Preparing for our Thanksgiving feast


Do you see that cool swirl from the steam off the gravy? No photoshop tricks here. I didn’t even know this happened until after I was reviewing the photos!

Here are links to the recipes I’ll be using for our Thanksgiving feast this year.

My meal will include:

turkey with gravy (for the gravy, the link will take you to the gravy I made from a roast chicken — same process for turkey gravy)

stuffing To save oven space for the bird, I now make the stuffing in a crock pot.




sweet potatoes

sweet potatoes

smashed potatoes

mashed potatoes


cranberry sauce

cranberry sauce

apple pie (I will post the recipe for the pie pictured below very soon. Can’t believe I haven’t posted it yet!)

apple pie

pumpkin pie (I am not a huge pumpkin pie fan, though my husband and oldest son love it, so I use a can of organic pumpkin and follow the typical pumpkin pie recipe — pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves.)

pumpkin pie

chocolate pie (my daughter and youngest son will not eat apple or pumpkin pie … and I don’t mind one bit adding a chocolate pie to the menu!)

chocolate pie


Here is a link to shortcuts I take to make my Thanksgiving meal easy and less work the day of the feast.

Thanksgiving prep


To start the day I’ll serve baked French toast. Such a holiday favorite of mine!

baked french toast


What items are on your Thanksgiving meal menu?

latin chicken — again

latin chicken (6)

Shortly after starting this blog I posted the recipe for Latin chicken. It’s a great meal and one of my favorites. Because this recipe was posted when the blog was new and had only a small handful of followers (2? 3?), I thought I’d post it again.

So, here is the recipe again, with a few additional photos. Please try this recipe! Seriously, it is sooooo good!

*Note: I always, always, always make this with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but I goofed and purchased boneless, skinless chicken breasts last week. I prefer this recipe with the thighs, though it was still very good made with white meat.


Latin Chicken (with black beans and sweet potatoes)

1. In crock pot (slow cooker), combine:

  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3-4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

2. In a plastic zipper bag combine the following:

  • 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


Add a small amount of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over med-high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned on both sides; about 5 minutes. Place chicken in crock pot on top of beans and sweet potatoes.

3. Lower the heat, and in the same pan whisk together:

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 heaping teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin

latin chicken (2)

latin chicken (4)


Pour this mixture over the black beans, sweet potatoes, and chicken in the crock pot.

latin chicken (5)

Cook on high for about 5 hours.

When serving, squirt fresh lime over each serving and sprinkle on chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.

latin chicken

scalloped potatoes with ham

scalloped potatoes with ham (8)

From my previous post you know that I use the ham bone from my Easter ham to make bean soup.  Now this recipe will show you what I do with all the leftover ham.

This dish is pure comfort food for me. It’s one of my most favorite meals from childhood. Problem is that for years, each time I made it, I would do it differently (that’s because I’d call my mom the day after Easter each and every year and she would give me suggestions on how to make this dish, but I never wrote it down and would alter her recipe in the attempt to make it better or easier or quicker or whatever, and therefore it didn’t always turn out well nor exactly how I remembered it). So after years of making scalloped potatoes in various ways, I’ve finally found the way to make it that reminds me of my mom’s delicious after-Easter scalloped potatoes with ham, and I’ve written it down and now I only call my mom the day after Easter to ask how her Easter was, instead of bothering her for the recipe.


Scalloped Potatoes With Ham

Heat oven to 350F.

Butter a deep casserole dish.

Clean and slice 6-8 potatoes. I use medium size white potatoes.

Cut leftover ham into small cubes.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter and whisk in 2 tablespoons flour.

When a nice paste is formed (takes about 1-2 minutes) lower heat and whisk in 2 cups whole milk.

Season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Add a small shake of nutmeg.

Allow to heat through over low heat, stirring often.

scalloped potatoes with ham (1)

In the buttered casserole dish, layer half the potato slices, then cover with all the ham.

scalloped potatoes with ham (2)

Distribute about 1 cup shredded cheese over the potatoes and ham. (I use a combination of Monterey Jack and cheddar.)

scalloped potatoes with ham (3)

Layer the remaining potatoes on top.


Pour heated white sauce over all.


Add 1 more cup of the cheese.


If the white sauce doesn’t cover all the potatoes, add extra milk to the casserole dish until the potatoes are completely covered. You may find you’ll need to add a cup or two of extra milk. (*Note: I could have added the extra milk before adding the cheese.)


Crush Ritz crackers on top. (No picture for this step … oops.)

Place casserole dish on a large baking sheet (to catch any liquid that bubbles over the edge of the casserole dish) and bake uncovered for about an hour. Depending on how deep your casserole dish is, you may need to bake for a bit longer than 1 hour. When a fork can go through the potatoes without much resistance it’s ready for the next step.

Raise oven temperature to 375F and bake for an additional 15 – 30 minutes, until it is bubbly and the top is golden brown.

scalloped potatoes with ham (8)

This is the hardest part: Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Leftovers are terrific (if you manage to have any leftovers).

*Note: There isn’t a picture of a serving of this, because I am very impatient and couldn’t bother with taking photos before diving in. Sorry!


*Edited on 4/23/13 to increase baking time and to note the use of the baking sheet under the casserole dish.

sliced baked potatoes

I love potatoes. So does my daughter. She’s one of the only people on the planet that will not eat pasta. So when I serve pasta she’ll just toss a potato into the oven to have a baked potato with her meal instead.

The other day we were talking about other ways to bake it, and she asked if I’ve ever sliced it before baking it. I remembered that years ago I had, but not since. So we decided to do it again.


This is so simple, yet takes the potato to a completely different level. It looks great and each slice is crispy on the outside.


Wash the potatoes.

Using a large wooden spoon or spatula as a barrier (to prevent the knife from slicing all the way down, as I did on the first few slices) slice each potato thinly.

Place potatoes onto a foil lined baking sheet.

Drizzle with olive oil.

Rub in the oil so that it gets into each section.

Season with salt and pepper and garlic powder. Rosemary would also be nice. Or any herb or spice you enjoy.

Bake at 400F for about an hour.

*Note: Baking times vary due to size of potato and your oven!!!!*


crockpot roast with potatoes and carrots in tomato sauce

Beef in the crockpot is really the only way I can cook beef (other than hamburgers) to know for sure it will turn out well.

I’ve posted my recipes for crockpot roast beef and crockpot chuck roast with tomato sauce. Today I decided to combine the two by including the potatoes and carrots, as well as the tomatoes. I’ve even come up with the unique, creative name of “crockpot beef — #3”. Catchy, isn’t it?

*Note: This has been edited to change the name of the recipe. I did this because with the old name it was hard to locate the recipe when using the search field.


Crockpot Roast With Potatoes And Carrots In Tomato Sauce

vegetable oil or olive oil

chuck roast

1/2 cup water or beef broth

1 can (28-ounce) Roma tomatoes

4 white potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half

6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon dried basil

salt and pepper


Heat oil in large pan and cook meat on all sides — about 2-3 minutes per side — over medium heat. Remove meat from pan and place in the crockpot.

Turn off the heat under the pan. Drain the oil and fat from the pan and add the water (or beef stock) to deglaze the pan. Pour this liquid over the meat in the crcokpot.

Add the tomatoes to the crockpot. (Note: Drain the can of tomatoes if you’d prefer less liquid in the final result.)

Add the potatoes and carrots to the crockpot.

Season it all with the basil, salt and pepper.

Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours or high for at least 4 hours.

*Edited to add the potatoes and carrots into the recipe. Just realized they weren’t listed … oops!

oven roasted sweet potato wedges

Earlier I posted my recipe for oven roasted potato wedges. I often make sweet potatoes at the same time, in the same way. The only difference are the spices and herbs used. I put herbs on the white potatoes, but not the sweet potatoes. For those I prefer a good amount of garlic powder and black pepper.


Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes

olive oil

black pepper

garlic powder


Heat oven to 400F.

Drizzle a decent amount of olive oil on a foil lined baking sheet or shallow casserole dish (if using a baking sheet, make sure it has a lip so that the oil doesn’t drip off).

Peel and cube the sweet potatoes. *Note: I prefer a 1-inch cube, but you can do a smaller cube, or cut them into larger wedges, or cut in strips for french fry size — the shape doesn’t matter. The important thing is to keep the pieces uniform in size, so that they cook evenly.

Place the potato pieces on the baking sheet and toss them gently in the oil. Spread the potato pieces evenly, so that they don’t overlap.

Sprinkle with black pepper and a generous amount of garlic powder.

Bake for 20 minutes (15 minutes if the pieces are cut smaller than a 1-inch size cube). Flip the pieces, then return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes. The outside will be firm and the inside tender. Delicious!

(Here are the potatoes ready for the oven.)

baked chicken à la Jamie Oliver

Back in January 2011, I was glancing at the Sunday magazine that comes in my local newspaper. A photo of Jamie Oliver caught my eye. And then an even larger photo of his tray-baked chicken with sweet potatoes, onions and sage fought for my attention. Having, shall we say, respect (might you call it a slight crush?) for Mr. Oliver, I decided this recipe was worth a try. The description and photo gave me confidence to try this dish — it was sure to be a winner! Well, I’ve made it twice and it is very delicious. The chicken is super moist, as promised, the potatoes tender, and the sage gives the dish a wonderful potent flavor.

But that potent flavor is exactly my one problem with this dish (sorry Jamie… I still think you’re awfully cute … and a great chef!). This meal has so much flavor — it’s the kind of meal you keep eating, whether you are full or not — just one more bite … a bit more chicken … now one extra slice of sweet potato. But, the problem was, with each extra bite the sage would make my eyes go wide open and my head would scream “SAGE!”   It was delicious, and I ate way more than my share, and Mr. Oliver should take that as a huge compliment, but when all was said and done, I couldn’t get the taste of the sage out of my mouth or memory.

So the last time I made this — months ago — I wrote a note to try it again, but with rosemary instead of sage. That’s what I did today. Other changes I made were minor, such as using garlic powder rather than crushed garlic in the brine, mainly due to my lack of time while making the brine this morning. Also, I didn’t have a fresh lemon, so I couldn’t include lemon zest. I used bottled lemon juice rather than fresh. Finally, I don’t know what size roasting pan Mr. Oliver uses, but there was no way in Idaho I was going to fit 3 sweet potatoes AND 4 medium potatoes along with the chicken breasts in my one pan. Therefore in the recipe below (my version of Mr. Oliver’s wonderful recipe), it lists a reduced number of potatoes. Today, since I was having company for dinner, I made a double batch — two trays — which is a great way to feed a crowd and super easy to prepare. Everyone loved it!


Baked Chicken à la Jamie Oliver

For brine:

1 quart water

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1/3 cup honey

3 cloves garlic, crushed OR a generous amount of garlic powder

2 sprigs fresh sage (leaves only) OR rosemary (*Note: “fresh” is the key word … don’t use dried for this, it just won’t be as good … I know, I’ve done it and regretted it)

1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar

juice and zest of 1 lemon OR 2 tablespoons lemon juice

For the bake:

4 chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (*Note: Today I used breasts and chicken legs, and the first time I made it I also included some chicken thighs … they all work well)

2 slices smoked bacon, finely chopped

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced

1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

2 sprigs fresh sage (leaves shredded) OR rosemary

olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups chicken broth (Jamie and I prefer organic … :))

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

a few pats of butter


You want to make the brine at least a few hours before making the meal. Ideally you want the chicken to sit in the brine for a minimum of 2 hours, with 8 hours being preferred.

Add all the brine ingredients into a large container, and whisk to combine. Put the chicken pieces into the brine; cover and refrigerate.

When ready, remove the chicken from the refrigerator to allow to get to room temperature.

Heat oven to 350F.

In a large baking tray or roasting pan, put the bacon, potatoes, onion and garlic, sage (or rosemary), a good drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Pour in the broth. Cook for 30 minutes.

Drain the chicken pieces (discard brine) and pat them dry.

Remove from oven and pour in the cream. Sprinkle with the Parmesan. Add additional salt and pepper, if desired. Place the chicken on top and dot with pats of butter on each chicken piece. Cook 45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.