Recent Posts

Clementine box Easter centerpiece

About a week or two ago, I started putting together a little Easter gift for the two little cousins who are local. I initially picked up little treat boxes from the Dollar Tree that I was going to fill with goodies. Then I got everything […]

A break through

About two weeks ago, I was able to snag a wonderful long weekend off from work. I was so burnt out (really, I still am, but I’m working on it), and I needed to have a chunk of continuous days off to just exist without […]

Apple pie bourbon

If you love bourbon and you love spiked apple cider, this is the recipe for you.

3 small Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced
2 sticks of cinnamon
1 tsp whole cloves
1/2 tsp whole allspice
1 vanilla bean, split (next time, I will use a scraped vanilla bean)
1 star anise
2.5 cups of bourbon

1 clean, dry quart sized mason jar, ring and lid
1 small sautee/frying pan
Cheesecloth (for straining)
1 funnel
Clean and dry flip top glass bottle

Toast cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and star anise over medium until fragrant. Fill mason jar with bourbon. Let it sit in a cool, dry place for about a week. Shake it at least once per day; after a few days, open up the jar and give it a smell/taste. Mine was good to after a week, but you might want it to sit for a little less time or a little more time.

This is how mine looked when I first put it together.

When it’s time to strain, put a funnel into your glass bottle. Line the funnel with cheesecloth (this will prevent any of the little bits from going into your final product), and carefully pour the bourbon through. Throw out the strained bits and enjoy! (Keep the apples if you want to munch on them or make a bourbon infused apple compote; I think I might try doing that next time.)

Getting your grocery budget set and organized

As I posted a little while ago, one of my 2018 goals is to start digging myself out of the financial hole I’ve created over the past few months. One of the ways I am going to do this is to create a firm grocery […]

2018 goals

I’ve been a stress/anxiety/mild depression fueled monster lately. I’m trying to dig myself out of the very deep hole I’ve put myself in. I’ve been stress eating, stress spending, blowing off a lot of responsibilities, and now it’s all coming back to kick me in […]

Merry Christmas to me?

This year has been a doozy.

I feel like I’ve been saying things like that for the past four or five years. Most of the time, I honestly feel trapped. The main culprit is my job. Well, not just my specific job (as in, why I am away from home for 40+ hours per week), but where it seems like my job will take me career wise. I work as a food service manager. Some of the good things about my job are that it’s a pretty tight-knit group (although that can also be a con), I do have a degree of autonomy because I’m a manager, the pay rate is not terrible for my job description, and I usually have two weekdays off. Don’t knock grocery shopping on a Monday afternoon until you’ve effortlessly breezed on in and breezed on out.

Of course, the trade-offs are erratic scheduling, baggage about working a service industry job when I’m staring down the barrel of 40, a low pay rate for the amount of nonsense I have to put up with every day, not being able to wear real clothes (my work gear is very utilitarian and it gets so hot in my workplace that I can’t really wear makeup), and the type of gross boys’ club behavior that happens in kitchens. All of these factors have taken a toll on my life and my self-esteem. It’s hard to have a social life or date when you’re stuck working ten hour night shifts three or four nights a week. Even if I did work mornings or midshifts all week, I’m so emotionally drained when I come home that I barely have enough energy to do more than feed my cats, flip on the TV, and shovel a quick dinner down my throat.

If you’re reading this, I know you’re probably rolling your eyes at me. I get it, I really do. Some of my staff members would happily take my pay rate and a reliable 40 hours a week over part-time work that varies from week to week. You’re probably also thinking “just go get a new job,” but part of the issue is that I have no interest in becoming a career food service manager. Management sucks. Yes, having autonomy and better responsibilities is cool. It is incredibly rewarding to get a hard-working employee’s efforts noticed. Having to deal with poor attitudes or tell people “no” or write them up or discipline them or advocate for them to be fired is awful. On top of it, if you’re in a small place and you have no real peers, it poses all sorts of issues to try to make friends at work.

Basically, my job is isolating because of the emotional and the time demands, and my position makes me feel extra isolated because of the power dynamics related to hanging out with staff outside of work. I do think some of this would be different if I were at a larger employer where I could spend 85% of my week in a back office catching up on various paperwork, but it doesn’t change the fact that the industry just isn’t a great fit for me. I want to spend some time in the new year really thinking about what I want to do and how to achieve it, but I’m afraid that I might spend several months spinning my wheels.

I know, I know. I need to do something to change my situation. I realize that, and I also realize that being able to whine about my life on a blog is a huge luxury. It’s just sometimes difficult to take all of that knowledge and put it into action. Let’s hope I can find some motivation to take control of my life and the things that cause me unhappiness in 2018.

Leftover prime rib ragu

Every year, my dad makes a gigantic prime rib for our family Christmas party. Because it’s so huge and my mom doesn’t like leftovers, I wind up taking some home with me. I always repurpose my prime rib, because let’s be real: I’m never going […]

Making turkey (or chicken) stock

I love making my own chicken (or, in this case, turkey) stock. 1. It’s so freakin’ easy. If you have your ingredients, a stock pot, water, and a chilly day, you have everything you need. 2. It’s so easily customizable. Play around with flavor profiles […]

Turkey pot pie (repurposing Thanksgiving leftovers)

This is a recipe for remaking Thanksgiving leftovers. It’s very flexible, just put whatever you want in it! If you hate mushrooms, put corn in. If you really love mushrooms, double them and cut back on some of your other version. If you think it would be delicious in a turkey pot pie, it belongs there!

The basic gist of the recipe is that you’ll be making a quick gravy with vegetables, turkey, potatoes, and herbs. Then you’ll cover it with a sheet of puff pastry and bake it off. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, kids!

You could easily make this with a rotisserie chicken or leftover pot roast. You could also very easily convert this into a vegetarian dish; just swap mushroom stock for chicken/turkey and omit the turkey (or use tofurkey without the stuffing instead). For the vegans, just use mushroom stock, your favorite vegan pie crust, and Earth Balance (or your favorite butter substitute).

Olive oil*
3 small/2 medium sized carrots, peeled
1/2 a medium sized onion
2 ribs of celery
6 baby Bella or white button mushrooms
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes
About 1.5 cups of leftover turkey
About 6 or 7 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 cloves fresh garlic*
2 sprigs rosemary
1/2 bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 quart of chicken (or turkey or mushroom) stock
1/2 cup half and half
Roughly 1.5 cups leftover vegetables
1 thawed sheet of puff pastry — cut slightly larger than your casserole dish
1 lightly beaten egg

1. Preheat oven to 400* Farenheight (or whatever your puff pastry calls for).

2. Start prepping veggies. Cut your harder veg (onion, carrot, potatoes, and celery) into a small dice, but I like to leave the mushrooms in slightly bigger chunks. Those puppies will shrink down in no time due to the higher water content.

3. Start heating 2 tablespoons or so of olive oil* in a heavy skillet over medium/medium-low heat. I use cast iron (12″ pan, for reference), so I start my pans super low.

* I used Trader Joe’s garlic flavored olive oil. It has a really nice garlic flavor, and it’s great for when I am too lazy to crush a little garlic. If you’re using plain oil, then make sure to have your garlic cloves minced/crushed through a garlic press and ready to go.

4. Once the oil is shimmering, add your raw veggies (onion, carrot, celery, and garlic…DON’T ADD THE POTATOES YET). Season liberally with salt and pepper, and keep eveverything nice and low. You’re trying to sweat, not fry the veg. (Sweating means keeping it nice and low to draw oout the moisture and concentrate the flavors. Try not to keep the flame high enough for your veg to sizzle.) Mince the rosemary. You can mince the thyme if you’d like or just keep it whole on the stem.

5. After everything is sweated down and is nice and soft, add the butter, minced rosemary, and thyme. Once the butter has melted, dust the flour over everything, give it a good stir, and add the potatoes and chicken stock. Cook everything down until the potato chunks are a very firm al dente (they’ll finish cooking in the oven). You can turn up the heat to medium here.

6. Gently add in the turkey chunks. Let them get warmed through. Add the half and half, stir, and turn off the heat. If you used thyme on the stem, pull out the stems now. Gently stir in any leftover veggies and pour into a casserole dish (I think mine is about 8×6).

7. Top with the puff pastry and put a few cuts in the top with a paring knife (you’ll want to vent it). Brush the puff pastry with the beaten egg and bake at 400* until the pastry is golden brown and puffed. It took about 35 minutes in my oven.

8. Let pot pie stand for 10 minutes or so before eating. Enjoy!