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Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Bagel Casserole

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My poor husband. He woke up this morning thinking that it was Father’s Day. He woke up thinking there would be breakfast in bed. And gifts. And probably lamb burgers for dinner. Alas, he had pegged the wrong Sunday. Not only was today not Father’s Day. And not only would he not be leisurely reading the newspaper while dining on breakfast in bed. But, today was my morning to sleep in, since he’d had his turn yesterday morning. It was his turn to prepare breakfast for the three boys, while I grabbed a few precious extra minutes of peaceful slumber. Sorry, hubs. Next Sunday you’ll get your breakfast in bed. And gifts. And maybe even lamb burgers.

Breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day has become our annual tradition. There’s just something so luxuriously relaxing about it. And since it doesn’t happen often, the kids get really excited about the occasion. If the kids ever sleep past six in the morning, perhaps we’ll start treating them to a special breakfast in bed on their birthdays.

Recently, I made this bacon, egg, and cheese bagel casserole. It was inspired by a bag of bagels which my parents had brought up from Long Island. They’d been left unwrapped for a few days and had gone slightly stale. But as anyone who’s ever had a good Long Island or NYC bagel knows, it’s a crime to let them go to waste. So, I thought I’d try throwing them into a breakfast casserole, with a hefty dose of bacon, eggs, and cheese. The resulting casserole was a satisfying success; every bite with the flavor of a good Long Island/NYC bagel sandwich.

I’m betting that a lot of dads out there would enjoy this special casserole for their Father’s Day breakfast!

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Bagel Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 5-6 large bagels (any variety), chopped into 1″ chunks*
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
*Slightly stale bagels work perfectly.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Use a paper towel to rub the bottom and sides of a large (13×9) baking dish with the softened butter. Arrange 5-6 chopped bagels in the baking dish. They should mostly fill the baking dish. Scatter the bacon and cheese over the bagels. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the bagels, bacon, and cheese. Press down on the mixture, so that the bagels are mostly submersed in the egg mixture. Allow the mixture to rest for about 15-20 minutes in the refrigerator, so that the bagels absorb some of the egg mixture. Bake for about 45 minutes.

Serves 6-8

Spicy Corn and Bacon Quinoa

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It is scientifically proven that there is a direct relationship between the mirky color of bathwater and the level of fun which was had playing in yard. Ok…I’m making up that ‘research’. But you can always tell that the kids had a fun day when they need a shower immediately following their bath to rinse the dirty bathwater from their bodies. We consider that a successful day around here.

After spending the long winter cooped up inside the house, it is so nice to have the sun shining, the birds chirping, and the green returning to our trees and gardens. Spring time settles me. And the boys have been in their glory releasing all of their little man energy in the backyard…especially since we just finished building their new cedar play set; a joint gift from several family members. I am certain they will get years and years of enjoyment from it, which makes it worth the time it took the build. I have a feeling that my busy little men and I are going to be living outside this summer.

Busy little man #2

Busy little men needs lots of good, healthy food to fuel their active play. Which means I’m always on the lookout for nutrient-rich foods to add to their plates. Quinoa (pronounced ‘KEEN-wah’) is a protein-packed pseudo-grain which is chock full of healthy nutrition. On your dinner plate, it could easily take the place of a rice or pasta side dish with added health benefits. Best yet, quinoa is a low glycemic index and gluten-free food, which makes it desirable for people on specialized diets. Quinoa is truly a superhero of foods!

This quinoa gets a punch of spiciness from fresh jalapeño pepper. Sweet corn kernels and savory bits of bacon add a satisfying texture and flavor to this delicious side dish. If your family is sensitive to spiciness, you can easily reduce (or even eliminate) the jalapeño pepper and still be left with a very delicious and equally nutritious side dish.

Spicy Corn and  Bacon Quinoa

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 cup sweet corn kernels (frozen is fine)
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed, finely diced
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Combine the quinoa, broth, corn, jalapeño, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir, then reduce heat and cover. Cook over a very low heat (just like you would cook rice) for 15 minutes. Allow to sit for five additional minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add the bacon and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Spinach, Bacon, and Egg Pasta Salad

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So…big news here. You are now reading a food blog written by a real, bonafide tooth fairy. That’s right, folks. I earned my wings. And boy are they sparkly!

Thursday night, we put the boys down to bed like usual. My husband handles the two older boys while I tend to the baby. Once everyone was tucked in, my husband headed out for band practice. I poured myself a glass of wine and settled onto the couch to watch the American Idol results show. The baby whimpered for a few minutes, as is his routine, then drifted off the sleep. The two older boys, who share a room, were up to mischief.

Some nights, the boys chat quietly before peacefully falling asleep. Some nights, antics involving a lot of mysterious banging and shouting ensue, before they crash into dreamland. Thursday was one of those nights. I’d already been in their room more than once to put the kibosh on the chaos (which was messing with my plan to relax on the couch with wine and Ryan Seacrest for the evening). So, when I heard the screaming again, I was not happy. I marched up the stairs and threw open the door, wearing my meanest Mommy face, to find the two boys excitedly jumping around, which left me feeling even less pleased.

But then, my first born…my sweet, little almost-five-year-old, says, “Today was the day!” as he held out his hand holding his first lost tooth. How had I not noticed the gaping hole in his mouth? The first tooth to come in was the first to come out. I remember when that tooth came in. When did he become such a kid??

Then

We hugged. We jumped around. We cheered. I told him how very proud I was of him and instructed him to stop growing up so fast. We took some photos and washed his mouth with salt water before climbing back into bed, with his tooth tucked securely under his pillow (in a little baggie to make it easier for the tooth fairy to find). I instructed the kids to go to sleep so that the tooth fairy could make her visit, then turned out the lights, leaving the boys snuggled in their beds, whispering about the tooth fairy. The last thing I heard, as I walked from their room, was my big kid telling his younger brother, “She’s very tiny.”

Now

I went downstairs and put on my wings. I placed three gold dollar coins into a baggie with a sprinkle of glitter for good fairy measure. There’s magic in this sort of stuff. And just before putting myself to bed, I snuck into my big kid’s room and swapped the tooth baggie for the baggie of gold coins and glitter. He’s been walking around with his goofy grin and baggie of treasure ever since.

Tonight, I’ll swap my fairy wings for bunny ears and a cotton tail. In the morning the boys will awake to a basket of candy and an egg hunt. We’ll be coloring eggs today. For the next few days, we’ll enjoy the colored hard-boiled eggs in deviled egg salad and this delicious pasta salad; another tasty option for using up all of those cooked eggs. I ate a ridiculous amount of this pasta salad this week. Seriously, I barely shared. A classic combination of spinach, bacon, and boiled eggs gets tossed together with al dente pasta and a sweet honey balsamic dressing…delicious!

Happy Easter folks!

Spinach, Bacon, and Egg Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound small pasta
  • 1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, finely diced
  • 8 slices bacon, chopped
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups baby spinach leaves, chiffonade*

For the dressing

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
*Click HERE for my chiffonade how-to photo guide.

Directions

Cook the pasta al dente, according to package directions. Strain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

To prepare the dressing, whisk (or shake) together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, mustard, crushed red pepper, and garlic powder until well blended.

Combine the pasta, dressing, red bell pepper, bacon, and spinach in a large container. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired.

Refrigerate until serving. Serve cold.

Bacon Cheeseburger Enchilada Bake

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My two older boys (ages 3 and 4) go together like peas and carrots.

My four year old is the carrot. He’s lean, sweet, and practical. Not a moment passes when he isn’t working on some new plan. He passes out arm massages on his way out the door each morning, loves morning snuggles, and thinks his baby brother is the cat’s meow.

My three year old is the peas. He’s whimsical, hard to get a grasp on, and a bit roly-poly. He speaks in a gruff little man voice and says funny things like, HEY, I’m Iron Man! He wields cooperation (or lack thereof) as his weapon of choice. His favorite joke involves shouting, “Underpants” then laughing until everyone else can’t help but laugh along. He thinks his mommy is the cat’s meow and is still mad at the baby for stealing his place in my arms.

They are different as two boys can be, yet stuck together like glue.

Their differences carry through to all manners of their little lives. Take, for example, their savings goals. My four year old is saving for college. I don’t think he fully understands what college is, but he knows it costs money and that he’d better start saving. My three year old, on the other hand, is saving for a trip to Disney World…because he likes Mickey Mouse and roller coasters (though he’s never actually been on a roller coaster). I support both of their choices with equal gusto.

So, this morning I explained to my little whimsical man that we had a very important mission for the day.

What do we have to do, Mommy?

We need to get the winning Mega Millions ticket.

But, why?

Because Mommy wants to win 500 million dollars.

It’s sort of like money.

Yes, sweetie. It’s exactly like money…an unimaginable amount of money. And we can put it…

…in my piggy bank! For Disney World.

Yes, love. We’ll put it in your piggy bank for Disney World. And college. It would be plenty of money for both. In fact, Mommy could hire Mickey Mouse as your private college tutor if we win.

We bought our ticket this morning. My little man is already packing his bags for Disney World. I sure hope his packing isn’t in vain, because I can think of a few things I would do with the leftover winnings. Geez, can you even imagine?? I feel dizzy just thinking about it. Somebody’s going to win it…and I just hope they share a little with me when they do!

This recipe has been sitting in my queue for months now. Not sure how it got buried in there, but it’s a good one…sort of a marriage between a Mexican enchilada bake and a classic bacon cheeseburger. People always seem to be looking for ground beef ideas and this is a yummy one! It’s easy, delicious, and full of flavors the whole family will enjoy.

So, who else is playing the lotto? And whatcha gonna do with all that moolah if you win??

Bacon Cheeseburger Enchilada Bake

Ingredients

  • 8 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 5 slices American cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon flour
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (plus additional cheese to sprinkle on top)
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10 small corn or flour tortillas
  • Additional bacon and ketchup, for garnish (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the bacon in a pan over medium heat, until crispy. Drain any excess bacon fat. Add the ground beef. Cook for several minutes, stirring frequently, until fully cooked. Add three slices of the American cheese. Stir until melted. Taste and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

To prepare the sauce, melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the flour. Stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring the mixture to a simmer and continue whisking until the mixture begins to thicken. Turn down the heat. Add the cheddar cheese and two remaining slices of American cheese. Stir until melted. Stir in the chopped tomato. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To assemble, spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place a generous spoonful of the meat filling into the center of each tortilla. Roll the tortilla around the filling and place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat until each tortilla has been filled, placing the enchiladas side by side in the baking dish. Pour the cheese sauce over the enchiladas. Sprinkle with additional shredded cheddar cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Garnish with additional crumbled bacon and ketchup, if desired.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad

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In college, that first spring-like day always meant one thing…skipping classes in order to sit outside and drink too many beers with friends. They may as well have just canceled classes the first time the temps went into the 50’s, because I’m pretty sure that everyone played hooky that day. (Youngens, don’t be like me. Be good and go to all of your classes like you ought to.)  Even still, those first unseasonably warm days, on the cusp between winter and spring, always trigger my craving for beer.

Now, it’s very rare that I drink anything besides water or coffee before the kids go to bed. The occasional exception is when we take the family for dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse, where I will order myself a nice glass of chilled Lambrusco, to go along with my warm sourdough bread and eggplant parm. So, the kids rarely see me drink and when they do, it’s usually a glass of wine.

But, this past Sunday afternoon, when the temps were dancing around 60, I decided to grab myself a rare daytime beer. The boys rode their bikes in the driveway while the baby and I sat on the lawn playing with bubbles. He watched as I blew wand after wand full of bubbles, mesmerized as they floated off into the sunny blue sky and puzzled by his inability to grab the bubbles which nestled in the grass around us, still slightly damp from the recently melted snow. And as we enjoyed the beautiful day, I sipped my springy day beer. It was a blissfully peaceful moment.

And then my four-year-old wandered over and the following conversation took place:

What?!? You drink beer, Mommy??

Yes, sometimes.

I didn’t know that girls drank beer. I thought only men drank beer.

Nope…ladies can drink beer too.

I thought girls only drank wine.

Nope, buddy…girls can drink beer too, if they want. And men can drink wine as well.

He wandered off, clearly perplexed by this new information he’d acquired…as if his understanding of the world were temporarily shattered and he was left to put the pieces back together in a new order. As parents, I think we sometimes spend so much time questioning how we communicate (or purposefully don’t communicate) gender roles to our children…all the while they’re busy forming their own creative ideas about such things. You just can’t win. It’s a wild world we live in…boys can wear pink, girls can play with trucks, and ladies drink beer! At the very least, this lady does!

The weather has been unseasonably perfect this week; warm enough to open the windows for a bit of fresh air and sunny enough to spend the afternoons playing outside. We had such a mild winter this year, all things considered, and now it seems we’re poised to slip right into spring. Ahh… We’re spending as much time outside as possible, just in case this beautiful weather doesn’t last. Which means easy no-fuss dinners, preferably the sort which leaves leftovers for the next day, like this Chicken, Bacon, Ranch Salad. It’s yet another twist on chicken salad, accented with delicious chunks of bacon and a homemade ranch-style dressing. Simple, fresh, and perfect for springy days.

I dare say, it would go quite nicely with a cold beer.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad
Ingredients
  • 3 cups chicken, cooked and chopped
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 6-8 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped
  • Shredded cheddar cheese and additional chopped chives, for garnish (optional)

Directions

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, chives, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, ground mustard, and lemon juice, until smooth. Mix in the chicken, bacon, and onion. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve over mixed greens or on your favorite bread. If desired, garnish with a bit of shredded cheddar and chopped chives.

Spinach, Bacon, and Mushroom Salad in a Warm Bacon Shallot Vinaigrette

I haven’t talked a lot about my diet recently, but rest assured, I am still on the path of success. As of this morning, I have lost 16 pounds, give or take a pound depending on the day. I am continuing to follow the guidelines of the South Beach diet, but not without some leeway for splurging. In fact, I spent most of Valentine’s week living on a diet of chocolate, wine, and cheddar goldfish, which in an odd twist of fate, resulted in a quick 2-pound weight loss. I think sometimes we just need to mix things up and splurge a little to remind our bodies that there is indeed no famine and there is no reason to hold onto that excess weight. Somehow it’s never really as simple as calories in vs. calories out, is it?

Clearly I’m not following any hard and fast ‘rules’ as get myself in shape, but what I like about the overall South Beach diet approach is that by mostly avoiding refined carbs, I rarely feel the perpetual, intense hunger and cravings that I often feel when I’m not limiting refined carbs. I can eat a two-egg omelet in the morning and feel satisfied for hours or I can eat a bowl of rice flake cereal, be starving 30 minutes later and then spend the rest of the morning playing the hunger games (not those hunger games, silly). I chose the omelet. It just makes the weight loss process so much easier and a lot less painful. In fact, once you get the hang of it, the South Beach ‘diet’ doesn’t really feel like a diet at all. It just feels like healthy eating.

I don’t believe that refined carbs are evil, nor do I blame their excess as the root of weight gain or applaud their absence as the grand solution to weight loss. But what I do know is that refined carbs cause a rapid blood sugar spike and subsequent crash, which gives you that starving feeling soon after eating, which then causes you to eat more, which causes you to gain weight. It’s a vicious cycle of cravings. And even if you can manage to resist those cravings, you’re still left with that uncomfortable hunger which makes trying to lose weight so darn frustrating. So, for me, reducing my refined carb intake just makes the whole weight loss thing a lot easier.

And there’s still plenty of room for indulgences within the framework of a reduced carb diet plan, like this spinach salad which is topped with a slightly runny egg and drizzled in a bacon vinaigrette. I first ran across the idea for this salad on the Christian Science Monitor website, which regularly features my blog in their food section, Stir It Up. I’ve always been a fan of spinach and bacon salads, but the egg on this one really sealed the deal for me. I just love finding eggs in surprising places, like atop a pile of fries, a burger, or a salad! Not to let any of delicious bacon-y flavor escape this dish, I incorporated the bacon drippings into my vinaigrette. I couldn’t decide whether that was a genius or revolting idea as I was doing it. I firmly settled on utterly genius with my first bite.

This salad isn’t totally ‘legal’ on South Beach, since bacon doesn’t technically count as a ‘lean’ protein. And certainly mixing the bacon drippings into the dressing is not a recommended South Beach strategy. But it’s close enough (and definitely worth the splurge). This salad packs a ton of protein and lots of good healthy nutrition which will keep you feeling nicely satisfied for hours. Just go easy on the dressing and you can feel pretty good about this meal.

Spinach, Bacon, and Mushroom Salad in a Warm Bacon Shallot Vinaigrette

(Inspired by Beyond the Peel’s Wilted Spinach Salad with Bacon and a Poached Egg)

Ingredients

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup warm bacon drippings (reserved from cooking bacon)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon shallot, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

For the salad:

  • 8 slices bacon (use applewood smoked bacon, if available)
  • 2 cups baby bella (cremini) mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 8 cups baby spinach
  • 4 eggs

Directions

Cook the bacon according to package directions. Reserve the bacon drippings for the vinaigrette. Once cool, crumble or chop the bacon into small pieces.

To prepare the vinaigrette: Whisk together the warm bacon drippings with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt and pepper until blended. The vinaigrette will get firm when cooled (from the bacon drippings). Microwave for a few seconds to warm and loosen the dressing.

To prepare the mushrooms: Heat the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender and slightly golden. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

To assemble the salads: Place about 2 cups of baby spinach on each plate. Scatter the bacon and mushrooms over the spinach. Just before serving, fry an egg to your preferred doneness (I prefer over-medium…well-cooked white, runny yolk.) Place the fried egg over the salad. Drizzle with a bit of the vinaigrette.

Makes 4 Salads

Diet Update: 16 pounds down and staying the course…only 6 pounds away from my first major goal!

Mini Crustless Quiche Lorraines

Some days, I wish I could go back in time to my fifteen year old self and shake myself silly. The fifteen year old self who thought her chest was too small and her hips too wide for her too thin waist and flat as a washboard stomach. Oh you silly, silly girl. Why in the world are teenage girls programmed to despise themselves so?? What I would give to go back in time to appreciate the beautiful body I never knew I had.

And now I sit here, in my mid-thirties, after having had three kids over the course of four years, wishing my hips were only as wide as they were twenty years ago or that my chest were nearly as small or my stomach as flat. Oh, the lessons we learn too late.

And while I may never be as small as I was then, I am confident that I will regain a healthy and strong figure; a body I am proud of as much for the way it looks and feels as I am for how it has grown, birthed, and nourished my three beautiful babies. It’ll just take a little effort to get there.

I’m 17 days into my New Year’s diet; a diet which I intend to stick with, long past the one month expiration date which many people’s New Year’s resolutions seem to have. Because it’s more than a diet. It’s a shift to healthier living and a healthier, more confident me. I’m feeling motivated and optimistic. Over the past few weeks, we’ve eaten so many delicious meals; cut out the junk we shouldn’t be eating anyway and replaced it with tons of fresh veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats. We’re eating like kings around here and our extra pounds are falling off.

I’ve got a growing list of new healthy recipes to share with you, but for now, here’s a quick recipe for a delicious, protein-rich, low-carb breakfast or snack.  These mini quiches hold well for a few days in the fridge and take only a few seconds in the microwave to reheat. You can even freeze half the batch for later use! I added swiss cheese, tender, sweet onions, and crumbled bacon for a tasty play on quiche Lorraine, but the options are endless. Try different combinations of cheese, veggies, and meats to create your personal favorite mini quiches!

Mini Crustless Quiche Lorraines

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup swiss cheese, shredded
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked until crispy and chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray two mini muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.

In a small pan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for 7-10 minutes, until tender and golden.

In a large measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and parsley. Set aside.

Place a pinch of the cheese, onions, and bacon in the bottom of each muffin tin. Then, carefully pour the egg mixture into each tin, just to the top.

Place the trays on the middle oven rack and bake for about 15 minutes. They will look puffed and golden when done.

Makes 24 mini quiches

*Quiches can be served immediately or refrigerated or frozen for later use. A few seconds in the microwave will do the trick for reheating.

Diet Day: 17    Weight Loss: 11    Motivation: Let’s do this!

Cider-Braised Turkey and Garlicky Creamed Spinach

You may recall that my recommendation for roasting the perfect Thanksgiving turkey is to roast it in parts, rather than as a whole bird. By roasting the breast separate from the drumsticks and thighs, you can cook each part to juicy perfection, rather than allowing the the breast to dry out while waiting for the legs and thighs to come up to temperature.

If desired, you can roast a few drumsticks and thighs alongside the breast, at the same temperature and with the same seasonings. Cooked separate from the breast, the drumsticks and thighs will cook more quickly (in about the same time as the breast). Use an instant read meat thermometer to test for doneness, since cooking time will vary based on weight and your oven’s exact temperature. Aim for 160-165 degrees for the breast and 170-175 degrees for the thighs and drumsticks.

Or for a little something different, try braising the dark meat using this very simple, very flavorful preparation. The meat will become fall-off-the-bone tender and you’ll have a delicious, ready-made sauce to serve along with it! You can even braise the parts the day before and reheat on the stovetop at a gentle simmer when you’re ready to serve (though the skin will lose some crispiness with reheating).

Give it a try! I think you’ll like it!

And you can click back to HERE to see last year’s post on how to roast a turkey breast.

Bacon and Cider Braised Turkey

Ingredients

  • 8 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 turkey thighs, skin-0n, bone-in
  • 2 turkey drumsticks, skin-on, bone-in
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat the thighs and drumsticks dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour over the thighs and drumsticks. In a large dutch oven pan, cook bacon over medium/medium-high heat until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon, leaving the bacon drippings in the pan. Place the thighs and drumsticks in the pan in a single layer, skin side down. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the skin is nicely browned. Then flip the pieces and cook for about three minutes on the other side. Pour the cider and chicken broth over the chicken. (The liquids should come about halfway up the sides of the turkey, leaving the browned skin exposed.) Return the bacon to the pan. Cover and place on the middle oven rack. Allow to cook for 90 minutes, undisturbed. Then, remove the cover and allow it to cook for 30 minutes more (to crisp up the skin and allow the sauce to reduce). Remove from the oven. Remove the turkey pieces and place on a platter. Pour the sauce into a measuring cup and allow it to cool for a few minutes. As it cools, the excess fat will rise to the surface. Use a spoon to remove the excess fat. Then, taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, as desired.

Serves 4

Garlicky Creamed Spinach

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 1 pound baby spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt (about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Ground black pepper

Directions

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach to the pan. (It will look like a tremendous quantity of spinach. Don’t worry…it will drastically shrink as it wilts.) Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until all of the spinach has wilted. Add the heavy cream, parmesan cheese, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Bring to a simmer and allow it to cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, until the liquid reduces by at least half. Allow to cool slightly before serving, which will help the cream to thicken up a bit.

Serves 4

Favorite Thanksgiving Ideas

Hard to believe Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. I’d better get my butt in gear and start preparing.

To be honest, I’d been struggling to come up with new Thanksgiving recipes to share with you. I’m just really in love with my standard Thanksgiving dishes. It’s a menu that’s evolved over the past several years and in my mind, it’s the perfect Thanksgiving feast. But, as my husband reminded me, Thanksgiving is very much about tradition.

So, this Thanksgiving, we will be enjoying what has become our traditional Thanksgiving feast, but I have come up with a few new ideas to share. Over the next two weeks, keep your eyes out for a Pumpkin Vanilla Custard, How to Make an All-Butter Pie Crust Photo Guide, Spiced Pumpkin Wontons, From-Scratch Green Bean Casserole with Homemade Crispy Onion Straws, Garlicky Creamed Spinach, a fun twist on a classic Apple Pie, and Braised Turkey Drumsticks.

Yikes! Ok…it’s probably unrealistic that I’ll be able to get all of that posted before Thanksgiving. But I’m gonna give it an honest effort. Let me know if there’s anything in that list you’re especially interested in seeing and I’ll try to prioritize that post.

In the mean time, take a look back at some of my classic Thanksgiving favorites:

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast with Pan Gravy

Spiced Sweet Potato Puree with Pecan Streusel 

Sausage, Apple, and Leek Stuffing

Cranberry Orange Sauce 

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Walnuts 

Hot Doughy Buns 

Creamy Bacon Mushroom Soup

Remember when I thought I didn’t care for soup? Then, remember when I woke up and discovered the glorious world of soup?

What a difference a year makes!

This new world is so much warmer than the old soupless world I was living in.

I like it here. I think I’ll stay.

Here’s a new favorite soup for you. It’s a creamy mushroom soup, kicked up with a punch of bacon flavor. (And bacon makes everything better, right??) Pureeing a bit of the broth and mushrooms helps spread delicious mushroom flavor throughout the soup. It’s seriously yummy. Even my mushroom adverse husband enjoyed this one!!

Creamy Mushroom and Bacon Soup

Ingredients

  • 8 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 4-5 cups button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • Splash of Marsala wine (optional)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/2  – 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper

Directions

In a large saucepan or dutch oven pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the diced shallots to the bacon grease and cook for about 3 minutes, until tender. Add the mushrooms, rosemary and garlic to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and golden. Return the cooked bacon to the pan.

Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and bacon and stir to coat. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Pour the chicken broth into the pan. If desired, add a splash of marsala wine. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently. It should begin to thicken as it simmers. Simmer for a few minutes, then reduce heat and add the half and half.

Remove about a cup of the soup. (Make sure to get lots of mushrooms in there.) When cool enough to safely handle, blend the cup of soup until smooth. Return the blended mixture to the pan with the rest of the soup.

Season with the salt and pepper.

Serve topped with croutons and/or bacon crumbles.

Serves 4

**For a person who claimed to be indifferent about soups, I’ve got quite a few soup recipes hanging around this site! Keep an eye out this weekend for a round-up of some delicious, warm-you-up soup recipes!!

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