ABOVE: A vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner. In homes across the country on Thanksgiving Day, tables will be set to accommodate everyone from vegans and vegetarians to those trying to eat like a caveman. (Matthew Mead/Associated Press, file)
Whether your feast is traditional, vegetarian, low-carb or gluten-free, we hope your day is full of great company and fantastic food.
I, Arlene, will be enjoying chicken, sweet potatoes and green beans that in my Crock Pot while I attend a Thanksgiving Day Jazzercise class. Then I’ll spend the afternoon/evening at the newspaper office, putting Thursday’s news in Friday’s paper.
Hello! I am back again with a quick recipe that I sort of threw together last night from left-overs!
This past weekend I had a fun time cooking for a group of about thirty teenagers and adults at a local state park, where they were doing their annual retreat in preparation for a medieval fair that they perform in every year. I have done this for a number of years now, and am starting to get it down to a science in the preparation and performance of the meals.
The menu hasn’t really changed all that much over the years, but I am always looking for something different to add to my retinue of things I can do for larger groups like this that won’t kill me.
For the two lunches I prepare, it is usually something simple like sandwiches and some chips, no big deal… they just need something to tide them over on the first day until the big meal in the evening, and on the following day (Sunday) to give them something before they head home. I added hot dogs this year as something different and new, which seemed to go over quite well.
For breakfast on Sunday I keep it somewhat sane… bacon and scrambled eggs, biscuits and pork gravy, oatmeal, hot chocolate, and orange juice. It amazes me how much bacon these people go through!
The big meal though is the evening meal on Saturday. For that I pull out all kinds of stops, and we get the following:
Pigs in a blanket
Two apple pies (also dessert, and a recipe that I will spotlight at some later time because it turned out so well and was so easy!)
They love this lineup of food, and I find that the vegetarian chili is as popular if not more so than the beef stew! It is the kind of food that they need after a hard day of practicing their fights for the battle chess scenes that they will be performing at the fair.
So, this was all a long-winded story that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the topic of this article… but it does. You see… I made too much beef stew this time around, and took home a fairly large tupperware container full of the stuff.
Looking at it at home, I realized that I really did not want to eat that much beef stew. I would be sick of it in no time flat. What could I do with it, though? I supposed I could have frozen it for later, but that takes up room in the freezer. So the only answer was to re-purpose it in the form of leftovers. Since it basically consists of beef chunks, potatoes, and various other veggies that stew well, it seemed to me that I had the basis of a shepherd’s pie. To the Internet!
Reading up on shepherd’s pie, since I had never actually made one before, I came to find that shepherd’s pie is actually a newer term for a cottage pie, and up until recently the two terms were basically synonymous with each other. Only in the last couple of decades have the two split slightly in meaning, with a shepherd’s pie being made with lamb, while the cottage pie is made with beef.
With that, I present to you my version of a cottage pie!
The first thing I did was start my potatoes for the mashed potatoes. I like to use red potatoes for my mashed potatoes and leave the skins on them when I cook them up, since I hold to the belief that there are tons of good vitamins and stuff in the skins. I don’t know if that is true, but beyond that I feel it gives the finished product a nice variable texture and some color, so I will continue to do it.
Looking at my left-over beef stew, I realized that it was entirely too wet to serve my purposes, so I took a strainer and got rid of a goodly amount of the moisture. Unless your beef stew has a very thick gravy, I highly recommend this step!
I then took the strained beef stew and created a nice layer of the stew across the bottom of a casserole dish. I knew that I had not really put enough salt into the stew originally (at least to my tastes) because of the group that I was cooking for, so I added salt at this point to the top of the stew.
Once the potatoes were completed, I started to layer them on top of the stew in the dish. For this casserole dish size I used six or seven potatoes. Unfortunately I didn’t measure anything when I was creating this thing, so it was all by approximation. A nice layer of grated cheese that I also had leftover from the weekend went on top.
With the potato layer added, into the oven at 400F it went for about 20 minutes. When I checked it at that point, the cheese had melted but had not browned at all, so I turned on the broiler for about 5 minutes and that did the trick.
Because I cook for myself—and only myself—almost all of the time, I have trouble with recipes made for a crowd. Giant bowls of potato salad, pasta salad and my favorite Broccoli Crunch Salad are hard for me to polish off before they go bad.
My concerted effort to spend more time in the kitchen this month is paying off with a slew of new recipes to try. The one I’m sharing today, Fall Slaw, is a variation on the Fall Slaw with Asian Pears and Almonds that I found on GreenLiteBites. Continue reading →
I hate making crust. I mean I hated it when I could eat wheat. It probably has something to do with the fact that I could never roll out the dough right. It was always too think or too lumpy or too crumbly.
Now that I’m gluten-free I can’t find a crust that tastes yummy. Most of the year that’s not a big deal, but Thanksgiving is coming and I REALLY want a good old-fashioned pumpkin pie.
So I’m turning to you Chicklets readers… Do you have a great family recipe that I can convert to gluten-free? Or do you have a fantastic gluten-free crust recipe that you want to share? Help a Chicklet out, please!
So, this weekend it came time for an annual party that I have been to every year for the last dozen years or so, and this year’s theme dish challenge was for everyone to bring a curry. One of the requested stipulations was that the curry have no nightshades in it, because of an allergy problem from one of the hosts.
Of course, that ruled out my recipe for curried venison (you might remember the recipe from when I was being featured as a guest rooster), since it incorporates quite a bit of crushed tomatoes and other bits, all of which are nightshades.
Time to come up with a new recipe! I knew that I wanted to make a curry that had the dietary requirements needed, but also one that was not too spicy, because for some reason there are folks out there that cannot handle a bit of spice in their diet. (OK, to put things into perspective for you, I consider Taco Bell’s hot sauce to be a mild sauce, and their mild sauce to be the equivalent of catsup. My motto for spicy things is that if I’m not crying, it isn’t spicy enough.)
Scouring the interwebs, I found a couple of ideas that seemed to work, and turned out to not only be nightshade free, but were gluten free as well! Of course, in my kitchen a recipe lasts about as long as it takes to actually print out, and then I start modifying it to suit my personal tastes and desires. So the recipe turned out to be something like this:
Of course, that is the base recipe. I found as I was preparing things that I had forgotten to buy any veggies that would be suitable for this. I did have some frozen peas in the freezer, and there was a very nice butternut squash just sitting there on the counter, so I quickly chopped up the squash and roasted it in the over, then added that and the peas.
The squash was a bit of a mistake.
It is just too soft for a curry or stew. It tends to mush up and turn into a paste in no time flat. I would have been better off hitting it with a stick blender or something after it had roasted and putting it in that way. Ah well, knowledge for next time.
Of course, one curry wasn’t enough for a competition! So I made a second curry, this time following the venison curry recipe (sort of). I used a can of condensed tomato soup and some craisins that I had lying around instead of tomato paste and raisins, and I also made it a nice spicy version by adding in some sambal oelek and a couple of dashes of some sort of hot sauce sitting in the cupboard. It was good!
That was a quick addition though. I still wanted to really wow the other party-goers… which brings us to the point of this post: Curried Empanadas!
And of course I had to go and get fancy even with an empanada. Most of the time an empanada is made with a pie crust or short crust and deep fried. Not me. I felt it needed an even bigger twist, and decided to use phyllo dough and bake it… and I was going to do it without ever having used phyllo dough before.
I went with pre-made stuff, because I really didn’t have time to learn how to do two things this time around, and it worked out pretty well. The pre-made stuff comes in big sheets, so once it was defrosted I rolled it out so that the sheets were flat but stacked up one atop another (you get about 15 sheets in a roll, two rolls to a box), then cut the sheets into three equal sections.
Process for folding empanada
Taking three sections on top of each other, I put a spoonful or two of the curry I had just made onto one end of the section, the wrapped it up into a triangular shape.
Got a bunch wrapped up and onto a baking sheet, then sprayed them with olive oil so that they would get a nice golden crisp on them. Into the oven at 400F for about 15 minutes. While I was waiting for the first batch to finish cooking, I put the unused phyllo dough back in the fridge. It has to be worked while cold. If it starts to get warm it gets gooey and you can’t work it anymore.
The first batch came out of the oven, and I thought they looked to be a success, except for one or two which were wrapped oddly. Those were obviously not presentable, so I had to eat them to discard of the evidence…. and they were delicious.
Finished off the second batch, popped them into a bit of tupperware for transport, and went to the party. Abigail was there, and she tried one. It kind of blew her head off because of the spicy heat of the second curry I had made and used, but she still enjoyed it, I think!
That was the gist of the critique from one of the first friends who read my manuscript for BLIND DATE BRIDE. She explained that food is often a metaphor for…well, you know—and I should just get my hero and heroine in bed instead.
Being the kind of gal who loves to read steamy scenes, I took her advice to heart. Continue reading →
Please welcome back to the kitchen, Cheryl Norman! She’s here to help us learn how to fight breast cancer by eating the right kinds of foods. Congratulations on winning your battle and through it all never giving up! And yay on your newest release, RUNNING OUT OF TIME!
It’s October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In 2010, I underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments to rid my body of breast cancer. Happily, I’m 3½ years as a survivor today, but I’m still under treatment. For two more years I will take estrogen-blocking medication, and I continue to monitor with follow-up appointments with my oncologists. I’ll do anything to prevent a recurrence of this disease, including changes in my diet. I hope what I’ve learned will help you, too. Continue reading →