Archive for November, 2010

What to do with all the Thanksgiving leftovers?

November 28, 2010

So I have to confess that I didn’t find the phyllo cups and ended up serving the brie that I bought for it as part of a fruit and cheese platter. My son did make the carrot and corn casserole, but wanted to play rather than flip latkas. Oh well, my friend substituted for him. And my soup was tasty but got just a simple garnish of toasted pumpkin seeds. Such grand plans but such little time. Regardless, the meal was enjoyed by all. But now here is the true question. What to do with all the leftovers? I gave some away but I have some of everything left. Here is the menu I am using. Depending on what you have left, feel free to modify.

My family eats a lot of turkey anyway so they loved the turkey sandwiches the next day with the leftover soup.

Turkey Barley Soup– After the meal, I made turkey stock out of the bones and pick out the meat and strained the veggies out. And right now I have the stock and new veggies and barley cooking away in the crock pot. The secret to any good stock is to cook it on low and for a long time. The secret to getting rid of the gamey taste is a bay leaf and lots of celery, a few garlic cloves, and onions in the pot with the bones. Those veggies will have given their all so you will have to throw them away with the bones so you don’t need to bother chopping the veggies up. just cut them into large chunks.

Simple Turkey Pot Pie– Get puff pastry from the freezer section of the market next to the ice cream. one can of cream of chicken soup condensed, mix it in a bowl with your cubes of turkey, chunks of onion, carrots, celery, and pototoes. Pour it into a pie pan and top it with a piece of puff pastry. Make an egg wash, brush the egg wash over the top of the puff pastry, cut slits on the dough to create vents for steam to escape.

Chili Shepherd’s pie -I have some chili frozen in a pie pan. I will take the leftover mash potatoes and spoon it over the top like meringue on a cream pie. The bake in a 400 F oven just to get some color on the pototoes

Mac and Cheese– On the cheese platter I served a fontina cheese. It is a semi soft cheese from Italy. It melts wonderfully. So I used the leftovers in Mac and Cheese.

Turkey Vegetable Soup w/ Stuffing Dumplings from the recipe collection. Recipe is courtesy of Wes Martin

I have some stuffing and green beans left. And I had frozen half of the turkey stock and pieces of turkey so I’ll make this and let you know how it is. The turkey barley was delicious. The kids loved it too and took it to school in their themos.

I hope you have found a recipe that you can use to revamp your leftovers. As I think of more ideas I will post them here for you.


My Thanksgiving Menu

November 23, 2010

People have said to me. “You must be cooking Thanksgiving dinner.” So yes, my son and I are in charge of cooking the Thanksgiving meal. I have to admit last year was the first time I cooked the turkey. Usually, my mom does the turkey and stuffing and I bring all the sides. The pressure was on to cook up a moist turkey. I learned the trick of cooking the turkey breast side down. It is not a beautiful presentation bird, but it did turn out moist. I’m going with that method again this year. We are also having our dear friends from Sri Lanka over. If you look at our menu, it is not your typical thanksgiving menu but it is a good representation of America. A fusion of many cultures’ cuisines. I think it is tastier that way.

I’m lucky this time to have my son helping me. Today we finalized the menu. We have lots of yummy food on our menu.

appetizers- phyllo cups with brie and fig preserves, Potato and Sweet Potato Latkas with homemade applesauce and greek yogurt, Tabouleh on romain leaves, hummus with carrots

Oven Roasted Butternut Squash soup made the same way as the Oven Roasted Tomato Soup (liquid diet) but substitute Butternut squash for the tomatoes and use 3 honey crisp apples instead of the garlic.

Turkey Roasted on a bed of carrots, celery, parsnips, in some chicken broth, baked salmon by my friend, yukon gold mash potatoes made by my 6 year old, sauteed green beans in garlic and campari tomatoes,  Sweet Italian Sausage mushroom wild rice dressing, Grilled veggie and baby fresh motzerella basil with Balsamic vinigarette on baby spinach and arugula salad, cornbread, carrot and corn casserole (cooking with an eleven yr old). cranberry sauce (seasonal recipes) and because we are so asian fusion here. Japanese brown rice, kimchi and acorn gelee with nori and soy sauce.

dessert- fresh fruit, pumpkin pie by my friend, apple pie, oatmeal raisin cranberry cookie, lemon bars, 7 layer bars by my friend

So in order to manage all this food… I made the cranberry sauce, oatmeal cookie dough, and cooked the butternut squash soup elements and will add sauteed fresh sage leaves and puree them on Thanksgiving garnishing it with toasted hazelnuts, toasted pumpkin seeds, and a drizzle of toasted hazelnut oil, and made the latkas but left them just light brown, they will be frozen and fried up on the griddle on Thanksgiving.

Having seen the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving at school, my 6 yr old wants to have popcorn garnishing the turkey. Good thing I am a Snoopy fan.

On such a special day, it is fine to have the treats and family favorites, just remember to also have the fruits and veggies too. It just helps you feel better. A tip that I love is to drink a glass of water before the meal so it helps to fill you up. Starting with a healthy soup is great for that reason too. For me, I love Thanksgiving leftovers, so I know that when I’m hungry it will still be there. That prevents the “eat it all now” mentality. And my sweet friend who is coming to dinner and I have already scheduled a nice long uphill walk for Monday.

So whatever you serve, I wish you a wonderful time shared with the people you love and care about. The food is merely an excuse to sit around and linger at the table. The people, laughter, and the thoughts of what we are thankful for are the true meaning of Thanksgiving. I hope that warm fuzzy feeling stays with you all year long.

Weekly Menu Solutions

November 12, 2010

We all have to eat. The dreaded question is always the same. What to eat for dinner? This thought often strikes fear into the hearts of parents, college students, singles, and young married folks alike. You want something tasty, healthy, and easy to prepare. In this post, I hope to shed a bit of light on this dilemma. World Peace…no. Satisfied tummies… yes.

An idea that I share during speaking engagements is “Cook once eat twice”. In your recipe files you should have a few recipes that are your “Go To” aka “Sanity Saver” recipes. For me… I have an easy chili recipe that I can quickly whip it up in the crock pot because I cook the ground turkey before hand and keep it in the freezer. It doesn’t take much more effort to brown 2 pounds of meat when you are doing it. Chili also freezes well. Here are some ideas to do with Chili. I would not recommend using them all in the same week. Your family may revolt and boycott chili all together, so think about which ones you want to freeze and use later. Fried Rice, Udon and Yakisoba noodles are another Go To for me. I always have frozen veggies. I love the assorted veggie mix. Between canned or frozen. Frozen is the healthier option. The product is picked in season and flash frozen. Calzones are another Go To for me since I always have a loaf of frozen dough, motzarella cheese and sandwich meat. I also serve fruit with dinner or leave it out on the counter for the starving troops to eat while I’m finishing up getting dinner done. My kids are very into the Pomegranates and Apples right now. And on those nights when you are running around too much to throw anything together, have a frozen main dish item that you can use as emergency back up. I keep one or two on hand and suppliment with fresh fruits and veggies, and milk. Still cheaper and healthier than most restaurants.

I have listed some ideas for you to try. I have #1 as what you eat first. Then take your pick of the items below as how you can tweak the leftovers of the #1 meal to serve a new dinner the next day. The ( ) show what post the recipe is listed under. As always, you can leave me a question in the comment section of this post. The first few times you try it may seem hard but keep at it and pretty soon you will get good at finessing your own cook once eat twice menus.

Chili with Red Beans

  1. Chili with the fixings. Try using nonfat plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Add some steamed broccoli or a salad, Baked Tostitos Scoops, and corn bread.
  2. Chili Baked Potato Bar with the fixings. nonfat plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, Oven Roasted Cherry Tomato Soup (liquid diet), Veggie Platter
  3. Chili and Cheddar Cheese whole wheat Quesadillas. Add some homemade guacamole (Whole Foods Demo), salsa, steamed corn on the cob, hydroponically grown compari tomatoes, and nonfat plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
  4. Chili Shepherd’s Pie with Creamy Garlic Parsley Mash Potatoes. Add Steamed Green Beans or a tossed salad.

Rotisserie Chicken

  1. Baked Chicken dinner with carrot and corn casserole, and cheesy herb muffins. I like the No Salt Chicken at Whole Foods. Save the carcass/bones to make Chicken Stock. (Freezer Queen)
  2. BBQ Chicken Pizza on Whole Wheat Crust, Easy Mexican Rice Soup (same name)
  3. Chicken tortilla bake Add some homemade guacamole (Whole Foods Demo), salsa, steamed corn on the cob, hydroponically grown compari tomatoes, and nonfat plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
  4. Chicken Fried Rice (what to do with cold hard rice), Miso soup with spinach and tofu (cooking with an eleven yr old)
  5. Teriyaki Chicken Udon Noodles (Glendale Whole Foods Lunch box make overs)
  6. Roasted Chicken chunk, cheese cube, bell pepper strip, cherry tomato, cucumber cube, all stuck on a skewer like a kabob.

Pork Chops

  1. Pork Loin chops with Italian Bread crumbs, fresh cranberry sauce (seasonal recipes) rice/pasta, heirloom tomato slices with Balsamic Vinegarete
  2. Penne Pasta with Kicked up Marinara sauce (Cooking for College Aug 2010) and Pork loin pieces topped with Motzarella Cheese, Oven roasted veggies (Free class at Montrose Library)
  3. Tonkatsu is a pork piece pounded thin, dredged in flour, egg, then panko Japanese bread crumbs, then pan fried, it is served with a sweet sauce found in the asian food aisle. Miso soup (cooking with an 11 yr old), brown rice
  4. Take the brown rice from above dinner and make it into fried rice, (what to do with cold hard rice)


  1. I love the flavors of thanksgiving dinner. Get a Roasted turkey breast from your grocery store’s hot case. Turkey slices with garlic parsley mash potatoes, cranberry sauce (seasonal recipes) oven roasted sweet potatoes and oven roasted carrots. Oven roasted asparagus.
  2. Turkey pot pie. fresh salad, steamed broccoli
  3. Pumpkin crepes with turkey and fontina cheese with a garnish of cranberry syrup. Minestrone soup aka Stone Soup (seasonal recipes)
  4. Turkey Barley Soup (Liquid Diet), Roasted garlic crostini (Liquid diet), fresh fruit.
  5. Mock Ropa Viejas, Spanish dish means “old rags”. (crockpot wonders)This is great on top of rice or mash potatoes.

Ground Turkey

  1. I try to keep browned ground extra lean turkey in the freezer.(freezer queen) Here are some recipes I make out of it.
  2. Tacos, Chili, spaghetti, lasagna, stuffed shells, Yakisoba, Udon, fried rice, sushi rolls (A spooky halloween meal under dracula’s coffin), add to minestrone like meatballs, quiche, homemade pizza/calzone,

Lunch Box Make Over @ PCS

November 2, 2010

Home Made Hot Pockets

Calzone- a calzone is a pizza that is folded in half. This is great for lunch boxes because it is portable and the kids can eat it with their hands. It also makes a great lunch for field trips. This is fun for a slumber party/play date. I let Trader Joe’s do some of the work by using their premade raw pizza dough. I like the wheat one. It doesn’t get as fluffy as the Bridgeford Frozen bread dough since it is pizza dough not bread loaf dough. Unfortunately Bridgeford doesn’t have a wheat dough. But everything in moderation. My kids get whole wheat for all their other sandwiches so I feel once in a while the white is fine.

Hardware- cookie tray/pizza pan, rolling pin, cutting board, flatwear tspn, knife, pastry brush (if you child won’t put a finger in the egg wash), parchment paper,

Software- tomato paste with italian herbs, raw pizza dough, string cheese cut into 1/4ths, low fat salami/ turkey sausage/ (even the brown and serve breakfast sausages work great) cut in half, dried oregano, garlic powder, egg, 1 tspn milk, any other pizza toppings your family, drained crushed pineapples, sauteed mushrooms, diced bell pepper, artichoke, sundried tomatoes,


Preheat your oven to 425 F. Sprinkle flour on your cutting board so the dough won’t stick to the board. Sprinkle flour in your palm and rub your palm up and down your rolling pin to prevent sticking of your dough. Pull off a piece of dough and roll it in your hands so you have a racquetball size ball of dough. Place it on your cutting board and put your rolling pin in the center of the ball. Gently roll the rolling pin away from you. Place the rolling pin in the center again and roll towards you. Pick up your flattened dough and rotate it 90 degrees. Repeat the rolling process. Rotate and roll again until you have a nice flat disc about half an inch thick. Using the back of a silverware teaspoon to swipe on about 1/2 tspn of tomato paste. Put 1/2 a piece of breakfast sausage or 1 piece of salami then add 1/4 of a stick of string cheese. Dip your index finger in the dish of water and apply water to the edge of the dough. Pull up the dough to meet each other. I say Look at your dough like a compass. the North meets the South and the East meets the West. Then pull up the other left over edges and pinch everything together. It is important that the seal is tight. Roll the dough ball over so the seam is underneath. Place it on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Make an egg wash by cracking the egg in a small dish. Add the milk and scramble it together as if you were making scrambled egg. Using either your finger or a pastry brush, apply a thin layer of egg wash on the calzone. Sprinkle it with garlic powder. Sprinkle it with Oregano. Take your sharp knife and lightly cut across the top of your calzone to vent it. Cut 2 slashes. Be careful not to cut too deep. You should be cutting the dough until you see the filling. Bake til golden brown and delicious. About 20 mins. Enjoy.

You can also make this into a breakfast Hot Pocket by adding cooked scrambled eggs in it. I did this with the leftover egg wash. Make it into scrambled eggs. Put the eggs, cheese, meat, tomato paste in one. and enjoy a hand held breakfast on the go.

BBQ Chicken Pizza by Chef Sonia at Whole Foods Market

Kids love to help assemble this. I use a rotisserie chicken from the store to simplify my life a bit. I figure any bit helps. An adult will have to debone the chicken. I pull off the meat and set it aside then chop it into bite size pieces for the pizza all at once. I take some of the leftover steamed carrots, frozen spinach and puree it up with some of the BBQ sauce just to sneak in some more goodness.

Hardware- pizza pan, spoon for spreading out the sauce, bowls to hold the toppings,

Software-Ready baked packaged whole wheat pizza crust, deboned “no salt added” rotisserie chicken, your family’s favorite BBQ sauce pumped up (see above to find out what I add to pump it up), fresh cilantro, motzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic powder, carmelized onion or thinly sliced red onion (both optional)

Steps for Kids to do

  • Wash your hands for 20 sec with soap. Read all directions and gather materials needed.
  • Remove the crust from the packaging. Save the directions.
  • Place crust on a pizza pan or cookie sheet.
  • Preheat the oven (turn the oven on to bake and set the temperature to what the package says.)
  • sprinkle garlic powder all over the crust, spread the pumped up BBQ sauce all over using the back of your spoon.
  • Sprinkle chopped chicken all over
  • Wash and chop the cilantro. If the kids are doing this then have them tear it up with their fingers or put a clean bunch into a plastic cup and let them cut into them using the kitchen scissors.
  • Sprinkle the cilantro around
  • Optional. Scatter onions around. Carmelizing them helps to take off the bite.
  • Sprinkle on an even layer of cheesy goodness by mixing 1/3 motzarella to 2/3 cheddar mix.
  • Slide it into a preheated oven and bake according to the packaging directions.
  • Have an adult help you take it out of the oven.
  • Congratulations you have made a masterpiece. Enjoy!

This is so tasty that my family eats all of it for dinner and I have to make another one for lunch. So buy 2 crusts. Be the envy of all at the lunch table.

Turkey Hummus Spirals by Chef Sonia at Whole Foods Market

Hummus is a great alternative to mayonnaise. You still have the creamy spreadable texture w/out all the fat. You also get the added fiber and protein as an added bonus.

Hardware- cutting board, spoon for spreading out the hummus, plate to have all your veggies on, sharp knife

Software-Wheat tortillas, hummus (I use the spinach artichoke one), chopped carrots, shredded Persian cucumbers, julienned red bell peppers, shredded bib lettuce


  • Lay a tortilla on your cutting board
  • Spread hummus on the bottom 2/3 of the tortilla
  • Sprinkle the carrots on the hummus up to the middle of the tortilla
  • Sprinkle the lettuce on the carrots on the bottom 1/3 of the tortilla
  • Lay slices of sandwich meat on the lettuce covering the carrots, lettuce, and humus
  • Lay a small row of bell peppers at the very bottom of the tortilla
  • Roll the bottom of the tortilla over the peppers, tuck the tortilla around the peppers and continue to roll up the tortilla like a sleeping bag.
  • Place the roll seam side down on the cutting board and cut into bite size pieces.

You can substitute other veggies in this roll. I have substituted low fat cream cheese for the hummus and julienned pears or apples for the bell pepper.

I hope you have enjoyed the demo and feel confident about trying these recipes. To see more recipes check out my kids cooking blog

I can be reached via email at

You can find me at the La Canada Flintridge Community Center teaching my cooking classes. Young Cooks and Great Books. My next class is a Gingerbread house workshop on Dec 3. To enroll for my class go

I am also available to teach at boy scout, girl scout meetings and at birthday parties.