For as long as I can remember food has been a sign of love. Holidays, birthdays, gatherings with friends and family, community events, even funerals all include breaking bread with those you love and care about. In my adult life, I have always shown love with food: a friend is sick — let me make a soup; someone is having surgery — what casserole should I make; we are headed to a BBQ potluck — which side should I bring?
My name is Lindsey and I have always loved food and the joy and comfort it brings, and I am so excited to share with you some love from my kitchen.
I have never been one to measure things because I have a food philosophy – make every recipe your own and cook from your heart. For me a recipe is a guide or a suggestion and I put my own spin on every single one; stick to the basics and add some flare. So, you have been warned — I will give you measurements as accurately as I can but most of them are estimates.
In addition to making each recipe my own, I focus on presentation since we eat with our eyes first. Your dish or your plate should catch your eye and be picture worthy to get your palate ready for that first bite. I started posting pictures of my food on Facebook and noticed how differently people responded to well plated dishes and those I just threw on the plate.
I have been cooking for as long as I can remember but it has only been within the last few years that I have started making or assisting with holiday meals. I used to find it super overwhelming and I was happy to just bring a side dish, but times have changed and I have grown to love it.
Before I move on, please know I have had many recipes that didn’t work and just plain failed. I started out with very basic cooking, but over time I have used the errors along the way as opportunities to learn and grow. I have burned more bread than I care to mention and I even cooked the entire filling out of a pie and was left with a gooey crust and a messy oven. If you are new to cooking don’t give up and follow your heart.
What To Do After Your Thanksgiving Feast
This year for our Thanksgiving feast we will enjoy oysters for appetizers (a yearly tradition) and we have opted for ham over turkey, macaroni salad, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potato bites with marshmallows and pecans, rolls and eclairs for dessert. While preparing thanksgiving and gathering with family and friends is 95% of the fun, the other 5% is enjoying leftovers for days.
So, what will you do with your Thanksgiving leftovers? I encourage you to ditch the sandwiches and let’s talk about an entirely new meal.
First let’s talk about your turkey. Pull all the meat off the carcass but don’t just throw it away. Toss the carcass in a large pot with a rough chopped onion, some of the leftover celery (this is a great opportunity to use the leafy part of the stalks and those little, bitter inner stalks), some chunked up carrots even if they have the tops on and a few garlic cloves. Cover with water and bring to a slow simmer for 4-5 hours; this can also be done in a slow cooker to avoid overheating your kitchen. After everything has simmered for several hours, put a colander in another pot to strain the bones and veggies out of the stock.
You can store the turkey stock in Ziplock bags in the freezer or in jars in the fridge. You could even put some in ice trays, and once frozen put in freezer bags so you can add a little flavor to dishes here and there. In the fridge the stock will last about one week and, in the freezer, it should maintain flavor for four or five months.
Next let’s address the turkey you have set aside — consider making a turkey tetrazzini. This is a warm, comfort food that is sure to please the entire family with very little effort, because let’s face it who wants to stand and cook for hours after just preparing Thanksgiving.
Cook a box of linguine noodles according to the package directions. While the noodles are cooking, take your turkey and chop into bite sized pieces. Mix in ¾ cup sour cream, 1 small can cream of mushroom soup, 1 small can cream of chicken soup, ½ – ¾ cup chicken broth, a stalk or two of celery diced, ½ onion diced and about ¼ parmesan cheese.
Once the noodles are done, mix the noodles into the turkey mixture and put into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle whatever shredded cheese you have on top — it will taste good no matter what you use. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. Serve with garlic bread or some leftover rolls from Thanksgiving.
Now what about all that leftover ham?
Sometimes a hearty soup really hits the spot, so you should try a ham and mashed potato soup. Yes, you read that right — mashed potatoes in the soup. So often, left over mashed potatoes get tossed in the trash, but this recipe makes good use of all those leftover mashed potatoes.
Cut up leftover ham into bite sized pieces and throw in a pot with a little butter, fresh garlic, and fresh or dried thyme to help pull out some flavor. Throw in some diced onions if that is your thing, if not no worries.
While the ham cooks, warm up your mashed potatoes in the microwave to get that creamy texture back. Once your mashed potatoes are warmed, add them to the pot with the ham. Next add 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup milk and 1 ½ cups chicken stock; if your soup isn’t the consistency you want add more milk or chicken stock — don’t add water.
Want to kick it up a notch?
If you have any leftover corn, carrots or celery throw them in to add some more texture and flavor, then call it a chowder. Season with salt and pepper, mix well and let simmer for 5 – 10 minutes. Serve with a little shredded cheese on top and some diced green onions.
The recipe options are endless just like the tons of love and information I want to share with you. I am not a trained chef but I cook from my heart for those who matter to me, and I want to help you do the same. I also want to encourage you to think outside the box and stop making the same meals over and over again.
For many the living room is a place of comfort, but for me it’s the kitchen. Standing around snacking, chatting, sipping drinks with friends and family that’s where the love is. I look forward to many more chats with you and I am always sending love from my kitchen to yours.