Cheeseburger Baked Potatoes (Throwback Recipe)

This is one of my favorite recipes of all time! It is great for stretching a pound of beef to feed more people. It makes a great meal to take to a friend because it is naturally gluten free and is super easy to make dairy free (just leave off the cheese.)

Cheeseburger Baked Potatoes

Cheeseburger Baked Potatoes

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Cheeseburger Baked Potatoes are super simple to make and require very few ingredients. It can even be an excuse to get a little more room in your refrigerator by using up the few remaining pickles at the bottom of the jar, or that last little bit of leftover cheese.

Ingredients

  • 6 Potatoes (Russet, Sweet, or both)
  • 2 Tbl Olive oil (optional)
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 Medium onion
  • 2 tsp Coarse Sea Salt (divided use) *
  • ¼ tsp Pepper
  • 8 oz Shredded Cheddar Cheese (omit for dairy free)
  • ½ C Chopped dill pickles
  • Mustard
  • Scallions

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450.

Scrub potatoes and poke the skin of each potato 5-6 times with a fork or the tip of a knife. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place pricked potatoes on foil and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt over potatoes and cover with another sheet of foil. Seal the foil around the edges and place pan in oven. (Alternately- You can skip the pan, oil and salt and place the potatoes directly on the oven racks) Bake potatoes for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile- Chop or puree the onion (I usually puree the onion because my kids revolt if they find a piece of onion). Brown the ground beef and onion in a skillet over high heat with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon ground pepper until cooked through. Sometimes brown bits start to accumulate in the pan. To keep it from burning you can add a couple of Tablespoons of water and scrape up the browned bits. I have very lean beef and often have to do this two or three times as the meat cooks.

Slice the cooked potatoes lengthwise and top with the meat mixture, diced pickles, cheese and onions. Drizzle with mustard if desired.

Notes

I usually make some russet and some sweet potatoes. To give the sweet potatoes a little head start, I sometimes microwave them on high for five minutes before putting them in the oven.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 569Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 105mgSodium: 1219mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 4gSugar: 3gProtein: 34g

Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and may not be completely accurate.

This post contains affiliate links.

Marie Fiebach is a married mother of four active teens. She helps busy families plan and execute weeknight dinner so they can recapture a little calm in the crazy. Check out her YouTube Channel or listen to the Feed Your Family Tonight Podcast.

Episode 143 Let’s Talk About Salt

If you want your food to taste delicious, you are going to need to use salt.

In episode 13, I took a deep dive into salt and talked about all the different kinds of salt, where they are harvested and how they are processed. This episode is more about how to use salt to make your food taste better.

I keep more than a dozen salts in my cabinet, but the two I must have are:

Table Salt and Celtic Sea Salt.

I use table salt for baking and Celtic Sea Salt for everything else. I buy it in a 5 pound bag from Amazon.

5 Pound Bag 

2 (1 Pound) Bags 

Salting Veggies

The key to making salt work for you is to add the right amount at the right time in cooking. For example, blanching veggies is super salty water before roasting helps the salt go deep into the veggies and makes the best roasted veggies you have ever tasted. You can find my blanched and roasted veggie recipe here. 

Salting Sauces

When making sauces, you want to be careful with the amount of salt especially if you are using pantry items the may already have salt like canned tomatoes or chicken broth. I always recommend using reduced sodium chicken broth. 

When adding salt to sauces, Kendra Adachi who was on episode 93 says to add salt “until it sings.” I like to slowly add salt until it is a “wow.”  Add a little at a time and when it tastes good, add just a little more and I bet it will taste great.

Salting Meat

When salting meat, the rule of thumb is to add about 1 teaspoon of coarse salt or kosher salt per pound of meat. (Use less if you are using table salt.)

Salt plus time is the magic formula for great meat! I like to salt my meat up to three days in advance and let it rest uncovered in the refrigerator. The salt will penetrate deep into the meat and the air of the refrigerator will help dry out the surface of the meat which aids in browning. A dry surface will brown faster and easier than an wet surface.

I like to find chicken that does not have “broth solution added.” Broth solution is salt. If your chicken has broth solution added you will want to add less salt. You can find my roast chicken recipe here

Other podcasts you may like: 

Episode 13 Salt

Episode 93 Lazy Genius Dinner with Kendra Adachi

Episode 50 Roast Chicken – A Great Dinner for Busy Weeknights

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Marie Fiebach is a married mother of four active kids. She helps busy families plan and execute weeknight dinner so they can recapture a little calm in the crazy. You can see her every week on KAKE TV’s Good Morning Kakeland or listen to the Feed Your Family Tonight Podcast.

For a transcript click here.

Enchilada Sauce

Shows the texture of Enchilada Sauce

For years my children would not eat anything with a “sauce.” Enchiladas were firmly in the camp of “don’t even try.” Then a few months ago my oldest kid asked me to make enchiladas. 

Challenge Accepted! I posted something about it on Instagram and my sister promptly texted me saying that no matter what I did, use Gimme Some Oven’s Enchilada Sauce. I made it and my kids said it was okay, but it was way to spicy for them. 

I began to tweak the recipe and found that I made many significant changes. I cut down the amount of chili powder and added a touch of sugar and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Chili powder can have a slightly bitter aftertaste and the sugar and vinegar somehow mellow the bitterness. Chili powder is found in the spice aisle and is a combination of dried chilis and spices ground into a powder. 

You may be surprised to find out there is no tomato in this recipe. The chili powder is the base of the recipe. I like to use reduced sodium chicken broth, but if you want to make vegetarian enchiladas, you could substitute vegetable broth. 

Shows the texture of Enchilada Sauce

Enchilada Sauce

Yield: 1 Quart
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

This homemade enchilada sauce is made with chili powder and chicken broth. A small pinch of sugar and a splash of apple cider vinegar balance out the bitterness. This sauce is so good you will want to eat it with a spoon! The recipe makes enough for two 9 x 13 pans of enchiladas.

You can make one pan and freeze the sauce for another day, or make a double recipe of enchiladas and freeze one for a busy day.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 Cup Chili Powder (See Note)
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Avocado Oil (Or use vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 4 Cups Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth (or Veggie Broth)
  • 1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2-2 teaspoons Coarse Sea Salt to taste. 

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, and sugar. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, add oil and flour and cook over medium-high heat. Cook stirring constantly with a flat whisk for 1-2 minutes until bubbling.
  3. Add the chili powder mixture and whisk well to combine with the flour and oil. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the chicken broth a little at a time, constantly stirring to avoid lumps.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon vinegar and bring to a gentle simmer.
  6. Taste the sauce. It will likely need salt. Add salt 1/2 teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired level of salt. It will take up to two teaspoons depending on the level of sodium in your broth.
  7. Turn off heat and use sauce to make enchiladas. This is enough sauce for 2 9 x 13 pans of enchiladas.

Notes

1. Chili powder is found in the spice aisle. It is a combination of dried chili peppers and spices.

2. If you like it spicy, you can add up to 1/2 cup of chili powder.

3. This makes enough sauce for 2 9 x 13 pans of enchiladas. You can freeze it for up to 2 months. If you are using a mason jar to freeze it, make sure to leave at least 1 inch of space at the top to prevent the jar from breaking in the freezer.

4. A Flat Whisk is the best tool for making this because it can get to edges of the pan and still keep the sauce from getting lumpy.

This post contains affiliate links.

Marie Fiebach is a married mother of four active kids. She helps busy families plan and execute weeknight dinner so they can recapture a little calm in the crazy. You can see her every week on KAKE TV’s Good Morning Kakeland or listen to the Feed Your Family Tonight Podcast.

Marinated Grilled Shrimp

Shows texture of grilled shrimp

Grilled shrimp make a fast and easy summer dinner. I like to marinate the shrimp for 15-20 minutes. If you leave in the marinade too long, the acid (from the lemon juice) will start to denature the proteins which may be great for ceviche, but isn’t great for grilled shrimp.

What kind of shrimp do you use for grilling?

I like to use large (16/20) shrimp. 16/20 means there are 16-20 shrimp per pound. I live in Kansas which means almost any seafood we get has been previously frozen. This includes the “fresh” shrimp in the fish case at the grocery store. 

Buy your shrimp frozen and then you can thaw them quickly in a bowl of cool water. It only takes 10-15 minutes to thaw shrimp in a bowl of cold water. 

You can buy the shrimp already peeled, or get the “easy peel” shrimp and take the shells off before marinating.

I do not recommend grilling pre-cooked shrimp. They will get overcooked and be tough and rubbery.

What kind of skewers do you use for grilling shrimp?

I am a big fan of stainless steel reusable skewers. You do not have to soak them in water (like you do for bamboo skewers) and they are dishwasher safe and can be used for years. 

 

Marinated Grilled Shrimp

Marinated Grilled Shrimp

Yield: 1 Pound
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Grilled Shrimp are a fast and easy dinner for hot summer nights.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound large (16/20) shrimp thawed and peeled.
  • 1 Lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregano 
  • 1 teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt

Instructions

Marinate the Shrimp

  1. In a medium bowl. Mix lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and oregano.
  2. Add the peeled shrimp, cover with lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes or up to 1 hour.

Heat the Grill

  1. Set burners to high heat.
  2. Light grill and let come up to temperature at least 10 minutes.

Prepare the Skewers

  1. Place shrimp on skewers. I like to use stainless steel skewers. If you are using bamboo skewers, see note below.
  2. Thread each shrimp through the skewer to the right of center, and then run a second skewer through the shrimp to the left of center. I like to do 5-6 shrimp per skewer.

Grill the Shrimp

  1. Place the shrimp on the hot grill over high heat. Cover and cook two minutes.
  2. Using tongs, flip the skewers and cook another 1-2 minutes until the shrimp are pink and cooked through. (Be careful not to overcook. Shrimp grill really fast.)
  3. Remove the shrimp from the grill. Hold the metal skewers with a pot holder or thick towel and use a fork to gently slide the shrimp off the skewers.
  4. Serve.



Notes

If you are using bamboo skewers, soak them in a pan of water for 1-2 hours before threading on the shrimp. This will help prevent them from burning on the grill.

Remember the stainless steel skewers get HOT on the grill. Be sure to handle with tongs or with a pot holder to prevent burns.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 63Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 529mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and may not be completely accurate.

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Marie Fiebach is a married mother of four active kids. She helps busy families plan and execute weeknight dinner so they can recapture a little calm in the crazy. You can see her every week on KAKE TV’s Good Morning Kakeland or listen to the Feed Your Family Tonight Podcast.

Sautéed Mushrooms

Shows browned and crisp edges on mushrooms

It is grilling season and I’m always wanting something to go with burgers and grilled meat. Sautéed Mushrooms are the perfect side dish or topping, but they can be a little problematic.

The big thing is they can get really greasy, soggy,  or slimy. Mushrooms act like sponges and soak up liquids including oils or fats. The key is to get them to release their water and then add the fat.

 

This recipe uses a technique I learned from Cooks Illustrated many years ago. It seems counterintuitive, but trust me, it works.

Step 1-

Cook the mushrooms with water and salt. You want to do this before you add any fat. The salt and water will get the mushrooms to release all their moisture. Once they have released their moisture, they will be able to cook in the fat and brown rather than soak up the fat and get slimy. 

Step 2-

Let the liquid evaporate.

Step 3- 

Add the butter, stir, and let brown. It is really important to mix once and leave them alone. Give the heat a chance to do the work. To get brown and slightly crispy mushrooms LEAVE THEM ALONE in the pan.  You can stir every 2-3 minutes when they are on medium heat. Browning takes time. Give the mushrooms their time. 

Substitutions-

You can use any kind of mushroom you prefer. I like Cremini or White Button because they are easy to find in the grocery store. 

To make these dairy free, use your favorite oil. Avocado or olive oil will both work well. 

I have made these with ghee and they are delicious.

If you are using a fine grain salt, like table salt, instead of Celtic Sea Salt, use 1/2 teaspoon, otherwise they will be too salty. 

Shows the well-browned mushrooms.

Sautéed Mushrooms

Yield: 1 1/2 Cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes

Browned mushrooms with slightly crispy edges that are not slimy. They are perfect for topping burgers or your favorite grilled meats.

Ingredients

  • 1 Pound Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/3 Cup Water
  • 1 teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter (For vegan and dairy free use avocado or olive oil,)

Instructions

    In a 10-12 inch skillet, add sliced mushrooms, water, and salt. Cover and cook over high heat for seven minutes. The mushrooms will release moisture and there will be lots of liquid.
    Remove the lid and continue cooking on high until the liquid is almost all evaporated.
    Add the butter and stir to coat the mushrooms in the butter as it melts.
    Reduce heat to medium and let the mushrooms cook without stirring for two to three minutes.
    Stir the mushrooms and let cook again for two to three minutes without stirring.
    Repeat the cooking and stirring one to two more times until the mushrooms are well browned and some of the edges are crispy.
    Remove from heat and serve.

Notes

You can use any mushroom you prefer. I usually use cremini or button mushrooms.

If you want dairy free and vegan mushrooms, substitute olive oil or avocado oil for the butter.

If you are using fine salt or kosher salt, cut back to 1/2 teaspoon or they will be too salty.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 57Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 532mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 2g

Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and may not be completely accurate.

This post contains affiliate links.

Marie Fiebach is a married mother of four active kids. She helps busy families plan and execute weeknight dinner so they can recapture a little calm in the crazy. You can see her every week on KAKE TV’s Good Morning Kakeland or listen to the Feed Your Family Tonight Podcast.

Episode 126 How to Cook Chicken

Learn how to cook chicken

Episode 126 How to Cook Chicken

 

There are entire books on how to cook chicken. Stacie Billis was on the podcast episode 78 with her book Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner! Today’s podcast will give you an overview and some simple techniques that will improve your chicken tonight.

 

We want to start with buying chicken. Why is one kind $1.00 per pound and another $9.00 per pound? What is the best kind of chicken to buy?

The chicken labels are confusing. Here is a quick overview of what some of the terms mean.

Broth Solution Added- This means the chicken has added salt. Chicken with broth solution added often exudes more liquid when cooked. You want to use less salt when seasoning this kind of chicken.

Organic- Organic chicken has been fed organic feed with no animal by products and no GMO grains. They also have to have access to the outside. The “access” may be a peep hole they can poke their head out.

Free Range- the chickens have “access” to the outside. How much access is not determined.

Air Chilled- This means after butchering the chicken is quickly chilled with cold air rather than the typical ice water bath. You may notice a difference in flavor because there is no added water.

Bottom line- read your labels and make you decisions according to your budget and values. At this time, I do not buy organic chicken, but I do look for chicken that does not have added salt or broth solution.

 

If you find a good price on chicken, consider buying extra and freezing it. I talk all about freezing chicken in Episode 74 Frozen Chicken 101.

 

For great chicken you need 2 things:

Salt

Instant Read Thermometer

 

Many people are afraid of food safety and as a result are seriously overcooking their chicken. An instant read thermometer will take all the guesswork out of cooking chicken to the right temperature. Chicken is safe to eat at 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

How to cook boneless skinless chicken breasts.

I talk about grilling chicken breasts in Episode 25. Here is my method for Grilling Chicken Breasts.

You want to have chicken that is even thickness which means you have to butterfly it or pound it to get even thickness. You want to salt or marinade the chicken. You want to start with a very hot grill and reduce the heat once the chicken is on the grill and you want to let the chicken rest for 10 minutes after removing it from the grill.

 

To avoid overcooking, I like to take the chicken off the grill when it is at 160 degrees Fahrenheit and let it come up to 165 as it rests.

 

How to Pan Fry Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

It is important to have the chicken breasts even thickness and to salt it well. The rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt to each pound of chicken. You want to make sure there is space around each piece of chicken in the pan and that you have enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.

 

How to Cook One Inch Pieces of Chicken

 

It is common for things like Stir Fry or Ginger Pear Chicken to use one-inch chunks. You want to make sure the pieces are even in size. You want lots of room around the pieces in the pan so they do not steam but can get browned. If they exude extra liquid, drain it off so the chicken can brown properly.

 

Add the chicken to hot skillet with a little oil, spread it into an even layer and LEAVE IT ALONE! Please believe me. It is like ground beef, you need to leave it alone to get a nice brown piece of chicken which is important for texture and flavor.

Do not add other ingredients to the chicken until the first side is browned.

Watch for overcooking. If the chicken pieces are going to cook in a sauce or with other ingredients, you want it to still be undercooked when you add the extra ingredients.

Use your instant read thermometer to check for doneness. It is fully cooked at 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

How to Cook Chicken on the Bone

I talk about how to make roast chicken in Episode 50.

The key to great chicken on the bone is SALT + TIME.

You want to salt the chicken under the skin directly on the meat and give it at least 3 hours but up to 48 hours for the salt to penetrate deep into the meat.

If you care about crispy skin, leave the chicken uncovered in the refrigerator after you have salted it. The air of the refrigerator will dry out the surface of the skin and you will get crispier chicken skin.

 

Links from this episode:

Stacie Billis

Change Your Life Chicken

Products from this episode:

Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

 

Celtic Sea Salt

 

Polder Instant Read Thermometer

 

Recipes from this episode:

How to Grill Chicken Breasts

Tequila Lime Chicken

Ginger Pear Chicken

Lemon Ramen Chicken Stir Fry

 

Other podcasts to check out about cooking chicken:

Episode 78 Let’s Talk About Chicken with Stacie Billis

Episode 74 Frozen Chicken 101

Episode 50 Roast Chicken, and Easy Dinner for Busy Weeknights

Episode 25 Cooking School Grilled Chicken Breasts (That You Actually Want to Eat)

Episode 125 How to Cook Ground Beef

This post contains affiliate links.

Marie Fiebach is a married mother of four active kids. She helps busy families plan and execute weeknight dinner so they can recapture a little calm in the crazy. You can see her every week on KAKE TV’s Good Morning Kakeland or listen to the Feed Your Family Tonight Podcast.

For a transcript click here.

Blanched and Roasted Veggies

We all want to eat more veggies, but they can be boring and bland. This technique can be used for almost any vegetable and will take your roasted veggies from boring to delicious.

What is blanching?

Blanching is a technique where you cook vegetables in boiling water for a few minutes. Then you take them out of the boiling water and place them in ice water (or ice bath.) If you are making veggie trays it helps the produce have a bright color. 

I streamlined this and we skip the ice water, but quickly blanching the vegetables in salted boiling water before roasting improves the flavor and texture so much it is worth the extra step.

Will the vegetables bee too salty?

You can adjust the salt to your individual taste. Know that like cooking pasta, most of the salt will not go into the food, but if you skimp on the salt, you will notice it in the finished product. Pasta cooked without enough salt tastes bland and veggies cooked with the right amount of salt will sing!

The salted water penetrates the veggies as they quickly pre-cook in the boiling water and seasons them much deeper than simply sprinkling salt on top of them as they roast.

What about the oil?

I find you can use much less oil when you roast the veggies because you do not need it for flavor. The veggies are well-seasoned because of their trip in the salt water.

You can use any oil you prefer. I like avocado oil or bacon grease the best, but you can use olive oil, vegetable oil, or even ghee.

How do you finish the vegetables?

The veggies are great roasted on their own, but there are a few things you could add after cooking to take them to the next level. Some of the things I sprinkle on after they have roasted include:

Hot Pepper Flakes

Lemon Zest

Lemon Juice

Parmesan Cheese

Balsamic Vinegar

Blanched and Roasted Veggies

Blanched and Roasted Veggies

Yield: 1 Pound Veggies
Prep Time: 12 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 27 minutes

These are roasted veggies taken to the next level. The vegetables are briefly cooked in boiling salted water before roasting in the oven.

The brief cooking in salted water seasons the vegetables thoroughly and helps them stay bright and vibrant.

Ingredients

  • 1 Pound of Broccoli or other favorite vegetable cut into serving-size pieces (see note for best veggies)
  • 1 Tablespoon Avocado Oil (See note for substitutions.)
  • 1 Quart boiling water
  • 3 Tablespoons Coarse Sea Salt

Garnishes and Finishing Ingredients

  • Zest of One Lemon
  • Juice of One Lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hot Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

Instructions

Preheat Oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bring water to boil in a large saucepan.

Spread oil over a rimmed baking sheet.

Add Coarse Sea Salt to boiling water.

Place cut vegetables in boiling salted water and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove vegetables from boiling water and place them on the oiled baking sheet. It is okay to have a few drops of water, but try to get as little water as possible on the baking sheet.

Roast veggies in the 450 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until they are starting to brown around the edges.

Remove roasted veggies from the oven and sprinkle with one or more of the finishes.

Notes

You can do this with almost any vegetable. You can use fresh or frozen. Veggies that work great include:

Broccoli

Cauliflower

Asparagus

Brussels Sprouts

Green Beans

Cabbage

You want the veggies cut into serving-size pieces. Whole asparagus spears, 3-4 inch pieces of broccoli or cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts that are cut in half all work well.

You can use any oil you like. I have used Avocado oil, olive oil, bacon grease and ghee. They all work well.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 73Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 3252mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 4gSugar: 3gProtein: 3g

Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and may not be completely accurate. Most of the salt will not end up on the vegetables so the sodium is much lower.

 

 

Episode 105 Thanksgiving Basics

Many of us will be cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year. For some, it will be their first time cooking Thanksgiving and for most, the gatherings will be smaller than in the past. Today’s episode goes into the basics of planning and executing Thanksgiving dinner.

 

2-3 Weeks before Thanksgiving talk with your family. Ask them what foods are most important.  Focus on what’s most important to your family and let go of the rest. If you family doesn’t care about mashed potatoes or green bean casserole, then don’t feel like you have to make those dishes.

 

In the Feed Your Family Tonight Holiday Planning Guide there is a “Thanksgiving 101” guide. If this is your first time cooking Thanksgiving, this guide will help you avoid rookie mistakes like not allowing enough time for the turkey to thaw or not planning out what times each dish will go in the oven on Thanksgiving Day.

 

2 Weeks before Thanksgiving finalize the time for the gathering, decide what plates, cups, silverware and serving dishes you will use for the meal. Finalize the menu and make two grocery lists. The first list is all the items you can buy the week before Thanksgiving. The second list is the few fresh items you will need to buy early Thanksgiving week.  If you are using a grocery pickup or delivery service, book your time now. Most pickup and delivery services will let you adjust your order up to 24 hours before your scheduled time. The best times will fill up quickly so start your order now.

1 Week before Thanksgiving do your first grocery shopping trip. Start thawing your turkey in the refrigerator according to this schedule.

  • 20-24 pounds: Friday
  • 16-20 pounds: Saturday
  • 12-16 pounds: Sunday
  • 10-12 pound or large turkey breast: Monday
  • 5-7 pound turkey breast: Tuesday

 

A word about turkeys- Most grocery store turkeys (like Butterball) have a salt solution added. It will say on the label broth solution added. You do not want to brine this type of turkey. It will end up too salty and the meat may get an odd texture. Conversely, if you get a “natural” turkey, it is very important to brine it so the meat will retain moisture. You can do a “dry brine” by rubbing salt directly on the meat underneath the skin, or a “wet brine” in a saltwater solution. “Fresh” turkeys are often “super chilled” which means they will take a day or two in the refrigerator before they are ready to roast. There may even be a few ice crystals in the turkey.

Thanksgiving week-

Monday or Tuesday you want to do your final grocery trip. Start prepping any dishes you can. I always have Cheeseburger Baked Potatoes one day for dinner and roast a pan of sweet potatoes for the sweet potato casserole. If you have a separate formal dining room, set the table.

Wednesday- Bake your desserts and get the turkey prepped. You can put it in the roasting pan uncovered in the refrigerator. This will dry out the surface of the skin making it extra crispy when you roast it the next day. If you stuff your turkey, wait until just before roasting to add the stuffing. It is not safe to have the stuffing in the cavity overnight. Make a list of all the tasks you have to do on Thanksgiving Day. Make note of the times each dish needs to go into the oven and the temperature for those dishes. Calculate how long to roast your turkey and add 30 minutes for it to rest before carving.

Thanksgiving Day-

Follow the plan you made for oven usage. Make note of tasks you can give to guests who offer help. Some of my favorite tasks for guests include filling water glasses and lighting candles.

 

Most of all, enjoy your time with your family. Creating a memorable Thanksgiving is possible even if everything isn’t perfect. Use the Feed Your Family Tonight Holiday Planning Guide to help you get organized.

Marie Fiebach is a married mother of four active kids. She helps busy families plan and execute weeknight dinner so they can recapture a little calm in the crazy. You can see her every week on KAKE TV’s Good Morning Kakeland or listen to the Feed Your Family Tonight Podcast.

The Best Grilled Chicken Breasts

Grilled chicken breasts can be a little problematic. They don’t cook evenly and you end up with underdone or dry and chalky chicken breasts, but there are a few simple steps you can take to get juicy and delicious chicken breasts.

First– if you don’t have an instant read thermometer, buy one. Here is an inexpensive one similar to mine. (Mine is no longer available.) I have had it at least 5 years and it gets tons of use in my kitchen. Chicken is done at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. That means you want to take it off the grill at 160-161 degrees as it will continue to cook with residual heat once it is off the grill.

 

Second– Butterfly and pound your chicken breasts (or by chicken cutlets which are much thinner.) Watch the video to see how to butterfly and pound. You want to slice through the thickness of the chicken breast and then pound the breast to even it out. Having a thin chicken breast of equal thickness assures even cooking. I like to buy large packages of chicken breast and butterfly and pound them before freezing so I can quickly pull out chicken for grilling and not have the mess each time I grill chicken.

 

Third– Salt and/or marinate your chicken. Salt is crucial to juicy chicken breasts. I like to use 1 teaspoon of salt per pound of chicken. If you can salt it the day before or even a few hours before cooking you will get the most benefit from the salt. Be sure to keep the chicken in the refrigerator after you have covered it in salt. But, if you are in a hurry just sprinkle salt on both sides of the chicken before putting it on the grill.

To marinate the chicken, place the butterflied and pounded meat in a shallow dish and cover with a marinade. Place the dish in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Tequila Lime Chicken and Asian Salad Dressing are two of my favorite marinades.

 

To Grill the Chicken

Heat your grill either gas or charcoal to high heat. Place the butterflied, pounded, and salted or marinated chicken on the hottest part of the grill. Cover the grill and let it cook for 3 minutes. Flip the chicken to the other side and cook another 1-2 minutes until the internal temperature is 160-161 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature will continue to go up because of the residual heat and will get to the safe temperature of 165 degrees.  Let the chicken rest at least 5 minutes before serving.

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Episode 25: Cooking School Grilled Chicken Breasts (You Actually Want to Eat)

Grilled Chicken Breasts can be boring, dry, and overcooked, but they don’t have to be. If you follow these simple steps you will be on your way to juicy, flavorful grilled chicken. It is a formula for grilled chicken breasts that you actually want to eat.

1-Make sure they are the same thickness.

-Typical chicken breasts have a thick end and a thin pointed end. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut through the breast and open it like a book. The fancy word for this is “butterfly.” Then place the butterflied breast between pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a meat pounder or cast-iron skillet to get an even thickness of about ½ an inch.

2-Salt it well.

-You can just sprinkle the salt directly on the meat and let it set for 10 minutes, or you can let the salt sit on the meat for a few hours.

-You can use a marinade that has salt, acid, and maybe fat. My Greek Salad Dressing is a great marinade. The Tequila Lime Chicken and Fajita marinades from my cookbook both only use acid and salt. You do not want to a marinade without fat for more than 1 hour or you will get mushy chicken. If your marinade has fat it can be on the chicken for several hours.

3- Get your grill very hot.

-Preheat your grill for at least 10 minutes, but longer is even better. You need a screaming hot grill to get good char and to quickly cook the chicken.

-Use a “safe” grill brush to clean the hot grill. I have this grill brush that is a continuous wire that does not have little bristles to break off and put you in danger.

-Make sure there is space around all the pieces of chicken and lower the heat to medium-low. Grill covered for 5 minutes. Turn, cover and grill for 5 more minutes.

4-Test the meat in the thickest part (or the middle.)

-Remove from the grill when it is 160-165 degrees Fahrenheit.

-An instant read thermometer is an essential grilling tool.

-Let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes before serving to let the juices redistribute.