Our purpose

Our family loves cooking. We live through cooking. We cook normal stuff and want to share it with all of you.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Pit Roasted Turkey

This post has been a long time coming... and timing couldn't be worse, the day after Thanksgiving...

Ridding mower is optional.
My family and I started do this four years ago and it has developed into somewhat of a tradition. With my Dad being raised on a turkey farm he grew up cooking turkey and after 50+ years he thought he had mastered the art, he was wrong.

So four years ago my Dad and I had a cook off. He cooked one in his fryer while I roasted one in a pit in his back yard. I won hands down. Mine was juicier more flavorful and produced a more tender meat. His was noticeably more greasy, a factor of the deep frying.

So here is the process.

Start with a pretty decent hole. In warmer climates you can probably get away with going down about 3 feet but I would recommend deeper, at least 4 feet. You also want the hole to have at least 1-2 feet of clearance around what ever you are cooking. That allows room for a deep bed of coals to get the roasting done. *Disclaimer here that this year I moved to Utah and using a 3 foot deep hole was not nearly enough. We lost heat too fast due to the cold weather for much cooking to happen. I had to finish the turkey in the oven.

After the hole if dug the most ideal situation would be to line the hole with rocks or bricks. Keep in mind that you are going to be filling this back in so spending money on rocks or bricks is probably not an investment most people are going to want to make. The rocks retain heat better than just dirt and make the roasting a little easier.

This is a long process. Every time I have done this I have had time to dig the hole the day before and the whole afternoon the day of to devote to this process. Don't plan on doing this last minute or without at least a full day before to prepare.

Start a fire early. You need to accomplish two things first thoroughly heat the ground around the hole and second develop a deep bed of coals at least twice the size of what you are cooking. The times that I have been the most successful I have burned a fire starting at 2:00-3:00 and not put turkeys in the ground until 7:00-8:00.

Now you want to prepare your turkey. Season it however you like. I like an untraditional citrus, rosemary and garlic sauce that I place between the skin and the breast. It is important that you have time to bury the turkey before it starts to burn. The way you do that is to wrap it in several layers of aluminum foil and a couple layers of burlap.

 The foil is key. You want to make a tight seal around the turkey so no juices/seasoning get out and no dirt gets in. Things are going to get bounced around a bit so having 4-5 layers of foil all over the turkey keeps things from getting to banged up. We also put a long piece of wire around the whole bundle so we have something to pull it out with.

Bury it! Get at least 3 feet of soil on top of the turkey. If you are expecting a freeze or rain over night putting a tarp on top of 3 feet of soil with another couple inches of soil on top of the tarp will trap warm air better and help keep heat in the hole.

Give it time. Plan on at least 12 hours of cooking time. Slow and low that is what this is all about. When this turkey is done you should be able to remove every bit of meat without picking up a knife. The best turkey I have done I literally slid my fingers in behind the breast and removed it whole. Another thing that is sometimes missed is letting the turkey sit after you pull it out. The idea is that you don't want a puff of steam when you cut into the foil, that is moisture leaving your meat, bad bad bad. Leave it sitting on your counter, in the foil until you can comfortably hold your bare hand on the turkey. This locks in all those juices and puts it over the top.

Best of luck! Comment with questions or feedback I have done it a few times now so hopefully I can help.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Whole Wheat Waffles

Whole Wheat Pancakes (– from my sister, Sheryl Halls, adapted from my mother's recipe)
2 C. whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 C. milk (3/4 c. milk 3/4 water okay too)
1/4 C. oil
1/4 C. honey
2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

~Put all ingredients in a bowl and stir by hand until well blended. Cook on a lightly oiled grill.

Grated fresh apple and walnuts - Add the walnuts on top after pouring pancake mixture on grill. They get all toasty and delicious.

Or 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice and 1/4 tsp. almond extract.

Serve however you like your pancakes! Lately, we have been enjoying our pancakes and waffles in this house with Plain Greek Yogurt. (Not the lowfat kind, silly!) It is like having ice cream on your waffles and feels like such a treat with heated frozen strawberries. One of the best dinners around!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Indian Fry Bread or Navajo Tacos

Ok, so I've used a regular white bread recipe and also rhodes rolls before to make Indian Fry Bread but decided to look up a recipe about a year ago and found something that seemed pretty legit. I really like how this recipe turns out so I thought I would share.

Indian Fry Bread                                                             Makes 6-8

2 C. Flour
1 T. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
1 C. Milk

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and stir. Add milk stirring to combine. Take out of bowl and knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes. Then let rest 5 minutes. Roll out or stretch with hands into flat circles, using more flour or oiled hands.  Fry in 1” of oil, heated to 375* F, flipping halfway through cooking. Top with beans, cheese. lettuce, tomato, salsa and sour cream.

Save some for dessert with butter and honey!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Super Easy Quiche

I am working on a binder right now for easy meal planning and preparing (I am always scrambling through the house looking for my recipes which are so unorganized and tucked away in a few different places. Such a waste of time!) The binder will be divided into 5 categories, i.e. crock pot meals, pasta meals, rice meals, etc. I'm not sure what the categories will be yet. But then I will save two days a week for leftovers/eating out/impromptu meals.

I hope this will help me plan grocery trips faster and not waste time looking for my recipes. Eventually I think I'll have 6 recipes in each category so that I can go 6 weeks before repeating a meal. Do any of you have a similar (or better) system? I'm open to suggestions!

I thought that as I type up my recipes I'll share them with you. Last night, we had a quiche with a green salad. My goal is also to make affordable meals... eggs are cheap protein (; I usually just throw in whatever we have in the fridge. Yesterday, I had some sausage, mushrooms and spinach. I also like to make a homemade crust because it's so cheap and easy. But for convenience sake with a 4 month old we used a store bought refrigerated dough which worked great. Well, enjoy! Hope you try it!

Super Easy Quiche

1 ½ C. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 T.  Flour
1C.  Milk
3 Eggs, slightly beaten
½ C. Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 ½ - 2 C. Fresh Broccoli**
Salt + Pepper
1 – 9” Deep Dish Unbaked Pastry Shell

Preheat oven to 350* F.
Toss Cheddar with Flour. Add milk, eggs, Parmesan cheese, broccoli (or other add ins). Pour in shell and bake for 50-60 minutes.
**If not using deep dish, use about ¾ C. Broccoli or any other desired filling ingredients.
Variations: Spinach, Ham, Bacon, Onion, Sausage, Mushrooms, Peppers, Mexican Cheese, Etc. (My favorite- Spinach, Tomato, and Feta) Could also be made into individual quiches in a muffin pan.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Crêpes, I am King of the day!

This morning I made crêpes for the first time. Undoubtably it was prompted, in part, by a recent culinary skirmish between Jon and Kendall. I am not sure of the victor in that fight but I do know who is on top now. Come and get me off my mountain... If you dare!

This was taken from allrecipes.com and it turned out great. I did have to add about one additional tablespoon of milk to hit the right consistency for thin crêpes, so experiment and see what you get. Good flavor and held shape nicely.

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk (+ a little more)
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.
2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
3. Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Serve hot.

The creme de le creme was the addition of Boston Cream filling that turned out amazing!

1. Combine the 1/2 cup light cream with 1/4 cup of the milk and cook over medium heat until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan.
2. Immediately add 1/4 cup of the sugar and the salt, stirring until dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat.
3.In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornstarch and whisk to remove lumps. Whisk in the 2 eggs. (I actually had this prepared before starting the other cooking)
4. Add the hot cream mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Return to the mixture to the saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens and is smooth (about 5 minutes, total not from the start of the boil). Remove from heat and stir in the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I ALWAYS add extra vanilla, to everything. Even OJ) and allow to cool to room temperature.

What ever fruit/preserves you want to use will be amazing. We had strawberries and homemade peach jam (thanks mom) and they where awesome.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lentil and Swiss Chard Soup

I have cooked chard three times in the past week. Maybe it's some kind of pregnancy craving or maybe it's that I've been thinking a lot about Arizona. (We always had chard from our garden this time of year and so it just happens to remind me of home... )

Anyways, tonight's version (sorry this was written almost a week ago) was definitely my favorite. I tried a new recipe and was pleasantly surprised. Not only super healthy but it tasted wonderful! And was very filling as well. I am usually a "bottomless bowl" kinda gal when it comes to soups but was full after my first bowl and now I am feeling a little stretched out from trying to fit in that second bowl (but I couldn't help myself, it tasted so good). From Martha Stewart. The changes I made are in bold.

Lentil and Swiss Chard Soup
Serves 4 (Really could serve 6-8 with some nice hearty bread)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 bunches (about 1 1/2 pounds total) Swiss chard, stalks cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces (keep stalks and leaves separate) I used only one bunch.
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper 1/8 tsp pepper was a little too much. Just ended up on the spicy side.
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Bread, for serving (optional)
  1. In a large saucepan with a lid, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened and browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, oregano, and thyme; stir to combine.
  2. Add lentils, 5 cups water, and tomatoes with their juice; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, 20 minutes. Add chard stalks and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add chard leaves; season with salt and pepper, and cook until lentils and chard are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in lemon juice; ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with olive oil, and serve with bread, if desired. Ran out of Olive Oil so I didn't use as much as this recipe calls for, just enough to cook the onion.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Jon's French Fries

Ok, so this is not so much a recipe as it is a technique to make the BEST FRIES at home.  Im serious!  I ate so many while making them that i didn't really have an appetite for dinner and its all Lisa talked about for a few days!


potatoes  (We used red potatoes and they worked great! Next time we are trying it with sweet potatoes!)
Oil- just regular vegetable oil works great
seasonings  (we used salt, a sea salt and garlic mixture, season salt, and our favorite of all... cavenders)

First cut the potatoes into thin fry-like strips and place them in luke warm water.  While they sit in the water heat up your oil (you really don't need much oil for this because you cook the fires in smaller batches)  I set my oil in a large stock pot at  med-high until it got to about 350-375 degrees.  Take the fries out of the water and pat them all dry.  Once the fries and oil are ready put about 1/4 of the fries in the oil for about 4 minutes.  You don't want to cook them all the way or give them any color at this step.  You are just looking for blistered skin and a soft inside.
 When you take them out, place them on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels to soak up the oil.  Once all the fires are done with their first "bath" place the cookie sheet with all the fries in the freezer for about an hour, or until the fries are firm.  Make sure to save your oil because you can just use it again for the second splash down.  After your hour is up, get the oil hot again(the same temp, about 350-375) and get ready for some awesome fries.  This time do the fries in smaller batches stirring more regularly so each fry gets fried on all side
After about 4 minutes and some brownish skin they are ready!  Take them out and put the seasoning of your choice on right away!  ENJOY!
Lisa's note: OH MY GOODNESS!!!! All I wanted to eat for the next 3 days were these fries. You WONT be sorry if you make these. It seems like an annoying process to blister, freeze then fry but its really not. It takes a little organization, thats it! So incredibly delicious!