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Hungry Heart: November 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Early Present

Jerry and I never have a fridge full of leftovers after Thanksgiving.

We ate plenty of leftovers at my parent's house this weekend, so I wasn't disappointed at the lack of turkey in my fridge.

Last night Jerry fried some chicken in our new cast iron skillet.

The skillet was supposed to be a Christmas present for me. But a certain bored coonhound dragged it out of its hiding place yesterday and chewed on the plastic it was wrapped in.

I wish I was making this up.
We really need to fix the latch on the office door.
Or find a better place to hide Christmas presents....

Her punishment was to help Jerry cook dinner.

The chicken was dipped in flour, egg, and then breadcrumbs. Then fried in canola oil and a little butter.
Its not exactly the healthiest way to eat chicken, but it sure was delicious.

While Jerry cooked the chicken I remembered that we somehow ended up taking home leftover mashed potatoes from Thursday dinner #2.
We decided to make potato cakes, one of my favorite ways to eat leftover mashed potatoes.

We simply added a few ounces of grated pepper-jack cheese, an egg, a little garlic powder, and a few tablespoon or two of milk to the potatoes (depending on how dry/moist your leftover taters are).
Form into patties, and then coat in breadcrumbs.
Then pan fry them in the skillet until brown on both sides.

Not the most attractive meal, but it tasted delicious!

What is your favorite way to eat Thanksgiving leftovers?
Mine is Mom's turkey soup!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Very Veggie Soup

Sometimes, after a weekend of heavy food and many desserts, I feel as though I am in desperate need of vegetables.
Thanksgiving was certainly one of those weekends.

I kept throwing vegetable after vegetable into the soup pot yesterday.

Carrots, celery, onion, garlic, zucchini, and asparagus.
Tomatoes and chicken stock.

And finally frozen spinach and corn.
2 cups of water and a can of rinsed white beans, and dinner was done.

Served my favorite way to eat soup; with cheese and croutons. 
I am now officially obsessed with croutons. 

Jerry is also officially obsessed with hot cocoa. 
I laughed to myself yesterday when I saw the container of Swiss Miss on the counter. 

I put it next to the pineapple so you could get an idea of how large this can of powdered hot chocolate is.
It holds 67 servings.
At the top it says "Great for Offices, Restaurants, Schools, Daycares".

And our little family of two.

Anyone want to come over for hot cocoa?

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Let the Holidays Begin

I had to dust off my computer this morning.
I haven't blogged in almost a week!

I hope every one's Thanksgiving was as nice as mine.
Full of friends, family, and food!

Official Turkey Carver

On the road to dinner #2!

Beautiful table

Not bad for meal #2!
Mom's beautiful apple pie

Eating two Thanksgiving dinners can be rough. I managed to do pretty well until dessert. That's when I got the uncomfortable 'I ate way too much' feeling.

Luckily, we started the day off at the Turkey Trot.
Mom and I walked and Jerry and a few of our friends ran the 5k.
But Seamus was the big hit of the Trot! 

Thanksgiving was also my nephew Elliott's 5th birthday.

We celebrated on Saturday with cake and presents.
Check out the adorable Spiderman cake my sister in law Sara made:

Needless to say I am starting the week feeling sluggish and heavy. But I am determined not to eat my way right through until Christmas.
I have some light, healthy meals planned for the week, filled with lots of veggies and whole grains.

I also think I am going to start walking Sadie in the mornings.
As it gets colder, Sadie spends less and less time outside. I think it is important that she gets a little more exercise. (Me too!)
This may throw off my blogging schedule a little, so we'll see how it goes.

Jerry and I finished off the weekend by cranking up the Christmas tunes on Pandora, making some hot cocoa, and decorating the house for the holiday.

Happy Holidays!

Did you already break out the Christmas decorations?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Busy Week Night

I had a late meeting at work last night, which is uncommon for me.

So I ate dinner at 5:30, which is also uncommon for me.

I made some whole wheat couscous and poured some leftover soup on top.

Couscous is my go-to quick carbohydrate on week nights. It only takes about 10 minutes to make, and it was great with the thick soup.
And a big scoop of sour cream.

Since I had a meeting, Jerry was on his own for dinner.
I was very proud when I got this picture message at my meeting.

It was meatless!
He made himself grilled cheese and tomato soup with a salad on the side.

When I got home he informed me that it wasn't just plain Campbell's soup and grilled cheese.
He added chopped onion and garlic powder to his soup.
And sliced onion to his sandwich.
And scallions to his salad.

Apparently the key to getting Jerry to embrace Meatless Monday is to substitute the meat for onions.

Works for me!

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Week

I've fallen into a bad habit that involves me not cooking all weekend.

Friday night pizza with the in-laws.
Saturday night dinner out.
Sunday morning breakfast at the diner down the street.

At least my mom snapped me back into healthy eating at Sunday night dinner at her house.

A beautiful chopped salad with arugula, romaine, celery, cucumbers, apple, pear, pomegranate, and feta cheese. Topped with Cranberry Apple Orange Vinaigrette dressing from Oh She Glows.

For dinner we had grilled pork tenderloin, roasted carrots, potatoes, and onions (a family favorite), and sauteed corn and broccoli.

Jerry's plate also included a homemade kielbasa, made by a friend of my sister Kate.

Mom also had homemade cranberry and apple sauces.

The cranberry sauce was my favorite with the pork.
I loved the blend of sweet and salty at this meal.

Mom has also declared that she is not cooking again until Thanksgiving.
My brother is preparing to eat cereal and Wheat Thins for dinner.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, it is right around the corner!
Only 4 days to defrost that turkey and bake those pies!

Jerry and I eat dinner at his parent's house and then again at my parent's house.

But that doesn't mean I won't be busy in the kitchen this week!

I am in charge of a pumpkin cheesecake and a homemade green bean casserole (no canned soup involved!). And possibly a corn pudding.
Plus I always bring Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread to my in-laws.

Is there something that is a staple at your Thanksgiving table?

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Let It Snow

I woke up this morning and for a split second thought it was Saturday.

But then I saw this!

Not enough to have to shovel, and just enough to make everything look pretty.

I've been dealing with some stomach issues the past few days, and I was completely unmotivated when it came to making dinner.
I forced myself to get chopping and made a quick pot of soup.

Mama Pea's Spicy African Peanut Stew.

A comforting blend of sweet potatoes, lentils, chick peas, tomatoes, and coconut milk. Topped with peanuts and sour cream.
Normally this soup goes in the crock pot, but it worked just as well simmering on the stove for an hour.

I only had a taste of the Beaujolais yesterday.

Just what I was hoping for; light and fruity. I tasted hints of strawberry, and Jerry said he appreciated the lack of 'bite' at the finish.
Had I been in the mood for drinking, it would have been perfect for the spicy stew.

And the spicy green beans!

My friend Kristin gave me this jar of homemade pickled Dilly Beans this summer and I had forgotten about them.
I opened them up last night to try.
They tasted like a delicious spicy pickle.
I have a feeling this jar won't last very long.

Our weekend plans include pizza, a brewery tour with our friends Kevin and Sara, and a coffee house to hear some friend's play some music.

I'm off to eat my oatmeal and watch the snow fall.
Happy Friday!

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Beaujolais Day

One Week til Thanksgiving!

Something exciting happens every year on the 3rd Thursday in Novemeber.

It is Beaujolais Day!

Beaujolais* Nouveau Day is the official release of the 2011 Beaujolais Nouveau wine (most notably from Georges Duboeuf.)

Read more about Beaujolais Nouveau here

My family drinks this wine every year at the holidays.

The Gamay grapes are actually harvested just a few weeks before the wine is released, making it one of the few French wines to be released in the year the grapes were picked.

The result is a fruity, inexpensive wine that pairs perfectly with Thanksgiving dinner.

Tasting notes:

Generous notes of strawberry and black currant dominate the nose, with silky tannins that bring smoothness to the palate. The long finish has subtle touches of sweet Griottine cherry.  

Some years the Beaujolais is better than others. And the label changes every year, although it is usally bright and festive.

It is best to serve this red slightly chilled (55 degrees). It does not go well with red meat, and does not age well. Don't keep a bottle of Nouveau more than a year. 

I bet you can guess what Jerry and I will be drinking tonight!
We obviously have to test it out before we serve it to holiday guests :)

Do you have a favorite holiday wine? 

*Pronounced  [BOE-zjoh-lay]

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Sometimes my husband spoils me. Like Yesterday. 

Jerry went grocery shopping while I did a workout on the elliptical machine.

And then he cooked dinner while I sat on the couch with a cold beverage and watched House Hunters.

I wasn't even angry when I saw the receipt from the grocery store and realized he went over budget.

I am one luck y girl

Jerry made Indiana Chili for dinner.

You may remember that I made a meatless version of this back in September. This time we used ground turkey.

Indiana Chili
Makes 6 servings

  • 20 oz package of lean ground turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 28 oz can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 15.5 oz can small white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbls chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • juice of half a lime
Saute garlic, jalapeno, onion and pepper until soft. Add turkey and break up as it browns. Add spices, then tomatoes, corn and beans. Simmer 15 minutes.

Top with grated cheese, onions, avocado, hot sauce, tortilla chips, etc.

The original recipe omits the garlic, onion, and pepper and uses a small can of diced tomatoes. You would use a jar of your favorite salsa as a replacement.
You can make Easy Vegetarian Chili by using tempeh instead of turkey.

Jerry thought the flavor of the chili was a little bland.
I suggested adding a 1/4 cup of tomato paste, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder. 
The tomato paste gave it a nice rich flavor, and the spices add a smoky flavor and a kick of heat.

Perfect topped with pepper jack cheese and a squeeze of lime.

Jerry even did the dishes after dinner.
I could get used to this :)

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Easy Meatless Soup

Soup is an easy way to make a quick, meatless meal.

Last night Mom and I made Chipotle Pumpkin Black Bean Soup.

With its beans and veggies, and served with yogurt, a sweet relish, and some crusty multi grain bread, this soup was a complete meal. 

Since this was a Rachael Ray recipe, it was super fast to put together.

Saute garlic and onions.
Add chipotles and beer. (We used a Post Road Pumpkin)
Add pumpkin and vegetable stock.
Season with salt, pepper, and cumin.
Add black beans, puree slightly.
Simmer 10 minutes.

We garnished the top with a relish of chopped apple, red onion, dried cranberries, and lemon juice.
Along with a big dollop of Greek yogurt.
The crusty chewy multi grain bread was the perfect dipper.

I have made this soup before, and Jerry was never a fan.
But yesterday both he and my brother gobbled it up.
I think it was because we pureed the black beans a little. Beans are usually Jerry's least favorite part of any meal. Using the immersion blender meant less whole beans and a nice thick soup.

Low in calories, high in fiber, and big on taste!
This is one of my go-to winter soups. 

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Monday, November 14, 2011

First Snow, First Pomegranate

I did a whole lot of relaxing this weekend.

I watched the first snowfall on Friday morning in front of the fireplace.

It snowed giant flakes that didn't stick around for long.

I caught up with my friend Melissa and her adorable 5 month old, Josie.

I ate many leftovers.

Acorn squash, salmon, spring mix, farro salad.

I helped Jerry time a road race.

Helped plan my sister in law's baby shower.

Ate too many sour cream donuts.

With a mug of warm apple cider. Sugar overload!

And Jerry and I shared a favorite winter time snack.

Pomegranates are in season!

Its almost as exciting as the first snow when we see these in the produce department.

My Mom always bought pomegranates when we were kids, but I didn't know too many other kids that ate them.
Jerry had never tried one before, so I had him try one a few years ago.
He was instantly in love.
There is nothing better than crushing the bright red fruit in your mouth and getting a burst of juice!

There are a few things to look for when picking out a good pomegranate.
  • A dark red, uniform color
  • No blemishes
  • No soft spots
There are tons of ways to remove the arils (seeds) from the bitter white inside. (Just check YouTube).

I cut about halfway through the fruit and then pull it apart.
It is a messy process, and I do not suggest wearing white while eating a pomegranate.
I choose to cover myself in a layer of paper towels and use my fingers to eat the seeds.
It takes more time to eat them that way, and frankly, its more fun.

Pomegranates have become quite trendy lately, so I am sure you have heard that they are chock full of vitamins (C and B6), folic acid, and antioxidants.
Half a pomegranate has about 110 calories and 5 grams of fiber.

Super food, super snack!

Have you ever eaten a pomegranate?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Utica Favorite

Apparently I was in denial about Daylight Savings Time.
The sun sets before 5pm.
Definitely not enough time to take Sadie for a walk after work.
So Jerry chased her around the backyard instead.

And then they settled in front of the fireplace for a nap.

They are seriously not normal.

I did manage to get my workout DVD in, and my abs are aware of it this morning.

And as promised, here is my version of a Utica favorite.
Chicken Riggies!

I am not claiming that this is the best riggie recipe out there. Its just how I make them. They are ever-so-slightly healthier than the cream and butter filled riggies you will find on any restaurant menu in Utica.

Chicken Riggies
  • 1 lb box of rigatoni pasta
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes, or whole tomatoes (hand crushed)
  • 2 cubanelle peppers, chopped
  • 2-8 hot pickled cherry peppers, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup of white wine (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated parmesan, for serving
In a very large pot (I use my Dutch oven) saute the onions, garlic, and cubanelle peppers in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil until soft.
Cubanelles are sometimes called 'Italian peppers' or 'Frying peppers' in the store. They are long and pale green and have a very mild flavor.
Turn heat to medium and add chicken. After a few minutes add the wine.
Once the chicken is almost cooked through, add your tomatoes and chopped cherry peppers.
I find that each jar of pickled cherry peppers will vary in heat. Sometimes I add 3 peppers, but for this batch I added 6. Start out with 2 or 3, you can always add more.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer, covered for about 20 minutes.
Cook the rigatoni according to the directions.
Add cream and milk (or half and half, or all cream, whatever you like), and then add drained pasta.

You will end up with a mountain of food!

But that's ok, because chicken riggies make excellent leftovers.

I served the riggies with a side of spring mix and roasted acorn squash.

Along with a Lucas Vineyards Vignoles.

And a drooling coonhound.

Tonight is date night again!
Jerry and I are having dinner out with his parents, and then are off to see Jerry Seinfeld perform at the Stanley Theater.

And it's a Thursday that feels like a Friday :)

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