I was on a road trip with my daughter last weekend and after a couple of hours in the car, it became painfully obvious that we were both quickly approaching the "hangry" stage. 😬 We were anxious to get to our destination so we started discussing where we could get something to eat quickly. She asked me what I wanted and instinctively, I answered, "I'll eat anything." The words no sooner left my mouth when she snapped back, "No, you won't." (This child calls me out on EVERYTHING!) She was absolutely right, of course. I rarely eat fast food and when I do, I have only a small list of fast foods that actually appeal to me. I eat a burger about once every 5 years and I really don't like to eat fried foods so that limits my fast food choices.
My answer to her original question about where I wanted to eat should have been anywhere instead of anything. I can find something to eat at almost any fast food restaurant. I feel like there are more healthy choices at restaurants now than ever before. There are some exceptions to my the I can eat anywhere rule but I'll just keep that list of offf-limits fast food restaurants to myself. 😉
My actual response to her comeback was "I like chicken." 😅 (That was all my nutrient deprived brain could come up with at the moment.) The truth is that I do eat a lot of chicken and my family likes to tease me about how often I eat grilled chicken for dinner. It's my go-to healthy meal option when I'm at home AND when I'm on a road trip with my brutally honest daughter.
I think that only fast food item that I've ever craved is the tortilla soup from Chick Fil-A. No, they did not sponsor this post - I just really, really love it. If you've never tried it - you need to. It's amazing. My only issue with the Chick Fil A tortilla soup is that it is LOADED with sodium.
So, if you're me and you start to crave Chick Fil A tortilla soup the minute that the temperatures drop and they start to advertise it, you google out how to make a lower sodium version for yourself at home. What did we ever do before we could google any recipe that we ever wanted?? I found a copycat Chick Fil A tortilla soup recipe in my search and I was able to modify it to keep the sodium in check.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 cans cannellini beans, do not drain
1 can no salt added black beans, undrained
2 cans diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 can no salt added cream-style corn, undrained
1 can no salt added whole kernel corn, undrained
roasted or rotisserie chicken, bones removed, meat shredded
Juice of 1 lime
Tortilla strips or chips (for topping)
Serve with avocado. This tortilla soup was deeeelicous! And bonus - I made a giant batch of it so I have plenty leftover for all those days this winter when I'll be craving tortilla soup.
Like most of you, I have a single oven in my kitchen and that means that oven time is at a premium on Thanksgiving day. I schedule green bean casserole and stuffing baking times down to the minute to make sure that everything gets warmed and cooked in the most efficient way possible. I've actually been known to create a Thanksgiving oven spreadsheet with all the foods that require heating, the temperatures that the oven needs to be set at for each one and the amount of heating time that each dish requires for optimized oven use. Yup, there's that type A coming out again. 😅
I like to annex my Big Green Egg on Thanksgiving Day too and the reason for that is two fold. First of all - It frees up valuable oven space AND secondly, I love food that's cooked on the Big Green Egg. Seriously - if you have a Big Green Egg and you haven't grilled a turkey - you're missing out. 😜 I digress - grilled turkey is great but so is freeing up oven space on the busiest cooking day of the year.
Maximizing oven space on Thanksgiving is key but figuring out how to achieve this can be a challenge. Prepping as many of the side dishes as possible, has proven to be one of the most helpful Thanksgiving oven savers. I start a week or so in advance and make the cranberry sauce, prebake the potatoes and the pies.
This Crunchy Sweet Potato Salad is amazing and it's the perfect compliment to any Thanksgiving meal. So whether you're making the entire meal this year or enjoying a Thanksgiving meal prepared by someone else, you should consider this as a side to that juicy bird. Wouldn't your mom be impressed if you showed up to Thanksgiving with a heaping bowl of Crunchy Sweet Potato Salad?
Crunchy Sweet Potato Salad
3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4" pieces
3 Tablespoons + 1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
3 scallions, sliced thin
3 Tablespoons lime juice (2 limes)
1 jalapeno chili, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted and chopped
Add almonds and potatoes and toss to combine.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, I come from a family of mashed potato purists. They refuse to even entertain the idea of swapping out the mashed white potatoes for sweet potatoes. I almost got ejected from the holiday one year for suggesting that we swap the mashed potatoes. 😅 Ever since then - I make sure that there's a giant bowl of mashed potatoes every year and somewhere in the mix of side dishes - I sneak in a few sweet potatoes, just for me. 😉
Who's hosting Thanksgiving this year? 🙋🏻♀️ Your favorite food blogger will be cooking up some turkey and side dishes this year!! That's right - my kids are going to be in town, my friends and family are coming and I'm planning an epic Thanksgiving feast! Can you tell that I'm pumped about it?
So where are my peeps that aren't cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year? There are some obvious advantages to not hosting the most talked about meal of the year but there are some disadvantages too. Like - leftovers. Hello? There's nothing better than the day after Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches on one of my mom's famous dinner rolls. 🍞
Thanksgiving dinner cooks and Thanksgiving turkey eaters - this post is for you. If you're making a downsized holiday meal - this One Pan Turkey Breast with Stuffing is perfect. If you're planning to prepare your very first turkey and you're a little nervous - use this recipe as a practice run. If you're going to grandmas for her famous Thanksgiving turkey dinner or out to a restaurant to celebrate, you'll want to make this turkey and stuffing - simply for the leftovers. The Thanksgiving leftover tradition is strong in our house. 😅
One Pan Turkey Breast with Stuffing
1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 Tablespoon pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
5-7 pound bone in turkey breast
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cups chopped onion
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons dried sage
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pounds ciabatta, cut into 1" cubes
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
1 1/2 cups fresh parsley, chopped
3/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup oil
1 shallot, minced
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Roast 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 hours at 325.
Drizzle with sauce.
Why is it that the time between Halloween and Christmas goes by so much faster than any other time of year? Maybe it's because I launch myself into Thanksgiving overdrive and obsessive Christmas decorating and add Gingerbread house baking to my already overloaded to-do list. 🎄 What can I say? I love this time of year.
Last Saturday, we decided to take advantage of one of our last "unscheduled" weekends of the year and take a hike. It was a BEAU-TIFUL weekend in the the north Georgia mountains. The Fall leaves were vibrant and the weather was perfect. 🍁 I can't think of a better way to kick off what I anticipate to be an exceptionally busy holiday season.
Just in case you've never experienced a Georgia Fall - I thought I would share a few pictures from last weekends adventures.
We hiked and climbed and at times, even crawled our way to the top, but the incredible views from up there made every step (and blister) worth it. The hike back down the mountain was a nice relief after the tough climb and as an added bonus, there was an amazing little vineyard at the base of the mountain. 🍷 Nothing soothes aching muscles like a nice bottle of red wine. 😅
A hike with my favorite guy followed by a great bottle of wine at the Yonah Mountain Winery was the perfect way to kick off the 2020 holiday season.
Our little North Georgia get away inspired me to launch right into holiday baking and decorating mode. First thing on the list - Christmas biscotti. Biscotti is always one of the first things that I bake for the holidays. It stores beautifully in the freezer and it's perfect for any holiday breakfast.
Cranberry Lemon Biscotti
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sweetened dried cranberries
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
zest of 1 lemon
Bake 10 minutes. Flip. Bake an additional 10 minutes.
Just knowing that I have a few of these holiday sweets tucked away in my freezer - makes me feel like I have the holiday baking under control. Whatever helps me sleep better at night. 😂
It's officially layering season. Time to break out the hoodies and jean jackets. I think we can all agree - layers are fabulous. There's something so comforting about throwing an oversized sweatshirt over my favorite t-shirt on a cool Fall day.🍂 Fall layering isn't necessarily exclusive to clothes though.
Some Fall layers have nothing to do with style. Cheesy pasta dishes, scrumptious dips, decadent pastries, croissants and fancy cakes - all foods with layers. 🥐What would Fall be without a gooey lasagna or a layered bean dip to snack on while watching a football game? And if you're a Shrek fan - the first thing that comes to your mind when I say layers is... onions.
Building a salad is all about creating layers of flavors. Combining different textures - the soft with the crunchy - keeps my salads interesting. Using opposing flavors, like sweet and sour like my favorite lemon vinaigrette, brings my salads to life. Layering in a some whole grains like quinoa or farro, makes my salads heartier and more satisfying. I eat a LOT of salads and layering in different flavors and textures is what keeps me going back for more. 🥗
Although this Fall salad isn't a traditional "layered salad" - it IS layered with all of my favorite Fall flavors. Roasted sweet potatoes, crisp apples, tart cranberries, toasted pumpkin seeds and hearty quinoa. Tossed in a light apple cider vinaigrette - this is the taste of Fall.
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 large Granny Smith apples, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
8 packed cups baby greens
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 Tablespoons dried cranberries
Toss with potatoes, apples, parsley, onion, pumpkin seeds, cranberries and greens.
I didn't include this salad on my Thanksgiving menu but I'm starting to reconsider. The roasted sweet potatoes, the dried cranberries, the crisp apples, the crunchy pumpkin seeds and the quinoa all come together perfectly in this salad. And who knows, this might just be the recipe that I need to convince my kids to eat cranberries on Thanksgiving. 😂
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