Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: November 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Leftover Turkey Casserole

It's not a secret that I'm a fan of casseroles.  Meat, starch and veggies are all taken care of in one dish.  Ideal in my opinion.

With this being said, they usually aren't healthy.  This one I'm showing you today definitely isn't healthy, but you'll be happy to know I had just a small portion.  Enough to get my fix of creamy, comforting casserole.  I can't say the same for my husband who polished off the remaining portions in two days, but his metabolism is beyond good and well, he works like a dog some days, so he can do it.

I cannot.  Therefore I limited myself to two scoops.

If you threw pieces of leftover turkey in the freezer after Thanksgiving this dish is perfect for it.  Otherwise substitute with chicken.  Chicken goes with everything.

Leftover Turkey Casserole
4 c. shredded turkey or chicken
1/2 c. mayo
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 c. leftover gravy
1 c. frozen peas
1/4 c. dijon mustard
2 c. dry pasta
1 t. dill weed
1 t. pepper
1 t. garlic salt
1/2 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
dots of butter

In a large bowl combine all ingredients, except last two.  If too thick, thin out with a little milk.  Bake covered at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove lid or foil, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and dots of butter.  Bake an additional 15 minutes until golden brown.

Paula Deen's Sweet Potato Biscuits were served with this meal.  Yeah, pretty good.  Recipe to come.

This is a great one to make a day or two ahead if you know you'll be having a busy night during the week.  Nothing makes me happier than dinner already made before I get home.

But, what is really making me happy this week is getting in the holiday spirit.  It's automatic, once I know December 1st is nearing, my head automatically turns to Christmas music, Christmas cookies, Christmas decorating, Christmas gift giving, on and on.

Too bad, I haven't done any of that yet.  This week (or weekend) I promise!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday Deal Right Here!

I know, another shameless plug for my cookbook, but I just cannot NOT tell you about the Cyber Monday deal going on!

Through the end of today (28th), if you purchase 2 or more, you receive 25% off your order!  Enter the code: HURRY in the checkout.  And if you can't get around to it today, I'll still give you 15% off if you order one the 30th, enter the code: HOLIDAY in the checkout.  It is available in the following formats: ebook, softcover or hardcover.

To order, click here.

Again, this Christmas I am trying to take simpler approach to everything.  Making some homemade gifts, purchasing local gifts knowing they were made with love, and trying to not let the Christmas chaos take over.

This is were my cookbook comes into play.  I tried compiling my most requested recipes, my best looking photos, my most interesting I hope you enjoy.

Try and take the challenge of purchasing gifts this year that you know people enjoyed making.  Happy Cyber Monday!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

S'mores Cookie Bars

It doesn't need to be summer in my house, nestled next to the campfire, for us to have s'mores! Quite possibly one of the best bars I've made recently.  They come from Lovin' From The Oven.  Check out her blog, you won't be disappointed.

I took this along to Thanksgiving, as they travel easy, and desserts are always a happy hit at family gatherings, right?

Honestly, they taste almost exact to an actual s'more.  Minus the the smokiness from the fire.  Wish I didn't miss.

S'mores Cookie Bars
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 t. vanilla
1 1/3 c. flour
3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 king sized milk chocolate bar
1 1/2 c. marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 8x8 square baking pan.

In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  In a small bowl whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt.  Add to butter mixture until combined.

Divide the dough in half, pressing half into bottom of pan.  Break apart chocolate and place over the dough.  Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme/fluff.  Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of marshmallow creme/fluff.  (Most easily achieved by pressing pieces of dough flat between hands and laying them together).

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until lightly browned.  Cool completely and cut into bars.  Makes 16 bars.

After spending today with my parents and grandma, tomorrow is going to be all about getting myself in order.  Ever just feel unorganized?  That is how I feel right now.  I'm a list maker and and currently have no lists made, nor any checks next to those important items.

Sometimes I write something down on a list I already have done, just to place a check mark next to it, as it makes me feel better.

Insane, I know.

I need to make a Christmas gift list, an items-to-make-those gifts list, a to-do checklist for household areas I've been neglecting, a meal-planning list....hell, the list game could go on and on.  May sound crazy, but makes me feel better!

Who else is a list maker?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Crustless Spinach & Potato Quiche

As I am typing this, there is some crazy shopping going on.  Just checking Facebook quick, it seems like everyone I know is out there or already back home!

I do enjoy Black Friday shopping, but not this year.  Taking two kids out?  Are you crazy?  I personally cringe at those mothers that drag their little ones out and fill up the aisles with their strollers.  It just isn't a place for kids in my opinion - too nuts.  And this year, I vying to take a simpler approach to the holidays.  You can read about it here.

So, if you aren't out there, already back home or plan to tackle more shopping this weekend, come home to this quiche.  It can be made ahead and popped into the oven and eaten thirty minutes later.  Not to mention it's pretty darn healthy!

Crustless Spinach & Potato Quiche
6 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1 large potato, diced into small chunks
1/2 box spinach, thawed and drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. pepper
1 t. salt
1 c. sharp cheddar cheese

Spray a pie pan with cooking spray and preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Meanwhile in a skillet cook potatoes on medium high heat, turning edges brown.  Put in garlic when potatoes have cooked a bit.  (You do not have to cook the potatoes fully, just so they get a little crispy with some color, they will finish cooking in the oven).

In a bowl whisk eggs, milk, spinach, salt and pepper.  Combine with potatoes and garlic.  Pour into pie pan and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.  Letting it cool slightly before slicing.

In other news...

Don't forget about my cookbook this holiday shopping weekend!  A very nice deal is happening if you purchase before Monday, November 28.  Buy 2 or more and receive 25% off!  Just put in the code: HURRY in the checkout.  It comes in an ebook, softcover or hardcover version.

And by the way....Tami, from Nutmeg were the winner of my giveaway and I still haven't heard from you?  Please email me by Monday or I'll need to pick another winner.

Lastly, if you are going shopping this weekend, this Saturday is the nationally recognized day of Small Business Saturday.  Try and spend money at all the local, cute, ma and pa shops in your area.  Trust me, they will appreciate your business!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

All Day Simmering Marinara Sauce

If you've been reading my blog for any period of time you know I'm a fan of easy, simple meals.  This one falls into that category.  Don't be fooled by the post title All Day Simmering Marinara Sauce.  I did not stand over the stove stirring this pot all day long.

Rather I went to work for a few hours, let the little miss sleep on my chest while I watched old episodes of Oprah, and basically did anything but tend to this sauce.  It is really, a no fuss dish.

I did ponder the many, many things going on between now and Christmas swirling around in my head while trying to focus on Oprah's wisdom, but that is entirely another post all together.  Think a holiday dinner/shopping party my friends and I are throwing, DIY holiday gift projects and our annual holiday baking extravaganza.  A lot going on!

Back to this sauce.  Pour it on everything.  Bread, pasta, veggies, grilled chicken, rubber tires, your morning coffee.  You get the idea, it makes everything taste good.

All Day Simmering Marinara Sauce
28 oz. can tomato sauce
8 oz. can tomato paste
15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried basil
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
pinch of sugar

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker on low.  Cook all day or at least 4-5 hours.

Bookmark this one if you like red sauce!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Caramel Cream Sandwich Cookies

I typically am off work on Fridays, so it is my chance to catch up on everything that got shoved to the side Tuesday - Thursday.  Which is usually pretty much everything.

I try and make a dent in the laundry, run errands, hit up library reading group with the kiddos, and if I'm lucky bake something.  Honestly, I usually grab a cookbook, start flipping through, and try and find something that doesn't require a trip to the store.

There little beauties didn't require a trip to the store.

And are well worth it I might add.  I'm thinking of even adding them to my holiday baking round-up?  A little food coloring in the frosting would definitely make them a Christmas cookie.

Caramel Cream Sandwich Cookies
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 c. butter, softened
1 egg yolk
2 c. flour

Frosting: 2 T. butter, 1 1/4 c. powdered sugar, 1/2 t. vanilla, 4-5 T. milk

In a large bowl, beat together brown sugar and butter until light and creamy.  Beat in egg yolk.  On low speed, beat in flour until well blended.  Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes for easier handling.

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Shape dough into 1 in. balls, place on ungreased cookie sheet.  With fork dipped in flour press down and flatten each ball to 1 1/2 in. round.  Bake 10-14 minutes until golden brown.  Place on cookie rack to cool.

Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, heat butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, until light golden brown.  Remove from heat, add in remaining frosting ingredients, adding enough milk until smooth and spreadable.  Spread 1 t. of frosting between bottoms of cooled cookies and press together.

This little pumpkin slept through the whole baking experience.  Can't blame her, looks pretty comfy.

And now for the BIG news!  The winner of a soft copy of my cookbook is....drumroll....

Comment #32

Tami is a new follower, so I'm very happy to know she can get caught up on some of my recipes!  Tami, shoot me an email with your shipping information and I'll be in touch.

Have a great Saturday everyone!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

DIY Holiday Gifts

I am pledging to live simple during the upcoming holidays.  Who wants to pledge with me?  Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner and everyone is making their lists, checking ads and preparing for a long shopping day.

I've been known to be at Target at 6 a.m. (this year they are opening at midnight!) and I really do love it.  I especially love making a day of it - early morning hot chocolate, shopping, lunch with family, more shopping, collapsing on the couch at night.

But, this year I have vowed to take simplier approach.  I recently read somewhere that one family was only giving homemade gifts to their kids this year.  Another family was going to implement the rule of only 3 gifts per child, like in the Bible, after years of giving them everything under the sun.  I truly like both of these ideas.  The Holidays are a time of giving and I think we need to remember that.

Luckily my kids are still very young and don't even understand Christmas yet, so hopefully we haven't ruined their life yet!

Since I already have one homemade gift done, I have been researching some other cute ideas.  I challenge all of you reading to really make something for a family member or friend this year that is truly from the heart that you know they will enjoy.

I've picked a few of my favorites. 

Homemade Initialed Frame
I think this one is absolutely adorable.  It would be perfect hanging on a front door, a mantle or even in a kid's room.  Frame, yarn, wooden initial, it doesn't take much!

I'm also pretty sure people would go crazy for these at upcoming Holiday craft shows.

Homemade Eco-Friendly Soy Candle
Candles!  Who doesn't love candle?  Especially in the winter, I love lighting them throughout the house for that cozy warmth.  These are homemade, eco-friendly, soy candles and not to mention super cute.

I've never made a candle before, but honestly the steps look very easy!

Meal in a Box
Last year I put together two huge food baskets for some gifts.  They were filled with quick breads, cookies, jam, etc.  I think both recipients really liked it.  They were able to freeze the breads for later eating and have good homemade snacks around during the holidays.

This idea takes it one step further and I love it.  Think of a meal that is easy to assemble, place all of the ingredients (minus the perishables, of course) in a cute container, attach a recipe with directions and give to a friend or family member who you know is often short on time and would appreciate dinner in a flash.

Magnet Board
Who doesn't have an old cookie sheet that is brown, cruddy and on its last leg?  If you do turn it into this magnet board, that can be hung in a home office, at work, or your kitchen for all those to-do lists, pictures, kid's artwork, etc. that usually clutters the refrigerator.

I hope one of these DIY Holiday Gifts called out to you and has put you on the path of a simplier holiday.  Remember, most people would just enjoy being around family, eating a good meal and maybe receiving something small as a token of the Holiday.

It doesn't have to be big, cost a fortune or state-of-the-art.  It just needs to come from the heart.

What DIY gifts have you made in the past?  I'd love to have more ideas!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chicken Chalupas Casserole

***Don't forget to enter my cookbook GIVEAWAY!  Not just any cookbook, my cookbook.  I wrote it.  You have until this Saturday!***

So this weekend was spent at home, not really doing much, but at the same time tackling a lot.  Quality family time with the husband actually off from work, cooking, cleaning, football watching, etc, etc.

Ideal, in my book.

This recipe comes from Plain Chicken.  She has great, easy, family-friendly recipes.  Check out her blog, it is worth your time!  Nothing fancy, just good, quality food.  Love it.

I would technically call these enchiladas, but she said it's a casserole, so I'm going with that!  Our family gobbled them up for two dinners in a row.  Yes, it makes a lot!

Chicken Chalupas Casserole
12 flour tortillas

1 qt cream or half and half
1 3 lb rotisserie chicken, pulled & chopped
4 cups cheese, shredded (I used a Mexican blend)
1 can Mexican Rotel diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1/8 tsp pepper

Put chicken pieces and half of grated cheese in tortilla and roll up. Lightly spray a 9x13 pan. Lay rolled tortillas in pan. Top with remaining cheese and Rotel tomatoes.

Combine 1 qt cream, onion powder, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, ½ tsp hot sauce and pepper. Pour mixture over casserole and let stand overnight in refrigerator.

Bake covered at 375 for 30 minutes.

Any big plans for your week?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Wrote a Cookbook, Here is Your Chance to Win a Copy

I patiently waited (ha!) for the Fed-Ex man to arrive at my doorstep with this cookbook yesterday.  At 4:00 p.m. he finally came.

I am coming on 2 years of food blogging next month.  Since I started this process I cannot count how many times people have asked if I'm writing a cookbook.  Well, up until last month, I hadn't.  I submitted several cookbook proposals last summer only to be denied more times than I care to mention.  Then I realized I needed to get my butt in gear and write one on my own so friends, family and blogging friends could have it before the holidays came.

Enter in a toddler. a seven month old, a husband, a part-time job, many mouths to feed, laundry to be done and oh did I mention two dogs?  I didn't think I would find the time nor the patience to tackle this feat, but I did.

There were times I was sitting at the computer when I should have been tending to a dirty diaper, and times when I'd get all situated only to type out one sentence when some catastrophic event would come crashing down in the little man's room and my writing/editing for that day was shot.

But, in the end I finished it.  It's no Paula Deen, Bobby Flay or Rachael Ray production.  I didn't have an agent or book editor for that.  It is a simple 40-page, full color with photos, cookbook showcasing everything from appetizers to main dishes to desserts.

Since the holidays are now in full force with Halloween past us, here is your chance to purchase or win a copy for yourself, or if you are feeling generous give it to a family member or friend.

If you'd like to purchase, it is available in an iPAD/iPhone version, soft cover and hard cover.  You can buy it here.  If you purchase before November 30th, enter in the discount code: HOLIDAY to receive 15% off.

I will pick one random winner next Saturday, November 19th, to receive a free soft cover copy!  Many ways to enter so get commenting!
  • Tell me why you'd like to win a copy of Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats.
  • Tell me how long you've been reading my blog.
  • Become a follower of my Facebook page.
  • Become a follower of my blog via Google Reader (on right side of page).
  • Become a follower of my Twitter page.
  • Tweet this: "I want to win a copy of @sweetsavoryeats new cookbook,!"
Count 'em.  That is 6 different ways to enter.  Each entry is counted separate.  Good luck!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pecan Brownies with Dark Chocolate Drizzle

I'll admit it.  I have never, up until this past weekend, baked a batch of brownies from scratch.  I was truly a boxed girl at heart.  Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, whoever, I didn't judge.

Well, the wheels have turned.  These could quite possibly be the best brownies I've ever made.  And simple!  Did I forget to mention that?  Dump and mix.  My kind of dessert recipe.

If you are one of my lucky friends who live in the area and are getting a personal invite to Eat, Drink & Shop (a holiday dinner party me and a few friends are throwing), you'll be able to taste a version of these for the last course.

That party will be an entire different post in itself.  The planning has begun, invites are going out this week, vendors are ready.  I'm excited.

Pecan Brownies with Dark Chocolate Drizzle
1 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
1/2 c. baking cocoa
1 c. chopped pecans

In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Beat in vanilla.  Combine flour and cocoa, add to creamed mixture until just combined.  Fold in pecans.

Spread in an ungreased 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 23-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

For Drizzle: In microwave melt 1 c. dark chocolate chips, 3 T. powdered sugar, 1 T. milk.  Heat in 10 second intervals until melted and combined.  Add additional milk, if too thick.  Drizzle over brownies.

The majority of these were brought to work yesterday, and today I came home with an empty pan.

Enough said.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stuffed Pasta

Hey Mom!  I really liked the pasta dish you made!
Well, not really.

Her diet consists of mushed up peas, carrots, squash, bananas and milk.  But, I'm hoping someday she'll like this dish!

So, the other day I was cruising around the food world and saw a pasta dish that had pureed chickpeas in it.  I was intrigued.  I immediately thought that was a good way to get in some extra protein without even noticing.

Enter in the night I served this and there were no complaints.  The chickpeas gave it a rich creaminess, that I will definitely use again when I need a filler.  If you've got some guts try this.

Stuffed Pasta
1 lb. pasta (I used corkscrews)
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 can chickpeas
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
2 cloves garlic
1 t. oregano
1 t. parsley
mozzarella cheese

Cook pasta until al dente, do not overcook as it will cook more while pasta bakes.  In a food processor blend chickpeas, cream cheese, parmesan cheese and garlic until smooth.  Stir this mixture into hot pasta, add in crushed tomatoes, half of the spaghetti sauce, oregano and parsley.

Once combined pour pasta into a large baking dish, or two smaller ones (one can be frozen).  Pour remainder spaghetti sauce over pasta and sprinkle with more parmesan cheese.  Top with mozzarella.  Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. 

This could be classified as a perfect comfort fall dish.

At least it was in our house.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Southwestern Chicken Soup

'Tis the season for soup weather.  I love all soups - creamy, brothy, thick or thin.  This one falls into the brothy thin category, but with delicious chunks of seasoned chicken and veggies.

And with a little kick.  Don't worry not much, just enough to give it some spice.  You'll be fine.  And better yet, it is yet another one of my recipes that doesn't require a run to the grocery store.  Most, if not all, ingredients, I am betting you already have.

In fact, if you do have all of these ingredients, tell me in the comments.  I'd love to see how well stocked our pantry's and freezers are!

Southwestern Chicken Soup
4 c. chicken stock
1 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 lb. cooked diced chicken
1 small onion, chopped
2 c. frozen corn or 1 can corn
1 4 oz. can chopped green chiles
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. chili powder
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. oregano
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream as toppers

In a skillet cook onion for a few minutes until a bit softened, then add garlic.  Cook for a few more minutes on medium heat.

Dump all ingredients, including onion/garlic mixture, into a crockpot.  Simmer on low for 4-6 hours.  Serve topped with tortilla chips, cheese or sour cream.

We ate this on Halloween night.

I shared the Little Misses' bunny costume earlier in the week.  Well, this is the ONLY picture I could manage from the Little Man.  My little Mickey Mouse wanted nothing to do with his costume.  He refused to wear the big white Mickey gloves and only kept the ears on for a measly 2 minutes.

You're lucky you're getting this picture.

Have a superb weekend everyone!  I'm off for a girl's night!  No kids!  Just friends from way back, food, drinks and I'm sure LOTS of laughs.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

No-Knead Artisan Bread

No, I did not pick up this beautiful bread at a bakery.  I made it myself.  Pretty proud, if I do say so myself.

I've never been known as a bread maker, minus the occasional loaf in my bread machine, but this bread didn't even use that!  Baking with yeast can be scary at first (at least I think so), but I will admit once you get the hang of it, it isn't as complex as once thought.
And with the help of my Kitchen Aid mixer, this was no work at all.

What I particularly liked about this recipe is this:
  1. No kneading required.
  2. Extra dough can be refrigerated for up to 7 days.
  3. It can be made into other things - pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, etc.

No-Knead Artisan Bread
3 c. lukewarm water
6 1/2 c. flour
1 T. salt
1 1/2 T. instant yeast

Mix and stir everything together to make a very sticky dough.  If you have a stand mixer, beat at medium speed for 30 to 60 seconds.

Place dough in a large bowl or food-safe bucket, cover, and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours.  Then refrigerate, for up to 7 days.

When you are ready to bake bread, scoop out a piece the size of a softball.  Round into a ball, and place on a piece of parchment paper (if using a baking stone); or onto a lightly greased baking sheet.  Sift a light coating of flour over the top, to keep the dough moist as it rests.  Let the dough rest for 60 minutes.  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Place a shallow pan on the lowest rack of the oven.

When you are ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the top of the bread 2 or 3 times, make a cut about 1/2" deep.  Place the bread in the oven, and carefully pour 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath, to create steam.  Close the oven door quickly.

Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes (mine went about 30 minutes), until it's a deep, golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Yields: 3 to 4 loaves, depending on size.
(Mine made two large loaves, plus enough for a good sized homemade pizza)

So, what do you think?  Can you tackle this bread?

I promise you won't be disappointed.