Sunday, November 29, 2009


The blogosphere is a never-ending source of knowledge, but it is also filled with wonderful people and just plain old fun. When I read about "Blogging by Mail" on  Dispensing Happiness, I knew that this was no ordinary "grab bag" activity. I want to thank Stephanie for hosting this event.

The concept was simple: you send a box of "stuff" to someone and someone else sends a box of "stuff" to you. But this was no ordinary "stuff." Stephanie's strategy was one we could all appreciate during this most hectic time of year. Choose 5 indulgences--your 5 Calgon moments, if you will--a little care package that will help a blogger friend destress.

It  was a challenge to narrow down the list of indulgences, but I put my package together and headed off to the post office to mail it yesterday. Imagine my surprise when my own BBM package was there waiting for me. Misty of Mischief-making probably has all her holiday gifts bought and wrapped if this is any indication. I couldn't drive home fast enough to open my package of indulgences.

Misty took the concept one step further by selecting one indulgence for each of the 5 senses (great idea, Misty!). Her indulgences were a feast for the eyes (a wonderful pair of sparkly earrings for those holiday parties);the ears (a CD of classical music to enjoy as  you undwind from holiday preparations); the nose (a terrific bath set featuring pomegranate fig creams and soaps); touch (a light as a cloud blue scarf); and, of course, taste (yummy Ghiradelli squares which Misty recommends frozen).

Be sure to visit Misty and Stephanie at their respective blogs. A big hug to you both for making yesterday so special.

Monday, November 23, 2009


If there's one thing you don't need, it's to leave too many dishes to the last minute on Thanksgiving. For nearly a dozen years now, I've taken a very organized approach to the holiday, starting my cooking a few days in advance. Making gravy at the last minute not only takes up your entire stove, but it interferes with the flow of side dishes going in and out of the ovens according to schedule. What really makes it difficult, though, is my ceramic topped stove with the vent in the middle that does not accommodate my large roasting pan as well as it could.  After making this classic gravy a few days in advance way back when, I've never gone back to that last minute, frantic whisking. I can't tell you where I got the recipe (I don't remember), but the end result is delicious. You can make it 2 or 3 days ahead and you can even freeze it for up to 6 months.

Makes 6 cups; NI per 1/3 cup is 73 cal, 6 g fat, 4 g carb, 33 mg sodium, 3 g protein

2 T olive oil
6 lb turkey wings or legs or thighs or any combination
5 ribs celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 head garlic, halved
12 cups chicken broth
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 T apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Saute turkey wings, celery, onion, and garlic in a roasting pan on top of the stove over medium high heat until they begin to brown; turn and brown on other side.

Transfer to oven and roast 45 minutes. Turn the wings over and roast an additional 45 minutes.

Add broth to the pan and cook in the oven for 1 hour more, until reduced to about 8 cups. Strain the stock and set aside. (I remove the meat from the wings and freeze to use at a later time in soup.)

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook 2 minutes, whisking constantly.

Gradually add the strained stock, whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil and boil, stirring, for 2 minutes to thicken. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes more. Finish with the vinegar, salt, and pepper.

I love this turkey gravy. It is just thick enough, not that awful viscous stuff in a can. The vinegar, though not strong, seems to brighten the taste of the finished gravy. I am not a gravy person, but this on my mashed potatoes equals heaven.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


When the weather turns cool, my first answer to, "What's for dinner?" is soup. I love corn chowder and when I found this simple recipe for the slow cooker in one of Prevention magazine's cookbooks, I had to try it. I've been wanting to participate in Crockpot Wednesday over at Dining with Debbie and this is the week. It couldn't be easier and if I hadn't already decided on the butternut squash soup for Thanksgiving, this would have been a contender.

6 Servings - 4 WW pts per serving (servings are 1 cup)
2 cans (15 oz each) whole kernel corn, drained
3 potatoes (1 lb), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice (I used baby red skins, skin on)
1 onion, chopped
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups 1% milk
1/4 cup trans free margarine (I used Olivio)

PLACE corn, potatoes, onion, and broth in a 4 quart or larger slow cooker. Stir to combine.

COVER and cook on low 7-9 hours. Let cool about 10 minutes.

PUREE half the batch in a blender or food processor. Return pureed mixture to the slow cooker, add the milk and margarine. Cover and cook on high for 1 more hour. Garnish with chives, if desired.



We enjoyed this hearty corn chowder with meatloaf sandwiches (you MUST try the recipe for mini meatloaves posted on 11/2/09). I will definitely make it again and may try adding some crabmeat next time. It fit well into my Weight Watcher plan and was very filling.

Be sure to stop over at Dining with Debbie to see all the wonderful soup and chili and other slow cooker yummies linked there.