Wednesday, November 26, 2014

DIY: Homemade turkey stock in the slow cooker

Whatever you're doing right now -- reviewing tomorrow's cooking schedule, giving the pillows one more fluff, or showering off the pre-company sweat that's earned from the last-minute cleaning of the house -- I beg of you to stop.


Stop and make both a mental and literal note to do one more thing tomorrow on Thanksgiving: SAVE THE TURKEY CARCASS!

I'm sorry for yelling.  Forgive me.  It's because you're my friends, and I love you.  And friends don't let friends throw away perfectly useful turkey carcasses.

I'm saying carcass a lot.  Forgive me for that, too.

You're going to want the scraps because I'm about to tell you how to make the quickest and easiest homemade turkey stock ever.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Meal plan: Week of 11/16-11/22

Weekly Meals: November 16th - 22nd

Sunday: Salmon burgers with roasted green beans
Monday: (Out to Butterjoint)
Tuesday: Grilled chicken with baked sweet potato & steamed broccoli
Wednesday: (Out to Mad Mex)
Thursday: Pasta with chicken, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes & spinach
Friday: Slow cooker beef stew with biscuits
Saturday: (Tailgating)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Five: 20 Thanksgiving recipes!

TGIF!  How was your week?  It was a 5-day-er, but next week is a shorty.  Hooray for that!  It's been a busy one around here since I've been cooking and baking up a (delicious) storm, as well as getting things together for a jam-packed weekend and travel-filled holiday week.  The last home Pitt football game of the season is tomorrow, a baby shower and Friendsgiving party on Sunday, and we're hosting friends for a laidback board game night this evening.  If dinner goes as planned, I'll have another slow cooker recipe coming your way the week after Thanksgiving.  What!

Speaking of Thanksgiving (who isn't at this point?), I realize it's been a while since I posted on a Friday, so I wanted to make things up to you with an extra special themed Friday Five post.  Like recipes over the past week, this one covers everything but the turkey.  In case you missed it, I made cranberry & lime salsa, rosemary & garlic roasted mushrooms, and pumpkin cupcakes with gingersnap cookie crusts and marshmallow frosting.  All incredible, BTW!

For those of you still looking to complete the turkey day menu, here are my favorite recipes to consider serving family and friends for breakfast, appetizers, sides, and dessert.  Friday 5 x 5 x 5 x 5, if you will.  Enjoy! :)

Breakfasts (all can be made or assembled the night before!)
1. Crock Pot breakfast casserole (gluten-free)
2. Banana muffins
3. Quiche: mushroom cheddar spinach or broccoli cheddar
4. Peanut butter granola - serve with fruit and yogurt for a DIY breakfast
5. Breakfast apple granola crisp

1. Bacon, cheddar & spinach pinwheels
2. Matt's ranch pretzels
3. Bacon-wrapped water chestnuts
4. White bean dip (gluten-free & vegan)
5. Three-layer salsa, guacamole & bean dip (gluten-free & vegan)

1. Sweet potato biscuits
2. Green bean casserole (from scratch!)
3. Farro salad with butternut squash, cranberries & spinach
4. Peas with pancetta & shallots
5. Easy homemade cranberry sauce

1. Sweet potato pie
2. Pumpkin gooey butter bars
3. Apple crumb pie
4. Mini pumpkin whoopie pies
5. Chocolate chip pecan pie

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pumpkin cupcakes with gingersnap crusts & marshmallow frosting

One week from tomorrow, Matt and I will pile into my parents' Jeep and drive to Maryland for Thanksgiving.  I'm so excited! see family, you guys.  Not for food.

(Okay, a little bit excited for the food.)

The number of family members expected at my aunt's house has taken a hit -- make that a big thwack! -- this year, thanks to mid- and cross-country moves and military assignments. While we'll be missing those that can't make the trip (you know who you are!), it will still be fantastic to spend the day laughing, eating, drinking, and playing Catchphrase.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rosemary garlic roasted mushrooms

T minus 9 days until T(urkey) Day!

Is it just me or does it feel like time's passing at warp speed?  Why can't it do the same on a Monday or Tuesday, or even those Thursdays that I wake up thinking it's actually Friday?  One of the greatest mysteries of the universe, if you ask me.

Speaking of mysteries, how's your Thanksgiving menu looking right now?  If you're like most folks, I'm guessing you've got a pretty clear picture of what Thursday's table will look like: the "good" dishes, real cloth napkins (!), and maybe a gravy boat that's been in the family for generations, all surrounded by platters of your family's favorite foods.

However, if your crowd is anything like my family, there's always a last minute question that sounds something like this: "I feel like we need one more thing.  What's missing?"

Even if you don't think that will happen to you, why risk it?  Add just one more thing to the grocery list so you're totally prepared.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Meal plan: Week of 11/9-11/15

Weekly Meals: November 2nd - 8th

Sunday: Chicken parmesan baked penne
Monday: Tuscan white bean & garlic soup
Tuesday: Garlic rosemary pork chops with leftover soup
Wednesday: Slow cooker pulled pork sandwiches with peas
Thursday: Grilled sea bass with rosemary garlic roasted mushrooms
Friday: English muffin pizzas and roasted broccoli
Saturday: (Out to Taj Mahal)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cranberry & lime salsa

Thanksgiving is exactly 2 weeks from today.  Two weeks!  Are you ready for this? (Did anyone else immediately think of Jock Jams?)

I think it's high time to share some turkey day recipes.  The bird is the easy and obvious part of the menu; strangely enough, it seems like the sides are the most anticipated and debated pieces of the puzzle.

Last year, I kicked off a new series of posts called Everything But the Turkey, which featured 3 new delicious side dishes that would be welcome at any Thanksgiving table.  (If you missed it, be sure to check out these links for sweet potato biscuits, warm farro salad with butternut squash, cranberries, spinach & hazelnuts, and sweet potato pie.  Warning: I loved each one so much that, even a year later, I truly can't pick a favorite.  I want them all!

Since I had so much fun playing with that theme last year, I decided to bring it back for Round 2 this Thanksgiving.  This is the first of three new recipes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Chocolate chip, pistachio & sea salt cookies

If there's one thing I've learned over the past year or so, it's this: the food cravings of a pregnant woman should be taken very seriously.

At current count, four (four!) of my closest friends are pregnant with their first child.  Moreover, three more of them have a 1-year old, so pregnancy wasn't that long ago.  A few years ago, it seemed like e'erybody and their brother was getting married (I should've taken a picture of our save-the-date collection on the fridge); now it's babies.  On my calendar, there are four due dates in less than four months.  Whew!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Meal plan: Week of 11/2-11/8

Weekly Meals: November 2nd - 8th

Sunday: Five spice chicken with bacon-wrapped potato wedges
Monday: (Out to The Road Toad)
Tuesday: Black bean burgers with roasted cauliflower
Wednesday: Asian farro medley with salmon (subbed quinoa for farro)
Thursday: Pumpkin blueberry pancakes and bacon
Friday: Shredded beef enchiladas (from the freezer!)
Saturday: Crab cakes with roasted broccoli

Friday, November 7, 2014

Fast Friday: Prosciutto-wrapped chicken stuffed with pears & Brie

Hey, would you look at that?  It's Friday!  For once, the "I have no idea what day it is" confusion has surprised me in a good way.  I spent most of yesterday feeling like it was only Wednesday.  That being said, I will never, ever not welcome Friday with open arms.

I think much of the reason my days were mixed up is because Monday felt like an extension of the weekend.  Matt and I left work early and headed to the Hyundai dealership to close out the lease on our car.

In the end, buying the vehicle was a no brainer since we love our Accent dearly.  Also a no brainer?  The minimal amount of paperwork involved; it took less than 5 minutes to complete, much to our surprise.  Three cheers for being official car owners!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Crispy peanut butter chip blondies

Hey, peanut butter lovers of the world!  I've got a doozy of a recipe for you.  Are you ready?  Can you handle it?

The correct answers are Yes and Yes.

There has been ample time to recover from the candy bender of Halloween; it was a whopping five days ago, for Pete's sake!  And, for peanut butter's sake, you'd be mad to deny yourself a cookie so perfect, so heavenly, and so impossibly easy.

For how much I love peanut butter, it's surprising how infrequently I bake with it.  To be honest, it's usually because I can't bear the thought of using half of a jar of our beloved Jif on a dessert that we'll have, at most, two servings each and share the rest.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

13 Leftover Halloween candy recipes

Looking for some creative ways to use up any lingering Halloween candy?  You know, if you haven't already gotten rid of the surplus in the form of the office common area dump like my coworkers have.  Not that we need it -- our regular candy dishes are still quite full.  Candy for days and days.  Somebody's gotta finish it, right? :)

At any rate, here are 13 of my favorite recipes for repurposing all the candy into a new treat.  Enjoy!

  • Mini chocolate chip cookie sundaes - take some of that ice cream you made and top it with this for a doubly indulgent treat!  Don't limit yourself to just chocolate chips -- any chopped up chocolate candy bars would be delish.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Meal plan: Week of 10/26-11/1

Hello and here we go, friends!  Ready for another week?

We had a pretty great weekend around these parts.  The cold/rainy/windy weather on Friday night put a damper on the guys' plan to turn the garage into a quarantine unit, but we still had a blast hanging out on the front porch and handing out candy to trick-or-treaters.  When we could no longer feel our fingers and toes, we headed inside for Crock Pot French dip sandwiches and a Catchphrase tournament (don't ask about the winner...).  After an overtime Pitt football loss on Saturday, Matt and I headed out for dinner and a movie; he liked Birdman, while I didn't care for it one bit.  Sunday turned into Funday, thanks to a little shopping and lunch date after church.  We ended the weekend in my favorite way: homecooked dinner followed by couch time and some TV.

November is upon us, which means Thanksgiving is less than a month away and Christmas is just around the corner.  I'll be ramping up my baking and sharing a few recipes for inventive side dishes in the coming weeks.  If there's anything in particular you want to see, please speak up!  'Tis the season to be thankful and giving, so I want to give ya what you want.

See ya tomorrow! :)

Weekly Meals: October 26th - November 1st

Sunday: (Pizza from Gianilli's II)
Monday: Garlic salmon with garlic roasted broccoli & brown rice
Tuesday: Chicken stew with butternut squash & quinoa
Wednesday: Balsamic burgers with steamed cauliflower
Thursday: Proscuitto-wrapped pear & brie stuffed chicken breasts with roasted Brussels sprouts
Friday: (Halloween party at friends' house)
Saturday: (Out to Kaleidoscope Cafe)