Friday, November 28, 2014

Post Thanksgiving Thoughts

This is an unusual post for me. I thought about posting a Thanksgiving Leftover Remake recipe, but decided I've got a few of those in my index and I've been sharing links with bloggers doing Leftover Round Ups. You can see those round ups on the Rockin' Recipe Round Ups Pinterest Board.

I thought about posting a Christmas themed recipe, to help me mentally switch over to the next Big Thing. Normally I don't cotton to decorating until after my birthday, but we've had a recent mild spell and I support all my neighbors who chose to decorate outside while it was nice.  I did see a few Christmas trees in living room windows during my dog walks earlier this week though--that's a bit too much. I'd rather celebrate my spouse's birthday and my Big 5 0 before I switch over to Christmas.

As this series of photos by my spouse shows, I did a heck of a lot of cooking yesterday. I need a break from cooking! I'd say I have a turkey coma, but in fact my ancient meat thermometer broke in the drumstick, and after a small serving of breast meat w/ the main meal, I pitched the rest of the bird because I'm just not confident that whatever red fluid was in the tube is safe. I'll miss the leftovers and making stock, but there will be more turkeys in my life. We've still got plenty of sides.

Looking through these photos I think it's clear I'm doting on Robert Barker.  It's important to teach dogs about spices! He spent most of the day underfoot, on Kitchen Patrol.  Vincent joined him occasionally, but Simon mostly stayed out of it. He knew he'd be fed in the end.

I created a couple of new recipes that will be up for next Thanksgiving, including my first stuffing recipe.  This was fun to make and apparently fun for the spouse to photograph--tasted delicious too. I love cornbread stuffing and stuffing with apples and onions and to combine the two was really fun. There's no gluten in my cornbread, so it's gluten free as well.

Our menu was a roast turkey (simple as pie pizza), gravy, MA's Make Ahead Irish Mashed Potato Casserole, Alanna's World's Best Green Bean Casserole--with a couple of tweaks as I didn't want extra friend fried onions left over, Cornbread Turkey Sausage & Apple Stuffing, Creamed Spinach, Cranberry, Pineapple & Pecan Salad, and a Caramel Pumpkin Butter Cheesecake. I also have a sweet potato dish I made on Tuesday to add to my leftover mix tape plate. As I feel like cooking, I'll make a corn casserole to change up the leftovers even more.

By the numbers we had 11 pounds of turkey, 5 pounds of potatoes, 1 pound of green beans, 1 gallon of spinach, ½ pound of mushrooms, an onion, an apple, and a thing of celery.  I dipped into my stash of Roasted Garlic in the freezer, and emptied the freezer of turkey stock while I was at it. The biggest category I used, though, was dairy products.  I used 3 boxes of cream cheese, close to 3 sticks of butter, and several cups of cream over the past 2 days. Thanks again Kim for the cream! I've made a serious dent in the final Community Supported Agriculture box for the Fall season, and we've got food to feed us for days.

As for kitchen failures, I dropped a nutmeg into the creamed spinach and broke the aforementioned thermometer. I am absolutely shocked that Robert Barker didn't take down any of the meal, but it sure wasn't for lack of vigilance and effort on his part.

Things that worked well--I did a lot of 'clean as you go' today. I did this partly because I had to clean up to have room for the next item on my mental agenda, and partly because I cooked 3 side dishes using my only 2 saucepans. Either way, I'm sure glad I did--the kids did the dishes and all that was left was the gravy & the roaster when the meal was done.

Since Thanksgiving heralds in the big shopping season, I'll close with a few of my favorite things. These are all Amazon affiliate links to items I use that make my life in the kitchen just a little bit nicer. I think I need to add Meat Thermometer to my Christmas list!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cranberry Salsa & Refried Bean Nachos (or Quesadillas)

It's the 4th Wednesday of November. In America, most everybody knows what's for dinner tomorrow

What's for dinner tonight?

I've finalized my Thanksgiving menu with a whole 30 hours to go. My Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmers delivered our turkey and final Fall share last night. I've plotted my Stuffing Strategy and my cornbread is getting drier by the hour. The cranberry sauce is chillin' in the fridge, squeezed in between the turkey from Maker's Meadow and the jar of stock I remembered to thaw for gravy. I've gathered all the ingredients for MA's Make Ahead Irish Mashed Potato Casserole and Alanna's World's Best Green Bean Casserole. My daughter and I will be successful with our Caramel Pumpkin Butter Cheesecake [that will happen after this post goes live, so as I type it's hopeful optimism. While I'm being hopeful, I'll hope neither Robert Barker nor Simon or Vincent will jump up and steal any food].

I am in the zone.

The last thing I want to think about, or act upon, is fixing food for those housemates of mine who have strange ideas about eating multiple meals in the days running up to the Big Event. I don't even want to eat out because people are running around like crazy right now, and I don't want to order in and cause more leftovers to need a home in my packed fridge.

Enter these nachos. They are easy to fix, are made up mostly of pantry ingredients (no need to use much fridge space), can be vegetarian and gluten free--and don't result in leftovers that I'll need to store. Plus the flavor and texture are unlike what we'll be eating tomorrow.

With all the cranberry recipes I've shared, this could be the most unexpected.  It's delicious, unusual, and a departure from the usual seasonal fare.  If you happen across cranberry salsa (link to my recipe if you want to make your own) and/or cranberry cheddar cheese (which I found at Costco), grab some refried beans and treat your taste buds to this change up dish.  This can be a fast and flavorful snack, which was well-received by the whole family during a hectic time. For other recipes using cranberries, please refer to my Cranberry Recipe Collection.

You have a choice in what blogs you visit. I'm thankful you chose to visit mine. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2014

3 Cheese Fast-baked Cauliflower

Great for a quick fix side dish when you've already got the oven on.

I like quick to throw together side dishes and I especially like being able to use the oven while it's already warm from baking something else. This recipe combines both of my likes into a cheesy cauliflower side dish good with roast chicken, pot roast, or panade.

I deliberately don't include Thanksgiving in this list because between the bird and MA's Make Ahead Irish Mashed Potato Casserole there are enough white foods on my plate. I prefer more colorful side dishes like Colorful Roasted Squash, Potato & Pepper or Cranberry Pecan Green Beans. However, if you like cauliflower and especially if you've got some in the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share, this dish finishes quickly and tastes great.
I took a bunch of photos of steam and couldn't pick one. Choosy bloggers choose gif.

I made it for lunch the other day while I was baking cookies and making soup, and decided after the first bite that it was blog-worthy. We don't get much cauliflower in the farm share which is pretty good, because the males in the household aren't big fans. Indian food is the best way to enjoy cauliflower they say, and I am a big aloo gobi fan so I'd agree.  In fact, this will be the first cauliflower recipe in my Cauliflower Recipes collection (considering I've got 8 recipes for kohlrabi I think that's saying a lot).