Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

Do you like turkey? I've always dreaded having turkey. Who wants a dry turkey you have to smother in gravy? Not me. That's why I LOVE to fry our turkey. How about a turkey that is  juicy with a crispy skin and has a ton of flavor?  That sounds much better! I'm sure you've heard horror stories of how someone fried a turkey and burned their entire house down. If you fry a turkey, all you have to do is be very cautious and follow instructions exactly! So, I've compiled these directions for you if you're a first time fryer. After eating fried turkey, you will never want to eat "normal" turkey again! I Promise!  There are a zillion ways to season a fried turkey and today, I'm giving you the cajun version!

Here's what you will need:
12 lb turkey (You can fry a larger turkey, but I wouldn't suggest anything over 15 lbs. or under 10 lbs.)
3-5 gallons peanut oil
16-32 oz. Marinade (I used Tony Chachere’s  Roasted Garlic & Herb Marinade and Cajun Injector Creole Garlic)

Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
Cavendar's Seasoning (you can also use salt and pepper)
Marinade Injector
Turkey Fryer Pot (you need at least 26 quarts, but if you haven't bought one yet, I would opt for the larger pot)
Burner and Propane tank (usually comes with the turkey fryer)
Oil thermometer
Turkey Stand (usually comes with the turkey fryer)
Turkey Stand Hook (usually comes with the turkey fryer)
Oven Mitts
Make sure the turkey is completely thawed. Thawing usually takes approximately 3 days in the refrigerator. if you want to hurry up the process, put the wrapped turkey in the sink filled with cold water. Turn and fill up with cold water again every hour. WARNING: If the turkey is not thawed correctly and fully, the hot oil could boil over and/or cause a fire.
Make sure you take the giblet bag out from the inside (cavity) of the turkey. Take the neck out of the neck cavity of the turkey. Trim the excess skin away from the neck area.
Place the turkey on the turkey stand that came with your fryer (put the neck first, legs up) and put both the turkey and turkey stand in the empty deep fryer pot.

Fill the pot up with water until it entirely covers the turkey.  Next, take the turkey out of the deep fryer and mark the water level so you will know exactly how much oil to put in the deep fryer. WARNING: This step is important because if you put too much oil in the fryer, it could boil over and cause a fire and/or injury.
Set the turkey aside and let it dry. Make sure there is no water on or in the turkey. WARNING: if you leave any water on or in the turkey, this will make the oil bubble and splash on you and could cause a fire.
Go outside and set up your deep fryer. Most turkey fryers are propane, so make sure you place the fryer far away from your house, deck, trees, or anything that could catch on fire.
Using the thermometer that came with your fryer, mount it on the side of the pot where the tip of it is at least one inch into the grease. Fill the fryer to the line you determined earlier with peanut oil. If you're allergic to peanuts, you can use any other type of oil such as corn, canola, etc.... Peanut oil is the best to use if you're not allergic because it can withstand a higher temperature without burning  your turkey. The oil will need to get up to 350 degrees to fry the turkey. Turn on the gas to get the oil hot.
While you prepare the turkey, make sure someone is outside watching the oil for cautionary purposes. WARNING: If you leave the fryer unattended, it could get too hot and catch on fire. Make sure there aren't any animals outside that can tip the fryer over.  Also make sure the fryer is on a flat level surface.
To prepare the turkey: Buy injectable marinade seasoning at the store. We used Tony Chachere’s Roasted Garlic and Herb Marinade and Cajun Injector Creole Garlic. You will need about 2 pints. And, get one that comes with an injector.

Take the turkey off the stand and place it in a pan to season it. Fill up the injector and repeatedly poke it in the turkey. Do this slowly. While you push the needle in slowly, slowly push the plunger. Poke it in the breast, legs, wings, thigh, drumsticks, everywhere about 3 inches apart and inject about 1/4 of the needle every poke. It will bubble out around the needle and saturate the outside of the turkey as well. 

Put the turkey back on the turkey stand, making sure you place the neck first, with the legs up. Sprinkle seasoning outside and inside the turkey. Don't be shy with the seasoning. I usually put a lot!!! We use Tony Chachere’s and Cavendars, but if you don't have those, you can use Cajun seasoning and a little salt and pepper.

When the oil gets up to 350 degrees (which should take about 20 minutes),  get the turkey ready to put in the fryer. As you carry it outside on the turkey stand, place a pan underneath, so you don't drop it. Attach the hook to the turkey stand and slowly lower the turkey into the oil. Stand away from it as far as you can because it WILL bubble over and you do NOT want to get burnt. And, when I say slowly, I mean very very very slowly!!! WARNING:Do not drop the turkey in the fryer because this could cause a fire and/or injury. It should take at least 60 seconds to put the turkey in the fryer.

After the turkey is all the way in, remove the hook from the turkey stand by pushing down to unhook it, then pulling it out. The temperature will drop a little, so make sure you monitor and make sure it gets back up to 325-350 degrees and stays at that temperature. If the temperature gets higher than 350 degrees, lower the gas level on your cooker. WARNING: if you let the turkey get over 350 degrees, the oil could catch on fire and/or cause injury.
You will need to cook the turkey 3-3.5 minutes for every pound of turkey. For example, if you have a 13 lb. turkey, you will need to cook it for 39-45 minutes. Usually, when it's done, it will start to float and will be golden brown. If you're not sure if it's done, you can ease it out of the oil a little and cut a piece off. Make sure you have someone to help you!
Make sure you monitor the temperature at all times to keep it between 325 and 350, so you will not undercook or burn your turkey. You can adjust the flame anytime to adjust the temperature. Never leave the turkey fryer unattended because if it gets too hot, it could start a fire. Do not use the lid on the fryer, leave it off.
When the turkey is done, turn the heat off on your cooker. Re-attach the hook to the turkey stand and carefully remove the turkey. Also make sure you get a pan to put under it so the turkey doesn't fall to the ground, or so you don't drip grease everywhere. 
With a glove, lay the turkey over into a pan to serve!!!
Make sure you let the oil in the fryer cool before you dispose of it. The fryer will be very hot! It could take up to 3 hours.

**DISCLAIMER** Frying a turkey is very dangerous. Do not fry a turkey anywhere near your house or deck, or under any trees, etc.....  FRY A TURKEY AT YOUR OWN RISK. FARM DIVA IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY FIRE OR INJURY THAT COULD BE CAUSED FROM THESE INSTRUCTIONS.
If you have any questions about frying a turkey, please feel free to comment below or email me at I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The best Meatloaf you will ever eat!

I've never been a fan of meatloaf, so when my Dad requested that I cook him some, I dreaded it. Dry meatloaf with ketchup on top. One word comes to mind: GROSS!!! So I went on a quest to find the best meatloaf recipe out there, no ketchup necessary. I came across this recipe, tweaked it a little bit, and whalah!!!! The best Meatloaf you will ever eat. It is soooooo good! I've cooked it a few times now and the entire family LOVES it. The last time I cooked it, I cooked a 7 lb. meatloaf and it was gone within a couple days. Even a picky 18 year old said it was good. So, I wanted to share the recipe with y'all!!! I know everyone doesn't want a 5+ lb meatloaf, so I'm giving you a recipe for a small loaf. If you want a lot of it (and you probably will!!!), just double, triple, quadruple the recipe!!

Here's what you will need for a  small 1 lb. meatloaf (3-4 servings):

Cooking Spray
8 green onions (sliced)
1 pepper (chopped)
1 carrot (chopped)
2 eggs (beat) OR 2 slightly beaten egg whites
1 lb. ground beef
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup chili sauce (if you want a little kick, you can use hot asian chili garlic sauce)
2 Tbsp. milk
14 crackers (1/2 cup smashed)
1 Tbsp basil OR oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. white distilled vinegar
meatloaf pan (I prefer glass)

Coat a skillet with oil. Add chopped peppers, carrots, and green onions. Cook over medium heat until tender. Remove from heat.

Combine eggs, crackers, milk, 2 Tbsp. chili sauce, basil or oregano, and pepper.

Add cooked vegetables and raw ground beef. Mix together with your hands and mash the mixture down evenly into a meatloaf pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. While it is cooking, mix up 1/4 cup chili sauce, brown sugar, and vinegar.

Spoon glaze mixture over the meatloaf and bake for an additional 20 minutes.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mom's Cheese Soup

My mom, Jeannie, was my best friend in the world, hands down!!! I think about her everyday and all the wonderful memories we made together. She was a goofball and put her family before anything else, just like me! Truly one of a kind! One of the best memories I have of her is cooking in the kitchen. Her favorite thing to cook was this soup. She called it cheese soup, but other places where I've seen similar soups call it something like cheesy bacon potato soup. Bacon, Potatoes, Cheese, Onions, what more could you want in a creamy soup? Since we have some big guys in our family (my brothers are 6'10"!), she always cooked huge amounts of food. I'm addicted to cheese, so this is one of my favorite soups!!! This recipe will make approximately 20 bowls of soup. So, If you want less soup, half the recipe!

Here' what you will need:

A block (2.5 lbs) of velveeta cheese (you can also use any other kind of cheese that melts well)
Two packages (2 lbs.) of bacon
5 lbs of potatoes
3-4 large onions
1 cup Milk
3 Tbsp. Corn Starch
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Chives or Parsley (optional)
Stock Pot (preferably granite instead of aluminum)
Frying Pan

Cooking Instructions:

Peel the potatoes and cut them up into small cubes. Peel and chop the onions. Put the onions and potatoes in a large pot and add water. The water should be at least two inches above the potatoes and onions. Boil the onions and potatoes on high until tender.

While the potatoes and onions cook, cut the bacon up into 1 inch peices and fry it in a frying pan. Fry it to the the desired crispness.

When the potatoes and onions are done, add cooked bacon. Turn the burner to a very low heat and add cheese (cut up into small peices). Stir constantly until cheese melts.  Immediately mix up corn starch and milk in a bowl with a fork. Make sure there aren't any lumps.

Pour mixture into the soup and stir some more. (Stir, Stir, Stir!!) Turn burner off as soon as you add corn starch and milk. Add salt and pepper (to taste).

Stir some more! If after 5 minutes the soup isn't thick enough, you can add more corn starch and milk. Sometimes I garnish the soup with parsley or chives (optional).


Since this recipe makes tons of soup, I always put it in ziploc bowls and toss it in the freezer. It always reheats perfectly!!!

A picture of me and my Mom!!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pasta E Fagioli

My niece, Meghan, moved in with us and has an obsession with the Olive Garden. She LOVES their Pasta E Fagioli soup. Since we don't go out to eat much, she wanted me to cook the soup at home. I cooked this last night and half of it is gone already. Success! I know other people love this soup too, so, here's the recipe, just for you! **DISCLAIMER** I have one of the biggest crock pots they make, so you might want to half the recipe. This recipe yields approximately 15 bowls of soup.

Here's what you will need:

2 lbs hamburger meat
1 large onion
4 carrots
1/2 - 1 stalk celery
56 oz. diced tomatoes (you can also use stewed tomatoes)
16 oz. white kidney beans
16 oz. red kidney beans
30-40 oz. beef stock (depending on how soupy you want it)
20 oz. spaghetti sauce
1 tsp. tabasco sauce
3 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. pepper
5 tsp. parsley
8 oz. pasta

Brown the hamburger in a pan. While the hamburger is cooking, chop up the onion, carrots, and celery. When the hamburger is done, drain off the grease and put the meat in the crock pot.  Drain the red and the white kidney beans and add them to the meat. Add the undrained diced tomatoes. Then, add everything else except the pasta and stir it all up. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 5 hours.

 During the last 30 minutes to an hour, add the pasta.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Zuppa Tuscano

We don't go out to eat very often, but when we do, it's usually one of two places. The first place is an awesome local mexican restaurant, where I think they serve crack in the cheese dip and you can taste the tequila in your margarita. It's very addictive! The other place we go is a big box restaurant, but they have some good comfort food: Olive Garden!!! Since their salad never looks appetizing, I always order soup. My favorite soup there is Zuppa Tuscano. It is soooooo good, especially in the winter months. So, I looked up several recipes until I found the perfect one. This soup tastes just like the Zuppa at Olive Garden. So, I want to share it with everyone! I've already cooked it twice this week!

Here's what you will need:

2 lb ground Italian sausage
3 tsp crushed red peppers
2 large diced white onions
8 Tbsp bacon pieces
4 tsp garlic puree
15 cups water
10 cubes of chicken bouillon
2 cup heavy cream
4 lb sliced Russet potatoes
A bunch of kale
Shredded Italian cheese (optional)

 This makes about 15 bowls of soup, so if you don't want extra, half the recipe. BUT, this soup is so good, that you will probably want more, so I put the extra soup in ziploc bowls and put them in the freezer for later. My family ate all of them within 2 days!!!
In a pot, sauté bacon, onions and garlic over low-medium heat for approximately 15 mins. or until the onions are soft. (You can also cook this in a pan and transfer it to a pot).
Add chicken bouillon and water to the pot and heat until it starts to boil.

Add the sliced potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.

(In a separate pan) While the potatoes cook, sauté Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a pan. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while the potatoes are cooking. (If you don't want to dirty a pot and a pan, you can cook the sausage in the pot before you saute the bacon, onions, and garlic)

Add heavy cream to the pot with everything in it and cook until thoroughly heated.

Stir in the sausage and the kale, let all heat through and serve.

I also add a little cheese to the top of the soup for a little extra something.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Caribbean Tangy Pineapple Chicken

Tangy, Tender, Sweet, Savory.....What more can I say about this fabulous Caribbean Tangy Pineapple Chicken Recipe I cooked last night. It is a yummy mixture of chicken, pineapple, bell peppers, and the sauce is a mixture of soy, lime, coconut, and honey flavors.

The entire family loved this recipe!

Here's what you will need:

4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (lightly pounded)
8 halved pineapple slices or two cans of pineapple chunks
1-2 chopped up bell peppers
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 -1 cup of soy sauce (to taste)
Ground Red Pepper (to taste, depending on how spicy you want it)
Minced Cilantro
Crushed Red Pepper
4 cloves of garlic or garlic powder, to taste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 lime (juice only)
1 Tbsp Coconut Extract
3/4 cup honey

First, cut up the bell peppers.

Next, mix the honey, water, lime juice, coconut, red pepper, and soy sauce in a bowl and set aside.

Saute' the pineapple or pineapple chunks in oil over medium heat until slightly browned and set aside.

Next, rub the chicken breasts with garlic and dredge them in flour until well coated.

Saute the chicken in the leftover pineapple pan juices until browned (about 2-4 minutes on each side).

Next, pour in the honey mixture and the bell peppers to the pan with the chicken.

Simmer for 12-15 minutes until the mixture turns into a glaze.

Make sure you turn the chicken at least once.

Garnish with cilantro and crushed red pepper.

You can also serve it over rice.

A few tips to cook this recipe:
When you cook the chicken, it doesn't have to be done when you're browning it. This is just to brown the flour coating.
Never bring the recipe to a full boil, or it may burn and not turn out right.

Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chicken Fried Rice

I LOVE Chicken Fried Rice. This is a simple and fast recipe!

Here's what you will need:
3-4 eggs
Vegetable oil
4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into strips
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 large chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
4 cups cold, cooked rice
8 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Beat eggs with a whisk in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Heat very little oil in a medium size frying pan over medium heat and make an omelette using the beaten eggs. Turn out onto a plate to cool. Fold, coarsely chop, and set aside.
In a bowl, toss chicken strips with the sesame oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil over high heat in large frying pan and stir-fry chicken until lightly golden, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the onion and garlic and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes or until onion has softened.

Add 2 tablespoons more vegetable oil and when hot, stir in the cooked rice and green onions, tossing and mixing thoroughly until very hot. Sprinkle with soy sauce and mix evenly. Remove from heat and stir in chopped cooked egg.

If desired, garnish with additional sliced green onions.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Asparagus and Lemon Chicken with Rice

We LOVE chicken, AND asparagus!!!! What better way to pair chicken and asparagus than with some Rice, Peppers, and a lemon zest!!! Here is the recipe I cooked today for Asparagus and Lemon Chicken with Rice!

Here's what you will need:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breast (1/2 inch cubes)
Salt and pepper
4 minced cloves of garlic
green bell pepper, de-seeded and diced
1/2 lb. asparagus cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon of lemon juice or 1 tsp. of lemon zest
1/2 cup water, white wine or chicken stock
3 cups cooked rice
First, cut up the bell pepper and de-seed and dice it. Next, either start some water to boil or steam the asparagus, or place it in a steamer microwave bag.

After you cut the chicken into pieces, add the oil to a large non-stick skillet over medium to high heat. Season the chicken pieces with the salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Cook the chicken until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.

Next, Stir in the garlic and bell pepper.

When the asparagus is steamed to where it is almost cooked, put it in with the chicken.

Cook the chicken with the asparagus for a minute then stir in the lemon zest or lemon juice. If you use the lemon zest, add 1/2 cup of water, white wine, or chicken stock and bring to a simmer.

Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes. Serve immediately over hot rice.