Mickey Mouse Cupcakes

My little sweet pea’s third birthday party was coming up and it was going to be a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse bash. She specifically requested Mickey Mouse cupcakes, and I cannot deny such an adorable request and culinary task so I set out to find out how to make them. I knew it was going to be a chocolatey cupcake as an ode to the mouse’s brown/black color. And when I saw pictures online of these Mickey Mouse cupcakes using Oreos as the ears I knew exactly what I was going to do. I wanted to use something a little bit more chocolatey though and smaller in size. I immediately thought of the thin mint cookies that you can buy from Girl Scouts. But I didn’t know where to find a Girl Scout at this time so I just went for the York Peppermint Patties! Score! The dark chocolate flavor went perfectly with my cupcakes. So here we are with our chocolatey cupcakes with Mickey ears.

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 For the chocolate cupcake, I wanted the perfect flavor and I knew I was making them from scratch. I tried a couple of different recipes but this one was by far is the best. This chocolate cupcake recipe is from Sally’s baking addiction and I followed it pretty much exactly except for adding some espresso to bring out the chocolate notes. It is the perfect combination of fudge, moist, and decadent! They were in between a brownie and fudge but still tasted and felt like a cupcake!

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 I also used Sally’s  dark chocolate frosting which is absolutely amazing! Try it out; you will love it! I also opted to fill the cupcakes with a dark chocolate ganache which is SO easy to make and is HUGE in flavor. I made the ganache using this simple recipe from Savory Sweet Life.  To fill the cupcake, I just cored out the center using a lemon juicer and piped in some cooled ganache with a ziploc bag.

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I also made a few salted caramel cupcakes, filled those with caramel and topped with dark chocolate frosting! These were my favorite!

 After filling in the cupcake, I piped on the dark chocolate frosting and stuck on two peppermint patties for the ears. I baked the cupcakes in red foil wrappers to match the Mickey theme. I recommend using foil wrappers because the paper ones become transparent after absorbing the oil from the cakes.

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To make some Minnie Mouse cupcakes, I went for a vanilla version with pink frosting. I found adorable candy molds shaped as a bow so that we can make Minnie Mouse bows. For this we just melted some candy melts in the microwave and I let my daughter spoon the melted candy into the mold tray. Once they hardened, my daughter and her cousins got to place the bows onto the pink Minnie Mouse cupcakes. For these vanilla cupcakes I used the fluffy vanilla cake recipe which was the same recipe I used in my number three cake. I also used the vanilla buttercream recipe and added red dye to make the pink frosting. Some nonpareils sprinkles completed the look!

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Pumpkin Carrot Muffins

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We have been eating a lot of sweets lately- cakes, cupcakes, and cookies- with my daughter’s birthday party and our Eid holiday just a few days after.  So I needed to come up with a healthier way for us to enjoy my baked goods. My husband just loved the caramel pumpkin cake, but that butter and sugar- yikes! So I decided to make several adjustments to a regular pumpkin or carrot cake to create a perfectly tasty and dare I say, (kind of) healthy, pumpkin- carrot muffin!

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I swapped out half the flour for whole wheat flour. I significantly cut down the sugar to 1/2 a cup and added honey and maple syrup instead. Then I added some oats. While I found pumpkin to be a great substitute for oil, I wanted to make sure this would be a nice moist muffin, so I added in some olive oil. Yes, olive oil! It has very wonderful health benefits, and would offer great moisturizing benefits to these lil treats as well. You cannot smell or taste the olive oil at all so do not worry! 

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Baking is always a great way to keep the kids busy. You could let your kids pour, sift, and stir to allow them to feel some real ownership to the baked goods. I was in a hurry this time so I just gave my daughter her own mixing bowl and would pass her a spoon of flour, water, and oil as I went along and let her go to town. She loved it!

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To be honest I was preparing to make a maple butter glaze for these guys because I was sure they would come out a little dry or too healthy tasting. But there is absolutely no need here. I suppose I could try it another time to make these more like dessert, but we gobbled up all the muffins before I even had a chance to store them! They were that good! The high fiber and vitamin A you get is not a bad deal either. So here it is!

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Pumpkin Carrot Muffins
Yields 14
A healthy treat packed with whole grain fiber and scrumptious pumpkin and carrot decadence!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup whole wheat flour
  2. 1 cup all purpose flour
  3. 1 tsp baking soda
  4. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  5. 1 tsp pumpkin spice ( 1/4 tsp of nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ginger, and 1/2 cinnamon)
  6. 1 tsp cinnamon
  7. 1/4 tsp ginger
  8. 1/4 tsp salt
  9. 1 cup pumpkin puree
  10. 1 cup shredded carrot
  11. 1/4 cup honey
  12. 1/2 cup maple syrup (grade A amber)
  13. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  14. 3 eggs
  15. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  16. 1/4 cup olive oil
  17. 3/4 cup oats
Instructions
  1. Sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium bowl.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix the honey, maple syrup, and brown sugar until smooth. Blend in the pumpkin puree and shredded carrots. Whisk in the eggs with vanilla extract. Add the olive oil and stir until well blended.
  3. Slowly pour in the flour mixture and blend with a hand bender on low for about 30 seconds to a minute until well combined. Stir in the oats with a large spoon.
  4. Scoop into a muffin tin and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
Notes
  1. To have nice big muffin tops, do not hesitate to fill each muffin cavity with a full scoop of batter!
  2. These also taste great with raisins; add 3/4 a cup to the batter after the oats for the extra texture and flavor!
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Green Bean Casserole

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No cans involved here! I have eaten and cooked this classic casserole made with Campbell’s canned condensed soups and canned green beans, and I did love it. However, as you may have noticed from my posts, I am avoiding use of any canned foods, preservatives, and unnecessarily long ingredient lists that cause who knows what in our bodies. Once you taste it fresh from scratch, with fresh mushrooms and green beans, you will never want to go back either! This is also incredibly easy.

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All you need is my easy recipe for cream of mushroom soup, some fresh or frozen green beans, and fried onions. I make the soup in advance, which you could do the day before and refrigerate or days before and freeze. This really simpiflies the process the day of. You can also fry the onions yourself (see how to do it in my kushary post), but I will not insult the tradition of this casserole dish and leave out the classic French’s friend onions! They kind of taste like potato chips- some flavors are just nostalgic and shouldn’t be messed with! I have always used French’s fried onions, but the past couple of years I used the fried onions from Trader Joe’s because they are a little “healthier” and taste just as good. Use what you prefer!

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Green Bean Casserole
Serves 6
A Thanksgiving classic dish, this from scratch recipe oozes creamy delicious mushrooms and green beans topped with crispy crunchy fried onions!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 recipe of my cream of mushroom soup (2 cups)
  2. 2 c fresh or frozen french green beans (washed and trimmed)
  3. 1 1/2 c fried onions
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pour the washed and trimmed green beans into a casserole dish.
  3. Pour the mushroom soup over the green beans and mix well. Spread with a spoon into an even layer.
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. After about 20 minutes, take the dish out and stir in half of the onions. This will thicken the casserole. Place back in the oven, uncovered.
  5. Remove from oven and sprinkle with crispy onions over the top and serve warm.
Notes
  1. You may also add shredded cheese over the top at the 20 minute mark, after stirring in the fried onions.
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Better than Cranberry Sauce: Cranberry Chutney

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I absolutely LOVE this chutney on top of turkey or chicken. It is so flavorful and gives the meat wonderful depth. I use all fresh ingredients: cranberries, a fuji apple, freshly minced ginger, a caramelized onion, and apple cider. The flavors combine to make a sweet, tangy sauce adding the perfect kick to your Thanksgiving spread! The colors are really beautiful as well; I loved photographing it!

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 Cranberries are very healthy little gems full of nutrients. They are low in calories, packed with vitamin C, rich in fiber, and are one of the best food sources for disease fighting antioxidants. So they should be slipped into as many foods as you can! Use the extra cranberries to make a cranberry ginger smoothie, topping on a salad, apple cranberry crisp pie, or a cranberry jam.

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I used spiced apple cider from Trader Joe’s which surely added some extra boost of flavor because of all the spices, and it certainly made the sauce smell amazing !I think a fuji apple is necessary because when cooked it really maintains it juicy sweetness. I’ve tried this recipe several times before with different apples, with oranges, with orange juice and they were all too tart. Fresh cranberries are quite tart so you really need to balance it out with sweetness. This sauce really perfect that sweet and tangy balance. I only share with you my best and perfected recipes! The special flavor in here that makes people wonder “what is in here?!” is a dash of apple cider vinegar. Yes, I always avoided the stuff simply because of its smell, but it really gives the sauce exactly what it needs! Apple cider vinegar also has quite a bit of health benefits! It has long been touted as a great dietary supplement for weight loss and detoxifying the body, and some studies indicate benefits in reducing blood glucose levels which is essential for diabetics, lowering cholesterol, and even killing cancer cells!

Back to the chutney; it is actually very quick and easy and can even be made a day in advance. First, you sauté and caramelize the onion and shallot. Once the onions turn translucent and start to brown, add the cranberries, fresh ginger,  sugar, chopped apple, and cider. I add a few spices and turn down the heat once it boils to let it simmer and reduce down into a nice, thick, red sauce. 

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Serve in a bowl with a ladle so that everyone can help themselves or drizzle on top of the meat if you are plating the food.

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Cranberry Chutney
A sweet and tangy cranberry and apple chutney that adds juicy flavor to your turkey!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 c sliced onion
  2. 1 tbsp diced shallot
  3. 2 cups fresh cranberries
  4. 1/3 c brown sugar
  5. 1 tbsp white sugar
  6. 1 medium fuji apple, peeled and diced
  7. 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  8. 1 c apple cider or apple juice
  9. 1/4 tsp all spice
  10. 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  11. 1/4 tsp fresh minced ginger
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, sauté the onions and shallots until soft.
  2. When the onions start to brown, add the apples, ginger, cranberries, brown sugar and apple juice. Stir well.
  3. Add the apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down to low and allow the sauce to simmer for about 15 minutes until reduced to a thick red sauce.
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Citrus-C

You know when you feel that itch in your throat? Or your nose starts to twitch and you just feel the cold coming on? Don’t let your weak, exhausted body fall victim to those yucky viruses! Whenever I feel run down and am about to get a cold, I consume as much vitamin C and natural nutrition as possible! Making smoothies in my blender with whole produce is one of the best ways to do this!

For this smoothie, I combine everything! Start with a big chunk of pineapple (with the core- it has all the enzymes that are good for you), 2 oranges, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 pink grapefruit, 3 tbsp of honey, 1/2 c of cantaloupe, 1/2 c frozen mango, 1/2 c frozen strawberries, an apple, and 1/4 c of yogurt. The yogurt is for the protein and helps keep me full. I add only 1/4 c of water and the rest is the natural fruit juices and whole fiber. The blender I use is a Vitamix, which from all the appliances I have tried is really the only one that is powerful enough to break up these tough whole food combos into smooth, liquified drinks. 

Next time you are feeling run down and need a boost, try this! I just drink this all day, which is a great way to detoxify, stay full off of healthy good fiber, and lose some weight if that is what you need to do (as I do!)

 

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist, dietitian, or physician. Smoothies should not serve as meal replacement!
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Cream of Mushroom Soup

Creamy mushroom soup is really much easier than you think. It’s also nice to know exactly what is in this soup since you are making it in your own kitchen! Go take a look at your canned mushroom soup ingredients…cringe? Once you try this easy and tasty recipe- you will not be buying cans again! So go ahead, buy those fresh tasty mushrooms you’ve been eyeing! 

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I use baby bella mushrooms because they have such a rich hearty flavor. Mushrooms are an excellent source of nutrients; they are the only fruit or vegetable source of vitamin D, are high in B vitamins which boost metabolism, are high in antioxidants, and also offer a significant amount of selenium which helps the body develop red blood cells. Check out this helpful WebMD source for more details about mushroom’s health benefits. 

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The recipe involves a little bit of butter, some cream, broth (I used chicken for the flavor but you could use vegetable stock to keep it vegetarian), and 2% milk (use cream if you want a really thick and hearty soup). I wouldn’t expect the soup to be completely low fat as it IS a cream soup, thus the use of some butter and cream, although it is minimal compared to most other recipes! I also make this soup completely vegan and dairy free sometimes if I am blending it with vegetable broth and some extra roasted vegetables such as bell peppers and tomatoes. Although it is a different texture, it still tastes absolutely fantastic!!! The unexpected kick and secret ingredient giving the soup its gourmet flavor involves some all spice, nutmeg, and thyme. Sprinkle some chopped chives or parsley on top and your taste buds are going to have one memorable experience! I hope you enjoy!

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Cream of Mushroom
Serves 5
A deliciously velvety cream of mushroom soup perfect for a cold winter night! Also the perfect base for a homemade green bean casserole!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 c chopped baby bella mushrooms
  2. 1/2 c onion, diced
  3. 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  4. 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  5. 1/4 tsp of nutmeg
  6. 1/4 tsp all spice or pumpkin spice
  7. 1/2 c chicken or vegetable stock
  8. 1/4 c flour
  9. 1/3 c cream
  10. 1/2 c milk
  11. salt and pepper to taste
  12. 3 tbsp butter
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, sauté the onions over medium high heat until they are soft. Add the mushrooms and garlic and 1/2 tsp of salt. Sauté until mushrooms are soft. Scoop out half of the mushrooms and reserve.
  2. Add the thyme by rubbing the leaves off of the sprig, the nutmeg, and pumpkin spice.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium-low. In the center of the pot, add the butter and the flour and stir into a paste. Add the broth immediately after and stir continuously until creamy.
  4. Turn the heat down to low. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup mixture until smooth. Add the milk, reserved mushrooms, and the cream and stir. Once the soup comes to a simmer, turn down to low and cook for 5 more minutes.
  5. Serve with croutons, a crust of bread, or crackers and enjoy!
Notes
  1. This soup is an excellent base for many casseroles including the traditional green bean casserole!
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Macarona Bechamel

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This is another classic Egyptian dish. Oozing a creamy béchamel sauce, savory beef, and yummy cheesiness, this pasta casserole will be a huge hit with the whole family. There are many variations to make this casserole slightly healthier such as using vegetables instead of beef, whole grain pasta instead of regular, and even reducing the cream and cheese used. This recipe however is the original and is the PERFECT texture and flavor. I am using my mother in law’s recipe which she perfected over the years as it is her husband’s favorite meal! Everyone who knows her, knows she makes this dish the best; so I went to none other than the source herself for the secret! 

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The recipe is fairly easy and is excellent for making in large quantities and freezing extra pans for later quick meals. The trickiest part is stirring up a creamy velvety béchamel sauce. But I will take you through the steps below to help ensure the best sauce! Bechamel consists of flour and butter creamed into milk. You first need to melt the butter in a large pot over LOW HEAT. The temperature is very important. If you scorch the butter or flour, it will clump and not cook properly.

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Once the butter melts, you will add the flour and stir quickly with a wooden spoon into a golden paste.

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Then you need to slowly add the milk, a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well in between each pour. It is best to use an immersion blender to stir in the milk and prevent any clumps.

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The béchamel will thicken significantly when it sits, so you want to make it after you boil the pasta and cook the beef so that it does not sit too long.

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Once the sauce is cooked, you will add some shredded romano cheese, salt and pepper.

 

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The pasta should be tossed in extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, some shredded cheese so that you’d actually want to just eat it like that! You will add a dollop of the béchamel to the cooked pasta and mix that all together. This mixture of pasta is part of the secret to achieving the perfectly delectable flavor in every bite you take. Once you have the sauce, pasta, and beef all ready, you can assemble the casserole.

 

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First, pasta:

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Second, beef: 

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Then Pasta again:

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Finally, crown it with the béchamel:

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Bake for 30-40 minute in 400 degrees until the top is bubbling. 

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Macarona Bechamel
Serves 6
A delicious, cheesy, pasta casserole. This recipe from my mother in law trumps all!
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 lb penne pasta
  2. 1 lb ground beef
  3. 1/4 c tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. pepper
  6. 1/4 tsp all spice
  7. 1 onion, diced
  8. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  9. 1/2 stick of butter
  10. 1/2 c flour + 2 tbsp
  11. 4 cups of milk
  12. 1/2 c chicken broth
  13. 1/2 c shredded romano cheese
  14. 1/4 c shredded mozzarella
  15. 1 tbsp olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook the penne pasta until al dente (it will cook more in the oven), and set aside to drain.
  3. Cook the beef by browning it over medium heat, adding the onions, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper to taste, and allspice. Add the tomato sauce and 1/2 cup of water. Once it boils, turn heat down to medium and simmer until all water is evaporated.
  4. Make the béchamel sauce by first melting the butter over LOW heat and stirring in the flour into a golden paste. Slowly add the milk, bit by bit, stirring constantly. Use an immersion blender to completely blend smoothly. Turn the heat up to medium. Keep stirring the milk and once the mixture bubbles, turn the heat back down to low. Add 1/2 tsp of salt, pepper to taste, and 1/4 cup of the shredded romano cheese. Remove the sauce from heat.
  5. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta with olive oil, a dash of salt and pepper, 1/4 cup of romano cheese, and 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella. Add about 2 tbsp of the béchamel to the pasta and stir.
  6. Layer the casserole in a 9 inch rectangular dish in even layers in the following order: half of the pasta, all of the beef, the other half of the pasta, then the béchamel sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, uncovered.
  7. Allow the casserole to cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Bil hana will shifaa!
Adapted from Neveen Aref
Adapted from Neveen Aref
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Citrus Herb Turkey

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The biggest food day of the year is just around the corner. Chefs and newbies everywhere are rolling up their sleeves to prepare a delicious (we hope!) roast of turkey to set on the table. With this fool proof recipe, you are sure to satisfy all and enjoy a delicious and JUICY turkey this Thanksgiving.

The first step is to brine the turkey the day before. This not only serves as an essential marinade, but it helps infuse this big lean bird with plenty extra liquids so that as it cooks, you are not drying out the tender meat. This leaves you with a nice moist turkey that even your pickiest eaters will love! Check out my easy brine recipe here!

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Once you wash the turkey of the salty brine solution, you will prepare a delicious lemon garlic juice to pour all over the turkey, similar to my lemon herb roast chicken. I also fill the turkey with a couple of lemons, rosemary, and thyme and cover it with small bits of butter all over. It is important to use FRESH rosemary and thyme because it is full of the flavorful and scented oils. The dried herbs, are well, DRY. So not nearly as much lovely oils to perfume and flavor your meat. I made my stuffing in a separate casserole dish, but still used the turkey drippings to cook it. The turkey can come out of the oven sooner if its not stuffed, which will help prevent over cooking the meat.

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As the turkey roasts, baste it with its juices every 1 1/2-2 hours. If you have a larger 20 lb turkey, like I did, it will take a good 5-6 hours to roast, so be sure to put it in the oven early! Check out average roast times on this helpful chart here.

Once the turkey is done, you will need to let it sit for about 20 minutes before carving. We have yet to master the carving part- so no pictures of that disaster haha! I also had a crowd of hungry people with their eyes “feasting” on this gorgeous roast, so could not take much time to photograph! 

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Serve with cranberry sauce and gravy! Stay tuned for my scratch recipes for gravy, cranberry chutney, green bean casserole, and stuffing to DIE for! Posting live 11/26/13!

Citrus Herb Turkey
A citrus herb turkey that is flavorful, juicy, and tender!
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Prep Time
24 hr 10 min
Cook Time
5 hr 30 min
Total Time
30 hr
Prep Time
24 hr 10 min
Cook Time
5 hr 30 min
Total Time
30 hr
Ingredients
  1. 3 lemons, juiced
  2. 1 lemon cut in half
  3. 2 tbsp minced garlic
  4. 1 tbsp salt
  5. pepper
  6. 1/4 c olive oil
  7. 2 tbsp fresh thyme + whole sprigs
  8. 2 tbsp fresh rosemary + whole sprigs
  9. 1/2 stick butter, cut into 10 slices
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash the turkey clear of the brine solution and pat dry.
  3. Place the turkey in the roasting pan.
  4. Combine the lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and olive oil and stir well.
  5. Rub the turkey with salt and pepper liberally. Place pieces of butter all over the turkey, including underneath the turkey breast's skin.
  6. Pour the lemon marinade all over the bird and under the skin.
  7. Place the whole sliced lemons inside the turkey cavity, along with any extra sprigs of rosemary and thyme.
  8. Tie the legs together with cotton string.
  9. Cover loosely with foil and roast for 4-6 hours, depending on turkey's weight.
  10. Every hour or two, remove the turkey, close oven door to maintain interior temperature, and baste the turkey by pouring the turkey juices all over the top. Place back into oven to continue to roast.
Notes
  1. Prep time includes a 24 hour brine period the day before. Cook time varies depending on the weight of your turkey. Please check cook times for your bird's weight, as well as checking internal temperature with a meat thermometer.
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

How to brine a turkey

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If you have not been bringing your turkey, then you are really missing out on some juicy goodness! I have had far too many dry turkeys and even started to dislike turkey because of this. I decided to brine and cook a turkey this year and I am SO glad that I did! I love marinating all my meats, so why not my turkey?! If the concept seems daunting, fear not because it is actually quite easy! Brining is quite important because as with any meat, cooking denatures the proteins, causing it to become drier. With especially lean meat such as turkey, that requires such long cook times, that leaves room for a lot more drying out. With brining however, you are soaking the meat in a salt solution which causes the turkey meat to essentially absorb a lot more liquid so that when it cooks, it is losing much less moisture lending itself to a juicy, tender, and tasty bite! Read more about the science behind brining and how it works here.

So how do you prepare a delicious brine? Here is how it happens step by step. I made a citrusy rosemary brine, which smelled incredible. In my trial, I was using a huge 20 lb turkey so I did need some help from my husband at one point to hold the brining bag open and then to carry it into the fridge. I’m a little weak. Nonetheless, the big bird still fit on one single shelf in my regular sized refrigerator. Beware of using a frozen, Kosher, or pre-marinated turkey as these will likely already be prepared in a brined solution so the meat has already been “broken down” and possibly already quite salty! I used a fresh turkey that was slaughtered the day I bought it; you cannot get fresher than that! (Visit taaza2u.com for fresh, halal meats delivered to your door!)

 

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You will need:

1-2 gallons of water (16 cups in a gallon)

brining bag (found near the meat section of your grocer, or try Reynolds oven bags) be careful about using trash bags or other plastics that are not BPA free or food grade plastic!

kosher salt (its larger crystals dissolve faster than table salt)

sugar

your favorite herbs and spices

First you need to wash the turkey in cold water and remove the giblets. 

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Next you will boil about 8 cups of water with 2 cups of salt and 2 cups of sugar, along with the herbs and spices. I used peppercorns, orange rinds, sliced lemons, sliced onions, salt, rosemary and thyme. Once the salt is dissolved, add about 10 more cups of cold water, and a few of cups of ice to cool the mixture. 

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Place the turkey in the bringing bag and pour the solution all over it. Seal it tightly, removing any extra air, and place the bag in a large aluminum tray. Refrigerate for about 24 hours, turning the turkey over after about 12 hours to ensure the breast is well covered too.

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The next day, before roasting, wash the turkey well and pat dry. Now it is ready for you to season and roast! Happy brining!

Turkey Brine
an easy brine solution to make a perfectly juicy, tender, and moist turkey!
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Prep Time
24 hr
Total Time
24 hr
Prep Time
24 hr
Total Time
24 hr
Ingredients
  1. one fresh (not frozen) turkey
  2. 1-2 gallons of water
  3. 2 cups kosher salt
  4. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  5. 2 tbsp peppercorns
  6. 2 tbsp cardamom (ground or whole)
  7. the rind of 2 oranges
  8. 2 lemons, sliced
  9. 2 onions, sliced
  10. 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
  11. 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  12. brining bag
Instructions
  1. Remove giblets and any excess skin. Wash the turkey well and pat dry.
  2. Boil 8 cups of water and dissolve the salt and sugar.
  3. Add the lemon, orange, onion, peppercorns, cardamom, and fresh rosemary and thyme. Stir.
  4. Once the salt is dissolved, remove the pot from heat and add about 12 more cups of cold water and ice.
  5. Place the turkey in a brining bag and pour the brine solution all over.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours, turning the turkey over half way through.
  7. The next day, before roasting, remove the turkey and wash well to remove excess salt.
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Lemon Garlic Roasted Chicken

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This dish is SO delicious. Roasted chickens are hands down one of my favorite comfort foods. I love the flavor of the roasted skin ( I know VERY unhealthy!) And whatever vegetables or stuffing you put with that chicken in the oven is destined to deliciousness. The chicken oozes all its wonderful juices as it cooks and imparts its flavor to whatever you put in with the chicken. One of my favorite things to do is to fill the chicken’s cavity with rice and golden raisins. The outer rice that spills out is so savory and crispy and the inside will be the juiciest tastiest rice you have ever had! I guess thats another recipe though!

For this zesty chicken I utilize the cavity as a flavor infuser and stuff it with half a lemon, left over lemon rinds from the juiced lemons, and garlic cloves. Your chicken will be flavored inside and out! The potatoes that cook around the chicken are also infused with this delcious lemon garlic flavor!

 

Lemon Garlic Roasted Chicken
Serves 4
Zesty, garlicky, juicy chicken!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 whole chicken, giblets removed
  2. 2 lemons
  3. 4 cloves of garlic minced
  4. 3 cloves of garlic whole
  5. 1 tbsp of oregano
  6. 6-8 medium golden potatoes, chopped into quarters
  7. 3 tbsps olive oil
  8. 6 tbsps salted butter, cut into 12 pieces
  9. 1/4 c water
  10. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash the chicken thoroughly, scrubbing it with coarse salt and vinegar ( a trick my mother in law taught me). I like to think this step not only cleanses the chicken, but freshens it from any stink, and also lends some brining properties to flavor it.
  2. Place the whole chicken in a large roasting pan. Season the chicken well with salt and pepper. Rub it generously with the butter and place pieces underneath the skin as well as over it. Arrange the chopped potatoes around the chicken in the pan.
  3. In a small bowl, juice 1 and 1/2 lemons. Add the olive oil, minced garlic, oregano, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and mix well. Pour the mix over the whole chicken and the potatoes. Pour the water over the potatoes, around the perimeter of the chicken.
  4. Stuff the chicken with the other half of the lemon, remaining rinds of the squeezed lemons, and the remaining cloves of garlic.
  5. Cover with foil and place in oven for 1.5- 2 hours. For the last 20 minutes, remove the foil so that the chicken can get golden.
  6. When the chicken is done, pour the excess broth into a pyrex storage dish and reserve for use in later cooking. Its perfect for my chicken pot pie recipe which you can make with left over meat the next day, or you can just store it in the freezer for future use. To serve, cut the chicken up into quarters (2 breasts and 2 leg/thigh portions) along with the wings on the side. The wings will be super juicy! Scoop up some crunchy lemony garlic potatoes on the side and enjoy!
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

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You can tie the chicken legs together so it looks prettier, but the baby was crying and I didn’t have time!

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