Five Ideas for Thanksgiving Leftovers

Here is another post that was saved from draft purgatory, and because there’s nothing “so 2015” about it,  maybe I didn’t even need to admit that!  But, I wrote it last year and I’m coming clean about the fact that this has been on the schedule since I found it buried in my drafts in June.  

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have a wonderful time celebrating with family and good friends….and food. I don’t expect to post again this week so I thought I would leave you with a few suggestions for your turkey day leftovers.

Thanksgiving food isn’t my favorite, but I despise wasting food so I make sure that all of it gets eaten. I can do the traditional turkey dinner meal once, and then a total of one Thanksgiving sandwich the following day. After that I really need to rework the leftovers into completely different dishes so they’re palatable. I’ve listed several of my favorite recipes below and my modifications for using up the usual Thanksgiving suspects.

1. Turkey.
So, the first option is what my MIL does: deep-fried turkey bites (aka turkey nuggets). I find them ridiculously redneck and ridiculously delicious. Sometimes I can coax her into deep frying little balls of mashed potatoes on the side. And then I begin a juice cleanse post haste.

2. Mashed potatoes.
Wait. You have leftover mashed potatoes? That is not a thing that I am familiar with. But should you find yourself in that predicament, I have a few suggestions for you.

First up, latkes. I’ve linked to a pretty basic recipe; you could add scallions and soy sauce for a more Asian flair, or add in bits of ham, pork or salmon for something very eastern European. The best latkes are made from shredded potatoes, but these aren’t half bad either.

My second suggestion is a riff on what my family calls Colcannon (or Potatoes Colcannon) and is similar to a Dutch stamppot. You use the mashed potatoes as a base for meat and vegetable leftovers – a great comparison is a fried rice dish. Colcannon is far and away my favorite way to use up leftovers, especially in the winter time. Growing up we would each customize our own bowls, and because this takes zero additional cooking it’s very easy on a day no one feels like being in the kitchen.

If you are feeling in the mood to do some cooking, having pre-made mashed potatoes makes pierogies come together super quickly. They’re a great side for kielbasa (if you can find it) or any type of sausage. You can add in onion, celery, cheese and whatever other leftovers bits you have when making the pierogies. The bets part about this is that you can use up a ton of leftovers with a meal that tastes absolutely nothing like the one you had the day before.

Cranberries
Cranberry sauce tastes delicious on a freshly made potato latke. Just sayin🙂

This next idea is going to take a few more ingredients, but it’s easy nonetheless. The most delicious vegetarian stuffed pepper that I have ever tasted was filled with bulgar and cranberries. You can make a stuffing for the peppers out of the leftover turkey, cranberries (or cranberry sauce), corn and rice, quinoa, bulgar or whatever other grain you have around. If you have access to buckwheat it will make this dish super filling. We generally don’t have cheeses that would go well in the peppers, but mozerella, goat and blue (if you’re into that sort of thing) would all be really delicious.

Pumpkin (and squash)
Leftover pumpkin pie is once again something I’m not really familiar with. But should you have any, you could easily mash it into vanilla ice cream for a shake or blizzard as is the trendy thing to do.

Pumpkin baked goods are everywhere and I usually don’t go for them so I cannot give you any suggestions on that front. However, if you are interested in a savory option for your leftover canned pumpkin (or any squash, really) I suggest either a soup or a ravioli. Puree squash and apple with heavy cream and cinnamon or nutmeg or allspice depending on your preference for a very delicious wintery soup. Alternatively, squashes can also make for a really great vegetarian pasta sauce.

Sweet Potatoes
Candied sweet potatoes aren’t a thing here. If they were I suppose that I would mash up the leftovers and make it into a pie.

If you have either savory or naked sweet potatoes I suggest a sweet potato hash for breakfast. We like to add jaelpenos and other spicy bits to really vary the taste from the day before.

Stuffing
This is not at all creative but I usually bake our leftover stuffing in muffin tins to dry it out a bit, and then serve it like a kind of popover as the carb-y side to a main dish.

It’s the least ‘transformative’ of all of the options here but I just don’t have any other creative ideas. The same goes for corn pudding/Indian Corn/corn casserole, which we don’t even make anymore because it’s such a one-hit wonder.  If you have any favorite options for Thanksgiving leftovers, let me know!!

Day in the Life: October 30, 2015

Update: I found this post when I was going through and editing my drafts folder last summer.  While no longer timely, I thought it would be fun to post this a year later to see how things have changed.  I’ll be back in a few days with a recap of October 28, 2016, God-willing🙂. 

Hi! Liam was away for work at the end of October and because I had a lot of time on my hands I decided to document one of my “new normal” days. This was less than a month into our New England adventure and everything was still very new and exciting even though this may appear like the most mundane of posts.

I’m not a great morning person, so I like to spend a bit of time each evening compensating for my future self hitting the snooze button. I lay out what I’ll wear the next day, pack my lunch and make sure that my work tote and anything I’m leaving with in the morning is set to go. The weatherman said that we would have a sunny day and a high of 52 which is almost balmy for the end of October. We had already seen snow at this point, but thankfully it didn’t stick around. Not quite as balmy as the previous day’s 70, but still beautiful.

6:00 am. It takes me about 25 minutes to get out the door each morning. I shower, deal with my hair, get myself dressed and grab my tote, lunch and (on any other day) the coffee that L has made as I head for the door each morning. I’m a woman of many talents, but making coffee is just not one of them so I’ll be relying on the office Keurig this am.

6:45 am. I generally like to be out the door by 6:30 each morning but because I walk to work I prefer it to be light enough that I can make out faces and distinguish the silhouettes further in the distance. I love living so close to work even if it does mean our apartment is ridiculously expensive for what we have.  Today I left at 6:45 and the difference was huge.  Since the time change is this weekend I’ll be back to my normal routine on Monday.

7:01 am. We’re all signed in for the day and ready to get cracking. Even though we have a very flexible start time at least half of my office is in before 7 each morning. On my first day I was told to start at 8:30 and the office was a ghost town by the time I left for the day.

I was very lucky to find a job with Tito Samuel in our desired city, but to err on the side of extreme caution, I am probably not going to go into specifics about my work. I’m doing exactly what graduate school trained me to do and I love that, even if I’m off in a sub-specialty that held little appeal when I was a student.

11:20 am. A good portion of my lunch hours are spent holed up in my office with a good book, but I also occasionally use my lunch hour to attend to miscellaneous errands. Today I’m off to the library and to inquire about a test pass for a gym that I am thinking of joining. Depending on how much time those first two take, I may or may not head to the bank as well.

I have it in my head that noon is when I should eat lunch, but if I’m running errands around town it’s best to leave before 11:30 to beat the rush. That’s especially true if I’m looking to buy lunch. One time I waited 30 minutes for a slice of pizza. Not again.

12:00 pm.  Library and gym errands attended to; I didn’t make it to the bank because I had to wind up buying my lunch.  I took a bite of my sandwich before I left my desk and it was terrible.  The arugula must have gone off or something; it was inedible.

12:20pm – 3:30 pm. Work, work work. I got so immersed in what I was doing that this chunk of time really flew by! Time to head home. I shoot Liam a text telling him to call when he can and letting him know I plan to be in for the night. Wild and crazy Friday over here.

3:30pm. It’s quite nice when I leave the office and I decide to browse in a few stores that I pass on the way home. Mostly I think what I wanted was one last chance to be out and about before settling in for the night.

4:15pm. Home!  I immediately change into sweatpants and a tee and get a call from Liam.  He’s on the road and has several hours of driving ahead of him so we chat for a while.  The moment he and I hang up my mom calls to chat while she commutes home.  I was on the phone for nearly two hours straight.  I hate talking on the phone!

6:15pm.  Dinner.  Liam is a super healthy eater so whenever he’s gone I get to enjoy the bad processed things that he refuses to eat.  Annie’s Mac and Cheese for me!  Dessert (enjoyed immediately after dinner because I was so tired I didn’t think I’d be awake that much longer) was a scoop of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Ice Cream.

9:20pm.  I’ve just cleaned off the kitchen counters and made the grocery list for tomorrow.  I considered going to the store tonight, but I would have either gone unprepared or I would have been walking home with a ton of groceries when it was really dark out.  Pass.

January 2016 in Review

Days of Note

It was weird to write down notable dates from this month because the only thing notable about the beginning of January was ringing in the new year with my family…and then turning around to come back to our city.

January 12: New England winter bucket list item crossed off: we ate dinner in a beautiful restaurant with huge, wide-paneled windows that overlook a cobblestone street (and the ocean!) during the most beautiful snowfall of the year.  Norman Rockwell would have been impressed.

January 16: A Nor’easter kept us inside for most of the day.  We made beef stew and snow ice cream and enjoyed going for a bit of a walk during a break in the precipitation.

January 18th: MLK Day was a holiday for both of us.  Though we were housebound for three days (see above) the long weekend came at a perfect time.  We did homework, cleaned house, baked cookies and relaxed after the hardest work weeks of the year.  (Coming back from the holidays is rough!)

January 24th: Oss Bed and Breakfast in action!  Friends from out of town crashed here over the weekend.  Even though visiting with us wasn’t the purpose of their trip we got to catch up and hang out a fair bit.

January 31st: Dinner with friends at a new restaurant

On the whole, January was notable for its relatively mild temperatures.  Liam started a new school term at the very beginning of the month so it was mostly work-school-house work for both of us.  I really enjoyed the month at work and it seems like I started to get into a groove by the end of it.

Books read

The 1950’s Kitchen.  This was probably someone’s thesis, but I thought it was a fascinating read.  Granted, I thought there was going to be a little bit more socio-cultural analysis of the role of women in the 1950s but it even as just a discussion of kitchen designs, placement and materials kept me interested.

I tried to read The Husband’s Secret.  I really did!  I got past the first few pages and realized that I was annoyed by the main character and really didn’t care what the husband’s secret was and whether or not he was cheating, which I think is what you were supposed to be assuming at that point.

Miscellany 

This month I taught myself how to crochet!  I’m not saying that I’m very good at all, but it’s really enjoyable to do while watching television, and I think I would like to make a granny square quilt for our next place.  I mean…we could use it in our current place too, but I doubt I’ll finish it any time soon.

On another note, I applied for a few new jobs this month as well.  I love my current job and am very happy there for the time being.  Heck, I only started in October and feel very much like I’m still in the learning phase.  However, it has been several months since I have applied for anything and I like to keep my resume fresh and in circulation.  So I applied for a different job that is very related to what I do now.  Another few jobs that I applied for were part-time retail jobs.  Budget-wise I do not need to work another job, but at the moment I am happy to trade my time for a bit of extra money.  Have I mentioned my ten-minute commute?  That’s a big part of why I have free time.  Also, the downside of renting a furnished apartment is that we are going to need to purchase several big-ticket items once we leave this unit.  It would be nice to not have to use our “normal” money to do that.  More importantly though is that I would feel better with an additional income stream.  Maybe it’s the Millenial in me, but I don’t know that we will ever feel completely secure in our jobs without a bit of extra money coming in on the side “just in case”.

Other than returning to New England there wasn’t any traveling in January. We might try to take a weekend or day trip in February but I’m totally okay with that not happening.  March is going to be crazy busy and February is so short that it’s over in the blink of an eye.

Month in Review: November 2015

After the massive catch-up at the beginning of the month it’s time to go back to doing these reviews monthly.

November was my first full month at the new job and things started to feel more normal. I have settled into a comfortable routine and I feel like a part of my office rather than just a visiting worker. From both a professional and a personal standpoint I work with a really great group of people. And perhaps most excitingly, I’m no longer the newest person in the office.  I’m technically still the newbie because this person transferred from another site…but it was still nice to be able to let someone else know where the coffee was and which printers are where.  It wasn’t that long ago that I was on the receiving end of such helpful hints.

For the first time in at least 15 years I dined at the Cracker Barrel this month.  We also tried a poutine place (extra delicious late-night food) and a distillery that are walking distance from our apartment.  There is such an amazing food scene here that it’s going to be a real battle to stick to a meal plan regularly.

Thanksgiving happened!  After work Wednesday we headed up to Liam’s hometown to be with his family.  We had a midday meal on Thursday because one of his siblings had to work that morning and I had to work on Friday and we wanted to get an early-ish start back to our place because night driving and moose don’t mix.

To continue with the food theme of the post, we kicked off the week of Thanksgiving with a potluck Friendsgiving celebration hosted by one of Liam’s acquaintances.  I knew no one and Liam only knew a few people, but it was lots of fun.  And the food was amazing.  I had to laugh because we were in charge of making a vegan recipe and the joke was that we were set up to have the least favorite dish of the night.  (Curried pumpkin soup if you’re curious; I happen to think it’s quite good but it didn’t really go with the non-vegan offerings.)

Now that we are settled I feel like I can get back to enjoying hobbies that I had set aside while we were working toward relocating.  I attempt to become a “good” knitter each winter and this year is no exception.  I’ve been re-learning everything that I forgot over the warmer months and I have also picked up a set of crochet hooks although I haven’t touched them yet. I got my new library card and have been enjoying the vast e-lending library that I have access to as a result.  Though I try to avoid going to the library on my lunch hour (it’s amazingly crowded during the workday) I may have to drop by soon and see whether they have a foreign language children’s section.  I’ve been working on a new language – possibly in preparation of a trip next year and kids’ books are a great supplement to my daily practice.

My Christmas shopping is entirely done, although if we’re being totally transparent the last gift is still on its way to me and all of them need to be wrapped.  But as a result I had the time (and desire) to do some selfish shopping this month.  I was crushed to realize that secondhand shopping is terrible here – especially the thrift offerings.  So I wound up coming home completely empty handed.

And finally, can we talk about the weather?  Forgive the shouting but it’s necessary because WE STILL DO NOT HAVE SNOW.  I think that the northernmost part of the state finally has some in the 10-day forecast but we are looking at the mid 40’s for the next several days.  I’m not complaining but it is so, so weird.  Remind me about this when I’m whining my face off in March, okay?  Maybe when I’m complaining about wearing my winter boots to Easter services.

 

Month(s) in Review: July, August, September, October (!!!) 2015

1015 color

Hi.

Remember me?

This summer and early part of fall were fraught with stressors. And there were sad things, too: if you’ve been following along you’ll know a few of my family members passed away this summer. These are the first members of my parents’ generation to pass and it’s frightening in many ways.

Lots happened over the past few months that I didn’t want to dwell on (at the time) or remember in detail anymore. The sinking ship that was my mood and my life (so dramatic) finally righted itself toward the end of September. So, let me start there in catching you up on what has been going on around here lately.

1. We moved! I don’t just mean moved to a new apartment. I mean we moved states. And time zones! And climates (sob). That’s right; this is hello from New England! And yes, I already miss Chicago and its pizza.

2. New job! I was in an okay-but-not-great situation back in Chicago. I had a job that I was able to do mostly from home but that wasn’t related to my graduate degree. I got my new job as a direct result of what I studied in grad school – so, yay! I don’t think this is a permanent position for me (as in, I don’t expect to retire from the office I’m sitting in now) but I do think the job has the potential to propel me to that ‘forever’ job.

3. Job offer! Shortly after I began training for my current position I was actually offered another relatively local job. It would probably have required a move to be feasible in the long-term and it was slightly closer to what I dream of doing but there were a few factors that made the role I stayed in much more appealing. Still, I seriously considered switching and it was ultimately a very tough choice.

4. Interview offer! Immediately after I turned down the second offer I was asked if I was interested in interviewing for a third position. The interview will be later this winter. Job #3 is actually a blend of my current job and the one I turned down so I am going to take the interview if timing works in my favor. (If it doesn’t; no big deal.) I’ve never interviewed from a comfortable position before – I’ve always wanted out of the role that I was in, and I feel like I want that experience just so I’m comfortable the next time the situation arises. And I’m not just taking advantage of the opportunity; this is a job that I would also give serious consideration to if offered.

I typed this up on my lunch break and got distracted by the ocean view from my office. I’m going home to my small, quirky apartment that is walking distance from where I work. We may get lobster rolls while running errands on Saturday. My in-laws will likely come down this weekend for dinner and to see our new place. And though my family doesn’t (yet!) have tickets out here there is discussion of their coming once we start to thaw.  Things are very, very good right now.

Liam also had a very stressful summer at work and that was ultimately what pushed us into trying to relocate as quickly as possible. He is currently debating between two job offers here in New England. Neither are the dream job he thought he would have (something fell through; I haven’t pressed much) but both are good options for him while he looks for the next great match.

And that’s where we stand.  Hope things are well with you!

Sounds like lightening.

 

If you looked at the weather radar during the night of August 18th you would have seen that the worst weather in all of North America was centered over the greater Chicago area. In fact, for a good portion of that evening the most severe parts were centered right over neighborhood.

Right before Liam left work (approximately 5pm) he texted me that our area was in a tornado watch until 10pm. I’m not sure how it is elsewhere, but at least in Chicago those watches are issued pretty freely – a good thing! – and this was at least the fifth or sixth this summer. Tornados can happen rapidly and without warning (see: Plainfield, IL tornado of 1990) but only under very specific weather conditions.

Liam got home and we had dinner and sort-of forgot about the watch and went about normal evening tasks.

And then.

At 7:22 pm we heard tornado sirens. To me they mean: get in building’s basement and turn on the television. To someone who is experiencing them for the first time and has only the movie Twister as his point of reference for what happens next this was a Very Frightening Thing.

Most of our building headed into the basement and we turned on the local news looking for the weather. I’ve mentioned before that we live pretty far out in the suburbs, and when we were looking for news reports we had to go to a super-local channel to get anything because the main stations hadn’t switched over from regular programming. This was mildly comforting until we looked at the map.

The red cone of danger was centered right over us (seriously – over the nearest intersection!) and extended southeast to my parents’ current home and northeast to the area I grew up in where we still have many friends.

My family has a group text message and as soon as I messaged out to say Liam and I had heard sirens and were in the basement my mom responded that they had heard sirens and were in their own basement as well. My siblings both checked in: one of them was far to the south of the watch and the other said they were in the watch zone and paying attention but that not much was happening.

For 20 minutes we heard lots of thunder and lightening but the sirens weren’t continuous and even the local local weather station signed off their coverage of the storm to go back to regular programming. What i understand is that the sirens went off because there were “winds capable of rotation” very near us but that nothing materialized and they weakened enough to end the watch. I updated the family, we fist-bumped with building neighbors before heading upstairs and settled in to watch the storms. I think this was right about 7:50.

At a few minutes after 8:00 there were more sirens. Hi-ho, hi-ho; it’s back downstairs we go.  If you thought Liam would be more comfortable the second time around you were most incorrect.  However, the overall mood was significantly more joyous this time because there was one really excited bunch of kids who were able to avoid bedtime because of the storms.

This time our sirens stayed on longer and all of the main channels were carrying the weather. There were reports of rotations immediately to our north and south. At some point my parents checked in to say that their area hadn’t heard sirens but were put back under the warning zone for all of three minutes. Our power flickered several times but never went off. We heard a really loud bang of what we thought was thunder. Within the next few minutes the warning either expired or was cancelled because the storm was weakening; I don’t remember which.

At Liam’s request we slept in the family room with the weather channel on just so we’d be aware of what was going on if we were awoken by sirens. I don’t think the poor kid slept for more than 20 minutes at a time that night. Having been through the song and dance a few times before I didn’t really think much about the events of the night except to say a prayer of thanks that there was apparently very minimal damage as a result of the storms.

Being the more rested of the two I volunteered to take our dog out the next morning. I swung our building door open and my jaw dropped open. Lightening struck a tree not five feet from our building. Bark shot off of the tree in all directions, and though it didn’t fall over the tree was splintered into lots of thin strips where the lightening must have hit. It looked a lot like pulled chicken if that’s any sort of helpful reference. Our building does not have a lightening rod (it should!) so we feel very, very lucky.

Liam called his mother when he was on the way to work the next morning to tell her that we were fine, and about the lightening strike. Apparently she and my FIL were watching the weather on the nightly news and my normally very reserved FIL shouted at the tv “OH YEAH…HOW DOES HE LIKE IT NOW!?!??” in reference to our current residence.  We hear you FIL; we hear you.

Cross another item off of the Authentic Midewestern Experience list for Liam because his tornado experience was definitely the real deal.  Luckily there was very little damage that night – I believe about 30,000 lost power and there was some flooding and damage from a few lightening strikes…overall a very quiet night for such a stormy one.

July 2015 Shopping Summary

More clothing talk!  I’ll be back tomorrow with something not related to clothes, so feel free to check back then if my wardrobe just isn’t your thing.

I realized that I haven’t shown you two items that I purchased with gift cards from the holidays/my birthday.  Surprising no one who knows me in real life, I purchased shoes.

First, sandals.  Earlier in the summer I posted a blog of all of my shoes and I mentioned that one of the pairs of sandals was at least four years old.  Well, they died.  I wore them all the time when I was on vacation and they finally did snap shortly after we got home.  Feel free to tell me if you hate my new pair because I’m genuinely curious.  In New England (that place I think I live) plenty of adults wear these shoes.  But I know that in other parts of the country this brand is considered toddler shoes.  Behold, my Salt Water sandals:

Screen shot 2015-06-23 at 10.20.25 AM

Now I could have gotten a more mature color (they come in black/navy/white/red/tan) but then I wouldn’t be me.   Besides – I already have a pair of sandals in a dark green leather.  They are between $35 and $40 on Amazon.  Be warned: some places like to mark these up a LOT.  I’ve seen them for $80 (!!!!!) in hipster-y boutiques.  Don’t pay that much.

I also bought a pair of Chelsea boots for fall.  They were from the Topshop pop-in at Nordstrom.  Special snowflake statement coming: I have a hard time finding boots without tongues that can fit over my really high arches.  Boo hoo.  Chelsea styles work really nicely for me because of the elastic pieces near the heel.  Hot feet are uncool so I’m not wearing these yet but I’ve worn them at home and they are really comfortable!

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So there you go.  I didn’t actually buy any clothing in July.  I don’t need anything else for summer – heck, I don’t want anything else for summer at this point.  It’s too warm to be thinking about fall clothing and that’s all that seems to be in stores right now.

And as always I’ll be liking this post with Franish once hers goes live.