Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gobble it Up!

   This one is going out by request.  On my friend's facebook post, her friend asked if anyone had a recipe for breakfast sausage that did not use pork.  This turkey sausage recipe is useful for people looking for food free of chemicals.  Plus it just tastes great.  I've even had my 'teen nephew tell me, "It tastes like real sausage."  It makes a wonderful addition to a big weekend breakfast and I have also made it ahead for a special brunch and kept it warmed in the crockpot.  The longer you let the sage sit the more flavorful the sausage becomes.  The recipe can be made with fresh sage.  I've only used dried and have been satisfied with the results. 

Breakfast Turkey Sausage
Adapted from the Beat the Yeast Cookbook by Charlene Grimmett

1 pound ground turkey
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2-1 teaspoon dried sage OR 10-12 fresh sage leaves, minced

Mix turkey with salt, pepper and sage.  Use a fork or a food processor for less than one minute. Shape into 6 thin patties or several links. Fry or bake until browned. You can freeze the sausages, either raw or cooked, for future breakfasts.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Jingle Aldi Way

   Let me just say first that I am not being compensated for this post; it is purely my opinion and experience.  Okay, now that I've got that out of the way let me get on my outsidethesoapbox.  This will be more useful to my friends that have an Aldi store nearby, but you could also use this information to find a discount store in your area.

  I heard about Aldi's at least a decade ago.  The ladies at work and my mother-in-law shopped there and told me about the great prices.  At the time, I had my preferred supermarket and didn't feel like going across town (not that it is really that far) just to say a few cents on eggs. 

   One day my Mom and I were on our way back from an appointment and we stopped in to pick up a few things.  I was surprised by the prices on fresh fruits and vegetables and they weren't old ones about to be pitched.  I bought a few things and was pleased with the quality. 

  This month I did actual weekly food shopping there.  If you are brand particular it may be difficult to find every item on your list, but I was able to get our necessities.  I actually liked shopping in the smaller store since navigating the megamarts can take so long to just get a few things.

  I had an impression that it was cheaper because it was not as nice as the regular supermarket.  Then I read an article indicating that it was not due to inferior items but that they had lower overhead.  It is similar to the warehouse clubs but without having to buy huge quantities. Plus there is no membership fee to shop there.  There is no on site bakery, fish or meat department.  They only take debit cards or cash.  This was an adjustment for me as I tend to charge my groceries.

  You bring your own bags.  This does make a little work for the shopper, but it is probably better for the environment anyway.  One of the reasons for savings that surprised me was that colored packaging costs more.  By only printing a few colors on the box it made the item cost less.  Well, I'm not eating the package anyway!  Plus being an "outside the box" person I tend to steer away from heavily processed foods.  They have plenty of that at Aldis, but so does my usual supermarket.  Another way they keep costs down is to have you put a quarter in the cart so they don't have to pay an employee to corral the carts. 

   I am most satisfied with their fresh produce and frozen wild caught fish. I was able to purchase enough items on my last visit to make a week's worth of meals and at half the price of my usual store.  By using this option that will give me a little more jingle in my pocket and who doesn't want that during the holiday season?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chicken, Chicken

    When I was a senior in high school, we traveled to Old Quebec on a school trip.  While staying with my host family, we sat down to a chicken dinner one evening.  The son's friend said to me, "Chicken, chicken," to which I replied that is was lovely or delicious or something in French I don't recall.  Canadian French turned out to be different than the old school French we were learning so much of what I said sounded like I was talking to my grandmother and not a teenager.  Anyway, this went on for a few rounds of "chicken, chicken, " until Ingrid the teenage daughter haltingly explained in English, "My brother's friend is thinking it is funny that chicken is food and also scared. It is a scared bird, no?"  To which we all had an "Ahhh, chicken, chicken" laugh.
   This tidbit is being shared with you because I spotted roasters on sale this week for 69 cents a pound, so it became a "chicken, chicken" week at my house. I really think we need to make up a new word for leftovers.  I enjoy taking leftovers and using them as material for another meal.  The first night we had roast chicken with mashed potatoes and broccoli.  The broth was put aside in the freezer to add to other recipes. Two nights later so it's not reruns every night, I tossed cubed chicken with leftover spaghetti, plain yogurt, mayonnaise, cheese, dill and garlic and baked it in the oven for a chicken casserole.  I sauteed up some green beans with garlic on the side.

    The chicken bones were boiled down for soup.  I have my own method for making soup using a steamer pot.  I find it easier than pulling bones out of the pot.  Once I get my broth ready, anything in the fridge is fair game to go in the pot.  This week, I found fresh carrots and celery, a cooked potato, leftover green beans, and corn.  I had overdone the garlic on the green beans so I didn't have to season the soup with much more than parsley.  I sometimes add a bay leaf as well.  Soup makes an excellent use of lots of bits of food and if you are lucky, you will have a bowl leftover for lunch!

Micky's Chicken Soup

  Place chicken carcass in a steamer inside the stockpot with celery leaves.  Cover and let it come to a boil.  After 20 minutes remove the steamer pot and let chicken cool about 5 minutes.  In the meantime, chop up any carrots, celery or fresh vegetables and add to the broth.  Pick the chicken into 3 bowls: good chicken for the soup, fatty chicken rejects and skin for the dog, and bones for the trash.  Believe me, the dog loves soup day.  Dump the chicken pieces in the pot and let it simmer for about an hour.  Add any cooked vegetables later so they don't turn to mush.  I've even used up cabbage after St. Patrick's day.  By cutting it into long strips the kids thought it was like noodles.  It's never the same soup twice since I throw in whatever is handy, but it is always a satisfying meal. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011


   I remember the excitement of waiting for Christmas as a child.  There was the family tromp through the woods to cut down the perfect tree with Dad's red saw, followed by cocoa to defrost everyone.   Once the tree was set up we decorated it while listening to John Denver's Rocky Mountain Christmas.  Decorating cookies was a family event with Mom's Super Shooter pressing out dozens of confections and the kids in charge of sprinkles and the cut up maraschino cherries for the wreath bows.  Christmas Eve meant going to Grandma and Grandpa's house to be with all of the cousins for open house. 

  As a child it seemed so simple and carefree, a magical time of year.  I can hear my Dad and Aunt Janet singing carols around the piano.  It's hard to believe that my parents didn't feel any stress carting us to family parties, baking cookies, wrapping presents, hanging lights, stuffing stockings, and keeping us fidget-free during mass.  If they did, I don't remember them mentioning all the work that goes into the season. I'm glad that I have all the wonderful memories of the Christmas season with my family. 

  One way that kids can count down to Christmas is with an advent calendar.  Instead of using one of the packaged ones with a little treat inside, I decided to add a new holiday tradition to my family.  Each day we try to catch someone doing something nice for others.  When we do we write it on a post-it note and put it on the calendar.  I am calling it a "Kindness Calendar." 

  Both children have their own calendars and are enjoying finding ways to fill them up.  My little one fed the dog and asked, "Is that a kindness?"  I certainly agreed the dog would find it kind to be fed.  I opted for the post-it notes instead of stickers, since my oldest can read and I thought it would be fun for him to see all the helpful things he does in writing, rather than a sticker each day.  There will still be gifts under the tree and stockings stuffed with treats in my house.  With the "Kindness Calendar" my hope is to remind my children to think of others during this special time of  waiting for Christmas to arrive.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


A sunny breakfast for the sniffly crew.
   When I woke up this morning to the cacophony of coughing and the sniffling symphony I knew it was going to be a sick day.  My first reaction was to park everyone in front of the television in their pajamas.  I had made salsa the previous night and was going to add it to scrambled eggs, but taking my cue from the B.R.A.T diet of Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast I decided to scale back.  I thought a light meal was the way to go instead of forcing their appetite with possible messy consequences.

   I sliced up oranges for their cold fighting vitamin C.  Next I made honey toast. My husband introduced me to this sick day staple.  The first time he suggested I thought it sounded strange, but the honey soothes the throat and it is a comforting food when you don't feel like eating.  I brewed up some Gingerbread Spice tea with no caffeine.  I didn't need cranky people plus caffeine. This helped keep up the fluids and the warm liquid is another throat soother. For dessert (to make sure I wasn't making anyone finish their plate) I served frozen blueberries in applesauce for antioxidants and a soft easy to swallow food. I put it on paper plates and there you have it, a sick day picnic or my new word, sicknic.

   After breakfast I set up a tent in the living room by attaching a play parachute to the curtain rods and over the arms of a chair.  They snuggled in there amongst the pile of blankets and a box of tissues reading books.  The sun streamed in through the window making this a tempting spot to curl up and take a nap.  While I was out of the room, the oldest one decided to cut out paper dolls clothes to help his sister.  Instead of being miserable and sick, their sicknic and tent kept them happy campers.