Tag Archives: Gravy

Not Your Typical Thanksgiving Leftovers

7 Dec

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Never before have I had a whole week off from school during Thanksgiving.  Not having to work the Monday through Wednesday before the most important food day of the year was honestly an amazing treat.  Not only was I able to pretty much cook everything in advance (except the turkey, of course), but also I was able to enjoy the season with friends and family.  The Florida weather was perfectly seasonal, and even a deep-freeze warning one night brought back memories of cold, Oregon mornings, where Rob and I first started celebrating this holiday together.

As I looked around my living room last Saturday night, there were all the signs of the weekend after Thanksgiving: a couple dishes with creative leftovers lunches on the coffee table, Rob in and out of naps, college football on the TV, Sig and his cousin, Turner, also in an out of naps (but trying really hard to stay awake thus something, just something, happens where us humans will need their K-9 expertise – like cleaning up turkey bits), Jenn uploading silly pictures of us on her computer, and just as dusk was creeping up over the golf course, we are all probably very thankful that some lights were accidently left on because none of us were getting up from our comfy, blanket-nested spots on the couches.  Well, I know I wasn’t.

As always, my Turkey Day Trials did me well, and while I may have gone overboard on the amount of food we had, it made for a very festive, and belly-growing holiday.  Here was the menu:

Appetizers:

  • House Cocktail: mulled cranberry cider topped with brut and frozen cranberries
  • Spiced nuts
  • Boozie olives (olives warmed in the oven with gin, orange peel, and peppercorns)
  • Brie with onion jam, fig chutney, and water crackers
  • Pigs in a blanket (because they are simply awesome)
  • Shrimp cocktail

The Main Event:

  • No Fuss Turkey

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Sides:

  • Rob’s mashed potatoes
  • Spicy Leek and Sweet potato soufflé (with browned marshmallows!)  – some of these ended up on the wall.  Not exactly sure what happened.
  • Celery and Onion Stuffing
  • Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon, Apple, and Rosemary
  • Steamed farm-fresh corn and green beans
  • Parker House Rolls
  • Jellied cranberries (yes, in the can, ridges and all)

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Dessert:

  • Pumpkin Pie (from Costco – the best!)
  • Pumpkin, Amaretto Custard and Whipped Cream Trifle.  SO GOOD.

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And finally….. food coma.

Ok, so Thanksgiving food is wonderful, obviously.  But Jennifer and I indulged in a leftover that was unlike the standard midnight turkey sandwich (don’t get me wrong, that sandwich is probably the most perfect thing I could eat – ever.  Like, ever, ever.).  So, after a couple glasses of wine, a lovely combination of the French-Canadian Poutine dish, American Thanksgiving, and a late-night Mexican tradition all found themselves together in a happy little co-mingling of sorts, creating an indulgence perfect for only the days after Thanksgiving.  There was honestly not a lot of thought to this dish, so there wasn’t much measuring.  Actually, there was no measuring at all.  But with these ingredients, you only need to go with what you like.

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I preheated the oven to 350 degrees, and put blue corn tortilla chips on an ovenproof plate.  Then, I spooned some leftover turkey gravy (the Poutine part), and sprinkled an abundance of leftover turkey meat over the chips.  Taking a shredded Mexican cheese blend, I spread the cheese evenly over the chips and popped it in the oven to melt.  When the OMG-amazing-super-delicious-ooey-gooey-cheesy-turkey-smell wafted through the kitchen, I took out the Turkey & Gravy Nachos, topped them with scallions and hot sauce, and Jennifer and I devoured them.  Really, not a morsel left. 

As that was a week ago, since then all the leftovers have been creatively constructed and eaten – some great, some not so much.  Christmas is well on its way, and I’m starting to get ready.  This weekend calls for making cookies and chocolates, sending out holiday cards, and constructing a wreath.  And just wait until you hear about what happened with our Christmas tree.  Let the O’Donnell – Tamminen Holiday Craziness begin!  Until then, I have two more weeks of school, lots to do, and feeling a little like Joey Tribiani at the moment:

“I’m thinking about starting an ‘I Hate Turkey Club.’  Although, I do love a turkey club.”

So, we’re eating a lot of sushi.  Happy Holidays!

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Scandinavian Comfort Food

16 Sep

So before I start writing, and you start reading, I just want to give the disclaimer that I am happy, blessed, and thankful to have a job during a time of two very discouraging factors: 1) the obvious state of the economy, and 2) the not-so-obvious state of education and good teachers repeatedly loosing their jobs due to budget cuts and lack of tenure.  I have been tenured, I have done my time with the union, and now I’m starting over in a new district, new city, and with new little people that will – hopefully – one day make a positive impact on society.  And I’m so blessed to be continuing my professional career, as well as pulling in a paycheck during these times.  So now that the fine print is over, here come the more immediate feelings.

LITTLE KIDS HAVE BIG GERMS.  They are snotty!  They are dirty!  They eat with their fingers and spill their food, and they love every minute of it.  Don’t you remember being a kid?  Come on, if you think hard enough you might just be able to start tasting the blue box mac-n-cheese.  So needless to say, I’m experiencing the beginning of the school year cold coming on, and it’s a doozie.  Teachers never get sick the first week, maybe not even the first few weeks.  But come that 3rd week, when the schedules have been made, and the kids have sneezed enough times, and maybe a little one forgetting to wash their hands after using the bathroom comes back to your room just one too many times, it hits.  Sore throat, headache, body aches, and overall feeling of, well, ickyness.  Being the math specialist at our school, I haven’t worked with A classroom of students, but a whole SCHOOL of them.  And trust me, on pizza day, there is no way those kids are staying home, even if they have a couple sniffles.

So last night was comfort food: Swedish Meatballs with some raw farm basket veggies.  I had actually been planning the meal for a while (give the hubby a rare hearty meat dish, as well as sticking to my roots), but it was made even better by also serving it to a friend, who had helped us out earlier in the day (moving a washer and dryer isn’t the easiest task.  So I’m told.  I was taking a nap for that part).  There’s nothing better than entertaining with comfort food!  What better way to make someone feel at home in your house than to serve them warming gravy soaked meat?

Well, the meatballs turned out perfectly – seasoned with spices and fresh from the parsley, with just the slightest tang from the goat cheese and mustard.  The gravy was finger-licking smooth, rounding out the meatballs with the perfect texture and coating mouth-feel.  The conversation was fun, and the late night Wii playing just topped off the evening (p.s. I am a champion Wii fencer.  It was only fitting that I cut our wedding cake with a sword).  We poured rounds of wine into our new goblets, and were able to pull out other wedding gifts to entertain.  By the end of the night, my oncoming flu was the last thing I was feeling.  Maybe it was the meatballs, maybe it was the fun, or quite possibly it was the wine, but there was no antibiotic in the world that could have made me feel better than the hug of a great, comforting night.

Swedish Meatballs in Gravy

Meatballs (makes 12):

  • 1 lb. finely ground turkey meat
  • 1 lightly beaten large egg
  • 1/2 c unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill (I alternate dill and rosemary depending on the season.  Dill is more harvest/summery)
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 3 oz good goat cheese (I always look for goat cheese made in Sonoma, CA)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • s&p to taste

Have a sheet tray lined with parchment paper ready and turn the oven on to broil.  Add all ingredients into a large bowl, and mix with clean hands.  Form into balls, about 1 1/2 – 2 inches in diameter.  Evenly place meatballs on sheet tray, and broil for 10 minutes, turning the meatballs after the first 5 minutes.

Gravy:

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c finely chopped white onion
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 – 3 c low sodium chicken broth, warmed
  • s&p
  • Optional: chopped parsley, for garnish

Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add onions, a bit of salt, and saute until onions turn soft and translucent.  Add the flour, stir, and let the flour “cook out” for about a minute.  Then, in 1/2 cup increments, add the chicken broth, constantly whisking to get rid of lumps.  You will be able to tell when the gravy is at a good texture by coating a wooden spoon and running your finger down the back.  If the finger line stays in tact, you’ve got a good gravy thickness.  Add the meatballs to the pan, cover the meatballs with the gravy, and simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes, returning every 5 minutes to re-cover the meatballs in the gravy.  Note: the gravy will thicken a bit more during this time.  So if you want a thinner gravy, add more liquid during the whisking process.

Serve hot, and top with fresh parsley, if desired.  Enjoy!

NOTE: Traditional Swedish Meatballs are made with a mixture beef, pork, and sometimes veal, and are fried to brown rather than broiled.  I wanted to do more of a healthier version of the dish, thus the turkey and lack of frying.  But trust me – with these flavors, you’ll never miss the extra fat.

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