Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sunday - 5 Day Meal Planner 11/22

With Thanksgiving being this week I have designed Monday and Tuesday to have plenty of leftovers for you to enjoy on Wednesday while you prepare to cook a big feast on Thursday. I have also put a lot of work into designing a custom Thanksgiving Day menu so check it out!

Monday: Slow Cooker Chicken Chili
Tuesday: Big Chopped Salad with Creamy Bacon Dressing
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Complete Thanksgiving Day Menu
Friday: Leftovers

I will assume you have chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, pepper, dried oregano, soy sauce, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, cloves, 1 beer and 6 eggs.

From the store:
2 pounds ground chicken
¼ pound slab bacon
2 cucumbers
1 lemon
1 med red onion
Sour cream
Grated Cheddar cheese
Gorgonzola cheese
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 (28-ounce) cans diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 medium sweet potato
1 15 ounce can low sodium chicken broth
Pickled jalapeños
Instant Tapioca
Chipotles in adobo

Nothing to do Sunday except for make your Thanksgiving shopping list and cross reference it with the coupons you have and specials that are going on...that is what I am doing...

Monday - Slow Cooker Chicken Chili 11/23

by Food Network Kitchens and found at

2 pounds ground chicken, coarsely ground preferred
3 tablespoons chili powder, plus 2 teaspoons
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 (28-ounce) cans diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 medium sweet potato (about 10 ounces), peeled and shredded
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup instant tapioca (recommended: Minute tapioca)
1 to 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce with seeds, chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
1/2 to 3/4 cup lager-style beer, optional
Toppings: Sour cream, shredded Cheddar or Jack cheese, chopped scallions, and chopped pickled jalapenos

Put the chicken in the slow cooker. Add 3 tablespoons of the chili powder and all the rest of the ingredients, except the beer. Stir everything together, cover, and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours.
Just before serving, stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons of chili powder, the beer, if using, and season with more salt and pepper, to taste, if desired. Divide the chili among warm bowls. Serve with the topping of your choice.

Tuesday - Big Chopped Salad with Creamy Bacon Dressing 11/24

by Sunny Anderson and found at

1/4 pound slab bacon, diced
3 hearts romaine
2 cucumbers, peeled, halved, and seeded
1 medium red onion
1 cup sour cream
4 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola
1 lemon , zested and juiced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the bacon and saute until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Set aside. Cut the romaine in half lengthwise. Lay flat side down and slice into1/4-inch thick ribbons. Transfer to a large salad bowl. Cut the cucumber into 1/2-inch cubes and add to bowl. Slice onion into thin half moons and add to the bowl with the lettuce and cucumber.

In a blender, combine sour cream, Gorgonzola, bacon, lemon zest and juice and blitz until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour enough dressing over the salad to generously coat the ingredients. Add the eggs and toss gently.

Wednesday - Leftovers 11/25

Just heat up some of Monday's food and serve it with the salad from Tuesday and you are good to go!

Complete Thanksgiving Menu!

Step One: The Turkey. Check out what Alton Brown (one of my personal favorites) suggests…

1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey
For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water
For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Canola oil

2 to 3 days before roasting:
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:

Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

This yummy one was found at

Now, I have been looking for a good sausage stuffing recipe for a long time and this one seems to have caught my eye. It uses cornbread and I love cornbread! This is what we will be having!

1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage (about 4 links), casings removed
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 pounds prepared cornbread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 12 cups)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 1/2-3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

Preheat oven to 325°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring and breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 10 minutes. Add onion and celery; cover, reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add cornbread, parsley and sage.

Bring broth to a simmer in a small saucepan. Pour 1 cup over the stuffing mixture and toss gently (the cornbread will break into smaller pieces). Add as much of the remaining broth as needed, 1/2 cup at a time, until the stuffing feels moist but not wet. Spoon the stuffing into the prepared pan and cover with foil.
Bake the stuffing until thoroughly heated, about 25 minutes. Serve warm.

You can find this one here

Not Thanksgiving without some Candied Yams is it? Well, Sandra Lee does it right when she makes this dish not only marvelously delicious and pretty but most importantly semi-homemade! You should not have to slave over every single dish should you? You will find this one at

1 stick butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 large (40-ounce) cans large yams or sweet potatoes , drained
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 (12-ounce) jar marshmallow topping

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and pecans. Simmer for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, place drained yams in a large bowl and mash finely with a potato masher (leaving some chunked pieces). Pour sugar/pecan mixture over yams. Stir until combined thoroughly. Add in cinnamon and nutmeg. Transfer to a metal pie pan. Top with marshmallow topping. Bake for 15 minutes at 325 degrees F. Remove from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Bake for an additional 10 minutes at 400 degrees F to brown the top, watching carefully to keep from over-browning.

Try this Cranberry Sauce Recipe for an easy yet fresh and homemade sauce for your turkey! Check to see where I got this one.

1 pound fresh cranberries, washed and dried
2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 orange, zested and juiced

In a medium pot, combine the cranberries, sugar and water. Stir to blend. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and add the cinnamon stick, allspice and nutmeg. Stir to blend and simmer for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Some of the cranberries will burst and some will remain whole. Add the orange juice and zest, stir and allow to cool before serving.

For greens I chose spinach this year. My family loves it, we never do it at Thanksgiving and most importantly my girls love spinach. Here is a recipe for spinach casserole by one of my favorite chefs Emeril that you can find at

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 teaspoons
3/4 cup chopped yellow onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 pound button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 (14-ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta
1 cup grated monterey jack
1/2 cup crumbled feta
6 eggs
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish with 2 teaspoons of the butter and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt the remaining butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook until they give up their liquid, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
In a large bowl, combine the spinach, artichoke hearts, mushroom mixture, ricotta, jack, and feta, and toss to combine.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, nutmeg, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add to the spinach mixture. Add the bread crumbs and mix well. Transfer to the prepared dish and top with a layer of Parmesan. Bake until the casserole is firm and the top is golden, about 45 to 50 minutes.
Remove from the oven and serve.

I searched high and low for a mac and cheese recipe that looked like it would be both cheesy and creamy (not dry) and believe me a good recipe for mac and cheese is hard to find. Anyway, this one had by far the most cheese of any of them and looks like the yield would be great and the time commitment is said to only be 30 min! I finally found this one at

1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni
1/2 stick salted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup grated Asiago cheese
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup white Cheddar
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 1/2 cups yellow sharp Cheddar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/2 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Preheat grill to 350 degrees F.

Quarter red and green pepper, then place them on the grill, cooking until tender. Once grill marks are formed, remove peppers from grill and set aside. Boil elbow macaroni in salted boiling water until al dente - drain and set aside. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and then whisk in flour to thicken, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup milk and whisk in. Begin adding cheeses 1 at a time, thoroughly whisking each cheese. If sauce becomes too thick, add remaining cup of milk.

Once all cheeses are blended add salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, grilled peppers, jalapeno pepper and stir to combine. Add elbows to mixture and stir again. Once combined well, add to a cast iron 9 by 13-inch rectangle casserole dish, and sprinkle top with bread crumbs and an additional 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Place on grill for 12 minutes. Let stand a few minutes before serving.

Now for dessert you are on your own. I am making a (there are a couple) Paula Deen carrot cake and a chocolate chip pumpkin cheesecake by Hershey’s. If you want the recipe for either I am happy to e-mail them out upon request.

And last but not least if there are any vegetarians out there this one is for you an entire vegetarian menu!

For 12 Thanksgiving Day menus go to but believe me when I tell you that the best one is right here! I looked at the others and they are not that impressive.

Friday - Thanksgiving Day Leftovers 11/27

Be sure you have a loaf of good bread and plan to make turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce and eat the leftover sides with it. It needs to be as easy as possible today. I would recommend using three slices of bread/sandwich and soaking one entirely in gravy and then putting it in the middle of the cranberry sauce and the turkey. It is so very tasty this way!

You can also make this salad to go with it.

Maybe there is still some dessert left too…

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Friday - Savory Tuna Burgers 12/4

by Robin Miller and found at

3 (6-ounce) cans light tuna in water, drained
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
3 tablespoons seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 hamburger buns or Kaiser rolls
1 beefsteak tomato, sliced
1/4 cup thinly sliced sweet pickles (such as gherkins)

In a large bowl, combine the tuna, mayonnaise, bread crumbs, parsley, mustard, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix well and shape the mixture into four equal patties, each about 1-inch thick.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Unwrap the burgers and cook until golden brown and heated through, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Serve the burgers on buns with sliced tomato and pickles.