Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thanksgiving: A Betty's Bargain?

This year I was unable to venture home with Mama and Papa McBricker due to the restraints of work at the stone query; but I was able to take the day to cook my first thanksgiving dinner with the help of Barney. And it turned out to be a Betty's Bargain. Can you believe it?

Here is the what we had and the bargains I found:

Turkey before it was in the oven. I got that 11 pound turkey for.....$5. I couldn't believe it.

Bargain TIP 1. Thanksgiving is the time to do major shopping because if you spend a certain amount you can usually your turkey for a reduced price or even FREE.

Bargain TIP 2. Have a plan for extra turkey. You can make turkey stock easy from the turkey bones and the not so edible piceces. You will likely have extra vegetables and herbs so you can throw those in the pot. What do you turkey stock? Make soup, stew, gravy or freeze it for another time...X-mas is around the corner!

This is the finished product. As you can see it was delicious and we enjoyed eating it for the next 4 days. I had never cooked a turkey before so I was glad it turned out well.

Cooking TIP 1. Make sure if you buy a frozen turkey that you let it defrost in your refridgerator for at least 72 hours. You do NOT want to cook a turkey that is partially frozen.

Cooking TIP 2. Buy fresh herbs and vegetables to flavor your turkey. Often, you will need a couple of lemons, whole onion, rosemary, thyme, garlic.

Here is the final table spread. I was proud of myself. I couldn't have pulled it off without the help of Barney and some good planning.

Bargain/Cooking TIP 3. Make a list about a week before you plan to start cooking. It should not only have what are you planning to make but the ingredients that go into making it. This may seem self explanitory but you would be surprised what you take for granted. Then I would look in your weekly circular and mark off the products you will use in your dishes. Remember to carry your coupons for extra savings. Lastly, before you go out, check your pantry for items you may have or may need to resotck. Things like oil, flour, sugar, vinegar, chicken stock, butter, eggs, containers are often overlooked because we use them everyday.

I hope Wilma and I have inspried you to cook at your next holiday gathering and save money at the same time!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Coq au Vin Wilma Style

I'm lucky enough to have access to free range chickens from my farmer's market. I'm very good at rationalizing my meat consumption so I say that buying it locally from a small farm cancels out any bad karma or pollution that might be caused. This whole one pot meal can be made using local ingredients that are available year around so if you really think about it... Ok I could keep going around in circles trying to convince myself that eating some chicken every once in a while isn't the end of the world. Digging into a hot satisfying meal when it's cold out is one of the best feelings in the world in my opinion and sometimes vegetables alone just won't cut it.


A couple pieces of bone-in, skin on chicken legs or thighs
Handful potatoes diced, small thin skinned work best
1 or 2 large carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 container mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup of flour
A few cloves of garlic, sliced
1 bottle white wine
Pinch of dried rosemary
1 Vegetable bullion cube
Olive oil

Start with a large pot, a dutch oven would be ideal. Sear the chicken over medium high heat, skin side down until the skin is brown and crisp. Remove from the pot and set aside.

Turn down the heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the carrots, onion, and mushrooms along with plenty of salt and pepper and sautee until the onions are soft. Add the chicken back into the pot along with the flour. Stir to coat the chicken and veggies.

Add the garlic, rosemary, and bullion. Stir to dissolve the bullion then add enough wine to just cover the chicken and veggies. Simmer over low heat for about a half hour until everything is cooked through.

Serve piping hot with fresh bread.

What Do You Get...

when you combine cranberries, orange rinds, walnuts and celery? I'm reminded of that friend's episode where Rachel makes the traditional english trifle. My mom's cranberry "salad" isn't far off, and my brothers and I are convinced that she somehow mixed up or misread the recipe. I'm pretty sure that orange rinds are not safe for human consumption. All I can say is, thank you mom for only making this once a year, however, for the sake of posterity and since it was handed down by her mom I think it's worth preserving. So I present to you, Grandma Slaghoople's Cranberry Orange Salad.


1 package cherry jello
1 Cup hot water
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Cup pineapple syrup/juice
1 Cup ground cranberries
1 Orange ground, peel and all
1 C drained, crushed pineapple
1 Cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Dissolve jello in water. Add sugar, lemon juice and pineapple juice. Stir until dissolved. Chill until partially set. Add rest. Chill in oiled pan or individual molds.

Apple Socks

Well I couldn't think of a word to describe what these are so they've been dubbed "apple socks." It's fitting because blue cheese kind of smells like feet.


1 package phyllo dough - although you'll only need a few sheets so keep the rest in the freezer
1 apple, cored and chopped
1 small package or chunk of blue cheese
1 small package or chunk of goat cheese
Handful chopped toasted walnuts
Honey for dipping or drizzling
Butter, melted

Phyllo dough is if possible even more finicky than wonton wrappers. I keep mine in the freezer and thaw as needed. Some people say that covering it with a damp towel will make it easier to work with but I think you just need to work with it as quickly as possible. Either way they'll flake on you.

Anyways, in a bowl mix the apple, goat cheese, blue cheese, and walnuts in a bowl. With a knife carefully cut squares of phyllo dough a copy of layers deep. Working quickly, spoon some filling into the middle of each square. Unlike the ravioli, you don't need to be as worried about overfilling them.

Carefully pinch the corners of each phyllo square together and kind of fold them onto each other to seal the filling inside. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, brush some butter over the top which should help it seal and will help it brown.

Pop in a 350 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes until the tops are nice and brown. Before serving, drizzle with honey or put on the side for dippling.

A Slaghoople Thanksgiving