Saturday, November 28, 2015

Weekend Round-Up

The Best of Thanksgiving Leftovers

Artichoke Turkey Casserole
Turkey Cranberry Grilled Cheese
Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Salad Appetizer
Cook's notes: This very yummy and tasty salad does double duty during the holiday season. It can be an appetizer spread on a cracker or served as a sandwich spread.
The spread is enough for 4 sandwiches or a dozen appetizers. Greek yogurt is a healthy substitute for mayonnaise. Honey mustard can be substituted for Dijon and then omit the 1 tsp. sugar.
Recipe adapted from

  • 3/4 lb. turkey or smoked turkey
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 3 TB. green onion or red onion
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 TB. mayo or Miracle Whip
  • 1 TB. Dijon mustard
  • 1 TB. cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. salt or use Mrs. Dash product
  • optional adding in dried cranberries
  • In a food processor using pulse setting, chop turkey, celery, onion
  • In a bowl add mayo, mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt, parsley mix well
  • Blend turkey mixture into mayo mixture
  • Refrigerate 8 hours for flavors to meld
  • Serving suggestions:buttery round crackers, rye party slices, cranberry-walnut bread

Friday, November 27, 2015

Spotlight on St. Kateri Teckakwitha and Hello Fresh

Native American Heritage Month
Spotlight on St. Kateri Teckakwitha 
She is the first Native American to be declared a Saint. 
St. Kateri was canonized on 10/21/2012 by Pope Benedict Her feast day is July 14. She is the patroness of the environment and ecology as is St. Francis of Assisi.
Kateri was born near the town of Auriesville, New York, in the year 1656. Tekakwitha is the name she was given by her Mohawk people. It translates to "She who bumps into things."
Kateri was the daughter of a Mohawk warrior. She was four years old when her mother died of smallpox. The disease also attacked Kateri and transfigured her face. She was adopted by her two aunts and an uncle. She refused to marry and converted to Christianity as a teenager. She was baptized at the age of twenty and incurred the great hostility of her tribe for becoming Christian. Although she had to suffer greatly for her Faith, she remained firm in it.

Kateri went to the new Christian colony of Indians in Canada. Here she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penitential practices, and care for the sick and aged. Every morning, even in bitterest winter, she stood before the chapel door until it opened at four and remained there until after the last Mass. She was devoted to the Eucharist and to Jesus.

She died on April 17, 1680 at the age of twenty-four. Immediately after her death it was reported people noticed a physical change. Her face that had been so marked and swarthy, suddenly changed and became beautiful and so white Later Kateri became known as the "Lily of the Mohawks". Devotion to Kateri is responsible for establishment of Native American ministries in Catholic Churches all over the United States and Canada. Kateri was declared venerable by the Catholic in 1943 and she was Beatified in 1980. Hundreds of thousands have visited shrines to Kateri erected at both St, Francis Xavier and Caughnawaga and at her birth place at Auriesville, New York. Pilgrimages at these sites continue today.

Cook's notes: Recently my daughter acquainted me with a home delivery service called Hello Fresh. 
I was intrigued by this concept. Each week you can order 1-3 meals in a box and its delivered right to your front doorstep. A variety of meals are posted online. You choose the meal that fits your taste buds plus box type: classic, veggie or family.  When the box is delivered inside you will find all the fresh ingredients and spices you need to prepare the meal. Each box comes with a recipe card to help with easy preparation. Facts on time needed for preparation, level of cooking, if gluten free, nut free and meal caloric count. BUT note there is a fee attached for this service.

But the best part for me was finding out the recipes for these amazing dishes can be accessed online for free. The recipes are healthy since using fresh ingredients and judging by the pictures look delicious.
Autumn Risotto with Butternut Squash, Sage and Pepitas
Roasted butternut squash, earthy sage and nutty Parmesan cheese are folded into this autumnal dinner.
Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash with Black Beans, Tomatoes and Mozzarella
Lemon Shrimp Scampi with Roasted Red Pepper and Linguine

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Last Minute Turkey Ideas

Thanksgiving is just right around the corner. And this holiday can hardly happen without Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Minnesota tops the nation in turkey production (45 million) followed by North Carolina (35 million) Arkansas (29 million) Indiana and Missouri (17 million), and Virginia (16 million).
Meanwhile Wisconsin is a national leader in growing cranberries. It will produce 538 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts at 210 million pounds.
Rich Turkey Gravy
Cooking Tip: While the turkey roasts, it releases lots of concentrated flavor into the pan. This is where the gravy takes on another dimension. So as the cooked bird rests, roll up your sleeves and get to work. Adding cold stock to warm roux means lumpy gravy. So make sure the stock and turkey drippings are heated before you add them to roasting pan to make the gravy. For a really smooth gravy (with no lumps), add finished gravy to blender, mix and then add gravy back into saucepan. Keep gravy on low heat covered until serving.

  • 3-3-1/2 cups poultry stock from roasting pan
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 dry white wine, brown ale or apple cider
  • 1-2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • Mixture of fresh herbs such as thyme and parsley and 1 tsp. dried herbes de provence. 
  • Directions:
  • Carefully lift the turkey roasting pan and strain juices into a large measuring cup over the sink. Skim fat from the surface. 
  • Remove turkey from the roasting pan. There will be juices in the roasting pan. Place roasting pan over two burners set to medium high heat. 
  • Add 1/2 cup white wine or 1/2 cup apple cider to roasting pan. Scrape any brown bits and cook wine or apple cider until almost evaporated 2 minutes.
  • Reduce heat and whisk in 1/2 cup flour. Cook, whisking until roux is deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. 
  • Whisking gradually ladle stock mixture into roux until thickened. Add in 1-2 tsp. apple cider vinegar. Mix well. Stir in herbs and season with salt and pepper. 
  • Keep warm until ready to serve

Turkey Cheese Tray 

Expecting weekend company? Here's a creative way to use up leftover turkey- 
Turkey and Broccoli Strata with Dill Havarti
Cook's notes: This strata is quite versatile as asparagus spears can be substituted for broccoli florets. No turkey left? Try using smoked turkey deli meat. What sets this strata apart from others is using toasted focaccia cubes and dill Havarti cheese. Both adds a lot of flavor to the dish. Toasted bread cubes can be toasted the day before and stored on a cookie sheet covered lightly with wax paper. Serves 6-8.

  • 1-1/2 TB. olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet red pepper
  • 2 cups broccoli florets or 8 oz. asparagus spears cut up into 1 inch pieces
  • 3-4 cups diced turkey or deli turkey about 3/4 lb. 
  • 3/4 cup light mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • 6 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1-1/4 cups 2% milk
  • 1-1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 TB. snipped fresh chives or 1 TB. dried chives
  • 1 TB. dried parsley flakes 
  • 1 TB. Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 cups garlic and herb focaccia cubes or 2 round loaves of focaccia bread, cut in cubes
  • 2 cups shredded Havarti Dill cheese
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop bread into 1-1/2 inch cubes. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes,turn once during baking times and toast a few minutes more until lightly golden brown. Set aside.
  • In a fry pan heat oil, add in onions and sweet red pepper. Saute for 3-5 minutes.
  • In a blender add mayonnaise, eggs, milk, broth , chives, parsley flakes, mustard and salt/pepper. Mix well. 
  • Grease a 2-1/2-3 qt. baking pan. 
  • Assemble the dish as follows:half bread cubes, sauteed mixture, broccoli florets or asparagus spear, turkey andrest of bread cubes.
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight. 
  • Before baking, let strata stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Preheat oven 350 degrees. Bake uncovered 35 minutes or until set and then sprinkle with cheese and bake 10 minutes more. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

To Brine or Not to Brine That is the Question

To brine or not to brine that is the question I have been asking myself these past few weeks. I wanted a turkey that looked like this picture. 
I've read lots of arguments that favor this cooking method...
Brining enhances juiciness in several ways. First of all, muscle fibers simply absorb liquid during the brining period. Some of this liquid gets lost during cooking, but since the meat is in a sense more juicy at the start of cooking, it ends up juicier. We can verify that brined meat and fish absorb liquid by weighing them before and after brining. Brined meats typically weigh six to eight percent more than they did before brining—clear proof of the water uptake. Another way that brining increases juiciness is by dissolving some proteins. A mild salt solution can actually dissolve some of the proteins in muscle fibers turning them from solid to liquid

But some of the biggest arguments against brining a turkey are the amount of pre-prep.  

Not only does it require that you have a vessel big enough to submerge an entire turkey (common options are a cooler, a big bucket, or a couple of layers of heavy-duty garbage bag tied together with hopes and prayers against breakage), but it requires that you keep everything inside it—the turkey and the brine—cold for the entire process. For an extra-large bird, this can be a couple of days, meaning that you've either given up using the main compartment of your fridge at the time of year that you most want to use it, or that you keep a constant supply of ice packs or ice rotating to keep that bird cold.
So after much deliberated thought I've decided to take the safe route and follow my usual roasting procedure. If I only had the turkey part to worry about I would have jumped on board for this popular cooking method. But when you have sides, desserts and stuffing to make I needed to keep things as easy as possible. But if there are any foodies out there who'd have had some success I'd love to hear from you. I am intrigued and plan to try this method with a smaller turkey in the next few weeks.  

Next Posting: Brunch items for your weekend guests. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

T is for Thanksgiving

This class really knows how to put the T in THANKSGIVING. The past few weeks of school there has been a flurry of Thanksgiving related activities. 
This eye catching hall display is a Thanksgiving paper quilt made by 6 kindergarten classes.
Another ambitious project    

was spread out over two days. They were thank you cards to the kidpack organization. In case you are not familiar with term kidpack it is an organization that provides each student in qualifying schools on Fridays with a small pack of non-perishable food items for the weekend. Volunteers from local business and churches pack items and then they are delivered to school and distributed. 
The turkey's feathers were made with fingerpaints. On the other side of the card each student printed the sentence Thank you for the kidpack. Then they signed their name.     
Sounds simple? Maybe not as many steps were required but you have to admire how earnest each one works on the task at hand and so proud of their completed work.  I might also add lots of pre-preparation is involved to implement this project. 
Day One: 

The concept of place one and only one finger into one color paint and dab it on paper-clean finger and use another color to dab on paint repeating process mystified many :)

Day Two
(easy peasy in my estimation)  Thank you cards for two volunteers-so only two cards were needed.

Each student only had to sign their name on two different slips of paper and then each slip of paper was glued onto paper plate to represent fathers. 
What I liked best about these two projects was stressing the importance how good it is to write and thank people who do things for you. 
Oh, and in between all this fun stuff, was working on how to write the number 4 and word four, going to centers and reading. They were busy.
While they enjoyed story time in the library 
I was totally enamoured by the newly painted murals on the library wall (courtesy of an art grant) representing some children's favorite books. 

Last but not least, I shared a book with them called "Bear Says Thanks". 
Written in rhyming prose it is a great read aloud for ages 4-7. Chapman and Wilson have created a series of books with Bear as the main character. 
In Bear’s eighth woodland outing, he is bored in his cave, so he plans a gathering—but his cupboards are bare. Serendipitously, his gentle friends stop by, one by one, bringing food: Badger brings fish, Hare brings muffins, and a trio of birds brings pears and herbs for tea. Though Bear regretfully admits that he has nothing to offer in exchange, they assure him that his presence is all that they need and he really does have something to share his stories which they all love. Chapman’s illustrations create a joyful atmosphere in a story that references Thanksgiving, but functions more as a reminder of the importance of gratitude any time of year. 
Cook's notes: Next posting addresses question "to brine or not to brine"

Written in rhyming prose, Bear Says Thanks is a delightful read out loud book for the holiday season. Bear is worried that he has nothing to share with his friends, but then he learns that being a friend is about just being yourself and giving whatever you have to offer.Written in rhyming prose, Bear Says Thanks is a delightful read out loud book for the holiday season. Bear is worried that he has nothing to share with his friends, but then he learns that being a friend is about just being yourself and giving whatever you have to offer.Written in rhyming prose, Bear Says Thanks is a delightful read out loud book for the holiday season. Bear is worried that he has nothing to share with his friends, but then he learns that being a friend is about just being yourself and giving whatever you have to offer.
Written in rhyming prose, Bear Says Thanks is a delightful read out loud book for the holiday season. Bear is worried that he has nothing to share with his friends, but then he learns that being a friend is about just being yourself and giving whatever you have to offer.Written in rhyming prose, Bear Says Thanks is a delightful read out loud book for the holiday season. Bear is worried that he has nothing to share with his friends, but then he learns that being a friend is about just being yourself and giving whatever you hav

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Little Dancer Learns

Author, writer and long-time Texan, Max Oliver grew up in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, the heart of Comanche hunting grounds. Growing up, Oliver was influenced by the life and beliefs of the early Comanche tribes. Oliver felt compelled to research the daily habits of the Numuu (the People) and use that knowledge to create his signature line of Comanche Inspired Books and Poetry.

Oliver has written many Comanche-inspired books, The Saga of a Comanche Warrior series which includes five books; Little Boy (2012), No More (2012), Tomo Pui (Sky Eyes)(2012), Red Nose and Chief Red Nose (2009). Oliver has also used this knowledge to create a multicultural children’s book called Little Dancer Learns (2014)

The inspiration for "Little Dancer" was based on Max Oliver's observations of a young girl Trina Hart at a Comanche powwow.  Trina was at her “first out”or the first time she went out to dance in a powwow. Oliver was struck by Trina’s excitement to be with her people. At first she stood near her family keeping perfect time with her feet to the drums. Oliver noticed this young girl’s natural rhythm as she gained courage to dance alone just outside the women’s circle. But as the music beat quickened a hand reached out from the women’s circle and gently guided this little dancer into the group of adult women.

“Little Dancer Learns” is a story about a young Comanche girl named Little Dancer who wants to learn how to dance more than anything. 
 She talks to her mother, father, grandfather, sister, and brother who tell her there are certain things she must learn and be responsible for before learning how to dance. 

This storyline is simple and engaging with colorful pictures that will appeal to young readers 4-7. Adults who read the story along with children will find it promotes good discussion on learning from others and responsibilities within the family.
The book can be purchased through Amazon or at this link Little Dancer Learns

Native American Heritage Month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. Some other suggested resources for young and middle school readers come from Debbie Reese, renowned scholar in this genre that include
10 Best Native American Picture Books and 10 Best Native American Books Middle School Readers

January 27, 2016
Follow this link to over 200 Multicultural Book Titles Reviewed from 2015