Monday, January 14, 2013

Thanksgiving leftovers in January

I love making extra food to save.  It's one mess and several meals.  This past Thanksgiving I made a turkey with all the fixings.  We had several leftover days and a few turkey sandwiches from it but there was still turkey leftover so I tossed it in my foodsaver and froze it for another day.  Yesterday I rummaged though the freezer and the pack of turkey crossed my path and it was my inspiration for dinner.  What to do with turkey? Make thanksgiving dinner again right.  However I hate making a lot of dishes, especially in this house.  We don't have a dishwasher so I try to limit how many dishes I use.  So how do you make Thanksgiving dinner in one pan, read on!

What you need for thanksgiving dinner in a pan:

Turkey- I used about 5 cups or 1.5lbs worth I'd guess. It's what I froze.
Potatoes- for making mashed potatoes
Green Beans- one frozen bag or 2 cups worth
Stuffing- use your own homemade or pre-made box
Shredded cheese

First peel and dice your potatoes, I used 5 medium/large potatoes.  Put them in a pot of water on the stove to boil.  Many of you have made mashed potatoes for years, but there are a few cooks out there learning, I'll walk you though how I make mine.

 Cover them and place them on med heat. Let them boil for about 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.  While those are boiling it's a great time to make up the gravy.
Take about 1.5 cups of chicken broth and place them in a skillet.  Turn it on and let it come to a boil.

In a 2 cup measuring cup place 3/4 cups of water and 1/4 cup flour and mix well.  Pour that into your boiling broth very carefully. 

Stir constantly with a whisk until thickened.  If it's too thick, don't worry just add a bit more water until you get gravy consistency.  Oh and don't forget to add some salt & pepper to it too! About 1/4 tsp of each is what I add.  

Now that the gravy is ready to go, it's time to mash the potatoes.  Drain the potatoes and place them back in the kettle.  

I add in about 1/2 cup milk, 1/3 cup of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream depending on what I have on hand, 2-3 tbsp butter and 1/4 tsp salt.  Mash them up with a potato masher or mixer.  It's that easy!

Now it time to assemble our dinner.  In a 9x13 greased pan, place your stuffing. I used a box mix I had on hand.  I also added the 2 cups of water the box called for.
Now take your turkey and lay it on top of the stuffing. I cut mine into smaller pieces before laying it on top.  If you don't have leftover turkey, no problem. Cooked chicken works for this as well, use about 1-1.5lbs of chicken for the recipe.
Next layer is green beans. I tossed mine on frozen.  Then pour your gravy over the beans.

Last step is take the mashed potatoes and spread them over the top of it all.  I tossed a handful of shredded cheese on top too because everything is better with a little cheese right?! 
 Now its time for the oven.  Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.  It's that easy.  This would also be a great way to use up those thanksgiving leftover when you have them too.  You could even prepare this ahead of time in a freezer safe pan and place heavy duty tin foil over it and toss it into the freezer for another day.  That's great for when you are just sick of eating leftovers from turkey day but don't want to waste them!  

After it's hour in the oven it's ready for the table!  Only thing missing from this Thanksgiving in January is the biscuits, cranberry sauce and extended family members!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lots of new challenges, let chat over a drink

It's been a whirlwind with moving a family of 6 to a new town, new schools and starting new jobs, but we are finally settling in! Temporary anyway.  We have stumbled upon many challenges in our new town that has strained our budget a bit, but thankfully we are figuring it out and I figured it was time to start to share my challenges with my readers.  Thank you to all my loyal readers who keep messaging me saying they can't wait for me to come back and welcome to all my new readers!

Where to start off a new post?  How about with a drink?

Ahhh, nothing like a rich chocolate hot drink on a cold day.  And even better with frosty the snowman melting in it!  A few weeks ago I stopped at one of my favorite coffee shops because they had a great deal going on.  Ok a confession, I love Caribou Coffee's turtle mocha's.  I rarely get them because well at almost $5 a drink, I have better places to go with that money. But they were offering a buy one drink, get a second for $.20!  It was too good of a deal to pass up.  And I was even feeling in the giving mood so I got 2 sets of their special and decided to surprise Mr. Bacon and Brother Bacon with a morning break at their work.  With 4 turtle mocha's I set off.  Sometimes there are other's helping at the work site and I'd figure I'd come prepared with an extra drink to hand out, however that day it was just the 2 of them.  I dropped off their coffee and had a dilemma on my hands, there was no way I could handle the caffeine in 2 big cups of coffee like that.  I hate the though of dumping a treat like that so I did what any budget saving person would do, freeze it!

It was a great time to try out the cool ice cube tray Sister Bacon bought me for Christmas too. Coffee bean ice cubes! Perfect for freezing my coffee for my iced drinks. 

In went the turtle mocha and out came cute coffee bean shaped cubes!

 I tossed a few in a mug, and then added some hot water and a packet of hot cocoa mix I got in a gift basket for Christmas also. 

Mixed it all up but it was still missing something.  Melting frosty the snowman!  Nothing better than a scoop of whipped cream in your hot chocolate.  A few days before I had some left over whipped cream from a recipe. No wasting it here, (and good thing I got to it before the kids because they'd eat it by out of the bowl!) so I took out a mini cupcake pan and added a few spoonfuls to each spot.

And had some fun decorating them, a few with sprinkles, others with some mini chocolate chip eyes and orange sprinkle nose.  Then they went into the freeze. I popped one out and tossed it in my drink to melt away.  Delicious!  The Bacon kids love these in their hot chocolate too along with a few marshmallows!
So now that I have my warm drink, on to those challenges.  A few things we are figuring out is managing in a house half the size we used to have along with a much smaller kitchen and fridge.  This has put a challenge on how much we can keep on stock in our pantry and fridge. We are finding that we are shopping for 1 week only at a time now because there just isn't much room to fill up the fridge.

Where to shop is another challenge, Walmart here is not so great.  I have to say there are good Walmart stores out there, we were spoiled where we used to shop.  This one has many empty shelves and the produce is less than desirable.  So we are exploring other stores.  Thankfully I have found a great bread store!  I can get healthy whole wheat bread for $1-$1.25 a loaf.  So I stock up the freezer with it.  We'll keep exploring around town and working on our budget now that we shop weekly.

We're also working on adjusting to a 2 parent full time job family and we have also added to our family! A month before we moved we had a  kitty adopt our house, she was a stray and we decided to give her a home and welcomed Meow Bacon to our family.  And Brother Bacon's dog had a litter of puppies who needed a new home so we welcomed Woof Bacon to our family just last week.  It's a crazy new life and so many things have changed and challenged us the past 3 months but we continue on our path to save money!  I hope you all stick around, I will be having more recipes to come and I'm hoping to update the very popular and over a year old post  on how we budget our grocery money soon too.