Last Thanksgiving, we were on a trip to Italy with two of our friends (the above photo is from our last night in Rome). It was my first Thanksgiving meal since I was a middle schooler that I didn't cook! It was honestly...such a nice break. We went to Napoleone in Florence and our friend Alan and I shared an enormous ribeye, while Ryan had the messiest pasta with crab. It was so refreshing to not have to cook, but also to eat a different cuisine for a traditional American holiday!
So this year, I originally told my family that I'm retired from cooking Thanksgiving, at least temporarily. And then I started thinking, well, I still want to spend the holiday with family...so we started tossing around ideas of what we wanted to eat. We briefly settled on a big seafood feast, since we're in the Lowcountry, but Ryan's not a big fan and I want to be sure he's happy. I asked him if he had any requests for the Big Meal, and all he requested were what he calls, "Giada balls" - a dish made with leftovers (or a roto-chick & store-bought cornbread). Since these are based on arancini, my mom and I decided we'd do an Italian theme this year!
Like I said in my previous Thanksgiving blog post, I almost never make up a recipe for Thanksgiving. I think I'm going to make up the salad this year, though. Essentially, here's the email I sent my mom when I was thinking about the menu, haha.
We start the day with brunch and cocktails, natch. I saw Michael Voltaggio make this recipe on (my favorite food show right now) Guy's Ranch Kitchen, and it looked super fancy but also super easy (read: can make ahead): Avocado Confit toast with Blackberries
I think I'm also going to make these cocktails, because the simple syrup can 100% be made up to a week before: Earl Grey spritzes
(PS - Uncle Mark and Darryl, if you're reading this...can y'all host T'day brunch? I'll bring the food)
After hopefully spending the day on the beach (if I can get most of my prep done earlier in the week), here's what I'll be serving for our dinner.
Appetizers - classic charcuterie board, maybe these Stuffed and Fried Olives...but wait, I'll be frying the "Giada balls" so maybe not both? I also considered stuffed and fried squash blossoms, because I actually had those on our first night in Rome last year and they were wonderful - there are so many recipes for them out there, but this is the closest I could find to what I actually ate while we were there.
Salad - I have been obsessed with acorn squash lately. I slice it into planks, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and a sprinkle of parmesan and roast at 400 for about 20 minutes. While it's in the oven, I make a pistachio and parsley compound butter that I...honestly...have eaten with a spoon before. So I was thinking about making a panzanella salad (toasted bread salad) with acorn squash roasted in the same way, corn (Ryan's fave), caramelized onions, some fresh tomatoes, and a vinaigrette version of the compound butter. For the vinaigrette, I'll either melt the butter and add some red wine vinegar, or substitute olive oil for the butter. Literally all of that can be prepped at least one day in advance, and then combined while the appetizers are being consumed.
Main - I'm not doing the turkey. I think that was my breaking point when deciding I am semi-retired from making the traditional Big Meal. It takes up so much fridge space and honestly, my mom's not a big fan of turkey, and usually it's the last thing I eat on the plate. Besides it's crispy skin. I eat that while I'm carving it. So this year I am going to make Chrissy Teigen's prosciutto-wrapped chicken breasts*. I can certainly season and pre-wrap the chicken that morning and then just throw it in the oven while we have our appetizers. I am lucky enough to have two ovens, so being able to assemble everything in advance and then just throw it all in there is my goal this year.
Sides - I saw a recipe for cauliflower parmesan but as I type this out, I think the flavors of the heavy tomato sauce will clash with the rest of my menu, so I think that's a no. I would like my lovely parents to make some stuffed artichokes, though! ;) And another CT recipe, balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts with nuts and blue cheese*. I believe the artichokes could be made ahead of time, or at least prepped and ready to throw in the oven when everyone gets to our house. If you like my menu ideas and decide to make the cauliflower parm, it could definitely be made ahead of time as well. And the sprouts I'll throw in the oven with everything else.
Dessert - If you'll recall, I'm not a sweets gal. But on a big holiday, people expect dessert. So what's more Italian than tiramisu? Honestly, I'm not a big fan, but I know people like their sugar, and since this one doesn't involve coffee, Ryan will eat it! I do love me some chai...
I hope this has helped you make a Thanksgiving menu you wouldn't normally try! Or at least given you an update/insight into what our table will look like this year. Thanks for sticking with me!
*I wish I was best friends with Chrissy Teigen and I'm just not. So while I don't know her personally, I do love her cookbooks and just so happen to be using two from her first cookbook, Cravings. I'm definitely not getting paid to promote it in any way.
This appetizer came to me when I was house-sitting for my best friend's mom several years ago and had a piece of flank steak and access to about a million condiments. Since then, those same condiments have become staples in my own fridge, so I can make this dish whenever.
In these bites you have crunch from the phyllo shell (or heck, use a Triscuit), a creamy hit of heat from the horseradish mayo, topped with succulent salty sweetness from the steak. And the best part is that you can make the horseradish mayo and even the steak in advance - it can be served cold. Just don't assemble too early, as the cracker or shell will get soggy. Make these for your 4th of July bash - you won't regret it!
Here's what you'll need for the steak and marinade:
I pour the marinade ingredients into a Ziploc bag, poke the steak with a fork several times so it can absorb the flavors, then add it to the bag. I let it marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
We no longer have a grill, so I have to rely on our indoor grill pans. Here's my hack for keeping your stove clean: lay aluminum foil under the grill pan (not covering the flame) so that it extends past the pan and protects your stove top.
When it's time to grill, use tongs to pull the flank steak out of the marinade bag, and use your hand holding the outside of the bag to sort of squeegee off any excess marinade. Like this:
Grill on high heat for 5-6 minutes per side, rotating to get crosshatch char marks.
While the steak is grilling, make your horseradish sauce and heat up phyllo shells (if using) based on package directions. You ain't gotta heat up yer Triscuits!
Mix up the horseradish mayo and set aside:
Let the steak rest for 10 minutes after taking it off the grill, then thinly slice and cube.
Set up your prep station...
Add a teaspoon of horseradish mayo to the warm phyllo cups (or room temp Triscuits).
Then top with the steak and plate!
These are super easy and always a crowd-pleaser. They're also good without a cracker or phyllo cup, as steak bites with a horseradish dip, or thinly sliced steak sandwiches! If you wanted to make this execution super patriotic for the 4th of July this week, you could garnish with a blueberry for a sweet pop, and that red white and blue motif. Enjoy and stay safe!
I'm sorry it's been so long since you've read something new from me! I want to say thank you to those who have continued to check out my blog and Instagram - either looking for new recipes, or rereading some of your favorites. It means a lot to me. So instead of a recipe post, I feel like I owe it to y'all to fill you in on what's kept me away for so long.
If you got through all of that and still want to keep reading my blog, awesome. If that was too heavy, sorry, but it's my life. I have some recipes up my sleeves for blog posts in the future, that I hope you'll be excited to read. Here's a taste of what's to come:
Thanks for sticking around, guys. Much love to all of you!
This recipe came to me in a ketogenic fever-dream. I haven't always been the biggest fan of ranch dressing, but have always loved dry ranch wings from any wing restaurant that makes them. So, I was wanting a dry ranch moment without dealing with the mess of making wings, and knew I had bacon and cheddar cheese and I thought - let's just combine 'em all. I will say - this isn't too ranch-heavy, so if you don't love ranch (or your husband doesn't, a la Ryan), then this won't be overwhelming, it will just add a little herby garlicky flavor.
What you'll need: chicken tenderloin pieces, dry ranch seasoning (either the packet or the big bottle that I recently discovered existed), bacon, and sliced cheddar cheese. Definitely experiment with a different flavor of cheese if cheddar isn't your style. I will say, don't use shredded cheese; it just makes a mess.
Lay the bacon on a foil-lined sheet tray and place in a cold oven. Start the preheat for 375, cook until pliable but not fully cooked. In my oven it takes 13 minutes to reach 375 degrees, and I cooked the bacon an additional 9 minutes. I used thick-cut bacon, so if you're using a thinner cut, cook for less time. Let cool until warm but not too hot to handle.
I typically make 9 chicken fingers when I make this recipe. 2 for me for dinner, 3 for Ryan for dinner, and 4 leftover for both of our lunches. You may see that I have 10 slices of bacon on this sheet tray and think, "...But Savannah, you just said you were making 9 chicken fingers? Why are there 10 slices of bacon?" Because I didn't want to deal with putting it back in the package neatly, and sometimes you just need a snack.
Sprinkle some ranch seasoning on a plate, lay the chicken on top, then cover with more ranch seasoning. Let sit while the bacon cooks. When you go to wrap the chicken in the bacon later, the chicken will be a little gummy from the ranch seasoning. Don't worry, that just means the flavor has really gotten in there. However, if you want to avoid that, dry the chicken really well before covering in ranch seasoning, and don't let it dry marinate as long - maybe only 3-5 minutes.
Wrap each piece of chicken in a slice of bacon and place on a rack* over the same sheet tray you cooked the bacon on. The rack will ensure the heat gets all the way around the chicken fingers, making sure the chicken cooks quickly and the bacon gets crispy. Also, one pan dinner!
*You don't have to use a rack over a sheet tray if you don't have a rack. Just make it straight on the hot sheet tray. The first time I made this, I baked the chicken fingers in a casserole dish and I didn't get the crispiness I desired. Also - I don't like to bake my bacon on the rack if I'm only par-cooking it initially, because it sticks. This is all personal preference of course - you do you.
Bake in the 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Take out, top each chicken finger with half a slice of cheese, return to the oven for 5 more minutes.
These come out so cheesy but also crispy and tender and juicy and are one of my most recent obsessions. I like to serve them with just a veggie on the side - grilled zucchini here - and some of Kyndra Holley's ranch dressing. I absolutely love her blog and her cookbook, Craveable Keto, is where I got the recipe for her ranch dressing.
I really hope you make these tonight and that they become a regular in your house. They're easy and extremely satisfying.
Ingredients (there's only FOUR!):
Full disclosure: Cooking Savvy blog is an Amazon Associate and may earn a small portion of revenue if you click the link in this article and buy the cookbook. The link is independently placed and does not influence content.
Happy Valentine's Day! Today I'm sharing a dish that I love to eat and love to make. This was one of the first meals that I tried my hand at making and feel like I have perfected it over the years. I've tried a lot of chicken piccatas at a lot of different restaurants, and I still like mine best. Full disclosure: I made this the first time I met Ryan's parents, as it had become my "good first impression" dish, and he later told me his family normally doesn't love lemon, but they cleaned their plates! So I considered it a success. Anyway, let's get into the recipe.
You will need: thinly sliced chicken breasts, olive oil, butter, a lemon, a glass of dry white wine (I use/drink pinot grigio), capers, about 1 cup of flour, pasta, salt and pepper.
Your prep: Preheat the oven to 250, season flour in a shallow dish with salt and pepper, set a large pot of water to boil, and heat up olive oil over medium heat in a large shallow pan. You just need enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, we're not frying, just sautee-ing.
While the oil is heating up, lightly dredge each chicken breast in the seasoned flour. Again, we're not frying. You don't have to use flour, by the way, if you don't want to. I like using it because it holds the moisture of the chicken in and also thickens the resulting sauce. But you do you.
Also, shout out to my dad on these photos! Check out more of his work here.
While the chicken is cooking on the first side and the water is heating up, assemble what you will need next: get a large dish ready for transferring the chicken to the oven, pour a glass of wine (it's okay to drink half of it), and cut your lemon in half.
After 3 minutes, flip your chicken over. It should be pretty and golden brown. Cook on the other side for an additional 3 minutes.
After that 3 minutes, transfer the chicken to the dish and pop them into the oven to keep warm while you make the sauce and cook the pasta.
Squeeze in the juice of your lemon. This will start the de-glazing of the pan, and help get the yummy fond off the pan.
Use a flat-edged wooden spoon to start scraping up the bits and incorporate all of that chicken flavor into the lemon juice.
Next, pour in the glass of wine, season the sauce with salt and pepper, and add in 2 tablespoons of capers. I scoop the capers out of the jar with a fork, as to avoid getting any brine into the sauce. But if you want more of a salty bite, add in the brine and omit adding salt.
Yummm. And see how the sauce is opaque and looks rich? That's because of the flour. Now let's make this sauce silky...
Add 3/4 stick of butter. This will thicken the sauce a little more, give it a pretty sheen, and luxurious and velvety mouth-feel.
While the butter melts, cook the pasta. I used fresh pasta so it cooks in like, 3-4 minutes. If you're using dried pasta, I'd say throw it in the boiling water when you start making the sauce, as dried pasta cooks in about 8 minutes.
When the pasta is finished, place a pile on a plate, along with a piece of chicken.
And spoon on some sauce! Make this for your sweetie or yourself on this Valentine's Day. I guarantee you will love it. Plus, you probably already have all of these ingredients in your fridge or pantry, so even if you don't make it tonight, it makes for an easy weeknight dinner that still feels fancy. Enjoy my loves!
There's a restaurant in my hometown of Decatur, GA called The Marlay. They used to have this decadent, delicious, simple appetizer called Mushroom Toast, and my mom and I loved it. For some reason, when they got a new chef, it was removed from the menu. My heart was broken.
Luckily, I remembered the flavors well enough to figure out how to make it myself and it could not be easier. So yesterday, after a particularly bad day where I just didn't know what to do with myself - aside from binge watch Cougar Town, again - I remembered I had half a baguette, a container of mushrooms, and a little heavy cream, and I was like, aw yesssss, this is what I need in my life right now.
This portioning could easily serve two, but it was Friday and I'd had a bad day and sweatpants are all that fits me right now...so this was all for me.
Start out by preheating your oven to 400 and slicing your bread - I made 5 slices because sometimes I like odd numbers in appetizers. Season the bread with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Actually! I have a trick I learned from Geoffrey Zakarian, season the pan. So I drizzle the pan with a little oil, s&p, and lay the bread on top. Then just drizzle the tops with more oil and s&p. This way you make sure there is flavor all around without getting messy.
Also, I didn't realize I wanted to blog about this until I was already making it so please excuse the quality of both my pictures and my most-used (thanks Karen!) but maybe not the prettiest sheet pan.
You're going to toast these 3 minutes per side in the oven.
Next, slice up 5 (there I go again) button mushrooms, stems removed. I sliced mine pretty thin but do yo' thang. And mince one clove of garlic. If you're not a big fan of garlic, you can leave it out, but I think it adds just the right....tang? heat? umami? IDK, garlicky goodness.
Also, if you don't like chopping garlic because the smell gets all over your hands, get you one of these, it is awesome and really and truly works. Just wash your hands pretending this is a little bar of soap (and an actual pump of liquid soap), and the smell is gone!
This appetizer is so quick that you can make the mushroom sauce while the bread toasts - literally takes 6 minutes.
So melt about 2 tbsp of unsalted butter in a pan. It may seem like a lot of butter for a small amount of mushrooms and garlic, but the extra butter helps create the sauce. We're almost making alfredo, just without the cheese.
At the time, this was just one tbsp, but I added another when the mushrooms absorbed all of it.
Add in your mushrooms, and saute until they get a little bit brown. We're not caramelizing.
THEN add your garlic and a pinch of salt. If you add the salt with the mushrooms alone, they will start to steam and give off water and you do not want that to happen, because it will make your sauce too thin. Also, If you add garlic before the mushrooms, it will cook too fast and burn before your mushrooms are finished.
Stir this around so the garlic starts cooking, about 30 seconds.
Pour in half to 3/4 cup heavy cream. Stir until it gets thick and bubbly...
...like this! Make sure you scrape the sides down as well - the way the cream thickens there will help make the sauce richer.
Keep stirring and cooking until the sauce has reached the thickness you desire. I like mine a little loose so the bread can soak it all up, but you could certainly cook it longer (maybe 1 minute more) if you want a really thick sauce.
Pour the sauce into a bowl, plate up the bread, and serve with a spoon.
This is a great appetizer for a cozy night in, when unexpected guests drop in, or when your husband is working so you're home alone but you've had a bad day and he doesn't eat mushrooms anyway so why not (ahem). Enjoy my friends!
Full disclosure: Cooking Savvy blog is an Amazon Associate and may earn a small portion of revenue if you click the link in this article and buy the cookbook. The link is independently placed and does not influence content.
Y’all remember the movie Shrek? If you’ve read my bio (and I hope you have!), then you know I began - with my best friend Alanna - making the entire Thanksgiving meal in middle school. Seriously, we kicked our parents out of the house. Well, this first Thanksgiving we cooked together was right after Shrek came out on VHS. Yes, I said VHS. Blockbuster was my jam. Anyway, there’s a scene in the movie where Donkey is talking to Shrek during the famous “onion” conversation. Donkey mentions something along the lines of, “Why can’t you be a parfait? Everybody loves a parfait! You go up to a person and say hey, ‘Would you like a parfait?’ They ain’t gon’ say, ‘No, I don’t like no parfait’ Everybody loves a parfait!”
Needless to say, we quoted that movie, and especially that part, all week. So when it came to the best way to eat our Thanksgiving leftovers, the answer felt obvious. Turn them into a parfait!
That first year, we layered just leftover buttery turkey and traditional dressing into a pint glass, microwaved it, then topped with canned cranberry sauce (don't hate!). Over the years, we have all sophisticated our methods on the best way to layer and reheat our leftovers. This is how I make it now:
Grab a dinner plate and add on everything you would normally want to eat for leftovers. For me, that’s pretty much just turkey and dressing and a little bit of mashed potatoes. I love broccoli casserole and squash, don’t get me wrong. But for a leftover turkey parfait, I just want the basics.
Reheat your plate in the microwave according to microwave directions, or ~2-3 minutes.
Grab a pint glass or even a parfait glass! Start your layering. I like to start with a scoop of dressing, then turkey, then mashed potatoes, then gravy (reheat this separately), then cranberry sauce. Continue. In my opinion, microwaving all of the hot components first makes it easier to layer in the cold cranberry sauce when assembling your parfait. Our original method of microwaving everything in the glass and adding the cranberries on top was fine, but I never got enough cranberry! This also breaks up the heat and texture, so it adds a nice surprise with every bite!
The name may sound gross, but please, dear readers, give this a try. I promise it will be the only way you eat leftover Thanksgiving (or any leftovers?!) from now on.
If this is too adventurous for you, or just feels wrong - another leftover recipe I (and especially Ryan) love is Giada's Crispy Turkey Bites. The bomb.com.
I have never made up my own Thanksgiving recipes, I'll be honest. For such a big food day, I have always left it up to the pros. That being said, I have tried SO MANY recipes on Thanksgiving and it has truly been awesome! And while most people are of the school of thought that you never try a recipe for the first time when you'll be entertaining, I highly disagree - and so does my mom!
So today I am sharing with you my absolute favorite recipes that I have collected over the years, and a few I might try out this year. Just in case you are still finalizing your holiday menu. After all, I'm basically finalizing mine by writing this. Except for champagne, that is always on the menu.
I have tried so many turkeys over the 15+ years I've been making Thanksgiving dinner. Stuffed bird, citrus bird, pomegranate bird, a bearnaise bird (yum), one year we even put the stuffing under the skin of the bird! But I made this turkey last year and it was the best one I had ever made. The meat was juicy and the skin was crispy and kind of salty-sweet. So good!
Psst...BI-LO has frozen turkeys for 39 cents/pound right now! I got a 15-pounder for $5 last night.
Cooking Light Lemon-Thyme Turkey
This is the dressing I swear by. I could probably make it in my sleep. It's the perfect texture, balancing between crunchy and creamy, and is the perfect background for really any turkey you make. I think I'm going to make this in the crockpot this year, to save oven space.
And I just use regular Italian seasoning instead of finding Italian dressing mix, since I already have it in my pantry.
My Uncle Darryl usually makes the gravy, or at least, he makes one of the gravies. I never used to make it because he made giblet gravy and I didn't want any part of that. But then I realized I didn't have to include giblets and I was all in.
I don't have a recipe I follow for gravy, actually. When I take the turkey out of the roasting pan to rest, I pour the pan drippings into a fat separator (I like the one linked below), and let everything settle. Then I set the roasting pan on the stove - it will take up the space of two burners - add enough grease back into the pan so it equals about 1/4 cup grease, then whisk in 1/4 cup flour. Keep whisking, scraping up the bits on the pan, until it turns a pretty golden color. Whisk in a cup of the reserved pan drippings (not the fat!), and a cup of low-sodium chicken or turkey stock. Keep whisking until thick and smooth, then pour into a gravy boat.
If you make the turkey I linked above, the gravy may be a little on the salty side, so just taste as you go, and if it's too salty, add a little water - it won't dilute the flavor, just mellow out the salt.
These mashed potatoes are so good and so easy, I actually make them all the time. I don't bake them when they're finished, I just make them towards the end of cook time for the turkey and other sides, and put the lid on the pot. That keeps them warm enough. Oh! And I don't normally peel the potatoes, because the skin is so thin on Yukon gold potatoes that no one minds. This recipe makes A LOT of mashed potatoes, so I'll probably cut it in half since I'm only feeding 6 people this year.
I'm also of the mind that you only need one potato dish. So I don't usually make a sweet potato dish unless asked. Last year, I made these, and TBH, they were more hassle than I thought they'd be but everyone else loved them: Cooking Light Sweet Potato Stacks with Sage Browned Butter.
Martha knows what's up. This dish is so easy to make, it's usually what I work on as we pull everything out of the oven and carve the turkey. It has never taken me 45 minutes to make, especially if we have leftover bacon from breakfast (normally unheard of, but if I know it's going to save me time later, I'll refrain) and pre-shredded brussels sprouts.
Martha Stewart's Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
Recipes I Want to Try This Year
Mac and Cheese
My little sister normally takes the reigns on mac and cheese on Thanksgiving, since I can take it or leave it. ON THANKSGIVING ONLY PEOPLE, CALM DOWN! But, she won't be able to come this year (sad) and I was considering not making any until Ryan requested something cheesy on the table. Luckily, Southern Living has my back. In their Thanksgiving issue this year, they included their Best-Ever Macaroni and Cheese, along with two variations: Roasted Broccoli Mac and Cheese, and Herbed Breadcrumb-Topped Macaroni and Cheese.
I think I'll pick the Best-Ever or the Herbed Breadcrumb version, because I don't want to step on my Uncle Darryl's toes broccoli-wise. He makes the best broccoli casserole, aka cheese casserole with a little broccoli. Which mac and cheese would y'all try?
A Festive Appetizer
I saw Valerie Bertinelli make this Cream Cheese Log with Sweet-and-Spicy Cranberry Relish on her Food Network show last Saturday and it looked like a super easy and super flavorful appetizer that I could make a day ahead. Except I'll be omitting the green onions because, gross.
I also requested my mom make Roquefort grapes this year - mix room-temperature Roquefort cheese (or blue cheese) with a little room-temperature cream cheese, then mold around cold green grapes, and roll in toasted crushed walnuts or pecans. Easy, flavorful, tangy, and crunchy.
An Interesting Take on Salad
You didn't think this would be a recipe list without a Giada recipe, did you? She has a ton of great holiday themed recipes, but this is the one that stood out to me this year. Okay, it's technically a pastry, but I feel like the arugula on top makes it a salad. Kind of? Just let me have it. Either way, I'm going to make her Savory Butternut Squash Crostata, but I'm going to sub shallots for red onions because I don't love a strong onion flavor (see above).
I don't normally make a dessert for Thanksgiving. I either leave it up to someone else (my sister or her boyfriend) or consider the wine my dessert. But I saw Trisha Yearwood make this Lemon Pecan Slab Pie on The Kitchen last weekend and based on Jeff and GZ's reactions alone, I knew it would be amazing. See, I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I do love pie crust, and since this is a slab pie, there is lots of crust. And it seems like the lemon really makes the flavors pop. Plus, it looks relatively easy. I'll just throw this in the oven when everything else comes out and it will be done by the time we're done eating!
I am so excited for my favorite holiday - lots of delicious food and most importantly, spending time with my family. I hope you add one or more of these to your menu this year - and stay tuned for a great idea for leftovers inspired by my pre-teen self coming next week!
What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish? Comment below!
I love chili. It really is one of my favorite foods. I like traditional chili with ground beef, I like Texas style chili, I love a good white bean chicken chili - and turning that into enchiladas! And the easiest chili I've ever made, turns out to be more like Brunswick stew!
I have been making this recipe for years, after my mom's best friend Elizabeth brought it over for Halloween one year. You see, we always have chili on Halloween. Always. And one year we decided to make a few different kinds and Elizabeth contributed this little gem and we all fell in love. So this year, our neighbors came over to hand out candy with us, and when I served them this chili, they both exclaimed, "Oh this is Brunswick stew!"
What?? I have had Brunswick stew so many times and my food-loving brain never made this connection?! I was so surprised and also a little proud? I don't know. Call it chili, call it Brunswick stew, call it whatever you want! Just know that it is delicious and it couldn't be easier.
Um, so, yeah, these are the ingredients and you just dump them in a pot. Let it simmer for like, 20 minutes.
Sorry I cheated on you BI-LO, but you didn't have Lloyd's barbecue! And yes, it has to be Lloyd's. I have tried other brands and the balance of flavors and textures doesn't turn out right. Lloyd's also makes chicken barbecue, if you don't eat pork.
I also like to buy reduced sodium canned vegetables for this because a) the barbecue sauce has plenty of salt, and b) I don't drain and rinse the beans or the corn. You need the liquid from the cans to create the liquid for the chili. Also, feel free to experiment with other veggies! This is a choose-your-own-adventure recipe, as most of mine are - I'm just tellin' ya how I like it!
And if you're making this just for yourself, or just two people, the leftovers freeze beautifully. I pour it all into one large freezer Ziploc, but you could definitely freeze it in smaller freezer bags, for individual portions.
Well, this is my second post to begin with an apology - but this time, I have an excuse. It was Ryan's fault. He went back to being on a shift schedule and hasn't been home, and since the pictures featured in this post are ones he took, I had to wait until he took a day off yesterday for him to share them with me. And there are A LOT. So sit back, relax, and enjoy!
Oh and don't worry - I'll be back to posting food very soon. Thanksgiving is coming up after all!
After our wonderful visit to Prague, we took a few buses and trains to Munich so we could enjoy Oktoberfest. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Munich City West, which was really convenient to the train station. Our first stop was hunting for lederhosen and dirndls to wear to Oktoberfest. While Ryan and I didn't find any, Alan and Rachel did! We went to Oktoberfest that night about an hour before they closed for the night and I will tell you right now, if you are not on the same level of drunkenness and feeling the camaraderie (or a beer drinker), you will not enjoy it. By that time of night, the tables are sticky and it's loud and crowded. I hated it, but I knew Oktoberfest was the one big thing Alan wanted to do, so I put on a brave face and tried to stay positive. HOWEVER - when we went the next day, I had a much better time. Here's why:
The second picture was the tent where we finished our night - those are hops hanging from the ceiling. We saw so many fields of hops on our trains to and from Munich, it was super cool.
Look at this cutie. It was so great to watch him have a great time with his best bud. Also - our waitress was baller and was able to find wine for Rachel and me.
Speaking of Rachel, the next place we went was on her trip list. I've found over the years of trips with friends and sometimes family, it's good to have a mental "list" of one thing each person wants to do on the trip. So for this trip, mine was the Taste of Prague, Alan's was Oktoberfest, and Rachel's was to visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Ryan didn't have one, besides to see me hold a bird, which I will never do because birds terrify me.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Y'all, Rothenburg was my favorite place I have ever been, and that's saying something. It's part of the Romantic Road in Germany, and is this tiny walled city that is quaint and has lovely people and big open squares and small gift shops, and a beautiful vineyard. I think we also hit it in the sweet spot of our trip, when we can relax a little because there is no agenda and we're just all happy to be together.
When we first got there and were walking around, I saw a woman open her window and water the flowers growing in her windowsill planters and decided that was the dream - to be able to open your windows and water your flowers, right there. The whole town had a very Beauty and the Beast vibe. And if you know me well, you know Belle is my favorite princess.
We also discovered Ryan is a pretty good photographer on this trip. Who knew?! So all of the pictures in this post are from his phone.
Like for real. Check out that picture of grapes. This was the vineyard, which was pretty much right behind where we stayed, Boutiquehotel Goldene Rose (which was lovely and we had a great host, but I forgot to ask Ryan to photograph it and didn't take any pictures of it myself). You couldn't buy any wine at the actual vineyard, but there was a wine shop down the road that sold all sorts of German wines, including the wine made by the grapes in this vineyard. It was delicious.
I want a print of the begonias in the windowsill picture.
Oh, and do you see that tower in the upper left-hand side of the first picture?
We climbed it.
Have you ever realized all of a sudden that you're completely terrified of something you didn't know you were afraid of? Have you ever had it happen TWICE? The tower was so tiny and cramped to climb up, I realized that I might have a touch of claustrophobia. Then, realized just how high up we were and there is no room to walk around up there - it's the bell tower, you, then the railing. That's it. I never had a problem with heights until then. Ryan bravely took these photos with a death grip on his phone and we immediately went back down. Honestly, I completely forgot we did this until looking through these photos - I must have blacked it out in my memory.
After that terrifying adventure, we grabbed lunch on a shady patio and I had this delicious pasta with pea pesto, sundried tomatoes, and goat cheese. Next, we grabbed some wine and decided to walk part of the wall that borders the town.
We were so sad to leave this beautiful place. It's funny, I definitely thought Prague was the highlight of our trip, until we came here. Don't get me wrong - Prague is amazing and we had an awesome time there, but Rothenburg felt like home.
After some very long (and a few delayed) train rides that night, we got back to Berlin. The next day walking around, I think the trip caught up with us and we were so tired and didn't have much on our "list" for Berlin, so we kind of jig-jagged around the city.
We went to a few stops along the Berlin Wall Memorial, ate an amazing burger at Burgermeister, stopped at a Biergarten, and we knew there was a marathon happening, so we went to see the Brandenburg Gate late in the afternoon, hoping it would be over and guess what we stumbled upon?
A roller blade marathon! It was fun to see so many people out cheering them on, especially on a dreary day where we were all feeling tired and ready to be back home.
Overall, we had a fantastic time with our friends - we always do. Thanks guys for being patient waiting for these posts and reliving our adventures with me.
Stay tuned for an easy chili recipe coming to you this weekend!
Food that maximizes flavor and minimizes effort and time.