Best $18.69 I’ve spent in forever

Anyone who’s ever gambled knows how quickly $20 can go. One slot machine & minutes later, HHAHAHHAHH. But even outside a casino, $20 bucks won’t get you far. It won’t buy you a tank of gas. It’s barely enough to cover a large pizza. But a week ago, I discovered something under $20 that has given me far greater enjoyment than all of the above (except for a big cash payout, because that would indeed make my day).

Continue reading

Thanksgiving is ALMOST HERE!

Hello everyone! I hope that you’re enjoying the crisp autumn weather, as the days grow shorter and snowflakes begin dotting the air. As our thoughts turn collectively to turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, I wanted to touch base for a quick run-down of Thanksgiving recipes.

The holidays can be especially hard for those on salt-restricted diets – but they don’t have to be. With a little preparation and ingenuity, these times can be the best – and healthiest – you’ve ever known.

So let’s talk TURKEY. When it comes to the bird, think fresh. Although most free range fresh turkeys are expensive, they’re worth it. Not only will you be getting a bird much lower in sodium, but the animals themselves are also treated much more humanely. WIN-WIN. Whole Foods Markets, as well as many food co-ops, farmer’s markets, and butcher shops are selling fresh birds like hot cakes this time of year. With a little leg work, it shouldn’t be terribly difficult to find one. If you haven’t or can’t purchase a fresh bird though, don’t despair! Most supermarkets have a whole array of options. In the past I’ve opted for kosher birds, which tend to be lower in sodium than the standard butterballs. But don’t limit yourself. Roast chicken is a healthy substitute, as are guinea hens, duck and quail. And many butcher shops have fresh birds that have not been treated with the broth/salt injections commonly afforded the processed birds.

Or, if you’d prefer skipping poultry altogether, I highly recommend this fabulous recipe for Roast Pork with Dried Plums.

Not to overlook vegetarians, I have recipes for several meat-free entrees that are sure to please. Vegetarian Holiday Loaf is adapted from a Vegetarian Times recipe of the same name. Vegetarian Lasagne, Zucchini Cakes, and meaty Gorgonzola Portobellos are all delicious, and there are a ton of other vegetarian entrees at THE DAILY DISH.

But – as usual – I’m getting ahead of myself! Why not start at the START with a delicious soup or salad! Soup makes any meal more memorable, and I have recipes for some serious stand-outs. Butternut Squash Soup will have your guests raving. As will the phenomenally gorgeous Beet Soup or Apple Butternut Soup. If greens are more your speed, try this tasty Warm Asparagus Salad or Simple Autumn Salad.

Now, let’s talk sides. No turkey dinner is complete without Cranberry Sauce and Stuffing! Baked apple slices are delicious with fowl, and are a sure hit with kids. Another idea is topping Mashed Sweets with some marshmallows, baking, and serving as an irresistible sweet potato casserole. Or you could try your sweet potatoes roasted, as in Fingers and Sweets. Creamy buttermilk mashed potatoes are FABBBULOUS, as are the always popular Twice-Baked Potatoes. Winter squash is also wonderful this time of year! For an extra showy and delicious meal, I highly recommend both Stuffed Acorn Squash, as well as Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallots.

Since most of us love some bread with our meal, try the simple rolls I made this summer with my daughters. Incredibly easy and delicious – and a great time even if you don’t have children of your own.

And what holiday meal is complete without DESSERT? Pumpkin pie is a must-have at our house. But there are some other absolutely delicious pies to consider as well – Squash and Pear Pie and Sweet Potato Pie are particularly popular this time of the year. I also highly recommend Pears in Wine, which look (and TASTE) divine but are supremely simple to make.

Finally, don’t forget beverages! I recommend a nice chilled white wine to complement the meal, but if you don’t drink alcohol, there’s no reason to feel deprived. Try some sweet milky Chai Tea with dinner or dessert.

Just remember, Thanksgiving is set aside as a day for giving thanks for all of our blessings, enjoying friends and family, and celebrating life. So don’t let your kitchen time stress you out so much you lose perspective. If things burn, flop or turn out just plain ugly, laugh and put your feet up, knowing you tried your best. There was always plenty of cursing around the kitchen while I was growing up, and my mom often sat simmering long after the meal was over. But there’s no reason to sweat the little things. So enjoy yourself, and enjoy a big satisfying meal without having to worry about the aftermath.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!