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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Pumpkin Cake Tartlets With Pumpkin Cheesecake Frosting

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So If you know anything about me, you know that I’m still practicing cake making and decorating. Pies, savory breads, pizza dough and cream filled desserts, and parfaits I can do no problem. I will say that I can make a cake batter from scratch, but I think to myself, Why? There are so many great box mixes out there, that I find with just a few secret ingredients added to them, no one would ever know they came from a box. When you’re making a meal that requires you to put some labor of love into it,  a shortcut on dessert can’t be that big of a sin. Let me tell you have I made this delicious dessert.2014-11-27 16.08.35 2014-11-27 16.13.092014-11-27 16.01.292014-11-27 16.39.32

All I did was to follow the instructions on the box, but added  1 teaspoon each of vanilla extract and a cream cheese extract to both box recipes. I also added 1/2 a cup of ricotta cheese to both batter recipes. I add ricotta cheese in batters all the time. Whether it’s a cake or a pancake batter, it just enhances to moistness of the cake. I also incorporated a French vanilla batter with the pumpkin spice batter so the final dessert would have a contrast of flavors, and it wouldn’t be all pumpkin. I love pumpkin, but too much can be overwhelming with it’s bold flavor in dessert. Instead of baking them in cake form, I baked them on 1/4 sheet pans so I could cut them into tartlet shapes later. After they come out of the oven set them aside to cool and this gives you time to make the frosting.

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Here I cream together 2 sticks of softened unsalted butter with 8 ounces of softened cream cheese. I whip ;that together with an electric mixer until blended and smooth.  Next I add in 1 teaspoon each of vanilla and cream cheese extract to the butter and cream cheese. Then I add in slowly 1/2 a pound of powdered sugar, which is 1/2 of the small bag. If you like it a little more sweet, then go ahead and add some more of the sugar. Now here is where I add the pumpkin pie mix in a can to the frosting. Now this is not the pure pumpkin puree, this is the pie mix, that has all the spices already added. Another shortcut. I add it 1 tablespoon at a time until it has the right amount of pumpkin flavor but still has that background of cream cheese flavor. It ended up being between 1/4 and a 1/2 a cup. Be careful, the puree can make the frosting too runny and you don’t want that. Place the frosting in a piping bag with a small tip. Take a cookie cutter or a mini tartlet pan and start cutting out the cake to make the tartlet shape. I did one of each kind of cake with some of the frosting between and on top of the cake tartlets.  Only make enough for what you need. You don’t want to make them all in advance. It takes no time to put them together. I dusted the top of each one with some cinnamon and that was it. Place them in the frig until ready to serve. This gives the frosting a chance to set nicely.

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Sausage Peppers And Onions Sandwiches

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Who doesn’t love a sausage sandwich, like the ones you get at the fair. Now you can have them whenever you want, not just once a year when the fair comes to town. The sausage sandwiches are to die for.

Here’s how I do it.

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To start off with I chose the sweet Italian sausage, but of course you could use the spicy one as well. In a small saute pan I put 1/4 cup of low sodium chicken broth and bring it to a boil then add in my sausages. I pricked my sausages on both sides with a fork to help the cooking process. Put the lid on and let go on a slow boil until the sausages are cooked through. Then take the sausages out, set them aside for a minutes and then I start on the veggies.

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In this bowl I have 1 each of red green and yellow bell peppers. Also 1 large sweet onion all sliced up. Then I have 3 cloves of garlic finely minced.

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In a larger saute pan I have a drizzle of olive oil that I add 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes too. We like a little heat to our veggies, not too much. I toss in all the veggies and let them start to sweat on med high heat. I add in 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. After about 5-7 minutes the veggies have started to really soften and get some color on them, that’s when I toss in 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and the minced garlic. I stir all this around so the tomato paste cooks out and the veggies are coated with that flavor, plus the garlic has had time to soften. For me, I like for the veggies to still have a slight crunch to them and not cooked all the way to the soft stage. That’s just a personal preference. At this point I take the veggies off the heat and start the next stage for the sausages. The grilling. This gives a nice smokiness and those great grill marks to the sausages.

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Get your grill pan screaming hot and place the sausages on there, turning them every few minutes until they are where you want them to be. Now the bread. I chose a large baguette that I cut so they would match the size of the sausage links. I spread some butter on them and placed them on the grill, using a grill press to make sure the toasted evenly.2014-11-25 11.53.33

Now you of course could add some cheese to these sandwiches, that would be great, For me just a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese is just fine. That’s all there is to it. Now all you do is put these bad boys together and enjoy.

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Thanksgiving Dinner For Two

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I know it can be overwhelming when your hosting Thanksgiving at your house. How about when the kids are all grown up, living in other parts of town or even in an different state. The plan is to all get together for Christmas, but this year, they would host their Thanksgiving feasts in their own homes. So we decided, since we weren’t going be all together this Thanksgiving, we’d Skype each other and sends pictures of the dishes that we made. I took off a few days from work because I love to cook for Thanksgiving and the challenge for me was cooking this special meal for just Steve and me. What I came up with was wonderful. Before I start, I just want to say that this meal that I put together would be a perfect way to use your leftovers if in fact you have any. First I want to tell you that I presented this recipe in the roasting pan that the turkey is normally cooked in. It worked perfectly with all the components of the dish, with it’s high sides and all. The idea here was to have all my favorite flavors and sides, but make it in one pan instead of all kinds of dishes for just the two of us. Let me start at the beginning. The turkey and the brine.

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For the two of us I thought a 3 pound boneless turkey breast would be perfect. Now for the brine. In a large container I add 2 quarts of room warm water, 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, 1/2 a cup of dark brown sugar. Then I whisk this salt and sugar until it has completely dissolved into the water. Next 2 cups of cold apple juice, the zest of 2 oranges, the zest of 1 lemon, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon of tri-color peppercorns. I stir this up and then refrigerate for about 1/2 an hour, to cool the brine down before adding in the turkey. Now I just submerge the turkey into the brine, put the lid on, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Now I did this around 8:00 am in the morning, the day before Thanksgiving.

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On Thanksgiving morning, I start with my home made cranberry sauce, or relish as I call it. I start with 1 package of fresh cranberries in a small pot. To that I add 1/4 cup of water. the zest of 1 orange, 2 tablespoons of the juice from the orange, 1 cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of packed dark brown sugar. Give everything a big stir and then bring the cranberries up to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Let all this simmer for around 45 minutes on low stirring occasionally. The cranberries will start to pop and the liquid will thicken. After the cranberries have thickened, like you see in the last picture, take the pot off the heat let rest and become room temperature before placing them in a container in the refrigerator.Next I start to work on my sweet potatoes, and my sausage, mushroom and butternut squash dressing.

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Now the turkey is still in it’s brine spa, and the cranberries are now in the frig. I’m starting on roasting off my butternut squash and sweet potatoes. All I did was to peel the veggies and dice them up. I put them on sheet pans in 1 layer so they caramelize nicely. I set the oven at 450 degrees and these should only take 30-40 minutes until they are fork tender. In a small bowl I put 2 tablespoons of Kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of black pepper, and 2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar. I mixed that up, drizzled all the veggies with olive oil, and sprinkled the seasoning over the veggies. Then I tossed them through with my hands so they were all covered with the seasoning and oil and made sure I spread them out again in 1 layer.

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Now when I first brought all my groceries home. I always prep whatever veggies I can so when I’m ready for them it’s one extra step that I don’t need to worry about. That’s what I have done here with my leeks like you see in these pictures. I just trimmed them up and rinsed them really well to get rid of any sand that my be trapped between the leaves and I packed them in a damp paper towel in a resealable plastic baggie. Next in a large saute pan, while my other veggies are roasting, I added 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the saute pan that I had on med high heat. I sliced up the leeks and add them to the hot pan. I sprinkled in a little Kosher salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. When the leeks were just softened, I threw in a bag of thawed frozen artichokes. Now this is my Italian spin on the traditional green beans that are usually served as a side. I saute the artichokes with the leeks until they are nice and caramelized. When they are done, about 10 minutes or so, I set them in a bowl until I’m ready for them.

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Next, it’s time to brown the Italian sausage, using the same saute pan that I cooked the leeks in I start to brown of the sausage. I start them on med low until the sausage is cooked through. Then I turn the heat up to get a nice brown color on the sausage. I take the sausage out of the pan using a slotted spoon to drain most of the fat. I do leave 1 tablespoon of the sausage fat in the pan but I also add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. This will give extra flavor to the veggies. Leaving the heat on med high, I add in 1 large diced onion. Once the onion starts to soften, I sprinkle in a little Kosher salt and pepper. Then I add in 4 ribs of celery that I sliced, and 1 pint of sliced cremini mushrooms. I don’t salt this until the mushrooms have released all their liquid, this gives them a chance to brown nicely. Then I season this stage with a little Kosher salt and pepper. I also add in 1 tablespoon of dried thyme, and 1 tablespoon of dried sage to the veggies. I stirring the continuously. Now at this point I add in a splash of low sodium chicken broth to loosed all those bit stuck to the bottom of the pan from the veggies and the sausage that was cooked off in this pan. After the  chicken stock has evaporated, remove the veggies from the pan and put them in the bowl with the sausage. Now it’s time to pull out the butternut squash and sweet potatoes out of the oven and toast off our bread to add to the dressing.

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I have here in the first picture 1 loaf of Ciabatta bread that I just cubed and toasted off in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or so until the bread had the texture of crunchy croutons. To that I add 2 cups of store bought corn bread stuffing crumbs for some sweetness. Then in a large container I added the bread and the butternut squash to the sausage, celery and mushroom veggie mixture. I tossed them all through gently, not to break up my squash.. At this point the dressing is done with the exception of the liquid being added to it. Next for the flavorful broth that’s going to be added to the dressing.

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In a sauce pot on med heat I have 1-1/2 boxes of low sodium chicken broth, 1/2 a stick of unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons of dried sage, 1 tablespoon of dried thyme, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper. I let this heat up until the butter and seasoning have all blended together and the broth is nice and hot. Now I don’t like my dressing to be too soggy, but I do want it to be completely absorbed through the dressing. What I do is to add the broth 1 ladle at a time, giving the dressing enough time to absorb all that it can without turning it into a big mess. Next for the sweet potatoes.

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In a large bowl I have the sweet potatoes that I’m going to mash with 1/2 a stick of room temperature butter, 1/2 a cup of packed dark brown sugar, a 1/4 cup of heavy cream, 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. With an electric mixer, I just mix all these ingredients together until smooth.With the exception of the topping for the sweet potatoes, all the sides are ready it’s time to take care of the turkey. The turkey has been in it’s brine for around 24 hours and it’s time to take her out. I take the turkey out of the container, drain everything out, and fill it up with fresh water to soak the turkey. I want to get any extra salt rinsed off of the turkey. Then I”m going to take the twine off that the turkey is wrapped in so I can dry it off completely. I’ve made a flavored butter that I’m going to rub under and on top of the skin.

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In a small bowl I have 1 stick of room temperature unsalted butter along with the zest each of 1 orange and lemon, 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, and 4 leaves of fresh sage. I chop the herbs up and add them into the butter with a sprinkling of Kosher salt, and black pepper. Mix that all together and then spread this flavored butter all under the skin and over the top of the turkey. With the oven set at 350 degrees, I roast the turkey off. Now after the turkey has been in for an hour, I takes it’s temperature to see how much longer this 3 pound breast needs to roast for. It turns out that it roasted for another 20 minutes, but you want to check it regularly, because every oven may be a little different. You want the internal temperature to be 165. Now because for my dish it’s going back into the oven, I’m going to take it out at around 155 degrees. I’m then going to let it rest for around 15 minutes on the counter before I remove the skin, and dice it up.

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The dripping from the bottom of the roasting pan, I made the gravy. On med high heat, I added 1/2 a stick of unsalted butter to the dripping, due to the fact that the size of the turkey didn’t produce a lot of fat. I then added 3 sage leaves, and 1/2 a cup of flour. Whisking that constantly, until the flour was cooked out, I slowly added in 1 box of low sodium chicken broth. Whisking and scraping up all the bits on the bottom of the pan, the sauce began to thicken. When it get to the thickness I like, which is usually once it comes to a boil. i turn the heat off and it’s ready. I ladled some of the gravy into the diced turkey to keep the turkey moist for the next stage of this dish.

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In the roasting pan, I removed the gravy and placed my leeks and artichoke mixture at the bottom, then layered the turkey that had been tossed with some of that delicious gravy in. Next came the sweet potatoes.

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Here I added the sweet potatoes with a brown sugar and pecan crumb topping. All I did was to add 1 cup of chopped pecans to 1/2 a cup of dark brown sugar, with a pinch of Kosher salt. Mixed all this together and sprinkled it all over the top of the mashed sweet potatoes. Moving on to the dressing, which goes on the top.

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So now what I have here is a complete Thanksgiving dinner but layered into one pan. I baked this in the oven for an hour at 375, covered. Then I removed the foil and baked for another 15 minutes until the top was golden brown and beautiful.2014-11-26 14.57.35

Now the dessert, are my pumpkin tartlet cakes filled with a delicious pumpkin cheesecake frosting.  I’ll tell you about this is my next post. You won’t believe how easy and delicious this one is. Earlier I mentioned that it was just going to be the two of us this holiday. I wanted the table to be elegant but simple. A white table runner, white plates, silver flatware, and just wine and water glasses for each of us. The centerpiece a cornucopia of the season’s harvest to give the table some highth with 3 mini pumpkins for some contrast. Finally a few candles to give the table a touch of light.

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My New Fig Tree

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Look what I brought home! My very first Brown Turkey #figtree. So I’m going on line to do a little research on this baby. I’m really hoping that if they are selling fig trees in Florida, that they must have a pretty good chance of growing in this climate. Let me just say Happy Thanksgiving to my family and all my followers for your support. I have to get back to the kitchen. I’m working on a unique way of serving my holiday feast for Steve and me. I blog about that later.

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