Bacon Wrapped Turkey

Backtrack with me a few years, 2011 to be exact. For YEARS and I’m talking YEARS I’ve wanted to make Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve heard making a turkey is difficult to keep moist yet get thoroughly cooked, etc. 2011 I was given the opportunity to try. The year before if you’ll remember Pioneer Woman challenged Bobby Flay to a Thanksgiving Off (or whatever they called it).

I made her turkey, stuffing, etc. I almost made her exact meal, but not quite. Anyway, then I went on the hunt one day in 2012 for the perfect Turkey recipe. Does one even exist? Well, I think the answer is yes. I found a recipe for a Bacon Wrapped Turkey. I had the opportunity to make the 2012 Thanksgiving dinner as well, so I knew we were going to try this turkey.

I have to say, we’ve tried to change it up a bit, one year we smoked it, one year we forgot the bacon blanket, etc etc… but if you find something that works, why mess with it? Seriously!

So why am I telling you all of this? Well next week is Thanksgiving and I want you to have ample time to get the ingredients for this bird. Trust me, it’s so worth it!

The Turkey
*Note this recipe is for 18-20lb bird. Just adjust your ingredients for a bigger or smaller bird!
**Note 2: Also if you’re going with a frozen bird (aka turkey), give it ample time to defrost. You’ll need approximately 24 hours for every 4-5 lbs of the bird.

What you’ll need:
A large plastic bag, optional. (this is for the brining process. I’ve used a stock pot as well)
A platter or pan that fits the turkey in the fridge (again, that stock pot works great)
Kitchen Twine (sadly I don’t always have this on hand)
A roasting pan that fits the turkey (and in your oven! Keep that in mind!!)
A probe-style meat thermometer (is extra handy)
A turkey, thawed
Lots of Kosher Salt
1 1/2 lb bacon
1/2 lb butter
Fresh herbs: sage, thyme, oregano, parsley, marjoram, rosemary
Roasting vegetables: carrots, celery, onions, apples

Brining the turkey:
A simple dry brine works exceptionally well on this turkey. Take a tip, don’t brine more than 24 hours in advance or the turkey gets WAY to salty. Remove all the interior parts of the bird and throw away or place in your freezer to make stock with later or go ahead and save for Thanksgiving day and use to make giblet gravy.

Wash the bird well, both inside and out. Get in there and really scrub the bird. Place the bird in your brining bag or pot and rub down with kosher salt. Don’t be stingy. Coat that bird both inside and out. Wash your hands, then place the bird in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Thoroughly wash your sink and all around your sink and your hands again too. Never to sorry to be safe!

For the Herb Butter Mixture:
This can be made up to a week in advance. This is handy to note, especially if you’re planning on lunch so you have to get up at the butt crack of dawn (that’s earlier than the crack of dawn) to start your bird to cooking. It also allows your herbs to meld into that butter.

Use a food processor. It is your friend! Add 1/2lb raw bacon slices, 1/2 lb butter, and generous handfuls of the herbs. I don’t have exact measurements of the herbs, just use your best guess. Ours is never quite the same there. Once you have everything added, place the lid on the food processor and blend together until it makes a smooth paste.
*Note: if made in advance, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Pull it out about 30 minutes before using it so it can come to room temperature the day of Thanksgiving.

Preparing the Turkey, “The Star of the show,” the day of:

Make sure your butter is room temperature. 
While the butter is coming to room temperature, bring the turkey out of the fridge and wash him thoroughly. Why the turkey is a he, I have no clue but he is :). Once the turkey is cleaned, place him breast side up on a cutting board or large platter to use for preparation. Wash your sink.
Take the pop-up timer out of your bird, it’s useless!
Wash your hands and prepare to get messy. If you can have a second pair of hands available for help, that is extremely handy! Take your rings and watch off, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to play with your food! Now gently pry the skin away from the bird without tearing it hopefully. You want to stick your hands between the meat and skin because you’re going to be placing the butter mixture between the skin and the meat. Keep going all the way to the neck and over the legs. Don’t leave any place unturned. Don’t worry if the skin accidentally gets torn, you’ll fix that with the bacon blanket.
Now, take huge handfuls of butter and rub the flesh of the bird down underneath the skin. You’ll want to use about 3/4 of the bacon butter. Then press the skin down on the butter; this helps to spread the butter evenly under the skin. Next, rub the remaining butter on the outside of the bird in a thin layer, paying particular attention to the legs as they won’t be covered by the bacon blanket.
Not only does the bacon blanket make your bird have a nice presentation factor, but it helps add an extra layer to keep the turkey from drying out. Plus, bonus, who doesn’t like a little bacon dripping in their gravy?!?!
We tend to use thick cut bacon because as the bacon cooks, it will shrink a little. Plan on about a pound of bacon. This is a rough estimate, sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less. Don’t skimp.
Placing the bacon on the bird:
Think of making a cherry pie, the lattice work that goes in to the top of the pie. You’re going to do this lattice work with the bacon. There’s 2 ways to do this… 1) place directly on the bird as you’re doing your lattice work, 2) do the lattice work on parchment paper and then place on the bird. We’ve had luck with both. The parchment paper seems to be a little easier except you have to flip the parchment paper and you have to get the right amount of bacon.
Lay one strip crosswise over the breast then one lengthwise. Keep going, folding up the strips already placed to fit the new pieces under. The bacon will shrink when you cook the bird, so place the strips close together and use as many as you can fit.
This is where the kitchen twine comes in handy. Tie the legs of the bird together with the kitchen twine. When you’ve got the bacon all woven, wash your hands thoroughly. (also think about buying stock in soap… just saying.. haha)

The bacon blanket can be done the night before if you’re doing lunch so you’re not having to get up so early. This isn’t a quick process but so totally worth it. Just make sure the bird on the platter fits in your fridge.

Cooking the bird:

The bird will be cooked in two different temperatures.
First preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Remember, remove the extra rack in your oven if you need to so the bird fits. Do that before the oven is hot!
Now to make your clean up easier, because who wants to clean up after all day cooking… line your pan with heavy duty aluminum foil.
Chop the root vegetables up. You want very aromatic root vegetables so celery, carrots, onions, and apples. These are great after they’ve roasted all day too! Take the outside skins and tops off the carrots, the celery can be chopped into smaller bits or not, your choice. Peel the outside paper off onions and halve or quarter. Chop the apples in halves and quarters, remove the stems and seeds. Stuff the vegetables into the cavity of the bird and also place them on the bottom for the bird to have things to sit on while it cooks.
Go ahead and mold a piece of foil over the top of the bird so that if it starts to get to brown, you have the foil ready to place on the bird.
Roasting the turkey:

Place the turkey in the 450 degree oven for 30 minutes, then lower the heat to 375˚F for the rest of the cooking process. This is where if you have a digital probe, use it! stick the probe in the deepest part of the breast and you can place the reader up on the counter. It will chime when the bird is fully cooked. Make sure you don’t go so deep you hit the bone. You will want the turkey cooked to an internal 165˚F.
If the turkey and bacon start to get to brown, this is where you use your aluminum foil “cap”.
So roughly for a 20lb turkey, you’re looking at about 4-4 1/2 hours. Leave yourself some wiggle room. The turkey will wait but hungry people won’t.
Carving the “Star of the Show”:

You spent all morning cooking, let someone else cut up the masterpiece. haha. 
Okay so once the bird is fully cooked, place it out for family and friends to admire and gawk over. Let them pat you on the back for you perfect turkey. Then just before you’re ready to eat, cut the bird up. Again, I say let the “professionals” do that :).
Make sure to keep the drippings to add to yummy gravy!!
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Dude’s Daylight Donuts {Joplin, MO}

I’ve been on the hunt for the best donuts. Have I found them? Maybe…. But I can tell you one things for sure… these donuts are AWESOME! And they’re Daylight Donuts so they should be like the ones we get from Daylight Donuts in Carthage, but they aren’t.

A while ago I asked my dad where his favorite donuts were from and we got into a huge discussion. Then last week he had to be in Joplin for some work training. On his way from training to work, he brought a donut by for us to try from Dude’s Donuts. The next day was Wednesday. That’s Donut Day :). So we decided to try donuts from there.

OMG, they were all warm. Can you believe that? Warm Donuts. Wow! I got a Maple Bar and hubby got a Chocolate Bar. Then we got donut holes, then donuts. No they aren’t all for us. We share. But neither of us shared the maple/chocolate bar. We’re not that nice :).

The place we get donuts at in Carthage only has enough donut holes for the number of doughnuts they make that day, but Dude’s makes donut holes special. OMG. I love donut holes.

These were even Excellent.

One thing to note… this is another one of those donut places that only accepts cash. Make sure if you go, you have cash or you’ll be crying!

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Newton County Christmas for Kids & Chili/Non-Chili Cookoff and Silent Auction

Imagine it’s Christmas morning. You’re laying under the covers and wondering just exactly what Santa has brought and left for you under the Christmas tree. Now, imagine that your family has stumbled across some hardship in the form of loss of jobs, extreme medical bills, etc. Christmas might seem like just another grim morning when you wake up. Enter the NewtonCounty Christmas for Kids organization.
What exactly is Newton County Christmas forKids? We are a non-profit organization run solely on the generous donations to help make a better Christmas for the less fortunate kids in Newton County. The Newton County Christmas for Kids is made up of volunteers from the local Newton County Fire Departments, Newton County Ambulance, and the Newton County Rescue and Recovery groups.
With local support, the Newton County Christmas for Kids helps over 190 children from Granby, Neosho, and Joplin Head Start with gifts at their Christmas parties each year as well as helping over 400 children in Newton County have a better Christmas each year. All donations are used to supply toys at Christmas for the less fortunate Children of Newton County.

Now that you have a history of what Newton County Christmas for Kids is, let me tell you about one of the fundraising events coming up October 22, 2016… Drum roll please…. The 4th Annual Newton County Christmas for Kids Chili/Non-Chili Cookoff and Silent Auction.
Four years ago we set off to come up with a way to help raise funds for the Newton County Christmas for Kids fund. The idea of a chili cookoff was presented, put into action, and here we are on the 4th annual chili cookoff.

Rules for the Chili Contest:

A new category that has been added this year is the Non-Chili Category. Make sure to read the rules and enter a Non-Chili category!!

For fun, let’s check out the past winners:

We would love to see your face on the 2016 photo! Please be sure to mark this event on your calendars!!

And I also mentioned a silent auction. We are currently collecting donation items for the silent auction. As of now, these are the items that we have, but please not these are NOT ALL THE ITEMS. I repeat, these are not all the items and the best way to keep up on the newest addition of items is to like our Facebook page. As items are being donated, the Facebook page is being updated!

Remember, all proceeds and donations go to making a better Christmas for the Children of Newton County.

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D’Arpino’s Italian Cafe {Springfield, MO}

Back in 2009 I had a big group of friends that got together once a month and tried new restaurants. The girls liked to dress up so it was usually business casual or higher in dress, we tried to pick restaurants that were local to the area versus being a chain restaurant, and we went back and forth between the Joplin area and the Springfield Area. 12 Restaurants and I made 11 of them. D’Arpino’s Italian Cafe on National in Springfield was one of the places that we went to.

Jump forward to 2016, about a week ago or so, and a sort of date night, but the baby was with us, and Mark and I were trying to decide where to eat. Our normal go to in Springfield is Zio’s but we wanted something a little different. We threw out this suggestion and that and eventually landed on D’Arpino’s and asked why we’d only been there the one time.

It was settled, we were going to D’Arpino’s. Oh and the answer to why we’d only been there once… well because we usually go to Zio’s because we like it that much. But after this night, D’Arpino’s is back on the radar.

Each of our meals started out with a salad. We were asked what kind of dressing we’d like… Ranch because is there any other :). haha. The salad was good. I didn’t really miss the cheese (although there was sprinkled Parmesan Cheese) and croutons. The Kalamata olives were a great addition although I gave most of mine to Mark because he likes them a bit better than I do. I’m newer to the liking Olives bandwagon.

We also started with bread sticks. These bread sticks are good. We got more to go with our meal. I like carbs and these were definitely worth it.

We actually started with an appetizer. We got the Stuffed Pepperoni Bread. This stuff could have been a meal it was so good. It was bread stuffed with pepperoni and Mozzarella cheese… can you get any better? Definitely a good choice.

I went with the Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken. It was a chicken breast stuffed with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese, breaded and pan fried, served over a bed of Fettuccine topped with Alfredo Sauce. This was excellent, don’t get me wrong, but I think they could have cut back on the Afredo sauce and it would have been just as good. I love Alfredo but I felt like it over powered the excellent chicken. And i’m telling you, it was good as is.

Hubby went with a special. It was Seafood Ravioli in a red sauce and cheese. He was exceptionally pleased. I tried a bite, but not being crazy about seafood, it was a little fishy tasting to me. He liked it so much though, he ate every last bite.

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RSV Paint {Joplin, MO}

A blog that I’ve followed for years, Jill’s World, up in Canada started discussing how she and her friends were attending a paint night. I wondered what that was. Basically, she and a group of friends go to a place, learn to paint, and have fun. How awesome is that I thought. I figured something like that had to exist here in Southwest Missouri, right? I mean we’re not always the most cultural people but….

Not long after I read one of Jill’s posts, my friend Danielle asked if I’d be interested in doing that. I said sure but I’m not artistic at all! That’s no joke! Well nothing came about from that conversation. I didn’t know where to find it and she never said anything about it again so the dream kind of died… until…

My friend Jody posted something on Facebook one day that had something to do with a paint night. I shot her a message and asked if she knew anything about it and had done it. She said no, but she wanted to, so again, we started pursuing it, but this time she knew of a place in Joplin called RSV Paint.

So basically you go on line, sign up for a class, show up, and it’s a date! Now it stands for:

Relax. They say don’t get too uptight about your painting. Easier said than done….

Sip. Yes, you can sip wine, alcohol, do a shot, whatever. If you bring your own, there is a $5 cork fee for a bottle of wine or every 6 pack of beer you bring.

Visit. You’re amongst friends. We even had our instructor visiting with us about Kayaking, Canoeing, Fishing, SCUBA diving, and Riding horses.

and lastly Paint. Because well that’s the reason you’re there….

The classroom is set up where the instructor is at front instructing you on where to paint the next thing. I’ll admit, I was a bit intimidated at first, but like I stated above, I don’t really have artistic abilities. I’ve always wanted them, just lacked them.

Jody and I happened to be the only 2 students in class that night so we got VIP attention :). It was kind of fun, but I definitely want to attend when there are more people. One thing you note when you’re signing up is who you’d like to sit by, whether it be a party you’re with or the one person you’re with.

There is a calendar that shows all the different pictures you can come learn to paint. This wasn’t our initial first thought, but I had to back out on the first date we chose because I forgot I had prior commitments so we went on this night which was one of our second choices. We had a list of like 5 or 6 we liked/wanted to do so that hopefully one date would work with both of our schedules. Normally my schedule is so flexible it’s sad, but I just so happened to have plans the one night we chose initially. Isn’t that how it always works?

Karen was our instructor. She walked us through how to start and where to go next. She kept saying that art is to be seen from a distance so if we thought we didn’t like it, step back and reassess. At this point I accidentally mixed blue and orange which are complimentary colors but make a yuck brown color when mixed together and my picture was fairly dark. I was worried. It worked out though, we fixed it all.

Then it was time to add the trees into the horizon. We lightened up a spot for my fisherman dude and fixed that yucky brown. And yes I said fisherman dude :). Just keeping it real :).

Finally, we added in the Fisherman. I still think where we put him in my picture is a bit dark, but it’s supposed to be sunset and he’s a silhouette so I think it works. I have absolutely no artistic abilities. I can barely draw a stick figure and I painted this. I kept making a reference to Girl Meets World and Riley’s Purple cat that I might be able to draw that. If you don’t know what that is, google it. You’ll be amazed :).

Karen took pictures of us throughout the night for the Facebook page but she also took finished pictures.

And one last photo with a goofy face. This is one to make my mother happy. She just loves with I stick my tongue out in pictures… Whatever… it just happens sometimes. And this was my goofy face :).

I had so much fun, now I want to go again and learn to paint even more.

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The Original Gringos {Webb City, MO}

Did you know that yesterday was Taco Tuesday? It was also National Taco Day (Oct. 4). What does that mean? Well obviously you need to have Tacos for dinner. I guess lunch would have sufficed or better yet, both meals! :). My friend Jody met me at Gringos in Webb City for dinner. We know the owner and he came and talked to us a little bit. I mentioned how crazy it was to get into the parking lot just to park and he said that it’s typically like that on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Tuesdays there is a special for 2 Tacos since it is after all Taco Tuesday. Friday’s the special is Taco Salad. I’m not sure what was Saturday’s draw. I didn’t pay attention to the menu I guess.

Here’s the thing though, someone asked on Jody’s Facebook where the best place in Joplin is to get Tacos and we were like Webb City. That would be Webb City Gringos in case you wondered. It really is.

These tacos are awesome. I personally like crunchy tacos. The cheese is partially the whole reason for the taco but truthfully, the tacos are awesome. And my drink. I know you can’t see it but if you’re wondering what it is… Brown Sugar Sweet Tea. Yes, Brown Sugar Sweet Tea. The only place in town to serve it. Yum!

If it hadn’t been Taco Tuesday and/or National Taco day, my food of choice is this… Waffle Nachos. It’s everything on Nachos but on Waffle Fries.

So what am I telling you? Go. Eat. Here. NOW! You can thank me later!!

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10 Fall Cleaning Ideas

Today is the first day of Fall. Does anyone think this year went by in a whirlwind? Wow! I can’t believe it but before we know, it’ll be Halloween, then Thanksgiving, and then Winter which means Christmas. Let’s throw in a couple birthdays in that mix and a couple anniversaries and Bam, the year will come to New Years Eve and an end. We’ll be at 2017. Wow!

And this has been quite the interesting year for my family and me. But let’s not focus on that today. Instead, I’d like to offer up 10 Fall Cleaning Ideas to help make your transition into the Fall Season a little easier!

1. I hear winter is going to be tough this year, so you might want to Tighten/Secure the hatches! Make sure to look for gaps or seals in and around your doors and windows as well as just make sure you don’t have any gaps in your foundation, etc. If you do, use some caulk or weatherstripping to fix or else call a professional to come make sure your house is in tip top shape!

2. Clean that chimney. Your Chimney has sat vacant all summer… or so you think. If you don’t have a cap on the top, a bird could very easily have gotten in there to create a home. Or better yet, you might find that there is a crack in the fireplace or chimney. My parents had that unfortunate incident happen and we had to get it fixed before they were able to use their fireplace. Better to be safe than sorry!

3. For once put your mind to the gutter… as in Clean out the gutters. Make sure to clean all the leaves and gunk out of the gutters. If you’re feeling real ambitious you can put mesh covers over the gutters to prevent having to do this in the future.

4. Check for Damage to your rooftop. Remember, just around the corner Santa will be bringing in his sleigh and reindeer. Make sure he has a safe landing space. Also, you don’t want a minor problem on the roof to become a major problem!

5. Drain, unplug, remove water from ponds, bird baths, bird feeders, etc. And your water hose, especially if your water hose drains back into your house to keep the hydrant from freezing, because you’ll actually break pipes.

6. [In my Joey Gladstone’s best voice] Cut it out. Meaning, take that lawnmower for one last spin before placing it in the garage for the winter. Also take extra care of that lawnmower and winterize it! Hopefully by this point you’ll be done mowing the grass for the year.

7. Clean the furnace. Especially if this is your only source of heat for your house, but even if it is secondary. You want it to be up and running efficiently, especially with below frigid temperatures coming soon!

8. Steam Time. Check the humidifiers. With the drier air, make sure your humidifier is working properly. Your nose will thank you! Make sure to remove any hard water deposits from your humidifier.

9. Rake and destroy leaves. It’s time to start thinking about raking those leaves up. Make sure you let the family play in them and they’re a great opportunity for pictures, so don’t forget the camera!

10. Check batteries. Setting yourself a reminder to check batteries in smoke detectors and CO2 monitors twice a year is a good thing. One time to do it is Spring and Fall. Why not. Hey, if you want, check them 4 times per year. Better to be safe than sorry. Also check the batteries in your vehicles with the upcoming winter and flashlights. Flashlights are necessary if freak ice storms take out your power for a week… been there done that.

So what other tips am I missing?

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Barton County Rescue & Recover and Smokin Joe’s BBQ

I have friends on the Barton County Rescue and Recovery team. Do you know what they are? Go get lost… they’ll find you. ha! Just kidding. They are a search and rescue team that is funded through donations and fundraisers. It is comprised of volunteers and they are part of the Barton County Emergency Management system. They specialize in swift water rescues, public safety diving, and land based search and rescue.

I mentioned that they run off donations and fundraisers. Well Smokin Joe’s BBQ located in Liberal, Missouri, is teaming up with the Barton County Rescue and Recovery team this Saturday during the Lamar City Wide Garage Sale to help keep people fed while they’re out finding their bargains!

They will be set up at Lamar First Assembly Church at 1200 Mill Street in Lamar, Missouri, from 6am until 4pm. Now who wants to eat BBQ at 6am you might be thinking… well, I’ll bet you can get some good smells from the BBQ

but, from 6am until they are gone you’ll also be able to try a Hurt’s Donut. Then at 10am until 4pm, the smells you’ll get will be able to be purchased and eaten all while helping your Barton County Rescue and Recovery team out.

Lamar First Assembly Church is located on the corner of 12th Street (hwy 160 which is the main drag in Lamar) and Mill Street. They’ll have your eating needs covered before, during, and after the bargain hunting!


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Easy Peasy Pancakes

Conversation at my house with a toddler:

Me: what do you want for breakfast?
Toddler: Pancakes
So I dig up all the stuff for pancakes. While they’re cooking we have a breakdown of “I Want Pacakes!”
Me: Okay they’re cooking.
Pancakes are done. I put butter and syrup on them and cut them up. Place her in her high chair.
takes one bite, “I don’t like pancakes. I done.”

These pancakes are so easy and luckily she’s cute, I just said okay, ate mine, and let her down. These pancakes, they’re awesome, I promise. Toddler’s are just finicky. One minute she “loves” sweet tea and the next minute she doesn’t like it, yet all she’ll drink is sweet tea. I don’t understand.

These pancakes are so good, they should be illegal and really no recipe is needed, they’re that easy. They’re better than that box mix you get at the store. Just looking at these, maybe we’ll have pancakes for breakfast… or maybe I will and the toddler can have some fruit snacks or something. Maybe she won’t like those today either….

Easy Peasy Pancakes
1 1/2 cups flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
1 tbsp butter, melted

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together. Mix well, then make a well in the center of the mix and add the milk, egg, and melted butter. Combine until smooth.

Cook pancakes over medium heat on a stove or use a griddle (my fave way).

Add butter and syrup. Enjoy!

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