November Top 5

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  1. Happy belated Thanksgiving! I went up to Michigan and spent the day with N’s family. So very thankful to governor of Missouri gave state employees that Friday after off so that I could go.
  2. We survived the car ride to and from Michigan. Including Quincy.
  3. I have just started bullet journaling. Let’s see if this is as life changing as people say. I am hoping it will at least help me keep track of recipes I make.
  4. Target. I seriously should not go in that store because I loose all self control.
  5. OMG CHRISTMAS IS COMING. Decorations are up and I am ready.

Thanksgiving Nachos

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Most people know exactly what they are going to make for their Thanksgiving meal. There are the must-haves of turkey, stuffing, and cranberries, and people have their own traditional or family recipes to include too. So why bother sharing more recipes for the day-of when likely 1) you literally can’t add any more dishes because of time, dishes, and space or 2) you have traditions to follow. But if that’s what you need you can look here.

Instead lets focus on leftovers. Now, the main Thanksgiving meal is great and wonderful. But leftovers are really where it’s at. The days after Thanksgiving are full of some of the best turkey sandwiches ever. But let me tempt you to try using your leftovers a new way: on nachos.

If you love to combine all your Thanksgiving food on your plate, this is for you. These nachos do just that but add a crunchy, salty tortilla chip and some salty cheese on top.

Now I do not advocate nachos and no turkey sandwiches, but think about these nachos when you are tired of eating your leftovers the same way day after day.

THANKSGIVING NACHOS
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS:

Tortilla chips
Cojita cheese, crumbled
Turkey, shredded
Cranberry sauce
Stuffing, optional
Gravy, warmed

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350.

Line baking sheet with tortilla chips. Top with turkey, cheese, and stuffing. Cook in oven for 3-8 minutes, until warmed and browned. Drizzle cranberry sauce and gravy on top.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

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There are only a few recipe sources that I always trust. 1) My mom, 2) Cook’s Illustrated, and finally Ina Garten.

When I was first learning to really cook, I was cooking dinners with friends once a week, and our meals typically featured Ina’s recipes. And they never turned out bad. As the years went on, I started cooking and realized that her recipes have a higher success rate than just the typical recipe you see.

I have enjoyed watching her new shows recently and am planning to check out her new cookbook as soon as I can get it from the library (#poorgradstudent). This treat can hold me over until then with her transformation of the classic PBJ to a dessert. PBJ has been my go to lunch at work for the past few months- would I loose any professional standing at work by eating these bars for lunch instead?

 

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY BARS
Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten

INGREDIENTS

1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 ounces peanut butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4-1 cup jelly
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line an 8 x 8 baking dish with aluminum foil and grease it.

Cream together butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar.  Beat in egg, vanilla, and peanut butter until just combined.  Stir in flour, salt, and baking powder until just combined.

Press approximately 2/3 of the peanut butter dough in the bottom of the baking dish.  Spread jelly evenly over top.  Dollop the remaining peanut butter dough on top.  Sprinkle peanuts on top.  Bake for 25-32 minutes, until done.  Cool completely and cut into bars.

October Top 5

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  1. Quincy’s Halloween costume. Enough said.
  2. Soup. A year ago, I would have refused to eat soup for dinner. But then last winter when I was interviewing all over the country, I craved soup. And I haven’t stopped since. So lately I have had tomato soup (& grilled cheese), gumbo, split pea soup, wonton soup, and more.
  3. Seasonal decorations. For the past several years I have tried to hold back on buying decorations since I am not living anywhere permanently. Couldn’t resist this year, so I am really looking forward to Christmas decorations!
  4. I went to the Renaissance fair here this month and had lots of fun seeing all the people be really into it. Also had my obligatory turkey leg and got stung by a bee for the first time in my life.
  5. Target’s call has been hard to resist lately, so I’ve been doing a little more shopping there than needed probably. But who can resist Targets stuff!?

Chicken, Shrimp, and Andouille Gumbo

 

When cooking there are a few dishes that I am convinced can’t be made as good in my kitchen as in restaurants. Or I’ve tried to make a dish and failed every time.

Gumbo was always one of those dishes. I was just convinced that it would be 1) too much work with making a roux and 2) just not taste as good despite my efforts. Well, one day something convinced me to try a Gumbo recipe. It was from Cook’s Illustrated, which is my one recipe source that can gives me hope that it will turn out. But then it was a lightened up/healthier gumbo, so I was skeptical all over again. Anyone who knows gumbo is that “light” is not typically a word you read to describe it.

Well, don’t be skeptical about this recipe. This is not a traditional roux in any sense, but it is so much easier and the taste is spot on. I have adapted a few things based on what ingredients I have had around

 

A Halloween Treat

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I always have big visions of making some super creative and cute snacks. I pin them all. When I read the how-to, it seems so easy.

Yet something always seems to not quite work (see: my “mummy” pigs in a blanket that looked like cocktail sausages with bread on them). This Halloween-themed dip is super easy and looks more impressive than it took to make.

All you need to do is de-seed  small pumpkin, carve a vomit face, and put some guacamole on a plate and coming out of your pumpkin’s mouth. Simple.

Happy Halloween!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Popcorn

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I am loving my first fall in the midwest. I have been cooking a lot more soups and cold-weather dishes when the temps are cooling off (and then heating up, and then cooling off again).

October is a snack and sweet month with Halloween, and this popcorn is a great sweet snack. You pop your own popcorn, and coat one half in a jelly sauce and the other in a PB or any other nut butter sauce. It’s a nice sweet snack with good crunch. Perfect for eating while watching a movie while ti’s cold outside.

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY POPCORN
Barely Adapted from Something Swanky

INGREDIENTS

6 cups popped popcorn
1 cup white chocolate chips, divided
2 tablespoons jelly
2 tablespoons peanut butter
Salt

DIRECTIONS

Divide popped popcorn into two separate bowls (3 cups in each bowl).

Using the microwave or a double broiler, melt 1/2 cup white chocolate. When chocolate is almost melted completely, stir in jelly and a pinch of salt. Pour on top of one bowl of popcorn and stir to mix. Spread popcorn into a single layer on a baking sheet and let sit until hardened, about 20 minutes.

Using the microwave or a double broiler, melt the remaining 1/2 cup of white chocolate. When chocolate is almost melted completely, stir in peanut butter and a pinch of salt. Pour on top of the remaining bowl of popcorn and stir to mix. Spread popcorn in a single layer on a baking sheet and let sit until hardened, about 20 minutes.

Break popcorn into pieces and mix together.

September Top 5

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  1. Back to the grind with work starting. Feels good to wear something other than yoga pants and shorts all week long.
  2. FALL IS HERE. Well, pretty much is except that there is record breaking heat in Missouri. Cue my eyes rolling. I am so ready for my first real fall (falls in Texas often consist of temps only going to 60 and trees’ leaves dying rather than changing colors).
  3. Podcasts are a lifesaver for my commute to work. Right now my favorite is definitely Real Crime Profile.
  4. Hard apple cider. I haven’t been feeling beer as much lately, but hard apple cider has definitely been hitting the spot.
  5. As a beer noob, I only recently discovered what a growler is. Makes me laugh every time. We have been able to enjoy the St. Louis craft beer scene with our new growler (hard apple cider for me).