Making a Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Mac and Cheese 

We’ve all done it.  Opened the door, peered in, shut it again.  Left to wonder what exactly is in that freezer.  Despite best laid plans it’s easy to lose the plot.  Our freezer is nearly 6 feet tall so it’s really not a good idea to lose the plot!  It got to the point where we couldn’t fit anything in and I was wondering how much money we were wasting by not using what we had.  

Off I went to get clear containers to organise the meats, leaving the baskets for all our fruits and veg we had harvested.  I did have to get rid of some things but overall getting it organised and knowing what the heck was in there was a success.  

One of my finds was a vacuumed bag of leftover Thanksgiving turkey.  So this post is either well overdue or too early for Thanksgiving.  😄.  Even though we seem to be stuck back in with the sticky heat of summer we did enjoy autumn weather for a few weeks.  It was wonderful and perfect for some comfort food.  Mac and cheese would do the trick.


Would you believe this onion was supposed to be a scallion?  We planted half a raised bed of bunching onions so you imagine our surprise to find proper onions growing.

While making the cheese sauce for this dish, cook up the pasta.  Preheat the oven to 375F/200C. In a separate saucepan heat up a couple of tablespoons of butter.   Coarsely chop half of a large onion and add it to the butter.


Sauté on low until the onions soften.  Then add a couple of cloves of garlic, finely chopped.  Cook for a couple of minutes then add about a cup and a half of chopped turkey.  Season with a couple of teaspoons of fresh thyme and sage.  If you don’t have fresh sage use about a teaspoon of ground sage.  Continue to season with sea salt and pepper.  Then add a half cup/4oz of dry white wine.


To make it a roux add 2 tablespoons of flour.


Stir continuously until the flour is incorporated and cooked, about three minutes.


Next add 1 1/4 cup of milk and heat through.  Don’t boil!  Once the cheese is warm enough to melt cheese add a cup of grated cheddar and half a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Stir until the cheese has melted,


Put the cooked pasta into a baking dish and add the cheese sauce.  Mix well. Top with more grated cheese.


Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and brown the top of the dish.


Serve while hot.  Now we try to eat small portions in our house but with this dish we all had seconds and there weren’t any leftovers!  Guess we needed a break from salads.  😊

Scallops in the Shell

Does anyone have the cure for jet lag?  As we get older it seems to keep a hold on us longer and longer.  It didn’t help we came back to dreary rain.  Good for the garden, not so good at getting us going!  I do hope it means our garden will do better than it did last year.  Last year was a very dusty growing season.

Being back in the UK was wonderful, we had incredible weather and did loads of walking.  We had to walk off all the lovely meals my mother-in-law cooked up!  Of course we like giving her a break from cooking, she runs a B & B so she welcomes the break!  Last year we did a curry night as my father-in-law is a big fan but my MIL isn’t so this time round we did a tapas night.  Which I love doing!  So off we went to the shops to get ingredients.

Aside from the usual dishes that are easy to throw together I found some scallops on the shell, which is near impossible to get stateside, never mind getting scallops with the coral still attached.  So I couldn’t pass this up.

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Heat up the broiler/griller to medium.  Season the scallops with sea salt and pepper, thyme, olive oil, and rosé wine.  I had some of the wine from our France trip and while it turns out it’s not a favourite of mine I knew it would work well with this dish.

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Broil/grill until the scallops are cooked.  Be careful not to overcook the scallops, you still want it tender.  This will only take a couple of minutes.

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Serve on the shell.  This is a fun and quick dish to make, I just wish I could get this round here! It was a great night with good food, good company, and good wine.

Pommes Boulangere and How to Up My Game

I wouldn’t say I’m a perfectionist because good luck with that.  No one is perfect!  But I really dislike not being really good at something.  Needless to say it leads to disappointment.  For example, you will never see me dancing and singing on stage.  That is reserved for the car and the kitchen.  I wish I was better at food photography.  It’s strange because with everything else I can come up with some very good photos but I struggle with food.  And plating.  I can paint, create, design most things.  Food?  There is a mind block.  Which is tricky when you have a food blog.

So imagine my envy when I came across Roger’s post for Pommes Boulangere.   Granted he made a career doing this but I saw his food pic of the ingredients and just went wow.  That is what I am looking to achieve.  I immediately put photography books and food photography books on my Christmas list.  This is my New Year’s resolution to improve in this area.  It’s in my head but doesn’t always translate.  Time to start thinking outside the box and just do it and practice.

And the recipe?  Had to try it.  I admit for the first time I was hesitant to blog about a recipe that someone else did because of the difference in the photography but this dish is so delicious it outweighed my concerns.

Preheat the oven 375F/190C.  Avoid the convection on this one.  I should have and you’ll see why below.

I finely chopped half an onion and thinly sliced about 1 1/2 cups of leeks.  I use the green parts all the time.  Lots of flavour and less waste.

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I took 3 potatoes and thinly sliced them.  Quite the task when you don’t have a mandolin but I managed.

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In a skillet melt 2T of butter and saute the leeks and onions until softened.

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Add a cup of homemade poultry stock.  I used our turkey stock for this.  Also add 1 cup of dry white wine and bring to a simmer.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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The recipe calls for fresh thyme but I didn’t have any as ours is currently buried in snow.  So I used some fresh sage we had on hand. After simmering for a couple of minutes add the potatoes.  Cook for 10-15 minutes covered.

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Pour into a shallow baking dish.

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Bake until potatoes are cooked and golden with most of the liquid absorbed.  Here was my error in using convection.  It got crispy too fast so I switched to regular baking.  Covering would have helped as well.  Live and learn!

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This makes a wonderful side dish.

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I must say though if you can, make it a day or two ahead.  I found on the second and third day using up the leftovers that the flavours really melded together perfectly and it just got better and better.

Wine, Vigo, and Cambados Makes for a Lovely Day

Our last port before we shifted back to reality was Vigo.  The area is known as the Wales of Spain as it is so lush and full of green hills.  Our expectations weren’t high for this stop as we didn’t know much about it and all we could see was that Vigo was a small place.  We decided for this stop we’d do a shore excursion that took us wine tasting.  I am really glad we did as the scenery was beautiful and the wine was wonderful.  Plus it turns out two of our new friends had also signed up for the wine tasting so we had a blast with them.  They even brought crisps and chocolates for us so we didn’t go hungry.  Not sure if it is a good or bad thing they had figured out in a very short time we get cranky without snacks!  In either case it was cheers for them bringing the goods.  🙂

We had the best bus driver.  He drove that thing like it was a sports car.  The bus kept up with him as well.  The toll booths had arms that would fly up once the computer sensed the bus going through.  He had it timed just right and would fly through.  The first time we all gasped as we thought he was going to bust through the arm.  Then we burst out laughing.  He just grinned.  On the way back he actually accelerated towards it.  By this time we were all for this and were very disappointed when we got stuck behind a small delivery truck.  Coming into the port we saw another arm and were egging him on but he had to stop because it was a manual arm.  A lot of sighs and nuts to that!  Guess we’re all kids at heart.

On the way to the first winery we passed large squares in the water.  We saw them as we glided into port but couldn’t figure out what they were.  They were raised just above the water so they didn’t look like fish farms but what else could they be?  Turns out we weren’t far off.  They were mussel farms.  They would attach baby mussels to ropes that hung underneath and they would harvest them 18 months later.

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The winery we went to is Granbazan Winery and the grapes they grow are Albarino grapes which makes a white wine.  They have a winery outside of Valencia that makes red and we got to taste one red.  But this place focuses on the white.

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It was a lovely place.  The way they grow the grapes is horizontally up off the ground so it makes a canopy and allows the air to circulation round the grapes.  Notice at the bottom right of the photo there is a red car.  They parked their cars under the grapes!

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Nearly every home we drove by, no matter the size of their yard, had some sort of crops growing.  Those that grew grapes would sell some to this winery and keep some to make their own wine.  Even in the villages we would come across what looked like mini churches.  These held the grains for the winter.  They are built up off the ground to keep the critters out.

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After a tour of the winery and how they make the wine it was time for the tasting.  My favourite part.  I’ve moved away from white wines and prefer red but I really enjoyed their whites.  Crisp and not too sweet which is the way I like it.

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A select amount of the wine would be oak aged but most of their whites weren’t oak aged.

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After the tasting we retraced our steps to Cambados for a sort of second wine tasting.  They took us to a hotel there where they had basic tapas and wine was out for us to have.  A bit of a disappointment as I thought we were going to two wineries and I’ve been spoilt by the tapas thus far.  The four of us then wandered the village a bit and found a pastry shop that sold meringue for a Euro.  These things were massive so we split one between the four of us.  Oh so delicious and one hell of a sugar rush.  It was a neat little village so it’s on our list of where to return.  Quiet streets with cafes and old world buildings.

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We enjoyed our visit there and the whole cruise.  It was bittersweet as we got to the end.  We missed the kids like mad but we enjoyed ourselves very much experiencing new things and making new friends.

Vigo

Today was our last stop. The port is Vigo but we took a tour to Cambados for wine. It’s a lovely area and the weather is behaving!

We tried a few whites and a delicious Syrah then had a wander about. Next up is getting through the Bay of Biscay. The water has proven to be a bit choppy since yesterday!

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Wine, Cheese and the PTA

I sometimes, ok a lot of times, put my foot in it.  I’m good at saying the wrong thing.  I think I offended the cheese guy at our local grocery store yesterday.  I was looking at the cheeses, most of them generic and mass produced, and he asked me if I was finding what I was looking for.  I said yes though I lamented the fact it is so hard to find a large variety of cheeses.  I mean go to Europe and they all have personality and variety.  Of course he said we have lots of cheeses.  I paused and said yes for America I suppose we do.  He got huffy and said well we’re in America.  Yes, yes we are.  I quickly moved on.

I was able to find a few good cheeses for our PTA meeting of the officers to go with the wine we had.  Had a lovely bottle of Cotes de Rhone.  There were a few tomatoes in the garden ready to be picked so I grabbed a few with some basil to balance it all out.  Pleased to say the meeting went well and the cheeses were left with huge dents!  🙂

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Tuscany

In a recent post I mentioned going to Italy on our honeymoon and enjoying a private cooking lesson.  The place we had a cooking lesson was at Cassafrassi just north of Sienna.  The rooms were clean and basic but the view and the wine were out of this world.  A type of wine you can get over there is a Super Tuscan and that blend is by far my favourite.  We occasionally find it stateside but it’s not easy.

As soon as we arrived they asked if we would like a wine tasting and an olive oil tasting.  They had three wines and one olive oil.  We started off with a basic Chianti that the local farmers would have with their lunch.  It was inexpensive and went well with bread and cheese.  The next wine was a Chianti Classico and was lovely.  The gentleman pouring the wine said the first wine was good for hard work, the second for eating with, then he introduced the Super Tuscan and said this was for meditating with.  Oh my!  It was smooth and delicious.  Then we tried the olive oil.  It was interesting as I don’t normally have olive oil straight!  I can’t say I would rush out and do it again but it was good to do so I knew what I was putting in my food.

We then asked if it was ok to walk around with a glass of wine.  But of course!  My kind of place.  So we each got a glass of the Super Tuscan and I grabbed my camera for our walkabout.  This place has plenty of grapes and olive groves to wander through.

During the day looking out at this view it felt like it’s been this way for hundreds of years.  Only at night when the lights come on do you get a feel for any modernization.  Just to the left of where we were standing is a home for the caretaker.  At the time it was a couple from London who came to oversee the vineyard and grove.  To be able to wake up to this every morning!

The olive harvest would have happened a few weeks after we were there.

The grape harvest was complete at this time but the vines were still beautiful.

We live in New England and I wish rosemary was a perennial here.  So I was a little envious of all the rosemary we came across.

If we magically win the lottery we would love to buy a place like this.  It was amazing.