Monday, November 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 11/29 - 12/5

Breakfasts will include:
  • eggs/whites cooked in olive oil, with veggies (onion, green pepper, broccoli, spinach) and sometimes cheese
  • fruit & yogurt smoothies
  • English muffins
  • Gingerbread Muffins
  • Oven Oatmeal
Lunches discussed daily at 360 Lunch Boxes

Dinners this week:
  • Thanksgiving Soup
  • White Winter Vegetable Stew
  • Busy Day NOT Gourmet Chicken Cacciatore
  • Meatball Pizza
  • Soup, Salad, and Breadsticks
  • Build-Your-Own Hoagies & Fresh Fruit Salad
  • Chili & Cornbread
Planned Baking/Snacks:
  • the gingerbread muffins from breakfast
  • peppery popovers
  • double chocolate muffins

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bites Around the Blogosphere

Been a while, hasn't it?

I'll get to this week's Bites in just a second. First, I thought I'd share a bit of what I've been up to. First of all, here comes Christmas, charging full speed ahead. Are you almost done shopping? I have just a few things to pick up and I'm finished. Hubs and I are really scaling back this year on our purchases. I like it this way. Less stress. Less financial strain. More enjoyment. What could be better?

Also, as if I haven't mentioned it enough, WE'RE MOVING TO GERMANY! We report to Grafenwoehr in September. I've been using Rosetta Stone to learn the language, and I've been looking at pictures and stories about Bavaria. I'm so excited. Wouldn't you be? Look at what I have to look forward to (photos found @

...and that's just in Grafenwoehr! As time passes, I'll share more about Europe and what I learn. So far, I can tell you, in German, all about my small, white dog, my sandwiches and eggs and milk, numbers through six, and a little about men, women, kids, and clothing.

On we's Bites:

Pumpkin Cranberry Pecan Upside-Down Cake at Beantown Baker

Grilled Chicken with Bacon Balsamic Glaze at Jenn's Food Journey

Spicy Corn Cakes with Black Beans at Lucy's Soup Can

See you tomorrow for the week's menu plan!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Holiday Shopping's a Breeze with CSN Stores

Having a hard time finding just the right present for the folks on your list this holiday season? If you're like me, you don't feel much like braving the crowds at the mall and department stores. I prefer to stay home and let my fingers do the shopping. Whether I'm shopping for sling backpacks for my daughters, some framed artwork for my mother, or I just want to reward my hard shopping work with a new hanging pot rack for myself, CSN Stores has it all.

Soon, I will be reviewing another great product from CSN Stores. The trouble is, I'm having a hard time deciding what to review! What do you think I should choose?

Which would you choose to review? I look forward to hearing from you. And who knows? Maybe I'll choose the one YOU want to hear about! Look for my review soon!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! Menu & Recipes

Thanksgiving Delights


On Thanksgiving Day we’re thankful for

Our blessings all year through,

For family we dearly love,

For good friends, old and new.


For sun to light and warm our days,

For stars that glow at night,

For trees of green and skies of blue,

And puffy clouds of white.


We’re grateful for our eyes that see

The beauty all around,

For arms to hug, and legs to walk,

And ears to hear each sound.


The list of all we’re grateful for

Would fill a great big book;

Our thankful hearts find new delights

Everywhere we look!

By Joanna Fuchs


My Family's Thanksgiving 2010 Menu

Cheese Ball & Crackers

Roast Turkey
Pan Gravy
Cornbread Dressing with Bacon & Onions*
Mashed Potatoes
Pumpkin Yeast Rolls*
Sweet Peas with Pearl Onions

Crustless Pumpkin Pie*
Pumpkin Bread Pudding*
Apple Crisp*

*Recipe follows
Hints for a Delicious Turkey

I don't inject my bird. I don't deep fry it. I don't really do anything special. But my turkey is always the moistest, most delicious around. How do I do it? Well, Grammy always taught me that the most important thing about cooking is paying attention to detail. Not skill. Not talent. But rather taking care...doing the job at hand and doing it well. Pay attention to the foods you're cooking. My biggest turkey tip:

Baste it. A lot.

Keep squirting or spooning the juices over your bird. This keeps the bird moist and helps even browning.

More tips:

Rub your bird, inside and out, with a high-quality olive oil. Then, rub in your favorite herbs. I like to use garlic, pepper, and salt..only those three. You can get fancier, but I find that those three make the best flavor.

To stuff, or not to stuff?

I've done both. I prefer unstuffed. I like to cook my dressing on the side, and I stick a whole onion (stick it with a fork a few times first), a couple cut-up carrots, and some celery in the cavity to add flavor to both the bird and the drippings -- which you'll use for gravy later!

Use a meat thermometer. These are available at low cost. They're tremendously useful. Another way to tell when your bird is probably done: The wings and drums will wiggle loosely in their sockets. A meat thermometer is your best bet, though.

Avoid cross-contamination.

Defrost in the fridge. I pulled out my turkey on Sunday and it was perfectly thawed this morning.

Emergency thawing: place the WRAPPED turkey in a clean sink full of cold water. Change the water every thirty minutes until the turkey is thawed.


Thanksgiving Recipes

Cornbread Dressing with Bacon & Onions

I rely on boxed stuffing mix for this quick, delicious variation on dressing. It's a favorite with my entire family.

What You Need:

  • 2 boxes of cornbread stuffing mix
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup butter, divided
  • 1/4 lb bacon, diced
How it's Done:

  1. Heat 1/4 cup butter in a skillet. Add bacon and onion. Cook and stir until onion is translucent and bacon is cooked.
  2. Bring to a boil 3 cups of water.
  3. Put the dry stuffing mix in a large mixing bowl. Cover with the bacon and onion. Top with the rest of the butter. When the water boils, pour it over the entire thing.
  4. Let the stuffing stand for five minutes.
  5. Grease a 2 quart baking dish. Transfer the stuffing to the dish. Pack it down tightly. Bake in the oven with your turkey for the last hour of cooking.

Pumpkin Yeast Rolls

These beauties are just a spin off of my favorite sweet potato rolls. They're easy to make and taste delicious.

What You Need:

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 to 4 cups flour (I used White Lily all-purpose flour)
How it's Done:

1.Proof your yeast: In your mixing bowl, combine warm milk, sugar, and yeast. Stir it up and then let it sit undisturbed for ten to twelve minutes. It should get bubbly and double in volume. (If it doesn't, don't proceed, because it means your yeast is dead. Go out and buy new, fresh yeast. Yeast should be used by the expiration date. If you buy it in a jar, use it within 6 months of opening.)

2.Stir in egg yolk, butter, and salt. Add pumpkin puree and stir to combine.

3.Half a cup at a time, stir in your flour. If you're not using a stand mixer, a wooden spoon is the best tool for this job. Your dough will be slightly sticky when all the flour is stirred in.

4.Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. You could also use your stand mixer for this job. By hand, it will take about 8 minutes.

5.Form the dough into a ball. Coat lightly with oil and place in a large mixing bowl. Cover gently and let rise until doubled in size. This will take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes.

6.Punch down your dough. Divide it into 10 equal parts. Roll each piece into a rope. Roll cinnamon-roll style, pinching the end seam to seal. Place each on a cookie sheet that's been oiled and dusted with cornmeal. Cover loosely. Let rise again, until doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour.

7.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake rolls 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned.

8.Immediately upon removal from oven, brush rolls with melted butter.
Crustless Pumpkin Pie (a.k.a. Pumpkin Pudding)

This wonderful dessert will satisfy your desire for pumpkin pie and you won't even miss the crust! Better still: you can make it in your slow cooker, freeing up time AND oven space!

What You Need:
  • 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
  • 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
How it's Done:

  1. Beat eggs well. Add the rest of the ingredients and keep stirring until it's uniform in texture and color.
  2. Pour into a greased slow cooker.
  3. Cook on high for three to four hours. Start checking for doneness at the 3 hour mark. You'll know it's done when the center is set and it looks like a pumpkin pie.
  4. Serve as is or with whipped cream.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Make the most out of this favorite American fall food. Who says you need to stop at pumpkin pie? Try this delicious twist on a traditional bread pudding. I've used milk in place of heavy cream to cut down on calories, but make no mistake: this is a very rich dessert that's full of sugar. A little bit will do you well.

What You Need:

for the pumpkin bread:

  • 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger

for the custard:

  • 3 cups milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
for the nonalcoholic vanilla sauce:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • vanilla bean, scraped
How it's Done:

  1. Bake the pumpkin bread.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line three loaf pans (8x5 is fine) with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set them aside.
  2. Beat together the pumpkin, eggs, vegetable oil, milk, and sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, soda, and all the spices.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients all at once and stir only until combined.
  5. Divide amongst loaf pans and bake for about an hour, until a pick inserted near center comes out clean.
  6. Let the loaves cool completely. I like to wrap mine and store them overnight before use.
  7. Cut two of the loaves into 1/2" cubes. Spread them out on cookie sheets and bake at 325 for about 20 to 30 minutes, until they're toasted dry. You can use the other loaf another time.
  8. Set the cubes aside and prepare the custard. Bring the milk and vanilla extract to a simmer over medium heat, stirring very frequently to prevent scorching.
  9. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, pumpkin puree, and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
  10. Slowly drizzle in the heated milk, stirring the whole time to prevent the eggs from cooking.
  11. Butter a 9x11" baking dish. Spread the pumpkin bread cubes evenly in the dish.
  12. Drizzle the custard over the cubes, stirring and pressing the cubes to fully saturate them with custard. Let it stand up to 30 minutes so that the bread soaks up the custard as much as possible.
  13. You need to cook this in a water bath, so find a pan bigger than the one you're cooking it in. Place the bread pudding dish into the larger dish and position the whole thing on the middle shelf in your oven.
  14. Pour hot water into the bottom dish.
  15. Bake for an hour. You want to see it puffed up, but the center will still be a bit jiggly. Take it out of the oven and out of its water bath. Let it stand 30 minutes before topping with sauce and serving.
  16. While it sits undisturbed, make your vanilla sauce. Bring all the ingredients (just the seeds of the vanilla bean, not the bean itself) to a boil in a sauce pan with high sides. Cook and stir for two minutes. Remove from heat.
  17. You can either drizzle the sauce over the entire dish, or you can drizzle a bit over eat individual serving. For additional flavor and eye appeal, sprinkle each serving with a combination of ground cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, to taste.
Apple Crisp

What You Need:

  • 3 lb tart apples, cored (peel them if you want to. I left my peels on for color and texture)
  • big bowl of water with Fruit Fresh added (for dipping the sliced apples)
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider, orange juice, apple juice, lemon juice, or water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional, I omitted them today)
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
How it's Done:

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Slice the apples thinly as you would for pie. Dunk them in the Fruit Fresh water ( I leave all the slices in the bowl until I'm ready to proceed).
  3. In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, and 2 Tbsp all purpose flour. Toss apples in sugar mixture.
  4. Grease a 2 quart baking dish. Pour the coated apples into the dish and distribute them evenly.
  5. Drizzle with whatever juice you prefer.
  6. Combine the topping ingredients: softened butter, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts (if using). Sprinkle topping evenly on apples.
  7. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until apples are tender and dish is bubbling.
  8. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
I'd like to leave you with one final verse:

May your stuffing be tasty,

May your turkey be plump.

May your potatoes & gravy

Have nary a lump.

May your yams be delicious.

May your pies take the prize.

May your Thanksgiving dinner

Stay off of your thighs.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wallet Padding: Split Peas

Did you hear? We're moving to Germany! It looks like September will be our reporting month. So, I want to save up around $3,000 between now and August 1st, so that we can have a little padding in the wallet when we arrive. We'll want to take some vacation time and tour a bit of Europe, plus we need to set money aside for out-of-pocket expenses as they arise.

One of the easiest ways to cut household costs and save money is in the grocery store. Going vegetarian is almost always a surefire way to slash the cost of a meal. Take today's soup, for example: It's split pea. By leaving out the traditional ham, I'm saving at least $3.00. That's $3.00 toward my trip to Italy/France/Spain/Portugal/wherever my heart desires. ;)

I mean, really. Which would you rather have: ham in your soup, or a pair of Italian shoes...bought in Italy?

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
in the slow cooker

What You Need:
  • 1 lb dried split peas, sorted through to remove debris
  • 4 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4" thick coins
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp minced basil
  • optional: 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
How it's Done:
  1. Add everything but salt and pepper to a large slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours, then reduce heat to low and continue cooking until ready to serve.
  2. Consider taking your potato masher and mashing up the veggies a little bit at the end of the cooking time. I like for my split pea soup to have an even texture. Doing this gives me the mouth-feel I like from split pea soup.
  3. Before serving, taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.
  4. I like to serve this soup topped with garlic-cheese croutons and a dollop of sour cream.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Thanksgiving Edition

Hello friends new & old! Here we are in the last full week of November. Can you believe it? I've been blogging here at All Home Cooking for almost a full year. I've been giving some thought as to what to do with this blog when the year comes to a close. My url says cook at home 2010...soon, it won't be 2010 anymore. I know that I won't be shutting the blog down. I'll still be cooking new things and sharing them with you. I just haven't decided what to do about the url just yet.

I've been sick! And busy! I am just getting over bronchitis (and when I get bronchitis, it's bad. I'm lucky if it doesn't settle in and make a nice little pneumonia out of itself).

My daughter (Bayberry) just turned twelve and we had a slumber party for her. I just saw my husband off for a few days-- he's gone to Texas for a meeting. And we got some very, very, very good news! Oh, and I have  a personal blog now. I'd love for you to check it out. It's a good way to get to know the person behind the cookbook, if you're interested. :)

Anyway, this week brings more busyness with it. There's Thanksgiving to prepare for (don't forget to take your turkey out of the freezer!). And there's Black Friday. Are you done Christmas shopping? Have you even begun? I'm just about done. There are a couple of things left to purchase, but my bulk is done. I'll be staying home for Black Friday, thankyouverymuch.

Here's what the cooking looks like around here this week:

  • vegetarian split pea soup with garlic-cheese croutons and salad
  • creamy chicken penne pasta
  • black bean soup served with flour tortillas
  • Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, cornbread dressing, corn pudding, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet peas with pearl onions, honey-nut crunch sweet potatoes with cranberries, pumpkin yeast rolls, crustless pumpkin pie, apple crisp, pumpkin bread pudding, pumpkin mousse
  • turkey a la king with pepper popovers
  • meatloaf, oven fries, and veggies
  • leftovers
This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Home Birthday Parties

If we're not careful, birthday parties can cost a small fortune. Case in point: my youngest daughter's recent party at a party venue ran me $250 for the venue, $40 for the cake, $60 for the present, and $30 for the goodie bags. And it was a pretty simple party as far as parties go.

My oldest daughter is turning 12 and wants a simple sleepover party. You can imagine my inner joy when she said that. Home parties can cost so much less. Note, I say CAN, not DO, because it's easy to go overboard with a home party.

I thought I'd share with you my plans for our home birthday party.

Bayberry is having a slumber party. We took into consideration her age and interests in planning her party. We did not have the most frugal party possible. There are places we could have cut corners and costs. I'll talk about that later. We did manage to save a lot of money anyway!

Here's our plan and what it's costing us:

  • Twilight series movies -- already owned Cost = $0
  • facials and nail painting -- homemade facials and we already own the nail polish Cost = $0
  • Disney Sing It --already owned Cost = $0

  • popcorn, oil, salt -- Cost = $3.00
  • 2 bags of chips -- Cost = $3.00
  • bag of m&m candies -- Cost = $1.50
  • Ice cream cake -- Cost = $12.00

  • Homemade cupcakes -- Cost = $4.00
  • Hawaiian Punch, 2 bottles -- Cost = $4.00
  • Tombstone Pizzas (3) -- Cost = $6.00
  • Breakfast (Pancakes, Bacon, Sausage, Syrup, Orange Juice, Breakfast Casserole) -- Cost = $15.00
Goodie Bags
  • heart-shaped white boxes (6) -- Cost = $6.00
  • bath poufs (6) -- Cost = $1.16
  • Shower Gel (6) -- Cost = $10.00
  • Nail Polish (6) -- Cost = $6.00
  • Lip Gloss (12) -- Cost = $2.40
  • Rose Petal soaps (12) -- Cost = $1.33
  • 6 invitations -- Cost = $3.37

  • wallet with cash inside -- Cost = $55.00
  • zhu zhu pet with accessories -- Cost = $20.00 est.

Previous Venue Party Cost = $380.00

Home Party Savings = $226.24 --In other words, my family's large cell phone bill for a month. WOW.

We could have saved more. Here's how:

  1. Ditch the chips. They already have access to pretty much unlimited popcorn. Savings = $3.00
  2. Make a cake. Skip Carvel and cupcakes. Savings = about $12.00
  3. Go with store-brand soda/iced tea/KoolAid for drinks. Savings = $2.00
  4. Make pizzas from scratch. Savings = about $3.00
  5. Smaller breakfast. Ditch the bacon and casserole. Savings = about $6.00
  6. Skip the goodie bags altogether. Savings = $26.89
  7. Print our own invitations. Savings = $3.00
  8. Less cash in the wallet. $50 is standard present cost for us, but we could have halved it to save. $25.00
Cost of this party with the reductions = $72.87

More ways to save on home parties:
  • Use what you have for decorating. Chances are good that you already have streamers, balloons, and confetti hanging around from years prior. Mix and match for a new look.
  • Negotiate prices. Or barter. Maybe Jo Jo the clown would be willing to take hedge trimming or gutter cleaning in exchange for an hour with the kids.
  • Use your dishes rather than buying paper/plastic disposables.
  • Shop sales for party food. Publix had my chips buy one, get one free last week.
  • For entertainment, choose a movie you own, or set out a bunch of craft supplies you have on hand and let the kids create what they want to create.
  • Another entertainment option that also cuts food costs: Have the kids prepare their own food. Whether they make individual pizzas, tacos, or cupcakes, making it at home costs less than buying premade. And letting the kids create their own provides food and entertainment. A double whammy.

Monday, November 15, 2010


And the winner is...

Comment number 41:

Congrats, Jenn! :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thanksgiving -- Another Great Recipe for You

I won't be able to post a completed picture of this dish until Thanksgiving, because it's one of the few dishes I insist on making the day of the dinner. However, it's so good that I want to get this recipe into your hands in time for your big day. I'll update the recipe with completed photos once I prepare it. Of course, I could always just make one just for the blog, and another for my family's celebration. However, that's not economical for my wallet or my waistline. I can't resist this dish, so twice a year is all it gets. :)

There are so many versions of corn pudding available to try. Some use saltine crackers. Some use bread crumbs. Some use bell pepper. Some use bacon. Some include green beans. Mine is a result of my family loving corn but not being satisfied with the recipes out there. It takes a while to bake, so be patient. It's well worth the wait.

Buttery Corn Pudding

What You Need:
  • 2 cans of corn, drained
  • 2 cans of creamed corn
  • 1/2 lb cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 a large onion, minced
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups of Ritz-type cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • ground black pepper to taste
How it's Done:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (or, leave it at your turkey roasting temperature). Spray a 9x11" casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray or coat with butter. Set it aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all four cans of corn, 3/4 of the shredded cheese, the onion, the eggs, 1 cup of the cracker crumbs, and pepper if desired. Pour this mixture into your baking dish.
  3. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top of your corn mixture.
  4. Combine the other cup of crumbs with the melted butter, and sprinkle the crumbs over the top of your casserole.
  5. Bake, uncovered, for an hour at 350 degrees, or 90 minutes to 2 hours if you're baking it alongside your turkey.
  6. Let the dish stand for ten minutes before serving.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanksgiving -- Day 3

I hope you've been enjoying my recipes so far. Today, I bring you a dessert that's both light and rich at the same time: Simple Pumpkin Mousse.

This won't be the last time I share a pumpkin recipe with you this week. My family loves pumpkin, and since it's an orange vegetable, I make as many dishes with it as I can all autumn and winter long. It's cost-effective, versatile, pretty to behold, and delicious. You can't get much better than that.

Simple Pumpkin Mousse, Two Ways
Traditional Method (Fat-Free, Low Sugar Method in parentheses)

What You Need:
  • 1 can pure pumpkin, 15 oz size (same)
  • 1 3/4 cups whipped heavy cream (16 oz fat-free Cool Whip)
  • 4-serving size instant pudding mix, white chocolate or similar flavor (use sugar-free, fat free)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice for garnish (same)
How it's Done:
  1. Blend pudding mix with pumpkin.
  2. Gently fold in whipped cream or Cool Whip.
  3. Store refrigerated until ready to serve.
  4. Before serving, sprinkle evenly with pumpkin pie spice.
I'm thankful for my ability to cook, which has blessed my family with nutrition and delicious-tasting meals, and has brought friends together, and has allowed me to share my passion with the world via this blog. What are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thanksgiving -- Day 2

Now, I have this problem that may or may not be unique to my little family. You see, I'm the only one who loves cranberry sauce! Every year, I buy a whole container of cranberry sauce, only to have one or two servings before throwing the rest away. What a waste! I can't simply give it up. Oh, no! It wouldn't be Thanksgiving dinner without my cranberry sauce! So I've devised a simple method to have my cranberry sauce without waste. I make a small batch.

This recipe easily doubles to accommodate a family that's more appreciative of a good cranberry sauce.

Whole Berry Stove Top Cranberry Sauce
Serves 2 to 4 depending on portion size

What You Need:
  • 6 oz fresh cranberries (use the other half of the bag bought for the sweet potatoes!)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
How it's Done:
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan with high sides.
  2. Bring to a boil. Stir frequently.
  3. Cook and stir about 15 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

I'm thankful for loving family and good friends to keep nearby during this holiday season and always. What are you thankful for?

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Do I even need to mention that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday? I see it as my showcase day: the day when I share my cooking passion and skill with friends and family. My wares are on display. I get to see cleaned plates and food-drunken grins. It's quite an ego-stroke.

This year, I'm toning my Thanksgiving down quite a bit, for two reasons. First, because I want a stress-free holiday season. In years past, I have worked myself into a frenzy cooking ten or more side dishes and an equal number of desserts. Also, I'm working on my weight, so I need to be careful what I serve. There are a couple dishes that I'm going to make that are very fattening but very worth the caloric cost. Other than those, I'm making my dinner plans healthier.

Each day this week, I'll share with you a recipe that I'm using for my family's Thanksgiving celebration. I'm cooking these in real time, and freezing them to use on the big day. That's another way to de-stress your holidays: plan ahead, prepare ahead. I hope you enjoy my recipes.

First recipe: Sweet Potatoes made healthier

Normally, my sweet potato recipe consists of tons of butter, brown sugar, pineapple, and pecans. Here's a healthier option:

Honey-Nut Crunch Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries

What You Need:
  • 2 1/2 lb peeled, cubed sweet potatoes (1" cubes)
  • 6 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 6 oz whole almonds (unsalted), ground into a coarse meal
  • 1/4 cup honey
How it's Done:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Layer the sweet potatoes and cranberries in a 2 quart baking dish.
  3. Pour the apple cider over the sweet potatoes, then sprinkle with the cinnamon.
  4. Combine ground almonds and honey. Sprinkle over the top of the sweet potatoes.
  5. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove lid and bake an additional 15 minutes to brown top.

I'm thankful for full bellies and full cupboards...I'm thankful my family never

needs to experience true hunger. What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Can you believe it's already November 1st? October went by so quickly!

How was your Halloween? We had such a great time. On Friday, Army Man and I went with some friends to see Saw in 3D. What better way to kick off Halloween weekend than to see a slasher film? On Saturday, our community observed trick or treating hours. Army Man and I dressed up to hand out candy while Bayberry and Fancy went trick or treating with friends. Later, we all met up at a Halloween party and had a fun evening. Finally, our holiday weekend culminated in a scream fest at a haunted farm. Just adults, no children. I screamed a lot, got some special cuddles in the haunted barn by various axe murderers, and came home a bit hoarse. What a great weekend! Here we all are in our costumes:

Fancy made a pretty convincing spectre.

I loved Bayberry's eyes here. She wore some long false lashes that really added to the cat look.

Army man as grandpa. He scared most of our trick or treaters with this mask!

Finally, yours truly. The kids weren't so frightened of me. Note the rolled stockings. Oh, and on my head, that's my hair, not a wig. It took at least an hour to roll it and turn it grey. Some dollar store reading glasses on a beaded chain and a cane completed my look.

Lots of folks took our picture that night. :)

Did you dress up? Go to a party? Tell me about your Halloween!

On to the menu plan...

Breakfasts will include pumpkin pie oatmeal (recipe follows), pancakes, scrambled eggs & toast, yogurt, Cheerios (Publix has them buy one get one free through Tuesday!), and fruit.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
serves 1

What You Need:
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 Tbsp sweetener of choice
How it's Done:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan with high sides. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer five minutes. Remove from heat and let stand three minutes before serving. My kids love this with a bit of whipped cream on top. I like it plain for a low fat, high fiber breakfast.

Lunches will be posted at 360 Lunch Boxes.

Dinners this week:

  • Spinach-Feta Pasta
  • Beef Tacos
  • Slow Cooker Vegetable Lasagna
  • Slow Cooker Chicken Burritos
  • Chicken Stroganoff
  • Chicken Fried Steak (made healthier!), Pepper Popovers, Mashed Potatoes, and veggies
  • Leftovers
Planned Baking:
  • Pumpkin pudding

For more menu plans, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie every Monday. Stop back by for recipes throughout the week.

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