Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Once again, I have been on a blog hiatus.  With Thanksgiving on its way, I have been preoccupied with getting out the Christmas decorations, making our Christmas card, addressing them, planning Thanksgiving meals, finishing up last minute projects at school, and tossing back and forth as to where we were actually going to celebrate Thanksgiving this year.  This Thanksgiving is a little different from years past.  My brother is off to Colorado and left this Thanksgiving morning at 4:30am.  My husband has to work at the hospital, helping others on this thankful holiday.  I am blessed with the fact that I get to eat 2 Thanksgiving dinners this week.  However, none of them will actually be on Thanksgiving Thursday.  Yesterday (Wednesday), we had our first Thanksgiving dinner, with my brother.  We cooked all of our favorites from sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, and turkey, to cornbread stuffing, gravy, and homemade apple pie.  We popped a can of cream corn in a saucepan for my dad, and had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal.  We tried a few new recipes, and stuck with a few old favorites.  We are celebrating our next Thanksgiving on Saturday so that my husband can enjoy one of his favorite holidays.  Today, we are not stressed to get everything done in time, we are in our pajamas, the house does not have to be cleaned, and I couldn't be more thankful for this relaxing day.  However, since our first dinner was a success, I am very much looking forward to our second big meal this weekend! I don't think that I will want to eat a turkey dinner for a few weeks!

I am sharing a simple recipe for the sweet potato casserole that we made.  We tried to not make it too sugary, too sweet, or too unhealthy.  We stuck to simple ingredients and allowed the natural sweet flavor of the sweet potato to shine.  It turned out to be easy and delicious and even got the stamp of approval from the men at the table.  We did make one side with pecans and one side with marshmallows   Both were equally delicious. This recipe makes about 4 servings, however, we actually had a little bit leftover!

2 medium sweet potatoes
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
a handful of pecans
a handful of marshmallows
1 tablespoon maple syrup


(I don't have pictures... I guess that I have used up all of the space for pictures.  I am working on getting more space!)

 1. In a 400 degree F oven, make the sweet potatoes for about 40 minutes, or until soft and cooked all the way through.
2.  Allow the sweet potatoes to cool a little bit.  Cut them in half and scoop out the inside of the sweet potato and place in a mixing bowl.
3.  Add the orange juice, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves.  Mix well.
4.  Place the sweet potato mixture in a small glass baking dish.
5. You choose: On one side of the casserole, we added pecans to the top and then drizzled the maple syrup.  On the other side, we added the marshmallows.  
6. Turn the broiler on in the oven and cook until nice and toasted.  This will only take about 5 minutes.

Until next time...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Oatmeal Brown Sugar Cookies

T is back... and you know what that means (or well... I know what that means)... he HAS to have his dessert.  When I am here by myself, I do not buy snacks, I do not buy cookies or ice cream.  But, having known him for almost 8 years, I should have planned to have a few sweet treats in our freezer.  After we finished eating dinner, all he could think about was what he was having for dessert.  He frantically searched the whole kitchen, knowing that I would not have bought anything for myself.  "Oatmeal Cookies!" he said. (Knowing that I always have oatmeal in the pantry.)  Too bad we did not have raisins and who wants an oatmeal cookie without rasins? Well, I searched the internet, clicked around on pinterest, and I stumbled upon a similar recipe to this one. They are chewy and delicious.  And, I am sure that you have all of the ingredients right at home.  If you ever are in dire need of a quick sweet treat, this one is a definite winner! Mission accomplished! And... husband approved!

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1 cup rolled oats


1. Add the softened butter and brown sugar to a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix until it is light and fluffy.

2.  Add the vanilla extract and egg. Mix well.

3.  Before adding, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.

4.  When everything is evenly mixed together, add the oatmeal.  Mix for only 30 seconds.  

5.  Remove the bowl from the standing mixer.

6.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes.  This will make it easier to scoop the dough onto the cookie sheet. 

7. After the dough is chilled, roll it into 1 inch balls, and at least 2 inches away from one another.

8. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes. You can set them on a wire rack to cool and then place in a container to store until later.

When you bite into them, they will be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  They are delicious when they are served warm, but that is up to you as to when you want to eat them!

We had a lot of leftover dough.  Perfect for when T gets his next sweet tooth craving! We wrapped it up and placed it in the freezer for another desperate day! Enjoy!

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Basil Pesto

As promised from yesterday, I have made basil pesto.  I made three times the size of the pesto that you buy at the store, for a fraction of the price! I have always wanted to take the time to make pesto, and quite frankly, I am shocked that I have waited this long to make it! Freshly made pesto is delicious.  Don't get me wrong, the store bought kind has always been a staple for us, but now, after making this, I am not sure if I will ever buy store bought again!  Also, when I was buying the walnuts, the man selling all of the nuts at the farmer's market told me that you can actually use cashews instead of walnuts.  He said that it makes a wonderful pesto..... if you want, take his word and try cashews... if not, take my word when I say that the walnuts worked great! Maybe I will try cashews next time?!

3 cups fresh basil leaves
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon lemon juice (I squeezed 1/4 of a lemon)
1/4 cup walnuts (sorry pine nuts... you are too pricy!)
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Here are all of the ingredients needed! Super simple... and if you make your own, it will save you a ton of money in the long run!

 1. Add the basil, lemon juice, walnuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper to a food processor.  Mix well.  You may have to open it and scrape the sides down a few times, but it will eventually mix all together.

2. With the food processor running, add the olive oil to the basil mixture.

This is what is will look like when it is finished!

I stored the pesto in a mason jar.  You can keep this in the refrigerator for a while.  If you want to, you can freeze this as well.  If you freeze it, make sure to add a teaspoon of olive oil to the top before freezing.  When you take it out of the freezer, let it sit until it gets to room temperature.  The olive oil on the top will ensure that the pesto is not watery when thawed out.

I added a dollop of pesto to my white bean and turkey soup from my previous post! I am sure that I will make more recipes using this pesto later this week!
Until next time...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Trying something new!

I wanted to make white-bean and turkey chili.  After I was half-way through with making this new dish, I began to wonder if I was really making a 'chili.' Therefore, I looked up the exact definition of what is chili is indeed.  It said that besides chili being a type of spicy pepper, chili is "a spicy stew of beef and red chilies or chili powder, often with beans and tomatoes." After looking up this definition, I not only decided that what I was making was not quite a chili, but it was rather a stew.  So, I looked up the definition of a stew... and that wasn't it either.  I decided that I would just call this recipe a soup because it does have a little broth in it, and to be honest, all of the definitions were confusing me and making me re-think previous decisions to call meals certain things.  Anyways, I know that the holidays are coming up and I am sure that the last thing that you want to make right now is something with turkey.  Well, this could also be made with ground beef, or ground chicken.  Actually, you could possibly use shredded chicken, or make this a day after Thanksgiving with your left-over shredded turkey.  For me, it is fun to experiment with different substitutions.  You may end up liking it better, or you may go back to the original version.  Whatever meat you decide to use, I am sure that you will find this recipe comforting.  We are still sitting in 80 degree weather, but the comfort of a nice hearty soup was certainly necessary on this November evening!  The herbs used in this dish are so uniquely put together, that your taste-buds will probably experience a new taste.  I am sure that you have quite a few of the herbs in your pantry, and if not, eliminate some of them, and try something new!You may be surprised as to what you will find!

White Bean Turkey 'Soup'

1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
a pinch of red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon flour
1 lb. ground turkey meat
1 can cannellini beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 can great northern beans, drained
 3 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste


1. Add the chopped onion to 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

Here are the 5 garlic cloves that I used.  If you do not like garlic as much as me, you could most definitely use less!

2. Mince the garlic cloves.

3. Add the garlic to the onion mixture and mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add the sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, oregano, red pepper flakes, and cumin.  Mix well.

5. Add the flour and mix well.

6.  Add 1/4 cup of the chicken broth.  As you mix it, the mixture will begin to thicken.

7. Drain and rinse the beans.

8. Add the beans to the onion mixture and mix well.

9. In a separate pan, cook the turkey meat. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir well until all the way cooked through.  (about 8 minutes)

10.  Add the rest of the chicken broth to the bean mixture.

11.  Add the turkey meat to the chicken broth and beans.

12.  Mix all of the ingredients together.

13. Put a lid on the soup and let it simmer for about 20 minutes so that all of the flavors incorporate together.

Here is the final product! I added a little basil pesto to the top of mine... I am saving that recipe for tomorrow! Enjoy!

Until next time...

Apple Tarragon Chicken Salad

For some reason, I have been in the mood to make chicken salad.  Not just any chicken salad, a fall-ish chicken salad... and no, don't worry, I will not try a chicken salad with pumpkin.  I wanted one filled with herbs, fruit, walnuts, and of course... chicken! I had an apple in my refrigerator, one chicken breast, some leftover tarragon, and I just got walnuts today at the market to make pesto tomorrow.  Apple Tarragon Chicken Salad was born.  Sometimes, when you just try a little of this and a little of that, it make a delicious dish.  I was not sure how this would taste when I was putting all of the ingredients together, but I was pleasantly surprised when I tasted the first bite! I toasted some french bread, and I had a nice little lunch today, with a new favorite sandwich! Of course, you could always forgo the bread and serve this over lettuce with a apple-cider vinaigrette of some sort!

(This makes 2 servings, if you want to make more, you would need to double the amount)
1 chicken breast, boiled and diced
1/2 cup minced apple
2 teaspoons freshly chopped tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon mayonaise
1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
1/2 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper to taste


1.  Boil the chicken in a saucepan over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes.

2.  After dicing the apples, add to a container that you can store in the refrigerator.

3.  Add the tarragon.

4.  When the chicken is cooked and cooled, dice the chicken into your choice of size.

5. Add the chicken, mayonaise, spicy mustard, honey, and salt and pepper to the container.

6.  Chop the walnuts into tiny pieces so that they are easy to chew.

7.  Add the walnuts to the salad and mix well.

Serve on a nice piece of bread, or over some fresh lettuce! Enjoy!

Until next time...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tzatziki Sauce

It has been quite stressful around here.  Even though I am not the one personally going through applying to residencies, I can definitely feel the stress of it all.  Every day, our conversation goes something like this....

Me... on my lunch break: "Hey, have you heard back from anyone?" home: "Nope, not yet."
Me: "Ok, well let me know."
T: "I always do."

Some days, I get a little better news and hear that he has heard back from so-n-so, but more than likely, he doesn't hear back from anyone.   We applied to 77 places, and it has been a struggle to hear back from all of them.  He has heard back some 'no's' and those conversations are never good, but we move past it.  We are hopeful... well, we are trying to be hopeful.  It is hard when you cannot do ANYTHING about it, and I am not one to give up control of situations.  All that being said, even though I am not the one applying, it has taken a toll on me.  I have not been taking the time to plan adventurous meals.  I have not tried may new things.  Quite frankly, I have been repeating a lot of the same recipes that are already on here.  This weekend, T is going to New York for an interview, I am going to sit down, take time for my own thoughts, and plan out some recipes.  Cooking helps me to ease my stress, and that is exactly what I am going to do this upcoming weekend.

Until then, here is a great recipe to add a little 'greek' flare to your menu! Tzatziki sauce! Most recipes make such a huge batch, this recipe is a perfect amount.  You could obviously add mor yogurt is you feel that you need to, however, I like being able to taste all of the unique flavors together!

1 1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, shaved (will show you later)
1 tablespoon fresh dill
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste


1.  Add the greek yogurt to a bowl.

2.  Peel the cucumber.

3.  Cut the cucumber in half.

4.  Deseed the cucumber.

5.  Dice the cucumber.

6.  Add the diced cucumber to the yogurt.

7.  Add the lemon juice.

8.  Shave the clove of garlic into the dish,

9.  Add the sugar.

10. Add the dill and mix well.

11. Add salt and pepper to taste.

12.  Mix well.

We served it with garlic and lemon chicken, zucchini and corn saute, and couscous.  I placed the rest in the refrigerator and it lasts for about a week.  It honestly gets better each day that it sits in the refrigerator.  I finished it off today with a few pita chips! Enjoy!
Until next time...