Tomato Basil Pasta with Olives and Feta – ★★★★✩

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After our big Thanksgiving feast we decided to take things down a notch and do easy healthier recipes this week. I found this recipe on http://www.chow.com and it was perfect because every ingredient is a favorite of Perry’s. Oh and did I mention it only took me 30 minutes to make?! I’m going to start doing star ratings according to Perry on here and when I asked him what he thought in terms of stars for this dish he said it would be a solid 4 stars ★★★★✩. His comments were:

“If I saw this on a menu at a restaurant I would be all over it. The shape of the pasta works really well because it cups the pieces of olive, tomato, and feta making each bite a little different but equally delicious. I love that it is not extremely oily and not over “sauced” so you get the chance to enjoy the herbs as much as everything else. I don’t really know what is keeping me from giving this a fifth star but when you make a 5 star meal I’ll let you know” 

There you have it folks! I guess you’ll just have to try it for yourself! I do recommend sticking to the pasta suggested because Perry is right it was pretty darn perfect!

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

– 1 carton of cherry or grape tomatoes, diced

– 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (no more than 1/4 cup. You don’t want to make it too oily)

– 1 1/2 tsp. salt

– 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

– 1-6oz can of black olives, drained and rinsed and roughly chopped

– 1/4 cup fresh or dried basil leaves, if fresh chop it

– 2 medium garlic cloves, minced

– 1 lb orecchiette pasta

– 1/4 cup of hot pasta water from your cooked pasta

– 1 cup crumbled feta (I wouldn’t get the herbed or sun dried tomato feta. Try it plain the first time. I guarantee you’ll love it)

Directions:

1.) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2.) While pot is heating dice up your tomatoes and put them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Let sit for 10 minutes so the tomato juices can drain a little into the oil making a nice sauce.

3.) By this time your pot should be boiling so cook your pasta. (orecchiette takes about 10 minutes.)

4.) Add olives, garlic and basil to the sauce and mix well.

5.) DON’T FORGET TO RESERVE 1/4 CUP OF WATER FROM YOUR POT FOR THE SAUCE. Strain pasta and transfer back to the large pot.

6.) Pour sauce and reserved pasta water over the pasta.

7.)Gently stir in feta.

8.) Enjoy!

*Original recipe found at: http://www.chow.com/recipes/25674-heirloom-tomatobasil-pasta-with-olives-and-feta
**Photo original taken by me
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Chorizo and Sweet Italian Stuffing – Old Family Recipe – ★★★★★

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When my mom gave me this recipe it only said what ingredients were needed and did not tell me how much of each ingredient I needed so there was a lot of guesswork and personal preference involved to make this stuffing a hot item on our Thanksgiving menu. Perry, my husband, could eat this stuff for breakfast lunch and dinner! I can only describe it as a hearty rich stuffing. Perry gives this one 5  ★★★★★. His comments were:

“I have never had such a hearty stuffing before. The chorizo and sausage add so much dynamic that you hardly realize you are eating two loaves of bread. Be wary that this side will fill you up. Only put a little bit on the plate for your first go around so you can enjoy all of the other parts of your Thanksgiving dinner. Also we had stuffing left overs for days so either give some away to your dinner guests or be prepared to have the best stuffing you’ll ever taste for many days after turkey day.”

Ingredients:

– 1 bunch of celery, cleaned and sliced

– 2 sweet onions, chopped

– 1 tbsp cooking oil (I used canola)

– 2 large loaves of white bread

-1/2 cup of fresh parsley

– 1 tbsp salt

– 1 tbsp pepper

– 6 eggs

-1/2 cup of chicken broth (Maybe more. you want your stuffing to be wet but not too wet.)

– 1 stick of butter, melted

– 1 tbsp poultry seasoning

– 1 tbsp celery seed

– 1 lb. sweet italian sausage

– 1 lb of chorizo (I used pork chorizo)

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.) Break up bread into little pieces and put into a large bowl or pot.

3.) Sauté celery and onion in cooking oil until soft.

4.) Add seasonings, then add melted butter and eggs.

5.) Add the cooked sausage, chorizo, sautéd celery/onion, and chicken broth until the bread is pretty wet. (Add at least 1/2 cup but if you feel the mixture is not wet enough add more until it is wet to your standards 🙂 )

6.) Grease a bundt pan and put stuffing mixture inside.

7.) Bake at 350 degrees for up to 1.5 hours. Check it after 1 hour to make sure it isn’t burning (I cooked mine for 1 hour and 20 minutes and it was awesome.)

8.) Turn over onto a plate like a cake. Hit bundt pan to release the stuffing.

9.) Enjoy!

HELPFUL HINTS FROM MY MOM:

1.)Cook the sausage the day before and keep in fridge until the next day,

also cut up your celery and onion the day before if makes cooking day
much easier and enjoyable.

2.) Don’t overfill your bundt pan because it will spill over, the excess
mixture can be put into another dish and baked separately.

*Photo is original taken by me

Herbed Roasted Turkey

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With this being the first Thanksgiving I cooked it was really important to me that I make the perfect turkey. I stressed over it for about 2 weeks and came across a youtube video that gave step by step directions. There is nothing better than having a visual step by step so I went for it. I’m so happy I did because even my husband who doesn’t really care for turkey was picking every last piece of meat off the bones. I just sent an email to the author and creator of the website and youtube video I used. Until I have her permission to post the recipe the only thing I can give you guys is her youtube video and link to her site for the turkey. As soon as I hear back from her I’ll post the recipe with my own little tips. Once again Happy Holidays everyone and thank you for all the love I get on this blog.

DIVAS CAN COOK LINKS:

Website: http://divascancook.com/2009/11/how-to-cook-a-turkey-herb-roasted-whole-turkey-recipe-with-buttermilk-brine-recipe-moist-flavorful.html

Youtube: http://youtu.be/GUY-31tZ2Bo

 

*Photo is an original taken by me

Orange Honey Carrots

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My mom always made carrot soufflé on Thanksgiving but I was not feeling so brave on my first go at cooking Thanksgiving dinner. I did still have carrots in her honor though! These carrots have a lot of flavor that I think helped round out the meal. Original recipe found at myrecipes.com

Serves 6

Ingredients:

– 1-1lb bag of baby carrots, rinsed

– 1 tsp grated orange rind

– 1/4 cup of fresh orange juice (We stuffed our turkey with an orange and an apple. The turkey was done an hour and a half before we ate so I used the orange that was still whole inside of the turkey. I don’t know if it added to the dish but it was definitely easier to juice the orange while it was warm.) 

– 2 tsp. butter

– 2 tsp. honey

-1/4 tsp salt

– 1/8 tsp pepper

Directions:

1.) Stir together all ingredients and 1 cup of water in saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer (stirring occasionally) for 30-35 minutes or until the liquid evaporated and carrots are glazed. 

*Original recipe found at myrecipes.com

**Photo is an original taken by me

Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

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Potatoes are a staple dish at any Thanksgiving feast. I think it is second most important, the turkey being first. I searched long and hard for the recipe that I thought would be tastiest and easiest to make. These were a hit and I’m pretty sure I’ll be making them again before Thanksgiving next year 🙂 The original recipe belongs to the Barefoot Contessa from foodnetwork.com however I did some things differently so this recipe will be a little different from her recipe.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

– 3 lbs. red potatoes , DO NOT PEEL

– 1 tbsp kosher salt (plus 2 tsp. to salt the boiling water.)

– 1 1/2 cups half-and-half

– 1/4 lb (one stick) unsalted butter

– 1/2 cup sour cream

– 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

– 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Directions:

1.) Place potatoes and 1 tbsp of salt in a large saucepan with cold water (enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring the water to a boil. Lower heat and simmer covered for 25-35 minutes until the potatoes are completely tender. Drain

2.) In a saucepan heat the half-and-half and butter. Once butter has melted into the half-and-half place the potatoes in the saucepan. With a meat mallet smash the potatoes until you have a semi-creamy mixture.

3.) Fold in the sour cream, parmesan, salt and pepper.

4.) Serve immediately or keep warm in a heated bowl until ready to serve. (I kept mine warm in a crock pot on low setting.

*Original recipe belongs to the barefoot contessa
**Photo is original taken by me

 

Homemade Cranberry Sauce – SUPER EASY!

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Like I said earlier this was the first time I cooked Thanksgiving dinner so I wanted to make everything from scratch. Everything down to the cranberry sauce 🙂 This recipe was so darn easy that I don’t think I will ever go out and by a can of cranberry sauce. This sauce has lemon zest making it pleasantly sweet and tart. Try this and you’ll never go back to the can 🙂 Original recipe found at Martha Stewart.

Makes  2 cups of sauce (We had 7 adults at dinner and still have a lot left over. I wouldn’t make a second batch unless you are hosting a 20+ person dinner.)

Ingredients:

– 1-12oz bag of cranberries, rinsed

– 3/4 cup of sugar

– 1 tsp grated lemon zest

– 1 cup of water

Directions:

1.) In a medium saucepan combine cranberries, sugar, lemon zest, and water.

2.) Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer and cook until cranberries are soft (about 10 minutes)

3.) Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature

4.) Serve

*Original recipe belongs to Martha Stewart

** Photo is original taken by me

Balsamic Green Beans

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I love any and all green vegetables especially with a balsamic drizzle. This dish has both of those things along with shallots and bacon. It’s a very easy dish to make with great flavor to please any crowd. The original recipe calls for almonds and I completely forgot to add them yesterday so I am going to post the recipe with almonds in the ingredients so next time I make it I will add almonds. Original recipe found at myrecipes.com

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

– 2 lbs of fresh green beans

– 6 large shallots

– Cooking oil (I used canola the recipe calls for vegetable.)

– 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

– 1 tbsp light brown sugar

– 3 tbsp butter

– salt and pepper to taste

– 1/2 cup almonds chopped and lightly salted

– 1/2 cup cooked and crumbled bacon (about 5 slices)

Directions:

1.) Cook the green beans in a boiling pot of salted water for 3-4 minutes (until crisp-tender) Drain and plunge beans into ice water to stop the cooking process.

2.) Cut shallots crosswise into thin slices. Separate rings. Pour oil to 1-in depth and heat over medium-high heat. Fry shallots for 1-2 minutes or until crisp. (Do this in batches not all at once. Safety first!) Remove from oil and drain shallots on paper towels. 

3.) Cook vinegar and sugar in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes. Stir often.

4.)Stir in butter until blended. Add the beans and saute for 5 minutes or until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. 

5.) Top with shallots, almonds, and bacon

6.) Serve immediately

*Original recipe found at myrecipes.com

**Photo original taken by me