Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipes

Can you believe it’s almost Thanksgiving? I’ve been meaning to write this post for almost a year! Before the holiday rolls around again, I wanted to share a few leftovers recipes that you might be able to use this year.

Last year was our first holiday season in Tennessee. We didn’t know a lot of people yet, but some kind new friends opened their home and shared their family meal with us. This year we have plans with more new friends. It can be awkward trying to make new traditions when you’re an adult living in a new area, but it can also be really nice.

I went overboard and made three pies to bring to last year’s dinner. I have to admit we still have some in the freezer, because who needs that much dessert, but they were really good.

I’m also all about trying new things and using up leftovers. So with a little experimentation, I came up with some ideas – besides the classic turkey sandwich – that you might like to try.

Turkey Bone Broth – Our friends gave me the turkey carcass to try this one, and it’s a great way to get another use out of it. If you’re used to store-bought bouillon cubes, it doesn’t taste like that, but it has some great nutritional benefits. I used this Crockpot Recipe, and I kept containers of it in the freezer to pull out whenever I wanted to make soup.

Pumpkin Pie Waffles – If you’re like me and have too much filling for your small pie pan, you can add about a cup to a regular waffle recipe. Otherwise use this Pumpkin Waffle Recipe with canned pumpkin. Leftover homemade whipped cream tastes great on these too!

Cranberry Jam – I had extra cranberries from a delicious apple-cranberry pie. If you enjoy real fruit jam that’s tart and not too sweet, this Cranberry Jam is amazing, especially with the pumpkin waffles!

I hope you enjoy these recipes! Maybe I’ll come up with more in a few days! Let me know if you try them, and feel free to follow My Pinterest Page for more ideas!

Gluten Free Crepe Cake

  
I’m still getting back to my routine after our trip, and working diligently on my Etsy listings hoping the holidays will make up for this month’s sudden lack of sales, but last weekend I decided to do some recreational baking.

I was watching This YouTube Video from Eugenie Kitchen – my intrigue began recently with her slice and bake cookies, which are made much like the polymer clay canes I’m so fond of – and I thought to myself, when did I stop making extravagant desserts just for fun? 

My husband was busy with a competition at the gym so I thought I’d surprise him afterward. Which didn’t exactly work out since he came home earlier than I expected, but he still appreciated it – after listening to me in the kitchen saying, “Ugh it’s not working. Ugh I’m doing it wrong.”

I felt I could probably master Eugenie’s heart pattern at some point, but this being my first crepe cake, decided to keep it simple – besides being gluten and mostly dairy free. We don’t necessarily have food allergies but try to limit certain things. 

So I found This Crepe Recipe and This Pastry Cream Recipe separately on Pinterest and combined them with a simple chocolate ganache (made with almond milk and chocolate chips) and fresh raspberries. I would suggest eating it right away after chilling because the crepes were a little tough as leftovers, but it turned out pretty good, and not bad looking I think.

If I test out a regular recipe I’ll try to post that too. And if you do have dietary restrictions, I’m sure you’ll want to check the ingredients for yourself, but I hope this is something you can enjoy.

Simple Homemade Salsa Recipe

  
The tomatoes in our garden are not quite ripe but we were given some, as well as a cucumber and some jalapeños. So I made cucumber tomato salad, a summer favorite, and decided to try my hand at restaurant-style salsa.

I basically made this up as I went along, but it’s probably a variation of one or two other recipes floating around in my head from the internet. 

This should go for one or two meals or a few helpings of chips. You can multiply  the ingredients to make more. 

Ingredients:

1 large tomato/handful cherry tomatoes

1/4 onion

1-2 jalapeños*

1-2 cloves garlic 

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon lime juice

Dash of salt 

Instructions:

Chop the vegetables, carefully removing and discarding the seeds from the jalapeño.** Mix all ingredients in blender or food processor. Adjust to taste and enjoy, or store in closed container and refrigerate. 

  
Please excuse my falling-apart leftover taquitos (another simplified Pinterest find). They tasted better than they look, even reheated. For these I simply put chicken breasts and salsa in the crockpot overnight, then added cheddar cheese, rolled small portions into tortillas, brushed with olive oil, and baked. 

*This was a tad spicy for me but my husband liked it, so you may want to start with less and add more if desired. 

**Also consider wearing gloves or avoiding touching your face (or children) for a while. I learned this the hard way, twice >.< 

Latest Greatest (Paleo-ish) Dinners

It’s been a while since I blogged about food, and we have made some pretty fabulous new meals lately, mixed in with our old favorites of course, so I thought I’d share some here! They’re not all strictly paleo but pretty healthy, I think, and definitely tasty 🙂

{Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops} I’m not usually good at cooking pork, but this easy recipe turned out great! I paired it with squash pasta like this {Zucchini Noodle Recipe} to make a complete grain-free meal.

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{Beef, Mushroom, & Kale Stir Fry} This one is also pretty quick & easy, and you can substitute spinach if you can’t find kale, or add mushrooms, peppers, etc.

{Cauliflower Fried Rice} I omitted the peas and added chicken. It really does taste like rice and not cauliflower!

Fish Tacos This one is not so much a recipe as an idea. I can write out specifics if anyone is interested, but basically my husband fries the tortillas in olive oil, I fry the fish in oil, lemon juice, and seasonings – sometimes adding parmesan cheese to one or the other – and we finish them with cole slaw and pineapple/mango salsa. Tacos have never been my favorite thing, but I could eat these over and over.

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Chicken With Bacon Wrapped Asparagus Again not really a recipe but a simple grilled meal that we paired with leftover cole slaw. Let me know if you’d like details on this one too. Also, cole slaw is really good with blueberries in it (not pictured)!

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Bonus (not dinner but delicious): {Savory Breakfast Casserole} No crust makes this easier and less carb-loaded than other quiche type recipes, and there are still plenty of possibilities! We made ours with spinach, bacon, and red potatoes. Want something a little sweeter to go with it? Check out my other post on {Paleo/Gluten Free Banana Muffins}.

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Thanks for reading! Let me know how you like the recipes and what you are cooking these days!

Adventures in Gardening

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I really love this gardening quote that I borrowed from Better Homes and Gardens. There’s just something about nurturing a little tiny seed into a plant that bears fruit – or vegetables – and of course, being able to walk outside and grab something fresh and delicious to add to a meal.

We decided to try it last year to see if we could save money on groceries, since, being on the paleo diet, we eat mostly meat and fresh produce. Or maybe I just wanted another project. There’s another saying that goes, “Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes.” Let’s just say, if that really works, I should do lots and lots of gardening. And I could probably use a little sun, too.

Anyway, we didn’t have a whole lot of experience, and it was kind of last minute. I bought a bunch of seeds, some soil, bird netting, stakes, etc and put some cinder blocks around the one little part of our rental house backyard where I wouldn’t ruin the lawn. I started the seeds inside in egg cartons. They’re free, assuming you buy eggs, and the plastic ones make perfect little greenhouses with the tops on (the cardboard ones are decomposable but they steal moisture from the plants).

Out of probably a dozen varieties, the only really successful edibles were tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil. But hey, at least we like those a lot, and they make for delicious salads. I didn’t realize the mixed flowers I bought would be four feet tall, so my pretty little border was a little out of control. But it did attract some beautiful butterflies.

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In Northern California, where my Dad and I tried our hands at gardening a few years back, the problem – once you break through the rock hard ground – is watering enough to keep things alive, and keeping the deer away. Here in North Carolina, it’s kind of the opposite. Your plants grow with little trouble once they make it past transplant stage, but so does everything else. Meaning weeds, weeds, weeds. Also bugs, and rotting from excess rain. It has been a weird couple of years weather-wise.

Nevertheless, I wanted to try again this spring. We’d bought a house and had a perfect spot for a garden, much bigger than the other one, and a little more knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. So I gathered my supplies, bought some new ones – including a few new plant varieties – and got started.

Despite some setbacks such as bug holes in my broccoli plant and only male flowers on the pumpkin one (from what I understand, it’s the females that bear fruit), I am happy to say we have not only cucumber, tomatoes (just turning red!), and basil, but also squash, bell pepper, and parsley/cilantro (are they supposed to look and smell exactly the same??).

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The great thing about gardening is that you can totally scale it to your available time, space, and budget. You can have a few plants in containers, or fill your backyard – it’s up to you! I’ve even experimented with growing from kitchen scraps. Has it really saved us money on groceries? Probably not yet. But I’ll take the cheap therapy, and the satisfaction of watching something grow.

DIY Cat Feeder Toy

So I got to keep my new clothes. Apparently my husband was kidding when he said I had to use my birthday money to take our cat to the vet. We’ve been married for 3 1/2 years and I still can’t tell sometimes.

Turns out it’s a nice confidence boost to wear classy women’s clothing instead of something from the mall or the juniors section, even if I don’t need it for anything. And no one has to know I found it in the clearance section. Joe doesn’t mind how I look either 😉

Also, if you were wondering, my cat is fine. He had what looked like an eye infection, but the vet said a lot of shelter cats have some form of feline herpes virus (which I guess isn’t as bad as it sounds?) so she gave me l-lysine to keep it from flaring up.

Unfortunately he is gaining weight instead of losing it. He’s always hungry and I can’t resist those big sad Puss-in-Boots eyes. I know, I will be terrible at disciplining our future children.

The vet suggested a feeder toy, where he has to get the food out himself. It’s designed to promote exercise and slower eating, and reduce “excessive meowing due to boredom,” haha. Genius.

There are at least a couple different options online, which I will link to below. But for now, I decided to try making my own. I started with a plastic container leftover from bouillon cubes. You will be cutting it, so I wouldn’t recommend metal or glass.

After washing & drying the container, I used a utility knife to make holes on the sides, each about the size of a piece of cat food. Then I filled it with a normal serving of his food and put it in the floor for him to try.

When the toy is on it’s side, he can just roll it across the floor and get the food without much effort. Mine may need fewer holes. But when I set it upright he has to knock it over first (sounds easy enough, but he pushed it across the floor with his head for a while before figuring it out).

Here’s Boots and his new feeder toy, and some buying options if you’d prefer (Chewy is a great site for all kinds of affordable pet items!).

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PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Feeder

Design Senses Food Maze

Tunnel Feeder

Does your cat have a weight problem or get bored? Try this and let me know what you think!

Delicious Paleo/Gluten Free Banana Muffins

I don’t know about you, but I love muffins. They’re sweet, buttery, fluffy, delicious – and so not paleo. Unless they are.

I’m sure there are lots of great paleo muffin recipes out there, but I liked the simplicity of this regular one, so I did my own modifications, and I was impressed with the results.

You can find the recipe {here} at Designed Decor, and I will explain the substitutions below.

But first, disclaimer, since I’m kinda making stuff up here. I am not any kind of expert on gluten allergies, hardcore paleo dieting, or nutrition in general. I’m just pretty good at making tasty healthy-ish food, and I like to experiment and share what works for me & my husband (he, on the other hand, has spent considerable time studying nutrition & fitness).

If you just want gluten-free, all you have to do is substitute a gluten-free flour blend for the regular flour (assuming there’s no secret hidden gluten in any other ingredients?) and you can barely tell the difference. Mine even had those beautiful muffin tops that bakery muffins have, which I’ve always had trouble with, even in regular baking (hint: fill the muffin cups all the way full).

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For paleo, you can use any combination of grain-free flours: almond meal, flax seed meal, coconut flour,* tapioca starch, etc. You can also substitute almond/coconut milk for the sour cream (or just leave it out), olive oil for the butter, and palm crystals, honey, etc for sugar (though we still think regular sugar, in moderation, is the best bet).

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In my paleo baking experience in general, bananas and other fruits (or veggies: pumpkin, zucchini, etc) work really well with the alternative flours. It makes for some great flavor combinations too! Feel free to add nuts, raisins, or coconut flakes.

The muffins I made yesterday were pretty much a hodge podge of what we had left until I go to the store, but they still turned out amazing (although not fluffy, because I was too hungry to remember to use baking soda). If anyone’s interested I can write out a more specific recipe once I “perfect” it.

So there you have it! Let me know how they turn out, and if you like this post, please social share!

*read the bag cause apparently you can only substitute this for 20% of the flour. But it does seem to help balance the texture, and, in my opinion, tastes wonderful.

Paleo Zucchini Pesto Roll-Ups Recipe

Today I have another great recipe to share from PaleOMG. If you haven’t read this blog, I recommend it! She’s hilarious and makes some really awesome healthy food.

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These roll-ups are made with zucchini, Italian sausage, and pesto – because pesto makes everything better, right? She grills her ingredients; I sautéed them a little before putting them together and then baked them afterward with a little tomato sauce.

The second time I made them, I just cut the zucchini into big chunks, hollowed them out, and stuffed them with sausage, because I’d gotten frustrated trying to roll my slippery uneven pieces of zucchini. Still perfecting that method, because they were thick and took for-e-ver to bake. Either way, they taste amazing!

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Like she said, these would make great appetizers for parties…but we just ate them all for dinner instead! Get the recipe {here} and let me know what you think!

And to all the moms out there, in case you didn’t read my other post {here} have a very happy Mother’s Day!

Paleo Pizza You Can Eat With Your Hands!

My husband commonly refers to himself as a “pizza connoisseur.” But only on cheat days, of course, because pizza is so not paleo. Usually.

I’ve tried everything from almond meal and ground up cauliflower to eggplant slices and whole portobello mushrooms looking for the perfect paleo pizza crust, and some of them were pretty good. But this is the first one that tastes like real pizza AND can be eaten like real pizza. Not that I mind using a fork.

This recipe uses flax meal, one of my new favorite paleo ingredients, and it’s pretty simple. It doesn’t fluff up like regular crust, but it holds together and tastes pretty good. Get the recipe {here} at food.com.

For the sauce, I used regular tomato sauce and spiced it up with garlic and an Italian seasoning blend.

And for the toppings. You can put whatever you want on this crust, but I’m kind of picky, and this is one of my favorite combinations:

Chicken breast
Bacon
Tomato
Onion
Mushroom
Spinach

And of course, mozzarella. Not really paleo, but we couldn’t resist.

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It turned out amazing. The flax meal makes it filling, so we had leftovers, but they disappeared before I could eat them!

We’re from California and pretty spoiled when it comes to good food. This pizza is different, but I think I like it better than most of what you could buy around here.

So if you’re into healthy delicious food, try it and let me know what you think!

Making Religieuse: a Delicious Cultural Experience

My husband Joe is currently taking French classes as part of his Army training. He’s not used to sitting all day and doing work that is mentally, rather than physically, demanding. But there’s not much in life he doesn’t give his very best at, so I think he’ll do fine.

If you know Joe well, you also know that behind his tough exterior (6’4″ and covered with muscles and tattoos) and blunt honesty is a super sweet guy who will go out of his way to make someone’s day special.

Joe’s teacher is from France. Teaching language school in the military can be a tough job at times. So when she mentioned how much she enjoys religieuse pastries, he thought it would be nice to make some for her and the rest of his class. And since I’m pretty good at baking, he asked if we could do it together.

The religieuse, meaning nun, is a round pastry with another small pastry on top, filled with crème patisserie, and covered with chocolate ganache or one of many exotic flavors of glaze. It’s basically a super fancy cream-filled donut. It looks a little bit like a figure in a nun’s habit, hence the name.

We started this project one evening after Joe got home from work, not realizing how busy he’d be that day or how much work would go into it, partly due to all the measurement conversions. If you ever use a European recipe, I suggest figuring that out ahead of time!

So he made the choux pastry while I made dinner (paleo zucchini sausage roll-ups with pesto that I will have to blog about later) and I had to finish the rest while he ran his tri-weekly Crossfit training group and caught up on French homework.

I was already doubting whether my skills would measure up to those of the bakers in France. But it’s the thought that counts, right? So I put on some French café music and kept going, complaining to Joe about how many pots and bowls I would have to wash. (Seriously, I don’t think anyone considered that when they wrote the recipe).

Our pastries were a little flat, but I managed to squeeze the vanilla crème inside them, and when the ganache reached the right consistency, I spread/poured it over the top. I finally tried one after Joe went to bed, and as I savored the near perfection of what we’d created – a soft, crispy pastry with thick, just-sweet-enough vanilla crème patisserie and an amazingly rich chocolate ganache, I was suddenly reluctant to give them away!

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When Joe came home from work the next day, he told me how much his teacher like the pastries. She said I could open up a bakery – in France! We also had some leftover crème and ganache, so I made some quick popovers to use it up (and shamelessly reward myself for all my hard work).

In our modern world of convenience foods, it felt really good to make something that took some time and effort – that felt like not only real food, but art. I kept thinking, these are so legit they don’t even have vanilla extract, they have the seeds of a single vanilla pod scraped out by hand (it tastes amazing and you can see the tiny black specks in the pastry crème). Also, the French are not afraid of butter, which gives the ganache it’s singular richness.

Of course, I wouldn’t cook like this every day, but I was very proud of myself, and I felt I’d had an interesting cultural experience. And, no doubt, helped put a smile on someone’s face.

So if you’re ever in the mood for spending a couple hours on a dessert, here’s the recipe: Choux Pastry Religieuse. I would suggest cutting the ganache ingredients in half.

Let me know if you try it, or if you’ve had a similar cooking experience!