Archive for November, 2010

This year I went home with much more turkey than usual, but it worked out perfectly for trying out some new leftover recipes!  I saw Giada DeLaurentis on the Today Show this morning doing some mini turkey pot pies, and I decided to try my own version.  I spent a good half an hour or so getting all the meat off of the turkey carcass…which is kind of disgusting by the way, however well worth it for the meat and the bones for making stock! 


  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large small shallots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups roasted turkey breast meat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1/2 teaspoon koshersalt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • I used store bought pie crust, Pillsbury brand.
  • Special equipment: 6 (10-ounce) ramekins, each 2 1/2 -inches tall and 3/12-inches in diameter. A 3-inch round cookie cutter

Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into 6 circles and place on top of the filling.


Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

For the filling: In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Then add shallots and thyme to the saucepan. Cook for about 2 minutes until the shallots are tender. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat to high. Add the chickenbroth and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Add the heavy cream, turkey, mixed vegetables, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 3 minutes until heated through. Using a ladle, fill the ramekins with the filling mixture.

You can use any leftover vegetables you may have laying around from Thanksgiving dinner, or anything you have on hand in the refrigerator or freezer, really.  These little pot pies turned out really good, and are perfect for a cold winter night.  I usually use a cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup for my pot pies, but I think I may make the filling from scratch from now on so I can control the flavor a bit more.

Also, below are pictures using my new digital camera – it makes the food look so much better!


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We had a couple of friends over this weekend for  breakfast, so I wanted to prepare a few things that I could prep the night before.  I decided on an egg casserole with Italian sausage and sun-dried tomatoes, with cranberry muffins.  Both turned out wonderful.  I was a bit unsure about the muffins because the batter looked a little dry, but they were a big hit!  They also called for fresh cranberries, which was a nice change from most recipes out there.  I also made a cranberry-maple butter to accompany the muffins.  This would also be great on pancakes, waffles, even toast.  Just warm it up in the microwave and voila!  Delicious.  Below are the recipes, with my small changes.  Originals can be found in the links in the titles.

Fresh Cranberry Muffins

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 muffin)


  • 2  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 2/3  cup  sugar
  • 2  teaspoons  baking powder
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  cup  chopped fresh cranberries
  • 2/3  cup  skim milk
  • 1/4  cup  butter, melted
  • 1  teaspoon  dried orange peel, grated
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract (I prefer Nielsen Massey brand)
  • 1  large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 400°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Stir in cranberries; make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk, butter, rind, vanilla, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 18 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pan immediately; place on a wire rack.

Note: These muffins freeze well. Bake them ahead, cool completely, and store in freezer bags. To serve, thaw at room temperature. Reheat in aluminum foil at 300º for 10 to 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Cranberry Maple Butter

Yield: 1 3/4 cups (serving size: 1 tablespoon)


  • 1/2  cup  water
  • 1  (12-ounce) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2  cup  maple syrup
  • 6  tablespoons  brown sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract


Combine the water and cranberries in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until cranberries pop. Place cranberry mixture in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth.

Combine cranberry mixture, maple syrup, sugar, and cinnamon in pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 25 minutes or until mixture is thick, stirring frequently. Stir in vanilla. Cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 months.

Sausage and Egg Casserole with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Mozzarella

  • 1 pound Italian sweet sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup fat free half and half
  • 1 cup light whipping cream
  • 2 cups grated lo-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Sauté sausage in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until brown and cooked through, breaking up with back of fork into small pieces, about 10 minutes. Add shallots and garlic and sauté 3 minutes. Add sun-dried tomatoes and 2 tablespoons parsley; stir 1 minute. Spread sausage mixture in prepared dish. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Whisk eggs, egg yolks, half and half, whipping cream, 1 1/2 cups cheese, and salt in large bowl to blend well. Pour egg mixture over sausage mixture in dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese and 2 tablespoons parsley over. Bake until top of casserole is golden brown and knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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Every time I make a fix and freeze meal or something in the crockpot, I wonder why I don’t do it more often.  They are the perfect type of recipe to double so you can eat one that night and put one in freezer for a later date, or give one away to a friend!  I have a good friend who was recently diagnosed with cancer.  In addition to this, her and her husband have a newborn baby.  So I thought that some ready made meals would help take some stress out of this trying time.  I found a great post with a variety of recipes on Good Housekeeping’s website.  http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food/quick/make-ahead-meal-recipes

The first recipe I made was the Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas.  I made a few changes to the ingredients, and the recipe listed below reflects that.  There are just some modifications to make the recipes a little lower in fat content.  The link above will take you to the original recipe, with nutritional information.

Ingredients, yields 2 casseroles

  • 4 large chicken breasts
  • 1 package Sazon (this can be found in the Mexican food isle of your grocery store)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 jar(s) (16- to 17.6-ounce) mild salsa verde
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup(s) fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • 1/2 cup(s) (loosely packed) fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 16 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 container(s) (8-ounce) reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup(s) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 package(s) (8-ounce) reduced-fat (2%) shredded Mexican cheese blend


  1. Put fresh or frozen chicken breasts in a crock pot and fill with the water and 1 packet of sazon. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until chicken starts to shred easily.  Drain water and shred chicken.  You will need about 5 1/2 cups of the shredded chicken.  Stir 1/2 cup salsa verde into chicken to evenly coat.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 13″ by 9″ glass or ceramic baking dishes; set aside. In 12-inch skillet, heat remaining salsa verde, green onions, and lime juice to boiling on medium-high. Boil 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 2 tablespoons cilantro; keep warm over very low heat.
  3. With tongs, place 1 tortilla in salsa verde mixture; heat 10 seconds. Place tortilla on waxed paper; top with about 1/3 cup shredded-chicken mixture. Roll up tortilla and place, seam side down, in prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and chicken mixture, arranging 8 tortillas in each dish.
  4. Stir sour cream and broth into remaining salsa verde mixture in skillet; spoon over filled tortillas. Cover one baking dish with foil and bake 15 minutes. Remove foil; sprinkle with 1 cup cheese and 1 tablespoon cilantro. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese melts. Meanwhile, sprinkle remaining cheese and cilantro over second casserole and prepare for freezing.

This recipe turned out really tasty.  I actually made a little extra chicken and used the excess to make a pot pie.  There are so many ways you could spice up this recipe as well, like adding mushrooms or other vegetables to give them a different flavor.  I will definitely be making this one again, as my husband couldn’t stop talking about how good it was too!  This is the first of what will probably be many make-ahead meal posts this winter.

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This past weekend I took a trip to Austin with a couple of girlfriends.  That was my first trip to Texas, and I found Austin to be a great city!  It was big enough to keep us busy, but small enough that we could walk to most destinations.  Austin is a great city for eating too!  We ate at quite a few restaurants, not to mention a food fest, as well as the flagship Whole Foods (which was amazing).  Below are the culinary highlights of the weekend.

South Congress Cafe   www.southcongresscafe.com

This was by far one of my favorite meals.  Great mix of things on the menu.  Between the three of us we had butternut squash soup, shrimp quesadillas, duck & oyster gumbo, and a shiitake & blue cheese certified Angus burger.  All were amazing.

Z’Tejas  www.ztejas.com

Great, fresh tasting margaritas and tableside guacamole!  I love anything prepared tableside.  I’ve been to the Z’Tejas in Scottsdale and it was great as well.  Good bet for a chain restaurant.

Stubb’s  www.stubbsaustin.com

Apparently an Austin institution, we made the pilgrimage.  In reality, we had every intention of making a trek out to the Salt Lick, but were without a car.  The Salt Lick was featured on Man vs. Food and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  Despite the lure of the open pit in the middle of the restaurant and BYOB, we couldn’t  justify the $100 rental car for less than one day.  So Stubbs it was!  Meat was tender, sides were tasty, and the beer was cold.  What more could we have asked for?

Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival  www.gypsypicnic.com

We were very excited to stumble upon an advertisement for this event.  After all, we had heard very good things about some of the many food trailers in Austin.  So what better way to culminate our culinary experience than a one-stop shop of 30 trailers?  Well, we weren’t the only ones with this idea.  The lure of free entry and free music brought hoards of people to Auditorium Shores park.  The lines for each trailer averaged about 45 minutes…but the wait for beer was less than 5.  There was so much we wanted to try, but so little patience to wait.  So two beers and two sandwiches later – we left.  This brisket sandwich with mashed potatoes was  really tasty, as was the beer.

Bess Bistro  www.bessbistro.com

Sandra Bullock’s restaurant in Austin, Bess Bistro, was a lovely little place with a great menu.  French fare with a bit of the South mixed in.  The fried green tomatoes served over a crab salad and drizzled with sriracha were absolutely delicious, as were our entrees which included steak frites, croque monsieur, and buttermilk fried chicken.  Honorable mention will also go to one of my favorite wines – Chateau Lamothe, a white Bordeaux.

A few other places we also enjoyed!

Hey Cupcake  www.heycupcake.com

The Ginger Man  http://aus.gingermanpub.com/

Whole Foods   http://wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/lamar/

This was truly the mother of all Whole Foods – a true mecca for WF lovers!

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