Thanksgiving is just around the corner and we’re all busy in our kitchens, cooking up some love for our families. But holidays are also a stressful time, and keeping yourself happy while keeping the rest of your family happy can be hard. Here are a few things that I hope will make your life a little easier over the next week or so.
The first is a way to roast veggies in under ten minutes, no joke. The second is a delicious way to use up leftovers of this and that; to reduce waste where you can.
The last is extra special. A simple candy that almost anyone can make. Only a handful of ingredients (two for a pared-down version, four for the fancy version), with a crunchy, addictive result.
Quick Roasted Veggies
My favorite busy night dinner is roasted Brussels sprouts with either potatoes, tortillas, or pasta. And then I cook Jason some chicken or turkey keilbasa, with one of the three aforementioned carbs, and some salad. I dislike cooking meat, but if I didn’t cook it for him, he’d eat it elsewhere.
I used to love drowning the sprouts in cheese, which essentially negates the whole point of having veggies for dinner. My clothes were feeling a little tight and uncomfy, and I knew cheese was the main culprit. My running felt sluggish, which inevitably puts me in a bad mood. So I made this sauce as a way of scaling back on the cheese. It’s just as a satisfying and stupid easy, and Jason loves it.
I came up with a quick-roast method of making my sprouts so that I could still have my favorite veggie even when I got home from work late. Sure, the flavor isn’t as deep, but you still get the soft sprout under a caramelized crust. If you’re rushing around trying to get the house ready for guests and still need something healthy for dinner, this is a great option
Quick Roasted Sprouts
- 1 cup sprouts (or more), quartered
- drizzle of olive oil
- seasoned salt
Turn on the broiler. Put the sprouts in a microwave and oven safe dish. Microwave for two minutes. Add oil and seasoning. Broil for 3-4 minutes on one side, turn, and then broil for 2-3 minutes on the other side.
Easy Cream Sauce
- 1/3 cup good quality fat free Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp sriracha
- pinch of cumin
- salt to taste
Stir all ingredients until an even color and consistency is reached.
Pumpkin Cornmeal Pancakes
I have a great appreciation for using up leftovers. Food waste is a terrible problem in this country, and it happens far too often. I’m guilty of it myself (comes with the food blog territory), but I try to keep it to a minimum. These pancakes were made using leftover cornbread mix, and the pumpkin was leftover puree. This topping reminded me of why I used to love pumpkin pie. In the past few years, I’ve fallen out of love with it, preferring to the mix the squash with chocolaty things, or really just about anything that wasn’t straight-up pie. But this brought me back. Maybe because it’s so scaled down. Maybe because it doesn’t have the density that can sometimes kill an otherwise lovely pie. Maybe it’s because the fall flavors lend themselves well to breakfast. Here, they are not the full-of-stuffing-and-Beaujolais dinner denouement. They are the sunshiney greeting to the start of your day.
This makes just a small batch, enough for one or two people, but it’s easily multiplied.
- 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill gf cornbread mix, or other similar cornbread mix
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp baking powder
- coconut oil, for the pan
Combine egg and milk, then combine cornbread mix and baking powder. Wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Bring a pan to medium heat and melt the coconut oil. Spoon 1/8th cup (2 tbsp) of the pancake batter into the pan for each pancake. Cook for 2 – 2 1/2 min on one side, flip, and cook for another minute or so. Serve with pumpkin topping. Makes about 15 dollar size pancakes.
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 3 tbsp milk
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp pumpkin spice
- toasted pecans and salted butter, for serving
Combine all ingredients, except for the pecans and butter. Serve warm over cornmeal pancakes.
Crunchy Chocolate Party Sticks
Jason LOVES these. A few days ago, I made a batch and left them in the fridge for him, in a paper bag with a big heart on it. When I got home from work that night, I found the following scene: husband fast asleep on the couch, Netflix playing softly on the TV, and the bag, torn into like a raccoon had gotten to it. And it was completely empty. Which was fine, since I’d made them for him, but also, it was a huge batch. These are super addictive, so proceed with caution.
The are also ridiculously easy. If you need just one more dessert, or need something quick to bring to a party, this is it. And you don’t even have to make it yourself. Enlist a bored relative to help you out, or round up a few of the kids. PS, I still consider myself one of the kids. That’s probably because I don’t have any yet. whew!
Crunchy Chocolate Party Sticks
- 2 cups of Rice Chex
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup of sweetened shredded coconut (optional. I like them with coconut, Jason likes them without)
- food coloring for the coconut
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Pour over the cereal, and stir gently, being careful not to break any of them up. When the cereal is completely coated, lay some wax paper out on a cookie sheet. Make rows of cereal – each piece touching the next, but not overlapping. You can make the sticks as long or short as you like. If you want longer sticks, reduce the cereal to 1 3/4 cup, so that there is more chocolate on each piece and the bonds are stronger. Sprinkle with coconut. Place in the freezer to harden, then gently peel them off the wax paper. Enjoy! This makes about 18-20 sticks of assorted sizes.