Pinning and Planning – December 23

Honestly, I wasn’t going to post a Pinning and Planning post since two days of this week’s menu would be consumed with Christmas dinners.  But then I had a thought that perhaps my readers would want to see what Allan and I had planned for our Christmas dinners.

We spend Christmas Eve with my family which is typically a meatless meat per my mom’s request.  It’s an Italian-American Catholic thing.  Over the years, Allan has slowly added some meat dishes into the mix (chicken cutlets or Italian sausage) and no one has complained, although my mom, my sister and I still elect to remain meatless.  (Some really rude joke come to mind.  Keep it clean, guys! lol)

Growing up, our meatless Christmas Eve meals consisted on shrimp marinara, but Allan isn’t the biggest fan of shrimp and so years ago, he decided to serve eggplant parmesan.  Now fifteen years later, everyone expects the dish on Christmas Eve.  No lie, Iron Chef Allan makes the most delicious eggplant parmesan and I can’t stomach restaurant eggplant parmesan anymore.  I’m always disappointed because it doesn’t taste as good as Allan’s, which really is a thing of beauty and I’ll have to post a photo of it for you.

Of course, there is nothing light about Allan’s eggplant parmesan and you could probably bake the eggplant to save on calories and fat, but it’s Christmas and Christmas calories don’t count, right?  It’s a Christmas miracle!  Thank you, Baby Jesus!

We serve our eggplant parmesan with spaghetti topped with marinara sauce and there’s always a huge tossed salad.  So, those who are concerned with calories can pass on the parmesan and save room for the Yule log cake Allan always bakes (another photo worthy masterpiece).  My oldest daughter has requested cheesecake too.

On Christmas Day, we’re entertaining Allan’s family and for the Taylor Clan, Iron Chef Allan will prepare a somewhat traditional British Christmas dinner of roast lamb and a small turkey with all the trimmings, potatoes and stuffing.  His family loves Brussels sprouts so I think I’m going to try my hand at Healthy Homemade’s Brussels sprouts because she promises that her recipe will make the pickiest person a fan.  There will also be roasted parsnips and mince pies for dessert.

The food fest continues the next day with Boxing Day.  Iron Chef Allan always prepares huge sweaty British breakfast complete with scrambled eggs, fried tomatoes and mushrooms, fried bread, baked beans, potatoes and English breakfast sausages.

Since the Day-After Turkey Soup was such a hit in our house will eat that for dinner on Boxing Day, if we have any room for food.

I imagine it’s going to be a week of yummy leftovers.  I can be healthy again when January first rolls around next week.

S – Eggplant Parmesan with Pasta Marinara and Salad and Yule log for dessert

M – Roast Turkey and Lamb with Mashed Potatoes, Sage Stuffing, Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Glazed Winter Veggies, Parmesan Asparagus and Mince Pie for dessert

T – Sweaty Breakfast and Day-After Turkey Soup for dinner

W – Leftovers

Th – Leftovers

F – Pizza

What things are you cooking up for Christmas and the rest of the week?  Will it be a lotf of leftovers for you too?  Link up and share the delicious dishes you are pinning and planning to serve this week.

Plan your menu for the week and if you have some favorite food pins, add those too. Then, link up and share your post. If you’re not on Pinterest, send me an email and I’ll send you an invite.



Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins

PhotobucketI’m going to do it.  I’m just going to come right out and shame my mother in front to of the whole blogosphere.

See, on Thanksgiving, my mom prefers the nasty cranberry jelly from the can.  We grew up with the condiment on our Thanksgiving table.

When Allan cooked our first Thanksgiving meal with my family, he made cranberry sauce from scratch.  My mom tried it and could stomach it.  She missed her perfectly cylinder-shaped cranberry sauce.  Every Thanksgiving since then, my mom has brought her own cranberry sauce in the can.

That, my friends, is a true story.

This year when my mom and I were discussing the Thanksgiving menu over the phone, I told her that Allan would be making his own cranberry sauce and I asked her if she would be bringing the can again.

“Of course, because I like it.”

“Mom, you know that stuff is horrible and bad for you right?  Have you ever read the ingredients?  I bet there aren’t even real cranberries in it.”

“Wait.  I’ll read it to you,” she replied as she searched for the can in her pantry.  “Here we go,” she said as she proceeds to read the label.  “Oh wow.  The first ingredient is corn syrup.”

“See, mom.  I told you that stuff is horrible.  You should eat cranberry sauce with real cranberries.”

“But I don’t like the taste.  It’s too tart.”

“That’s because you’re tasting real cranberries and there’s no corn syrup masking the flavor.”

“You’re probably right.  All right I’ll try Allan’s but tell him to not go crazy with the ginger and I’m bringing my own can again.”

I relayed the order to Iron Chef Allan and just as we promised, Allan made a more palatable, no ginger added cranberry sauce for my mom.

This was the first year she didn’t bring the can.  I was so proud of her and even more so when she ate some real cranberry sauce.

However, we had TONS of cranberry sauce leftover.

So, I had this brilliant idea to use the leftover cranberry sauce in muffins.  My kids love muffins and the cranberry sauce would definitely not be left sitting in my fridge.

They came out incredible!   These Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins are by no means low-fat, but after eating 2000 calories in one sitting the day before, I don’t think a few more fat grams (actually 13 grams) would matter.

Ok, so maybe it does matter.  You could try substituting the eggs with a couple of egg whites, applesauce or plain non-fat yogurt to lighten up the recipe, but I can’t guarantee the results, because these little fluffy fattening muffins were delicious.  They are a new day after Thanksgiving tradition for us along this the Day-After Turkey Soup.

By the way, this is the last week I’m sharing uses for leftover Thanksgiving food.  Promise.

Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins

Ingredients
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 cups cranberry sauce

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease a muffin pan or line with paper liners.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a standing electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one.  Add vanilla and sour cream and mix until well incorporated.

On a low setting, add dry ingredients in three parts until batter is smooth.

Remove bowl from mixer.  Gently fold in cranberry sauce.

Using a small ladle, fill muffin cups about 2/3 full.  Bake for 18-24 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool in pan for five minutes.  After five minutes, remove muffins from pan and continue cooling on a rack.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week! 


Don’t forgot to toss your cookies here!

*Also submitted at*

Sweet Tooth Friday

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Turkey Cookie Craft

PhotobucketThanksgiving has come and gone and though most of my readers are focused on another a holiday in the midst of Black Friday frenzy, I wanted to share an edible turkey craft that I made with my seven year old’s class while Thanksgiving is still fresh on the brain digesting.  You will want to bookmark, pin and file away this edible turkey craft idea for next Thanksgiving.

After Halloween, I bought several bags of candy corn on clearance with the specific purpose to make some kind of edible craft with my kids.  Funny enough, as one of the homeroom moms, I was in charge of a craft for our Thanksgiving feast.

With a quick Google search, I tried to remember how to make an edible turkey with Oreo cookies, however, the Oreo turkeys I found weren’t exactly what I wanted.  So, I decided to combine a few of the ideas I found and I came up with this.

Of course, the kids gobbled up the fun.

Turkey Cookie Craft
Ingredients
Golden Double Stuff Oreos
Nutter Butter Bites
Harvest Mix Candy Corn
Pretzel sticks
1 tub of white icing
1 tube black decorating icing gel
1 tube red decorating icing gel

Directions
Gently add the turkey’s tail feathers by wedging in the four brown-colored candy corn into the Oreo middle between the two cookies.  (You could also gently remove the top cookie.)

For the turkey’s legs, snap one pretzel stick in half and gently add the sticks into the opposite end of the candy corn.  (If you pulled off top of the Oreo, add a small amount icing and reapply the cookie.)

Add a small amount of icing to backside of a Nutter Butter Bite and “glue” the cookie to Oreo.  Add a small amount of icing to a yellow candy corn and “glue” it to the mini Nutter Butter.

Using the black decorating icing gel, add two eyes.  Then, add a wattle using the red decorating icing gel.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week! 



*Also submitted at*

Sweet Tooth Friday

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Thankful for Good Food {Thanksgiving Food Blog Hop}

It’s no secret that I love food and I eat way more than I should for my size which is why I run why Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  For me, Thanksgiving is a free-for-all, eat-anything -you-like-as-much-as you-like-because-the-calories-don’t-count kind of day.

Since Camille and I share the same love for food and all things Thanksgiving, Run DMT and Growing Up Gabel have teamed up to host for a Thanksgiving linky party, Thankful for Good Food.  Every day leading up to Thanksgiving (November 1 – 22), we would love for you to link up and share some of you favorite Thanksgiving foods.

Anything goes for this cornucopia blog hop of great Thanksgiving dishes!   Add your favorite side dishes, gravy, desserts or even the best way to cook a turkey.  Share them all and link up as many times as you’d like!  Think of our blog hop as your Thanksgiving online cookbook/menu planner.

So what will you bring to the table? 

Thanks for linking up and sharing and Happy Thanksgiving!


Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

A Little Hocus Pocus Radioactive Ghost for Halloween

Everybody scream!  It’s almost Halloween!

Our maddening October is winding down, but honestly, I feel like this busy month has left me a ghost of my former self.

All right, maybe I’m exaggerating a little for the sake of a Halloween Music Monday post.  But it sure was a clever play on words to fit those two songs into the mix unlike this one.  I honestly can’t think of anything for this Imagine Dragon song except that I really like it.  So why not add Radioactive to a Halloween playlist?

And of course every great Halloween playlist should include Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Halloween because it’s a classic.

Whatever songs are on your Halloween playlist, may they be spellbinding, spine tingling tunes that move you down to your soul and keep you trick-or-treating for the long haul.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!



Visit Xmas Dolly and Jade Louise Designs for more Music Monday.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

A Halloween Treat

Despite being shattered from a long week and camping with the Girl Scouts the night before, I conjured enough strength for our annual adult Halloween party and I’m so glad I did.  As usual, the party was a real scream treat.

It seems we weren’t the only ones with crazy a schedule this year, because our party was a lighter than normal, but that didn’t stop it from being a truly bewitching time.

Like previous years, most of the costumes were creative and fun, although Marcia needed a little help with hers.  During the party, Marcia confessed to not liking Halloween or dressing up even though her husband Patrick loves it.  I told Marcia, “You have to find an angle to make Patrick’s costume work for you.  You work around his costume.   For example, you could be his hostage.  You just have to think outside of the costume box.”

Speaking of thinking out of the box, no one knew what I was supposed to be until I explained it to them, which only made my costume more comical.

My iCarly inspired sushi costume was so cheap and simple to throw together starting with a white cami and skirt for the rice.  The maroon throw pillow, which was meant to resemble raw tuna, was wrapped and pinned to dark green ribbon and finished with a pair of Chinese restaurant chop sticks.  The ginger and wasabi were rolled scraps of material hot-glued to a dollar store headband. See, so simple and cheap!  Allan’s psycho sushi chef costume ordered from amazon was the costly costume!

Plus, my sushi costume was almost as comfortable as last year’s Amy Winehouse ( minus the wig, of course).  It’s funny how my costumes get more and more casual each Halloween.  This sushi costume was so comfy that I’m totally weating it trick-or-treating with the kids.  I wonder if anyone will know what I supposed be then?

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

A Devil Drops It Like It’s Hot and Runs the Night

This weekend, I’m participating in the Frankenfooter Living Dead Challenge, a two-part race comprised of a 5K on Saturday night followed by a half marathon on Sunday morning.  Since the course is on the very same trail my running group runs every week, I have a home team advantage, however, there’s still an element of fear for me because I’m a little nervous about running the 5K on Saturday night in the dark.  I just hope all my training in the dark wee hours of the early morning has prepared me for running in the dark, dark woods.

It’s no secret that I love Halloween and despite my fear of the dark and my issues with last year’s race, I’m still so excited to participate in this Halloween themed race.  I love dressing up, although I don’t need a Halloween race for an excuse to do so but at least I won’t be the only wearing a costume like so many other races.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I’m dressing as the Sun Drop girl for the 5K and I found the whole ensemble at the Sun Drop store online, so I dropped some cash it was hot, yo.  This costume might be way too hot to run in but it definitely be fun. 

I finally figured out my half marathon costume.  Let me give you a hint.

Do you get it?

I will be the devil with the blue dress.  For the costume, I’m wearing a blue running top, blue shorts, a blue tutu, red horns and possibly a tail.  I say “possibly” because I haven’t decided if I really want to deal with a tail smacking me in the ass for 13.1 miles.

By the way, our adult Halloween party was a blast.  Here’s a taste of my sushi costume, but there’s more photos to come later.



Visit Xmas Dolly and Jade Louise Designs for more Music Monday.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+