Thanksgiving: Every food blogger needs this post

Thanksgiving. That wonderful holiday where everyone eats too much and then passes out on the couch to the sound of football and cheering fans. It’s turned in to a holiday that can sometimes involve a lot of family drama and then the anticipation of fighting the next day over some grandiose deal….even though the day before you were supposed to be thankful for what you already have. Confusing.

Well this Thanksgiving, I spent my day in the kitchen, being thankful that I have friends to surround me while my hunny is away. Otherwise it probably would have been a very lonely holiday. And of course, I got entirely too wrapped up in cooking. To the point that I didn’t take any pictures of the final spread. Including my absolutely gorgeous, brown, crispy and delicious turkey. I would have loved to brag about it, and show it off in all its glory…except it’s gone now. It was devoured, because it was juicy and delicious. I don’t like white meat because it’s usually dry. This wasn’t. I was happy with all portions of the turkey. The photos I do have are from the middle of the day. When we realized we should probably take a couple pictures.

My spread included everything. Turkey, homemade stuffing (mama’s recipe 🙂 ), cranberry relish which I can eat by itself any day of the year, home made bread, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and pineapple (not using canned yams, using actual sweet potatoes), glazed carrots, mashed potatoes, brownies, pecan pie tartlets… mmm delicious.

One of the best ‘adventures’ of the day was the making of the bread. We decided that since I probably already had everything on hand that we were going to need, why not make the bread and save us some money? Great idea. So the bread started out great. Add all the ingredients, and get the kitchen-aid working. Then the instructions said to let it rise, covered, for an hour. Ok, no problem. Punch it down, knead it about five times, flip it on to a floured surface and stretch it out. Then braid it so that you have a loaf, rather than rolls. That sounds awesome. Ms. Kelly and I were very excited about this endeavor. So we did that and set it back to rise for another 30 minutes. Well, when we uncovered it to brush it with the egg/water mixture to ensure it would be golden and delicious, we found our beautiful braided dough had spread out instead of up. Meaning the braid melded back in to the rest of the dough…leaving us with basically foccacia bread. It was still delicious, it still cooked up the way it was supposed to and was great for making paninis…but still. That was not the desired effect. Anyone have any idea why that happened? Hints would be appreciated because I plan on making it again. It almost had a sourdough taste to it. And I love me some sourdough.

Second best thing? Low-calorie dessert. Except for that whole you’re only supposed to have one to keep it low-calorie. Yeah that didn’t happen. We made pecan pie tartlets out of the Eat More of What You Love cookbook. They’re only 200 calories per tartlet. Awesome! Except they are absolutely delicious with whipped cream on top, and two-bites for one. Which make them like Pringles: Once you pop you can’t stop!

Thanksgiving was perfect. A great day. Even if I was missing my best friend, and he was missing his favorite food.

Chorizo and Kale Pasta

Dinner last night was something I’ve never tried before. Pasta! Just kidding. Well, not really. It was pasta, it was just pasta with chorizo and kale…and tomatoes, onion, garlic and cheese. It was pretty good. Though I’m not sure it’s something I’ll do again. It was kind of bland. And unfortunately because of my lack of experience with kale, I wasn’t sure how to make it better.

I had made baked kale chips the other night and they were delicious – like I ate half of what I made in one sitting before realizing I wanted a couple for lunch the next day. And that was just oil and salt. I wonder if the baking did something to them that the cooking in a pan did not? The chips were a little sweet, had a really good flavor and the salt brought out the flavor even more. The kale from my pasta didn’t have a whole lot of flavor. I kind of felt like Thumper trudging through the greens to get to the chorizo and cheese. Sad day. Oh well, it was edible, and everyone has to screw up sometimes!

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Oh yeah, and I’ve become a fan of Instagram. You can follow me at jennmontgomery.

Spicy Chicken Chorizo Frittata

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I don’t normally make a big deal about breakfast. Every so often I will make waffles or french toast…but usually it is scrambled eggs and an english muffin. Or better yet, cereal. For some unknown reason to me, I got a wild hair this morning to make a frittata. I’ve never made a frittata. But I started pulling things out of the fridge and into my cast iron skillet they went. And you know what? It was freaking delicious. Even my hunny proclaimed that this was his new favorite breakfast. Weird. That never happens, he is normally very set in his eating habits, especially when it comes to favorites.

A little bit spicy, very savory, and very filling, we served this with honey covered biscuits and we were happy campers until almost two this afternoon.

Ingredients:
1/4 onion, chopped
1 cup shredded frozen hashbrowns, defrosted and patted dry
1 small casing of Mexican chorizo, about 1 cup
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 cup corn
1 cup chopped leftover rotisserie chicken
4 eggs
1 tablespoon each onion powder and garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon each cumin ground black pepper
3-5 tablespoons oil, I used canola oil. Dependent on how good your pan is at being not sticky.

Directions:
1. Heat about 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet. I really liked using my cast iron skillet for this one (thanks sis-in-law!!). Cook the onions until they are fragrant. Add in the potatoes and one to two more tablespoons of the oil. Let those cook on a mexium low hezt until they start to get crispy. Preheat broiler to low.
2. Add in the chorizo. Stir everything together, and let cook for one minute. Ground chorizo typically comes precooked, so you’re basically just warming it. Next add in the corn, mushrooms, tomatoes and chicken. Stir everything together and let it warm through for about a minute while you prepare the eggs.
3. In a bowl, mix the spices and the eggs with 1/2 a teaspoon of water. Pour over the mixture in the pan. Move it around so that everything is relatively even, and let cook for one minute.
4. Put the pan in the oven under the broiler, and let cook for approximately 8 minutes until the eggs are set. They will spring back when pushed if they are ready. Slice like a pie and serve!

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

When I first saw this recipe on Pinterest, I was a little unsure about it. I repinned it to revisit later. What I wasn’t sure about was how the bacon and the ranch would taste with pasta and cheddar cheese. Well, in my house, it was a hit. My hunny LOVED it. I know this because he went back for seconds. And then told me he would eat leftovers (Shock and amazement abounds)! What I really like about this recipe is that it used a majority of the remainder of the rotisserie chicken that I had bought in hopes of putting it on salads all week. Obviously my plan didn’t quite work out. And it’s a one pot meal!

Oh yes, the other thing that i really enjoyed about this pasta is that it was cheap. I’m all about the low cost meals these days. Rachel Ray could totally feature this on thirty minute meals. So final thought, yay for a Pinterest meal turning out awesome!

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Ingredients:
2 cups chicken, chopped -leftover rotisserie is great
5-7 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 tbsps ranch seasoning mix – works out to be about 1/2 a packet (for those of you who have never used this before, you can find it in the dressing aisle, NOT with the onion soup mix.)
Pasta of your choice, about half a pound, which is half a box – I would suggest using a pasta like penne rigate that has ridges for the sauce to stick to
2 cups of milk
1 1/2 tbsps flour
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese – or more if you’re a cheese hound like me.

Directions:
1. Prep your ingredients, aka chop the chicken and cook the bacon. And yes, you can cook the bacon in the microwave, I totally did. Thats the prep. Awesome, right?
2. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water. Once it’s cooked, drain and set aside.
3. In that pot you cooked the water in, add the butter and melt. Then add 1 tbsp of the flour. Whisk… for you more experienced cooks, you’re making a roux here. Once everything is in a dough-y consistency, slowly add in your milk, whisking in to your doughy stuff. Make sure you break up all the clumps, that is what makes the sauce thicker. And here is where that other half a tbsp of flour comes in to play. The original recipe called for only 1 tbsp but I found that wasnt enough. Add it here and whisk. Let this cook for a few minutes on medium heat until it thickens a little bit… probably about 5 minutes.
4. Once you have a sauce coming together, add in the ranch seasoning, and the cheese. Stir it all together. You will find that you have a fantastically thick sauce now. Once the cheese is mostly melted, add in your chicken and bacon and toss to coat. Let this cook a couple minutes to heat up the chicken.
5. Add in your pasta, coat it with the delicious sauce, and let it warm back up for about 2 minutes. Serve with garlic bread and a salad to help balance out the meal.

Final thoughts: this isn’t the healthiest meal we have ever had. But it is delicious, and everything in moderation, right? Sometimes you have to jump off the health food bandwagon for some good comfort food. And I’m betting this would be really good with some chopped broccoli added in.