To give thanks … part 2

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Phew-wee! It couldn’t have been easier, honestly. May I suggest frying a turkey for anyone reading this blog.  My dad is cringing as he reads this, he is the ultimate grill master. I never recall a Thanksgiving where the turkey was indoors. In fact, most meats were grilled… mom was in charge of sides and dad took care of the protein.

Anyway, we set the turkey to brine on Wednesday night and just let it sit for 16 hours (Thank you, Alton Brown). DONE. Washed it off at 3pm (the next day), let it get to room temp & then off it went to the oil. 40 minutes and it was done. What? No 8 hour cooking time in my oven so I can’t cook anything else? Not this year! It was the best thing EVER!!!

You’ve already read “part 1” of this blog so you know what I cooked up.  Here’s the order it all went down.

Bake the sweet potatoes at 9am, cooled and then prepped as the recipe called for.  I opted to not do the twice baked part; I turned it into a regular casserole. I was having issues not tearing the skin while scooping the “meat” out. Hey, last minute changes are okay.

Start the green beans at 11am, cook the beans and mushrooms and prep entire casserole.  Let it cool then into the fridge it goes, it’s ready!

My only ‘last second’ dish was the grits/mushroom/cheese casserole … for fear the grits would get soggy if prepped ahead of time.

Chelsea had the mac n’ cheese already done upon arrival. She whipped up her famous crab dip for an appetizer (took 20 minutes: 5 minute prep & 15 minutes to cook, easy & yummy!!!).  Stuffing would be made right before dinner and O.M.G. was it delish!

Two cooks in this kitchen was no issue at all and having my oven turkey free, it made for a calm afternoon. As the turkey took an oil bath we started the oven for reheating.  Since the turkey would only take 40 minutes we had to add in “cool down” time, another 20-30 minutes. You must let meat sit before cutting or carving so the juices don’t run out. No one likes dry meat.  We put all the sides in the oven at 300 for almost an hour. Yes, my oven was able to hold 5 large casserole dishes. I could literally hear the heavens above singing in glory.

What do I hear you chanting…. <we want pictures, we want pictures>  HERE THEY ARE!

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(yes I carved the turkey… after all, I sat at home watching many MANY episodes on the Food Channel as to how to carve a turkey.  I did pretty good!)

I actually forgot about another appetizer that Chelsea made and it dawned on me why … we ate it so fast that our brains didn’t have time to process the info but our taste buds sure loved it.  Melon wrapped prosciutto, is there anything easier than that? Take a cheat, buy pre-cut melon and this can get made in about 5 minutes (which is what Chelsea did). No one will shake their finger at you for not buying a whole melon and if they do, then ban them from the dish 😉

Also for dessert I bought pecan tarts and sugar free vanilla ice cream. Walmart had sugar free sweet potato pies and that’s about it, made for a sad shopping trip. So I opted for personal tarts which were 36g of carbs; again personal portions means no over indulging.

Overall it was a successful holiday … minus Hines Ward saying he was thankful for the Macy’s day parade (I’ll chalk that up to him getting hit a few too many times).  I hope you had a fantastic and stress-free Thanksgiving. As tradition for me at least, I started my day with the Thanksgiving Day Parade followed by the dog show. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Josh saved the day!

Let’s oomph up a classic … grilled cheese and soup.

Josh is the grilled cheese master in this house; I end up putting either too much or not enough cheese and the bread has a nice blackened finish. This sandwich, I can officially say I’m the master of! Go ahead and laugh. Sure, I can cook a complex dinner but I can’t cook grilled cheese.  At least I’ve never burned water 😉

Before we begin you’ll need a gadget, either a blender or an immersion blender. I have both but think an immersion blender is way cooler so I went with it.  I also preferred a toaster oven to “grill” the sandwiches, there’s no reason to preheat an oven and only use it for 5 minutes.  Our kitchen is so small and gets incredibly hot – we already had 3 burners going, no reason to add the oven.

Broccoli and Cheese Soup: So easy!
Chop: carrots, broccoli, and an onion. DONE! Boil in chicken broth, blend, pour in half and half, add cheese… DONE DONE!
– this is a great recipe to make on the weekend and freeze in small portions, thaw as you need it.
– a healthier version of your typical broccoli/cheese soup. You’ll cut half the calories & 1/4 of the fat.


Kale and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese: Say what?!
Don’t knock kale unless you’ve tried it.  In my opinion it doesn’t have any flavor, reminds me of spinach. It’s just another dark greens option you should add to your diet. Iceburg lettuce has very few nutrients.  Yes it has a nice crunch but that’s about it.  Save it for a BLT.
Continuing on… saute the onions, take off heat and stir in red wine vinegar; boil water, remove from heat, add kale for 4 minutes, rinse/drain, and pat dry.  Almost done 🙂 Grate your choice of cheese… here’s where I ran into an issue.  If y’all are aware of raclette cheese, by all means hunt it down and use it.  I opted for fontina, while it may not be the same flavor it does have the same texture – easy for melting. It tasted good with the Parmesan too.



Side bar: Raclette Cheese – let me educate you.  You may not have heard of it before but I bet you know what it is … take a look.

It’s an actual cuisine – melt the cheese, scrape it on to a plate and then dip potatoes, pickles, or dried meat.  Looks fancy, right? Yeah, the price says so too. I’ll take the $7 fontina cheese over the (same size) $15+ raclette.

Ok, back to dinner – so while there were a lot of small steps, it didn’t really take much time.  The longest wait was when Josh had to make an emergency trip to the store. The bread had gone bad 😦 I checked it on Friday and NO MOLD.  Come back Saturday – MOLD. WTH!!!! I hate humidity, you can’t leave anything on the counter or else it goes bad in a few days. In Vegas we could leave bread out for 2 weeks and it wouldn’t go bad. I’ve got to remember this. Duh. I promised to give him credit for “saving dinner”.

He also came home with a mini cheesecake. He’s worse than me going to Target. Yeah ladies, you know what I’m talking about.

So that was dinner, a nice change from the usual grilled cheese and Campbell’s soup. Much healthier too!


Detox, schmetox. Cleanse, schmeanse.

I read a Facebook post the other day and it was like this person was in my head! Yesterday morning I was reading someone elses post about needing to detox and cleanse their system by cutting sweets.  Maybe there was sarcasm behind the post but since it’s the internet, everything is open to an opinion.  Just because you decide to not eat candy or cupcakes for 30 days it will not cleanse your system.  Think of all the other garbage you eat, seriously, write it down in a food journal… you’ll be surprised at how poorly most of us eat.  Going back to the post that was “in my head” – it was asked what eating healthy or clean meant to people.  Also, that we need to check on what a detox means. With so many people on “health kicks” I agree that the word DETOX is overused.  My version of eating healthy is cutting sugars and carbs, boosting proteins and fibers; three balanced meals (b,l,d) + two small snacks (nuts, yogurt, carrots, an apple).

Most of our fridge is filled with sugar free or fat free items (read the labels though, f.f. can actually have more sugar in it than a ‘regular’ version).  We don’t cook ground beef anymore, only turkey or chicken but it’s not often that we do (don’t worry, we enjoy a steak every once in a while); pork chops is our go-to meat.  Most of our meals are seafood or 100% meatless though. We don’t have an option for a “health kick”; this has to be a life style change.

So, unless you eat cupcakes for every meal, cutting them out for 30 days won’t do much for you. Plus I firmly believe that our bodies need a sweet treat every so often to keep us in check.

Which leads me to my next topic, diabetic desserts. Yeah, those two words don’t belong together! After reading a few diabetic cook books, I was surprised and appalled at what the “author” thought a diabetic dessert was. Basically they made smaller batches of everything or told you to cut thinner pieces of cake.  Really?! Making 12 cookies vs. 30 cookies doesn’t change the amount of sugar you eat; it only changes the amount you use to bake with.  Plus who makes 12 cookies? Don’t waste my time; if I’m going to bake, there better be a butt load of treats in the end. Also, have you ever tried to cut a thin piece of cake? You end up with a blob on your plate; it’s impossible to cut cake THIN.

My new goal is to bake healthier treats that we can enjoy. Josh has the biggest sweet tooth ever and so far my dinners are keeping him happy but I need to figure out a way so he can start having desserts again.  We’ll find out tonight if my first creation will be a keeper… the only unhealthy ingredient is Angel Food Cake (ended up using less than half of it though), everything else is f.f., s.f., or light.  The carbs aren’t bad compared to Marie Callender pies and other bakery items … 31g/serving is fantastic vs 60+g. We’ve tried the s.f. pies from the bakery section, but with only three or four choices they got old real fast.

Here is our delectable treat that has been chilling since last night (don’t mind the chunk of a.f.c. that’s missing… I enjoyed a few extra pieces)

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