celebrate: thanksgiving and 'the bird'

Looking for a last minute way to dress that turkey? This recipe is the most simple recipe for a moist, delicious turkey to serve at your big feast. My husband learned this technique from a Jewish friend of his. Apparently, he doesn't exactly eat kosher.

Hermele's turkey

A Turkey
1 large onion, halved
1 large potato, halved
strips of bacon, enough to cover the top of the bird

Put the potato and onion halves inside the turkey (I like to add a few cloves of garlic), truss it, and lay the bacon on top. Bake according to suggested time. Using a dutch oven is optional, but makes a delicious turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.



Recipe: Fried Ravioli

If you are looking for a delicious restaurant style meal but don't want to spend the money or wait in the lines, look no further. I am a fan of all Italian food.  I could eat it for every meal, every single day without complaint.  This ravioli is one of my favorites.

This dish can be made with any type of ravioli.  Just buy your favorite at the store, or if you have the time, make it from scratch.  I just buy mine frozen and cook it off for just a couple of minutes before coating them in buttermilk and breadcrumbs.  It takes just a couple of minutes to fry up and then you have a meal you can take pride in.  If you want to mix it up a bit, use these for appetizers or add them to a salad. Delicious!

Fried Ravioli

1 bag frozen cheese ravioli (about 24 pieces)
1 1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup buttermilk
Oil for frying

1. Cook ravioli until al dente. Cool.
2. Heat oil to approximately 350 degrees.  
3. Dredge ravioli in buttermilk and then bread crumbs.  Gently place into hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.  
4. Once ravioli are browned, sprinkle with additional grated Parmesan cheese and I hope you enjoy these!


Holiday: Time to Donate

So many of us are blessed to be able to eat delicious and healthy meals every night. But did you know that one in every five Utah children go hungry for one week out of every month? And with Thanksgiving just a couple of days away, it's time to think about those who may have to go without if we don't step up. This time of year is the perfect time to donate your time, money or goods.

According to the Utah Food Bank, Utah is ranked #4 in the nation for the highest rate of food insecurity. That means that over 340,000 Utahns are at risk of missing a meal today because they don't have the resources.

Most schools hold food drives this time of year, as well as your local grocery store. Look for the food bank closest to you, or donate to one of the resources listed below. We have a lot to be thankful for - now it's our turn to help others to find reasons to be thankful!

Utah Food Bank - www.utahfoodbank.org - (801) 978-2452
United Way - www.untiedway.org
Community Action Services and Food Bank - http://www.communityactionprovo.org/



Recipe: Roasted Turkey Risotto

What is the most important thing that comes from Thanksgiving? Leftovers. The turkey is not even in the oven yet and I am already thinking of ways to use up that leftover turkey. Give this Roasted Turkey Risotto a try, you won't be disappointed!

Roasted Turkey Risotto
5 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups leftover turkey, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Heat the chicken stock in a medium saucepan just until lightly simmering.
2. In a large skillet, heat the butter, olive oil, and onions over medium-high heat until onions are soft. Add rice and heat until lightly toasted. Add 1 cup of chicken stock and let simmer until stock has been absorbed by the rice. Be sure to stir the risotto often. Add more broth as each cup is absorbed. Continue until all the broth is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 20 minutes.
3. Stir in the turkey, peas, lemon, parsley, salt and pepper. Heat through.



recipe: seasonal thanksgiving side dish

Looking for another side dish that would be perfect for your Thanksgiving meal? Here's one that pairs a winter squash with an all time Thanksgiving original, rice.

buttercup squash risotto

2 Tablespoons olive oil
4-5 medium-large sized shallots, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
1½ washed arborio rice
6-7 cups of stock, plus more if needed
1/2 cup white wine - substitute with: ½ cup of stock with 1 teaspoon of lemon or lime juice added
1 Tablespoons butter
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup cream, or half and half
2 cups buttercup pureé
2½ Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

one of my favorite parts of risotto

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan on medium high heat. Add the shallots, salt, and pepper cooking until the shallots are clear. Add the garlic and thyme, until aromatic. Add the rice, stirring well so it's all incorporated.

Cook for a few minutes until the rice becomes clear in color, be sure to stir constantly so the kernels do not brown. Add in the white wine, and stir until it is completely absorbed. Add ½ cup of the broth and stir until it is almost absorbed entirely. Keep adding ½ cup of the broth at a time, continually stirring after each addition and repeating until the rice is tender, but slightly firm when you bite it. Also referred to as al dente. Add in the cream, and parmesan cheese until combined, and remove from heat. Stir in the butter until melted, then add the puree and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese, a pinch of ground cloves, or fresh parsley.




how to: almond bark

{chocolate covered strawberries using almond bark coating}

until recently i couldn't tell you what almond bark was. i would have guessed some kind of a tree, but almond bark is actually a great chocolate-like candy coating that melts amazingly well, and is great to use to make homemade candy coated yummies.

picture found here
a few almond bark facts:

  • almond bark is sold in large blocks that look like white or milk chocolate.
  • it does not contain almonds or any nuts at all.

  • it is call almond bark, because that is the "chocolate you use to make almond bark, which is kind of like peanut brittle, but with almonds and chocolate.

  • you can find almond bark in your grocery store near the baking chocolate. some stores have it year round, some just at christmas time.

  • it comes in either chocolate or vanilla

  • it is made from: sugar, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (palm kernel, vegetable palm), whey (milk), soy lecithin, artificial color, artificial flavor.

a few recipes that use almond bark: {all are great recipes for the holidays}

and last my favorite way to use almond bark. like zupas, i share a love for chocolate covered strawberries.
they make quite a statement and are actually quite simple to make. they would also make great neighbor gifts for the upcoming holidays, if they last long enough to get them out the door, that is.

{chocolate covered strawberries}

1 lb strawberries
1/2 brick of almond bark in white chocolate or chocolate


wash strawberries with stems still attached, and dry thoroughly to make sure there is no water on them. set aside.

using a double boiler, place chocolate in a heat proof pan over boiling water in a pot.
slowly mix chocolate until it is melted smooth.

*this also melts well in a glass bowl in the microwave in 30 second increments. put in the microwave for 30 seconds, mix chocolate, put back in. repeat until melted smooth. be careful not to overheat as it can burn and caramelize.

dip and coat strawberries and place on parchment paper to cool.

if you would like another chocolate to go on top, melt chocolate and place in squeeze bottle for candy making or place in ziplock back and cut a small opening in corner. drizzle other chocolate over the top zig-zagged. let chocolate set and serve. store in the refrigerator.

* can also dip strawberries in other toppings immediately after coating in chocolate.
recommended toppings: crushed toffee, mini-chocolate chips, coconut shavings, and sprinkles.



celebrate: Holidays and the Sweet Potato

As much as I love the Thanksgiving turkey and the Christmas ham, it's usually all about the side dishes for me. One thing I have grown to love in the last year is the sweet potato. But have you ever been confused about the difference between a sweet potato and a yam, or have you wanted new ideas for your holiday side dish?

According to this website,

Although yams and sweet potatoes are both angiosperms (flowering plants), they are not related botanically. Yams are a monocot (a plant having one embryonic seed leaf) and from teh Dioscoreaceae or Yam family. Sweet potatoes, often called 'yams', are a dicot (a plant having two embryonic seed leaves) and are from the Convolvulacea or morning glory family.

In fact, after reading several things, I have learned that it is very rare to even find yams in the grocery store. If you are looking for a yam, you will most likely find them in a Carribean or Asian specialty store. I think the biggest reason for the confusion is that 1) the grocery stores call them yams when they are not, and 2) there are many different types of sweet potatoes, and the colors can vary, so not all sweet potatoes will look the same.

No matter what you call them, I love them! And here are a few ways to prepare them that are sure to satisfy!

The Pioneer Woman's Sweet Potatoes
at Serious Eats
Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan Topping at Simply Recipes
Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes at 101 Cookbooks
Sweet Potato Bread Pudding at The Kitchn
Sweet Potato Biscuits with Bacon and Thyme at Pinch My Salt



Holiday Recipe: Homemade Cranberry Sauce

The holidays are approaching fast. The easiest recipe in the world, but often not used, is homemade cranberry sauce. Once you make if from scratch, you'll never want to open a can again! And it only takes about 15 minutes from start to finish.

You can use this sauce as a traditional side or use as a sandwich spread. It also makes a delicious topping for cheesecake!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
1 12 ounce bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

1. In a saucepan, mix water and sugar and heat on medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add cranberries and bring to a low boil. Stir frequently and reduce heat to keep the sauce at a low boil for about 10 minutes. When the sauce begins to thicken and the cranberries begin to burst remove from heat. The sauce will thicken as it cools.



will you be ready?

“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” A. A. Milne

The holidays are upon us. Thanksgiving, a holiday all about food, is in two weeks. It's time to start thinking about preparations. Think it's too early? Well, I assure you the sooner you prepare and plan, the more relaxed and enjoyable your holiday will be. Here are a few tips and ideas for a wonderful holiday feast with family and friends.

1 to 2 weeks before thanksgiving

...begin planning your menu, and know how many people will be coming as well as any allergies and food preferences you'll want to remember.
keep it simple, and of course delicious. maybe ask guests to bring something making it a little more like a potluck, and take something off your hands.

...if you can, why not order your turkey ahead of time? it saves the last minute turkey rush, and if you can get it fresh from a local butcher, you're supporting local business which is always a wonderful idea.

this photo from the library of congress

...this may seem silly, but read your recipes thoroughly from start to finish. this will assure that no nasty surprises come up at the last minute and you realize you can't get the ingredients because the market is closed. {shudder}

...make your shopping and to-do lists, and maybe even starting your cooking timeline.

a few days before thanksgiving

...solidify your timeline for the actual day. here is a great example, and of course, don't sweat it if you don't have as many ovens as this example shows. You know your kitchen and really it's just important to have it all on paper so you know how much time things will need to take, and what will be in the oven when.

...start your food shopping

...if you have the time, prepare any food that can be done ahead of time, such as pie pastry, gravy, thawing the turkey.

...organize serving dishes and plan your table settings.

day before thanksgiving

...if you ordered a turkey, pick it up.

...finish any shopping for food, buying extras of certain things you may need, just in case.

...review and adjust your cooking timeline, being sure you know how long you will need to cook the turkey for (turkey times at bottom).

...prepare anything you can make before hand, pies, gravy, stuffing, sides (potatoes, vegetable casseroles, etc.), breads, prep the turkey (brine, etc.).

...set the table

...look over your timeline one last time.

thanksgiving day

... wake up early, have a good breakfast, and follow your timeline.

...tell your family and friends why you're grateful for them.

...have fun.

...take a nap.

...watch some football, totally optional

all other images by norman rockwell

Turkey Times:
allow 13-15 minutes per pound.

Turkey: Approximate time:
10-12 lbs. 2½ - 3 hours
12-14 lbs. 2¾ - 3¼ hours
14-16 lbs. 3 – 3¾ hours
16-18 lbs. 3¼ - 4 hours
18-20 lbs. 3½ - 4¼ hours
20+ lbs. 3¾ - 4½ hours

here are a few links for more info and tips:
do it like martha
entertainment ideas
how to stay sane on turkey day

have a wonderful holiday



recipe: butternut squash ravioli

one of my favorite tricks to get a fresh pasta taste, but with no work, is using wonton skin wrappers for ravioli. you can create a meal in no time that looks like it took you all day long. in season butternut squash is a perfect addition to ravioli, and the taste is amazing.

{butternut squash ravioli with thyme alfredo and pine nuts}
ingredients for ravioli + filling

1 [2 lb] butternut squash, halved and seeded
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
salt + freshly ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic, skins on
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbs fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
salt + pepper
1 package round wonton skins

directions for ravioli

1. preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. brush olive oil over the cut sides of the squash, then sprinkle with salt + pepper and place cut side down on a cookie sheet. place garlic with a drizzle of olive oil and salt + pepper in aluminium foil and place on cookie sheet.
3. bake squash and garlic for one hour. remove from oven and let cool on rack.
4. after cooling, scoop the squash from the skins. measure out 1 1/2 cups of squash in a medium bowl. remove garlic from skins and mash up in bowl.
5. add remaining ingredients to bowl except wonton skins and mix well.
6. place wonton skin on clean surface and dip finger in a small bowl of water and line the edges with a small amount of water.
7. place a small teaspoon full of filling in middle of wonton skin.
8. place another wonton skin on top and press down edges.
9. repeat until all filling and wonton skins are used.
10. meanwhile, in a large pot, boil water with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and a little salt.
11. in batches boil ravioli for only 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. it will cook very quick. remove with a slotted spoon.

ingredients for alfredo sauce with thyme and pine nuts

1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts [toast on broil in oven for 5 min. watch for burning!]
salt and pepper to taste

place first 4 ingredients in a sauce pan on medium-high for about 5 minutes until it thickens and bubbles a little. remove from heat and add pine-nuts. serve sauce over ravioli.



caroline "the curious cook"


Spices: Nutmeg

When I think of holiday food, certain spices always come to mind. Nutmeg is one of them. And about a year ago, I discovered freshly ground nutmeg. I will never buy the pre-ground nutmeg again, because the flavor is so much better when you grate it yourself! It is easy to find - you should be able to find it in the spice section in any grocery store. All you need is a fine grater, and your recipes with nutmeg will be taken to a whole new level!

Nutmeg recipes around the web:

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie at Taste and Tell
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake at Stephanie's Kitchen
Nutmeg Doughnut Muffins at Orangette
Pumpkin Soup at Nami-Nami
Crepes Filled with Corn and Nutmeg at Technicolor Kitchen



Kid Friendly Recipe: Potato Boats

As a mother of two, I'm often trying to find kid friendly recipes. This is one that my kids love and love to help me assemble. It's so important to get your kids in the kitchen with you. It teaches them so much and kids love to eat what they help make. It makes them feel so proud. It's also important to make it fun and interesting. These potato boats are easy to make and also very delicious!

Potato Boats

4 small baking potatoes, cut into wedges
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted

To top it off:
grated cheddar cheese
crumbled cooked bacon
sour cream
fresh or dried parsley

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large resealable plastic bag, add the flour, cheese, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix together well. Put milk in a small bowl.
2. Dip each potato wedge into the milk and then drop into the flour mixture. When all the potato wedges are in the flour mixture, seal the bag up and shake until all are evenly coated. Drop each potato wedge onto a baking sheet and drizzle the butter over each one. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until nicely browned.
3. Once out of the oven, top them with the cheddar cheese and bacon. Put back in the oven just until cheese is melted. Top with sour cream and parsley.



recipe: roasted butternut squash salad

i love interesting salads. i am always trying to think up new combinations. i was inspired by a salad from one of my favorite restaurants and decided to try to create it at home.

the combination of roasted butternut squash, gorgonzola cheese, and pecans is just amazing.

{roasted butternut squash salad with gorgonzola and pecans}


[amount is up to you based on how big of a salad you want]

mixed greens [i just buy a big tub at costco]
gorgonzola cheese crumbles

roasted butternut squash, cut into bite sized pieces
1 bottle champagne vinaigrette dressing by gerards


peel and slice the butternut squash into thin strips. layout on a sprayed cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. place in the oven on broil until it is soft enough that you can cut through with a fork and the edges are a little brown. [turn once]
place pecans in a small skillet over medium heat. toast pecans for about 10 minutes.
arrange salad putting down mixed greens, roasted squash, gorgonzola crumbles, toasted pecans, and some champagne vinaigrette.



caroline "the curious cook"


sautéed mushrooms

If you love this fungus fresh, you'll never stop sauteing them once you start. Sauteing mushrooms is easy, and well worth the time put into them (it doesn't take too
long). They're a delicious accompaniment to an entrée, tossed with a salad, added to a soup or sauce, or savored one by one purely by itself.

How do you like your mushrooms?

sautéed mushrooms

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
a few fresh thyme sprigs, chopped
1 pound crimini/babybella mushrooms, sliced

In a hot pan, add the olive oil (you don't want to oil to cook for a long time). Immediately after, add the shallot, garlic and thyme.

Let these ingredients sweat for a few minutes, then add the mushrooms.
Cook on medium-low heat until mushrooms are soft, and much darker in color; about fifteen minutes.

most all kinds of mushroom are delicious sautéed, but i love crimini because of their bold flavor.

a few fungus facts and websites :)

...the crimini mushroom is simply an immature portabello mushroom.
...mushrooms are low in calories, have no cholesterol and are virtually free of fat and sodium.
...mushrooms contain many essential minerals one of which is selenium, which works with Vitamin E to produce antioxidants that neutralize "free radicals" which can cause cell damage.
...while mushrooms are canned, pickled and frozen, drying mushrooms is the oldest and most commonly used way to preserve mushrooms.
...one portabella mushroom generally has more potassium than a banana.

food timeline's mushroom history

the american mushroom institute
the mushroom council

bon appétit.




recipe: Salted Peanut Chews

The shorter days and the colder weather always have me craving something sweet. These cookie bars hit the spot and take care of that sweet craving. Give some to your neighbors and they will be begging for the recipe!

Salted Peanut Chews
from Southern Living

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup peanut butter chips
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup crisp rice cereal
1 cup salted roasted peanuts

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, softened butter, egg yolks and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer until the mixture becomes crumbly. Press into an 8-inch square baking dish. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until it is lightly browned. Sprinkle with the marshmallows and bake an additional 2 minutes, or until the marshmallows puff. Cool in the pan.

In a medium saucepan, combine the peanut butter chips, corn syrup, butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Cook over low heat until smooth, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rice cereal and the peanuts. Spread the mixture over the cooled crust and marshmallows. Cool completely.

Cut into squares.



test kitchen: 2 new soups

After weeks of taste testing and altering measurements, Zupas is launching 2 new Featured Soups at all of our locations for the month of November. We took our favorite seasonal ingredients, gave them a twist and came up with a Spiced Pumpkin Banana Soup & Curried Butternut Apple Soup. Each recipe is made up of the finest fresh ingredients paired with spices and herbs to compliment.

Spiced Pumpkin & Banana Soup
November 3-8 & November 17-22

Curried Butternut & Apple Soup
November 10-15 & November 24-29