Pre and Post Thanksgiving ideas (with a potluck recipe thrown in)

Clearing out your fridge and freezer to make room for all the Thanksgiving goodies while saving your cooking energy for the big day can be challenging, but is doable. You will be happy that you have room in your freezer for some of the Thanksgiving foods that you don't feel like eating or cooking with any more.

On Sunday I made a potato and kale soup to use up some onions and potatoes that I didn't think would make it to Thursday and a 1/4 of a bag of frozen kale that I had left in the freezer.

Potato and Kale soup

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, diced (use whatever kind you have on hand or you could use leeks or shallots)
6-8 Russet potatoes, peeled and diced (use whatever kind you have on hand)

1- 2 teaspoons salt (add more to your taste)
1 Tbsp lemon pepper
2 Tbsp coriander
1 teaspoon garlic powder (you can use fresh, just add it a couple minutes after the onions)
6-8 cups of chicken stock (use veggie stock if you want to make this vegetarian)
2 handfuls of frozen kale (use a little more if using fresh kale)

 Heat soup pot on medium high. Pour in olive oil. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add potatoes and more olive oil if it looks like things are sticking. Add salt, lemon pepper, coriander and garlic powder. Stir until potatoes and coated. Cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add enough stock to cover the potatoes and reserve extra for later.  Cook for about 15 -20 minutes or until you can easily smash a potato with a fork against the side. Stir in kale and cook for a couple of more minutes. Then puree using your favorite method. I use a handheld immersion blender and blend until potatoes are smooth. There will be pieces of kale throughout. If you use a blender or food processor, let the soup cool before pureeing.

TIP: This can also be done in a slow cooker by dumping everything but the kale in and cooking on low for 6-8 hours. Then add the kale and let it cook for about 20 minutes and then puree.

Keep it simple this week, make some pasta with jarred sauce or use baby food for extra veggies, do a make your own pizza night like we did last night or make some quesadillas.

Easy Flatbread pizzas

Flatbreads (store bought pizza dough or tortillas will work just a well)
jar of pasta or pizza sauce
shredded mozzarella (or whatever cheese you like)
Whatever toppings you have. Be creative! I used some leftover spaghetti squash (mix in with the cheese), leftover pesto and some sun dried tomatoes on mine. Husband had pineapple on his. Kids just had spaghetti squash.

Follow instructions on package as to how long to cook.

This is also the time of the year for potlucks at your kids school or at friends houses. Here is an easy pasta salad recipe (that does not have to be heated!!) that I recently brought to a family luncheon at my daughter's pre school.

Caprese and Roasted Squash Pasta Salad

2 boxes of tri colored rotini
1 pint of cherry tomatoes chopped in half
about 6 oz of fresh mozzarella diced
about 10 leaves of fresh basic cut in a chiffonade (fancy word for rolling them up together and slicing)
1 Acorn squash, peeled and cubed (you can use whatever fall/winter squash you like)
Lemon Pepper
White Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Grated parmesan (I used the stuff that comes in the green can and it was great! but use fresh if you have it)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain and put in a large bowl that you would use to transport the pasta salad. While the water is boiling for the pasta, prepare the squash and place it on a sheet pan tossed with olive oil, salt and lemon pepper. Roast in oven for about 20- 25 minutes or until edges start to brown. Take out and let cool. Put tomatoes, mozzarella and basil in a small mixing bowl. In another bowl add 1 part olive oil to about 1/2 part vinegar (depending on how much vinegar flavor you like add more or less). Mix in salt, lemon pepper and grated parmesan to your taste.  Add some of the vinaigrette to your tomato and mozzarella mixture and let sit. Add about 3/4 of vinaigrette to the hot pasta and mix. Cover both bowls and keep in fridge over night. Also cover vinaigrette and put in fridge. In the morning mix the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil with the pasta and taste. If needs more vinaigrette add more of the remaining until it tastes like you want it to.

Lastly today, here are some links for leftover ideas!

Scallion pancakes and crispy turkey from Sandra Lee. Here is the video. I'm definitely trying this one!
Turkey enchiladas
Other ideas

Pick up some of the groceries for these easy leftover meals when you do your thanksgiving shopping. That way you do not have to go back to the store!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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