Friday, November 29, 2019

Shop Small and Eat Light

The controversy over holiday shopping on Thanksgiving day has drawn a lot of media attention over the years. Each year retailers open their doors earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving to jump start Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses across the country. Founded by American Express in 2010, this day is celebrated every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year, Small Business Saturday is on November 30th.
This movement is an refreshing alternative for small business retailers trying to compete against the big-box chains. Many small independent stores are offering early promotions on Saturday as a savvy way to counter big-box retailers.

On Nov. 30th you can impact your community by finding small businesses for your shopping and gift needs. When entrepreneurs start a business that does well, the return of jobs and revenues directly go to their communities to make a powerful impact. Small businesses are still the engines of our national economy.

And if you are lucky you may even snag a bag. This is mine from last year.
Just in case your company might have left you with some extra turkey, here's a recipe for eating on the lighter side. 
Turkey Noodle Soup
Cook's Notes:
Add a twist to this classic chicken noodle soup by using cooked turkey with some unusual ingredients: chopped apples, mustard, brandy and apple cider to make a grown-up version of chicken noodle soup. These ingredients balance the flavor and really work together to make a delicious comforting bowl of soup. Recipe serves 4-6.
  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups each finely chopped celery, carrots and onions
  • 2 TB. minced fresh garlic
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • 1 TB. Dijon mustard
  • 1-1/2 cups apple cider
  • 9 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. herbes de provence or 1 TB. each thyme, rosemary and marjoram fresh herbs
  • 1-1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 3 cups cooked diced turkey
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked wild rice
  • ½ cup finely diced Granny Smith apple
  • 2-1/2 cups dry curly egg noodles
  • Optional 1-2 TB fresh tarragon

  • In a large soup pot add olive oil. Add carrots, celery, and onions, saute 2 minutes. Cover pot and sweat vegetables over medium low heat 8 minutes. Add in garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
  • Add brandy and mustard to deglaze the pot scraping up any brown bits. Cook until brandy is nearly evaporated. Add in cider, broth, water, bay leaf, cooked turkey, diced apple and spices. Bring to a slow boil, uncovered. Simmer on low uncovered or 30 minutes. Stir in egg noodles and cook noodles al dente about 8-9 minutes.
  • Remove bay leaf.

Thursday, November 28, 2019


Wishing all of you the blessings of the season

Happy Thanksgiving

"Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for."
-- Zig Ziglar

When Giving Is All We Have
by Alberto Rios

One river gives
Its journey to the next.

We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,

But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Budget Last Minute Thanksgiving Ideas

Thanksgiving Countdown
What's Your Thanksgiving IQ?
Take the quiz. Answers at end of blog posting.
1. Which US President was the first to officially pardon a turkey?
a. John F. Kennedy b. George H.W. Bush c. Abraham Lincoln d. Theodore Roosevelt
2. The average Thanksgiving meal contains __ calories?
a. 1.500 b. 2,200 c. 3,000 d. 4, 500
3. Which company created the green bean casserole?
a. Del Monte b. French's c. Green Giant D. Campbell Soup Company
4. The tradition of using crackers in stuffing originated in?
a. New England b. South Carolina c. New Orleans d. Texas
5. Which part of a turkey is called "the pope's nose"?
a. the fatty flesh at the tail end b. the tenderloin c. the skin of the neck cavity d. the round piece of dark meat over the backbone
6. America's favorite Thanksgiving pie is...
a. pecan b. apple c. pumpkin
7. Sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows originated in the
a. early 1900's b. 1950's c. 1970's
8. What are the percentages of white and dark meat in a typical turkey?
a. 50% white and 50% dark b. 60% white 40% dark c. 70%white 30% dark d. 75% white 25% dark

Trivia IQ answers:
1 b. 2. c 3.d 4. a 5. a 6. c 7. a 8.c
Candy Bar Wrappers

or go to GOOGLE and type in free Thanksgiving printables
or visit your local craft store for these ideas
Mini pumpkin name place cards
This is my favorite one
Quotation Napkin Rings 
Rev up table talk with a few quotes about gratitude and thankfulness. Print quotes on cardstock and cut out to fit in small vellum envelopes (available with card-making supplies at crafts stores). Write each guest's name on the blank side of the card and place in the envelope so the name shows through. Wrap a length of decorative paper or ribbon around the envelope and secure with double-sided tape. Ask guests to read their quotes aloud and let the conversing begin.
Kid-friendly Turkey Crafts
Free Printable M and M Thanksgiving Poem 
I love this simple idea. Use pint glass jars and fill with M and M candies. Add a printed tag with M and M Thanksgiving poem, punch a hole in it, add twine and tie around the rim of jar. I think it would make a great gift on the table for each Thanksgiving guest and encourage each one to share what they are thankful for.
Follow the link for a free printable.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Thanksgiving Rerun

The Second Act

Reincarnate Thanksgiving Leftovers for Brand New Dishes
Turkey Divan
Turkey Mushroom and Rice Soup
Artichoke Turkey Casserole

Cheesy Mashed Potato Puffs
Cook's notes: Leftover mashed potatoes get a new lease on life thanks to these puffs! They're combined with eggs, sour cream, cheese and spices and then baked in a muffin pan until golden and crusty with creamy middles. They don't taste like leftovers. But if no leftovers-no problem make a batch of mashed potatoes the day before and then assemble the recipe next day. These puffs make a great side for roasts, salmon and fish. 
Recipe makes 8 

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sour cream, plus more for serving
  • 1 heaping cup shredded sharp cheddar or Gruyere cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon dried chives
  • 1 tsp. parsley flakes
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups mashed potatoes
  • Optional 1/3 cup diced cooked bacon or ham
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 8 - 9 of the wells of a non-stick cupcake pan.
  • In a medium mixing bowl whisk the eggs, then whisk in the sour cream. Mix in both cheeses and the chives.
  • Add in mashed potatoes, salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
  • Spoon potato mixture into the cupcake wells just to the top or a little below.
  • Bake 25 - 35 minutes until they pull away from the sides of the cup and are golden brown all over.
  • Remove from oven and let them cool 5 minutes in pan. Turn them out onto a platter. Serve with sour cream.
    Christmas Olive Tree
    Cook's Notes: Olives leftover on the relish try? No problem- reuse leftovers and design a creative appetizer tree. You will need to purchase a small Styrofoam tree from a craft store.
    3 different kinds of olives
    1 bottle of pickled onions
    Directions: Start at the bottom and work you're way up arranging olives on toothpicks to secure to the Styrofoam.
    Cook's tip Save the bottles with their juices in case there are some leftovers that need to be stored.
      Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Dorito Casserole

Layers of crushed Dorito chips, ground beef, salsa and cheese all baked to perfection for those busy weekday meals. A great option for family dining so you concentrate on holiday meal preparations. Everyone comes out a winner with this recipe. Pair the meal with a slice of cornbread and a clementine 


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef (I used 90% lean)
  • 3/4 cup onion finely diced
  • 1 cup sweet mini peppers, diced 
  • 1/2 packet taco seasoning mix
  • 1- 16 oz. jar of you favorite thick salsa 
  • 1 cup frozen corn (no need to thaw) 
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded cheese I used cheddar and Monterey Jack
  • 4 cups Dorito chips (I used plain but nacho cheese flavor works great too)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes,  diced
  • Garnish 1/4 cup green onions, sliced
  • Cooking spray
  • Optional topping suggestions include:cilantro and diced avocados 
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 2-3 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the beef, onions and peppers. Cook for 6 minutes breaking up the meat with a spatula and onions are  translucent.
  • Stir in the taco seasoning and salsa. Simmer uncovered for 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the sour cream, corn and diced tomatoes. 
  • Lightly crush the Doritos. Spread 1/3 of the chips over the bottom of the prepared pan. Place 1/2 of the meat mixture on top of the chips, then add 1/3 of the cheese in an even layer.
  • Repeat the process with another 1/3 of the chips, the rest of the meat, and 1/3 of the cheese.
  • Add the remaining chips, then the final layer of cheese. Cover the baking dish with foil.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes 
  • Sprinkle green onions over the casserole, add a few crushed chips and your favorite toppings. 

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Puff Pastry Apple Hand Pies

Puff Pastry Apple Hand Pies
Cook's Notes: 

Imagine making a light, crispy homemade mini apple pie at home which is way better than the  bakery! These Puff Pastry Apple Hand Pies are so delicious and so easy I can't say enough good things about the juicy cinnamony apple filling tucked into a puff pastry strip. They are a fun way to serve up individual little apple pies. 

Did you know hand pies originated in the south? You can find them baked, fried or deep-fried with sweet or savory fillings. A combination of apples work well in this recipe. Some suggestions include: Granny Smith, Fuji, Braeburn, Red Delicious, Macintosh and Jonathan
The recipe makes 6 large puff pastry apple hand pies. There is the option of making 12 mini pies by making a horizontal cut in each strip. Reduce the amount of filling on each strip.

  • 4 cups apples, peeled and diced (I used 1 granny smith and 2 red delicious)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached or all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 17.3 ounces puff pastry, thawed at room temperature, but chilled (1 box)
  • 3-4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, for dusting the counter
  • 1 egg + 1 teaspoon water, beaten together
  • 3 tablespoons sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp, Saigon cinnamon
  • Peel and dice the apples into small pieces, then toss them with the lemon juice. Over medium-high heat add them to a skillet, with the brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, butter, and salt. Mix to coat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook 5 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and the apples are a little soft.
    Transfer mixture to a bowl, cover and cool completely in the fridge about 45 minutes. 
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Work with one sheet at time keep other one in refrig wrapped lightly in wax paper. 
  • Lay one sheet of parchment paper on counter and dust with flour. Place one puff pastry sheet on parchment paper. Lightly roll and cut with a pizza cutter 3 horizontal strips and separate each one about 2 inches a part.  
  • Use a regular tablespoon and place 2 tablespoons on half of the strip keeping filling off the edges. If your filling is a little runny, drain as much of the caramel sauce as possible before adding it to pastry strip. Fold one half of the strip to the center. Crimp edges with a fork.
  • Brush pastries with the beaten egg and water, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.  Use a sharp knife and make a X in center for venting.
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 16-17 minutes, or until pies are puffed and golden brown.
  • Cool on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rimmed cooling rack. 
Cooking Tips:
  • Thaw the frozen puff pastry sheets at room temperature for 40 minutes in box but keep them chilled until ready to use.
  • Use a serrated knife to slice the hand pies. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Bring in the Sides

The countdown to Thanksgiving is well on its way.
To help you kick off menu planning, here's a recipe round-up from notable food bloggers. Appetizers, drinks, side dishes and breakfast/brunch items are gathered in one list featuring 101 recipes
Honey- Sage Sweet Potatoes with Pears, Cranberries and Walnuts
Cook's notes: Combine colorful vegetables and a fruit with simple seasonings on an ordinary roasting pan that results in a delicious autumn side dish. Sprinkle vegetables and fruit mixture with a dash of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon and the dish is irresistible. One small butternut squash can be substituted for sweet potatoes.
Recipe adapted from Midwest Living and serves 4.

Sausage Apple Cornbread Stuffing
Cook's Notes: For some it's all about the stuffing- three recipes to choose from on this link

Chocolate Pecan Pie
Cook's Notes: A decadent finish to a holiday meal

Cabernet Cranberry Blueberry Sauce
Cook's Notes: Add a fruit wine sauce as the perfect accompaniment for turkey, chicken or a pork roast dinner. Use a Cabernet, a full bodied wine and an inexpensive brand works for this recipe. The alcohol is reduced during the cooking process.

  • One 8-ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • 6-ounces frozen blueberries (about 1 1/2 cups), unthawed
  • 1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon (or Shiraz, Merlot)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. to 1/4 tsp. ground cloves, taste test
  • Combine all ingredients in a medium to large pot and bring to a rolling boil, stirring intermittently. Make sure the pot has room for sauce to at least triple in volume. The juices from the berries release and as the mixture boils rapidly, it will foam and a too-small pot will easily overflow.
  • Reduce heat to low and allow sauce to simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until reduced and thickened slightly, and most of the cranberries have burst. Sauce will thicken more as it cools.
  • Transfer to heat-safe jars or containers with lids. Allow sauce to cool at room temperature before refrigerating. Sauce will keep airtight in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks.
Boursin Cheese Mashed Potatoes
Cook's Notes: Elevate your mashed potatoes to a new level by adding in boursin cheese.
Brussels Sprouts Salad with Cranberries and Quinoa
Cook's Notes: A vegan gluten-free light salad for your holiday meal.

"Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; 
not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.” 
by Charles Dickens

Monday, November 18, 2019

Soup de jour

Cook's notes: While you can never have too many cookie recipes the same could also be said of soup. It's the perfect course for any meal. We all have our favorites and one of mine is Creamy Chicken and Gnocchi Soup with Spinach.
It's packed with flavor and a creamy goodness with every spoonful. Advance prep is a must for this recipe. Use a rotisserie chicken for a time saver. In fact, the veggies and chicken can all be diced, bagged and refrigerated a day ahead. Pair the soup with a slice of cornbread, your favorite sandwich or crusty artisan bread. Recipe serves 4-6 depending on the size of the bowl. To reheat the next day add more broth. 

Gnocchi are a variety of pasta consisting of various thick, small, and soft dough dumplings that may be made from semolina, ordinary wheat flour, egg, cheese, potato, breadcrumbs, cornmeal or similar ingredients, and possibly including flavorings of herbs, vegetables, cocoa or prunes.

Sidenote Alert: I was unable (trips to two up north grocery stores) to find gnocchi, mini potato  dumplings, so I had to substitute frozen mini cheese ravioli this go around for the soup. I was surprised it ended up being such a tasty substitute. 


  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 1 cup each diced onions, carrots and celery
  • 1/2 cup diced red peppers
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. each dried rosemary, thyme and parsley flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 48 oz. chicken broth, low sodium
  • 2-3 cups cooked chicken, diced
  • 3/4 lb. mini potato gnocchi (freezer section) 
  • 2-3 handfuls of torn spinach leaves, stems removed 
  • 2-1/2 TB. butter
  • 3 TB. flour
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 2 TB. dry white wine
  • In a soup pot heat oil. Add in onions, carrots, celery, peppers and garlic. Sprinkle spices over the veggie mixture. Saute 2 minutes. Sweat veggies by covering and simmering on low for 10 minutes.
  • Remove cover, add broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add in gnocchi and chicken, simmer 5 minutes more.
  • While broth is simmering melt butter in a small fry pan on a medium heat. Add in flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in cream and wine, cook until thickened. Add to chicken broth, the cream mixture with torn spinach leaves. Cook 5 minutes longer or until spinach is wilted. Remove bay leaves before serving. 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Spinach and Artichoke Egg Casserole

Spinach and Artichoke Egg Casserole
Cook's Notes: A delicious healthy vegetarian egg casserole perfect for a holiday entertaining or a Sunday brunch. There are lots of options to customize with spices, cheeses and type of milk.  Recipe serves 6 and was adapted from 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 1 cup sweet mini red, yellow and orange peppers, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 5 cups packed fresh spinach
  • 1- 1/2 cups chopped jarred artichoke hearts packed in water, drained and patted dry on a paper towel  
  • 1/2 tsp. parsley flakes 
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
  • Dash of crushed red pepper
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1- 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, white cheddar or Colby Jack, divided
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus 2 tablespoons, divided
  • 8 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons Almond Breeze Original Almond milk or 2% milk 
  • Chopped basil for garnish, if desired
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil over high heat. Add the onions and peppers, cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the chopped artichoke hearts. Add dried oregano, dried parsley flakes and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Pour mixture into prepared pan and spread out evenly. Sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese over the mixture.
  • In a medium bowl, combine eggs and almond milk or 2% milk. Whisk well. Pour eggs over veggies and cheese. Top with remaining cheese and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese. 
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until eggs are set and slightly golden around the edges. A knife inserted into the center should come out clean. Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh basil. Let cool for 5 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm.
  • Note-if you want to make this dairy-free, you can use your favorite dairy-free cheese!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Arizona Part Two

The Unexpected
We couldn't resist the allure of the Southwest's warm weather so we took the plunge and bought a house.  

So you can probably expect more Mexican recipes coming your way from Ever Ready at least for the winter months.   

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

World Kindness Day

World Kindness Day November 13th need not be just one day but should be practiced every day. Here's some ideas to keep the kindness going...
31 Acts of Kindness : Your November Challenge

1. Donate to a local food pantry
2. Volunteer for a worthy cause
3. Start a gratitude journal
4. Shop handmade on Black Friday
5. Make someone their favorite meal
6. Donate a coat
7. Compliment a cashier
8. Give yourself a yes day
9. Pay for someone’s meal
10. Thank a veteran
11. Show your gratitude to a loved one
12. Jot down 30 great things about yourself
13. Give something to a homeless person
14. Let someone else have the parking spot
15. Donate to Toys for Tots
16. Invite someone new over for a meal
17. Make someone a handmade gift
18. Email an old friend
19. Donate to a local rescue or animal shelter
20. Thank you local police or firemen
21. Thank your delivery drivers
22. Leave unused coupons at the store
23. Let someone checkout before you
24. Bake something for a friend or loved one
25. Return someone’s cart for them
26. Compliment a loved one
27. Send flowers to someone
28. Hold the door for someone
29. Celebrate world kindness day (Nov 13)
30. Leave kind notes in library books
31. Make Snicker Turtles and give someone an unexpected gift

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

GET TO KNOW YOUR APPLES Pink Lady , great balance of sweet and tart. Granny Smith , maybe the most popular baking apple. A little more tart ...