Freezer Clean Out Time – The Door Won’t Close!!

If you have never traveled in an RV, you probably can’t comprehend the size of freezer we have to work with…and coming from a house with 2 large freezers plus refrig/freezer, it is a challenge. So, we had to put our collective feet down and promise not to go sightseeing where we would end up checking out seafood/meat markets and specialty shops filled with local goodies that I cannot resist. Let me tell you, it is damn difficult!

So, the upshot is I’ve been doing a lot of cooking with dibs and dabs of ingredients and must say neither of us has felt deprived. Here are a few of our favorites that may interest you and remind you of dishes you have made and would like to redo.

Tortilla Pizza
The heat of the toppings for this pizza are really hot, but the flavors are so tantalizing  that the heat works.
???????????????????????????????I used 2 Spinach wraps for the ‘crust’ or base and topped with:
mixture of tomato-based  pizza sauce mixed with spicy BBQ sauce
Swiss and Emanthaler cheese
Smoked Sausage
green onions
little more of the cheese mixture
candied jalapeno pieces and a drizzle of the ‘jelly sauce’

It was outstanding and certainly a repeat and luckily these ingredients are often on hand.
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Regardless of my promises to cook out of the freezer, Thanksgiving hit us and I could not not do something holidayish… instead of a turkey breast tho, I roasted a chicken and served this with Corn Grits with Goat Cheese – a somewhat homage to the south where we are staying. A fruit salad and of course pumpkn pie!! But, I’m getting ahead of myself. In a newsletter from seriouseats.com, I saw an idea for Sweet Potato Pancakes and made those for Thanksgiving brunch with bubbly. These are delicious.

Sweet Potato Pancakes Made With Leftover Mashed Sweet Potatoes
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1 1/4 cups leftover mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 Tbs maple syrup, plus more for serving
4 Tbs butter, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
pinch nutmeg
pinch cinnamon

Combine sweet potatoes, sour cream, milk, egg, and maple syrup in a medium bowl. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan and add to mixture. Whisk until homogenous. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk until just combined (do not overmix).

Melt 1 tablespoon remaining butter in a large skillet over medium heat and swirl to coat pan. Add four 1/4-cup batches of batter, using the back of a ladel to smooth them out into 4-inch disks. Cook, swirling gently on occasion, until the first side is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip and cook until browned un second side and pancakes are puffed, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate set in a warm oven and repeat until all pancakes are cooked. Serve immediately with extra maple syrup.Source: J. Kenji López-Alt – Serious Eats

and, Thanksgiving Dinner
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Consequently, more leftovers………………. And a vow to eat a little lighter and healthier. Dug out an old epicurious.com salad idea and had it for dinner. This is a salad that should be in all of our repertoires – fast, easy, pantry items and dinner is on the table. You can also add some freshly cooked pasta to the mix for a complete dinner.

Tomato & Black Olive Salad

4 large plum tomatoes, cored, cut into 3/4-inch piece
1/3 cup brine-cured black olives (such as Kalamata), pitted, halved or roughly chopped
1/3 cup very thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 large bunch arugula, stems trimmed, cut into wide ribbons

Combine tomatoes, black olives and onion in medium bowl. Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar; toss to blend well. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in arugula and serve.

This salad went very nicely with a simple clam cracker pizza – using half the topping ingredients called for
For the cracker pizza, I used 3 ½ oz. of homemade pizza dough
or
1 10-ounce tube refrigerated pizza dough
2 6.5-ounce cans chopped clams, well drained
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Sprinkle clams, then garlic, dried red pepper, parsley and cheese over dough, leaving 1-inch border. Drizzle oil over and bake.
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And, because we had been good for a few days, we splurged on a favorite summer drink, even tho the calendar says November, it is 78° outside. I can’t tell you how good these drinks are and if you try them, I suggest making just one batch – it is enough for 2 nice size drinks.

Peanut Butter Bourbon Milkshake
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2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz maple syrup
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup vanilla ice cream (we used yogurt)
1 cup of ice cubes (or use however many to make as thick a shake as you prefer-I usually add almost 2 cups, we like thick drinks)

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until fully incorporated and frothy.
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Leftovers time:

Turkey Salad with Hoisin Dressing from cooking.com – this salad is light and is just right for a light dinner salad. Made this 11/29/14 – very good. used broccoli slaw. Next time up the amount of chili-garlic sauce, needs more heat.

2 Tbs hoisin sauce
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
3 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp grated garlic (about 1 small clove)
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp chili-garlic sauce (optional)
3/4 lb leftover turkey, shredded
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
One 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
4 scallions, sliced on the diagonal in 1-inch pieces
1/2 small head Napa cabbage, shredded (about 6 cups)

Stir together the hoisin, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and garlic-chili sauce. Add the turkey, pepper, water chestnuts, scallions and cabbage. Toss the vegetables with the dressing until coated.

Tip: Replace the cabbage with a bag of baby greens or pre-shredded coleslaw mix. Toss in other vegetables on-hand, like carrots or broccoli, to bulk up the salad.
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Leftover Turkey-Cranberry Monte Cristo Sandwiches –
These sandwiches just out of this world good, but a word of warning, they are filling and when I make them again, we will split one!! Wow.
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Leftover Turkey-Cranberry Monte Cristo Sandwiches

1 loaf very soft French Bread, sliced
1-1/2 cups cranberry sauce
12 oz thinly sliced Muenster cheese
thinly sliced leftover turkey
3 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
4-6 Tablespoons butter
confectioners’ sugar

Spread each slice of bread with cranberry sauce, you can add as much or as little as you like. To build each sandwich, take a slice of cheese and tear it in half. Top the bread with half a cheese slice, turkey and the other half of the cheese slice. Top with another slice of bread, cranberry sauce side down.
In a shallow pie plate, add eggs and milk and beat the mixture with a fork until combined. Soak each sandwich in the mixture, about 30 seconds per side. You want the bread saturated but not soggy.

Over medium heat, melt a couple Tablespoons of butter in a nonstick skillet. Add a few sandwiches and cook until the bottoms are golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Flip sandwiches and cook the other sides until golden. Add more butter as needed to cook the rest of the sandwiches. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving. (Serve warm)  Source: Cathy   – Noble Pig, 11/24/14
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And, to finish off the leftovers – morphed the carcass into turkey (only it was chicken) soup. A twist I tried this time was adding a can of chili beans to the soup in addition to the regulars: turkey, little sausage, onions, celery, green beans along with another never tried before addition – a can of creamed-style corn. We really enjoyed the flavors with the added  spiciness from the chili.
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Leftovers are now gone and I’m not having to push so hard on the freezer door to keep it closed. But, have more using up before I can have some fun at the seafood and meat markets around here………

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Mississippi – 2nd Week of Cooking

With the temperatures in the low 30s, and being in a travel trailer, the need for warmth is paramount. So, baking takes care of any heating problems.
Started the day trying another bread recipe in my quest for ‘our perfect’ sandwich roll – one that will hold up to any filling I use. And, I’m thinking this one is close to it!

Quick Pan Rolls – 1/2 Recipe (16 rolls) a Chef’s Journey Revision
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My oops in making this recipe consisted of using only a quarter of the yeast called for in making  1/2 the original recipe( which called for 2 T.) and I like the texture better for sandwich rolls. They will be sturdier, I think. I will make the recipe again using the called for amount of yeast and see how much, if at all, lighter they can be. No need to shape individual rolls – simply cut dough in each pan into 16 rolls! Quick and easy.

2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 T. sugar
1/2 T. yeast (should have been 1 T.)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 T. butter cut into pieces
1/2 large egg
1/2 T. all-purpose flour, for dusting

Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Heat milk, water, and butter until very warm (120° to 130°F); stir into flour mixture. Stir in egg and enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cover; let rest on floured surface 20 minutes.

Roll to fit a greased 8 or 9-inch square pan. (I used an 8X12” 1/4-sheet pan) With sharp knife, cut dough into 16 rolls; cover. (I cut into 6 pieces for sandwich rolls) Place large shallow pan on counter; half fill with boiling water. Set wire rack over pan; place baking pan on rack. Let rise 20 minutes.
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Dust tops with 1/2 tablespoon flour. Bake in preheated 400°F oven for 15 minutes or until done. Remove from pan; let cool on wire rack, Yield: 16 rolls or 6 beautiful sandwich roll
Original recipe – http://www.breadworld.com/recipes/Quick-Pan-Rolls

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Roy brought home 4 beautifully dressed catfish that I have decided if I want it done right, I’ll do it myself. All I’ve been able to find in restaurants as I move south are ‘strips,’ ‘bites,’ ‘chunks’ or some such clever name that means the fish has just been chopped up! Two went in the freezer and two were used for dinner today. Trying to be a little careful of fat intake, I chose to oven-fry them after marinating in buttermilk, salt, pepper and a little Frank’s hot sauce; then dusting with corn flour.
???????????????????????????????  The result was mixed – even sticking the catfish under the broiler for a couple minutes I couldn’t get a nice ‘crust’ on them. The flavor, though, was wonderful and made for a tasty dinner alongside oven-roasted potato planks and sliced onions. Coleslaw completed the dinner with a dressing I haven’t made for quite a while.

Honey Mustard Slaw Dressing
The amount of dressing will coat 8 to 10 oz. slaw mix.

1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbs grainy mustard
2 Tbs honey
2 tsp cider vinegar
1/4 tsp dry mustard
Source: Cuisine @ Home magazine

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Nov 17th Monday –
The final 2 catfish  and I prepared them exactly as I have been looking for in restaurants in every town we stop! The old adage, “If you want it done right, do it  yourself” definitely holds true with my catfish yearnings
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Fried Catfish Recipe – a Chef’s Journey recipe

1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 T. salt
1/2 T. black pepper
1 T. Hot Sauce (Frank’s hot sauce is good)
4 catfish fillets (preferred size 4 oz. each)
1 1/2 cups corn flour or corn meal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

In a large heavy plastic bag combine the buttermilk, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Rinse catfish with cold water and pat dry. Make 2 diagonal cuts in the thickest part around the belly flap area to help the thicker parts of the fish to cook evenly with the thinner tail part. Add the fish to the bag with buttermilk, ‘smooshing’ around to coat all the fish; place bag on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 2 hours.

In a heavy frying pan (I prefer to use cast iron), pour enough oil to come 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. Turn the heat to medium-high. Turn your oven to 200° and lay a cookie sheet inside. Place a wire rack on top of the cookie sheet.

While the oil is heating, mix the corn flour or meal and flour together. (Or you can substitute your favorite seasoning instead.) Let the oil reach 350 degrees — a good test is to flick a little of the dry breading into the oil, and if it sizzles at once, you’re good to go.

Once the oil is hot, sprinkle the catfish fillets with salt and dredge them into the flour mixture. Shake off the excess and gently lay into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 4 to 6 minutes, depending on how thick the fillet is. Use a metal spatula and gently turn the fish over and cook for another 4 to 6 minutes. Cast iron heats up and stays hot, so monitor the heat as you fry; you may need to lower the heat on the burner at some point.

Once the fish is ready, move it to the oven while you cook the rest of the catfish. Keeping the fried catfish warm in the oven will help keep it crispy. When they’re all done, serve at once with your favorite hot sauce, cole slaw and some hush puppies or the following Grits dish!!

Corn and Goat Cheese Grits  SOON
“I decided to citify low-country cuisine by adding lots of chopped garlic and fresh goat cheese,” says Bobby Flay of these hearty yet elegant grits. The end result is a tangy, creamy, corn-flecked side dish. F&W. I made 1/2 the recipe which resulted in my having enough for a little bowl for breakfast….will I offer it to Roy Richard?? No way in…………………….

4 cups water
1/2 cup whole milk
2 Tbs unsalted butter
Kosher salt
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, coarsely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears) or one 10-ounce package frozen corn kernels
Freshly ground pepper
4 oz fresh goat cheese

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Cook the grits over moderate heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until thickened and the grains are tender, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the corn mixture to a food processor or blender and puree until the mixture is just smooth.

Stir the pureed corn and the goat cheese into the grits, season with salt and pepper and cook just until heated through. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

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But, back to the Sandwich rolls –
The results for sandwich rolls – these turned out to be too large for individual sandwiches, but were perfect for splitting with a salad. The rolls stand  up to any fillings and taste wonderful, also. Will work on size in subsequent batches.
First off tried them with pulled pork – very nice!
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Next day, after finally (with the help of a multitude of friends) I remembered the sandwich I was anxious to make with these rolls – Patty Melt – and, it was everything I’d hoped it would be, even tho it wasn’t with the traditional Rye bread.
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To round out this blog entry, here are a couple ideas for serving with a bowl of soup for a fast, each and not too filling later dinner –
After the filling  Patty Melts m id-day, we were hungry for  just had a bowl of tomato soup  – but, added a garnish that was super tasty. And, great in the soup if you can keep yourself from nibbling on the chickpeas!!!  This is from a link  my friend, Alina posted on a forum we both belong to – I didn’t make the soup, only the chickpea garnish and it is so good as a garnish and as a nibbling goodie!

My Version – Roasted Chickpea Garnish (for soups)
This is a link to the original recipe if you’d like to make the soup, also
http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/tomato-soup-roasted-chickpeas

Combine:
2 garlic gloves
1 oz diced ham or prosciutto
1/2 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Drizzle with 1 T. olive oil
Sprinkle with 1/8 tsp. ground cumin
Salt

Toss all together and roast in a 450° F. oven for 20 to 23 minutes; tossing a couple times while roasti
Remove from oven and set aside until ready to garnish soup. If made ahead, slightly warm in a microwave or skillet before adding to soup.

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Another side which we love with a bowl of soup is a Tortilla Pizza – we had this simple one earlier this week and I hurriedly wrote down what I had down to be able to duplicate again.

Tortilla Pizza
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And, here is an easy & fast ‘go with’ your bowl of steaming soup/stew. A tortilla pizza for two – all you do for this one is:
lay out a wrap size tortilla (we love the Spinach flavored) on baking sheet (dusted with cornmeal)
smear with a little pizza sauce
scatter shredded cheese – this is Swiss
1/4 cup (about) diced cooked meat (I used Prosciutto)
Green onions
Pickled jalapeno slices

Bake at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes.

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This ends my Mississippi cooking – we have leftovers to see us through a few days until we get settled in Louisiana! We didn’t  do as much touring as I thought we would do here, but we sure did try a lot of local favorites and that’s what it is all about for me!!