Many years ago as a newlywed I was faced with making my very first Thanksgiving meal for myself and my new husband. This of course entailed roasting a turkey. I was clueless!
Seriously, in my single life Thanksgiving meals were prepared by mom, grandmas, and aunties; I think they took turns hosting the family for Thanksgiving each year. Whatever the case may be I just popped in to where ever it was served and stuffed myself with all the yummy stuff they made.
Alas that year it was not to be. Mom had moved back to New York where all the relatives were and I was alone in Hawaii, yup, just me and new hubby left to fend for ourselves on Thanksgiving. These days it probably wouldn’t have been a problem, one can just order a Thanksgiving meal for the entire family from one of the local restaurants or supermarket. But back then this wasn’t an option. So if I wanted a Thanksgiving meal I would have to figure out how to make it myself, starting with the turkey. (Yes that meant I had to stick my hand into the bird’s cavities and pull out its innards, seriously gross!)
Luckily I had a neighbor who showed me how to roast a turkey using a brown paper bag. I was hesitant at first thinking the bag would catch fire, burn the house down, and we would be homeless on Thanksgiving day. After all it was me roasting this bad bird and I could barely make toast unsupervised at that time!
Well my kitchen disaster never happened and I’ve been using this method to roast turkey ever since. The only issues I’ve run into in recent years is finding large brown bags!
Years ago groceries were packed in large brown bags, perfect size for this roasting method. The emergence of plastic grocery bags made it nearly impossible to find the paper ones. Never one to give up I used brown craft paper when I can not locate large brown paper bags. Recently our state outlawed the use of plastic grocery bags and most supermarkets have started selling us large paper bags when we don’t bring our own grocery bags. Umm that would be me, I always forget to bring the bags I have in my trunk into the stores so I end up purchasing even more bags.
I should mention however that I’ve only ever cooked using electric ovens, I’m told you can still use this method in a gas oven, just be sure to keep paper away from the flame. I haven’t had the opportunity to try this so I would advise caution if you are going to try it in a gas oven.
Here’s how I do this using 2 large brown paper grocery bags or a very large shopping bag:
1. Clean and wash turkey. Be sure to remove the neck and giblets from the cavity. Refrigerate giblets if you will be using them in your gravy.
2. Salt the turkey cavity with about 2 tbls of salt
3. Place a whole peeled onion in the back of the cavity.
4. Rub butter on top of the thighs, wing tips, and the breast; anywhere the turkey may come in contact with the paper bag.
5. If you will not be stuffing your turkey then place it on the rack inside the roasting pan.
If you will be stuffing your turkey then loosely place stuffing in both cavities. Do not pack in stuffing. Stuffing expands during cooking and you will have a big mess in the over and no stuffing.
Truss turkey using lacers and twine. Place it on the rack inside the roasting pan.
6. Insert one end of the roasting pan into the first brown bag.*
7. Work the second brown bag onto the roasting pan. Make sure the bag overlaps with the first bag.*
8. Place the whole package in the oven using the chart below from allrecipes.com.
9. 30 minutes before the turkey is done carefully tear off bags and remove. Don’t jiggle the pan too much, you don’t want the drippings to spill, you will need the drippings for gravy. Leave turkey uncovered to brown.
10. When turkey is done remove from the oven and let rest on the rack for 30 minutes. Do not transfer turkey on to serving tray immediately after cooking, it will fall apart. Using turkey lifters makes transferring the turkey easier.
11. If your stuffing is in the bird scoop it out onto a serving bowl before carving the turkey, it’s just neater than having everyone spoon stuffing directly out of the bird.
These times are based on placing the whole turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, and into a preheated 350 degree F (175 degrees C ) oven.
Weight of Bird
Roasting Time (Unstuffed)
Roasting Time (Stuffed)
10 to 18 pounds
3 to 3-1/2 hours
3-3/4 to 4-1/2 hours
18 to 22 pounds
3-1/2 to 4 hours
4-1/2 to 5 hours
22 to 24 pounds
4 to 4-1/2 hours
5 to 5-1/2 hours
24 to 29 pounds
4-1/2 to 5 hours
5-1/2 to 6-1/4 hours
The only true test for doneness is the temperature of the meat, not the color of the skin.
The turkey is done when the thigh meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. To get an accurate reading, be sure that your thermometer is not touching the bone.
If your turkey has been stuffed, it is important to check the temperature of the dressing; it should be 165 degrees F (75 degrees C).
When the turkey is done, remove from the oven and allow to stand for 20-30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, and makes for easier carving.
* If you can not get large brown bags you can use brown craft paper. You can buy a roll at Walmart or any discount store. Wrap the paper around the whole roasting pan. Staple shut on both ends and on the top.
This is my turkey cooked using the brown bag method. This bird weighed 24 pounds.
My daughter in Colorado uses my method to make her Thanksgiving turkey. This is a small turkey weighing about 15 pounds.
Thanksgiving is next week. I started my annual holiday cooking routine last this week. From now until the New Year yummy aromas will be coming from my kitchen! The annual game of cat and mouse will begin; family members sneaking tastes of pies, cookies, and candies while I try to keep them hidden. Last year my son and husband went thru a couple of pecan pies a couple of days before Thanksgiving, luckily I made 6 pies!
The first thing I make every year is my homemade applesauce which we use instead of cranberry sauce. It goes great with roast turkey and the Prime Rib roast we make for Christmas. Sealed in mason jars or even just stored in the fridge and the sauce will last thru the holidays.
Over the years I’ve tried different types of apples to make my sauce. You never quite realize just how many types of apples there are until you start shopping for them. I’ve used Fuji, Mackintosh, Delicious, Gala, and Granny Smith apples just to name a few I’ve tried. I’ve discovered that the best applesauce is made by using different types of apples. Yes each apple variety has its own unique flavor and texture so mixing them up makes for a tastier and more robust sauce.
My family will only eat my homemade applesauce, no store bought sauce for them. Even my grandson, Dion, who absolutely will not touch store bought sauce, even as an infant, loves my sauce. It’s sweet and laced with lots of cinnamon. Dion says he likes it because it has a nice texture, not the strained baby food like texture the ones from the store have. It’s a bit chunky, but not too chunky, even the twins, Harper and Sadi, love it! By the way the cinnamon can be optional! My grandson Devon has recently declared that he dislikes cinnamon (this declaration boggles my mind as he still loves cinnamon rolls) so before I add the cinnamon I set aside a small portion just for him.
The applesauce is easy to make, just a bit time consuming. That’s why I make it well ahead of time.
This allows it to chill, we feel applesauce should be served cold. Here’s my recipe, it will make 2 pint size jars or 1 quart size jar.
2 Red Delicious Apples
2 Golden Delicious Apples
2 Gala or Mackintosh Apples
2 Granny Smith Apples
2 cups sugar (add more if you want it sweeter or less if you don’t want it so sweet)
6+ Cups Water
1 tbls. ground cinnamon (you can adjust this to suit your taste)
1. Fill a large pot about half way with water.
2. Wash and peel apples, then cut into bite size chunks about 1/2″ big
3. Place apple pieces in pot of water. Add more water if needed to cover the apples. The top layer will float a bit.
4. Add sugar and stir.
5. Cook on stove over medium heat until water has been absorbed. Stir occasionally to keep bottom from burning. As it cooks and softens you can mash the chunks a bit with the spoon used to stir. The sauce will start turning brownish. If it starts to bubble reduce heat. This process takes about 2-3 hours.
6. When the apples have all liquified and water evaporated remove pot from heat.
7. Stir in cinnamon.
8. Seal in mason jars according to canning instructions or allow to cool then transfer to sealed containers and store in refrigerator. Even If you seal it in jars you should store it in the fridge so it will be cool when served.
You can serve this as a snack, or with roast turkey or beef, and pork chops. It’s really yummy!
The Best Homemade Applesauce
Homemade applesauce goes great with roast turkey and the Prime Rib roast we make for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sealed in mason jars or even just stored in the fridge and the sauce will last thru the holidays.
Homemade applesauce goes great with roast turkey and the Prime Rib roast we make for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sealed in mason jars or even just stored in the fridge and the sauce will last thru the holidays.
Fill a large pot about half way with water. This is why I put 6+ cups of water in the ingredients. You can adjust it to fill your pot.
Wash and peel apples, then cut into bite size chunks about 1/2" big
Place apple pieces in pot of water. Add more water if needed to cover the apples. The top layer will float a bit.
Add sugar and stir.
Cook on stove over medium heat until water has been absorbed. Stir occasionally to keep bottom from burning. As it cooks and softens you can mash the chunks a bit with the spoon used to stir. The sauce will start turning brownish. If it starts to bubble reduce heat. This process takes about 2-3 hours.
When the apples have all liquified and water evaporated remove pot from heat.
Stir in cinnamon.
Seal in mason jars according to canning instructions or allow to cool then transfer to sealed containers and store in refrigerator. Even If you seal it in jars you should store it in the fridge so it will be cool when served.
You can also make this applesauce in a crockpot. Just dump all the ingredients, except the cinnamon, into the pot. Cook for about 6 hours, add cinnamon, and place in storage containers.
If you do make it in the crockpot don't leave it much longer than 6 hours, overcooking will turn it into apple butter. That's good too!
We’ve recently started eating healthier again, that’s after a summer of long vacations that at times made healthy eating difficult. It’s so easy to slip back into bad eating habits like fast food burgers and fries, easy to grab bags of chips, and other junk food.
But at our age and with our recent test results and recently diagnosed conditions we really must stop eating like teenagers! I mean I love my burgers and fries, pizza, sodas, candies, and other sweets, but they don’t seem to love me as much as they used to. I had always bragged that I could eat everything I loved without gaining an ounce of weight. This may have been true 10 or more years ago, but not any more. Besides now I have to deal with Eczema and other issues, my “normal” diet was just not going to cut it. My husband is in the same boat. So we’re each trying different changes to deal with our specific issues.
Right now my husband has been following a Keto Diet. For him it’s really not too much of a hardship. He’s pretty disciplined and usually does low carb diets when he needs to drop a few pounds. So I’ve been modifying some old favorites to be keto friendly. Remember Keto diets are low carb, medium protein, and high fat. (I don’t follow this diet as I’m dealing with other issues and too much fat is not something I can tolerate.)
Anyway one of the challenges when someone in the family is on some sort of a special diet is to make meals that everyone can eat. In short I am not a short order cook who will make a different meal for each family member. This has actually proven to be somewhat simple, specially when I’m modifying family favorites. One of my biggest successes is this Creamy Tuscan Chicken Casserole.
My Creamy Tuscan Chicken Casserole is very Keto Friendly, low in carb (1 gram per 1/2 cup serving), good protein, and high in fat. Not to mention it is divine! Everyone loves it! The kids and anyone not on a keto diet eats it with pasta, my husband has it with a small salad.
Here’s the recipe:
2 Pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cubed
1/4 Cup Butter
1 Tbs. Minced Garlic
1 Tbs. Italian Seasoning
1 Cup Heavy Cream or Half & Half
1 Cup Cream Cheese, room temp
1 Cup Sour Cream
2 Cups Fresh Spinach leaves
1 Cup Sun Dried Tomato Strips in Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Melt Butter in an oven safe frying pan – cast iron pans work great
Add chicken cubes & Italian Seasoning and cook until done, stir constantly
Add milk and cream cheese, stir until all the cream cheese has melted and the sauce looks creamy – stir constantly to avoid burning the sauce
Add spinach and cook until leaves have wilted, stir constantly
Add sun dried tomato strips and the oil it’s soaked in, stir to combine well
Remove from heat and stir in sour cream
Sprinkle with shredded cheese
Bake in 350° oven for 15 minutes or until cheese melts
A beautiful kitchen is the centerpiece of a loving home. Kitchens are magnets for friends, family and loved ones, bringing the occupants of a home together with culinary delights and sumptuous treats. A kitchen is decked out with a range of appliances and systems designed to keep us stocked up on all the right nutrients. From an aesthetic perspective, kitchens can add tremendous value to a home. Kitchen appliances and systems, notably high-end ranges, refrigerators and freezers, dishwashers et al cost a pretty penny. The decor dovetails with these electromechanical components to create precisely the right setting for a warm and loving home.
Over time, regular use of kitchen systems and appliances takes its toll. It comes as no surprise that the functional components of ranges, refrigerators, and dishwashers result in significant wear-and-tear. As a homeowner, it’s no joke replacing or repairing these expensive systems, making it all the more important to properly maintain them. There are many ways to prolong the lifespan of standard kitchen systems and appliances, without resorting to expensive replacements.
Keeping Your Refrigerator Cool and in Working Order
One of the best ways to check that a refrigerator is correctly sealed and maintaining the right temperature within is the dollar bill test. This requires the placement of a dollar bill between the door and the gasket at multiple spots. If there is tension on the dollar bill when the door closes, it indicates that the refrigerator is sealing correctly. Equally important is to check behind the door bins, and the shelves for any cracks within the refrigerator.
Refrigerators also have condenser coils. With pets in the house, these condenser coils can often get clogged up with dander, fur, dust and hair. It’s a good idea to periodically remove the back panel of the refrigerator to keep these condenser coils clean. If there are any strange sounds coming from the condenser fan, this may be an indication that problems are afoot. Air leaks are a big problem with refrigerators, since this is the quickest way to food loss, contamination, and inefficient refrigerator functionality. Condenser coils must always be free from dust to guarantee the right airflow with the fan. All refrigerator doors should be correctly aligned with the refrigerator unit and the seals should not allow any cool air from within to escape.
Expensive Ranges That May Need to Be Replaced
Ovens and ranges are high-end items in a home. At the low end, they can cost several hundred dollars, but at the high end these can cost several thousand dollars. Many problems typically crop up with ranges, such as burnt food on the stovetop. This presents as a problem for many homeowners, since typical cleaning products don’t seem to do a good job of removing food remains from the counter.
Experts recommend using stovetop cleaners and razor blades for this purpose. Baking soda is a great ingredient to use (in combination with water) to create a paste which can be highly effective at cleaning ranges. The inside of an oven often requires significant effort to keep clean. The baking soda/water mix is an effective cleaning solution to use. It should be wiped around the inside of an oven and left to sit for around 12 hours before being removed with a water spray bottle and a sponge.
Once expensive kitchen appliances stop working – perhaps at the end of their lifespan – it may be time to consider the options available to you. Recall that manufacturers’ warranties are typically good for the first year of an appliance’s life. After that, it is difficult to make the case of a defunct appliance to a manufacturer. Rather than allow these expensive investments to fall by the wayside, it is better to plan ahead with cost-effective solutions designed to mitigate potential out-of-pocket expenses. Proper care and ongoing maintenance go a long way towards prolonging the lifespan of expensive systems and appliances.
Preventative measures are an important safeguard to consider, such as home warranties. This is especially important with high-end ranges, and one company in particular Old Republic covers ovens. The benefit of using a home warranty provider as opposed to a standard technician or repair person is crystal clear: a low monthly fee provides extensive coverage for all home systems and appliances, and the only out-of-pocket expense is a callout fee for the technician. It doesn’t matter if the appliance is new or old, a reputable home warranty provider will take care of these systems with maximum coverage and protection.
Keeping Dishwashers in Proper Functioning Order
Maintaining dishwashers is equally important since these use a combination of electro-mechanical and water components. Any time an appliance uses water supply, it needs to be functioning optimally to avoid water leakage, and damage. Much like a refrigerator, dishwashers should properly seal at all times. This can be achieved through a correctly aligned dishwasher door with dishwasher unit.
Most of the problems that occur with improperly functioning dishwashers are a result of human error. People invariably place the wrong items in the way of the dishwasher spray arms. If items fall through the trays at the bottom or the top unit, these can interfere with the proper functioning of the dishwasher, and cause breakages at the same time. Beneath the dish rack in the dishwasher is a filter. This routinely gets clogged and should be rinsed out to ensure that it is functioning optimally. If not, this can adversely affect the wash cycle.
Homeowners can play it safe with comprehensive warranty coverage, or break the bank and simply repair or replace expensive systems and appliances.
Cheeseburgers are probably my most favorite foods on earth. I love a tasty and juicy cheeseburger and am always in search for the perfect one.
Okay I’ve found a lot of truly magnificent cheeseburgers around the country, but in my humble opinion the best cheeseburgers are those that we make at home.
My son make the BEST ever cheeseburgers you will ever taste. Seriously it’s to die for! But his burgers are an overnight project. You start out mixing his seasoned butter the night before and freezing it at least overnight. Lot’s of work, but the end result is definitely worth it.
As much as I love his cheeseburgers I don’t always have the time nor inclination to make them. So there has to be an easier way right? Ok I’ll settle for a good burger at home verses an excellent one.
Recently I made these cheeseburgers for lunch. I didn’t have to leave home to make them, I had all the ingredients in my kitchen. It didn’t take all day and all night to make them and they turned out pretty good. My grandsons loved them.
These burgers are tender, juicy, and tasty. All this using store bought frozen ingredients. Best of all it’s cooked in less than 15 minutes. Perfect for quick lunches or dinners. Actually it’s the perfect dinner on Halloween when you need to get the kids to eat before rushing out the door to trick or treat.
These burgers are so easy they don’t even require a recipe, just quick instructions. And here they are!
Frozen beef patties – thawed in fridge or microwave
Frozen Garlic Bread Slices or Texas Toast
Cheddar Cheese slices
Condiments – Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo, Lettuce, Tomato, Onions, etc.
Fry thawed burgers in frying pan over medium-high heat
Cook until desired doneness – don’t over cook as they will become tough and dry
Meanwhile place frozen garlic bread in a separate frying pan or panini maker and cook on high
Remove from pan when done and set aside – be careful not to burn your bread – you want it cooked with a bit of crunch on the outside but not over cooked
When burgers are just about cooked place a slice of cheese on top of each patty
Place another slice of cheese on one slice of bread
Place hot burger on top of cheese and cover with another slice of bread
Serve hot with condiments – if desired you can place a couple of strips of cooked crisp bacon on top of the patty
You know Fall’s arrived when you walk into Walmart or other discount store and are greeted with racks of Halloween costumes and piles of treat sized candies. Yes, there are lots of costume choices out there, ranging from the classic witch costume (I always seemed to be a witch for Halloween when I was a kid) and the newest popular cartoon characters. And this year there are of course those frightful masks of the politicians running for President.
In our family those generic store bought Halloween costumes just won’t do. We don’t like running into the same exact costume while we’re trick or treating on Halloween night. Ever since my kids were young I’ve always made them homemade costumes, now I make them for the grandkids.
Here are some Creative Kids’ Halloween Costumes I’ve made over the last few years. I hope they inspire you to get creative and make something cool for your kids this year!
If you haven’t heard already Pokemon is big this year! Thanks to the recently launched game Pokemon Go you’ll be seeing a bunch of pint sized Pikachus this year.
When we asked my 3 year old grandson Jett what he wanted to be this year he immediately said Pikachu! So instead of buying a generic Pikachu I hauled out my Singer and started sewing. In fact we took it a step further. I made Pikachu costumes for Jett and my 2 year old grandson Sadi, and a Jiggly Puff costume for his twin sister Harper.
This picture shows the twins trying on their costumes, it was hard getting them to stand still long enough to take pictures. I’ll post Jett’s picture as soon as I have one, I had to send his costume to Colorado.
I used Minky Fleece material I ordered from Fabric.com for these costumes. I lined it with a coordinating cotton blend fabric. For a bit of fluff I used heavy cotton batting in between the outer fabric and the lining. The ears, tail, and curl are stuffed with polyfill. The shoulder straps have snaps for easy on and off.
I made my own patter by tracing the twin’s onesie and Jett’s romper. I just made my tracing an inch more all around. I also deleted the sleeves. I found a hood pattern from the web, there are many you can use. The stripes on the Pikachu costume are appliqued on using brown fleece. I cut the strips freehand.
This costume requires sewing skills and a sewing machine. It took me about 4 hours to make each one.
Last year Jett was “Eye Candy”. I crocheted this Candy Corn Hat and sweater and attached crocheted “eyes” on both.
He won first place in 3 Halloween costume contests with this one!
I posted the pattern for this costume last year. Click here for the free pattern!
This Creative Kids’ Halloween Costume doesn’t require sewing skills, but you must know how to crochet.
Last year the twins were Minions.
This was pretty simple, most beginner crocheters can make this beanie. It’s a basic beanie pattern appliqued with crocheted eye or eyes, and a bow for the girly Minion. The costume is completed by denim coveralls with a “G” pinned on the front. You can either crochet the “G” or use felt.
Click here for the Minion Hat crochet pattern, it’s free!
A couple of years ago Jett was a “Chick Magnet”.
This costume requires no sewing skills! All you need are felt, scissors, and hot glue. The “feathers” are glued on to a pair of sweat pants and sweatshirt. The chick cap does require basic crochet skills. Again it’s a basic beanie with the beak appliqued on. The eyes are large wiggly eyes you can find at most craft stores.
One year Devon was Noisy Boy, the fighting robot from the movie Real Steel.
This costume require absolutely no sewing or crocheting skills! It’s made by cutting shapes out of a cardboard box and gluing them together.
The pieces are then spray painted purple and the symbols were painted on with craft glue.
Just before heading out to trick or treat the makeup was applied on Devon’s face. We worked from a picture of the robot to make this costume.
Not to be out done that year, Dion was Two Face, a movie villain.
This costume was made by literally destroying the Tuxedo he wore to my daughter’s wedding that spring. The “logic” being he was outgrowing the tux anyway and this was a good way to use it one more time.
Half the tux was singed using a lighter, my son had the honor of doing this. Be careful you don’t burn the house down. We did this outside in the back patio. All you have to do is touch the material of the tux with a hot lighter, the long ones used to light barbecue grills, the polyester material will shrivel up and burn.
Then just before heading out for trick or treating the textured makeup was applied to half his face.
This costume requires no skills, just lots of caution!