Weekly Menu: September 29 – October 5, 2013
Sunday: Lentil Dal with Bitter Greens & Curried Butternut Squash
Monday: Eggs in Purgatory with Artichoke Hearts & Capers over Polenta
Tuesday: Leftovers: Lentil Dal
Wednesday: Leftovers: Eggs in Purgatory
Thursday: Pork Chops with Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad
Friday: Eat Out
Saturday: Leftovers: Pork & Kale Salad
This is going to be a yummy week.  The lentil dal dish from my old, worn Cooking Light cookbook is a really nice vegetarian dish.  Filling, nicely flavored and perfect for this time of year.  For the butternut squash just chop it up in cubes and coat with olive oil, curry powder, salt and pepper.  Roast it at 450 for about 25 minutes, or until soft.

You all know I love eggs for dinner, and this recipe is no exception.  The recipe actually calls for potatoes in the dish, but I like to leave them out and serve it over polenta to make it even more filling.  If you want to go with the original recipe, just serve it with some hearty toast.

Lastly, I've had some nice pork chops in the freezer for a while so I thought I'd pair them with that delicious Kale & Brussels Sprout salad that is always  such a hit over Thanksgiving.  I'm  really looking forward to having that again, healthy, easy & delicious!!  
Weekly Menu: September 15-21, 2013
Sunday: Ginger Pepper Salmon
Monday: Vegetarian Lasagna
Tuesday: Lentil Country Supper
Wednesday: Leftovers: Lasagna
Thursday: Leftovers: Lentil Country Supper
Friday: Eat Out
Saturday: Beef Udon Noodle Soup (DIY)
So, in theory this week is a healthy week...full of vegetarian dishes and seafood. In reality though, there is a bit of butter in the salmon dish and the lasagna is drowning in Alfredo sauce and cheese. Lentil country supper...über healthy though, I swear!

We've made this salmon dish from our SF Chronicles cookbook before and it's really quite good. Some may think it covers up the flavor of the salmon too much, but we eat salmon a lot so we need a change every once in a while. The veggie lasagna is one of our favorites of Christian's moms...so it's soul satisfying food for us. A little piece of home. We started making Lentil Country Supper about 5 years ago...got it from a magazine, but no idea which to be honest. It's one of those dishes that is so stupidly simple but for some reason amazingly good in it's rustic flavors. We were addicted from the very first time we made it.

For the DIY night, I typically dry toast about 1 tsp of chinese five-spice powder in a pot for 30 seconds and then add beef broth and a few slices of ginger and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, shred some carrots and cabbage and then slice up some good mushrooms. Add them to the broth along with 2-3 packages of udon noodles (you can find them in the produce section of your grocer...near the tofu) and cook according to the package. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle on some thinly sliced scallions and there you go...delicious and easy Asian-inspired soup!
Weekly Menu: September 8-14, 2013
Sunday: Barley Pilaf Stuffed Acorn Squash 
Monday: Slow Cooker Many-Bean Soup
Tuesday: Leftovers: Barley Stuffed Squash
Wednesday:   Leftovers: Soup
Thursday: Salmon with Roasted Rapini & Tomatoes
Friday: Suz out of town
Saturday: Suz out of town
I'm heading out of town again at the end of this week, but planning on getting some good fall home-cooked meals in before I take off on Thursday night. Starting with a delicious recipe I found last year, Barley Pilaf Stuffed Acorn Squash. We add a little bit of sweet Italian sausage to the filling to make it even more hearty and will serve it alongside a kale salad with a simple lemon-mustard vinaigrette.

The slow-cooker bean soup I made last weekend (had lots of leftover partially soaked beans from the chili I made!) is actually from my cookbook, "Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever" and a bit different from the one I've linked to above but they're pretty similar. My soup turned out absolutely delicious which is great since I now have lots of it in my freezer.  The main differences between my recipe and the one I linked to above are: I  added canned diced tomatoes, thyme was my only seasoning besides salt & pepper and I put a whole ham hock in the soup and then shred it up and added it back in after cooking. Other than that, very similar. I also used different beans than the ones called for in both recipes based on what I had on hand, so feel free to mix up the choice of beans as well.
Weekly Menu: September 1-7, 2013
Sunday: Labor Day BBQ
Monday: Posole Soup
Tuesday: Leftovers: Orecchiette with Rapini & Sausage
Wednesday: Brown Rice, Veggie and Poached Egg Bowl (DIY)
Thursday: Leftovers: Posole Soup
Friday: Leftovers: Rice Veggie Fried Egg Bowl
Saturday: Birthday Dinner!
I've decided to plan a week of some of my easy favorites leading up to my birthday, which means slightly more decadent than usual in terms of how much meat I'll be eating but still pretty healthy and easy overall.  So of course the week will start off with a good ole' fashioned Labor Day BBQ...brats and beer anyone??  Then I'll make my favorite Mexican soup - Posole, and finish off the Orecchiette with Rapini & Sausage leftovers from last week.  Wednesday I'll be making a super easy, healthy and delicious DIY meal.  Simply brown rice, whatever veggies strike your fancy (I like scallions and a bit of sauteed kale) with a couple of poached eggs on top sprinkled with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes. Yum.  Then leftovers get me through the rest of the week until it's time for a bit of fun with a birthday dinner out!
Roasted Rapini & Tomatoes

This is our absolutely favorite side veggie dish and if you've been following my menus at all you probably already know that!  You've seen roasted rapini and tomatoes  on my weekly menus a lot so I thought it was about time that I tell you how I make it. It's super simple and once you try it I bet it will end up as a part of your regular rotation as well. 1 large head of Rapini (also known as Broccoli Rabe) 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes (or large tomatoes cut into small chunks) 1-2 TBS olive oil 1 tsp garlic powder salt & pepper to taste Preheat the oven to 400°F
Weekly Menu: December 2-8, 2012
Sunday: Thai Chicken Peanut Noodle Soup
Monday: Leftovers: Chili from the Freezer
Tuesday: Orecchiette with Braised Broccoli Rabe
Wednesday:  Leftovers: Chicken Noodle Soup
Thursday: Leftovers: Orecchiette
Friday: Eat Out
Saturday: Henricksen Annual Cookie Party!
During the holiday season we try to keep it pretty simple with our dinner menus, relying heavily on old favorites that we can practically make on auto-pilot. So that's exactly what we're doing this week. Sunday Christian will be making a Thai Chicken Peanut Noodle Soup that we've been making for years to welcome me home from Austin. There's nothing more comforting after a plane ride than a steaming bowl of homemade soup! Tuesday we'll make our Orecchiette with Braised Broccoli Rabe (and probably sausage)...if you only try one recipe on my entire site this is the one to try. Particularly during the colder winter months.  It is so satisfying and comforting and super easy to make, absolutely one of our all-time favorites.

The rest of the week we're relying on leftovers (one from the depths of our freezer - Emeril's 5 Bean Chili) and a night out before we get to our annual holiday Cookie Party. We've been throwing an annual holiday cookie party for a little over 7 years now...but we can't take all the credit. This is actually a tradition that Christian's mother started when they first moved to Massachusetts, when Christian was about 16. When I became a part of the family a few years later and went to my first one I immediately fell in love with the idea of it. Bringing friends, neighbors and family together to share their favorite home-baked cookies, enjoy holiday beverages (like our Glögg - warm mulled spiced red wine), cheesy Christmas music and a good time. What's not to love? So while technically we don't serve any dinner at this party the extensive cheese & charcuterie plate and other nibbles beyond the cookies will be enough to hold us over for the night without formal dinner plans.
A Photo Journey through Thanksgiving 2012

I know Thanksgiving is over and everyone is ready to move onto the next big holiday, but with the week of Thanksgiving being my favorite cooking week of the year I thought it was worthy of a couple more blog posts.  This one is simply a nice visual journey through all of the dishes I made this year with some descriptions.

Next week I'll highlight the recipe for Cranberry Pepper Jelly that I make every year. It is fantastic on sandwiches, baked brie, with cream cheese and crackers, etc...  So while most have already made their one turkey of the year there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy the spicy-sweet deliciousness all year long.

So let's start the photo journey with that one...Cranberry Pepper Jelly. This is almost always the first thing I make, the weekend before Thanksgiving, since it has a 3-6 week shelf life in the refrigerator. I've honestly never liked anything other than canned cranberry sauce (I know, blasphemous!) until I discovered this recipe. Now I'm totally hooked on it's spicy-sweet combination and for the first time ever didn't even touch my canned cranberry sauce this year!

The next thing I make the weekend before the holiday is homemade turkey stock as a base for my gravy. If you don't want to do this you can always use store-bought chicken or turkey stock, but I find that making your own makes a big difference in the gravy and it's honestly very easy. If you're like me, this also means you get a little extra Turkey meat for your leftover soup as well since I refuse to throw away all of the meat on the turkey wings after making the stock.  Just pick it all off and freeze it until your ready to make your soup or other Thanksgiving leftovers.

A couple of days before Thanksgiving I start brining the turkey and prepping all of the veggies that will hold for a day or two.

I find that nothing makes for a juicy turkey like brining it for 2 days in advance...not frying it, not starting it cooking upside down, nothing. I also slather it in herb butter (both on top and under the skin), so that doesn't hurt! My favorite brine that I have found over the years is a beer brine...I use Newcastle which makes this turkey a bit of an expensive date, but trust me your guests will be singing your praises. And we all know that's hard praise to get with so many bad, dry turkey experiences from Thanksgivings past! Make sure the brine is completely covering your turkey...sometimes you have to get a bit crafty with pressure on the bag in certain spots to make this happen.

It's also important to have a great carver on hand day-of so that you can plate your turkey in a beautiful and appetizing way...my husband is a pro at this by now, so I'm lucky here as you can see below.

Weekly Menu: November 25 – December 1, 2012
Sunday: Turkey Mushroom Risotto
Monday: Tofu Veggie Stir Fry
Tuesday: Leftovers: Risotto
Wednesday: Leftovers: Stir Fry
Thursday: Suz in Austin; Salmon & Roasted Rapini with Tomatoes
Friday: Suz in Austin; Christian eating out
Saturday: Suz in Austin; easy grilled Chicken and Baked Sweet Potato (DIY)
It's a short week for me since I'm heading to Austin, TX for a long overdue girls weekend on Thursday so we're keeping it pretty simple in terms of dinner.  Sunday we'll use up the last of our Thanksgiving turkey and broth leftovers and make a turkey mushroom risotto with a side spinach salad. Then we'll do a simple tofu and veggie stir fry...vegetables that don't have marshmallows melted over them seem to be lacking a bit lately so this will be a nice healthy dinner.  Once I take off on Thursday Christian will most likely turn to his old standby favorites. Salmon with roasted rapini & tomatoes one night and easy grilled chicken and a baked sweet potato another night. Healthy, simple home cooking.

I'll return home on Sunday to a nice home cooked meal by Christian...but you'll have to wait until next week to find out what that delicious meal will be!
Weekly Menu: November 18-24, 2012
Sunday: Leftovers: Shrimp & Grits
Monday: Grilled Salmon with Roasted Rapini & Tomatoes
Tuesday: Eat Out
Wednesday:    Leftovers: Frozen Mixed Bean Soup
Friday: Leftovers: Thanksgiving seconds!
Saturday: Eat Out
My favorite cooking week of the year is here! If you've already checked out my Thanksgiving Menu that I posted last week you know that I plan ahead and spread out my cooking over the entire week before. Makes the big day much more enjoyable so I can focus on my friends, family and football. So that means we'll be keeping the cooking for our other dinners this week pretty simple. Leftovers from both last week's menu and soup from the freezer that we cooked a while back and of course those wildly sought after Thanksgiving leftovers.

A SavoryGirl Thanksgiving, 2012

I love Thanksgiving...good friends, family, food, football and fun.  What's not to love? To be honest, though, I didn't always love it...when I was a kid it seemed kind of silly to me how my mom slaved away all day just for one meal. But ever since I've been the cook I totally get it. Yes it can be a lot of work but it's the work of love. All that effort is worth it for the "ooohs and aaaahs" when you walk in with the Turkey. Or watching your husband's face as he takes that first bite of your famous Sweet Potatoes that he loves so much but only gets this one day a year. Personally, I also love the strategy and planning that Thanksgiving takes...and that's the key to actually enjoying this holiday as host. So not only am I sharing my menu, but I am also sharing my detailed cooking and timing plan to get it all done and downloadable shopping lists. That's right, time to start enjoying your own Thanksgiving party!

You all know by now that I love to cook and hopefully you agree that I am a pretty good judge of recipes as well...therefore I can almost guarantee that my menu below is going to be delicious. I've been hosting large Thanksgiving dinners for years now and I can proudly say I haven't had a dud yet (knocking on wood as I type!). Some of the dishes below are old favorites but many are new.  Since I have a bit of a smaller crowd this year I'm keeping appetizers more simple than usual (and yes one leans Mexican!) but otherwise this year's menu is pretty typical of a SavoryGirl Thanksgiving. You can also check out my previous SavoryGirl Thanksgiving Menu, if the one below doesn't suit your fancy.

Last year the Pancetta Crisps, Succotash, Kale Salad and Cranberry-Pepper Jelly were big hits out of the new additions...one of which is making a repeat performance this year along with the turkey brine recipe and my ever-present sweet potatoes.