Thursday, November 29, 2012

Peanut Post: Happy Birthday, Grandma & Grandpa Eddie!!

Today is Annalyn's Grandma & Grandpa Eddie's birthday!  They have the same birthday, 2 years apart - how cool is that?!  Here's her b-day greeting to them :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Grandpa Eddie's Buckwheat Pancakes

Ok, so technically, this is Betty's recipe, but to us, it's Michael's Grandpa Eddie's pancakes.  Grandpa first made these for us over the holidays last year when we went to up Toledo to work on Annalyn's cradle.  Michael & Grandpa made this beautiful oak cradle for her.  Michael even drew up the design himself and they hand-picked the wood. 

While tagging along, I hand-picked this piece of wood and Michael finished the edges so I could use it as a cutting board.  But back to pancakes...

These pancakes are not light and airy.  These are hearty, filling pancakes made with buckwheat and whole wheat flour.  In my opinion, they are perfect.  Two pancakes and I am full for hours.  My kind of breakfast!  Here's how Grandpa makes it:

Grandpa's handwritten recipe

Buckwheat Pancakes


- 2 eggs
- 1/2 c. buckwheat flour
- 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
- 1 c. milk
- 1 T. sugar
- 2 T. oil
- 1/2 t. salt
- 3 t. baking powder
- wheat germ or wheat bran, optional, may be sprinkled on uncooked side

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Peanut Post: A New Favorite Green Puree - Sweet Potato with Spinach & Green Peas

Annalyn has a new favorite green goo and once again, the combination may surprise you.  Sweet potatoes with spinach and green peas.  I must say, it does taste really good.  The sweetness of the potatoes pairs perfectly with the green flavor of the spinach (yes, green is a flavor in Mama's house.  I love it, and so does my Peanut.  Daddy's still on the fence about "eating leaves", but he does it anyway.)  The end result is a nutrient-packed and very pretty green goo. 

What's that?  You don't like green leaves and yam? Well...

“Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say.” 
~Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham
  Can't argue with the classics...

Sweet Potatoes with Spinach & Green Peas

- 1 T. unsalted butter
- 1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1/2 c. green peas, frozen
- 3/4 c. baby spinach, washed and tough stems removed
- 1 c. water

Saturday, November 24, 2012

6 Creative Ways to Use Leftover Turkey

Every year, I'm excited to have leftover turkey, but I never want to just reheat and serve it like we did the day before.  So then comes the question - what to do with leftovers?  Leftover mashed potatoes is easy - in fact, I often make mashed potatoes just so I can use the leftovers to make this cheddar potato soup.  But with turkey, the possibilities are endless.  This year, we have somehow managed to come out of two Thanksgiving dinners with no leftovers.  I guess we'll have to chalk it up to careful planning!  So instead of showing you what I did with leftovers, I figured I'd give you a list of some recipe ideas (honestly, you can use just about any chicken recipe and substitute turkey).  Here are some of our favorites:

1.  Turkey Chili Verde - add a little spice to your Thanksgiving weekend with this delicious turkey chili made with salsa verde.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Slow Cooker Stout Chicken Stew

Here's a slow cooker recipe with an amazing blend of flavors.  We made it with chicken, but it would also be a great way to use up that leftover turkey!  (Makes 8 servings of about 1 1/3 cup each.  Approximately 9 WW pts per serving!)

Slow Cooker Stout Chicken Stew
- 2 t. salt, divided
- 1/2 t. ground pepper, plus more to taste
- 2 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs (or leftover turkey!)
- 3 pieces cooked bacon, chopped
- 1/2 c. flour
- 1 14-oz. can Guinness beer (or other stout)
- 1 lb. whole baby carrots
- 1 8-oz. package mushrooms, sliced
- 2 c. chopped onion
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 T. dried thyme
- 1 t. dried rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 t. smoked paprika
- 1 c. chicken stock
- 1/2 c. fresh parsely
- 2 cups frozen green peas, thawed

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Main Event: Lemon Herb Turkey

For me, there is nothing like roasting a turkey.  The tradition, the smells, the beautiful golden brown, the poultry herbs, the careful coordination of basting, the art of carving.   Roasting the Thanksgiving turkey is like a right of passage.  For several years, I tried a slightly different recipe each time, trying to get a good feel for what "the perfect turkey" meant to me, taking ideas from each recipe I tried.  Here's the culmination of all those recipes.  Here's how Mama makes her turkey:

Lemon Herb Turkey
- 12 - 20 lb. turkey (figure about 1 lb. per adult you are serving)
- garlic herb butter (this recipe)
- 1 stick of butter
- 4 - 6 c. chicken stock
- 10 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 lemons
- 2 onions
- few sprigs each of rosemary and sage (leftover from herb butter)
- salt & pepper

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mama's Turkey Gravy

What turkey dinner would be complete without a good gravy?  None that this mama makes!  Here's my recipe:
Mama's Turkey Gravy

- 4 c. gravy starter (this recipe)
- pan drippings from turkey (at least 2-3 cups)
- 2 T. herb butter (this recipe)
- 1/4 c. flour
- 2-3 T. cornstarch (because I can never get gravy to thicken without it)
- 1/4 c. water
- salt & pepper, to taste

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

The funny thing about mashed potatoes is that everyone has their favorite way to make them (remember the Friends episode where Monica makes three different kinds of potatoes?).  With only two days left, here's my favorite way to make mashed potatoes - skins on, smashed not whipped, with garlic and sour cream.  It's super easy, very flavorful, and goes well with turkey!  Here's how Mama makes it:

Garlic Mashed Potatoes


- 1 (5 lb.) bag red potatoes, scrubbed and rinsed
- 8-10 whole garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 stick of butter, room temperature (Mama uses the real stuff for the holidays - any other time, I use the yogurt butter)
- 1 1/2 - 2 c. light sour cream
- 1/2 - 1 c. milk (to desired consistency)
- salt and pepper to taste

these were made in my mama's kitchen

Monday, November 19, 2012

Garlic Herb Butter for Thanksgiving Turkey

The countdown to turkey day continues with my recipe for garlic herb butter.  Over the years, I have found that my secret to a juicy turkey is placing a good herb butter between the skin the meat of the turkey breast (and basting often, but that's a story for another post!).  I will show you exactly how I do this on my turkey post - coming soon!  But for now, get to work on making this butter so it's ready to go by Thanksgiving Day.  It can be make up to 2 days ahead and stored in the fridge (consider making extra to be spread on dinner rolls, potatoes, etc.).

Garlic Herb Butter
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 1 T. fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 T. fresh sage, chopped
- 1 t. tarragon
- 1 1/2 t. thyme dried (or 1 T. fresh thyme)
- 1 t. minced garlic
- 1 t. fresh lemon juice

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Gravy Starter

With Thanksgiving just days away, it's time to start preparing what can be made ahead.  Here's a recipe for an easy gravy starter that can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept in the fridge until ready to use.  It's a great way to get a head start on that perfect gravy.  Traditionally, it's made using that little bag of "extras" that come with the turkey... you know, all those lovely organs and things.  But this year, I decided not to use those since I was making it to take to my mom's (and the turkey was at her house, two and a half hours away from me).  You can love me or hate me for it, but I used bacon instead- and it definitely added a certain something to the flavor of the gravy.  In fact, I may just claim it as my secret ingredient... that I'm sharing with all of you!  Here's how Mama makes it:

Gravy Starter
- 2 T. butter
- 5-6 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used pre-cooked)
- 1 cup carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 cup celery, roughly chopped
- 1 large onion, cut into large chunks
- 6 cups chicken and/or turkey stock (plus more, plan on about 8 cups to be safe, or two cartons)
- 1 T. whole peppercorns, optional (I like a peppery gravy, so I decided to add it to the starter as well.  However, I recommend waiting to add the salt until you make the gravy or the end result may be too salty.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pumpkin Fluff Pie

As the countdown to Thanksgiving begins, here's a simple delicious no-cook pie recipe that combines all the best parts of a pumpkin pie with whipped cream, while toning down the overall pumpkin-ness of traditional pumpkin pie.  It's perfect for those "not crazy about pumpkin pie" people in your life, as well as those "I love anything pumpkin spice" people.  This is a pie version of a pumpkin fluff dip courtesy of Pinterest via Shawna.  So as an alternative to pie, hollow out a small pumpkin, fill with this fluffy pumpkin spice dip, and serve with graham crackers.  Very impressive presentation with little preparation = AWESOME last-minute recipe!  I instantly thought that this dip could use a good graham cracker crust, so in the pie crust it went.  Here's how Mama makes it:

Pumpkin Fluff Pie

- 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
- 1 (5 oz) box vanilla instant pudding mix
- 1 t. pumpkin pie spice
- 1 (8 oz) carton lite whipped topping
- 1 9-inch graham cracker pie crust (or graham crackers for dipping)
**only 2 WW pts per 1/4 cup of pumpkin fluff, or 7 pts per 1/8 pie with graham cracker crust.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Spaghetti Pizza

Here's an interesting blend of two of my favorite dishes - pizza and spaghetti.   Basically, the crust is replaced by baked whole grain spaghetti and topped with your favorite pizza toppings (or in this case, my favorites - pepperoni and olives!).  But wait, it gets better!  It's also a WW recipe, only 8 points per serving! (makes 10 servings)  Like most baked pasta dishes, it just keeps getting better with time, which means delicious, healthy leftovers for lunch, too!

Spaghetti Pizza

- olive oil cooking spray (to grease the pan)
- 1 box whole wheat spaghetti
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 large egg
- 2/3 c. skim milk
- 1 t. garlic powder
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1 1/2 t. dried oregano
- 2 T. basil (dried or from a tube, 1/4 if using fresh)
- 1 1/4 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
- 32 oz. bottle spaghetti sauce
- dash of hot sauce, optional
- 2 oz. pepperoni, chopped or sliced (about 1/2 c.)
- 1/4 c. sliced black olives
- 2 T. sliced green olives
(again, toppings are completely up to you, but may affect WW point values)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Chicken & Artichoke Calzones

Using the food processor pizza dough recipe from my previous post, I decided to make some calzones with ingredients I had on hand.  I started with some leftover shredded chicken, diced onion, green pepper, and mushrooms, then looked through my random canned goods for some inspiration.  Here's what I came up with:

Chicken & Artichoke Calzones


- 1 t. olive oil
- 1/2 c. diced onion
- 1/2 c. diced green pepper
- 1/4 c. mushrooms
- 1 1/2 c. crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 can artichoke hearts, chopped
- 1/2 can sliced black olives  (about 1/4 c.)
- 1 c. cooked chicken, shredded
- 1 T. Italian seasoning
- 1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 1/2 c. part skin mozzarella, shredded
- 1/4 c. parmesan cheese 
- 1 pound pizza dough (I used this recipe)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Peanut Post: Sleepover with Remy!

Annalyn & Remy had a little sleepover - we are pretty sure this is an adorable little preview of years to come.  It's amazing how much they interact with each other now.  We started by taking pictures, and when that just couldn't capture it all, this video...

giggles, secrets, and tickle fights
oh my!

Does anyone else feel like this today?

Does anyone else feel like this today?

or maybe like this?

Mama sure does...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Peanut Post: Chicken with Sweet Potato & Apple Puree

growin' girl!

Last weekend, Michael dug up the sweet potatoes he planted last spring.  I remember how excited we were as we planted them - we could actually feed our baby food that we not only made, but grew, too.  Well, last night, that became a reality, and boy, did it taste good!  This recipe combines seasonal produce with healthy protein for one delicious baby style one-pot-wonder dish.  As usual, I made a huge batch so we could freeze it in ice cube trays.  Honestly, I plan to make this again, but not just for Peanut because it was yummy!  Here's how Mama makes it:

Chicken with Sweet Potato & Apple Puree

- 3 lb. chicken thighs
- 1/2 c. onion, chopped
- 2-3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly choppe
- 4 small apples, cored and chopped (peel if you like, but I usually leave them on)
- 2 c. water or chicken stock (I used some frozen chicken stock cubes, plus 1 c. water)
- 4 T. unsalted butter (a small amount of butter actually helps bring out the nutrients in orange veggies like sweet potatoes.  It helps baby's digestive tract absorb the vitamins since many are fat soluble.  And it tastes so good!)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mama's Favorite Things - Avocado Slicer


As I've said before, I absolutely love kitchen gadgets.  Honestly, I like gadgets of all kinds, but the kitchen variety are by far my favorite.  I could spend hours in the section of Bed Bath & Beyond where they have floor to ceiling shelves of random kitchen tools.  I will spend forever pondering over each one, trying to decide if it's a huge time-saver/life-changer or just a waste of money.  I have been both pleasantly surprised and disappointed, but this time, I have to say I was amazed. 

I'm sure some of you are thinking, how hard can it really be to slice an avocado?  Why would you spend money on something that can be done with a paring knife?  Well, my friends, watch and see!  This little guy has a serrated edge on one side to cut the avocado in half, a 4-pronged thingy (very technical term, right?) in the center to remove the pit, and the rounded slicing tool on the other side.  It makes beautiful little slices that are all the same width and perfect for sandwiches, salads, and most frequently for us, baby food! 

ok, I'm listening...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Quick & Easy Food Processor Pizza Dough

Here is a quick and easy recipe for no-rise pizza dough that can be made in the food processor.  It makes enough for one large pizza or four individual pizzas.  I also used it to make calzones (each batch makes 4 large or 6 medium calzones).  This is not a fluffy thick crust kind of dough, especially when made with whole wheat flour.  But it has good flavor, is easy to work with for calzones, and whips up quickly with ingredients you probably already have on hand.  Perfect for all of your spur of the moment pizza needs.

Food Processor Pizza Dough

- 2 c. flour**
- 1 pkg rapid rise yeast
- 1/2 t. sugar
- 1 t. salt
- 1 t. Italian seasoning
- 1/2 t. dried rosemary
- 3/4 c. water
- 1 t. olive oil
**I tried it with 2 c. whole wheat flour and again with 1 c. whole wheat, 1 c. white flour.  I liked it better half 'n half because the all whole wheat crust came out a little too dense.  I have some buckwheat flour I've been anxious to try, so I may give that a shot, too!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

This is why I vote...

best reason ever!
I must say that voting while holding a crazy little 8 month old was quite the experience.  I always hate standing in line, listening to last minute campaigners, and don't even get me started on all the TV and radio commercials.  By the time election day is here, I'm so tired of it all I just can't wait for it to be over.  But I vote because I have the privelege of doing so and because I want her to understand the rights and responsibilities we have as Americans.   I vote for me, but also for her.  Because she counts and I want her to know it.

Peanut Post: Cherub's Chowder (recipe from Annabel Karmel)

Since I made over Michael's bourbon corn chowder, I decided to make Annalyn her own little corn chowder for watching football.  I found this recipe in a book my neighbor gave me and thought it would be a perfect little complement to the chowder we were eating.  The author suggested leaving some of the corn kernels whole for older babies, but I decided to blend it all together this time.  I didn't add additional spices to the recipe, but I figure I can sprinkle in a tiny bit of chili powder, cumin, or dill to her individual servings.  Annalyn really liked it and because it was so simple, so did Mama!
our little football cutie

 Cherub's Chowder
(corn chowder with chicken, recipe from Annabel Karmel)

- 1/2 c. chopped onion
- 1 T. vegetable oil
- 2 medium or 4 small red potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3/4 c. chicken stock or water
- 1/3 c. canned or frozen corn
- 1/4 c. milk
- 1/2 c. diced cooked chicken

Monday, November 5, 2012

Football Food Makeover #4: Bourbon Corn Chowder

The colder it gets outside, the better this soup tastes!  With the freezing rain outside, I found myself craving this delicious (and usually very high calorie) soup that Michael makes.  Rather than give in completely to the craving, I decided to give this colorful, creamy chowder a much-needed makeover.  I have to say, we were both surprised with the results.   Another football food makeover success!

Bourbon Corn Chowder

(made over version)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 t. minced garlic
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1/2 jar (6 oz.) roasted red peppers, chopped
- 2 cans cream style corn
- 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
- 1 c. chicken stock
- 1 can fat-free evaporated milk
- 1 T. sweet chili sauce
- 1 c. cooked chicken, shredded or diced
- 1/4 c. bourbon
- 1 t. chili powder
- 1 t. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 t. paprika
- black pepper, to taste

(original recipe)
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 jar roasted red pepper
- 2 cans cream style corn
- 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
- 1 c. chicken stock
- 1 c. heavy cream
- 1 T. sweet chili sauce
- 1 c. cooked chicken
- 1/2 c. bourbon
- 1 t. chili powder
- 1 t. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 t. paprika
- black pepper, to taste

WW points comparison: (makes 6 servings)
-original is 17 points per serving
-makeover version is only 9 points per serving!
**The makeover version knocks off nearly half the points by substituting evaporated milk for cream, olive oil for butter, and using half the amount of bourbon.  Amazingly, the flavor is not changed much by these substitutions.  Even Michael approved!