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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.

Month in Review: May 2015

So I know people say this every month, but I actually cannot believe it’s June. As I’m writing this it is barely 50 outside and feels more like fall than “meteorological summer”. Thanks for the buzzword Tom Skilling!

Our May was a pretty decent month by any metric you can judge that sort of thing by. Liam spent the entire month with either work or school work, and we’re both looking forward to a more exciting and eventful June. Wish him luck on his finals, guys. He’ll be taking them over the next ten days and then he is free for most of this month.

But back to May.

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I started an herb garden this month. (Potted, but such is the apartment life.) I have basil, rosemary and parsley at the moment. I am expecting cilantro from a coworker that I’ll be picking up next time I am in the office. The rosemary isn’t looking very good but this is the most successful basil plant I’ve had yet. Some of the stalks (stalks?) are quite “leggy” but um, it’s alive and growing for now so I am pleased. This week I will be planting a container garden of radishes and possibly getting tomatoes and peppers. We tried to grow squash in containers last year and that went horribly. No squash for me.

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I ate my weight in strawberries this month. Seriously. Right now I am still getting produce from Costco but our local farmers markets are expected to start up in the next few weeks. I cannot wait. We live so close to farmland yet our markets are hard to come by. Go figure.

There was a date night this month! I pulled Liam away from his books for a dinner at Gordon Biersch in Bolingbrook. I believe it’s one of those chains that’s sporadicly placed around the country. The food was pretty good and my favorite part was the fact that the restaurant serves proper pints. I like beer but in smaller doses than most people, apparently.

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I made things! To wear! That pile of fabric is now a skirt and I am just so pleased with myself. Sin of pride? Yep. Moving on. “Me made May” is a yearly push for “makers” to make good use of their homemade items. Most commonly I have seen bloggers promise to wear a me-made item every day for the month of May. I am a baby sewist but endeavored to make five items during May that were wearable. That was ambitious. In the end I made two items – a skirt and a top and I am happily wearing both. The finished products are both at my parents’ house so I’ll have to show you later.

Speaking of my parents’ place, I spent a week there. In a bit of fortuitous timing, Liam’s worst week academically was also a break week for my co-ed sibling. The co-ed slept 70% of the time at home (oh, finals) and I was able to put in a full work week while getting to spend lots of time with long-lost sibling. I brought the dog with me so Liam had the house to himself and was very productive as well.

States I slept in: IL  No traveling this month either.

Books I read: Gone Girl; and I want all of those hours of my life back. I absolutely hated this book. For those of you who have read it, the “middle” was spoiled for me but I had no idea how it was going to end. Didn’t matter; I didn’t like it at all.

TV shows: Mad Men ended and I thought it was perfect.

Snippets: Like last month Liam has been super busy with school and I have been busy entertaining myself on off hours.  Still working with Duolingo, like last month.  Now I’m looking for better books to read this summer.  Go Blackhawks!!

If this recap seems a little bit light on the substance you’re totally right.  Lots of this month was consumed with work-related things that aren’t particularly interesting.  June holds the promise of many more adventures.  We’re spending Father’s Day with my parents and siblings and taking my dad out to a restaurant in town of his choosing.  I have a trip with some girlfriends of mine coming up very soon and I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures.

Month in Review: March 2015

As with January and February, here is a summary of what we were up to on March 1.

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By 8:00 am my parents’ house was hopping, probably because one of the boys had the brilliant idea to make a Starbucks run.   All of the siblings and their +1’s had spent the night. My parents headed off to church while the kids sat around the kitchen table chatting and making fun of one another. Have I told you I love spending time with my family? More than anything! (I feel like I need to add a disclaimer here so we don’t seem like a degenerate bunch of siblings – normally when we’re together we’ll worship as a family. But our time was so crunched this weekend that the kids decided to wait and attend Sunday night mass after everyone had gone their separate ways. Sunday evening mass isn’t a thing my dad believes in, so there you go.)

Around midday the college kids headed back to campus and we local siblings went our separate ways as well. L and I planned to get groceries on our way home but my good friend inquired about getting together for a late lunch so we did that instead. We spent several hours together just catching up and talking over plans for a possible summer trip that she and I have been scheming about. It was dark when we left the restaurant and I had to play secretary for L on our ride home because there was a flurry of activity around a group project while we were out.

I dropped Liam at home so he could get to work, went grocery shopping on my own and then came home and enjoyed the Downton Abbey Christmas Special. I am so sad Downton is over for the season!  (ETA – and I’m sad that Downton is ending forever after next season!  That news broke this past week 😦 )

Also really starting to hope that April 1st isn’t a Sunday because they’re quite boring around here.  I am almost tired of writing about them so you must surely be tired of reading about them! 🙂

States I slept in: IL, CO
I traveled for work for the first time this month.  More on that this week.  I so rarely travel alone that it was an odd experience.

Books I read: Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna. On Beauty (a reread). 6/35 for my goal for the year.  I don’t like getting “stuck” in a book but that’s where I am now.  See below.

Book I cannot finish: Kitchen Confidential. It’s rare that I give up on a book but I just can’t get through Bourdain’s writing. Anyone else feel that way?

TV shows: Watched a bit more Parenthood but I must admit that my interest is waning.  So is winter, which is when I watch most of my television anyway.

Snippets: Girl Scout cookies hit our area!  Still dealt with the accident a little bit.  L had a break from classes at the end of the month so we got to do things like go out to dinner and clean the house together.  Saw a relative lot of friends this month.  I feel like the winter hibernation is finally coming to a close!

Month in Review: February 2015

Ah, February. The month of love and cold. And snow. Oh, there was much snow. Even though the month is short we have a lot to celebrate. My husband’s birthday. My BIL’s birthday. Valentine’s Day. The Superbowl. Looking back, it feels like the month was packed with parties. No complaints here!

Like last month, I thought it would be fun to do a recap of February 1st. I think (hope) it will make for an interesting read at the end of the year.  Like I mentioned in my day-in-the-life post, we had plans to watch the Super Bowl with my parents and because of an impending snow storm they actually requested that we come by Saturday evening.

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Sunday morning we woke up to almost white-out conditions and L, my dad and I headed outside to get working on snow removal.  I can’t believe that February 1 was the first time this winter that I needed to do that.  My parents headed to church and I watched a sermon online because I was still working on a neighbor’s driveway when it was time to leave.  I love that my parents live in a neighborhood where people take care of each other – helping single moms with the shoveling, passing snowblowers around from family to family and kids out helping alongside their parents.  It actually reminds me a lot of the neighborhood I grew up in, so I’m not surprised my parents chose to relocate here.  After taking care of the snow L did homework and I helped my mom go through her closet and discard things that didn’t fit or work for her anymore.

Superbowl food

Regarding the Superbowl itself, we were most definitely a house divided. My husband is a native New Englander and his roots kicked in just before kickoff. Being an avid Chicago Bears fan myself, I was clearly obliged to cheer for the team that knocked Green Bay out of contention and that made me a Seattle fan for the day. I also quite like the city of Seattle itself, very much enjoy Skittles (can someone explain the association between Skittles and the Seahawks to me?) and find Boston sports fans obnoxious on all levels.  It wasn’t a difficult decision.  I’m not a Katy Perry fangirl, but I thought she was a brilliant choice for the halftime show.  She did an excellent job of captivating everyone we were watching with and I thought it was a really fun performance.  The commercials this year were really….heavy.  They were much less fun.  We headed home immediately after the game ended because that was when the roads were clear and the snow the lightest it had been in hours.

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Other notable events included Valentine’s Day and Liam’s birthday.  I read quite a lot and was able to make my miles biked goal rather easily.  That was a huge relief after a January where I was hardly able to workout on account of the car accident.  We were hoping for a boring, inexpensive month and that is exactly what we got.

States we slept in: IL

Books read: Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (my thoughts are here).  An abridged version of The Five Love Languages – definitely not interested in reading the full thing anymore.   That puts me at 4/35 for the year because I’m not counting the Love Languages overview.

TV shows watched: Parenthood.  House of Cards.  Downton Abbey.  Friday Night Lights.  Oookay, that’s a ton of television for me.  Looking back I’m not sure how that happened, but now it makes sense that I didn’t get through many books.

Projects completed: Inspired by Marie Kondo I did a fairly significant purge of our household items and my personal belongings.  I also helped my parents do the same when I spent the weekend with them.  I tracked our spending on a daily basis (boring!) and cooked fish for the first time.

Dates: We celebrated Liam’s birthday dinner at a new brewpub near our house and went for Thai food on Valentine’s Day.  Technically we left for the Superbowl in January and I think that our two dates may have been the only times all month that we left the house together.  Thanks, grad school.

Snippets: More aftermath of the accident to deal with – not complaining; it was just very time consuming.  Received our tax refund and put it in savings like boring people.   Shoveled so much snow at the beginning of the month.  Liam had midterms and I spent a weekend with my parents.  Celebrated lots of birthdays.

Like this type of post?  Check out more via the linkup on Amanda’s blog!

2015 Goals

I don’t like New Years resolutions, because they’re old news by March. People go all in for a little while and then throw them by the wayside when they get bored. And to be honest, so do I. I prefer setting goals each year, and then mapping out a way to accomplish them in quarterly increments. That way, when everyone else is setting aside their resolutions I’m moving onto stage two of my plan.

Money

One major goal that my husband and I have set is to get out from consumer debt. No more credit cards and no more only paying the minimum on our vehicle loan. Provided Liam does not have a decrease in his income this goal should be a moderate stretch. In order to accomplish this I have two sub-goals to help free up our disposable income.

I’m going to go on a non-essentials shopping ban for the first four months of 2015. No clothing, accessories, makeup, coffee, etc. Honestly, Christmas is a fairly materialistic event in my family and my birthday happens too so this is really the easiest time of year to make a no-shopping pledge.

The second thing I am planning to do is continue with capsule dressing for another full year. I had initially thought that I would take on this experiment for a single year and would go back to “normal” dressing in the spring of 2015. My initial thought was to go the year without purchasing any clothing but I prefer the idea of continuing with the capsule instead.

Travel

Liam and I are roadtrippers. We love being in the car together, stopping in small towns and seeing parts of the country that you miss when you choose to fly. We have two trips in mind: Louisiana/Alabama/Mississippi and a jaunt through the southeastern states (North Carolina/South Carolina/Georgia/Tennessee). Given the heat of summer in these places I think we’re going to aim for making the trip relatively early in the year.

There is also a very vague plan in the works for me to go to Oregon with some of my college girlfriends. I think that there are two of us who are solidly committed to going and probably will, regardless of what the rest of the group decides.

Fitness

I’m declaring 2015 my year of running. I know I’m about five years late to the party on this one but I need/want an activity with the flexibility that running provides: it can be done anywhere and needs little equipment. I got very very bored with my fitness routine in 2014 and pretty much abandoned working out by the end of this year. As a bit of background, I pushed myself really, really hard as an athlete while I was growing up. It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of stress. After college I decided that I just wanted to work out for fun, and not keep track of progress and numbers but now I think I need specific goals. So, I’d like to do the whole gamut of this running game: 5k, 10k, half marathon. Okay – a marathon would probably complete this but I don’t know I would have the time to commit to that training.  And let me just throw this out there: the idea of a Tough Mudder repulses me.  I just can’t get over the idea that the course is just swimming with germs.

Blog

I am very much enjoying writing on and maintaining this little blog. I have a small group of consistent readers (hi! thank you!!) and very much appreciate each of you. Though I would still write on here even if I didn’t have a single reader I hope to grow this space over the next year. I’m still working on how to achieve this goal, but one specific item on my list is to improve the look and feel of the site. I’ll probably play around with it over Christmas.

And there you have it. I will probably check in on these goals from time to time over the next year so this isn’t the last you’ll be hearing of them. Oh, and one last thing. If you’re thinking something important is missing in this list you’re correct. Two big parts of my life didn’t get included: my marriage and my faith. As for faith, that’s a very private part of my life. I do sometimes reference it on here but for the most part I don’t blog about it. And, as for my marriage I don’t set goals. Goals, to me, have an end and can be measured objectively. I don’t see marriage the same way. Just because I don’t set goals doesn’t mean that there aren’t things I hope to improve; it’s just that relationships don’t fit in to my very black-and-white approach to goals.

If you have any goals of your own that you want to share, I’d love to hear them! Anyone want to be my running buddy? 🙂

Life in our small space

Welcome! I’m S, and this is my tiny corner of the internet. The man (L) and I live in a (very) small apartment in a major metro area and are enjoying our life as DINKs. We are big creators- from meals to memories, and this is our space to document our adventures.

Grab a pint and stick around. It’ll be worth it!