Monthly Archives: November 2014

Hungry Boy Chicken/Turkey Lasagne

chicken lasagna

Getting it done over the holidays, with a little help from the pantry.

Sometimes you just have to take a load off and use the can opener. It’s ok. This is the holiday season. Any day we consume something healthier than stollen, chocolate and egg nog is a good day. I recently heard a healthy living expert endorse the 80/20 rule for eating over the holidays. Do the right thing 80 percent of the time and don’t stress about slacking off for the other 20 percent.

Here’s your dish for the 20 percent. It’s not health food, but it is quick and delish and uses up leftover turkey. What more can we ask? This recipe came from my son’s school advisor, who served it to a pack of hungry boys one night. My son was smitten—both with the textural joy wrought by condensed soup and the butter soaked stuffing on top. Really, what’s not to love?

Stay warm out there and dig in to winter!


Courtesy of Emily Luker, tamer of hungry boys


2 cups (16 oz) 2% cottage cheese
1 package (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
4 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 can (10-3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted 
1 can (10-3/4 oz) condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted 
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp salt 
6 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained (or no cook noodles and add some baking time)
1 package (6 oz) chicken stuffing mix (or cornbread stuffing or actual leftover stuffing. See note)
1/2 cup butter, melted 


In a small bowl, combine cottage cheese & cream cheese. (I add 1/3 cup milk here too). In a large bowl, combine chicken, soups, milk (or the other 1/3), onion & salt.

Spread half of the chicken mixture into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. (or 2  9×9’s) baking dish. Top with three noodles. Spread with half the cheese mixture. Repeat layers. Toss stuffing mix with butter; sprinkle over casserole. 

Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Yield: 8 servings.  

Note: Clearly you can freelance at will here. Make your own bechamel sauce instead of using the soups if you are game. Or use actual leftover stuffing instead of the stuffing mix and butter. Add veggies. Use turkey. Add some grated Italian cheese when you find out you don’t have nearly enough cottage cheese. Relax, throw it all in a pan and bake at 350. Your family will love you.

Cranberries For All

Spicy on the left, straight up classic on the right.

Spicy on the left, straight up classic on the right.

I’m making a bet here. I’m betting you’ve bought some cranberries in the past few days. (Ahem, I did tell you to do that a few days ago.) Perhaps you will use them for Sue’s cranberry apple galette, or maybe, just maybe you are keeping them at the ready for a to-be-determined cranberry sauce.

Trying to decide on the right cranberry sauce is one of those things that should not take up much brainspace. And yet it does. Here’s your answer. Make two sauces: one spicy and odd enough for foodies, and one straight up sweet with just a whiff of sophistication from Meyer lemon zest. Lucky for you, you already have candied ginger and Meyer lemon from your test run of Thanksgiving cocktails.

If you don’t need two batches of sauce (but c’mon, you know you do), just halve each recipe and make everyone happy.

The first recipe comes from my Rocky Mtn Correspondent and favorite cowgirl Tania. The second is a standard cranberry sauce recipe with the cha-cha of our favorite lemon. I have pleaded before but will do so again: Use real Meyer lemons for this. They’re just plain better. If you must substitute just don’t tell me about it and everyone wins.

Cranberry Chutney


2 tart apples peeled, cored and chopped into 1/4″ dice
2 cups cranberries coarsely chopped (or pulsed a few times in the the food processor)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 medium onion diced
3 T crystallized ginger chopped
1 T mustard seeds
2 cloves garlic minced
1 t grated lemon zest
1 t curry powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cayenne pepper


Put all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Lower heat and cook for about 15 min. Cool and refrigerate.  Can be made a day or two ahead of Thanksgiving.

Note from Tania: I always double and go heavy on all spices because this is so good on leftovers.

Meyer Lemon Cranberry Sauce


Zest of 1 to 2 Meyer Lemons
1 bag of fresh or frozen whole cranberries
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
Healthy squeeze or two of Meyer lemon juice


For each 12-oz bag of cranberries (or 12 oz bulk freshies if you have them), heat 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, bring the mixture to a boil for 5 minutes. Add the cranberries, lemon juice and  lemon zest. Continue boiling for 10 or so minutes until the cranberries start making a popping sound and they are flirting with mushiness. Turn off the heat, and let the sauce cool. Transfer it to a serving container or small mason jars. Let it cool a bit, then stick it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. It will thicken up as it cools.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Cranberry Apple Galette

Cranberries straight from Cape Cod

Cranberries straight from Cape Cod

I’ve been on vacation for a few weeks so I wanted to say thank you to my blog partner for all the great posts she put up while I was away. I got back just in time for Thanksgiving, and this is an exciting time for all of us foodies. So many recipes, so little time!  I thought I might have trouble figuring out what to write as a pre-thanksgiving post but then my good friend Kristina arrived at my door with a huge bag of freshly dried cranberries straight from Cape Cod. Kristina is a regular on the Cape and goes to the cranberry bogs each year to gather cranberries for the fall season.

As you can imagine, I was beside myself with this gift and I quickly started scanning my cookbooks and the web for cranberry recipes. I made cranberry muffins, cranberry sauce, and cranberry crisp. I wanted to post them all. I then asked Kristina for her favorite cranberry recipe and she sent me this delicious recipe for cranberry apple galette. I almost shied away from it given its close proximity to the “pie” family (lest we forget, I don’t bake pies….). I decided to ignore my fears and visions of pie fiascos from days gone past, and forge ahead with the recipe. I’m glad I did. This dessert is so good and light…. just the ticket for all those bellies full of turkey.


1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 Tbsp cornmeal
2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
8 Tbsp sour cream
1/2 cup ice water


8 large granny smith apples (about 4 lbs)
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into thin slices


To make the pastry, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Scatter the chunks of butter over the top and pulse for a few seconds until the butter pieces are the size of small peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and ice water. Drizzle the mixture over the dough and pulse for a few seconds until the dough is smooth and clings together. Pat the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the fruit filling, peel, core, and slice the apples. In a large frying pan over medium heat, combine the sugar, 1/2 cup water, honey, lemon juice, and cinnamon and heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the apple slices and simmer until opaque, 5-7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to a bowl and let cool slightly. Add the cranberries to the juices in the frying pan and simmer until they start to pop, about 2 minutes. Transfer the cranberries to the bowl of apples. Boil the juices over medium-high heat until reduced slightly and spoon over the fruit. (Try not to eat too much of the apple cranberry mix while working on the next step!).

Position 2 racks in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Have ready 2 ungreased baking sheets.

Divide the ball of chilled pastry in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each half into a round about 12 inches in diameter. Transfer pastry rounds to baking sheets. Divide the fruit filling equally between the pastry rounds and spread it in an even layer, leaving 1 1/2 inch border uncovered. Fold the border over the fruit, pleating the edges to form a broad rim. Lay thin slices of butter over the exposed fruit.

Bake galettes, switching the pans between the racks and rotating them 180 degrees midway through the baking process. Cook until the pastry is golden brown and the apples are tender, 35-40 minutes. Let cool completely on the pans on a wire rack. Cover and store at room temperature until ready to serve. Sprinkle with sugar if desired and serve with whipped cream.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our foodie friends!

Let’s Drink to Turkeys!

Thanksgiving Cocktails

Nothing says “I’m ready for the holidays,” like an ice cold drink.

Hope for the holidays. Our local paper just came out with a feature on tequila infused roasted turkey. Now we’re talking. Let’s be honest here. Booze, for better or worse, has a role in every Thanksgiving. When bringing booze we most likely bring a bottle of something red or white or bubbly. Safe. Appreciated. All good.

But how about bringing something a little bolder, and a lot more festive? Something that says straight up, “I love you all…enough. So let the party begin!” With a simplified plan it’s an easy way to win praise and (temporary) approval.

We’re talking about big batch cocktails that can be amped up or down to serve a few or a crowd. Each of these three recipes feature one base liquor, some key fall flavoring and a sassy sparkly topper of ginger beer.

The key to success is not having to do anything besides basic mixing (and low functioning math) at serving time. Make your base, put it in a travel container, grab a four-pack of ginger beers and you’re set to go.

As a bonus, in keeping with my “Always wear the same color you are drinking” party doctrine, you can choose to drink light or dark. Now, get out to the store to get what you need to test out these drinks. While you’re there you might want to pick up some cranberries, a bunch of meyer lemons and some candied ginger. Trust me on this. Ready or not Thanksgiving’s coming atcha, like a tequila infused turkey flying across a country road.

Pear Haymaker

From Saveur Magazine. Makes 2 cocktails


¼ cup sliced, peeled ginger
1 cup sugar

4 oz. vodka
1 oz. fresh lemon juice (Meyer lemon if possible)
1 pear, chopped, peeled, and cored (Anjou, Moonglow, Bosc, or any finely textured and fragrant pears are best)
Ginger ale, to top


Make the ginger syrup: Combine sliced ginger, sugar, and 1 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Strain out ginger solids and discard, reserving syrup in an airtight container.

Divide chopped pear between two 12 oz. tall glasses; muddle in each glass with a wooden muddler. Pour 2 oz. vodka over the pears in each glass, and fill with ice. Add ½ oz. ginger syrup and ½ oz. lemon juice to each glass, stir to combine, and finish with ginger ale to top.

A few notes. Always the notes: The Haymaker calls for a ginger syrup which is very easy to make. Plus, we already made it here last year. After you have used the syrup for the Haymaker, keep it handy in case anyone needs to sweeten up the Cranberry Crush, which is tart as a Pilgrim. To make this one party ready, I diced up three pears into a container, then quadrupled the vodka, lemon juice and syrup and poured it over the pears. At the party I divided the pears into glasses, added ice, then added liquid to about 2/3 full and stirred. Then I topped them off with ginger beer. This also works swimmingly with gin.

Cranberry Crush

From Saveur Magazine. Makes 1 cocktail 🙁


  • 2 oz. 100% cranberry juice (not cranberry cocktail. Get the ridiculously expensive pure juice)
  • 2 oz. not-too-sweet spiced rum, like Cruzan 9 Spice (?)
  • 3 oz. spicy ginger beer, like Blenheim’s or Reed’s 


In a rocks glass filled with ice, combine cranberry juice and rum. Top with ginger beer.

Notes: This could be called the crazy easy cranberry crush. I am not sure what spiced rums are sweeter than others, so I used Kraken Spiced Rum, mostly because I liked saying the name with a Scottish accent. This makes one cocktail. One. Not to worry. Convert ounces to parts and you’re all set. Mix half cranberry juice and half rum in your travel container. At the party pour that mixture over ice and top with just less than that amount of ginger beer. You’re aiming for 4 parts mix (2 juice + 2 rum) to 3 parts ginger beer. If anyone wants this to be sweeter add a splash of ginger syrup to the glass and give it a stir before topping with the ginger beer.

Jacques the Elder

From Sunset Magazine. Makes 1 cocktail 🙁


  • 2 ounces bourbon whiskey, such as Gentleman Jack
  • 1 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 1 ounce lemon juice (meyer, meyer, meyer…meyer)
  • 2 ounces chilled ginger beer
  • Lemon wedge
  • Piece of candied ginger


Pour bourbon, St-Germain, and lemon juice into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake well. Strain into a rocks (lowball) glass, add 1 large ice cube, and top with ginger beer. Garnish with a skewer of lemon and candied ginger.

Notes: Full discosure—I have not tried this drink. BUT it involves ginger beer, lemon juice and yet another form of booze. AND it won Sunset’s reader cocktail contest which is huge. So a big shout out to Deb Kessler of El Granada, CA. She’s good people. Again, this makes one measly cocktail so let’s convert it to parts. Make your base: two parts bourbon, one part lemon juice and one part St-Germain (there’s your 4 parts). At the party, shake up your base and top with half that amount ginger beer (there’s your 2 parts.) I don’t want to insult your math skills, I just want to ease your pain if you’re making this after the first two.

Cheers, turkeys


Party Time Hummus


Don't bring that hummus. Bring THIS hummus.

Don’t bring that hummus. Bring THIS hummus.

It’s getting to be party season. And what’s a party without that token tub of hummus with the perfect swirl on top? Yes, it’s healthy, it’s appreciated, it gives you something to do with those mini carrots. But it’s, yawn, hummus. Wake up and smell the chickpeas! You can bring something healthy and easy that also has seasonal flair and cha-cha. Bust out the roasted beet or pumpkin hummus for a totally different vibe—hot pink, vibrant orange and totally delish.

The beauty of making these together is that you roast the garlic in olive oil and then use both in both recipes. No need to measure. Just roast a whole load of garlic because when is it ever a bad thing to have roasted garlic and garlic flavored oil on hand in the fridge? Yeah. Rhymes with never. You’ve got your base for awesome salad dressings, crazy good roasted vegetables, a drizzle for soup, dipping oil for bread, etc etc etc.

Now, I happened to have roasted squash and roasted beets begging to be used up so I was going to make up a batch of each of these. But somehow my pantry only coughed up one can of chickpeas. Stranger still is that I had six cans of sliced beets. How does that happen? Rest assured a recipe for canned beets is on the horizon. Given the situation I made a half batch of each hummus which is not a bad tactic. Note (with joy) that the pumpkin/squash hummus does not involve tahini, which is handy if you ran out of your stash or if having another expensive tub of nut butter is going to put you over the edge. You can use canned pumpkin if that’s what you’ve got, and as soon as I get more chickpeas I’m going to try using canned beets as well. Stay tuned!

The final thing you need to know before embarking on this food processor adventure is that hummus is not an exact science. Get the basic ingredients and then tweak as desired. I always put in extra lemon and (when nobody’s looking) salt. We’re making this stuff from scratch fergawdssake, so just think about how much crap we are NOT putting in there. A scootch more kosher salt isn’t going to hurt.

Pumpkin Rosemary Hummus

Adapted from Pinch of Yum

If you use kabocha squash it will be a little sweeter and a little thicker so you may need to add some warm water at the end to achieve your ideal texture.


1-2 cloves roasted garlic (see #1)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp water
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup pumpkin puree (or hint hint, kabocha/butternut squash puree)
1 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
squeeze or more of fresh lemon (optional)
1/2 tsp finely minced fresh rosemary (more to taste)
salt to taste


  1. To roast the garlic, simmer the peeled cloves in a small saucepan with olive oil for 15-20 minutes over low/medium heat. See note above and make more if you can.
  2. Puree all ingredients except rosemary in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add more oil or water as needed. Stir in the rosemary at the very end.
  3. Serve with warm naan, apple slices, crackers, carrots, wheat toast, roasted vegetables, pita bread, and/or anything.

Roasted Beet Hummus

From Minimalist Baker


1 small roasted beet
1 15 oz. can (1 3/4 cup) cooked chickpeas, mostly drained
zest of one large lemon
juice of half a large lemon
healthy pinch salt and black pepper
2 large cloves roasted garlic, minced or mashed (see garlic step in previous recipe)
2 heaping Tbsp tahini
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Roast Beets (see below)
  2. Once your beet is cooled and peeled, quarter it and place it in your food processor. Blend until only small bits remain.
  3. Add remaining ingredients except for olive oil and blend until smooth.
  4. Drizzle in olive oil as the hummus is mixing.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt, lemon juice or olive oil if needed. If it’s too thick, add a bit of warm water.
  6. Will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Roasting beets: Preheat oven to 375°F, remove the stem and most of the root from your beets, and scrub and wash them underwater until clean. Drizzle on a bit of canola oil, wrap tightly, and roast for one hour or until a knife inserted falls out without resistance. They should be tender. Cool to room temperature.

Of Stick Season, Care Packages and Macaroons

dead leaves in autumn

Stick season in all its glory.

I know. It’s downright inspiring out there, making it the perfect time to send a care package. I’ve been in the business of care packages lately, the other day breaking a personal record and sending three. One to a kid away at school who is the master of the not so subtle hint. One to a nephew whose birthday I missed…by three months, and one to another kid on a trip where lunch is not included and foraging trumps grocery store preparation.

A care package is really just that. It says you care. It also says I love you. I miss you. I’m sorry I swore so much when you told me you lost your wallet. See? It really can say so much.

So, what to send that is delicious and not so “liquid, fragile or perishable” as to make you a liar, liar, liar at the post office? Here are just a few suggestions:

On Packaging

This fall I discovered a vacuum food sealer in our basement. It had been a wedding present over 16 years ago. I am quite sure I wrote a thank you note but still. Wow. Anyway, the thing works like a charm and if you happen to have one in your basement I highly recommend busting it out for care packages. If such a treasure does not lurk in your basement plan B is:

Ziploc bags and baggies: They keep things fresh and contained. Just make sure everything is fully cooled before it goes in. If not you may be sending a stuck-together clump of good intentions.

Cardboard takeout boxes: They pack well, resist collapse and make nice little serving vessels for the recipient:

Tupperware: Especially excellent when sending to a kid faced with his or her first kitchen. They’re young. They don’t know the beauty of Tupperware. Teach them.

Play the USPS game: If you are sending it far across the country, go for broke and figure out how to fill a flat rate box to the gills. Go for the heavy stuff and feel like you beat the system.

Popcorn: If you do have some space you need to fill, fire up the popcorn. Package it in appropriately sized baggies to fill whatever space you need. Envision those little air bubble pillows that come in the way-too-big Amazon package with two CD’s. Or just pour it in there and let someone on the other end clean up your mess.

Bonus Recipe: These are brilliant—easy, sturdy, moist, yummy and cheap. Oh did I say that? Of course money is no object when you care. The recipe comes right off the package of Bakers coconut. Don’t overthink the macaroon.

Coconut Macaroons


1 pkg.  (14 oz.) BAKER’S ANGEL FLAKE Coconut (5-1/3 cups)
2/3 cup  sugar
6 Tbsp  flour
1/4 tsp.  salt
4 egg whites
1 tsp  almond extract (or vanilla for the underprepared)


  • Heat oven to 325°F.
  • Combine coconut, sugar, flour and salt in large bowl. Stir in egg whites and extract until blended.
  • Drop coconut mixture into 36 mounds, 2 inches apart, onto greased and lightly floured (or parchment-lined) baking sheets, using about 1 Tbsp. coconut mixture for each.
  • Bake 20 min. or until edges are golden brown. Immediately remove from baking sheets to wire racks; cool completely.

Macaroon Pro Tips:

Topped Macaroons: Prepare as directed, pressing 1 almond or 1 drained candied cherry (surely they jest) into top of each mound of coconut mixture on baking sheet before baking as directed.

Chocolate-Dipped Macaroons: Prepare Coconut Macaroons as directed. Cool. Melt 8 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate as directed on package. Dip cookies halfway into chocolate; let excess chocolate drip off. Let stand at room temperature or refrigerate on waxed paper-covered tray 30 min. or until chocolate is firm. Makes 36 servings, 1 cookie each.

Store in tightly covered container at room temperature up to 1 week.

Reese’s Redemption Cups


Go deserve it. Take a bite of creamy, chocolatey, nut buttery goodness with loads of crunch and nothing at all spooky.

Go ahead…you deserve it. Take a bite of creamy, chocolatey, nut buttery goodness with loads of crunch and nothing at all spooky.

Last year, the day after Halloween I posted a recipe featuring a giant bowl of kale. I know. Mean. This year I’m going to be much nicer. This year you got a day of hedonism and now the Halloween step down program. Gradual detox comes in the form of a no-junk-in-the-trunk version of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups featuring your nut butter of choice along with creamy chocolate, coconut butter and as much healthy crunch as you dare. I was going to call them Luscious C Cups—creamy, crunchy, chocolatey, coconutty—but kind of worried how that would pan out on a search engine.

Kale or no kale, I urge you to step away from the leftover Halloween candy and the booty your kids naively believe they have hidden from you. None of it will make you feel good. That said, you deserve something wonderful. Oh yes you do.

So get on out to the store, stock up on some healthy stuff that needs  a spot in your kitchen anyway, and make yourself a stash of luscious choco-coconutty crunch cups for your freezer or fridge. They are easy and quick to make and actually make a good, healthy energy boost for that exercise regime that you are so going to stick to as a pre-holiday health insurance policy.

Some notes, as ever: I got these from Mama’s Weeds who got them from Thriving Lisa so they have had some tweaks along the way, but the basic method and ingredients stay the same. I am hardcore on the crunch factor, so I make mine with all three crunch agents—coconut, hemp seeds and chia seeds. If that’s a bit too groovy for you, I recommend at least doing the coconut. But you know yourself and your people, so do what feels right.

I have tried this with almond butter, peanut butter and even sunbutter (which was a way to sneak in some extra sugar), and they’re all good. So use what you’ve got, swap away and love the one you’re with, baby. I do believe this is the perfect dessert after a nice bowl of kale.


2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup almond butter or nut butter of choice
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup maple syrup or agave
1/4 cup chia seeds (optional)
1/4 cup hemp seeds (optional)
1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional, but not really)
pinch of salt


  • Melt your coconut oil however you like—put the container in the microwave or in a pot of warm water stove top.
  • Mix your melted coconut oil, nut butter, maple syrup/agave and cocoa powder.
  • Stir in your crunchy mix-ins.
  • Add the salt. Remember the salt!
  • When all your ingredients are combined, corral 12 regular sized cupcake wrappers or many more mini ones in a flat container or dish.
  • Spoon mixture into the wrappers, making them whatever the heck size you want. (Know that cutting one in half or even quarters will not decrease your likelihood of eating the entire unit. The science on this is legit.)
  • Once your wrappers have been filled, put them in the freezer until firm (20-30 minutes).
  • Unwrap them at this point or right before you eat them. It’s all good. Move them to an air tight container and store in the freezer, or in the fridge if you like a softer texture.