Sometimes I have thought about what to open that night before 8am...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Best Use of Thanksgiving Leftovers - EVER!

So by now you have had your fill of left overs.  You've made sandwiches, possibly soup, and if you scoop one more serving of mashed potatoes and gravy as an afternoon snack you are wondering if you may just loose your ever loving marbles.  That is my problem with Thanksgiving.  At some point, I am just tired of leftover turkey dinner.

So that left me wondering, what could I make that I hadn't already made?  What could possibly be an alternative use for the leftovers that wouldn't scream "TURKEY DINNER! TURKEY DINNER! TURKEY DINNER!!!!!"  And because I am a few french fries short of a happy meal, the following thought immediately popped into my head:

Thanksgiving Enchiladas with
Cranberry Verde Sauce and Goat Cheese

I know it sounds crazy.  I was more than a little afraid I would have a disaster on my hands.  The results however, were incredible.  This will become a yearly tradition.  In fact, I may just make Thanksgiving Dinner for Christmas, and New Years, and Easter, oh and definitely Memorial Day...

So, in case, you are feeling a little crazy with your own leftovers, I thought I would pass the recipe along.  Without further ado, I give you:

Thanksgiving Enchiladas with Cranberry Verde Sauce and Goat Cheese
Corn Tortillas
Goat Cheese
Cranberry Sauce
3 cans of Old El Paso Verde Enchilada Sauce (use whatever brand you like, this is just what I bought)
The rest of your Thanksgiving leftovers!

 I bought a tub of fresh cranberry sauce at Trader Joe's specifically for this recipe.  Please feel free to use whatever you had at thanksgiving, unless it is Cranberry Jelly (you know, the round kind? ; ) I think that would be too thick to work with the Enchilada Sauce. 

Combine the 3 cans of Verde Enchilada Sauce with approximately 1.5 cups of cranberry sauce.  Taste as you go, you will know when you get the perfect flavor for your family.

I chose Corn Tortillas because I thought the flavor of the corn would enhance the Thanksgiving flavors.  Tim agreed with me on the flavors, BUT he said, he would still have preferred flour tortillas.  To each his own.  Maybe next year I'll go half and half.  Or maybe not.

Picture of the sauce after I mixed it.

Smear a corn tortilla with goat cheese.  Top it with an assortment of Thanksgiving leftovers.  I mixed and matched for each enchilada.  Some had turkey, mushrooms, and stuffing.  Some had mashed potatoes, green beans and mushrooms.  Some had turkey, green beans, and mashed potatoes.  Like this one.
Pour some of your Cranberry Verde Sauce into the bottom of your casserole dish.  This will help keep them from sticking. 

Roll up the enchiladas and put them in the dish. 

Pour the rest of sauce over the top.

 Cover with tinfoil and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees.  You are really just heating it all up, since you did all of the cooking on Thanksgiving!

Unfortunately, there is no pretty picture of the finished product.  I was too busy eating to remember to take one!

This recipe made 20 enchiladas.  I wish it made more, as there were no leftovers. 

Next year... two turkeys! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Creme Brulee Stuffed, Chocolate Dipped Figs


How To Impress the Heck Out of Your Holiday Guests

Tim made these recently.  They are possitively divine. 
Creme Brulee
12 Fresh Figs
1 pound good quality Dark, or Semi Sweet Chocolate

Make the Creme Brulee one day ahead.  This is the recipe that we like best for Creme Brulee.  Skip the last step of adding the sugar and bruleeing the custard.  Wrap the custard tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2:
Scoop out about 1/4-1/3 of the flesh of your figs from the bottom. A small melonballer or tomato shark works well.

Remove custard from refrigerator and transfer to mixing bowl. Mix vigorously w/ a whip. (this is what Tim wrote, I am pretty sure he meant whisk, but whip made me giggle, so I left it!)

Place Custard in a small pastry bag fitted with a small to medium size round tip.

Fill figs w/ custard and lay figs on side. Place figs in freezer for about 1 hour.

Remove figs from freezer. Very carefully, while holding stem, torch the figs enough to make them sweat. Only about 1-2 seconds.

Dredge the lower 2/3s of the figs into the remaining sugar mixture that was left over from the creme brulee recipe.

Again, very carefully, hold the now dredged figs by the stem and torch until the sugar melts and starts to slightly brown or 'brulee'.

Place figs back in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes.

Melt chocolate in a double broiler.

Remove figs from freezer. While holding figs by the stem, dip the lower 1/2 into the melted chocolate. place figs on a tray covered with wax paper. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Absolute Heaven!
Prepare for complete adoration and worship after serving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day Three - Everyone Else

So here we go.  I am going to keep the descriptions a little briefer in this post, because I got a little carried away and there are a lot of links!  I hope you have enjoyed my g2g Christmas ideas, and maybe found a little inspiration!  It is so easy to make a difference in the world around us.  We just have to choose to do it!

Coffee Maniac
I love this business.  The are a purveyor of fair trade organic coffee.  They utilize the funds raised through the sale of their coffee to support both their church and their many outreach programs.  Their monthly subscription program would make a terrific gift for the coffee drinker in your life.  Oh, and they have some special gifts available for Christmas.  You can find pictures on their facebook page!  Oh, and did I mention the coffee is delicious?  Because it is!

Pajama Girl
It is not uncommon to find me in my pajamas before 6:30 at night.  Don't judge me, I like to be comfortable!  Punjammies is part of The International Princess Project.  Founded in 2005 they advocate for women and girls sold into prostitution in the red light district of India.  The making and selling of Punjammies gives them an opportunity to change their future.  Read the story.  It will make you want a pair of their beautiful Punjammies.  The Lakshmi Lily are my favorite!

We all know an avid golfer.  I have bought my share of golf balls, golf shirts, golf shoes, and even rounds cards.  I know Tim appreciated those gifts, but I truly think he would love this even more.  American Lake Veteran's Golf Course is a 9 hole golf course located in Tacoma, Washington.  According to their website they, "promote the rehabilitation of our disabled veterans through the healing power of golf, in an atmosphere of camaraderie that aids in the healing transition of their physical, mental and emotional challenges."  Currently, in partnership with Jack Nicklaus they are adding on a second nine.  Your donation would help to support the amazing work they are doing there everyday.

A special woman in your life
This is the organization that started my g2g Christmas.  If you remember, I talked about my friend Niki's trip to Africa while working with CARE.  It was inspiring and life changing.  CARE has many amazing programs at work in the world.  Your donation will help them continue.  A few of my favorites are:
Let Her Live -  Care's Maternal Health Work.  They are trying to promote access to safe pregnancy and delivery methods for 30 million women in Africa, Asia, and Latin America by 2015. 
Let Her Learn - Care's Education Work.  Their goal is to empower 10 million girls around the world to access quality primary education and gain leadership skills.
They have many other tremendous programs.  Poke around the website.  See what you find!

The New Home Owner
No one knows the blood, sweat, tears, and money that goes into a home better than the new homeowner.  Making a donation to Habitat for Humanity can help make the dream of a home a reality for someone who never thought it would be possible.  When you give a Gift From the Heart, they will mail a card to your recipient letting them know of your gift.  My favorite part?  Right on the side of the donation form it tells you what your money will buy!

World Changer
Episcopal Relief and Development is one of my very favorite charities.  There is such diversity in the gifts available, and the opportunity to make a significant difference, for a small amount of money is incredible!  For example:  You can give a goat, a duck, a mosquito net, a clean water system, a fruit tree, or a stove ... just to name a few.  The catalog has so many amazing opportunities, choosing can be a problem!

Keep in mind, many ideas from the teen section and kids section could be applied to the adults in your life as well.  In fact, if someone wants to get me these Tom's shoes... I'm a size 8.

Oh, and one more quick thing. 

If these things still didn't fit the bill, why not continue the search yourself?  And if you have an idea that I didn't list here, add it in the comments.  There are so many world changing organizations out there doing amazing work.  Let's share the love!

And finally...

Thank you for coming along on my Give Two Gifts Christmas journey!  I hope you've enjoyed the ride!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day Two - Teen Edition

Teen gifts are especially hard to buy.  At least for me.  And when I say teen, I really mean teen/young adult.  Right now I am blessed to have two daughters in college.  While this is an amazing time in their lives, and in ours, it is also a difficult shopping period!

You don't want to buy the silly fun things you might have picked up in prior years, because they live in a confined amount of space, AND any thing that they take to college...must be brought home from college.   The last thing you want is for everything not to fit in the car!  You also don't want to give them only practical gifts, because they have learned to live practically being away at school, and isn't Christmas about joy and fun and whimsy?

Which leaves me struggling for inspiration. 

And yet who better for a g2g gift, than the young adult in your life?  That is one of my favorite things about that time.  They believe they can change the world.  Why not help them do it?!

Music Lover

A registered 501 (c)(3) charity, Save the Music is an organization sponsored by VH1, and aimed at keeping music education in the schools.  When you visit their website, there is a shop tab in the upper right corner.  While there are many ways to donate, I am particularly fond of the Student Advocate option.  For $25 they get a downloadable membership card (which actually gets them discounts from Foundation partners), a Student Advocate t-shirt, and my favorite part... tips on how to be an advocate for music education in their own school.


The Nature Conservancy is a BBB Wise Giving Alliance Accredited Charity.  According to their website, "The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to preserve the plants, animals, and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive."  They actually have a Green Holiday Gift page where you can Adopt a Rainforest, Protect a Coral Reef, Plant Trees, and many, many more things.

Most people have heard about Lance Armstrong and his incredible victory over cancer. Inspire your athlete to strive harder, reach higher, and dream bigger by purchasing Livestrong products. All of the profits from the Nike Livestrong merchandise Go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation to help fight cancer. You can find Livestrong products at many sports retailers, as well as

I realize that I listed this under kids gifts, but I think it holds true for the young adult athlete as well.  Why not take it one step further and include a copy of Lance's book, It's Not About the Bike ?  It is a great read!

Sweet Soul

The Make a Wish Foundation is such an incredible organization, and I loved creating fun ideas to make a donation and inspire the child in your life.  That donation could also inspire a teen or young adult.  There is message jewelry every where you look right now.  Why not pick up a bracelet or necklace with the word Wish or Dream on it and package it with a donation card to the Make a Wish Foundation?  Wearing that piece of jewelry will carry with it the memory of you as well as the amazing work done by the Foundation.


While most of my gift ideas revolve around donations to charities, I also thought I should mention encouraging activism. There is no shortage of injustices in the world, and inspiring someone to use their voice is a noble and important thing to do.

On the NOH8 website, there is a shop icon. If Gay and Lesbian Equality is something that inspires someone close to you, why not show them that you support their opinions and goals by purchasing a NOH8 t-shirt, or wristband. The connection you make with that gift, will go further than a twenty dollar bill in a card ever could!

World Changer

Fighting to eradicate hunger and extreme poverty, few movements connect with youth the way that the One Campaign does.  Their grassroots initiatives are firmly ensconced in the young adults of the world, and shows them that they have the power to make a real difference in the world around them.  Help them get started by shopping in the One Store.

So, are you inspired yet?  I know I am!

Stay tuned tomorrow for g2g for everyone!

Same Bat time.  Same Bat Channel.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day One - Kids Edition

Kids are passionate creatures.  Their interest, when peaked, can quickly turn to an obsession.  Sometimes that can make shopping for them easy, and other times quite discouraging.  How many stuffed animals can you buy? 

That makes kids perfect for this g2g idea.

Prepare yourself, I've been busy.

Wild Animal Lover:

The World Wildlife Foundation is a registered 501(c)3 charity.  They are recognized by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance's Standards for Charity Accountability.  $.82 of every dollar goes towards conservation.  They have an animal adoption program that features over 100 animals!  Donation levels start at $25.

Horsegirl or Cowboy:

The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary is a registered 501 (c)3 charity.  They have a great horse sponsorship program.  It is here:  This sponsorship appeals to me for a variety of reasons.  1.  You get to pick your horse.  2.  There is a monthly newsletter updating you about the sponsored horses.  and 3.  You can renew the gift from year to year.  Their donation information states that outside of production costs for packet materials all remaining donation costs go to the mustang sponsored.

Aspiring Chef:

The Make a Wish Foundation is a registered 501 (c)3 charity.  They enrich the lives of children with life threatening medical conditions through wish granting.  There are no words to describe the great work that they Make a Wish Foundation does each and everyday, but you may be wondering what they have to do with being a chef.

They don't.  I got a little creative on this one because I really like the charity.  Why not make a donation to the Make a Wish Foundation, then package the donation card with: a recipe for your favorite sugar cookies, some gourmet decorative sugars, a rolling pin, and a star shaped cookie cutter?  I love this one two fold because it is a gift for a child that helps a child.


Make a donation to your local food pantry.  You can package the donation card with a bread pan and several quick bread mixes. 

Maybe your little chef will even be inspired to have a bake sale and donate the proceeds back to either Make a Wish or the Food Pantry!


Most people have heard about Lance Armstrong and his incredible victory over cancer.  Inspire your athlete to strive harder, reach higher, and dream bigger by purchasing Livestrong products.  All of the profits from the Nike Livestrong merchandise Go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation to help fight cancer.  You can find Livestrong products at many sports retailers, as well as


Tom created his company on a simple premise.  Buy a pair of shoes.  He will then give a pair of shoes to a child in need.  One for one.  Such a simple idea, such a huge impact!  Read more about it on their website.  You can't help but be inspired!


Kohls Cares for Kids a program that supports kids health and education programs.  100% of the profits from the sale of cause merchandise goes to support those programs.  This season it is Dr. Seuss.  Give a classic Seuss book and spark the imagination of a child!

Fairy in Training:

See the description above for the Make a Wish Foundation.  This time, however, pack your donation with a pair of fairy wings and a bottle of pixie dust (glitter and sand).  Let your little fairy dream of making others dreams come true!

Finally, a little research into your child's hopes and dreams may yield even more specific results.  Karen Ray's class at school is doing a project relating to Sea Turtles.  Of the many programs that offer Sea Turtle Adoption, I selected  I liked the fact that since it included a monthly newsletter, the gift would continue long after Christmas!

Happy Shopping!

Oh, and tomorrow is g2g for teens!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Give Two Gifts this Christmas

(The inspiration for this post comes from my amazing sister, Katy.)

Recently, we had a friend make a life changing trip to Africa.  Niki works for CARE.  She traveled to Kenya with a video crew to help them document the many amazing programs CARE is sponsoring.  She also documented her journey in a blog, and an incredible photo journal.  Looking at her pictures and reading her words has been inspiring.

Katy and I are celebrating our first Christmas as neighbors, as well as sisters and best friends.  It has been a big year.  Katy and her husband Todd welcomed their daughter Caden into the world.  Todd started a new job, and they also lived in a mountain of rubble while my house was remodeled next door... Tim and I sold our house, packed up our life, and moved cross country.  My two oldest girls headed off to college, and my youngest found her path at both a new school, and in a new town.

You could say we've been busy this year.

But while we are counting the many things that we have to be thankful for this coming Thanksgiving, we realize how many people in the world are not as blessed.  That is what inspired Katy's idea:

Amongst the adults, instead of doing a physical gift exchange, we are going to make a donation to the charity of the recipients choice.  Often, as bills stack up, and you start thinking of how you are going to provide Christmas for your family, it is hard to be worldly minded.  This exchange is a perfect opportunity for us to do both things.

So this week, I am dedicating my blog to the Christmas Spirit.  I am going to offer you a chance to find inspiration for your gift giving in the world around you.

I will start tomorrow with ideas for the kids in your life.

Oh, and while I titled this post Give Two Gifts this Christmas, it is really three Gifts.

One for the person, one for our world, and one for your heart.

Merry Christmas!

Update:  Quick links to all of the Gift Ideas
Everyone Else

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Night Wine

I love Pinot Noir as a Friday night wine.  By the time Friday night is here, I want an easy dinner, a glass of wine, and maybe a movie on the couch with my favorite people.  For me, Friday night is all about ease.  That is also how I think of Pinot Noir.

However, tonight I'm not drinking Pinot Noir. (pulled a fast one on you right there.)  Tonight I am drinking Cline Cashmere.  The Cashmere is a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache, and Syrah.  To describe this wine as smooth would be doing it an injustice.  It is supple, easy, lustrous, and effortless.  Just like Friday night.

The Cline website describes it thusly, "As rare as the goats in the Gobi Desert, this silky rich blend is a special treat."   Who wouldn't want a wine compared to goats?  Seriously. 

And finally, if you are still thinking of going in another direction for your Friday night wine, I offer you this jewel of delicious information.  Cline sponsors The Breast Cancer Network of Strength - Ride to Empower.  That is why the Cashmere has a Pink Ribbon on the label.  I love companies that are vested in the world around them!

The Breast Cancer Network of Strength provides support for Breast Cancer patients.  They have many, many services that they offer, but what makes them different is that all of their services are provided by Breast Cancer Survivors! 

So there you have it.  A tremendous Friday Night Wine, provided by an exceptional winery, who supports an incredible organization.  Just a little feel good for your Friday night!

Cline Cellars
A blend of Mourvedre, Grenache, and Syrah
Listed on their website at $21.99
I purchased mine at World Market for $12.99.
(Gotta love a bargain!)

Monday, November 8, 2010

What I've Been Doing While I Haven't Been Here.

Sometimes life gets in the way of even the best of intentions.  You know... my plan to blog everyday in October?  I was doing great for awhile, but then it all went to hell in the proverbial hand basket.

The source of my downfall?

Well first:
We went to Chicago to visit Erin at Northwestern.
Holy fun time Batman!
I made this costume.
(The incredibly adorable baby is my niece!)
And this costume.

Yes, Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt has a wine tube for a quiver. 

 after which:
Tim hurt his back.  So we took advantage of his weakened condition and dressed him in a Rapunzel wig.
followed by: 
My amazing sister, her wonderful husband and myself throwing the Chili Cook Off (that was Tim's idea), without him.
and ultimately:
Megs came down to visit us from UCLA!
This picture isn't from her visit, but I didn't take a single shot this weekend.
And I think this pic is cute and fun.  So there!
In synopsis: I've been busy.

But I'm back now.
Consider yourself warned!

Baked Potato Cheese Soup

This is one of three things I make, that I make better than my chef husband.  No, that isn't me throwing down the gauntlet.  That is Tim throwing his hands in the air and shouting my victory for all to hear!  Not that we're competitive...

This is an old family recipe
     with very few ingredients
          that can be whipped together
               on a moments notice
                    quite often with either leftovers
                         or ingredients that are already in the fridge.

Now tell me that isn't lovely!

Butter 2 tbsp
Flour 2 tbsp
Baked potatoes (I used 4)
Milk (roughly 6 cups)
Sharp Cheddar Cheese (roughly 2 cups)
Salt & Pepper
Melt your butter in the pot! 

Add the flour and stir until your roux turns golden brown.

Slice your baked potatoes in half, and scoop the insides into the pot.

Add enough milk to cover the potatoes.

Cook over medium-low heat until thoroughly heated. 
Then puree the bejeezus out of it with your stick blender!

Add the cheese, and stir until melted.

Season with Salt and Pepper, and serve!
Some tricks of the trade:
1.  It doesn't matter if you bake the potatoes that day, or you use leftovers.  So quite often if we have them for dinner one weeknight, I will just throw the extras in the fridge and then make this soup in the following couple of days.
2.  It also doesn't really matter if you use extra sharp cheddar.  It is really about whatever you like best, or what you have on hand.  I used some extra sharp cheddar this time, and the remains of a bag of shredded mexican blend cheese.  It was just as tasty.
3.  When you season it with Salt and Pepper, use Garlic Salt if you have it.  It adds a little something extra.  Just don't tell Tim. ;)
4.  Serve with a handful of Hot and Spicy Cheez-its thrown on top.  Trust me. 
5.  Play with the amounts.  I had 4 potatoes in the fridge, so I used 4 potatoes.  If I had 3 or 6 it would have made no difference.  The only important part is increasing or decreasing your remaining ingredients to allow for the difference!