Thursday, November 30, 2006

Yesterday Mike and I went to the grand opening of the new Fresh Market in town. It sure looks nice! They had lots of hard to find items and everything looked fresh and delicious. We sampled barbeque ribs, granny smith apples, granola, red wine, marinated beefsteak....basically, we had lunch in the form of samples. We bought a loaf of Ciabatta bread and when we got home Mike made himself a Cuban sandwich on the George Foreman grill. I had a bite - very tasty!

Now, on to the last of The Leftover Files featuring Thanksgiving turkey. I'm so proud that I didn't let any go to waste! We had a church meeting tonight, and it was my turn to coordinate dinner. Mike chopped up the rest of the turkey to add to this Taco Soup while I put it together.

Once we got there, Mike made each person a custom grilled cheese to go with the soup. We also had a veggie tray, and our friend Sherri made a yummy cheesecake in honor of Mike's birthday (which is next Friday - eek!) This meal was a big hit! We have several non-red meat-eaters in the group, so I made a people-pleasing meal AND used up my leftovers! Score one for Jacki!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Leftover Files

These are the heedy days of eating leftovers. Fortunately, I planned ahead this year and collected some recipes that use leftover turkey. Here's what we've had so far:

First, a T-Day Casserole. I got the idea from a recipe board I visit. Basically you layer whatever leftovers you have and stick it in the oven. I thought it would be good with mashed potatoes, but that's one leftover I didn't get, so I cooked two potatoes in the microwave and mashed them. Then I layered that with some of the corn-chive pudding, green bean casserole, and turkey. Topped off with cheese, this was very tasty. And so easy!! I was especially surprised at how quickly I mashed the potatoes. They took five minutes in the microwave and about five more to mash. Mike must have liked this use for leftover turkey, because he gobbled it right up! [pun intended]

Next up, I got the Turkey carcass from my aunt, so this morning, I picked off any usable meat (Sophie helped), covered the bones and skin with water, and brought it all to a boil. After that, I simmered it, and when we wanted to go out to lunch a few hours later, I just put the top on and turned off the heat. Once we got home, I turned the heat back on to simmer, and before straining the stock, brought it to a boil again to kill off anything nasty that might have found it''s way into the pot. After straining, I had a whole mess of turkey stock that smelled great! I made the soup with carrots, fresh corn, and leftover turkey. An hour before serving, I decided to add a can of cream of chicken soup and a couple of garlic cloves because a taste test revealed that my soup was kinda blah. I cooked some brown rice to add to it, and on the side I made roasted asparagus. I tried something new with the veggies: I peeled the bottom part of each stalk, tossed them all in olive oil, sprinkled them with garlic powder and salt, and roasted them for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees. The rolls were leftovers from the restaurant we had lunch at, because I'm proud to be cheap and I bring free bread home. I'm just cool like that.
The soup was perfect for winter! The asparagus could have been a little more crunchy for my taste, so I think next time I'll jack up the temperature and check them after a short time. I think the key to them being pleasant to eat is the peeling.
This concludes this installment of The Leftover Files. Stay tuned!
Happy Thanksgiving!!

On Thursday we went to Apopka to Mike's aunt's house. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures! But I did take pictures of the next day with my family in Dunnellon, so here ya go:

The spread:

The Corn-Chive Pudding I made:

The Green Bean Casserole my mom made with bread crumbs

Monday, November 20, 2006

Crunchy Two-Step Chicken Strips

We took Sophie to the dog park a few times this past week as a way for all of us to relax. We always ended up enjoying ourselves so much that we would stay until after we usually eat dinner, so once we got home I wanted something that I could do in a hurry. What I decided to do was defrost some chicken tenderloins from the freezer and make chicken fingers, using ranch dressing as the wash. I was going to try pretzels for the breading, but they have a strange way of disappearing in our house, so I ended up using crushed Triscuits. For dipping I made a honey-mustard sauce from mayo, honey, dijon mustard, and a squirt of horseradish. We also had steamed green beans and a fruit salad.

The verdict
I got the suggestion to use salad dressing and pretzels from a magazine, and while I wasn't sure about using dressing, it turned out to be a very simple and tasty dinner. I think Mike especially enjoyed them, as he inhaled his and polished off the rest of mine, too! Next time I'm going to hide the pretzels from Mike and try them on the chicken fingers! I give this meal 4 stars for taste and 3 and a half stars for health.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Today I have two meals to share with you, plus two new recipes! Yipee!!!

Up first, I found a recipe for Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches, which have turkey, bacon, and a cheese sauce usually made from swiss. However, I have enough ham to feed an army right now, and I didn't have any swiss cheese, so I adapted the recipe a bit. What did I call it? Why, Florida Hot Browns, of course! Here is my adapted version. Besides using ham instead of turkey, the cheese sauce is American and mozzerella, because that's what I had. I decided to make them open-faced because I though that one sandwich wouldn't be enough, but four pieces of bread each was just too much. We also had steamed broccoli.

The verdict

I was very pleased with my creation. Mike raved over the cheese sauce and scarfed his down. I think next time I'll try to get a fancy bread instead of plain ol' sandwich bread to fancy it up a bit. I think it'd be great on a ciabatta, or even an english muffin. Mmmm...the possibilities are endless! I give this meal 5 stars for taste and 2 and a half stars for health.

Next up, another new recipe. Chicken fingers are always good, but I've been searching for a good way to make them at home. I came across this very quick and easy recipe featuring either goldfish crackers or pretzels and was intrigued, so last night we gave it a shot. You can use either buttermilk ranch dressing or honey mustard for the wash. I used ranch and made up a dipping sauce of mayo, mustard, honey, and a squirt of horseradish. As for the breading, wellllll.... Pretzels have a way of mysteriously disappearing in our house, so when I got the bag out, there were maybe four in there, plus some crumbs. So I ended up using that and some Triscuits to round it out. We also had steamed green beans and a fruit salad 0f apples, kiwi, and red pear.

The verdict

We were both very impressed by the taste, and I loved how easy there were to make. The longest part was crushing up the Triscuits! The ranch dressing imparted just the right taste. I can't wait to try this with Goldfish, how cute is that?!? I give this meal four stars for taste and health.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Chicken Meatloaf

Tonight I decided to celebrate getting back into cooking with one of our favorites: chicken meatloaf! I used chicken breast, fresh-ground by my very own hubby, and added bread crumbs to it. The glaze is ketchup, brown sugar, dijon mustard, and a splash of lime juice. We also had brown rice and a salad. To drink I made a daquiri of frozen strawberries, 7-Up, lime juice. and Margaritaville Last Mango tequila.

The verdict

Chicken breast...brown rice...salad...what a healthful meal! There wasn't even that much alcohol, maybe a half a shot each. I think everyone should use ground chicken instead of beef in their meatloaf, especially if a yummy glaze is used. It tastes great, and we avoid the so-full-I-might-puke feeling that usually comes after meatloaf. That's usually a good thing :) I give this meal 4 stars for taste and 5 stars for health.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Zesty Grilled Ham

Yes that's right folks, this is the first meal I have cooked this week. Sad, I know. I've done things like pasta for myself when Mike was gone over dinnertime, but this is the first real meal. I got a ham at an excellent price at Winn-Dixie the other day (I've been hoping they would go on sale for months!) so I have a freezer full of spiral ham. I decided to use some of it tonight by making Zesty Grilled Ham, one of Mike's favorites. I also made mashed potatoes (another perennial favorite), steamed broccoli, and to top it all off, a fruit salad of bananas, apples, and strawberries.
The verdict
While this is a very easy recipe to make, it's the only thing I use my George Foreman Grill for. I remember seeing George Foreman's smiling face on the tv, promoting these things as being able to cook just about anything (and they come with a bun warmer - gasp!). I think every college kid in the nation got one for Christmas that year, myself included. It did come in pretty handy for my dorm days, but I usually find it's just not worth it to drag that thing out when I could:
a) have Mike grill it for real, or
b) do it on the stovetop just as well.
I do wish I had that one that has removable plates, though, because that thing is a pain to wash. Anyhoo, the ham was delicious as always, but I think I'm so out of practice from not cooking this week that I made way too much food! My fruit is waiting in the fridge to be polished off later tonight. Mike gobbled everything down, though. I give this meal 4 and a half stars for taste and 4 stars for health,

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I haven't done hardly any cooking this week! It seems like every night we've had something going on. I do, however, have a cake to show you. This Moist Chocolate Cake is my favorite cake to make, so when my friend Danielle asked me to make a cake for her chocoholic husband's birthday to bring to our lifegroup meeting, I knew just the right one!

The secret to this cake is coffee, believe it or not. It makes the cake very moist (hence the name) without adding anything but a very subtle coffee undertone to the taste, not enough to deter a non-coffee drinker like me. It's one of those things that people can taste once you tell them what's in it.

Ben is a graduate of the Unversity of South Florida, so I used green and yellow icing to decorate. This icing is very light, so I had to mix it with a fair amount of flour to get it tough enough for the lettering. I decided to actually plan out the lettering for the first time, and I'm pretty happy with the results. The cake was a big hit! The actual cake is moist, but not overly rich, and the icing is very sweet and light, which makes for a delicious pairing. Try this cake, you'll love it!