Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Post-Thanksgiving Post

(This is a little late in the game, I know. But hey, I have a 6-month-old and I'm generally lazy, so basically we're lucky I'm getting around to this before Christmas.)

Still wondering what to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers? If you still have some lingering around, read on.

My mother, bless her, used to make this "everbody-in-the-pool"-style casserole that I have always hated. (Sorry, Mom, but you know it's true.) So I'm usually on the hunt for fun ways to use up leftover turkey. Here are a couple of my favorite ideas, no real recipes required:

Turkey French Dip Sandwiches

1. Inspired by this recipe from Kelsey's Essentials, I made a riff on the traditional French Dip sandwich.

Directions: If you have leftover drippings, heat them up over low heat with a bay leaf and a few peppercorns. No drippings left? No prob, just use turkey or chicken stock instead. Toss in leftover turkey (thinly sliced breast meat is my favorite, but whatever you have will do) and heat with the broth until warmed through. Give the jus a taste and add salt (or not) to taste. Now grab some rolls or buns and some provalone cheese. (Or gruyere, if you've got it, but who has gruyere just lying around? Not I.) If the mood strikes you, feel free to slap the cheese on the rolls and stick them under the broiler until bubbly. Fill the cheesed-up rolled with warm turkey, and fill a ramekin with the jus (do your best to avoid the peppercorns -- don't ask me how I know). You know what to do from here: dunk, devour, repeat!

Thanksgiving Bundles

It's Thanksgiving dinner all wrapped up in a tidy package!

2. Years ago, my best friend, Angie, told me about her favorite meal made by her mom, "Chicken Bundles". The basic idea was that you combined cooked, cubed chicken with cream cheese and some other stuff, stick it in crescent roll dough and bake it up. If you look around at recipes on Pinterest, you'll probably notice that crescent-roll-enrobed dishes are all over the place. Here's my holiday-themed take.

Directions: Preheat the oven to 375º, and get out a sheet pan. Cut leftover turkey into small cubes and grab your leftover stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce, if you like. Release the crescent dough from its cardboard prison and unfurl it. There are typically 8 triangles in each package, but we're going to pinch every two of them together to form 4 rectangles, got it? Good. Layer in your leftovers in whatever order pleases you; I put down some cranberry sauce, then some stuffing, then turkey and a little gravy for moisture. Then gather up the corners of your rectangle and pinch them together, then pinch together the sides to make a tidy little packet (or bundle, if you will) and transfer to the sheet pan we discussed earlier. Stick them in the oven for 15 minutes or so, or until golden brown. While that's going on, heat up more leftover gravy -- it's for on top. Serve up your Thanksgiving Bundles on a bed of leftover mashed potatoes, smothered in gravy. And if you have some, a side of leftover green bean casserole would round things out nicely.

Some other standbys: Turkey Noodle Soup, Turkey Pot Pie, Turkey Tetrazzini, Turkey Sandwiches, etc.

Just don't ask me what to do with your leftover yams, because... yuck.

Happy leftovering!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Easiest Ever PB Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've noticed that the words "easy" and "quick" are creeping into my recipe repertoire more and more. It makes me feel like I'm living in an issue of Real Simple magazine. (Except if I was, my house would be much more organized...) But anyway, there's nothing really wrong with that, and it's making me feel like less of a loser when I can put dinner and/or treats on the table and not have my husband pick something up or order delivery.

I love that these cookies are both of those things (quick and easy, in case I lost you somewhere along the way), plus ridiculously tasty. And versatile, I'm thinking.

I found this via Pinterest (like most of the awesome things out there right now) at The Girl Who Ate Everything. The only change I've made is to use dark chocolate chips in place of the milk chocolate ones she calls for. (That way it reminds me of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate PB Cups!)

There are 5 ingredients (yup, that's it), no flour, no creaming... Have I sold you on this yet?

Easiest Ever PB Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Dump all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350º for 9 minutes. Let cool on pan for a minute or two before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. Devour.

If you'd like to guild the lily a bit (and sometimes I do), you can add a splash of vanilla (say 1/2 tsp.) and/or mix in some pretzel pieces (Oh, yes. I went there.) And a sprinkle of sea salt on top wouldn't be a bad idea at all.

With pretzel pieces!
 I may also try it with dark chocolate covered raisins in place of the chocolate chips -- if you added the pretzels as well, these could be very trail mix. Love it!


This recipe has clearly sparked some creativity in me. Give it a try and see if it does the same for you!

Monday, November 14, 2011

PSA: Two Ingredient Eggnog Ice Cream

I'm not a big fan of eggnog, but if YOU are, head over to The Busy Bean and check out my friend, Colleen's, latest post. You won't be disappointed. :)

In other news: I have a new recipe to share with you tomorrow. Don't forget to check back!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pantry Meals: Easy Polenta Parmesan

I've always found it kind of funny that things like Chicken Parmesan sometimes don't even have Parmesan cheese in them at all, or if they do, it's certainly not the star. Why is that?

Don't get me wrong. I love me some gooey mozzarella or provalone, I just don't get what's with the misnomer.

Misnomed or not, I love this dish I discovered years ago via a Robin Miller cookbook my mother had lying around. I think my favorite part about it is that I can always have the ingredients on hand -- and there are really only three ingredients. I mean, this is barely even a recipe!

As a bonus, it's vegetarian. I like to step away from the meat at least a couple of nights a week, so this is perfect. And if you're not familiar with polenta, this is a great, simple introduction -- it's soft and satisfying and hearty without being heavy.

I can bang this out on nights when thinking about dinner exhausts me (and since the arrival of our little man, this is a state in which I find myself frequently). It comes together in roughly 10 minutes, making it a great thing to have in your back pocket during the crazy holiday season, when time and energy are at a premium.

Easy Polenta Parmesan

Prepared polenta, plain or in the flavor of your choice (you can usually find this in the produce section of the grocery store -- if not there, then try the pasta aisle)
Your favorite jarred marinara sauce
Shredded mozzarella cheese (or an Italian cheese blend)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice polenta into 1/2" discs. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil into a frying pan, and set over medium-high heat. Season discs with salt and pepper and set in pan. Let toast for a minute or two until the gets a little color, then flip and let toast on the other side.

Transfer toasted polenta into greased baking dish in one layer. Top each one with a spoonful of marinara. Sprinkle with cheese, and set under the broiler until cheese is browned and bubbly.

OR You can skip the step of toasting the polenta if you like, but in that case I would bake it at 350º for about 20 -30 minutes to warm the polenta through. It's good either way. If you broil it, it's done a bit faster but you use more dishes. If you bake it, it takes a bit longer, but is less work. Only YOU can decide which method will work best for you -- and/or prevent forest fires.

Serve with steamed broccoli or a salad.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Plum Buckle

Crisps, cobblers, buckles, grunts, pan dowdies, brown bettys -- some desserts are endearing by virtue of their names alone! But this particular dessert has a very special place in my heart, as it is an old family recipe.

My mother used to transform the tart plums that grew on the tree in our yard by baking them up in this delicious cakey confection. And when she would make it in the dutch oven... Good. Gravy. It's marvelous!

Despite the fact that these are quite possibly the worst pictures to accompany a post on this site, I still think it would be well worth your while to give this recipe a try.

Plum Buckle


for the batter
2/3 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
3 c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. milk
7 c. sliced red plums -- the tarter (more tart?) the better, in my opinion

for the topping
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon

For batter, cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs and mix until well combined. In a separate bowl, toss together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternately with the milk until everyone's in the pool.

For topping, cut together all ingredients (with a fork or pastry cutter) until well combined.

Place plums in bottom of greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Cover with batter mixture. Drop topping by teaspoons over the top. Bake at 350º for 45 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve warm -- and don't forget the vanilla ice cream! :)