Authors Posts by Heidi Sutton

Heidi Sutton

Heidi Sutton
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Turkey day is almost here!

Centering your holiday meal around a turkey cooked to golden perfection is the ideal way to serve a feast. Without the right preparation and execution, however, your bird could fall short. To ensure your holiday dinner centerpiece lives up to expectations, follow these simple tips, from purchase to plate:

Buy the right bird. Finding a turkey that’s just the right size for your expected party is the start to a successful gathering. One common rule of thumb is to buy 1 pound of turkey per person — so for a 10-person meal, purchase a 10-pound turkey. Don’t forget that nearly everyone loves leftovers, so you may consider buying a few pounds more than necessary.

Be patient. If you opt for a frozen turkey, don’t rush the thawing process. For larger turkeys, it can take days to defrost properly. Timing is everything. Finding the right amount of time for your turkey to spend in the oven is crucial but not always the easiest thing to do. For an 8- to 12-pound bird, aim for 2.5 to 3.5 hours; 12 to 16 pounds for 3.5 to 4 hours; 16 to 20 pounds for 4 to 4.5 hours, and so on. The key is bringing the turkey to a temperature reading of 170 F.

Let it rest. Instead of pulling the turkey out of the oven and immediately carving it, give it a chance to rest for 20 to 30 minutes, which allows the juices to soak into the meat and moisten it up. While the turkey typically receives all the attention at holiday gatherings, rounding out your meal with the perfect sides and desserts is the key to a successful feast.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows

sweet_potato_casseroleYIELD: Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

5 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes

1/2 cup Kitchen Basics Original Chicken Stock

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

2 teaspoons McCormick Ground Cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon McCormick Ground Nutmeg

2 cups miniature marshmallows

DIRECTIONS: Spray inside of 6-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Add sweet potatoes, stock and brown sugar. Cover.Cook 4 hours on high or until potatoes are tender, stirring after each hour. Stir in butter, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Cover. Let stand 5 minutes. Beat potatoes with electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth. Top with marshmallows. Cover. Cook 10 minutes on high or until marshmallows are slightly melted.

Zucchini Casserole

YIELD: Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

6 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, diced

3 medium zucchini, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch slices

2 medium peeled carrots, shredded

1 can cream of chicken soup (10 3/4 ounces)

1/2 cup sour cream

1 bag (8 ounces) herb seasoned stuffing mix, coarsely crushed

DIRECTIONS: In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion, cook until tender. Add zucchini and carrots and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in cream of chicken soup and sour cream, mix well. Sprinkle half of stuffing into a 13- by 9-inch greased glass baking dish. Spoon zucchini mixture on top, then remaining stuffing. Bake at 350 F for 25 to 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly.

Roasted Chestnuts

INGREDIENTS: 20 fresh unpeeled chestnuts

DIRECTIONS: Using a small sharp knife or a chestnut knife, carve an “X” in the flat side of each chestnut. Place chestnuts in an even layer, “X”-side down, in a chestnut-roasting pan. Cook chestnuts over low heat until opened, 20 to 25 minutes. Peel immediately, using a towel if chestnuts are too hot to touch.

Next week: Holiday desserts

Photo courtesy of Comsewogue Public Library

‘LITERACY BEGINS AT BIRTH’

The Comsewogue Public Library in Port Jefferson Station recently announced that it has officially become a Family Place Library. Family Place Libraries redesign the library environment to be welcoming and appropriate for children beginning at birth and connect parents with resources, programs and services. Pictured from left are Kristen Todd-Wurm, Christine Kowalski, Director Debra Engelhardt, Audrey Asaro, Debbie Bush and Amanda Pendzick.

Anima Brass Quintet

All Souls Church, located at 61 Main St., Stony Brook, will present a Saturdays at Six Concert on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. The Anima Brass Quintet will present a concert titled Brass Landscapes. Featured musicians will be John-Thomas Burson, Tom Pang, Austin Sposato, Michael B. Lockwood and Jeff Smith. Young artist Ava Reilly will perform a violin solo to open the program. There will be a 15-minute intermission and refreshments will be served. All are welcome and admission is free. A can of food donation is appreciated for the St. Cuthbert’s Food Pantry. For more information call 631-655-7798.

Photo by Jackie Pickle

RIBBON CUTTING Senator Ken Lavalle (R-Port Jefferson) joined East Wind owner Ken Barra (center with scissor) for an official ribbon cutting ceremony in Wading River to celebrate East Wind’s latest expansion, The Shoppes, on Oct. 28. The Shoppes will feature 28 specialty retail and boutique shops including The Crushed Olive, The Painted Canvas, North Fork Bridal, Little Miss Sew It All and Solntse Hot Yoga, an ice cream parlor, an indoor carousel and a pizza restaurant.

“This is a totally different concept — this is a very ma-and-pa situation,” said Barra. “I’ve seen people now that I haven’t seen in three years, five years, 10 years strolling along, having a cup of coffee. Neighbors are meeting neighbors.” Barra was presented with proclamations from the office of Town of Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter (R), County Executive Steve Bellone (D), Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) at the event. For more information, call 631-929-3500.

A previous year’s entry depicts Port Jefferson’s Village Hall. File photo by Heidi Sutton

Calling all gingerbread house enthusiasts and architects! Time to start your ovens! Suffolk Lodge No. 60 Ancient, Free & Accepted Masons will be hosting its 6th Annual Gingerbread House Contest during the 21st annual Port Jefferson Charles Dickens Festival on Dec. 3 and 4.

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Every year thousands of people attend this wonderful festival to see the transformation of Port Jefferson Village into a town out of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

All Gingerbread House Contest submissions will be on display during the festival in the basement of the Port Jefferson Masonic Temple, 312 Main Street on Dec. 3 from noon to 10 p.m. and Dec. 4 from noon to 5 p.m. Entries will be judged for their creativity, execution and originality by a panel of judges that includes celebrated local artists and chefs.

First prize in the adult category will be $500, runner-up receives $200. In the under-18 category, first prize is a $125 Amazon gift card, and runner-up is a $75 Amazon gift card. All Gingerbread House Contest entry registrations must be submitted by Sunday, Nov. 23. For complete details, printable and online registration forms and rules, please visit www.gingerli.org. For further information, call 631-339-0940.

Want to spend more time with loved ones this Thanksgiving? Ditch the perfectly timed oven schedule and put your slow cooker to work. It’ll deliver the familiar flavors of your favorite holiday stuffing, sauces and desserts in a new, more convenient way.

Cranberry Sauce

cranberry-sauceYIELD: Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

1 package (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries

2/3 cup sugar

1 seedless orange, peeled and sectioned

2 McCormick Bay Leaves

1 McCormick Cinnamon Stick

DIRECTIONS: Place all ingredients in 4-quart slow cooker. Cover. Cook 3 hours on high, stirring every hour. Uncover. Stir well. Cook, uncovered, 30 to 45 minutes longer on high or until slightly thickened.

Oatmeal Apple Cobbler

1467913710-apple-cobbler-delishYIELD: Serves 10

INGREDIENTS:

Apple Filling:

5 medium Gala apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose baking mix, such as Bisquick

1 teaspoon McCormick Ground Cinnamon Oatmeal

Cobbler Topping:

1 cup all-purpose baking mix, such as Bisquick

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon McCormick Ground Cinnamon

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces

DIRECTIONS: Spray inside of slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. For the Apple Filling, toss apple slices, brown sugar, baking mix and cinnamon in large bowl. Place in slow cooker. For the Cobbler Topping, mix all ingredients, except butter, in medium bowl. Cut in butter with fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over Apple Filling. Cover. Cook 3 hours on high. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Sausage Stuffing

images-1
YIELD: Serves 12

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

2 cups chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 pound mild (sweet) Italian sausage, casing removed

1 cup Kitchen Basics Original Chicken Stock

2 teaspoons McCormick Rubbed Sage

1 teaspoon McCormick Crushed Rosemary

10 cups cubed French bread (1-inch pieces)

DIRECTIONS: Melt butter in large skillet on medium heat. Add celery and onion; cook and stir until softened, about 5 minutes. Add sausage; cook and stir until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Spray inside of slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Add stock and herbs; stir to blend. Stir in bread cubes and sausage-vegetable mixture. Cover. Cook 45 minutes on high. Uncover and stir. Cook, uncovered, 30 minutes longer. Source: McCormick

Photo from Benner's Farm

Benner’s Farm, 56 Gnarled Hollow Road, Setauket will host a Harvest Centerpiece workshop on Saturday, Nov. 19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Make a beautiful and unique pumpkin centerpiece for your mantle or Thanksgiving table that will be the talk of the family. Refreshments will be served. $40 per person. To reserve, call 631-689-8172 or visit www.bennersfarm.com. Photo from Benner’s Farm.

Photo from PJCC
Photo from PJCC
Photo from PJCC

THAT’S BRILLIANT! The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce recently announced the winner of its annual scarecrow competition that was held in conjunction with the village’s Harvest Fest. Port Jefferson Juniors & Cadet Girl Scout Troop 1390 beat out the competition with their scarecrow, ‘Harry Potter’s Hermione.’ The group wins a $50 gift card to The Pie in Port Jefferson. Congratulations! Take a Scarecrow Walk down East Main Street through November to view all the wonderful entries.

Send your Photo of the Week to [email protected]

‘Catching Rabbits,’ 1839 oil painting by William Sidney Mount. Image from LIM

The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook bid bon voyage to William Sidney Mount’s painting, “Catching Rabbits” recently. The politically themed painting is on loan to the Dixon Gallery & Gardens in Memphis, Tenn., through Jan. 15 as part of a new exhibition titled Wild Spaces, Open Seasons: Hunting and Fishing in American Art, which celebrates artists’ captivation with hunting and fishing.

As we are bombarded with political messages in this historically significant presidential election, we can stop and examine the ironically parallel politics of Mount’s day depicted in his painting.

While the painting at first appears to be the triumphant illustration of two boys successfully trapping game, the underlying subject of “Catching Rabbits” is the contest between Democrats and Whigs in the 1840 presidential election. The boys in the painting represent the Whig Party “trapping” votes, while the rabbit signifies the Democratic Party, weakened by internal division and subjected to desertion by its membership. Mount’s imagery proved so apt that the Democrats adopted the concept of the trap for their campaign broadsides, which cautioned against being lured and caught by the Whigs.

Thyme-Scented Roasted Vegetables and Beets

When the pace of family life gets busy, it seems easier than ever to forgo healthy eating plans, and the hectic autumn season is a big culprit. However, you don’t need to compromise flavor for nutrition when turning to convenient options that fit your busy lifestyle. Round out your meal with a simple side dish recipe focused on vegetables, such as Chili Lime Butternut Squash, Thyme-Scented Roasted Vegetables accented with sweet, tangy pickled beets or Caul-Slaw.

Chili Lime Butternut Squash

Chili Lime Butternut Squash
Chili Lime Butternut Squash

YIELD: Serves 4 to 6

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups butternut squash, large dice

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon lime zest

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

olive oil spray

DIRECTIONS: Heat oven to 400 F. In bowl, toss all ingredients except olive oil spray together. Spray foil-lined sheet tray with olive oil spray and spread vegetables over tray. Roast in oven 20 minutes.

Thyme-Scented Roasted Vegetables and Beets

Thyme-Scented Roasted Vegetables and Beets
Thyme-Scented Roasted Vegetables and Beets

YIELD: Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

1 jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Whole Pickled Beets, drained, halved

1/2 pound baby carrots

1 medium onion, cut through core into 1/2-inch wedges

8 ounces shallots, peeled, halved if large

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

DIRECTIONS: Heat oven to 400 F. Line 15-by-10-inch jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. Add beets, carrots, onion and shallots. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper; toss to coat. Roast, uncovered, 15 minutes. Add garlic to vegetables; toss well. Return to oven and continue roasting 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned.

Note: 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme may be substituted for dried thyme leaves.

Caul-Slaw

Caul-Slaw
Caul-Slaw

YIELD: Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

5 cups cauliflower, grated

1 cup carrots, peeled and grated

3/4 cup ranch dressing, fat free

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup green onions, sliced

DIRECTIONS: In bowl, mix all ingredients together. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes to allow flavors to combine. Tip: Cut cauliflower into quarters, keeping core attached; this will keep cauliflower from falling apart during grating.