Brown Paper Bag Roasted Turkey

Brown Paper Bag Roasted Turkey

Thanksgiving foodMany 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.*

Brown bag
8.  Place the whole package in the oven using the chart below from allrecipes.com.

Bag in oven

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.

My Turkey

This is my turkey cooked using the brown bag method. This bird weighed 24 pounds.

Jaime's Turkey

My daughter in Colorado uses my method to make her Thanksgiving turkey. This is a small turkey weighing about 15 pounds.

PORK TENDERLOIN WITH CREAMY MARSALA SAUCE

PORK TENDERLOIN WITH CREAMY MARSALA SAUCE

Juicy pork tenderloin served with a creamy Mushroom Marsala Sauce that’s SO GOOD it will take serious self control not to the lick the plate! This is one of those recipes that is easy enough for midweek but fancy enough for company. Cooking the pork tenderloin whole keeps this lean healthy cut of pork lovely and juicy!

So basically, this sauce is like gravy on steroids. Good steroids, that is. Not the kind that naughty athletes use.

Have you ever had Marsala Sauce before? Or made anything with Marsala? Marsala is a fortified wine, so it’s thicker and sweeter than normal wine. It has many layers of flavors in it which makes it a fantastic secret weapon in the kitchen, one that chefs in posh restaurants use regularly.

It holds true for alcohol generally. A splash of wine, sherry, marsala or even brandy to deglaze a skillet after cooking Pork tenderloin a piece of protein = instant sauce. (PS “Deglaze” simply means simmering a liquid in a skillet to get the flavor of the brown stuck-on bits into the sauce. Fancy word, simple in reality!)

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Try this Pork tenderloin with creamy marsala sauce recipe. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb / 500g pork tenderloin (Note 1)
Creamy Marsala Sauce
2 tbsp butter (salted or unsalted)
5 oz / 150g mushrooms , sliced (I used Swiss Brown)
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots or onion
1 garlic clove , minced
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup / 125 ml marsala (Note 2)
2 cups / 500 ml chicken broth , low sodium
5 tarragon leaves (optional) (thyme is also lovely) (Note 3)
1/4 cup / 65 ml cream

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 200C/390F.
2. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper.
3. Heat oil in an ovenproof skillet over high heat. Sear on all sides until nicely browned.
4. Place in the oven for 15 minutes for the faintest blush of pink (pictured) or 18 to 20 minutes for no pink. See Note 4 for internal cook temperatures.
5. Remove pork from skillet onto a plate, cover with foil and set aside in a warm place while you make the sauce.
6. Creamy Marsala Sauce
7. Melt 1 tbsp butter in the same skillet over high heat. Cook mushrooms until browned, then remove.
8. Reduce heat to medium high, melt 1 tbsp butter,. Add onion and garlic, cook for 2 minutes or until onion is softened. Add flour and mix.
9. Add marsala, cook until mostly evaporated (about 1 minute). Add tarragon and chicken broth, whisk until dissolved. Bring to simmer and cook until the liquid reduces by half – 3 to 5 minutes.
10. Add cream and mix, then return the mushrooms and pork into the skillet as well as juices pooled on the plate. Simmer for 1 – 2 minutes until the sauce thickens into a thin gravy consistency (it will thicken more as you serve).
11.Transfer to serving platter with the gravy on the side or poured over the top. Serve with mashed potatoes of course!! (Here is my Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes recipe)

PORK TENDERLOIN WITH CREAMY MARSALA SAUCE
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Keto Friendly Creamy Tuscan Chicken Casserole

Keto Friendly Creamy Tuscan Chicken Casserole

tuscan chickenWe’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:

Ingredients:

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

Procedure:

Melt Butter in an oven safe frying pan – cast iron pans work great

Sauté garlic

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

Serve hot with salad or over pasta

 

 

 

Keto Friendly Creamy Tuscan Chicken Casserole
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Quick and Delicious Cheeseburgers

Quick and Delicious Cheeseburgers

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!

 

cheeseburgersIngredients:

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.

Procedure:

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

cheeseburger

4 Easy Halloween Dinner Recipes

4 Easy Halloween Dinner Recipes

Image from Woman’s Day

Halloween night is always hectic in my house.  I always make something quick and easy for dinner so the kids can get dressed and head out for some trick-or-treating before it gets too late.

I also look for recipes that aren’t just quick and easy clean up should be quick too.  I sure don’t want to come home to a sink full of pots, pans, and dishes after spending a couple of hours trekking thru the neighborhood toting bags bulging with the kids’ Halloween haul!

I’ve found 3 easy to make recipes I thought we’d try one of them this year, it will be a change from the plain meals we usually throw together.

This Jack-O-Lantern Tamale Bake from Woman’s Day uses boxed cornbread and takes less than an hour to make.
For recipe click here!

Image from Country Living

This Baked Stuffed Pumpkin from Country Living is a great way to use those small pumpkins.

For recipe click here!

 

 



 

 

Image from Love and Olive Oil

Everyone loves stuffed pasta.  Try these Pumpkin and Ricotta Stuffed Shells by Love and Olive Oil for a filling Halloween meal.

For recipe click here!

 

 

 

 

 

Image from Allrecipes.com

Stuffed peppers are always filling and easy to make.  Using orange bell peppers with pumpkin faces make great Stuff Jack-O-Lantern Peppers.

For recipe click here!

 

 

Spicy Eggplant with Minced Pork

Spicy Eggplant with Minced Pork

 It has been several months since I’ve cooked anything. Literally, MONTHS. You’ve probably noticed that for the past few months I’ve only been blogging about restaurants (compare my “Dining Out” page versus my “Cooking” or “Baking” page lol).

I totally miss cooking though (and baking). I usually go on a hiatus when its close to exam time, and recently, my hectic work schedule also played a factor. I’ve traveled quite a bit too during the summer, so that’s another reason. Oh and another reason would be that I only get to cook when I’m over at my boyfriend’s place during the weekend (usually Sundays at that). Anyway, those are all the reasons. I have no idea why I feel the need to explain/justify myself but nonetheless, last Sunday, I decided it was time to get my “cook on” again.

One of the dishes I made last Sunday was this Spicy Eggplants with Minced Pork (魚香茄子) from Christine’s Recipes. I totally love her blog. Why? Because she has many authentic Chinese dishes with recipes that are written in ENGLISH, which is VERY IMPORTANT TO ME =). I’ve been following her blog for quite a while now and there are so many dishes I want to try to make from her site.

The name of the actual recipe on her blog is “Spicy Eggplant with Minced Pork in Clay Pot”. I do not own a clay pot (nor do my boyfriend) so I made do with just a regular pot, and left out the “Clay Pot” part from the title of my post.

This Spicy Eggplant with Minced Pork dish has always been one of my favorite Chinese dishes because I love eggplant (only the thin, long Chinese eggplants though) and spicy food. The combination of sauce, the spiciness, and the soft eggplants in this dish just makes it so appetizing, especially with rice! This is very dangerous thought because you may end up eating many many bowls of rice .

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Click here Spicy Eggplants with Minced Pork  recipe

Ingredients

450 gram eggplant
170 ram minced pork
1/2 Tbsp ginger, finely chopped
1 Tbsp minced shallot
1 Tbsp garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp chili bean sauce (available at Asian stores)
Water, adjust while cooking
Marinade

1 1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp water
Pepper, to taste
Seasoning
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp oyster sauce
2 tsp water
sesame oil, to taste
pepper, to taste

Thickening
1 tsp cornflour
2 Tbsp water

Method
1. Rinse eggplant. Trim and julienne.
2. Soak in water with a bit of salt dissolved for a while. Drain well.
3. Marinate pork mince for 20 minutes.
4. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a clay pot over medium. Sauté half of the minced garlic, shallot, ginger and chili bean sauce. Add eggplant and stir fry constantly. Also add hot water bit by bit all the way of stir frying. Don’t add too much water at a time, just add small amount to avoid burning or sticking to the bottom of clay pot. Coat the eggplant with sauce evenly, then add some boiling water to simmer until eggplants softened.

 

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Spicy Eggplants with Minced Pork
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