Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christmas - Let's Get Baking!

Thanksgiving is over and we're on our way to Christmas!

Cookie baking is the A#1 item on everybody's to-do list.

Buttery, home made cookies just say "Merry Christmas!"

To make your holiday baking more a labor of love and less just plain labor, set up a baking station.

A baking station is a pro tip that takes the drudgery out of baking and saves your energy for where it really counts - making cookies!

Here at Cheesecake Farms, we keep our baking station up all year long because we bake a lot but even seasonal or occassion bakers benefit from this simple professionally inspired idea.

Here's how it goes: Get yourself a small, sturdy rolling cart or rolling table and stack it with all your usual cookie (or in our case general) baking supplies. The rolling part is important because you'll roll your ingredients to where you want to work rather than hand carring them, one item at a time.

Typical, non perishable ingredients are: flour, sugar, chocolate, baking powder, baking soda, flavorings and whatever you use often. Find a place on the cart or table for speciality equipment, too, like a rolling pin, parchment paper and cookie cutters.

It's easy to keep track of supplies when you use a baking station because everything is right at hand - not hidden in the back of the pantry.

When you want to bake, simply roll your cart to your mixer and get to work. The drudgery of collecting all your baking supplies is gone!

Work from the cart, replacing items as you use or measure them. Your counter stays uncluttered leaving you more work space. You'll be more productive, too.

When you're done baking for the day, just roll the cart out of the way.

Once you set up a baking station, you'll wonder how you ever got any baking done without one.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Christmas with scrumptious recipes for a festive holiday season.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas - What's Happening to Virginia Wineries?

It is with great saddness that I write this post.

As you all know, I am a big fan and proponent of Virginia wines, especially those that come from our region. By and large they are a wonderful celebration of our rich Virginia bounty (and Fauquier County, too) and a link to our cultural heritage.

Having said that, I must now share the unpleasant experience my husband and I had at one of the newer wineries this past Thanksgiving weekend. If this is a trend in our wine industry, it's a very sad day indeed for Virginia.

We went to Sky Meadow State Park for their holiday festival which was lovely. We bought gorgeous, fresh pine, hand made wreaths to hang at the farm.

We stopped at winery down the road to buy wine for the holidays. We had never been to Three Foxes Winery before. It's a beautiful place and was packed with people.

We made our way to the tasting bar and a cheerful person poured us samples of their various
wines. We cautioned her each time that we only wanted a drop to taste the wine - not a full pour. We bought four bottles. (Their's are not cheap wines, folks. The wines we picked were $22-24 dollar a bottle.) We charged the wines to our American Express card and went on our way.

When we got home, (and this is the part I am so angry about) we looked at the bill and noticed that we were charged $8.00 for wine tasting in addition to the cost of the bottles of wine.

$8.00!!!!

Between us, we barely had half a glass of wine when you added up all the tastes.

They had a sign, which I saw, that wine tasting was $4.00 per person but it's been the custom in Virginia wineries (up till now at least) that tasting fees are waived when you make a purchase. (Actually wineries call the fees "refunded" rather than waived.)

I can well understand the need to charge people who only come for free wine and never make a purchase but when you make a purchase - a substantial purchase in our case - this charge for tasting is down right offensive!

If their tasting fee had been a dollar or two, I might not be so mad but four dollars - each!

I emailed Three Foxes asking for a refund of the fee, suggesting it must have been mistake in billing. I was courteous and nice. It's been three days and they haven't responded. Now I'm mad!

I'll give them a couple of more days, then I'll take the wine back and get a refund - not of my $8.00, I'm sure, but I don't want to serve their wine any more.

So beware this holiday season when you are making a trek out into our beautiful Virginia country side for wine. Ask about tasting fees at every winery you stop.

We're becoming, I'm afraid, a jungle of wineries out there looking to pick your pocket at every turn.

Our wineries, instead of offering you a sample to demonstrate pride in their harvest, are becoming wine bars with state tax protection as "farms."

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Christmas with scrumptious recipes and tempting tips for easy holiday entertaining.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Maple, Brown Sugar and Roasted Sweet Potato Pie with a Whole Wheat Crust

One last marvelous recipe especially for small families or small gatherings to make your Thanksgiving so easy!

Small Gathering -
Maple, Brown Sugar and Roasted Sweet Potato Pie with a Whole Wheat Crust

Regular sized pies too large?
This little pie makes 4 servings.
Just right for two with a little left over for a midnight snack!

Makes 1 (7 inch) pie

No Roll Whole Wheat Crust
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup white, all purpose flour
3 tablespoons solid, white vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon cold water (approximately)

Pulse all ingredients together in food processor till uniform in crumbs. Add water and process till it comes together in a ball - about 30 seconds. Pat evenly in a 7 inch pie pan forming a fluted rim. Refrigerate while making filling.

Cook's tip: Crusts high in whole wheat flour can not be rolled out like an all white flour crust.

Filling
1 cup roasted, mashed sweet potato - about 1 (4 inch long X 2 inch in diameter) sweet potato
2 eggs (1/2 cup)
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup whole or 2 % milk (other types not recommended)

Position oven rack so pie will bake in lower third. Preheat to 350 degrees.
Puree filling ingredients together using a hand held blender or in the food processor. Pour into chilled crust.
Bake in preheated oven about 50 - 60 minutes or till set and crust is lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting so filling sets.

Cook's tip: To roast a sweet potato, pierce skin and cook in the microwave or oven until soft. Cool, peel and mash before measuring.

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Check back after Thanksgiving as we count down to Christmas with cookie and hors d'oeuvre recipes for the holidays!

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Virginia Apple, Sausage and Fresh Sage Corn Bread Stuffing (meat or vegetarian)

There are two distinct camps on stuffing.

There's the bread stuffing contingency and the corn bread stuffing contingency.

Where do you stand on stuffing?

Actually, here at Cheesecake Farms, we love both so it's impossible to choose!

Some years we do one or the other. Some years we do one in the bird and the other in a casserole. Either way, stuffing is probably the best part of the bird.

Here's this year's recipe for our corn bread stuffing complete with fresh sage snipped from the November garden!


Virginia Apple, Sausage and Fresh Sage Corn Bread Stuffing
(with meat or vegetarian)

A nicely flavored, soft stuffing made without eggs. If you don't want to stuff your turkey, bake the stuffing in a deep, buttered, covered casserole at 350 degrees for 45 - 60 minutes for till hot and crusty around the edge. In a hurry? Microwave, covered, until steaming - about 15 minutes.

1 pound mild Italian sausage, country sausage or vegetarian sausage
2/3 cup hazelnuts, walnuts or sunflower seeds (coarsely chopped)
3 tart apples (like Granny Smith - cored, peeled and cut into random 1/2 inch chunks - about 4 cups)
6 cups whole wheat or white bread cubes (with or without crusts) cut from firm, day old bread
2 cups day old sweetened or unsweetened corn bread or corn muffins (coarsely crumbled)
3 onions (chopped - about 2 cups)
3 stalk celery (chopped - about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons fresh garden sage (chopped or 1 tablespoon crumbled, dried sage)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or mace
2/3 cup raisins or dried cranberries (or combination - optional)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Cook sausage over low heat or as package directs. Remove from fat. Cool.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of fat and discard or save for another use. Add nuts or seeds to fat and cook about 2 minutes or till lightly toasted. Add apples. Toss to coat. Pour into a very large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients.


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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Williamsburg Peanut Soup

Here's a yummy first course.

If you've never had peanut soup, you're in for a surprise.

Peanuts are a staple crop here in Virginia and are used in many more ways than just as a sandwich filling.

Once you've had peanut soup, you'll be addicted!

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Turkey Tips / Quick and Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipes

We got so involved testing Christmas cookie recipes yesterday that I forgot to blog!

Hoping you'll forgive me, I am putting up TWO Thanksgiving postings here today to make up for yesterday's omission.

The cookies, by the way, were oh, so yummy. You'll get a big batch of easy cookie recipes (that come out looking like you fussed all day) after Thanksgiving.

So here we go!

First - Let's Talk Turkey !!


Let's Talk Turkey
Pro tips for tender, flavorful birds


Ask a hundred cooks how to prepare a great Thanksgiving turkey and you'll get a hundred different answers.

Here's a condensed version of the tips we got when we asked professional chefs for their secrets to a tender bird.

(The only thing every chef agreed on is that the turkey must be moist and flavorful!)
Choose one tip or try several.

1. Brining
Soaking a raw (fresh or thawed) unstuffed turkey in salted cold water before cooking was the most popular tip this year.

Use one cup of Kosher or plain (not iodized) salt per gallon of tap water needed to completely cover the turkey. Soak two hours. Drain, rinse well and stuff or not as you prefer and roast at 350 degrees till done.

2. Bag Roasting
Lots of chefs swear by the turkey roasting bag. The turkey comes out moist and the oven stays clean of splatters.

For the home cook, turkey roasting bags are readily available in every grocery store this time of year. Follow package directions. The pros say to put some celery and onions in the bag under the turkey to elevate the bird off the bottom of the pan. They say this keeps the bottom of the bag from sticking to the bottom of the cooked bird.

3. Upside Down Roasting
Another tip is to cook the turkey breast side down in a V shaped roasting rack. The idea behind this trick is that the juices will run into the breast meat keeping it moist. Be sure to coat the rack with cooking spray before positioning the turkey.

4. Turkey Frying
Sounds unbelievable but some pros swear by this technique because it's such a fast, flavorful cooking method. A whole, unstuffed turkey is deep fried in peanut oil using a special outdoor cooker.

There are some draw backs like the turkey can not be stuffed, the wings get too dry to eat and there are no pan juices to make gravy but none the less the outdoor turkey frying is developing a following.

Cook's tip: Frying a turkey is messy and potentially dangerous. Children and pets must be kept far away. You must watch the turkey the entire cooking time in case of fire or mishaps. Hot oil (and you'll have a lot of it) takes several hours to cool down and then must be discarded.

5. Charcoal Grilling
Don't put away your charcoal grill yet. Several chefs told us they grill their turkeys and people LOVE them.
Here's how: Salt and pepper your unstuffed turkey. Wrap in foil and place in a heavy pan. Place pan over coals heated to medium and cover grill. Roast about 5 hours for a 30 pound turkey. During the last hour, pull back the foil to let the turkey brown.

Cook's tip: Do not stuff your turkey when charcoal grilling.

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Easy Home Made Cranberry Sauces to Tempt and Tease

Skip that canned cranberry sauce for an easy, home made one. Almost faster than opening the can and once you make your own, you'll never go back.

Now's the time to buy extra bags of fresh cranberries and tuck them into the freezer for cranberry treats till cranberry season rolls around again next Thanksgiving.

No Cook Fresh Cranberry - Orange Relish
For best results, prepare this the same day you're planning to serve it.

Makes 3 cups

1 (12-16 oz.) package fresh cranberries
1 large, thick skinned orange (like a navel orange)
1/4 cup - 1 cup sugar (to taste)

Wash cranberries. Drain. Remove stems and shriveled berries. Wash orange, scrubbing skin well. Cut orange into random chunks. Remove and discard any seeds and white center core. Leave skin on fruit. Using the food processor, pulse cranberries and orange pieces together until finely chopped. Do not puree. Remove mixture to a bowl and stir in sugar to taste. Refrigerate until serving.

Apricot, Cranberry and Pecan Chutney
A glistening compote and perfect accent to turkey. Prepare up to 1 week in advance and keep refrigerated.

Makes 4 cups

1 (12-16 oz.) package fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup apricot brandy (or 1/4 cup additional water)
1 (7-9 oz.) package dried apricots
1/2 cup pecans halves

Wash cranberries. Drain. Remove stems and shriveled berries. If apricots are small, leave whole. If they are large, cut them in half.

Put sugar, water and apricot brandy (or additional water) into a medium pot. Cover. Bring to a boil. Remove cover. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries and apricots. Cook till cranberries pop and apricots soften - about 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove cooked fruit and put into a heat safe container. Continue cooking syrup until it reduces by half - about 10 minutes. Pour reduced syrup over cooked fruit. Stir to coat. Cool to room temperature (about 1 hour) then stir in pecans. Refrigerate until serving.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Traditional Southern Hunt Country Menu

Hi!

We're counting down to turkey day!

How about a menu today for a real old fashioned, hunt country Thanksgiving dinner that's steeped in southern style ? It's very easy to make but looks extravagant and lavish.

There's still time for me to get many of these recipes on this blog before Thanksgiving but if you're in a hurry, you can order our online magazine called Karla's Cooking Made Easy and get them asap.

Our on line magazine has other interesting things in it, too, like information about Green Friday - Virginia's answer to Black Friday when everyone packs the shopping malls. There's a big batch of yummy cookie recipes to jump start you on holiday baking and more.

In the mean time, here's an absolutely scrumptious menu for Thanksgiving!

* Recipes appear are on this blog
** As of this post, these recipes haven't made it to the blog yet but there's still time before Thanksgiving so check back. If you're in a hurry, they appear in the Thanksgiving Issue of Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine available at http://www.shopcheesecakefarms.com/


Traditional Southern Hunt Country Thanksgiving Menu

Hors d'oeuvres
Hot Orange Cider (for the children)**
Hot Orange Cider Toddies (for the adults)**
Angels on Horseback**

Dinner
Williamsburg Peanut Soup**
Baked Virginia Ham
Roast Turkey with Apple, Sausage and Fresh Sage Corn Bread Stuffing**
Vegetarian Holiday Roast*
Brown Sugar Crusted Sweet Potatoes
Fresh Green Bean, Mushroom and Onion Ring Casserole
Brussels Sprouts with Orange Chestnut Butter
Toasted Pecan Wild Rice
Home Made Cranberry Sauce*
Pickled Watermelon Rind*
Spiced Peaches*
Salad of Mixed Greens with Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
Pumpkin Bread with Creamery Butter*
Local Harvest Virginia Red Wine

Dessert
Trio of Sweets (see pie article for recipes)
Pumpkin and Gingersnap Ice Cream Pie*
Unsugared Apple Pie**
Old Fashioned Pear Pie**
French Roast or Chicory Coffee
Holiday Spiced Tea
Cordials, Brandy, Port

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Picked Watermelon Rind and Quick Spiced Peaches

Pickled watermelon rind and spiced peaches are must haves when entertaining southern style. If you didn't do any canning last summer, and can't beg a jar from someone who did, you'll have to make do with store bought.

Pickled watermelon rind can usually be found in the grocery stores if you look really hard. There's always a jar or two hidden on a top shelf in the pickle section. Most stores do not carry spiced peaches but you can quick fix commercially canned ones with almost home canned taste.

You relocated northerners are probably wondering why pickled watermelon rind and spiced peaches are so hard to come by when they're so important to southern hospitality. It's because even non cooks can a few jars during the summer. It's a southern thing.


Quick Spiced Peaches - Southern Style
Tie the spices in cheesecloth if you're a purist but I like to see them floating around. Use cider vinegar for a home canned look.

Makes 1 quart
Uses a 1 quart canning jar with lid but processing (canning) is not required

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 (29 oz.) can peach halves in heavy syrup (undrained)
2 tablespoons mulling spice
1 cinnamon stick

Stir vinegar and sugar together in a medium, non aluminum sauce pan. Cover. Heat on low till sugar is dissolved - about 1 minute.

Remove cover. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to gentle boil (uncovered). Boil 1 minute.

Spoon peaches and spices into canning jar. Pour syrup over peaches filling jar to 1/4 inch from top. Wipe rim of jar with a cloth dipped into hot water. Cap. Cool 2 hours at room temperature. Refrigerate at least 2 days before serving. Longer is better. Do not store at room temperature.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Vegetarian Faux Turkey Holiday Roast

Here's a main dish roast that's holiday fare whether you're a vegetarian or not.

It makes a perfect main dish for Thanksgiving dinner or a thoughtful alternative entree when vegetarians and non vegetarian are sharing the same table.

This recipe is from Bridgette Mars, a practicing herbalist and nutritional consultant in Boulder, Colorado and was originally printed in The October/November 1993 issue of The Herb Companion Magazine.

We haven't tried this recipe yet but it sounds so yummy that we'll be including it on our holiday table at Cheesecake Farms.

Vegetarian Holiday Roast

1 1/2 cups lentils (3 cups cooked)
7/8 cup millet (3 cups cooked)
1 cup brown rice (3 cups cooked)
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts or 2 cups whole chestnuts
3 slices whole wheat toast, crumbled
1/2 cup almond butter
2 cups chopped onion
1/4 cup olive oil
5 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
1 teaspoon dried celery seeds
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 cups chopped seitan (prepared wheat gluten - optional)

Cook lentils, millet and rice separately and reserve 2 cups of lentil liquor for making Mushroom Gravy (below).

If you are using whole chestnuts, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the nuts and cut a cross about 1/2 inch deep in the small, pointed ends. Place nuts on a cookie sheet and bake about 20 minutes, then cool for 10 minutes. Remove shells and cut the nuts into quarters.

Mix the cooked grains and lentils with nuts, bread crumbs and almond butter in a large bowl and set aside.

Saute onions briefly in olive oil, then add the garlic, sage, celery seed, rosemary, salt and seitan, if used.

Saute 2-4 minutes longer, stirring constantly, then add to the other ingredients, mix thoroughly (mooshing with fingers works best), and put into a large oiled baking dish.

Lightly coat the top of the roast with olive oil, then bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/4 hours. Serve with Mushroom Gravy (below) and garnish with parsley.

Mushroom Gravy
Make 1 quart

20 medium-size mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons fresh oregano
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup unbleached flour
2 cups lentil liquor (from recipe above)
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Separate the mushroom caps from their stems, then quarter the caps and halve the stems. Saute the onion in olive oil on medium heat for 1 minute, then stir in the oregano and add the mushrooms.

Cook, stirring constantly, until mushrooms have softened and the bottom of the pan is covered with liquid. Set aside.

Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat, then stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the lentil liquor and water, and continue stirring until the mixture thickens and barely begins to boil.

Add the mushroom mixture, salt, and pepper, and continue stirring until the gravy again begins to boil.

Remove from heat and serve.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Ported Cranberries

Skip that canned cranberry sauce for an easy, home made one. Almost faster than opening the can and once you make your own, you'll never go back.

Now's the time to buy extra bags of fresh cranberries and tuck them into the freezer for cranberry treats till cranberry season rolls around again next Thanksgiving.

Cranberry bread, cranberry scones, cranberry ginger bread, cran-apple pie, cranberry muffins and so many more yummy treats to enjoy all year long but fresh cranberries are only available this time of year so you have to think ahead.

No special tricks for freezing. Simply over-wrap the bags of cranberries (just as they come from the store) with another plastic bag and tuck into the freezer.

When ever you need cranberries for a recipe, just remove the portion you need (the berries don't stick together) rinse them under tepid running water, drain and stir into your recipe. No thawing needed.

Ported Cranberries
Prepare up to a week in advance to let the flavors mellow.

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Makes about 3 cups
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1 (12-16 oz.) bag fresh cranberries
2 cups port wine
1-1/2 cups dark brown sugar (packed to measure)

Wash cranberries under tepid running water. Drain. Remove any stems or shriveled berries.

In a large pot, bring wine and sugar to a boil, stirring occassionally to disolve sugar. (This boils over like a volcano making a HUGE mess so watch carefully.) Add cranberries. Cook on medium/low heat till they pop - about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove popped cranberries and put into a heat proof dish.

Continue cooking liquid until it reduces by half - about 10 minutes.

Pour reduced liquid over cooked cranberries. Stir. Cool to room temperature (about an hour) and refrigerate until serving time.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Friday, November 9, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes: Karla's Make Ahead Pumpkin and Ginger Snap Ice Cream Pie

Pie are definately THE dessert for Thanksgiving. Here's one of our favorites. It's still a pumpkin pie but oh, so much better! (and did I mention it's a make ahead treat?)

Karla's Make Ahead Pumpkin and Ginger Snap Ice Cream Pie

Makes one (10 inch) deep dish pie
Must freeze overnight - longer is OK

Crust
2 cups crushed ginger snaps (purchased or home made)
6 tablespoons butter (melted - margarine not recommended)

Mix crust ingredients together (a fork or your fingers works well). Press into the bottom then the sides of an ungreased pie pan. Refrigerate while making filling.


Cook's tip: To make 2 cups crumbs, pulse about 8 oz. of purchased ginger snaps in the food processor until fine. No food processor? Put snaps into a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin or wine bottle. Crisp ginger snaps make better crumbs than chewy ginger snaps.


Filling
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mace
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 (1.75 quart) container vanilla ice cream

Garnish: whipped cream plus additional nutmeg or cinnamon

In a medium sauce pan, combine pumpkin, brown sugar and spices. Cover pot. Cook over medium heat 2 minutes. Remove cover. Continue cooking (stirring to prevent scorching) until mixture bubbles around edges and begins to plop - about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer to a heat proof container. Refrigerate until cold - at least 1 hour but overnight is better.

Working quickly so ice cream doesn't melt, mix slightly softened ice cream into cold pumpkin (a plastic spatula works well.)

Pile ice cream mixture into prepared crust mounding it nicely. Cover lightly with a tent of plastic wrap. Freeze overnight before serving.

Garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon.

Cook's tip: If your pie pan is not deep dish, pour the extra filling into a plastic container, cover and freeze to enjoy as pumpkin ice cream another time.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Choosing a Turkey

Choosing a turkey these days is difficult.

At Thanksgiving, grocery stores always use turkeys as, what's referred to in the trade as, a loss - leader. This means the stores price the turkeys so low that they actually loose money.

It sounds stupid, I know, to loose money but stores are in such great competation at holiday times that they're willing to do anything just to get people into the store.

Once the customers are in the store they'll buy the rest of their holiday needs and rack up a huge bill which makes up for what the store lost on the turkey.

OK, so price is one of the factors in choosing a turkey. Loss leader turkeys are usually name brands so you can get a really good deal. Shop wisely for the rest of your dinner needs and you'll come out a winner.

But there are also speciality turkeys to consider.

Fresh (never been frozen) turkeys, free range (barn yard) turkeys and organic turkeys. Some speciality farms even offer heirloom varieties of game bred turkeys.

And then there are whole turkey breasts, vegetarian turkeys (sometimes called Tofukeys - pronounced toe -foo-keys) and that specialty from New Orleans - Turduckans
(pronounced tur-duck-ans which are turkeys stuffed with duck and sometimes ham, too). Some people serve smoked turkeys for Thanksgiving

At Cheesecake Farms, our favorite type of turkey is a natural, free range organic bird. They're firmer in texture and taste than our modern fork tender types. They taste more like the old fashioned game birds grandma used to make.

Most grocery and specialty stores stock natural, free range organic turkeys and they're modestly priced at $1.50 - 3.50 per pound (in Fauquier County, Virginia). That's more than a loss leader bird but we like the taste and texture better plus the soup you'll be making with the bones (after Thanksgiving) we think is more flavorful.

We're not big on exotic, heirloom birds or specialty items with sky high price tags. We just like a good, honestly prepared turkey that won't break the bank.

Lots of grocery stores and restaurants will cook a turkey for you (or your whole meal for that matter) and all you have to do it heat it up.

Read that line again....."all you have to do is heat it up."

If you have to reheat it (I call that left overs), or cook any part of it, you might as well cook the meal yourself or eat out.

Cooking a real, honest to goodness Thanksgiving dinner is not hard or difficult. Roasting the turkey is easy and the most soul satisfying part.

Thanksgiving is the meal. It's the preparation. It's the homey smells tempting your taste buds and it's tummy filling warmth.

Thanksgiving is the time we share a table with loved ones and linger for hours. It's a time we get in touch with the real important things of life.

Thanksgiving is the time we stop and smell the ....well, turkey.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipe - Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread (Are Organic, Free Range or Regular Eggs Best for Holiday Baking?)

With so many egg choices available in the grocery store, it's difficult to know which type of egg to buy.

Eggs come in many categories: organic, free range, cage free, natural, minimally processed, omega 3 enriched, low cholesterol and the regular (and cheapest) type.

A quality, fresh, nutrient rich egg (from any category of eggs) will have whites that are thick plus yolks that are plump and orange in color. The shells will be firm so you have to tap pretty hard to crack them. Once cracked, quality eggs should be fresh smelling - almost without fragrance.

The better quality the egg, the better the result you will have with your baking.

If you know someone who raises chickens, that's the best egg to get. Here in Fauquier County, Virginia, you'll see signs on road sides everywhere offering eggs. Local, farm fresh eggs are prized and there for purchased long before they've had a chance to break down with age.

Small producers almost never cage their birds or use antibiotics. It's just not profitable for them to take such extreme, factory chicken methods. Plus people who raise chickens often raise them for their own families then sell off the extras and they want to be sure their families have quality food. So, while they're not necessarily certified "organic", you can bet they probably are.

While I am a strong supporter of natural and organic foods, when it comes to eggs, I'm sorry to say that the grocery store speciality eggs I tested over a period of many months were all below average when it came to freshness and taste.

The whites were watery. The yolks were flat and yellow rather than orange. The shells were so thin I could bearly get the eggs out of the carton without breaking. (A thin shell means the chicken had a diet very low in calcium. The resulting egg would therefore also be low in calcium.)

I tested organic, free range, cage free, natural, minimally processed, omega 3 enriched and low cholesterol eggs all with similar results.

My guess is that the expensive price tags of speciality eggs kept them on the shelves longer than the regular eggs.

Time after time, the regular store brand eggs had thicker whites, plumper yolks and fresher smells with prices a fraction of the speciality eggs.

So what about antibiotics and the humane treatment of chickens?

This is frustrating question. Again, I recommend local, farm eggs but that isn't always possible.

Large egg producers are going to great length to assure consumers that eggs are humainely produced and free or within safe levels of anti-biotics.

An organization called The United Egg Producers has set up a very informative web site to answer all your questions: http://www.uepcertified.com/ about mass produced eggs.

As of this writing, I have not found a speciality egg that's worth the high price tag.

For holiday baking, regular eggs will be very competively priced and are often rock bottom cheap. Plus they sell so fast this time of year that you'll be assured of fresh eggs for baking.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
Great the day it's made - better the next

Makes 1 (9 X 5) inch loaf

1/2 cup oil
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup milk
1-3/4 cups all purpose (white) flour
1-1/2 cups baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Position oven rack so loaf will bake in center. Preheat to 350 degrees. Grease pan or coat with baking spray.

In one bowl whisk together oil, sugar,eggs, pumpkin and milk. In another bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Stir both bowls together.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 - 1 1/4 hours. Bread is done when a cake tester comes out clean and bread pulls away slightly from pan sides. Remove from oven. Cool 10 minutes before attempting to remove from pan.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Slow Cooker Roasted Turkey Breast

Gobble, Gobble

It's time for that traditional Thanksgiving turkey.

Here in Virginia, the continuing controversary about serving turkey for Thanksgiving is hot and heavy with no end in site.

Purests point to the fact that ham is the historically correct entree for a southern Thanksgiving. Our fore fathers and fore mothers would not have served turkey. Turkey, they say, is northern fare.

Whether it is or whether it isn't, turkey is still wonderful eating at Thanksgiving.

At our house, we give a nod to our southern heritage by serving ham but we serve turkey, too. You just can not have too many good things to eat at Thanksgiving!


Slow Cooker Roasted Turkey Breast

Moist and juicy plus it frees your oven for other yummy things like pies! Perfect for small family feasts, too. Once you roast a turkey breast in the slow cooker, you'll never cook it another way!!

1 turkey breast (4-6 pounds)

Wash turkey well under tepid running water. Drain. Put into a slow cooker, cutting, if necessary to fit. Cover.

Set cooker on high and cook 4-5 hours or until a meat thermmeter reaches 170 degrees.

Remove from cooker and keep warm.

Use the broth as part of your stock when making your gravy.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Monday, November 5, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Whole Wheat Pie Crust

If you're trying to include more whole grains in your daily diet, this crust is perfect for you.

Whole wheat by itself does not make a good pie crust so out of necessity this recipe contains some (white) all purpose flour. Even so, the crust difficult to roll out even if you're experienced with pies.

But the good news it that it makes a wonderful dough to just pat in the pan. The resulting crust looks every bit as good as a rolled out one and is just a flaky.

Whether you're a novice at pie baking or a pro, this super easy and super delicious recipe will make your holiday pie baking a snap.

The taste is a little more hearty than a white flour crust adding a richness to fall pies like pumpkin, sweet potato, apple and pecan.



Whole Wheat Pat in the Pan Pie Crust


Makes 1 (9 inch) single crust

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup solid white vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)
2-3 tablespoons ice water


Put all ingredients (except ice water) into the food processor. Pulse together until crumbs are uniform looking - about 45 seconds.

Add 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water (not cubes) and process until dough comes together into a ball - about 30 seconds.

Remove dough from processor and press into pan, a little bit at a time.

Refrigerate or freeze crust until ready to fill.

Without thawing crust, follow your recipe's directions for filling and baking.

Baker's tip: When patting crust into the pan, press the dough evenly on the sides and bottom. Make the crust at the top rim of the pan (where you'll be fluting the edge) thicker than the rest so you'll have ample dough to make a pretty edge.

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for festive fall fare.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Friday, November 2, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - My Best Pie Crust

For most holidays we love to experiment with recipes, menus and traditions.

Thanksgiving is the exception.

At Thanksgiving, traditional foods are what we crave.

Maybe the traditional foods give us a sense of stability.

Maybe it's a sense of permanence - something we can count on that never changes.

Or maybe we just love the food so dog - gone much!
(It's the one day in America when everyone eats green bean and mushroom soup casserole!)

Pie is the number one dessert served on Thanksgiving Day.

Pumpkin pie is the national favorite but sweet potato and pecan are not far behind.

Great pies begin with great crust.

Every baker has a trick or two.

I'm always on the look out for a new crust trick and new crust recipes.

This is my favorite - this year.

Karla's Best Pie Crust (2007)

Makes 1 (9 or 10 inch) single crust pie shell

2-3 tablespoons ice water
(Put 2 or 3 ice cubes into a glass and fill with tap water before continuing with recipe)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup solid white vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons - margarine not recommended)

Put all ingredients (except ice water) into the food processor. Pulse together until crumbs are uniform looking - about 45 seconds.

Add 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water (not cubes) and process until dough comes together into a ball - about 30 seconds.

Remove dough from processor and by hand, flatten into a 6 inch circle. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Roll out dough on very lightly floured surface.

Question: How do I know whether to add 2 or 3 tablespoons of ice water?

Answer: It depends on the dri-ness of the flour, amount of moisture in the butter and the humidity of the air in your kitchen.

Begin by add 2 tablespoons ice water and pulse dough a little. Open processor and squeeze a bit of dough between 2 fingers (before it's formed a ball).

If the dough is sticky, don't add any more water. Continue processing until the dough comes together and forms a ball.

If the dough seems a little dry, like it won't come together, add the remaining tablespoon. Continue processing until the dough comes together and forms a ball.

This is one of those things that a recipe assumes you know. With a little experience, you'll soon be able to read the dough like a pro.

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Check back tomorrow as we count down to Thanksgiving with scrumptious recipes for family and entertaining.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes - Perfect Pies

It's November and that means Thanksgiving is on it's way. What would Thansgiving be with out pies!?!

For tips on how to make the best pies, I went right to the source - "Mom" of Mom's Pies in Warrenton (and other locations). Here's what Mom had to say:

1. Use good, fresh flour, good butter (or shortening or lard).

2. Keep the butter (or shortening or lard) chilled so it doesn't mix with the flour but rather forms a layer of it's own.

3. Don't mix the dough very much. Don't over work or over roll the dough.

Mix the dough until it bearly holds together.

Roll the dough 3 times in 3 directions then stop.

4. The crust does not have to look perfect when you put it into the pan.

5. Make sure the pie is completely baked before removing it from the oven. The crust should be opaque top and bottom. The juice (if a fruit pie) should be bubbling for a few minutes.

6. For single crust pies (like pecan), freeze the crust before filling and baking - it makes it flaky.

So there you have it! Tips for perfect pies straight from Mom.

Happy Baking!!

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Check back tomorrow as we count down to Thanksgiving.

Want to know more about our Cooking Classes, Gadgets, Karla's Cooking Made Easy On Line Magazine or our Bed and Breakfast?

Visit our web site : http://www.cheesecakefarms.com/