Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Soup, Salad, and Bread

Okay that's it! I am done with turkey for a while after tonight. Well, I will eat some leftover soup tomorrow for lunch only because it was so good but then that will be it! No more turkey for me for a while. Tonight I cooked my favorite way and threw everything in one pot to make a delicious soup.

I started again like I always do with chopped up celery, carrot, and onion, and a couple tablespoons of Earth Balance in my soup pot. Sweat the vegetables for about 5 minutes or so. If you want more details about cooking soup click here for my previous post on chicken noodle soup and all my secrets.

I added the entire carton of chicken broth and two heaping tablespoons of Better than Bouillon, plus 4 cups of water to the pot and gave it a stir.

I diced up some of the left over turkey, dark meat and all, and tossed that into the pot as well. If you are all out of turkey you can certainly use some cooked chicken.

I know this looks a little nasty but it is what made the soup extra special tonight. I saved some of the drippings from the turkey and tossed in about 1/2 of a cup or so. I thought to myself, "Good thing I didn't let them throw that out like they wanted to!" By they I mean Miles and his Momma!

I had also cooked a cup of brown rice and put that in with the drippings about 20 minutes before I wanted to serve it so it could soak up the flavor. Then 5 minutes before serving I tossed in some chopped kale and green onion.

The kale will wilt down quickly and add a beautiful green color to your soup as well as some great nutrition. This is a super great way to try kale if you are a little unsure of it. The flavor is very mild in a soup like this and it was oh so pretty.

Even though I am a bit tired of the turkey I have to say this was the best soup I have made in a long time. It must have been the drippings I saved!

We ate it with a simple tomato and cucumber salad and our favorite whole wheat oatmeal quick bread. Mmmm.....good!

This bread is super fast to throw together. Just grind up 1 cup of oats and toss in a bowl. Add 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and 2 tsp. baking powder, and a little bit of salt to the bowl and mix it up well.

First mix 1 tablespoon of canola oil and 2 tablespoons of honey together and then add one cup of milk. Mix those together really well and pour into the dry ingredients. If you do the oil first the honey will slip right out of the spoon!

Mix until the ingredients come together and then add a little more flour with your hands and shape the dough in the bowl into an oval.

This is kind of what you are going for but you will shape it more on the baking sheet.

Spray the cookie sheet with cooking spray and shape and flatten the dough out a bit more like this. I like to score it lightly so it is easier to cut. It can be a bit crumbly around the edges when done. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. It will be very hard on the outside but soft and dense on the inside. We love to top it with Earth Balance and agave but whatever you like is great.

There! I have successfully blogged, baked and leveled cake for my girls small group cake decorating night, cleaned up the kitchen, and given my daughter a bath all at the same time. Maybe not the most efficient way to get things done but I am being really good at multi-tasking wouldn't you say? On to laundry.......but here are the recipes.

Turkey and Rice Soup
3 carrots peeled and chopped finely
3 large stalks celery chopped finely
1 medium onion chopped finely
2 tablespoons Earth Balance or butter substitute
2 tablespoons Better than Bouillon (chicken base)
1 48oz. carton chicken broth
4 cups water
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups chopped kale
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup turkey drippings if you are lucky enough to have them.

Cook the carrots, celery, and onion with earth balance for 5-7 minutes. Add the base, water, drippings, and chicken broth to the pot. Simmer on low. 20 minutes before serving add rice. 5 minutes before serving add the kale and green onion.

Oatmeal Whole Wheat Quick Bread

1 cup rolled oats
1 3/4  cups whole wheat flour + more to form dough
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ½-2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Grind oatmeal in a food processor or blender. In a large bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, dissolve honey in vegetable oil then stir in the milk.
Combine both mixtures and stir. Add more flour if needed until a soft dough is formed. Knead a little bit in the bowl. Form the dough into a ball or small rectangle and place on a greased baking sheet.
3. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until bottom of loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Workin' the Leftovers

My head cold has kept me out of the kitchen much of the weekend but so has the fact that I have a ton of leftovers to eat so I feel a little guilty making other food when I need to use up what we already have. We were a bit tired of the turkey yesterday so we went out to lunch after church, but tonight I decided I better reinvent some Thanksgiving fair and try to use it up.

I tossed some turkey in a pan with a little chicken broth and added some salt and pepper. I cooked it for a few minutes just to heat it up.

Then I added the leftover stuffing and a little bit of mozzarella and heated that up as well. I cooked it until the cheese was nice and melted and then put it in a 9x13 pan.

I cooked one medium onion in some olive oil until brown and smelling delicious!

I topped the stuffing and turkey mixture with the onions and a bit more mozzarella. I cooked it in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes to crisp up the stuffing and melt the cheese. The onions gave it a great flavor!

We like our cheese a little crispy and nice and golden.

I quickly cooked some broccoli and sliced up a couple oranges and dinner was served. There is now 2 more inches of room in my fridge. I think it might be turkey and rice soup tomorrow and then it will have to go to the freezer. That will be all I can take!
This was a great way to use up some of the dark meat however, which I don't usually care for. Hidden in this casserole I didn't mind it.

On to Christmas tree decorating!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Leftover Fest

I hope everyone had a wonderful relaxing Thanksgiving! I was thankful to actually be in the kitchen doing what I love and not holding a paint brush in my hand for the last couple days. Yesterday we spent the entire day at home doing absolutely nothing! It was so nice to have nothing on our agenda. I didn't even start putting up the Christmas decorations like I had planned because we were just too lazy. Thankfully we have a ton of leftovers and I won't be cooking too much this weekend.

This was a lot of food for the 6 of us! Plus it doesn't include the salads and bread that were on the table.  But isn't Thanksgiving about cooking once and eating 8 times??

Plus I have lots of good food to work with. Here is my non-anemic, very full, Thanksgiving plate. That was it though. I didn't have seconds of anything because I was quite full and of course dessert was waiting for us!

Yesterday I start to hear a little rustling in the kitchen so I came out to see what was going on and found this.....

That's right! The husband getting all creative with the leftovers! Such a proud moment! Although he wasn't too happy about the picture taking since he was still in his robe. So I spared him the full picture and you just get his arm to prove it was him.

He put a little aged cheddar on some ancient grain bread I bought with turkey and leftover cranberry salsa. We topped it with a little of this cranberry orange vinaigrette I made for some moisture and boy was it good!
Miles heated up some of the high protein garlic mashed potatoes and some spaghetti squash gratin that I am super glad I chose to make in spite of the fact that we had too much food. It was my favorite thing about Thanksgiving! Then I added a little fruit because my plate wasn't looking very colorful.

Last night for dinner Miles went to the cupboard and pulled out the whole wheat mini flat bread rounds I bought and forgot about. My intention was that we could make several different kinds of turkey sliders and I thought they would be fun for the kids.

We kept it simple to start with last night and just used a little cracked pepper mayo and deli mustard. I was going to put some lettuce on there but I figured it didn't really matter since I was eating a salad with it. Today I might get really creative and put some of that spaghetti squash on there but I also see a soup in our future because sandwiches do get old no matter how cute the little mini buns are.

Now I must go actually get something done today. Sigh. Laziness, it was nice knowing you for a day!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Being Thankful

I have much to be thankful for! I am glad for a day like this to make me pause and remember all that I have been blessed with. I am not really a person who expresses my thankfulness the way a person should. I often think how grateful I am for something but for some stupid reason those words just don't come out of my mouth. Some of these things are small things and others are things that seem like huge blessing but they all add up to a God who loves me and continues to bless me everyday.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17"

So lets start this list off with something seemingly small but really important to me!
I am thankful for.....

Antibiotics and the nurse practitioner who prescribed them to me and my best friend who filled the prescription for me. I will be able to taste my Thanksgiving meal thanks to to all three of them! Hooray!

It's a good thing too because I didn't want this load of groceries to be eaten up without being tasted. That would be a crime for sure. I am thankful I live in a country where I can go to the store and get everything I need and then some and that I have the money to pay for these groceries even though I don't love grocery shopping.

I am grateful Miles and I got to run at least one race together this year! This morning we were going to run the Turkey Leg together but I am just too sick to do it. I am REALLY bummed! I just know it won't go well and might make me feel even worse at this point but I am still sitting here debating this in my mind as I type. I still have time to go get dressed and do it don't I, but I will hack the whole way, but I really want to do it with Miles, but I know I won't be able to breathe the whole way.
See the problem!

I am super thankful for these ladies that I get to scrapbook with every year. We just went on our annual retreat almost 2 weeks ago and had a blast. I am also thankful I completed 50 pages and got myself closer to being caught up!

You can not even know how thankful I am to have some house projects completed! My usually non handy husband has really out done himself hanging the closet doors and wainscoting and changing all the outlets from 1977 beige to 2011 clean white! I think he could tackle the kitchen cupboards next! I will have to forgive him for not helping with the painting I suppose. There is still plenty of painting to be done!

I am thankful right now for these new floors and come full blown winter I will be even more so. Our carpet was so disgusting not even Miles could stand it anymore. No one in Minnesota should have carpet right when you walk in the door!

NORWEX!!!! I could not live without Norwex in my life. Part of our life style change involved getting rid of 90% of the chemicals we use to clean. Norwex cloths have silver in them. Bacteria can not grow on silver and because of their weave they cannot cross contaminate anything. So I can wipe up cut up chicken and go about cleaning the counter without transferring bacteria. Since I clean a couple days a week for some friends, I have made them switch to these also. I clean with no chemicals. Just water and this cloth and the polishing cloth that goes with it. I also have their mop (same concept) which I totally love. The 5 second rule has now turned into the 5 minute rule or longer! The crazy thing is they clean better then just about anything I used before. By the way I am thankful for these cleaning jobs!

I am so thankful that my sister came to visit me this summer! Since she is always behind the camera I have to show you a couple great family pictures she took for us to prove she actually got on a plane. She is a wonderful, free to me, photographer, who I love very much. I am so grateful she was brave enough to come see me and bring my beautiful niece, Shelby who I adore! I am also SUPER thankful for the pictures.

So my husband is on the phone with me Sunday afternoon at the grocery store getting some things on my list to equal up to $25 so we could get the turkey for .58 cents a pound. He says, "Do you want an oven bag?" I say, "Oh yes, I forgot about that." This morning I went to get the bag out to see how long my 23 pound turkey was going to take to cook. I look at the box that says it is for meats and poultry up to 8 pounds.
Uh oh! So today I am thankful for a hubby who runs to the store before he had to run the Turkey Leg 5K to fix this little problem for me. He is super great that way!

I am thankful that my table is set, my mother and father-in-law are here, that my kids don't have to go to school tomorrow and we can sleep in and put up Christmas decorations, that we have a beautiful feast to eat today, that I can taste (I know I already said that but it's worth repeating), for my faithful blog readers who encourage me daily and stroke my ego, for my health, my friends, great neighbors, and the rest of my family who aren't here today, for my house, our church, and most of all for the God of the universe who loves and cares about me!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner

Well I didn't get to this yesterday because once again I had a paint brush in my hand but this morning I am determined to get it finished before my busy workout, grocery shopping, cleaning, Thanksgiving prep, more painting day begins.

Last year for Thanksgiving we traveled up north to my in-laws for Thanksgiving where I subjected them to my healthy diet. You heard me right. No green bean casserole, no Stove-Top stuffing, no Rhodes white dinner rolls, no party potatoes! While in theory I am not opposed to indulging in these things for one day a year, in reality I don't even like those things much anymore so it would be a waste to make them. My body doesn't care too much for it either so instead of just feeling the normal full we all do on this day, I'd feel extra worse! Not my idea of a great day!

So again this year I have plans for a cleaned up Thanksgiving meal that is not stripped of too much tradition.
We will start with this because I obviously won't have pictures of everything yet. I made this home made stuffing last year using whole wheat bread that was totally divine! It is called Chestnut, Cranberry, and Pear Stuffing. It will be on our table Thursday for sure!

Last year I made these green beans with almonds and thyme. Nobody missed the green bean casserole. Year after year I would make that and year after year I'd have the almost the whole dish leftover. Not so with these green beans. This year I am making Lemony Green Beans. The recipe is here if you would like to check it out.

Picture from Kalyn's Kitchen.com

I will also be making this fresh cranberry salsa from her site. Picture stolen again. It has lime, cilantro, and jalapeno in it. No canned nonsense for me! Miles, however, needs a little convincing. For some strange reason he likes that nasty gelatinous stuff! Here is a link to the recipe.

Last year I roasted some sweet potato slices with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Sweet potatoes are sweet enough. They don't need all the extra sugar and calories when you add brown sugar and marshmallows. I prefer them savory. So this year I will do something fairly similar but I think I will dice them up or use frozen and save some time.

I will also be making some High Protein Garlic Mashed Potatoes from Oh She Glows.

I love this blog. She is a vegan and although I am not I am in love with all her recipes! This is an excellent way to make these healthier but still something everyone will love. I could be happy with just the sweet potatoes but I know other family members will really love these potatoes so I am giving them a shot!

Pictures from Oh She Glows.com
I am also making Angela's Holiday Salad with Cranberry Apple Orange Vinaigrette. Doesn't that look so pretty? I am super excited to try this. Plus having a colorful healthy salad on the table makes me happy. It will feel me up and there will be no guilt. Check out Oh She Glows for sure. I bet you will find something you love too.

Of course we will be having the traditional turkey! We bought a big one, 23 pounds, so I would have lots of leftovers to be creative with. I am thinking that the cranberry salsa on some kind of wrap or sandwich with some turkey will be great!

I am also making whole wheat dinner rolls. Last year I made my oatmeal quick bread which would be awesome too but I like change and other people like fluffy rolls! There will be some fresh fruit on the table as well since the kids will love that! My mom used to make a fruit salad mixed all together with whip cream for Thanksgiving. My kids have no idea what that even is! Aren't they poor little deprived souls?? Ha!
I am also contemplating making this spaghetti squash and Chard Gratin from Kalyn's Kitchen. I am knowing that the food I have planned is plenty and this would be a little bit over kill but it sounded so interesting and yummy to me. I might have it prepared and cook it later with some leftovers when my food has digested enough that I feel like I could eat again, which might be the next day!

I think I need to get some photography lights. Everyone elses pictures look so nice!

Of course we will be having dessert too on this day. Since we are eating such a healthy meal we will splurge a little on dessert. It is normally a very unhealthy treat called Pumpkin Yummy. I will clean it up just a touch by using sucanat and Splenda brown sugar in place of the cup of brown sugar it calls for and using melted Earth Balance or Brummel and Brown instead of the butter. I could also buy a sugar free cake mix that goes over the top but like I said this is a time to splurge a little.
I will probably make a traditional pumpkin pie as well since it is Evan's favorite and pumpkin pie really isn't that bad for you if you tweak the crust a little. But this recipe for low sugar pumpkin cheesecake looks pretty darn good too.....

Again courtesy of Kalyn's Kitchen.com
Evan's two favorite desserts, pumpkin pie and cheesecake,combined in one could be a home run. Low Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecake

Since Miles and I will be beginning our morning wearing our running shoes I will have a few appetizers available as well since our dinner will get pushed back in time a little. We signed up for the Turkey Leg 5K to start our day off right. Just think we will have already burned off our dessert before we even eat it!

Our appetizers might include some deviled eggs, black olives (strange family tradition), and celery with laughing cow cheese or Sun butter might be hanging around along with some fruit for snacking before we loosen our belts for the big event!

Now I must go tackle the grocery store or stores I should say. That will be a work out in itself. I am bringing a snack along with me since it will probably waste 2 or more hours of my life and run into lunch. Wish me luck!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!