Turkey Day Pre-Planning (and Ribbon Turkey Bow)

Last year was the first year we thought about this and it worked out pretty well. We wanted to do a full on Thanksgiving Day meal but I was concerned that after a couple days of leftovers, we were going to end up with a bunch of it still in the fridge and then, eventually, in the trash.

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We went in to Turkey Day meal preparations with a plan for what to do with  the leftovers. It worked out really well. We had plenty for Thanksgiving, then the dishes below to either have the next week or put in the freezer, and we still had just enough to enjoy some reheated leftovers without getting sick of it.

Just add a few extra items to your shopping list ahead of time and then you can prepare some meals for the future during the long weekend.

Turkey Shepard’s Pie – My husband kind of “winged” it but if you need some instruction, this looks like a good one. Basically, we get a frozen deep dish pie crust, mix together and put in leftover turkey, either leftover vegetables or frozen mixed vegetables, and leftover gravy then top with mashed or sweet potatoes and bake.

Turkey Broccoli Rice CasseroleThis is one of my personal favorite freezer recipes. We usually half this recipe and get 2-3 meals out of it. You can get fresh or frozen broccoli and “cream of’s” pretty cheap leading up to Thanksgiving and then we use turkey instead of chicken. A couple weeks later, we aren’t sick of turkey anymore and this heats up pretty quickly for an easy dinner.

Think ahead for Christmas, too! We are making this cranberry sauce again and freezing half to save for Christmas dinner, as well.

You can also freeze leftover turkey. We ended up with some in the freezer and after Christmas we had lots of ham. I found this recipe and we used them to make Turkey Cordon Bleu Casserole. It sounds weird, but it was really good.

For Thanksgiving Day dinner this year, I am weirdly excited that we are planning on using herbs that we dried or a friend dried for us from our garden on the turkey and in the from scratch stuffing. I’ll be making bread in the bread machine for the stuffing and we are using the green beans we grew this summer in the garden. My husband is making Sweet Potato Casserole and Chocolate Chess Pie from scratch, too.

This year we are looking at doing Turkey Shepard’s Pie again and trying this recipe to make Turkey Rollups with leftovers. We are planning on doing Turkey Cordon Bleu Casserole again, too.

While you are planning for Thanksgiving, check out how to make this Ribbon Turkey Bow for the little girl in your life.

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Don’t forget to check out the giveaways going on right now! And, check out all the great ideas on Happy and Blessed Home for tons of ideas.

 

 

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Our U-Picking Adventure

With spring in the air, and having already missed strawberry picking season (we just couldn’t get our act together to get out and do it), we decided to try to get out to the short blueberry picking season. We started out at Fort Lonesome Farm in Lithia, Florida. It was basically the front and side yard of a home but it looks like a lot of homes in the area take advantage of the land and have a variety of products.

Kelsey had a great time “talking” to the chickens and following them around and then feeling her way around the plants. She wanted to use the shears and kept carrying around the basket. I was happy to let her explore the different textures, shapes and colors.

While there were many more items we would have liked to pick up, we settled on a few, including some things we hadn’t tried before: mulberries, kale, patty pan squash and apple mint.

Mulberries:

These little berries were messy but tasty. Tasted like kind of  cross between a raspberry and a grape to me. We didn’t end up making anything with them but here is a link for information and recipes in case you want to try them.

Kale:

About half was turned in to Kale Chips. The rest eventually became Kale and Basil Pesto.

Kale Chips

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse, dry, remove stems and break kale into pieces. Spread out on baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with spices (we use a Mexican Fiesta blend we found at Whole Foods or black pepper, we try not to add salt to things when we can). Bake for 20 minutes.

Patty Pan Squash:

At the time, we had no idea what this UFO-shaped thing was. The gentleman there told us what it was and told us what he does with it. He said to cut the bulb off and grill the pieces. After a little research, I came across this recipe and made a few changes to suit our taste and to use what we had including the fresh basil and rosemary growing out back.

Buttery Patty Pan Squash with Basil and Rosemary

  • 1 patty pan squash, 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • fresh basil and rosemary, chopped
  • fresh ground lemon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep ingredients. Lay slices in a baking pan, drizzle butter over slices, scatter basil and rosemary over slices and crack pepper over it. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

It came out tasting pretty good, kind of a typical “squash-y” taste and texture, if that makes any sense. The fresh herbs gave it a lot of flavor. I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to get another one but it wasn’t bad and I would have it again.

Apple Mint:

I’ve been having some trouble with insects in my garden and wasn’t trusting the mint so we decided to pick some up while we were here to make another batch of Mint Simple Syrup for iced coffee. Boil 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar and a bunch of mint leaves. Once the liquid is clear, take it off the heat and let it sit the rest of the day. You might want to give it a taste test over now and then to make sure it doesn’t get too strong.

There was some mint still left so I decided to chop it up and freeze it in ice cubes. It might be good with some handmade sweet tea!

After Kelsey followed the chickens around again, we headed out to find some blueberries. It was getting towards the end of blueberry season and not every where was still open for u-picking. Basically we just needed to decide to make a right or left from Fort Lonesome Farm and keep our eyes peeled for a place. We found one which was, again, basically a backyard. Will and I were chitchatting the whole time, which wasn’t very long, and when we got to where we were going, I got out and opened Kelsey’s door only to find she was passed out asleep.

Will and I traded off blueberry picking and waiting by the car so Kelsey could sleep. I had a nice conversation with the man that owned the farm and we talked about a whole different bunch of things. Finally, it was my turn to go picking. You know, I could have stayed out there picking for an hour! You get in to a groove with looking for and picking the blueberries and can just kind of zone out and think or not think, which ever ends up happening.

We ended up with about half a bucket full for about $10 which came out to just over 8 cups worth. Of course, that’s not including the couple here and there that I popped right in my mouth! Check me out in the bucket holding rig – for stylish, hand-free blueberry picking.

Blueberries:

We ended up doing a couple things with the berries. Some went in to shakes and oatmeal. We made some delicious Blueberry and Banana Muffins (had some really ripe bananas I wanted to use up) and Will made a delicious Blueberry Cheesecake. Both recipes were adapted from cookbooks we had at home. I wish I would have taken more pictures, but it was so good that it didn’t last long!

Blueberry and Banana Muffins (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book)

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 3/4 cup mashed banana
  • 3/4 cup fres or frozen blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Grease muffin cups, don’t line. In medium mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of dry mixture. In another bowl, combine egg, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to the dry mix. Add mashed bananas and lemon juice. Stir until moist, batter should be lumpy. Fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake in a 400 degree oven fo 20 minutes or until golden. Cool in muffin cups; serve warm.

It was great having some different fresh fruits and veggies around the house for a bit. Always makes me feel a little healthier, even if they end up as desserts. Looking forward to the next new food.

Kale and Basil Pesto

It may only be the “unofficial” start of summer but it’s already been summer for at least a month here in Tampa. Letting Kelsey play in the kiddie pool I noticed the basil was trying to bloom. Again. It was getting too tall and has been trying to bloom every couple of days, it was time to cut it back. I just hope I didn’t kill it by taking too much off.

Once again, I found myself trying to think what I could do with something in an effort to not throw it out. Pesto it was. I then remembered that there was some kale still in the fridge from our u-picking adventure a little while back. After a quick search, I found a couple of recipes for Kale and Basil Pesto. I used this recipe as my starting off point and used what we had on hand.

2 cups basil

2.5 cups kale

1 cup olive oil

1/2 cup pine nuts (can use walnuts)

1 teaspoon garlic powder (we were out of minced and fresh so powdered it was)

fresh ground lemon pepper and salt

  • Hand shred and rinse basil and kale. Chop in food processor. Slowly add about 1/2 cup of olive oil.
  • Add pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper. Continue to process until well blended.
  • A tip from a basil pesto recipe: 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan or Ramano cheese–add this only if you are serving immediately

It is sitting in the fridge for now. Hmm, what to have it with? Some tri-colored pasta, spaghetti, chicken, pork? We’ll just have to wait and see!

It has been fun having our little garden. I can sometimes get Kelsey to water the plants and today I was picking the basil leaves and giving them to her to put in the bowl. Then she dumped it all out. Well, she is just 16 months old. Looking forward to her being more involved as she gets older.