Turkey? No more for me, please! If you are tired of turkey leftovers, this is the post for you!
Originally Published in the Greenwood Daily Journal Saturday November 26, 2011
If you are like me at this point in the week you are tired of turkey. You have made the leftovers every which way, from sandwiches to pot pie and turkey soup. You can only have leftovers for so long before you are done with the bird until next year.
This year, it wasn’t my turn to make the token roast turkey, but I still made one this week. I am not sure why, because I was granted a reprieve this year. Yet I still had this need for leftovers. I can not seem to turn away from that requisite turkey, cranberry and stuffing sandwich after all of the festivities have died down. I don’t know if you remember that episode of Friends several years ago where Ross brings the Thanksgiving leftover sandwich to work and then goes into a fit when someone eats it. Well folks, that is me. I will wrap mine up and hide it in the back of the refrigerator. You never know, the husband may have the same idea.
But after the dust from this holiday has settled and you have recovered from all of your Black Friday festivities and had a nap, you will be in the mood for something different. Something not at all like you have had in a while. If you are like me you may also be in a cooking slump. Yes, even I have this happen from time to time.
It was during this slump that I felt like I needed to re-charge with new material. I realized that I needed to scale back my cooking expectations and get back to basics. Start at the beginning. I went into my pantry and took my first 3 cookbooks that I received as a young married woman off of the shelf. After dusting them off, I thumbed through the first one, Joy of Cooking, only to come up empty handed. Too many choices, not enough pictures. Next up was the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook and after flipping through I still was unsatisfied. Last in the lineup was the Taste of Home best of 1996 cookbook; I was intrigued. Bright pictures, easy steps and within minutes, I had found several dog-eared pages with long-forgotten notes that I had made on every recipe I had tried. Score!
The timing of stumbling across this cookbook couldn’t be more perfect as I was going to not one but two Taste of Home cooking shows in the next week. My mother and I had bought our tickets for the Bloomington show months ago and just that week I had been given 2 tickets to the Indianapolis show. this was going to be the perfect thing to bring me out of my slump and bring happy back to my dinner table. I mean, how many ways can you make chicken exciting?
I was pleasantly surprised at this show and if you ever have the chance to go to one I highly recommend it. The chef, Dana Elliot, was not only funny but a walking dictionary of food and ingredients. Her lively performance elevated the simple dishes she was preparing. I walked away rejuvenated and with 8 new things I was going to try in the coming week.
I had a chance to speak with the Chef before the show and she said something that struck a chord with me. She told me that people really stress and over think meal preparation and planning. There is no Food Police that swoops in and smacks your hand if you don’t follow a recipe to the letter. Heaven forbid you improvise. I agree with her. I have passed over many a recipe because one ingredient may not be what I like or could easily find. Who says you have to use it then?
One of the meals in my new arsenal is easy skillet lasagna; by far one of the easiest dinner recipe I have ever made, ever. It uses 5 ingredients, 6 if you want to be fancy, and can be made in 30 minutes. Perfect for a busy weeknight. What’s more is my kids love it! I mean we ate every morsel in the skillet and they wanted more!
Don’t get me wrong, this will feed a family of five with a few side items thrown in. I think we were just really hungry on this particular night. I have made it 3 times since I saw the cooking demonstration and every time I make it a bit different. Once, I threw in a handful of diced peppers, mushrooms and onions with the cooked meat for a bit of crunch and color. Alternately, you can use any ground meat you prefer here. I have used ground sirloin and ground chicken. All of the ways were very good. There are no rules here.
The chef used something that I have seen many times recently but I have never used before. Philadelphia Cream Cheese cooking cream. I have avoided it since it came out. I am not one to buy pre-made food items or things that are really processed. I know, I know…that sounds like food snobbery but it’s true. Nothing wrong with it, this is just a personal choice. I was willing to relax my irrational food objections, try a new ingredient and go for this recipe. I am SO glad I did!
So if you, too , are looking to boost your repertoire of family friendly foods I suggest you try this meal or at the very least check out one of the many cooking periodicals on the newsstands today. Taste of Home, Cooking Light, either one. You won’t regret it. Let one of these be your lighthouse in the fog of dinner doldrums like it was for me.
This quick one-skillet dinner encompasses all of the thing we like about lasagna but made in less time with way fewer ingredients. And it doesn’t involve any turkey!
I am sure your whole family will love the classic flavors in this rich and creamy Italian dish. A happy family at dinner time? Now that is definitely something to be thankful for!
Get the easy skillet lasagna recipe here —> Easy Skillet Lasagna