Feed Your Soul

Let's Talk Turkey - Part One

Pujols Kitchen - Monday, November 07, 2016

Whether it’s your first time to host Thanksgiving dinner or you’re an old pro, you have questions that need answering. This collection of tips will help you choose the best bird and offer some unorthodox cooking methods.






How much turkey should I buy?


            Depends on how many people you’re hosting and how much turkey you want for leftovers. But, as a general rule, it’s a good idea to estimate 1 1/2 pounds per person, especially if you have hearty eaters or want ample leftover. If you don’t want leftovers, 3/4 pound of whole turkey per person is sufficient. If you plan to have a boneless turkey roast, plan on at least 1/3 pound per person. If you plan to have a bone-in turkey breast, plan on 3/4 pound per person.



What’s the best way to host Thanksgiving for a crowd?


            Consider roasting two smaller turkeys instead of one large one. Smaller turkeys will cook more quickly and evenly and fit better in your fridge or roasting pan. Additionally, cooking smaller turkeys affords you the opportunity to experiment with two different types of preparations.



To brine or not to brine?


            Brining is a great option for extra flavor and moist meat. Simply combine 5-1/2 ounces kosher salt, ¼ cup sugar and 2 quarts cool water into a pot over high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar and salt dissolve. Then remove from the heat, add 2 more quarts of water and chill in your refrigerator.


Remove turkey innards and reserve for gravy if preferred. Next rinse turkey well and double up two turkey-sized oven bags. Roll down the edges of the bag to allow the bag to stay open. Place bags in your roasting pan and then put the turkey in, breast side down inside the inner bag. Pour brine over the turkey. And then gather the inner bag around the bird so the brine covers most of the turkey. Secure the bag with a twist tie and do the same with the outer bag. Refrigerate turkey (in the roasting pan) for 12 to 18 hours.



To stuff or not to stuff?


            If you choose to stuff your turkey, you should know it will take longer to roast and there’s a greater risk the bird won’t cook evenly. This is why many cooks bake their stuffing in a separate baking dish. Baking your stuffing in a separate baking dish allows you to get that nice crispy top. If you decide to stuff your turkey, do this loosely to allow the stuffing room to expand.


Get Your Attitude of Gratitude On - Tip #2

Pujols Kitchen - Monday, November 07, 2016

“Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgivings.” –William Arthur Ward

 

Happy Thanksgiving! The big day will be here sooner than you think. Whether you’re traveling out of town or hosting the main event, all the planning and to do lists can get some of the most positive people in life feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. Wouldn’t it be nice if the solution to our stress was as simple as feeling thankful for the good things in our lives? Actually, it really is that simple and the key lies in our gratitude.


In his recent research, Robert Emmons, Professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis, found that those who adopted an “attitude of gratitude” as a permanent state of mind experienced many health benefits. The study showed that grateful people were more likely to get regular exercise and eat a healthier diet; have improved mental alertness, cope better with stress and daily challenges, feel more optimistic and happy, have stronger immune systems and maintain a brighter view of the future.


With benefits like these, who wouldn’t want to adopt an attitude of gratitude right away? 




Integrating a few easy steps into your daily life can help.


Tip #2


Remember what you have. Many assume that the more material possessions someone has the more they will have to be grateful for. But research suggests otherwise. A high percentage of people surveyed in Japan reported low levels of life satisfaction, just like those living in poverty in India did. These findings suggest that it’s not how much we have, but how we feel about what we have that makes the difference.


Read Tip #1


Thanksgiving Checklist for Success - 3 Weeks Out

Pujols Kitchen - Friday, November 04, 2016

We’re less than three weeks away from the big day and if you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, it’s time to start your preparations. 




Here are some tips for success. 


Three Weeks Ahead:


[  ]  Determine who is bringing what on your menu and if there are any special dietary food needs


[  ]  Make your shopping list for perishables and non-perishables and paper products you may need


[  ]  If you’ve decided to order a fresh turkey, do it now


[  ]  Make a Thanksgiving to-do list and delegate tasks to family members so all the work doesn’t fall on one person (yep, we meant you!)


[  ]  Choose the china, glassware and table linens you’ll use


[  ]  Clean and iron the tablecloths and napkins you plan to use


[  ]  Order a floral centerpiece or create one of your own

Get Your Attitude of Gratitude On - Tip #1

Pujols Kitchen - Thursday, November 03, 2016

“Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgivings.” –William Arthur Ward

 

Happy Thanksgiving! The big day will be here sooner than you think. Whether you’re traveling out of town or hosting the main event, all the planning and to do lists can get some of the most positive people in life feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. Wouldn’t it be nice if the solution to our stress was as simple as feeling thankful for the good things in our lives? Actually, it really is that simple and the key lies in our gratitude.


In his recent research, Robert Emmons, Professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis, found that those who adopted an “attitude of gratitude” as a permanent state of mind experienced many health benefits. The study showed that grateful people were more likely to get regular exercise and eat a healthier diet; have improved mental alertness, cope better with stress and daily challenges, feel more optimistic and happy, have stronger immune systems and maintain a brighter view of the future.


With benefits like these, who wouldn’t want to adopt an attitude of gratitude right away? 




Integrating a few easy steps into your daily life can help.


Tip #1


Focus your attention outside yourself. Attitude plays a large role in determining whether or not we feel grateful in spite of life’s challenges. When we are more aware of the positives in our lives we are better equipped to focus our attention outside of ourselves.

Make a Difference this Holiday Season - Tip #1

Pujols Kitchen - Thursday, November 03, 2016

Rather than adding a few coins to that ever clanging change cup this holiday season, consider some of these ideas for making a difference in the lives of others.




Giving Tip #1


Provide a warm meal to a needy person or family. Even a simple sandwich can bring the brightest smile to some of the saddest souls.

Rosca de Reyes Bread for Three Kings Day

Pujols Kitchen - Wednesday, January 06, 2016


Widely celebrated in Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean, and by many U.S. Latinos, Three Kings Day is a venerated tradition. The holiday celebrates the traditional Christian feast day of Epiphany, when the Three Wise Men brought gifts to the baby Jesus in recognition of his divine nature, according to the Biblical nativity story.

For many Hispanics, el Dia de los Tres Reyes Magos is more symbolic of Christmas, with children waking up January 6th to presents and sometimes candy left by the three Wise Men Gaspar, Melchor and Baltasar.

Celebrate Three Kings Day with this Rosca de Reyes recipe. Finding baby Jesus in your slice of cake is an honor - celebrate by throwing a party on February 2 with tamales and atole for all your guests.

 

Ingredients

For the Decorative Paste & Toppings:

·         1.6 cup flour

·         1 cup margarine

·         ½ cup icing sugar

·         ½ cup granulated sugar

·         2 cups candied fruit strips

 

For the Cake:

·         3 TBSP margarine

·         1 cup granulated sugar

·         4 eggs

·         ½ cup whole milk

·         ½ tsp salt

·         2.5 cups flour

·         1.7 TBSP yeast (activated in warm milk)

·         1 cup lard

·         ¼ stick unsalted butter

·         2 small ceramic baby Jesus figures

 

Directions

For decorative icing:

1.    Combine all ingredients except dried fruit (reserve for decoration to use later).

2.    Mix for 5 minutes or until you get a paste the consistency of butter.

 

For make cake:

1.    Preheat oven to 350ºF.

2.    Combine and mix butter, margarine and sugar for 3 minutes.

3.    Add eggs, milk and salt and mix for another minute.

4.    Add flour and yeast you’ve activated in warm milk. Mix for 2 minutes.

5.    Add the lard and mix 8 minutes or until mixture doesn’t stick to bowl.

6.    Cover mixing bowl with a towel and allow dough to rest for an hour or until it doubles in size.

7.    Place bowl in refrigerator and let the risen dough rest for another 30 minutes.

8.    Roll and shape dough by hand into the donut-like rosca de reyes shape on an unfloured board.

9.    Then place dough on baking tray greased with unsalted butter.

10. Let the shaped dough rest uncovered in a warm place for another 30 minutes.

11. Add decorating paste to the top of the shaped dough.

12. Insert one ceramic baby Jesus figurine into the bottom of each cake, hidden from sight.

13. Place decorated rosca de reyes in oven and bake for 30 minutes.

14. Let cake cool, then add dried and candied fruit to the top.

15. Serve.

Avoid Christmas Let Down

Pujols Kitchen - Friday, December 25, 2015


     There are lots of things we like about the holidays. Picking out the Christmas tree, getting lots of presents, decorated and lit up store windows, the cheery sound of carolers, buying gifts for people we care about, parties with friends and family, the sound of logs cracking in the fireplace, the clinking of glasses. Preparing for these festivities takes up most of December with everything culminating into one final bash at the end of the year on New Year’s Eve. Then, like the flip of a light switch, it’s all over in a blink and January’s gray days of winter and daily routines return. The holidays are one tough act to follow.

While January will probably never hold the same anticipation and excitement that December does, it doesn’t have to be such a big letdown. Here are some suggestions for making January something to look forward to.

Consider leaving the trains, lights and other decorations out a little longer. Just because the stores are putting out Valentine’s Day merchandise before the New Year’s Eve ball drops, doesn’t mean you have to put everything away. The holidays can linger in your house for as long as you like.

The winter weather doesn’t have to get you down either. For those of us living in colder parts of the country, ice skating and skiing are fun activities that make the winter months special. You can also make your favorite holiday meals. Roast a turkey, bake your favorite hash brown casserole and invite your friends over to celebrate making a last car payment or finally clearing out your basement.

Getting together with friends for a night of card and board games is also something to look forward to. Or, consider going to lectures at local museums or book readings at your local library. Volunteer work is another way to connect with others in your community. You’ll not only lend a helping hand, but you’ll also do good and kindle happiness.

By participating in some of these activities after the holidays, you’ll make the winter months special after all.

Bake Cookies Day

Pujols Kitchen - Friday, December 18, 2015


It’s Bake Cookies Day, as if we needed an excuse to this holiday season to bake some delicious cookies to help ourselves get through the cold, winter days!

Though cookies date back as far as 7th Century Persia, cookies arrived in America in the 17th century. The word, “cookies” stems from the Dutch word, “koekje”, meaning “little cake,” which over time has been shortened to “cooky” or “cookie.”

Celebrate Bake Cookies Day by baking your favorite recipe. It’s okay, we won’t tell and we certainly won’t count the calories either.

Gingerbread House Day

Pujols Kitchen - Saturday, December 12, 2015


Gingerbread is believed to have been introduced to Europe by an Armenian monk named Gregory of Nicopolis in the 10th century. Gregory brought the necessary spices back from the Middle East and taught the art of gingerbread making to French Christians until his death. By the 13th century gingerbread made its way around Europe–and to Sweden where it was baked by nuns to help soothe indigestion and where it slowly became popular to paint the cookies and use them as window decorations as well.

The best way to celebrate Gingerbread Decorating Day is to bake your own gingerbread cookies and decorate them.

Ingredients

·         1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

·         1/2 cup dark brown sugar

·         1/4 cup light molasses or dark corn syrup

·         1 tablespoon cinnamon

·         1 tablespoon ground ginger

·         1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

·         1 teaspoon baking soda

·         2 cups all-purpose flour

·         2 tablespoons water

 

For assembly and decorating:

·         Melted white chocolate or Royal Icing

·         Gumdrops, licorice and peppermint and candies or your choice

 

For Royal Icing:

·         1 pound (3-3/4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy

·         1 to 2 large egg whites, or substitute 4 teaspoons packaged egg whites and 1/4 cup water

·         1 teaspoon almond extract, vanilla or lemon juice

Directions for Royal Icing:

Using an electric hand mixer, mix all ingredients together until icing is smooth and thin enough to be pressed through a pastry bag with a writing tip. You can add more lemon juice, if icing is too thick.

Directions gingerbread dough and assembly

1.    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2.    In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and baking soda together until smooth. Blend in the flour and water to make a stiff dough, then chill for 30 minutes or until firm.

3.    Cut out the following paper patterns for the gingerbread house template:

·         2 – 3x5 inch rectangles for the front and back of the house

·         2 – 3x5 ½ inch rectangles for the roof.

·         2 pieces that are 3 inches wide at the base, 3 inches to the roof line, and slanted to a peak 5 1/2 inches from the bottom for the end pieces of the house.

·         4 – 1 ½ x 1 inch rectangles for the roof and sides of the entryway.

·         1 piece that is 2 inches wide at the base, 1 ½ inches to the roof line, and slanted to a peak 2 ½ inches from the bottom for the front of the entryway.

4.    On a large, rimless cookie sheet, roll gingerbread dough out to the edges, then place paper patterns onto the rolled out dough and cut around each of the pieces with a sharp, straight edged knife, leaving gingerbread dough pieces in place on the cookie sheet.

5.    Bake at 375° F for about 15 minutes until dough feels firm.

6.    Allow the gingerbread to cool on the baking sheet and then trim shapes, cutting edges with a straight-edged sharp knife and using patterns on top of gingerbread again for guidance.

7.    Fill pastry bag with royal icing and with a writing tip, press out to decorate parts of the gingerbread house, doors, windows, etc. Allow icing dry until hardened.

8.    Use royal icing to glue sides, front and back of gingerbread house. You can place an object against the pieces to prop them up until the icing is dry.

9.    Next, glue the two roof pieces to the pitched roofline of the house. Do the same for the sides and roof of the entryway. Then attach the entryway to the front of the house.

10. Continue decorating your gingerbread house with gumdrops, licorice and peppermint.

Ready Your Home for the Holidays

Pujols Kitchen - Friday, December 11, 2015


With only two weeks left until Christmas, it’s time to get your home ready for holiday parties and overnight guests. Here are some ways to organize and add cheer to your house without breaking the bank.

·         Brighten your bathroom by replacing your old hand towels with new ones in bold shades that complement the color scheme in the room. Clear the clutter from your bathroom counters and put out a nice liquid soap, hand cream and simple décor like candles or a dried floral arrangement.

·         It’s also important to de-clutter your living room too since this is where most of your entertaining will take place. Before guests arrive, make sure shoes are picked up along with the kids’ toys and your exercise equipment is stowed safely away.

·         You can add festive touches to your home by filling a glass bowl with pine cones and greenery, or place lightly scented candles (cinnamon, nutmeg or pine) on tables and other surfaces.

·         If you’re expecting a crowd, be sure to add a row of hooks near the door so you don’t have a pile of coats on the stairs or floor. Or, you can temporarily clear your family’s coats from the coat closet for the big event.

·         To make your out-of-town guests feel even more welcome, be sure to make extra space for their belongings. Clear out some space in your guest bedroom closet so they can hang their items. Plenty of us have forgotten to bring a toiletry or two from home. That’s why it’s nice to leave your guests a travel-size shower gel or hand cream in their room just in case.


 

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