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celebrating the abundance

November 27th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

The very first time I did NaBloPoMo, it was in 2007 and I used the theme of ‘Food Holidays’ to blog about every day. Did you know that just about every day of the month, and every month in a year has a national food holiday?

For instance, November is National Pecan Month, Good Nutrition Month, National Peanut Butter Month, National Pepper Month, National Pomegranate Month, Raisin Bread Month and Vegan Month.

{{if you’re interested in learning about ALL the monthly celebrations…. go here}}

I first learned about these many years ago when I worked for a produce company and wrote their weekly marketing report. And having those daily prompts to write about made the very first NaBloPoMo really easy to navigate. Since then, I’ve focused on re-introducing past recipes to everyone.

And my Recipe Index has A LOT to showcase. But lately, my eating habits have turned in a new direction, and by the first of the year [[hopefully... right honey??]] my blog will turn in a new direction too, with a re-worked design and a more streamlined Recipe Index that’s much easier to navigate. And in doing so, I plan to likely wipe out several years worth of posts and recipes that have become irrelevant.

If you haven’t been around this blog long, and let’s face it, blog readers are flighty; they come, stay awhile then flit away to the next best thing. But without that history, it’s easy to consider eliminating what you don’t know is there.  I’ve been writing for 5-1/2 years. No one who hangs with me now goes back that far, and frankly, that’s fine with me. The first few years of this blog are scattered, unfocused and raw; like life itself, really, they lacked any kind of direction and my photos were terrible. I’d no more introduce you to those posts than I would eat a block of Velveeta. So, onward and upward.

There is a lot, each year, that I am so thankful to have in my life, and although it’s been the source of a great deal of angst and hair-twisting anxiety for me, this blog is one of them. In going back over the recipes I’ve collected, I’ve watched my life, and my eating habits unfold, change, grow and mature since 2006. I’ve seen photos turn from something that evokes a cringe and an ‘Oh dear….’ to a gasp and a ‘Wow’. I’ve seen recipes develop, tastes change and habits both form and disappear. Friends have come and gone, and family still opens the site with each new post. My boy has turned from a budding adolescent to a mature young man, and Mike and I covered a lot of ground together through these pages.

There is gratitude this time of year, and then there’s celebration, of the abundance, the fruits of our year of laboring through life, the joys of another bountiful harvest (or so it was, in the past) and it all comes together with feasting and family. The personal harvest this year, for me, has been a new-found level of health and well-being, new friends that are blessing me continually, and a bit more financial security, now that I’m working again. In years past, the last few months on the calendar have been filled with panic and fear. This year, these weeks feel much more calm, with far less anxiety. I’m so grateful for that presence in my life. I’m grateful for the willingness from Griffin to explore and be open to navigating the changes in our kitchen as we embarked on healthier eating; I’m grateful for the farmers who worked so hard to share the bounty with us, and I’m grateful for the ability to stretch, explore and learn about new foods, new ways to consume familiar options and the creativity to make it all delicious, fun and flavorful.

 

 

What’s on YOUR plate this month??

thankful….

November 24th, 2011 | Comments Off

For the many blessings in my life…….

For the abundance that sustains us, the grace that guides us, the joy that fills us, and the friends that warm us.

May you all have a blessed and delicious Thanksgiving!!

 

 


thanksgiving leftovers

November 23rd, 2011 | 2 Comments »

There’s almost as much talk about re-purposing leftovers from Thanksgiving as there is talk of how to prepare the meal. Everyone loves something unique about the Thanksgiving meal; for one person it’s the succulent bird, for another they can’t get enough of the stuffing (or dressing, depending on regional dialect). Someone else loves the potatoes, or the vegetables, or sweet potatoes or dessert.

Thankfully, it’s a meal with appeal. To everyone. One of my favorites aspects of Thanksgiving is the stuffing. I do love a good aromatic, herb infused stuffing and every year I create a masterpiece with cornbread, fresh croutons and herbs, lots of celery and onion and a good dosing of broth. Rarely is it ever the same twice. But this year, because of my work schedule, I made a purchase of prepared stuffing from the deli at the grocery store where I work. I had reservations about this, especially with the final price, but for me, I’ve worked every day for the last week straight. I’ve been on my feet constantly, getting home well after dinner. That’s life in the grocery business. The last thing I want to do tomorrow is rise early in the morning tomorrow and cook all day. Cooking is a pleasure for me, but when I’m worn out, it’s really the last thing I want to do. My boy is willing to help me out this year, and with him being home all day, I can assign him tasks to make tomorrow easier for all of us. Still, I bit the bullet and bought some stuffing to lessen the task list.

But that stuffing, back to the topic at hand, is still a favorite for leftover use. I love to take a handful of it the next day, press it in to a cake and sear it in a pan for breakfast, topping it with a cooked egg. Mashed potatoes are good for this too. Dredge a potato patty in seasoned flour and sear in butter until a golden crust forms. Then flip it and repeat on the other side. A frittata of turkey and any leftover roasted vegetables is another favorite. One year I made a huge pan of roasted root vegetables and had plenty left, so this was breakfast the next day and it was divine.

Cranberry sauce, or any kind of relish or chutney made with cranberries turns in to a delicious spread for bread when making a turkey sandwich. Leftover dinner rolls can be split, toasted and topped with slices of turkey, add a spoonful of cranberries to make an excellent lunch.

Of course, the most popular option for leftovers is soup, especially if you’ve got some wild rice on hand. Turkey wild rice soup was a mainstay in our house after Thanksgiving, always a hearty and creamy welcome to the inevitably chilly days that follow. Got a good White Chicken Chili recipe? Try using turkey instead. Add turkey to regular chili as well, or make a Turkey Tetrazzini. How about Turkey Lasagna? Turkey Enchiladas?

I’ve made a delicious pasta salad with turkey as well, stirring in a spoonful or two of cranberries for that perfect tart flavor. My most favorite Curry Chicken salad is also delicious with turkey.

 

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO RE-PURPOSE YOUR THANKSGIVING LEFTOVERS???

 

Curry Cashew Chicken Salad

2 c. cooked chicken
1/2 c. dried cherries, cranberries or raisins
1/2 c. chopped roasted salted cashews
2 green onions, finely chopped

Dressing:
1/2 c. mayo or preferred creamy spread
2 T. mango chutney or fruit spread of choice
2 t. curry powder
2 t. red wine vinegar
1/4 t. fresh ground pepper
1 t. dijon mustard

Combine chicken, fruit, nuts and onion in bowl. Separately, mix together dressing ingredients and stir until combined and creamy. Pour over salad and stir thoroughly to coat. Chill. Eat.

 

Turkey & Dried Cherry Pasta Salad

1# pasta of choice
2 c. cooked turkey, chopped
1 c. dried cherries (sub cranberries, or even raisins)
1/2 c. minced red onion
1/2 c. minced celery
1/2 c. chopped toasted almonds

Dressing:
1/4 c. powdered sugar
2 T. white vinegar
1-1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 T. cold water
2 T. poppyseeds
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine cooked pasta, turkey, dried fruit, onion, celery and almonds in a bowl. Whisk dressing ingredients together until smooth and pour over pasta mixture, tossing to coat. Serve topped with extra almonds, if desired.

 

What’s on YOUR plate this month??



{{there's only 7 days left of Nablopomo 2011!!}}

round 2

November 26th, 2010 | 3 Comments »

Holidays are always doubly fun when you have in-laws. There’s two Thanksgiving celebrations, and two Christmas gatherings. We juggle, we travel and we eat way too much food in a short amount of time. But that’s the way it is, and the celebrations are always a good time. I’m blessed to have a wonderful and huge clan on Mike’s side of the family tree.

The nice thing about celebrating with the extended in-law family is that I only need to do one dish. For my family, I make the whole spread, and I’m happy to do it. Mostly because they’re so happy to come to my home, eat a good meal and hang out with one another. I love offering them that. Then when it’s all over, I get lots of awesome leftovers to play with. Every year at Thanksgiving, I make an enormous turkey, way more than I have to, and I’m always plotting what gets put together with the excess. This year, even with our 8 people at my house, I made a 20-pound turkey. The remains that my sister-in-law and I pulled off the carcass filled a huge ziploc bag, and left me with visions of turkey wild rice soup, turkey sandwiches and a few bags of meat to go in the freezer for meal time in the months ahead.

And for our next celebration with Mike’s family, all I need to do is bring a pan of roasted root vegetables. That’s a piece of cake. Chop, peel, roast and deliver. It’s almost too easy. That gives me more time to be able to visit with everyone, play with the littlest nieces and hang out with people I love.

Problem is….. I’m still full from yesterday.

Taking a necessary food holiday break

November 26th, 2008 | 2 Comments »

Today is National Cake Day. I’m no cake scrooge, really- I love me a good rich decadent slice of cake. Or two.

It’s just that tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I’m full up of plans to make my regular feast and I just feel like I should take a minute to inhale deeeeeply, stare down the end of NaBloPoMo and steer away from this holiday to be thankful and reverent for a moment about that holiday.

Plus I didn’t make a cake. Not for today, but recently I did make this one, and this one and they were stellar so they may have to do for now.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I mentioned that, right? Are you ready?? I’m getting there. Organization is the key for me to make this a fun and enjoyable holiday with the littlest of stress, so today I am tackling a To-Do list and getting myself together. I do many things to make it easier on myself because even with pretty good cooking skills, it doesn’t mean I want to be chained to the stove, my knives or vegetable peeler while my family sits around, wine glasses in hand and laughter rising ever higher. No- I want to be getting in the thick of that sibling love.

First and foremost, to make my oven as accessible as possible, I started doing my turkey on our gas grill about three or four years ago and I have never looked back. I use the indirect heat method, a double layer of disposable roasting pan and tin foil to cover the bird. I chop apples and onions and stuff the cavity along with pushing copious amounts of sage butter under the skin. I baste occasionally, but generally leave it be. Additions of mixed cherry and apple wood for smoking make the meat so succulent and flavorful that my siblings eyes roll back in their heads. And if I don’t make a HUGE turkey for plenty of leftovers, I am always disappointed because they eat like they’ve starved for a week to get ready. What’s a Thanksgiving dinner without leftovers??

Then there’s mashed potatoes. My family loves them, and the one year that I decided to roast them instead of mashing them, you would have thought I asked them to eat glass. They looked really ticked about it. So I make mashed because I really can’t stand to see them sad that way, although sometimes I just want to say ‘Ya know what?? You’re an adult! Deal with it!’. And yeah, it’s pretty easy to make them mashed. I plan to peel and cook the spuds today, then mash them and reheat them in the oven tomorrow.

For my vegetable, I am roasting garnet yams and carrots. Then I plan to mash those with chopped pears, shredded gouda, chopped nuts-probably pepitas- and then bake it off tomorrow as well. I use pear juice to flavor it, and may add in chopped craisins or currants. This is one of my favorite and easiest vegetable dishes. I do most of it today. It’s super delicious and healthy too.

Dessert will be a bowl of my famous Chocolate Pudding, and maybe a Lemon Cream Pie.

So that’s my holiday meal in a nutshell- pretty straightforward and uncomplicated. I love that the food nurtures my family, and the atmosphere in our house is so festive and fun when they’re here. I really look forward to it. I very thankful for them; that their health is good and they’re close by, and that we all enjoy our time together. I’m thankful for work to keep us busy and the love of our big huge loving family to keep our hearts full. I very thankful for all my wonderful friends, both here in town and those who lately I have rediscovered through the magic of the Internet (and Facebook). I hope your Thanksgiving holiday brings you many blessings of good food and wonderful family.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!! May your turkey be moist and your smiles bright!

nablopomo21