ones and homes, but their livelihood has been affected as well.  They  have coined a phrase there, "Smokies Strong," that speaks to the strength, courage, and resiliency of these special people.  

If you have ever visited there and have been touched by the beauty of this special place and its people, we are asking you to consider donating to help in the relief efforts.  Dolly Parton and her Dollywood  Foundation have set up a fund to help in the ongoing efforts to get these people back up on their feet.  You can donate by going to .  During this holiday season the need is even more keenly felt.  Please give generously.

Cat Head BiscuitsRecipe from America’s Test Kitchen Best Ever Recipes
3 cups White Lily All-Purpose Flour (it MUST be White Lily, not regular all-purpose flour; if White Lily is unavailable, use 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour and 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) cake flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into 1/2″ pieces
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9″ round cake pan with shortening and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using your fingers, mix the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and stir with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon until combined.
Use a 1/2 cup ice cream scoop or measuring cup to measure out 6 heaping portions of dough and place them each in the prepared pan, one in the middle and 5 surrounding it. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden on top. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Carefully break apart the biscuits with two forks (or leave them in the pan until you’re ready to serve them). Makes 6 ginormous, cat head-sized biscuits.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


The Thanksgiving holiday is just around the corner and everyone has an opinion about cranberry sauce. Do you use the canned variety, frozen, or fresh?  Olivia found this outstanding recipe for homemade and freshly canned cranberry sauce on the Ball canning website.  It provides the right amount of sweet and tangy flavor that makes cranberry sauce a holiday favorite.  Cranberries are plentiful right now and often can be found at a good price, so take the time to make this recipe and your guests won't be disappointed.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Preserving Method: Water Bath Canning

  1. PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil.  Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside.
  2. COMBINE sugar and water in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil hard for 5 minutes. Add cranberries and return mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until all berries burst and liquid begins to sheet from a metal spoon, about 15 minutes. Stir in orange zest, if using, during the last few minutes of cooking.
  3. LADLE hot cranberry sauce into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot cranberry sauce. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.  Place jar in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
  4. PROCESS jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Monday, November 14, 2016


Olivia found this scrumptious recipe at a web site called .  If you like chicken and you like cheese, this is a winner.  I even thought if you would like to substitute turkey (leftover from the upcoming holiday) that might be a new creative way to use up what is left of the bird.  I think the key here to getting a desirable texture is not pouring the sauce directly on the rolls but around them so the rolls have an opportunity to reach a lovely golden brown.  The soup, cream cheese, and cheese make for a delicious silky inside filling.  Give this recipe a try with either chicken or turkey.  You will probably want to make it again and again.


Serves: 4
  • 1 tube (8 count) regular-sized crescent rolls
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 4 oz softened cream cheese
  • 1 tsp instant minced onion
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • Sauce:
  • 1 can (10.75 oz) cream of chicken soup*
  • 1 soup can of milk (use the empty soup can)
  1. *Cream of Mushroom may be substituted
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Lightly spray a 11×7-inch rectangular baker.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the chicken, cream cheese, instant minced onion, garlic powder, salt, pepper and mozzarella. Set aside.
  5. In another bowl, mix the soup with the milk, stirring the milk in gradually so it’s smooth.
  6. Separate the crescent dough into the 8 triangles. Place about ¼ cup of the chicken mixture on the wide base of the crescent “triangle.” Roll up and seal completely–you roll these like you are making rolls, but also pinch the sides together so the filling is completely enclosed by the crescent dough.
  7. Place chicken-filled crescents in the pan making 2 rows with 4 crescents in each row–leave space on all sides for the sauce.
  8. Pour sauce around the crescents, avoiding covering the dough with the sauce or they will not brown and will be soggy!
  9. Sprinkle crescent tops with the grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.
  10. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until tops are nicely browned.

Sunday, November 6, 2016


Most people have harvested the last of their squash and probably either eaten them or preserved them in some way, but some folks may still have that lone zucchini that looms large in the kitchen,  You may be looking at it and saying to yourself, "I really should use this thing before it goes to waste."  Well, ponder the situation no longer and make this delicious cheesy garlic zucchini rice.  It has all the texture and taste you could ever want from the humble zucchini and is sure to please those with whom you share it.  It is a simple, but delicious recipe you should definitely try.  Olivia made it and gave it a two thumbs up!






  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth*
  • 1 cup rice*
  • 2 zucchini, shredded
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Stir in vegetable broth and rice. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until rice is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in zucchini and cheese; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and let stand until cheese has melted, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Serve immediately.
*Water can be substituted.
*Brown rice or quinoa can be substituted, but cooking time may have to be adjusted as needed.

Sunday, October 30, 2016


Apples are plentiful this time of year and pork is always a fall favorite.  If you are in the mood for something a little different using both, try this great pork chop recipe Olivia found at  This combines just the right amount of sweet and savory juxtaposed against the tangy addition of coriander, cumin, cilantro, lime juice and honey.  Wow!  This recipe is indeed a flavor party in your mouth.  If you are caught in the menu "in-betweens"--meaning in between summer and the holidays, don't hesitate to try this mouth watering recipe.  It is a winner.

Makes 6 servings


  1. For pork chops
    • 3 tablespoons ground coriander
    • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4 (2-inch-thick) loin pork chops (each about 1 lb)
  2. For tomatillo and green apple sauce
    • 1/2 lb fresh tomatillos (about 5), husks discarded and tomatillos rinsed
    • 2 Granny Smith apples
    • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro sprigs
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/4 cup apple juice
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
    • 1 tablespoon mild honey
    • 1 teaspoon minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
    • Special equipment: a large chimney starter (if using charcoal); a 17- by 12 1/2- by 3 1/2-inch disposable aluminum roasting pan (if using charcoal); an instant-read thermometer


  1. Marinate chops:
    1. Stir together coriander, cumin, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then add oil and stir until combined well. Rub spice mixture all over chops. Let chops marinate while making sauce and preparing grill.
  2. Make sauce:
    1. Simmer tomatillos and 3 cups water in a 2 1/2- to 3-quart saucepan, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tomatillos are just soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and cool 15 minutes.
    2. While tomatillos are cooling, core apples and cut into 1/4-inch dice. Purée tomatillos with remaining sauce ingredients except apples in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and stir in apples.
  3. To cook pork using a charcoal grill:
    1. Open vents on bottom of grill. Light charcoal (80 to 100 briquettes) in chimney starter. Leaving about one quarter of grill free of charcoal, bank lit charcoal across rest of grill so that coals are about three times higher on opposite side.
    2. Charcoal fire is medium-hot when you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack over area where coals are piled highest for 3 to 4 seconds. Sear pork on lightly oiled grill rack directly over hottest part of coals, uncovered, turning over once and, if necessary, moving around grill to avoid flare-ups, until well browned, 10 to 12 minutes total. Move pork to coolest part of grill, then cover with inverted roasting pan and grill, turning pork over once, until thermometer inserted diagonally into center of each chop (avoid bone) registers 150°F, 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 15 minutes (temperature will rise to 155°F).
  4. To cook pork using a gas grill:
    1. Preheat all burners on high, covered, 10 minutes. Sear pork on lightly oiled grill rack, covered with lid, turning over once, until well browned, 10 to 12 minutes total. Turn off 1 burner (middle burner if there are 3) and put pork above shut off burner. Reduce heat on remaining burner(s) to moderate and grill pork, covered with lid, until thermometer inserted diagonally into center (avoid bone) registers 150°F, 12 to 16 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 15 minutes (temperature will rise to 155°F).
  5. Serve pork:
    1. Cut pork away from bone, then thinly slice and serve with sauce.
Cooks' note:
If you aren't able to grill outdoors, pork chops can be seared in a hot lightly oiled well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderately high heat, turning over once, until well browned, about 6 minutes total, then transferred to a shallow baking pan and roasted in middle of a preheated 450°F oven, without turning over, until thermometer registers 150°F, 15 to 20 minutes. *Available at Latino markets and many supermarkets.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Olivia found this recipe and it seems to me to be a natural for a fall dessert.  It it is a little out of the ordinary but still conjures up the autumn images of apple pie and caramel apples.  The thing that probably appeals to me most about it is the combination of sweet and salty and I have a real love for anything with pecans in it.

I'm thinking this would be a hit for a fall carry-in if you have one coming up, a great addition to an afternoon of football watching, or you might even make it a sweet surprise for your upcoming Thanksgiving menu.  Just a suggestion--if you are taking this somewhere to eat later, you may want to wait to stir in the pretzel mixture until just before serving to keep the crunchy goodness going.  Hope you enjoy this yummy treat!

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12-15
Sugared Pretzels:
  • 1 cup pretzels, roughly chopped (measure after chopping)
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped (measure after chopping)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup butter, melted
Cream Cheese Mixture:
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature.
  • 3 cups diced apples (about 2 large apples)
  • ½ cup caramel sauce (I used Marzetti Old Fashioned Caramel Dip)
  • 3 cups whipped topping or whipped cream
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Sugared Pretzels:
  1. Mix together crushed pretzels, chopped pecans, brown sugar and melted butter.
  2. Spread in a large baking sheet with sides (I used my jelly roll pan.) and bake at 400 degrees for 7 minutes.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool and then break it into small pieces.
Cream Cheese Mixture:
  1. Beat the softened cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Beat in the caramel sauce until smooth.
  3. Fold in whipped topping.
  4. Stir in the diced apples and sugared pretzels