Monday, November 30, 2009

The 2009 Turkey

Here it is, the Monday after Thanksgiving and refrigerators around the country are still packed to the gills with the leftovers from the turkey feast of last week.  We cooked a 14lb bird for 5 adults and 3 children age three and under. I got a little creative with the turkey and used this BBQ rub method I saw used for chicken.  I cut the cayenne  way down, and cooked the turkey in one of the bags.  The seasoning was great and made gravy and broth with the drippings which were a nice change from the normal turkey stock.

Once dinner was done we boiled down the carcass and made turkey stock.  Once the meat and stock were separated out, I had about a gallon of stock and about 10 cups of turkey meat.  I made the following soup with some of the stock and meat.

Turkey Butternut Squash Soup

10 cups Turkey Stock

6 cups chopped Turkey Meat

8 cups peeled, chopped Butternut Squash

3 cups chopped Onion

4 cups chopped Celery

2 cups Pearled Barley

Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook for 3-4 hours on high.

The turkey and the stock had all the flavors from the rub that carried through the soup, so it's hard to say how much of the seasonings in the rub you would need to add to standard stock.


I sent some leftovers home with my brother's family and we've made quick work of a lot of them in the chaos of this weekend.  I also made this Turkey Cranberry Encore Salad for dinner last night and it was great!  I left out the blue cheese since I'm not a fan, and used pecans instead of walnuts - YUM!

What did you make with your Thanksgiving leftovers?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Sunshine: Friends and Challenges

sundaysunshinesm Celebrating contentment by remembering the graces of the week.

This week, as seems to be the cases of most holidays, was a bit chaotic. Tuesday I was blessed to have a mom's-helper for most of the day which freed me up to get housework done.  Wednesday I spent getting acquainted with my new computer.  I spent time with family for Thanksgiving.  Friends stepped in to help out when the chaos peaked.  I had a happy evening with a quiet house, glass of wine and a book.  Wonderful food with great leftovers also highlighted this week.

As GBaby turns 10-months old today, we've started climbing stairs (and by 'we' I do mean 'we'.) I'm sure walking isn't too far off.   Her baby hair is growing longer and thicker and she is full of vibrant personality.  Her laughs bring brightness to my world.

I'm enjoying this bit of calm in the chaos and pray that you may see through the chaos that is the holiday season and bring yourself to a place of peace and contentment.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday Sunshine on Monday: Computers & Craft Fairs

sundaysunshinesmPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week.

This weeks Sunday Sunshine was delayed because shortly after I put up the Cookie Dough post, my computer crashed, or more appropriately was demolished by some evil virus.  But this morning I am thankful that I was able to save my files, including irreplaceable photos and hours and hours of work.  I'm thankful that, while outdated, the back-up that I did have, was useful.  I'm thankful that I had a great craft fair on Saturday and my business cash flow is such that Charity's Candles can help foot the bill for my new computer.

Other things did happen this week and I am praising God and so thankful for a clean bill of health, which marks 4 years of no evidence of cancer for me.  I'm thankful for sunny, crisp fall days. Great deals on books and gifts were another grace from this week as well as some amazing family time and happy GBaby squeels.

All in all, a great week. And this week is Thanksgiving!  What are you thankful for?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Freezer Friday: Sugar Cookie Dough and Curry Potato Soup

freezerfridaysm This week there was not much activity in my kitchen.  We were out of town one day and I pulled meals from the freezer to avoid cooking.  I did get a chance to get a triple batch of sugar cookie dough into the freezer (click here for directions to freeze cookie dough).  When it comes time to bake the sugar cookies, instead of rolling them out, I take the cookie dough ball, dip it in colored sugar, smash it down with the bottom of a glass and bake.  When they're done - you have a super festive sweet!

The other thing that made it to the freezer this week was a Curry Potato Soup.  We've taken to "francophone" soups, as HandyMan calls them, that are pureed as they also double as great GBaby meals too!  I wish I had the exact recipe because it turned out great and the leftovers were even better as all the flavors mixed and mingled overnight in the fridge.   However, it was a cooking collaboration with HandyMan and I'm not quite sure what all ended up in the pot, so below is my best guess:

Curry Potato Soup

6 cups peeled, chopped and cooked Potatoes

3 Carrots, chopped

2 stalks Celery, chopped

1 cup pureed Yellow Squash

1/2 a large Onion

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

3 cups Milk

4 cups Water

1 Tablespoon Rosemary

1 teaspoon Cumin

1/2 teaspoon Allspice




1.  Sautee onions, carrots and celery in bottom of a stock pot with oil until onions are translucent.

2.  Add potatoes and water and bring to a boil. Once all vegetables are soft, add milk and bring to a boil again.

3.  Turn off heat and puree mixture until smooth.  Enjoy!

4.  Serve up & Enjoy!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Sunshine


Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week.

I sit here typing, watching HandyMan reading Winnie the Pooh to a super active GBaby who is busy pulling up on chairs while her daddy reads to her.  My life is full!

We are healthy and enjoying our November.  Friday night we had dinner with a group of friends  who had some local, youthful musicians join the evening.  The trio brought the classical notes of Bach and Mozart to party.  As they played I was torn between watching the amazing musical talent performing and the absolutely enraptured little girl on my lap.  She was so fascinated with the music and it was so much fun to watch her as she studied violin, viola and chelo.  GBaby even sang along with her favorite Bach tune.  It was great.

This morning was the pancake breakfast at our church and this is one of my favorite fundraisers because I LOVE breakfast! They cook up scrambled eggs, sausage and breakfast potatoes to go along with amazing pancakes.  It was so good - and I didn't have to cook or do the dishes!

GBaby continues to be a wonderful traveler, be it on errands or cross-state trips.  This week I'm fully enjoying momhood and can't remember what life was like before she came along (besides being able to sleep in- I do, wistfully, remember that!)

I hope your life is full of experiences and wonder as we enter this Thanksgiving season.  What are your highlights from the week?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Freezer Friday: Cookie Dough

freezerfridaysmUpdated 7/28/2010: If you've stumbled upon this post from Life As Mom's Grab it and Go Recipe Swap, welcome!  This is still on of my go-to methods for a quick dessert.  In the summer, add a small scoop of icecream between two fresh cookies for a great dessert treat!

We are entering the time of year when requests for baked goods and cookie trays seem to come from every direction.  I have a sure-fire system to save you time and energy and put fresh cookies on the table, every time!

The secret: freeze your cookie dough in ready to bake scoops.  The Dough Boy does it and charges you for the convenience.  The fundraiser companies do it.  So why not make your own!  The only special equipment you may need is a cookie scoop.  Mine is a 2 tablespoon scoop (I think). They can be purchased in the kitchen-wares section of many of your favorite retailers.  If you make cookies often, it's worth investing in a solid metal scoop rather than the plastic/metal combo scoops.  I burned through two of those before I got the good one and it's been great.timesaver

This time of year, I usually have a stash of Chocolate Chip, Molasses, Sugar and Peanut Butter cookie dough in the freezer.  Then when the call comes for a cookie tray I can just pull an assortment, bake them up and send them off.  No mixing, no mess and very few dishes!

Whenever I make up cookie dough, I make as large of a batch as my MamaMixer can take- usually triple a normal batch.  So, this week it was time to replenish my Chocolate Chip Cookie dough stash so off I went.  The freezing method will work with any drop cookie dough.  For recipes like drop Sugar Cookies or Molasses Cookies that require a dip in sugar, no problem.  The dough is already "rolled" from the scoop, simply dip frozen dough in the sugar before baking.

cookies6Once your cookie dough is scooped up to go to the oven, continue scooping and fill up a tray. Put the tray in the freezer for 2-3 hours and allow the dough-balls to freeze.  Then, remove the dough from a tray and place in a freezer-grade zip-top bag for the best freshness.

When it comes time to bake your cookies, place frozen cookie dough on a baking sheet.  Bake at the temperature your directions call for and add 3-7 minutes to the baking time to allow for the frozen dough.  Let them cool, plate them up and enjoy.

I've also discovered the joy of portion control by only baking a small tray in the toaster oven at a time - always warm and fresh!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have had a love for chocolate chip cookies for a long time and have been making them myself, for almost as long.  When I got this e-mail from my friend Karen in Germany, I decided it was time to make up a batch and actually pay attention to what I was doing so that I can share the warm-cookie-love!  Karen wrote:

hey sara,
I just thought of making (chocolate chip) cookies with you at your parents house about 15 years ago... a kind I cannot buy over here, they're always too crunchy. so I figured I should make em myself and was wondering whether you could send me a recipy with ingredients and notes on how you do it? nothing fancy, just simple wonderful yummy american cookies? thanks a lot in advance!

So Karen, this post is for you!

A few tips for chewy cookies before I throw the recipe out there for you all.  I achieve my chewy cookies by combining shortening and butter and closely monitoring the cooking time.  There is a "perfect" point of pulling the cookies out of the oven and it happens when the tops of the cookies look "dry".  This usually happens before they hit the "golden-brown" point.  Once you take the cookies out of the oven, let them sit on the cookie sheet for at least 5 more minutes as they cool, they will actually continue to cook a bit.  (Sorry the pictures aren't that great - GBaby was fussy and I couldn't get my hands on the real camera quickly.)

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies


1/4 cup Butter, melted on stove
3/4 cup Vegetable Shortening
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 cups Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup chopped Pecans or Walnuts

1.  Pre-heat oven to 375*(Fahrenheit).
2.  Melt butter in a saucepan on the stove until bubbly.

3.  Cream together butter, shortening, sugar and brown sugar.

4.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy.

5.  Add flour and baking soda and blend thoroughly
6.  Fold in chocolate chips and nuts if desired.
7.  Spoon out teaspoon size portions onto a baking sheet leaving room around each portion for your cookie to spread.

8.  Bake 8-12 minutes or just until to top looks "dry" or set.  Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes.


Cookies will stay fresh for a few days if kept in a sealed container and unbaked cookie dough freezes beautifully.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunday Sunshine - On Monday

sundaysunshinesm Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week.

This has been such a full week that Sunday came and went before I realized it.  Emrys was on vacation so we had a wonderful week away from our normal routine.  We visited with family this weekend and celebrated my dad's 20th year of his business.  All three of the grand-kids here for the weekend and watching my parents play with the Grand-kids was such fun!  Lots of great family time.  We also visitied with Emrys' mom who is doing much better after an injury about 10 days ago.

We have had a wonderful, refreshing break.  Today we drive home to return to our routine.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Freezer Friday: Shepherd's Pies and HV Orange Chocolate Chip Bread

freezerfridaysm This week I managed to get three Shepherd's Pies into the oven and made a bunch of muffins and breakfast breads to take to a party and to stash in the freezer.  I made Pumpkin Bread, this Lemon-Blueberry Bread and a great Hidden Veggie Orange Chocolate Chip Bread/Muffins.  All turned out super yummy and the Orange-Chocolate Chip Bread recipe is below.  Did you get anything stashed in your freezer this week?

HV Orange Chocolate Chip Bread/Muffins


2 Eggs
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Orange Juice
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 cups Pureed Yellow Squash
1 1/2 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
2 1/2 cups Unbleached Flour
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1-1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda

1.  Preheat oven to 375*
2.  Cream together eggs and sugars.  Add Vegetable Oil, Orange Juice and Vanilla Extract and Yellow Squash and mix thoroughly.
3.  Add flours and then Baking Powder and Baking Soda on top of the flours and mix all at once.
4.  Fold in chocolate chips.
5.  Pour into two greased loaf pans or muffin tins.  Recipe will make two loaves or two dozen muffins or a combination of each. Bake muffins for 17-22 minutes and loaves for 45-60 minutes.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Shepherd’s Pies with Garlic Cheddar Smashed Potatoes

My batch meal of the week last week was Shepherd’s Pies.  Generally Shepherd’s pies consist of some combination of ground beef, vegetables and mashed potatoes, this recipe follows the basic formula with a few adjustments.

I doctored up the Shepherd’s Pies and topped off the beef and veggies with Garlic Cheddar Smashers.  I also used TVP to stretch the beef a little bit farther.   This recipe will make two deep dish pie plates or 1-9x13 plate.  I doubled this and made 1 deep dish pie plate and 3-8x8 square pans that and now in the freezer for future meals.

ThrivingMama's Shepherd’s Pie

1 pound Ground Beef

½ medium Onion

1 cup Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)*

1 ½ cups of water

1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup

4 cups of Vegetables (any combination of carrots, corn, green beans, etc.)

½ batch of Garlic Cheddar Smashed Potatoes

3 Tablespoons of Butter


1.  Brown ground beef and onion.  Hydrate TVP with water and add to the cooked ground beef.

2. Combine vegetables and soup.  Add beef to vegetable mixtures and put on the bottom of greased pan(s).


3. Spread Garlic Cheddar Smashers on top of meat and veggie mixture.

4. Dot top of potatoes with 3 tablespoons of butter and bake at 375* for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly around the edges.


Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Garlic Cheddar Smashed Potatoes

Updated 9-23-2010: If you've landed here from LifeAsMom's Ultimate Recipe Swap, welcome!  Fall is all about the comfort foods and there's nothing more comforting in my book than mashed potatoes.  I love to make these in a large quantity and freeze them in "side dish" portions.  They reheat beautifully!

I love mashed potatoes.  The only thing better than some creamy mashed potatoes, are garlic cheddar smashed potatoes.  I was so wrapped up in making these to top Shepherd's Pie with that I forgot to get a picture of the finished product - oops! Shepherd's Pie recipe to come tomorrow :-).  Don't be afraid to make a bunch of these as they freeze beautifully.

Garlic Cheddar Smashed Potatoes

5 quarts chopped and peeled Potatoes

½ cup Butter

1 Tbs minced Garlic

½ teaspoon Black Pepper

1 teaspoon Salt

2 cups small Cheddar Cheese cubes


  1. Cover potatoes in a 6-quart kettle and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are soft.

  2. In a small sauce pan, sauté the garlic and butter.  Add milk, salt and pepper and combine thoroughly.

  3. Once cooked, drain water off of potatoes and add liquid and spice mixture and mash with masher or mixer to desired consistency.

  4. Fold in cheddar cubes and serve.chedgarsmash2

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mommy-Made-It Monday: Corduroy Jumper & Shoes

My sewing project last week was this super cute jumper for GBaby.  I was chatting about patterns on FaceBook and an old college friend passed along a few patterns that she had.  When they arrived in my mailbox, one pattern was for this really cute jumper or overalls.

I made the jumper and made matching shoes.  I like to selvage fabric from unconventional places so, for this project, I started with this large corduroy skirt that I had found at a thrift store ($3.99). jumper1

After I cut out all the pieces, what was left looked like the shredded skirt that the Ugly Step Sisters left Cinderella with. jumper3

But I pieced it back together and ended up with a super cute dress.



It’s not perfect, and I can’t say that I’m a fan of making the ruffle part but I think that the finished product is pretty darn cute!

For the shoes, I made another pair of the soft baby shoes like I did before.  This time I used scrap fleece, the corduroy and for the soles, I used super soft salvaged leather.  The leather was another of my thrift store finds.  A worn suede shirt was mis-marked at $6.99.  The amount of leather I will be able to use from this shirt is a steal next to the craft store sheets of leather – and this is so much softer.  When I finished the shoes, I was wishing I had made a pair for myself!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Sunshine

sundaysunshinesm Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week.

This has been a weird week.  I enjoyed a  day of work at Made In Chenango - this was a nice break away from the mundane of my home routine, it also gave me six hours of fairly uninterrupted project time.  I started and finished another sewing project - it became fair game when I realized I had put it on my to-do list.

In a week when our local schools are recording up to 1/3 of the student population absent due to illness, I am so thankful that we are healthy and that we've had a couple nights this week of uninterrupted sleep for all three of us.  Gbaby hit another milestone and turned 9 months old.  She is so much fun and such a joy to my days - and yeah, I caught myself sucked in and joining her in a middle of the night giggle the other night when she was up.

It was a particular treat to have Handy-Man home a couple mornings this week and on friday, he cooked me breakfast.

It has been a week filled with reasons to be thankful.  What are you thankful for today?