Chicken (or Turkey) Enchiladas


Looking for a great way to use your leftover Thanksgiving turkey? Or leftover roast chicken (which was what I used in this case)? This easy enchilada recipe is delicious, simple, and mixes up your leftovers so they don’t feel so “leftover.”:)

The Ingredients: 8oz. light sour cream, 2 cups leftover, cooked and chopped turkey or chicken, 1 can green chilis, 1 can enchilada sauce (I use medium on the spicy meter, but you can select mild or hot), large tortillas and Tony Chachere seasoning.








The Process:

– Mix together: 8oz. Light Sour Cream, 1 teaspoon Tony Chachere seasoning, Chopped and cooked chicken/turkey, whole can of green chilis.

– Shred 3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese and combine with mixture above.








– Brown the tortillas. With a gas stove, you can simply turn on the burner and place a tortilla (one at a time) directly over the flame for about 30 seconds. Use tongs to flip the tortilla over and brown the other side. Remove from heat. If you have an electric stove, you can do the same process, but use a dry shallow pan to brown each side of the tortillas.








– Build your enchiladas. Spoon equal portions of the sour cream/chicken/cheese mixture you prepared earlier into each tortilla and roll to seal. Place (seam-side down) in baking dish.








– Sauce! Once all of your enchiladas are built and in your baking dish. Pour the can of enchilada sauce over them equally.








– Final Step: Add about 1/2 – 3/4 cup freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the top of your enchiladas.








– Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes and enjoy!

Oreo Cheesecake


Although it was not at all “Thanksgiving-y,” this year, I wanted to try a cheesecake for Thanksgiving dessert. Having never baked a cheesecake in my life, I scoured sites for some tips. My goal was twofold: 1) Make a delicious-tasting cheesecake, and 2) Do not let it crack. Afterall, that is the sign of a perfect cheesecake, right?!?!







I followed BrownEyedBaker’s recipe below for Oreo Cheesecake, but made a few edits. I’m glad I did because her recipe was great and my cheesecake did not crack. Here is what I changed:

1) I baked my cheesecake in a water bath. Tip: wrap the springform pan in aluminum foil before baking to ensure no water seaps in from your water bath.

2) I baked it for 45 minutes according to directions; however, instead of removing the cheesecake from the oven after 45 minutes, I turned off the oven, but left the cheesecake in the oven for another hour. This seems odd and it feels like you are going to over-bake it, but the slow cooling process preventst the cake from cracking.

3) Once I did remove from the oven, I let cool for another 1.5 hours to room temperature before refrigerating.


Thanksgiving Feast


 Talkin Turkey: I know this may be VERY much against the opinions of other foodies, but I do not brine my turkey. Instead, I use a few other tricks which have secured me moist and flavorful turkey two years in a row. My tips are:

– Chop an abundance of fresh Rosemary, Thyme and Sage (3/4 cup total)

– Soften 3/4 stick butter

– Mix herbs with 1 Tablespoon salt and softened butter to create an herb-butter rub.

Separate the skin from the turkey carefully. Rub this herb-butter mixture in between the turkey and the skin.

– Stuff several lemon quarters in between turkey and skin (Note: These lemons give the turkey great flavor, but they will impact the flavor of your gravy as well. If you don’t want lemony gravy, skip the lemons.)

– Soak cheesecloth in chicken broth and cover turkey.

– Begin turkey baking with oven at 400-degrees for the first 30 minutes. Turn the heat down to 325 for the remainder of the cooking time nad use a meat thermometer to determine when complete.

Stuffing: Ahhh… my favorite part of the Thanksgiving feast!:) For the stuffing, I think it is best to opt for something you can completely prepare in advance. You have enough last minute cooking to do. Why mess with the stuffing? My recipe can be made up to 48 hours in advance then then baked for just 50 minutes prior to serving.

Sausage and Apple Stuffing

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

3 stalks celery, chopped

2 medium onions, chopped

2 Granny Smith apples, chopped, peeled and cored

¼ cup Fresh Sage

Salt and Pepper

1 large baguette (3/4 lb.) cup into ¾ inch pieces

3 cups chicken broth

2 eggs beaten


In a large dutch oven, cook sausage, breaking it up with a spoon until browned. Remove from pan and allow to drain on paper towels. Reserve sausage drippings in dutch oven. Add onion, celery and apple to sausage drippings in dutch oven. Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring. Add sage and salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Add sausage, baguette, broth and eggs to dutch oven and toss to combine. Cover. Bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes with cover on. Remove cover and bake for 30 more minutes.

 Other Sides: This year, I also made mashed potatoes, gravy and a cranberry chutney. The Cranberry Chutney recipe is nice because it, too, can be made and refrigerated 2 days ahead. I omitted the walnuts in this recipe.






Cranberry, Apple, and Walnut Chutney

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 3 oranges)

1/2 cup white wine

1 cinnamon stick

2 cups diced peeled Granny Smith apple

1 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon grated orange rind

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted


Combine first 4 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Stir in apple, ginger, pepper, and cranberries; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes or until sauce thickens. Remove from heat; stir in rind. Cool; stir in walnuts.

Easy Delicious Calzones


I recently became a fan of the Food Network’s Pioneer Woman, Ree. Her meals are comforting, classic, and tasty. This week, I tried a second of her recipes for calzones.

To begin, I made a simple homemade marinara sauce to serve on the side of my calzones.

Simple Marinara Sauce:

– 1 Tablespoon EVOO

– 1 large can whole tomatoes

– 2 Tablespoons tomato paste

– 1 teaspoon red pepper flake (do less if you are sensitive to spice)

– 1 cup water

– 1/2 large onion, diced

– 1 Tablespoon fresh Thyme, chopped

– 1 Tablespoon fresh Rosemary, chopped

* Sautee onion in EVOO until softened. Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes to warm. Deglaze pan with can of whole tomatoes and cup of water. Bring to a simmer. Use a potato masher to mash tomatoes until chunky and thick sauce is formed. Add fresh herbs. Cook with lid off over low heat, stirring occassionally, until sauce has thickened.

Then, I followed Ree’s instructions for the calzones, with a few edits.

Ree’s blog and recipe link is:

– Ree uses mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. I didn’t think you needed both and feel you get more bang for your flavor buck out of parmesan so I just used that.

– I chopped a fresh green pepper as one of my ingredients and added that to the calzone stuffing as well.

The calzones turned out deliciously and we will definitely repeat this recipe. Note, it makes A LOT! We have leftovers for dinner tonight as well. Plan on enough for 4 hungry people. These babies are filling!

Poultry Practice – Roast Chicken Before Turkey Day


Each year, about a week of two before Thanksgiving, I practice my poultry-roasting skills on a small chicken. Otherwise, how often do you really roast a turkey? If you are like most people and only do it once or twice a year around the holidays, you are likely out of practice by the time the next occasion rolls around. Practicing on a small chicken allows me to revisit my roasting skills so I don’t dry out the holiday bird.

I prefer to roast my chicken on a Sunday night because leftover roast chicken makes a great shortcut for quick dinners throughout the week. This week, I plan to use my leftover chicken in chicken enchiladas. More to come on those, but back to the roast chicken dinner for now.

Roast Chicken:

– Preheat oven to 450.

– Rinse and pat dry 4.5-lb. Chicken

– Stuff with onion and lemon quarters and Rosemary and Thyme sprigs.

– Chop 1/2 cup each of Thyme and Rosemary and mix with 1/2 stick butter.

– Get messy. Reach underneath the chicken skin and spread herb butter mixture all over chicken under skin.

– Stuff a few lemon quarters under skin as well.

– Cook chicken for 30 minutes at 450 degrees, then reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake for about 1-1.5 more hours until thickest part registers 165 degrees.

This lemon-herb chicken was moist and flavorful. Now let’s just hope the holiday turkey turns out just as well!:)

I served this chicken with sauteed broccolini and au gratin potatoes.

Au Gratin Potato Recipe:

– 1 clove garlic

– 1 Tablespoon butter

– 2 and 1/2 cups whole milk

– 1/2 teaspoon salt

-1/2 teaspoon pepper

– 2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly

– 3/4 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub a baking or casserole dish with the butter and garlic clove. Heat pan on medium high. Add sliced potatoes, milk, salt and pepper to pan. Sautee until potato slices are soft. This may take about 10 minutes. Note: The dish will still look really milky. It will appear that the milk is not thickening up, but don’t worry, it will in the oven. Sprinkle shredded Parmesan cheese on top. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes until dish is bubbly and golden brown on top.

Restaurant Recommendation: Hot Chocolate (Bucktown, Chicago)


Last night, we ventured out of our traditional neighborhood food stops and decided to try Hot Chocolate in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago. Sure glad we did as this was one of our favorite meals in the city so far!

The Location: Hot Chocolate is located in the trendy Bucktown neighborhood, on Damen near Wabansia. The neighborhood is a nice place to go out to eat because there is a lot of good shopping (although pricey) and a good selection of places to get a before or after-dinner drink, which makes for an all-around good Chicago night.

The Street Cred: The Chef is a multi-year James Beard Pastry chef award winner. The restaurant has also created quite the following in the Chicago restaurant world with positive reviews in Chicago media.

The Menu: The menu is small and changes seasonally… my favorite kind. Plan on dinner and dessert because this place is definitely known for their desserts. The name says it all. You definitely want to have their hot chocolate.

The Picks: Between the two of us, we enjoyed both sweet and savory dishes. On the savory side, we tried the warm cheddar biscuits with honey butter, a crabcake sandwich served with bibb lettuce and house chips, and a beet, pistachio and citrus salad. All delicious choices, which I would recommend again. On the sweet side, we tried the dark hot chocolate, the banana brioche bread pudding and a peanut butter shake. Again, all impressive, unique and VERY rich. We couldn’t finish it all.

The Dollars: In my opinion, this meal was not overpriced. The food was memorable. The service was great. For a place with this much clout, I am shocked their portions were as large was they were for the prices. For the two of us to leave completely satisfied (and with more food than we could finish), we spent $75.00. For a dinner of this quality and quantity, it was worth every penny.

Chicken Pesto Parmesan Sandwiches & Baked Potato “chips”


For a simple weeknight dinner this week, I made grilled chicken sandwiches with pesto and fresh parmesan cheese with a side of baked and sweet potato “chips.”

For the sandwiches, I marinated 2 chicken breasts in some simple spices with lemon olive oil. I grilled the chicken breasts and then let them stood for 5 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. Then, I thinly sliced the chicken breasts. I spread  about 1.5 Tablespoons of store bought pesto on the top half of whole wheat buns. On the side, I thinly sliced some fresh parmesan cheese. I topped each whole wheat bun “bottom” with sliced chicken and parmesan cheese, added the bun “top” with the pesto spread and Voila! – delish, easy and healthy!











On the side, I made sweet and regular baked potato “chips.” I make these on a regular basis because they are a healthy fix for chips or fries and are simple. I prefer these baked chips with sweet potatoes, but my husband likes traditional potatoes so I usually prepare one of each.

You’ll need:

– 1 sweet or regular potato for each person

– 3 Tablespoons of EVOO

– Salt and Pepper

– 1 Baking sheet

– 425-degree oven




– Preheat oven to 425 degrees

– Wash and pat dry each potato. Do not remove the skin.

– Very thinly slice potato into small round “chips” as uniform in size as you can

– Drizzle about 1.5 Tablespoons of EVOO on a baking sheet.

– Add potato chips

– Drizzle another 1.5 Tablespoons of EVOO on top of potatoes, sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper

– Get your hands dirty! Reach in a toss the potato slices in the S&P and EVOO until evenly coated

– Spread out potato slices on baking sheet

– Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then using a spatula, flip the potatoes so they will evenly cook. Return to the oven to bake from another 5-20 minutes.