Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Oyster Stuffing

Two more days until the best excuse to stuff your face and nap with your whole family in front of a huge television with a muted football game. Yea, that happens!

Oyster Stuffing

And traditions can be wonderful, but this year, we are starting a few new ones around the Thanksgiving table. I combined culinary minds with both my Moms and came up with an amazing menu for Thursday:
  • Deep fried turkey
  • Roasted turkey (brined)
  • Gravy (regular and gluten free)
  • Stuffing
  • Oyster stuffing (recipe below)
  • Roasted garlic smashed potatoes
  • Bourbon bacon Brussels sprouts
  • Sweet potato salad with maple dressing
  • Green bean casserole
  • Rolls (regular and gluten free)
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Chocolate chess pie
  • Apple pie (gluten free)
  • Pumpkin trifle
  • Cherry torte

Even though we have several new dishes around the table this year, we always stick to our traditional stuffing recipe - oyster stuffing. I often find myself having to explain this phenomenon to people around me.

Oyster Stuffing

My Dad grew up at the beach, so seafood was always a part of his life. Naturally, I grew up eating a lot of it during family get-togethers, so adding oysters into the stuffing was only normal. The Hubby was a little thrown by this (remember, he comes from the Midwest). So this year, we will have two types of stuffing - one with oysters, and one without.

Onto the goodness...Fall is oyster season, so they shouldn't be too hard to find. You can be chef extraordinaire and get fresh oysters and shuck yourself, or be lazy like me and buy them in a jar at Whole Foods. Hey, no judgement here, I have lots of cooking to do on Thursday!

Oyster Stuffing

Oysters in their natural juice are the best, since a little of the juice makes the stuffing even better. Unfortunately for this test run, the ones we bought were cleaned and stripped of all their saltiness.

I asked my Mom to go through the recipe with me since she has made it MANY times and watched my Grandma make it year after year. We decided to try a gluten free one as well. I am happy to say that Mom and I successfully created a gluten free one that we plan on making Thursday!

Oyster Stuffing

For the sake of tradition and this amazing Thanksgiving side dish, the recipe below is for the regular version. Grandma always used Pepperidge Farm Herbed Stuffing mix, so that is what we use year after year. Why mess with an amazing thing!

Also, we usually buy our oysters the day before (or day of if possible) so they are fresh, fresh! Depending on the size of the oysters, most of them should be cut in half (easily done with scissors). Careful because they are slippery little suckers!

Oyster Stuffing

Oyster Stuffing

Makes: 8x8 pan
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35-45 minutes

1 package seasoned stuffing cubes (Pepridge Farm is the best) - about 6 cups
3/4 cup celery, chopped
3/4 cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon dried sage (can reduce if you don't like this flavor)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 to 2 1/2 cups turkey or chicken broth, warmed
1/2 pint oysters in juice
Bastings from roasted turkey (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F. If you don't have turkey bastings, grease an 8x8 baking dish. Start by adding the stuffing cubes to a very large bowl. Stir in the onion, celery, poultry seasoning, sage, salt and pepper. Pour in half of the broth and mix with your hands until the cubes start to soften. Mix in the oysters and about 1 Tablespoon of the oyster juice if salted. If roasting a turkey, add in about 1 Tablespoon of the bastings here. Mix in the remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, until the desired consistency is met.

It should be moist, with no standing liquid in the bowl. I always purchase an extra bag of stuffing in case I go overboard on the liquids (been known to happen). In this case, you can just add a few more stuffing cubes to soak up the extra liquid.

Once the stuffing is a mushy consistency and well combined, add this to the pan and press in. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the top is browned and the center is cooked through.

Oyster Stuffing

How I made this gluten free:
Whole foods has a 10-minute gluten free stuffing mix. We started with that, added hot broth to the cubes, veggies and spices and let this sit for about 10-15 minutes. Then mixed it up with our hands and added in the oysters. IT WAS AMAZING!! Nice work Whole Foods

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Best Pumpkin Pie

It's Thanksgiving Week!! Nom nom!!

This year is especially amazing because for the first time since Ryan and I have been together (thats almost ten years), we have our parents all together in the same city! Well, technically, neighboring cities, but still, they are super close, which means NO traveling! My mothers and I are preparing a huge feast for Thursday, including two, I repeat, TWO turkeys! 

There are many amazing dishes about Thanksgiving, but the highlight for me every year is pumpkin pie. I just can't get enough of it! I am actually eating it right now as I write this post!

I love the creamy, spicy, silky pumpkin, loaded with freshly whipped cream. For the past several years, this has been my contribution to the family meal. Once I found this recipe, I never turned back. It is tried and true and delivers delicious dessert experience every time.

This pie recipe is based off of a local bakery, but I add more spice for a bolder flavor. I make this recipe at least three times a year!

Here is a sneak peak at our Thanksgiving menu (or what I like to call the Kettler/Hegele Project):
  • Deep fried turkey
  • Roasted turkey (brined)
  • Gravy (regular and gluten free)
  • Stuffing
  • Oyster stuffing (recipe coming soon)
  • Roasted garlic smashed potatoes
  • Bourbon bacon Brussels sprouts
  • Sweet potato salad with maple dressing
  • Green bean casserole
  • Rolls (regular and gluten free)
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Chocolate chess pie
  • Apple pie (gluten free)
  • Pumpkin trifle
  • Cherry torte

Yea, this will be a Thanksgiving to remember. Let the cooking begin :)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Not only do I give thanks for my wonderful family this year, but I am thankful for my readers and supporters. This blog is a special part of my life and it wouldn't exist if it wasn't for you! 

What are you cooking this Thanksgiving??

Pumpkin Pie

Makes: 9-inch pie
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50-60 minutes

1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin (or 1 can)
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (or gluten free all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
unbaked pie crust
whipped cream
bourbon (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325F and prepare the pie crust (scratch made or store bought). In a large bowl, whisk the pumpkin, eggs, sugar and sweetened milk. Once this is combined, stir in the butter.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, spices and salt until well blended. Stir this into the pumpkin mixture and pour into the prepared pie crust. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the pie is light golden on top and firm to the touch (set in the center when shaken). 

Cool the pie on a baking rack and serve at room temperature or keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve. I like to serve mine with a little extra sprinkle of cinnamon and bourbon whipped cream.

How I made this gluten free:
One of the challenges for me this year is to try and maintain my gluten free diet. Luckily my Mom and brother also have the same dietary restrictions, so several of our dishes will be GF friendly. 

For this pie, I was able to find a pre-made gluten free pie crust at Whole Foods. I then also substituted gluten free all-purpose flour in the recipe. It was still delicious and amazing.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

American Meltdown Love

A few weeks ago, I cheated, I mean I really cheated! Before you judge, hear me out. I was about to dive into a 5-Day Fall Cleanse, one that I knew would really challenge my food cravings. I love to eat, and anyone that knows me, understands that taking that away from me removes a small piece of my soul! Therefore, in order to mentally prepare myself for this cleanse, I decided to indulge as much as possible the night before (which you are not supposed to do according to Cleanse guidelines). 

Enter American Meltdown - the best food truck in Raleigh (or one of many amazing ones)! Hubby and I received word through the social mediasphere of a small food truck rodeo to celebrate a new restaurant opening. We had been trying to track down American Meltdown for a while and noticed they were on the list. This was our chance.

As we arrived in the pouring rain and walked up to the window of the truck, we noticed this shiny silver sign that listed a special, The Truffle Melt. There was no argument from the Hubby there (he has a soft spot for truffles). And yes, it was a $32 sandwich and worth every cent! As we waited anxiously for our food, we chatted it up with the owner and Head Melt Maker Paul. 

He pulled a whole truffle out, while he told us about his "truffle guy" and how it was a pricey risk for him to add this melt to the menu (paid off though). With his Japanese knife and cutting board, he started slicing away. The freshly sliced truffles went on top of sauteed Portabella mushrooms, sottocenere cheese and local bread. All to be served with their famous fried Brussels sprouts.

Delicious, amazing, luxurious, satisfying. This Melt was the perfect way to prepare for my 5-Day Fall Cleanse. It led me to a gluten guilt so bad, the cleanse was the only cure.

Check out their calendar and follow them on social media. It is worth hunting down this truck to taste one of their cheesy, bold, scrumptious melts!

Keep kicking ass American Meltdown.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fall Cleanse - Details, Recipes and Side Effects

I am happy to report that I just finished a 5-day Fall Cleanse!

Fall Cleanse - Details, Recipes and Side Effects

I was pumped and ready to cleanse. I did my research, made a very large grocery list, had recipes planned out...I was ready! 

From what I read, the cleanse sounded really positive! Building me up about how great it was for your body, how amazing you feel while doing it. Well, I'm sorry, but I can't sit here and honestly say that it was that invigorating the entire time. There were many moments during the five days that I found myself challenged, frustrated and out right uncomfortable. The process often made me (and the Hubby) question why I was doing this to myself. However, if you stick with it, I promise there is a reward at the end that makes all the pain and side effects worth it.

I actually started this post after two days of being on the cleanse. I quickly erased it realizing I was not in the best frame of mind. I was really irritable on Day 2, mostly because I was with friends who were happily eating and drinking the day away, while I was sipping my cucumber and fennel juice. Ugh, I was not a happy camper! Then Day 3 came and brought a full on migraine, accompanied by food cravings. By Day 4, I could tell the cleanse was working because my face broke out a little and my cheeks were bright red. I felt feverish, head-achy, exhausted and still hungry (and not to mention a strong urge to quit the cleanse)! Hence, why I waited to write this. 

Fall Cleanse - Details, Recipes and Side Effects
Apple, fennel, cucumber and kale juice - my favorite!

By the last day, I actually was starting to feel cleansed and back to normal. I quickly learned to excessively hydrate before going to bed (even though it meant two wake up calls in the middle of the night to pee). After a few lessons learned, I woke up on Day 5 feeling refreshed, rested, and amazingly, NOT hungry!! For the most part, I was very true to the cleanse, only cheating once (migraine medication on Day 3 had caffeine in it). But overall, I was very glad I did it and lost 5 pounds during the process!

The Cleanse

I followed a 5-Day Fall Cleanse suggested by Tasty Yummies, a version of an Ayurvedic cleanse, which focuses on restarting your system and cleansing the body of toxins. This type of cleanse is recommended when the seasons change, to prepare your body for the harsh winter ahead. Ayurvedic medicine centers around a healthy and functioning digestive system, so most of the recipes include natural ingredients that aid the digestive tract. Since I already have a sensitive digestive system, I was drawn to this cleanse because it was simple to follow and gentle on the system.

Fall Cleanse - Details, Recipes and Side Effects
Baby kale salad with roasted sweet potatoes, pomegranate seeds and walnuts.

Let's start with the foods I could have:
  • Fresh organic fruits and vegetables
  • Whole organic grains (brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, millet)
  • Beans and lentils (dry beans only)
  • Organic low-sodium vegetable stock
  • Fresh green juices
  • Green smoothies
  • Homemade nut milks
  • Chia seeds
  • Coconut oil, olive oil, ghee
  • Raw local organic honey (small amounts)
  • Detox-aiding herbal teas (ginger, dandelion, 
  • Fermented foods (cultured vegetables, kombucha, kefir water, etc)

And now for the foods to avoid:
  • dairy
  • eggs
  • refined sugar
  • alcohol
  • excess salt (anything besides sea salt)
  • caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate)
  • meat, fish and shellfish
  • soy
  • gluten
  • corn
  • peanuts
  • any preservatives, additives or synthetic chemicals
  • canned foods
  • frozen foods
  • processed foods
I know what you are thinking, how can you possibly find anything to eat. Thanks to Tasty Yummies blog, I was supplied with several recipes to start with. In addition to a few staple recipes, I selected two juice, two smoothie and two meal recipes to start with. These recipes, plus brown rice, ginger, lemons and lentils pretty much got me through the five days. 

Fall Cleanse - Details, Recipes and Side Effects
Pumpkin Chai smoothie with chia seeds got me through most mornings!

The Recipes

I started by making my own almond milk (to ensure there were no preservatives, additives or sugar). This was so simple that I have now officially added this to my weekly regimen. I have included a list of the recipes that I started with for the cleanse below. I found these had the least amount of ingredients and were simple to make. For me, the cooking part was great during the cleanse because it was a nice distraction from the side effects.

Raw Almond Milk by Tasty Yummies
Green Juice by Tasty Yummies (I used kale or spinach instead of swiss chard)
Digest Ease Juice (carrot and apple) by Tasty Yummies
Baby Kale and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Pomegranate by Tasty Yummies
Pumpkin Chai Smoothie by Tasty Yummies
Carrot Detox Soup by Not Quite Nigella
Pear Green Smoothie (used regular pears) by Tasty Yummies
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts (Roasted on 400F for about 25-30 min)
Crispy Kale Chips (used Kettler Cuisine Crispy Kale with less oil)
Short grained brown rice cooked in vegetable stock
Organic lentils cooked in vegetable stock

Fall Cleanse - Details, Recipes and Side Effects
Brown rice with lentils, kale, cherry tomatoes and organic balsamic vinegar.

A Few Tips

  1. Stay hydrated! Even though you are drinking fluids all day and not consuming alcohol, your body is working hard to flush the toxins out and can easily dehydrate (hence the headaches).
  2. Prep before the Cleanse! Be sure to spend the time to plan out meals around your schedule. Life can get hectic and the last thing you want is to be three days in and can't find anything to eat. I spent the day before the cleanse making almond milk, kale chips, lentils and soaking other beans. Then split up the recipes throughout the five days.
  3. Schedule plenty of sleep! Even though you have light workouts and you are just eating and drinking, this takes a lot out of your body. Plan at least eight hours every not and even some time for naps.
  4. Walk or Yoga every day! Avoid strenuous workouts.
  5. Splurge on organic! This helps to avoid any pesticides or other weird things on produce. Remember we are trying to rid your body of these things not put them in there!
  6. Cleanse with a buddy! I didn't have one and wish I did. I love my Hubby, but he was enjoying bacon and cheese while I was eating brown rice and lentils.
  7. Avoid live TV shows! Commercials will kill you! You don't realize how many food commercials are on TV until you are cleansing. Try to record shows or watch movies if you must be in front of the screen.
  8. Ease in, Ease out! This is important - try to eat as clean as possible the days leading up to a cleanse and then slowly introduce things back into your diet after a cleanse.
Fall Cleanse - Details, Recipes and Side Effects
Say "hello" to my ManaTea! This little guy holds loose tea and chills in my tea mug :)
I hope you all consider this cleanse as we get ready for Winter. Please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions or check out the information on Tasty Yummies blog. I am also happy to help put together a "meal" plan for you!

Good luck!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Kale

The other night it was cold, and rainy, and dreary. There is only one option in our house when the weather is like that...SOUP. I love making soups! They are so versatile, hearty and filling. And best of all, soups feed a lot of people. 

Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Kale

I started with a vegetable that was new to me in soup-land, cauliflower. I love this cruciferous veggie, but have never made it the star of a soup...until now. This recipe turned out fantastic! I got a little inspiration from Rosemarried, a new blog I have discovered (and become quite fond of). 

This soup was very easy and quick to make. Once I got all the ingredients in the pot, I decided to make kale chips to go on top of the soup instead of croutons. I made the kale chips a bit spicy so it added more flavors to the soup. After 30 minutes, I had the soup, kale chips and a side of Shaved Apple and Fennel Salad for dinner. Hubby gave me a "hell yeah, babe" and we were off to yummy-town.

Other soup topping options:
 - sautéed mushrooms
 - crispy bacon or pancetta
 - croutons
 - drizzle of truffle oil

Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Kale | www.kettlercuisine.com

Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Kale

Adapted from Rosemarried
Yields: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

1 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup white wine (Chardonnay is best)
2 small cauliflower, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme, plus extra to garnish
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 bay leaves
1 liter of vegetable stock
Parmesan rind
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)

Kale chips:
1 small bunch kale, stem removed and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch paprika

Preheat oven to 350 for kale. 

Melt butter over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the onions, garlic and shallots and sweat for 5 minutes, until translucent. Deglaze the pot with wine and stir well then add cauliflower, thyme and a pinch of salt. Cook for 2 minutes, while stiring. Add the stock, bay leaves and Parmesan rind and cover the pot. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the cauliflower is soft.

On a large cookie sheet, add kale and drizzle sesame oil (or olive oil) and salt and pepper over. Toss to coat with your hands and massage kale for 1-2 minutes, until flavors are well distributed. Bake for about 15 minutes, tossing 1-2 times while cooking, until crispy. Remove and set aside. Watch carefully as they will burn quickly.

Fish out the thyme and bay leaves from the soup pot. Using a immersion blender or regular blender, puree the soup. Stir in the cream if using and top with paprika and kale chips. Season with salt and pepper.