Friday, November 29, 2013

8 Recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers

Happy post-Thanksgiving, y'all!  Hope yours was delicious and Today is so many different things, and it all depends upon whom  you ask.

Black Friday.  May the force be with you, brave shoppers.

Cleaning day.  Because who really wants to do dishes on Thanksgiving night?

Gym day.  Indulge and enjoy!  And then sweat a little... so you can indulge in leftovers.

Decorating day.  Christmas season is officially here... squee!

Turkey sandwich day.  To many, leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving.

But, the leftovers need not be boring.  Move over, basic turkey and mayo sandwiches.  Here are some over the top and creative turkey sandwiches, plus a few more recipes to spice up the mountain of turkey meat hanging out your fridge just waiting to be eaten

Not your mama's turkey sandwiches

Cozy soups by the spoonful - swap out the shredded/diced chicken for turkey!

Casseroles - simply use shredded white and dark meat in place of the original protein

Whatever today is for you, I hope it's enjoyable.  Savor the holiday weekend!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

MTO breakfast egg sandwiches

I first posted this recipe over 3 years ago in 2010, and it's still one of our favorite breakfast options at home.  It's quick and easy (perfect for those still buzzing about getting ready) and doesn't require any fancy ingredients.  Plus, it can be personalized to suit any appetite: only egg whites, various cheeses and breads, hot sauce, etc.  I thought you guys would appreciate one more fuss-free breakfast option to keep you, your family, and guests satisfied on today and/tomorrow morning before the big turkey feast.  Have it your way!  

And, from our home to yours, I wish all of you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!  :)

Here's (most of) the original post and how to make it:

After succumbing to laziness, sore muscles, and a serious lack of sleep on Monday morning and skipping my run, my sneaks and I returned to glory this morning.  Two miles, though they were a little slower than usual.  Hey, it's the thought that counts, right?

After a good shower, I needed a breakfast that counted for some serious nutrition for my morning: a breakfast sandwich.  And no, I didn't run back out to the Einstein's Bagels, Panera Bread, or even Wendy's just down the street from me.  I whipped up my protein packed meal in my own kitchen.

Remember that breakfast panini that I got last year sometime? "This is so much better than that!"  And no, I can't think of a better way to start your day than by watching a clip like that :)

Breakfast sandwich

Coat small (cereal size will do) microwave-safe bowl in nonstick spray.

Crack and gently whisk one egg in bowl, just enough to mix yolk and white.

Season with salt and pepper, if you like.  "Nuke" egg in bowl for roughly 1 minute (if you have a super strong microwave, it may be closer to 50 seconds).  While it's microwaving, toast two slices of bread, a bagel, or a sandwich thin (what I used).

Remove egg (it should slide right out of the bowl) onto one side of whatever you've toasted.  Add a slice of your favorite cheese, I used cheddar, but American or any other kind will do.

Add some spinach or maybe a slice of tomato or two, if you like.  Top with other half of sandwich thin and take a second to admire the beauty of what you've just created... and hey, it's only 7:15!

Imagine what you can do the rest of the day.  Oh goodness, look at that cheese oozing out and the crunch of the bread and the spinach.  Yum!

Bonus -- you've only dirtied three items: the egg bowl, a fork, and your final plate.  Double that if you had settled for a much more time-consuming omelet.  Happy hump day!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thankful for an easy Crock Pot breakfast!

Heading out to the store for the last-minute trip to pick up the items you forgot?

Yeah, we've all done it.  I'll probably be there tomorrow afternoon with my mom.  Every year we make this trip and laugh at the things we've forgotten.  List of passed over items in the past include cranberry sauce, butter, onions, and even stuffing mix -- eek!  Any guesses as to what we'll forget this year?

From one forgetful Fran to another, here's one more recipe for ya to make sure breakfast isn't overlooked:

Crock Pot breakfast casserole!

Add a few more things to that list to have a fuss-free and satisfying breakfast on Thursday morning that'll hold everyone over until the big meal.

Bonus: It cooks overnight in the Crock Pot and won't take up any valuable counter space or pots and pans.  In our house, kitchen tools are at a premium on Thanksgiving day.

Set it and forget it until dawn, then scoop out a big helping and chow down.  It's like a breakfast lasagna with layers of potatoes, eggs, sausage, and cheese.  The perfect meal to fuel a day of cooking!

...and more eating :)

Monday, November 25, 2013

5 ingredient Crock Pot ham & bean soup

Ham and navy bean soup is one of my favorite soups in the universe.  I've been eating it since I was young, when my dear mom made it.  As soon as I moved out and had to fend for myself, I started making it, too.

For those keeping track, that's over 25 years of soup enjoyment, 10 years of which were thanks to yours truly, and zero mention of it in over 4 years of blogging.  To sum it up, shame on me for not sharing.

This is the ultimate everyday soup.  Regardless of the rhyme or reason, it's one of those recipes that warrants the reaction, "That would be perfect!"

Friday, November 22, 2013

30 Thanksgiving side & dessert recipes

Happy Friday to all of you!  Oddly enough, today seems like Monday, thanks to back-to-back weeknights out and about.

My dad was lucky enough to score tickets for the Pitt basketball game on Wednesday night.  It was his first game and mine for many years, so we had a blast cheering for our opposing alma maters.  Then, last night was the long-awaited girls' night out for dinner and Potted Potter!  Our food at Meat & Potatoes was totally worth the hype, and the show itself was hilarious.  The two actors/comedians were funny and energetic and most likely exhausted after cramming all 7 books into a 70 minute show.

This weekend will be a relaxing one; the calm before the delicious storm, if you will.  The only thing on our agenda is light-up night, which is near and dear to my heart.  Other than that, we'll just be bumming around and possibly catching up on laundry.  Like so many of you, we'll hit the grocery store to stock up on a few things for the Thanksgiving meal.  We're headed to my parents' house this year, and my mom put me in charge of the green bean casserole (recipe below!) and pumpkin pie.

If you've been reading this week, you know that I've shared with you three rockin' recipes to consider for your Thanksgiving feast: sweet potato biscuits, warm farro salad with butternut squash, hazelnuts, and cranberries, and sweet potato pie.  Basically, everything but the turkey!  Before you brave the crowds and head to the store, here are 30 more recipes for you to consider adding to your Thanksgiving day spread.  There's something to please every palate.  Bon appetit and bon weekend!

Sumptuous Sides

Perfect Pies

Delicious Desserts

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sweet potato pie

It's Thursday and you know what that means.  Exactly one week from today is Thanksgiving!  The day when home cooks across America will be glazing, stuffing, roasting, and even frying turkeys of all sizes for the ultimate feast.  I cannot wait!

Today is also the third and final day of new recipes for delicious dishes to add to your turkey day buffet.  The theme is "Everything But The Turkey" since the bird is the easiest and most obvious component of the meal.  Plus, side dishes and desserts afford us the chance to be creative.

So far this week, I've given you recipes for fluffy sweet potato biscuits and irresistable warm farro salad with butternut squash, hazelnuts, and cranberries.  Today is time for dessert, last but most certainly not least.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Everything but the turkey: Farro with butternut squash & cranberries

It's day #2 of "Everything but the turkey" week around here, and boy, have I got a doozy of a recipe for you.  The bread basket is taken care of, thanks to the fluffiest sweet potato biscuits I shared with you on Monday.

Today's recipe is a true side dish that's got a little something to please everybody.  It's packed with as many mouth-watering flavors as it is healthy ingredients.  The name is a bit of a mouthful, but you won't be able to stop talking about it once you try it: warm farro salad with butternut squash & hazelnuts! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Everything but the turkey: Sweet potato biscuits

Thanksgiving is just over one week away.  Can you believe it?  No offense to Santa, but the lists made in the next few days are the most important of the year -- the grocery lists!

"Turkey" is probably the top-most entry on that list, but what comes after that?  What delicious foods will keep the turkey company on your plate?  Side dishes seem to vary from one family to the next.  Some recipes are steeped in tradition, having a reserved spot on the buffet for generations and generations.  Other tables look different every year, thanks to inventive new recipes and appetites for change.

I have a tiny (or monstrous) confession: side dishes are my favorite part of the Thanksgiving spread!  Of course, I enjoy and devour my fair share of turkey (Team White Meat!), but my heart belongs to the supporting cast.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Five: Pre-turkey amusement

It's been one heck of a week, hasn't it?  I feel like every last hour has been devoted to this, that, and the other thing, leaving me only a few idle moments to be spontaneous.  I enjoyed those moments the best way I knew how: gazing outside at the first snow (!) of the season and curling up on the couch to watch a little TV.  Is there a better hour of television than the New Girl/The Mindy Project block on Fox Tuesday nights?  I think not!

Despite eating breakfast standing up twice and mastering the art of the 5 minute shower (how do some women do this every day?  I salute you!), I'm feeling full of energy heading into the weekend.  After looking at the calendar, I'm hoping to maintain this Energizer Bunny feeling for the next two weeks.  We've got so much planned before the turkey even hits the table.  Here is this week's Friday Five: mega fun activities leading up to Thanksgiving!  

1. Chili after church - This weekend is Commitment Sunday, when members pledge their tithings for the next year.  After the service, everyone gathers for fellowship and a potluck to feast on chili, cornbread, and desserts.  Last year there were nearly 30 Crock Pots filled to the brim with piping hot chili of all varieties.  Can you imagine how it smelled?!  The most unique I saw was elk chili.  I'm contributing a double batch of my favorite pumpkin cornbread since it was such a hit last year.  Check out any one of my chili recipes to have a feast of your own this weekend!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cashew Crunch Rice Krispie treats

Would you believe me if I said I forgot how great Rice Krispie treats are?

I'm not kidding, I swear!  And no, I don't have amnesia.

I just tend to get caught up in new and fanciful desserts.  Basically, shiny object syndrome with regards to sweets.  There isn't enough time or room in my stomach for all of my sugar-coated ideas!  Food blogger problems, right?

But seriously.  Rice Krispie treats are the best.  I admit they aren't typically the first thing that comes to mind when I'm brainstorming, though I can't for the life of me figure out why.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Orange balsamic slow cooker roast

My husband will eat almost anything I make, from the dainty to the exotic and hard to pronounce.  His is an appetite that's very easy to please.  But, when push comes to shove, his appetite is easily satisfied.  When I ask what he wants for dinner, his response is simple and predictable: "Beef and potatoes."

How terribly unoriginal and stereotypically male, right?

Let's be clear about one thing: I love beef.  Love love love it!  There's nothing like it.  No amount of salmon in the world can satisfy me when I'm craving beef.  That's easy to see considering the umpteen recipes featuring ground beef that I've posted over the years.  Sandwiches, lasagna, sauces, meatballs and meatloaves!

Personally, I prefer to eat my beef in the form of a burger.  It's no coincidence that burgers come with fluffy rolls, sauce, and usually cheese.  Always cheese, in my case. I'll take a burger over a steak any day of the week.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fast Friday: Creamy avocado pasta with peas

How's everybody feeling?  It's Friday, and I'm feelin' free!  So free that I'm going to confess a few things to you.  These are my confessions.  [Cue the Usher tunes.]

On Wednesday this week, November 6th, it was a balmy and sunny 72 degrees here in Pittsburgh.  It was lovely and nice and made for a pleasant lunchtime walk!


I prefer the cooler and grayer weather of yesterday and today, at least this time of year.  My summer clothes were stashed weeks ago, and I'm totally enjoying getting reacquainted with my thick sweaters and plush scarves.

Talk of bundling up leads to my next confession.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cookbook giveaway + pumpkin biscottini!

***This contest is closed.  Congratulations to Valerie, the winner!***

(If this is your first visit here, welcome and thanks for stopping by!)

It's time to transition from spooky Halloween treats to cozy Thanksgiving feasts, friends!

The sweet writers and food aficionados at the PG Plate & Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently invited me to review a new cookbook that they figured would be right up my alley:

I had the privilege of baking (and devouring) number of treats from the book and every single one has been a showstopper!  To read my full review, click here.

Oh, and did I mention you'll also find a recipe for the most delectable pumpkin biscottini?  I mean, just look at these:

Sweet pumpkin-y goodness.  I really wish I'd baked a double batch of those so I could enjoy some later right this minute.  If you're hungry  for pumpkin biscottini and more bite-size Italian desserts, then I've got some good news for you:

I'm giving away one (1) copy of Maria Bruno Sanchez's new cookbook, Small, Sweet, and Italian: Tiny Tasty Treats from Sweet Maria's Bakery.  Hooray, free stuff!

To enter, leave a comment with your name, e-mail address, and an Italian dessert that you'd love to make in your own kitchen.

Limit one comment per person, please.  You have until Sunday, November 10th, at 11:59 PM EST, to enter.  One winner will be randomly selected using and contacted.  Comments and your e-mail addresses will be deleted after the contest ends.

Good luck and be sure to check out my review of the cookbook and the pumpkin biscottini recipe!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

8 more recipes for leftover Halloween candy!

Looking for some creative ways to use up any lingering Halloween candy?  If my peanut butter blossom cookies or divine M&M frosting for cupcakes didn't polish off the surplus -- can we be neighbors, by the way? --  here are 8 more fantastic recipes that'll satisfy your sweet tooth!

Crispy Butterfinger cookies

Butterfinger caramel bars 

Pretzel-bottom Snickers blondies
Trail mix Rice Krispie treats

M&M cookies

Peanut butter cup crunch brownies

Two ingredient ice cream - add any and all candy you've got!

Nutella Kiss cookies

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

M&M frosted cupcakes

Raise your hand if you've got Halloween candy lying around the house.  And by "lying around the house" I mean "desperately stashed in cabinets to get it out of sight."

We don't get trick-or-treaters in our apartment building, but you wouldn't know it from looking at our stash of candy.  Office celebrations and his and hers treat bags from my sweet mother (thanks, Mom!) have kept us sugar-coated for the better part of a week.

A week that also saw the return of the magical migrating candy bowl.  You know how it goes, don't you?

The candy bowl initially occupied the entry way table.  Nothing says "Welcome home!" quite like a piece of chocolate.  Coincidentally, chocolate also says, "So much for that workout!"

Monday, November 4, 2013

Peanut butter candy blossoms

I've had this idea for cookies since early summer but just now got around to making it.  And, for once, it's not because I forgot about it or lost the recipe in the black hole that is my recipe collection.

My decision to wait was a conscious one.  Now that's scary.

It's not like I didn't think about these cookies at least once a week.  Yes, I'm always thinking about food, but these really took center stage for a few months.

I've been enjoying classic peanut blossoms for as long as I can remember, and they come with such wonderful memories.  My mom makes dozens of them every year around Christmas.  And my dad, always the helpful one, is sure to squash at least two or three of the Kisses atop the cookies to stake his claim.  He jokes that my mom bakes so much for friends and family that we never get to enjoy any cookies for ourselves.  However, let me assure you, we absolutely do get some and devour every last one of them.

Friday, November 1, 2013

October in pictures

Annual trip to Soergel's Orchards for pumpkins, apples, and so many treats!  It was nearly 80 degrees on the day we went.

I can't get over how pretty the grounds are.

Men and fresh apple cider doughnuts.  Serious business, clearly.  None of us could resist them.