This week has FLOWN by. Has it for anyone else? This is the first time in 10 years that I have had a winter "break;" my new employer has an awesome holiday policy and I've had a vacation from Christmas to New Year. A few days ago I wrote that during my break I have been eating a ton of yummy food, but it hasn't been the healthiest. Ugh.
How was everyone's holiday? Sadie wishes everyone a Merry Christmas! My holiday card didn't turn out as great as I had hoped- Matt and I procrastinated taking a holiday photo so we just stuck a blurry picture of Sadie on our card. Bleh! It's the thought that counts, right?
I have been eating a TON of good food over the past few days, which has not been so great for my waistline. Like many other people, the holidays are always a huge struggle for me when it comes to staying on track with healthy eating. Exhibit A: refrigerated Pillsbury peppermint cookie dough. The good thing about buying this store-bought refrigerated dough is that you can just keep the dough on hand, and only bake however many cookies you want during one sitting. So, I typically make only 2 cookies for each person.
Has everyone recovered from Thanksgiving weekend? It is back to a busy workweek for me, but I wanted to take a few minutes to share my Thanksgiving dinner.
I started my holiday weekend by flying from Charlotte to Pennsylvania on Wednesday night. Here in Charlotte, it was pouring down rain last Tuesday. There were tales from the airport about people waiting in such terrible traffic that they were literally abandoning their vehicles and running to the terminal to catch their flights. The panic from Tuesday got the best of me, so I ended up leaving for the airport super early on Wednesday. What happened next? You guessed it, I had no problems and ended up having 2 1/2 hours to kill before my flight. The only logical solution was to enjoy a big glass of wine. Terrible photo, delicious wine.
Have you seen these little peppers in the grocery store or at your local farmer's market? They usually come in orange, yellow, or red. The peppers are about the size of a large jalapeno, but they are sweet like bell peppers.
I never really knew what to do with these little guys until I started making these poppers a few years ago. Now- I am super excited when I get these peppers in my Spiral Path Farm veggie box.
I have always liked poppers, but sometimes the traditional jalapeno poppers are a bit too spicy for me. So I got the idea to use these sweet peppers, and then add pepper jack cheese for just a little spice. Perfect! Plus, by making these appetizers at home you really cut down on calories and fat since they are baked in the oven.
Last week when I recapped my Easter dinner, I promised everyone the recipe for the turkey I made: here it is! When I first suggested making turkey- Matt was complaining about not having an Easter ham. But after he tried this- he quickly got over the ham.
I know, I know, Easter is over for this year. But this would also be awesome as a Sunday dinner. Or you can even chop your veggies & make the brine on a Sunday afternoon, and then on Monday all you need to do is bake everything. It is possible to make a comforting meal for your family with fresh ingredients- I promise! Don't these ingredients look a lot better than stuffing or potatoes out of a box?
For those of you new to the world of brining- a brine is simply a salty sugary bath for your meat. I never knew turkey could be so delicious until I started using a brine, it turns out juicy and flavorful every time. There are lots of different combinations; I usually make brines that are super easy and don't require weird ingredients. Here is my turkey in its brine bath:
And here is the finished product, enough for 4 hearty servings:
Citrus Brined Turkey Tenderloin with Vegetables:
Brine Ingredients: 1 lemon 1 orange ¼ cup salt ¼ cup sugar 1.5 pounds turkey tenderloin
Vegetables: 5 carrots 5 ribs of celery 1 medium onion
The night before serving, prepare your brine. Add salt & sugar to a small saucepan, then fill pan about halfway with water. Heat the mixture just until salt & sugar dissolve. Cut your lemon & orange into chunks, then add to the saucepan, squeezing a bit to release the juices. Let mixture cool. Put your turkey in a Tupperware container or plastic bag, then cover with the brine; adding more water if necessary. Refrigerate.
Once you are ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel & chop your veggies into big chunks. Remove your turkey from the brine, and place the brined turkey in the middle of a nonstick foil lined baking dish. Discard the brine & citrus fruits. Scatter the vegetables around the turkey, and rub everything down with a little olive oil and season with pepper. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until turkey is cooked through.
I served my Citrus Brined Turkey Tenderloin with a simple combination of roasted sweet potatoes & parsnips.
I'm a little late posting this meal- this was a Christmas Eve treat. My family's tradition on Christmas Eve is to eat party foods- pizza, sandwiches, tacos, or other appetizers. I try to do something a little different each year, this Christmas we had these sliders. This is the perfect party food because all the toppings can be arranged on a plate ahead of time, then everyone can just make their own sliders after the meat is cooked. These ingredients served four people:
Suggested Toppings: Lettuce brown mustard tomato mayo dill pickles ketchup cheddar cheese onion
Form your beef into 16 mini patties, then place on a foil lined baking sheet. Top each patty with worcestershire and seasoning, then bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, depending how well done you like your beef. Make an assembly line with the rolls, beef, and toppings so everyone can assemble their sliders.
Matt and his mother both grew up making these cookies as kids, they are from an old family recipe courtesy of Grandma Ottavia. As with many family recipes this one has not been recorded anywhere, so here is my version. My favorite part of baking these cookies is that Matt still goes crazy with the sprinkles, just as he did as a kid.
This is definitely not a healthy eating recipe, but a delicious holiday splurge!
Cookie Ingredients: 1/2 lb softened butter (2 sticks) 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 lb powdered sugar 1/2 tsp baking soda 2 eggs 1/2 tsp salt 3 1/2 cups flour, + more for rolling 1 T milk 1 tsp vanilla
With a spoon, mix powdered sugar & eggs together. Doing this will coat the sugar & keep it from flying all over your kitchen. Add butter, and beat with an electric mixture until well incorporated. Add in everything else except the flour, then beat again. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well well until it forms a dough. You'll have to abandon the mixer & use your spoon when adding the flour, it's too thick at this point. Refrigerate for about an hour or two, or even overnight if you prep the dough ahead of time.
When you're ready to make cookies, flour your work surface and roll out half your dough. It should be a bit thick, your cookies will get too hard if the dough is thin. Now the fun part- cut with your favorite Christmas cookie cutters & place on a non-stick foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes. Do this in batches until you've used up all your dough. Once the cookies are cooled, move on to the icing.
Blogging from Charlotte, NC. I am a wife, beagle owner, and have a full time day job, I love cooking (and eating!), yoga, hiking, reading, and traveling. Follow along on my adventures as I try to balance having fun with leading a healthy lifestyle.