Brining Up a Storm!

I have recently rediscovered my love for all things brined. Seriously, it is the ONLY thing that I’ve found that majorly improves moistness, flavor, and tenderness of poultry like turkey and chicken. I’ve tried just about every method under the sun for keeping a turkey moist, but NOTHING compares to a good brine and a slow roast.

The amazing thing about a brine is that you can make the brine just about any way you want to and as long as your salt and water proportions are correct, it will turn out perfectly every time.
Recently, I’ve found my own little recipe that I love to use with turkey especially.

The basic recipe for any brine starts with 4 Tablespoons of salt to one Tablespoon of sugar, dissolved in one quart of liquid, adjust the recipe to provide enough brine to cover your meat completely in whatever container you choose to brine in. From there the possibilities are endless. You can use water, soda pop, juice, vegetable broth (low sodium or homemade), or any combination of these as your liquid, and you can use just about any kind of sugar except for confectioner’s sugar as your sweetness, including honey! Your salt can be just about any kind, including pickling spices if that’s your thing.

Then you can add whatever aromatics your little heart desires. I’ve found that the old Scarborough Fair song provides a great recipe for brining (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme), and for my brine I usually use a mixture of half water and half apple juice for an added sweetness and tang. You can add pepper or any other spice that sounds pleasing to you, and I’ve found proportions don’t seem to matter in this area as much as if you were actually putting the spices directly on the meat.

How long you brine your meat will depend on how large the piece of meat that you are brining is. We like a heavy brine, so I usually throw everything from a large turkey breast to a whole chicken to a whole turkey in for overnight, but most people would only do the smaller cuts of meat for 2-4 hours. It’s entirely up to you. If you are brining for just a short period of time, then you may want to bring your brine to a boil then cool it back down to room temperature before putting your meat into it b/c you’ll get more intense flavor that way in a shorter period of time. Me? I like to fix it and forget it till morning.

The only real downfall with brining is that you can only use it once, then you must throw the brine away b/c after all, raw poultry did touch it, and you don’t want that kind of bacteria hanging out in your kitchen for long! Do remember also to keep a closer eye on your meat when cooking a brined piece of poultry or pork, b/c I’ve found that a brined turkey will cook in half the time it would’ve normally taken! Definately an advantage, but until you get the hang of cooking brined meat, you might want to watch that you don’t burn it.

Now that I’ve said my piece about brining, tell me that this turkey breast that I brined then baked at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half doesn’t look like something out of a magazine…and trust me, it tasted more amazing than it looked!
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Moist Delicious Homemade Blueberry Muffin Recipe

Awhile back, I posted a request for a really great super-moist blueberry muffin recipe to my friends, and I found one, so I thought I’d share with y’all!

Ann’s Awesome Blueberry Muffins
4 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups sour cream
2 cups blueberries

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 24 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
2) In a large bowl, beat eggs. Gradually add sugar while beating. Continue beating while slowly pouring in oil. Stir in vanilla. In separate bowl, stir together flour, salt and baking soda.
3) Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternately with sour cream. Gently fold in blueberries. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups.
4) Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Makes 24-30 muffins.

The only thing I did different was to take a couple Tablespoons of the flour and roll the fresh blueberries in it so that they didn’t spread out and make purple batter, and saved a few blueberries out to place 1-3 on top of each muffin right before they went into the oven. Other than that, followed the recipe exactly and here’s what I came up with:
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And this is what I got for trying to garden and forgetting about my last batch of muffins, lol:
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Even the overdone ones were still good, though!

Published in: on May 15, 2008 at 1:55 pm  Comments (46)  
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How to Make Awesome Homemade French Fries…

just like your favorite fast food chain’s! Recently, there has been some discussion about the best way to make homemade french fries that are crispy and yummy just like they make at the restaurants, so I thought I’d share my method. First, the recipe:
Crispy Homemade French Fries
1/3 cup white sugar
2 cups cold water
2 large russet potatoes – peeled, and sliced into 1/4 inch strips
6 cups vegetable oil for frying
salt to taste (I usually use seasoning salt for a better flavor, but regular salt works, too!)

DIRECTIONS
In a medium bowl, dissolve the sugar in cold water. Soak potatoes in water mixture for 30 minutes. Remove from water, and dry thoroughly on paper towels.
Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Add potatoes, and cook for 2-3 minutes, yes, the potatoes will NOT be golden brown at this point, don’t worry. Drain on paper towels for at least 5 minutes. Once the fries are thoroughly drained, put them back in the deep fryer for another 3-4 minutes or until golden crispy and light brown. Dump them onto a paper-towel-lined container/counter and QUICKLY salt them to taste. The key is to salt them while the oil is still glistening on the fries, so that the salt adheres to the fries. Allow to drain one minute and then serve.
Tip:If you would like to make fries that can go from the freezer to the fryer just like storebought, simply fry them the first time, allow to drain and cool, place seperately (not touching) on a cookie sheet in the freezer overnight, then once solidly frozen, you can pour them into a gallon size freezer bag and put back in the freezer until you desire to serve them, days, weeks, or even months later. When you pull the fries back out of the freezer, do not thaw, simply fry them for 5-6 minutes in 375 degree oil, then salt and drain as you usually would!
Now the photo of my fries:
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Published in: on May 15, 2008 at 1:36 pm  Comments (67)  
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It’s Here…my beautiful Kitchen Aid is Here!

Have I mentioned how much I adore my family lately? Well, I do, and here’s just one more reason…

Since I was about 9 years old, I’ve wanted a Kitchen Aid Mixer. Since being married, I’ve wanted a professional style one because I do so much baking and cooking for my family. After one veeeeeery long wait, my husband and stepdaughter fulfilled my dream for Mother’s Day this year. I got a brand new 6 Qt. Professional Kitchen Aid Mixer in Cinnamon Red (the color I picked out myself)! So here are a couple shots of the new love of my life, lol. I’m still deciding on a name for her…any suggestions? Oh, and a bonus is that this KitchenAid came with a free Ice Cream Maker attachment, so you can bet I’ll be making some yummy ice cream this summer, too!

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Published in: on May 14, 2008 at 11:00 pm  Comments (6)  
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I’m sooooooo behind on blogging!

I apologize that I’ve gotten so far behind on my blogging. I have 2 weeks worth of pictures to upload and make into posts on my blog, so if my brain seems a little scattered over the next few posts, that’s why!

I did want to pop in and show y’all what has been keeping me from blogging lately…pure exhaustion! What started out as “Honey, let’s grow a garden this year!” has turned into, “Honey, let’s make a small farm out of our yard!” lol. We currently have 3 garden plots, a few containers here and there, and hubby is tilling up 2 more large patches of land to finish our planting in today.  Despite my exhaustion, I grabbed a couple pics of the garden yesterday, so here they are!

Strawberry plants that haven’t been moved to their permanent home just yet, but are growing beautifully!
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My strawberry plants that have been transplanted already to their forever home:
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And a close-up of one of the transplanted strawberry plants:
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The largest plot we’ve made so far-but the two hubby is doing today will be much bigger than this one, we only have limited space up front. Notice my oh-so-cute garden frog which is holding some bachelor buttons that should be coming up in a few days! This garden has from right to left, 2 rows of sweet corn, 1 row of potatoes, and 1 row of green beans.
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And my soooooo not straight row of lettuce…can you tell I was getting tired by this point? LOL
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Finally, our pond. We’re trying to get it clean again so we can add some fish or a frog or two, but it still needs some work. Later, once it’s clean, I’ll show you a pic of the pond with the little water-spitting frog that sits above it and spits water down into it, but right now Mr. Froggy is out in the garage waiting for clean water to spit!
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