Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

Day Dreaming

I’m stuck in an apartment on the east side of San Francisco Bay. I have a little balcony, no place to really garden although I do have a few pots of herbs. I was day dreaming the other day of how wonderful it would be to have my own little homestead. I thought I’d share some of the things I would love to be able to do.

I’d definitely have a nice garden. I want to live somewhere with a long growing season so that I don’t have half the year where I can’t get fresh produce. I would have grow tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, green beans, squash and pumpkins. I would also have an orchard of fruit and nuts trees with a bee hive or two.

For livestock I would have chickens, goats and a milk cow or two. I might even raise a couple of hogs for slaughter. I’m still a little squeamish about killing my own food but I think I’d get over it if I was doing it to put food on my table. I might have some angora goats for wool and a sheep or two. I love to weave and it would be awesome to be able to spin my own yarn and create things. But I prefer cooking so I would rather spend my time concentrating on the garden and kitchen. 🙂

I want to have a second “canning kitchen” in my house. That way I can have a stove dedicated to canning and still be able to cook dinner in the kitchen when I’ve got a batch of canning processing. I want a nice root cellar so I have someplace to store all my produce. Along with that I want a curing room so I can dry cure meats and sausages. A bigger smoke house would be awesome.

Of course, I wouldn’t have to work any job other than caring for my homestead lol. There’s a reason why pioneer women didn’t work outside the home… it was a full time job and then some!

I was watching the Outdoor Channel the other day and thought “Gosh it would be cool if they’d pay me to make a show about how to survive without prepackaged food!”

I never really thought of myself as a “pioneer woman” but I guess in many respects I am. I’m going back to my roots of making my food by hand, growing it as much as possible myself and preserving it.  It’s so satisfying to open a jar of home canned chicken stock and know “I made this.”

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Boredom leads to… Mashed potato and turkey panko crusted fried cakes

What happens when it’s 9pm and I decide I’m hungry?  I start getting oddly creative. For anyone familiar with the huge meal I cooked for Thanksgiving you won’t be surprised to know that I still have leftovers. I’m out of gravy so I didn’t want just plain old mashed potatoes and turkey. I love fried mashed potatoes (make a patty of the cold potatoes and fry it in lots of butter) but I wanted something a bit different. So why not combine the taters and the turkey into one patty? It’s ok but a little crumbly… add an egg! This make the taters moister and helps hold it together. For some extra crunch I coated it in panko bread crumbs.


1 1/2 – 2 cups left over mashed potatoes

1/2 – 3/4 cup finely chopped cooked turkey meat

1 large egg

panko bread crumbs (mix in dried herbs or some spices like cumin and chili peppers if you want to add some extra kick)

Mix the taters, turkey meat and egg in a bowl until well combined. Form the mixture into patties, roughly 5-6 inches in diameter and about 1 inch thick. Press panko bread crumbs into the surface and fry in lots of butter until nice and brown on both sides. I had the heat just barely on the high side of medium then reduced it to medium-low when I flipped them. The reason for the heat reduction is this… the patties need to cook through completely because of the egg. So by lowering the heat it cooks through without burning the outside. Once the patties are done it’s easy to mix some flour into the butter left in the pan (add more butter if it was all absorbed) and make a roux for gravy. Add some chicken broth to make the gravy. Yay, leftovers with a twist!

Ok so I wrote this post and then wound up making a pan gravy lol. To give it a little extra kick I added some coarse ground dijon mustard to the gravy. It added some nice acidic to the flavor of the gravy.

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Raisin Buttermilk Drop Scones

I made Turkey Pot Pie for dinner tonight. I used the recipe for Chicken Pot Pie that I’ve posted previously. It was really good and very satisfying BUT I wanted something sweet afterwards. Since we ate at 8pm (I was stuck working until almost 63o) it was a bit late to make bread. Since I already had a copy of The Joy of Cooking out I decided to see what they had listed for muffins. Don’t ask why I thought of muffins, I usually hate making them lol. So (no surprise) there weren’t any muffin recipes that grabbed my attention. Upon further browsing I saw scones. Now that’s a dessert I love. Not only are scones good for dessert, they make awesome breakfast nibbles. I started with the Dried Fruit and Buttermilk Drop Scones (Reduced Fat/Low Cholesterol) and tweaked it a bit.


2 cups all purpose flor

1/4 cup sugar

4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/8 tsp ground allspice

1 large egg

1 cup buttermilk

3 1/2 TB warm, melted unsalted butter or 3 TB vegetable oil (I used butter)

1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit (I used golden raisins)

Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease a baking pan or line it with parchment paper.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients. Here’s where I added my own spin. The original recipe did not call for the cinnamon, cloves and allspice. I’m guessing how much I put in the batter but it wasn’t much. Just enough to go well with the golden raisins I used.

Whisk the liquid ingredients and the dried fruit together. (If your melted butter doesn’t have time to cool, whisk together the egg and buttermilk then add the butter in a slow stream while whisking.) I used nice plump golden raisins. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients. The batter is really sticky (I mean REALLY sticky). Use a soup spoon or ice cream scoop to drop the batter into mounds 2.5 inches in diameter and at least 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and sugar. Bake until the tops are golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.

Makes 12 scones.

When I first picked this recipe, I was thinking of making it with dried apricots. But once I was actually in the kitchen I realized that apricots just didn’t have the flavor I wanted tonight. I didn’t want tart, I wanted sweet and spicy. So by using the raisins I got the sweet and then added the extra spices. And this recipe is super easy to make too. Upon tasting, they’re pretty good. Next time I’ll add more cinnamon 🙂

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After Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving but I also love being DONE with Thanksgiving. After having the stove and oven running almost non-stop for three days, it was wonderful to finally turn it off last night. I got everything made and we were only an hour late eating. Surrounded by friends and family, we had a wonderful afternoon and evening. I admit that once the food was done, I hid the bedroom for awhile. I needed to find some quiet 🙂

And the best part? Today I have a fridge full of leftovers to nom on. I’ve got so many leftovers that I couldn’t decide what to eat so I had dill dip and carrot sticks. Turns out it was the perfect thing to eat right now. Crisp sweet carrots with the cold creaminess of the dip really hit the spot.

The other best part of Thanksgiving is that I didn’t have to work today. Which means I got to take an awesome nap. Jene went to a friend’s house today and I stayed home to sleep. It was really good sleep too. Another day or two of sleeping like that and I’ll feel pretty good by Monday.

I want to say thank you to everyone who joined us yesterday. You guys made it wonderful and fun. 🙂

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Dill Dip

This is another family tradition from my mom’s side. Thanksgiving always includes a relish plate with dill dip for the veggies. We break this out during the cooking and snack so that we aren’t starving but still have room for dinner. It’s a really simple recipe that packs a lot of flavor.


16 oz sour cream

2/3 cup mayonnaise (NOT miracle whip! It must be mayo)

1 tsp seasoned salt

2 TB dried dill weed

Mix everything together in a bowl. Taste it. You should be able to pick up a bit of salt and seasoning from the salt. If you can’t taste it, add another 1/4 tsp and taste again. The dill flavor should also be very strong. I suspect I add closer to 3 TB of dill weed to mine but I really really like dill. It’s another one where I really don’t measure it, I just taste it lol.



Squash Pie

This recipe has been in my family for I don’t know how long. I know my grandmother made it, my mom makes it, and I make it. (Plus my sister and at least one of my brothers lol) The title is squash pie but today I used pumpkin. Any hard winter squash will work, pumpkin, butternut, kershaw, banana, etc. Squash has a milder flavor but pumpkin was on sale and I had a budget. Being the cook I am, I cooked my pumpkin from scratch as opposed to opening a can. It is perfectly ok to open a can of pumpkin and use that. Canned pumpkin is probably smoother and moister than freshly cooked pumpkin unless you puree it in a food processor or blender. All that said, here’s the recipe.


1 10″ unbaked pie crust

2 cups mashed cooked squash (or pumpkin) cooled

1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)

2 eggs (3 eggs if the squash is really thick)

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar (in place of the white and brown sugar, you can use 3/4 cup honey)

1 1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ginger

Preheat oven to 425F.

Use one egg white to coat the inside of the pie crust and dump the rest into the mixing bowl. The egg white helps keep the crust from getting soggy.

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl until smooth. Pour into pie pan. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F and bake for another 50-55 minutes.

I doubled the recipe and used a total of six eggs because my pumpkin was really thick. I’m not sure if it was the pie crusts or the batter but I managed to get three pies out of a doubled recipe. Normally it only makes two pies plus a bit to cook in a dish as a custard.

I’ve agreed that the boys can have a slice of pie tonight because they were nice enough to bring me pizza for dinner and Jene has been keeping the kitchen clean while I cook.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake

Jene doesn’t often make special requests but this year he wanted a pumpkin cheesecake. In an effort to oblige him, I dug up a recipe on epicurious.com. I’ve posted the original recipe and afterwards are all the tweaks I made lol.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping Gourmet | November 1990

For the crust
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the filling
1 1/2 cups solid pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, cut into bits and softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon if desired

For the topping
2 cups sour cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon, or to taste

16 pecan halves for garnish

Make the crust:
In a bowl combine the cracker crumbs, the pecans, and the sugars, stir in the butter, and press the mixture into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the side of a buttered 9-inch springform pan. Chill the crust for 1 hour.
Make the filling:
In a bowl whisk together the pumpkin, the egg, the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the ginger, the salt, and the brown sugar. In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the cream cheese and the granulated sugar, beat in the cream, the cornstarch, the vanilla, the bourbon liqueur, and the pumpkin mixture, and beat the filling until it is smooth.

Pour the filling into the crust, bake the cheesecake in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the center is just set, and let it cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes.
Make the topping:
In a bowl whisk together the sour cream, the sugar, and the bourbon liqueur.

Spread the sour cream mixture over the top of the cheesecake and bake the cheesecake for 5 minutes more. Let the cheesecake cool in the pan on a rack and chill it, covered, overnight. Remove the side of the pan and garnish the top of the cheesecake with the pecans.

Now, here’s what  I did differently… I made my own crust. 1 cup of Nilla Wafer crumbs, 1/3 cup pulverized candied ginger, 2 TB sugar and 3 TB melted butter. Mix it all together, press into the bottom of a 9″ springform pan and bake for 10 minutes.

For the cheesecake, instead of using 1/2 cup of white sugar and 1/2 cup of brown sugar, I used 3/4 cup of honey. Honey is sweeter so you use less. I also added some ground cloves because I think cloves are required.
Finally, on general census, I didn’t make the sour cream topping. So far, it’s gorgeous. I’ll take some pictures tomorrow when everything is all pretty for serving.
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Sourdough, Wild Mushroom and Bacon Dressing

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I love Epicurious. The recipes are fun and interesting and usually the flavors rock. I tried this recipe for the first time last year and it was good enough I’m making it again this year. The link to the original recipe can be found here.

Now I have to say… This is a recipe created by Bobby Flay. He is NOT one of my favorite celebrity chefs. Personality aside, I don’t like his recipes, most of the time anyway lol. This one rocks though.


Sourdough, Wild Mushroom, and Bacon Dressing Epicurious | October 2011

by Bobby Flay with Stephanie Banyas and Sally Jackson
Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook

I grew up calling any side dish of seasoned, moistened, and baked bread cubes “stuffing,” but I’ve been corrected enough times to have changed my ways: If it goes inside the turkey or chicken, it’s stuffing. If it’s cooked in a dish of its very own, it’s officially dressing. As it so happens, I like to serve this side with more than just poultry, and I especially love the browned crust, so dressing it is! Two other key factors in delivering dynamic texture are to toast the cubes of tangy sourdough bread first and to use a combination of thinly sliced and coarsely chopped mushrooms. Roasting the mushrooms before mixing with the other ingredients heightens their deep earthy flavor while cooking off any excess liquid. Studded with salty bits of bacon and fresh herbs, this side dish is destined to become a favorite of your Thanksgiving—or any dinner—table.

Yield: Makes 8 servings

Unsalted butter, for the baking dish
1 1/4 pounds sourdough bread, crusts trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 12 cups)
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1/2 pound oyster mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 to 6 cups chicken stock, homemade or store-bought, as needed
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish.

2. Spread the bread on a large baking sheet (or 2 smaller baking sheets) in an even layer and bake, stirring a few times, until light golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Put the cubes into a very large bowl.

3. Raise the oven temperature to 375°F.

4. Combine the mushrooms in a large baking dish or rimmed baking sheet, toss with 3 tablespoons of the oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven, stirring several times, until soft and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

5. While the mushrooms are roasting, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large deep sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and the fat has rendered, about 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.

6. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat in the sauté pan and return to the stove over high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add 3 cups of the chicken stock, the sage, thyme, and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer.

7. Add the mushrooms to the bread. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and then whisk in a few tablespoons of the warm stock mixture. Add the eggs and the rest of the stock mixture to the bread, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. The dressing should be very wet; add more stock as needed. Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Now, I have to admit, I do tweak this a bit but only a tiny bit. Sage and I don’t get along so I leave it out completely. Other than that, I follow the recipe. Shocking, I know. This year I got crazy with the mushrooms. I’ve got oyster mushrooms, chanterelle mushrooms, fresh porchini mushrooms, cremini mushrooms and I honestly don’t remember what else lol. I’m excited to see how this turns out!
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Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is a dish I can take or leave, but Jene loves it. I don’t like serving him stuff out of a can so I’m making my own this year. Since I didn’t already have a recipe I was dying to try, I turned to my favorite website, http://www.epicurious.com

This site tends to have really good recipes and the instructions are easy to follow as well. In fact, my dressing recipe is from Epicurious as well. So here’s the link to the recipe. And then I’m gonna tweak it a bit. (Is anyone surprised?)


yield: Makes about 2 1/2 cups

active time: 5 min

total time: 20 min

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
12-oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries (3 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
Bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add cranberries and simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries just pop, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in zest, then cool.
Personally, I like my cranberry sauce a bit orangier and will be replacing about 1/4 cup of the water with orange juice and add a bit more orange zest. I will also reduce the sugar by a bit. This sounds like it will be much sweeter than I like.


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Thanksgiving Prep

I’m sure most of you can guess that Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday lol. It gives me a wonderful excuse to cook like a mad woman. I’ve been working on planning my menu and getting my ingredients together. So far, here’s what I’ve got

2 15lb Turkeys to go in the smoker

8-10 lbs of turkey legs/thighs to braise

sourdough, bacon and wild mushroom dressing

stove top stuffing (kicked up with fresh veggies)

mashed potatoes

sweet potatoes

candied carrots

sauteed brussels sprouts


fresh rolls (I use my bread machine to make the dough)

pumpkin cheesecake

pumpkin pie

mixed berry pie

cherry pie

rum cake (maybe)

Plus whatever else friends bring with them 🙂 I might make some nibble bits like deviled eggs and little smokies wrapped in cresent roll dough and baked. Yes, I know it’s not home made but they taste good lol.

I thought I’d start posting a recipe each day this next week to share what I’m going to be making. However, there won’t be any pictures until after Thanksgiving 🙂

So on that note, here’s the way to take a box of Stove Top Stuffing Mix and make everyone think it’s a marvelous home made batch of stuffing.


1 box Stove Top Stuffing

1/2 stick butter

1/3 cup finely diced onion

1/3 cup finely diced celery

1/3 cup finely diced carrots

1 2/3 cup chicken or turkey broth

Melt the butter in a pot and add the onion, celery and carrot (you can also add mushrooms if you like them). Saute the veggies until the onions are translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the contents of the stuffing pouch from the box. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff and serve. Now, if you like it a bit crunchy, you can put it in a baking dish and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.

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