What’s for Dinner? Leftovers!

Lots of leftovers floating around in the next few weeks.  Don’t miss an opportunity to create an easy meal out of them!  Below, a few of my family’s favorites.

Leftover Turkey Soup

Easy peasy!  Pick through your turkey carcass and get every drop of that meat off of it.  Add carrots, celery, onions, and whatever else your little heart desires (think bok choy/cabbage, kale, tomatoes, turnips, etc.).  Add enough water to cover all of the ingredients.  Add spices of your choice – we use rosemary, fennel, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper.  Simmer until all veggies are soft.  If desired, add some pasta.  I used whole wheat egg noodles for this post-Thanksgiving batch.  I find them to be less filling; they don’t swell as much after you eat them.


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Another of my favorites is a quick roast of pumpkin seeds. My little secret is that after I spread them out on the baking sheet, I spray them lightly with a cooking spray (like Pam) before sprinkling liberally with seasoning salt. The spray boosts their nuttiness by giving them some added buttery flavor. Bake at 350 for about 20 mins or until golden, tossing about halfway through. Great and (relatively) healthy snack to sit out for any of those unexpected holiday guests!


Bacon Shiitake Gravy

Bacon.  Mushrooms.  Gravy.  This is a surefire win with your Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing.  Also pairs well with beef, chicken, and pork.  Hearty and satisfying, with classic familiar flavors plus a little extra pizzazz.  And very easy to do.  I literally whipped this up in about 15 minutes.  Ready…set…GO!

Bacon Shiitake Gravy

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 6 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 8 oz of shiitake mushrooms, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4-6 large cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, finely chopped
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1-2 tablespoon flour (optional)

Sauté onions until carmelized.  Add bacon, garlic, paprika, and thyme.  Cook and stir until bacon is browned but not crispy.  Add mushrooms and let them sweat out and soften.  Add chicken broth and simmer for 5-7 minutes.

Pour small batches into blender until all is pureed.  It’s not going to be silky smooth, but rather a hearty texture.  Return to skillet, whisking in flour if desired for extra thickness.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Possibly the prettiest pic of gravy I’ve ever seen!  😉

Gravy is not pretty.  I mean, it’s gravy.  But these ingredients have that rustic look that match the flavor this gravy brings to your dish.

One Stop Pumpkin Pie Shop

Nothing says Thanksgiving like turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and of course … PUMPKIN PIE.  Want to really wow your family?  Before hitting the frozen isle or the grocery store “bakery,” try making your own.  I decided to do that very thing one year and now I swear I’ll never buy Mrs. Smith’s again.  Using fresh pumpkin, my own ground spices, an easy buttery flaky crust, and homemade whipped cream, I am now able to proudly present a pumpkin pie worth being thankful for.  But not before a faux pas or two….

One of the things I love about this recipe is how much more flavorful the spices are.  While many store bought pies can be bland, this one really shines.  So for the first year I brought it to Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws’ house, I doctored it up a bit to ensure lots of flavor.  I was super excited.  Homemade pumpkin pie….what a great daughter-in-law I turned out to be, right??  Dessert time rolled around and I took a slice first, because I just knew this was going to be awesome.  As I watched others try it, I noticed they were chewing slowly, sort of obligatorily, and smiling that smile.  You know that smile.  The something-is-wrong smile.  Nobody would say it out loud, but my pie was awful.  I had gotten too heavy-handed with the allspice and cloves, and it tasted like medicine.  Even I couldn’t finish it.  I apologized, we all had a good laugh, and I promptly threw my failure away.

I skipped making pumpkin pie the next year to help the memory fade, but this year I’m back.  Pay close attention to my spice notes.  They are on point this time, as was evidenced by my husband, daughter, and brother-in-law, who could only mumble “mmm mmm mmm…” while being my guinea pigs.  So I’ve finally got it figured out …. and we can all be thankful for that!

Buttery Pie Crust

  • 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter, chilled and diced
  • ¼ cup ice water

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.  Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.  I hand-mix mine for the best results.  Stir in water, one teaspoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Spray a little nonstick spray on bottom of pie dish.  Roll dough out to fit a 9-inch pie pan, pressing evenly into the bottom and sides of dish.  With a fork, poke holes in bottom of dough.

My REAL LIFE confession to you:  I have not yet gotten my pie crust to not shrink.  I have heard that glass pie dishes amplify the problem, but my husband gave me these dishes and I love them.  So, there.  But when I finally perfect it, and I will, you’ll be the first to know!  (Okay, maybe the second.)

My sexy new rolling pin!
Fork tines make a great, quick decorative pie crust.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

Cut a pie pumpkin in half, remove seeds, and place open side up on baking sheet.  Cover with foil and bake on 350 for about an hour.

Once pumpkin is cooked, mix together the following:

  • 1/½ cup pumpkin
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ²/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 eggs

For your spices, put the following in a spice grinder or coffee grinder:

  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 1 teaspoon whole clove
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Grind until spices are processed as much as you can get them.  When you’re done, take a small strainer and strain powder into a separate bowl.  What’s left should just be small pieces.  Take out any larger pieces (sometimes cloves leave behind stems).  Anything else that didn’t strain through can be ground more in a mortar and pestle or with a meat tenderizer.

Mix all the spices together very thoroughly, then spoon 3 teaspoons into the pumpkin mixture.  (You will have about half of the spice mixture leftover, and some of that will be used later for the whipped cream.)  Stir and blend pumpkin mixture thoroughly, then pour into pie shell.  Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing to ensure pie has completely set up.

Pumpkin Pie 1.jpg

Honey Spiced Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (from above)

Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix with electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  Pipe or dollop onto pie.


Eat and be thankful.


Apple Raisin Sausage & Pierogies

Am I the only one who can hardly believe that Thanksgiving is this week??  Sheer craziness.  This year flew by … but then, I always say that come November.  If I’m perfectly honest with you, traditional Thanksgiving food doesn’t excite me that much.  Even more than that big juicy bird, I enjoy the different, the interesting, and the non-traditional.  And so, Apple Raisin Sausage & Pierogies!

What I love most about this dish is … well, there are a lot of things I love about this dish!  It has an unexpected flavor profile with many different notes that come together in a surprisingly pleasant way.  It screams holiday, with its apples and raisins, comforting creaminess, and potato pouches.  And it’s versatile!  I use a chicken sausage, which is lighter and healthier, but you can also get this in tofu form, giving your vegan guests an option at your Thanksgiving table.  Plus, it’s easy!  Yay!  There’s nothing I like more around these crazed holidays than something that is versatile, satisfying, and easy to prepare.

Apple Raisin Sausage & Pierogies

  • 8-10 links of Apple Raisin Chicken Sausage
  • 3 medium peppers (I used yellow & green)
  • 1 medium red apple
  • ½ small onion
  • 1 pat of butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Salt & onion powder, to taste
  • Olive oil for sautéing
  • 12 oz Cheddar Onion Pierogies

Brown sausage links, then put aside.  Sauté onion, peppers, and apples until softened.  Add butter, milk, and flour, mixing thoroughly until it creates a thick sauce.  Add sausage back to pan and keep on medium-low to keep warm.  Stir occasionally to take care the sauce does not scorch.

Bring pot of water to boil and and cook pierogies.  They don’t take long!  Strain from pot as soon as they rise to the top of the water.

Plate sausage and veggies over the pierogies, adding more of the sauce on top.  Serves about 2-3 people.



SAUCE! part 1: No-Cook Tomato Sauce

It would seem a grievous error for the very first Saucy Tomato blog post to not be about, well, SAUCE!  And today, you will get an Official Blog Launch 2-for-1 Special!  I’ll share a nifty trick for creating a thick and hearty tomato sauce in my next post, but for now let’s start with something that’s easy, yummy, and doesn’t even require a stove top…

No-Cook Tomato Sauce

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 basil leaves, cut in ribbons
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar (opt)

Mix tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar (opt) in a bowl.  Marinate for 3-4 hours.

If you don’t have 3-4 hours of advance prep time, you can microwave all ingredients except the basil for about 5 minutes or until tomatoes have begun to break down, then toss in the basil at the end.

After marinated (or microwaved), add salt and pepper and smash all ingredients together with a fork.  Serve over warm pasta, topped with Parmesan or goat cheese and extra basil leaf ribbons.


Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes are juicy and sweet, plus add an attractive pop of color to your dish.

SAUCE! part 2: Eggplant Tomato Sauce

Eggplants are still hanging on to their season and I know a lot of us have been trying to figure out what in the world to do with them.  Well, can I tell ya … they make a great spaghetti sauce thickener!  I emptied out several spots in my fridge and made a hearty, thick sauce along with ground turkey and spaghetti squash.  My family ate monstrous portions, even my 5-year-old.  That’s a win!

 Eggplant Tomato Sauce

  • 6-8 medium-large tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 red or yellow peppers
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and diced
  • 1 head of kale
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1-2 tbsp oregano and basil, fresh if you have it, but dried is fine, too
  • ½-1 tbsp garlic and onion powders
  • salt and pepper to taste to taste.
  • ¼-1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.

Simmer on medium-low until all veggies are soft, then puree everything in a food processor. Voilà!