Thanksgiving 2021 is in the books and I sincerely hope that all of you were able gather with loved ones and feast on your favorite foods. As for me, I spent the day in my happy place, (aka. my new kitchen) surrounded by my family - doing what I love - cooking up delicious sustenance. What could be better than that? 🤣
Thanksgiving at my house is very traditional. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans. 🍗It's not that I haven't tried to mix up the menu from year to year. My family are true traditionalists when it comes to the Thanksgiving menu though. They actually staged an intervention after they caught wind of a rumor that I was going to serve sweet potatoes instead of mashed potatoes one year. 🥔 No joke - they even conferenced in my mom on the phone. 😅
One advantage of being the cook on Thanksgiving is all of the leftovers that go along with hosting. 😂 In my world - there's no such thing as too much leftover turkey. We had a small gathering at our house yesterday, but I still bought and cooked 2 turkeys. What can I say? I love turkey leftovers. Sandwiches, soups, casseroles and salads - I love them all.
What are your favorite ways to enjoy that delicious turkey after the holidays? These are mine.
Click on any of the pictures above for a link to the blog post with that recipe. I probably should mention that I use turkey and chicken interchangeably in my recipes. So if you're feeling brave, type the word chicken or turkey into the search bar for an overwhelming flood of recipes for your delicious leftover turkey. 😉
This year, I'm adding Sheet Pan Quesadillas with Spicy Ranch to my list of post Thanksgiving Day turkey leftover recipes. I don't know why I never thought of making these like this before but it's a genius way to serve quesadillas to a crowd without having to stand at the stove frying individual tortillas. Baking one giant quesadilla in the oven and then slicing it into individual portions for serving is cooking efficiency at it's finest.
Sheet Pan Quesadillas with Spicy Ranch
7 (8-10”) flour tortillas
1 cup mozzarella, grated
1 cup colby jack cheese, grated
2 large avocados, thinly sliced
½ cup green onions, minced
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons cilantro, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons lime juice
Slice quesadilla into squares.
Serve with ranch.
I have mixed emotions about this recipe. I'm happy that I found it and figured out how to make quesadillas for a crowd - all at one time. But, I'm also frustrated that it took me a full 50 years to discover it. 🙃
Let's face it. Cheese has gotten a bad rap over the past several years. Dairy as a whole became a trigger word for nutritionists this year. We were warned about the "dangers" of dairy in our diets and challenged to avoid it whenever possible. 😬 I've survived for a quite a while without drinking cows milk but let's be honest - I'm pretty sure I my body would somehow retaliate without cheese. Kidding - sort of. 🤷🏻♀️🧀
What's a football game without a giant platter of nachos smothered in melty cheese? How do you eat bowl of pasta without a hearty dusting of parmesan? How do you warm up on a cold February day without a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup? I can't even picture my life without cheese. Parmesan, gruyere, asiago, mascarpone, burrata - the list of my cheese favorites, goes on and on.
Making cheese straws is a fairly simple process and I really don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get on board. It's a relatively straightforward recipe that requires only a few basic ingredients. Also, I live in Georgia and I'm pretty sure that NOT making cheese straws is grounds for removal from the South. 😂
Even though I was late to the game, I've quickly become a cheese straw fan. They're a great little crispy treat to pair with wine or fruit and they’re a nice little snack to serve in my jar-cuterie. 🤣 Now that I know how to make them, I'm coming up with all kinds of excuses and reasons to make another batch.
2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups flour
8 Tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into 8 pieces
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 Tablespoons ice water
Now that I’ve successfully made exactly one batch of cheese straws, I have complete confidence in my cheese straw ability. 😅I feel like I’m ready to tackle some serious cheese straw challenges. I can make them lactose and dairy free for my friends and family with sensitive stomachs. I could make a batch using Gouda or Gruyere. There’s just no end to the possibilities.
Have you heard about the super popular stand up desks that are trending now? They're designed to help ease back pain, improve mood, harness joint and muscle movement, boost productivity, increase weight loss, improve mental focus and lower the risk of heart disease. Why wouldn't I want all of those things for myself?
I just got the ULTIMATE stand up desk in my kitchen. 😅 When you're in the food business and you work from home - your kitchen island IS your desk.🤷🏻♀️ My custom built desk has 32 drawers and 2 outlets. It's got places for me to store pencils, notebooks, my computer, my camera, all of my cooking utensils and ziploc bags of every shape and size. ✏️ It's a dream. 😁
I was lucky enough to be able to design my own desk. If you could design your perfect desk, what would it look like? Would it have a cutting board drawer and a platform drawer to stand on? 😂 (If you're under 5'2" - I highly would recommend it. 😉)
It goes without saying that I do most of my cooking while standing at my desk but I wanted to give myself the option to sit if I needed to. #whimpyankleissues 😬 So I asked the builder to make me a "knee space". It's the perfect little nook for a stool - or a George Castanza style nap, if need be. 🤣 So much work went into the designing and building of this island.
I'm still learning how to make the best use of my new desk and forever trying to remember which drawer I put my peeler in. 🤦🏻♀️ The more I use it, the more I love it though. I've only had it for a couple of weeks but it's already become the nucleus of the kitchen. It's in then literal center of the room and it contains the most essential tools for all of my cooking and baking projects.
These ganache filled cookie cups were the latest creation to be made at my kitchen desk. Little chocolate chip cookie cookie cups with dark, rich chocolate ganache. 🍪🍫 Who wouldn't love these?
Ganache Filled Cookie Cups
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups mini chocolate chips
1 cup chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
Amy's tip of the day: Make the cookie cups ahead of time and store them in ziploc bags until ready to serve. Make the ganache and fill the cups just before you're ready to serve them - they'll stay fresher that way. If you run out of time, pipe canned frosting into these tasty little, edible cups for an even quicker treat.
On a chilly day last January - we started talking about a new kitchen. Adding a second oven, moving the microwave, building out a bigger pantry, venting our ovens outside, sanding and staining the floors - all of that was a part of the initial plan. But... once the ball got rolling - I couldn't stop. 😬I started designing my dream kitchen island, a rolling baking cart to house my Kitchen Aid mixer and a cutting board display rack. I may have been the reason that it took so long to get this project off the ground. 😂
54 days ago - the deconstruction and demolition began. Sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better.🤷🏻♀️ I have to admit - it was a little scary to see my kitchen stripped down to the drywall but I had to have faith that at the end of this journey, my kitchen would be restored to an even better space. 🙏🏻
Before I share with you the big reveal - let me remind you of what our kitchen looked like 55 days ago.
And then there was this stage...
And now - here we are .... presenting our new ( and improved) kitchen!!!
To say that I'm pleased with the results our of extreme kitchen makeover would be an understatement. I'm more like over the moon, invite everyone I know over to see it and I want to hang out in my new kitchen all day - excited. Best birthday/Christmas/anniversary/Valentine's Day gift ever. 🤣
There are so many little custom touches in this new space that I want to share with all of you. Just when you thought you were finished hearing about my kitchen remodel. 😅 I'll be sharing all of my favorite aspects of this new space with you for the next couple of months, for sure.
I'm spending lots of time getting familiar with my new kitchen. It's amazing how much more efficiently and purposefully I can move through my new space while I work. Cooking, baking and creating is even more fun in my new kitchen.
Although we had very little control over the timing of this kitchen remodel - it actually worked out pretty well. As of today, our new kitchen is 99% finished - less than a week away from Thanksgiving and just over a month away from Christmas. If there was ever a time to do some extra baking - this is it. 🍪 😅 This Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake is the perfect holiday sweet that I can make now and tuck away in my freezer for that last minute Christmas gift. This will inevitably get delivered to a special neighbor, teacher or friend next month. Maybe I better make a few more. 😉
Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake
⅓ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1¾ cups cake flour
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1¼ cups cake flour
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅓ cup buttermilk or yogurt
½ cup mini chocolate chips
As soon as cake comes out of the oven, sprinkle with 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips.
Cool 30 minutes. Remove from pan and dust with powdered sugar.
Two oven means twice as many Chocolate Chip Crumb Cakes. There's nothing wrong with that. Happy Baking!
It's been an eventful Fall around here. Let's just say, I'm getting a lot of practice at finding my inner peace and calmness within the chaos.😅I was mentally prepared for complete kitchen deconstruction and reconstruction but I wasn't ready for the subsequent pandemonium that happened in the rest of the house. The basement became the staging area for all of my kitchen supplies. The dining room table became the temporary pantry. Even our outdoor end tables were repurposed as indoor sandwich and breakfast making stations. 🥪
Now that we're nearing the end of our remodel project - I'm starting to feel like there's hope for things to return to a more "normal" state. And even though, right now, I feel like the process took a long time, in a few years, when I look back on this remodeling season, it will probably seem like it went by really quickly. It makes me think of our years of raising babies. I used to think that we were never going to get them potty trained out of diapers. It felt like I was going to be changing diapers forever. In retrospect - it was such a small part of their lives.
When I think about the last catering job I tackled in my old kitchen - it seems like it was years ago. It was September. 🤣 Anywho - I created a charcuterie style brunch for 150 people with all the trimmings. It was an epic undertaking and I'm I didn't sleep for 2 whole days but is was totally worth it. Oh and the only good way to capture 12 feet of brunch goodness is in a video. 🤣
The only way that I was able to prepare and serve all of that amazing food with just one oven was because my amazingly helpful family, one of whom willingly made a trip to Wal Mart before 6 AM - the other who stayed home and faithfully cooked bacon and eggs while I set up the tables.
Accomplishing a brunch of this capacity with just one oven was no easy task. I created an oven schedule to make sure that everything got cooked at exactly the right time and temperature. The last thing to go into the oven on brunch day were these Spinach and Egg Puff Pastry Rolls. There's nothing worse than cold eggs which is why they got the coveted, final time slot in the oven.
I'm going to let you in on my brunch day tip: Make these spinach egg puffs ahead of time, put them on a baking sheet and pop them in the freezer until you're ready to bake. They can go right from freezer to oven which means that you can spend time doing other last minute things to get your brunch ready to serve. Did I mention that they're delicious too?
Spinach and Egg Puff Pastry Rolls
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
4 cups fresh spinach
2 teaspoons oil
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper
I over estimated food for the brunch because basically my worst nightmare is running out of food. 😅 Consequently, there was quite a bit of food leftover from the brunch but not a single crumb of Spinach and Egg Pastry Puff Roll was left on the plate. Message received.🤣
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