Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving All!

Hello everyone!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  If you're out braving the Black Friday crowds shopping, please be careful.

I know lots of people are sitting there with tons of Thanksgiving leftovers.  You can only eat so many turkey sandwiches, right?  Get creative and put your freezer to use!  I didn't host this year so I will be cooking turkey for us on Sunday.  

The first thing I do is cut as much meat off the carcass as I can.  Then I put the entire carcass (you might have to break it down if you have a smaller pot) and put it in a stock pot big enough to cover it with water.  If you truly have a small pot, nothing says you have to use all of the carcass.  I will add some of the same things into the stock that I used in cooking it, carrots, onions, leeks, parsnips, celery, etc.  You could even use some of the veggies from the veggie tray in your stock.  Be flexible and be creative.  Bring it to a boil and then reduce to simmer.  Skim off the gunky gray stuff.  Then let it simmer and do its thing for a while.  I like to simmer it for 2-3 hours, the more it simmers the more the flavors concentrate.  When it is done, I let it cool and then strain it.  From here you can cool completely in the fridge and then remove any fat off the top, it should be in a solid form then.  From here you can use it or portion it out and freeze it in Ziploc bags for later use.

A friend of mine showed us a picture of her freezer.  She'd taken some of her leftover turkey and make turkey pot pies, don't bake them and put them in the freezer.  When you're ready to use them, treat them just like you would those from the grocery.  Only they'll taste so much better.  On a previous post (Here) is a recipe that I use to make Chicken pot pies, you can simply substitute turkey in this recipe.

Turkey and dumplings is just as good as Chicken and dumplings.  There is a recipe for it on the same link above.

My husband looks forward to turkey Manhattans after every Thanksgiving.  This will use up leftover mashed potatoes, leftover turkey and the gravy too!

You could also turn leftover mashed potatoes into potato pancakes.  I'm sorry for no recipe here but I just kinda wing these.  If I have 2-3 cups left, I'll add an egg, some flour, some chives, some shredded cheese (not too much) and some bacon bits (fresh or packaged, it really doesn't matter).  My family loves loaded baked potatoes or kicked up mashed potatoes so they like kicked up potato pancakes too.  The dough needs to be stiff enough to roll into balls, about like peanut butter cookie balls before you squish them with a fork.  I flatten them and fry in a bit of butter, sometimes with a little bacon grease added for flavor.  Fry until brown and yummy.

Stuffing is a tough one.  But I've used it as a topping in the past when I've made the insides of the turkey pot pie and had more than I needed for the pie crusts I had.  Just put the extra pot pie filling in a casserole dish and crumble the stuffing on top and bake.  The stuffing gets all crispy and crunchy. 

At this point, if you have any turkey left, put sandwich sized amounts on wax paper and then put them on a sheet pan or cookie sheet and put in the freezer.  Once frozen, pop them into a Ziploc and you can grab what you need for sandwiches later.

Just some ideas for dealing with the Thanksgiving leftovers.  It should make some of the cooking during the days when you're shopping, wrapping or decorating and need a little help in the kitchen!

Be safe out there!

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Just popping in for a quick hint.  Have you ever been following a recipe and found out afterwards that you forgot an ingredient?  Yea, me either.  

But, just in case, I now get out all of my ingredients for my recipe and as I add each one to the bowl, I put that ingredient away.  I think of the extra steps in putting things away as exercise.  I end up making laps around my kitchen and dining room (where my pantry is actually located) so I'm counting that as steps on my pedometer.

Happy baking for the holidays!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Take some help!

Good morning everyone!  I'm sorry I've not kept up with this lately, life has been hectic.  My jam business was invited to attend the Indy Cooking Expo, it was a wonderful time.  I loved that my husband would watch the booth so my son and I could sneak over to the presentation stage and watch the demonstrations.

I will admit that I was surprised to see a professional chef who was taking some help from the store.  I had this grandiose idea that a professional chef made everything homemade, wouldn't hear of shortcuts.  Yea, I realize now how ridiculous that sounds.  They're just like us.  Sometimes you need a little help.

One Executive Chef from a catering company suggested buying cornbread for the stuffing on Thanksgiving.  She said, and it makes sense, that the item will be transformed in the end so there was no reason not to make things a little easier on yourself on the holiday.  

Another, Chef Suzanne demonstrated a yummy pumpkin-black bean soup.  She said you could go to all the fuss of using fresh pumpkin but there was absolutely nothing wrong with using canned.  As long as it isn't pumpkin pie filling that is...LOL  This soup was fabulous.  I was so shocked when my husband tasted it (he generally does not like pumpkin) and loved it and asked me to make it for him.  The recipe is here.  

Speaking of my husband, when he makes chili, he's famous for taking a bit of help from the store.  After he browns the meat (sometimes it's beef, sometimes it's turkey or even ground chicken) he will add a full jar of Pace Picante sauce.  He makes sense here, it has spices and peppers and onions that are diced to the right consistency.  I hadn't thought of that before I met him but it works.

If you want to make a quick chicken pot pie, it can be done with leftover chicken, a small can of peas & carrots (or other mixed veggies), a small can of diced potatoes and even store bought pie dough.  It's fairly simple to put together with some thickened gravy.  I would always make the gravy homemade as it will thin out as it cooks.  I guess you could use a "cream of" soup without diluting it as well.

Something that a friend does that I found ingenious and we tried it and my family loved it.  She takes one cup of Apple Butter (I love that she uses mine!  LOL) and mixes it with 1/4 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar and pours it over top of a pork roast in the crock pot and lets it cook all day.  All the spices and apples already prepped for you in the Apple Butter gave it a wonderful flavor and it was not dry.  Seriously yummy.

So, don't be afraid to take some shortcut help when you're in a rush.  It beats popping by some drive thru somewhere in both taste and nutrition!  Ok, gotta run, I have a large English paper to write!