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A Perfect Picnic

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Now that the weather is warming up and the flowers are starting to bloom, it’s time to take advantage of the great outdoors. There’s no better way to spend a beautiful spring day than with a picnic. These recipes can be prepared at home and easily packed up to take with you. So grab your cooler and picnic blanket, and enjoy these delicious spring recipes!

             
  • BLT Stuffed Eggs

    BLT Stuffed Eggs

                   

    Makes 12 servings

    6 large eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
    1/4 cup mayonnaise
    3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
    2 cherry tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
    1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
    Salt and pepper
    Additional crumbled bacon (optional)

    1. Halve eggs lengthwise. Remove yolks and place in a small bowl. Mash yolks with a fork and stir in mayonnaise, bacon, tomatoes, and parsley until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    2. Fill egg whites evenly with yolk mixture. Garnish with bacon, if desired. Store covered in refrigerator.

                 

             

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    Shrimp Po’ Boys

                   

    Makes 6 servings

    2 pounds large Cajun steamed shrimp
    1 cup mayonnaise
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 green onions, sliced
    1 tablespoon prepared mustard
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
    3/4 teaspoon Creole seasoning
    1 (18-ounce) package sub rolls, split
    1/2 cup butter, softened
    2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce

    1. Peel and devein shrimp; set aside.

    2. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and next 5 ingredients; set aside.

    3. Spread cut side of sub rolls evenly with softened butter. Broil roll halves, butter side up, 5 inches from heat for 4 to 5 minutes, or until golden. Spread prepared sauce evenly over toasted bread. Place shrimp and lettuce on bottom halves of rolls; cover with roll tops.

                 

             

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    Fruit Salad with Cream Cheese-Pecan Topping

                 

                   

    Fruit Salad with Cream Cheese-Pecan Topping

                   

    Makes 8 - 10 servings

    2 cups fresh blueberries
    2 cups cubed cantaloupe
    2 cups halved green grapes
    2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
    1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1⁄2 cup heavy whipping cream
    1⁄4 cup confectioners’ sugar
    1⁄2 cup chopped pecans

    1. In a serving bowl, combine blueberries, cantaloupe, grapes, and strawberries.

    2. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and lemon juice at medium-low speed with an electric mixer until mixture is smooth.

    3. In a separate medium bowl, beat cream at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until slightly thickened. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Gently fold into cream cheese mixture; spread over fruit. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Serve immediately.

                 

             

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    Spring Pea Salad

                 

                   

    Spring Pea Salad

                   

    Makes 4 - 6 servings

    3 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed
    1/2 cup shelled fresh English peas*
    1/4 cup olive oil
    3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
    1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    2/3 cup thinly sliced fennel
    1/3 cup thinly sliced radishes
    1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

    1. In a large saucepan, cook peas, in batches, in boiling salted water to cover for 3 to 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove peas, and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain.

    2. In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, chives, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add peas, fennel, and radishes, tossing to coat. Sprinkle cheese over salad. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

    Note: Thawed frozen English peas may be substituted for fresh. Add during the last 30 seconds of boiling time.

                 

             

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    Butter Meltaways with Pink Frosting

                 

                   

    Butter Meltaways with Pink Frosting

                   

    Makes 8 dozen

    1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 cup butter, softened
    3/4 cup cornstarch
    1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

    Frosting:
    1 cup confectioners’ sugar
    1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 to 1 drop red food coloring

    1. In a large bowl, combine first 4 ingredients. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until fluffy. Separate dough into 4 equal parts and roll each into a smooth log. Wrap each log in flour-dusted wax paper. Chill dough for at least 6 hours. After six hours, allow dough to sit out for 15 minutes to soften.

    2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease baking sheets.

    3. Slice dough into 1/4-inch slices and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake 10 minutes. Cool cookies on wire racks.

    4. In a medium bowl, combine all frosting ingredients. Beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Pipe or dollop a small amount on top of cooled cookies.

                 

             

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How to Poach an Egg

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You don’t need to be an expert to perfectly poach an egg. Follow these helpful tips to wow your guests!

imageGetting started:
Fresh eggs are the best for poaching. The fresher the egg, the less likely they’ll spread and you end up with leggy scraggly whites.

Crack your eggs into small ramekins so you have more control when you slip them into the simmering water. Add a few capfuls of white vinegar, and a pinch of salt to the water. The vinegar helps to firm up and set the egg whites so you don’t get those leggy strands of whites. Use a medium sized saucepan that is deep enough to completely cover the eggs in water- a depth of 5 inches will help create a pretty tear dropped poached egg. If you’re making a large batch of poached eggs, use a bigger pot, and a small pot for smaller batches. 

imageBring your water up to a very-very light simmer, really almost to the point right before the water starts to simmer. You do not want bubbles breaking through the surface. Use a large spoon to create a whirlpool in the water. Carefully slide your egg into the center of the whirlpool while making sure the yolk does not break. The whirlpool will help to wrap the whites around the yolk making the desired compact tear drop shape of a perfectly poached egg.

imageGently stir the water while the egg poaches. Work in small batches so the temperature of the poaching liquid doesn’t lower too much. Cook the egg for about 3 minutes, so the white is set and the yolk is thickened and warm.

imageRemove the egg from the water with a slotted spoon and drain off on a paper towel. Blot the egg dry and season with salt and pepper. If you’re entertaining, you can make poached eggs ahead of time by just reheating them in barely simmering water for 1 minute.

If you really want to impress the pants of your guests, the final step is watching Jamie Deen’s video on making blender hollandaise.

Now put it all this newly found knowledge together for a match made in food heaven, Paula’s Fried Green Tomato Egg Hollandaise. Yum!

Ode to the Hard Boiled Egg

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A carton of eggs can be one of those items that sits in your refrigerator half-used for too long, eventually suffering the sad fate of the garbage can.  But actually, eggs need not be thrown out; they have a relatively long shelf-life and so many delicious uses, one of which is hard-boiling them.  And in fact, older eggs are easier to peel!

Hard-boiled eggs can add a tasty, lean protein to tons of dishes, and they last up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge.  With recent studies re-evaluating the nutritional value of eggs, there is no need to feel guilty either; eggs are low in calories (averaging about 70 per egg), high in omega-3s, vitamins, and contain all 8 essential amino acids (proteins your brain and body need for optimal functioning).  Research has increasingly shown that cholesterol concerns are better directed towards red meat and fat sources in one’s diet.

Hard-boiled eggs can be cooked in batches at the beginning of a work week, and make a great stand-alone snack with salt and pepper, or other seasoning of your choice, or can be integrated into casseroles, pasta, salad, dressings, sandwiches, and more.  They go well with (you guessed it!) bacon, shrimp cocktail, smoked fish, pickles, red onion, capers, herbs, and green vegetables such as lettuce, asparagus, or leeks vinaigrette.  They are also really wonderful when smoked after boiling (known as “hard-smoked”) and or pickled (peeled and cured in brine with tangy ingredients such as vinegar, beets, onions, spices, beer, salt, and sugar).  And kids seem to eat them up, making them a great after-school quick-fix.

If you could use some technical improvement, watch Jamie Deen’s Kitchen Basics video and follow these tips:
- Start the eggs in a pot of cold water and salt generously to draw out bacteria and ensure easy peeling
- Once they boil, turn off the heat immediately and let sit for 10 minutes (they are not to remain at a boil, which is why they are technically called “hard-cooked” eggs)
- Remove them from the water on time and, if you want an extra buffer against discolored yolks, submerge them in an ice-bath briefly so they cool faster
- Make sure to peel eggs as close to mealtime as possible so they stay fresher

Check out some of our favorite recipes for hard-boiled eggs:
Traditional Southern Deviled Eggs
Curry Pecan Deviled Eggs
Egg Casserole
Shrimp Salad Sandwich
Jamie’s Chicken Salad Sandwich
Macaroni Salad
Ham Salad
Georgia Cracker Salad
Giblet Gravy
Good Old Country Stuffing

Spring Cupcake Recipes

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Old-Fashioned Cupcakes

 

These cupcakes are timeless for a reason; with simple ingredients and a touch of vanilla, everybody enjoys them.

 

Lemon Poppyseed Cheesecake Cupcakes

Light with a soft lemon taste, these gingersnap crust cupcakes are perfect for a spring day! 

 

Blueberry Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes

These blueberry cupcakes are simply bursting with flavor.

 

 

 

Peach Tea Cupcakes

Infused with Earl Grey Tea, this dessert is perfect to eat when you’re catching some sun!

 

 

Corrie’s Carrot Cupcakes

If you enjoy carrot cake, look no more. These yummy spring cupcakes are pretty and sweet!

 

 

 

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Nothing beats a really good red velvet cupcake!

 

Easter Brunch

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  • Pork Tenderloin with Root Vegetables

                   

    Treat your guests to this savory combination of pork and veggies.

                 

             

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    Cornbread, Leek and Bacon Pudding

                   

    Celebrate your Sunday with a delicious morning meal! Crumbly cornbread toppled off with our favorite breakfast ingredients!

                 

             

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    Ham and Chutney Hungry Brothers Biscuits

                   

    Warm and flaky, these biscuits will fly off the table!

                 

             

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    Paula’s Fried Green Tomato & Egg Hollandaise

                   

    Tasty eggs dripping with hollandaise sauce and a warm green tomato to soak it all up.

                 

             

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    Asparagus Quiche

                   

    Simple, clean, delicious and great for your spring or Easter brunch.

                 

             

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    Easy Lamb Meatballs with Cucumber Dill Dipping Sauce

                   

    Add these tasty appetizers to your Easter menu, and take your taste buds to whole new level of, “Yum!”

                 

             

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    Carrot Souffle

                   

    Impress your loved ones with this Easter-friendly and surprisingly easy to make soufflé.

                 

             

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    Apple Raisin Muffins

                   

    Partner these sweet raisin-filled muffins with a good cup of morning coffee.

                 

             

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Basket-Filling Treats

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Kids young and old, will love seeing these adorable sweets in their baskets come Easter. They take a little time to make, but the results will bring big smiles to faces. Clear a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to create a few confections that are charming and tasty. The Easter bunny would be proud!

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COTTONTAIL CONES

Makes about 1 dozen cones
1 (5-ounce) package waffle cones
1/2 (24-ounce) package vanilla-flavored candy coating, melted
2 (3.5-ounce) packages cotton candy
Gently break off top of waffle cones to make mini cones. Dip tops of cones into melted candy coating to coat top one-fourth of cone; place, pointed end up, on parchment paper to dry. Place cotton candy into and on top of prepared waffle cones.

Note: Dipped waffle cones can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 month. Cotton candy can be found on the candy aisle at many grocery stores. We used Keebler® waffle cones.

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EASTER BONNET COOKIES

Makes about 2 dozen bonnets
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup prepared cake frosting
Butter mints
Lemon Coconut Macaroons (recipe follows)
Garnish: Candied Lemon Zest (recipe follows), flower-shaped decorative sprinkles

In a large bowl, combine butter, and sugars. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add egg, zest, and vanilla, mixing to combine.

In a small bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed, until smooth. Divide dough into 2 balls, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1⁄4-inch thickness. Cut with round, fluted 2-inch cutters, and place cookies on prepared baking sheet. Chill cookies for 15 minutes before baking.

Preheat oven to 350˚.

Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let cool on pans for 2 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Spread a very small amount of frosting (this will act as an adhesive) onto middle of cookie, and top with a butter mint. Spread a small amount of frosting onto butter mint; gently press a Lemon Coconut Macaroon onto butter mint. Garnish with Candied Lemon Zest and flower-shaped decorative sprinkles, if desired.

Note: Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month. We used Lammes Assorted Sherbet Mints (butter mints). They can be purchased at specialty food stores or at lammes.com. We also used Matisse Decoratifs (flower-shaped decorative sprinkles). They can be purchased at fancyflours.com. You can use licorice instead of Candied Lemon Zest to form ribbons on bonnets, and you can also attach macaroons to cookies using pastel-colored frosting. Pipe frosting in a circle in the middle of cookie using a star tip, and then press macaroon onto frosting to attach.

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HOP-ALONG MARSHMALLOW BUNNIES

Makes 8 bunnies
1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon French vanilla extract
1 teaspoon raspberry extract
1/8 teaspoon red food coloring
2 (14-ounce) bags pink candy melts
1/4 cup all-vegetable shortening
2 (1-ounce) squares bittersweet baking chocolate, melted
2 (1-ounce) squares white baking chocolate, melted White nonpareil sprinkles

Lightly spray a 13x9-inch glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, place cold water. Sprinkle gelatin over water, and let stand for 5 minutes to soften.

In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, hot water, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 240˚ on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, and add gelatin mixture, whisking to combine; set aside.

In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. With mixer running, slowly add gelatin mixture in a steady stream. Add extracts and food coloring; continue beating for 10 minutes.

Pour marshmallow mixture evenly into prepared baking dish. Cover marshmallow with a piece of parchment paper sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Chill for 8 hours or overnight.

Remove parchment paper, and invert marshmallow onto a cutting board. Using a 4-inch bunny cutter, cut bunnies from marshmallow, reserving scraps for Confetti Cereal Bars, if desired. Place bunnies on a parchment-lined pan, and freeze for 30 minutes.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine candy melts and shortening. Melt according to package directions; cool slightly. Using a slotted spoon, roll chilled bunnies in melted candy melts. Place on parchment paper to dry. Once dry, decorate bunnies as desired with melted chocolates and white nonpareil sprinkles.

Note: Hop-Along Marshmallow Bunnies can be wrapped tightly and stored in the freezer for up to 1 month. Allow bunnies to come to room temperature before serving. We used Wilton candy melts. They can be purchased in the cake decorating section of craft stores and at wilton.com.

For more delicious recipes, subscribe to Cooking with Paula Deen magazine today!

An Easter Filled with Bunnies and Blessings

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Easter has always been a special time for me. When my boys were young, we’d dress up and go to church and then go out to eat a big breakfast. They’d shovel the food in their mouths because they wanted to get home to go through their Easter baskets. I just adore puttin’ together Easter baskets. It’s in my blood. See, my Aunt Peggy and Uncle George owned the Toy Houses in Georgia, and Aunt Peggy made every Easter basket they sold. And they were the most beautiful baskets. Every toy and chocolate bunny was arranged just so. She taught me how to put a basket together like no other—the kind that children never forget.

Back when Michael and I were first dating, Easter was approaching and I remember asking him if his children ever had a beautiful Easter basket. He said, “Well, I always did the best I could—I put a bunch of candy in a basket.” I decided then and there that I was going make Michelle and Anthony, who were 16 and 19 at the time, real Easter baskets. As you know, impressing teenagers is no small task. I spent a bloody fortune. But it was so worth it when those kids lit up at the sight of their baskets overflowin’ with a lot more than plain ol’ chocolates and Peeps.

It gets difficult trying to outdo myself every year, but I think this Easter is going to top ‘em all. I’ve already got things picked out for my grandson Jack’s basket. There’s so much, I may need two baskets just to hold it all. And that’s not even the best part. See, I’m fixin’ to surprise him with some real live baby rabbits and chicks! Like all kids, he just loves animals. One of our favorite places to visit is Oatland Island Wildlife Center just down the road. They have all sorts of animals, like wolves, bison and even a cross-eyed possum. But Jack and I like the barnyard best of all. He pets the goats and bunnies and gets a kick out of me tellin’ the turkeys and pigs that I’m gonna cook ‘em up (funny thing is, they seem a little nervous when I come around).  Course, Jack’s parents told me I’m not allowed to give him anything that has a heartbeat, but I’ll keep the bunnies and chicks here in my chicken coop. That way, Jack and I can enjoy those precious little things together.

And of course, you can’t have Easter without an egg hunt. We get dozens of eggs straight from our coop and dye them the most vibrant colors. Oh my gosh, we have egg salad for days. But when you grow tired of that, I have a number of wonderful Easter recipes for you. Try my Boiled Egg Casserole, for a new twist on all of those boiled eggs that you’ll be bound to have. I like to keep my side dishes easy and fresh for Easter, like a true taste of spring, so I usually whip up something like this wonderful Corn and Asparagus Salad. And, just like the egg salad, I aways have leftover ham, which is perfect for my Ham Salad that Michael and I use in sandwiches, or just as a little snack! For dessert, everyone loves my Grandma Hiers Carrot Cake. For me, it’s a reminder of my childhood and how special family gatherings are. It also makes for a pretty focal point on your Easter table!

While I adore all the cooking and egg huntin’ that goes along with Easter, I never lose sight of what Easter is really about. My favorite tradition is going to a sunrise service on Tybee Island. I think the beach is such a spiritual place anyway. You know, standing on the shore under that big sky, you see God in all his grandeur. It makes me feel very small, but my heart feels as big as it ever has.

I hope y’all have an Easter just like mine—one that is chock-full of beautiful baskets, precious bunnies and countless blessings.


Get Easter Essentials from the Paula Deen Store >>>

The Deen Bros. Lighter Hash Brown Quiche

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The Deen Bros. Lighter Hash Brown Quiche

189 Fewer Calories
18 g Less Fat

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 (8-ounce) package cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup refrigerated shredded hash browns (such as Simply Potatoes)
1/2 cup cooked diced ham
1 cup reduced-fat (1%) milk
3 large eggs
1/4 cup half-and-half
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch ground nutmeg
2/3 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 9-inch round quiche dish or pie plate with cooking spray.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 – 8 minutes.  Add the potatoes and ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.  Spread the mixture into the prepared dish.

Whisk together the milk, eggs, half-and-half, scallions, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl until blended. Stir in the cheese. Pour evenly over the potato mixture.  Bake until the top is golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Difficulty:  Easy
Servings: 6

Original recipe courtesy Paula Deen: Hash Brown Quiche
Lightened Up recipe courtesy of The Deen Brothers and the Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Per Serving: 172 Cal; 13 g Protein; 7 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 3 g Mono Fat; 14 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 3 g Sugar; 151 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 436 mg Sodium; 132 mg Cholesterol

Spring Scrub Down!

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Time for a Spring Scrub-Down!

The need to clean hidden areas of your kitchen (think exhaust fan and garbage disposal!) comes around once a year just like tax time. Spring is a great time to tackle these tougher jobs, and with Paula’s tips, you’ll find most of the cleaners you’ll need in your fridge or pantry.

Ways to Clean with Baking Soda…
Mix it with warm water to clean the inside of the fridge or other appliances.
Blend 4 parts baking soda and 1 part Borax for a nonabrasive scouring powder.

Ways to Clean with White Vinegar…
Add 2 to 3 tablespoons to your dishwasher detergent to cut the grease on dishes.
Make a paste of vinegar and baking soda to clean a stainless steel sink.
Mix it with water, and run it through the coffeepot for a good inside-out cleaning.
Freeze vinegar in ice cube trays, and grind the cubs in the sink disposal.

Ways to Clean with Lemons…
Sanitize wooden cutting boards by rubbing them with lemon juice, then let them set overnight. Wash and rinse.
Use lemon juice on chrome faucets and appliances, then buff ‘til they shine!
Sprinkle the cut side of a lemon half with salt, and use it to clean the inside of copper cookware.
Cut a whole lemon in quarters, and grind it in the garbage disposal to disinfect and deodorize it. (Paula’s favorite!)

“I always keep plenty of lemons, vinegar, and baking soda in my kitchen because they pull double duty- I can cook or clean with ‘em!” - Paula

Freshen the Fridge
Paula says four simple steps make this big job more manageable.
1. Pull out all the food and throw away out-of-date items
2. Wash drawers and shelves, and then wipe down the interior with warm soapy water.
3. Use soap and bleach (and latex gloves!) to clean and sanitize the drip pan, if you have one, underneath the fridge.
4. Vacuum any coils in the back or underneath.

Grease Be Gone!
The grimiest cleaning jobs in the kitchen are the exhaust fan blades, housing, and filter; underneath the stop top; and the oven. For these jobs, Paula finds that the fastest way to cut the sticky mess is to squirt the surfaces with Greased Lightning, an all-purpose cleaner originally created to help mechanics mop up car grease. Just wear latex gloves, and grab a roll of paper towels to wipe away grease. Then wipe with a damp sponge and dry.

Cleaning with Ketchup?
Rubbing ketchup on dirty copper-bottomed pots will restore the shine.

Need more kitchen help? Subscribe to Cooking with Paula Deen Magazine today!

Paula’s Recipe Swap and Photo Challenge Week Four Winners

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My, oh my, y’all! This had to be the BEST week yet of our Recipe Swap and Photo Contest. My friends at Springer Mountain Farms and I are just so overwhelmed by all of the delicious recipes you all have sent it. It’s been amazing to go through them all!

This week might have been my favorite week. I mean, who doesn’t love a good slow cooker recipe? They’re super easy to do, and really easy on your budget. This week’s winners were just that, and I know that your family will love these recipes!

This week’s First Place winner is Angie Sutton for her Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chili Chicken. Her recipe is so easy, anyone can do it, and I know you’re going to love the taste! Save this one in your recipe files to add a little bit of spice to your weeknight dinners. Angie has won an autographed copy of Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible and a set of Paula Deen cookware.

The Runner Up for this week is Susan Krauss for her Sweet Potato Orange Chicken. Now here’s a recipe that’ll definitely dance on your tastebuds. Your friends and family will be asking for seconds for sure! Susan has won an autographed copy of Paula Deen & Friends: Livin’ It Up Southern Style

A huge thank you to all who entered this amazing contest! Stay tuned for more to come!

Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chicken Chili

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts
1 can (10oz.) diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 can (11oz.) white Shoepeg corn
1 can (15.25oz.) black beans, rinsed
1 packet (1oz.) dry ranch seasoning mix
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 package (8oz.) cream cheese

Directions:
In a slow cooker, place chicken breasts on the bottom. Dump in remaining ingredients in order. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours. Remove chicken breasts and shred with a fork. Replace shredded chicken in cooker and stir well. Offer sour cream to top it off and serve with fried tortillas.

Cook’s note: You may kick it up by using the hot version of diced tomatoes and green chilies and replacing corn with Southwestern style corn.

Yummy Sweet Potato Orange Chicken

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 chicken thighs, skin removed
2 poblano peppers
1 onion, cut into medium sized chunks (yellow is preferred)
2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed or chopped
2 heaping tsp. ground cumin
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup orange juice
1 tsp. salt
Stems from one bunch of cilantro, chopped finely
1 sweet potato
2 Tbsp. Tabasco Chipotle Sauce
2 green onions, finely sliced
Cilantro leaves to taste
Additional salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Heat olive oil in heavy pan, salt and pepper the chicken thighs liberally, then brown in pan, a few at a time, about 4 minutes on each side.  Remove chicken from pan and set inside the slow cooker.

While chicken is cooking, char the poblano peppers. Set aside to cool, then peel, remove the seeds and roughly chop. Cut into large chunks and nestle them against the walls of the slow cooker, next to the chicken.

Add onions and garlic to the hot pan and cook until softened just a little, loosening the chicken bits from the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the ground cumin and stir for about 30 seconds to release the flavor, then add the tomatoes, chicken broth, orange juice, salt, pepper (to taste) and cilantro stems. Stir and let it just come to a boil then pour on top of the chicken and sweet potatoes.

Cook on low for 5-6 hours.

Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and cover.  Use an immersion blender to blend everything left into a smooth sauce. (This can also be done in a blender, filled only half way with hot liquid to avoid the overflow.)

Stir in Tabasco Chipotle Sauce, season with salt to taste. Serve sauce under or over chicken and garnish with cilantro leaves and finely sliced green onions.

Cook’s note: I usually have enough sauce to use it as soup the next day. My husband doesn’t like cilantro but doesn’t taste it in the sauce and I leave the leaves off of his serving.

All About Leeks!

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Leeks are a great addition to almost any kind of savory preparation, from fish, vegetables, and vinaigrettes to soups, stocks, and stuffings.  Many countries have been using leeks regularly for centuries, but here in the United States, they are often passed over for a more standard member of their onion family.  Leeks’ reliable flavor, durability, and availability (different types can be planted depending on the season according to desired harvest time), are great reasons to integrate them into your repertoire.  There are varieties on the shelves almost year-round, and they offer similar vitamin and nutrient benefits as the rest of the onion family.  Though they might be slightly more costly and less powerful than their mighty yellow onion counterparts, they last a few weeks in the fridge and give subtle aromatic warmth—and pretty color—to a dish.

Here are some of our favorite ways to use leeks:

In soups (the most famous of which is probably potato-leek soup or Vichycoisse):
Lemon Tarragon Chicken Soup
Banana Coconut Soup

With proteins (shrimp and salmon are surefire hits, but they also go great with chicken and short ribs):
Shrimp and Grits
Paper Wrapped Anniversary Salmon

With corn (leeks are fantastic with polenta and other starches, and enhance just about any vegetable):
Cornbread, Leek, and Bacon Pudding
Roasted Cauliflower

And don’t forget, they can be braised as a stand-alone side, blanched and chopped into a salad dressing, or simply sautéed as a topping for meat or a dip, as in Artichoke Dip.

They also taste delicious with eggs and excellent fried, so try a morning omelet or bread them with potatoes for fritters!

Just make sure that you properly clean and trim them—their leaf structure makes it very easy for grit to get trapped between layers, so typically you will need to rinse off surface dirt, trim, and then rinse thoroughly again.  The white base and some of the lighter green parts are eaten, while the dark green tops and roots are trimmed. The edible parts can be halved or cut down before cutting into the shape desired for your recipe. 

Any green trimmings can be reserved to make components of a stock, such as part of a white mirepoix (a common base for a mild vegetable or fish stock) or tied with twine to bundle a fancy, pretty “bouquet garni” full of herbs.  This way, even if you are not directly eating the whole vegetable, you are not wasting it either! 

St. Patrick’s Day Recipes with a Twist

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St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, a day full of parades, celebration, Irish heritage, and all things green.  Also called the feast of St. Patrick, this is yet another holiday where the food holds center stage. 

This year Paula Deen’s test kitchen decided to spruce up our St. Patty’s Day menu.  Using the traditional ingredients and Paula’s recipes, we came up with a fantastic menu.  A twist on the traditional that your guests will be sure to love!

The meat is the center point of this delicious meal.  Traditionally it is corned beef, a cured and salted cut of beef that is braised over a long period of time.  Substitute this dish with Paula’s Pot Roast. Braised for hours in a crock-pot, this pot roast is delicious, tender and juicy.

And, now for the sides:  No St. Patrick’s Day dinner is complete without cabbage.  Paula’s country style fried cabbage is the perfect substitution for the blander boiled variety we are used to.  Cooking the cabbage in bacon fat takes the flavor to a whole new level!

We all know the Irish love their potatoes, but who wants plain old boiled potatoes when you can have buttery buttermilk mashed potatoes?  This dish is irresistibly creamy with an added richness from the buttermilk.

Paula’s honey lemon carrots are sweet and tangy, a perfect accompaniment to the rest of your meal.

You’ll definitely need something to sop up all the yumminess from your plate.  Skip the Irish soda bread this year and make a batch of Paula’s garlic cheese biscuits.  Flakey and cheesy, biscuits don’t get better than this!

So now that you have the basic meal down it is time for dessert.  You know Paula, she loves her grits, and she loves them so much she even puts them in dessert.  Her green grits pie is the absolute perfect dessert for St. Patrick’s Day.  Sweet, creamy and bright green it’s an absolute must at your party!  Really impress everyone and make a batch of homemade Irish creme liqueur to wash it all down with.

This St. Patrick’s day, have fun celebrate to your hearts content and fill your belly with Paula’s not so traditional feast!

Perfect Pasta Recipes

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  • Garden Full of Goodness Lasagna

                   

    This veggie-loaded lasasgna is packed with mushrooms, carrots, squash, and zucchini. Surely everyone at the table will be asking for seconds!

                 

             

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    Paula’s Italian Pasta Salad

                   

    A pleasing side dish and easy to make, add this pasta salad to your plate.

                 

             

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    Tomato Mac and Cheese

                   

    This mac and cheese is a cut above the rest, with just the right amount of cheese and a great mix of tomato.

                 

             

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    Three Meat Pasta

                   

    Feed even the biggest of bellies with this hearty pasta dish.

                 

             

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    Confetti Chicken Salad

                   

    Add a pop of color to your main dish with this wonderful side salad, which features a delicious amount of peppers, Italian seasoning, olive oil and rotisserie chicken.

                 

             

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    Tastes Like Lasagna Soup

                   

    Having a lazy night? This warm soup is a perfect blend of tomatoes, lasagna noodles, ground chuck and cheese.

                 

             

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    Dora’s Baked Spaghetti

                   

    Invite your friends over for this feast, starring Paula Deen seasonings – this spaghetti is out of this world, y’all.

                 

             

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    Walk Away Baked Spaghetti

                   

    With this basic pasta dish, you’ll have time for your family while cooking up an easy Italian night.

                 

             

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Savory Salmon Recipes

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  • Cedar Salmon with Wasabi

                   

    Tangy wasabi dip and cedar wood really kick up the flavor in this totally tasty salmon filet.

                 

             

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    Salmon Burgers

                   

    Change up your view on burgers! Hearty, delicious and a real crowd-pleaser, these burgers are sure to be fan favorite.

                 

             

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    Salmon Filets Over Couscous

                   

    Here’s a recipe perfect for date night – your special someone won’t believe how simple it is to make.

                 

             

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    Grilled Salmon with Key Lime Butter

                   

    Smooth key lime butter adds a bright and flavorful note to this tasty grilled salmon.

                 

             

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    Salmon Dip

                   

    Unexpected company? Whip up this lightening fast dip that will be scooped up in an instant!

                 

             

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    Paper Wrapped Anniversary Salmon

                   

    True to its name, we adore this recipe for a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary with your loved one.

                 

             

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    Pistachio Crusted Salmon with Lemon Cream Sauce

                   

    Crunchy pistachios and a tart lemon cream sauce are paired in a heavenly combination for this succulent salmon filet.

                 

             

Favorite Potato Salad Recipes

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  • The Lady’s Warm Potato Salad

                   

    You need more than one version of potato salad in your cooking repertoire. This warm version shows why.

                 

             

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    Skillet Fried Potato Salad

                   

    A new twist on a classic favorite.

                 

             

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    Sausage and Potato Salad

                   

    Hearty slices of kielbasa add a whole new layer of flavor to this potato salad recipe.

                 

             

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    Pink Potato Salad

                   

    The beautiful coloring from beets makes this potato salad almost to pretty to eat.

                 

             

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    Red Potato Salad

                   

    Want a filling side dish that’s ready in only 15 minutes? Try this potato salad for your weeknight meals.

                 

             

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    Roasted Potato Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

                   

    A homemade blue cheese dressing really fancies up this classic potato salad.

                 

             

Irish Coffee Brownie Cupcakes

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Start with an intensely coffee-flavored cupcake, hide a surprise brownie in the center, throw in a touch of whiskey for good measure, top with chocolate whiskey cream cheese frosting, and you’ve got Irish Coffee Brownie Cupcakes.  St. Patrick’s Day will never be the same!

Irish Coffee Brownie Cupcakes

Yield: 16 cupcakes

Brownie Ingredients:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt

Directions:
In a medium-sized bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Mix in eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
Mix in cocoa powder, flour, and salt until just combined.
Set aside.

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 cup whole milk
1 cup whole roasted coffee beans
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cup sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup whiskey
Brownie batter from above

Directions:

In a small saucepan on medium-high, heat milk and coffee beans until just boiling.

Remove from heat, cover, and steep for fifteen minutes.
Using a sieve, remove the beans from the milk and set the milk aside. You will only need ¾ cup of the milk, so it’s fine if some sticks to the beans during this process.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
In a separate medium-sized bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add eggs to the butter/sugar mixture, mixing until fully incorporated.
In a small bowl, mix together whiskey and ¾ cup of the coffee-infused milk.
Alternately mix wet ingredients and dry ingredients into the butter/sugar bowl, mixing until just combined.
Fill cupcake liners ¾ full with cupcake batter. 
Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of brownie batter into the center of each cupcake. 

Bake for 25 minutes or until cupcakes bounce back when lightly touched.

Frosting Ingredients:
8 oz cream cheese
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons whiskey

Directions:
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
Mix in powdered sugar a little bit at a time until fully combined.
Mix in cocoa powder and whiskey.

Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Use Wilton tip 106 for the piping style shown in the photos.

See more creative cupcake recipes here.

 

Stefani Pollack is the author of the popular cupcake blog, Cupcake Project. While she loves simple chocolate cupcakes, Stefani prefers creative cupcakes inspired by her favorite flavor combinations. She encourages her readers to branch out and experiment in the kitchen. Why cupcakes? They bring out the kid in us! Visit Stefani at cupcakeproject.com.

Savannah Style: A Green Dinner Party

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Lush and liveable, Savannah Style is not just a look or book, it is a lifestyle. A lifestyle I hope to bring into your home each month as I share a new Savannah Style Tabletop Inspiration with you here on pauladeen.com. Beautiful centerpieces, wonderful mixes of dinnerware, flatware and linens AND a Takeaway Tip or two that will leave you saying “Fabulous”! All the dining tables in this monthly series will be put together using handed down family treasures from the butlers pantries of our Paula Deen staff members as well as Paula’s own junkin’ finds. Add flowers from the garden and my hyperbolic fairy dust for a monthly tabletop inspiration…Savannah Style.

Savannah Style: A Green Dinner Party

My march table is set for a dinner Paula is hosting at her home over St. Patrick’s Day week. I wanted it to be lush with greenery, elegant and easy. Here are the ingredients I used:

China:
From the grandparents of Joshua Summers (husband of Paula’s Food Editor, Libbie). This green and gold pattern was brought to this country wrapped in handmade quilts in the late 1800’s and now is the everyday china of Josh and Libbie.

China Takeaway Tip:
Don’t put the good china in a closet only to be seen on Christmas Day. Admire it everyday when you use it. Josh told me he can’t help thinking about his grandmother, Reba, every morning when he makes a cappuccino and drinks it from her china cup and saucer.

Glassware, Linens:
Emerald Green Glasses and Natural Cotton Linens, Paula’s own

Napkin Rings:
Silk rope curtain tiebacks, repurposed

Florals:
Arrangements in polished silver urns brimming with calla lilies and zinnias of white, greens pulled from Paula’s backyard and hydrangeas cut from Michael’s brother Nick’s garden

Place card Takeaway Tip:
A fun and chic monogramed place card on a tiny 2X2 artist’s canvas painted green with a monogramed stencil painted over top in black and white craft paint. The canvas is sitting on a small artist’s easel spray painted in gold to match the gold rim of the vintage china. Canvas and easel both can be found at your local art supply store. A fun place card to keep and use again and again.

Brandon Branch is a playful Southern gentleman. His style is equal parts Yankee chic and Southern elegance all muddled together in a monogrammed mint julep cup. An invitation to one of his Savannah dinner parties is the equivalent to getting the golden ticket from Willy Wonka. Brandon holds the position of Design Director for Paula Deen Enterprises and serves as Paula Deen's Personal Assistant. Look for his newest book, co-authored by Paula Deen, Paula Deen's Savannah Style, available Spring of 2010.

Paula and I are thrilled about our new interiors book, Paula Deen's Savannah Style, releasing April 6th, 2010 from Simon and Schuster. Nearly a year in the making, it has been a labor of love for all three of us...Paula, myself and this jewel of a city we call home, Savannah.

Paula’s Recipe Swap and Photo Challenge Week Three Winners

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It’s been another delicious week with our Recipe Swap and Photo Challenge! Let me tell y’all, my friends at Springer Mountain Farms and I have been so impressed with all of your wonderful recipes. It’s so hard for us to choose just one winner and one runner up!

The last week’s challenge was Amazing Chicken Appetizers, and y’all sent it so many delicious recipes!

Our first place Winner is Diana Kostigen for her adorable Not Too Spicy Chicken Lasagna Petals with White Beans and Spinach! These cute little chicken bundles are perfect for entertaining guests and family members at one of your get-togethers.

The Runner Up for this week is definitely a close second! Everyone congratulate Andrea Aaron for her Easy Creamy Kickin’ Chicken Empanadas! These little puppies are definitely going in my recipe file, and I know you’ll love them too!

To learn more about this week’s challenge, check out the Contest Page!

Here are the recipes:

Not Too Spicy Chicken Lasagna Petals with White Beans and Spinach

Ingredients
½ onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
1 (15-oz.) can drained white beans
2 (15-oz.) cans petite cut tomatoes, drained
¼ c. chicken broth
2 cups fresh spinach
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon fresh nutmeg, grated
¼ teaspoon creole seasoning
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
24 wonton wrappers
1-1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions
In a large sauté pan, add olive oil and chopped onions and sauté until translucent and slightly caramelized.  Add in the chicken, beans, tomatoes, chicken broth, and spices.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat.  Remove bay leaves and add in spinach.  Simmer for about 10 minutes to wilt spinach.  Remove from heat.

Next preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray muffin pan with non-stick spray and set aside.  Take a small drinking glass and place on a stack of 6 wonton wrappers.  Cut around the glass to create circles.  Continue with the rest of the wonton wrappers until all are cut into circles.
Press one wrapper in each hole of the muffin pan.  Top all 12 with half of the chicken mixture (make sure to use a slotted spoon to not allow too much liquid in), and then half of the cheese.  Then repeat the layers with the rest of the 12 wonton wrappers, chicken mixture and the rest of the cheese.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until browned on top.  Serves 4.

Easy Creamy Kickin’ Chicken Empanadas

Ingredients
1 box pre-made pie crust (2 crusts)
1 (8 oz) tub spicy jalapeno cream cheese spread, at room temperature
1 cup rotisserie chicken, shredded (canned chicken also works)
3/4 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup real bacon bits
2 tablespoons diced sun-dried tomatoes
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 egg white, slightly beaten
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Unroll pie crusts on lightly floured surface.  Using a rolling pin, roll out dough until it is approximately a 12- inch circle.  Using a 4-inch cookie or biscuit cutter, cut 6 rounds out of each crust.

In medium bowl, stir together all remaining ingredients except for the egg white.  Place 1 slightly heaping tablespoon of cream cheese/chicken mixture in the center of each crust round.  Brush edges of crust with egg white.  Fold dough over the filling and press edges together with your fingers.  Place empanadas on lightly greased cookie sheet.  Using a fork, crimp edges to seal well.

Brush top of empanadas with egg white. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes.  Serve warm with ranch dressing, if desired.

Paula’s Recipe Swap and Photo Challenge Week Two Winners

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It was another delicious week last week as my friends at Springer Mountain Farms reviewed all of your amazing entries into the Recipe Swap and Photo Challenge. Last week’s challenge was Easy Chicken Weeknight Fixes… and let me tell y’all, I’ve got my menu planned for a month now thanks to you!

It was so hard to choose two winners, but there could only be one first place winner and one runner up. So, this week’s first place winner is… Drum roll please!

Patricia Stagich for her Stovetop Chicken Parmesan Rollatini. Her beautiful photograph and recipe just had my mouth watering, and I can’t wait to fix this up for Michael sometime this week. She’s won a brand new set of Paula Deen cookware, and a personalized, signed autographed of Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible.

This week’s Runner Up was Faye Wilkerson for her Cream Cheese and Chive Chicken Bundles. These chicken bundles are almost too adorable to eat! (But don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll love every bite!) Faye has won a personalized, signed copy of Paula Deen and Friends: Living’ It Up Southern Style.

To learn more about this week’s challenge, check out the Contest Page!

Here are the recipes:

Stovetop Chicken Parmesan Rollatini

Ingredients
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 (14.5) ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
5 or 6 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
Salt and pepper
4 thin chicken cutlets
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
6 slices mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions
Cook the broth, garlic, tomatoes and basil in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken on work surface. Sprinkle with the parsley and put one slice of mozzarella on each cutlet. Starting at the short end, roll up to enclose the filling. Secure with a toothpick.

Mix the parmesan and breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Put the egg in and another dish and beat until foamy. Dip the chicken rolls in the egg, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Refrigerate until ready to prepare.

In a cast iron skillet, melt butter and olive oil.  Fry chicken quickly to brown on all sides.  Remove to a plate.

Wipe out skillet and add sauce.  Bring to a simmer and return chicken back to the skillet.  Let simmer on low, covered,  until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken cutlets.

Serve with spaghetti.

Cream Cheese and Chive Chicken Bundles

Ingredients
6 boneless chicken breast halves
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup chives, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
6 slices of bacon
Salt and pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place chicken breast on plastic wrap; mist with a small amount of water; Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap; Pound flat; Repeat with other chicken breasts.

Salt and pepper chicken to taste.

In small bowl mix cream cheese and chives

Partially cook bacon.

Spread filling on chicken breast; roll-up; wrap with bacon; place in baking dish; dot each wrap with butter

Bake for 40 minutes or until chicken reaches internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Broil 5 minutes or until bacon is crisp.

Optional: You can create a sauce from the cream cheese drippings in the pan; create a sauce with the pan drippings with 2 tablespoons of whipping cream to smooth it.  An immersion blender works well; sauce will be smooth and frothy. Serve with the bundles.

Lovely Lemon Recipes

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  • Lemonade

                   

    Squeeze some fresh juice and enjoy this refreshing, classic beverage.

                 

             

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    Spiced Lemon Apple Cider

                   

    This cider is a great alternative to coffee and tea when you’re looking for something different in the mornings.

                 

             

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    Honey Lemon Carrots

                   

    A great side dish for just about any meal. Ready in a flash and the kids will love it too.

                 

             

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    Mini Lemon Pork Sandwiches

                   

    A bite-sized crowd-pleaser.

                 

             

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    Lightening Fast White Bean Dip

                   

    Whip this delicious dip up in a flash for unexpected drop-in guests.

                 

             

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    Crab Cakes

                   

    An easy-to-fix coastal favorite in under 20 minutes!

                 

             

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    Lemon Basil Chicken Salad

                   

    You won’t believe how easy it is to make this stunning presentation.

                 

             

What’s in Season: Cauliflower

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This fall, welcome cauliflower back into your kitchen: cauliflower.  Distinguished from its mostly green Brassica cousins like Brussels, cabbage, collards, kale, and broccoli, cauliflower is most commonly a creamy white, and is sweet enough to satisfy the starchy component in a meal in both texture and flavor (try our Mashed Cauliflower). Cauliflower is great for absorbing and complementing other flavors, such as curry and other spices, hints of browning from the cast-iron skillet or oven, good-quality olive oil, minced herbs, and chopped toasty nuts. 

Cauliflower is low-carb, low-fat, and offers many nutritional benefits, especially in colored varieties such as orange, which has tons of vitamin A.  If you’re on a health kick, simply wash, core, and trim a head of cauliflower down to its florets to boil or steam with a little salt and pepper. As with all vegetables, steaming retains more nutrients than boiling.

Cauliflower comes in beautiful purples, oranges, yellows, browns, and light greens, (sometimes called broccoflower).  We usually eat the florets, bite-sized pieces from the heads of the plants (called curds), which have been modified to form the tiny, ornamental flowers we know today. Though we have been cultivating this Mediterranean vegetable for centuries, it is still notoriously difficult to grow.  American farmers typically grow Northern European annuals, harvested from summer to late fall.  If you go to a fall or spring farmer’s market, you will likely see green and other colored varieties of mostly Romanesco types, recognizable by their pointy-tipped florets.

In the grocery store, make sure to look for firm, dense heads without spotting, and bright, spritely green leaves (sometimes grocers remove these, but they are protective and are a good freshness indicator).  Cauliflower is best stored in your loosely wrapped refrigerator for about a week.  It can also be blanched and frozen (save the stalks to add a sweet flavor to a vegetable stock).  Some recipes will recommend blanching cauliflower, as in our Marinated Vegetable Salad.

Cauliflower is a great candidate for sautéing, roasting, pickling, incorporating into larger dishes, or serving as part of a vegetable crudité platter with your favorite dip.

For some traditional cauliflower recipes:
Roasted Cauliflower
Leeks and red peppers, onto the baking sheet and into the oven as you make a fast mustard vinaigrette and walk away!

Spicy Penne with Cauliflower
Cauliflower is a great ingredient for pastas and gratins (loves cheese), or for legumes and whole grains like lentils and quinoa!

Cauliflower in soups:
Very Green Soup
Pureed with spinach and garlic – yum!

Apple Cider Butternut Squash Bisque
Featuring a great basic vegetable soup recipe template, with cauliflower or butternut squash as the main ingredient!

For that extra Paula kick, try these original, flavor-popping ideas:

Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Grated, cauliflower mixed with egg and cheese forms a tasty, easy, carb-less crust that’s so delicious, you won’t miss the flour!

In Meatloaf
Sauteed and folded into turkey meatloaf!

Valentine’s Day Menu

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Appetizer:

  • Phyllo Wrapped Asparagus

                   

    Start an intimate night with a crispy veggie that’s great for a table of two.

                 

             

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    Spinach Gruyere Puff Pastry

                   

    Entice your loved ones with this pastry: stuffed with mushrooms, Gruyere cheese, and spinach.

                 

             

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  • Main Dishes:

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    Foolproof Standing Rib Roast

                   

    Mouths will water and hearts will skip a beat when you serve Paula’s famous rib roast.

                 

             

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    Slow Cooked Roast with Creamy Herb Sauce

                   

    A first-class dish, ideal for candlelight; relish the flavor of rosemary with your sweetheart.

                 

             

  • Side Dish:
             

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    Oyster and Brie Champagne Soup

                   

    Warm your sweetheart’s mouth and heart with a sip of this romantic soup.

                 

             

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    Pink Potato Salad

                   

    A perfect companion for your main dish, add an edible pop of pink to your dinner table.

                 

             

  • Dessert:

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    Paula’s Sugared Rose Parade Layer Cake

                   

    Roses are red and this cake is covered with them too! Sugared roses are an impressive addition to this out-of-this-world cake.

                 

             

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    Wine Spritzers

                   

    Take it easy with this light spritzer. You can use any type of wine with it, and you’ll love the bubbles!

                 

             

Sweet Chocolate Bowls

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Get the Chocolate Bowl Recipe here!

Are you looking for a sweet treat to make your Valentine this year? Look no further because Paula has crafted up the perfect little bowl of love! This quick and easy project will dazzle your kids with it’s “magic” or be the perfect surprise sweet ending to a romantic meal.  These whimsical chocolate bowls can hold ice cream, berries and cream, pudding, candies, anything that you or your sweet heart desires!

image1. First get your set up ready, line a sheet tray with parchment paper or wax paper. Blow up your balloons, being careful not to blow them up too big, since the tops of them will ultimately be the size of your bowls. It’s wise to use smaller thicker balloons so you can get more bowls out of your batch of chocolate. We used balloons we purchased at the local grocery store.

Add half your chocolate to a bowl set over simmering water, making sure the bottom doesn’t touch the water or it will seize up, and stir until it’s completely melted. Remove from the heat, add the remaining chocolate bit by bit, and stir until all the chocolate is smooth and melted. This step will help to temper the chocolate, which makes the chocolate firm up and give it snap. Let the chocolate cool for 8-10 minutes, you don’t want the chocolate so hot that the balloons pop!

image2. Make the base of your bowls by spooning about a half tablespoon of chocolate onto the prepared sheet tray and swirling into a disc shape. We found that 6 discs per sheet tray worked well.

 

image3. Hold the balloon by the knot and dip into the bowl of melted chocolate. Swirl the balloon around to make a nice even coat.

 

image4. Let the excess chocolate drip off into the bowl and place the balloon on one of the chocolate discs.

 

image5. You may need to hold for a few moments to make sure it sticks. Repeat with the remaining balloons and chocolate.

 

image6. Place the whole sheet tray into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.

 

image7. When the chocolate is completely set, use scissor to gently make a whole in the top of the balloon under the knot. Be careful not to suddenly pop the balloon because the bowl could break from the force. It’s best to slowly let the air out so the bowl remains in tact.

 

image8. Repeat with the remaining balloons then peel away all balloon remnants from the bottom of the bowls.

 

Sweet Berry Treats

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  • Chocolate-Cherries Alaska Bomb

                   

    Leave a definite impression with your guests as you serve this chilled, foamy, cherry ice cream cake with a flavorful chocolate taste.

                 

             

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    Paula’s Cherries Jubilee

                   

    Sweet cherries with vanilla ice cream and a hint of brandy…oh my, celebrate your day with this!

                 

             

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    Slow Berry Cobbler

                   

    Rejoice in this mixture of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, it will absolutely be a yummy ride!

                 

             

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    Lemon Berry Trifle

                   

    Light with a hint of lemon and endless amounts of berries on top, this is a true delight for those who try it.

                 

             

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    Lattice-Top Blackberry Blackbird Pie

                   

    Rich tasting and an outstanding classic, this blackberry pie is a pleasure to eat.

                 

             

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    Cream Cheese Tart with Raspberries

                   

    Small yet fulfilling, compliment a cup of coffee or tea with this creamy raspberry tart.

                 

             

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    Strawberry Rhubarb Ginger Crisp

                   

    Use that rhubarb and those strawberries to create a unique decadent dessert that will fulfill any sweet tooth!

                 

             

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    Blueberry Tart

                   

    Blueberries galore and freshly baked, this is one tart that will please a crowd.

                 

             

Life is Like … Well, You Know

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With Valentine’s Day less than a week away, y’all might be feelin’ pressure to come up with some big romantic gesture for someone you love.  And while it’s too late and too expensive to book a trip to Bali or hire Barry Manilow to make a house call, it’s never too late to show someone how much you love and appreciate them by giving ‘em something homemade from the heart.  It doesn’t need to be a big production; sometimes the simplest gestures are the sweetest ones.

This doesn’t mean doing a last-minute dash to the grocery to pick up a box of chocolates, like the ones with the little maps inside to let you know what you don’t want to eat.  Store-bought chocolates just say “re-gift”—not exactly the best way for someone to feel the love.  Of all the days, Valentine’s is just not the time to be settling for less.  The whole point of the holiday is to find a way to say “I love you” without even having to move your lips. 

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Whatever you may have heard about the complexities of candymakin’, rest assured that these Valentine’s Day chocolates are so easy.  “Simple and sweet” is the best way to describe these handmade boxes of chocolates that I’ve put together.  All you really need is your favorite brand of chocolate and some inspiration.
 
I found my inspiration in dozens of darling little molds used to make chocolate pops.  I fell in love with these lips that I wrapped tightly in bright red foil.  All I had to do was melt the chocolate, pour it in the mold, let it harden back up and pop it out.  I also made “nut clusters” by mixin’ in my favorite nuts and spooning it into festive paper liners in a mini-cupcake tin.  Once the chocolates set, I put them in a decorative container with my Valentines’ names written on them, keeping in mind that while presentation isn’t everything (taste is!), it still counts for something.

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Of course, no box of chocolates would be complete without a couple pieces of homemade fudge.  My simple recipe makes fudge that will just melt in your mouth.  And forget about drawing a map for your box of chocolates.  Your loved ones won’t be discriminating—they’ll eat every single morsel.

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You know, Valentine’s Day and a box of chocolates go hand in hand.  Like two people madly in love, they can’t be pried apart—not even with a crowbar, y’all.  Likewise, you won’t be able to pull these wonderful chocolates out of the hand that receives ‘em, so be sure stash away a few for yourself!  The cook deserves some lovin’, too.

*You can find similar supplies in your local craft stores!

Make your own homemade chocolate box with these recipes!
Sweet Dreams Chocolate Fudge Candy
Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies
Devil Drop Cookies
Old Time Chocolate Fudge
Salted Caramel Brownies

Sweetie-Pie Pop How To

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Candy is dandy but if you want to be a real sweetheart this Valentines Day, say “pie love you” with these cute sweetie-pie pops. Your special someone will be blown away by pie on a stick!

Step 1:
First gather all your materials. You’ll need ready made pie dough, flour, 1 heart shaped cookie cutter, strawberry jam, lollipop sticks (easily purchased from your local craft store), egg wash, a pastry brush, a fork, and some turbinado sugar.

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Step 2:
Roll out your pie dough on a floured work surface and punch out an even number of hearts. You can rework the leftover scraps after the first round then reroll, and cut out more hearts from the scraps.

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Step 3:
Evenly space half the hearts on a parchment lined sheet tray and add just about 2 teaspoons of jam to the center. You don’t want to overfill or the jam will escape during baking.

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Step 4:
Place the lollipop sticks on the hearts with about ½ inch of the stick pointing towards the center. Cover with another heart cut out.

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Step 5:
Use the tines of a fork to seal the edges.

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Step 6:
Brush the tops of the hearts with an egg wash (we used 2 beaten eggs with 1 tablespoon of water) and sprinkle lightly with turbinado sugar for some extra sweetness, crunch, and shine. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

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Pie pops are a great project to make with kids! They adore punching out the hearts and filling them with jam.


Happy Valentines Day!

 

The Deen Bros. Lighter Mocha-Filled Eclairs

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291 Fewer Calories
12 g Less Fat

Ingredients:
Cream Puff Dough:
1 cup water
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Pinch salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 egg white

Filling:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup frozen thawed fat-free whipped topping
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

To make the cream puff dough, bring the water, butter,  and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the flour all at once, and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the eggs and egg white, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until the dough is smooth and shiny. After each egg is added, the dough will separate, but with continued beating, it will stiffen and become smooth.

Spoon the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheet into twelve 3-inch strips, spacing the eclairs about 1-inch apart. Bake until golden, 30 – 35 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet about 5 minutes. With a serrated knife, split the eclairs in half lengthwise. With your fingers, pull out some of the soft dough from the centers. Transfer the eclairs to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, whisk together the granulated sugar, flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the milk and egg and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Do not boil or the mixture may curdle. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips and vanilla. Scrape the filling into a medium bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming; refrigerate until the custard is cooled completely, about 40 minutes. Gently fold in the whipped topping.

Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the filling onto the bottom half of each shell. Replace tops and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve at once or within 2 hours.

Servings: 12
Prep Time:  1 hour
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Difficulty: Medium

Per Serving: 154 Cal; 5 g Protein; 7 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 2 g Mono Fat; 19 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 7 g Sugar; 59 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 73 mg Sodium; 69 mg Cholesterol
Original recipe courtesy Paula Deen:  Mini Chocolate Eclairs
Lightened Up recipe courtesy of the Deen Brothers and the Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Original Nutrition:
Per Serving: 445 Cal; 8 g Protein; 19 g Tot Fat; 10 g Sat Fat; 5 g Mono Fat; 63 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 49 g Sugar; 103 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 235 mg Sodium; 186 mg Cholesterol

Special Valentine’s Day Menu

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Sharing a romantic dinner is the perfect way to spend a Valentine’s Day evening with your loved one.  This year instead of battling the crowds and footing an expensive bill, why not create a romantic meal at home?  All it takes is a little planning and some excellent recipes to make restaurant quality food at your own stove.  Throw in some simple decorations and voila you have transformed your dinner table into a perfect setting for a romantic meal.

Often when eating out at a restaurant on Valentine’s Day, the chef prepares a prix fixed menu, or menu consisting of an already chosen appetizer, entrée, and dessert.  Adding courses to your homemade Valentine’s Day meal and making dishes fancier than the average week night makes it feel extra special and decedent. 

First Course
A wonderful first course is oyster stew.  Oysters have long been thought of as a romantic food, even an aphrodisiac.  Paula Deen’s oyster stew is so rich and creamy and simple to make, it is a perfect way to start your special meal. 

Second Course
Black pepper crusted filet mignon with goat cheese is a great main course to make your sweetheart feel extra special.  Filet mignon is a fancier steak that you wouldn’t prepare every day, which makes it really fitting for this occasion.  The red pepper salsa jazzes it up a bit and the hint of red from the peppers goes with the theme of the evening. 

On the Side
Romance and comfort go hand in hand, and what better comfort food is there on earth than mashed potatoes.  Mashed potatoes with sautéed mushrooms steps up the old classic a bit.  The sautéed mushrooms add a depth of flavor and make this dish much less ordinary.  A lovely side with the steak and mashed potatoes is roasted beet salad with cocoa vinaigrette.  Cocoa infused salad dressing on Valentines Day, Yum!  This is such a vibrant and beautiful salad with the orange slices and the beets.  A thinly sliced beet almost looks like the shape of a heart and is definitely the right color. 

For Dessert
Sweet treats are an age-old tradition in celebrating love.  Chocolate raspberry cake hearts is a rich and beautiful dessert.  By using a large heart shaped cutter, you can form these cakes into a fantastic ending to your romantic meal.

Set the Table
Now that you have the menu planned, some simple decorations will be the finishing touches on your night:
- Simply setting your table with a nice tablecloth and dishes will make it feel more special than an average night at home. 
- Printing or handwriting your menu on some nice red paper and setting them on the table will remind you of a night out at a fancy restaurant. 
- Red candles and beautiful flowers as a centerpiece are a classic way to spruce things up and tie it all together. 
- For some whimsical fun, use a heart shaped hole punch or scissors to cut out confetti to sprinkle all around. 

And there you have it, a decadent delicious meal and a beautiful table to make your romantic night one to remember.

Kid Friendly Game Day Tips

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As football season is upon us once again, it’s time to dust off the team jerseys, wipe down the TV screen, and get ready to kick back with friends and family to watch your team score.

For many families, football season offers a time to pass on traditions to younger family members, indoctrinating them into the family’s team of choice. Make sure you take time for the newest fans with these simple tips.

1. Make room down front. Create a small space on the floor for kids to stretch out and get comfy while watching the game, such as a blanket with a couple of pillows plus a toy or two. Put out a tray of snacks to reduce back and forth trips to the kitchen (and blocking of the TV).

2. Introduce kids to team colors. For toddlers and little ones still learning colors, this provides a great teaching opportunity. Let them help put up streamers and decorations. Get them their own attire to wear on game days so they can feel like part of the team.

3. Create a kid-friendly menu. Savannah Sloppy Joes or Hogs in a Sleeping Bag are easy to prepare. Use a football-shaped cookie cutter for Magical Peanut Butter cookies, for starters.

Get your kids off the sideline and into the game with these great game day recipes:

             
  • Oven Fried Potato Wedges

                   

    Because these wedges are oven friend, you don’t have to be quite so worried about how many your little one has.

                 

             

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    Popcorn Balls

                   

    Popcorn balls are kid-tested classic! Here’s a hint: once they’re cool enough to handle, your children getting their hands dirty and helping form them.

                 

             

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    Macho Nachos

                   

    Your imagination (and the little one’s!) can go wild with this awesome finger food. Load your nachos up the way Bobby and Jamie do, or pick and choose the add-ons that will make every one happy. Nachos will always score big!

                 

             

Get the rest of our kid-friendly game day treats here!

 

Super Game Day Recipes

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So, who’s it going to be this year: the Seahawks or the Broncos? It’s the question that’s on all of our minds over in the Test Kitchen. To prepare, we thought it would be helpful to put together a list of some of Paula’s favorite recipes for watching the big game. Now Paula isn’t too keen on watching sports, but she always loves to entertain, and what a better way than when you’ve got your family and friends hootin’ and hollerin’ at a television.

Whether you’re a sports fan, or just looking for a few tasty appetizers, we recommend saving a few of these recipes. They’re sure to score big at your next event. (And don’t miss more of our game day favorites!)

             
  • 1.  Three Cheese Hot Artichoke Dip

                   

    This recipe is one of Paula’s go-to recipes when she’s got a crowd of folks coming over.

                 

             

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    2. Sesame Chicken Strips

                   

    Take your plain old chicken strips to the next and beyond with some sesame seeds and Worcestershire sauce.

                 

             

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    3. Paula’s Party Popcorn

                   

    Grab it by the handful while you can, because this pop won’t be around for long.

                 

             

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    4. Mini Cheeseburger Puffs

                   

    A bite-sized cheeseburger? Does it really get any better than this? We think not.

                 

             

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    5. Macho Nachos

                   

    Though the name of recipe may be a little misleading, we guarantee that it’s a hit with the ladies as well. And if you’re counting calories, try our lighter version.

                 

             

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    6. BLT Appetizer

                   

    Now Paula recommends serving this classic dip with bagel chips, but just about any cracker will do. Use your imagination!

                 

             

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    7. Chili in a Biscuit Bowl

                   

    A hearty chili served in a filling biscuit bowl will be a definite touchdown with your family.

                 

             

 

Paula’s Recipe Swap and Photo Challenge Week One Winners

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My friends at Springer Mountain Farms and I had so much fun going through all of those delicious entries y’all sent me. You better believe that I’ll definitely be fixin’ a yummy chicken casserole for this week for my family. Y’all made me so hungry!

Without further ado, I’d like to announce the first place winner of the Week One: Cozy Chicken Casserole challenge! Drum roll please…

Y’all give it up for Christi Alcumbrack and her AMAZING Chicken, Bacon and Spinach Pot Pie. This recipe is so finger lickin’ good, I just cant’ stand it. Add this to your family’s dinner list this week for sure! Christi has won herself a brand new set of Paula Deen cookware, and a personalized, signed autographed of Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible.

The runner-up for this week was a close second. Congratulations to Judy Armstrong and her Baked Mediterranean Chicken Biscuits! Judy has won a personalized, signed copy of Paula Deen and Friends: Living’ It Up Southern Style!

To learn more about this week’s challenge, check out the Contest Page!

Here are the recipes:

Chicken, Bacon, and Spinach Pot Pie

Ingredients
1 Tbs. butter
Drizzle of olive oil
2 large chicken breast (cut into bite-sized pieces)
3 strips of bacon, chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 Tbs minced garlic
4 cups of fresh spinach
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 oz. cream cheese
1 egg, set aside to brush the pie crust
2 pie crusts for 10” pie plate, (store bought is fine)

Directions
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Saute chicken, onion, bacon, and minced garlic in butter and olive oil. In a separate bowl, soften cream cheese and mix with shredded cheddar cheese. Set aside. Coarsely chop spinach and set a side. Once chicken mixture is cooked through, remove from heat, and add cheese mixture and spinach.
Prepare a 10 inch pie plate with the bottom crust. Fill with hot chicken mixture. Place the top crust over the top of the mixture and pinch the edges together to seal it. 
Brush the top of the crust with egg and bake for 20 min, or until the bottom crust is done cooking; or golden brown in color.

Serves 4

Baked Mediterranean Chicken Biscuits

Ingredients

1 (11.8 ounce bag) frozen Mediterranean blend vegetables
1 (16.3 ounce/ 8 count) can buttermilk refrigerated biscuits
1 (12 ounce) jar roasted red reppers in olive oil with garlic
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade and divided
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces provolone cheese, shredded and divided

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Microwave the vegetable blend on high for 5 minutes.  Remove from the microwave, cut open, drain and set aside.

Split the biscuits in half horizontally. In a 9 x 13 non-stick baking dish, layer half of the split biscuits. Bake for 5 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside.

In the meantime, drain the red peppers, reserving the oil. Coarsely chop the garlic and dice the peppers. Reserve 2 tablespoons diced red peppers for garnish.

Season the diced chicken with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons reserved oil from the peppers to a large (10 inch) skillet and place over medium high heat. Add the seasoned chicken and saute for 5 minutes.

Coarsely chop the vegetable blend and add to the skillet. Stir in the chopped garlic, diced red peppers, 2 tablespoons chiffonade basil and crushed red pepper flakes; cook an additional 2 minutes.

Spoon the Mediterranean chicken mixture over the biscuit bottoms, sprinkle with ¾ of the provolone cheese and top with the biscuit tops.  Brush 1 tablespoon of the reserved oil from the peppers over the biscuit tops.  Bake for 10 - 12 minutes and biscuits begin to turn golden.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle the biscuits with the remaining cheese and reserved diced peppers.  Bake an additional 3 minutes.

Remove the Baked Mediterranean Chicken Biscuits from the oven and garnish the remaining tablespoon chiffonade basil.

Serves 8

A Superb Super Bowl Menu

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When hosting a Super Bowl party, it’s important to have plenty of finger foods and quick bites for guests to chow down on. And with these delicious recipes for some favorite gameday appetizers, everyone wins!

Caramelized Vidalia Onion and Blue Cheese Hot Dip
Makes 12 servings

2 tablespoons all-vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves minced garlic
2 large Vidalia onions or other sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 ounces blue cheese, softened
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup bread crumbs
Whole wheat pita chips, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray an 8x8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a large skillet, heat oil and butter. Add garlic and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are caramel colored, about 20 minutes.

2. In the work bowl of a food processor, pulse together blue cheese, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and sour cream. Remove blade from bowl, and stir in caramelized onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature with toasted whole wheat pita chips.

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Bacon Cheeseburger Sliders
Makes 14 sliders
2 pounds ground chuck
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
14 slices Colby-Jack cheese
14 slider buns

1. Spray grill rack with nonstick nonflammable cooking spray. Preheat grill to medium-high heat (350° to 400°).

2. In a large bowl, gently combine ground chuck, bacon, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Form mixture into 14 patties. Grill for 5 to 7 minutes per side or until a thermometer inserted in center registers 160°. Place cheese slices on patties; remove from grill, and let stand for 10 minutes. Serve on slider buns with desired toppings.

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Super Bowl Wings
Makes 10 - 12 servings

11/2 pounds chicken wings
2 pounds chicken drummettes
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (12-ounce) bottle honey BBQ hot wing sauce
Blue cheese dressing (optional)
Celery sticks (optional)

1. Cut off wing tips and discard; cut wings in half at joint, if desired. Place wings and drummettes in a large shallow dish or large resealable plastic freezer bag.

2. In a small bowl, combine oil and next 4 ingredients, stirring well with a wire whisk. Pour mixture over wings and drummettes. Cover or seal; chill for 4 hours, turning occasionally.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a shallow roasting pan with aluminum foil. Set a rack into the pan and coat the rack with non-stick cooking spray.

4. Remove wings and drummettes from marinade, discarding marinade. Place chicken on prepared rack. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

5. Remove from oven, pour hot wing sauce over chicken. Serve with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks, if desired.

For more delicious recipes delivered straight to your mailbox, subscribe to Cooking with Paula Deen magazine!

Vinegar Basics

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Vinegars add a delicious tang to some of our favorite recipes. Just a tablespoon can take a muddled heavy dish and turn it into something light and bright. There are many kinds of vinegars that can be used in many different ways; to make a simple vinaigrette, a marinade, sauce, or to add a burst of tang to the final note of a dish. 

The word vinegar comes from the French vin aigre, meaning “Sour Wine” and it can indeed taste sour if you try it on its own. Yet all vinegars, while tasting quite tart, have distinctive variations of taste between them depending on what liquid they are made from. 

Remember to store you vinegars in airtight containers in a cool, dark place and they should last six-eight months. 

Red Wine Vinegar: Popular in French cooking and made from fermented red wine with a bold rich taste. This can be used in marinades, braises, and simple vinaigrettes and dressings. The more expensive red wine vinegars have been aged in oak casks for at least a year to make a mellow yet complex flavor. 

White Wine Vinegar: Also popular in French cooking and is moderately acidic. It’s most often used in creamy dressing to add a shot of flavor and in simple vinaigrettes. The French use white wine vinegar in reductions and in classic sauces like hollandaise and Bearnaise. It’s made from fermented white wine and can be aged in oak to mellow its acidity. 

Champagne Vinegar: Fermented from the same grapes used in champagne, pinot noir and chardonnay, Champagne Vinegar is less acidic than red and white wine vinegar and it can have a pleasantly sweet, delicate flavor. 

Sherry Vinegar: Most commonly used in Spanish cooking. A true sherry vinegar is regulated in Spain and marked “Jarez”. It’s both sweet and assertively tart and complex. It’s often used with red meats and game and to flavor soups and sauces. Sherry vinegars are made from fermented sherry and aged in oak.

Rice Vinegar: Made from fermented rice and popular in Asian cuisine, Rice Vinegar has a lightly acidic and sweet taste and is commonly used in marinades, dressings, and vinaigrettes. It has crossed over into Western cuisine in the past ten years and can be readily found in most major grocery stores. 

Apple Cider Vinegar: More tart and acidic than vinegars derived from wines. Commonly used in American BBQ to brighten sauces and marinades as well as to make vinaigrettes. It’s made from fermented apple cider. 

Distilled White Vinegar: Has a high acidity level, which makes it great for pickling vegetables and as a natural cleaning solution. 

Balsamic Vinegar: Popular in Italian cuisine and made popular in American in the 1980s. A true balsamic is made from aging white grape juice in a wooden cask for a minimum of 12 years, giving an enormous depth of flavor and it’s characteristic sweetness, for which it is known. These true balsamicscs are labeled “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia” or “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena” with the most expensive and aged being marked “condimento” or “tradizionale”, with prices starting at around $40 for a small bottle. Tradizionale and condimento vinegars are used as finishing vinegars, to add a last punch of flavor as a drizzle on a plate, or in vinegareittes. They’re rarely used with cooking methods with heat since it would affect it’s delicate flavor. When looking for an everyday balsamic, go with something labeled “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena” which you can use in marinades, sauces, and a simple vinaigrette. 


Suzie’s Peach Pickles

Bobby’s Pickled Shrimp

Fried Green Tomatoes with Vidalia Onion Relish

The Perfect Pop

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“The laziest man I ever met put popcorn in his pancakes so they would turn over by themselves.”
W.C. Fields

Popcorn is an old fashioned comfort food. There is something about the smell, taste and sound of popcorn popping that evokes a warm sense of comfort and love. Popcorn is a friend, it never travels alone, it is an “and” food. Popcorn and a movie. Popcorn and a coke. Popcorn and butter. Popcorn and a huge piece of chocolate that you won’t share with anyone. 

When microwave popcorn hit the shelves in the 1980’s something changed. What was once a special lovingly prepared stove top snack became a 2 to 3 minute meal….with a certain coating left in your mouth that you could never quite identify as natural. The taste of microwave popcorn has come a long way in 20 years. Some brands are actually very tasty and there is something to be said for it’s expedience, but nothing beats the old fashioned way Paula has been making popcorn for years. In South Carolina, they call it “skillet fried”.  Here in Georgia, we just call it friend!

Stove Top Popcorn
Yields:  2 quarts
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup popcorn kernels, high quality
2 tablespoons butter
salt to taste

Directions:
Place oil in a 3 quart saucepan over medium high heat. Put 2 kernels of popcorn in the oil and cover with a tight fitting lid.  When “test kernels” pop, the oil is at the perfect temperature (between 400º-460º F) and it is time to add the remaining popcorn kernels in an even layer.

Replace lid and remove from the heat for 30 seconds. By removing the pan from the heat and waiting 30 seconds, you are allowing the kernels to reach a near popping temperature so when returned to the heat they will all pop at about the same time. 

Return the pan to the heat and begin gently shaking the pan back and forth over the heat. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to allow the steam from the popcorn to release. Once the popping slows down to few seconds between pops it is time to remove the pan from the heat and carefully dump the popcorn into a large bowl. 

If you are adding butter. Place the butter in the empty hot pan off the burner and allow butter to melt.  Pour over your popcorn and salt to taste.

Why does popcorn pop?
The secret: water.
Each popcorn kernel contains a hard outer shell and a starchy inside surrounding a dab of water. When the kernels are heated to about 400º-460º F, the pocket of water turns into steam and expands within the tough casing. Just like blowing up a balloon, as more and more steam forms, the pressure against the outer shell increases. Eventually, this hard shell can no longer contain the pressure and the shell gives way causing the kernel to explode. That’s when you hear the POP!  When it pops, the kernel turns inside out revealing the soft starch that makes the white fluffy part of your popcorn.

Paula’s Tip:
Kernels that don’t pop are known as “old maids”. They have lost some of the moisture needed within the starch to create the build up of pressure to pop the kernel.
Rejuvenate popcorn by filling a 1 quart jar ¾ full with popcorn kernels. Add one tablespoon of water.  Cover and shake every 5 minutes until all the water is absorbed. In three to four days it should be ready for popping!

More perfectly popped recipes!
Chocolate Popcorn
Paula’s Popcorn Nut Balls
Paula’s Party Popcorn
Popcorn Balls
Grandma Paul’s Caramel Corn

Cold Weather Comfort Foods

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  • Lady and Sons Chicken Pot Pie

                   

    Paula takes this traditional recipe and makes it out of this world!

                 

             

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    Beef Stroganoff

                   

    The mixture of the beef, the sauce, and the noodles will take your breath away.

                 

             

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    Chicken and Dumplings

                   

    Shake the chills off with this classic Southern recipe.

                 

             

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    Old Time Beef Stew

                   

    A time-tested recipe that you’ll want to make a tradition in your family.

                 

             

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    Bobby’s Goulash

                   

    One of Bobby’s favorite dishes also makes our list of favorite comfort foods.

                 

             

Simple Recipes from a Well Stocked Pantry

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The holidays tend to be the most stressful time of the year. None of us want it to be that way, but it’s easy to make things more complicated than they are. Finding the perfect gift turns into a search for treasure that can only be helped by the arrival of Nicholas Cage. Having guests over opens your eyes to every speck of dust and dirt in the entire house, forcing you to carry a rag in your pocket at all times. And let’s not even talk about decorating the yard. The lights get higher, the fake snow gets thicker, and the giant candy canes could kill a man. And usually, when you spend weeks fighting crowds at the mall, making travel plans that satisfy both your parents and your in-laws, and trying to find a dress for your husband’s office party, food typically stays on the back burner until you can come up for air. Where’s the fun in that?

I’m confronted with that reality this holiday season in a way I have never been before. With the arrival of my son, the time I used to dedicate to holiday frills and fun is now focused on diapers and grabbing twenty minutes of sleep whenever I can. Just because my time is more restricted doesn’t mean I have to give up on enjoying the holidays in a special way. It just means I have to think creatively, to invite myself and my family to keep things simple, and to remember that the people in my life are much more important than the gifts and decorations can ever be.

This quiche is the perfect example of keeping things simple but not sacrificing quality and enjoyment. It’s easy to prepare and completely versatile, but it tastes great and adds an air of elegance to any meal. You can make it in advance and freeze it, one of the prime ingredients for stress-free holiday food preparation. It’s great served hot out of the oven, at room temperature, or even cold from the fridge. Set it out for a lovely breakfast for your guests, take it to that neighborhood open house, serve it alongside a simple green salad for a tasty lunch, or cut wedges to accompany your holiday turkey or ham. The possibilities are endless, and it’ll be that one thing reminding you that beautiful does not have to be complicated. So enjoy your holidays, enjoy your loved ones, and give yourself a break.

Mushroom Bacon Quiche
serves: 6

Ingredients from your kitchen:
3 bacon slices
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
6 eggs
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Ingredients to purchase:
1 cup cremini or button mushrooms, chopped
1 refrigerated pie crust


Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a nonstick or cast iron skillet, cook bacon over medium heat for 2 minutes per side. Remove and drain. Leave bacon drippings in pan. Once cool, chop bacon into small pieces.

Add butter to the pan, turn the heat to medium-low, and sauté mushrooms and garlic for 4-5 minutes until mushrooms are golden brown. Season with salt, black pepper, and rosemary. Remove from heat and let cool.

Press pie crust into a 9-inch pie pan, pinching the excess edges into a decorative pattern.

In a medium mixing bowl, gently beat eggs. Gently stir in Parmesan, chopped bacon, cooked mushrooms, and salt and black pepper. Pour mixture into uncooked pie crust.

Bake in preheated oven on center rack for 40-45 minutes until crust is golden and the center is just set. Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold.

Other Simple Recipes from a Well Stocked Pantry:
Turkey Corn Chowder
Spicy Penne with Cauliflower

Kendra Adachi simply loves food and anything related to it. She and her husband live in North Carolina with their brand new baby boy, taking every opportunity to feed friends and family. Kendra is a cooking instructor, food consultant, and food blogger at myfirstkitchen.net

What’s in Season: Swiss Chard

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If vegetables got grades for nutrition, Swiss chard would go to the head of the class. This tall vegetable with green ribbed leaves and wide crunchy stalks is loaded with vitamins A and C, and is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin K.  If you’re ‘boning’ up on veggies, you may want to consider chard for maintaining strong healthy bones. 

History:
Swiss chard is a member of the beet and spinach family, and along with kale and collards, is what, in the South, we refer to simply as greens. Its name comes from the Latin and French words cardus or carde, eventually coming to mean stalk or rib. Although the stories of origin vary, Swiss chard most likely got its name from its extensive cultivation in Switzerland. Varieties of chard include white (or green), ruby, with stalks that look like rhubarb, and rainbow – a bouquet of green glossy leaves and colorful stalks of pink, orange, yellow, and bright red.

Selecting:
Chard is available year-round. It is at its peak and available locally from June through August. When selecting chard, look for crisp green leaves, with no yellowing or wilted leaves and firm, thick stalks. It will keep unwashed, in a large food storage bag wrapped in a damp paper towel for up to 3 days. Swiss chard can be gritty, so be sure to rinse well before using. A method we like is to chop the leaves and stems and submerge them into a sink filled with cool water. Swish them around briefly, then leave undisturbed for a minute or so to allow any grit to fall to the bottom of the sink.

Most Common Uses:
Swiss chard’s earthy, slightly bitter flavor is delicious simply boiled or sautéed, or added to soups, rice dishes, savory strudels, and quiches. Try changing it up and use parboiled chard leaves instead of cabbage for stuffing. And while we’re on the subject of change, we’d love you to try these recipes with Swiss chard instead of collards or spinach. Mix it up in our Steak and Greens recipe using chard and other favorite greens. For our Spinach and Bacon Quiche, just be sure to cook the chopped chard leaves in a pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Like spinach, you’ll need to drain the chard well and squeeze it dry before adding to the rest of your ingredients. You will need about 1 bunch chopped fresh chard for our Quick Spicy Collards, and 1 bunch chopped chard for our Creamed Spinach recipe. We hope you will enjoy these recipes as much as we do. Live well – go green!


Food Editor’s Note: The beautiful Swiss chard photographed by Chia Chong for this article was taken from Paula’s vegetable and herb garden on the south side of her home.

Money Saving Tips and Recipes

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The damage is done: you’ve overindulged, and there’s no going back.  Well, maybe for your waistline, but your bank account is a real problem.  Of course, some of the most effective ways to cut food costs are the hardest (eat and drink less; don’t go out so much), though not all are impossible (make it yourself instead of buying the packaged version; buy in bulk; substitute dried herbs and spices where possible).

But here’s a few more creative and hopefully more moderate things you can do in the kitchen to curb your spending and maintain more sustainable habits, along with some relatively low-cost recipe suggestions from the Paula Deen Test Kitchen:

1. Get organized! Make lists and plan your menus to incorporate leftovers and use up all perishable ingredients.

2. Seek out what’s local and in season - it’s a good habit for life. Produce can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be if it hasn’t been shipped from another hemisphere.  Depending on your region, common cold weather crops include spinach, kale, winter lettuces, Brussels, broccoli, cauliflower, some onions, beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips, cabbage, and collards.
Broccoli Soup
Garlic-Lime Spinach
Corny Coleslaw
Stewed Collard Greens

3. Opt for more legumes, whole grains, or pastas.
Paula’s Italian Pasta Salad
Hearty Beef and Noodle Soup
Sausage, White Bean, and Swiss Chard Soup
Shaggy Man Split Pea Soup
Hoppin’ John

4. Be selective with meats. Meat and dairy are often the more expensive ingredients, and let’s face it, eating more vegetables would probably be good for you right now too!  But if you need your meat, try these cheaper options, keeping in mind that they might require marinades and longer cooking times for more flavorful, tender results.  Get two meals out of one purchase by using chopped meat as a main dish over rice the next night.  Also, it’s hard to say no to burgers or hotdogs, for which Paula has many recipes.
-From the cow, try grilled (or ground) chuck, flank or hangar steaks, tri tip, brisket, ribs, or oxtails:
Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket
Michael’s Favorite Oxtails with Buttered Rice

-From the bird, which is often cheap unless you’re buying breast meat, try chick thighs or turkey parts:
Bobby’s Lighter Un-Fried Chicken
Mexican Chicken
Chicken Brunswick Stew
Turkey and Black Bean Ziti

-From the pig, there’s always the porok shoulder, which can be transformed into all kinds of deliciousness including pulled pork and stews. And a little ham goes a long way:
BBQ Pork Sandwich
Ham Fried Rice with Pineapple and Fried Egg
Simple Southern Ham and Bean Soup

-From the sea, try tilapia, mahi-mahi, or canned tuna:
Bobby’s Baked Tilapia
Faux Crab Cakes

5. And lastly, casseroles can be good and last for days!

 

 

Birthday Bash Recipes

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Happy birthday, y’all! Throwing a birthday bash and not sure what to fix for all of the guests? Relax! That’s what we’re here for. We’ve wrapped all of Paula’s best birthday recipes up in a pretty little bow for you. Don’t worry, you don’t have to thanks us. (Maybe just save us a slice of cake. Deal?)

Enjoy!

Ooey Gooey Butter Layer Cake
What’s a birthday without cake? It’s like peanut butter without jelly, or macaroni without cheese. You get the idea! Delicious butter filling is layered between sweet sheets of cake to a birthday cake you won’t soon forget.

imageEasy Homemade Oreo Ice Cream
We know that we’ve said things were easy in the past, but this time we mean it y’all. Whip up all the ingredients, pour them in a loaf pan, freeze away! Scoop with a slice of cake for a true birthday tradition.

imagePaula’s Party Potion
Need way say more? Here’s a punch that’s made with a party in mind! Yummy fruit juices and fizzy ginger ale come together to make a very sip-worthy punch, indeed. (For those throwing adult birthday parties, you can even add a little of your favorite alcohol.)

imagePaula’s Party Popcorn
You may be sensing a theme by now! Grab a bowl of some freshed popped popcorn and share away with your guests. You won’t believe this recipe is only five ingredients.

imageOatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
While your guests are busy playing games or mingling with each other, why not let them munch on some cookies while they wait for the main event? Be careful though, these cookies will go fast. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

imageSweet and Mild Meatball Appetizers
For a savory approach to finger foods, whip up a batch of these individually served meatballs. They’re ready in only about 30 minutes, so you don’t have an excuse not to!

imageCreamy Scallion Dip
Of course we can’t forget our vegetables! Set out a tray or two of freshly cut, bite-sized veggies and a bowl of Paula’s creamy scallion dip. Even picky eaters won’t be able to resist!

 

Healthier Family Dinners

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Are your jeans feeling a little tighter after all the holiday indulgence? We know the feeling! That’s why we’ve put together a few easy and healthy family dinners to help you feel great and keep your New Years resolutions (for a few weeks, anyways). Follow these meal ideas and you’ll be feeling like your usual svelte self in no time.

Light Meal

image For folks looking for something hearty, but still healthy, try Re-Fashioned Turkey Meatloaf. It satisfies your cravings for something rich and decadent but keeps it on the healthy side with turkey and oats.

image Instead of the usual side of mashed potatoes try Paula’s Mashed Cauliflower. Using cauliflower cuts down your carbohydrate intake and takes just minutes to prepare. This recipe is made with chicken broth instead of cream to cut down on fat and calories.

Lighter Meal

image Still have some leftover holiday ham? Put it to good use in the Senate Bean Soup. This fuss free dish is perfect for post holiday cooking (inexpensive, easy, and only 5 ingredients!) Plus it makes a big batch so you’ll have a comforting light lunch made for the rest of the week.

image Pair the soup with Fresh Green Bean and Tomato Salad for the perfect light supper. Be like Bobby and replace the mayonnaise with some reduced fat Greek yogurt for a change of pace (it’s a great way to reduce some calories and fat).


Lightest Meal

image If you’re looking to go even lighter, try the nutrient dense and low cal Very Green Soup. We break this soup out every January for our post holiday diets. We love the bright green color that reminds us that we’re eating something good for us.

 

image Serve along side with Paula’s Roasted Beet Salad with a Cocoa Viniagrette for some extra greens and veggies to make it a complete and satisfying meal. Make the goat cheese your splurge!

Happy healthy new year with love and best dishes!

Healthier Substitutions Made Simple

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Most of us wish we could be healthier, but sometimes it’s hard to make or find the right amounts of moderation for yourself and your family.  Here’s a set of guidelines to help you develop some healthy alternatives, so you can decide what works best for your palate, budget, and lifestyle. It’s not all about total deprivation, soy cheese, and compromised baking (though we may be better off cutting back on sweets).  These are mostly fast, easy changes, small adjustments you might even come to prefer.

Curb the Carbs
Rather than eliminate any particular food group from your diet, opt for moderation.  And when it comes to sugar, you will notice that the less you have it, the less you crave it!

1. Less bread: replace breadcrumbs with rolled oats, quinoa, wheat germ, or crushed bran cereal.  Swap croutons for nuts, ideally almonds, which have relatively low fat and high protein content.
2. Less potato: try cauliflower or turnips for mashers, sweet potatoes for fries (still sweet, but less sugar, more fiber and vitamins), or kale chips .
3. Less pasta: try forming carrots, zucchini, or other squash into thin ribbons on a mandolin.
4. Switch to unsweetened drinks (seltzer waters, even for cocktails, ice tea, coffee).
5. For the relentless sweet tooth, try using fresh fruit, purees, or other sweeteners such as honey, agave, Stevia, or Splenda, like in Magical Peanut Butter Cookies, or Apple Dumplings.

Trim the Fat
The best case is to eat less fat altogether, but as a general rule, the mono- and poly-unsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocados, and bananas are preferable to those in butter, red meat, and junk food products. Also, unless you make your own food, you may be consuming far more fat (and salt) than you think; this goes for anything from salad dressing to mac and cheese!

1. Buy olive oil or grapeseed oil.  Olive oil mayonnaise and cooking spray products are now widely available.
2. Tweak your egg and dairy choices by using egg whites or egg substitute, as in Paula’s Egg White Omelette.
3. Replace cheese, sour cream, and cream in sauces, fillings, dips and desserts with reduced fat yogurt, cottage cheese, and ricotta (other common lower fat cheese options include mozzarella, pecorino, feta and parmesan). Try this delicious Asparagus, Sausage and Arugula Pizza.
4. Get creative with your baking.  There’s lots of tricks involving butter replacement, but if you don’t feel like reading up on it, check out our many “Bobby’s Lighter” dessert recipes using Greek yogurt, reduced fat cream cheese, and evaporated skim milk or buttermilk, like his Lighter Gooey Butter Cake, or Blueberry Tart.

Swap meat
Choose skinless, white meat poultry or fish where possible, with dry-rubs or marinades if you’re missing flavor, and start to consider the veggie version (for quick veggie chili).

1. Try alternatives to hamburgers, steaks, or hot dogs, such as ground turkey, tofu, veggie patties, fish melts, or chicken burgers.
2. Bacon, tough one: turkey bacon is healthier, though die-hard bacon lovers may prefer substituting pancetta, lean prosciutto, Canadian bacon, or other lean smoked turkey or ham products.
3. For individual protein cuts, seek out local lean game meats like venison, bison, elk, or rabbit

Bring on the Produce
Eat fresh fruits and vegetables whenever you have a choice.  They have more flavor and retain more nutrients than canned ones, which often have added sugars like corn syrup, tons of extra sodium, and other chemicals, so frozen or dried are generally better than canned.

1. Make a filling, nutritious smoothie: throw some veggies (and your new best friend Greek yogurt) in the blender. Our favorites are Jack’s Favorite Smoothie and Good Morning Green Smoothie.
2. Combine fruit with frozen yogurt instead of ice cream with candy toppings:
3. Experiment with citrus and herb garnishes and sauces for guilt-free flavor bursts (and eye-popping presentation), such as with Avocado and Black Bean Salad.

7 Super Salad Recipes

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  • Almond Broccoli Salad

                   

    Loaded with crunchy almonds, this broccoli isn’t your typical broccoli salad.

                 

             

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    Paula’s Couscous Salad

                   

    Serve this salad as side for dinner, or a quick leftover lunch on the go.

                 

             

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    Black Eyed Pea Salad

                   

    Up your daily serving of veggies when you take a bite out of Paula’s black eyed pea salad.

                 

             

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    Marinated Vegetable Salad

                   

    You’ll never look at veggies the same way again. We promise.

                 

             

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    Three Bean Salad

                   

    Make no “beans” about it, this salad is great for Church gatherings, or Sunday supper side.

                 

             

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    Cucumber, Tomato, and Mint Salad

                   

    Simple. Clean. Fresh. Here’s a salad that’s a breeze to prepare, and pleasure to eat.

                 

             

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    Georgia Cracker Salad

                   

    It may sound a little weird, but we’re confident this will be one for your favorites for a salad in a hurry.

                 

             

Bake Sale: Waldorf Salad Cupcakes

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Keeping your New Year’s resolution to eat more salad just got easier!  These Waldorf salad cupcakes have all the trappings of a Waldorf salad; there are no greens, of course, but the cupcakes contain apples, raisins, walnuts, lemon, and even mayonnaise.  If you are a mayonnaise hater, don’t worry - rather than making the cupcakes taste like a condiment, the mayonnaise simply adds moisture (after all, mayonnaise is made with eggs and oil – key cupcake ingredients).  Enjoy these tart lemony cupcakes topped with whipped cream and swap the iconic cherry on top for a grape!

Note:  If you like the look of cupcake liners, use silicone or grease-proof liners.  The moisture of the apples will cause the cupcakes to pull away from standard paper liners.

Yield: 18 cupcakes

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Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup full-fat mayonnaise
2/3 cup lemon juice
¾ cup raisins
¾ cup roughly chopped walnuts
¾ cup finely chopped apples
Whipped cream, to taste
9 grapes

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add in the butter, and mix until well-combined.  You should end up with a fine crumb texture.
Mix in mayonnaise until well-combined.
Mix in lemon juice until well-combined.
Fold in raisins, walnuts, and apples.
Fill cupcake liners ¾ full.
Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.
Remove cupcakes from tins and set on a cooling rack to cool.
Once cool, top cupcakes with whipped cream and garnish with half of a grape.

Stefani Pollack is the author of the popular cupcake blog, Cupcake Project. While she loves simple chocolate cupcakes, Stefani prefers creative cupcakes inspired by her favorite flavor combinations. She encourages her readers to branch out and experiment in the kitchen. Why cupcakes? They bring out the kid in us! Visit Stefani at www.cupcakeproject.com.

Classic Dinner Recipes

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  • Brooke’s Homemade Meatloaf

                   

    “Not meatloaf!” is a phrase you’ll never hear again. Brooke’s classic family recipe is an instant favorite for our families and yours.

                 

             

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    Slow Cooker Cheese Stuffed Meatballs and Sauce

                   

    Savory meatballs slow cooked all day with your favorite red sauce is the perfect match for spaghetti night.

                 

             

  • Chicken Noodle Casserole

     

         

    Chicken Noodle Casserole

           

    Creamy and comforting, this is one casserole that will be a permanent addition to your recipe file.

         

  • The Ultimate Lady’s Cheesy Mac and Cheese

     

         

    The Ultimate Lady’s Cheesy Mac and Cheese

           

    Paula doesn’t throw around the word “ultimate” for just any ordinary mac and cheese.

         

  • Senate Bean Soup

     

         

    Senate Bean Soup

           

    What do navy beans and ham hock equal? This delicious soup. It’s great for dinner, or in the freezer for lunch on a rainy day.

         

  • Chicken Stir Fry

     

         

    Chicken Stir Fry

           

    Take out night at home? Yes, please! And it’s ready in a flash, too!

         

  • Roasted Pork Loin with Mushroom Gravy

     

         

    Roasted Pork Loin with Mushroom Gravy

           

    Rich mushroom gravy sauce is a tasty and hearty addition to this pork loin.

         

  • Cheesy Chicken and Vegetable Lasagna

     

         

    Cheesy Chicken and Vegetable Lasagna

           

    Here’s a version of lasagna that’s a weeknight dream come true, and a good helping of vegetables!

         

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Maintaining Your Pantry

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One really easy, gratifying New Year’s project is cleaning out a closet, so why not start with your pantry.  Here are some general guidelines for expirations of different food types as well as ideal storage conditions to minimize further waste or spoilage.

Moisture, heat, and light propel the spoilage of foods.  For this reason, it is best to have a pantry in a cool, dark, dry (often enclosed or otherwise isolated) part of the kitchen.  So if possible, don’t keep your spice collection right next to the stove.  Airtight re-sealable containers are great for storing partially used ingredients or leftovers in the refrigerator, and can help prevent staling of items at room temperature.

When is it time to replace my pantry items?
In general, most dried herbs and spices can be kept for up to a year.  Dried leafy herbs and whole spices can last 1-3 years, while ground spices sometimes have shorter life spans around 6 months.  Dried herbs tend to lose flavor faster than dried spices.  A good test is to rub a little bit between your fingers to see if it still gives off the proper aroma.  Exercise common sense: if the color is severely faded, it will probably have lost some of its pungency, though it may still be usable. If you’re making your own blends from fresh herbs (such as fines herbes, barbeque mixes, curry and chili powder), they should keep in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Leavening agents such as baking soda, baking powder, and active dry/instant yeast keep for up to a year.  Fresh yeast should be refrigerated, ideally at 40 degrees Fahrenheit for 7-10 days, or frozen.  Baking with old leaveners could result in flat, dense cookies, cakes, and breads, so make sure to replace these if in doubt.

Old flour can also produce similar results, so remember that flour should always be stored properly in airtight containers or sealed bags.  All-purpose flours stay fresh for about a year, while whole grain flours will last about 6 months.

Granulated white sugar should keep indefinitely a cool, dry place. Brown sugars tend to harden and clump within months. For certain purposes, you can still use them if you’re reheating them, but for precise baking recipes, this may affect texture, and you should not re-store reheated sugar.

Cooking oils will vary, with most vegetable, peanut, olive, and corn oils keeping for up to six months once opened. Nut oils turn rancid much faster, which can easily be detected by taste if not smell.  Oils can also be refrigerated but allowed to come to room temperature before use.

Most vinegars last almost indefinitely by nature.

What about perishables?
It is generally easy to determine whether fresh items are still usable through sight, feel, and smell.

For dairy, always buy items with the furthest expiration date, as these will be the freshest in stock.  Sell and use by dates are good guidelines. Eggs can usually be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, and butter for about a month (or frozen for 6-9 months).  It is common to keep shortening in the fridge so that it’s chilled for recipe use, but it can be stored at room temperature for a year.

With fresh meat and fish, you should adhere to the posted expiration or freeze-by dates (and don’t ever thaw and refreeze animal proteins).

What about freezing?
Depending on the type, most meat can be safely frozen for a matter of months. The FDA provides specific guidelines.

With both bread and meat, you can freeze them for months when wrapped in layers of plastic wrap or foil.  Chocolate can be kept in the fridge or freezer.  Nuts and flours can be stored in the freezer for months. Let them come to room temperature before using them in a recipe.  Sauces, homemade pasta, bread, some leftovers, and cookies also freeze well for months (keep icings and frostings separate and apply before consumption).

3 Reasons to Make Time for Slow Cooking

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Now that the holidays have dissipated back into the calendar, we’ve all been left in a cloud of tinsel, leftovers and empty wallets. And if you’re anything like us, you’ve made one of the following two resolutions: to save time, or to pinch your pennies- or both! We’ve got just the trick that will help you stay committed to your frugally minded resolutions. Look no further than your pantry and your slow cooker.

Slow cooking has been around for years, and has become a staple in many households. The benefits of slow cooking are seemingly endless! If you have never tried slow cooking before, we recommend you start. Be careful though, because you might get addicted! How can slow cooking benefit you? Read on!

Boost Your Flavor. Not only will you be doing your dishes a favor by boosting their flavor, but you’ll also be making your wallet happy because you can buy cheaper cuts of meat.  Slow cooking tenderizes cheaper meats and really kicks up the taste. Plus, you can throw just about everything but the kitchen sink into your slow cooker and have a delicious meal. Have a single carrot in the crisper? Don’t be afraid to throw it in the stew!

Save Time. With many slow cooker recipes, you can just throw all the ingredients into the same pot, set the timer, and walk away until mealtime. You can cook wonderful, hearty meals while you’re at the office, running errands, or spending time with the ones you love.

Make a Mistake. It’s hard to go wrong with slow cooking! The low cooking temperatures make it difficult to burn, scorch, or overcook your meal. In fact, oftentimes the longer cooking times bring out the savory flavors and really help to marry your ingredients together.

Check out these brand new recipes!
Slow Cooker Apricot Glazed Pork Tenderloin
Slow Cooker Pork Spare Ribs
Slow Cooker Harvest Stew
Slow Cooker Orange Rosemary Chicken

Even more slow cooking recipes:
Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs
Slow Cooker Smoked Sausage and Sauerkraut Soup
Slow Cooker Apple Onion Soup with Cinnamon Cheese Toast
Slow Cooker Stuffed Green Peppers
Slow Cooker Cheese Stuffed Meatballs and Sauce

The Deen Bros. Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts with Chile Cheese Sauce

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Y’all, how do you stretch a dollar at the dinner table? We were looking over a lot of our recipes and we’re trying to “cut the fat” a little. Now in this recipe, we’re not talking about actual fat, we’re talking about money. This trick was simple. Instead of cutting the chicken into 8 pieces, we cut it into twelve. Two more people got to eat and no one went hungry! We would love to know the ways you “cut the fat” at your dinner table. Leave a comment down below and share your tricks with everyone.

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Breasts with Chile Cheese Sauce

Ingredients:
8 slices bacon
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut in half lengthwise (making 8 long pieces)
1 10.75-ounce can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon chopped canned chipotle peppers or bottled chipotle hot pepper sauce (or to taste)
Dash Worcestershire sauce

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; set aside.

Wrap a slice of bacon around each piece of chicken and place on the baking sheet. Bake about 20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove chicken from the oven. Preheat the broiler.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the soup, milk, chipotle pepper, and Worcestershire to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off heat; cover to keep sauce warm.

Broil the chicken 4 to 5 inches from heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until the bacon is really sizzling. Serve chicken topped with the cheese sauce.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Click here for more great recipes from The Deen Brothers.

Breakfast Recipes for Dinner

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Cream Cheese Filled Biscuits

 

Hot off the oven, these cheesy biscuits are good with any meal!

 

Egg Casserole

This egg-tastic recipe will be a guest at your dinner table more than once.

 

Mexican Shrimp and Grits

Get the best of both worlds, Mexican flavors partnered with a Southern breakfast staple.

 

 

 

Eggs, Bacon and Skillet Fried Potatoes Drizzled with Spicy Steak Sauce

Great for dinner, this heavy and very tasty breakfast provides a little bit of everything!

 

 

Hash Brown Quiche

Fulfill your breakfast cravings with this easy-to-make ham with melted cheese and hash brown quiche.

 

 

 

Creamy Hash Brown Casserole

Another popular hash recipe, without a doubt this casserole is a great side for any main dish.

 

 

Sausage Pancake Egg Sandwich

This is how a breakfast sandwich is supposed to taste.

       

 

Vegetable Pancakes

Vegetables in pancakes? Who knew! We did. Give ‘em a try – you won’t be sorry!

       

Breakfast Pizza

Pizza night will never be the same with these morning-inspired pies.

       

 

Quick and Easy Weeknight Meals

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Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Lather, rinse, repeat. Right?

Coming up with weeknight meals, especially for those of us on the go or chained to an office desk can seem like a daunting task. It’s easy to get stuck in the same rut of takeout or microwaveable meals.

Paula and the Test Kitchen have come up with four easy tips to help you become a weeknight mealtime warrior.

imageKeep it Simple
Let’s face it. After spending eight or more hours at work, the last thing we want to do is to come home and spend another portion of our day slaving away in the kitchen. Your weeknight meals don’t have to gourmet, so keep it simple! Here are some quick recipes to get you started:
Hurry Up Chicken Pot Pie
Fast and Furious Thai Chicken Pizza
Walk Away Baked Spaghetti

imageOne Pot Wonders
Furthermore, not only are we not keen on spending all of our time cooking, we’re also not looking forward to spending all evening cleaning up after dinner either. Take it from us, one dish meals will really save you time and money when you’re preparing weeknight meals, which will give you more time to spend with your family.
Chicken Chili Stew
Quick Crab Stew
Tastes Like Lasagna Soup

imageBreakfast for Dinner
Take it easy! Offer your family one night a week where breakfast is on the menu! Most breakfast dishes are a flash to prepare and don’t take a lot of preparation.  We’ve got some quick and easy breakfast dishes that will have you sitting at the table in no time.
Omelette for a Crowd
Hash Brown Quiche
Sausage Pancake Egg Sandwich

imageWe Love Leftovers!
…and we’re not talking about yesterday’s microwaved meatloaf, either! (Although, Paula’s meatloaf recipe is one of the staples in our kitchen.) We’re talking about a good old-fashioned dinner remix. Take last night’s leftovers and reinvent them to become a second (or sometimes third) completely different and absolutely delicious meal.
Pot Roast into Pot Roast Soup
Buffalo Chicken Po Boys
Baked Ham into Simple Southern Ham and Bean Soup
Prime Rib Sandwich
Grilled Tilapia into Creamy Coconut Soup
Ham Fried Rice

Stocking Your Pantry

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If you have yet to make friends with your kitchen, it’s time to get acquainted. Whether you are a new homeowner, a new wife, a new mom, or simply new to your kitchen, you can easily become a pro at making dinner with just a little practice, some planning ahead, and the highly necessary ability to laugh at yourself when your chicken looks like a hockey puck. Roll with it, and you’ll enjoy the process so much more.

The biggest issue most everyone faces in preparing dinner is not having a plan. If it’s 5:15pm and you have no idea what you and your family are having for dinner, chances are you’ll end up in the drive-thru or eating cereal… again. Honey Nut Cheerios made quite a dent in our grocery budget as newlyweds for the first few months. But as I learned what foods go together and what to always have around, cooking dinner actually became fun. Don’t you want that to be true of you? I promise it can be. If you have your kitchen stocked with a few basics and get some delicious and simple recipes under your belt (consider me your Simple Recipe Fairy), dinner is well within your reach any night of the week.

Below is a list of what to always have in your kitchen. Keep these things around all the time, and you’ve eliminated half of your dinner stress. I’ll share with you recipes that come from this last of staples, along with one or two ingredients to grab at the store on your way home from work or dance class. Fresh herbs, produce, and meat don’t always store well for a long time, so these are items you’ll want to buy around the day you cook them.  I want you to enjoy making friends with your kitchen and love learning about food that is simple, easy to pronounce, and most importantly really tasty.

Pantry Basics
Oil – both extra virgin olive oil and a mild oil like canola or vegetable
Pasta – white and whole wheat in a variety of shapes
Rice – white, brown, and wild
Couscous – a tiny grain that takes five minutes to cook
Canned beans – black, kidney, garbanzo, and cannellini
Canned tomatoes – diced, crushed
Tomato paste
Soy sauce
Balsamic vinegar
Worcestershire sauce
Flour – white and whole wheat
Bread crumbs – plain and Italian
Taco shells
Canned tuna
Chicken and vegetable stock in cans or boxes
Jarred tomato sauce
Tortilla chips
Potatoes
Onions
Garlic
Lemons
Kosher salt and black pepper
Dried herbs – rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano
Dried spices – cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, sesame seeds, crushed red pepper flake

Refrigerator Basics
Butter
Cream cheese
Milk
Eggs
Plain yogurt (plain does not mean vanilla)
Sour cream
Mayo
Dijon mustard
Salsa
Carrots
Cheese – cheddar, mozzarella, feta
Flour tortillas

Freezer Basics
Spinach
Peas
Corn
Shrimp
Bacon
Nuts – almonds, walnuts
Bread
Puff pastry
Italian sausage


To get you started, this is a ridiculously fast black bean dip that can be used in a number of ways. It’s great as a snack with veggie sticks. I love to make a quesadilla with shredded cheddar cheese and a few dollops of this dip. Having folks over to watch football this fall? Throw this on the table with some tortilla chips, and watch your friends gobble it up. The best part? It takes two minutes, it’s good for you, it’s inexpensive, and it’s really tasty. I guess that’s a few best parts, but you get the idea.


Black Bean Dip

Ingredients from your kitchen:
can of black beans, rinsed and drained
4 tablespoons salsa
a spoonful of sour cream
kosher salt

Ingredients to purchase:
juice of one lime


Simple Recipes from a Well-Stocked Pantry:
Mushroom Bacon Quiche
Turkey Corn Chowder
Spicy Penne with Cauliflower

Kendra Adachi simply loves food and anything related to it. She and her husband live in North Carolina with their brand new baby boy, taking every opportunity to feed friends and family. Kendra is a cooking instructor, food consultant, and food blogger at myfirstkitchen.net

Stock Basics

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Stocks are often thought of as the building blocks to good cooking. A stock is, quite simply, the liquid obtained by the simmering of meat and bones with water, vegetable trimmings, herbs and seasonings. The water takes on the essence, flavor, and body of its ingredients, and can be used to make delicious stews, soups, braises, and vegetable dishes. Stock can be used in place of water when cooking rice or even reduced down to make a wonderfully satisfying sauce- just enrich with a bit of butter or cream!

There are some great stocks available at your grocery store. On Paula’s Food Network Show, Paula’s Best Dishes, there is often not enough time to make stock, so they purchase a rich homemade variety. But, if you want to make your own stock it’s extremely easy to do and doesn’t even require much attention - just some simmering time on the stovetop. Give it a try, you’ll be very happy you did!

INGREDIENTS

There is a saying that good stock starts from good ingredients. Planning ahead works best with stocks. You can freeze leftover raw poultry bones and meat scraps in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you have accumulated enough, you can make stock. You can also purchase inexpensive cuts like chicken wings, necks, and backs from your butcher. These are great choices for stock since they have lots of connective tissue that will break down during simmering and add gelatin and body to your stock. Use fresh vegetables, herbs, and spices to enhance flavor.

COOKING TIPS

Rinse your bones under cold water to remove blood and impurities before beginning. This will result in a stock with good clarity. Cut your vegetables in a size that allows the flavors to be drawn out. If simmering for more than two hours, chunks will suffice. If less than 2, a half inch dice is fine. Trim your vegetables longer or smaller to correspond with simmering times. Use a tall heavy bottomed stockpot. It should be large enough to hold all your ingredients with them being submerged in water. Start your stock with cold water and bring slowly to a simmer. This will allow all the impurities to slowly coagulate and come to the surface of the stock. Skim these impurities with a slotted spoon or ladle. This is especially important the first hour of simmering. Keep an eye on temperature. You do not want your stock just bubbling away. A bare simmer, with small bubbles surfacing every moment or so is the way to go. This will ensure clarity and produce a longer shelf life. Be careful not overcook your stock. It will turn bitter and flat tasting. Carefully strain finished stock in a colander lined with cheese cloth (or a clean paper towels in a pinch) and cool down in an ice bath. If you desire a richer tasting stock, you can return the strained stock to the stovetop and reduce for a fuller flavor.

STOCK VERSUS BROTH

Sometimes people use the terms interchangeably. A stock is made with meaty bones, water, vegetables, and aromatics. The meat adds flavor while the gelatinous connective tissue breaks down and gives the stock its body. Broth is made from just meat along with water, vegetables, and aromatics and is lighter in body and flavor than stock. A broth can be served on its own while stock is a base.

STORAGE

Freeze stocks in different amounts so you can use them as a recipe calls for. 1 cup and 4 cups amounts seem to be the most effective choices. 1 cup can be used for sauces or cooking vegetables and 4 cups is a good amount for soups. Stocks can be frozen for up to four months in freezer safe containers.

BASIC CHICKEN STOCK RECIPE

4 1/2 pounds wings, backs, and necks from uncooked chickens
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped into quarters
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 medium stalks of celery, chopped into 1 inch pieces
8 sprigs parsley
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 dried bay leaves
4 1/2 quarts cold water

Rinse chicken under cold water and add the chicken parts to a large heavy bottomed stockpot. Add cold water to cover chicken. Bring the water slowly to a boil then reduce to a bare simmer. There should be very few gentle bubbles bursting on the surface of the water. Skim the surface of the stock to get rid of the impurities.

Add the onions, carrots, celery, parsley, peppercorns, and bay leaves to the pot. Continue to simmer the stock for 3 hours, skimming occasionally.

Strain the stock through a paper towel lined colander into a large bowl. Carefully discard the hot solids. Let cool. Place in refrigerator for 12 hours to allow fat to rise to the top. Skim fat off and discard. Divide between freezer safe containers. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Yields 2 quarts

Watch Jamie Deen make Chicken stock in this How To Video.

The Beauty of Broiling

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Want to know how to make a delicious dinner in 10 minutes or less? Of course you do! It’s everyone’s dream to spend less time in the kitchen making the food and more time with your family at the table eating it. Now, there’s an often-neglected piece of equipment in everyone’s kitchen that saves tons of time and calories- the broiler! So let’s put it to good use and make some fast, flavorful food that is also low in added fat and calories.

What is it?
Broiling is similar to grilling because of the direct and intense heat it supplies, but instead of the heat coming from below the food it comes from above. You can broil any cut of meat you would normally grill- the best cuts are always meat, fish, and poultry portions less than 2 inches thick. A great benefit of broiling is that no added fat is needed to cook it. There’s no need to oil the broiler pan to prevent sticking, so not only are you saving time, but you’re also saving fat and calories.

Where is it?
The broiler is often in what looks like a drawer at the bottom of the oven. Or, if your range is not equipped with a drawer broiler, your broiler will be located in your oven. It will be the top of the oven’s heating element (you’ll just have to adjust the oven racks to a few inches below the element). There are usually two heats: high and low.

How do I start?
Always preheat not only your broiler, but also your broiler pan for at least 5 minutes before you begin. The hot broiler pan will add a nice browned crust to the bottom of whatever you happening to be broiling (and we all know that brown means flavor). The intense heat that is coming from above the food browns the top, giving it a delicious crust.

Here we go
Keep the broiler door slightly ajar to avoid flare-ups and to keep the temperature from reaching the broiler’s maximum heat, which will sometimes trigger the broiler to turn off in some models.

For thinner cuts of meat, set the broiler closer to the flame. For thicker cuts, set the broiler further from the flame. Thin cuts need a chance to brown on the outside before being over-cooked in the center and thick cuts should reach proper temperature in the center before burning on the outside.

Some extra tips
Always bring your meats up to room temperature before broiling so it cooks evenly.
Since your meat will be so close to the heat source, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your meat while you’re broiling. It can go from perfectly cooked to perfectly scorched in less than a minute. We always set a timer a few minutes before the recipe calls for a safety precaution. Better safe than sorry!

Not only can your broiler be used to prepare steaks, chicken breasts, and fish filets, but it’s also a great way to brown casseroles, melt cheeses, and even prepare vegetables!

Our Secret Snack
Our Test Kitchen’s secret snack is a broiled open-faced grilled cheese, which is a perfect quick and easy after work snack. Broil a slice of bread until golden brown (about 2 minutes), flip, then top with a few tablespoons grated cheese, put back under the broiler for 1 to 2 more minutes and broil until melted. It’s a very satisfying 5-minute snack!

Test Kitchen Recipe
Try the Test Kitchen’s quick and healthy dinner recipe the next time you need dinner on the table in under ten minutes!

Perfectly Simple Broiled Salmon Salad for Two
2 (6 ounce) salmon filets, skinned (1 ½ inches thick)
4 big handfuls baby arugula or spinach
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Adjust broiler pan to 4-6 inches below broiler. Heat broiler on high for 5 minutes. 

Season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the salmon on the hot broiler pan and place under the broiler. Broil for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned and fully cooked through.

While the salmon is broiling, add the greens to a large bowl along with the cherry tomatoes, almonds, and feta cheese. Drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss all together. Divide the salad among 2 large plates.

Check on salmon, if cooked through and golden brown, top salad with broiled salmon. Dig in!

Serves 2
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes

Try some more of Paula’s recipes:
Broiled Parmesan Tomatoes
Balsamic Glazed London Broil
Bobby’s Lighter Macho Nachos
Blue Cheese and Bacon Broiled Tomatoes
Grilled Tilapia Po’ Boys with Homemade Tartar Sauce

Lemons, A Natural Household Cleaner

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Lemon juice isn’t just for a tasty lemonade in the summer. Lemons have natural antiseptic qualities that make them an amazing natural alternative for cleaning and deodorizing. Lemons are refreshing and tough on messes. We have compiled a list of our top ten household uses for this winter citrus!

1. Quarter a lemon and run it through the garbage disposal to get rid of nasty odors and freshen the drain.

2. Remove food odors from wooden cutting boards and countertops by rubbing the surface with a lemon.  Also use on wooden cutlery and bowls.

3. Make a paste of lemon juice and cream of tartar to clean copper or tarnished brass. Rinse and dry immediately after using.

4. Add half a lemon to the dishwasher load for sparkling spot-free clean smelling dishes.

5. Use lemons to clean sink faucets and remove lime scale build-up.

6. Mix lemon juice and water in a spray bottle for a natural air freshener.

7. Make your own all-purpose cleaning solution. Combine lemon juice, vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Great to use on windows. Use newspaper to dry.

8. Squeeze lemon juice into your laundry for a refreshing scent. Lemons can also be used as a spot cleaner for any stubborn stains. To bleach your clothes, add a ½ cup of lemon juice to your rinse cycle and dry your clothes in the sun.

9. Combine 1 part lemon juice with 2 parts olive oil for a natural furniture polish.

10. To freshen up your microwave and loosen up any baked on particles, boil lemon juice in the microwave.

New Year’s Party Appetizers

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    Sweet and Mild Meatball Appetizers

                            

    Meatballs that are sweet and tasty- perfect for the New Year!

                        

                    

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    Pesto Cheese Blossoms

                            

    Tired of serving cubes of cheese at your parties? Try this pesto cheese blossom, and you’re guests will be raving with delight.

                        

                    

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    Hot Tomato Tart Appetizers

                            

    A new twist on a classic tart recipe.

                        

                    

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    Fig Balsamic Blue Cheese Crostini

                            

    These are so simple to assemble, but make such a stunning presentation!

                        

                    

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    Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

                            

    An instant crowd favorite! You’ll want to be sure to make some extras!

                        

                    

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    Brie en Croute

                            

    Ooey, gooey brie wrapped inside a pastry- folks, it doesn’t get much better!

                        

                    

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    Bacon Wrapped Bread Sticks

                            

    A must-have at any New Year’s party. But don’t take our word for it, try them for yourself.

                        

                    

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    Shrimp Crostini

                            

    A trust taste of the South on a little crostini. These are the perfect appetizer to be passed around at your next gathering.

                        

                    

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    The Heavyset Cheese Ball

                            

    Get a little artistic with this cheese ball!

                        

                    

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    Spinach Gruyere Puff Pastry

                            

    Gruyere and spinach, a wonderful combination! You won’t believe how fast these will fly off your plates.

                        

                    

The Deen Bros. Lighter Christmas Shepherd’s Pie

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474 Fewer Calories
25 g Less Fat

Ingredients:

Topping
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1/3 cup reduced-fat (1%) milk
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 portobello mushrooms (about 4 ounces each), finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
6 tablespoons shredded Cheddar-Jack cheese

Directions:
To make the topping, place the potatoes in a large pot with enough cold water to cover; bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Add the milk, butter, and salt; mash with a potato masher until the potatoes are smooth and creamy. Set aside. 

Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and cook, breaking it apart with a spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the oil to same skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, carrot, garlic, and salt; cook, stirring frequently, until any liquid is evaporated and the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray 6 (1-cup) ramekins with nonstick spray.

Return the turkey to skillet. Add the broth and tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the peas. Evenly spoon the filling into the ramekins.  Spoon the potato topping evenly over the filling. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of the cheese.  Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until the topping is lightly browned and the filling is bubbly, 20 – 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Per Serving: 311 Cal; 27 g Protein; 9 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 3 g Mono Fat; 31 g Carb; 5 g Fiber; 5 g Sugar; 127 mg Calcium; 3 mg Iron; 699 mg Sodium; 61 mg Cholesterol

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time:  55 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy

Original recipe courtesy Paula Deen: Christmas Shepherd’s Pie
Lightened Up recipe courtesy of The Deen Brothers and the Paula Deen Test Kitchen.

New Year’s Toasts

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The gentle clinking of silver to crystal can silence even the liveliest party. Obedient guests the world over will raise their glasses in salute of the host, a happy couple, an honoree or fellow guests. On this occasion, let’s raise our glasses …to toasts!

Before we sip our champagne, let’s take a moment to reflect on the tradition of toasting. In ye olden days of yore, everyone from kings and priests to nomads and shepherds drank deeply to honor deities, elders and warriors.  Rites and rituals changed with cultures and regions. Our cheerful clinking of glasses was originally meant to ward off evil spirits, and in some cultures, looking away during a toast was a sign of poor character. America’s toasts most likely evolved from an ale house custom in Elizabethan England. A bowl of mead or wine came with a floating piece of spiced or sweetened toast. After the bowl was emptied, the host ate the toast in honor of his guests.

Today we toast at nearly every occasion. From crystal flutes filled with champagne to paper cups filled with apple juice, there is a toast to suit.  Wedding toasts are perhaps the most rehearsed and revered, but words of advice, humor and love are welcome at almost every occasion. They can be a simple “cheers” or elaborately researched and poetic speeches. Often an impromptu toast from the heart is the most memorable and touching. Don’t wait until the next holiday! Raise your glass to your mother at lunch, your best friend at afternoon coffee, and your family tonight at dinner.  Here’s to you!

Cheers! Skål! Kampai! Salud! Here are some of Paula’s favorite toasts.

There are very few moments in life as good as this. Let’s remember it. To each of us and all of us, never have we been more close, may we never be farther apart.
-Hugh Marlowe as Lloyd Richards in All About Eve

Here’s looking at you, kid.
-Humphrey Bogart as Rick in Casablanca

Stir the eggnog, lift the toddy, Happy New Year, everybody.
-Phyllis McGinley


May you live to be 100 and may the last voice you hear be mine.
-Frank Sinatra

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be ever at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.
-Traditional Gaelic toast

I would rather be with the people of this town than with the finest people in the world.
-Fred Willard as Mayor Deebs in Roxanne

I love ya, I ain’t above ya, but I’m tired of ya.
-Paula Deen

Creaming 101

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Creaming is the first baking step in most cookie and cake recipes. Usually, the directions read “Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.” Did you know that this is one of the most important steps if not THE most important steps in the entire recipe? If done correctly, it should take nearly 10 minutes to complete.


What is the Science Behind Creaming?
Creaming incorporates the maximum amount of air bubbles so a recipe will rise in the oven and be light in texture. It is done by beating with a hand mixer or standing mixer with a paddle attachment, the “fat” which is usually butter, first and then adding sugar, usually granulated white sugar, and creaming the two together. Fat can also mean vegetable shortening, margarine or lard.  The sugar can be white or brown.

When butter and sugar are creamed together, the rough sugar crystals cut into the fat, creating air bubbles that are held in by it. These small air bubbles serve as a nuclei for leavening gases and steam. If the fat and sugar is creamed correctly, the entrapped air is more evenly dispersed around the fat leading to more even rising.

It’s important to remember that leaveners simply enlarge the air bubbles that already exist in the batter; they do not create more. A cookie or cake will rise when leaveners, such as baking soda and/or baking powder, are moistened and heated. They release carbon dioxide which gravitate to the air bubbles and expand them like very small balloons. If not creamed properly, the result will be a cake that is lopsided, one that has not risen as high as it can or one that will first puff in the oven and then fall.

The proper way to cream…don’t skimp on time!
1.  Use the paddle attachment on your standing mixer or the beaters with your hand-held electric mixer.
2.  Make sure to use room temperature butter (around 65ºF) cut into 1” pieces, placed in the mixer bowl.
3.  Using your mixer, begin at low speed to first soften the butter. Then increase the mixer to medium, for approximately 1 minute, until it is smooth.
4.  Beat fat into a plastic-like consistency. Be mindful not to over-beat. Over-beating the butter can soften it too much, which will diminish its ability to trap and hold air.
5.  With the mixer still set on medium, slowly add in the sugar at the side of the bowl. The best way is to add it 1 tablespoon at a time, taking approximately 10 minutes to complete. If you don’t have the time, you can slowly add the sugar in a steady stream or in small clumps (brown sugar) at the side of the bowl while mixing. Make sure to scrape the sides and the bottom of your mixing bowl often with a rubber spatula.

How do I know when to stop the creaming process?
Stop creaming when the mixture becomes light in color and fluffy in texture.  The volume of the mixture will have increased and when touched, it should have the consistency of a thick gritty mayonnaise.

Paula’s Note:  if at any time during softening the butter or creaming, the butter starts to separate or break down, it is usually because it is too warm. To correct, place the butter or butter and sugar mixture in the refrigerator for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, even if half-way through creaming. This should chill and harden the fat so you can resume again.

New Winter Soups

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Stay warm this winter with a bowl of one or two of these brand new hearty soups! Pull up a seat and wrap yourself up in a cozy blanket while you enjoy one of these homemade soups. They’re so easy and affordable to prepare, and make plenty to save some for later too. So whether you’re watching the snow falling outside your window, listening to logs crack in your fireplace, or just imagining you were home during your office lunch hour, we know that these soups will warm you up- inside and out!

Eat some now, or save it for later. Learn how to stretch a meal and your dollar with these basic food freezing tips!

Warm up a bowl of comfort!

             
  • Sweet Potato and Date Soup

                   

    A different kind of potato soup!

                 

             

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    Yellow Squash and Ham Soup

                   

    Here’s a new approach to all of that leftover holiday ham.

                 

             

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    Hearty Beef and Noodle Soup

                   

    A beefy soup that will keep you warm and full!

                 

             

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    Butter Bean Soup

                   

    A new favorite soup that you’ll want to make over and over.

                 

             

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    Lemon Tarragon Chicken Soup

                   

    A flavorful recipe that’s so easy to make.

                 

             

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    Speedy Veggie Chili

                   

    Need a hearty chili on the go? Look no further!

                 

             

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    Turkey Minestrone

                   

                 

             

Getting to Know Your Holiday Ham

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People all over the world have loved ham for hundreds of years; in fact, China, Europe, and various other cultures have been eating cured ham since before the Common Era.  Christmas ham has been a domestic favorite since colonists arrived in the mid-Atlantic and Southern states, when pigs grazed on nuts and other delights in the Appalachian Mountains.  Who can resist the smoky, sweet taste and aroma of holiday ham, sneaking in bites before and after the big meal?  It’s delicious, easy, and usually affordable, especially factoring in so many leftover ideas that you won’t get sick of it!

TIPS TO GET PREPARED

Choose your ham and preparation method
Determine how many people you’re feeding (about 1/3 pound per person, slightly more for bone-in) and what kind of ham you want.  This could mean as little as getting a ready-to-eat ham and glaze, for which Paula has in-store and online products and recipes.


Americans are most familiar with hams that come ready to cook, usually meaning that they are wet-cured (brined), often smoked or given smoked flavor, and pre-cooked.  In most American supermarkets, cured ham means that salt, nitrates, nitrites, sugar, and preservatives have been added for optimal flavor, color, and longevity.  A common cured type is country ham, which has a strong smoky flavor and typically a moldy exterior (don’t worry, it’s part of the aging process, but it should be removed before cooking and eating).  Due to salt content and other factors, country hams are generally pre-soaked in water for 12-24 hours and do not freeze well, while others can be marinated as desired overnight. Options may include fresh, cured or uncured, whole smoked or smoked parts, country, picnic (which is technically not ham to due to part it comes from), steaks, etc.

Usually your recipe will specify what to buy, so try these!:
Smoked ham butt:
Christmas Ham
Country ham, here fully cooked and spiral-sliced:
Peach Glazed Ham with Peach Corn Relish
Whole smoked picnic ham:
Peanut Butter Glazed Ham
Fresh (uncured) ham:
Herb Crusted Fresh Ham
Baked Ham with Soy House Seasoning
Fried ham and some other preparations, you will need an uncooked ham and will brine it overnight:
Deep Fried Ham
Ham steaks:
Aunt Peggy’s Orange Glazed Ham Steak
Country Ham and Red Eyed Gravy

Dress up for the occasion
Don’t forget about ingredients you might need for a homemade glaze (such as brown sugar, liquid smoke, spices, dried and preserved fruits such as prunes, peaches, and figs) and sides (winter favorites include root vegetables, leeks, hearty leafy greens, dried/canned beans, and of course grits)

Prepare to cook
Oven times and temperatures vary according to cut and recipe, but standard 10-14-pound smoked ham recipes will recommend 325-350 degrees for 15-20 minutes per pound, depending on the cut and whether the ham is fully cooked when purchased. 

If glazing, ready-to-eat hams can be brushed before baking and sometimes basted intermittently with wine, cider, or cola:
Cola Basted Ham
If using a homemade glaze for a roast, this can also be done during the last 30 minutes (remove skin and pan drippings first, then brush on glaze) of cooking.

Allow 10-15 minutes of resting time, especially if carving slices of cooked ham.

For leftovers…
The options are endless, but here are a few of our favorites (note that ham can last in the fridge for a few weeks and in the freezer for up to two months):
Dice it up for an egg-y brunch item, hearty salad, or soup:
Ham and Black Eyed Pea Cake
Ham Salad
Ham and Bean Soup

Gingerbread Hanging Ornaments

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Gingerbread ornaments are a sweet and classic Christmas craft. We like to add their special homemade touch to our Christmas trees, giving them a cozy and delicious yuletide look. Kids love to help bake and decorate the cookies, making this a fun family activity for everyone.  Follow our how-to and decorate your own tree with this adorable edible confection.

imageAfter chilling your dough for at least one hour, let your dough sit out at room temperature for just 10 minutes, so it will be easy to roll and more pliable.  Roll out the dough, between two sheets of parchment (to prevent sticking and to help with the mess) to 1/8 inch thickness. Rolling the dough thin will make a crisper and cookie, more appropriate for a decoration than a thick and chewy cookie.

Cut out your cookie in your desired shape and place on a parchment lined sheet tray. We liked the classic boys and girls but feel free to get creative. We’ve seen cute pigs, stars, trees, and snowmen already this year!

image
Once the cookies are on the sheet tray, use a clean drinking straw or craft stick to punch a hole out of the raw dough where you want your thread to hang. When making Gingerbread boys or girls, we poked a hole in the top center of the head, giving it a bit extra support while it hangs form the tree.

Bake for the time your recipes states, then allow to cool completely before icing, applying candies, and finally, threading with a decorative string to hang from the tree.

Try this gingerbread recipe for your ornaments!

DIY Holiday Cinnamon Stick Candle

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Who doesn’t love a cozy candle this time of year? To really light up your holiday season, follow our cinnamon stick candle how to, and let it glow!

imageStep 1: First gather all your materials. You’ll need a hot glue gun and sticks, pretty ribbon or twine, long cinnamon sticks, small decorative embellishments (like pinecones, small ornaments, or freshly cut holly), and a candle. You should be able to pick up all supplies with one stop at your local craft store.

 

imageStep 2: Carefully glue the cinnamon sticks together around the base of the candle.

 

imageStep 3: Continue gluing the cinnamon sticks around the base of the candle, using various sizes for a more interesting look and feel.

imageStep 4: Tie a ribbon or some twine around the middle of the candle. We used vintage Christmas ribbons we found at a yard sale. Feel free to get creative here- burlap, twine, and baker’s ribbon all look great.

 

imageStep 5: Add your favorite embellishment to the center of the ribbon.

These make perfect and inexpensive gifts for your friends and family! Happy crafting, y’all! 

Ham for the Holidays

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  • Herb Crusted Fresh Ham

                   

    You’re going to love this savory show-stopper!

                 

             

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    Fresh Ham

                   

    A fresh-flavored ham that is perfect for the holidays, and all year round.

                 

             

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    Honey Mustard Glazed Ham

                   

    The tangy glaze on this ham will make you want to lick your plate, and we won’t blame you!

                 

             

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    Christmas Ham

                   

    The title says it all! This recipe is always Paula’s centerpiece for her holiday feast, and she wants to share it with you.

                 

             

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    Cola Basted Ham

                   

    Yes, this recipe really calls for cola! Once you try it, you’ll wish you had heard about it sooner.

                 

             

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    Country Ham and Red Eyed Gravy

                   

    This Southern favorite will send you back to memories of your grandmother’s house on a chilly winter’s evening.

                 

             

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    Peanut Butter Glazed Ham

                   

    Peanut butter is just for cookies and sandwiches. This glaze will definitely knock your socks off.

                 

             

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    Aunt Peggy’s Orange Glazed Ham Steak

                   

    If it comes from Aunt Peggy’s recipe repertoire, then you know it has to be good!

                 

             

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    Deep-Fried Ham

                   

    We guarantee this will be one of the juiciest hams you’ve ever put in your mouth.

                 

             

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    Baked Ham with Soy House Seasoning

                   

    A baked ham with a savory soy house seasoning that will give a slightly unexpected and flavor to your holiday table.

                 

             

30 Days of Holiday Cookies

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Overwhelmed by cookie recipes already? Don’t sweat it! We’ve got thirty fantastic cookie recipes to help you sweeten things up this holiday season. Wrap them up in festive holiday packaging, and they make the perfect homemade gifts for friends and family. Or, make a few different kinds and host your own cookie swap party! You and your friends will love giving and receiving these holiday cookies made straight from the heart.

                       
  • Cousin Johnnie’s Red Velvet Whoopie Pie

                   

    Make these sweet treats and they won’t be around for long! Who wouldn’t love red velvet sandwich cookies?

                 

             

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    Top Secret Chocolate Cookies

                   

    It’s no secret why this recipe is one of Paula’s favorites. Place a small bit of parchment between each cookie and wrap with a piece of pretty ribbon for a thoughtful gift.

                 

             

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    Three Chocolate Cookies

                   

    There’s not one, not two, but three kinds of chocolate in these delicious cookies.

                 

             

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    Gingerbread Boys and Girls

                   

    Half the fun of making these gingerbread boys and girls is dressing them up. You’ll have a blast adding bow ties and dresses. Make ‘em your own!

                 

             

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    Ginger Cookies

                   

    A sweet and snappy cookie that just might snap you back.

                 

             

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    Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

                   

    Can you imagine bite sized pieces of gooey butter cake? Well no you don’t have to! We guarantee that these will be gone as soon as you pull them out of the oven.

                 

             

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    Perfectly Pecan Praline Cookies

                   

    Crushed praline bits and drizzled with sweet white chocolate make these cookies finger-lickin’ good.

                 

             

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    Oatmeal Scotchie Cookie

                   

    It’s a classic oatmeal cookie with a little bit of twist. Butterscotch morsels and chopped pecans make this cookie out-of-this-world good!

                 

             

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    White Chocolate Cherry Chunkies

                   

    Paula normally makes these cookies for the holidays, but we’re sure that after you make them once you’ll be making them year-round.

                 

             

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    White Chocolate Coconut Cookies

                   

    Bits of coconut, white chocolate chips and oats make this a cookie to satisfy just about any one’s sweet tooth.

                 

             

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    Vanilla Sugar Cookie

                   

    The best thing about these cookies is that you cut them out into any fun shape. Cut them into turkeys and pumpkins for Thanksgiving, or make them into cute leaves of holly or holiday bells for Christmas.

                 

             

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    Monster Cookies

                   

    It’s a monster cookie! This loaded cookie is really a mouthful; they’re loaded with candy-coated bits, peanut butter, and chocolate chips

                 

             

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    Peppermint Pinwheels

                   

    You can easily make these festive cookies into precious cookie-pops. Insert a small stick, wrap with plastic, and tie a pretty bow around it to make the perfect stocking stuffer.

                 

             

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    Paula’s Loaded Oatmeal Cookies

                   

                 

             

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    Low Country Cookies

                   

    It’s no secret why this recipe is one of Paula’s favorites. Place a small bit of parchment between each cookie and wrap with a piece of pretty ribbon for a thoughtful gift.

                 

             

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    Benne Seed Cookies

                   

    It’s no secret why this recipe is one of Paula’s favorites. Place a small bit of parchment between each cookie and wrap with a piece of pretty ribbon for a thoughtful gift.

                 

             

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    Magical Peanut Butter Cookies

                   

    It’s no secret why this recipe is one of Paula’s favorites. Place a small bit of parchment between each cookie and wrap with a piece of pretty ribbon for a thoughtful gift.

                 

             

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    Butterscotch Slice Cookies

                   

    It’s no secret why this recipe is one of Paula’s favorites. Place a small bit of parchment between each cookie and wrap with a piece of pretty ribbon for a thoughtful gift.

                 

             

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    Red Velvet Biscotti

                   

    It’s no secret why this recipe is one of Paula’s favorites. Place a small bit of parchment between each cookie and wrap with a piece of pretty ribbon for a thoughtful gift.

                 

             

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    Grandma Paul’s Sand Tarts

                   

    It’s no secret why this recipe is one of Paula’s favorites. Place a small bit of parchment between each cookie and wrap with a piece of pretty ribbon for a thoughtful gift.

                 

             

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    Monogrammed Sugar Cookies

                   

    It’s no secret why this recipe is one of Paula’s favorites. Place a small bit of parchment between each cookie and wrap with a piece of pretty ribbon for a thoughtful gift.

                 

             

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    Hidden Kisses

                   

    It’s no secret why this recipe is one of Paula’s favorites. Place a small bit of parchment between each cookie and wrap with a piece of pretty ribbon for a thoughtful gift.

                 

             

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    Hidden Mint Cookies

                   

    It’s no secret why this recipe is one of Paula’s favorites. Place a small bit of parchment between each cookie and wrap with a piece of pretty ribbon for a thoughtful gift.

                 

             

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    Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

                   

    It’s no secret why this recipe is one of Paula’s favorites. Place a small bit of parchment between each cookie and wrap with a piece of pretty ribbon for a thoughtful gift.

                 

             

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    Coconut Macaroons

                   

    It’s no secret why this recipe is one of Paula’s favorites. Place a small bit of parchment between each cookie and wrap with a piece of pretty ribbon for a thoughtful gift.

                 

             

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    Savannah Bow Ties

                   

    It’s no secret why this recipe is one of Paula’s favorites. Place a small bit of parchment between each cookie and wrap with a piece of pretty ribbon for a thoughtful gift.

                 

             

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    Mexican Wedding Cookies

                   

    It’s no secret why this recipe is one of Paula’s favorites. Place a small bit of parchment between each cookie and wrap with a piece of pretty ribbon for a thoughtful gift.

                 

             

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    Chocolate Meringue Kisses

                   

    It’s no secret why this recipe is one of Paula’s favorites. Place a small bit of parchment between each cookie and wrap with a piece of pretty ribbon for a thoughtful gift.

                 

             

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    Black and White Cookies

                   

    It’s no secret why this recipe is one of Paula’s favorites. Place a small bit of parchment between each cookie and wrap with a piece of pretty ribbon for a thoughtful gift.

                 

             

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    Savannah Cheesecake Cookies

                   

    It’s no secret why this recipe is one of Paula’s favorites. Place a small bit of parchment between each cookie and wrap with a piece of pretty ribbon for a thoughtful gift.

                 

             

Irresistible Ambrosia Salad

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Have you ever wondered how some cooks make those perfectly sliced segments of citrus in Ambrosia salad? The technique is quite simple and easy to master. Learn to make your prettiest Ambrosia yet with our simple how-to:

imageFirst, slice two thin rounds off the top and the bottom of the orange. This will make the fruit stable for the next step; the trimming away the peel and pith.

Rest the bottom of the orange on the board. Follow the roundness of the orange with your knife, and trim away the peel and the bitter white pith. You do not want any of the white remaining, but you also should be careful not to trim away too much of the fruit.

imageNext, carefully make two slices between each segment’s membrane, being careful not to slice through the other side of the fruit. Use the natural wedge shape of the fruit’s segment as a guide.

imageRemove the segment and continue with the remaining fruit. Use a bowl to catch the juices that will fall as you work, and to also use a knife that you feel comfortable with. If a chef’s knife feels too large, go for the paring knife! It’s important to work slowly and to protect your precious fingers.

This method will work with oranges, grapefruit, blood oranges, and all other varieties of citrus (although we wouldn’t recommend trying it with a key lime!). Not only can this be used in Ambrosia salad but in any winter salad. We love the look of fresh spinach with bright orange segments!

Click here for a full recipe.

The Deen Bros. Lighter Eggnog

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302 Fewer Calories
17 g Less Fat

Ingredients:

2 cups whole milk
2 (1-ounce) packages instant sugar-free vanilla pudding
6 cups low-fat (1%) milk
3 tablespoons light rum or 1 teaspoon rum extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for serving
1/4 cup reduced-fat half-and half

Directions:

Whisk together the whole milk and instant pudding in a large bowl until blended and smooth. Gradually whisk in the low-fat milk, rum or rum extract, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours or overnight.

Just before serving, stir in the half-and-half until blended. Ladle into cups and sprinkle with more nutmeg if desired.

Per Serving (1/2 cup): 70 Cal; 4 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 1 g Mono Fat; 7 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; 7 g Sugar; 150 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 63 mg Sodium; 8 mg Cholesterol

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: none
Difficulty: easy
Yield: 8 cups

Original recipe courtesy Paula Deen:  Mama’s Eggnog

Lightened Up recipe courtesy of The Deen Brothers and the Paula Deen Test Kitchen.

Holiday Cranberry Recipes

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  • Pork Chops with Cranberry Mustard Sauce

                   

    Fall’s favorite berry isn’t just for side dishes anymore!

                 

             

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    Mrs. Hoggle’s Stuffed Cranberry Sauce

                   

    This unexpected take on jellied cranberries will jazz up your holiday table, but it also works with regular meals.

                 

             

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    Cranberry Salad

                   

    A wonderful, seasonal staple at any holiday gathering.

                 

             

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    Wayne’s Cranberry Sauce

                   

    Fresh and lovely cranberry sauce with a bite.

                 

             

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    Hot Cranberry Cider

                   

    Melt all of your cares away with a warm mug of this cranberry cider.

                 

             

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    Deep Fried Cranberry Sauce Fritters

                   

    It’s an unexpected twist to your usual cranberry sauce!

                 

             

Top 10 Holiday Side Dishes

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image1. Sweet Potato Bake
Paula’s Sweet Potato Bake is so good and sweet, you might just think it’s dessert.

image2. Smashed Potato, Parsnips and Rutabaga
Add parsnips, rutabaga and cream cheese to your mashed potatoes, and you’ll have a side dish your holiday guests won’t soon forget.

image3. Brussels Sprouts with Onion and Bacon
Brussels sprouts look and taste a little like cabbage, but they make for a fancier looking side dish.

image4. Roasted Cauliflower
Thyme and Dijon mustard will your cauliflower a welcome twist. Drizzle them with olive oil and roast them in the oven, and you’ll think twice about your usual side dishes.

image5. Mrs. Hoggle’s Stuffed Cranberry Sauce
Nothing says the holidays quite like cranberry sauce, and Paula’s stuffed cranberry sauce is a great way to spruce up your canned sauce.

image6. Corrie’s Bacon Creamed Spinach
Dazzle your holiday dinner plates with this beautiful and savory side dish. Bacon and spinach, who knew? We did, of course!

image7. Butternut Squash Casserole
If your family isn’t into sweet potato bakes or casseroles, give this winter squash casserole a try. It’s just as sweet and you might be pleasantly surprised!

image8. Blue Potatoes au Gratin
Here’s a savory and romantic side dish that’s bursting with flavor. Gruyere and blue cheese melding together make this one of our absolute favorites.

image 9. Green Beans with Almonds and Caramelized Onions
Want an elegant and delicious dish that’s fit for your holiday gatherings? Look no further than these green beans with almonds. Your taste buds will thank you.

image10. Easy Yeast Rolls
Now what holiday dinner could be complete without a dinner roll? Not ours, that’s for sure! Super simple, serve these rolls with some herbed butter piping hot straight from the oven.

 

Time-Saving Suppers

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  • Chicken Empanadas

                   

    These savory little pies can be made well in advance, ready for baking.

                 

             

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    Bobby’s Baked Tilapia

                   

    Take a cue from Bobby with this perfectly baked, and super quick tilapia.

                 

             

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    Broccoli Soup

                   

    Simple and light, this broccoli soup recipe only takes minutes to prepare.

                 

             

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    Roast Pork Chops with Cheddar and Bacon Grits

                   

    Who said delicious meals have to take forever to make? Save time with this complete dinner!

                 

             

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    Grilled Veggie Pizza

                   

    Veggies never tasted so good when they’re grilled and on a pizza.

                 

             

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    Spinach Strawberry and Hearts of Palm Salad

                   

    For something lighter, try this fresh and seasonal salad.

                 

             

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    Fast and Furious Thai Chicken Pizza

                   

    A great easy-to-make pizza with amazing flavors.

                 

             

From the Deen Bros: Sweet Potato Meringue Pie

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Thanksgiving desserts always get our mouths waterin’, because of the two main ingredients you traditionally find: ginger and nutmeg. No matter where we are in the world, these two spices immediately take us back home and remind us of sittin’ around Mama’s table, laughing and sharing memories around the holidays. This Sweet Potato Meringue Pie is so downright delicious; we never go a year without making it. It’s the perfect Turkey Day treat, that is if you can manage resist waiting to eat it until after dinner!

Sweet Potato Meringue Pie

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes, baked and cooled
1 cup sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
All-purpose flour for dusting
1 Basic Flaky Single Piecrust, chilled, or
1/2 of a 15-ounce package rolled refrigerated unbaked piecrusts (1 crust)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup superfine sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Peel the potatoes and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the sour cream. Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the granulated sugar, egg yolks, butter, bourbon, vanilla, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into an 11-inch circle. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the piecrust and crimp the edges decoratively. Pour the sweet potato mixture into the piecrust. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until almost set in the center. Let pie cool to room temperature.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a second large mixing bowl. Beat on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form (tips curl). Add the superfine sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until the egg whites are stiff and glossy but not dry. Spoon the meringue over the pie filling; make sure to spread the meringue to the edges and use a spatula to form the customary meringue peaks. Bake at 350°F about 10 minutes or until the meringue is golden. Let pie cool before cutting and serving.

Servings: 8 to 10
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Difficulty: Easy

Easy Thanksgiving Dishes

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People often assume that a Thanksgiving meal requires lots of side dishes to go with a huge bird that takes hours to cook. And while that might be true if you’re entertaining a large crowd, a turkey breast and pared-down sides are perfect for an easy meal for just a few people. You’ll get all the holiday flavors you love with much less time and effort spent in the kitchen.

imageMaple-Hickory Roasted Turkey Breast
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons hickory-smoked marinade
1 (5-pound) fresh or frozen and thawed bone-in skin-on turkey breast
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup chicken broth
Garnish: fresh sage leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a roasting pan and roasting rack with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup and marinade. Reserve half of syrup mixture for sauce. Using a meat injector, inject remaining syrup mixture into several places in breast.
3. In a small bowl, combine butter and next 3 ingredients; rub under and over skin of breast. Place, breast side up, on rack in prepared pan.
4. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers 165°. Transfer turkey to a serving platter, and cover loosely with aluminum foil; let stand for 15 minutes before slicing.
5. While turkey is resting, in a saucepan, bring reserved syrup mixture and chicken broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve with turkey. Garnish with fresh sage, if desired.

imageRoasted Sweet Potatoes and Apples
Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
6 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. In a medium bowl, combine apple wedges and lemon juice, tossing to coat.
2. In a large Dutch oven, bring sweet potatoes and water to cover to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes are just tender. Drain and let stand until cool enough to handle. Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
3. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 9-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange potato slices and apple wedges alternately in prepared pan.
4. In a medium saucepan, bring brown sugar and next 5 ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture is syrupy. Pour over potatoes and apples.
5. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with pecans, and bake 15 minutes more.

imageCranberry-Bourbon Sippers
Makes about 7 cups

2/3 cup water
2/3 cup light brown sugar
4 cups chilled cranberry juice
1 cup chilled pomegranate juice
1/2 cup bourbon
1/2 cup chilled fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chilled fresh lemon juice
Garnish: fresh cranberries

1. In a medium saucepan, bring 2/3 cups water and brown sugar to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring just until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, and let cool completely.
2. In a large pitcher, combine sugar mixture, cranberry juice, and remaining 4 ingredients. Serve over ice. Garnish with cranberries, if desired.

For more recipes like these, click here to subscribe to Cooking with Paula Deen magazine.

Paula’s Best Chicken Recipes

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  • Southern Fried Chicken

                   

    This is the ultimate Southern entree. Enjoy!

                 

             

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    Chicken Divan

                   

    Bring this cheesy chicken casserole to your next family gathering or church reception. It’s a hit with any crowd!

                 

             

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    Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps

                   

    These wraps are the perfect appetizer for just about any party. Don’t forget to bring these on game day!

                 

             

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    Chicken Georgia

                   

    Super simple, and great for date night or even family supper.

                 

             

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    Chicken and Dumplings

                   

    This Southern recipe staple taste just like what you remember!

                 

             

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    Quick and Easy Chicken Pot Pie

                   

    Need something filling, but don’t have a lot of time? Check out this hearty and quick chicken pot pie!

                 

             

Want the secret to the best tasting chicken? Paula recommends the chicken from Springer Mountain Farms!

The Deen Bros. Lighter Orange-Apricot Turkey

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Lighter Orange-Apricot Turkey

279 Fewer Calories
28 g Less Fat

Ingredients:
1 (12-pound) turkey
2 navel oranges
3/4 cup no-sugar added canned apricots, drained and coarsely chopped, 1/2 cup liquid reserved
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
3 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry Marsala wine or dry sherry
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spray a large roasting pan and rack with cooking spray. Remove the neck and giblets from the body and neck cavities of the turkey and discard. Rinse the turkey inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. 

Grate the zest from each orange into a small bowl. Add the apricots, ginger, rosemary, 1 teaspoon sage, oil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper until blended. Cut each orange into quarters and place into the cavity of the turkey. With your fingers, carefully lift the skin from the turkey and spread the apricot mixture evenly under the skin.  Tie the turkey legs together with kitchen twine. Place the turkey, skin-side up, on the rack in the pan. Pour 3/4 cup of broth and the reserved 1/2 cup apricot liquid into the bottom of the pan; roast the turkey for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Cover the turkey loosely with foil to prevent the skin from burning and roast, basting occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted between the leg and the thigh (without touching the bone) registers 165°F, about 2 hours, 35 minutes. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board; let stand 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the gravy, scrape the drippings from the roasting pan into to a large glass measure. Let stand 5 minutes; then skim off the fat and discard. Stir the remaining 3/4 cup of broth, wine, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt into the skimmed pan drippings until blended. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the pan drippings mixture into the flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the gravy bubbles and begins to thicken slightly, 3 – 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons of sage.

Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy. Remove the skin before eating.

Per Serving: (3 ounces total white and skinless dark meat with about 2 tablespoons gravy) 187 Cal; 28 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 1 g Mono Fat; 7 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 4 g Sugar; 28 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 308 mg Sodium; 75 mg Cholesterol

Serves: 12
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 min
Difficulty:  Easy

Original recipe courtesy Paula Deen:  Orange-Apricot Turkey
Lightened Up recipe courtesy of The Deen Brothers and the Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Dinner in 30 Minutes!

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30-Minute Meals

When it comes to fast weeknight dinners, you can never get enough ideas to keep things easy and delicious.  Everyone gets bored with the normal repertoire, and sadly, it’s often the kids who are the first to complain.  With Paula’s bounty of recipes, there’s no need to be fussy or repetitive if you’re busy.  From our takes on the classics to fun meals may never have thought of, we’ve got great recipes that won’t eat up your time!

General menu planning tips:

1. Look for things you can cook in one pot, enjoy raw, supplement with store-bought items, or don’t require a lot of chopping or other active preparation.
2. To ease the post-work time crunch, consider make-ahead or slow-cooker recipes like Stuffed Peppers and Harvest Stew.
3. Maintain a well-stocked pantry full of ingredients you feel comfortable using, liked dried spices, garlic, flour, olive oil, lemons, hardy herbs, frozen vegetables, or whatever you and your family likes. 
4. Don’t abandon your steadfast standards; you can always spruce them up and vary them, but most hungry eaters will not turn down a good grilled steak, pasta, hearty salad, giant sandwich, satisfying soup, or breakfast for dinner, (like our Sausage Pancake Egg Sandwich or our mouth-watering, Southern style Ham and Black-Eyed Pea Cake Eggs Benedict).

Some recipes to meet your needs:

One-pot
Jambalaya
Quick Crab Stew
Speedy Veggie Chili


Tried-and-true traditions for meat and fish lovers (Maybe serve with one of the sides or salads below…)
Lady and Sons Chicken Fingers
Oven Fried Catfish
Pork Chops with Bacon and Cheddar Grits

Speedy sides
Mashed Potatoes
Rice Pilaf
Spicy Green Beans
Sweet Potato Balls

For your health
Grilled Vegetables
Asian Chicken Salad

No-cook
Pimento Cheese Sandwich
Southwestern Salad
Southern Cornbread Salad - Make the cornbread ahead or buy it.

Kid-friendly
Ham Fried Rice
Vegetable Pancakes
BLT Soup

Crowd pleasers
Pastas and casserole-style baked dishes (see Make Ahead below) are always safe bets, and portions are easy to double. 
Turkey and Black Bean Ziti
Walk Away Baked Spaghetti
Macho Nachos

Dessert
Make sure you can always throw together something sweet by stocking things like ice cream, frozen or fresh fruit, chocolate chips, and piecrust.
Dessert Quesadilla
Bananas Foster
Napoleon (Don’t worry, it’s basically Oreos, wafers, and pudding mix!)

Penny Savers & Pantry Grabs
Stewed collard greens - Serve with instant rice or grits.
Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
Paula’s Couscous Salad - Our Greek-inspired ingredients make a great combo but use whatever vegetables, cheese, or olives you have!

Make Ahead
Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole - Cook the component ingredients ahead, assemble (leaving out the topping), and cover; then top and bake at dinnertime!
Enchiladas - Assemble and freeze!
Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad  - Cut and marinate the vegetables ahead of time and grill them quickly while you make the pasta.
Broccoli and Red Cabbage Slaw

How To: Fall Floral Vase

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Did you know you could transform an ordinary thrift store glass vase into an extraordinary Thanksgiving centerpiece? Follow along our easy breezy tutorial to learn how.

imageStep 1: Mix glass paint (available in craft stores) and a splash of water in separate cups. This will help the paint glide smoothly into the vase.

imageStep 2: Pour one paint color at a time into the vase, turning the vase at an angle to spread in swirl design.


imageStep Step 3: Allow 15 minutes to dry between each color you’re using.


imageStep 4: After all paint colors have been applied and inside of vase is covered, use sponge brush to clean lip of vase, then place vase upside down on a paper plate to dry. We recommend drying for 24 hours.


imageStep 5: Heat your oven to 300F. Place vase on cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes. (Baking times may vary with different brands of glass paint). Remove from oven and let cool.

imageStep 6: Fill vase with water, add your favorite blooms, and admire your creation!

Paula’s Pies for All Season

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It’s officially baking season now, and what a better way to ring in the holidays than with a fresh pie wafting delicious smells through your kitchens and homes? Pies not only warm the hearth, but also your heart. Both sweet and savory, there are so many options of flaky crusts and gooey fillings that it can be hard to choose.

Our test kitchen has compiled a definitive list of pies to help carry you through every holiday party, family gathering, and office soiree.

imageFinger-lickin’ Pies
Try pie for dinner! Rich and inviting in flavor, savory pies are perfect for fall and winter eating. They’re wonderful solutions for big families, or even just eating for one. You’ll have leftovers for lunch the next day!
Savory Chicken Pie
Ron’s Tybee Island Sausage Pie
Bacon Onion Pie
Shepard’s Pie
Turkey Pot Pie
Hurry Up Chicken Pot Pie

imageSweety-Pies
Who can resist a plate full of your grandmother’s apple pie, topped with ice cream and a little dollop of whipped cream? Not us! Whether warm and fresh out of the oven, or cool and decadent, these pies are sure to cure that sweet tooth of yours. Share the love with your whole family with a slice of one of these sweet treats.
Mom’s Apple Pie
Pecan Pie Pockets
Corrie’s Kentucky Pie
Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
Truffle Pie
Butterscotch Pie
Douglas Bourbon Pecan Pie

imageTerrific Tarts
These sweet and sassy tarts are perfect to impress friends at mixers and parties. Beautiful in presentation and a cinch to make, you’ll be wondering why you never tried them before. Apple tarts are great for the fall, and if you’re having trouble finding seasonal fruits, try the irreplaceable chocolate tart!
Apple Tart
Hot Tomato Tart Appetizers
Rustic Chocolate Pecan Tart
Peach Cream Tart
Fresh Fruit Tart

image“Pie” for Breakfast
So while not a pie by name, quiches are still an easy and great way to entertain holiday guests for breakfast or brunch. Trying to clean out your refrigerator? Throw your extra veggies, cheeses, and ham into a quiche!
Crustless Spinach Quiche
Hash Brown Quiche
Spinach and Bacon Quiche
Asparagus Quiche
Mini Onion Quiches

6 Super Stuffing Recipes

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  • Apple Cranberry Stuffing

                   

    Sweet apples and tart cranberries blend together for a stuffing recipe that your family won’t soon forget.

                 

             

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    Turkey/Chicken Stuffing

                   

    An old fashioned stuffing recipe that can be cooked in a bird or a loaf pan!

                 

             

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    Oyster Dressing

                   

    A classic Southern recipe that Paula makes every year.

                 

             

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    Southern Cornbread Stuffing

                   

    You won’t find a more traditional cornbread stuffing recipe this side of the Mason-Dixon line.

                 

             

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    Good Old Country Stuffing

                   

    The mushroom giblet gravy that accompanies this recipe is simply out of this world.

                 

             

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    Deep Fried Stuffing on a Stick

                   

    Y’all know that we’ve never been scared to deep-fry something, even stuffing!

                 

             

The Deen Bros. Lighter Stuffed Turkey Breast

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The Deen Bros. Lighter Stuffed Turkey Breast

119 Fewer Calories
13 g Less Fat

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps roughly chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup crumbled cornbread
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 (3-pound) boneless turkey breast half
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a small roasting pan with nonstick spray.

To make the filling, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the apple, sage, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cornbread, cranberries, 1/4 cup of the broth, pecans, and butter until well mixed. Let cool 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the turkey breast, skin-side down, on a cutting board. Holding a sharp knife parallel to the board and starting at one long side, cut three quarters of the way through and open up turkey like a book. Place the turkey, skin-side down, between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. With a rolling pin or meat mallet, pound the turkey to a 10 x 15-inch rectangle. Remove and discard the plastic wrap. Spread the mushroom mixture onto the turkey, leaving a 3/4-inch border. From one short side, roll up the turkey jelly-roll fashion. Do not roll too tightly or the filling will slip out of the ends. Tie the rolled turkey at 2-inch intervals with kitchen string. Place, skin-side up, into the roasting pan.

Combine the fennel seeds, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the top of the turkey. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of broth around the turkey. Roast, uncovered, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the roast registers 155°F, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Transfer the roast to a cutting board. Cover loosely with foil and let rest 15 minutes. Remove the string before slicing. Arrange the slices on a platter. Spoon the pan juices over and serve at once.

Prep Time: 25 min
Cook time: 1 hour 10 min
Difficulty:  moderate
Servings:  8

Per Serving (1/8th of roast): 326 Cal; 43 g Protein; 9 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 3 g Mono Fat; 17 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 8 g Sugar; 49 mg Calcium; 3 mg Iron; 680 mg Sodium; 106 mg Cholesterol
Original recipe courtesy Paula Deen: Stuffed Turkey Breast
Lightened Up recipe courtesy of The Deen Brothers and the Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Leftovers: From Tricky to Treat

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Re-purposing leftovers is a great way to cut down and waste and make weeknight meals easier. If you don’t usually have left overs, that’s okay! Plan ahead and make some extra for tomorrow night’s dinner. Here are some of our favorite recipes using precooked or leftover ingredients that are sure to take your leftovers from tricky to treat!

No More Mystery Meat

Have leftover cooked bacon from this morning’s breakfast? Warm Turnip Green Dip and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Pecans are great ways to use it. Try Grilled Apple, Bacon, and Cheddar Sandwich with Roasted Red Onion Mayo for a variation on the typical BLT. Or change it up and use your leftover bacon in a dessert. Wilbur’s Cupcakes are a perfect combination of salty and sweet.

Chicken is a great go-to weeknight staple. Use leftover chicken for Quick and Easy Chicken Pot Pie. Or, if you’re watching your waistline, try Bobby’s Lighter Chicken Pot Pie. You can easily turn grilled chicken, blanched green beans, and buttered rice from last night’s dinner an easy and delicious Chicken and Rice Casserole. Don’t worry if your chicken is seasoned from the night before; just keep that in mind when adding salt, pepper, and other spices. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Rosemary, thyme, or lemon seasoned chicken would be a great addition to Bobby’s Lighter Chicken and Asparagus Crepes.

Goodbye Veggie Surprise

Mashed potatoes are an easy weeknight choice. If you boiled Idaho’s make sure to save some extra for Smashed Potato Cakes. Or save leftover sweet potatoes for Aunt Peggy’s Sweet Potato Soufflé. If you’re looking for a change, use leftover mashed sweet potatoes for a special morning treat, Sweet Potato Doughnuts with Maple Icing. Mashed Cauliflower is a great way to switch up your weeknight menu, watch your waist, and use leftover steamed cauliflower.

Cooked green beans are great the next day! Try using them in Bobby’s Lighter Green Bean Casserole. Or, if you’re in the mood for a salad, Fresh Green Bean and Tomato Salad are great choices.

So Long Stalemate

Cajun Seafood Balls and Ham Fried Rice with Pineapple and Fried Egg are great ways to use leftover rice. If you’re in the mood for a sweeter treat, try Bobby’s Lighter Old Fashioned Rice Pudding. Subbing dried cranberries for raisins will add a sweet flavor and light pink tint. Or add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg for added flavor.

Leftover bread and cornbread are great for making homemade stuffing. Try Turkey/Chicken Stuffing or Southern Cornbread Stuffing. Don’t worry if your bread is different; sourdough, French, or Italian loafs are still great additions.

Using leftovers cuts down on cooking time and cost without resorting to take out or sacrificing flavor. Make room in your fridge by using your leftovers in some of our favorite recipes.

Savory Slow Cooker Recipes

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  • Slow Cooker Apricot Glazed Pork Tenderloin

                   

    You’ll have a four star meal without hardly lifting a finger.

                 

             

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    Slow Cooker Pork Spare Ribs

                   

    You won’t believe how tender these ribs are until you try them for yourself.

                 

             

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    Slow Cooker Harvest Stew

                   

    A brand new vegetarian slow cooker recipe from the test kitchen.

                 

             

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    Slow Cooker Orange Rosemary Chicken

                   

    Orange and rosemary turn this chicken dish into a recipe you’ll want to keep around for awhile.

                 

             

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    Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs

                   

    Tender beef short ribs and delicious vegetables become a hearty meal for the whole family.

                 

             

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    Slow Cooker Smoked Sausage and Sauerkraut Soup

                   

    An easy and savory meal that cooks itself while you’re at work.

                 

             

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    Slow Cooker Apple Onion Soup with Cinnamon Cheese Toast

                   

    This recipe gives a new twist to a classic recipe.

                 

             

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    Slow Cooker Stuffed Green Peppers

                   

    Impress your guests with the stunning presentation of this super simple dish.

                 

             

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    Slow Cooker Cheese Stuffed Meatballs and Sauce

                   

    These meatballs have a tasty surprise in the center.

                 

             

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    Slow Cooker Pulled Pickled Beef Sandwiches

                   

    Yes, you can even make sandwiches in your slow cooker!

                 

             

How To: Braided Strudel

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Look no further friends! The Paula Deen Test Kitchen has come up with a stunning (yet simple) appetizer to wow your guests this holiday season. It’s the perfect snack for any festive gathering.
Make some room on the cheese board this year for our Butternut Squash Braided Strudel!

imageStep 1: Gather the food and equipment. You will need a sheet tray lined with parchment, rolling pin, and flour for dusting, egg wash, pastry brush, and a knife. Prepare the strudel filling as directed and cool completely before assembling the strudel. For ease, this can be done the day before. Defrost one sheet of puff pastry.


imageStep 2: Dust your work surface with flour. Unfold the pastry and roll into an even 14x10 inch rectangle.

imageStep 3: Place the puff pastry on the parchment lined sheet tray then slice 1-inch strips on each sides of the dough, leaving a 4 inch gap in the center for the filling.


 

imageStep 4: Spoon the now cooled butternut squash mixture down the center of the pastry to make a mound.

 

imageStep 5: Starting at the top, fold the pastry strips over the butternut squash mixture, alternating sides, to cover the mixture.


imageStep 6: Keep working you way down the filling, folding the left side over the filling, then repeating on the right side, creating an attractive braid.

 
 

imageStep 7: If there are extra strips of dough once you get to the end, you can slice them off, and fold the end up.If you would like to make this ahead of time to ease with holiday prep, prepare up to this point, then cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until it’s time to bake. We’ve found it’s best served the day you bake it off.

 

imageStep 8: Brush the dough with an egg wash to give the outside of the strudel a nice gloss then bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, until puffed and golden.

 

imageStep 9: Serve while warm!

 

Braided Butternut Squash Strudel

Ingridients:
1 small (2 pound) butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and cubed into ¾ inch chunks
½  Vidalia onion, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons roughly chopped sage
1 (4 ounce) log goat cheese, crumbled
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour, for dusting
1/2 (17.3 ounce) package puff pastry sheets (1 sheet), thawed
Egg wash (1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water)

Directions:
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed sheet tray with parchment.

Add the squash and onion to the prepared sheet tray. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss the squash and onion together and make sure it’s all in a single layer. Roast for 35- 40 minutes, until tender and the edges are lightly golden. Add to a bowl and cool completely. Once the mixture is cool, sprinkle with the fresh sage and goat cheese and toss to combine.

Dust your work surface with flour. Unfold the pastry and roll into a 14x10 inch rectangle. Place the dough on the sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Slice 1-inch strips on both sides of the rectangle, leaving a 4 inch gap in the center of the dough for the filling. Spoon the now cooled butternut squash mixture down the center of the pastry to make a mound.

Starting at one end, fold the pastry strips over the butternut squash mixture, alternating sides, to cover the mixture.  If there are extra strips once you’re done braiding, you can just cut to remove them and then tuck in the ends. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and bake for 25 minutes, until puffed and golden.

Let the pastry cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

Serves 10 as an appetizer

Golden Gourds Place Settings and Centerpiece

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We love using autumn squash and gourds to create inexpensive holiday centerpieces. This year we tried spray-painting them a lovely gold finish to take them to the next level.  The rich metallic hue created an ideal centerpiece for the holidays. It’s almost too simple! 

Follow along to create your own unique place setting.

imageStep 1You will need craft paper to protect your work surface and a metallic spray paint. Purchase gourds of varying sizes and shapes for the most interest and appeal. Wash and dry them well.

imageStep 2 Evenly spray the gourds with a coat of spray paint. Allow the gourds dry for 1-2 hours then spray the other side or any spots that you might have missed. Allow to completely dry.

An Unforgettable Thanksgiving Menu

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Thanksgiving is one of everyone’s favorite holidays.  It celebrates two of the greatest things in life, food and people you love.  It is a day that revolves around a dinner table full of family and friends and delicious food, a day to be thankful for everything that you have. Whether your Thanksgiving meal is huge event bringing together a large number of people or a small gathering of your immediate family, Pauladeen.com has a perfect menu designed for you.

imageStart the day off right with some delicious appetizers to keep your guests satisfied while you get the meal ready.  Prosuitto stuffed mushrooms are a wonderful small bite.  Not hugely filling, but huge in flavor.

imageBrie en croute is a fabulous sweet and savory appetizer.  Serveit on a platter with other cheese, crackers, and fruit.

imageCreamy butternut squash soup is a great first course.  In-season butternut squash are at the peak of their sweetness and flavor.  Make it a day ahead and save yourself some time.

imagePaula’s rum glazed turkey is the perfect centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table.  The brown sugar, spices and dark rum create a wonderful crisp skin with fantastic flavor.  Serve it with the sweet and nutty buttery chestnut and apple stuffing.

imageIt’s not Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes.  Paula’s garlic mashed potatoes are fluffy and creamy with a delicious garlic flavor, a twist on the classic.

imageBrussels Sprouts with hot bacon vinaigrette are a perfect side dish.  The
bacon vinaigrette really jazzes up this hearty vegetable.

imageGreen Beans with almonds and caramelized onions will surely please your guests.  You get that great crunch from the almonds and sweetness from the slow cooked onions, an elegant dish to serve at your feast.

imageSweet potato biscuits are just thing you need to sop up all your gravy and deliciousness off your plate.  Buttery and flakey they are irresistible.

imageAnd now time for the real show stopper, dessert!!  Pumpkin pie is a tradition in almost every Thanksgiving meal.  Paula’s pumpkin chiffon pie takes this sweet treat to a new level.  The marshmallows add a wonderful lightness to the pumpkin filling.

imageAnother fall and Thanksgiving classic is apple pie.  Nothing says comfort like a slice of warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream.  Paula’s crunch top apple pie is a Thanksgiving must-do.

 

Celebrating the Winter Squash

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Winter squash varieties include acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and pumpkin. Squash can be stored (whole) in a cool place for several months and is versatile because every part of can be eaten: flesh, seeds, blossoms, leaves, even shoots.

Its thick skin often makes squash difficult to peel. Place squash in the microwave for about 3 minutes, it will be softer and easier to peel, cut, and remove seeds. If you need to remove the skin before cooking, a vegetable peeler is the best tool. If you don’t need to remove the seeds or peel before cooking (like for mashed squash), cut the squash in half and bake it first, then just scoop the flesh out of the skin with a spoon.

A 1.5 pound squash should be halved and baked at 350 for 45 minutes; quartered and steamed for 25 minutes; or quartered, placed cut side down in ¼ cup water, covered, and cooked in the microwave for 6 minutes per pound. Your squash is done when a fork is easily inserted into the flesh (similar to potatoes).  One 2.5 pound who squash equals about 3 cups pureed squash.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, the fun part starts! Check out our favorite recipes using this truly versatile vegetable.

imagePumpkin Risotto with Sage and Spicy Sausage: Sweet pumpkin, savory rice, and spicy sausage are perfectly combined in this rich, filling dish.

Pumpkin Orzo: This sweet and sour dish is sure to please. It has sweet pumpkin, sour balsamic vinegar, and zesty fresh ginger.

image Rosemary and Garlic Roasted New Potatoes: Squash is a great substitution for potatoes. Try this recipe with butternut or acorn squash.

Roasted Pumpkin Spears with Parmesan: These spears are crunchy and creamy, salty and sweet. They’re impressive and so simple to make!

imageCreamy Squash Soup: The combination of butternut squash and sweet carrots makes this soup rich and creamy.

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Creamy Pumpkin Soup: Pumpkin is delicious in any form! This savory soup is great for a cold winter day.

image Curried Squash and Apple Soup: This combination of apple and acorn squash makes this soup creamy and delicious.

image Pumpkin Seed Snack Mix: This mix is salty and sweet. Pumpkin seeds can be substituted with any other winter squash seeds!

image Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds:These seeds are slightly spicy and slightly sweet. They would be a perfect topping for a salad or stir fry!

imageTomato and Crab Spaghetti:Substitute 1 pound spaghetti for 1 spaghetti squash. The sweet sun-dried tomatoes will go well with the squash noodles.

Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad: Instead of using penne pasta, use cooled spaghetti squash. This is perfect for a party salad.

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Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle: This trifle is an impressive holiday dessert. The mix of spicy gingerbread cookies, sweet pumpkin, and fluffly cool whip is sure to please!

image Pumpkin Bars: These bars are excellent for holiday parties because they can be cut into bite-sized servings. Don’t be discouraged from substituting pumpkin for another winter squash.

image Pumpkin Chiffon Pie:This variation on classic Pumpkin Pie is light and fluffy. Perfect for a lighter, less-dense, holiday dessert.

Ultimate Casseroles

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Here’s the truth about casseroles: everyone loves them.

And during the cool fall, and even colder winter months there’s absolutely nothing better than sitting down to a piping hot, ooey, gooey, helping of a cheesy, creamy casserole. They’re great time and money-savers too, as you can save large portions for later, and simply reheat them.

We love casseroles because they’re the ultimate comfort food! They’re easy to make, because they’re slow-baked, so it’s hard to mess them up, which is always nice.

Our test kitchen knows that you love casseroles too; so, we’ve collected Paula’s favorite and time-tested casserole recipes to come to your rescue. Go ahead, pop one of these recipes in the oven for dinner tonight!

imageMeat Casseroles
Maybe you don’t want to invite one these hearty, meaty casseroles to star in your holiday feast, but what a better way to serve a house full of out of town guests! These one-pot wonders will be your lifeline during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Shake off the chill of the night air with your family when you sit around the table to one these delicious dishes.
Chicken and Rice Casserole
Cheeseburger Casserole
Gobbler Cobbler Pie
Chicken Boudine
Shepherds Pie

imageSquash Casseroles
What Thanksgiving Day table is complete without a squash casserole? Not ours! Cheesy and delicious, you won’t be able to resist just how amazing these casseroles are. So go ahead, pull up a plate and a spoon and dig on in. We’ve got plenty!
Butternut Squash Casserole
Cheesy Squash Casserole
Squash Casserole

imagePotato Casseroles
Sweet potatoes and casseroles go together just like peanut butter and jelly! Paula’s hash brown and potato tot casserole recipes are also perfect for late morning brunches. Your friends and family will be begging you for the recipes.
Potato Casserole
Sweet Potato Bake
Creamy Hash Brown Casserole
Potato Tot Casserole

imageMore Veggie Casseroles
If you’ve got a household of picky eaters, we’re confident that at least one of these recipes is sure to please. They’re a great and super tasty way to get your serving of vegetables for the day.
Green Bean Casserole
Corn Casserole
Cheesy Broccoli Bake
Broccoli Casserole

imagePasta Casseroles
Looking to make an amazing meal without a lot of fuss? Try one of these delicious pasta casseroles. Just throw all your ingredients into your baking dishes, and wait for the savory flavors to come alive in the oven. Bring one of these to your next church social or potluck dinners and you’ll be the talk of the town.
Three Meat Pasta
Baked Spaghetti
Walk Away Baked Spaghetti

imageSeafood Casseroles
We just wouldn’t be true to our Southern roots if we didn’t include some of Paula’s favorite seafood casserole recipes. Shrimp, scallop, and crab all make wonderful additions to your casserole dishes, and add amazing flavor.
Spicy Shrimp and Pasta Casserole
Shrimp Gumbo Casserole
Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole
Shrimp and Scallop Lasagna
The Best Crab Casserole

 

The Deen Bros. Lighter Cinnamon Ripple Sweet Potato Cake

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The Deen Bros. Lighter Cinnamon Ripple Sweet Potato Cake

288 Fewer Calories
13 g Less Fat

Ingredients:
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (about 1 medium sweet potato)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 10-inch bundt pan with cooking spray.

Combine the pecans, brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl until blended; set aside.

Combine the flour, granulated sugar, the remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, egg white, oil, and vanilla in another medium bowl. Stir in the mashed sweet potato until well combined. Gradually stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture just until incorporated. Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan; sprinkle evenly with the pecan mixture. Spread the remaining batter evenly over the pecan mixture.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 – 40 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack, 10 minutes. Remove from the pan, and cool completely on the rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Original recipe courtesy Paula Deen:  Cinnamon Ripple Sweet Potato Cake
Lightened Up recipe courtesy of The Deen Brothers and the Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Servings: 16
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 40 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Per Serving: 197 Cal; 4 g Protein; 8 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 4 g Mono Fat; 28 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 14 g Sugar; 65 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 128 mg Sodium; 32 mg Cholesterol

Original Nutrition Information:
Per Serving: 485 Cal; 5 g Protein; 21 g Tot Fat; 12 g Sat Fat; 7 g Mono Fat; 70 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 48 g Sugar; 75 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 297 mg Sodium; 91 mg Cholesterol

What’s in Season: Pumpkins

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Nothing says, “It’s fall, y’all,” quite like our favorite orange gourd, the pumpkin! Pumpkins are the symbol that soon leaves will be falling and a signal for most turkeys to run for the hills, as they’ll soon find themselves on your finest holiday china. Yearly, pumpkins adorn our porch steps, table centerpieces and treasured recipes, but have you ever taken a step back to truly appreciate the pumpkin?

This fall, whether you’re carving a whimsical Jack o’ Lantern or whipping up your grandmother’s pumpkin and nutmeg pie, give a moment to think about this seasonal squash.

History:
The earliest pumpkin seeds were found in Mexico and date back to 5500 B.C., meaning that they are native to North America. However, there is some speculation that pumpkins originated in Asia and were introduced to North America in prehistoric times.

By definition, the pumpkin is a fruit and belongs to the gourd family. The word pumpkin is derived from the Greek pepon, meaning “large melon”. Pumpkins range in colors, varying from oranges, to reds, and yellows.

Did you know that carving pumpkins was originally an Irish tradition? Jack O’ Lanterns are based on the tale of Stingy Jack, in which he is doomed to spend the rest of eternity roaming the night with nothing but a carved out turnip and a single coal for light.

Nutritional Information:
Pumpkins are considered to be a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as dietary fiber and other essential minerals.

Selecting:
To make sure you choose the best pumpkin, knock on its exterior first. You should hear a hollow thump. Inspect the pumpkin’s stem for any evidence of rotting, and check the outside for small holes or soft spots, which could signal insects.

Storing:
If not being used right away, pumpkins can be stored a few weeks or months depending on the age of the pumpkin. For the longest shelf life, store your pumpkin on a soft material, such as cloth or straw, in a cool, dry place with little or no direct sunlight. Pumpkins stored in this method typically last no longer than three months.

You can also puree your pumpkin and store it in the freezer for much, much longer. This would be useful for year-round pumpkin pie!

Not sure what to do with all of those seeds? Our test kitchen has the answer!

Most Common Varieties:

Miniature or Small Pumpkins: The smallest pumpkins weigh only about 2 to 5 pounds, like the Baby Bear, Winter Luxury and Spooktacular; they are best for table decoration, however some are useful in cooking.

Intermediate Pumpkins: Varieties like the Magic Lantern, Merlin and Appalachian are slightly heavier, coming in between 8 and 15 pounds. These pumpkins will make the best Jack O’ Lanterns with their traditional orange colors and easy-to-handle sizes.

Large Pumpkins: This type of pumpkin includes the likes of the Aspen, Big Autumn and Gold Strike and weigh between 15 and 20 pounds. They are also great for carving and cooking.

Extra Large Pumpkins: Gold Rush, Jumpin’ Jack and Mammoth Gold make up this variety of pumpkin. Weighing between 20 to 40 pounds, pumpkins of this size are mostly used for decorations and carving.

Jumbo Pumpkins: The Prizewinner, Atlantic Giant and Big Max are examples of these whopping pumpkins! These varieties can weigh well over 100 pounds! Pumpkins of this variety are grown purely for their size.

Carve out some delicious pumpkin recipes today!
Pumpkin Rum Pie
Pumpkin Baked Ziti
Pumpkin Roll Cake
Souffled Pumpkin Pancake
Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Dress Up with Paula Deen for Halloween!

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From the very first of October, I start thinkin’ about what I want to be for Halloween.  Now I know Halloween is mostly for the little ones, and I’m no spring chicken, but ever since my grandchildren were born, I’ve had a renewed spirit about this playful holiday.  They get such a kick outta their “Ginny” dressing up in a costume and walkin’ door-to-door with them.  And I’ll do just about anything to put smiles on their little faces.  Course, it helps that I don’t embarrass easily.  I never did understand folks who’ll show up to a costume party in plain clothes and carrying a basketball in hopes of passing as an NBA all-star.  For a costume to work, you’ve got to take some risks—and have a little fun.

This year one of my best friends Donna Foltz and I thought we’d pair up on a costume idea.  We decided that one of us would dress up like ladies of a less likable variety: witches. She chose to be a classic witch in The Wizard of Oz style, and I opted to be the Ice Queen—all cold, unapproachable and downright mean.  We took this as an opportunity to live outside the box so to speak since neither of us is “witchy” by nature.  By the time we got done with our hair and makeup, we didn’t figure anyone would recognize us.  Donna and I decided to test this theory and hide and scare my grandson, Jack.  When we jumped out at him, that little stinker looked at me for a long time and then said, “Ginny, I get that it’s makeup, but you’re acting really scary.”

It’s true; Donna and I were quite a sight together.  Costumes are always more fun when you do ‘em with someone else, like the year Michael and I dressed up like a slice of bread and a stick of butter (y’all can guess who was the butter).  Plus, we already go to Donna’s house for Halloween every year.  She lives in this small, gated community where all the families know each other and the children can play safely.  The kids and the parents gather out in the street and have a riot.  Brooke and Jamie join us with the kids and now hopefully Michelle will bring Henry, too.  It’s becoming our little family tradition.

Because they’re so busy having such a good time chasing one another with their swords and castin’ spells with their magic wands, the kids don’t get too wrapped up in candy collecting.  They fill their buckets, stuff some in their mouth and hand the rest over to their mommas who’ll ration it out over the weeks to come.  Or there’s my grandson Jack who doesn’t even like chocolate.  Imagine that, a child who doesn’t like chocolate!  His brother Matthew on the other hand, he lives to eat, so Brooke’s gonna have a time with him.  She’ll have to throw the candy away or hide it.  Yes, he’s a man after my own heart.

I know I’m weak when it comes to sweets, especially chocolate.  So not too long ago I asked myself, “How can I have my chocolate and eat it, too?”  Well, I have a little secret to share with y’all.  That weakness of mine has lead to a new venture I’m really excited about: In the next few months I’m coming out with a sugar-free chocolate that’ll blow you off the block.  Y’all had no idea sugar-free could taste so good.  It’s out of this world.

That’s no trick y’all, but it’s a downright good treat—a spell this sweet-toothed witch can get behind.

It may not be out in time for Halloween, but I don’t have to wait too much longer before I can finally “have my chocolate and eat it, too.” 

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the Ice Queen:
Ice FX Pro Makeup Kit which includes Ice Gel, Medium sized Ice Cyrstals, Large sized Ice Cyrstals, Ice Powder. All found at www.silverrainstudio.com.
Ben Nye Aqua Glitter
Mehron Metallic Powder in Silver
Ben Nye Cream Foundation in White
Ben Nye Cream Foundation in Blue
Halloween Glitter lashes upper & lower
Contacts La Stat purchased from Halloween section of Lens.com

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For the Green Witch:
Ben Nye Cream Foundation in Green or from Ben Nye Death Wheel
Ben Nye Cream Foundation in dark brown & Black
Black Cream Foundation in Black
Prosthetic Witch Nose & Chin from any halloween store
Black Eyelashes

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1. Apply the white foundation color over the entire face and neck.
2. Apply a shimmery light blue shadow to base of eye from lash line to crease.
3. Apply a blue glitter color to eyebrows extending upwards at the end.
4. Intensify blue shadow at outer corner with a bright aqua blue color.
5. Apply lashes to upper lids. I used a strip of lashes with white & silver glitter found at a Halloween shop.
6. Apply bottom lashes.
7. Apply a thin layer of ice gel to entire forehead and up into hairline and rest of face wherever ice crystals are desired.
8. Apply multiple layers of medium & large ice crystals on top of ice gel over entire face.
9. Apply lipstick in bright blue or desired color and insert special effects contacts of choice.

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1. Apply green cream foundation to entire face & neck
2. Apply dark brown cream foudnation to creases of face from forehead to neck
3. Draw black eyebrows to face
4. Apply spirit gum to face where nose prosthetic will be attached.
5. Apply spirit gum to edge of nose prosthetic where nose will attach to face.
6. Let spirit gum dry and then apply more of green cream foundation at adhesion mark.
7. Apply prosthetic chin in same manner as chin.
8. Apply green shadow or desired color to eye area from lash line to crease.
9. Apply a strip of black eyelashes.

Creepin’ in on Halloween

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As soon as the first leaves begin to turn color and fall, I know that Halloween is just around the corner. ‘Course, when I was a little girl, “just around the corner” felt like an eternity. I must’ve asked Momma a thousand times, “How many more days?” I have such fond memories of Halloween. For one night I could be anything I wanted to be—and boy did I believe it. I’d pull on my old recital tutu and imagine I was the prima ballerina in “Swan Lake.” Or I’d pull on some of Daddy’s rag-tag clothes he kept for workin’ in the yard and fancy myself a hobo. I begged for candy like it was the only meal I’d get all day, and it must’ve worked because I ended up with enough candy to last me the whole year.

Sure I was cute, but there is just nothing more precious than a baby dressed up for Halloween. I’ve seen a hot tamale, a peacock and even a pea pod. The parents seem to enjoy it most, snapping pictures left and right. Brooke has always been so good about having my grandson Jack participate, no matter how small he was. When he was just eight weeks old, she dressed him up like a turkey! Can you imagine that? I almost had to cancel Thanksgiving, y’all. Then the next year he came to my door dressed as the most adorable spider I’ve ever seen. That child could’ve taken me for all I’m worth—and I think he did . . . in candy. Now that I have two new grandbabies, I’m not sure my heart will even be able to take it.

Y’all, Jack and those new grandbabies give me even more reason to come up with ways to make Halloween special. This year I’m making Candy Gloves—plastic gloves filled with treats and tied with a ribbon. You can either fill ‘em with your favorite candy or try your “hand” at my colorful, homemade Monster Mix. I figure the kids get so much sugar that the least I can do is offer them something a bit more satisfying, like popcorn and nuts. And in my experience, presentation is everything—kids are more likely to eat food that is fun. Plus, Candy Gloves make for great, edible decorations!

When I was little, I always said that I’d grow up to have the best trick-or-treatin’ house around—one of those houses that handed out gift bags or super-sized candy. Never would I hand out carrot sticks or tell a child to “just take one.” Maybe it’s petty wanting to be the best Halloween house on the block, but one thing’s for sure: it’s the most fun I have all year.

Recipes from The Lady & Sons

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  • The Lady and Sons Okra and Tomatoes

                   

    A Southern side dish that’s as common as our pecan trees that’s good nearly year round.

                 

             

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    Collard Greens

                   

    You’ll always find a warm serving of these greens on the buffet at The Lady and Sons.

                 

             

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    The Lady and Sons Chicken Pot Pie

                   

    This dish is just as impressive to look at as it is to eat.

                 

             

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    The Lady and Sons Lasagna

                   

    This recipe quickly became one of the most requested dishes down at the restaurant.

                 

             

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    The Lady’s Cheesy Mac

                   

    Trust us. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried Paula’s famous macaroni and cheese.

                 

             

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    Southern Fried Chicken

                   

    This is the ultimate Southern entree. Enjoy!

                 

             

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    Fried Green Tomatoes with Vidalia Onion Relish

                   

    Served as an appetizer, these tomatoes will be a huge hit at your next family gathering.

                 

             

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    Gooey Butter Cake

                   

    Don’t blame us if you can’t just eat one slice of these delicious dessert!

                 

             

Paula’s Halloween Party Menu

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Planning a Halloween bash? Take a cue from our spooky party menu and scare up a howling good time!

imageWitch’s Brew
What party could be complete with out a cauldron of Paula’s favorite brew? Follow our directions for setting your bowl of brew in a vat of dry ice for even more fun!

imageMini Mummies
You only need two ingredients to make these super simple mummies. They’re a shriek!

imageMoldy Guacamole and Creepy Critters
Corn tortillas cut into fun Halloween shapes make the best chips for this mysterious moldy guacamole dip.

imageCheese Cats, Bats, and Jack-o-Lanterns
Cheese cookies are a staple at any Southern affair, but for Halloween, try these cheese cookies cut into spooky and creepy cats and bats!

imagePumpkin Seed Snack Mix
Wait! Don’t throw away your pumpkin seeds when you’re finished carving. You can save them and turn them into this delightful fall snack.

imageWicked Candy Bar Cupcakes
Dessert never tasted so good with these devilish cupcakes. The little ones will enjoy decorating these scary cupcakes almost as much as they’ll love eating them.

Don’t miss out on the rest of Halloween Recipes here!

 

Nothin’s Sweeter Than Apple Pie

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Fall is finally here, and about as happy as a dog with a bone! Fall means beautiful changing leaves, cooler weather, casserole dishes, and all kinds of holidays to share with friends and family members. But most importantly, the arrival of fall means it’s officially apple season, and apples season can only mean one thing: APPLE PIES!

There’s just somethin’ about apple pies that’s so comforting. Whenever I bake a fresh one for Michael, or Jamie and Bobby, my house fills with the most breathtaking aroma, with hints of sweet, gooey apples, sugar, and cinnamon all floating around at once. I’m instantly transported back to when I was a little girl make apple pies with my momma and grandmomma. (My favorite part was always rollin’ out the dough, but my grandmomma always kept an eye on me to make sure I didn’t over-knead it.)

This fall, though, I wanted to try something just a little bit different. We’ve all had traditional apple pies, but I wanted to give it a little twist – or three! Here are three new versions of apple pies for y’all to try – and I hope you tell me which one is your favorite!

imageOld-Fashioned Low-Sugar Apple Pie

Ingredients:

Crust
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Filling
6 large apples, such as Braeburn or Granny Smith, peeled, halved, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon milk

Directions:

To make the crust, put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor; pulse until blended. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Add 4 tablespoons of the ice water and pulse 3 or 4 times. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers, but should not be sticky. If it is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing until the mixture just begins to come together. Do not over process. Gather the dough into a ball and cut in half. Pat each half into a disk and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour or overnight.

To make the filling, combine the apples, 1/4 cup sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl; toss until well mixed. 

Position the rack in bottom third of oven and preheat the oven to 400°F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of dough to a 12-inch round; ease into a 9-inch glass pie plate. Trim the excess dough flush with the edge of the pie plate. Reserve the trimmings for decorating the pie. Spoon the filling into the crust and dot with butter. Roll out the remaining disk of dough to a 12-inch round. Place over the filling, trimming the crust flush with the edge of the pie plate. Press the edges to seal.

Gather the reserved trimmings and divide into 9 pieces. Roll each piece into a 12-inch long rope, braiding three ropes together at a time. Brush the edge of the crust lightly with some of the egg white and secure the braids along the edge of the crust, stretching or cutting to fit. Brush the top of the crust with milk and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar. Cut a few slits in the top to allow steam to escape.

Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly, about 1 hour longer, depending on the type of apples used. If the crust begins to brown too quickly, cover the rim of the pie with strips of aluminum foil. Cool the pie on a rack at least 3 hours before serving.

Servings:  10 – 12
Prep Time:  1 hour
Cook Time:  1 hour 40 minutes
Difficulty:  medium

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Apple Crunch Pie with Red Wine Caramel

Ingredients:
1 pre-made store bought pie dough round
8 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup prepared caramel sauce
4 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
4 tablespoons red wine

For the Crunch Top:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cubed
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Press pie dough into 9 inch pie plate, crimping or fluting the edges. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. In a large bowl, toss the apple slices with flour and cinnamon and set aside. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together prepared caramel sauce and red wine. Set aside.

Prepare the crunch topping by adding all the ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and using your hands to cut in the butter until crumbly looking. Set aside.
Remove pie dough from refrigerator and begin pie assembly by layering the apple slices and the caramel red wine mixture. Put 1/4 of the apple mixture in the bottom of the pie dough. Top with 1/4 of the caramel wine sauce. Repeat process with the remaining apples and caramel sauce.

Dot the top of the pie with the cubed butter and prepared crunch topping. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking an additional 30 minutes or until browned and bubbling. Allow to cool 30 minutes before serving.

Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 1 hr
Difficulty: Easy

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Crunch Top Apple Pie

Ingredients:
Dough and Filling:
Paula’s Perfect Pie Crust, recipe follows
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of salt
3 1/2 cups peeled, chopped cooking apples
1 16-ounce jar applesauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter, chopped into small pieces

Crunch Topping: 
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
Dash of salt
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature

Paula’s Perfect Pie Crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cold
12 tablespoons butter, (1 1/2 sticks) cold and cubed
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup ice water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a 9-inch pie pan with half of dough. Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the apples, applesauce, and lemon juice. Spoon the apple mixture into pie pan and dot with butter. Cut remaining crust into strips; arrange in a lattice design over top of pie.

For crunch topping:
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Using a fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over top of crust. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and continue to bake for about 45 minutes, or until crust and topping are golden brown.

Paula’s Perfect Pie Crust:
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the shortening and break it up with your hands as you start to coat it all up with the flour. Add the cold butter cubes and work it into the flour with your hands or a pastry cutter. Work it quickly, so the butter doesn’t get too soft, until the mixture is crumbly, like very coarse cornmeal. Add the ice water, a little at a time, until the mixture comes together forming a dough. Bring the dough together into a ball. When it comes together stop working it otherwise the dough will get over-worked and tough. Divide the dough in half and flatten it slightly to form a disk shape. Wrap each disk in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. On a floured surface roll each disk out into a 10 to 11-inch circle to make a 9-inch pie.

Yield: 2 (9-inch) pie crusts.

Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Difficulty: Moderate

Sweet Succulents for Fall

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During the spring and summer months is when you see people out and about in their gardens, getting a head start on growing their own produce, or landscaping their yards with beautiful seasonal flowers and blossoms. When the fall finally comes around, though, the temperature drops and we tend to want to take our green thumbs indoors for the cooler weather.

In most fall décor, we see a plethora of red, orange, and yellow leaves strewn about, and plenty of gourds adorn table settings, bookshelves and entryways. But how can you add a little horticultural twist to the season?

With succulents!

I love succulents for a lot of reasons. They’re low-maintenance, so anyone can keep them. With the right care, they keep year round. And best of all? They’re stylish and super in-demand right now.

Never worked with succulents before? Here are some quick tips on care:

1. Watering. The good news about succulents is that they’re desert plants, so they require very little water, which makes them so easy to care for.  Water indoor succulents sparingly, and make sure that the soil is dried out between watering.

2. Light. Again, because succulents are desert plants, they prefer lots of natural light wherever possible. Sit them near a window with plenty of sun, or an open room with lots of light.

3. Soil. In most plant stores or garden shops, you should be able to find a blend of soil that’s specialized for cacti and succulents. However, a coarse or gritty soil will work best. I’ve even used sand before. You want a soil that’s fast-draining that will prevent overwatering.

Now that you’ve got the 1, 2, 3’s of succulents, how can you decorate with them? Here are three simple ideas:

1. Centerpieces. Jazz up a festive fall table with a mixture of a colorful gourds and handsome succulents.

2. Coffee tables. Adorn your coffee table with an array of smaller succulent plants of fun and patterned pots.

3. Entryways. Find a bold and beautiful planting vessel, like an old galvanized bucket, or large stone pot, to fill with varying colors of succulents to greet guests (and trick-or-treaters!) at your doorstep this fall.

Super Simple Soups!

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  • Simple Southern Ham and Bean Soup

                   

    The name practically says it all with this soup!

                 

             

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    Carrot Soup with Blue Cheese

                   

    A colorful soup with equally colorful flavors.

                 

             

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    Sweet Merlot Beef Stew

                   

    Rich and savory flavors are celebrated in this delicious soup.

                 

             

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    Crab Soup

                   

    A creamy soup that is as satisfying as it is simple.

                 

             

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    Lemon Tarragon Chicken Soup

                   

    Rotisserie chicken, lemon and tarragon create a parade of flavors for you to enjoy.

                 

             

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    Butter Bean Soup

                   

    Traditional Southern ingredients are the base for this butter bean soup.

                 

             

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    Creamy Coconut Soup

                   

    A delicious soup with a mix of fun flavors.

                 

             

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    Smoky Portobello Soup

                   

    This soup is rich, smooth and comforting. Perfect for warming up during the cold winter months.

                 

             

The Deen Bros. Lighter Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

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The Deen Bros. Lighter Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping

168 Fewer Calories
13 g Less Fat

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 (8-ounce) packages fat-free cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and finely chopped

Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch ground nutmeg
1/4 cup fat-free caramel sauce

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with foil, allowing the foil to extend over the rim of the pan by 2 inches. Spray the foil with nonstick spray. 

Pulse the flour, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until crumbly. Transfer the mixture to the baking pan, pressing firmly to form an even layer. Bake until the crust is set, about15 minutes. Transfer to a rack.

Meanwhile, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in the sugar until blended. Beat in the egg, egg white, and vanilla until combined. Pour the filling evenly over the warm crust. Sprinkle the chopped apples evenly over the filling.

To make the topping, using a fork, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, oil, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a small bowl until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the chopped apples. Bake until the filling is set and the topping is lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack. Drizzle with the caramel sauce. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours. Lift out using the foil as handles. Cut into 24 bars.

Servings: 24
Prep Time: 20 min
Bake: 40 min
Difficulty: Easy

Per Serving (1 bar): 178 Cal; 5 g Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 2 g Mono Fat; 26 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 12 g Sugar; 14 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 216 mg Sodium; 21 mg Cholesterol

Original recipe courtesy Paula Deen:  Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping
Lightened Up recipe courtesy of The Deen Brothers and the Paula Deen Test Kitchen

5 Favorite Fall Foods

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  • Grandgirl’s Fresh Apple Cake from Georgia

                   

    Crisp autumn apples make this cake one of our fall favorites.

                 

             

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    The Lady’s Cheesy Mac

                   

    This cheesy side dish will have your family asking for seconds time and time again.

                 

             

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    Cornmeal Waffles with Spicy Chili

                   

    Shake the fall chill off and warm up with a helping of waffles and chilis. We know you’ll love it!

                 

             

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    Slow Cooker Harvest Stew

                   

    Bring the flavors of fall to the dinner table with this delicious and hearty stew.

                 

             

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    Pear Crisp

                   

    Mmm! Paula’s pear crisp recipes is like none other. You’ll want to make this dessert all year long.

                 

             

7 Autumn Apple Recipes

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  • Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Steusel Toppin

                   

    Sweet, and oh-so-good, treat yourself to the taste of fall with this delicious dessert.

                 

             

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    Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Casserole

                   

    Great for a cool Saturday morning, wake up with Paula’s oatmeal casserole.

                 

             

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    Apple Crunch Pie with Red Wine Caramel

                   

    Dinner parties will never be the same this fall when your bring this amazing apple pie.

                 

             

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    Slow Cooker Apple Onion Soup with Cinnamon Cheese Toast

                   

    Southerner’s love slow cookin’ and you will too when you whip up this seasonal soup.

                 

             

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    Fried Apple Pies

                   

    Paula gets asked for this recipe time and time again! Need we say more?

                 

             

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    Apple Charlotte

                   

    Warm flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg make this hearty dessert simply irresistible.

                 

             

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    Apple Baked Bean Casserole

                   

    Looking for a way to jazz up your traditional baked beans? We’ve got the answer!

                 

             

Soup’s On!

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Soup is completely underrated.  Somewhere along the way it got pigeonholed as a first course—a warm-up act for the big show or what you eat when you’re feelin’ sicker than a dog.  And while it’s true that soups are a great starter and a comfort food, I really think of them as an everyday entrée—something fresh, easy and completely satisfying, especially during the coldest months.

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Now I know that a lot of people grew up getting their soup from a can; it’s cheap and really convenient.  But soup wasn’t born in a can, y’all.  It actually starts with fresh ingredients, easily blended together for a fulfilling meal chock full of vitamins.  And when you start from scratch, I promise you’ll taste and see the difference (the colors are really beautiful).  In fact, Michael has gotten so spoiled eating my blended soups that he’ll turn his nose up at anything that has a shelf life of more than a week.  (I think he even hid the can opener.)

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For this shoot I wanted to share three of my favorite recipes with y’all that I cooked in the kitchen in real time—no fancy “Hollywood” effects here to speed up the process—so I promise they’re as quick and easy as they sound, especially if you have a Vitamix blender which I really recommend getting if you’re into making soups on a weekly basis.

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The Roasted Carrot and Tomato Soup is a classic favorite in my family, and I’m guessing it will be in yours, too.  I like to top it off with a dollop of sour cream, but Greek yogurt is a healthier alternative that’s just as rich and creamy.  This soup is also delicious served cold, like a gazpacho.  In that case, I’ll top it with chopped green onions for a little kick and color.  Curried Squash and Apple Soup is a rich and creamy blend of sweet and savory flavors to warm a winter belly.  And if you’ve never tried my Very Green Soup, I promise you won’t be disappointed.  It’s every bit as tasty as the others with a gorgeous color that you just can’t find in a can.

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To make these good soups super, the most important step is to deglaze your pan after roasting.  Those lil’ bits and pieces add such wonderful flavor without the calories. Besides that, all you need is a big spoon, a bigger bowl and a real big appetite—which is exactly what everyone on set had by the time I was done cooking three batches.  Luckily, these recipes make plenty of soup that you can either freeze or, if you have a crew like I do, feed the whole farm.  Now that’s what I call a soup kitchen!


Try these other blended soups!
Carrot Soup with Blue Cheese
Sweet Potato and Date Soup
Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup
Creamy Squash Soup
Broccoli Soup
Creamy Pumpkin Soup

Savannah Style: Fall Table for Two

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Fall in Savannah is one of the best times of the year. The weather is just perfect! In fact, the fall is so magical in Savannah, that I almost like it better than spring! All of the humidity is gone from the air, and with the coastal breezes comin’ in off the islands it’s so light and airy. Michael and I love eating outside and breathing in the crisp fall air with a cozy soup as we look out over our garden.

I put this table together on a quiet Saturday afternoon the other week, and I just had to share it with y’all. We sat on the north end of our home, near the chicken coop. I made a sweet and savory soup and salad, and served it in some beautiful old bowls from my grandparents’ restaurant- these are two of the most precious things I own.

Take these tips, and make this table your own! Do you have a special recipe, or fall-inspired decorating idea? I’d love to hear about them!

Lunch Menu:
Sweet Potato and Date Soup
A mixed green salad, chilled apple cider to drink
Crusty bread slices served in a collectible porcelain chicken for dipping

The Table: I found some vintage Bakelite flatware and pewter soupspoons in my butlers’ pantry. I thought they were so sweet and simple. Just a remnant of vintage yellow gingham was used for the table-runner. And who says less is more? I found such beautiful sunflowers at the Farmer’s Market right here in Savannah- I bought three dozen and arranged them in one of my wooden Salad Bowls.
Takeaway Tip: For a fun twist on a place card, I fill a squeeze bottle with sour cream, and monogrammed the first initials of our names on top of each bowl of soup. It’s all about the details, y’all!

The Great Pumpkin Cookie Pops!

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Looking for an easy but impressive homemade treat to hand out to your trick or treaters this year? Well look no further then the Test Kitchen’s Great Pumpkin Cookie Pops! 

imageStep 1: Gather your equipment and ingredients. You will need candy melts, assorted spooky sprinkles and garnishes, and 7- inch lollipop sticks. Prepare the Pumpkin Cookie dough recipe as directed in the recipe and chill until firm for 30 minutes.

 

imageStep 2: Scoop the cookie dough onto a sheet tray using a small ice cream scoop. Quickly use your hands to smooth out the sides and make round balls.

 

imageStep 3: Insert the lollipop sticks halfway into the balls of dough. Place back into the refrigerator to continue firming up while you melt the chocolate.

 

imageStep 4: Melt the candy coating in a small enough bowl so the chocolate is deep enough to completely cover the cookie pops. Working with one pop at a time (keeping the remaining pops refrigerated while you work) dip each pop into the melted candy coating and twirl to coat. This will help make a nice smooth finish. Tap the pop gently on the side of the bowl to allow excess candy coating to fall back into the bowl.

imageStep 5: Quickly sprinkle the pops with sprinkles or garnishes of your choice while the candy coating is still wet. Place the pops back on a parchment lined sheet tray and pop into the fridge for 15 minutes to set.

 

Now go ahead and enjoy your treats! Aren’t they just so cute, ya’ll? Happy Halloween from Paula’s Test Kitchen!


Great Pumpkin Cookie Pops Dough Recipe

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1stick) softened butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Lollipop sticks (7-inch)
Assorted colored candy melting wafers
Assorted candy sprinkles for garnish

Whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, 3 – 4 minutes. Beat in the pumpkin until blended. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture beating just until blended. Stir in the chips. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill until the dough is firm enough to handle, about 30 minutes.

With a 1 1/2-inch melon baller, scoop the dough onto two baking sheets lined with parchment paper to make about 22 balls. Alternatively, roll the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Insert the lollipop sticks into each ball. Place back into the refrigerator while you continue to work.

Melt the candy melting wafers according to package directions. Working with one cookie pop at a time (keep the remaining pops refrigerated while you work), dip each pop into the melted candy coating, tapping gently to allow any excess to fall back into the bowl. Quickly roll or garnish with sprinkles before the coating sets. Place the pops back on the baking sheet and refrigerate until the coating sets completely, about 15 minutes.

Store the cookie pops in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Yield: about 22 cookie pops

And the best part of the recipe is that you don’t even need to bake the cookies. Gotta love a recipe that leaves more time for decorating fun!

Halloween Fortune Cookies

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Make these fun fortune cookies to give out to trick-or-treaters this Halloween!

Here’s what you’ll need:
Nonstick spray
2 egg whites
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons water
Pinch salt
Fortunes written on strips of colored paper
6 drops orange food coloring
Special equipment: Silpat, coffee mug, and muffin tin.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. On a half sheet tray, spray a silpat with nonstick spray.

2. In a medium bowl whisk egg whites until foamy. Whisk in 6 drops orange food coloring. Add the flour, sugar, almond extract, water, and salt to the egg whites and beat until smooth, about 30 seconds.

image3. Pour or spoon 1 tablespoon of batter onto prepared silpat and spread with the back of a spoon into a very thin 4-inch circle. Repeat on the other half of the sheet, making only 2 cookies per sheet tray.

4. Bake the cookies on middle rack of oven until golden brown around edges, about 8 minutes.

image5. Remove from oven and working very quickly, with an offset spatula, remove cookie from baking sheet and place a fortune in the center of the round.

image6. Fold to create a half circle.

image7. Using the rim of a coffee mug, bend pointed edges of cookie toward each other. This should be done quickly since the cookie will become hard and brittle within 10 seconds.

image8. Let cookies cool in the wells of a muffin tin.

MAKES 16 COOKIES