I'm a self proclaimed over planner and the holidays are my Mt. McKinley. If you're a plan-a-holic like me - you know exactly what I'm talking about. November and December is when we thrive and shine. There's so much to plan and schedule and arrange and organize over the holidays - is better than going to Disneyland. (almost) 😂
Take Thanksgiving, for example, I don't feel like I'm adequately prepared to tackle this meal until I've got a detailed menu and itemized grocery list on the front of my frig. When I say "detailed" I mean extreme detail. I list beverages that will be served before, during and after the meal. I list all foods by course and I even specify the kind of butter that I'll be serving. (Any doubt that I'm a type A personality?) Every detail of the meal is planned and timed with military precision. I even draft a schedule for my oven so that everything gets baked, warmed and toasted at precisely the right moment so that it's all served at the proper temperature.
Any other over-planners out there who scrutinize their Thanksgiving menu as if it were a winning lottery ticket? The traditional Thanksgiving menu seems like a no brainer and I know that some of you are wondering - what's left to plan? Turkey, gravy, potatoes, cranberries, pie - done. (In case you didn't know, I'm kind of expert at taking the simplest tasks and making them exceedingly more difficult.😂) I contemplate the most trivial things like what kind of bread to serve and what kind of wine would best compliment my salad dressing.
Of course, I put as much thought into the desserts that I serve at the end of the Thanksgiving meal that I do into the dinner. I like to stick to traditional pies like pumpkin, apple or pecan and then add some non-traditional desserts like cheesecake, cupcakes or fruit tarts. This year, I'm throwing a Chocolate Pecan Pie into the mix. I feel like this pie walks the line between traditional and non-traditional Thanksgiving pies. Hoping it is received well.
Chocolate Pecan Pie
1 1/2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoon butter, cold
6 Tablespoons ice water
5 Tablespoons butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
3/4 cup corn syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons bourbon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
Serve whipped cream with pie. The bourbon vanilla whipped cream is absolutely amazing on this pie so by all means - don't skimp on the cream.
Pecan pie freezes really well and this pie is no exception. I've got one of these tucked away in my freezer for Thanksgiving Day and I couldn't be more excited about that. Now I've just got to keep myself from eating it in the next two weeks. 😬
Remember that time when our Thanksgiving dinner got so big that our table literally snaked through the dining room, across the foyer and into the living room? Oh, yea. That was last years Thanksgiving dinner in our house. 😂 By the way - if you were one of our guests last year for Thanksgiving, in case I forgot to say it, thank you for being so understanding of our unconventional dinner seating and crowded space.
Big Thanksgiving dinners are awesome and we would like to invite EVERYONE to come and enjoy this special meal with us but unfortunately, unlike our hearts, our home only has room for a limited number of people. I'm still trying to come up with creative ways to include more people in our Thanksgiving meal. What do you think about a front yard, sit on picnic blankets and eat on paper plates kind of Thanksgiving?
Regardless of how many people attend Thanksgiving dinner at my house, whether it's 4 or 24, I do a lot of the prep work ahead of time so I can reduce the amount of cooking that I have to do on Thanksgiving day. Sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, soups, homemade applesauce and stuffing are all great make ahead (and freezable) side dishes.
There are as many varieties of sweet potato casserole as there are personalities around the Thanksgiving dinner table. Some like it sweet and covered in toasted, melty marshmallows, others like it more savory and topped with a crunchy streusel. As for me, I like a combination of both. I like my sweet potatoes on the sweet side but I also like it topped with streusel. Best of both worlds.
Make Ahead Sweet Potato Casserole
4 pounds sweet potatoes
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
Bake 25 minutes. Let cool 25 minutes before serving.
Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? If you've got questions - I've got answers (and google). 😂 Send me your Thanksgiving questions and I'll do my best to help you out. I don't have your grandma's secret pecan pie recipe but I do have one of my own that I think you'll like. 😉
Did you know that there are rules to cooking rice? Not set in stone rules with potentially catastrophic consequences like disobeying the rules of the road. 🛑More like guidelines to follow to ensure that your rice is the most tasty and delicious that it can possibly be. Fortunately, the rules for making great rice are relatively easy to learn and to follow - and you don't need a license to do it.
These are my simple rules to follow when cooking rice:
1. Always toast your rice in a skillet with a little bit of oil prior to adding other liquids.
2. After adding liquid, bring the rice to a full boil before reducing the heat.
3. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and DO NOT OPEN IT - no matter how good it smells while it's cooking.
4. When the cooking time is up, leave the lid on the pan for 5 full minutes.
5. After removing the lid, let the rice rest for 20 minutes before fluffing it with a fork.
These rules for rice can be applied to almost any long grain rice recipe. (The exception would be sushi rice or arborio rice used in risotto which come with their own set of cooking rules.) I've used this method for so long now that it's just become part of my rice routine. Using these little tricks ensures that my rice dishes are truly special.
Rice is a staple to Mexican food. It's almost absurd to think of eating a burrito or an enchilada without a side of rice and beans. It just wouldn't be right. Like going to a Mexican restaurant and NOT eating a basket of salty corn chips and salsa. That would be crazy.
Fortunately, making great, fluffy rice to accompany all of your Mexican meals at home is easier than you might think. AND if you follow my rice rules, you're almost guaranteed to have the most delicious, flavorful rice you've ever tasted.
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
1 tomato, quartered
1 jalapeno, halved and seeded
1 garlic clove, chopped
1-1 3/4 cups chicken broth
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
This is a very basic Mexican rice recipe. There are a lot of things that you can add to add some more flair and finesse. As for me, I like to add a squeeze a lime and a half teaspoon of cumin to my Mexican rice. I want to know what you add to your rice though. Avocado, rice, taco seasoning, onion, salsa? What have you tried?
It's time for a breakfast shake up. I've slipped into a breakfast rut and I've been eating the same exact breakfast every day for months now. I love breakfast food but if I'm being honest, I get tired of even my most favorite foods when I eat them every single day. It's not that I don't crave new and interesting breakfast foods - the problem is that I don't have the energy or brain function to generate an original idea or execute a new breakfast idea at 6:30 in the morning.
I actually was much better about preparing breakfast when my kids were at home and I felt compelled to send them off to school with a warm, homemade breakfast in their bellies. #momguilt I guess I just needed their sweet little faces looking at me from across the breakfast table as motivation because for some reason, I can't seem to muster the strength to do fix the same meal for myself in the morning.
A simple, six ingredient puffy pancake seems like a manageable task in the morning - even for me. I can even mix up the batter before I go to bed and store it in the refrigerator until morning. This is such a quick and easy breakfast treat that I really have no excuse for ever eating a boring breakfast again.
Mini Puffed Pancakes
6 Tablespoons flour
6 Tablespoons milk
1 Tablespoon sugar
2/3 cup fresh fruit
1 Tablespoon orange marmalade
Top puffed pancakes with fruit before serving.
I love fresh berries but finding fresh berries is getting increasingly difficult as we move further into Fall here. I'm going to try this recipe again soon with apple slices and pomegranate seeds. 🍎I'm envisioning puffed pancakes with fresh peach slices on top for a summer breakfast. 🍑 Who's got some other topping suggestions for me? Send me your comments.
I am a girl who loves pasta. It's the ultimate comfort food for me and to be honest, my life would feel incomplete without it. I don't need fancy and elaborate pasta dishes. A simple carbonara or buttered noodle dish is sufficient. In my world, pasta is the ultimate "fast food". It's efficient cooking for sure. I can put together a simple sauce in the time that it takes to boil the pasta noodles. Plus, pasta is a meal in itself. A slice of toasted ciabatta or crusty Italian bread and a glass of wine is really all I need to make a pasta meal complete. 🍝🥖
I feel like pasta has a bad reputation. I know that it can be really nutritious, especially whole grain pasta, but I still can't escape carbohydrate consumption guilt. 😂 Why is there such a stigma around pasta? To compensate for my pasta remorse, I add vegetables and protein to my whole grain pasta so I don't feel quite so guilty about eating all the carbs. I like to cook seasonally so in the summer, it's fresh tomatoes and basil, and in the Fall, I add eggplant and zucchini to my pasta dishes. It's all about using the freshest, ingredients possible.
A true pasta lover knows that leftover pasta is just as good and sometimes even better than freshly made pasta. Leftover pasta might be the most underrated food of all time. The longer that the ingredients meld together - the better the flavor. It's the reason that lasagna tastes better day after it's made.
Taking leftover spaghetti noodles and turning them into chicken tetrazzini is a win - win if you're a pasta lover. For starters, whole grain noodles with vegetables and chicken make for a really nutritious meal. Using up leftover pasta in a new way can also keep leftovers from becoming boring and mundane. Making the chicken tetrazzini a day or two in advance so the flavors get a chance to mingle just makes sense. Not to mention the fact that you've got a complete meal, ready to toss in the oven at a moments notice when you need to get dinner on the table in a hurry.
8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 Tablespoon sherry
1 Tablespoon butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
6 Tablespoons cream cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breast
1/2 cup panko
Chicken tetrazzini is my jam. I love this for so many reasons but most of all - it's just really, really good. I hope that you get as much enjoyment out of this recipe as I did.
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