This year my North Carolina family was able to come to our house for a few days over Thanksgiving. My husband came home from his deer camp for the day. We had the traditional Thanksgiving dinner followed by a lot of activities.
The weather was very nice so I took the opportunity to do some outside Christmas decorating on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The boys (age 3 and 6) wanted to help me. We needed to take down the fall decorations first so that kept them busy for a while. The 3 year old wanted to get it done quickly, so he decided that he could do it by himself.
Whoops!!! They were a little heavy.
I believe that over the years one of the most challenging things that I face when doing my Christmas shopping, is gift ideas for the grandparents, my elderly mother-in-law who lives alone, or other elderly people on my list. They really don’t need “things”. They really don’t want “things”.
Most people in this age range have downsized their homes or may have even moved into an assisted living facility. I try to chose a gift that would be useful instead of ones to sit on a shelf.
Thanksgiving dinner is over and the food was delicious. If you fixed a downsized meal you may not have a lot leftover, but why not enjoy the food that you do have.
The Caribbean-Turkey Cobb salad is a refreshing, light salad that is a total escape from the heavy Thanksgiving foods. This recipe makes 1 salad so you can adjust to make the number you want by how much turkey is leftover.
No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without the dessert. I always think of our big holiday dinners and a large table filled with just desserts.
For many empty nesters or when there will only be 2 for dinner, the following desserts may be just the right choice.
Mini Cranberry-Orange Bundt Cakes with Mascarpone Drizzle are bundt cakes with a topping of fresh cranberries, pecans, frozen orange juice concentrate and then drizzled with a mascarpone glaze.
Thanksgiving traditions are created from memories.
Traditions are defined as the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation. I was thinking of my Thanksgiving traditions and asked a few of my friends to tell me about theirs.
When I was growing up I remember that my mother cooked and baked for days preparing foods for Thanksgiving. I believe that I can still feel the warmth in our home and experience the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen. Everyone came to our house to eat including grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends. My father and the men in our family always liked to deer hunt so they were out in the morning doing that. After dinner we drew names for our Christmas gift exchange.
When I was in high school we moved to the country and for several years the same tradition continued. My mother decided to try hunting and enjoyed it so she started going out herself. Over the years as my brother, sister and I grew up and had our own families we were not always able to be together.
I love all of the recipes that can be created from using a rotisserie chicken. For this post on my downsized cooking feature, I want to share a few of those ideas using 1 chicken
These rotissere chickens are not only convenient, they are inexpensive. I buy mine at Sam’s and they cost $4.99. I only use the breast meat and this usually nets about 4 cups of meat. My husband likes to eat the legs. I bought this last weekend and made 4 different meals that were enough to feed 2 people. If you prefer more meat in any of the dishes, you can still make 3 of the 4 dishes.
I serve these meals with a salad or vegetable.
When I go to Sam’s, I usually buy 2 of these chickens. We eat part of it for supper that night and then I make another dish from the remaining meat. I cut the meat off of the second one and put it in smaller freezer bags for future use. I like to make chicken salad from the rotisserie chicken but when I do this, I make it while the meat is still warm so that the flavors blend better. The possibilities of recipes are endless but I want to share some of the comfort foods that I made last weekend.
- 2 frozen biscuits, baked
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup half and half (or whole milk)
- 1/2 can cream of chicken soup
- 2-3 drops yellow food coloring
- 1 cup rotisserie chicken breast, shredded or cubed
- 1 cup prepared mashed potatoes
- Melt butter in medium sized saucepan or dutch oven over a medium heat. Add the flour, salt and pepper, whisk together until smooth.
- Slowly whisk in the chicken broth, half and half, soup and food coloring. (Start with 1 drop and add desired amount). Stir in the chicken. Reduce heat and simmer over a low heat until mixture thickens, stirring frequently.
- Remove from the heat. Serve with hot biscuits and mashed potatoes.
- 2 teaspoons butter, softened
- 2 slices sourdough bread
- 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
- 4 slices mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
- 6 baby spinach leaves
- 3 slices deli ham, sliced thin
- 1 egg, fried with yolk semi soft
- 3 slices bacon, cooked
- 2 slices tomato, thin
- Preheat panini pan to medium heat. May use a grill pan or 2 cast iron skillets instead.
- Butter one side on each slice of bread. Spread half of the mayonnaise on inside of 1 slice of bread. Place the bread, butter side down into hot pan.
- Layer 2 slices of the cheese, the spinach leaves, ham, egg, bacon, tomato and remaining 2 slices of cheese onto bread. Spread remaining mayonnaise on inside of the other slice of bread and place on top of sandwich, butter side up.
- Grill sandwich until bread is crisp, golden brown, and cheese has melted. Carefully, turn sandwich and cook on the other side, about 6-7 minutes total.
- This recipe is so easy and can be made with any other ingredients you have available. I have used pesto instead of mayo to give it an Italian flavor.
This time last year, my husband and I were in Nashville Tn for the 47th Pillsbury Bake-off Contest. I had been chosen as a finalist with my entry: Strawberry-Mascarpone-Hazelnut-Choc. -Tart. So many wonderful memories. I am so honored to have been chosen. To see my blog post on this trip, see HERE.
My 11 year old granddaughter called me one day and said that she was required to do a “How To” demonstration speech in one of her classes. She asked to do my Pillsbury entry! She came to my house one evening and made the tart and I took pictures. This was an easy recipe to do and I am so proud of the great job she did.
As we get older so many couples decide to “Downsize” their homes. I was thinking that another area we seem to “Downsize” in is our cooking and baking.
So many life changing events cause this to happen. Our children grow up and leave home, we lose a spouse, there could be health issues that cause physical or dietary limitations, or there may even be financial changes that mean the food budget is reduced. These are reasons that lead to the need for downsized cooking/baking.
The first ten years of our marriage, my husband and I were raising 7 children so I always cooked big meals and baked a lot. Over the years, as we became the empty nesters it has been hard for me to downsize our meals. I am making progress on this and having a lot less food to throw out each day. I still love when I can cook big for our family get-togethers.
I am going to be adding a weekly feature to my blog on “Downsized Cooking/Baking”. Each Thursday I am going to do a blog post with shopping tips, meal planning, ideas, and recipes dedicated to cooking for 1 or 2. Hopefully, this will help me to make the adjustment also. I am looking forward to getting ideas from others who have been in this situation and have it mastered.
In 2006 I started entering recipe contests and one that was always a challenge to me was “Taste of Home’s Cooking For 2”. It was so hard for me to create recipes on such a small scale. In 2007, I won the Grand Prize of $500 in one of their Mini Cake Contests. I remember that every day for one week after I got home from work, I baked a cake testing the recipe I had created. After making 7 cakes that did not seem perfect, I just entered my best recipe. I thought it tasted good but I just could not get the size scaled down. I was quite shocked that my entry won. The cake recipe was Coconut Cream Dream Cake.