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Mexi Pasta Salad

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I am always on the hunt for a good summer cookout side.  There are only so many times a person can make a great Potato Salad before you feel like you have potato salad coming out your ears!  I have always enjoyed a good pasta salad though.  So, I made it my mission this summer to perfect a great pasta salad and by golly, I think I got it… In fact, I know I got it.

This pasta salad is something different, out of the box and packed with fresh ingredients and delicious flavors all marrying to become one heck of a side dish.  I served it at a cookout just yesterday along-side some BBQ chicken and grilled Montreal Steak.  But, I can totally see it with some Southwest Turkey Burgers or even just topped with some fresh avocado and Grilled Shrimp or chicken.

The trick is not to gobble it all up before you get it to the party!  I call it “Mexi Pasta Salad” because although I am pretty sure there isn’t an Abuela in Mexico throwing this together, it gives a good solid nod to the flavors of Mexico. With all your basic taco toppings thrown in and some cumin to spice things up, this salad is not your run of the mill deli get.

Add salt to a good size pot… a pot larger than you think you need for the pasta if possible.

Campanelle Pasta is what I am using today, you can really use any type of pasta for this.

Be sure to stir the pasta a few times throughout the cooking process to ensure nothing sticks together.

Here are some of the fresh ingredients you will need.

Some halved grape tomatoes.

Dice up that jalapeno into a nice small dice after removing seeds and ribs. (Unless you like a kick, then you can leave in as much of the innards as you like haha)

Dice up the bell pepper (any color is fine, I like red for it’s sweetness and color)

Once you dice up half your red (it’s really purple, I never understood why we call them red onions) pepper be sure to soak them in water for a bit to take out that onion tang that makes you cry, it’s a bit too strong for a pasta salad.

Roughly chop up half a bunch of cilantro.

Roughly chop a can of black olives. You can use freshly brined black olives if you like, but there is just something about the canned variety I like here.

Now for the little to no prep ingredients… Start with about 3/4 of a bag of frozen corn… If you happen to have fresh, please use that, I didn’t have any handy.

Rinse out a can of black beans.

Drain your pasta… I cook mine just past aldente.  Also, I did not feel like having to wash another bowl, so my extra-large pot (Magic Pot from Pampered Chef) was perfect for mixing everything in together!

In a small mixing bowl, add in 1 cup of may.

To that, add about 1/2 cup of sour cream. This may seem like a lot of moisture, but we are adding a lot to this pasta.

Now the zest of one lime.

You could add in the juice of the lime, but I find the zest strikes just the perfect balance and the juice is really not needed… Save the juice for your Blueberry Mojito!

Next add in about 1/2 tsp of ground cumin.

Now a good pinch of kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Mix your dressing.

Add corn.

Add beans.

Add dressing.

Drain onions and add in.

Add your chopping block stuff.

Mix together.

And for some extra crunch, add in half a diced english cucumber. If you prefer to use a cuke from your garden, just be sure to seed it first to reduce water content.

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Mexi Pasta Salad

Serves 10-15 as a side

Ingredients:

1 lb. pasta, cooked in salted water

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced small

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 red onion, diced and soaked in water, then drained

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

1/2 English cucumber, diced

1 can black olives, drained and roughly chopped

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

3/4 bag frozen corn or 2 ears fresh corn grilled

For the dressing:

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

zest of 1 lime

1/2 tsp. cumin

kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Directions:

Prepare all ingredients as stated in ingredient list.  Drain pasta.  In a small bowl mix together mayo, sour cream, cumin, zest, salt and pepper.

Add dressing to pasta. Add beans, corn, both peppers, drained onion, tomatoes, cilantro, cucumbers and black olives.  Mix well.  Taste for salt. Pour into serving bowl and chill at least 2 hours.

 

Once the cabbage is completely coated with the sauce, you will want to let it rest.

Honey Mustard Slaw

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Cole Slaw is not something I grew up liking.  It’s healthy and fresh and crunchy, but every time I tried it as a kid, it really just didn’t appeal to me.  As a result, I think of this more as an adult side.  My mom would always get it as a side to her fish and chips or fried chicken plate.  I think it’s something about that vinegary taste that turns kids off.  But… You know what kids like?  Honey Mustard.  I have yet to meet a kid who doesn’t like honey mustard.  So, I thought for something a little different, lets see how the two marry.

I was making a hot pastrami sandwich and needed something to top it, but I didn’t want straight yellow mustard and I don’t feel like straight mayo goes with pastrami either.  Hence, the Honey Mustard Slaw was born.  My kids tried it and liked it!  I’ll admit, they aren’t too hot on the Hot Pastrami Sandwich, so they got grilled cheese, but the slaw was a hit!

And the recipe couldn’t be easier, more affordable or more manageable as it lasts for several days covered in the fridge!

Start with a fresh head of cabbage. The fresher the better.

Slice off a couple inches from one side and wrap the rest in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for your next project.

Now Julianne the cabbage which basically just means to thinly and as uniformly as possible slice into strips.

Set the shredded cabbage aside.

Add 2-3 heaping tablespoons of mayo to a medium size bowl with a lid if possible.

Add in a heaping teaspoon of stone ground Dijon mustard.

Add in a good splash of apple cider vinegar.

Stack up about 4-5 slices of pickle or one small pickle would be fine here too, this is what I had on hand.

Slice them up.

MIx.

Add in some honey.  Try and invest in some good local honey, if you can, it’s really worth it!

Stir in honey and pickles.

Add in a touch of hot sauce, I am using Sriracha sauce here and only put in a little squirt. Depending on what you are using the slaw for and your heat tolerance, should determine how much you put in and if you don’t care for hot sauce, you can totally leave it out.

Add a good amount of fresh cracked black pepper and a small pinch of kosher salt.

The last thing I like to add in is a dollop of sour cream mostly for the tang and the creaminess.

My method of stirring is to add in the cabbage half first, coat with sauce and then add in the remaining shredded cabbage for the final stir.

Once the cabbage is completely coated with the sauce, you will want to let it rest.

Cover and place in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours. It will keep this way for several days.

Honey Mustard Slaw

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

2 cups shredded cabbage

3 heaping Tbs. mayonnaise

2 Tbs. sour cream

1 heaping tsp. stone ground Dijon mustard

1 1/2 tsp. local honey

1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

4-5 sliced pickles, sliced into strips

1/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Hot sauce to taste (optional)

Directions:

Make the sauce by adding mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon mustard, honey, vinegar, pickles, cracked pepper, salt and host sauce into a bowl (with a lid if possible).  Stir.  Add in 1/2 cabbage and coat with sauce.  Add remaining cabbage and continue to stir until all cabbage is coated with sauce.  Cover and let sit in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Enjoy!

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12-Minute Rice

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I cook a lot of rice.  It’s an easy side.  I do white rice, brown rice, wild rice.  I make rice pilaf, rice pudding, risotto and fried rice.  Rice is an easy and inexpensive pallet for a cook to get creative.  It’s not difficult to make on the stove top, it really isn’t, so even though I have owned this Pampered Chef Microwave Rice Cooker for years, I really never paid it much mind.

Then one day, I was in a hurry and just wanted a quick side.  I already had like three other pans that I was using and would need to hand wash and it occurred to me I could just use the microwave rice cooker I had sitting on my pantry shelf collecting dust.  So, I rinsed it out.  I remembered the instructions because they are super easy and I took the liberty to even get a little creative adding a pad of butter, tossed in some chopped onions that I had on hand from the rest of the meal, some salt and pepper and popped it in the microwave.  The best part was that the microwave beeped when it was ready and I didn’t have to worry about burning it, it was done and just waiting nice and hot for whenever I was ready to get to it!

Well, that did it.  When I opened my microwave, it was still hot and perfectly steamed.  When dinner was through, we still had some left over so I put the lid back on and popped it in the fridge, then the next day when it was time to heat, into the microwave it went again.  Then right into the dishwasher.  By my estimation, it saved me 1 pot, 2 serving dishes, 1 Tupperware container worth of dishes. It was ready in half the time and I didn’t have to worry about burning the rice or the rice sticking to the bottom of my pan leading to soaking and possibly scraping.  That works for me.

So, I thought I would send out a quick tutorial on how to make the very basic rice.  This is plain white Jasmine rice.  Instructions differ for brown or wild rice of course, but still much less time because you are essentially pressure steaming the rice.

Start by placing one cup of rice in the bowl.

I like to add 2.5 cups of water per cup of rice.

A healthy pinch of salt. (1/2 tsp. or so)

Mix.

Place the guard on top.

Then seal on the cover.

Place it in the microwave.

Set the time to 12 minutes on high (my microwave is 1100 wats, adjust this to the wattage of your specific microwave per instructions)

And 12 minutes later, this is what you will have.

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12-Minute Rice

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 cup white rice

2 1/2 cups water

1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:

Place ingredients in Microwave rice cooker.  Seal up rice cooker as directed.  Set microwave on high for 12 minutes.  Remove from microwave when ready.  Fluff and serve.

***Gluten-free

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Quick Mexican Black Beans

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I love Portuguese food, after all I am 100% Portuguese born and raised.  But, I would have to say a close second to my love of Portuguese food is Mexican.  I love the combinations of flavors and their savory smokey aspects.  Having Portuguese cooking as a good solid background makes it not so difficult to switch into the kitchens of our neighbors to the south.

This recipe is a bit of a short cut from soaking and boiling beans that is usually a good 24 hour process for me.  I don’t always have time for all that when I am looking to put dinner on the table.  A well stocked pantry should always contain a few cans of beans and I love to have black beans in there ready to go.

In this recipe, you will need a couple of fresh ingredients, but mostly you will be looking to your pantry!  It’s a great last-minute side or it can even be made into a great main dish, just double the recipe and add in some steak, shredded chicken or pork and serve over rice!

Chop 1/2 an onion.

These are sweet peppers, the come in a big bag at my grocery store. If you can’t find these, you can always use a red, orange or yellow bell pepper.

Treat them just like any other pepper, start with chopping off the top and removing the seeds.

Then dice.

Use two garlic cloves.

With my Pampered Chef garlic press, I don’t even have to peel them.

Just pop it in and squeeze!

Now you will need a can of black beans, do not drain! I know, it sounds odd, but you need all that liquid.

Use one cap full of apple cider vinegar.

Saute the onions in a small sauce pan.

Add in the peppers.

Once onions and peppers have started to soften, you can add in garlic. You don’t want to do this too soon to avoid burning the garlic.

Use about a half a teaspoon of oregano

And about 1/8 teaspoon of Portuguese Allspice… if you don’t have this, use a good sweet paprika.

Add in water.

Stir in everything, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes until peppers are cooked through.

Your liquid should be reduced a bit at this point.

Add salt and black pepper to taste.

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Quick Mexican Black Beans

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 can black beans, undrained

1/2 medium onion, chopped

5-6 small sweet peppers, seeded and chopped (or half a bell pepper)

1/2 cup water

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

2 garlic cloves, run through a press

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/8 tsp Portuguese allspice

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil to saute vegetables

chopped scallions (optional)

Instructions:

Saute onions and peppers in a small sauce pan in olive oil over medium heat. When tender, add in garlic, saute another minute and add in oregano and allspice.  Saute another minute to bloom the spices.  Add in beans, water and vinegar.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until peppers are cooked through and some of the liquid has dissipated.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over rice and garnish with fresh chopped scallions if desired.  Enjoy!

*This recipe is gluten-free.

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Roasted Chouriço & Potatoes (Batatas Assadas com Chouiço)

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The holiday’s are a special time.  It’s a time of year that all the traditional family recipes really shine!  Each year my sister prepares Roasted Chouriço and Potatoes for Thanksgiving because this is her favorite dish.  And I can’t say I blame her.

With the delicious traditional Portuguese flavors in full swing, these potatoes become tender and velvety.  And if you slice up a piece of the chouriço with some of the potato on your fork you end up with magic in your mouth!

If you are Portuguese, this recipe (or your family’s version of this recipe) may already be on your table.  If not, you might be looking for a new and interesting side dish to serve alongside your green bean casserole.  You may have guests that don’t care for turkey and would appreciate a different protein being offered.  Or hey, maybe you are going as a guest and want to offer to bring something you will enjoy and can impress the host with something unique.  Any way you slice it, this recipe fits the bill!  And if you have vegetarians among you, this recipe can easily be made without the chouriço!

Start with a clean bowl. This one is the Pampered Chef Small Batter Bowl, I love it because it’s like a giant measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring (and its oven and microwave safe!).

Open a small can of tomato sauce.

I used the Pampered Chef Can Opener to do this and so I have no sharp edges.

Pour sauce into bowl.

Add in Portuguese All Spice. If you don’t have this available to you locally, I posted the recipe for it at the bottom of my Beef Stew recipe, just take a look.

Add spice into sauce.

Add in a few spoon fulls of Portuguese Ground Red Pepper.

Add in half a beer (about 3/4 cup.

Add in kosher salt.

Crush a couple cloves of fresh garlic.

Dice it up and add it into the sauce.

Add in garlic and give the sauce a good stir.

Thinly slice half a large onion.

Place potatoes in baking dish. I am using the Pampered Chef Square Baker stone.

Cut up your chouriço into chunks.

Place in dish with potatoes.

Spread onions over top.

Pour sauce over top. Be sure to coat each potato.

Once all your potatoes are covered with sauce, cover with foil.

Once pan is covered in foil, place in a 375°F oven for 2-21/2 hours until potatoes are fork tender.

When potatoes are fork tender, remove foil and turn all the potatoes again coating them with sauce and roast another 1/2 hour or so.

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Roasted Chouriço & Potatoes

Serves 6-9

Ingredients:

8-9 medium potatoes, peeled

1/2 lb. chouriço, sliced into 9 chunks

1/2 onion, sliced thinly

1 small can tomato sauce

1/2 beer (about 3/4 cup)

3 Tbs. Portuguese Ground Red Pepper

2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. Portuguese All Spice

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375°F.

In a medium mixing bowl add in sauce, beer, All Spice, garlic, salt and pepper.  Arrange potatoes, chouriço and onions in a baking dish.  Pour sauce over the potatoes, chouriço and onions being sure to coat each potato.  Cover with foil and roast for 2-2 1/2 hours until potatoes are fork tender.  Once potatoes are tender, remove foil and turn potatoes so they get again coated with sauce, roast for an additional 1/2 hour uncovered.  Serve hot. Enjoy!

*this is a gluten-free recipe.

Heat your oven-safe skillet over high heat with a bit of olive oil.  Place asparagas into the skillet altogether.

Pan Seared Asparagus

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Sometimes a simple side is the best way to go.  And if you haven’t tried asparagus in a while, this is the recipe to try!  Please do not confuse this with the stuff you get from the can all mushy and waterlogged.  This asparagus is a flavorful and substantial side dish that is tender yet still has some body to it.

I did not grow up eating asparagus.  As a matter of fact there really aren’t many Portuguese recipes for vegetable preparation because there was never much room on a Portuguese table for green veggies of any kind (well beyond couves/kale of course)! So, when I became and adult and started exploring the world of veggies on my own, I stumbled upon this one and fell in love!  I created this recipe and buy asparagus whenever it is on sale which is about once a month and serve it at my dinner table holiday or not.

If you have never worked with asparagus, you might be surprised at just how simple it is to prepare…

Start with fresh asparagus. This recipe does not work with canned or even frozen asparagus.

Wash and cut off the woody bottoms… I usually remove the bottom 2 1/2 inches.

Heat your oven-safe skillet over high heat with a bit of olive oil. Place asparagus into the skillet altogether.

Sprinkle with kosher salt and Peppercorn & Garlic rub. (I also like to add in some Hungarian Paprika)

Toss in your skillet with some tongs and continue to get a sear on each piece. Then pop in a pre-heated oven for about 5 minutes.

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Pan Seared asparagus

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 lb. fresh asparagus, washed and trimmed

3-4 Tbs. olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt

 

1/2 tsp. Peppercorn & Garlic Rub

1/4 tsp. Hungarian P

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375°F.  Heat skillet over high heat with olive oil.

Be sure asparagus is dry from washing.  Place in heated skillet. Sprinkle with salt, Peppercorn & Garlic Rub and any other desired spices.  Allow to sear for one minute, then rotate which asparagus are making contact with the hot skillet using tongs.

Once all asparagus has been seared, place skillet in the oven for 5-7 minutes.  Serve immediately. Enjoy!

 

And this is the deliciousness you will serve on your dinner table!

Simple Buttery Dinner Rolls

 

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If there is any time of year to learn to bake bread… this would be the time! And if you already bake bread regularly, you will love this recipe!  These delicious buttery rolls have a great success rate!  What a way to wow your holiday crowd than to bring out a steaming basket of freshly baked dinner rolls!

These rolls are made with regular old flour, yeast and butter, nothing special to buy, no crazy investment in groceries.  Try them at home this weekend to get ready for the holidays, you might just get addicted to baking bread!  Let me take you through my step by step recipe tutorial.  Here we go…

Measure out some very warm water. The water should be between 110°F-115°F. (Not so hot you can’t touch it.)

Add water to the bowl of an electric mixer.

Get a bit of sugar.

Add sugar in to water.

Add yeast into water and sugar.

Measure out water.

Add butter to milk.

Allow butter to melt in.

Once it has, mix.

Add in milk mixture.

Mix.

Let it sit for a few minutes.

Measure out the flour.

Add the salt in after you add in your flour… salt kills yeast, so you don’t want to add this ingredient in out of order.

Add your salt in with your flour… remember don’t do this our of order.

Add flour into your mixing bowl… mix in 2 1/2 cups of flour to your wet ingredients… let sit for 10 minutes and then continue.

Start mixer going on low… if you have a mixer with numbers, use number 2.

Keep it going.

Your dough should eventually turn into a ball.

Let it go for a bit to become a smooth ball.

Then let it rest in the mixing bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap to keep the warmth in and place it somewhere free of breeze.

Once your dough has risen, you will need to turn it out onto a board. I love these Pampered chef Cutting Mats because the mess stays on the mat and then it can go right into the dishwasher.

Turn the dough out onto the floured mat and sprinkle with a bit more flour.

Roll dough into a bit of a clumsy roll… this does not have to be perfect as long as it’s relatively even.

Cut the roll in have. We are going to work with one half at a time.

Now you can be a little more careful with your rolling. You want to make sure it is as even as you can get it.

Cut each of your two new rolls into 6 pieces, this will give you 12 rolls total.

Now prepare your baking dish. I like to butter my dish using the paper towel method. I just slap some butter on a clean paper towel so im not getting all greasy and I dont toally mess up my stick of butter.

Now prepare your baking dish. I like to butter my dish using the paper towel method. I just slap some butter on a clean paper towel so im not getting all greasy and I don’t totally mess up my stick of butter.

Spread butter thoroughly over a 9″x13″ baking dish.

Now roll each of your dough pieces into rolls for baking. I kind of fold the sides under to achieve a nice smooth roll.

Then just start lining them up in your dish.

They will all be separate to start off.

Now cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise somewhere warm for about 30 minutes or so… I like to start the oven pre heating at this point and place the rolls right near the stove top or near the oven.

After about 30 minutes, the rolls will be nice and plump.

Pop rolls in the oven and bake.

When the rolls come out of the oven, then look yummy, but we aren’t done yet!

Now we butter the top of each roll while they are piping hot!

And this is the deliciousness you will serve on your dinner table!

And this is the deliciousness you will serve on your dinner table!

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Simple Buttery Dinner Rolls

Makes 12 rolls

Ingredients: 

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided

1 Tbs. yeast (or one envelope)

1/2 stick butter

3/4 cup whole milk

3/4 cup warm water

1 Tbs. sugar

1 tsp. kosher salt

Directions:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with either the paddle attachment or the dough hook pour in water and sugar and mix. Add in yeast and allow to proof for a few minutes.

In a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup add butter to milk and microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time until butter is melted.  Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.  Then add into the mixer bowl.

Next add in one cup of flour and mix.  Now add salt to the next cup of flour and add into mixer bowl.  Mix and allow to sit for 10 minutes, covered.  Switch to dough hook and mix… Add in remaining flour and continue kneading until the dough becomes a smooth ball.

Remove bowl from mixer and cover with plastic wrap for about 45 minutes until risen.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and sprinkle with flour.  Roll dough into a log and cut in half.  Then roll each of the new logs into thinner logs and cut into 6 pieces each.

At this point pre-heat oven to 375°F.

Butter a 9″x13″ baking dish.  Roll each of the cut pieces into balls and place in the buttered dish.  Cover and keep in a warm place for 30 minutes until plump.  Once risen place in oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.  Immediately upon removing from oven, butter the tops of rolls.  Serve warm. Enjoy!

 

 

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Portuguese Stuffing (Recheio)

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This is the stuffing I grew up eating. It is the only thing that I knew to be stuffing until I was a teenager and my friend’s mother would get Bell seasoned croutons to make what I now identify as a “stove top” type stuffing.  The two types of stuffing can not even be compared. So I won’t even try.  What I will do is tell you that to date, I have never tried a stuffing I have liked better or one that is nearly as flavorful and savory.  My family’s Portuguese Stuffing recipe is a treasure on our Thanksgiving table each and every year.

My family’s stuffing recipe does not start with croutons at all, but with day old bread.  The flavor comes from a combination of very traditional Portuguese seasonings… Portuguese Hot Chouriço is a main component along with pimenta moida, Portuguese All Spice, onions and garlic.  The method is really what turns it into a stuffing.  I’ll take you through that in the tutorial below.

The recipe has changed slightly over the years.  When my grandmother was alive, in addition to the chouriço meat that we add in to this delicious recipe, we would also add in the giblets.  That stopped when I got old enough to understand what giblets were… Well, I say that stopped, but I am quite sure my mother continued to sneak them in until I started really helping her prepare Thanksgiving dinner.  And although this stuffing was delicious with the giblets, in my opinion, it is just as delicious without.  That being said, I do mention in the tutorial where you can add them in if you so choose.  Another change that we have made is that traditionally we would always stuff the turkey with the stuffing as it is “stuffing”.  And my mother really liked the addition of the turkey juices into the stuffing as it cooked, but with the national recommendations not to do that, we have stopped filling the turkey with the entire batch of stuffing.  Now what I do, is usually add about a cup or two just to the outer portion of the turkey cavity so that it can both gather juices and get crispy on the outside while still able to cook thoroughly.  Then the rest is still prepared in a casserole dish.

 

A good Portuguese stuffing starts with a good day old Portuguese bread. These are pop-secos.

Tare the bread up.

Place bread in a large bowl of water.

Press bread down so it can soak in all the water.

Saute onions in some olive oil over medium heat in the largest skillet you have.

Add in some garlic and continue to saute over medium heat.

This is a bag of ground chouriço I got from my local butcher. If you don’t have this available to you, just get some chouriço, peel the skin off the sausage and run it through a food processor for a minute or so.

Here is what it will look like.

Add chouriço in with your sautéed onions and garlic.

You will want to cook it down until some of the fat is rendered from the chouriço and it stats to get a bit crispy.  If you like to use giblets in your stuffing, this is where you would add in the chopped giblets.  We do not use them anymore as they are not a family favorite.

When the color of the chouriço is bright and you have rendered some of the fat, add in a couple of table spoons of crushed red pepper (pimenta moida).

Next, squeeze out most of the water from your bread by hand.

Add it into your skillet.

Cook the wet bread in with the chouriço mixture.  

Keep working the chouriço, onions and garlic in through the bread after about 10 minutes of this, remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 more minutes. Transfer to a large casserole dish.  At this point, taste for salt and add if needed.

Place two eggs in a bowl.

Beat the eggs well and add in to your bread mixture.

Mix eggs into the bread mixture as thoroughly as you can.

Next, add in about a teaspoon of Portuguese All Spice. (There is a quick recipe for Portuguese All Spice at the bottom of my Beef Stew recipe)

Add in and mix well… then bake in a 350°F degree oven for about 45 minutes to an hour… the goal is for it to get crispy on top, heated all the way through and not wet in the middle.

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Portuguese Stuffing (Recheio)

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 1/2 dozen Portuguese Pop-Secos (rolls)

1/2 lb. ground chouriço

1 large onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press

3-4 Tbls. crushed red pepper (Pimenta Moida)

1 tsp. Portuguese All Spice

2 eggs, beaten

turkey giblets, chopped (optional)

kosher salt to taste

olive oil

6-8 quarts of water for soaking

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl filled 3/4 with luke warm water, tare bread and soak.

In a large skillet, saute onions in olive oil over medium heat.  When onions are starting to cook through, add in garlic and saute another minute.  Add in chouriço and continue to saute. The next step will take place once the chouriço is starting to render its fat and become crispy. At this point, add in giblets if desired.

Hold soaked bread between both hands and squeeze out most of the water.  Add each piece into your hot skillet.  Incorporate the wet bread in with the chouiço mixture and continue to saute the bread in the skillet for about 10 minutes.  At this point taste for salt and add if needed.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.  Place in a large casserole dish.

Add in beaten eggs and Portuguese All Spice.  Mix in well. Place casserole uncovered in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour until cooked through and top is crispy.

Enjoy!

 

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Butternut Squash Orzo in Sage Butter

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I love Thanksgiving! Each year we string together a line of tables accommodate anywhere between 15-22 people! I love that my family all comes together to dine around a long formally set table.  I love the traditions that come along with this holiday from watching the Macy’s Day parade on T.V. as I am cooking in the morning to ending the night with a slice of pumpkin pie and coffee and leafing through all the Black Friday store flyers with my mother, sister’s, aunts and cousins!  But, most of all I love making my family happy by serving everyone’s favorite dishes and enjoying all the dishes that my family brings to the table too!

I always prepare a large turkey of course and my dad loves getting the leg. My sister Vicky loves my stuffed eggs, my sister Lindsey brings everyone’s favorite scalloped potatoes, my mom loves my turnips and carrots and so on and so forth.  But, each year I love to add one or two dishes that are new just to keep things lively.  This year, I have developed a side dish that I am quite sure will become a new family favorite!  Butternut Squash Orzo in Sage butter is a velvety sweet and savory side dish that has a few different levels of flavor and will definitely hold its own along side my mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce!

If you are looking to spruce up your holiday menu, give this one a try… I’ll show you how I do it…

Here are some butternut squashes… If you are looking for a squash pay attention to the color… the darker the color, the sweeter and more ripe your squash… so the one on the bottom is the one we will be using today.

There are a couple of ways to tackle this oddly shaped vegetable. I like to start by slicing it down the middle to give you a stable surface to work with.

Look how nice and orange that flesh is.

Scoop out those seeds along with their connective tissue… You can totally roast these just like pumpkin seeds.

Here is one method of removing the skin. Start by slicing it up into 1″ slices.

Now just remove the skin from each slice.

The other way to do this is to leave the half squash whole and just carefully peel.

Cover a cookie sheet with some parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.

Dice up the peeled squash and spread out on the cookie sheet.

Add on a couple tablespoons of olive oil.

Toss the diced squash in the oil. Pop this in a 350°F oven for about 20-25 minutes until fork tender.

Meanwhile get a pot of salted boiling water going on the stove and add in a box of orzo. Cook to the box instructions.

In a large skillet, melt a stick of salted butter.

Grab a couple of shallots.  If you don't have shallots... just use an onion, dice and soak in water for a few minutes.

Grab a couple of shallots. If you don’t have shallots… just use an onion, dice and soak in water for a few minutes.

Dice up your shallots.

Grap a handful of fresh sage leaves, this is really an important ingredient, fresh is best here.

Chop it up.

Add your shallots and sage into the butter.

Pull your squash out of the oven and be sure it is fork tender.

Add the squash into the skillet and coat with the butter, shallots and sage.

Drain your orzo.

Once the squash is coated, add in the orzo into the skillet and toss for a few minutes until the flavor has time to penetrate the pasta.

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Butternut Squash Orzo in Sage Butter

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

1 lb. cooked orzo

1 butternut squash, peeled and diced

1 stick salted butter

6 fresh sage leaves

2 shallots, diced

olive oil

kosher salt

fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Start a pot of water boiling and add some salt, cook orzo to package directions for al dente.

On a parchment lined cookie sheet, spread out diced squash.  Drizzle with olive oil and toss. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes until fork tender.

In a large skillet over med/high heat, add in butter.  Add in shallots and sautée until tender.  Add in sage.  When squash comes out of the oven, add it into the skillet and toss in the buttery sauce.  Then drain the orzo and add it to the skillet.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Basic Mashed Potatoes

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November is here!  It is officially time to start thinking about holiday menus and gathering recipes old and new.  On our Thanksgiving table we always have some classics, some family favorites that are now tradition and I always look for one or two recipes that can liven things up a bit.

One of my family’s old staples is of course a big bowl of old-fashioned Basic Mashed Potatoes.  The mashed potato is one of the simplest tastes there can be with one of the biggest impacts on your table.  If they are done incorrectly it could potentially ruin the whole meal.  It’s a good thing that they are pretty easy to make!

There are companies out there who have made millions on that powdered stuff that is supposed to pass for mashed potatoes.  I never quite understood how or why anyone would go through all the work of making those fake mashed potatoes when the real thing takes about 5 minutes longer to make with basically the same cost or even less.  To me the pay off of that 5 minutes is immeasurable.  When you bite into a creamy, hearty, buttery bite of simple mashed potato, you’ve really got something special.  A good mashed potato is meant to be a back drop for all the other wonderful savory food you have on your table.

So whether it is along side your Thanksgiving turkey, meatloaf, steak, pork roast or any number of different dishes, please take the extra 5 minutes to peel up some potatoes.  I promise it will be worth every bite!

Let me show you how I do it…

I either use all-purpose white potatoes or Yukon Gold… they are both good, it depends on what I have on hand at the time.

I like a smaller dice on my potatoes so they cook faster, but remember the smaller you dice, the less starch there will be. Put your potatoes in cold water to start, add a good pinch of salt and boil until fork tender.

Salted butter. I slice it just so it melts in quicker.

Drain water from pot and add in the salted butter.

Fresh cracked black pepper is key.

Heavy cream. Sometimes if I just have 1/2 and 1/2 I use that, but anything with a lower fat content than that makes for a not so creamy mash.

Kosher salt to taste.

I use a good old-fashioned masher. I am not a fan of the masher with the grid, I like this one with the zig zag lines. You could whip your potatoes in the mixer, but then you would have whipped potatoes, not mashed.

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Basic Mashed Potatoes

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

2.5 lbs. potatoes, peeled and diced

1/2 cup heavy cream

3/4 stick salted butter, sliced

1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste

6 cracks fresh black pepper

8 qts. cold water

Directions:

In a pot that will accommodate your water and potatoes leaving room to boil place potatoes, then cover with about 1/2″ -1″ cold water.  Add in a good pinch of salt.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Remove from heat and drain once potatoes are fork tender (about 20 minutes).

Add in butter, cream, salt and pepper.  Mash well with a potato masher.

Serve hot, enjoy!

*note – this is a completely gluten-free recipe.